Tuesday, July 31, 2018

YouTube Theatre: Exposed: Pro Wrestling's Greatest Secrets (1998)

20 years ago, NBC endeavored a sort-of reality special from producer Bruce Nash. It hasn't seen the light of day since.

Exposed: Pro Wrestling's Secrets Revealed only explains mostly the basics of how a match is put together. Nothing, really, that smart fans don't already know. Actor-comedian Nick Bakay (Sabrina, The Teenage Witch) narrates.

Considering that NBC's sister network, USA, is the home of WWE programming, and that NBC would do business with WWE again a few years later with the return of Saturday Night's Main Event, the Peacock Network was caught between a rock & a hard place, and hence why this special was never encored.

A & E did a longer documentary on wrestling a year earlier, and that will be a subject at a future time.

Rating: B-.

Musical Interlude: Tired of Toein' The Line (1980)

Second generation rocker Rocky Burnette scored his only Top 10 hit in the summer of 1980 with "Tired of Toein' The Line", off the album, "Son of Rock & Roll" (dad was 50's star Johnny Burnette). Six years before Robert Palmer used a group of models to pretend to be his band, Rocky did the same thing, but with a little more flash.

Nearly 40 years later, Burnette is still touring, mostly overseas or domestically on the nostalgia circuit, but there was no getting away from this "Line" that summer.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Sports this 'n' that

With three games remaining until the playoffs begin on Wednesday, the Albany Dutchmen sit in 2nd place in the East division of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League. Today, they're in Glens Falls for a double-header to make up for a rainout last week. Friday's home game vs. Utica will not be made up. The Dutchmen sit 3 games behind East leader Amsterdam with two days left in the regular season. Even if they sweep all three remaining games, that doesn't mean they can catch up.
When rains also washed out Friday's game between the Tri-City Valleycats and Staten Island Yankees, more than one person, I'm sure, questioned whether or not the baseball gods wanted these two teams playing each other again this season.

Then came another deluge on Saturday, which bumped the regularly scheduled game off the schedule. The July 22 game at Staten Island that had been suspended in the top of the second inning was completed Saturday, with the baby bombers winning, 2-0. They also won the first half of the Sunday double-header by the same score before the 'Cats salvaged the nightcap.

Meanwhile, outfielder Gilberto Celestino, one of the 'Cats' best players (team leader in stolen bases, 2nd in HR's, etc.) was part of a trade package that Houston dealt to Minnesota on Friday. Celestino could still make it to the bigs, but just not with Houston. Yet. Stranger things have happened, of course.
The Mets traded infielder Asdrubal Cabrera on Friday. Problem was, it was to a division rival, NL East-leading Philadelphia. It would've been nice for Cabrera, at the time of the trade the team leader in HR's for the Mets, to return to the American League, where he began his career (Cleveland, Tampa Bay). As it is, he's on his 3rd different NL East team (Nationals, Mets, Phillies) in the last five years.

On the other hand, ESPN's Buster Olney reported Sunday that the Mets now aren't likely to deal away their two best pitchers, Jacob deGrom and Noah Syndergaard, and, to be honest, they shouldn't. That would seal the casket on the season, in ye scribe's opinion. Zack Wheeler, who was virtually a 1-man show in a Sunday win over Pittsburgh, is still being talked about as a possible trade candidate. I don't think so. The Mets need to stand pat going forward, and worry about fixing their farm system in the off-season.
Right around the All-Star break, Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Josh Hader had to answer for some long deleted and forgotten tweets made before he got into the big leagues. In the wake of a similar imbroglio involving filmmaker James Gunn, two more players have found themselves having to apologize for tweets dug up by a bunch of social media nannies.

Atlanta Braves pitcher Sean Newcomb pitched a 1-hitter for 8 2/3 innings Sunday vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers, but the focus after the game wasn't the gem, but some 7-8 year old tweets involving racial and gay slurs. This morning, we are learning the same thing happened to Washington infielder Trea Turner.

It seems there's a few get-a-life's that are burrowing through Twitter archives, looking for dirt on pro athletes just because they think it's important to them, if not anyone else, to "get the message" out. As I wrote regarding Gunn 10 days ago, a couple of conservative jackasses decided to knock him down a few pegs just because he's not a fan of President Trump. The hypocrisy of the Geezers on Parade and the sycophants pledging loyalty to President Donald John Archie Bunker Trump is sickening. To the anonymous so-called "social justice warriors" making life miserable for pro athletes for the same reason, find something better to do. Just because you're miserable doesn't mean you can force others to feel the same way.
Finally, a Dunce Cap is headed to incoming NFL Hall of Famer Terrell Owens, who now is telling the media he felt butt-hurt because it took three years for him to enter the shrine, and that certain media types cast him in a negative light. Well, I look at it this way. Owens was a great player. The first mistake he made was leaving the San Francisco 49ers to chase the money. The fact that he presented himself as a me-first prima donna didn't endear him to a lot of the media, including gadflies like Phil Mushnick, for example. Did Owens really think the media wouldn't hold his on-field clowning against him? That he also did a reality TV show wasn't helping. So his ego is bruised. Big whoop.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Classic TV: Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955)

Acclaimed filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock transitioned to television when Universal convinced him to develop an anthology series for their television division, then known as Revue Studios. It can be argued that Alfred Hitchcock Presents may be far more known to fans of the man than movies like "The Birds" or "Psycho".

Alfred Hitchcock Presents spent its first five seasons on CBS before shifting over to NBC. There are a number of iconic pieces to the anthology. The self-portrait of Hitchcock which appears on the screen before the man himself steps in front of it. Bernard Herrmann's "Funeral March For a Marionette", the show's theme song. And, of course, Hitchcock, whose left of center gallows humor cemented his own icon status.

The series was enough of a success to the point where it was parodied on ABC's The Flintstones (in the episode, "Alvin Brickrock Presents"), and likely also in Mad Magazine. After seven seasons, the series expanded to an hour, forcing a title change to The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, which continued for three seasons (1962-5).

Reruns began airing on the fledgling Nick at Nite division of Nickelodeon in the 80's, and that led to NBC reviving the series, back on its original night, Sundays, but at an earlier hour (coupled with Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories), in 1985. Unfortunately, the audience wasn't there, and NBC handed the revived Hitchcock off to USA Network for three more seasons (1986-9).

Curiously, 1961's "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", written by "Psycho" author Robert Bloch, never aired on network television. Apparently, the sponsors had some issues with content. Diana Dors and Brandon DeWilde star.

I'd seen some of the reruns back in the day, and also sampled the 1985 series, which included colorized versions of Hitchcock's legendary opening bits. At least Universal had the good sense not to try again after the revival ended, unlike CBS, which allowed Twilight Zone to be exhumed one final time in the early '00's for UPN.

Rating: A-.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

YouTube Theatre: The Over The Hill Gang (1969)

Howdy, pardnuhs!

Time to take a trip out to the old West with a 1969 ABC Movie of The Week that was meant to be a pilot for a proposed series.

"The Over The Hill Gang" tells the story of a retired Texas Ranger (Pat O'Brien) who recruits some of his former comrades to help his son-in-law (Ricky Nelson) become the mayor of his hometown. Executive Producers Aaron Spelling & Danny Thomas were able to corral Walter Brennan, fresh from a 2 year stint on The Guns of Will Sonnett, another Thomas-Spelling production, along with Edgar Buchanan (on loan from Petticoat Junction), Chill Wills, Andy Devine, Jack Elam, and Edward Andrews (ex-Broadside) to help fill out the ensemble.

However, O'Brien didn't return for the sequel the following year, and so a new character was created for Fred Astaire, who would also join the cast of It Takes a Thief after "The Over The Hill Gang Rides Again". Spelling & Thomas were hoping ABC would pick up the two pilots and turn it into a series, but Westerns were on the downturn, and the Rural Purge of 1971 would've certainly short-circuited a series based on these movies.

Right now, scope "The Over The Hill Gang".

Spelling, in particular, after ending his partnership with Thomas, would produce a good chunk of TV-movies for ABC. We'll see the sequel another time. Yee-haw!

Rating: A.

Friday, July 27, 2018

Videos of Summer: Soak Up The Sun (2002)

The video for Sheryl Crow's 2002 top 20 hit, "Soak Up The Sun", was released in late March (Spring Break), but it's a perfect summer song. And why not? It was shot in Hawaii. Enough said.

Here there be Weasels

New York is definitely Weasel country. Today's New York Post has articles about three very different types of two-legged Weasels.

First up is disgraced former Assembly Speaker Sheldon (Tarnished) Silver. Silver had his initial conviction overturned a couple of years ago after an appeals court questioned the validity of the jury's instructions in Silver's first trial. Silver is due to be sentenced today, but he and his lawyers plan to ask the judge to let Silver keep some of the $4 million dollars in kickbacks he was convicted of keeping.


You have to understand that Silver's made a lot of political enemies in his career, and they'd love to see him sent up the river, even if it is to a country club prison (because of his age), but to keep the money he practically stole? I think this might explain my position on this matter......

Case #2 involves a deadbeat parent who left her 5 year old son behind after overdosing him on medicine for epilepsy so she could go out and party.

We call Phyllis Reinoso a deadbeat because she fled all the way to Alabama before she was arrested earlier this week. Her son, Mikey Guzman, died due to the overdose. Where was the child's father when this was going on? We don't know, but police say that Michael Guzman, Sr. is not a suspect in the case.

Running away from responsibility gets Ms. Reinoso the Weasel ears.

Finally, there's a con artist in Queens who was caught by Post cameras walking without the aid of a wheelchair that he'd been using, allegedly, to scam businesses into buy portable ramps for disabled persons who legitimately use wheelchairs.

Arik Matarov, according to the Post, is a serial litigant who has filed a number of phony lawsuits to feather his own nest. What is also in question is the validity of his visual condition. He's also been seen with a sight impairment cane that blind persons use to navigate through the streets. His hand-picked lawyer, Jeffrey Neiman, has washed his hands of the whole thing. Good for him, in order to save his career.

What we don't know is why Matarov is taking the lazy man's route to riches. However, a number of the businesses he's scammed reportedly are interested in counter-suing, not so much to get back the money he's stolen from them, but to teach him a lesson. Again, let's hear from Homey D. Clown (Damon Wayans, In Living Color):

Enjoy the Weasel ears, Mr. Matarov. Even Barney Miller would've had a field day with you.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Classic TV: Laverne & Shirley (1976)

The runaway success of Happy Days prompted ABC executives to commission another series from creator Garry Marshall, set in the same era.

Laverne & Shirley was the first of six total spin-offs from Days, only two of which (Blansky's Beauties & Out of The Blue) failed to get past their first seasons. Launched as a mid-season replacement in the winter of 1976, Laverne ran for 8 seasons total (1976-83), finishing a year before Days did. Penny Marshall (ex-The Odd Couple), Garry's sister, was cast as tomboy Laverne DeFazio. The belief I had was that Laverne might've been a transplant from New York, given her accent. Best bud Shirley Feeney (Cindy Williams, "American Graffiti") seemed happiest around her high school sweetheart, boxer-entertainer Carmine Ragusa (Eddie Mekka). And, then, you had the goofiest comedy team this side of Martin & Lewis, Lenny & Squiggy (Michael McKean & David L. Lander). Squiggy rocked the stereotypical greaser look, but was about as sharp as a dull switchblade. Lenny, a truck driver by trade, was also a songwriter and guitarist, which McKean also was in real life. Betty Garrett came over from All in The Family as landlady Edna Babish, who'd later become Laverne's stepmother after marrying Laverne's father, Frank (Phil Foster).

The series spawned not one, but two albums, one each by Lenny & The Squigtones and by Marshall & Williams. Both are hard to find today if they're not on CD (and by now they should be). Unfortunately, there was also an animated series out of continuity from the show, taking instead a cue from an episode that had the girls in boot camp. Instead of bringing back Vicki Lawrence to reprise her guest role, the girls were given a pig as a commanding officer (Ron Palillo, ex-Welcome Back, Kotter). The cartoon ended around the same time Laverne & Shirley did.

While Penny Marshall & Cindy Williams reprised their roles in the cartoon, it would mark the beginning of the end of their partnership. Williams left the series, leaving Laverne all alone in California (where the gang had relocated in season six). Reportedly, the finale was meant to spin Carmine into his own series, but ABC had decided to close the books instead.

For what it's worth, and since it's Wikipedia, probably nothing more than a grain of salt, the producers had reportedly auditioned Louise "Liberty" Williams when Cindy Williams initially turned down the role of Shirley. Louise, of course, would miss out on another iconic sitcom role later in '76 with the failed pilot for Tabitha, and in between contributed to the "Bugsy Malone" soundtrack.

Here's a sample clip:

Given the accents on Laverne and Squiggy, I wonder if there was a Brooklyn-esque section of Milwaukee.....!

Singer Cyndi Greco charted with the theme, "Making Our Dreams Come True", and also recorded the theme for Blansky's Beauties, but that failed to chart.

Rating: A-.

Sports this 'n' that

We're a week into the Saratoga flat track meet, and the worst possible news came down Wednesday when it was announced that Triple Crown champ Justify was being retired to stud due to an ankle injury sustained last month in training. In this day and age, horses are retiring earlier and earlier because their owners don't want to take any unnecessary risks before beginning the breeding process. As the late Walter Cronkite might've put it, that's the way it is.

Meanwhile, the Albany Times-Union found a new sparring partner for racing beat reporter Tim Wilkin in the annual "Bankroll Beatdown". Veteran handicapper Anthony "The Big A" Stabile (yes, he shares his nickname with Aqueduct Racetrack) steps in for the late Mike Jarboe, who passed away shortly after the 2017 meet ended. Stabile is no stranger to being a newspaper tout. Used to do that for the New York Post several years ago.
The Mets' injury plague has no end in sight, and not even minor leaguers are safe.

Outfielder Yoenis Cespedes had just returned from the DL Friday, contributing a homer to the Mets' win over the Yankees, but then went back on the DL Tuesday after it turns out the source of his injury issues are in his heels. Calcification in both feet requiring surgery that will sideline Cespedes for the rest of the year, and into the first two months of 2019, at worst (8-10 months is the prognosis). Oddly enough, Cespedes was being tried out at first base while rehabbing, the idea being that it would take some stress off him playing in the outfield. And he volunteered for first base, mind you!

In Binghamton, former Heisman Trophy winner and part-time ESPN analyst Tim Tebow's second baseball season is over after a broken hand put him on the shelf last week. Mets officials were hoping to juice the box office by calling up Tebow on September 1, delaying his return to ESPN until after the season. Nope, not gonna happen. Look for Tebow to be in the studio, mostly for the SEC Network, when college football season starts.
Speaking of ESPN, props to local native and former WRGB sports anchor Joe Tessitore, who takes over for Sean McDonough as the new play-by-play voice of Monday Night Football this season, partnered in the booth with newly retired Jason Whitten, formerly of the Dallas Cowboys, with erstwhile college analyst Anthony "Booger" McFarland, formerly of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, as a field analyst, a la Tony Siragusa when the former Baltimore Raven worked for Fox. Yeah, it's been news for a while, but with preseason games starting in a couple of weeks, I thought I'd get this in, if I hadn't already.
WWE announced Monday that they will mount their first-ever all women's PPV at the end of October. Critics, however, are haterizing on Monday Night Raw commissioner/Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon for all the wrong reasons. Luckily, her husband, Paul "Triple H" LeVesque, and her father, Vince, flanked her in center ring on Monday for the announcement. The plan is for the finals of this year's Mae Young Classic to take place at the PPV, Evolution, along with women's title matches from NXT, Raw, & Smackdown, on October 28. They've hired female referees for NXT, so this might be a night where the guys have the night off for a change.

Give LeVesque credit for taking what had been a reality competition (NXT), and rebooting it into the hottest of WWE's brands. There are many fans that wish he would take over running the big club from his father-in-law, but Vince defiantly refuses to retire. It's his lead touch that has ruined several men & women called up from NXT in recent years, the most recent victim being Japanese star Asuka, who was completely dissed by Uncreative in losing to current Smackdown women's champ Carmella (former Patriots cheerleader Leah VanDale) via screwjob on consecutive PPV's.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Celebrity Rock: Starcrossed (1976)

From season 1 of Laverne & Shirley:

In "From Suds to Stardom", Lenny & Squiggy (Michael McKean & David L. Lander) stole the show with their debut single, "Starcrossed".

Now you know why Squiggy never had the clarinet again after this one. Benny Goodman, he ain't.

It's getting near football season

NFL training camps will be opening shortly. High schools are already starting their training camps, as their season starts before the pros do.

Troy High, as you know, has moved back to Class A after dominating Class AA the last two seasons. However, coach Bob "The Builder" Burns and his club will start the season on the road for a change. The home opener isn't until week 3, September 14, vs. LaSalle in the annual Collar City Cup game. This will mark the first time new LaSalle coach John Audino will be on the sidelines at Ed Picken Memorial Field, and, Cadet supporters hope, he'll provide the answer to their problems vs. the Flying Horses the last two seasons, in which LaSalle gave up nearly 100 points in two games vs. Troy. Ouch! There are only three home games on the schedule, and Troy will play four of their first five games on the road. The schedule:

August 31: @ Schalmont (1st meeting between the two schools).
Sept. 7: @ Amsterdam. The Rams are the only team to beat Troy in Bob Burns' three seasons as head coach, and Troy will be looking for revenge.
Sept. 14: Home opener vs. LaSalle.
Sept. 21: @ Green Tech.
Sept. 28: @ Ballston Spa. The Scotties will be looking for some payback of their own after a beatdown last year at Picken Field.
Oct. 5: Homecoming vs. Columbia.
Oct. 12: Senior Night vs. Averill Park.

Curiously, the Horses won't play Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake or Queensbury, unless either set of Spartans await come playoff time in late October. Also, with LaSalle & Troy both now in A, along with Lansingburgh, maybe the Collar City Cup should be a three-way affair?

Ye scribe is not making any bold projections just yet. Meanwhile, "High School Fridays" will return with women's soccer action in Troy's home opener on August 24 vs. Scotia-Glenville.

Remember when Planters marketed canned potato chips, too? (1975)

In 1975, Standard Brands, then the makers of My-T-Fine pudding and the Planters line of peanut products, decided to challenge the popular Pringles potato crisps, at the time the property of Procter & Gamble (Kellogg's has since taken over Pringles).

However, Planters potato chips didn't last very long. I don't remember seeing them in stores, nor did my folks even think of trying them, although they did have Pringles and various bagged chips (usually Wise or State Line). Allan Kalter, later the announcer for To Tell The Truth and The Late Show With David Letterman, among others, is the man-on-the-street reporter.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Forgotten TV: Lewis & Clark (1981)

Lewis & Clark was one of the first sitcoms produced by Johnny Carson's production company for NBC. However, due to reasons known only to the network, and baseball's postseason might've had something to do with this, the series didn't start until the last week in October 1981. Uh-oh.

Lewis & Clark told the story of a city slicker, if you will, from New York (Gabe Kaplan, ex-Welcome Back, Kotter) who decides he wants to own a country music night club. So he packs his family off to Luckenbach, Texas, the town made famous in song by Willie Nelson & Waylon Jennings. Unfortunately, neither of those country icons even appeared on the show. Guich Koock (ex-Carter Country) did, as the other lead.

NBC, however, quickly found out that even though "Urban Cowboy" was still an inspiration, more than a year after its release, it wasn't registering with viewers. The network moved it from its original berth on Thursdays to Saturdays, hoping to pick up viewers from Barbara Mandrell's variety hour. That didn't work, and, just like that, NBC dry-docked Lewis & Clark, burning off the remaining episodes in the summer of '82. Koock was never heard from again, but co-stars Ilene Graff and Amy Linker would be, albeit separately. Linker was Sarah Jessica Parker's sidekick on Square Pegs, but Graff hit the jackpot, landing a gig on Mr. Belvedere, which ran for five seasons.

Here's the intro to Lewis & Clark. Wikipedia's listing for the show doesn't tell us who sang the theme song.

No rating. My folks had other interests on Thursdays, and Saturday was bowling night.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Sports this 'n' that

The Mets have sent a message that, after a strong start to the season, and falling into last place in the NL East at the All-Star break last week, they don't see themselves as contenders going forward. They dealt former closer Jeurys Familia to Oakland on Saturday for prospects and international slot money, with the Athletics taking on the remainder of Familia's salary.

On the field, the Mets split the first two games of the Bronx half of the Subway Series with the Yankees before heavy rains forced postponement of last night's game. The makeup date has been announced as Monday, August 13, and likely will be on ESPN, as would've been the case last night. Next up for the Mets will be a series vs. San Diego, starting tonight. Weather permitting, of course.
Speaking of the Yankees, their NY-Penn League team also split the first two games of their series in Staten Island vs. the Tri-City Valleycats. The baby bombers won Friday, 7-1. Saturday's game was rained out, so they tried a double-header Sunday. Tri-City won the opener, 10-1, and they barely got the second game started before it was suspended after 1 inning due to rain.

WROW morning co-host Ben Patton had the latter score backwards this morning. Hopefully, some 'Cats fans have straightened that out by now. Anyway, it was Tri-City's final visit to Staten Island, but they won't have to wait long to see if they can finally make up the remaining game. The baby bombers will be in town on Friday to open a series. Before that, Tri-City welcomes Auburn on Tuesday after a day off today, finishing with the last Camp Day matinee of the year on Thursday.
The worst case scenario happened to the Albany Empire Saturday night, in a 47-40 loss to the Washington Valor. The cumulative score of the two games means that Washington advances to Arena Bowl, despite being  a last place team in a 4-team league. Well, there's always next year.
High school football season is still more than a month away, but unlike at this time last year, schedules have not been made available for public purview.

Take Troy High, for example. The 2-time Class AA state champs drop down to Class A this year, but if MaxPreps is to be believed, and that's not guaranteed, their home opener isn't until week 3 vs. LaSalle, after starting the season on the road at Schalmont and Amsterdam. However, MaxPreps doesn't have the entire schedule, so who knows?

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Classic TV: Columbo (1971)

Columbo wasn't your average detective.

Writers Richard Levinson & William Link introduced Columbo in a 1960 episode of The Chevy Mystery Hour, with Bert Freed in the role. Eight years later, after that particular episode had been adapted for the stage, Columbo returned in an NBC TV-movie, with Peter Falk starring in "Prescription: Murder", which brought the original pilot full circle.

In 1971, NBC decided to make Columbo a component of their new Mystery Movie wheel anthology, along with McMillan & Wife and McCloud, the latter of which came over from the failed Four-In-One anthology. The format was basic, a reversal of the classic whodunits in that the killer would be revealed to the audience early, and it was just a matter of when Columbo put all the clues together.

Columbo's relentless pursuit of the case would lend itself to parody. As season six began, ABC and Hanna-Barbera introduced a canine detective, Mumbly, who was later revealed to be a lookalike cousin of Dick Dastardly's sidekick, Muttley, and was posited initially as a parody of Columbo, but being here, there, and everywhere to the annoyance of the suspect was borrowed from Droopy. Unfortunately, the heroic Mumbly lasted one year before he was rebooted to replace cousin Muttley due to a rights dispute in another series.

In addition, radio & cartoon legend Casey Kasem impersonated Columbo on two occasions. The first was when Telly Savalas (Kojak) was feted on the Dean Martin Celebrity Roast, the other as a villain on The Hardy Boys-Nancy Drew Mysteries. In both cases, Kasem was unable to replicate Falk's vocal patterns as Columbo.

In all, Columbo ran for 8 seasons on NBC, and then was brought back 11 years later on ABC, which utilized the series on and off for 14 years (1989-2003). To think that the character of Columbo actually turns 60 in two years time begs the question. Could anyone fill that rumpled trenchcoat now, several years after Falk's passing?

Unfortunately, the video's been deleted. So, in its place, we'll sub in a screenshot of Peter Falk in character as Columbo:


Rating: A.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Musical Interlude: Far From Over (1983)

It was enough of a surprise that Paramount decided to do a sequel to 1977's "Saturday Night Fever", but waiting six years to make it happen? It's all a matter of perspective.

"Staying Alive", drawing its title from the Bee Gees' hit of the same name from the "Fever" soundtrack, turned a profit at the box office, but was far from a critical darling. John Travolta reprised his "Fever" role as Tony Manero, surrounded by a new supporting cast, including Cynthia Rhodes and Finola Hughes, the latter better known now for her run on General Hospital. The other hook? The movie was co-written and directed by Sylvester Stallone, who had a brief cameo.

Stallone also managed to get his brother, Frank, a part in the movie. Not only that, but Frank wrote four songs himself, recording three of them, including a duet with Rhodes. The Bee Gees also contributed to the soundtrack, including a reprise of "Staying Alive". Frank Stallone scored his only Top 40 hit with one of his songs, "Far From Over", the video of which is chock full of movie footage.


If you've watched season 2 of GLOW on Netflix, you know "Far From Over" is on that series' soundtrack, too.

For what it's worth, and it's probably not much, but Sylvester Stallone decided to give singing a try himself, albeit on the country charts with Dolly Parton in the movie, "Rhinestone". As for Frank, he wasn't heard from again on MTV or radio. The Bee Gees' "Woman in You" was the only other single off the "Staying Alive" soundtrack.

Friday, July 20, 2018

Lucy meets the Three Stooges! (Three Little Pigskins, 1934)

Yeah, that would be the title if the Three Stooges had appeared on The Lucy Show or Here's Lucy in the 60's.

You see, while Lucille Ball might be better known for her red hair and gift for physical comedy, in 1934, she was a blonde actress trying to make it big. Columbia hired her for a supporting role opposite the Stooges in "Three Little Pigskins". In it, the Stooges are unemployed (naturally) before being hired to hype a football game. A case of mistaken identity gets the boys onto the gridiron, and, of course, trouble.

Normally, the Stooges would do their own stunts, but needed stunt doubles for some key scenes, especially after Curly broke his leg in the dumbwaiter scene.

Rating: A.

Weasel of the Week: Mike Cernovich

When Disney & Marvel release "Guardians of The Galaxy 3", or whatever it'll be called, James Gunn won't be at the helm.

Gunn, who directed the first two films, was fired earlier today after a series of old tweets, in which Gunn poked fun at rape and pedophilia, resurfaced, thanks to a right wing conservative pundit named Mike Cernovich.

Much like Milwaukee Brewers pitcher Josh Hader, Gunn's tweets are as much as 10 years old, but although Gunn had deleted the tweets from his own account, Cernovich and other like-minded social nannies were able to find them. Seems that Gunn has been critical of President Trump (like, who hasn't), and, so, it figures that a dweeb like Cernovich would resort to this kind of chicanery. Disney, understandably, didn't want to soil its family-friendly image, and dismissed Gunn.

I don't condone either side in this case. I see Cernovich for what he is, a pathetic Weasel cutting down Gunn at the height of his fame. Gunn made the tweets before he became the hot commodity he is or was, and took care to delete them, thinking no one would dare to search them out if they were archived somewhere (and they were). All you're doing, Mike Cernovich, is exploiting James Gunn to call attention to your own website and podcast, or whatever it is you do to push your agenda. You're piggy-backing on his fame, tearing him down at the same time, and that makes you a Weasel of the highest order. Enjoy the Weasel of the Week award, bubbelah. You deserve it.

What Might've Been: Movin' On (1974)

CB (Citizens' Band) radios were getting big in the mid-70's. In 1974, NBC bought a pilot from an independent producer about a pair of truckers criss-crossing the country helping folks. Kind of like Route 66 with 18 wheels instead of 4.

Movin' On ran for 2 seasons (1974-6), spun from a May 1974 pilot movie, "In Tandem". Frank Converse (ex-NYPD, Coronet Blue) co-starred with Claude Akins, but what really got the show rollin' was a kickin' theme song composed and performed by country legend Merle Haggard, which hit the top of the country charts in the summer of '75.

Decades currently holds the cable rights to the series, and independent distributor Peter Rodgers owns the show, having acquired it, along with other familiar titles such as I Spy and The Rifleman, in recent years.

Here's the intro:

As memory serves, Movin' On held its own, aiming for a slightly older audience than ABC's Happy Days, which had a few months' head start. Producer Ernie Frankel would work with Akins again on the short-lived CBS series, Nashville 99. Akins, then, put himself back opposite ABC's killer sitcom block when NBC slotted The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo on Tuesdays, in the same space as Movin' On, in 1979.

Rating: B.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Forgotten TV: Operation Entertainment (1968)

ABC had trouble filling the 8:30 (ET) slot on Fridays in the late 60's until The Brady Bunch came along at the end of the decade. The 1967-8 season started with Hondo, which lasted half a season, in the slot.

In January 1968, Hondo was booted, and the replacement came from a more reliable supplier, that being game show mogul Chuck Barris.

Barris saw how Bob Hope was having success with his USO tours of Vietnam, so he and Bill Carruthers pitched the idea to ABC of a weekly variety show that visited various military bases around the country.

Unfortunately, Operation Entertainment, while it ran for parts of two seasons, isn't as well remembered as Barris' greater successes, including The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game, and, of course, the iconic 70's classic, The Gong Show, which has found new life as a summer series on ABC, now in its 2nd season.

While there was a guest host every week, Barris had his favorites, including Dating Game host Jim Lange and actor-comedian Tim Conway, who each had multiple appearances.

I don't remember seeing the show, so there's no rating. We'll leave you with this clip with host du jour Dick Cavett introducing Louis Armstrong at Fort Hood in Texas.

A little bit of this and a little of that

There are waaaaaaaaaay too many comics fans who are, as the kids say, butt-hurt over DC's bait & switch in the pages of Batman two weeks ago, such that writer Tom King is being given bodyguards after receiving death threats from disgruntled fans headed into the annual Comic-Con in San Diego, which begins a four day run today. These fans don't quite understand that the bait & switch, promoting & hyping the marriage of Bruce "Batman" Wayne and Selina "Catwoman" Kyle, then calling off the nuptials at the last possible second, was a cash grab instigated by DC's marketing department. They feel cheated out of what would be the comics event of the year, if not the decade.

If it bothers you that much, people, I recommend booking an appointment with Dr. Phil.
It was supposed to be kept top secret, but the Albany Times-Union spilled the beans the other day when shooting began in Albany for some scenes in season 2 of Netflix's The Punisher. No word on whether or not star Jon Bernthal is in town. A well informed source dropped a dime to ye scribe just days before production shooting began in downtown Albany. Reportedly, Netflix wants to get the show online before the end of their contact with Disney, which will launch its own streaming service next year.
19 months after it opened to much fanfare, Troy's Unagi Sushi has quietly closed its doors. The first sign of trouble came in the spring when the eatery scaled back its hours, and went to a six-day-a-week schedule. Originally, the restaurant was to be closed for "construction", without specifying what was being worked on.

Conversely, Manory's, Troy's oldest eatery, has gone back to an all-day schedule after being on a six-day slate of its own the last few years. A new sandwich board greeted me as I came off the bus after work yesterday. Not sure if they're still closed on Mondays, as they've been, but this gives diners an extra option after work.
Not even 24 hours after the All-Star Game ended, the Baltimore Orioles parted with infielder Manny Machado, shipping the starting All-Star 3rd baseman to the Los Angeles Dodgers for prospects. Machado is expected to move to his natural position, shortstop, to fill the void created by the season-ending injury to Corey Seager, who was sidelined at the start of the year. Ex-Met Justin Turner is the regular 3rd baseman for the NL West leaders. Machado, however, will be a free agent after the season, so Magic Johnson may have to pull a long term contract out of his hat to keep Machado, rather than use him as a three month rental.
DC Comics has announced that their DC Universe streaming service, debuting next month, will cost $8 a  month for subscribers, or, a couple of dollars cheaper than, say, WWE Network. Your move, Disney.
Finally, former Armed Forces Radio DJ Adrian Cronauer, whose experiences in Saigon were detailed in the 1987 biography, "Good Morning, Vietnam", with Robin Williams & Forest Whitaker, passed away at 79. Ya might happen to know that when Cronauer was mustered out of Saigon, his successor went on to become a TV icon----Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak was Cronauer's replacement.

Condolences to Cronauer's family. Rest in peace, Adrian.

A commentary still relevant today (Family Matters, 1994)

The news that a hometown police officer was not indicted by a grand jury for shooting an unarmed African-American man nearly a year ago predictably hasn't set well with the victim's family and the African-American community.

Messiah Cooper, the uncle of the victim, Dahmeek McDonald, led a protest, calling for Troy Mayor Patrick Madden to create a citizens group of some kind to address the disconnect between the police and the African-American community. Troy police officer Jarrod Iler shot McDonald four times, acting on the assumption that McDonald had a gun (he didn't), and the shooting started as McDonald was pulling away in his car. McDonald was found to have cocaine in his possession, but it seems that, in the minds of the police, Iler acted properly. Cooper and his supporters see it the opposite way, that Iler over-reacted.

This was just another incident between African-Americans, mostly unarmed, and police, mostly white officers, in the last few years, across the country. All this does, in this writer's opinion, is set race relations back at least 50-60 years.

In 1994, the producers of Family Matters, with the Rodney King incident in Los Angeles still fresh in people's minds two years after the fact, addressed the issue of racial profiling among white officers. In this poignant, pivotal scene, Sgt. Carl Winslow (Reginald VelJohnson), upset over his son, Eddie (Darius McCrary), being roughed up over a mere traffic violation, confronts the two white cops who were involved in the case. A rookie cop, paired with a veteran mentor who is exposed as a racist, gets a hard lesson in the reality of police work.

Carl would eventually calm Eddie down long enough for them to file a complaint the next day, and that was the end of the episode.

Would that this lesson could still be taught today.

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The JBA is street ball on a bigger platform with empty seats

LaVar Ball launched the Junior Basketball Association not so much as an alternative to college hoops, as he claims, but rather as another revenue stream to line his already stuffed pockets. Problem is, Ball is again aiming too high, throwing up virtual air balls.

Facebook Live owns the TV rights to the games, so you'll never see live action on ESPN or FS1. The games are played in NBA-level arenas, and the ticket prices are just like Ball's Big Baller Brand sneakers. Too expensive for Joe Average. From what has been reported, the style of play isn't any different than your average community recreational league. Translated, Ball made a bunch of false promises to some unsuspecting kids, dashing their college dreams if it's true that the kids are being paid to play. Apparently, the coaches of all 8 Ballers teams are friends of La Loudmouth's, and share his warped view of things. That's like if on Sanford & Son back in the day, Fred (Redd Foxx) tried to start a league, controlling all the teams, just in LA alone, and having his pals, such as Grady & Bubba, be the coaches. The difference is, Ball is just doing this to extend his never ending 15 minutes of fame, ignorant of the fact that the reason son LiAngelo, 19, didn't get drafted is because he pulled the kid out of school after that now-infamous shoplifting bust in China, and LaMelo, 16, won't see a college court because La Loudmouth pulled him out of high school, ruining LaMelo's education.

The JBA & Big Baller exist to help La Loudmouth realize the money he never made as a pro. He wasn't exactly all-star material in college, a bench player averaging little more than 2 points a game. He's the worst kind of stage parent and hustler, all at the same time.

To illustrate just how out of place the JBA is in a large arena, check out this video of the closing moments of a game last week between Seattle & Chicago. The now-infamous dust-up between the Chicago coach and Montrell Dixson has been in the headlines, largely because of the JBA and La Loudmouth refusing to discipline either side. Parental discretion is advised due to language:

The JBA is more disorganized than the revived Albany Patroons were this winter in the North American Premier Basketball League, especially on opening night. LaVar Ball is only interested in getting rich at these kids' expense, and no NBA team will draft them straight up. You're looking at a group of kids who will be free agents after the league implodes, and you know it will, but they won't be ready to play for at least another year or two with the big boys.

Monday, July 16, 2018

CBS Fall Preview 50 years ago (1968)

It won't be long before a new television season begins, and that means we will start hunting for fall previews from the past again.

Today, we'll start with CBS' fall preview for 1968, designed for affiliates & sponsors. However, in the following video, only five of the seven new shows are featured. All seven have previously been reviewed.

Mondays: Mayberry, RFD picks up where The Andy Griffith Show leaves off, literally, as Sheriff Andy Taylor (Griffith) marries long time sweetheart Helen Crump (Aneta Corsault) in the series opener before passing the baton to farmer-turned councilman Sam Jones (Ken Berry, ex-F-Troop). Series would last three seasons (1968-71).

Tuesdays: Lancer tells the story of two brothers (Wayne Maunder & James Stacy) who don't even realize until they meet that they are in fact related. Co-star Elizabeth Baur later would appear on Ironside, and Maunder would get one more series (Chase).

Wednesdays: The Good Guys, from Talent Associates, brought Bob Denver (ex-Gilligan's Island) back after a year away, this time paired with Herb Edelman and Joyce Van Patten. Lasted two seasons.

Thursdays: Another Gilligan alumnus, Jim Backus, steps into the role of Julius C. Dithers, Dagwood Bumstead's boss, in the adaptation of Blondie. Patricia Harty has the title role opposite Will Hutchins (ex-Hey, Landlord, Sugarfoot) as Dagwood. Lasted just one season. On the other hand, Hawaii Five-O began a 12 year run (1968-80) with Jack Lord (ex-Stoney Burke) as Steve McGarrett. The revival is returning for its 8th season this fall, or 2/3 of the way to matching the original.

Missing are two more Monday entries, Here's Lucy, in which Lucille Ball is joined by her two children, Lucie Arnaz & Desi Arnaz, Jr., whose father, Desi, Sr., was over at NBC shepherding The Mothers-in-Law through its second & final season, and The Doris Day Show, with Doris joined by Denver Pyle (ex-Tammy, The Andy Griffith Show, and later of The Life & Times of Grizzly Adams & Dukes of Hazzard) and James Hampton (ex-F-Troop).

As a result, this video checks in at just shy of 22 minutes. Art Gilmore, Red Skelton's announcer and a frequent contributor to NBC's Dragnet, is the narrator.

This came from an area that for some reason was not interested in Lucy or Doris. Hmmmmm.

Rating: B.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

What Might've Been: The Good Life (1971)

Here's a novel idea that should've worked, but didn't.

Take, for example, a wealthy couple, deciding they need to take a few steps back. They hire themselves out to another wealthy gentleman as his butler & maid. Sounds like a good idea, doesn't it? Well, yeah, but viewers didn't think so.

The Good Life was a collaboration between Screen Gems (now Sony Pictures Entertainment) and Lorimar, which was finding its footing at the time. Lorimar collaborated with Filmation for the 1/2-live-action, 1/2-animated special, Aesop's Fables, also in 1971, but would hit the jackpot the next year with The Waltons.

Larry Hagman, a year removed from I Dream of Jeannie, and Donna Mills co-starred, along with David Wayne, in his first sitcom since the short-lived Norby a few years earlier. The Good Life lasted just half a season, and would be replaced by Jack Webb's Emergency! in the winter of '72. Hagman & Wayne would cross paths again when Wayne joined the cast of Dallas several years later, and Mills would also find greater success, co-starring in the Dallas spin-off, Knots Landing.

Suffice to say, I never saw the show, so there won't be a rating. However, I couldn't resist this intro video from the pilot. Don Messick is the narrator.

Sports this 'n' that

The Tri-City Valleycats maintain a 2 game lead in the NY-Penn League's Stedler Division after beating State College, 2-0, on Saturday night in Happy Valley. In case you don't follow sports too closely, State College is the home of Penn State University, and is nicknamed Happy Valley.

The downside is that the Spikes, affiliated with the St. Louis Cardinals, don't visit Troy this year, and neither do the Williamsport Crosscutters (Philadelphia affiliate), which won 2 of 3 from the 'Cats earlier this week. The bizarre quirks in the NY-P schedule are just mind-boggling.
Speaking of the Cardinals, they dismissed manager Mike Metheny Saturday after a loss to Cincinnati. St. Louis is barely above .500, in 3rd place in the National League Central behind the Cubs and Brewers, but haven't made the playoffs in a couple of years. Hitting coaches John Mabry, like Metheny a former player for St. Louis, and Bill Mueller, were also cut. Bench coach Mike Shildt (Who, you ask? Exactly!) was named interim manager, but immediate speculation has Joe Girardi leaving his TV gig and taking over next year. Speculation also centers on Miami bench coach Tim Wallach.
Call it karmic justice, tennis style.

After President Trump dissed German counterpart Angela Merkel the other day, Germany's Angelique Kerber captured the Wimbledon ladies' singles title, defeating Serena Williams on Saturday. The more the President tries to treat the rest of the world like it's one gigantic corporation, of which he sees himself as the CEO, the more likely it is we'll see more results like this.

On the other hand, I'd rather that Trump dumped the Ugly American act, pulled out his Bible, and started governing this country as a good Christian president should. Problem is, while former Presidents Jimmy Carter and George W. Bush, to name two, were open about their faith, their decisions often left them open to ridicule and scorn, and Trump has been ridiculed ever since he took office. Now, if Ms. Kerber could duplicate her success in New York during the U. S. Open in late August-early September, we might have something......
The Albany Empire are a win away from reaching the Arena Bowl in their very first season, duplicating the Las Vegas Golden Knights' run to the Stanley Cup finals last month. The Empire needed overtime to beat Washington, 57-56, on the road Saturday night. The scene shifts to Times-Union Center next Saturday, but be warned. Should Washington finally win one over Albany by two points or better, the last place Valor would advance, and this is because it's about total points in the two-game playoff. The Valor, counting last night, are 0-5 vs. Albany this year. It would be totally embarrassing if Washington does advance.....
The Albany Dutchmen may be in 3rd place in the Eastern Division of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League, but they're just 1 1/2 games behind first place Amsterdam, whom they beat, 8-0, on Saturday night. Albany has played three fewer games than Amsterdam, and four fewer than second place Saugerties. It's going to be interesting in the final weeks.
Come Friday, horse racing fans will descend upon Saratoga for the start of the thoroughbred season, which runs until September 3. City and track officials are hoping Triple Crown champ Justify can make at least an appearance, but it doesn't look like Justify will race at all this summer after suffering an ankle injury recently. Trainer Bob Baffert brought the previous Triple Crown winner, American Pharoah, to Saratoga three years ago, only to see him lose.
El Cheapo Media has brought back Sound Off!, but only in the sports sections of The Record & The Saratogian. This time, though, they'll take comments not only over the phone, but on their Facebook page. The topic du jour today is the ongoing debate over player "protests" during the national anthem. Most folks who submitted comments put on their patriotic best, with at least one dissenting voice reminding that the kneeling during the anthem was originally about protesting police brutality toward African-Americans in particular.
Monday's baseball Home Run Derby is slanted toward the National League, with only Alex Bregman of the World Series champion Houston Astros representing the American League. Defending champion Aaron Judge of the Yankees chose not to compete this year, and the same for teammate Giancarlo Stanton, who won for Miami in 2016. Whatever happened to evening things out? Should be four from each league in the eight man tournament.

The real drama for the television audience is whether or not ESPN will bring Chris Berman out of hibernation for the event......

Thursday, July 12, 2018

On DVD: Destry (1964)

Some genius at Universal decided that the tale of Destry could be retold on the small screen, except that this time, this would not be about Tom Destry, who'd been played in movies by Jimmy Stewart and Audie Murphy. No, this was his son, Harrison (John Gavin), who was fronting a short-lived mid-season entry for ABC.

The problem? Westerns had peaked, and were gradually fading away. Destry got 13 weeks, and no more. Gavin narrated the episodes in character, the idea being that a first-person narrative, which worked so well for crime dramas such as Dragnet (not yet a Universal property) and Richard Diamond, might work in a Western. Uh, not here, though you could understand if you knew going in that Harrison Destry had been a sheriff before being framed for a crime he didn't commit.

Here's a sample clip:

Gavin later became an ambassador to Mexico, long after his acting career had ended. I don't think he was given another TV series, but I could be wrong.

Rating: B-.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Videos of Summer: Surfin' Bird (1987)

Two years after he was boppin' to the beat of the Champs' "Tequila", Pee-Wee Herman (Paul Reubens) decides to cover the Trashmen's 1-hit wonder, "Surfin' Bird", in the movie, "Back to The Beach".

On The Shelf: A few random news items

There are quite a few comics characters from the Golden Age that hadn't had a regular home in recent years for one reason or another. Dynamite Entertainment is doing something about it.

First, they gathered some characters like Black Bat and Miss Fury as part of a pair of Masks miniseries, co-starring the Green Hornet and the Shadow a few years back. Those were fun to read. Ten years ago, Dynamite introduced Project Superpowers, which presented more forgotten heroes who were now in the public domain, like, for example, the Fighting Yank. The third volume of Project Superpowers launched with a 10 cent 0 issue 2 weeks ago, and is a good jumping-on point for readers discovering this on-again, off-again series for the first time. That's all I can say for right now, considering that the low price also brought with it a smaller page count. Issue 1 drops on August 1.

Grade: Incomplete.
Max Allan Collins is the executor of the estate of crime novelist Mickey Spillane, and, as such, has access to unfinished manuscripts of Mike Hammer by the legendary Spillane. A brand new Hammer mini dropped from Titan Books 2 weeks ago as well, and the painted artwork is just flat out gorgeous to behold. Predictably, someone's out to whack Hammer, and he's looking to get to the killer first.

Rating: A.
Archie Comics, after teasing the return of the Superteens in the pages of Jughead a couple of years ago, finally brought the heroic personas of Jug, Archie, Betty, and, yes, Veronica, in a 2-part miniseries that sees them teaming with, and briefly fighting, The Mighty Crusaders, the company's premier superteam of the 60's. It's just 2 issues, and the Crusaders' membership includes the Black Hood. This Hood is in the original black & yellow gear, so it's probably Kip Burland under the mask, not Greg Hettinger, who was introduced in the Dark Circle series 3 years ago. Given how Chief Creative Officer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has corrupted the Hood and mishandled him on Riverdale, a heroic Hood is a welcome sight. Co-author Ian Flynn wrote a zillion Sonic The Hedgehog stories for Archie over the course of 20-plus years, and, while Archie & co. are drawn as they have been of late, this is fun.

Not only that, but the transformation sequences for the Superteens look like they were ripped off from the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, dating back to 1993. At least it's better than PH factors and other goofy ideas 50 years ago....!

Rating: Incomplete. We'll talk more about this when the conclusion hits stores in 2 weeks.
Speaking of Archie, the current Archie series launched in 2015 will end with issue 32, out now. In September, there will be a short miniseries set during the Golden Age, but written with modern sensibilities. Also, dropping later this month is Archie Meets Batman '66, which answers the question of what pop culture icon would the campy caped crusader would meet next.

At the end of the year, however, Archie will do what DC & Marvel have done for milestone issues in recent years, and will tie up all the current storylines in Archie #699, with issue 700 kicking off a new run, written by controversial writer Nick Spencer, the new scribe for Marvel's Amazing Spider-Man. I think the idea is that Aguirre-Sacasa wants the core Archie book to be geared more toward Riverdale in terms of direction, but not quite as dark. Here's a better idea, Roberto. Why don't you take some time, figure out fans are waiting for the next issues of Chilling Adventures of Sabrina & Afterlife With Archie (it's been a year), and assign a writer like Spencer to the books so they can be back on the shelves. Then you can spend all the time you want shuttling between Vancouver (where Riverdale is shot) and Hollywood. Is that too much to ask?

As for Spencer, he's looking to undo Joe Quesada's ill-advised decision to end Peter Parker's marriage to Mary Jane Watson in the books (they're still married in the daily comic strip). Quesada made a lot of enemies when he made that move a decade ago.

As if that wasn't bad enough, DC's Dan DiDio, derisively known as DiDiot to some fans, has a similar archaic policy, which explains why Batman & Catwoman's wedding didn't come off as planned last week. Two years or so ago, DiDio did the same thing over in Batwoman, unwilling to take a chance on a same-sex marriage of the title heroine and Gotham PD's Maggie Sawyer (who was brought to life by actress Floriana Lima during seasons 2 & 3 of Supergirl as a love interest for Alex Danvers, played by Chyler Leigh), and that storyline was squelched. Since Marvel broke the ice with same-sex marriage over in X-Men a few years ago, you'd think this wouldn't be happening, but I think DiDio is more afraid of offending retailers in the Bible Belt, while Marvel clearly wasn't.

Batman writer Tom King is unfairly being maligned online, and it's not his fault. The 50th issue of his run, which came out last week, is being looked at now as a cash grab by DC's marketing department, knowing they were really doing what amounted to a bait & switch, something Marvel had done in X-Men Gold two weeks earlier. Marvel promised that Kitty Pryde would marry her on-again, off-again flame, Peter "Colossus" Rasputin, but backed off of that and instead married off Gambit (Remy Lebeau) and Rogue, spinning them off into Mr & Mrs. X, due in the fall.

At least Marvel had a fall-back plan. DC didn't. Their loss.

Finally, belated condolences to the family, assuming there was one left, of comics icon Steve Ditko, who passed away nearly 2 weeks ago at 90. Ditko's resume includes co-creating Spider-Man and Dr. Strange for Marvel, The Creeper, The Hawk & The Dove, and Shade The Changing Man for DC, and, at Charlton, he helped introduce future DC heroes Captain Atom, Blue Beetle, & The Question. Ditko's political views led to the development of independently published characters like Mr. A, but Ditko's distinctive art style began to change during the 70's, when his work regularly appeared at DC, Charlton, & Marvel.

It's amazing, really, that Stan Lee, who wrote all those Dr. Strange & Spidey stories for Ditko, will have outlived all of his primary artists (i.e. Ditko, Jack Kirby, Gil Kane). If Stan lives to be 100, that should be news all by itself.

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Forgotten TV: Filthy Rich (1982)

During the 70's & 80's, the networks were not afraid to poke fun at the soap opera genre that was dominating daytime television. ABC was the most successful with Soap, which lasted four seasons (1977-81). NBC flopped with 1979's Highcliffe Manor. The syndicated Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman didn't last as long as you'd think, just a couple of years, and it copied the five-days-a-week format of the daytime sudsers.

CBS entered the picture in 1982 with Filthy Rich, which centered on the squabbling Beck family, who were hoping to gain an inheritance after their father, Big Guy Beck, had passed on. Only 15 episodes were produced before CBS pulled the plug.

Film vet Slim Pickens was originally cast as Big Guy, but health issues forced him out after the first pilot, replaced by Forrest Tucker (ex-F-Troop, Ghost Busters). Big Guy would appear via videotape, while the family was divided into factions. The cast also included soap veterans Ann Wedgeworth (ex-The Edge of Night, Another World), whose last foray into primetime was a brief run on Three's Company a couple of years earlier, and Charles Frank (ex-All My Children). Nedra Volz came over from Dukes of Hazzard to play Big Guy's first wife, who was now dealing with age issues (i.e. senility). 

Here's the intro:

Creator-producer-writer Linda Bloodworth would later reunite with Delta Burke & Dixie Carter in developing the more successful Designing Women, and brought back Wedgeworth to co-star with Burt Reynolds and friends in Evening Shade.

So why did it fail? Soap had been gone for a year by the time CBS green-lit Filthy Rich after its second pilot, and since the former was in syndication by this point, viewers preferred it to the new kid on the block. Even airing in front of M*A*S*H on Mondays didn't help during the 2nd season.

No rating.

Monday, July 9, 2018

Classic TV: Dallas (1978)

Lorimar Productions was known mostly for family-oriented-&-friendly dramas during the 70's (i.e. The Waltons, Apple's Way). That all changed in April 1978, when they sold CBS a miniseries that ultimately became the first primetime soap opera since Peyton Place signed off more than a decade earlier.

Dallas rewrote the rules for primetime drama. It was one hour, as opposed to Peyton, which was a half-hour, airing 2-3 times a week at its peak. It boasted an ensemble cast led by Jim Davis (ex-Stories of The Century), Barbara Bel Geddes, and Larry Hagman (ex-I Dream of Jeannie), who cemented his icon status with his portrayal of John Ross (J. R.) Ewing, Jr., a morally-challenged weasel who was business first, much to the sorrow of his wife, Sue Ellen (Linda Gray).

Dallas became a national sensation with its season 3 cliffhanger, "Who Shot J. R.?", which had fans speculating all through the summer of 1980. Six years later, the ninth season was written off as an eight month dream sequence of Pamela Barnes Ewing (Victoria Principal), after her husband, Bobby (Patrick Duffy, ex-Man From Atlantis), had supposedly died at the end of the eighth season. Now, you'd think the series had jumped the shark at that point, but Dallas soldiered on for another few years before finally shutting down in 1993.

Nearly 20 years later, Dallas returned, this time on cable's TNT, for 3 seasons. The death of Hagman was the final nail in the coffin for the franchise.

Dallas also birthed a spin-off series, Knots Landing, after Ted Shackleford (Gary Ewing) and Joan Van Ark left the parent series, and Knots had a healthy run of its own. It was also one of the first primetime series for future film star and political bloviator turned game show host Alec Baldwin. Victoria Principal cashed in on her fame in multiple ways. She became a 1-hit wonder on the charts with then-beau Andy Gibb, covering the Everly Brothers' "All I Have to do is Dream", and landed a national bestseller with a series of health & exercise books. I'll bet you anything at all more teenage boys than girls bought The Body Principal when it was released in the early 80's.

Pianist Floyd Cramer covered the show's theme song, and it climbed the country charts. Following is the season 1 intro:

I wasn't much of a soap opera guy, never was, and only tuned in occasionally when channel surfing. No emotional investment, no rating.

Sports this 'n' that

Congratulations to the Albany Empire upon clinching the Arena Football League's regular season title Saturday night after beating Philadelphia. Due to a convention of Jehovah's Witnesses having been previously booked for Times-Union Center, the first year club's next game may not be until this time next week, with the convention in town this weekend. Have to pray it's not a portent of things to come for the Empire.

Meanwhile, El Cheapo Media apparently couldn't be bothered to send a reporter to the game on Saturday, as a report in today's edition was credited to "sports staff". Ditto for the Tri-City Valleycats' win over Aberdeen, also on Saturday. El Cheapo's parent company is more concerned about its bottom line than properly serving its readers. Small wonder it's the #3 daily in the market.
Even though she's currently in the WWE, Ronda Rousey was inducted into the UFC Hall of Fame prior to going on the road with WWE this weekend. The other shoe between the two promotions dropped Saturday night when former UFC and current absentee WWE Universal champion Brock Lesnar showed up at the latest UFC PPV for a confrontation with Daniel Cormier. Reportedly, he's entered the drug testing pool, making him eligible to fight again for UFC in January. First things first, though, Lesnar, who should've dropped the Universal title long ago, has to decide when his next WWE fight will be, and soon, as fans are getting antsy. The ratings aren't where they should be, due largely to a number of factors, including Lesnar's prolonged absence between matches. This is the result of the contract Vince McMahon negotiated with Lesnar six years ago, allowing Lesnar to pick & choose when he appears. It's not good for business, no matter how WWE tries to spin it.
The 2018 baseball All-Star teams have been announced. Your average mileage, of course, may vary:



C: Wilson Ramos, Rays
1B: Jose Abreu, White Sox
2B: Jose Altuve, Astros
3B: Jose Ramirez, Indians
SS: Manny Machado, Orioles
OF: Mookie Betts, Red Sox
OF: Mike Trout, Angels
OF: Aaron Judge, Yankees
DH: J.D. Martinez, Red Sox


Salvador Perez, Royals
1B: Mitch Moreland, Red Sox
2B: Gleyber Torres, Yankees
3B: Alex Bregman, Astros
SS: Francisco Lindor, Indians
OF: Michael Brantley, Indians
OF: Shin-Soo Choo, Rangers
OF: Mitch Haniger, Mariners
OF: George Springer, Astros
OF: Nelson Cruz, Mariners


: Trevor Bauer, Indians
RHP: Jose Berrios, Twins
LHP: Aroldis Chapman, Yankees
RHP: Gerrit Cole, Astros
RHP: Edwin Diaz, Mariners
LHP: J.A. Happ, Blue Jays
RHP: Joe Jimenez, Tigers
RHP: Craig Kimbrel, Red Sox
RHP: Corey Kluber, Indians
LHP: Chris Sale, Red Sox
RHP: Luis Severino, Yankees
RHP: Blake Treinen, Athletics
RHP: Justin Verlander, Astros

Final Vote candidates (fan ballot):

: Andrew Benintendi, Red Sox
OF: Eddie Rosario, Twins
SS: Jean Segura, Mariners
SS: Andrelton Simmons, Angels
OF: Giancarlo Stanton, Yankees



Willson Contreras, Cubs
1B: Freddie Freeman, Braves
2B: Javier Baez, Cubs
3B: Nolan Arenado, Rockies
SS: Brandon Crawford, Giants
OF: Nick Markakis, Braves
OF: Matt Kemp, Dodgers
OF: Bryce Harper, Nationals


Buster Posey, Giants
C: J.T. Realmuto, Marlins
1B: Paul Goldschmidt, D-backs
1B: Joey Votto, Reds
2B: Ozzie Albies, Braves
2B: Scooter Gennett, Reds
3B: Eugenio Suarez, Reds
SS: Trevor Story, Rockies
OF: Charlie Blackmon, Rockies
OF: Lorenzo Cain, Brewers
OF: Christian Yelich, Brewers


LHP: Patrick Corbin, D-backs
RHP: Jacob deGrom, Mets
LHP: Sean Doolittle, Nationals
RHP: Mike Foltynewicz, Braves
LHP: Josh Hader, Brewers
LHP: Brad Hand, Padres
RHP: Kenley Jansen, Dodgers
LHP: Jon Lester, Cubs
RHP: Miles Mikolas, Cardinals
RHP: Aaron Nola, Phillies
RHP: Max Scherzer, Nationals
LHP: Felipe Vazquez, Pirates

Final Vote candidates:

: Jesus Aguilar, Brewers
1B: Brandon Belt, Giants
INF: Matt Carpenter, Cardinals
INF/OF: Max Muncy, Dodgers
SS: Trea Turner, Nationals

Of course, people will gripe about certain players being snubbed (i.e. Blake Snell of the Rays, the Mets' Brandon Nimmo). The fact that the Nationals, the host team, only have three players on the roster at the moment, tells you something about the state of fan support in Washington, and the fact that the fans aren't as passionate as you'd think.

Sunday, July 8, 2018

In Theatres: Ant-Man & The Wasp (2018)

Father's Day was two weeks ago. Still, parental bonding was the underlying theme apparent in "Ant-Man & The Wasp", Marvel Studios' attempt to lighten things up after the depressing finish to "Avengers: Infinity War" a couple of months back.

Since the events of 2016's "Captain America: Civil War", Scott Lang, aka Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) was sentenced to house arrest, and is routinely visited by government agent Jimmy Woo (Randall Park). The upside to house arrest is that Scott gets to spend time sharing custody of his school-age daughter, Cassie, with his ex-wife and her current beau. What Scott assumes is a dream is really the original Wasp, Janet Van Dyne (Michelle Pfeiffer) contacting him, and, ultimately, using him as a conduit to contact husband Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly).

On the run since the last film, Hank & Hope have been trying to develop a quantum tunnel, obtaining their tech from a black market businessman, who looks more like a generic sleazy villain right out of 80's TV (i.e. The A-Team. Now, the sleazebag wants the tech for himself. And, then, there is the Ghost, an orphan whose parents were killed in a lab accident, and whose father was a former associate of Pym. Factor in another ex-associate of Pym, Bill Foster (Laurence Fishburne, black-ish), whom comics fans will remember as Black Goliath, and, briefly, Giant-Man, dating back 42 years or so, and things get crazy, including a wacky car chase involving a Pez dispenser, among other things.

Scope the trailer:

Yes, they are building toward Hope & Scott as a couple, despite Scott continuing to be presented as a klutz, The comedy relief is in overdrive, literally.

Trailers include "The Darkest Things", a new "Nutcracker" movie from Disney, and Jack Black as a warlock in "The House With a Clock in Its Walls".

Rating: B.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Musical Interlude: Only The Young (1985)

The soundtrack to "Vision Quest" was loaded with hits. Tom Cochrane & Red Rider's "Lunatic Fringe" was reissued, as was Foreigner's "Cold as Ice" and John Waite's "Change". Madonna made her first film appearance, performing two singles from the soundtrack, "Gambler" & "Crazy For You", the latter of which got heavy airplay on MTV (of course). Journey's "Only The Young" should've gotten a similar amount of airplay, in this writer's view.

The video may or may not be the actual video, as it's movie footage, including a quick shot of Madonna.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Advertising For Dummies: No, you won't melt in the heat, but they'll sell you soda anyway (1991)

Diet Coke had an interesting idea for an ad campaign with NFL players in 1991.

A random group of players are working out in 104 degree temperatures. Next thing ya know, some of them, particularly Randall Cunningham and Chris Spielman, are starting to melt, thanks to CGI. That leaves Boomer Esiason to grab some Diet Coke off the sidelines....

I think the reason they didn't do this with cartoon characters was because it might scare the kiddo's.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Musical Interlude: God Bless America (1938)

If you've been to Yankee Stadium to see the Bronx Bombers play, you've probably heard this next item during the 7th inning stretch.

"God Bless America" was written by Irving Berlin in 1938, and was recorded by Kate Smith, whose recording plays at the Stadium seemingly every night. It was a favorite of the late George Steinbrenner, and the tradition has continued under his sons, Hal & Hank, in recent times.

As the US turns 242 today, let's turn back the clock.

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

On The Air: Drop The Mic (2017)

James Corden figured that if Jimmy Fallon can spin a segment from The Tonight Show into a cable hit (Lip Sync Battle), so can he.

Drop The Mic is a segment from The Late, Late Show that bowed last year on TBS, coupled with Snoop Dogg's remake of The Joker's Wild (previously reviewed). Corden, like Fallon, serves as an executive producer, but not the MC. He leaves that job to Hailey Baldwin (Alec's niece) and rapper-actor Method Man, with Josh Silverstein providing the beats. The 2nd season is winding down, if it hasn't ended already, but episodes have been split up on YouTube.

A recent episode saw wrestler-singer-aspiring mogul Chris Jericho take on boxer-turned-cable personality Laila Ali, but the warm-up act saw cast members from GLOW serve up some serious burn to a WWE quartet featuring the Bella Twins (Total Bellas, Total Divas) and Carmella.

Edit, 7/14/2020: Had to change the video. The Jericho-Ali match is out, and the GLOW-WWE bout is a stand-alone clip, with Vietnamese subtitles.

Hys-freakin'-terical, man, and Carmella got the worst of it.

Rating: A.

Classic TV: Flipper (1964)

After making some inroads in syndication (i.e. Sea Hunt), writer-producer Ivan Tors made his first network sale in 1964 with Flipper, which spent 3 seasons on NBC (1964-7).

Set up as a follow-up to the feature film of the same name, released a year earlier, and a sequel that came out earlier in '64, Flipper, shot on location in Florida, centered on not only the titular dolphin, but also Park Ranger Porter Ricks (Brian Kelly, who took over the role from Chuck Connors in the second film) and his sons, Sandy & Bud (Luke Halpin & Tommy Nordren). Bud was actually added to the mix for the TV show.

Flipper was co-created by actor-turned-author Ricou Browning ("Creature From The Black Lagoon"), based on his book. The series has made the rounds of cable, with stops including Nickelodeon and Antenna TV since ending 51 years ago. In the 90's, a remake of the original feature film, starring Paul Hogan ("Crocodile Dundee") led to a new, hour-long version of the series, which lasted two years itself.

Let's revisit the intro, along with a clip from the series.

Rating: A.

Forgotten TV: Hearts Afire (1992)

The husband & wife team of Harry & Linda Thomason blessed CBS with a trio of sitcoms in the late 80's and early 90's.

Hearts Afire may actually be the lesser known of the three series (Designing Women & Evening Shade, the latter a return to series TV for Burt Reynolds, were the others), and also lasted the least amount of time, three seasons (1992-5). Hearts brought John Ritter back to CBS after having his last three series (Three's Company, Three's a Crowd, Hooperman) all on ABC. Ritter (ex-The Waltons) and Markie Post (ex-Night Court) headed up an ensemble that included future film star Billy Bob Thornton and TV vets Edward Asner (ex-Lou Grant, The Mary Tyler Moore Show) and Conchata Farrell (later of Two & a Half Men), and future stars like Beth Broderick (later of Sabrina The Teenage Witch).

Here's a network promo.

Before turning to acting, Markie Post was a producer for Goodson-Todman, and worked on their 1976 series, Double Dare. Hearts Afire gets its title from the first line in Earth, Wind, & Fire's 1975 song, "That's The Way of The World", which was also used as the theme during the first season.

No rating.

Monday, July 2, 2018

Remember Kayo Chocolate Drink? (1974)

When this next ad was produced in Chicago, Kayo Chocolate Drink had been around for 45 years. Today, the Kayo brand exists only as powdered hot cocoa.

The product was inspired by and featured Kayo, from the comic strip Moon Mullins, on its label.

I think this was a regional-only product, as I never saw this in my area.

Sports this 'n' that

Well, that didn't take long.

LeBron James decided to chase the money again, signing a 4 year deal with the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.

There are rational reasons why James would bolt Cleveland a second time.

For one, he has property in Los Angeles, and a namesake teenage son who's blossoming into a high school hoops star, just like him.

Two, he owns a small, independent studio, and likely would like to land some deals to expand his portfolio, if you will.

Three, he can be more of a rational mentor to Lonzo Ball, assuming Ball remains with the Lakers when the season begins, than Lonzo's loudmouth father, LaVar, could ever hope to be. While the Fred Sanford of stage parents will say, "I told you so", when it comes to LeBron, he's way off base if he thinks he can take credit for this decision.
The sins of his past reputation came back to haunt Tampa Bay Bucs QB Jameis Winston the other day when the NFL decided to suspend him for the first three games of the 2018 season due to an off-field incident involving a Uber driver. There were questions about Winston's maturity, just as much as there were about that other celebrated party boy, Johnny Manziel, when Tampa Bay drafted Winston in 2015. However, there are rumors that if there's another arrest on Winston's record, he may be banished from the league.

It's three strikes, and you're out, or is commissioner Roger Goodell again kow-towing to President Trump?
The Mets haven't been this wretched in years. A loss to Miami on Saturday resulted in the Mets' record for June falling to a pathetic 5-21. Luckily, they've started July on a good note, beating the Marlins, 5-2, on Sunday. I still believe that making trades to appease an impatient fan base isn't the solution. Trading away a front-line starter like a Jacob deGrom or Noah Syndergaard is not the answer, because then you're setting the team back a few extra years.
The Tri-City Valleycats recovered from a 9th inning loss to Hudson Valley Friday by beating the Renegades, 9-2, on Saturday night. However, they began a six-game, hone-&-home series with Vermont by dropping a 9-8 decision in 11 innings Sunday night. That puts the Lake Monsters back in sole possession of first place in the Stedler Division. Still plenty of time left, though, but one wonders if Jason Bell is making too many moves when he doesn't need to......
Another night, another win for the Troy Fighting Irish, which blew away Auburn, 47-6, on Saturday night. However, you won't see any box scores for this one, since the local press ignores semi-pro football nowadays, unless it's a slow night. El Cheapo Media did a pre-season preview, but haven't sent reporters to cover home games at Lansingburgh High, and that's a shame. Their next home game is Saturday, July 7, but the Valleycats and Albany Empire will be home, too, making the Irish a third option for fans, assuming anyone remembers the team is even playing......
WWE Chairman/CEO Vince McMahon is sinking $500 million into his revival of the XFL, due to start in February 2020. With Charlie Ebersol's Alliance of American Football launching this coming February, McMahon is already behind the 8-ball, but the mindset seems to be that he's trying to lure disgruntled NFL fans away with an improved product. Sounds like he's trying to curry favor with his pal, President Trump, whose relentless Twantrums against NFL players, in turn, sound like more hyperbole to stir up his base of closet bigots.

The plan is $500 million over three years. The original XFL barely got through its lone season in 2001, so what makes McMahon think it'll work differently this time, aside from not being associated with WWE?

To paraphrase an old cliche, a fool and his brains are soon parted......
Finally, some sad news from WWE.

Tough Enough season 3 co-winner Matt Cappotelli, 38, passed away late last week due to brain cancer. Cappotelli was forced to retire just three years into his wrestling career, then became a trainer and motivational speaker himself. Let's take you back in time to the night Cappotelli earned his developmental contract.....

Co-winner John Hennegan, now known alternately as John Morrison, Johnny Mundo, or Johnny Impact, depending on where he is on a given night, will be in town at Bruno Stadium with NorthEast Wrestling on July 14.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Sounds of Praise: Battle Hymn of The Republic (1969)

In this clip from his self-titled ABC variety show, Johnny Cash, backed by wife June and the Carter Sisters and the Statler Brothers, performs the patriotic anthem, "Battle Hymn of The Republic":

Suicide prevention for career preservation: Three Stooges in Rhythm & Weep (1946)

The Three Stooges, in one of Curly Howard's last films, are struggling actors who can't land a steady gig. Coincidentally, three dance hall girls are in the same pickle. All six are looking to end it all, but a twist of fate may change everything. Here's "Rhythm & Weep":

Rating: A.