Tuesday, October 31, 2017

What Might've Been: Ripcord (1961)

Most folks associate producer Ivan Tors with mid-60's shows like Flipper, Gentle Ben, Daktari, Jambo, & Cowboy in Africa, or Lloyd Bridges' Sea Hunt. Tors also worked with Ziv on another adventure series that was a little, well, uncommon for its time.

Ripcord tells the tale of two men who deliver goods and services by air, and the various dangers they face on the job. Larry Pennell may be better known to most for his recurring gig as actor Dash Riprock on The Beverly Hillbillies than his work here. Of course, actor-singer Ken Curtis is better known for his lengthy stint on Gunsmoke as deputy Festus Hagen, and as a result, is unrecognizable here.

After a few episodes, actor-comic Shug Fisher, who also spent some time on Hillbillies, Gunsmoke, and a few other shows, and, like Curtis, was an on-again, off-again member of the Sons of the Pioneers, was on board as a pilot.

Speaking of pilots, the unaired pilot, "The Skydivers", with guest star Russell Johnson, is up, but before that, Tors offers a little insight on skydiving and the conception of Ripcord.

Rating: B.

Monday, October 30, 2017

What Might've Been: Van Dyke & Company (1976)

After being associated with CBS his entire career, Dick Van Dyke moved to NBC in 1976, but his comedy-variety series, Van Dyke & Company, failed, and not for a lack of trying. It just happened that NBC had it on the wrong night and/or at the wrong time.

First, the show aired at 10 (ET), which on Thursdays meant it was opposite a pair of competing Quinn Martin crime dramas, Barnaby Jones and Streets of San Francisco. But, after Gemini Man, a reworking of Harve Bennett's adaptation of The Invisible Man, flopped, Van Dyke was moved into the 8 pm (ET) berth, opposite The Waltons and ABC's sitcom combo of Welcome Back, Kotter & Barney Miller. Ballgame over.

Creatively, Van Dyke & Company seemed to be in capable hands, too, with veteran producer Allan Blye at the helm, partnered with Bob Einstein, whose alter ego of Super Dave Osborne was a regular on the show. The repertory company also included eccentric performance artist/comedian Andy Kaufman in one of his first TV gigs. Blye's former partner, Chris Bearde, was collaborating with Chuck Barris on The Gong Show at the time.

The title card offers a sketch of Van Dyke that recalls his impersonation of comedy legend Stan Laurel. The following sample clip features Lucille Ball:

In my house, Thursdays meant CBS or ABC, depending on what the parents wanted to watch, which was usually a mixed bag, including Barney Miller and Streets. No rating.

Singing while you work? (1971)

Remember this McDonald's ad?

The cast included John Amos, whose resume includes Good Times, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and the original Roots, and Johnny Haymer, later of M*A*S*H. Look quick, and you'll find a pre-Happy Days Anson Williams, too.

Most of today's McDonald's employ teens & 20-somethings, but you're not going to see the ad agency for McDonald's try to recreate this spot with a hip hop beat. They would've already done it by now.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Spook Rock: Sittin' Up With The Dead (1990)

Leave it to Ray Stevens to provide some musical levity as we draw closer to Halloween. From 1990's "Lend Me Your Ears", here's "Sittin' Up With The Dead", and we don't mean the Grateful Dead.

Sports this 'n' that

It appears that, for one week at least, The Record was able to actually interview Troy High football coach Bob Burns and star players Joe Casale & Joey Ward after Troy decimated Shenendehowa on Friday, 50-14. Maybe it was the choice of reporter that had something to do with it, as Stan Hudy (& the Blowfish) was assigned the game, rather than Sam Blum, whose attempt at old school muckraking journalism back in March got him in hot water with THS administration. Maybe the icebreaker came a week earlier, after women's soccer coach Justin Haviland, a biology teacher, was named a Master Teacher by Governor Cuomo, and was subsequently interviewed by the hometown paper. In any event, it's great to see that wiser, cooler heads have finally prevailed.
ESPN radio/televison trouble magnet Stephen A. Smith is at it again.

Smith, on his radio show, got on Cleveland Cavaliers star J. R. Smith about wearing a Nike-issued hoodie, which passes for a NBA warmup jacket these days, on the bench during a recent game. J. R. Smith took to Twitter to rip into the Cosell-wannabe. My message to "Screamin' A", who gets a Dunce Cap for his blatant on-air stupidity, is just be a journalist, not a wannabe member of the Fashion Police. In other words, shut up.
Game 1 of the World Series may have been a bit of an anomaly, considering how slow the pace of play has been of late, despite Major League Baseball's attempts to speed up the game. Tuesday's opener was completed in just under 2 1/2 hours, but each of the last three games have gone 3 hours-plus. Well, game 2 couldn't be helped, as that went 11 innings before Houston won.

Game 1 starters Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles) & Dallas Keuchel (Houston) are rematched tonight. Can we hope for an encore?
Some things never change in college sports around these parts.

Union swept a home-&-home hockey series vs. RPI the last two nights, and have owned the Engineers on the ice in recent years. They'll meet again later this season for their annual visit to the Times-Union Center, but only one of these teams will likely still be playing come March. Care to guess which one? The schools' football teams will meet in a couple of weeks in the annual battle for the Dutchmen's Shoes at Union's Frank Bailey Field, and both are doing very well this season. Hmmmm.

After playing at UAlbany's SEFCU Arena last year, Siena will welcome the Great Danes back to the T-U Center next month for their annual basketball game. There's been some griping in recent years since the game almost always is played at T-U Center, mostly because the venue is much bigger, but with the new Capitol Center just up the hill, maybe the Danes could rent that for a home game next year?
This is just too good to resist:

On Senior night in Atlee, Virginia, Sepp Shirey, who is playing despite Cerebral Palsy, was playing his last varsity game in front of the home fans. Varina High had a big lead, so they could afford a little charity, and helped escort Shirey to the end zone, cheering him on.

Proof positive that anyone can triumph over adversity.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Old Time Radio: Can You Top This? (1940)

Vaudeville comedian "Senator" Edward Ford claimed he came up with the idea of Can You Top This?, which began as a regional radio program in New York in 1940, then went national when the series left WOR-AM for the NBC network 2 years later. Ford, along with Joe Laurie, Jr., and cartoonist Harry Hirschfield, were the regular panelists, and continued with the first television version, which ran on ABC in the early 50's.

However, there was a similar series, Stop Me If You Heard This One, which launched a year or so earlier, which actually makes Top a bit derivative.

Judge for yourselves, as we listen to a 1942 episode that leads with "Restaurants".

After the ABC-TV series failed, Four Star picked up the rights for a syndicated version that ran in 1970 (previously covered), with Wink Martindale as host/announcer, and Morey Amsterdam (ex-The Dick Van Dyke Show) as not only a panelist, but executive producer as well. However, this version lasted less than a year.

Rating: B.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Musical Interlude: It's All Been Done (1999)

Like, this is worth an entry in the X-Files, eh?

Canada's Barenaked Ladies were booked for The Tonight Show to perform the single, "It's All Been Done", off the CD, "Stunt". X-Files star David Duchovny sits in with the band. Where was Jay Leno? His intro was edited off.

This is even cooler than the actual video the band shot for the track, which uses a bird's eye view---literally, as well as a cat's, and a dog's.

High School Fridays: Shenendehowa @ Troy (football), 10/27/17

The last time Shenendehowa and Troy met in a playoff game was 2010. Troy won, and went on to reach the state final, only to fall short of a championship.

The last time the two teams met, prior to tonight, was Week 1 last year, in Troy's home opener. That was the game that started Troy's current winning streak.

Thus, as Brian Clawson brought the Plainsmen back to Troy for a Class AA semi-final game, a berth in the Super Bowl wasn't the only thing on the agenda. A modicum of revenge would be nice.

Unfortunately, Shen went home with some embarrassing parting gifts.

In the first quarter, both teams found the going a little rough, until Troy's Joe Casale found Dev Holmes in the corner of the end zone. Holmes beat two defenders, and Troy had a 7-0 lead. On Shen's next possession, Holmes picked off Plainsmen QB Brandon Belott. On the next play, Casale hit Joey Ward for a 25 yard TD to make it 14-0. Ward was back in the lineup after missing last week's game due to disciplinary issues related more to academics than anything on the field.

Ward ran for two more scores in the 2nd quarter, and had a 3rd called back on a holding penalty. As it was, Troy went into the break with a 28-0 lead. At that point, most of the Troy fans decided to head home, not because they were confident the hosts would win again, but because of the cold weather.

Shen finally got on the board in the 3rd quarter, as Belott found Devon Disonell in the end zone. On the next possession, Casale hurled his 3rd TD pass of the game, this one to Avery Curley, to make it 42-7, headed into the final stanza.

Belott narrowed the margin by tossing a TD strike to James Altenberger to make it 42-14. Unfortunately, after a Troy turnover, Clawson stuck with Belott one series too long, and Troy's defense made him pay for it with interest. Derrick Cipriani picked off Belott at the Shen 1 yard line and took it the distance for a 99 yard pick-six. Michael Fazio then hit Michael Ragone for a 2 point conversion to put a bow on this one, as Troy gallops back to the AA Super Bowl, 50-14.

The next stop for Troy is Bob Ford Field at UAlbany, site of this year's Super Bowl, where they'll face Empire division champ Saratoga, which beat Shaker, 29-22. This will give Troy a fresh matchup, rather than a 4th meeting in 2 years against Shaker. Since returning to Class AA last year, Troy hasn't played Saratoga, but that will change next Friday.

Sports this 'n' that

We'll say this for the Mets and the Boston Red Sox. They're willing to take a chance on a first-time manager for 2018, rather than hit the recycling bin.

Boston tapped Houston bench coach Alex Cora as their new skipper, while the Mets poached Mickey Calloway away from Cleveland, where he'd been Terry Francona's pitching coach the last few years. Now all the Mets need is a new pitching coach, although some might think that bullpen coach Ricky Bones is the front-runner for that gig. Cleveland reportedly reached out to Carl Willis, who was in Boston as John Farrell's pitching coach, to succeed Calloway, but what are the chances of Farrell, who pitched for the Indians back in the day, reuniting with Francona?

Meanwhile, Washington is looking for a new manager after Dusty Baker's 2-year run ended with another NLDS exit. Philadelphia is looking to replace Pete Mackanin, who's already being mentioned as a possible successor to Joe Girardi with the Yankees. Girardi led the overachieving Yanks to the ALCS, capping a 10 year run that saw only 1 World Series title over that span (2009).

I think the trend now in MLB is to find younger, fresher voices in the clubhouse to run the team, which is why Dave Roberts, in his 2nd year in Los Angeles, has the Dodgers in the World Series.
We're down to 4 teams in the Section II Class AA football playoffs, and now we know where the game will be played next week.

Section II officials announced yesterday that the title game will be played at the University at Albany's Thomas & Mary Casey Stadium (Bob Ford Field) next Friday night. We'll know by the end of business tonight who will represent Class AA in the Super Bowl among Shaker, Saratoga, Shenendehowa, and defending champion Troy. UAlbany last hosted the AA Super Bowl three years ago, and, as we noted previously, RPI chose not to host the game this year, citing a scheduling conflict, but an RPI employee who's a regular at Troy games thinks there's something else that RPI's not disclosing. Business as usual in that section of the hometown. RPI's senior day is November 4, so maybe they wanted to reserve the field for that?
So far, the NBA season is playing out just as most of us feared. Every Lakers game is being over-analyzed because of rookie Lonzo Ball and his overbearing parasite of a father, LaVar. Can you imagine the worst stage parent on the planet in New York when the Lakers play Brooklyn and the Knicks? The tabloids would have a field week.

I haven't seen Lonzo play yet, don't care to. In this writer's opinion, he should still be in school, just like a lot of other "one & done" so-called phenoms who listen to the leeches surrounding them and are convinced they're ready for the big time when in some cases, they're not. For every LeBron James, for example, there are about a dozen or so who fall too far below the radar and are out of the league in less than five years. LaVar Ball claims he could beat Michael Jordan? Utter fallacy coming from a delusional old man living vicariously through his sons.

News flash: The Lakers will be lucky if they make the playoffs. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Remember Squoze lemonade mix? (1976)

Once upon a time, Pillsbury tried to be more than just bisquits and dinner rolls, but their other products have gradually fallen by the wayside.

Take for example Squoze lemonade drink mix, which came out in the mid-70's. The advertising promoted that the product contained half the sugar of regular lemonade.

Veteran actor John Stephenson is the voice behind the talking lemon.

Unfortunately, just like their other drink mixes (i.e. Funny Face), Pillsbury failed to crack the sales numbers of General Foods' Kool-Aid and Crystal Light, and Squoze was gone in short order.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

A Classic Reborn: The Joker's Wild (2017)

A few years ago, MTV commissioned an urban reboot of Hollywood Squares, but Hip Hop Squares is currently in drydock after relaunching earlier this year on VH1 with DeRay Davis (ex-Mind of a Man).

Sony, which owns the rights to Squares, also owns the rights to some of the late Jack Barry's properties, including The Joker's Wild, and decided this, too, needed a hip hop backdrop. With former Hip Hop Squares host Peter Rosenberg unavailable (currently working part-time with WWE), Sony could've gotten just about anyone.

Well, wait just one minizzle.

Snoop Dogg gets the call for the 21st century reboot of Joker, serving as host and co-executive producer. Snoop (Calvin Broadus) has copped to being a fan of the original Joker growing up, may be indulging in a little vanity action, since some of the categories, mini-games included, are built around him (i.e. "Six Degrees of Snoop"). Fellow rapper Wiz Khalifa and actor-producer Seth Rogen (Preacher) are among the celebrity contributors to the new series, and because of some of the content in the questions, now you know why this Joker airs as late as it does, at 10 pm (ET), coupled with James Corden's new series, Drop The Mic, and leading into Conan.

Sure, this game is being played for laughs, but there's nothing funny about Snoop's sexy sidekick, Jeanne Mai, billed as Lady Luck. Barry probably would've gotten more mileage out of the original series if he had someone like her.

Consider, too, that one of television's busiest personalities, Michael Strahan (The $100,000 Pyramid, Fox NFL Sunday, Good Morning America) is another co-executive producer, and likely will also be a guest contributor.

Let's take a look at a promo.

In the opener, Snoop managed to slip in a line from one of his earliest hits, "Gin & Juice" in briefing viewers on the rules of the game. I think now my Tuesdays are complete.

Rating: A.

World Series preview: Los Angeles vs. Houston

The Los Angeles Dodgers haven't gotten this far since they won it all under Tom Lasorda in 1988. The last time the Houston Astros reached the World Series, they were still in the National League themselves, and lost to the Chicago White Sox in 2005. Something has to give, as these two former NL West rivals meet in the Fall Classic for the first time. Yes, you read that right, kids. Houston was in the NL West until 1995, when they reconfigured each league into 3 divisions, and represented the NL Central in '05.

Tri-City Valleycats fans will be rooting for the Astros, although one ex-Valleycat, Enrique "Kike" Hernandez, is on the Dodgers' roster. If Houston can finally bring a championship home, it will be a sort of catharsis, after the city was ravaged by Hurricane Harvey a couple of months back. Given the number of ex-'Cats on the Houston roster (i.e. Jose Altuve, George Springer, Dallas Keuchel), I'd not be surprised if the championship trophy makes another victory lap in Troy, seven years after the San Francisco Giants, whose roots are also in the hometown, brought the trophy to Bruno Stadium.

Keuchel will get the ball for Houston tonight, with Justin Verlander, the ALCS MVP, going tomorrow in game 2. Clayton Kershaw goes for Los Angeles. I personally think it's going to come down to who really wants it more. Houston ran away and hid in the AL West, as they led virtually from start to finish. Los Angeles had to wait for Colorado & Arizona to run out of fuel from their early runs to take the division lead and put them away.

The pick: Houston in 7. Of course, I could be wrong.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Remember when KFC had a jingle? (1978)

Today, Kentucky Fried Chicken, or, KFC, is more concerned with perpetuating the notion that its late founder, Colonel Harland Sanders, is a viable commodity as a commercial pitchman.

Back in the day, however, Kentucky Fried Chicken's ad agency commissioned jingles just like their competitors. In 1978, the chain's slogan was, "It's So Nice To Feel So Good About a Meal". Col. Sanders appears at the end of the ad, which features actress-singer Debra Clinger (Krofft Supershow, The American Girls).

Now, this would make you want to go to KFC, wouldn't it?

Celebrity Rock: Time in a Bottle (1977)

We all know that in her post-Brady Bunch career, Maureen McCormick has given country music a go. On the Brady Bunch Variety Hour, though, Maureen, as Marcia, was asked to cover the late Jim Croce's "Time in a Bottle". Whomever arranged this for the show did so for the character, and not the true talent that Maureen has as a singer, as previously demonstrated on Brady Bunch and Brady Kids. Judge for yourselves, gang. This is the first time I've seen this clip, introduced by Alice (Ann B. Davis).

Y'see, the Kroffts and Sherwood Schwartz thought they could pull this off, especially since the Kroffts had severed their ties with the Osmonds, and wanted to stay in the primetime game. As we know, this ended up failing badly.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Celebrity Rock: I'll Blow You a Kiss in The Wind (Bewitched, 1970)

One popular gimmick on Bewitched had series star Elizabeth Montgomery donning a black wig to play Samantha's cousin, Serena, but credited for the role under the pseudonym, "Pandora Spocks".

In the season 6 episode, "Serena Stops The Show", Serena tests out a song she "wrote", "I'll Blow You a Kiss in The Wind", which was really written by guest stars Tommy Boyce & Bobby Hart. Of course, Montgomery is miming the guitar work....

High school this 'n' that

When is a story not a story?

On Friday, we reported that Troy High senior RB/KR/LB Joey Ward sat out the Flying Horses' 25-7 win over CBA due to disciplinary issues. However, it appears that the issue is being handled in-house, and has been deemed not worthy of being disclosed to the local press.

The Record? Fuhgeddaboutit! The ongoing embargo prohibiting Troy players & coaches talking to the hometown paper ensured that this wouldn't be covered at all. Ye scribe schlepped to the Troy Public Library prior to closing time Saturday afternoon to scope out the other local dailies. Unfortunately, the Daily Gazette treated the game as a total afterthought, not even bothering to offer a description. Their text read, and this is almost exactly how it read, "In another game, Troy High defeated CBA, 25-7.". Pathetic. That tells me they're also dealing with financial constraints like everyone else. The Albany Times-Union had a brief description of the game, but, as with the other papers, no box score.

It seems as though Troy wanted the focus, perhaps rightfully, to be on their other senior star, WR/KR/DB Dev Holmes, who scored 3 TD's and nearly had a 4th had his interception turned into a pick-six instead of being knocked out of bounds at the CBA 5 yard line. That sounds like they wanted to control the narrative, but when one of your best players is on the bench, in a jersey and street clothes, and you're not offering any sort of explanation, then there's potentially something wrong.

We'll know for sure if Ward is in the lineup for the semi-final vs. Shenendehowa this coming Friday.
Meanwhile, girls' soccer coach Justin Haviland has a reason to be happy after all, despite the Lady Horses' 2-15 record.

Haviland is also a biology teacher at THS, and, according to today's Record, was named a master teacher by Governor Cuomo on October 18. Because this had to do with academics, and not athletics, Haviland was interviewed by the paper. Haviland has been a teacher at THS before becoming a coach, and is in his 13th season at THS. Congratulations on the honor are certainly in order.
Albany Academy For Boys, because they're playing in the New England Prep School Athletic Council (NEPSAC), is getting the Rodney Dangerfield treatment from the local press. To my knowledge, only one game has gotten any sort of feature coverage since the season started on September 16. The Cadets blew away Westminster on Homecoming Day, 44-0, in a game that was originally meant to be a road game, but switched at the last minute, according to a parent of one of the Cadet players. Albany Academy is now 3-2 on the season with 3 games left.

Had the Cadets not decided to go to NEPSAC, maybe they're major players in Section II, based on what we've seen so far.......
The area's other Cadets, LaSalle, have finished their football and soccer seasons.

Due to injuries, football coach Gary Lauver opted against two crossover games to finish the season, and so LaSalle finishes at 1-6, leaving Lauver at 3-13 in 2 seasons at the school. The soccer team, which finished second in their division in the Colonial Council, behind Ichabod Crane, was eliminated from the AA sectionals on Saturday, dropping a 1-0 overtime heartbreaker to Saratoga. Hockey season is right around the corner, and I'd be willing to bet that when the home schedule begins December 13 vs. Shen at Hudson Valley Community College, the house'll be rockin'. Just sayin'.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Creepy TV: The Dow Hour of Great Mysteries (1960)

Horror anthologies were pretty popular in the 50's & 60's. Classic radio anthologies such as Lights Out made the transition to television, but there were others, made strictly for the visual medium, that had varying degrees of success.

The Dow Hour of Great Mysteries was a monthly series of specials produced for NBC in 1960. The series ended upon the passing of host Joseph Welch, otherwise the network might've been well served to find a similarly genial host to keep the program going.

The series opener, an adaptation of Mary Roberts Rinehart's The Bat, which had been adapted into a movie with Vincent Price a year earlier, aired in March, but seems more appropriate for this time of year. The cast includes Helen Hayes and Margaret Hamilton.

I must note that some of the audio is ahead of the video.

Rating: B.

On Stage: New World Order: 6 Short Plays by Harold Pinter (2017)

The Troy Foundry Theatre, an incubator project of the Theatre Institute at Russell Sage College, launched this weekend with an adaptation of the late Harold Pinter's 1991 play, New World Order, wrapped around five other Pinter pieces in a tidy hour-plus package. The fact that admission was free, although tickets could be ordered online in advance, virtually ensured that the Maeder Theatre at Sage would be full for each of the three nights it hosted the production. The scene shifts across town to the Hangar on the Hudson for performances next Thursday & Friday.

Creative director David Girard opened the proceedings with a short speech welcoming everyone to the theatre. And, then, the fun began. And I use the term "fun" very loosely.

Two of the six plays, Mountain Language & One For The Road, are presented in four parts apiece, and are interlinked together. A couple (Ethan Botwick & Emily Curro) are captured and tortured by a dystopian, authoritarian government which seems to place its faith in God as interpreted in the Old Testament. Hmm, that has a familiar, disturbing ring to it to anyone from the South or Midwest.

New World Order itself has a blindfolded man (Botwick, wearing a full hood) subjected to the cruel trash talking of a pair of doctors (Alex Tarantelli and Shayne David Cameris). This same pair also figures into Precisely, which is linked to Order.

Tarantelli, wearing a big wig, then plays an evangelist in God's District, which skewers the Bible Belt mercilessly. Tarantelli is so over the top, it's a wonder local churches aren't raising a fuss.

The glue holding the entire production together, really, is local stage veteran John Romeo, who is both charming and sinister at the same time in Mountain and One For The Road. The coda to the production is the Press Conference, in which the cultural minister (Romeo) takes questions from reporters, and is unashamed to admit to the practices of the secret police.

It seems that the selection of New World Order to launch the Foundry Theatre is a coincidence, considering that one of the criticisms of the Trump administration is that the President, if you believe the media, may be modeling his administration after Russia's Vladimir Putin and/or North Korea's Kim Jong Un, given how Trump is using Twitter as a bully pulpit. Pinter's works, meanwhile, have some of their roots in George Orwell's legendary 1984, which might just be in the Presidential library right now.

Dark, disturbing, but surprisingly swift in pace. If this was a movie, it'd be rated R for coarse language and adult situations.

Rating: A-.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Musical Interlude: Sister Rosa (1989)

"Sister Rosa" was the first single off the Neville Brothers' 1989 CD, "Yellow Moon". Nearly 35 years after Rosa Parks sparked the civil rights movement, she was immortalized in song.

Today, we could a few more "Sister Rosa"'s.

High School Fridays: CBA @ Troy (football), 10/20/17

One year ago, Christian Brothers Academy nearly spoiled Troy High's perfect season in the Class AA semi-finals, but a late rally was snuffed, enabling Troy to advance to the AA title game, and the rest, as we know, is history.

Tonight, the two teams met again, this time in the quarter-final round. Neither team is really the same as they were last year, but fans arriving at Picken Field for the game were greeted with a shocking surprise, that being the sight of senior tailback Joey Ward on the bench, wearing only his uniform jersey, but not the full uniform. Ward was benched for disciplinary reasons, which enabled his younger brother, Xavier, to make his season debut as a reserve.

CBA took the opening kickoff, and marched right down the field, leading to QB Ben Farrell connecting with Dylan Gotay on a 27 yard TD strike. After the extra point, CBA led, 7-0, but it wouldn't last long. Just like last week, Troy would do the rest of the scoring.

Senior receiver Dev Holmes got all three of his touchdowns on the ground, but also contributed on defense with an interception, which nearly turned into a pick-six before Gotay tackled Holmes at the CBA 5. Two plays later, QB Joe Casale ran it in himself from 3 yards out. In all, CBA suffered three turnovers to Troy's one, but once again, Troy was nearly undone with a ridiculous number of penalties, some of which were deserved and obvious. Meanwhile senior placekicker Jordan Audi made only one out of two PAT attempts, and it appeared when he missed the second attempt that he'd reinjured himself, such that Troy opted to go for 2 after the last two TD's, but couldn't convert. Troy ends up with its season lowest point total, eliminating the Brothers for the 2nd straight year, 25-7.

Up next for Troy will be Shenendehowa, which beat Colonie tonight. The other semi-final sees Empire division champ Saratoga entertaining Shaker. For Troy, fans have to hope Joey Ward returns to action next week. The decision to bench him had to be an 11th hour decision, as in, made today, well before kickoff. With their star tailback out, Troy struggled on offense, but did enough to win. They really can't tempt fate a second time, can they? We'll find out next week.

Sports this 'n' that

There will be a new World Series champion this year.

The Chicago Cubs were eliminated in grand fashion by the Los Angeles Dodgers, 11-1, on Thursday, as the Dodgers, who last won it all in 1988 behind Kirk Gibson, Orel Hershiser, and company, may be looking at an old nemesis next

Former Tri-City Valleycat Enrique "Kike" Hernandez led the way with 3 home runs and 7 RBI's in the game. How Houston let Hernandez get away, I'll never know. Hernandez's 3rd dinger, a 2 run shot in the 9th, iced the game, making Dodger closer Kenley Jansen's job that much easier.

Speaking of Houston, the top seed in the AL returns home tonight, hoping to rebound after losing three straight to the Yankees in New York. A Yankee win means they'll play the Dodgers in the Fall Classic for the first time since 1981, when the Dodgers defeated the Bombers in 5. It was the 3rd meeting between the two teams in a 5 year period (the Yanks won in 1977-78), but it would be 15 years before New York returned to the Series, and we know that story.
Suddenly, the Kansas City Chiefs aren't so hot.

The AFC West leaders have fallen back to Earth, dropping two divisional games in the space of five days, the latest coming at Oakland on Thursday. Kansas City blew a 6 point lead with 5 1/2 minutes to play. Couple this with the Los Angeles Chargers coming to life, winning two straight, and all of a sudden, it's anyone's division. More proof that parity has taken over the NFL, especially in the AFC.
Soccer season is over at Troy High.

Both the boys' & girls' soccer teams were one-and-done in sectional play for the second straight season over the last two days. The boys dropped a 4-2 decision to Bethlehem Thursday, as the Eagles extracted some revenge after losing to Troy last month on the same field. Mike Murnane's much improved club finishes 6-10-1 overall (5-9-1 in the Suburban Council), and while it's the third consecutive 10-loss season for the team, there's hope they'll find light at the end of the tunnel.

The girls, on the other hand, dropped their seventh straight game, shut out by Columbia, 4-0, on Wednesday. Justin Haviland's team had opened the season losing seven in a row, and to see them end the season the same way is more than disappointing. The Lady Horses finish 2-15 overall (1-13 in league play), far worse than last year.

It's also insulting that their best player, sophomore Abby Burns, was a second team All-Star in the Suburban Council, and senior Heather Moss merited honorable mention. Senior goalkeeper Maddie Rifenberick was the lone Troy player named a first team all star, much deserved as she had been the leading keeper in the league for much of the season. I suppose that had Troy won more games, and they were competitive in most, maybe Abby makes the first team. Just sayin'.
The Arena Football League ain't what it used to be. There were only five teams in the league last season, so now rumors have circulated that would have a former franchise being revived for next season.

That would be the Albany Firebirds, who won the ArenaBowl in 1999.

Times-Union Center is looking for a pro sports tenant to fill the arena next spring after Siena College finishes its basketball season. The AFL has a TV contract with the CBS Sports Network, but you wonder about the quality of play. Will it be the same as it was 20 years ago? Albany's last team, the AF2 Conquest, lasted a few years in the last decade, but failed due to declining fan interest.

The Firebirds wouldn't be the only pro franchise being resurrected in 2018 in the home district, with the pending return of the former Continental Basketball Association franchise, the Albany Patroons, being resurrected again, this time for a new minor league due to begin play in early '18. And, yes, these Patroons will play in the acoustically challenged Washington Avenue Armory if everything goes according to plan. Well, being at the Armory would allow them to keep the prices down, because they'd probably charge twice as much for tickets at the Albany Capital Center........! Anyway, play in the North American Basketball League is set to start on New Year's Day, and former Patroons star Derrick Rowland will coach the team. Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Spook Rock: Devil Woman (1976)

With Halloween less than 2 weeks away, why don't we put something on the ol' turntable for some pre-Halloween party music?

In 1976, British star Cliff Richard hit the top 10 in both the US & UK with the bouncy "Devil Woman". At the time, Richard was signed to Elton John's Rocket Records label, and thus both were with MCA, which would in part explain Richard's contributions to label-mate Olivia Newton-John's film, "Xanadu", and its soundtrack, 4 years later.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

On The Air: CMT Crossroads (2002)

For years, there have been many cases of country artists crossing onto the pop charts and vice versa. But what if you could get some of the biggest names in country and pop/rock music on the same stage together, and not just at a big event like, say for example, Farm Aid?

CMT (Country Music Television) addressed this issue 15 years ago with the launch of CMT Crossroads, which airs a few times a year, not as a weekly series, all the more to make every episode extra special. Some artists have appeared more than once over the course of those 15 years, but no combination created more of a buzz than when British metal icons Def Leppard shared the stage with Taylor Swift in 2008.........!

Edit, 11/22/20: The complete episode is still available, but I've had to replace the video for the 2nd time. Instead of going for the downs, let's settle for Taylor singing lead on "Pour Some Sugar on Me":

A DVD of the episode was released exclusively at Walmart, a gimmick that hasn't since been duplicated with subsequent episodes. As you can see, interviews with the artists are interspersed with the concert performance. Other pop artists on the series have included Kid Rock (who later released a duet with fellow rocker Sheryl Crow, "Picture", that crossed onto the country chart), ZZ Top, and Sting.

Rating: A.

Sports this 'n' that

As expected, both of Troy High's soccer teams will be on the road to start sectional play this week. The girls, after an unsightly 2-14 regular season ledger, will be at Columbia on Wednesday afternoon. The next night, the boys (6-9-1 overall) visit Bethlehem, with the 5th seeded Eagles looking to avenge an earlier loss to the improved Flying Horses. Conflicting accounts have this game ticketed for either 3 or 7 pm. Check with the schools to find out for sure before going.

Meanwhile, LaSalle, the lone Colonial Council school in Class AA, will host Ballston Spa on Thursday night, with the winner facing top-ranked Saratoga on Saturday afternoon.
Last week, the Giants saw 4 wide receivers fall to injuries in the same game. This week, it was unofficially hunting season on quarterbacks.

Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone, and the worst case scenario is that Rodgers could be lost for the season. Denver's Trevor Siemien was KO'd from the Broncos' loss to the Giants, replaced by the returning Brock Osweiler, and Tampa Bay's Jameis Winston was knocked out as well. Siemien & Winston, though, should be ready to go for their teams' next games.
Folks are still buzzing over the Jets having a TD catch by Austin Saferian-Jenkins taken away in Sunday's loss to New England at the Meadowlands. No one's willing to say it, but the worst case scenario here is that someone in the replay booth was in the tank for New England, adding another chapter to the contentious history between the two teams. I didn't see the game, but watched the replay of the "non-catch" being shown several times on Monday's Mike & Mike simulcast on ESPN2.

Yes, the defending champs are in 1st in the AFC East all by themselves for now, but Buffalo will be coming off a bye week, and looking to keep pace. The Jets will play Miami next, as the Dolphins are now tied with Buffalo, half a game in back of the Pats.
Hard to believe, but the NBA begins play tonight, two weeks earlier than usual. the idea perhaps that the league's media partners (ESPN/TNT) are hoping to siphon off some of the baseball playoff ratings. If that's the case, then TNT would be robbing Peter (sister network TBS) to pay themselves (as Paul), as the NLCS is on TBS. If you didn't know why Ernie Johnson isn't calling the NLCS, now you do.

Personally, I don't give a rat's butt about the NBA anymore, as high school hoops are more my jam, as the kids say. The pro & college games are too rife with corruption and politics, regardless of order, for me to invest in it anymore. This much I do know. When the Lakers appear on either TNT or ESPN, you could make a drinking game out of how many times the camera focuses on America's Worst Stage Dad, Lavar Ball. Just sayin'.
Speaking of the NLCS, the Cubs all of a sudden find themselves behind the 8-ball after Joe Maddon basically blew the game on Saturday night, leaving closer Wade Davis in the pen and having erstwhile starter John Lackey on the mound in the 9th inning, giving up the game winning HR to ex-Met Justin Turner, who now looks like a refugee from a Smith Brothers convention with that beard. However, as the scene shifts to Wrigley Field tonight, expect the Cubs to get right back in it, much like the Yankees did last night in game 3 of the ALCS.
After getting unfairly snubbed in the College Football Playoff last year, Penn State is making a very strong case to lock down a spot in the tournament this year. Now ranked #2 in the country, the Nittany Lions have experienced a resurgence under coach James Franklin, but there are still going to be those get-a-lifes who don't think the team belongs in post-season play at all because of the lingering stench of the Jerry Sandusky scandal while the late Joe Paterno was coach. I say, put the past behind you. Sandusky is serving his sentence, the case is closed. Let that be the end of the story.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Musical Interlude: Dangerous (1991)

The first single off the Doobie Brothers' 1991 CD, "Brotherhood", was "Dangerous", which was also used in the movie, "Stone Cold", the feature film debut of former NFL star Brian Bosworth, who thought he could make it as an action hero in Hollywood. The film was decent, but the music rocks.

Weasel of the Week: Sam Judge

Downtown Troy has been without a first-run movie theatre for several years, ever since the last multiplex at the Uncle Sam Atrium was converted to state offices. Just when it looked as though the drought would finally end, Bow Tie Cinemas, which would be moving into Rensselaer County for the first time, bowed out the other day. Why? Litigation.

Troy developer Sam Judge had tried and failed to fill the vacant space at Monument Square after the former City Hall building was demolished in 2011. Judge's company owns the Verizon building where city offices had relocated in 2008 until moving to their present location in Hedley Park Place on River Street. The two sides have been involved in lawsuits over the Verizon building, and now, Judge is part of a group of "influential" people along River Street who are blocking Bow Tie and Bonacio Construction from building a 11-screen multiplex that would bring fresh income to city businesses surrounding the theatre.

However, Judge and his associates don't see that. They see environmental concerns that haven't been resolved in the past five years or better, and last month, Judge filed suit against Bonacio & Bow Tie. At the end of last week, the movie theatre project was shelved, with Bow Tie & Bonacio Construction backing down and out. Judge bullied them out, is what it really is.

Instead of searching for a compromise that would make both sides happy, Judge seems content with keeping 1 Monument Square vacant, and in this writer's opinion, it's going to stay that way until Judge himself can put forth another proposal to develop the space, whenever he decides to take the chance. In this writer's opinion, Mr. Judge, you're little more than a self-serving little Weasel who's depriving the citizens of Troy of a quality, state of the art facility, and the opportunity to see a movie without having to drive to Albany, Schenectady, Rensselaer, or Clifton Park, to name a few examples. Shame on you, then, Mr. Judge, for putting your interests ahead of the rest of the city.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

A Classic Reborn (?): The Saint (2013-7)

Some 20 years ago, some alleged genius in Hollywood thought it might be a good idea to reboot The Saint in a feature film that had Leslie Charteris' modern day Robin Hood, Simon Templar, repackaged as a master of disguise who was in fact searching for who he really was. The film, with Val Kilmer as Templar, was a dud from the get-go.

Sixteen years later, a proposed pilot for a new Saint went unsold until it was released on digital DVD earlier this year, and landed on Netflix, four years after production had been completed. Adam Rayner is the latest to essay the role of Templar, and certainly could've continued had anyone bothered to take a chance.

When the film begins, Templar is in Russia, disguised as a Russian soldier, infiltrating an arms deal that the CIA had been monitoring. He spikes the vodka, serving up the world's biggest mickey, if you will. That gets him in the crosshairs of a young CIA agent, and an older agent who had been pursuing Templar for years. Flashbacks explain a previously untold and, in truth, unnecessary origin for Templar. You see, the creative personnel on the film decided to borrow some elements from more familiar sources (i.e. Batman) to explain Templar's mission in life. His parents were killed, and the family, very wealthy to begin with, were linked with the legendary Knights Templar in some form. None of this fits Charteris' original vision, but what does in the 21st century anyway?

Today's writers are obsessed with making their heroes as dark, moody, and brooding as possible, following the template of Denny O'Neil's makeover of Batman in the 70's. These writers think that because it works for certain characters, it can work for other pop culture icons such as The Saint. The truth is, it doesn't, because it falls under "if it isn't broken, you don't fix it".

On the other hand, viewers are introduced to Templar's sexy associate, Patricia Holm (Eliza Dushku, ex-Dollhouse, Buffy the Vampire Slayer), who hadn't been seen on screen since the George Sanders series of "Saint" movies in the 40's. My brother & I were discussing what needs to be done to bring other popular heroes into the present day, such as The Shadow, Doc Savage, or The Avenger, who also have teams of associates working for them, as long as it adheres to the current Hollywood obsession with cultural diversity. This film heads in that direction, but relies too heavily on Bat-influences (not just the origin), and that may explain why it didn't sell.

The film also serves as a final coda for the late Sir Roger Moore, who played Templar in the 60's, and appears briefly prior to the climax of the film. Ian Oglivy, who top-lined Return of the Saint in the 70's, is seen as well.

Let's take a look at the trailer.

It took four years for this version of The Saint to see the light of day, and that was largely in tribute to Moore, as if someone realized this film was out there, waiting to be released. Let's just hope it doesn't take another four years or more for someone else to try to get it right.

Rating: B--.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Forgotten TV: The Joe Namath Show (1969)

Today, it's common for pro athletes, as well as managers & coaches, to be given air time on radio on a weekly basis during the season, or, in some cases, year-round.

Back in 1969, it was unheard of, really, for an active player to be moonlighting in anything besides acting or making commercials.

Joe Namath was never exactly the average pro athlete.

Coming off a Super Bowl win with the Jets, the only one in the team's history, Namath somehow landed a syndication deal for a talk show that ran during the 1969 season. Dick Schaap, best known for Sport magazine and as the initial moderator for ESPN's now-defunct Sports Reporters, acted as Namath's co-host, ostensibly to keep the playboy quarterback on point. Unfortunately for Namath, his first foray into television lasted just the one season. He'd try again a few years later, this time with a sitcom, The Waverly Wonders, for NBC, and that also flopped.

A few years ago, the Classic Sports Network (now ESPN Classic) acquired 15 episodes of the series. This sample clip features boxing icon Muhammad Ali:

Namath would follow up this flop with the film, "CC & Company", before Waverly Wonders ended any hope of being taken seriously on television, and, yes, that includes his broadcasting career at NBC.

No rating.

High School Fridays: Colonie @ Troy (football), 10/13/17

In two weeks, Troy High will open its athletic Hall of Fame to induct their 1996 football championship team. I may be wrong, but Colonie coach Eric Rouleau may have been on that team and/or the 1998 squad.

Rouleau returned to Troy as a visiting coach for the first time on Friday, hoping to not only spoil Senior Night for the current Flying Horses, but also deny them the Liberty Division title, which, on tiebreakers, would've gone to Shaker.

After a scoreless first quarter, the Garnet Raiders put up the first points on a 37 yard field goal by Christian Hubbard, who was left off the Colonie roster listed on the game program.

Then, Joey Ward took over, and, oh, did he ever.

It took just 4 plays for Troy to take the lead, with Ward racing in from 20 yards out. Jordan Audi returned after missing last week's win over Shaker, booted the extra point, and Troy was off and running. The defense kept Colonie's running game in check, denying them the end zone. Ward added four more TD's, and Dev Holmes caught a TD toss from Joe Casale, plus a 2 point conversion, then really put the game away with a 65 yard run off the option. Audi finished with four extra points, and Troy routed Colonie, 48-3, to wrap up a third consecutive perfect regular season under coach Bob Burns at 7-0, and their second straight Liberty title.

Audi still wasn't able to kick off, so junior QB/kicker Michael Fazio handled those duties. For what it's worth, Holmes changed jersey numbers just for this game, wearing his brother Darius' #22 instead of his usual #8.

Colonie entered the game with the lowest points against average in the division, but that took a hit after Troy rang up 48 unanswered points. Troy, meanwhile, lowered their PAA to 9.5 points per game, while Colonie's ballooned to 15.2.

Up next for Troy will be a first round playoff game at home against Christian Brothers Academy, which dropped to 4th place in the Empire division after losing, 21-10, to Shenendehowa. Colonie visits Shen, while Shaker hosts Guilderland, and Empire champ Saratoga welcomes Bethlehem. The Eagles close the regular season later today vs. winless Schenectady. CBA nearly stole one last year at Picken Field, but the Brothers (3-4) have not been the same team they were a year ago. I don't have the brackets in front of me for the playoffs, but it all points to Troy meeting Saratoga in the title game, as they're the two undefeated teams in Class AA. This year's title game, per the Albany Times-Union, will be played at a neutral high school site on November 2, as RPI reportedly will be unable to host the game this year due to a scheduling conflict. With the turmoil between students and administration there, it's just as well.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Sports this 'n' that

We are now down to four teams in the baseball playoffs after the defending World Series champion Chicago Cubs ousted Washington, 9-8, in game 5 on Thursday night. The 3rd seeded Cubs, however, must head West to play the top seeded LA Dodgers to open the NLCS on Saturday night in a rematch of last year's NLCS. Los Angeles, however, will have had four full days of rest after sweeping out Arizona on Monday.

Momentum may be on the Cubs' side for now, but do they risk sending Jake Arietta or Jon Lester back out on 2 days rest? No, I don't think so. Both pitched on Wednesday in a 5-0 game 4 loss to the Nationals. Clayton Kershaw almost certainly will be on the hill for the Dodgers to start the series, hoping to exorcise the ghosts of postseasons past once and for all. If the Cubs aren't feeling fatigued after 5 grueling games with the Nats, they will be when this is over.

Pick-Cubs in 6.

As for Washington, another 1st round loss should, by rights, spell the end for Dusty Baker in DC. He had the same problem in Cincinnati, unable to get past the 1st round, and it may be time for a change. It wouldn't surprise me if a certain spoiled brat in Washington prevailed upon GM Mike Rizzo to fire Baker, but does the President know anything about baseball?
Meanwhile, Houston is looking to reach the World Series for the first time since they were a NL club back in 2005, when they fell to the Chicago White Sox. To get there, the Astros must first deal with the Yankees. Masahiro Tanaka and Dallas Keuchel will be the starters in game 1 tonight. The Yankees' rise comes a bit ahead of schedule, and while finicky fans were calling for Joe Girardi's head after game 2 of the LDS vs. Cleveland, no one is complaining now, at least until the Astros win a game.

However, it's Houston's time, at long last. Sports bars in the home district will be filled with Yankees and Astros/Valleycats fans for every game in the series, and I do mean every game. I do know some people who are fans of both the 'Cats and the Bombers, so there'll be some conflicted souls during the series. Houston doesn't have an easy out in the lineup, while the Yanks struggled to generate some offense in some positions, like DH, for example, vs. the Indians.

Pick-Astros in 7.
The NFL has won its battle to uphold the suspension of Dallas RB Ezekiel Elliott, but the case is far from over, as there could be more appeals, much like the Tom Brady case, to drag this out even further. Just let it end.

Meanwhile, the league is looking at an alternate site for Sunday's Raiders-Chargers game due to wildfires in the area. Given the Chargers' horrible luck since moving out of San Diego, this would kill the momentum after beating the Giants last week.
Troy High's soccer teams ended their regular seasons on Thursday, headed in opposite directions. The girls have lost six in a row after losing to Averill Park, 2-1, and have been outscored an unsightly 26-3 in those six losses, with all 3 goals scored by sophomore star Abby Burns, daughter of football coach Bob Burns. When sectional pairings are announced, as early as Monday, it looks like Troy will be at Bethlehem for the 2nd straight postseason.

The boys, on the other hand, snapped a 5 game winless streak (0-4-1) with a 6-1 Senior Night win over AP. Mike Murnane's club finishes the regular season 6-9-1 overall (5-9-1 in the Suburban Council), and while they too will be on the road for sectionals, at least they have momentum on their side. Senior Kevin Vargas notched another hat trick as Troy scored six unanswered goals after Averill Park drew first blood in the first half. The girls finish the regular season 2-14 (1-13 in league), the 3rd straight campaign with 10+ losses. A few breaks here and there, and maybe things are different.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Musical Interlude: Call Me (1985)

No, Go West's "Call Me" was not a remake of the Blondie hit from 1980. Instead, this 1985 gem is a pastiche that includes a call-back to B-movies of the 50's, including a homage to the original "Attack of the 50 Foot Woman". I don't know what kind of look singer Peter Cox was going for with just one sideburn, though.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Classic TV: Dynasty (1981)

CBS' Dallas had already been on the air a couple of years when ABC called on Aaron Spelling to develop a similar primetime soap.

Dynasty was a mid-season replacement, launching in January 1981, and running for 9 seasons in all. Set in Denver, the show was built around the Carrington family, which, like the Ewings of Dallas, were in the oil business. In fact, the show was originally meant to be christened Oil, but had that remained, it wouldn't have lasted very long.

John Forsythe was in his final season as the titular voice of Charlie's Angels when he was cast as Blake Carrington. As the series begins, Carrington is about to remarry, and, as the series unfolds, the family is more dysfunctional than the average daytime soap family. Linda Evans (ex-The Big Valley) hadn't done much TV in years before Dynasty made her a household name all over again. Joan Collins joined the series at the start of season 2 as Blake's ex-wife, Alexis, and if I'm not mistaken, this was Collins' 1st foray into a regular American series role. She'd guest-starred on Batman during the 3rd season of that series, and did other guest work in the interim, and I'm not sure about any TV work in England.

Daytime fans will spot Wayne Northrop (Days of Our Lives) as the Carrington family chauffeur during the first season. After signing with Days, Northrop would not return to Dynasty until either season 6 or 7. To list everyone who'd appear on the show would require a multi-part post, and that's not happening here.

Here's the 1st season intro:

Dynasty enjoyed a pretty healthy cable run on FX during that network's formative years. There would be a reunion miniseries, but that would be the end of the series on ABC. A brand new Dynasty launches tomorrow on CW, with Evans' former character having been rebooted as a Latina. Typical 21st century breaking what isn't broken just for the sake of it.

I'm not a soap guy per se, so there ain't a rating.

Monday, October 9, 2017

On The Air: The Gifted (2017)

Marvel Comics' TV arm has joined forces with 20th Century Fox to develop a new mutant-centric series for Fox, and like FX's Legion, The Gifted is a series that intends to spotlight some lesser known X-Men, as well as a few that long time fans are familiar with.

Curiously, while there is no familial link established between district attorney Reed Strucker (Stephen Moyer) and comics villain Baron Strucker, the one common link is that each has two children with mutant powers. While the Baron's kids were identical twins, known as Fenris in the books, Reed's teenage offspring, Andy & Lauren are just manifesting their powers as the series begins. What develops is that the Strucker family has to go underground with a group of mutants led by Thunderbird.

The following trailer was presented at Comic-Con in San Diego:

I waited a few days before watching this On Demand, and, well, color me unimpressed. While I get a vibe that says they're using The Fugitive as a partial template----and that template worked pretty well for The Incredible Hulk 40 years ago---using the same humans vs. mutants for all the wrong reasons tack that was used in the first X-Men trilogy of movies in a short-season series might not be the wisest direction to take. Marvel TV is in a bit of a slump right now, after their last two Netflix entries, Iron Fist & The Defenders, were savaged by critics. We'll take a look at Marvel's other network frosh, Inhumans, another time.

Rating: B--.

Forgotten TV: The Archie Situation Comedy Variety Hour (1978)

Until the other day, I didn't even know about this Archie pilot.

Now, I've known that producer James Komack had produced a sitcom pilot featuring the beloved gang from Riverdale in 1976 for ABC that didn't sell. After Filmation's final Archie series had left the air in April 1978 on NBC, Komack and ABC gave it another try, this time with a hybrid show that was equal parts sitcom and variety show.

The Archie Situation Comedy Variety Hour managed to air in the summer of 1978, but I never saw it. The following video is one of two clips available on YouTube, neither of which is in really good condition after nearly 40 years. Dennis Bowen (Welcome Back, Kotter) is among the stars, along with Gordon Jump (WKRP in Cincinnati) as Fred Andrews.

I think I can see why this bombed. No rating.

Sports this 'n' that

Apparently, the Mets think part of the problem with pitching injuries comes from playing in the thin air in Las Vegas.

It's just been reported that the Mets will acquire the community-owned Syracuse Chiefs, currently affiliated with the NL East champion Washington Nationals. The current affiliations (Mets-Vegas, Nats-Chiefs) will remain for next year, so the Mets will move their AAA team to Syracuse, returning to Western NY, in 2019. The Mets previously had their AAA farm in Buffalo until 2013, when they moved to Las Vegas. I may be wrong, but the Chiefs may have also previously been affiliated with the Yankees way back when before aligning first with Toronto, then Washington.
No one expected the NY Giants to start 0-5, but to lose 4 receivers in the same game on Sunday, before losing late to the LA Chargers, was a killer. Sterling Shepard, Brandon Marshall, Dwayne Harris, and Odell Beckham, Jr. were all knocked out of the game. It's just gotten out that Beckham is gone for the year, and I think Harris may be, too, as I think he broke his foot.

No one expected the Jets to start 3-2, either, and be in a 3-way knot atop the AFC East with Buffalo & New England, but that will change next week, as the Jets & Patriots will meet for the first time this season, while the Bills have a bye. With Miami starting 2-2, it won't be long before the Jets fall into the cellar, as was expected.

The one common thread between the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots and the Giants, though, is that both teams have offensive line issues. Tom Brady isn't quite as safe behind his offensive line as he usually is, and Eli Manning was sacked 5 times in the loss to the Chargers. Stranger things have happened with the Jets, of course, so who knows?
Hypocrisy, thy name is Jerry Jones.

Two weeks ago, the Dallas Cowboys' owner/president/GM knelt with his team before the National Anthem was played, then the team stood as one as the "Star Spangled Banner" played. Now, Jones has come out saying that any of his players who decide to kneel during the anthem will be immediately placed on the inactive list. Sounds like a certain spoiled brat in Washington got to Jones, doesn't it?

Meanwhile, after ESPN's Jemele Hill took to Twitter to suggest that advertisers boycott the Cowboys, ESPN placed her on suspension, taking her off SportsCenter for the duration. Oh, that's going to create even more controversy, since fellow ESPN yakker Stephen A. Smith has put his foot in his mouth more often than Hill has, and yet they keep him on the air, save for a brief suspension a few months back, because he pulls in the ratings. Maybe he can loan Hill some beef jerky.........
The dominoes are starting to fall in the baseball playoffs.

Houston just eliminated the Boston Red Sox, 3 games to 1, with a come-from-behind 5-4 win at soggy Fenway Park. Bad enough they had to deal with the elements, but you'd think that would spur them to speed the game along. Instead, it clocked in a nearly 4 hours for 9 innings.

Boston manager John Farrell was ejected early for arguing balls & strikes, leaving bench coach Gary DiSarcina to make a difficult decision in the 8th inning. Ace Chris Sale came out of the bullpen in the 4th inning, but after 4 shutout innings, DiSarcina left Sale in the game too long, and, for the 2nd time in the series, Houston's Alex Bregman took Sale deep with a game-tying home run. Houston added another run in the inning, plus an insurance run in the 9th against closer Craig Kimbrel. Houston now awaits either the Yankees or Cleveland, as their game 4 begins later tonight.

Also tonight, the Dodgers could close out Arizona in the NLDS, but nothing is certain. Visiting teams, counting today's Houston win, have won just 2 games so far in the Division Series (The Cubs won game 1 vs. Washington).

Add Yankees-Indians. Greg Bird, the forgotten Baby Bomber after Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez, had the only run Sunday night with a 7th inning homer. The Yanks are waiting for Judge to get it back in gear after he carried them into the ALDS. Maybe tonight is the night.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Troy High freezes out the hometown press. What's wrong here?

Seven months ago, Troy Record sportswriter Sam Blum wrote a feature piece alleging that women's varsity basketball coach Paul Bearup, a teacher who's been at the school for more than a decade, had inflicted emotional abuse on some of his players.

Since that time, school officials have enacted a blackout on The Record, refusing to grant reporters access to any athletes and coaches. Non-athletic events are still being covered by the hometown paper, mostly because it's usually district-wide activities, but as white-hot as the football team is, any feature pieces on game coverage in the Sunday editions don't have any quotes from coach Bob Burns, who's also running for county legislature, or his assistants or players.

So what does Troy High have to hide, if anything at all? If they felt Bearup was being unfairly slanted by Blum in his article, the least they could've done is refute what Blum wrote, or, at worst, ask for a retraction. A letter to the editor would've helped their case significantly. Instead, the school tarnishes their reputation anyway by being petty and vindictive toward the hometown paper, which, I'm sure, has employed several of their past journalism students through the years. My late journalism teacher would be turning over in her grave if she knew what was going on today.

It's not like The Record is a top grade paper, anyway. Their out-of-state owners are cutting corners to save money, and the issues we've referenced in this space about sports results not being reported started before the current blackout went into effect.

When softball coach George Rafferty was let go prior to the 2016 sectionals, it was the Albany Times-Union that broke the story, and a caller to the now-defunct Sound Off! column provided some details, since The Record didn't have a reporter present for Rafferty's meltdown at Averill Park. After the blackout went into effect in March, boys' varsity basketball coach Richard Hurley announced he was taking a year off from coaching. The Times-Union broke that story, too. Then again, The Record, due to a lack of manpower resources the last few years, has missed quite a few stories.

What it boils down to is this. While Troy High administration has put full support behind Bearup, who will begin his 12th season as girls' varsity basketball coach in December, they should've done the right thing, not only for Bearup, not only for the alumni and parents, but for The Record, and allowed for both sides of the story to be told, knowing how thin the paper's resources are. Instead, they opt to be petty and spiteful toward the hometown paper, and that is just wrong. They'd rather sweep it under the rug, and pretend nothing is wrong. As a Troy High alumnus myself, I find this to be a shameful display of disrespect toward the press. Just shameful.

Saturday, October 7, 2017

Origin of a Classic: The unseen pilot of Gilligan's Island (1964)

You only think you know all about Gilligan's Island, right? Suppose I told you that Ginger was not an actress when the series was first being developed in 1963-4. Suppose I told you that Mary Ann wasn't on the original passenger list.

Well, it's all true.

Sherwood Schwartz's original vision for the series had Ginger as a secretary, not an actress, along with another secretary named Bunny. Seems they were besties and may have been in the same steno pool. Future soap actor John Gabriel was the original Professor, but apparently he didn't resonate with network suits, hence the part being recast with Russell Johnson gaining icon status.

Otherwise, the lineup remains the same. While future Oscar winner John Williams composed the music, the theme song was one with more of a calypso beat (artist not credited), and that, too, would change over time.

Now, let's take a look at "Marooned", the original pilot, which didn't see the light of day until 1992.

Edit, 8/30/19: Dailymotion deleted "Marooned" due to copyright issues. YouTube has the opening moments, prefaced by an intro to the TBS special by Bob Denver.

I think they made the right call ditching the calypso music. The chemistry would ultimately come together after the casting changes, and we all know that Bob Denver (Gilligan) would trade off his icon status with each succeeding series.

Rating: B.

Mapping out the high school football playoffs

After dispatching Shaker last night, Troy High ascended to the top of the Class AA Liberty Division. All that needs be done next is beating Colonie, which already lost to Shaker, to clinch the division.

Ah, but this must be couched with caution. Colonie, which now has the lowest points against average in the division after beating LaSalle last night, could still spoil the party and hand Shaker the division title. Courtesy of the Albany Times-Union, here's the current Class AA standings:

Conference: Class AA
Saratoga Springs6001.0006001.000
Ballston Spa1400.2001500.167

Should Troy beat Colonie, whose defense took a night off vs. Shaker 9 days ago, they would play Guilderland in the first round of the playoffs. Troy battered Guilderland, 59-26, on September 8 on the road. Colonie would finish 3rd and go on the road against either CBA or Shenendehowa, whichever wins their matchup next week. However, if Colonie wins, Troy falls to 3rd and would go on the road. This will be interesting, at least.

Let's say Troy beats Colonie, and Shen beats CBA. The 1st round playoff matchups would be:

Guilderland @ Troy.
Bethlehem @ Saratoga.
Colonie @ Shen.
CBA @ Shaker.

CBA lost to Shaker on September 1, 31-0, so they'd be looking for revenge. I honestly don't think Shaker will reach the AA Super Bowl this time. Their defense has given up 70 points in the last two games, beset by injuries, and, as Troy demonstrated, the Blue Bison could be vulnerable to a 1st round exit. The money matchup, if you will, would be Troy vs. Saratoga in the title game. We'll see how this all plays out.

Friday, October 6, 2017

High School Fridays: Troy @ Shaker (football), 10/6/17

This is what everyone has been waiting for since the season started. For the 3rd time in a shade over a year, Troy High met Shaker, this time in Latham, with first place and possibly also the Liberty Division title at stake.

The two meetings last year, one being the Class AA title game, were both in Troy. Perhaps still feeling insulted in some minor way by being designated the road team for the title game at RPI, Troy, as has often been the case this season, drew first blood, as Joey Ward rambled in for a touchdown in the first quarter. Before that period was over, coach Bob "The Builder" Burns reached into his bag of tricks and should've had his Shaker counterpart, Greg Sheeler, reaching for a volume of Santayana's writings. After a holding penalty forced Troy into a 4th & long situation, Ward faked to Dev Holmes, and found Joe Casale behind the defense for a 47 yard TD to make it 14-0 going into the 2nd period.

Speaking of Holmes, in what has seemingly become a regular occurence, the senior receiver returned a punt 75 yards for a score. However, for whatever reason, Burns decided to go for 2, and failed. He was without ace kicker Jordan Audi, who was injured last week vs. Schenectady, and backup QB Michael Fazio handled the kicking duties this week. Good thing, too, considering that he wasn't going to be lining up at QB for a change. Troy was up, 20-0, at halftime.

Needing a spark, Shaker started the 2nd half with a lengthy drive that took up 2/3 of the period before they broke the ice and cut the lead to 20-7. Troy answered right back, and started the final stanza with Casale hitting Holmes in the end zone. However, the 2 point conversion failed, and this was after Troy was pushed back twice due to penalties.

Back came Shaker. Aided by a questionable call on a catch that should've been an interception for Holmes, Bison QB Connor McHugh got the hosts within 26-15 after a TD pass and subsequent 2 point conversion. Unfortunately for Shaker, that would be the end of their scoring.

An attempt at onside kick was foiled by Isaiah Burdette, and Troy took over. More specifically, Joey Ward took over. Ward scored his 2nd rushing TD of the game. Fazio added the extra point, and suddenly, the Flying Horses put the game away, up 33-15. Shaker's next drive ended with McHugh sacked on 4th down by---wait for it---Ward, who added the cherry on top with his 3rd TD with under 2 minutes to go.

Shaker got the ball one final time, but time ran out before the Blue Bison could get within range of the red zone, and Troy moves a step closer to their 2nd straight Liberty Division title with a 40-15 win.

Let's step inside the numbers for a moment. Going in, Shaker had the lowest Points Against Average (PAA) in the league at 7.2 points per game. After getting lit up for 40 by the defending state champs, that average went up to 12.5 points per game. Troy has only given up 65 points in 6 game, or an average of 10.5, so they moved ahead of Shaker in that regard. Ward finished just shy of 200 yards on the ground, and passed 4,000 yards for his career (2 seasons at Bishop Maginn, 2 at Troy).

Shaker closes on the road at Columbia, a team Troy already beat last month. Meanwhile, former Troy star Eric Rouleau comes to town with Colonie next week for the Flying Horses' Senior Night. The Garnet Raiders may have given Troy the blueprint on how to shred the Shaker D. Thanks to injuries in recent weeks, Shaker's once stout defense has allowed 70 points in their last two games, and that doesn't bode well for the Bison with the playoffs to begin in 2 weeks.

As for Troy, now 28-1 overall in nearly 3 full seasons under Bob Burns, there's only one way to describe their dominant performance this season:

Enough said.