Saturday, March 31, 2018

Sports this 'n' that

Most Section II teams begin spring play on Tuesday, when they're otherwise on spring break. However, some have already hit the ground running as far as lacrosse is concerned.

While LaSalle is awaiting major renovations on Sutton Field, their lacrosse team will play their home games, at least some of them, anyway, next door at Hudson Valley Community College. The Cadets made new coach Shane Hendry a winner in his debut on Thursday, thumping Averill Park, 17-2, in a non-league match. The Cadets will head across town to Troy High on Thursday night. The schools' baseball teams, however, will not meet this season. Hockey standout Sebastian Geiger led LaSalle with 7 goals against Averill Park.
Hendry wasn't the only rookie skipper to win his first game on Thursday.

Mets manager Mickey Calloway won his opener, as the Amazin's took down St. Louis, 9-4. Noah Syndergaard gave up a 2 run homer to Yadier Molina, which gave the Cardinals a brief lead. Starter Carlos Martinez couldn't hold it, and the Mets chased him off in the 5th. Syndergaard finished with 10 strikeouts in 6 innings.

Meanwhile, in Toronto, new Yankee pilot Aaron Boone broke his maiden, as we say in horse racing, thanks to an American League coming out party for Giancarlo Stanton, who picked up where he left off last year in Miami with 2 homers and 5 RBI's in a win over the Blue Jays. Unfortunately, radio announcer John Sterling is catching some heat for attempting to mix in some Italian in his home run calls for Stanton. Seems he doesn't know his Italian as well as he thinks he does, and, on Friday, Sterling doubled down on his stupidity. A Yahoo! headline suggests that he'll continue with the mangling of the Italian language. Even his TV counterpart and former radio partner, Michael Kay, acknowledged that Stanton isn't Italian. We get that Sterling's a ham as an announcer, but the Steinbrenner brothers love him, or he's got something on them to keep him employed. Just sayin'.
Add Boone. As anyone who'd tuned in to ESPN the last few years can attest, Boone's still got matinee idol looks, and it gets me thinking that if the Mets' David Wright never plays another game, managing is in his future, too.
Did anyone really think that Alex Rodriguez's regular season debut as an ESPN commentator would go without incident? I didn't watch the entire Giants-Dodgers game, as I flipped over to CW for Supernatural & Arrow, but now it comes out that A-Roid's current squeeze, singer-actress Jennifer Lopez, showed up at Dodger Stadium on Thursday night, and likely will be there again tomorrow for the conclusion of the series, as it'll be the season premiere of Sunday Night Baseball. Maybe J-Lo's afraid Jessica Mendoza may make a play? Maybe she'd consider contacting one of A-Roid's exes, former wrestler & fitness model Torrie Wilson, for advice. Just sayin'.
With Rodriguez & Matt Vasgersian splitting time between Fox & ESPN (and, in Vasgersian's case, MLB Network), coupled with MLB Network's long running goof-fest, Intentional Talk, beginning its second season airing on both MLB & ESPN2, we wonder if MLB is working on some sort of universal network deal, this time cross-pollinating between ESPN & Fox to have their announcers intermingle. We'd be even happier if Bob Costas were to fill in for Vasgersian at some point, just in case Matt gets laryngitis.
So Fox is adding the PBA tour to their sports roster. Albany Times-Union columnist Pete Dougherty made a note in his Tuesday column to remind readers of his own disdain for Fox commentator Rob Stone, who used to be a bowling announcer, and occasional guest host on Around The Horn during his time at ESPN, perhaps suggesting that Stone will be back in the booth when Fox begins PBA coverage.
The Albany Empire's opener at Times Union Center is in 2 weeks, but if you don't want to go to the game, don't despair. CBS Sports Network has chosen the Empire-Philadelphia game for their game of the week that night. Selling hot dogs for a buck on opening night will draw the big crowd, or at least that's the plan, and having local talent, as previously noted, will be a big selling point. The Empire has also landed a radio deal, something the revived Albany Patroons haven't been able to obtain. Hmmmm.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Musical Interlude: Windy (1967)

The late 60's saw a greater diversity of musical sounds. There was bubblegum pop, which came in all kinds of forms, from pre-fab acts such as the Detergents (Ron Dante pre-Archies), British art-rock from the likes of the Moody Blues, to name one, and even the kiddo's had their favorites, be they the Archies (Dante & Andy Kim), the Banana Splits, who boasted future R & B icon Barry White and 50's-60's pop star Gene Pitney among their songwriters, and the even shorter-lived Beagles, Total Television's contribution to the genre.

Then, you had bands like the Association, whose gentle melodies on tracks such as "Cherish" & "Never My Love" have made them staples not only of oldies radio, but adult contemporary, too. 1967's "Windy", an upbeat love song of a sort, offered a feeling of whimsy.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

A little of this and a little of that

Two years ago, Donald Trump became the first celebrity since Ronald Reagan to ascend to the Presidency. Say what you want about his seemingly unethical approach to all things political, but for someone who shied away from an earlier run for the White House, he tapped into the angst of a portion of this country's registered voters. Snowblind from reality? Yep.

On the other side of the aisle, actress Cynthia Nixon (ex-Sex & The City) is looking to primary Governor Andrew Cuomo later this year. New York has not had a female governor, but are we ready for one? We'll find out later this summer. Nixon has already gotten support from former castmate Sarah Jessica Parker, among others, and like Trump before her, she'll have to deal with relentless media scrutiny. Good luck.
Disturbing to read that in the wake of the arrest of NVIXM (pronounced Nexium, like the medicine) founder Keith Raineri, that former Smallville co-star Allison Mack is neck deep in her involvement with what is being considered a cult. Trust me, Mack's fans from her TV days are not thrilled. If you thought a cultural icon like, say, Bill Cosby, could fall from grace so mightily amid allegations of sexual misconduct dating back decades, learning that Mack, who played made-for-TV sidekick Chloe Sullivan on Smallville, would wind up swapping her career for a life of human trafficking, I'd say her fall is even worse, wouldn't you?
So sad to read also of the passing for former major league baseball player Rusty Staub at 73. Staub played for five different franchises (Mets, Montreal, Houston, Detroit, Texas) in a career that spanned more than two decades, and reached the World Series with the Mets in 1973, where the Amazin's lost a 7-game thriller to Oakland.

MLB Network had this up earlier today:

The Mets, at least, placed a #10 (Staub's number during his 2nd tour with the team in the 80's) on the mound prior to today's opener vs. St. Louis. Not sure about the Tigers, Astros, or Rangers. Even less sure if the Washington Nationals, the former Expos, are doing anything, but we'll know by the end of the day.

Rest in peace, Rusty.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Classic TV: Sing Along With Mitch (1961)

Mitch Miller was a record producer and executive at Mercury, Columbia, and MCA dating back to the 40's. Most people of a certain age, though, may be familiar with his NBC series, Sing Along With Mitch, which ran for 3 seasons (1961-4), and introduced viewers to singers Bob McGrath (later of Sesame Street) and Leslie Uggams, among others.

Lyrics to the chorale's songs were shown on the screen, and, yes, there would be the bouncing ball that was used in Famous Studios' animated sing-along shorts some time earlier, but not in every instance.

After the series ended, NBC exhumed selected reruns to air as a mid-season replacement in the spring of 1966. It just happened that Sing Along didn't quite have the staying power of, say for example, The Lawrence Welk Show over on ABC, which ran until 1971 on the network before beginning a syndicated run (previously documented). Yes, there were albums released that were derived from the show, issued through Columbia, Miller's label at the time.

Let's take a look at a sample clip. McGrath appears at the 1:10 mark.

I think PBS stopped airing Welk reruns. If that's the case, why not dicker to get the rights to this series? Miller passed away in 2010 at 99, but his legacy should be allowed to flourish as much as Welk's did, don't you think?

Rating (based on the above excerpt): A.

Musical Interlude: Mixed Emotions (1989)

In the mid-80's, it looked like there was a fracture in the Rolling Stones. Chief songwriters Mick Jagger & Keith Richards, collectively known as the Glimmer Twins, had had a falling out, and while each released solo records (Jagger had 2 to Richards' 1), the time apart healed all the wounds, and the band was back together to release and tour in support of their 1989 CD, "Steel Wheels".

The first single, "Mixed Emotions", was a mix of concept and performance in the video. The band is in the studio with various guest musicians, including Chuck Leavell, joining them. Then, you have Jagger, dressed in workout gear, looking like he was shooting a fitness video. Finally, there is that rarity of rarities. Jagger taking a turn on guitar alongside Richards and Ron Wood.

"Mixed Emotions" peaked at #5 on the Hot 100, but deserved to go higher.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Sports this 'n' that

Basketball season is officially over in the home market. Section II had two teams competing in the Federation Tournament of Champions last weekend at Cool Insuring Arena in Glens Falls. Albany Academy, which plays a mostly independent schedule, and unlike another independent, Green Tech, the Cadets didn't take part in the Section II tournament or the subsequent state tournament, sought to win their 3rd straight Federation Class A title.

Unfortunately, the two-time defending champs couldn't make it a three-peat, as Park School upset the Cadets on Sunday. State Class B champion Mekeel Christian Academy, out of Schenectady, was similarly denied a Federation title in a loss Sunday afternoon. It's worth noting that the Federation tournaments only cover Class AA, A, & B.
When Troy High's baseball team takes the field one week from today (weather permitting, of course) vs. Burnt Hills, they'll have a slightly different look. Pitcher David Judge is no longer with the team, and would've been in his senior season this year. Personally, after what I'd seen last year, I'm not expecting a whole lot on the diamond.

Unfortunately, the school district's ban on reporters from The Record talking to coaches continues, and now, per an article in Saturday's editions, players can't talk to the paper anymore, either, this after a respite during the football team's state title run last fall. Apparently, superintendent John Carmello has other axes to grind with the paper besides a botched "expose" on the women's basketball team one year ago.

The problem I have there, though, is that not allowing the hometown paper to talk to anyone from Troy's athletic department does a disservice to the players & coaches, as well as parents of the players, and to the paper and the school district. Non-athletic activities are one thing, but the school is, in effect, cutting itself off from its own fan base. Not good.
Contrary to what I wrote in my AL predictions the other day, the World Series champion Houston Astros will bring the trophy to town, as it will be publicly displayed at Joe Bruno Stadium on August 3, when the Tri-City Valleycats play host to the Lowell Spinners.
WWE announced the last entry into this year's Hall of Fame class last week. Weightlifter-turned-wrestler Mark Henry, who was on the 1996 Olympic team with Kurt Angle, will join Angle in the Hall. However, Henry hasn't yet completely closed the book on his in-ring career. Spending most of his time these days as a goodwill ambassador for the company, it wouldn't shock anyone to see Henry as a "special attraction" going forward.

Meanwhile, Shane McMahon, Smackdown's figurehead commissioner, has been sidelined with diverticulitis, the same malady that short-circuited Brock Lesnar's MMA career a few years back. McMahon also has some hernia issues, and likely will miss Wrestlemania on April 8. In contrast, figurehead GM Daniel Bryan (Bryan Danielson) has been cleared to compete, and after being stretchered out by Kevin Owens (Steen) and Sami Zayn on last week's show, will need a new tag team partner. Hmmmmmmmm.
I'm not digging MLB Network's lame commercial to promote their nightly highlights & discussion fest, MLB Tonight. If you haven't seen it, which airs during every commercial break, a number of analysts (read: former players), including Sean Casey, Dan Plesac, & Harold Reynolds, are quoting famous lines from broadcasts of the past. For example, Plesac uses the late Jack Buck's line, "Go crazy, folks! Go crazy!" from a St. Louis Cardinals playoff win circa 1987, I think----while on a golf course. Luckily, this farce isn't yet available on YouTube.
While WWE CEO/Chairman Vince McMahon decided to bring back the ill-fated XFL for a 2020 launch, it's gotten out that his hand may have been forced. The Alliance of American Football (an even lamer name) launches next February, right after the Super Bowl. Founded by Charlie Ebersol, son of long time NBC executive Dick Ebersol, a McMahon family friend, the AAF has virtually the same plan. 8 teams, 10 weeks, etc., but the difference is that they already have a TV deal with CBS and CBS Sports Network. The younger Ebersol also, ironically, directed last year's 30 For 30 documentary on the original XFL for ESPN. Will that one year head start make a difference? Stay tuned.
High school football season ended four months ago. Still, this next item may have been a case of the inevitable coming to pass.

LaSalle Institute parted company with varsity football coach Gary "Penny" Lauver after 2 dismal seasons, compiling a 3-13 record over that span. The Albany Times-Union reported today that former Union College coach John Audino, who spent 24 seasons in Schenectady before spending the last two at Columbia University, will replace Lauver. Audino's final season at Union was just as bad as what the Cadets endured under Lauver, if not worse. Audino went winless in 2015. However, he does have a few post-season playoff appearances on his resume at Union. The Cadets assuredly need someone with Audino's experience going forward, especially after losing their last six games last year, most in embarrassing blowout fashion.

Updated, 3/27, 7:06 pm (ET): LaSalle will also drop down in class when the new season begins at the end of August, and they're not alone.

Section II has realigned Classes AA & A for 2018. Class AA will now be 1 division, consisting of 8 teams (Shenendehowa, CBA, Colonie, Saratoga, Schenectady, Albany, Shaker, & Guilderland). Class A splits into two divisions. Something tells me that someone didn't like the fact that Troy, which nearly fell back to A last season, had been so dominant in running the table 2 years running. Troy, LaSalle, Ballston Spa, & Columbia move to A. The divisions are set as follows:

Capital Division:

Troy, LaSalle, Columbia, Green Tech, Averill Park, & Amsterdam.

[Troy now can avenge the only blemish on coach Bob "The Builder" Burns' record, the 2015 Class A title game loss to Amsterdam. Averill Park had become the class of the A league the last two seasons, right up there with the dueling Spartans of Queensbury & Burnt Hills, but now they're in the path of the runaway train from Burdett Avenue. Audino's hire at LaSalle should make the Cadets competitive enough to run with the Flying Horses. I just have to work on my post-game jokes over the next five months.]

Grasso Division (named for former Bishop Maginn coach Joe Grasso, who passed away last season):

Burnt Hills, Queensbury, Gloversville, Mohonasen, Scotia-Glenville, Ballston Spa, South Glens Falls.

[Road games in the North Country will likely be Saturday matinees. Just sayin'.]

2-time Class D champ Cambridge is also being denied a three-peat. They'll merge with Salem and move to Class C.

Monday, March 26, 2018

What Might've Been: San Francisco International Airport (1970)

NBC & Universal's ambitious anthology wheel, Four-In-One, lasted just 1 season, with half of the component features, Night Gallery & McCloud, being renewed, and, in the case of the latter, it was reassigned to the NBC Mystery Movie.

We previously took a look at Roy Thinnes in The Psychiatrist. Today, we'll scope San Francisco International Airport.

All told, seven episodes, pilot included, were produced. Pernell Roberts (ex-Bonanza) starred in the pilot, an excerpt of which you'll see shortly, but either studio or network suits were not happy, and insisted on Lloyd Bridges (ex-Sea Hunt) replacing Roberts as airport head Jim Conrad. Bridges' post-Sea Hunt track record wasn't that good. A self titled series for Four Star and The Loner also lasted one season each.

As noted before, the reason this failed can be traced to CBS' placement of Hawaii Five-O, in its 3rd season, opposite Four-In-One. Game over.

Right now, the only way you'd see the complete film is via Mystery Science Theatre 3000, which we'll look at another time. Instead, we've got a 7 minute excerpt.

Jason Wingreen is better known, of course, as bartender Harry Snowden from All In The Family. When we cover MST3K, we'll use different source material.

Rating, based on the above excerpt: A.

Musical Interlude: Snoopy vs. The Red Baron (1966-7)

The Royal Guardsmen peaked at #2 in the winter of 1967 with "Snoopy vs. The Red Baron", adapting some occasional Peanuts arcs in which Snoopy imagined his doghouse was a Sopwith Camel, and, well, you know the rest of the story, I'm sure.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Old Time Radio: Our Miss Brooks (1948)

Most people are probably more familiar with the TV version of Our Miss Brooks than the radio version, which had a four year headstart. Both, though, were very successful.

What you might not know is that Eve Arden was the 3rd choice of then-CBS executive Harry Ackerman to play English teacher Connie Brooks. His first was Shirley Booth, who'd later land her own iconic role on TV as Hazel. Second choice Lucille Ball was committed to My Favorite Husband at the time, and we know the rest of her story. Arden landed the part, and cemented her own status.

Future film star Jeff Chandler was Mr. Boynton, the object of Miss Brooks' affection. After trying to juggle the radio show with a movie career, Chandler left the show, and Robert Rockwell took his place. Rockwell, along with Arden, Richard Crenna, Gale Gordon, and the rest of the cast, would transition to television when CBS put Brooks on the small screen in 1952, coinciding with season 5 of the radio program.

From what I'd seen of the TV version, Walter Denton (Crenna), while willing to give his teacher a ride in his car, was otherwise a well meaning bumbler. Translated, he may have been inspired by Archie, who was also on the radio at the time.

Right now, let's revisit "Conklin's First Day". Gale Gordon does not appear in this episode, as another actor essays the role of Osgood Conklin. Gordon would take over in the character's 3rd appearance.

The radio version lasted 8 seasons (1948-56), while the TV edition ran for four (1952-6). The coda was a feature film version in which Brooks & Boynton were ready to settle down.

Curiously, there was a point in the TV version where Boynton wasn't around, and Brooks pursued physical education teacher Gene Talbot (Gene Barry, in one of his first TV gigs). We'll cover the video version another time.

Rating: A.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

What Might've Been: The Ray Stevens Show (1970)

After frequent appearances on The Andy Williams Show, Ray Stevens was granted his own summer show by NBC in 1970. That was the good news. The bad? It ran less than 2 months, from mid-June to early August.

At the time known for novelties such as "Ahab The Arab" and "Guitarzan", the latter of which came out prior to this series, as well as more serious entries such as "Mr. Businessman" and "Everything is Beautiful", Stevens taped his show in Canada, which allowed for one of their best known comics of the period, Billy Van, to be a regular. Van would also be part of the repertory companies for Sonny & Cher and the Hudson Brothers on their shows later in the decade. It just happens that producer Chris Bearde packaged both Williams' & Stevens' shows, along with Sonny & Cher and the Hudsons.

The repertory company here was more eclectic. Singer Lulu, best known for the theme from "To Sir With Love" just three years earlier, was a regular, as was comedy icon Jonathan Winters, who would get another crack at his own series about a year after The Ray Stevens Show signed off. Other familiar faces included Bob Einstein (ex-The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour), usually as Super Dave Osborne, and Steve Martin, who was also a writer and performer with the Smothers Brothers before becoming an icon in his own right.

Thanks to the magic of videotape, we get a triple dose of Stevens in this clip:

Stevens would score some of his biggest novelty success a few years later with "The Streak", but he balanced that with a cover of "Misty". YouTube commentators have noted how Stevens' personal views on politics have changed in recent years.

I barely remember seeing this show (I was 7 at the time), so there's no rating.

Musical Interlude: Middle of The Road (1983-4)

The Pretenders' "Middle of the Road" earned heavy airplay on MTV when the video was released late in 1983, prior to the January 1984 release of the album, "Learning to Crawl". Singer-guitarist Chrissie Hynde, a first-time mom prior to the release of the album, came up with the album title in reference to her newborn daughter.

"Middle", meanwhile, does address some socio-political themes of the period.

Friday, March 23, 2018

On The Air: Krypton (2018)

David Goyer has had two previous TV series based on comic books. Suffice it to say, while his track record in movies has been, well, exemplary, television has been just the opposite.

Blade followed the Wesley Snipes film trilogy, but with rapper Kirk "Sticky Fingaz" Jones replacing Snipes in the title role. It lasted 1 season on Spike. On the heels of the success of "Man of Steel" on the big screen, on which Goyer was a producer, Constantine was a critical darling, but a victim of NBC programmers' indifference, and was also cut after 1 season, despite a viewer write-in campaign. Constantine, at least, lives on, airing in reruns on CW Seed, and the character himself (Matt Ryan) now appears on Legends of Tomorrow.

So, what to make of Goyer's latest, Krypton?

Posited as a prequel to the Superman mythos, Krypton, which bowed Wednesday, is built around Seg-El (Cameron Cuffe), the Man of Steel's grandfather, and the underdog story of restoring his family's honor while rebelling against tyrannical rule.

Tyranny? On Krypton? I don't think Joe Shuster & Jerry Siegel ever thought of it.

Syfy intends for Krypton to refresh the Superman story, unlike how Fox's Gotham has written its own warped variation on Batman's backstory. Jax-Ur, whom you may remember as a Phantom Zone villain in pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths DC Comics history, has been gender-flipped into a woman, just because. However, Brainiac has been plugged in as DC's answer to, say, Galactus, no longer a mere android with super intelligence. They started messing with Brainiac back in the 80's at DC.

Then, factor in Adam Strange, a sci-fi hero of the Silver Age, reposited as a 20-something time traveler who goes to Krypton to warn Seg of 1) its impending doom and 2) his future grandson, among other things. If they're going to use Strange as a time traveler, he's on the wrong show.

Goyer co-wrote the opener, so it's on him. That it required two directors doesn't make much sense at the moment.

Right now, scope this trailer from Syfy's YouTube channel:

Ok, so Seg is headstrong, gets into fights he doesn't need to, and, in a nod to Gotham, he not only loses his grandfather in the opener, but his parents, too.

I don't know how Goyer was able to sell this to Syfy, much less WB, but I'm not feeling this at all.

Rating: C-.

American League 2018 preview

Two of the three divisions look easy to figure, but, then again........

AL East:

It's easy to say the Yankees could not only reach the LCS this year, but the World Series, hoping to snap a 9 year drought. First year manager Aaron Boone, formerly of ESPN, has a nice problem to have with an embarrassment of riches. It wasn't enough that the Yanks picked up Danny Espinosa (Washington/Tampa Bay/Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, etc.) and Jace Peterson (Atlanta) to shore up the bench, but now they have rebuilt Murderers' Row for the 21st century with reigning Rookie of the Year and Home Run Derby champ Aaron Judge and the biggest acquisition of the winter, Giancarlo Stanton (Miami) at the center, flanked by Greg Bird, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius, and their latest signee, Neil Walker (Mets/Milwaukee). They have depth all around the infield, as well as in the outfield. I question whether or not Sonny Gray, in his first full season in the Bronx, can handle the pressure after being about as consistent as a broken toilet last summer. As it is, #5 starter Jordan Montgomery will have all kinds of pressure starting the home opener vs. Tampa Bay on April 2.

In Boston, Red Sox Nation doesn't care that management may have been fleeced by Scott Boras in signing ex-Valleycat J. D. Martinez (Detroit/Arizona). As long as Martinez produces, adding to an already potent offense with two-sport star Mookie Betts, Hanley Ramirez, and Mitch Moreland, they'll be happy. I worry more about the pitching. Baltimore fans will be concerned if another Boras drone, Manny Machado, decides to walk after this season to chase the money. And they wonder why no one brings up that they haven't had a sniff of the World Series in 35 years. Along with Toronto & Tampa Bay, they're playing for show money.

Projected order of finish:

1. Yankees.
2. Boston.
3. Toronto.
3 (tie). Baltimore.
5. Tampa Bay.

AL Central:

They say that Kansas City has gone from contender to pretender. Not sure about that yet. Yes, Lorenzo Cain is gone (Milwaukee), but they did get a power bat in Lucas Duda (Mets/Tampa Bay) to replace Eric Hosmer (San Diego). Hosmer, of course, is another Boras drone. Never should've let Hosmer go. If Salvatore Perez can stay healthy, he could form a 1-2 punch with Duda. Ron Gardenhire, last seen venting his spleen in Minnesota, is now the skipper in Detroit. While the pitching is solid with Michael Fulmer and Jordan Zimmerman at the front, the offense has to come around after letting Martinez go to Arizona last summer. Miguel Cabrera & Victor Martinez aren't going to be there forever. It's really a two-horse race, if you believe the pundits, those two being Cleveland and Minnesota. The Indians foolishly decided not to keep Jay Bruce and played Indian giver by letting him go back to the Mets. The Twins' young core may be ready to finally break through. Brian Dozier wouldn't happen to be related to ex-Met & Penn State football hero D. J. Dozier, would he? If Chicago and Rick Renteria want to get back into contention, get Ken Harrelson out of the booth. His act can get stale after a while, and he wasn't the homer he is now when he was Dick Stockton's caddy in Boston many moons ago. Harrelson doesn't realize it, but he may be a plague on the White Sox. Just sayin'.

Projected order of finish:

1. Minnesota.
2. Cleveland.
3. Kansas City.
4. Detroit.
5. Chicago.

AL West:

Contrary to what I thought might happen, Houston didn't extend their World Series celebration all the way to the home district, what with a good number of Valleycats alumni (i.e. Jose Altuve, George Springer, Dallas Keuchel) as vital parts of their championship team. The division is theirs to lose. They let Mike Fiers walk, and the last I checked, he was getting regularly lit up in preseason games for Detroit. They get a full season of Justin Verlander, and picked up Gerrit Cole (Pittsburgh) to replace Fiers. In contrast, Texas, despite taking a chance on Bartolo Colon (Atlanta/Minnesota), doesn't really have enough left in their veteran core to make another run. Seattle welcomed back Ichiro Suzuki (Miami) as a free agent, and added more speed by getting Dee Gordon (Miami), who is being converted to an outfielder since Robinson Cano is the incumbent at second base. Pitching is a question mark. Moneyball won't be the necessary answer in Oakland anymore, as they're still about two years away from a playoff return. Los Angeles needs to make a big run, one last run for Albert Pujols, who entered the league the same year Ichiro did. How many more times can network yakkers talk up Mike Trout for MVP if the team's nowhere near playoff contention? How soon does Mike Scioscia need to borrow some SlimFast from Tommy Lasorda?

Projected order of finish:

1. Houston.
2. Seattle.
3. Los Angeles.
4. Oakland.
4 (tie). Texas.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

A Modern Classic: Roseanne (1988)

After seeing NBC's fortunes turn around with The Cosby Show, ABC executives asked producers Marcy Carsey & Tom Werner to give them a similar tentpole sitcom.

Roseanne lasted about as long as Cosby did, and, as it returns for a short-season revival on Tuesday, it doesn't have the tabloid baggage that has convinced certain cable networks to shy away from reruns of any of Cosby's shows.

Roseanne Barr based her show on her own life and stand-up comedy routines, the latter in much the same way Cosby had mined his act for Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids years earlier. While Cosby was set in New York, Roseanne opted for an Illinois suburb.

You might remember this intro.

There was the curious case of recasting the part of Becky Conner, with Sarah Chalke stepping in for Alicia "Lecy" Goranson. Such a casting change was rarely done in primetime by that point. In the revival, both actresses will appear, with Chalke playing a different character. Johnny Galecki is splitting time between the revival and his current gig, The Big Bang Theory, and likely will pull viewers from his CBS series over to Roseanne just for fun.

The big question, of course, is how to explain Dan (John Goodman) being alive and well when he was killed off near the end of the original series. I guess we'll all find out together on Tuesday. There will be more muscial clips from the original series down the road. I have seen some reruns over the years, but not enough to merit a rating. For now.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Musical Interlude: Whirly Girl (1983)

Here's a one-hit wonder with some serious groove.

OXO scored its only hit in 1983 with the infectious "Whirly Girl". Vocalist Angel Ledesma wrote the song about his wife, Lori, who'd later be a part of the later pop combo, Company B. Deborah Jenssen (Solid Gold) is the titular doll in the video.

I guess Deborah was meant to be a stand-in for Lori Ledesma, since her top matches Angel Ledesma's jacket. I had the vinyl single, and just couldn't stop playing it back in the day.

Sports this 'n' that

Headed into a home match today vs. Canisius, the University at Albany's men's lacrosse team is ranked #1 in the country at 6-0. They've already beaten Syracuse and Maryland, for starters. Unlike their basketball & football brethren, however, UAlbany doesn't have a radio deal for lacrosse, though some games did air on local cable before Spectrum merged their news & sports channels together last year. Keep up the good work, guys. You're making the home district proud!
High school baseball & lacrosse season starts in 2 weeks. Due to Easter being on April Fool's Day (4/1), the first week of games will be early afternoon matinees with the schools otherwise closed for spring/Easter vacation. The colleges are on Spring Break this week.

Later in April, Joe Bruno Stadium and the Tri-City Valleycats will host the annual Friday Night Lights high school baseball series. Three weeks of double-headers, scheduled for April 20-May 4, barring rainouts. The only game announced so far is the first half of the April 20 double-dip, a Colonial Council matchup between Watervliet and LaSalle. It'll be a home game for the Cadets. The rest of the schedule will be officially made public the week of April 16, but all you need to do, really, is scan the league schedules (Colonial, Suburban, etc.) to see when your teams are booked for the Joe. Crossing fingers that LaSalle isn't the only hometown school playing at Bruno Stadium this time.
What goes into the mind of a veteran NFL coach like the Patriots' Bill Belichick?

New England doesn't believe in continuity. Local product Dion Lewis took the money and ran to Tennessee, for example. Danny Amendola went to Miami, and his Wikipedia page was sabotaged by angry, butt-hurt Patriot fans. Jeremy Hill comes over from Cincinnati to replace Lewis, but watch. Belichick may have just given new Titans coach Mike Vrabel a means to unseat the Pats as the beasts of the AFC. Remember, Belichick let LeGarrette Blount walk last spring, and now he has a 2nd Super Bowl ring after New England fell to Philadelphia last month. There's no guarantees that Julian Edelman, who missed the season with an injury, will be 100% ready by July, when training camp opens. Sure, New England picked up defensive lineman Danny Shelton (Cleveland) to shore that up, but what difference does it make, then, if everyone else catches up to New England in the coming season? Not everything works for the best.
So the University of Maryland-Baltimore County (UMBC) represented the America East in the NCAA tournament on the men's side, and went further than UAlbany was ever allowed to go, reaching the 2nd round before being eliminated. The Lady Danes finished their season with a one-&-done in the women's NIT, so they still have a glass ceiling to overcome.
So the Jets took a turn on the QB carousel, picking up Teddy Bridgewater (Minnesota), while retaining Josh McCown, Bryce Petty, & Christian Hackenburg. The Vikings also parted with Case Keenum and Sam Bradford, with Kirk Cousins taking over as the starting quarterback. Apparently, the team's ownership decided to go el scrimpo on all three of their 2017 QB's. That will cost them. Trust me on that.
Back at home, when the Albany Empire take the field for their first Arena Football League game at Times Union Center on April 14, there'll be some local talent on the field. Wade Hansen (Tamarac High/University of West Virginia/RPI) and former Troy High star Jordan Canzeri, who played his college ball at Iowa, have signed with the Empire. Both played in Japan (!) last season. They may not be the last Section II products to sign with the Empire or any AFL team before this is all said and done.
Local Mets fans will have it easier to find radio broadcasts of the team's games this season. Pamal Broadcasting, which took over some former Albany Broadcasting properties, has moved Mets games to WROW (590 AM), which now has mostly talk radio. I can remember the days when WROW AM meant muzak. Seriously.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Celebrity Rock: She Caught The Katy (1996)

Taj Mahal's "She Caught The Katy" was recorded by the Blues Brothers (John Belushi & Dan Aykroyd) for the soundtrack of their 1980 movie. Sixteen years later, Zee Blues (James Belushi), along with Mighty Mack (John Goodman) join Elwood (Aykroyd) in Atlanta to perform "Katy".

A few years later, James Belushi & Aykroyd shed the porkpie hats and shades and cut an album as themselves. Unfortunately, it also exposed the fact that Aykroyd has forgotten when to say when at the dinner table, based on concert footage available on YouTube. We'll show you what we mean another day.

The roots of a play: Josephine Sunshine & The Energy Facility, 3/19/18

The Troy Foundry Theatre is hosting staged readings, that is, public rehearsals, of productions this week & next at different sites in the hometown.

Tonight, the Scarlet Seven Gallery in downtown was the place for a reading of Josephine Sunshine & The Energy Facility, a new play by Allison Giguere. Based on the enthusiastic response of the 50+ people who attended the program, I'd say we'd see a finished product down the road.

While the program was scheduled to fill a 2 hour window from 7:30-9:30 pm (ET), between the reading and a short Q & A session with Ms. Giguere and the cast, the night was over in less than 90 minutes.

Josephine Sunshine is, at various points, a social-psychological study and a romantic comedy bordering on eroticism involving the title character (Dana Goodknight), her husband (James Carola), her mother (Amy Kirkpatrick Rosen), and a stranger who becomes Josephine's, ah, new partner (KD McTeigue). What does the "Energy Facility" of the title represent? It all depends on the viewer's interpretation. It could be an allegory or analogue for today's society, especially given the #Metoo movement, or how government is perceived today, based on the Trump administration, or it could be something else entirely. Something to think about.

Rating: A--.

Next week, Troy Foundry Theatre, which is clearly operating as a traveling theatre within city limits, moves across town to the Collar Works in North Central for a reading of The Charlie Play.

On The Shelf: More Hanna-Barbera/DC crossovers, plus other nuggets of joy

I meant to do this yesterday, but found something a little more appealing. Anyway, word got out last week that DC will again produce a series of 1-shot specials pairing various DC characters with Hanna-Barbera characters, this time from the 70's.

It's clear that Black Lightning is getting a big time push on the heels of his hit TV series on CW (and if you haven't seen it, what are you waiting for?), as he'll also appear in Detective Comics in a 2 part story in June. Before that happens, Jefferson Pierce sports his old, original look for a team up with this guy.......

David Hill is writing both Black Lightning/Hong Kong Phooey and the Detective 2-parter, which will actually start his run on the latter, replacing James Tynion IV. Panrific? We'll know for sure around Memorial Day.

The back-up feature posits the immortal Jason Blood, before he was fused together with Etrigan, meeting The Funky Phantom.

The Super Sons, Damian Wayne (the current Robin) and Jon Kent (the current Superboy), end up in an oddball partnership with a bionic partner.....

The plot here suggests Blue Falcon going rogue. Expect silliness.

Speaking of silly, that brings us to a natural (?) pairing of Aquaman and a wayward sort from the future.....

Speaking of oddball pairings, the back-up in this one sees Captain Caveman meet the wizard Shazam and The Spectre.

But the most radical idea has The Flash and.......

Seems they're messing around trying to explain how Speedy was sentient in the first place. He won't have his usual crew this time, but the explanation is as plain as day from the synopsis in the solicitation.

Each issue will be priced at $5 per copy, just like last year.
Not long ago, Archie Comics decided to revive a long forgotten character, Cosmo The Merry Martian, with a brand new series. In June, readers will finally get to see a trade paperback collection of Cosmo's original stories from the 60's. That ain't all. The company is also reaching into the archives for a trade paperback of Archie at Riverdale High, one of the secondary titles from the 70's & early 80's that often had Archie and pals solving minor crimes. Both trades go for $11 per copy, cheaper than the competition.

Other DC news: Brian Michael Bendis' 1st Superman project is a "reimagining", if ya will, of John Byrne's 1986 Man of Steel miniseries. This time, though, it's set in the present. Six weekly issues, just like the original, but it doesn't revise or revisit the oft-told origin of the Metropolis Marvel. Mad is now officially under the DC umbrella, and will reboot to #1 in May. The $6 cover, though, is a total overreach. Justice League also reboots to #1 (again) in June, but the cover price, at least for the first two issues, jumps to $4 per issue. Things that make you say, "huh". Suicide Squad is the latest to be trimmed to a once a month, $4 per issue schedule, also in June. Yo, DC! Do the freakin' math and let the numbering roll naturally. Bombshells United, one of DC's digital-first books, ends with #19. In addition to the above-noted DC-HB crossovers, the Justice Society meets Scooby-Doo in a time-travel adventure in Scooby-Doo Team-Up. That's worth more than one issue, but that's not how Sholly Fisch writes the book. Trust me. Mystery, Inc., though, is down a member in the pages of Scooby Apocalypse as it lumbers forward. Now you definitely know it's outside of continuity.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

A game and a song: Bob McGrath on To Tell The Truth (1966)

After Sing Along With Mitch ended, tenor Bob McGrath, later of Sesame Street, went to Japan, where he became a million-selling recording artist. He'd return to the States, and appeared first on I've Got a Secret, then hosted by Steve Allen, then, in the following clip, on To Tell The Truth, where, after collecting votes from all 4 panelists, he performs a Japanese rendition of "Danny Boy":

If you're looking at this for the first time, as I did, you'd find this to be an easy game. So did the panel.

National League 2018 preview

Reversing the order this year, as we'll take a look at the "senior circuit" first.

NL East:

Washington is, again, the team to beat, largely due to starting pitching, particularly Cy Young winner Max Scherzer. However, the Nationals have taken some hits on offense. Jayson Werth is a free agent still on the market as of this writing, and they realistically can't entirely build the offense around Bryce Harper, who will be a free agent after the season. You know what that means, of course. Harper's pet leech, Scott Boras, will look to again fleece teams to get big bucks. Harper has to produce to justify the need. Philadelphia found their successor to Ryan Howard by getting Carlos Santana from Cleveland as a free agent. They still need a few extra parts. So does Miami, which jettisoned their entire starting outfield from last year, but queasy fans blamed it on Derek Jeter, the face of the new ownership group. I'm not convinced Jeter was the one who pulled the trigger on deals that sent Giancarlo Stanton to the Yankees, Christian Yelich to Milwaukee, or Marcell Ozuna to St. Louis. Converting infielder Derek Dietrich into an outfielder will not help. Atlanta could be a sleeper, since they kept most of their team intact from last year, losing only pitcher R. A. Dickey and infielder Jace Peterson, the latter going to the Yankees. They just need to reload the pitching to back up Julio Teheran. We already talked about the Mets.

Projected order of finish:

1. Washington.
2. Philadelphia.
3. Mets.
4. Atlanta.
5. Miami.

NL Central:

It is, without question, one of the more competitive divisions in the majors, as you basically will have four teams battling for two or three playoff spots.

However, Pittsburgh management decided to be stupid and let Andrew McCutcheon chase the money (San Francisco). St. Louis got Ozuna (see above), and let Stephen Piscotty go (Oakland). They could've gotten Matt Adams back after Atlanta let him go, but Washington bagged him instead. As noted Milwaukee picked up Christian Yelich from Miami, but also welcomed back former draft pick Lorenzo Cain (Kansas City) to retool their outfield, preparing for the inevitable retirement of Ryan Braun. Chicago will look to repeat as division champion and get back to the World Series. The division is theirs to lose. Cincinnati still needs a couple of extra parts.

Projected order of finish:

1. Chicago.
2. Milwaukee.
3. St. Louis.
4. Pittsburgh.
5. Cincinnati.

NL West:

Speaking of competitive divisions, the West shapes up the same way as the Central. Four teams, really, are contenders, and then, you have San Diego, which wishes Dial-a-Prayer was still around. Los Angeles will look to make it three division titles in a row under Dave Roberts. Arizona and Colorado can't risk another late season fade-out and must avoid injuries to key players, though in the case of the Rockies, the pitching needs to be consistent home and away due to the differing, divergent conditions. Getting Andrew McCutcheon isn't going to guarantee that San Francisco will return to the playoffs. However, it is an even year, and if they can get past the Cubs & Dodgers.......

Projected order of finish:

1. Los Angeles.
2. San Francisco.
3. Arizona.
3. (tie) Colorado.
5. San Diego.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Weasel of the Week: Jon Bravo

For weeks now, independent filmmaker Jon Bravo has claimed to have evidence that linked WWE wrestlers, particularly Roman Reigns, to a Miami doctor named Richard Rodriguez who dealt in steroids. Now, you'd think Reigns, with one Wellness violation already on his chart, would steer clear of fools like Rodriguez to begin with, and maybe he has, we don't know. Bravo also name-drops actors Channing Tatum & Mark Wahlberg and other wrestlers, past & present, including Stone Cold Steve Austin and Kevin Nash, the latter of whom co-starred with Tatum in the "Magic Mike" movies.

Late Friday night, Bravo dropped this video on YouTube:

The video is also available on Figure Four Weekly & The Wrestling Observer Newsletter's shared website, which is where I obtained the embed code. In Dave Meltzer's article on the subject, Bravo is quoted as saying he was rushed by thousands to get the video out. I'm not so sure about that. To me, and to, I'm sure, millions of others, Bravo is nothing more than a lone whistle-blower in the wilderness looking for his 15 minutes of fame at the expense of other, more famous people. In truth, if he took more time to get his facts straight instead of fanning the flames of idle speculation (and panic in WWE), people might look at this more seriously.

I've not reviewed the film, nor do I intend to. I see a guy desperate to make his name in films coming across as being as sharp as a broken razor, or, to be more precise, his animated namesake, 1990's Cartoon Network dimwit Johnny Bravo. However, Jon Bravo isn't getting a Dunce Cap. He gets the even more dreaded Weasel ears instead for his ongoing campaign of misinformation. It is this video that had WWE thinking of retooling its main event for next month's Wrestlemania in the event there was hard evidence against Roman Reigns.

The bottom line? Smoke & mirrors don't create evidence. Hall of Famer Scott Hall said it best back in the 90's. Don't just sing it. Bring it. Bravo didn't do either.

Friday, March 16, 2018

What Might've Been: Temptation (1967)

Up until the time Bob Quigley retired, he & Merrill Heatter sold just 4 game shows to ABC. The Saturday morning series, Shenanigans, was the first, and it was a retooling of CBS' Video Village. The first sale to ABC for their weekday lineup was Temptation, which ran for 13 weeks in 1967-8.

Over the course of five rounds, contestants chose prizes. The three options resembled the Big Deal segment of Monty Hall's Let's Make a Deal, but that was the only quirk. Actually, it wasn't. Temptation was one of two H-Q games that Kenny Williams didn't announce. NBC's Magnificent Marble Machine, which came along a few years later, and, like Temptation, emceed by Art James, was the other.

Another H-Q game, Funny You Should Ask, ultimately replaced Temptation, but after Funny was dropped, it'd be a few more years before H-Q would try again.

Here's a sample episode. Mind the shaky video quality.

As a 4 year old, I barely remember seeing this at home. I remember the logo, and little else. The game-play is unique in a way, and James attempting to be a little unassuming was a nice change from the norm.

Rating: B.

The AFLAC duck finally talks (for once)(2005)

In a silly sendup of mad scientist movies, the ad agency for AFLAC came up with this bit in 2005 with future first lady Melania Trump having her mind transferred into the infamous AFLAC duck (voice of Gilbert Gottfried), and vice versa, so Gottfried's "AFLAC!" emits from Melania's lips.....

To think that, years later, President Dum-Dum actually brags about this comedy. Put it this way, we know now who the better actor is in the family, don't we?

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Sharing the stage with your boss: Jack Benny on Checkmate (1962)

We've documented that Jack Benny's production company co-produced CBS' Checkmate (1960-2) with Revue Studios, apparently part of a package deal that kept Benny's self-titled sitcom on CBS through the course of its run.

Anyway, Benny guest stars in this season 2 offering, "A Funny Thing Happened on my Way to The Game", the game in this case being the fictional Pioneer Bowl, an analogue for the Rose Bowl, what with the Pioneer Bowl Queen and her Court, under the direction of a pre-Gilligan's Island Tina Louise. Dick Wilson, better known for his many years shilling Charmin toilet paper as Mr. Whipple, also appears as a hotel desk clerk. I guess they couldn't get frequent Benny nemesis Frank Nelson for the gig.

Edit, 1/4/21: The video has been deleted. All that is left is this short sample clip:

Just thought I'd put this up as a public service for now.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Forgotten TV: Let's Go To The Races (1970's)

Let's Go To The Races was a syndicated short-season series that aired pre-recorded races from thoroughbred tracks in Florida during the 70's.

Depending on where you lived, the show was sponsored by a prominent supermarket chain. In New York, that would be Grand Union. In parts of the midwest, as you'll see in the sample episode below, it was Hy-Vee. The stores had game tickets that were available in different colors and numbers during the 13 week season.

It was this series that started my own interest in horse racing. As a fan, mind you, more than a player.

New York viewers saw races from the now-defunct Tropical Park, with veteran sportscaster Jack Drees calling the races, actually dubbing over the original race calls. Same thing here, but the action is at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, now better known for the Florida Derby, among other winter season races.

Unfortunately, the tapes of the Tropical Park races have been lost, so we had to make do.

Rating: B.

A Modern Classic: ER (1994)

Part of the deal that brought Michael Crichton's "Jurassic Park" to the big screen in 1993 was that Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment picked up the rights to a 1974 novel that Crichton wrote based on his experience as a medical student working in an emergency room.

In the fall of 1994, Amblin & WB sold ER to NBC, marking the network's return to medical drama since St. Elsewhere ended a few years earlier. The producers assembled an ensemble cast that, at first, was headed by Anthony Edwards (ex-Brideshead Revisited) and George Clooney (ex-The Facts of Life). This was the series that propelled Clooney into a lucrative movie career (he filmed "Batman & Robin"  between seasons 3 & 4), though some of his movie choices weren't exactly the smartest.

The revolving door has also seen the likes of Angela Bassett, Noah Wyle, Linda Cardellini, Eriq LaSalle, and John Stamos pass through the doors of fictional County General in Chicago. In all, ER ran for 15 seasons on NBC, most of it anchoring the network's "Must-See TV" block.

Here's a sample open & close from the first season, featuring that kickin' theme song....

I've seen a few reruns when it aired on TNT. All I can say is that Dick Wolf's current Chicago Med has a hard act to follow.

Rating: A.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

A little bit of this and a little bit of that

A correction from yesterday. The UAlbany women's basketball team will continue to play after all, as they've accepted a bid to the Women's NIT (National Invitational Tournament), which begins this weekend. I had mistakenly assumed the decision by UAlbany administration not to accept any post-season bids applied to both the men's & women's teams.
In a strange turn of events, a judge ruled in favor of the National Enquirer in a lawsuit brought against them by 80's fitness icon Richard Simmons. Seems that while the American Media-owned tabloid, a favored publication of President Trump, fabricated a story about Simmons transitioning from man to woman, there wasn't enough in the judge's opinion to declare it libelous.

Makes ya wonder if Simmons is a registered Democrat, or if the judge is a Republican and/or pro-Trump......
Speaking of the President, he continues to tinker with his Cabinet as if he's still a CEO, and not the leader of the free world. The latest casualty was Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who was officially future endeavored yesterday. To replace Tillerson, Trump is nominating current CIA director Mike Pompeo. Like, didn't he pick Pompeo to replace James Comey last year?

I'm more convinced that despite his reportedly becoming a Christian during his campaign, Trump still conducts business with all the subtlety and savvy of, say....Elmer Fudd. I respect the office, but let's stop playing musical chairs.
Even though he's due to come off the disabled list in the WWE, Jeff Hardy got himself in trouble with the law again over the weekend, as he was arrested for DUI in his home state of North Carolina. Hardy just doesn't get it. His brother, Matt, finally is able to use the "Broken" (now "Woken") persona created in TNA/Impact in 2016, in WWE, and recorded a match vs. Bray Wyatt in North Carolina last week (WWE will show the match next week, and make you think they are taping later this week), in which Jeff was involved.

It makes one wonder if the Hardys are on a permanent sugar high, or they laced the Cocoa Puffs with PCPs as kids.......! Matt does present himself as being cuckoo, moreso than Wyatt (Windham Rotunda, son of Mike Rotunda, nephew of Barry Windham, etc.), who has been presented as a sort-of cult leader from the swamp.
Speaking of WWE, as of now, their Hall of Fame class of 2018 appears to be set as follows:

Bill Goldberg: A WCW phenom from 1997-2000, Goldberg resurfaced in WWE from 2003-4 and 2016-17. Currently doing some acting (ABC's The Goldbergs) while enjoying likely retirement from the mat.

Ivory (Lisa Moretti): Originally a cast member of the original Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling (1986-90), Moretti resurfaced in WWE during the Attitude Era (1997-2004), winning several women's titles before becoming a commentator.

Jeff Jarrett: The co-founder of TNA had 2 stints in WWE in the 90's (1995-6, 1998-9), but left on bad terms. So did Bruno Sammartino and the late Ultimate Warrior, and they eventually got in, too.

Kid Rock: The rap-rocker, born Robert Ritchie, is going into the Celebrity wing, giving speculation that if Undertaker does return at Wrestlemania this year, he may resurrect his "American Bad Ass" persona (2000-3), who returned to the beat of Kid Rock's song of the same name in May '00.

Jarrius Robertson (Warrior Award winner). Enough said.

The Dudley Boys: Bubba Ray (Mark Lomonaco) & D-Von (Devon Hughes) cut a swath through ECW, WWE, & TNA, as well as Japan, between 1995-2016. As Bully Ray, Lomonaco wrestled his last match for Ring of Honor in December, and is now a ringside enforcer for ROH. Bubba & D-Von won more than 2 dozen tag titles in their careers, but most of their WWE & TNA runs were unfortunately short.

Hillbilly Jim (James Morris): A product of the Hulk Hogan era of the 80's, Morris began his career in the southern independents, and recorded a couple of novelty tracks for the two WWE CD's that came out in 1985 and '87. Now a goodwill ambassador for the company.

There may be at least one more, and if there is, we'll have it here. The induction will be in New Orleans on April 6.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Celebrity Rock: Sweet Home Chicago (1995)

As we've seen, John Goodman not only made one of his first film appearances in 1986's "True Stories", he also sang in it, too ("People Like Us"). He later became a member of the Blues Brothers, but in between, he channeled his inner bluesman in an episode of Roseanne.

John Popper and Blues Traveler guest star in an episode that first aired in November 1995. Near the end of the show, Popper turns the stage over to Dan Conner (Goodman) for a round of "Sweet Home Chicago", which is also part of the Blues Brothers' set list.

With the return of Roseanne two weeks away, we'll have a more comprehensive review soon.

Sports this 'n' that

Slowly, but surely, baseball free agents are finally landing deals. Some, like Mike Moustakas (Kansas City) and Carlos Gonzalez (Colorado) are staying put, but settling for 1 year deals with team options for next year. Others, like Jake Arietta, are getting bigger deals, but it still reeks of a con game.

The common thread? All three above named players are represented by the biggest weasel in the barn, Scott Boras, who fleeced Philadelphia into signing Arietta, who won a World Series with the Cubs two years ago, into a 5 year deal with an opt-out option after the 2nd year (2019), which is a typical Boras money-grab stunt.

The problem is, the market is changing, and Boras and his clients don't see it. Boras has conditioned his clients to believe that he can still get them the best deal regardless, but owners are wising up to his long running shell game. Gonzalez & Moustakas were coming off down years in 2017, but Boras tried to pull his con game based on prior performance. Owners are looking solely at "what have you done lately", meaning last season, not the entire body of work. As long as Boras continues to brainwash clients coming out of high school or college, he's going to remain a player and an annoyance to owners.

The solution? Maybe the Better Business Bureau and Securities & Exchange Commission should look into this failed minor league catcher-turned-lawyer-turned agent/scam artist.
When state basketball tournament play began last week, Section II had 10 teams entered. The total is now down to 4 after a disastrous Saturday at SUNY-Canton and Hudson Valley Community College. On the women's side, only Class C champ Cambridge remains. For the men, it's Mohonasen (A), Lake George (C), and Mekeel Christian Academy (B). Bigger Suburban Council powers such as Shenendehowa (Boys' AA), Colonie (Girls' AA), and Averill Park (Girls' A) were eliminated on Saturday. In the case of Averill Park, in what amounted to a de facto home game at HVCC, they couldn't get the monkey off their collective back in losing to Jamesville-DeWitt, out of the Syracuse area, making it six straight losses in state play.

The semi-final & final rounds will be contested further downstate, so local fans can wait until baseball season starts next month to root for their teams, unless they're willing to spend the extra money on gas and the $10 tickets for the games.
Riddle me this. What is the point of conference tournaments in college basketball when some of those same teams will join the league champions in the NCAA tournament anyway?

The field has bloated to more than 64 teams over the last 30-odd years, mostly for television's benefit (CBS/Turner Networks), and, as we've discussed, mid-majors such as the America East and the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) get just 1 entry in the big dance when runner-ups are just as deserving.

That being said, it was news the other day when UAlbany decided not to accept an invitation to the smaller tournaments after the men's team was eliminated in the first round of the America East tournament. The women's team's run of six straight league titles was snapped, and they won't be playing further, either. Events like the College Insiders tournament don't get the attention that the NCAA's or NIT's do, and only exist to give schools that were given the el snubbino by the bigger tourneys a chance to line their coffers. UAlbany men's coach Will Brown pointed out that home teams in these tournaments have to pony up a fee to host games, which is really a scam if you think about it.

I'd overheard a conversation at work the other day where it was thought that as many as 9 teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference, which had their tournament in Brooklyn (!) last week (to accomodate Northeast-based member schools Boston College and Syracuse), would go to the NCAA's. Please. If you limit the field to conference champions only, then you treat the mid-majors with more respect and dignity. Screw the television money and level the playing field!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

YouTube Theatre: Mel Blanc: The Man of 1,000 Voices (2007)

This next item was previously reviewed over at Saturday Morning Archives. "Mel Blanc: The Man of 1,000 Voices" was included on one of the Looney Tunes Golden Collection DVD's, and, for now, is available on YouTube. Voice actor and impressionist Maurice LaMarche is the narrator.

A fitting tribute to a non-pareil talent. If it isn't already a stand-alone DVD release, it should be.

Rating: A.

What Might've Been: Emerald Point NAS (1983)

A military soap opera? Like, seriously?

CBS tried in 1983 with Emerald Point N. A. S., from Dynasty creators Richard & Esther Shapiro. It had the hallmarks of a evening soap, particularly an all-star cast, which, in this case, included Dennis Weaver (ex-Gunsmoke, Gentle Ben, McCloud), Susan Dey (ex-The Partridge Family), Richard Dean Anderson (ex-General Hospital), and Patrick O'Neal, who would be replaced by Robert Vaughn before the season was over. Unlike Dynasty, this didn't come from producer Aaron Spelling, who hadn't had anything on CBS since his days at Four Star. Instead, this was produced by 20th Century Fox.

CBS slotted Emerald Point on Mondays, figuring that, weekend aside, they could bookend the week with soaps, what with Dallas & Falcon Crest holding down 2/3 of the Friday block. They had hoped that the Shapiros could do the same thing for them that Dynasty had done for ABC. Ummmmmm, no.

The problem? NBC was still running movies on Mondays, and there was the small matter of, oh, you know, Monday Night Football on ABC during the first half of the season. That Emerald Point lasted 6 months, not quite the full season, was an accomplishment.

Let's take a look at part 1 of the pilot:

Of course, you know that Susan Dey & Richard Dean Anderson would each rebound from this (L. A. Law & MacGyver, respectively). If memory serves, I think this was Dennis Weaver's last series.

No rating.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Celebrity Rock: Cuban Pete & Sally Sweet (1951)

Most of today's generation only know of "Cuban Pete" from Jim Carrey's show-stopping cover in 1994's "The Mask". However, it's roots go deeper. Way deeper.

A year before I Love Lucy, Lucille Ball & Desi Arnaz were on a tour, where they performed "Cuban Pete & Sally Sweet". Now, if you know Lucy, you know the running subplot had Lucy Ricardo (Ball) trying to be included in husband Ricky's nightclub act any way she could. In the episode, "The Diet", she succeeds......

Apples and.......oranges or prunes?: Yankees & Mets 2018 preview

About the only thing the Mets & Yankees had in common this past offseason was that both had changed managers. Terry Collins had broken Dave Johnson's club record as the team's longest tenured manager, leading the team to the World Series in 2015 (lost to Kansas City) and to the wild card round the next year before an epic epidemic of injuries led to a pink slip at the end of last year. Joe Girardi was sent packing from the Bronx after 10 years and a World Series title (2009), a sign that the Steinbrenner brothers hadn't inherited their late father's penchant for impatience and impulsiveness. Girardi had actually worn out his welcome before last year, but an unexpected LCS run wasn't enough to save him.

When it came to new managers, the Yankees opted to pry former post-season hero Aaron Boone from the ESPN booth, then went out and dealt infielder Starlin Castro to Miami for NL home run champ Giancarlo Stanton. Putting Stanton in the middle of a youth-centric lineup that includes AL Rookie of the Year and reigning Home Run Derby champ Aaron Judge and 3rd year players Gary Sanchez & Greg Bird virtually makes the Yankees a consensus favorite to win the AL East. There will also be a pool on how often radio play-by-play commentator John Sterling screws up potential home run calls that aren't as obvious.

The only mistake the Yanks seemed to make was not retaining local product Todd Frazier, who simply moved across town to the Mets as a free agent. The pitching is still formidable, with a rotation headlined by Masahiro Tanaka & CC Sabathia, and a bullpen with David Robertson & Aroldis Chapman figuring to be around for the full season this time.

Meanwhile, the Mets heisted Cleveland pitching coach Mickey Calloway to be their new skipper, and former Yank Dave Eiland replaces Dan Warthen as their pitching coach. That's the good news. The bad? Injuries, of course continue to plague the Mets. I needn't say much more than that. I'm still trying to find the person responsible for the curse that has been placed on Citi Field since it opened in 2009. Just 2 playoff appearances in 9 seasons since the new joint opened? Personally, I'd say that curse was the result of management choosing to be fleeced by Scott Boras and retaining Oliver Perez over Pedro Martinez going into the '09 season. If anyone can corroborate that....!

In essence, the Mets swapped reserve players with Washington. They signed backup catcher Jose Lobaton to be the 3rd wheel behind Travis d'Arnaud & Kevin Plawecki (Rene Rivera is now in LA with the Angels), and welcomed back outfielder Matt den Dekker, while utility man Matt Reynolds was cut, then signed with Washington. That will come back to haunt the Mets, though not as much as the Nats getting Daniel Murphy two years ago has. They had a chance to bring back pitcher Bartolo Colon, but Colon opted to accept a minor league deal with Texas.

In 2 spring training games this week, the Yankees outscored the Mets, 21-7. Ouch. Harbinger of things to come? You bet. The annual Subway Series this summer figures to be just as one-sided. Remember, Stanton has owned Mets pitching in recent years.


Yankees: 1st in AL East.
Mets: 3rd in NL East.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Friday, March 9, 2018

Musical Interlude: We've Only Just Begun (1970)

The Carpenters took "We've Only Just Begun", co-authored by actor-singer-songwriter Paul Williams, to #1 on Cashbox's pop chart and Billboard's Easy Listening (now Adult Contemporary) chart, and #2 on the Hot 100. It is also their trademark song.

Karen Carpenter was taken from us way, way too soon. The simplicity of the two-part harmonies she & brother Richard created has been hard to duplicate since.

On The Shelf: Fresh paint on some old labels

Last summer, Marvel Studios & Netflix misfired with The Defenders, as the miniseries came off as being about as badly written as some of this season's episodes of The Flash over on CW.

Marvel also revived the oft-used Defenders comic, and entrusted it to one of the business' best writers, Brian Michael Bendis, who also happens to be Jessica Jones' creator. As with the TV show, Jessica, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, & Daredevil make up the team. Unlike the show, Luke & Jessica are husband & wife here. Luke's 1/2-brother, Willis "Diamondback" Stryker, is at least one of the big bads, but not the big bad. Suffice to say, Bendis had plans for a longer, sprawling epic that would've made the TV series look even more like amateur night, but one must assume low sales, coupled with Bendis' shocking decision to bolt for DC (more on that below), prompted Marvel to end the book after 10 issues. Deadpool, a "hot" character being "spammed" all over the shelves these days, turns up about halfway, and really doesn't contribute much to the proceedings.

Luckily, Bendis chose not to adapt the TV show, which probably hastened this series' demise, whether that was intended or not. Apparently, the plan now is to keep the central story going in the four leads' individual books.

Good start, rushed finish. Bendis lost his way toward the end.

Rating: B--.

Time to revisit Dynamite's Nancy Drew & the Hardy Boys miniseries, "The Big Lie".

After reviewing the first issue, I was hasty in giving this an A grade. Yes, Frank & Joe Hardy and Nancy are all young adults in this series, perhaps a homage to the 1970's TV series that featured them. Dynamite would've been better served if cover artist Fay Dalton did the interiors as well, because the attempt at noir-style artwork falls by the wayside rather quickly. What the writer is setting up, though, is a whole universe of Strathmore Syndicate characters (Hardys, Drew, Tom Swift, Bobbsey Twins). However, I think there's a reason that Dynamite is the 2nd publisher to try the Hardys in the last decade (Papercutz being the other)....

Final rating: B+.

The roots of DC's current revitalization and rebooting of Hanna-Barbera's classic characters begins with Joe Kelly & Ariel Olivetti's brilliant 2005 Space Ghost miniseries, which gives the Phantom of the Spaceways a definitive origin, and treats him with way more respect than the satirical Space Ghost Coast-to-Coast  (1994-2004) ever did. We also learn how Jan & Jace came to be with Space Ghost. Olivetti makes Zorak into more of a malevolent menace than Alex Toth could ever dream of 52 years ago. Collected in a trade paperback with a swank new Alex Ross cover, this is a must have for any fan of Space Ghost.

Rating: A++.

DC's first Silver Age trade collection of World's Finest traces the roots of Batman & Superman's partnership during those halcyon days of the late 50's and early 60's. Of course, there are healthy doses of Robin. Expect to see Supergirl & Batgirl in a later volume, probably volume 3 or 4 if they get that far.

Rating: A-.
Brian Bendis will be entrusted with Superman once he gets settled in at DC. While Action Comics will continue its numbering after issue #1000 hits stores in May, Superman will be rebooted back to #1 for the 4th time overall, and the third time in the last seven years. Why can't they just do the math and see how close Superman is to another milestone number, like say for example, #900 or something.

Oh, DC's not alone in this pandering to the #1 mentality. Marvel is rebooting many of their books to #1 starting in May under something called "Fresh Start". Some people just don't get it.

Anyway, despite the delays that have plagued their Young Animal line, particularly the latest reboot of Doom Patrol, DC is forging ahead with new lines this summer, including one built around Neil Gaiman's critically acclaimed The Sandman. Lucifer, upon which the current Fox series is based, is being rebooted back to #1 as well as part of the new line, which also sees the return of The Books of Magic as an ongoing series.

Another new line is being billed as "Black Label". To me, that's a dormant brand of beer from back in the day. It also screams "prestige format" to me, and I scream back, "caveat emptor". There's reportedly a young adult line being put together.

Archie's latest revival of the Mighty Crusaders isn't available in the hometown, as the neighborhood shop didn't get any orders. The fact that some of the creators previously worked on Sonic The Hedgehog (now at IDW) isn't helping. However, Archie and his pals will assume their Superteens personas in June, as if that'll help. Those characters (Pureheart, Superteen, et al) previously appeared in the pages of Jughead a couple of years ago in a fever dream sequence. More on this as the release date draws closer.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Musical Interlude: Handle With Care (1988)

The phrase, "handle with care", is often associated with fragile items in transport. Since relationships are often fragile, too, it would perhaps explain the first single from the 80's supergroup, the Traveling Wilburys, an all star collection of singer-songwriters consisting of Bob Dylan, Tom Petty, Roy Orbison, Jeff Lynne (Electric Light Orchestra), and ex-Beatle George Harrison, who'd experienced a career revival a year earlier with his solo CD, "Cloud Nine". Lynne co-produced "Cloud Nine", and he & Harrison came up with the Wilbury name.

Today, only Lynne & Dylan remain. Orbison passed away prior to the production of a music video for "End of The Line". Petty passed away back in October, and Harrison left us a few years ago.

Here's "Handle With Care":

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Forgotten TV: El Coyote (1957-8)

First off, I want to give a shout out to Bob Terry and his Westerns on the Web channel on YouTube. Bob has compiled some lost Western pilots from the 50's on his channel that are worth a look.

One of those lost pilots, as part of Terry's Forsaken Westerns series, is a little gem from filmmaker Ken Murray that should've found a home on television, but didn't.

El Coyote can be construed as a sort of knockoff of Zorro, but for the fact that there'd already been a serial more than a decade earlier that posited a female Zorro. "Zorro's Black Whip", with Linda Stirling, later turned up on PBS' Matinee at The Bijou, back in the 80's, and served as the inspiration for Murray to create his own version.

Olympic gymnast Muriel Davis, in her acting debut (and only notable role), is Jane Edwards, the daughter of a retired Army colonel (George Brent), now a newspaper publisher fighting a corrupt land baron (Paul Richards). Concerned that the people of the pueblo will be forced out, Jane, with encouragement from Manuel, the blacksmith (Billy Gilbert), dons the mask of El Coyote.

Anyone not think that this might've been on the minds of folks at DC Comics and 20th Century Fox a decade later when Yvonne Craig was cast as Batgirl? Judge for yourselves, pilgrims.

Murray drew inspiration not only from Zorro, but Batman as well, not to mention the Rube Goldberg-esque gymnastic stunts performed by Davis, who'd go on to win a gold medal as a member of Team USA at the 1963 Pan-Am Games. Bear in mind that Disney's adaptation of Zorro was on the air at the time, and that may explain why El Coyote was given the el snubbo by the networks. Their loss.

Rating: A+.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Apparently, this hunter doesn't watch the news........

It's gotten out that a 20 year old Oregon resident is filing frivolous lawsuits against two retail chains, Walmart & Dick's Sporting Goods, after both had recently amended chain-wide store policies prohibiting the sales of guns, including hunting rifles, to anyone under 21, in the wake of the high school massacre in Parkland, Florida last month.

What isn't clear is if the litigant, Tyler Watson, was even aware of the changes that took effect a week ago, when he visited the stores, located in two different Oregon counties. He claims age discrimination.

Like, dude, I get that you're a hunter, but maybe you should be spending more time reading the newspapers. Oregon law says the minimum age for purchasing guns is 18, but that would be subject to revision via a referendum put to a vote, say, around November. What the retailers are trying to do is guard against another incident like the one in Parkland, or any number of copycats. It's called erring on the side of caution. We've seen too many of these mass shootings in the last 20 years, and in the wake of Parkland, there've been a few attempts at copycat incidents.

My take on this is that the new rules could be amended to account for consumers like Watson holding active hunting licenses, assuming they were issued before the new policies were enacted on February 28.

Watson's suits suggested to me the hunting angle, and, yet, I can't help but think of this guy.......

Monday, March 5, 2018

Musical Interlude: He Thinks He'll Keep Her (1992-4)

Mary Chapin Carpenter recorded "He Thinks He'll Keep Her" for her 1992 CD, "Come On Come On", and it was released as a single in December 1993. Not long after, CBS presented Women of Country, from whence we get this next item, as Carpenter is joined by an all-star chorus consisting of Emmylou Harris, Pam Tillis, Kathy Mattea, Trisha Yearwood (now Mrs. Garth Brooks), Patty Loveless, & Suzy Bogguss. Talk about girl power! "He Thinks He'll Keep Her" can conceivably be used today as an empowerment anthem for the #Metoo movement, don't ya think?

Personal note: One of my ex-girlfriends was a singer-songwriter of some repute here in the home district. Thing was, nearly two years after this video was shot, she decided she never considered me to be her boyfriend. Oh, we stayed friends a while longer while she left town to pursue her career goals. However, she'd burned her bridges here, as she hasn't been seen in years. Broke off contact with me at the turn of the millenium. At one point, I had a vision of her covering this song. Maybe she has, wherever she is today.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Classic TV: Billy Graham on What's My Line? (1960)

Such was the fame of the late evangelist Billy Graham that after completing a weekend crusade at Madison Square Garden, he appeared on What's My Line?. It took one cycle before first Dorothy Kilgallon, then Joey Bishop, figured it out.

Edit, 7/4/22: The video has been changed. Now, we have the complete episode, which also includes actor Anthony Quinn.

America's Pastor was also a good sport.

High School this 'n' that

The season is over for Section II hockey. Bethlehem, which captured the Delvecchio Cup in beating LaSalle on Tuesday, got a taste of their own medicine Saturday night in getting blown out by Section X champion Massena, 8-3. Queensbury, which plays in Division 2, also was eliminated, falling to Section I champion John Jay, 6-2.

All that says is that Section II still has a way to go to be on an equal playing field with teams in other parts of the state this time of year.
Friday's snowstorm forced Section II's basketball committee to cram all 10 games together on Saturday. It seems they have learned their lesson from past years, as, at least for the women's games, there was a 15 minute window between games to give fans a chance to leave if they didn't want to stick around and binge themselves on more action.

Here's the results, courtesy of the Albany Times-Union:

Whitehall 71, OESJ 60 (Final)
Lake George 61, Hoosick Falls 49 (Final)

Mekeel Christian Academy 69, Schalmont 59 (Final)
Mohonasen 58, Amsterdam 55 (Final)
Shenendehowa 43, Colonie 40 (Final)

Argyle 49, Hartford 40 (Final)
Voorheesville 51, Tamarac 46 (Final)
Colonie 67, Bethlehem 49 (Final)
Cambridge 62, Mekeel Christian Academy 59 (Final, OT)
Averill Park 79, Amsterdam 60 (Final)
Congratulations to all the winners, as state play begins this coming week.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Musical Interlude: The In Crowd (1965)

If you thought Dobie Gray was a 1-hit wonder with 1973's "Drift Away", think again. It was actually a comeback record.

Eight years earlier, Gray was one of three artists to record "The In Crowd". The others? Petula Clark and jazz great Ramsey Lewis, the latter of whom recorded an instrumental only version. Here, on Shindig, Gray comes off as being influenced by the likes of Sam Cooke.

A tradition ends in the hometown

I remember seeing my first Troy Flag Day parade in 1979, five months after moving to my current abode. I've missed a few in recent years, but I also knew that the parade committee had been considering putting an end to what had been an annual downtown tradition for at least the last three years.

Then, on Friday, that decision finally came to pass. Citing declining attendance and interest in participation from local and outside parties, the committee voted unanimously to end the parade after 51 years. What used to be an event on a grand scale, to the point where they'd boasted as many as 50,000 people lining the parade route from South Troy to 4th Street, between Fulton & Grand Streets, had shrunk to about half its size. The committee was losing money due to outside acts either cancelling at the last minute or not committing at all. As far as declining public interest, chalk it up to the usual factors of modern day society (i.e. social media).

In the end, I think the committee decided to wait until they'd reached the 50th anniversary, which was last year, before deciding to end the parade. Not sure about this, but I think some of the same people were also involved in the now defunct Uncle Sam Birthday Parade in Lansingburgh, which came right after Labor Day every September until that was discontinued a few years back. They're also citing the passings of a number of veterans of World War II, Korea, & Vietnam as another reason for discontinuing the parade.

This year's parade, had it gone on, would again feature, I think, Troy High's state championship football team, which took part in the Victorian Stroll back in December. Troy's not into ticker tape parades, otherwise, the boys would've already had one. Maybe now's the time to create a canyon of heroes for local champions, just like in New York. We don't have any other reasons to celebrate anymore.

What Might've Been: Supertrain (1979)

It is considered one of the most expensive flops in television history. If you want to compare Supertrain to a similar failure in movies, I'd say it'd rank up there with the likes of "Heaven's Gate" & "Ishtar", both of which came after Supertrain.

Some say it nearly bankrupted NBC, which was struggling to find a hit show not named Little House on The Prairie for their primetime lineup. They were hoping that with Dan Curtis, the brains behind Dark Shadows, on board, their Love Boat on rails would work when it launched in February 1979. Unfortunately, Curtis hadn't developed a series since the original Shadows ended a few years earlier, and was specializing in TV-movies instead.

After the 2-hour premiere and a few episodes, NBC sent Supertrain for repairs. Curtis was excused, and the cast was overhauled. That didn't work, and the show was cancelled outright by the end of the season.

Unlike Love Boat, Supertrain lacked one important element. Their crew couldn't connect with viewers. Edward Andrews hadn't been a lead since Broadside, and was another of these character actors that was out of place in a lead role. Harrison Page was given less to do than when he was opposite Don Rickles on CPO Sharkey. Robert Alda being cast as the train's physician (?) was meant to probably get people thinking son Alan would take a break from M*A*S*H and do a guest shot, just as Robert had appeared twice on his son's show. Nita Talbot might still be better known for a recurring gig on Hogan's Heroes. Charlie Brill would later land a more significant dramatic role on Silk Stalkings, but here tried his best not to look lost without wife Mitzi McCall by his side.

Here's the opener:

Rating: D.

Friday, March 2, 2018

Classic TV: When two icons meet (Happy Days, 1982)

Very early in Happy Days' run, there was a crossover of sorts with Howdy Doody, which we'll look at another time. However, in season 9, it was clear that the writers were running out of ideas, and thought to take advantage of a 50's icon still airing in syndication.

That would be The Lone Ranger.

However, due to ongoing litigation at the time with the rights holders to the franchise, Clayton Moore was no longer allowed to portray the Masked Man. John Hart (ex-Hawkeye & The Last of the Mohicans), who had filled in for Moore for a time, was brought in for the episode, "Hi-Yo Fonzie, Away!". See, Fonzie (Henry Winkler) is a big fan of the Ranger, and Chachi (Scott Baio) & Howard (Tom Bosley) decided to surprise Da Fonz for his birthday........

Seeing as how this came a year after the critically panned "Legend of the Lone Ranger", this should've been a shot in the arm to get interest in the Ranger revived. Unfortunately, that hasn't happened, more than 35 years later, after 2 more poorly received movies, one for television.

No rating. I didn't see this one.