Saturday, September 30, 2017

Monty Hall (1921-2017)

Canadian-born Monty Hall made his name here in the US as the creator and original host of Let's Make a Deal, then developed a number of other series with business partner Stefan Hatos in a career that also included a stint as a sports announcer.

Hall began his American career as one of the hosts of Video Village and its' Saturday morning companion series, Video Village, Jr.. Deal has the distinction of having aired on ABC & NBC during its initial run, and currently on CBS. During Deal's 1st run, Hall also packaged Split Second for ABC (he'd host the short-lived syndicated revival in the 80's), and acquired the rights to two 50's games, Masquerade Party and It Pays To Be Ignorant for syndication in the 70's. It was a rare instance when Hall was asked to host a game he didn't develop, and that was CBS' revival of Beat The Clock in 1979.

Hall actually spent time as a color analyst for the NHL's New York Rangers on radio in the 60's. Not sure if any of those broadcasts are available online at the moment.

However, everyone remembers Monty Hall best for Let's Make a Deal. Here's a classic episode from 1971.

Monty Hall went to Heaven's marketplace today, having passed away at 96 from heart failure. Rest in peace, Monty. You will be missed.

What Might've Been: To Say The Least (1977)

Tom Kennedy was the most in-demand game show host in the 70's and 80's. During 1977 alone, Kennedy hosted three shows on NBC. 50 Grand Slam had premiered at the end of 1976, but didn't get past the start of spring. Name That Tune had a 6 1/2 month daytime run. And, then, there's To Say The Least.

In a way, Least was a Heatter-Quigley variation on a game that Kennedy was already well familiar with, You Don't Say, which had aired on NBC in the 60's, and was revived on ABC just a couple of years before Least.

Here, you had two contestants, each with two celebrity partners, which was the same format as the original Match Game 15 years earlier. This time, after a clue has been given and puzzle solved, the players begin deconstructing said puzzle to see if either their partners or the opponents can solve it. Some say the game may actually have been too easy, and that would explain its cancellation.

In this sample from January 1978, Susan Seaforth (Days of Our Lives) and Jo Ann Pflug are matched against Jamie Farr (M*A*S*H, The Gong Show) and Paul Sylvan.

In the first block of commercials, it looks like that's Don Galloway (ex-Ironside) as a pitchman for Pillsbury. 

Rating: B.

Musical Interlude: I Can't Go For That (No Can Do) (1981)

"I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)" was the 2nd single from Hall & Oates' 1981 album, "Private Eyes", and followed the title track to the top of the charts, displacing Olivia Newton-John's "Physical" from the #1 spot. "I Can't Go For That" also topped the R & B and adult contemporary charts, a rare hat trick for white artists at that time.

A few years later, while recording "We Are The World", the late Michael Jackson admitted to Daryl Hall that he'd lifted the base line from "That" for his #1 hit, "Billie Jean". Hall reportedly confided that seemingly everyone does it.

More than 20 years later, Simply Red took a few lyrics and used them in their hit, "Sunrise".

Friday, September 29, 2017

A Modern Classic: Will & Grace (1998)

One year after Ellen DeGeneres came out on her self-titled sitcom, NBC launched a series with not one, but two gay leads.

Will & Grace was based in part on the real-life experiences of co-creator/co-executive producer Max Mutchnick. Max's analogue in the series is Will Truman (Eric McCormack), who is sharing space with Grace (Debra Messing). The other gay lead is Jack (Sean Hayes), an actor who's having a hard time landing his big break.

Will & Grace's initial run lasted 8 seasons (1998-2006), and garnered a grand total of 16 Emmy awards, including for their four leads (Messing, McCormack, Hayes, & Megan Mullally). It opened the doors wider for the LGBT community in Hollywood.

After the series ended its first run, it became a cable fixture, first on Lifetime, then WE, and currently on Logo. NBC brought the show back this season for a short-flight run, bracketed around the network's coverage of NFL Thursday Night Football.

It's not that the cast hasn't been busy in between. Hayes, in particular, has become a successful producer, whose company helmed NBC's just concluded Grimm and a pair of sitcoms for TV Land, Hot in Cleveland & The Soul Man, both of which have also ended production. Hayes also is responsible for the seasonal series, Hollywood Game Night, which we'll look at another time. His last starring vehicle, Sean Saves The World, did a quick crash & burn about 3-4 years ago due to poor ratings. Messing, of course, was last seen in Greg Berlanti's The Mysteries of Laura, also for NBC.

I've only seen pieces of episodes in cable reruns, just channel surfing, and wasn't really a fan, so no rating. We'll leave you with a super quick intro from the 3rd season.

On DVD: Batman (1989)

There were those who scoffed and mocked Tim Burton for his decision to cast Michael Keaton, who had worked with Burton on "Beetlejuice", as "Batman". Never mind the fact that another Keaton film, "The Dream Team", was classified more as a comedy-drama, or that Keaton had cut his dramatic teeth in "Clean & Sober".

As it happened, Keaton justified Burton's faith in him, and "Batman" was a huge summer blockbuster in 1989.

Sam Hamm's script does take liberties with Bat-history, tying the origins of the Dark Knight to those of mobster Jack Napier (Jack Nicholson), who, in this reality, would ultimately become the Joker. Hamm's idea was that Joe Chill didn't act alone in robbing and killing Thomas & Martha Wayne, oh no. Chill didn't even pull the trigger. Napier did. I guess this would explain the mistakes the writers of "Fantastic Four" made 16 years later, as if you need me to explain that.

Anyway, Napier is a bit of a playboy at heart himself, as he's making moves on Alicia (Jerry Hall), the girlfriend of Napier's boss, Carl Grissom (Jack Palance, Ripley's Believe it or Not!). So you figure, once Vicki Vale (Kim Basinger) enters the picture, teaming with reporter Alex Knox (Robert Wuhl, "Good Morning, Vietnam") to not only learn about Batman, but also get the goods on Grissom, Napier decides to horn in on a budding romance between Vicki and Bruce Wayne (Keaton), which develops after an awkward start.

There is the famous sequence at the chemical plant where Napier takes the plunge into an acid bath that turns him into the Clown Prince of Crime. In comics, the Joker was a nameless hood who donned the guise of the Red Hood on that fateful night. Hamm must've figured that was a little too complicated, and would've been restricting on Nicholson's talent. Whatever. Tracey Walter (ex-Best of the West) helps things along as Jack/Joker's sidekick, Bob, before, well.....that would be telling, wouldn't it?

Vicki is hot enough that even Knox thinks he has a chance with her. That neither Basinger or Wuhl would return for "Batman Returns" 3 years later would suggest a few things left to the imagination.

As we all know, Burton & Keaton would depart after "Returns", and the franchise would suffer as a result until being resurrected by Christopher Nolan with "Batman Begins".

The trailer ain't much, but.......

Nearly 30 years later, it's still an all-time classic.

Rating: A.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

On The Air: Funny You Should Ask (2017)

Last month, we took a look at one of Heatter-Quigley's lesser known game shows, Funny You Should Ask. Well, the series is back, now under the aegis of comic-turned-entertainment mogul Byron Allen (ex-Real People).

Jon Kelley (ex-Extra) hosts the new edition, which has a rotating panel of six celebrities, instead of five in the original series. Whereas the original borrowed from the Chuck Barris playbook and had the contestants off stage while the celebrities answered questions, only for the contestants to try to match the answers with the appropriate panelist later in the show, the new version borrows from the H-Q classic chestnut, The Hollywood Squares, in that contestants have to answer yes or no if they agree with the celebrities' answers, which follow the predictable bluffs.

As with most syndicated 1st run shows, stations will run 2 episodes per day, meaning 13 weeks nowadays equals 130 episodes instead of 65. The MyNetworkTV affiliate in the home district has Funny airing at noon (ET) weekdays.

The following promo comes from a West Coast affiliate.

Is it entertaining? You bet. So why isn't it on later in upstate NY? Because WNYA has commitments to air reruns of Fox's animated comedies in late night, as well as other syndicated fare, and doesn't see the value in running Funny at night. I guess they figure folks remember that it was a daytime show the first time around, and.....

Rating: A.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

On DVD: Duck Dynasty season 1 (2012)

I'm not that big on reality TV. Never really have been. Then, someone anonymously sent me a copy of the 1st season DVD of the just concluded Duck Dynasty series, the chronicle of the Louisiana-based Robertson family's life and business ventures. The family had previously appeared on an Outdoor Channel show,  but it was A & E that scooped up Dynasty, which spent 5 years on the network, as the series ended back in the spring.

You've read and heard, I'm sure, about Phil Robertson's anti-gay remarks getting him in such trouble that A & E put the show on suspension for a bit before bowing to public pressure. Hey, the clan's from the Bible Belt. What did you expect? The family is the embodiment of "conservative Christian". Most of the men have the thickest beards this side of ZZ Top. Coincidentally, the rock legends are also responsible for the music, as their 1983 hit, "Sharp Dressed Man", was the 1st season theme song.

Phil Robertson played his college football at Northwest Louisiana, where his understudy was future Hall of Famer and current Fox analyst Terry Bradshaw. Robertson was drafted by Washington,  but opted to retire and concentrate on duck hunting.

Let's take a look at the trailer for season 1, episode 1:

Just not my jam, man.

Rating: C-.

Sports this 'n' that

When the Mets finish their season Sunday, it is expected, per media reports, that manager Terry Collins (7 seasons) and pitching coach Dan Warthen (10 seasons) will be cut loose, and the team will begin 2018 with a new manager/pitching coach combo after a disastrous 2017 campaign plagued by injuries. With Collins, this was inevitable. Warthen, according to the New York Post, has hinted at retiring. It is believed that bullpen coach Ricky Bones would be promoted to pitching coach. As for the manager's job? Former Met Robin Ventura, who was let go by the White Sox last year, has been mentioned, as has former 3rd base coach Chip Hale, who last managed in Arizona, also until last year. Stay tuned.
Troy High's women's soccer team picked up their 2nd win of the season, and their 1st in the Suburban Council, Tuesday night, shutting out Schenectady, 6-0. Heather Moss had a hat trick, and sophomore Abby Burns added two goals, as the Lady Horses won their second game in the last three. Up next is a quick road trip to Shenendehowa tomorrow before a 3-game homestand next week vs. Saratoga, Albany, and a Saturday Senior Night Special vs. Queensbury (Foothills Council), which might just snap Troy's winning streak against non-league opponents.

However, if I'm coach Justin Haviland and/or AD Paul Reinisch, I have to see about starting an annual series of non-league games closer to home with either Heatly or Emma Willard, both of whom play in the Central Hudson Valley League. Troy beat Heatly on Senior Night last year, but the varsity has never played Emma Willard that I know of. Like, Troy doesn't otherwise have an in-city rivalry on the women's side anymore, so......!

As of press time, the boys' result at Schenectady hadn't been reported, but unofficial word from sources at THS suggest Mike Murnane's club won again. The boys entertain Shen tomorrow night, then hit the road vs. Saratoga & Albany next week before returning home to play Averill Park & Mohonasen to close the regular season. Sectionals begin the week of October 16.
While President Trump doubles and triples down on the stupidity of his remarks last week against NFL & NBA players, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had his team kneel before the playing of the Star Spangled Banner before Monday's win over Arizona. I think Jones' idea might be to have them kneel in prayer or something akin to that, to ask God for guidance. What the President is failing to recognize is that the players' silent protests, which started last year with Colin Kaepernick, are more about racial inequality and social injustices. They're using the public forum accorded them as pro athletes to make their stands. For Trump to suggest that they be fired by their employers is just flat ludicrous, and just the sort of thing that Trump wants his brainwashed followers, mostly in the Midwest and in the South, to hear, to keep them angry.

Oddly enough, Trump should be doing some praying, too. He professes to be a Christian, but doesn't behave like one.
Congratulations to WWE's Mike & Maria Bennett (the couple uses Maria's maiden name, Kanellis, professionally), as they announced via Instagram on Monday that they're expecting their first child. Maria joins Maryse Mizanin on extended maternity leave as a result, and the baby is due in late March-early April, right around Wrestlemania.
NY Giants owner John Mara reportedly isn't happy with receiver/shampoo salesman Odell Beckham, Jr.'s latest stunt.

You've probably seen it by now. Beckham, after scoring a touchdown, did his impersonation of a dog urinating, and that resulted in a 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against the Giants, who went on to lose to Philadelphia. The fans & Beckham might think it's funny stuff, but the league doesn't think so, and neither does Mara. Beckham, a 4th year pro out of LSU, should know better than to do an attention-seeking stunt when his team's looking for its 1st win of the season.
More Troy High news: The women's volleyball team finally won a match Tuesday, shutting out Schenectady in straight sets. Troy is 1-7 after a 10-6 campaign last year. Unsurprisingly, the cross country, golf, & women's tennis teams are without a win as their seasons wind down.

There has been some fallout from a Record article back in March that accused basketball coach Paul Bearup of abusing some of his players. There was never a follow-up to Sam Blum's piece, but he was subsequently ejected from the school during a game or practice, I'm not sure which. The school will let athletes grant interviews to the Albany Times-Union, but not the hometown paper, which, in turn, hasn't done proper justice to the football team, as the results of all 4 Troy football wins this season have been relegated to a compilation piece in the Sunday edition. Like, that is totally petty on the part of the school as well as the paper. Bad enough that the Record doesn't have the proper resources to cover the team or any hometown sports, but what kind of message does the school send by ignoring the hometown paper?  A bad one.
Albany Academy QB Brett Young was a guest on WCWN's Upstate Sports Edge Friday night, ahead of the Cadets' home game vs. Berkshire School. Young has committed to Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) for next season. Unfortunately for the Cadets, Berkshire was a rude guest, beating them, 46-19, dropping Academy to 1-1 in the New England Prep School Athletic Council (NEPSAC).

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

On The Air: The Orville (2017)

We all know Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy) is a geek. His pop culture satires on Guy are proof of this, even though some of those cutaway gags reek of heinousness.

To that end, after his last animated creation, Bordertown, crashed & burned last season, MacFarlane decided to try a live-action series for once. His latest, The Orville, skewers science-fiction convention while at the same time being a left-handed homage to the Star Trek franchise. Fox debuted The Orville with a pair of Sunday night offerings, two weeks ahead of CBS' launch of the latest Trek series, Star Trek: Discovery, which otherwise will be online only for the balance of the season (Boo! Hiss!), a risky venture in and of itself.

The Orville is set in the 25th century, which also would suggest a homage to Buck Rogers. Ed Mercer (MacFarlane) has seen his career trend downward after divorcing his wife, Kelly (Adrianne Palicki). His rating has fallen so low, his assignment to the Orville seems to suggest that his superiors were that desperate to find a captain for the ship. Like later incarnations of Trek, the Orville is a diverse crew of alien races interacting with humans.

The Orville has settled into its regular home on Thursdays on Fox, but that may have been a mistake, considering that it has to deal with ABC's lineup (Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, How To Get Away With Murder), and it's only going to get worse in a couple of weeks, when CW's Arrow moves into its new home, directly opposite Orville. Comics fans will likely flip from Orville's lead-in, Gotham, to Arrow if they don't think MacFarlane can measure up in front of the cameras. After all, Mercer isn't the same kind of lunkhead as, say, dumber-than-a-bag-of-hammers Peter Griffin (Family Guy). What keeps the show grounded is having Jon Favreau ("Iron Man") on board as an executive producer. Favreau also directed the opener.

In this scene, Mercer finds out from Admiral Halsey (special guest star Victor Garber, Legends of Tomorrow) that Kelly is joining his crew.

Do I think it'll succeed? No. As noted, The Orville has a rough road to navigate opposite Scandal and, in 2 weeks, Arrow. It's a test of MacFarlane's acting range, and I'd not be surprised if Fox moves the show back to Sundays before the end of the season.

Rating: B--.

Monday, September 25, 2017

A Modern Classic: Politically Incorrect (1993)

PBS' McLaughlin Group has spawned a few imitators over the years, chief among them ESPN's recently ended Sports Reporters and Bill Maher's Politically Incorrect.

Actor-comedian Maher presided over a half-hour roundtable talk show that aired in late night, first on Comedy Central, then on ABC, from 1993-2002. Guests ranged from musicians, actors, athletes, and politicians, discussing various topics and headlines du jour.

After Maher's curious, seemingly insensitive remarks post-9/11/01, ABC would pull the plug on Incorrect, largely because of declining ratings more so than advertiser backlash from the imbroglio Maher had created. Today, Maher continues with HBO's Real Time, and being on the pay-cable giant enables Maher to turn the air blue if necessary.

We'll take a look at a 1997 ABC episode from the legendary Ford's Theatre in Washington. Panelist Al Franken, one of the show's writers, is now a Senator from Minnesota.

When Maher left Comedy Central, the cabler tried to fill the void with Colin Quinn (Saturday Night Live, ex-Remote Control) hosting a similar series, Tough Crowd, which lasted just 2 seasons. CC has found its niche in late night, though, with The Daily Show and a succession of spinoffs.

Rating: A.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Forgotten TV: The Buck Owens Show (1966)

Three years before Hee Haw, Buck Owens fronted his own half-hour country music series, a regional production based out of California.

The format was similar to Nashville-produced series featuring the likes of Porter Wagoner. As this first episode, from March 1966, demonstrates, there were no comedy skits per se, just non-stop music. Tommy Collins is the featured guest. Kay Adams was, well, Buck's answer to Porter's leading lady, Dolly Parton, but not quite as well known.

'Round these parts, I remember seeing a similar show featuring Pete Williams, and we'll cover that another time if I can find something on him on YouTube. We will take a look at Wagoner's show down the road.

Rating: A.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The Presidential Weasel strikes again!

At a rally in Alabama Friday night, President Donald Trump railed against NFL athletes kneeling and/or protesting the National Anthem, not realizing that the protests are about the allegations of police brutality in a number of cities over the last few years.

Trump called for NFL owners to fire the players taking part in the protests. As a former sports owner himself, many moons ago (USFL), Trump has to understand that the social climate isn't the same as it was 30-35 years ago as it relates to sports.

Not surprisingly, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and several players fired back at President Manchild's latest Twitter tantrum. None of them, though, had the courage to make this statement:

That, by the way, comes from "Hyde & Hare". Bugs Bunny may have borrowed that bit from The Honeymooners.

Then, Trump doubled down on the Weasel award winning stupidity by taking exception to the decision by Golden State Warriors star Stephen Curry not to visit the White House. Trump turned around and rescinded the invitation issued to the NBA champions. Unsurprisingly, the brainwashed dittoheads have posted messages on Yahoo!, claiming they'll boycott the NFL and/or NBA.

Being President of the United States is not the same as being CEO of a major corporation, Mr. Trump. Your behavior suggests very strongly that you haven't learned that lesson yet, two years after announcing your candidacy. Until today, the athletes of the NBA & NFL didn't have much of a problem with you as President. They didn't vote for you, but they respected the office. You're taking that respect and throwing it to the side because of your addiction to media attention. I respect the office, too, and I didn't vote for you or Hillary Clinton, but for someone who claims to share the same faith as I do, you're doing a poor job of representing the Christian faith. Ever hear of turning the other cheek? Apparently, Mr. Trump, you never have. I'm sure this latest set of Weasel ears will make little difference with you, but you know what? You're setting a bad example for this country. Period.

Forgotten TV: JJ Starbuck (1987)

We've all run across people consumed by their careers at the expense of their families. Stephen J. Cannell decided to try and develop a crime drama based around one of those people.

J. J. Starbuck ran for 1 season (1987-8) on NBC, and brought Dale Robertson (ex-Iron Horse, Death Valley Days) back to series television after a lengthy absence. Starbuck (Robertson) was a self-made millionaire whose wife and son were killed in a plane crash when they tried to pay a surprise visit to JJ while on a job. From that point, Starbuck experienced an epiphany, and decided to help common folks avoid the same life mistakes he made.

Starbuck turned over his business to his second-in-command, Charlie Bullets, played in the pilot by character actor David Huddleston, but when the series started, actor-singer-sausage salesman Jimmy Dean, in his first TV role since Daniel Boone, replaced Huddleston.

After a mid-season accident at home created some physical issues for Robertson, actor-singer Ben Vereen reprised his role as E. L. "Tenspeed" Turner (Tenspeed & Brown Shoe), with Turner now acting as a wheelman for Starbuck. Unfortunately, the series lasted just 5 more weeks with Vereen on board before being cancelled in favor of In The Heat Of The Night.

The Rap Sheet offers the intro, with the theme performed by country singer Ronnie Milsap.

No rating. Never saw the show.

Friday, September 22, 2017

High School Fridays: Bethlehem @ Troy (football), 9/22/17

If there is one thing that Troy coach Bob Burns had to impart to his undefeated team before tonight's Homecoming game vs. Bethlehem, it was to avoid falling into a trap, with a showdown looming in two weeks vs. Shaker.

That said, the Flying Horses failed to score on their first possession for the first time this season, turning the ball over on downs. However, the defense rose up and forced a punt.

Now, you'd think Bethlehem coach Rick Leach would've advised his punter, Nick Mosier, not to kick in the direction of Dev Holmes. Unfortunately, Leach did just that, and Holmes raced down the right sideline, 60 yards to paydirt for the first score of the game. Jordan Audi added the extra point, and Troy was up, 7-0.

The Eagles were able to mount a sustained drive on their next possession, but could only manage a field goal in the 2nd quarter from Cameron Scoons to trim the deficit to 7-3. That would be as close as they'd get.

On Troy's succeeeding drive, Joe Casale hit Holmes for an apparent touchdown, but that was called back due to a penalty for a block in the back. Since that was called after the first down was gained, the hosts were in plus territory, and Casale made the Bethlehem defense pay on the next play, as he hit Matt Ashley over the middle for a score. After another Bethlehem punt, Joey Ward got in on the act with a 67 yard run down the sideline to make it 21-3. Holmes got his 2nd TD on a sweep to make it 28-3 at the break.

In the 3rd quarter, Holmes completed the hat trick with a TD catch from Casale in the corner of the end zone. Ward had his 2nd TD, and Troy was up, 42-7, headed into the 4th quarter.

As was the case last week, Troy fans got a glimpse of their future, as freshman Xavier Leigh broke off a 83 yard run to put the game away. Troy rolls to 4-0 by beating Bethlehem, 49-3.

Unlike last year, when it rained during Homecoming ceremonies, the cattle herd stuck around for the 2nd half, perhaps curious to see if Troy could break 50 points again. This time, they came up short. However, they'll be on the road the next two weeks, and will play winless Schenectady next week before going to Shaker.

You can probably tell who will be crowned Homecoming Queen by whomever gets the loudest cheers when introduced. That being said, multi-sport star Serafina French earned the honors tonight. With last year's winner, Hunter Levesque, unable to return from Pittsburgh in time, 2015 winner Ariana Judge subbed, marking the rare occasion of a past Queen crowning the successor two years in a row. The sadder part of the story is that The Record didn't devote any space to a feature piece on the six candidates, breaking a years-old tradition. Fortunately, the Albany Times-Union picked up the slack.
Other news: The women's soccer team snapped its season-long winless streak Wednesday night, and just like last year, Broadalbin-Perth, out of the Foothills Council, was the unfortunate victim. Abby Burns, daughter of football coach and Rensselaer County legislative candidate Bob Burns, netted a hat trick for all of the offense in a 3-0 win. The Lady Horses will be in action tomorrow morning in Burnt Hills before returning home Tuesday night to play Schenectady.

Like Troy, Shaker warmed up for their showdown by beating LaSalle, 48-0. As if they were telling Troy, "anything you can do, we can do better". Colonie will try to keep pace as they visit Albany tomorrow afternoon.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Musical Interlude: Teacher's Pet (2003)

I haven't seen the movie, "School of Rock", yet, but I have seen pieces of the Nickelodeon series inspired by the 2003 Jack Black film.

Strangely, this next cut wasn't included on the film's soundtrack. Dewey Finn (Black) dresses like a plus-size clone of AC/DC's Angus Young, and sings lead on "Teacher's Pet". Anyone who's heard Black's combo, Tenacious D, knows the man can rock out.

The poster didn't know the title of the song and assumed it was "Rock Got No Reason", but was corrected by a commentator on YouTube. The current School of Rock series, now in its 3rd season on Nick, is the 2nd series based on a Black movie (Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness is the other) on the schedule. Now, all they need is for Black to commit to a series of his own. Maybe.

On The Shelf: DC goes Looney. It doesn't work.

Over the summer, DC, following their 1-shot specials pairing DCU favorites with Hanna-Barbera characters, tried to do the same with some of the WB Looney Tunes gang. Coming nearly 20 years after Mark Evanier & Joe Staton's Superman-Bugs Bunny miniseries, which was reprinted as a 1-shot special for $8 as part of the promotion, these 1-shots were hit & miss.

One of DC's hottest writers, Tom King, decided to give Elmer Fudd a noirish makeover in pairing the hapless hunter with Batman. Lee Weeks' artwork helps the mood, influenced as it was by the late Gene Colan, who actually drew Batman back in the 80's for a time. Unfortunately, while there are human characters named Porky & Bugs, among others, and a present-day analogue for Yosemite Sam is present, King's plot nearly falls apart when it turns out that Elmer and Bruce Wayne are both in love with the same woman, and they're both being played.

The Looney back-up, also written by King, shows that humor isn't his strong suit, and this short, also featuring Bugs Bunny, riffs on the Bugs/Elmer/Daffy Duck trilogy of shorts, but it reads like King is auditioning to write for Teen Titans Go!. That drags the rating down.

Rating: B--.

Meanwhile, Sam Humphries and Tom Grummett send Bugs off to the 31st century to meet the Legion of Superheroes in a tale that parodies the Legion's legendary first meeting with Superboy back in the Silver Age. There are some familiar Legion tropes that fans will recognize, but Humphries tries cramming too much in, such that you get the feeling something is wrong. Then, Humphries doubles down with an alternate take on the same story, drawn by Juan Manuel Ortiz, one of the regular artists on the now-bi-monthly Looney Tunes book. At least he gets Bugs right.

Rating: B+. I expected better.

Speaking of the Legion, they also co-starred in a Batman '66 1-shot that sends the Dynamic Duo to the future, where it's purported that Universo, one of the Legion's legendary foes, is related to a made-for-TV Bat-enemy, Egghead. Nothing says jump the shark better than twisting DC canon inside out and failing. No new Batman '66 comics have been announced since, but this was not the way to go-go if this is the end.

Rating: C.
Comics on TV: With Riverdale beginning its 2nd season in 3 weeks on a new night (Wednesdays, trading nights and air times with Arrow), head writer-producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has managed to option his oft-delayed Chilling Adventures of Sabrina into a TV series, ticketed for the 2018-9 season, ensuring that his deconstruction of the beloved Archie Comics characters continues unabated.

Consider what he's done already. Forget the eternal triangle of Archie, Betty, & Veronica. Archie & Veronica are a couple, and so are Betty and Jughead (!). No Big Ethel in sight. Also, Moose has been rebooted, as they tried teasing a relationship with Kevin Keller. A "Bughead"-centric story appeared in a recent issue of TV Guide as part of their annual Comic-Con issue in July. Early spoilers for the season opener suggest Archie & Veronica getting busy in the shower. Forget about chaste relationships in this universe, friends.

Once Sabrina launches, that would give Greg Berlanti 7 shows on the CW. What's next, letting him program the network?

Have to believe fans of Riverdale were holding their breath when word got out earlier that KJ Apa (Archie) was in a car accident in Vancouver, where the show is shot, along with most of the CW roster. Luckily, Apa was unhurt. However, word is that there is some unrest over unreasonable working conditions (i.e. the producers not supplying the cast with rental cars, etc.), which has to do with network policy. I get that they tape most of their shows in Canada, with some exceptions (i.e. Whose Line is it Anyway?) to save money, but going el-scrimpo on amenities for the cast? Please.
Coming Attractions/Distractions: Before Black Lightning debuts on CW, a new 6-part miniseries launches from DC in November, written by series creator and fellow blogger Tony Isabella. The 2nd trade paperback collection of classic Black Lightning stories, collected from World's Finest and elsewhere in the late 70's and early 80's, hits stores at the end of January. Strangely, it's more expensive than the first collection, and this new edition collects stories written by Denny O'Neil and others.

Archie will try to jumpstart the Dark Circle line again in December with the return of the Mighty Crusaders. Can't see this working with the R-rated language used in the other books. Call this Dark Circle's last chance.

While he's waiting for his next UFC fight, CM Punk (Phil Brooks) is scripting a Master of Kung Fu 1-off for Marvel in November. He's already demonstrated a master's touch as a writer at both DC & Marvel, so this should be good. Can't say I'm as enthused about the 1-shot return of Marvel's original superhero satire book, Not Brand Ecch, also in November. I think it's closing in on or reaching its 50th anniversary, which would be reason enough to bring it back, but I don't know if it'd work today. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Sports this 'n' that

The season can't end fast enough for the Mets.

Thought to be a contender for the NL East this season before injuries put a crimp in the club's plans, the Amazin's limp home from Miami after getting swept by the Marlins this afternoon. New York has lost 8 of 10, and it's only going to get worse with the division champion Washington Nationals coming in on Friday. Miami only reinforced the point as it relates to Matt Harvey on Monday night. The Mets would be fools to let Harvey remain in the rotation next year as he doesn't have the arm strength to get beyond 5 innings in a start. Better to move him into the bullpen in what would certainly be his walk year, and you know his parasitic agent, Scott Boras, will want to move him someplace else to fatten both of their portfolios. What Boras, blinded by greed as he is, fails to see is that Harvey is not a quality starting pitcher anymore. He's routinely gotten lit up, as was the case Monday, suggesting that the Mets rushed him back too soon, just as they did with Seth Lugo, who put in 5 tough innings Tuesday, but got a no decision to show for it, and Steven Matz, who is done for the year. Once Harvey realizes this himself, no amount of bull that Boras can spin will convince other teams that Harvey can still be a starter.
Has Troy High's boys' soccer team peaked too soon?

The Flying Horses have now dropped two straight after getting shut out, 5-0, by Shaker Tuesday afternoon. Luckily, their next game isn't until Saturday morning in a Brunch Special vs. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake. In fact, four of their final seven games are at home, so there's time to put a couple more wins on the board before sectionals begin the week of October 16.

Meanwhile, the Troy girls are still looking for their first win this year, and host non-league opponent Broadalbin-Perth for the 2nd straight year tonight. The game was originally scheduled for tomorrow, but because of Jewish New Year, it's been moved a day ahead of schedule. This has been a trend in Section 2, and presumably elsewhere, the last few years, something that didn't happen when I was in school. A year ago, Troy snapped their season-opening winless streak at B-P's expense. Could lightning strike twice in the same place? We'll see.
What is with the defeatist attitude at the New York Daily News lately?

Convinced that the Jets won't win a game this season---they're currently 0-2---the tabloid went so far as to suggest the team "tank" this season so they can get the #1 draft pick next spring, as we've documented previously. Now, a week ago, columnist Frank Isola, also a contributor to ESPN's Around The Horn and a guest co-host last week on Pardon The Interruption, suggested that the Knicks do the same thing this upcoming NBA season.


The Knicks, as long as James Dolan mismanages them, will never sign LeBron James if he decides to become a free agent again. They'd have a better chance of hiring ESPN's resident idiot, Stephen A. Smith, to be a press flack for Dolan than James taking his talents to Manhattan. That's just reality. I honestly think the Jests will actually win a game or two this season, just to prove the nay-sayers wrong. Not that it'd save Todd Bowles' job, because he'll be the sacrificial lamb regardless, but no one in their right mind would tank for an entire season.
The Giants are also 0-2, soon to be 0-3 if they drop one to Philadelphia this weekend. Now, there are headlines suggesting that head coach Ben McAdoo's offense isn't all that great after all. Like, DUH! Recall that Big Blue got off to a similarly slow start a couple of years ago, when McAdoo was the offensive coordinator under Tom Coughlin. McAdoo is wilting under the pressure, and he likely will be out the door if they don't make the playoffs. Just sayin'.
We close with some sad news.

Boxer Jake LaMotta, whose life story was told in the movie, "Raging Bull", passed away at 94 or 95, depending on which sources you're reading. This is because there are conflicting accounts of when he was born, be it 1922 or 1923.

Closer to home, retired Albany Times-Union staffer Mike Jarboe, who spent the last 15 seasons handicapping racing at Saratoga, and being part of a comedy team with sportswriter Tim Wilkin, succumbed to cancer at 63, just 2 weeks after the conclusion of this year's Saratoga meet. Jarboe toughed it out this season, but few readers knew of his condition, despite hints being dropped in the Bankroll Beatdown column during the meet.

Rest in peace, gentlemen.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Musical Interlude: Shine A Little Love (1979)

I had a vision, never fulfilled insofar as I know, of the Electric Light Orchestra being backed by some dancers (don't ask me why) on 1979's "Shine a Little Love". This surreal video, though, is worth the trip.

Monday, September 18, 2017

What Might've Been: Our House (1986)

"Our House is a very, very fine house...."--Crosby, Stills, & Nash (italics mine).

Had NBC placed Our House on a night other than Sunday, maybe it goes past 2 seasons (1986-8). It was slotted at the top of the network's Sunday lineup, meaning it would often be delayed or pre-empted early on in the season due to football in much of the country.

Diedre Hall (Days of Our Lives) led the ensemble, which also included Shannen Doherty (ex-Little House on the Prairie) and Wilford Brimley ("Cocoon"). Hall left Days during season 2 of House after discovering that trying to juggle two series at once wasn't going to work a second time. A decade earlier, after joining Days, Hall, ah, moonlighted in the campy superhero series, Electra Woman & Dyna Girl as part of ABC's Krofft Supershow. While her segment lasted just the one season, Hall endured the longer primetime season with House, but the strain got to be such that she had to sacrifice her 10 year gig on Days, though she'd eventually return.

The basic concept was this. After his son passes on, Brimley's character takes in his daughter-in-law (Hall) and her two children (Doherty & Chad Allen).

My folks rediscovered the series on cable a few years later, and that's how I came to watch a few episodes. Let's take a look at a sample.

Post-House, Brimley spent several years pitching life insurance and oatmeal. You know what Shannen Doherty has done since (Beverly Hills 90210, Charmed, Scare Tactics), often fraught with off-screen drama.

Rating: B.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

What Might've Been: Gloria (1982)

The last spin-off from All In The Family was rolled out in the fall of 1982, just as Archie Bunker's Place was entering its final season. But, for whatever reason, known only to CBS suits who left their brains in mason jars, Gloria was cut off from the family tree.

The initial pilot was, for unknown reasons, rejected by CBS. Tandem Productions went back to the drawing board and reworked it into an episode of Archie Bunker's Place, but brought in writers from WKRP In Cincinnati and veteran director Bob Claver, who'd been with Screen Gems for a number of years (i.e. Here Come The Brides, Partridge Family, The Interns), would direct the entire subsequent series.

Gloria Bunker-Stivic (Sally Struthers), newly divorced from husband Mike (Rob Reiner), has custody of their son, Joey (Christian Jacobs), and rents an apartment from veterinarian Willard Adams (Burgess Meredith), for whom she works as an assistant in order to pay the rent. Reiner would not appear in the series at all, and, aside from the pilot, there would be no more interaction with Archie (Carroll O'Connor). No crossovers between the two series.

That last point, dear friends, is what killed Gloria after 1 season. Someone at CBS had a beef with Norman Lear, or vice versa, we don't know, because despite being placed in the same Sunday comedy block as Place, Gloria was, for all intents and purposes, left out in the cold.

Gloria was given a romantic interest (Lou Richards), who made Mike look like a Rhodes scholar by comparison. You'll see what I mean as we screen the series finale, "An Uncredited Woman". Paul Rodriguez guest stars.

Edit, 12/17/22: The video has been deleted due to a copyright claim from Sony. In its place is the intro:

Believe it or else, my late mother, who was a big All In The Family/Archie Bunker's Place fan, just wasn't into Gloria as much, and that may have been the case for much of the country.

Rating: B-.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Origin of a Classic: Dick Powell as Amos Burke (Dick Powell Show, 1961)

Dick Powell had transitioned from musicals to becoming a respected character actor, and, as one of the founders of Four Star, built a television company that should've been an even bigger player than it was.

In 1961, Powell fronted his own anthology series, The Dick Powell Show, on NBC. It was like a double-sized version of Four Star Playhouse, but with a larger cast. Regrettably, Powell passed away halfway through the 2nd season, at which point the series was retitled, The Dick Powell Theatre. The series was cancelled at the end of that season.

The series opener introduced viewers to millionaire playboy police captain Amos Burke, who would resurface two years later when ABC acquired Burke's Law, with Gene Barry (ex-Bat Masterson) taking over as Burke. In "Who Killed Julie Greer?", Powell and producer Aaron Spelling established the star-studded whodunit format for Burke that would be copied in other genres by Spelling and other producers in later years. The cast includes Ralph Bellamy, Edgar Bergen, Ronald Reagan, Edward Platt (later of Get Smart), Dean Jones (who also landed his own Four Star series, Ensign O'Toole, for NBC), Alvy Moore (later of Green Acres), and Leon Lontoc, who would return for Burke's Law in the same role as Henry, Burke's chauffeur.

Was Powell as believable as Burke as Barry would be? Can't say for sure. Barry made the role his own, and got three years out of Burke, including the ill-advised Amos Burke, Secret Agent season, then two more in the 90's under Spelling for five total.

Rating: B.

We'll take a deeper look at The Dick Powell Show/Theatre another day.

Now, this is a soap opera (1971)

Let's take a step back in time, shall we?

This next item clearly was tailored for the daytime soap opera audience, and, back then, Procter & Gamble not only sponsored soap operas, they also produced a few (i.e. As The World Turns, Search For Tomorrow, Another World, etc.).

Comedian-actor Avery Schreiber (ex-My Mother The Car), by this point in his career better known for his comedy pairing with Jack Burns, shaved off his signature mustache to play a truck driver who finds a unique means of winning the heart of a truck stop waitress (Reva Rose).

Aww, isn't that cute? I'd like to see some high school or college kids try to duplicate that scene.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Musical Interlude: Reflections of My Life (1969)

The Marmalade were a 1-hit wonder from England who scored in the fall of 1969 with "Reflections of My Life". This, in all honesty, is the first time I've actually seen the band perform this song. Ever.

High School Fridays: Troy @ LaSalle (football), 9/15/17

You had to believe LaSalle football coach Gary Lauver had the date circled on his calendar when the schedule came out six months ago. The second year coach had lost the Collar City Cup to city rival Troy last year in an embarrassing 54-0 rout, and it was hoped the Cadets would be a little more competitive this season.

Entering tonight's game, the Cadets were 1-1 after dropping a 21-20 decision to the same Columbia team that had themselves been crushed by Troy in their opener. A quick check of the program shows 26 players on the active roster. Could Section 2's "little engine that could" slow down the runaway train that the state champions have become?

In a word, no.

If there was one imperative for LaSalle when this game began, it was to either win the coin toss, or hope that Troy would defer to the 2nd half. They got the latter, then squandered the opportunity. Junior QB Christian Luizzi served up a pick-six to his opposite number, Joe Casale, and just like that, Troy was up, 7-0, before they took an offensive snap.

However, the Flying Horses were also in a giving mood early on, as the Cadets cashed in a Troy turnover with Luizzi punching it in himself from a couple of yards out to tie the score heading into the 2nd quarter.

Then, Joey Ward took over.

The senior tailback scored three touchdowns on Troy's next four possessions, the other being a TD toss from Casale to Dev Holmes. Holmes also caught a 2 point conversion, as Troy entered the break with a comfortable 35-7 lead. It wasn't quite so comfortable for LaSalle, however, as Luizzi was knocked out of the game with a knee injury late in the 2nd quarter. Sophomore Dermot McDonough took over, but could not get the Cadets back into the end zone.

It seemed as though the officials were being charitable with the hosts, as Troy was hit with an inordinate amount of penalties in the 1st & 4th quarters, which led to much griping in the visitors' bleachers. Funny thing. This was the first road game I've covered, and, as was the case when LaSalle visited Picken Field last year, Troy's supporters outnumbered Lasalle's by a wide margin. I just don't get the lack of support for LaSalle, even with a city rival.

Undaunted, Troy added two more scores in the 2nd half. Holmes scored his 2nd rushing touchdown of the season in the 3rd quarter, and freshman Xavier Leigh put the exclamation point on the proceedings with a late 4th quarter touchdown. Leigh would've scored sooner, except that it was called back by a penalty. Troy goes to 3-0 with a 55-7 verdict. LaSalle falls to 1-2.

It won't get any easier for LaSalle, as Homecoming marks the end of their 3 game homestand next week, with Shaker coming to town. The Blue Bison blew away Schenectady, 51-0, and bear in mind, LaSalle beat Schenectady two weeks ago. Troy also has Homecoming next week, entertaining Bethlehem, and will travel to Latham to play Shaker two weeks later, with a stop in Schenectady before that.
Other Troy High news: The boys' soccer team has suddenly caught fire, having won three in a row after beating Bethlehem, 3-2, on Thursday afternoon. Credit the surge to the team's new playmaker and leading scorer, Kevin Vargas, who has tallied 12 goals in the three games, including all three vs. Bethlehem. Coach Mike Murnane's club, now 4-3 overall, will host Niskayuna on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, the girls' soccer team is still looking for their first win after dropping a 2-1 decision to Bethlehem Thursday night. They've been competitive and in every game so far (0-5), but as was the case last year, the first win has been elusive. They're on the road at Nisky Saturday morning, then have back-to-back home games on Tuesday & Wednesday vs. Shaker and, in a non-league game, Broadalbin-Perth. That game was moved up a day, as it was originally scheduled for Sept. 21, but that's Jewish New Year, and schools will be closed on Thursday, something that didn't happen when I was a student at Troy back in the day.

Unfortunately, the volleyball, golf, cross country, and women's tennis teams are also winless. The golf team's short season is already over, it seems, as the league championships took place on Thursday, with Troy finishing last. It's not like it was back in the day, when Troy fielded competitive teams in every sport. With Troy promoting football, basketball, and, to a lesser extent, soccer, softball, & baseball, ahead of the other sports, it's getting harder to field a quality team these days. Just sayin'.

Weasel of the Week: Todd Starnes

Mr. Starnes is a Fox News radio host and columnist, but apparently, he hasn't been paying too much attention to comic books of late.

You see, according to the Huffington Post's Ed Mazza, Starnes ragged on the latest issue of Action Comics, just because Superman rescues some alleged illegal immigrants from a bigot wearing a bandana shaped like the American flag. Starnes, however, ignored another scene in the same issue where the Man of Steel prevents an arsonist from killing some wealthy, well-to-do types.

Starnes even goes so far as to accuse Superman of being an illegal alien himself. If my memory serves me correctly, Supes eventually became a naturalized citizen years ago, but why would a comics icon be used as a political tool in the first place? Well, I'd guess it's because it was a slow news day, and Starnes was desperately looking for something to vent about.

Let's remind Mr. Starnes about what Superman is all about:

If this week's Weasel could actually take the time to read the entire story, and not take his warped perceptions at face value, he'd actually learn something.

The late Jim Croce taught that you don't tug on Superman's cape. However, Starnes, to use another line from "You Don't Mess Around With Jim", is spitting in the wind here, and that's just as wrong.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Even the stars will play the Price is Right (1965)

After the original Price is Right shifted from NBC to ABC in 1963, Mark Goodson & Bill Todman tweaked the format just a tad, substituting one studio contestant with a celebrity guest star.

For the week of March 8-12, 1965, actress Dorothy Lamour filled the guest chair. Unfortunately, host-executive producer Bill Cullen was on vacation that week, so Jack Clark, who was otherwise the announcer on CBS' Password (and filled in for Allen Ludden there occasionally), was the guest host. The following episode is from March 12.

Note that the basic game is not the same as it is today. Contestants' Row didn't have a vacant seat after each winning bid. Instead, the contestants remained for the entire show, racking up some serious numbers.

At the end, Clark plugs the following week's shows with Tom Poston crossing over from To Tell The Truth to fill the guest bidder's chair. Until I found this video, I didn't realize that Cullen had been promoted, getting an executive producer's credit in the final season of the series. And, yes, Bob Barker was accorded the same courtesy late in his run.

Rating: A.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

What Might've Been: The Don Rickles Show (1968)

We've discussed before how game show kings Mark Goodson & Bill Todman had branched out to other genres in the 60's. They tried Westerns (Branded, The Rebel) and crime dramas (Philip Marlowe). But a comedy-variety show?

In 1968, Goodson-Todman sold ABC a half hour comedy-variety show featuring insult comic Don Rickles. The network's mistake was putting it on Fridays, opposite movies on CBS and a freshman drama on NBC, The Name of The Game. ABC was a year or two away from taking control of the night, and while giving Rickles a platform for his brand of comedy, it was on the wrong night of the week. Isn't that how it always works?

Anyway, one episode exists online. The quality is horrid, but it's the best we can do. Pat McCormick was the show's announcer and head writer, and he figures prominently in the opening skit with special guest Jim Nabors (Gomer Pyle, USMC):

The Don Rickles Show didn't finish the season. However, the Merchant of Venom would return in 1972 with another self-titled series, this one a domestic sitcom, but that also flopped. He finally landed a hit--sort of--with CPO Sharkey, but that lasted two seasons.

Rating: C.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Sports this 'n' that

Troy High's boys soccer team won a grand total of 3 games in its first two seasons in the Suburban Council. Headed into tonight's home match vs. Columbia, coach Mike Murnane's club already has 2 wins on the season, the latest a non-league win over Newburgh Free Academy on Sunday, which I didn't know about until I saw a box score in yesterday's Albany Times-Union. Kevin Vargas did all the scoring for the Flying Horses in a 5-3 win, snapping a 2 game losing streak. Troy will be at Bethlehem on Thursday, then back home for a Saturday night special vs. Niskayuna. Currently, Troy sits at 2-3 overall (1-3 in league play). Maybe they'll be a sleeper come sectionals next month? We'll see.
The Capital District Bowling Proprietors Association (CDBPA) is keeping their weekly show off the air this season while they try to figure out a few things. Here's an idea. Cut the fees down to a reasonable level, and the number of entries per week will go up.

Capital Region Bowling has been on the air on 2 different channels over the course of 15 seasons (2002-17), but there's too much lead time between when the show is taped and when it airs. I'm old enough to remember WRGB's iconic TV Tournament Time, which would tape on Friday nights, and be on the air less than 48 hours later, especially after they put bowling lanes at the station's studios in Niskayuna.

The point is, if the CDBPA wants to get the show back on the air, they need to make significant changes.

1. Lower the entry fees for each tournament. I've read where it's as much as $50 per entry. They would allow league bowlers to qualify in league play via a handicap system, which cost significantly less ($10 the last I knew). To attract more bowlers, the scratch fees for the deep pocketed high rollers would be lowered to $25, and handicap tournaments would be no more than about $20.

2. Tapings have been on Sunday afternoons prior to that night's league play. The only change would be to reduce the lead time from tape to air to 1 week, not 2-3, as has been the norm.

3. WNYA, the most recent home of Capital Region Bowling, if it decides to welcome back the CDBPA, should move the program back to a more reasonable time, say around noon, where TV Tournament Time usually aired back in the day.

4. Increased promotion. WNYA didn't run a lot of commercials, but then, the CDBPA wasn't buying enough time for ads, just enough for a weekly show.
Week 1 of the NFL season is in the books, and, oh, is it ever wack.

Consider this. Buffalo (AFC East), Jacksonville (AFC South), and the Los Angeles Rams (NFC West) all lead their divisions after 1 week. Now, we know Buffalo won't stay on top for very long. Miami has yet to play, and New England has assorted issues after losing their opener. The Rams, I think could make a run, now that 2nd year QB Jared Goff has had the training wheels taken off, as Indianapolis found out on Sunday, for the playoffs. Like, the NFC West could have both NFC Wild Cards this season, but, again, it's too early.

As for Jacksonville, so far, the early pre-season upsets have not been flukes after all. They may have given Kansas City the blueprint on how to beat New England, for all we know.

Meanwhile, ESPN's resident idiot, Stephen A. Smith, sounded off on Twitter after Detroit's Matthew Stafford threw a pick-6 on his first pass of the season vs. Arizona. Then, the Lions came back and beat the Cardinals. So, of course, Detroit fans had their fun with the First Take co-host. However, the next night, Suzy Kolber and the Monday Night Countdown crew, given a chance to have a few laughs at the Cosell wannabe's expense, gave him a pass in the C'mon Man! segment, which would've been more appropriate, not even mentioning Smith's ill-timed throwing of shade at Stafford, who signed a phat contract in the off-season.

Now we know why New York Daily News media columnist Bob Raissman refers to ESPN as the Bristol Clown Community College. This, though, should've been the general reaction to Smith's latest social media gaffe:

Like, c'mon, man!!

Smith's arrogance will remind folks of radio tool Mike Francesa, who thinks he knows everything, too, and often gets called out on it.
Speaking of the Daily News, their sportswriters are under the impression that the Jets are tanking on purpose this season with the goal of getting the #1 draft pick next spring. I don't think that could actually happen. Yes, the Jests did cut salary in the offseason by making some stupid decisions, but I don't think going 0-16 is the goal here. If head coach Todd Bowles had any idea this would be the case, would he preside over such garbage? No.
The NFL is looking to overturn an injunction blocking their suspension of Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott, this after Elliott ran for 104 yards the Cowboys' win over the Giants on Sunday. Good luck with that, but the pettiness that runs in the commissioner's office suggests that, one way or another, they'll enforce the suspension anyway, which is tantamount to abuse of authority. The courts cleared Elliott of charges of domestic abuse, so why can't the NFL? They've come too far in their irrational handling of such matters to actually do the right thing in the first place, such that they'll eventually drive viewers away.

Quite frankly, commissioner Roger Goodell should've fallen on his sword after the Tom Brady mess, but it's clear he hasn't learned thing one from that.
Finally, in WWE news, congratulations to Intercontinental champ/reality star Michael "The Miz" Mizanin, and his wife, Maryse, who announced on Monday Night Raw that they're expecting their first child. Now, WWE Uncreative has to figure out who should beat the Miz for the IC title so he can go on paternity leave in a few months. Meanwhile, the Mizanins' Total Divas castmate, Nikki Bella, will be on Dancing With The Stars starting next week. Two other WWE personalities have competed on Dancing previously. Stacy Keibler finished 3rd behind Drew Lachey and NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice in the spring of 2006. Chris Jericho finished somewhere in the top 10 as well a few years later.

The biggest problem for Bella isn't the prospect of fiancee John Cena in the audience, taking attention away from her (not likely until after the No Mercy PPV), but rather Drew Lachey's brother, Nick, and his actress-wife, Vanessa, who are also in the field. Don't say I didn't warn you, but I don't see Nikki winning. Just sayin'.

Monday, September 11, 2017

A Modern Classic: Dear John (1988)

Judd Hirsch returned to television in 1988 with Ed. Weinberger's adaptation of the British sitcom, Dear John. Amazingly, this series lasted twice as long as the original. In England, the original Dear John had two "series" (seasons) between 1986-7. The American version, airing on NBC, ran for 4 years (1988-92).

Hirsch is the title character, a divorced school teacher who enters a support group for divorcees and widowed men and women.

To be perfectly honest, I had not seen the series when it aired initially, but now it runs weekday mornings on Antenna TV (check your listings), so I took a look at it this morning. For now, let's take a look at the pilot.

The closest I've been to a support group like John's was when I was in group therapy for psych issues in the early 80's. That said, I can't totally relate to John's sitch, since I've never been married, though I've been dumped a couple of times by ex-girlfriends. However, in terms of the format, Hirsch, who was comfortable as part of an ensemble on Taxi a few years earlier, finds another comfort zone here. John Tracey is no Alex Rieger, but Hirsch pours as much emotion into the role as he can. While Hirsch didn't win an Emmy, guest star Cleavon Little did for his 1-off appearance in season 1. Go figure.

I'm impressed with the show, and I wish I'd given it more attention back in the day.

Rating: B.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

On The Air: Nightline (1979)

It started as a nightly update on the Iran hostage crisis as America Held Hostage. Since 1980, ABC's late night news magazine has been known as Nightline, and I'd imagine some people might not believe it's still on the air, considering it now airs in back of Jimmy Kimmel Live, and consequently is blacked out in much of the country.

Nightline often devotes a broadcast to one specific topic. In 1989, the subject was the threat of deregulating professional wrestling. Among the guests are the late Frank Deford and future WWE Hall of Famer Captain Lou Albano, who speaks out against his long-time employer.

This might explain in part why Albano had left the then-World Wrestling Federation, and not just to pursue an acting career. Around the time this episode aired, he was co-starring on the syndicated children's series, The Super Mario Brothers Super Show, which wasn't mentioned in the interview. However, Albano smoothed things over with Vince McMahon, and ultimately would return 3-4 years later.

Rating: A.

How many "stars" are shilling for Diet 7-Up? (1981)

I've heard of being the life of the party, but this is the grand prize.

Impressionists Rich Little & Marilyn Michaels (and a few friends) star in this spot for Diet 7-Up. Rich is doing Cary Grant, Jack Lemmon (I think), Groucho Marx, and Humphrey Bogart. Marilyn is Mae West, but I'm not sure about the others.

I'm not sure if they'd did anything together aside from The Kopykats before this. Probably did.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Classic TV: Pop Goes The Country (1974)

Saturday afternoons back in the day didn't just mean sports. There was also a variety of country music programming in syndication, including Hee Haw (from 1971 forward) and our next subject, Pop Goes The Country.

In the course of a half hour, Pop would showcase two or more artists per week, who would also be interviewed by hosts Ralph Emory (1974-80) or Tom T. Hall (1980-2). It was like a compact version of Dick Clark's long-running American Bandstand or Don Cornelius' Soul Train, but without the dancers. Depending on where you lived, usually in the South or Midwest, Pop could've been airing opposite the other two.

If you did the math, then you know Pop ran for just 8 seasons. Why it ended, I don't know. What I do know is that RFD TV does have the cable rights to it at last check, so you might be able to catch up sometime.

From 1979, here's an episode with Dave & Sugar and Don Williams, who leads off with "Tulsa Time", which is more commonly associated with Eric Clapton.

In memory of Williams, who passed away Friday. The "Gentle Giant" of country music will be missed.

Rating: A.

Football this 'n' that

I think everyone assumed that New England would open defense of its Super Bowl title with a win over Kansas City on Thursday. Didn't watch the game (chose Mets-Reds instead), didn't see any highlights. Instead, like everyone else, I was stunned to learn the champs lost at home for the 4th time in 2 seasons and change. Already without one of their best offensive playmakers in Julian Edelman (out for the season), the Pats watched his replacement, Danny Amendola, go out with a concussion. Luckily, Amendola has 10 days, counting yesterday, before the next game, plenty of time to go through concussion protocols to be ready to play. However, defensive star Dont'a Hightower was also knocked from the game, this time with a knee injury. Given that the Patriots need more help on defense than they do on offense, that may be a bit problematic going forward.

And, then, I read this morning of some Pats fans feeling, as the kids say, butt-hurt over the loss and, get this, calling for Tom Brady to be benched in favor of Jimmy Garappolo. Yeah, it's likely they're taking into account Brady just turning 40, and it's a rare game where Brady didn't throw a TD pass, but give me a break. It's only the first game of the season. I guess we know who the fair-weather fans are in New England, don't we?
For now, the Dallas Cowboys can breathe a sigh of relief.

A judge has issued an injunction that will further delay the 6-game suspension of running back Ezekiel Elliott, claiming that the NFL wasn't fair to Elliott. Roughly translated, it seems the league was bent on punishing Elliott, even if the police didn't, for alleged domestic abuse. As a commentator on Yahoo! suggested Friday night, they went through the same thing with Tom Brady until he had to sit out 4 games for deflate-gate last year. Of course, the Patriots won the Super Bowl despite that, so who's to say what'll happen if/when Elliott does serve his suspension? Could Dallas duplicate the Patriots' feat? We'll just have to wait & see.
High school beat:

Troy High ran its winning streak to 15 in a row Friday, throttling Guilderland, 59-26. For the most part, it was the Joey Ward show, as the senior caught 1 TD pass from Joe Casale, ran for 5 more, and, on the first offensive play of the game, threw a halfback option pass to Isaiah Burdette for 69 yards to set the tone. In all, Ward was responsible for 7 touchdowns in some form. You have to remember, Ward was a quarterback himself at Bishop Maginn before transferring to Troy a year ago.

Meanwhile, Columbia spoiled LaSalle's home opener, escaping with a 21-20 win over an undermanned Cadets squad that dressed only 21 varsity players. Guess who's next for LaSalle? Yep, Troy High will be at Sutton Field next week, and it's only going to get worse. Troy has outscored their two opponents by a ridiculous 114-40. Ouch!! I think a recruitment drive is in order at LaSalle.....!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Musical Interlude: My Town (2002)

The country duo Montgomery Gentry served up an ode to small town life with 2002's "My Town", the title cut from their 3rd CD on Columbia.

In memory of guitarist-vocalist Troy Gentry, who passed away today in a helicopter crash en route to a concert booking in New Jersey.

What Might've Been: Blansky's Beauties (1977)

After appearing concurrently in supporting roles in 2 series (Rhoda & McMillian & Wife) and a bazillion commercials for Bounty paper towels, Nancy Walker landed a contract with ABC in 1976. Unfortunately, much like Andy Griffith at CBS a few years earlier, Walker struck out twice in the same season.

After her self-titled, Norman Lear-produced sitcom came & went, Walker was cast in the lead in Garry Marshall's Blansky's Beauties. Set in present-day Las Vegas, Walker played Nancy Blansky, who was a den mother, if you will, for a troupe of showgirls. Unfortunately, Blansky was stuck with a Saturday night berth opposite NBC's Emergency! and CBS' The Jeffersons. Game over.

Curiously, Blansky started with a back-door pilot just a few days earlier on Happy Days, so this was the first spin-off from Days that failed. While Days was set at that time in the late 50's, Blansky's Beauties, as noted, was set 20 years later, and while Walker's character didn't change all that much, the time difference may have been a bit of a factor.

There were crossovers with not only Days, but with, after a fashion, Laverne & Shirley, as well, as Penny Marshall, as a slightly older Laverne, made a guest appearance. Pat Morita reprised as Arnold after his own series, Mr. T & Tina, had also flopped earlier in the season. Eddie Mekka was cast as Joey, the lookalike cousin of his Laverne character, Carmine, which would've been fodder for a future storyline had Blansky been renewed.

Post-Blansky, Lynda Goodfriend and Scott Baio joined the cast of Happy Days, although both would also appear on another Marshall entry, NBC's Who's Watching The Kids?, which replicated a basic plot from Blansky. Kids was also given a quick hook, which suggested that maybe in his seeming obsession with having a hit show set in Las Vegas, Marshall went back to the drawing board too soon.

Marshall also had a recurring role as Nancy's boss, Mr. Smith. Cyndi Grecco, who recorded Laverne's theme song, "Making Our Dreams Come True", does the honors here for Blansky's theme, "I Want it All", not to be confused with the later Queen song of the same name.

Here's the intro:

Another cast member, Rhonda Bates, would also move on, resurfacing in another NBC flop, James Komack's Roller Girls, before co-hosting the magazine series, Speak Up America. As noted earlier this week, Caren Kaye would return in the fall of '77 in The Betty White Show before joining the cast of Who's Watching The Kids?.

No rating. I have no memory of seeing this show.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Forgotten TV: Half The George Kirby Comedy Hour (1972)

After The Kopykats had been cancelled, George Kirby, who had shot a pilot for a solo series before ABC came a'callin', signed a deal with Westinghouse's Group W division to front a half-hour series.

What some of you might not know was that Kirby was not only a talented comedian and impressionist, but had started his career as an R & B singer. Half The George Kirby Comedy Hour served as an outlet for Kirby to showcase his gifts as both a comic and a song & dance man.

Unfortunately, the series lasted just 1 year. I remember seeing this filling in for some CBS series that the affiliate opted to black out on a Saturday night. Why that was, I don't know, given the lineup CBS had on Saturdays in 1972, but that's when I saw the Kirby show.

Just as unfortunately, we lost Kirby to Parkinson's disease in 1995.

In this clip, George teams with Della Reese for a medley covering "Never Can Say Goodbye", which was a hit for Isaac Hayes and the Jackson 5ive, and "Let's Stay Together" (Al Green).

Kind of like an urban Dean Martin, don't you think?

Rating: B.

Here there be Weasels

Multiple Weasel of the Week awards to be handed out today:

Weasel #1 Craig (My face should be on a milk) Carton. The WFAN morning drive yakker (teamed with Boomer Esiason) was arrested Tuesday on, well, fraud charges. Seems he ran a Ponzi scheme in order to cover some gambling debts. No wonder media columnists Bob Raissman (NY Daily News) and Phil Mushnick (NY Post) have reason to hate on the guy when he's on the air. Yes, he can be annoying while on the air, but it seems that he's had something to hide, and it finally got out in the open. WFAN, unsurprisingly, suspended Carton while the investigation is ongoing. Let the other shoe drop, and send Carton on his way.

Weasel #2: Repeat offender Kim Kardashian needed to remind people she's still around, amid news that she and husband Kanye West are expecting #3 via a surrogate, so she posted a picture of herself wearing only a pair of cowgirl boots and standing on a tree branch. The posts have since been deleted, but the fact that this reality show peabrain decided to call attention to herself in between hurricanes Harvey & Irma is enough to qualify her for another set of Weasel ears.

Weasel #3: Rev. Kevin Swanson is giving Christians a bad name this morning for claiming that Harvey was God's message to the city of Houston to repent, blaming the LGBT community for the storm. Oh, please, give me a break!!!!!

When was the last time you read any passages from the New Testament, Rev. Swanson? Or are the evangelicals in the southern states so stuck on the Old Testament that they can't be bothered to reconcile themselves with the fact that when Jesus was crucified on the cross at Calvary, a new covenant, borne out of grace and love for everyone, was created. Rev. Swanson is a notorious homophobe who also has his own radio show, where he made his rant about Houston and Harvey.

The problem I have is that Rev. Swanson has let his personal feelings inform his message, which is not how it works. In addition, conservative peabrain Ann Coulter weighed in, claiming that she didn't agree with Swanson about the storm being God's punishment, but that it was a "more credible" excuse than climate change.

Oh, really?? What would you say if Irma does similar damage to Miami, with its large Latino population? Probably more of the same garbage.

Enjoy the Weasel ears. You deserve them.

Updated, 3:08 pm (ET): One more set of Weasel ears to hand out, and these are headed for another group of Bible-thumpers who don't get it.

One Million Moms, an off-shoot of the American Family Association, unsuccessfully petitioned Fox to pull Lucifer off the air. Now, they've turned their attention to another Vertigo adaptation, AMC's 2nd year series, Preacher, based on Garth Ennis' demented series. Their problem is a scene depicting Jesus engaging in some debauchery prior to his crucifixion. Ennis is imagining something of the sort happened, and it's being interpreted by the show's writers.

Truth is, and this is the only point on which I'll side with the zealots, is that it didn't happen. It was Ennis' cavalier attitude toward religion in general that turned me off the book when it came out in the 90's, and I gave up on the show after the 1st episode. Anyway, OMM is demanding that Verizon and Procter & Gamble, makers of Febreze, pull their ads from the show, and calling for AMC to terminate Preacher, which moved to Mondays for season 2. Good luck making that happen.

You see, the thing with writers is that they'll use creative license, regardless of subject matter, in order to tell the story as they see it. Yes, I disagree with how Jesus is used on Preacher (Jesus as a talk show host on South Park now seems tame by comparison), but I understand the warped vision of the writer responsible.

OMM is wasting their time, and ours, with another pointless petition. I don't watch Preacher by choice. OMM needs to see that people can make their own decisions, and not be bullied by a group of sanctimonious zealots.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Sports this 'n' that

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott will play in Sunday night's opener vs. the Giants, but after that, he'll serve a 6-game suspension for domestic abuse. The suspension was upheld at a hearing in New York on Tuesday, but because they waited until 5 days before the game to make the ruling, Elliott will be eligible to play, then return in November after serving the suspension. The Cowboys have enough offensive weapons to compensate for Elliott's absence otherwise.
Gamesmanship is one thing, but this is a whole new level of stupid.

The AL East leading Boston Red Sox have admitted to Major League Baseball that someone on their staff, without the knowledge of manager John Farrell & GM Dave Dombrowski, stole the Yankees' signs during a series last month at Fenway Park. They say everyone does it, but with an Apple watch?!?

Yankees-Red Sox is the biggest baseball rivalry, especially in terms of television ratings, but why resort to high-tech thievery, just because the New England Patriots got a slap on the wrist 10 years ago for Spygate? When you do something like that, it stops becoming about the game, and about looking for any advantage you can find, legal or not. Who's to say the Yankees haven't done it to the Sawx themselves? Who's to say the Phillies weren't doing it during their run of NL East titles (2007-11)? Who knows anymore?
With hurricane Irma approaching Florida, the NFL has already decided that in-state rivals Miami & Tampa Bay won't play their opener at Miami on Sunday. Instead, they will wait until the teams' mutual bye week on November 19.

It might not be the best idea in the world, especially on short notice, but what can you do?
Saturday's Alabama-Florida State game saw both teams lose key players due to injuries. The Seminoles' sophomore QB, Deondre Francois, is gone for the season after tearing the patella tendon on his left knee. The defending national champion Crimson Tide lost linebackers Christian Miller & Terrell Lewis, also for the season. Miller has a torn bicep, Lewis tore a ligament in his elbow.

This is the worst case scenario when you have teams starting their seasons before Labor Day for the sake of television ratings. Alabama has enough depth at the linebacker position to make up for the losses. Meanwhile, Florida State's chances of qualifying for the four-team playoff at the end of the season took a major hit with Francois going down in the 4th quarter.
Troy High's boys soccer team took it on the chin Tuesday, dropping a 4-1 decision to CBA. The Flying Horses close out a 3 game road trip tomorrow at Ballston Spa. As of this writing, last week's game vs. Guilderland still hasn't been reported to the press, but the team's record of 1-2 isn't too shabby compared to last year. The question now becomes one of, can they win any more games before sectionals begin next month? We'll see.
Traditionally, WWE tapes episodes of Monday Night Raw & Smackdown in advance when the Christmas holiday falls on a Monday, as is the case this year, or Tuesday. Not this time.

Word got out Monday that Raw will be live on Christmas night for the first time ever, and the New Year's night show will be the first live January 1 show since 2007. Why is this? Blame it on USA Network, it seems, as network suits think they can use WWE to counter-program against an NBA marathon on ABC & ESPN.

Who are they kidding? We've reached the point of the year where WWE routinely gets killed on Mondays thanks to football, and putting Raw opposite a marquee NBA matchup will be no different on Christmas night. In the past, Vince McMahon has conceded Christmas week with pre-taped shows, knowing there might not be enough folks tuning in. This time, though, he's been overruled. One must assume Smackdown will be live on 12/26 and 1/2, just the same.

Meanwhile, speaking of Smackdown, the chairman will make his first appearance on TV since April on the September 12 episode. In the current storyline, son Shane, Smackdown's commissioner, has been suspended from that post, the better to prepare for a PPV showdown with former US & World champion Kevin Owens (nee Steen), likely next month. With the 20th anniversary of the most infamous PPV angle ever approaching, a Canadian wrestler vs. a McMahon will make Owens, a heel, into a de facto babyface in his home country. Seems to me that the old man still can't let go of 1997, but this should be the last time they even think of invoking the '97 Survivor Series for any reason.

Of course, the kicker is that Owens hails from the Montreal suburbs. Enough said.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

What Might've Been: The Betty White Show (1977)

After The Mary Tyler Moore Show ended its run after 7 seasons, CBS spun Lou Grant off into a drama that lasted almost as long. The network then rolled the dice with Betty White, giving her a self-titled sitcom of her own.

The Betty White Show lasted just 1 season, but not for lack of trying. The problem was where it was placed on the schedule. Airing on Mondays, opposite movies on NBC and Monday Night Football on ABC, spelled trouble.

Joyce Whitman (White) is the star of Undercover Woman (a parody of NBC's Police Woman), working with her ex-husband (John Hillerman, ex-Ellery Queen) as her director. The budget for Undercover Woman must've been on a shoestring, since Joyce's stunt double is a male actor who's slightly taller (Charles Cyphers).

The supporting cast also included Alex Henteloff (ex-The Young Rebels), Caren Kaye (ex-Blansky's Beauties), Georgia Engel, another alumnus from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and Barney Phillips (ex-Dragnet), who had been getting back into acting in front of the camera, as he tried his hand at voice acting a decade earlier (Shazzan).

Let's take a look at a sample episode.

All this needed was a better night. White, of course, would rebound big time a few years later, with Just Men! (a game show for which she won an Emmy) and The Golden Girls.

Rating: B-.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Forgotten TV: The Tony Randall Show (1976)

After a year off following the cancellation of The Odd Couple, Tony Randall returned to television with a self-titled sitcom that ran for 2 seasons (1976-8). There was, however, a quirk.

The first season aired on ABC, which was home to Odd Couple. The network didn't have a lot of luck with MTM Productions, which packaged The Tony Randall Show, two years earlier with The Texas Wheelers, which is better known today for introducing audiences to Mark Hamill, three years before "Star Wars". Both ABC & MTM hoped Randall could deliver a hit.

This time around, Randall plays widowed judge Walter Franklin, who's not quite the compulsive neatnik that Felix Unger was. For some reason, whether it was money or something else, I can't say for sure, ABC decided not to renew the show, and if memory serves, they never did business with MTM again. MTM otherwise was almost exclusively dealing with CBS at the time, and shipped The Tony Randall Show off to CBS for the 1977 season, coupled with first year sitcoms We've Got Each Other & The Betty White Show and Lou Grant, the last spin-off from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, but this time as a drama. Unfortunately, Randall was pink-slipped again the following spring.

In this sample clip, Judge Franklin matches wits with a persnickety defense attorney......

The show deserved a better fate, like maybe a more favorable night and time. ABC had a loaded schedule in '76, but saw Randall's show as a weak link, or so it'd seem.

Rating: B.

CBS Fall Preview 40 years ago (1977)

The fall of 1977 saw two series move from ABC to CBS, while the "Tiffany of the networks" added some brand new entries. We've already discussed the following:

Lou Grant
Young Dan'l Boone

We've yet to look at:

The Betty White Show
On Our Own
The Fitzpatricks
We've Got Each Other (not included in the following video).
Logan's Run

With the exception of Lou Grant, none of the freshman class managed to stick. The Incredible Hulk & Dallas were mid-season replacements, with Hulk bowing in November, and Dallas, shockingly, aired on Sunday nights when it launched later in the season.

The acquisitions from ABC? The Tony Randall Show and Wonder Woman.

Let's take a look at what was, in fact, a promo video made for network affiliates, and narrated by Dick Tufeld (ex-Lost in Space, Hollywood Palace).

It is what it is, isn't it?

Rating: A.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Rockin' Funnies: Born In East LA (1984)

President Trump probably wouldn't like this video.

Richard "Cheech" Marin, one half of Cheech & Chong, went solo with a send-up of Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA" with "Born in East LA", which was also released in 1984.

The concept is simple. Cheech runs afoul of a INS officer and is deported to Mexico along with some other undocumented "immigrants". "Born" would later be adapted into a feature film, with Marin writing, starring, and directing, three years later.

In addition to a cameo appearance by Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, "Born" also pokes Randy Newman's "I Love LA", ever so gently.

Nearly 20 years later, Marin gave it a whirl as a contestant on Celebrity Duets, trying his hand at country music, singing in his natural voice. Unfortunately, he didn't win. We'll discuss Celebrity Duets another time.

Weasel of the Week: LaVar Ball

Should this surprise anyone?

LaVar Ball, America's worst stage parent, doesn't care if his youngest child, LaMelo, never plays a second of college ball. All he's interested in is exploiting his sons' talent as soon as possible to fatten his wallet.

I'm sure you've heard by now that the elder Ball has produced the next overpriced shoe from his Big Baller Brand, bearing LaMelo's signature. The retail price? $300. LaMelo hasn't started his school year yet at Chino Hills High in Los Angeles, and his greedy father, still looking to realize the money he never made as a pro, now wants to profit off him as well as elder brother Lonzo. In California, there are no rules prohibiting high school players from having their own shoes on the market---and what kid would, anyway---, but this would preclude LaMelo from ever playing for any college. At all. The feeling now is that if LaMelo can't play NCAA basketball, he'll take his talents overseas for a year before declaring for the NBA draft, and that's still about 3 years away.

It doesn't end there. La Loudmouth is also claiming that when Cleveland's LeBron James files for free agency after next season, he'll head for LA and play for the Lakers. Not even Fred Sanford was this delusional.

Add it up, and LaVar Ball gets this week's Weasel of the Week award. Oh, I think there'll be more of those, I'm sure, before his 15 minutes expire.

What Might've Been: Musical Chairs (1975)

In recent years, when classic game shows have been revived for the modern era, producers have hired African-Americans to host the shows. To wit:

Steve Harvey (Family Feud)
Wayne Brady (Let's Make a Deal)
Sherri Shepherd (The Newlywed Game)
Anthony Anderson (To Tell The Truth)
Aisha Tyler (Whose Line Is It Anyway?)
Michael Strahan (The $100,000 Pyramid)
Snoop Dogg (TBS' forthcoming Joker's Wild revival)

None of this would be happening if it wasn't for Adam Wade.

Wade, a singer by trade, was the first African-American game show host, hired to helm the short-lived CBS series, Musical Chairs, which ran for 4 1/2 months in 1975 (June-October).

What Musical Chairs was, really, was CBS' attempt to duplicate the success, albeit in a quiz show format, of Name That Tune, which had been revived at the time by NBC, and, later, in syndication. The problem was, Chairs was slotted in a late afternoon berth on CBS. And, yes, it did air in the home district, at a time before local affiliates realized the full value of syndicated afternoon programming.

In this sample episode, the guest stars are Mary Stuart (Search For Tomorrow), The Spinners, and Irene Cara, who, at the time, was a member of the Short Circus (The Electric Company).

Wade's only other television series credit of note was an animated cartoon. He was cast in NBC's Super Globetrotters 4 years after Chairs. I'd imagine he'd been on Soul Train during the course of his career.

Rating: B.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

NBC's fall lineup 50 years ago (1967)

NBC didn't learn anything from the previous year's fall preview special, Two in a Taxi, which starred Jack Burns & Avery Schreiber. For 1967, they tried another oddball concept.

Remember Next Year? supposed Earth's future 20 years ahead (1987), which included colonization of the moon. Danny Thomas, fronting a comedy-variety hour in 1967 for NBC, stars along with Jan Murray and Get Smart's Don Adams.

In addition to The Danny Thomas Hour, NBC's freshman class of '67 consisted of:

High Chaparral
The Mothers-in-Law
The Jerry Lewis Show
Accidental Family

Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In debuted the following winter. All except The Danny Thomas Hour and the weekly version of The Kraft Music Hall have previously been discussed.

Now, let's take a trip, as Danny Thomas sees it, to 1987. Murray plays "Mr. Spelling", a left-handed reference to ABC-exclusive producer Aaron Spelling, with whom Thomas sold Rango & The Guns of Will Sonnet to ABC.

The affiliate from whence this video came opted to black out Accidental Family for some reason. Just as well, as it was a flop. We previously showed you ABC's shorter preview. We're trying to locate CBS' 1967 preview, as well as all three networks' 1962 previews.

Rating for Remember Next Year?: C-.