Sunday, September 30, 2018

What Might've Been: Now You See It (1974)

In 1974, Mark Goodson & Bill Todman sold a very different kind of game to CBS. In its first run, Now You See It, ran for over a year, from April 1974 to June 1975. Jack Narz (ex-Beat The Clock, Seven Keys) was tapped to host, and, as a bonus, also helmed the syndicated, Goodson-Todman packaged revival of Concentration when it launched several months later.

However, after a little more than six months, the format of the game was tweaked, trimming the number of contestants from four down to two for the qualifying game. This format change would remain in effect when CBS brought the show back 14 years after its first cancellation for a short run.

Let's take a look at the opener:



While Narz hosted his share of games, his brother, Tom Kennedy, was on call even more often.

The show's theme, "Chump Change", was composed by the inestimable Quincy Jones, whose primetime resume included the themes to Sanford & Son & Ironside, and---shock of shocks---Bill Cosby (Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids). Score Productions' Edd Kalehoff composed an alternate theme.

Rating: B.

Sports this 'n' that

As the Mets close out their 2018 season today with one last game vs. Miami, the team has already bade farewell to 3B David Wright, who was activated from the disabled list Tuesday, but was clearly being saved for the Miami series. Wright played his last game Saturday, and, understandably, was lifted early so that the team's radio & television announcers could interview him during the remainder of the contest, which the Mets won in 13 innings, 1-0. Waiting 2 1/2 years to get back on the field was certainly worth the wait, and it makes the team's decision to sign local product Todd Frazier away from the Yankees in the off-season a very good one.
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El Cheapo Media blew an opportunity two weeks ago, but when Troy High played Ballston Spa Friday night, a 27-14 win for the red-hot Flying Horses, El Cheapo finally deigned to send a reporter when they could've done that for the Collar City Cup game vs. LaSalle, too.

Still working under an embargo imposed by Troy schools superintendent John Carmello in 2017, reporter Stan Hudy took no chances, but his game report, which only saw things from the losing point of view, something we've seen in high school hockey coverage as well in recent times, needed help.

Troy's newest offensive weapon, Ari Holmes-Parsons, a transfer from Columbia, will play against his former team on Homecoming on Friday. I've never seen any of the administration at home games, be it basketball or football. Hmmm, I wonder why.......
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It feels like the Boston Red Sox are coasting into the post-season, and that could come back to haunt them. The BoSox have lost the first two games of their season-ending series vs. the Yankees by a combined 19-11 score, and so Boston needs to win today to have any momentum going into the playoffs. The Yanks, meanwhile, will be hosting a Wild Card game vs. Oakland on Wednesday, with the winner ticketed for Boston next weekend. It would help if they played the games at a faster pace, but apparently, they'd rather milk the drama for maximum effect, MLB edicts aside.
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More Troy High: The boys' soccer team is now 0-9-2 after dropping a 7-1 decision on Saturday to Saratoga. What's sickening about this one is that the only goal scored for Troy was an own goal by a Saratoga player. The Flying Horses have five games left, and continue their three game road trip at CBA on Tuesday. If I'm coach Mike Murnane, I pass on the sectionals this year. The women's tennis team is 0-11 after getting blanked by Burnt Hills on Thursday. The Lady Spartans also beat Troy in volleyball in straight sets. Troy coach Tara Valenti has seen her squad win just three matches this season, and this is coming after a 10 win campaign in 2016.

So what's the problem? There just isn't enough talent on the tennis, volleyball, soccer, golf, & track teams. The cross-country & golf teams are also winless. The school only promotes their football & basketball teams, when everyone else should be getting some attention, too.

To that point, LaSalle has three teams that make the cash registers ring, hockey being the third team, and that's largely due to renting Robert Conway Arena at neighboring Hudson Valley Community College, and I would suspect the same would hold true in baseball if the Cadets moved their home games to Bruno Stadium, which is more accessible to fans than Geer Field, where LaSalle currently plays most of their varsity home games, save for one game at the Joe for Coaches Against Cancer. The administration at LaSalle gets it. The public schools, such as Troy & Lansingburgh, should follow suit, but what would it take?
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Fox decided to be el scrimpo with their studio program for Thursday Night Football when it launched this week. Fox NFL Sunday anchor Curt Menefee, a former New York sports anchor, got the night off, and at halftime, you only had Howie Long, Terry Bradshaw, and the busiest man in the group, Michael Strahan, was anchoring the halftime coverage. He had to leave early, since he had a wake-up call for Good Morning, America the next day, leaving Long & Bradshaw for the post-game show. Where was Jimmy Johnson? Probably in Washington giving grooming tips to the President. Long's the most articulate of the bunch, which explains his endorsement deals in recent years for Chevrolet and Skechers. Bradshaw? I fear we'll see him doing some infomercial in the next 3-4 years.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

A Classic Reborn: Murphy Brown (2018)

Time may not have changed Murphy Brown (Candice Bergen) all that much, but, as we all know, the world around her has. To the surprise of, well, no one, the revival of the Emmy award winning 1988-98 series takes dead aim at President Trump and his warped view of the news media.

We find out that way back in the day, Trump supposedly dated Murphy, most likely a one-night stand. When Murphy is offered a morning talk show on cable, she jumps on it, and rounds up her old FYI crew---investigative reporter Frank Fontana (Joe Regalbuto, who has not aged well), Corky Sherwood (Faith Ford, still looking adorable), and producer Miles Silverberg (Grant Shaud), who stops short of being a complete basket case before getting his new gig.

Complicating matters is the fact that Murphy's now-adult son, Avery, has followed her into journalism, and is fronting his own show---airing directly opposite dear old mom. His network is an analogue for Fox News, Murphy works for a CNN parody. You can see where that's going to go.

There are some things that stay the same. The gang still hangs out at Phil's, but Phil (Pat Corley) has long since passed on, and his sister, Phyllis (Tyne Daly, ex-Cagney & Lacey), has taken over, complete with a killer sense of humor. ("A protest march is the new eggs Benedict.", she quips as Murphy and Corky have come in from a march.) Murphy is still looking for a secretary, and look who shows up in the opener.....



I tell you, you'd never see President Trump do something like that.

One glaring problem is that Murphy Brown, nestled at the end of CBS' Thursday comedy block, is up against Thursday Night Football, now on Fox. The remake of Magnum PI occupies Brown's old Monday perch, and I get the idea of CBS not wanting to duplicate past mistakes by having the two remakes air on different nights than the originals (Magnum led off CBS' Thursday block in the 80's). Lord knows I've talked about such programming strategy in the past. Today, though, there is On Demand.......

Personally, I'd rather they solved the secretary problem once and for all by finding someone who can play off Bergen. I recommend a certain former MTV VJ from my neck of the woods who could learn from working with Bergen. If I have to go any further, I'd be embarrassed for you.

Rating: B+.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Musical Interlude: Hearts (1981)

Marty Balin was one of the driving, founding members of Jefferson Airplane in the 60's, and rejoined the band in 1975 after the name change to Jefferson Starship. In 1981, he went solo and scored a modest hit with "Hearts". The video was shot on location at Alcatraz Prison outside of San Francisco.



In memory of Balin, who passed away at 72.

High School Fridays: Averill Park @ Columbia (football), 9/28/18

It's unusual for high schools to have Homecoming & Senior Night on the same night. Columbia High did that tonight. Unfortunately, the Blue Devils sent their fans home feeling, well, blue.

After seeing their hopes for a perfect season dashed by Schuylerville last week, Columbia welcomed Suburban Council rival Averill Park, hoping to slow down one of the hottest teams in Class A. The Warriors won the opening coin toss, and deferred to the second half. As it happened, their defense set the tone for the night, frustrating Blue Devils QB Garrett McDonald and the Columbia offense, which crossed midfield just once the entire night.

Averill Park's Carl Nitz had quite the night, with two blocked punts on special teams and two rushing touchdowns. James Finelli had a 46 yard touchdown in the 3rd quarter to put the game away, and also forced and recovered a fumble. QB Anthony Childrose threw a touchdown pass to Jake Bornt, then ran one in himself in the 4th quarter, with the game already well decided, and for the second straight week, Columbia was shut out, this time 34-0. The Blue Devils have been outscored, 72-0, the last two weeks.

For coach Bob Treacy, it's about to get worse. The Blue Devils begin a season-ending two game road trip next week at Troy. The Blue Devils opened the 2017 season there, and were whacked in Treacy's first game as Columbia coach.

However, getting revenge on Troy isn't going to be easy. Ballston Spa, another 2017 victim of the Flying Horses Express, fell to Troy, 27-14. Coach Bob Burns' club has won four in a row after a season opening loss to Schalmont. Averill Park will have their Senior Night next week vs. Amsterdam before they come to Picken Field on October 12, with the Capital Division in Class A likely on the line. Columbia finishes the season at Green Tech.
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Meanwhile, LaSalle snapped a three game losing streak in blowing away Ichabod Crane, 51-12. The Cadets' only wins this season have been against Class B schools that are also rivals in the Colonial Council.

In other Troy High news, the women's soccer team snapped a five game losing streak, but needed double overtime to down Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, 2-1, on Thursday. Troy had been shut out in all five losses in the streak. Coach Justin Haviland's club will have their Senior Night on October 4 vs. Albany before a season-ending two game road trip at Averill Park & Bethlehem. The boys' soccer team, however, is 0-8-2 after losing to the Spartans, 3-0, on Thursday. Mike Murnane's club has six games left, and start a three game road trip at Saratoga tomorrow.

Remember the Circle Line?

Founded in 1961, the Circle Line cruise line's commercial had heavy airplay on virtually every commercial television station in New York during the 70's. Can't say for sure when this ad premiered, but the YouTube account that posted it first saw it in 1978. I honestly think it goes further back than that, like, maybe 1973-4.



There's a lot of classic ads that aired on the then-independent channels in New York back in the day surfacing on YouTube, and maybe also Dailymotion. The problem with the Circle Line is that the sales pitch is SO dullsville.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

What Might've Been: Treasure Isle (1967)

Back in the 60's, soap operas weren't as big on ABC as they would later become in the 70's & 80's, gradually taking over daytime. Game shows were the big thing back then.

But an outdoor show, taped in Florida, and debuting right after Christmas?

That's what ABC tried at the end of 1967 with Treasure Isle, an afternoon show hosted by John Bartholomew Tucker. It lasted a few months, and my memory is hazy about seeing this show, as I was just a wee lad. Hence, no rating.

Anyway, Tucker might be better known for some of his later work, including a stint as Allen Funt's co-host on Candid Camera during one of its revival stages, and also doing commercial voice-overs for Owens Corning and Red Devil vacuum cleaners.

Here's a sample show from May 1968:



Now, if they launched this in the spring or summer, it might've worked.

Dunce Cap Award: Jared Hensley

An assistant principal & athletic director at a Tennessee school was placed on administrative leave after he made some ridiculous remarks. Scope the video.



Where did this peabrain get that idea?

Jared Hensley is lucky his school, Soddy-Daisy High, is not in Knox County. A certain Mayor might take exception to the hare-brained remarks of this good ol' boy that won this week's Dunce Cap. Just what is it about parents and faculty at high schools in the South that they think they need dress codes in public schools? For what it's worth, Soddy-Daisy is located in Hamilton County in Tennessee, but it might as well be further down in the boondocks......

Sports this 'n' that

There've been some news stories the last couple of days that caught my attention, but also illustrate some of the fundamental wrongs in today's society.

Take, for example, the case of 8 year old Chloe Beaver, who has been diagnosed with Disruptive Mood Dysfunctional Disorder (DMDD), a rare ailment in which Chloe's emotional understanding is equated to that of a toddler. Chloe and her parents were at a Houston Astros game the other day, and Chloe's loud cheering for the home team upset an older fan one row in front of the Beavers. The fan simply told Chloe, "Enough", and the cheering stopped for a while. The fan didn't know about DMDD, and poor Chloe had to be encouraged by her parents and other fans in their row to go back to cheering.

Chloe's gotten encouragement from the defending World Series champs, including pitcher Lance McCullers, Jr., who's offered to leave a ticket for Chloe when the playoffs start. Watch. The cameras will be focused on this little girl, and her story will be told.
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In Washington, DC, a high school student was booted from his football team, not because of disciplinary issues, but rather, residential issues.

You see, Jamal Speaks is homeless, and has had to crash with friends during the school year. Luckily, Speaks is back on the team, but for now is ineligible to play until his residency issue is settled. He's gotten offers for housing, from what I've read, so hopefully, this has a happy ending.
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We reported on Tuesday that Troy High's soccer & tennis matches vs. Saratoga had been called off due to rain. Turns out their golf match was also postponed, and will be made up today. No make up date has been set for the tennis, as we alluded to before. As it turns out, it wasn't just the boys' soccer match that was called. Over at Picken Field, the women's match was also postponed, but just for 24 hours, as apparently Saratoga decided to cancel all of their sports activities on Tuesday, even though Picken Field has field-turf.

The women's match was played on Wednesday night, with Saratoga extending Troy's miseries with a 6-0 shutout. The Lady Horses have now lost five in a row, all via shutout, since blanking Schenectady two weeks ago, 3-0. Of the 11 losses this season, Justin Haviland's club has been blanked an alarming nine times. They've scored just six goals in twelve games this season, an average of 1/2 a goal per game.

It doesn't get any better for Troy, as they travel to Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake today. And if it's another shutout, well, a well known political icon of another era said it best....


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Now, try this one for size.

In Peoria, Arizona, senior wide receiver Cameron Torres scored a touchdown, but was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct. It was his 2nd such foul of the game, leading to an ejection and a one game suspension.

Problem is, he'll miss Homecoming this week, and his violation was for what the official perceived to be "high stepping", as a way of taunting his opponent, which Torres clearly wasn't doing. He was dodging a tackle, not doing the can-can, like, say for example, Deion Sanders back in the day. The head of the state's governing body for football is standing by the official's decision, as biased as it seems to be, and that's wrong. Appeals are underway to allow Torres to play after all on Homecoming, which is tomorrow night. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Classic TV: The Phil Silvers Show (aka Sgt. Bilko or You'll Never Get Rich)(1955)

Ten-hut!

CBS had a stable of classic comedies in the 50's, from I Love Lucy to our next subject, The Phil Silvers Show, which, when it ran in syndication in the 70's & 80's on cable, went by the alternate title, Sgt. Bilko, after its central character, Master Sergeant Ernest Bilko. A dreamer and a schemer, Bilko (Silvers) was always looking for a few quick extra bucks. If you thought Ralph Kramden over on The Honeymooners was a dreamer, Bilko had him beaten, just by being in the Army.

For four seasons (1955-9), Bilko was forever looking to get one over on Colonel Hall (Paul Ford), but then having to cover his trail when the heat was turned up. Producer Edward Montagne took this concept with him to Revue/Universal three years after the series ended, and taking actor Billy Sands with him, in developing McHale's Navy for ABC, and that also lasted four years (1962-6). Sub McHale (Ernest Borgnine) for Bilko, Captain Binghamton (Joe Flynn) for Hall, and so on. Bilko was also the inspiration for Hanna-Barbera's 1961 primetime cartoon sitcom, Top Cat, and also had a connection to the show in the form of Maurice Gosfeld (Doberman), who was cast as Benny.

After the series ended, Silvers moved on to movies such as "It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World", and even did a Disney movie, "The Boatniks", with Robert Morse. That film reunited Silvers with co-star Joe E. Ross (later of Car 54, Where Are You? & It's About Time). Silvers returned to television with The New Phil Silvers Show, and we'll discuss that another day. Daughter Cathy would find her way into primetime in the 80's, joining the cast of Happy Days.

Here's the intro:



Paul Ford would land one more series gig, The Baileys of Balboa, which was a one season wonder. We'll look at that down the road, too.

Rating: A-.

An idol falls

Emmy, Grammy, & Peabody award winning entertainer Bill Cosby was sentenced Tuesday to 3-10 years in prison for sexually assaulting one Andrea Constand a number of years ago.

The problem ye scribe has with this is the fact that a lot of the allegations raised against Cosby, shattering forever his image as a wholesome, family friendly entertainer, stem from incidents that took place 30, 40, even 50 years ago. Where is the statute of limitations on cases like this? In the wake of Constand coming forward with her story, more than 5 dozen women followed suit, and with those kind of numbers, it's hard to tell who's telling the truth, or who's jumping on the bandwagon just to get their 15 minutes at the expense of a shamed star?

Lawyer Gloria Allred, whose attempt at being a TV judge apparently wasn't paying enough of the bills, is representing many of these women, and with Cosby going away, likely for good, given his age (81), and the fact that reportedly, he's now legally blind, that doesn't mean the shaming is over. Stay tuned.
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That brings us to Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, who was accused of assaulting on Christine Ford some 35 years ago, when Kavanaugh & Ford were in high school. Again, where is the statute of limitations to define whether or not this case is valid? The Republican sheep will try to tell you the Democrats are doing this because they don't want Kavanaugh on the bench. Just as both Ford & Kavanaugh are about to testify before a Senate committee, separately, I might add, two more women have come forward against Kavanaugh, one of whom is represented by the same attorney representing actress Stephanie Clifford (Stormy Daniels) against President Trump.

Cynthia Tucker, writing for The Washington Post, reminded us earlier this week of a similar scenario that played out 27 years ago, when Clarence Thomas was accused by Anita Hill. Thomas was still confirmed by the Senate. The GOP sheep think the result will be the same with Kavanaugh, but if it is, then Cosby's supporters will complain about a double standard, invoking the race card in doing so.

No, the smart play here is for Kavanaugh to be denied his seat on the Court. Of course, President Trump will whine and complain, as little boys are wont to do when things don't go their way, and the nation's oldest spoiled child will not be happy unless Kavanaugh is confirmed.

Here's the reality of it. Let's say Kavanaugh is denied. Then, the heat turns back toward Trump, and his alleged affair with Clifford. He's running out of options to deflect attention from the various issues that conceivably could turn his administration inside out. The only saving grace he has left, realisitically, is the one thing he should be using to guide his path, and that is the Bible. For a man who reportedly became a born again Christian through then-Indiana Gov. (now VP) Mike Pence and evangelist James Dobson two years ago, Trump is behaving like anything but a Christian. That needs to change.

Trump has appeared on Mike Huckabee's TBN chat-fest. His next stop should be another TBN talk show. Praise The Lord. And he should take Kavanaugh with him.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Sports this 'n' that

Three weeks into the season, and, well, maybe the NFL should reconsider the rule changes made in the off-season regarding defensive plays on the quarterback.

It's getting so that the team owners are treating each QB (i.e. Eli Manning, Wrangler salesman Drew Brees, State Farm agent Aaron Rodgers) as if they're being ferried to the game in large boxes resembling those of their action figure counterparts. In each game this season Green Bay lineman (and a State Farm agent last year) Clay Matthews, Jr. has been flagged for roughing the passer, each "foul" worse than the last. It's getting so defensive linemen are afraid of going gun-shy.

Now, you and I know who'd benefit from this controversy, and, so far, no one has been flagged for trying to sack Tom Brady of the Patriots, the biggest diva at the QB position. Houston's JJ Watt sacked Manning three times in the Texans' loss to the Giants on Sunday, but there were no roughing calls of the controversial kind. At least, as far as we know, Watt gets it. As was reported last week, former NFL heads of officiating Mike Periera and Dean Blandino, both now with Fox, feel some of the calls are unwarranted, but the jabroni in their old role, Alberto Riveron, doesn't see what they see. His loss. It's going to get worse before it gets better, but the competition committee, which includes New Orleans coach Sean Payton and Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin, along with Giants owner John Mara, will meet via conference call later this week. Pray they come to their senses.
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Soccer is supposed to be played in the rain. I should know. I once played a game in a driving downpour 40 years ago, and of course, I caught a cold as a result. And, yeah, we played on a grass field.

Apparently, Saratoga Springs High doesn't have a turf field, and if that's the case, their field was already a mess, or the athletic department was erring on the side of caution, hence the decision made earlier today to postpone not only the women's tennis match vs. Troy, but the boys' soccer matches (varsity & junior varsity) as well. The soccer match will be rescheduled for Saturday with an 11 am (ET) start. No make-up date has been set for the tennis meet. With sectionals a couple of weeks away, I doubt it'll be made up at all, unless it's for individual sectional seeding.
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One of the last "homer" baseball announcers is saying good-bye.

Ken "Hawk" Harrelson, one of the play-by-play voices of the Chicago White Sox, hung up his microphone for the last time Sunday after a loss to the crosstown Cubs. Harrelson, who started his broadcasting career in Boston in 1975, partnered with Dick Stockton, and, later, Ned Martin, has had two tours in Chicago, and in between, spent some time in the cable booth for the Yankees, and did some NBC games as well. Best known for catchphrases such as "He gone" (after a White Sox pitcher registers a strikeout) and "You can put it on the board-----YES!" (on a White Sox home run), Harrelson was an even bigger homer than, for example, the Cubs' Harry Caray, the Yanks' Phil Rizzuto, and Atlanta's Skip Caray. Each of those teams will still have the 'homer" mentality---the Yankees do on the radio side with the Mr. Magoo of radio, John Sterling---but it won't be the same without Harrelson ranting when things don't go in favor of the ChiSox.

MLB's YouTube channel offers a retrospective.



Yep, he gone.

Monday, September 24, 2018

A Classic Reborn: Magnum PI (2018)

The original Magnum, PI ran for 8 seasons, and made Tom Selleck an icon. The series had the task of succeeding the original Hawaii Five-O in representing the state in television lore.

Today, both shows are back. The current Five-0 begins its 9th season soon. The new Magnum PI (no comma) launched tonight, and if you believe the critics, it opens to a fair amount of indifference.

Where to start? Jay Hernandez ("Suicide Squad") is likable as Thomas Sullivan Magnum, and with the story updated, Magnum served in Afghanistan instead of Vietnam. However, there are anal types who do have an issue with Hernandez, a Latino, playing Magnum as much as they do with Higgins having been gender flipped into a woman, but still a former British Intelligence agent. There is the adversarial relationship between Magnum & Higgins, but she is willing to help when asked. I've a feeling there's another, more obvious reason for the gender flipping, a subplot that will play out over the course of the season, if possible.

As has been reported elsewhere, there will be a crossover with Five-0, and some characters will pop up, including in the opener. The series retains at least part of Mike Post & Peter Carpenter's iconic theme, but, expect more of a contemporary soundtrack, including 90's music from AC/DC and the Spice Girls, too.

The trailer includes some scenes from tonight's opener.



Given that co-creator Don Belisario is the man behind CBS' NCIS franchise, I'd not be surprised if there's a crossover in that direction, too.

Rating: A-.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Forgotten TV: Petrocelli (1974)

How many lawyers do you know who would drive a beaten, nearly dilapidated pickup truck?

The idea behind Petrocelli was as much about the title character (Barry Newman) being just a common guy when not in the courtroom arguing a case for his clients. Tony Petrocelli drove around in a weather-beaten pickup, rather than a well preserved, expensive car, breaking the stereotype that lawyers were usually well paid.

Petrocelli, surprisingly, was the first dramatic series from producers Thomas Miller & Edward Milkis (Me & The Chimp, Happy Days, etc.), and their first sale to NBC. Their other dramatic series, Sweepstakes, also went to NBC, but wasn't as successful.

Petrocelli ran for 2 seasons (1974-6), and was retroactively spun off from a 1970 feature film, "The Lawyer", where Newman first played Petrocelli. In between, a pilot, "Night Games" aired as an NBC TV-movie earlier in 1974.

The series has resurfaced on cable on & off over the years, including a run or two on TV Land.

It also marked the return to series television of Albert Salmi (ex-Daniel Boone), who this time stuck around for the full run.

Here's the intro:



Co-star Susan Howard would later resurface on Dallas, and the only other common link between the two shows was producer Leonard Katzman.

No rating.

Troy High soccer: wins and goals are missing

With five games left in the regular season, Troy High's women's soccer team is in worse shape than they were at this time a year ago. The Lady Horses have been shut out in four straight games, and five of their last six after getting blanked by Niskayuna on Saturday. Troy's lone win was also a shutout, as they beat Schenectady, 3-0, on September 13. At 1-10 overall (1-8 Suburban Council), coach Justin Haviland might be well advised to bypass the sectionals next month, as his team has had trouble cracking opposing defenses. It seems Schenectady might be the only team in the league worse than Troy, but, then.....!

On the men's side, coach Mike Murnane would like to just get a win. The Flying Horses dropped a 1-0 overtime decision at home to Niskayuna Saturday afternoon to drop to 0-7-2 on the season (0-5-2 in the league). Last year's leading scorer, Kevin Vargas, graduated in June, but Troy doesn't have anyone who's been able to step up to the plate and pick up the offensive slack. The once proud soccer program is on hard times, as even though pro soccer from Europe is readily available on cable television, kids today in the hometown don't seem too interested.

It's not helping, either, that the hometown paper isn't taking any chances on sending reporters to cover Troy sports of any kind, unwilling to further incur the wrath of district superintendent John Carmello, whose petty vendetta against the hometown paper has gotten to the point where there is no point. As long as Carmello is in office, it seems, the school's sports teams are not going to get the exposure they deserve, and it's his fault. He doesn't see it that way, and it's his loss.

For what it's worth, Troy's volleyball team has won 2 matches this season, but the match results are not consistently being sent to the press. The women's tennis team and the golf team are both winless. I don't think the Lady Horses have won a game yet on the court. I think, though uncertain, that the golf team has won just one meet in the four years they've been in the Suburban Council.

Thomas Paine once wrote, "these are the times that try men's souls", words that were immortalized musically by the Kingston Trio nearly 60 years ago ("M. T. A."). Truly, on Burdett Avenue, these are trying times, unless it's Friday night.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

What Might've Been: Target: The Corruptors (1961)

ABC thought they had a formidible primetime combo in 1961, pairing 77 Sunset Strip with a new entry from Four Star. Target: The Corruptors told the story of an investigative reporter (Stephen McNally), who sought to expose those who operated above the law.

Unfortunately, Target lasted one season. Why? The Twilight Zone provided some stiff competition. Enough said.

For now, we'll offer a sample episode, "Quicksand", with a pre-Big Valley Richard Long among the guest stars.



No rating.

In Theatres: The Minor League Mecca (2018)

While there is still some uncertainty over whether or not the Albany Patroons will return to the North American Premier Basketball League in 2019, a documentary chronicling the team's glory years made its premiere tonight at the Palace Theatre. The joint wasn't jam-packed. The event was a fund raiser for the Siena College athletic program and the YMCA & YWCA.

In the 80's, the Washington Avenue Armory was the place to be as Albany's first pro basketball team entered the Continental Basketball Association in 1982. Former NY Knick Dean Meminger was the first coach, but didn't finish the season. Team founder and president Jim Coyne, at the time also Albany County Executive, made a coaching change in midseason with the Patroons struggling, as any expansion team would. Coyne dismissed Meminger, and hired another former Knick.

Thus began the rise of the Zen Master, Phil Jackson. The Patroons made the playoffs, only to fall short vs. Puerto Rico, then won their first title the next year. Jackson left in 1986 for the NBA's Chicago Bulls, and, well, you know the rest of that story. The late Bill Musselman, whose Tampa Bay Thrillers ousted the Patroons and ended Jackson's CBA coaching career, took over in 1987, and took the Patroons back to the CBA title. Albany dominated in the regular season with a 48-6 record, and Musselman followed Jackson to the NBA, landing in Minnesota with the expansion Timberwolves.

George Karl had two tours of duty in Albany, and it's the second one in 1990, christening the then-Knickerbocker Arena (now Times-Union Center) with a 50-6 record (season expanded to 56 games with some expansion teams added, but falling short of a 3rd CBA title, that people still talk about today. Karl spent a year in Spain in between, then went to the NBA.

The fans erupted in cheers when Karl appeared on the screen, as well as a number of fan favorite players such as Lowes Moore, Mario Elie, and Derrick Rowland, who coached the most recent incarnation of the Patroons. There are some funny ancedotes mixed in.

However, the film ends with the fall of Coyne, and no mention of the fact that the team was sold, other than a passing glance at a headline. Coyne's political career came to a crashing end amid accusations of bribery in relation to the development of the downtown arena.

Unfortunately, there is no trailer to insert, nor classic game footage from those halcyon days of the 80's. You'll just have to take my word for it, at least until you buy the book, and wait for the film to be released on DVD, as it inevitably will.

Rating: A-.

Celebrity Rock: A Kiss at The End of The Rainbow (2016)

Actor-singer-songwriter Michael McKean (ex-Laverne & Shirley, Better Call Saul) co-wrote 2003's "A Kiss at The End of The Rainbow" with actress-wife Annette O'Toole (ex-Smallville) for pal Christopher Guest's "A Mighty Wind". Sung by SCTV alums Eugene Levy & Catherine O'Hara in the movie, "Rainbow" gets an acoustic workout, sung by O'Toole & McKean this time, on the online series, Employee of The Month.



McKean & Guest and Spinal Tap partner Harry Shearer (The Simpsons) appeared in the movie as The Folksmen. Methinks I need to see this movie.

Friday, September 21, 2018

High School Fridays: Hudson Falls @ Lansingburgh (football), 9/21/18

Lansingburgh High opened a 3-week homestand hoping to finally get into the win column against a tough Hudson Falls squad that entered play tonight at 2-1 on the season opposite the Knights' 0-3 ledger.

Unfortunately, it was another rough night for the Knights.

Hudson Falls, which apparently lacks a kicking game, never punted, opting to go for it on 4th down every time the situation came up. Their ball control offense, coupled with a suffocating defense that held Lansingburgh to -5 yards of total offense, frustrated the Knights to the point where, in the 4th quarter, Lansingburgh's Lewis Cepeda drove Hudson Falls' Conor Horrigan so far out of bounds that we nearly had a bench-clearing brawl with just over 5 1/2 minutes left in the game. Cepeda and an unnamed Hudson Falls player were ejected.

Earlier in the night, Riley Maddison gave the Tigers all the points they needed with a 10 yard touchdown run in the 2nd quarter. QB Caleb Condon, who didn't start, as coach Bill Strong used Maddison & Brennan Provost at QB on the first series, ran for a game high 150 yards and a 3rd quarter score. Maddison added the icing on the cake with another TD, and Hudson Falls defeated Lansingburgh, 20-0. The Knights are now 0-4, and will stay at home, welcoming Ravena for Homecoming next week. Hudson Falls goes to 3-1.
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Other stuff: Hudson Falls also bested Lansingburgh in boys' soccer, 3-2. 'Burgh's budget is such that they had to eliminate not only JV football, but also the school band and cheerleaders. That is an embarrassment to high school athletics in the city.

Speaking of which, LaSalle's losing streak is up to 3 with a loss to Averill Park. The Warriors are all alone in 1st place in the Class A Capital Division, after Columbia saw its 3-game winning streak snapped in a 38-0 loss to Schuylerville. Another Class B school takes down a Class A school. Whod'athunk? Meanwhile, Troy sent a loud message to the rest of the division by mauling Green Tech, 53-8, at Bleecker Stadium. Averill Park still has to play Columbia and Troy in the final three weeks of the regular season, the latter on Senior Night at Picken Field (October 12). Before that happens, Troy visits Ballston Spa next week before coming home for Homecoming against Columbia.

Musical Interlude: Secret Agent Man (1974)

For those of you who think Devo was a product of the late 70's punk rock-new wave era, think again.

Turns out the Akron, Ohio natives had been around for a few years before 1980's "Whip It" climbed the Hot 100 chart. In 1974, the band released "Secret Agent Man", which is not an exact cover of Johnny Rivers' #3 hit from 1965-6. Instead, some new lyrics were written, and the chorus only has a cosmetic adjustment. Also, Bob Mothersbaugh, rather than brother Mark, is the singer.



"Secret Agent Man" was rerecorded and reissued five years later with a quicker beat closer to the band's now-familiar sound.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

On Stage: Catastrophe Carnivale: An Evening of Beckett Shorts (2018)

The Troy Foundry Theatre opened its 2nd season tonight with the debut of Catastrophe Carnivale: An Evening of Beckett Shorts. Beckett being legendary playwright Samuel Beckett. The production is housed in the historic Gasholder Building in South Troy, and will continue through the end of the month.

Everyone attending the show received three tickets that would admit them into three of the five tents surrounding the main stage, each tent housing a smaller Beckett play, such as Play, Catastrophe, or Act Without Words. The centerpiece was Beckett's 1958 play, Krapp's Last Tape, a 1-man production with the Dean of Capital Region theatre, John Romeo, as Krapp, a 69 year old revisiting some 30 year old audio tapes. As Krapp pauses, the other plays begin.

Catastrophe, written in 1982, focuses on the manipulation of a young man by a Director and her Assistant. The burlap hood the man wears reminds one of the early 80's Broadway sensation, The Elephant Man, which later became a feature film starring John Hurt.

Play, a 1962 piece, deals with a man, his wife, and his mistress, each in an "urn" (garbage barrels were used here), rotating in speech, speaking at a rapid fire pace, not quite unintelligible.

Act Without Words I & II were performed in separate tents. Act Without Words II is not in silence, but rather with minimal sound, perhaps because it can't be helped in this case.

The atmosphere resembled the outdoor carnivals we all grew up with in our youth. Beckett's plays were given a great deal of care, with the surreality of, say for example, Rod Serling, and the creative genius of Orson Welles mixed in. The end result is a brilliant mix that holds the viewer spellbound through the course of the evening.

Here's a trailer, for those of you wishing to see it before the end of the month:



Rating: A.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Sports this 'n' that

Three days after it happened, they're still talking about a controversial call that cost the Green Bay Packers a win vs. Minnesota on Sunday. 

Edit, 8/2/21: The NFL has, in essence, all but privatized the video, so it can't be used here.

Like, seriously?

I get that the NFL and the team owners are concerned about bottom lines, particularly protecting the investment each team has in their starting quarterbacks. Ironically, one account I read the other day points to an injury to Packer QB/State Farm pitchman Aaron Rodgers last year as the impetus for rule changes designed to further protect the health of quarterbacks.

BOLLOCKS & BALDERDASH!!

As the above shows, Clay Matthews, Jr., Rodgers' partner in the State Farm ads last year, did what he was taught to do. Now, in 2018, it seems, the league has forgotten the very definition of what tackling the quarterback means.

You know that a certain diva in Foxborough will get the benefit of these kind of calls later in the season if the pea-brains in the league's New York office don't get their heads out of the sand and make emergency amendments. Former heads of officiating Dean Blandino and Mike Pereira, both now with Fox, declared that ref Tony Corrente's crew botched it. Minnesota ended up in a 29-29 draw with the Packers, which only muddies the waters in the NFC North.
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The Mets were officially eliminated from the post-season Monday, despite beating Philadelphia. The team has already gone past the point of waving the white flag well before this, but it was just a mere formality. As you already know, the Mets will move the Triple A team back to the International League next year, to Syracuse. The Mets are the new owners of the Chiefs, so that figures to be a long term arrangement.

The Las Vegas 51's, meanwhile, will be the top farm team of the Oakland A's next season. On the other hand, the Washington Nationals, instead of keeping their Triple A team in the IL, will move it to the Pacific Coast League, as they've decided on an agreement with the Fresno Grizzlies. So now it'll be the Nationals who'll have the cross-country call-ups. You'd think they'd learn from what the Mets went through with Las Vegas.
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Troy High's women's soccer team couldn't stand the prosperity of winning.

Coach Justin Haviland's club has been shut out in back-to-back games since beating Schenectady, 3-0, last Thursday. Fittingly, it was by the same score that they lost to Averill Park on Saturday and, last night, in a non-league game vs. Catholic Central, which leaves the Lady Horses 1-8 overall on the season (1-6 in the Suburban Council). The boys, meanwhile, are still looking for their first win after getting swept in a weekend road trip to Oneonta, dropping a 6-0 decision to Island Trees on Sunday.
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The Troy Fighting Irish's season ended Saturday with a 30-13 loss to Syracuse, the only team in the Northeastern Football Alliance to beat the Irish this season. Troy finishes the season 9-3. Unfortunately, they've been ignored by the local press throughout the season, save for a season-opening puff piece from El Cheapo Media, which otherwise couldn't be bothered to send a reporter to cover home games. Any chance they had of adding fans for a 1st round playoff win over Auburn evaporated, as previously noted, when the Tri-City Valleycats made the NY-Penn League championship series, and subsequently beat Hudson Valley to win their 3rd league title.

What needs to be done next year is for El Cheapo and the rest of the local press to at least make an honest effort to give semi-pro football some ink. Sure, it ain't like it was in the 70's, when you had the Metro Mallers at the peak of their powers and the Troy Uncle Sams, but doing more than just a preview would be a good start.

Classic TV: The Movie Loft (1980's)

Here in the hometown, we were blessed with cable television in the 70's. (W)WOR, WPIX, & WNEW (now WNYW) in New York, & WSBK in Boston gave viewers extra programming options, so it wasn't uncommon to find the parents watching movies either before dinner or in the early evening, if there wasn't sports or any network programming that caught their fancy (i.e. Little House on The Prairie, All in The Family, etc.).

In the 80's, WSBK, at the time the broadcast home to the Boston Red Sox & Bruins, came up with a novel idea for their evening movie.

The Movie Loft aired as much as 6 nights a week, sometimes 7. Long time station announcer Dana Hersey served as host, and during commercial breaks would offer some factoids about the film and/or its stars and creative personnel, as well as some interviews, which would stretch the film's broadcast time to up to three hours if needed. Movie Loft was cancelled after Hersey left WSBK to work for, if memory serves, American Movie Classics (now simply AMC). The only pre-emptions that I can recall were for Bruins or Red Sox games during the seasons.

Thus, the Loft was a regional forerunner to the current Turner Classic Movies, whose hosts introduce each film, but unlike Hersey do not turn up mid-film, as TCM runs their films commercial free.

From December 1983, right before Christmas, here's an opening prefacing the screening of "The Greatest Story Ever Told":



Rating for The Movie Loft: A.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Weasel of The Week: Donald Trump, Jr.

The apple doesn't fall far from the tree in the Trump family.

Donald Trump, Jr., 40, like his father, the President, has this annoying tendency to lie via Twitter to push his dad's agenda against "fake news" (i.e. CNN).

Unfortunately, this time, it was time to push back.

What this week's Weasel did was post a 10 year old picture of CNN's Anderson Cooper covering Hurricane Ike in Texas, and try to pass it off as Cooper in North Carolina this past weekend, covering Hurricane Florence, dismissing Cooper's reporting as, of course, "fake news". This time, though, Trump, Jr., also earning a Dunce Cap for his stupidity, tripped himself up, as Cooper explains in the following video from last night's AC360 broadcast:



Cooper pointed out that the cameraman on site in Texas had passed away a year ago, so it'd be impossible for him to be in North Carolina with Cooper covering Florence.

About the only smart thing Donald Trump, Jr. has done in the last 10 years was avoid getting embarrassed on national television in concert with his father, who subbed in actor Darrell Hammond (Saturday Night Live) for his son to do an Oreo commercial with NFL QB's Peyton & Eli Manning.

Maybe President Trump should leave one of his Bibles with Junior to see if he learns anything.......

Monday, September 17, 2018

A Classic Reborn (?): Gambit (1990)

In 1980, Merrill Heatter & Bob Quigley revived Gambit, but 1) moved the show to Las Vegas (where Hollywood Squares was also being taped) and 2) changed networks to NBC, to replace David Letterman's daytime talk show. Las Vegas Gambit lasted barely over a year before being cancelled.

Undaunted, and with Quigley retired after the failed Vegas experiment, Heatter decided to try Gambit again in 1990. However, there were more cosmetic changes this time around. For one, Bob Eubanks (ex-The Newlywed Game, Card Sharks, et al) stepped in for his friend, original Gambit host Wink Martindale. That was the first mistake. The second was that instead of couples playing the game, as was the case in the CBS & NBC series, this Gambit had individual contestants playing the game, but the questions were lamer than ever.

Scope the pilot.



Martindale had been brought back by Heatter three years earlier to helm the revival of High Rollers, since Alex Trebek was busy with Jeopardy!. Why Martindale wasn't brought back this time, I don't know, but I think he may have been working on another project at the time of this Gambit pilot.

Fortunately, Heatter didn't give up, but a few years ago, he decided to retire the Gambit name in selling the Gambit-inspired Catch 21 to GSN.

Rating: C.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

A Classic Reborn (?): You Bet Your Life (1988)

We've previously referenced the revivals of You Bet Your Life that hit the air, with Buddy Hackett and Bill Cosby. In between them, however, was an unsold pilot that NBC passed on in 1988. Oh, did they ever screw up, or what?

It'd been a couple of years since Richard Dawson had ended his first run on Family Feud, and someone figured he'd be the perfect candidate to try to bring You Bet Your Life back. As you'll see in the video, Dawson even admits he's not thrilled with his name above the show's title on the marquee.

The game play changes in the second round, as the two couples who had been out separately are brought together to play against each other, which wasn't done in the Groucho Marx or Buddy Hackett versions, and I don't think Cosby tried this angle, either.

Scope.



As we all know, Dawson would eventually return to Family Feud a few years later.

Rating: A.

High school this 'n' that

Troy High's volleyball team snapped a four match losing streak Thursday in beating Schenectady in straight sets. That brings the Flying Horses' record to 1-4 in the Suburban Council, and 2-4 overall.  Meanwhile, in soccer, the Lady Horses finally broke into the win column with a 3-0 verdict over Schenectady at Picken Field. Abby Burns, daughter of football coach Bob Burns, had two goals to lead Troy.

Unfortunately, the boys' soccer team is still looking for their first win, as they played to a 3-3 draw at Schenectady on Thursday afternoon, then dropped a 5-2 decision to West Hill in Oneonta on Saturday. They finish a weekend trip in Oneonta this morning against Island Trees before returning to league action on Tuesday.

The Troy boys are now 0-5-1 overall (0-4-1 Suburban Council), while the girls are at 1-6 overall (1-5 league), not including yesterday's home match vs. Averill Park.
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Just when you thought things couldn't get worse for Lansingburgh after losing their home opener, the Knights remain winless through three weeks after falling, 38-8, to Hudson. Lansingburgh has given up an average of 45 points a game in the three losses. As previously documented, the Knights are fielding mostly underclassmen this season, and don't have a JV program. Lansingburgh returns home to open a three game homestand vs. Hudson Falls on Friday, but it doesn't look like the on-the-job training for these young Knights will get them to the winner's circle.

In contrast, Schalmont, which blasted Ichabod Crane, 63-14, is averaging just over 45 points scored per game after two blowouts in a row.

And what does that say about Troy High's defense, as they only allowed 14 points to Schalmont on opening night, 14 to Amsterdam, and 18 to LaSalle? They're allowing an average of just over 15 points a game. They'll play Green Tech next, and the Eagles are in last place in the Class A Capital division. While Averill Park fattened up on Green Tech, I don't see that happening against Troy when the two teams meet at Picken Field on October 12. Same goes for Columbia on October 5, as Troy's defense, even though it has been porous against the run, could slow down the Blue Devils & Warriors. Just sayin'.
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Former Troy star Dev Holmes added to his personal highlight reel in his first home game for UAlbany on Saturday. Vincent Testaverde, Jr., son of the former NFL QB (Jets, Tampa Bay, Dallas, Cleveland), connected with Holmes on an 88 yard scoring play to clinch the Great Danes' 1st win of the season over Morgan State. Testaverde finished with 4 interceptions, but won the game when it counted.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

On DVD: The Sandlot (1993)

The Tri-City Valleycats & Rensselaer County hosted a community movie night tonight at Bruno Stadium, the next-to-last event at the venue this year. There'll be a dog walk coming up soon to end the season.

Anyway, the feature attraction was 1993's "The Sandlot", a coming-of-age comedy-drama populated mostly with a group of unknown young actors. Writer-director David Mickey Evans also serves as narrator as the adult version of Scott Smalls, the newcomer to a neighborhood whose youth play an ongoing game of baseball during the summer.

The gang's somewhere between Our Gang and The Bad News Bears (the 70's version), but without female members. Scott has arrived in town with his mother (Karen Allen, "Raiders of The Lost Ark") & stepfather (Denis Leary, in one of his first movie roles). The core of the story centers on "The Beast", a ginormous English mastiff which captures baseballs, among other things, and when Scott makes a mistake involving his stepfather's prized autographed baseball, one signed by a certain Yankee legend.....!

Here's the trailer:



I could honestly do without the gross-out humor in the middle of the film, but it was a popular trope by the 90's. There were two DTV sequels, in 2005 & 2007, respectively, and Evans returned only for the first of those sequels. The Valleycats devoted a night earlier this summer to the film as it marked its 25th anniversary, and used clips for the rest of the season.

Rating: B+.

Friday, September 14, 2018

High School Fridays: LaSalle @ Troy (football), 9/14/18

While it wasn't spoken publicly, one goal the administration at LaSalle had in mind when they hired former Union College coach John Audino six months ago had to be to reclaim the Collar City Cup from Troy High.

Easier said than done, of course.

Troy opened the season losing to Schalmont from Class B, snapping a 26 game losing streak.

Troy's response?

They collected a nearly 3 year old receipt on Amsterdam, 25-14, and started a new streak.

One thing was certain heading into Troy's home opener. This wasn't going to be a one-sided affair like it was the last two years. The Cadets, as far as those returning from last season were concerned, especially QB Christian Luizzi, had revenge on their minds. Luizzi's season ended with a broken leg last year at Sutton Field in a 55-7 loss, and so he was the one most hungry for revenge.

LaSalle won the opening coin toss, electing to defer to the second half. Bad idea.

On the first play from scrimmage, sophomore tailback Xavier Leigh went the distance, and just 26 seconds into the game, Troy was up, 7-0, after an extra point by Max Ellis.

Later in the first quarter, coach Bob Burns reached into his bag of tricks, and Leigh, on the halfback option, found a wide open Makai Cruel for a 58 yard scoring play. It was 14-0 after the quarter.

In the second quarter, Luizzi put LaSalle on the board, punching it in himself from 2 yards out. However, Jake Carberg's extra point sailed wide left, after he'd gone wide right on a field goal try in the first quarter, and it was 14-6 at the break.

LaSalle's defense shut down Leigh and the Troy running game the rest of the night, allowing mostly minimal gains. In the third quarter, Luizzi scored again, but Carberg missed the extra point again, leaving the score at 14-12. Those failed PAT's would haunt Audino and the Cadets the rest of the night. Keyshawn McMorris gave Troy some breathing room in the fourth quarter with a long touchdown run, but Ellis missed the extra point, giving Troy an 8 point lead at 20-12.

Back came LaSalle. Luizzi hit James Palmer with a touchdown pass, but guess what? Luizzi's 2-point conversion attempt went nowhere, and it was a 2 point game again at 20-18. The Cadets had one last chance after blocking an Ellis punt with just over 90 seconds left. However, the Cadet defense couldn't hang on to the ball, and Troy recovered. Wolfe took a knee three times to run out the clock, and Troy retains the Collar City Cup, 20-18. It wasn't pretty, but it was competitive.

Next for Troy is a trip to historic Bleecker Stadium in Albany next week to play Green Tech, which occupies the basement in the Class A Capital Division after getting hammered, 42-0, by Averill Park. The Warriors share first place with surprising Columbia, which mauled Amsterdam, 55-17.

It's not going to be easy this year. No one ever said it would be.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Musical Interlude: Whisper to a Scream (Birds Fly)(1984)

The Icicle Works had just 1 hit in the US, and it was a doozy. "Whisper to a Scream (Birds Fly)" charted in 1984. The band has broken up twice, but the current incarnation, including singer Ian McNabb, is working the nostalgia circuit these days.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

On The Air: The Talk (2010)

Earlier this week, CBS' The Talk began its 9th season without co-hostess Julie Chen (Big Brother), who has taken a leave of absence from the show in the wake of her husband, Leslie Moonves' resignation last weekend as head of the network, the latest high profile figure caught in the web of sexual harassment in the workplace.

The Talk was launched as the CBS answer to ABC's long running The View, which, locally, anyway, gets a three hour headstart on its competitor. Sharon Osbourne (ex-The Osbournes, America's Got Talent), no stranger to talk shows, having done one herself a few years back, appears to be the de facto moderator, and a succession of guests have filled Chen's chair this week, including shampoo salesperson Sofia Vergara (Modern Family) and Jodie Sweetin (Fuller House). The revolving door isn't new to The Talk any more than it has to The View, which is in its 22nd season.

Both shows however, owe their existence to earlier gab-fests such as Not For Women Only, which was the first talk show for View creator Barbara Walters, and Virginia Graham's Girl Talk, both of which date back to the 60's. Same goes for the syndicated The Real, which copies the format of its network contemporaries.

Actress-co-host Sara Gilbert (Roseanne and its forthcoming follow-up, The Conners) was elevated to executive producer status not long ago, and will probably have an even bigger voice in the proceedings going forward.

The following clip covers current events:



Seems CBS is unwilling to disclose any information that would actually strengthen Moonves' case, as he has denied many of the allegations brought before him. I would think network sponsors and shareholders might have something to say in that regard, too, in due course.

Rating: B.

Sports this 'n' that

So the Jets beat Detroit on Monday. Sam Darnold threw a Pick-6 (interception returned for a TD) on his first regular season pass as a pro, then came back and had a big game after all.

His opposite number, Detroit's Matthew Stafford, can relate. Not long ago, after getting a contract extension, Stafford also threw a Pick-6 on his first pass of the season, but that day, the Lions recovered and won the game. This time, Stafford was intercepted four times, one was for a Pick-6 by Darron Lee, and the Jets had five picks overall in a 48-17 rout.

On Sunday, the Jets play Miami. Only one of these teams will be tied with New England atop the AFC East after the game, unless New England drops their road opener to a Jacksonville team hungering for revenge after losing the AFC title game.
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The threat of Hurricane Florence has already forced postponement of three NCAA football games set for Saturday in North Carolina. Wake Forest has a Thursday game this week, and the start time has been moved up two hours to 5:30 pm (ET).

We'll see if they actually play, depending on any changes in the forecast.
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Took a peek at LaSalle's hockey schedule for this season. Turns out Albany Academy has rejoined the Capital District High School Hockey League (CDHSHL), and their website says they'll also play in the New England Prep School Athletic Association (NEPSAC). Whether it's one team or two, I don't know. Academy hasn't played in the CDHSHL in several years, but apparently, coach Dave Rider, fresh off back-to-back baseball titles with Academy, may have been persuaded to convince the school's board of trustees and athletic director to give the league another shot. The Battle of the Cadets will take to the ice in a home-&-home series, just like in baseball.

Given the success LaSalle had with Cadets For Vets last season, you think maybe Albany Academy wants a piece of that action? Stay tuned.
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Troy High's volleyball team is on a losing streak after being swept in straight sets by Ballston Spa on Monday. After a non-league win over Catholic Central to start the season, Troy volleyball has dropped four in a row. Well, at least they've won one match, which is more than the golf, tennis, & soccer teams can say combined.

The Troy women's soccer team opened a four game homestand by getting blanked by Shenendehowa, 7-0. The school website hasn't updated their season's stats in a week. Hmmmm, that's a problem. The boys, at least, tallied a goal in losing to the Plainsmen, 6-1, to fall to 0-4. They're in the middle of a five game road trip that sees them going outside Section 2 on Friday & Saturday. I recommend checking capitalregionsoccer.com for updates, because there ain't gonna be any in El Cheapo Press or any local paper. We think.

Troy's football team will finally have their home opener Friday vs. LaSalle. This will be more of a competitive game than the last two years. As a realist, I honestly believe that. We'll see at the end of business on Friday.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

What Might've Been: Arrest & Trial (1963)

Sunday wasn't always movie night on ABC, though many of us grew up with The ABC Sunday Night Movie.

In 1963, ABC had a 90 minute crime drama, Arrest & Trial, airing from 8:30-10 pm (ET) on Sundays. A procedural drama in more ways than one, Arrest combined the courtroom drama of Perry Mason with the by-the-book investigations of Dragnet.

The first half of the show chronicled the cases leading up to the arrest, with Ben Gazzara (later of Run For Your Life) as the lead detective. The second half was the trial, with Chuck Connors (ex-The Rifleman) as defense attorney John Egan. John Larch, a former radio star, was the district attorney. Larch's resume included guest appearances on Naked City, The Fugitive, and, post-Arrest, The Invaders. The ensemble also included Don Galloway (pre-Ironside) and Joe Higgins, better known for his later work in commercials for Dodge as a sheriff, which Higgins later parlayed into a gig on Hee Haw.

So why did Arrest & Trial fail? The Rifleman had, I believe, gone into syndication in 1963, and viewers still saw Connors as Lucas McCain, not yet ready to accept him in a more contemporary role. He'd have made a great Perry Mason in a remake of that series, had 20th Century Fox not chosen Monte Markham for the role.

More than 35 years after Arrest ended, Universal revived the title, and entrusted it to producer Dick Wolf (Law & Order, Chicago Fire, etc.), who opted to develop a fact-based half hour documentary series, since he had already co-opted the original Arrest format for Law & Order. The revamped Arrest, with Brian Dennehy as host, also ran for 1 season.

Speaking of producers, Arthur H. Nadel had worked with Connors on The Rifleman, and later found work at Filmation on their family of live-action adventure shows in the 70's.

Let's take a look at a sample episode. (Edit, 12/6/18: Had to change the video.)



Connors would land two more series in the 60's, Branded & Cowboy in Africa. Branded lasted two seasons. Cowboy lasted just one. After that, Connors hosted Thrill Seekers, bringing him back to Four Star, the home of The Rifleman, before his final primetime series, Werewolf. Branded, in fact, was the only one of this group to go beyond one season. Can't see why no one else saw him as a lawyer or DA.

Rating: A.

17 years ago today......

I think everyone remembers where they were 17 years ago today, in 2001. Terrorists hijacked planes and crashed them into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center. Everything stopped. The World Wrestling Federation, now WWE, postponed their taping of Smackdown, which now airs live every Tuesday, and will do so for another year before changing networks (from USA to Fox) and nights (Tuesdays to Fridays) next year. Major League Baseball shut down for a few days.

10 days later, the Mets & Atlanta Braves opened a series at Shea Stadium, a game that served as a catharsis for the people of New York. I remember sitting at home that night, watching the game. Howie Rose, Fran Healy, and the late Ralph Kiner are on the call...



Today, Rose is the radio play-by-play voice of the Mets. MLB won't allow the team to wear any caps representing the city's first responders, police, fire department, or Port Authority in games now. Some sort of corporate jibba-jabba. Their loss.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Sports this 'n' that

The Tri-City Valleycats won their 3rd NY-Penn League title Sunday night, completing a two game sweep of the Hudson Valley Renegades with a 4-2 victory in 12 innings. In contrast to the slogs we often see in the majors, the 'Cats & Renegades played those twelve innings in a little more than 3 1/2 hours. It took about that long at Bruno Stadium on Saturday for a nine inning game. Go figure.

Tri-City manager Jason Bell, thus, duplicated the feat of Ed Romero, who, like Bell, took the 'Cats to the promised land in just his first season. Romero stuck around for two more division titles after that before leaving the Astros organization. Will Bell return next year? Or will Houston move him up the ladder? We'll find out soon enough. Congratulations to the 'Cats.
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The Mets erred on the side of caution Sunday by holding back ace pitcher Jacob deGrom from pitching in the rain against Philadelphia. The Mets won the game with what amounted to "bullpen day", a pitching trend that started earlier this year in Tampa Bay. Ex-Valleycat Vince Velasquez couldn't hold the lead his offense gave him, and was tagged with the loss in a 6-4 Mets win. DeGrom, considered by many a candidate for the Cy Young Award despite an 8-8 record, goes tonight--weather permitting--vs. Miami.
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Troy's other summer sports team, the Fighting Irish, advanced in the Northeastern Football Alliance playoffs, beating Auburn for the 3rd time on Saturday night at Lansingburgh High. That's the good news. The bad? The Irish have to return to Syracuse to play the top seeded Strong, who've inflicted the only losses on Troy this season, this weekend. Bad enough that they have a small, devoted following, and that the local press ignores semi-pro football these days, but if they had any hope of increasing attendance, it evaporated thanks to the Valleycats.
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The NY Giants welcomed back former head coach Tom Coughlin on Sunday. Coughlin is now in the front office of the Jacksonville Jaguars, who beat Big Blue, 20-15. Meanwhile, the Evil Empire (New England, of course) opened their season by beating Houston. Buffalo opted to start inconsistent second year quarterback Nathan Peterman vs. Baltimore, and got blown out of the yard. On the night his latest State Farm ad premiered, Aaron Rodgers drew comparisons to basketball legend Willis Reed by returning from a leg injury in the second half to lead Green Bay past Chicago, 24-23. While everyone assumes New Orleans would win the NFC South, Tampa Bay made a statement of their own in upsetting the Saints. As my brother opined in reading the score, defense took a day off in that game.
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Two weeks into the high school football season, and we can already see how some teams are treating opponents like Little Sisters of The Poor. Shaker, for example, eager to be top dogs in Class AA again now that Troy is in Class A, has rung up 131 points (average: 65.5 per game) while allowing just 14. Schalmont, after blowing away Lansingburgh on Friday, have averaged 37 points a game in their two wins.

Meanwhile, over in Class A, parity seems to be the order of the day, as Troy, LaSalle, Amsterdam, & Columbia, among others, are all 1-1 after 2 weeks. Troy plays LaSalle on Friday, and will get Columbia three weeks later.

Sadly, it seems El Cheapo Media is not taking any chances, and didn't send anyone to cover either of Troy's first two games. They're focusing instead on LaSalle. Troy school superintendent John Carmello's vendetta against El Cheapo, dating back 18 months now, is to blame. Just as El Cheapo has the #3 paper in the home market, Troy High, thanks to Carmello's actions, is now the low priority for El Cheapo. Shouldn't be that way, but it is. We just have to hope things change, and soon.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

What Might've Been: The New Adventures of Charlie Chan (1957)

Earl Derr Biggers' seminal sleuth, Charlie Chan, was adapted for television for the first time in 1957 in a syndicated series that began production here in the US, but finished in England, as it was produced by ITC.

Continuing what had been a tradition of not casting Asian actors to play Chan, J. Carrol Naish (ex-Life With Luigi) was cast in the lead role of The New Adventures of Charlie Chan. Occasionally, Chan would be aided by son Barry (James Hong), who does not figure into the episode, "The Lost Face":



Naish was not convincing at all as Chan, which would explain why the series lasted just one season. 15 years later, Chan would return, this time in an animated series in which Keye Luke, who played son Lee in the Warner Oland film series, voiced Chan. The Amazing Chan & The Chan Clan had one season's worth of episodes that cycled through two years. A TV-movie with Ross Martin (ex-Wild, Wild West), "Happiness is a Warm Clue", and the feature film, "Charlie Chan & The Curse of The Dragon Queen", with Peter Ustinov, represent the last live-action attempts to adapt the character.

Rating: B-.

Forgotten TV: Amy Prentiss (1974)

In the 1974 season, ABC & NBC sought to break the stereotype that a police drama with a female lead couldn't work. NBC spun Police Woman off from Police Story, and it was a hit. ABC went one step further, gambling that an African-American lead (Theresa Graves, ex-Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In) could pull in the viewers with Get Christie Love!. Viewers had other ideas, and sent Love packing.

The same fate would befall another NBC series, Amy Prentiss, a component of the Mystery Movie wheel, as it was cancelled after just three episodes. The network had hoped that the combination of Prentiss riding the wave of momentum generated by Police Woman, coupled with its own pedigree, spun off from Ironside, would create another hit.

Golden Globe winner Jessica Walter ("Play Misty For Me") headlined as Prentiss, newly appointed as a police chief in San Francisco. Walter, despite the series being cancelled just two months after its premiere (it bowed on December 1, nearly three full months after Police Woman), earned an Emmy award for her work as Prentiss. Art Metrano (ex-The Chicago Teddy Bears) played her partner.

The opener, "Baptism of Fire", combines a pair of tropes common to crime dramas. Prentiss tries to clear an old friend accused of murder, while a mad bomber (Mills Watson) terrorizes the city after being laid off his job. William Shatner and Peter Haskell also guest star.

Edit, 2/4/19: The video previously posted has been deleted. All we have now is this sample:



It had been nine years since Walter & Shatner had previously worked together (For The People). Detective Parkins (Shatner) comes off being a little like a certain starship captain that made Shatner an icon a few years earlier. Jessica Walter would reunite with Art Metrano for one episode when she guest starred on Joanie Loves Chachi a few years later. Today, she can be heard on the FX animated series, Archer.

Rating: B.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Classic TV: T. J. Hooker (1982)

The success of the first Star Trek feature film made William Shatner a valuable commodity in Hollywood again, that is, a valuable leading man, after making a zillion guest appearances here, there, & everywhere, post-Trek.

Enter Aaron Spelling. The veteran producer cast Shatner in the lead of T. J. Hooker, which premiered on ABC as a mid-season replacement in 1982, and, in all, ran for five seasons, the last on CBS when ABC decided to drop the show.

Thomas Jefferson ("T. J. ") Hooker (Shatner) is a divorced police sergeant tasked with training a pair of rookie officers, one of whom, as of the second season, is the daughter of his commanding officer. For Shatner, this more than made up for the failure of his last series for ABC, The Barbary Coast, back in 1975. After CBS dismissed Hooker, they signed Shatner to serve as host for Rescue 911, which also had a healthy run.

Following is an intro from after James Darren (ex-The Time Tunnel) joined the show:



Standard police drama. Nothing special.

Rating: B.

Friday, September 7, 2018

High School Fridays: Schalmont @ Lansingburgh (football), 9/7/18

We are expanding our scope of high school coverage even further in the new season, as tonight's action takes us to Lansingburgh High for the Knights' home opener vs. Schalmont. The Sabres are coming off a 14-6 upset of Troy last week, while Lansingburgh fell to Amsterdam, 37-14.

Tonight was a different story for both sides. The Sabres' first team offense, led by QB Shane O'Dell, seemingly scored at will against a Knights defense made up mostly of underclassmen. That defense forced Knights QB Anthony Thompson into four first-half interceptions, three of them on deflections. A fifth pick led to a touchdown that was called back by a penalty. In all, Schalmont led, 39-7, at halftime, and it could've been worse, as four TD's in all were called back by penalty flags.

With just 12 seniors on their 44 man roster, Lansingburgh has the same problem that Troy has, except theirs is even worse. The Knights are not fielding a junior varsity team this year due to declining interest, and they don't have any varsity cheerleaders, at least for right now. The Knights' lone first half touchdown came from a 45 yard scamper by freshman tailback Alonzo Barrett. The Lansingburgh offense came to life in the second half, but it was too little, too late, as Schalmont improves to 2-0 with a 60-21 win. Lansingburgh drops to 0-2. Like Troy, the Knights dropped down in class this season, from Class A to Class B, but may be worse for it going forward.
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Speaking of Troy, the Flying Horses got back on the winning track tonight, besting Amsterdam, 25-14, and what did the trick for Coach Bob Burns was a change of quarterbacks from Michael Fazio to Alex Wolfe. Senior receiver Hunter Redden, who missed most of last season due to injury, scored his first touchdown of the season on a pass from Wolfe, who led the Horses back from a 14-0 deficit. Both the Rams & Flying Horses are 1-1 on the season, and the win comes at a perfect time for Troy, as they'll play host to LaSalle next week with the Collar City Cup on the line.

Celebrity Rock: Could it be Magic (1980)

After Wonder Woman ended its run in 1979, star Lynda Carter gravitated back to her musical roots, and CBS gifted her with a series of specials, starting in 1980.

Here, from her 2nd musical special, "Encore", Carter performs a cover of Barry Manilow's "Could it be Magic":



The YouTube poster got the title wrong. Ehh, it happens. Word is that Carter will return to Supergirl in the new season, starting next month, reprising her role as the President.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

What Might've Been: B. L. Stryker (1989)

By the 80's, the anthology "wheel" format had died a slow death. In the early part of 1989, ABC & Universal decided to revive the concept with the ABC Mystery Movie. The network had acquired a pair of existing Universal properties, Kojak & Columbo, and came up with three new series: Gideon Oliver, Christine Cromwell, & B. L. Stryker.

We'll look at the other newbies another day, but today, we're focusing on B. L. Stryker, which brought Burt Reynolds back to ABC for the first time since Dan August had been cancelled in 1971. Reynolds doubled as a co-executive producer with Tom Selleck (Magnum, P. I.), and directed a handful of episodes. Co-star Ossie Davis would also appear with Reynolds on his CBS sitcom, Evening Shade. Grand slam award (Emmy, Oscar, Tony, Grammy) winner Rita Moreno (ex-The Electric Company, The Rockford Files) played Stryker's ex-wife. You might not recognize him, but Alfie Wise, who played Stryker's landlord, if you will, was known to kids in the 70's as Charles Nelson Reilly's sidekick on Uncle Croc's Block, also for ABC.

Moreno figures heavily in the plot to this 2nd season entry, "High Rise", with Ricardo Montalban (ex-Fantasy Island) as the villain.



I had interest in watching this when it first came out, but then my attention was diverted elsewhere (i.e. MTV). As with Dan August & Hawk, Reynolds struck out after 2 short seasons, totaling 12 films.

We'll forego a rating in memory of Reynolds, who passed away at 82.

NFL 2018 preview

As the season starts tonight, here's a thumbnail on all 8 divisions. Your actual mileage may vary.

AFC East:

1. New England. Until Tom Brady finally decides to retire and/or Bill Belichick does the same, the division will always be the Patriots' to lose.

2. Jets. First round draft pick Sam Darnold is being asked to not only get Gang Green back to the playoffs, but save Todd "Pro" Bowles' job at the same time.

3. Buffalo. Wild card last year, back to an also ran this year. They let Tyrod Taylor walk (Cleveland), then stupidly gave up on AJ McCarron (now Derek Carr's backup in Oakland). Josh Allen is not ready for primetime.

4. Miami. They traded their best running back, Jay Ajayi, to Philadelphia, and he wins a Super Bowl.  Don Shula would never have approved.

AFC North:

1. Pittsburgh. LeVeon Bell doesn't want to play, listening to his leeches instead. Martavis Bryant chose to chase the money and go to Oakland, but he's likely suspended again. The Steelers still have plenty of weapons.

2. Baltimore. Their defense will carry them as far as they can, but Joe Flacco, in his 11th season, may be showing signs of wear.

3. Cincinnati. All Marvin Lewis needs to do is find someone to instill discipline in his defense when they're off the field. Offensively, they're fine.

4. Cleveland. At least they'll win some games this year, but color Hue Jackson gone if they don't get out of the cellar (and they won't). Last year's QB, DeShone Kizer, is suddenly an afterthought after the Brown-outs drafted Baker Mayfield (Oklahoma) and picked up Tyrod Taylor from Buffalo.

AFC South:

1. Houston. Hopefully, DeShaun Watson can last the season. Unfortunately, the Texans have to play the Evil Empire (Patriots) first. In Foxborough.

2. Tennessee. Time for the Titans to rise again.

3. Jacksonville. The Jaguars won't sneak up on anyone this time.

4. Indianapolis. Andrew Luck is trying to make a comeback. Emphasize trying.

AFC West:

1. Oakland. Jon Gruden's back, and will probably have an order of Corona on call if/when the Raiders win the division.

2. Kansas City. Andy Reid let Alex Smith go (Washington), putting his trust in second year QB Patrick Mahomes II. Not a good idea.

3. Denver. They've given up on Paxton Lynch already. John Elway should've traded for Baker Mayfield, but didn't, and now he'll regret it.

4. Los Angeles. The Chargers had to bring back Antonio Gates this week due to injuries. That says a lot about the team in 2018, doesn't it?

NFC East:

1. Philadelphia. The defending champs are the Beasts of the East. And Carson Wentz isn't ready to return yet.

2. Giants. Saquon Barkley, the 1st round pick out of Penn State, can help the running game, and can catch passes out of the backfield to take some pressure off shampoo salesman Odell Beckham, Jr., but this may be the last ride for Eli Manning.

2. (tie) Dallas. What was Jerry Jones thinking, letting Dez Bryant walk? They'll be lucky to get a Wild Card, if at all.

4. Washington. Swapping out Kirk Cousins (Minnesota) for Alex Smith (Kansas City) ain't my idea of improving the team. Napoleon Snyder should be showing Donald Trump how to run the country.

NFC North:

1. Minnesota. If Dalvin Cook can stay healthy, the 2nd year RB from Florida State can help Cousins finally reach the playoffs.

2. Green Bay. They need to have Aaron Rodgers & Clay Matthews, Jr. focus on the games, not on their comedy act for State Farm.

3. Chicago. Mitch Trubisky, in his second year, has to overcome the roadblock in front of him. No, not on the field. In the standings.

4. Detroit. Meh.

NFC South:

1. New Orleans. Drew Brees has one last playoff run in him, and this is it.

2. Atlanta. The Falcons want to atone for their Super Bowl blunder of a couple of years ago. They'll contend for a Wild Card, but not much else.

3. Carolina.
4. Tampa Bay. The two are interchangeable.

NFC West:

1. Los Angeles. A new dynasty was born in Southern California last year.

2. Arizona. Sam Bradford succeeds the retired Carson Palmer at QB. They just rewarded RB David Johnson with a contract extension. A wild card awaits.

3. San Francisco. Richard Sherman leaves the Legion of Boom in Seattle. That's the good news for Niners fans. The bad? They're still not making the playoffs.

4. Seattle. The mighty have fallen.

Wild cards:

AFC: Jets, Kansas City.
NFC: Giants, Green Bay.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Is this the secret to longevity? (1977)

Dannon yogurt's ads from the late 70's clearly state that the product doesn't directly lead to a long life, but it certainly helps.

This ad was one of the first American entries filmed in the then-Soviet Union.



Bear in mind, this was well before Willard Scott began announcing birthdays of people who hit the century mark on The Today Show.

Sports this 'n' that

The NFL season officially begins tomorrow when the Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles host the Atlanta Falcons.

However, the real drama remains off the field. Players are still looking to make statements regarding racial/social injustice, but continuing to use the football field as a platform won't sit very well with President Manchild (Donald Trump), who, nearly two years into his term, still doesn't understand that the White House is not a board room, and as President, he has to treat everyone equally as citizens of this country, not employees.

Here's an idea. Save the protests for off the field. The players can get themselves booked for speaking engagements to address the issue. Being on the networks that serve as the league's media partners (i.e. ESPN/ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox) won't be enough. Forget about ESPN, for that matter. Let's put Richard Sherman, now with San Francisco, on CBS' Face The Nation. Let's have the man who started this thing, Colin Kaepernick, appear on Meet The Press.

Eliminate the on-field protests, which, thanks to President Manchild, has inflamed fans enough such that ratings have gone down the last two seasons, and, contrary to a Yahoo! article circulating today, really has little or nothing to do with ex-QB-turned-insurance salesman Peyton Manning, and then, the ratings go up, and fans will return. Simple as that.
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The Tri-City Valleycats return to the NY-Penn League playoffs tonight, and welcome back an old friend in the process.

Jim Pankovits, the man who led the 'Cats to their first league title 8 years ago, returns to Troy as the manager of Pinckney division champ Mahoning Valley. The Cleveland Indians' affiliate didn't play Tri-City during the regular season, so this is as fresh as a new loaf of bread. Start time is a half-hour earlier than normal, 6:30 (ET), to accomodate parents whose children have to start school tomorrow. Top seeded Hudson Valley plays Auburn in the other semi-final series.
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Troy High's soccer teams are still looking for their first wins of the season, nearly 2 full weeks into the season.

The boys have yet to tally a goal in two games, shut out by Guilderland in the home opener last night, 5-0, and have been outscored, 12-0, in the two losses. Meanwhile, the ladies finally put one up on the board, but it wasn't enough, as the Lady Horses lost to the Lady Dutchmen, 2-1. Maddie Rifenberick had 25 saves, and Abby Burns, daughter of football coach Bob Burns, broke the scoring draught. However, Troy had just 2 shots on goal the entire game, unable to consistently break the Guilderland defense.

The boys' result was not reported to the papers as of press time, but the girls' result was. Go figure. The ladies return home tomorrow night to host Shaker, while the boys are in Latham for an after school match.
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Back to Kaepernick. The former San Francisco QB has landed a deal with Nike, but the brainwashed (or, worse, brainless) Trump supporters are burning what Nike items they already have in protest. Can't these people get a clue? Kaepernick's initial reason for protest has been lost, thanks to Trump redirecting the message into disrespect for the country in order to push his own agenda. He keeps coming back to it every time something doesn't go his way. A narcissistic control freak shouldn't be in the White House to begin with, but, rather, in a rubber room, or a church confessional, take your pick.

Meanwhile, WWE superstar Titus O'Neil, one of the more civic minded of Vince McMahon's troupe, is working with police in his home state of Florida to collect unwanted Nike merchandise. O'Neil (Thaddeus Bullard, Jr.), a former football hero at Florida, would be a good candidate to represent WWE in any debate on racial injustice.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

What Might've Been: I'm a Big Girl Now (1980)

ABC had hoped to catch lightning in a bottle again. The controversial daytime drama spoof, Soap, had yielded a successful spin-off, Benson. While I'm a Big Girl Now wasn't part of the family tree, if you will, its star, second generation actress-singer Diana Canova, had left Soap after three seasons. ABC and Soap's producers, Susan Harris, husband Paul Junger Witt, and Tony Thomas, had built Big Girl around Canova's character, and, with Thomas' father, TV legend Danny Thomas, and Martin Short (SCTV) in the supporting cast, it should've been a hit. Canova even made an appearance on American Bandstand to promote her new show.

It didn't work. Big Girl lasted just 1 season. I don't recall what night the show was on. I want to say Friday, but I'm not 100% certain. There was no room for it on Tuesdays or Thursdays, that I can recall.

Gilmore Box provides the intro. Canova sings the show's theme song.



No rating. Never saw the show.

Musical Interlude: Ain't That a Shame (1980)

If you thought Fats Domino's "Ain't That a Shame" was meant to played solely on the piano, think again. At the 1980 American Music Awards, Cheap Trick demonstrated that this was meant to rock out straight up.



This wouldn't be the last cover we'd get from Cheap Trick. A few years later, they famously covered "Don't Be Cruel", with drummer Bun E. Carlos deciding to dress up as Elvis Presley for a day. If you thought their original songs ("I Want You to Want Me", "Dream Police", etc.) were something special, this is a treat.

Monday, September 3, 2018

When MTV Meant Something: Classic MTV (1989)

I can't speak for what MTV's ratings were from 1987-8, but this I do know. They might've been falling just enough to decide to do something noble and appease viewers.

That something was Classic MTV, which launched in February 1989 with a Sunday marathon, marking the return of prodigal daughter, if you will, Martha Quinn. Airing in primetime 4 nights a week (Monday-Thursday) due to the MTV Top 20 Video Countdown being a fixture on Friday nights by this point, for a half hour (repeating in late night, as memory serves, for a time), Classic MTV became appointment television.

The series started under the title, Deja Video: The 80's Revisited, but they made the change to Classic MTV after a few weeks. There would be another change, in January 1990. The series expanded to a full hour, and, to remind everyone who the host was, the title was changed again, this time to Martha's Greatest Hits, giving viewers the impression that MTV's mighty mite was also programming the show herself. Under this format, the show aired twice daily, once in the morning, in addition to its primetime berth. Like, as long as Martha was back at MTV, her legion of fans would be very, very happy. During a break in the series, of course, Martha took some time and landed a second gig, co-starring on The Bradys, but that ended up lasting just five weeks.

Martha's Greatest Hits wouldn't last too much longer after that, and for good reason. The ratings were such that Quinn was given a full three hour primetime berth (Primetime With Martha Quinn), which lasted until she was cut for the second and final time in 1992, during which time MTV gave her the TV version of Rockline (previously reviewed), which ended its run after she was gone.

Here's a network promo for Classic MTV:



Fun while it lasted.

Rating: A+.

Sunday, September 2, 2018

What Might've Been: The Runaways (1978)

For whatever reason, Quinn Martin couldn't land a hit series at NBC if his life depended on it. In the 70's, Martin sold four series to the Peacock Network, none of which lasted more than a season.

The Runaways started as a NBC TV-movie, Operation Runaway: A Prince For Cinderella, which aired in 1978. A year earlier, Martin had sold his first (and only) anthology series, Tales of The Unexpected, his first sale to the network since Banyon had bombed out four years earlier. Unexpected lasted eight episodes, spread out over 1 season. Operation Runaway had aired in the spring of 1978, marking the return of Robert Reed (ex-The Defenders, The Brady Bunch) to series television, four years after Brady had ended. Reed had taken a number of guest roles in dramatic series, including some of Martin's productions for ABC and/or CBS, in the interim, to prove he could still do drama, and shed the wholesome image created with Brady Bunch.

Unfortunately, viewers couldn't, due to Brady Bunch being in syndication by this point, see Reed as anyone other than Mike Brady. Runaways went on hiatus, and when it returned, Broadway star Alan Feinstein replaced Reed as the star, playing a totally different character. Reed would later return to the Brady franchise in "The Brady Girls Get Married", the pilot for 1981's Brady Brides. Feinstein fared no better, and Runaways was cancelled as well. Martin's last series for NBC came after his production company had been sold to Taft Broadcasting, but A Man Called Sloane, with Robert Conrad & Dan O'Herlihy, met the same fate.

Here's Operation Runaway: A Prince For Cinderella. Scott Baio (Happy Days, Who's Watching The Kids) and future pop star Terri Nunn (Berlin) are among the guest stars.



Viewers had seen stories of teen angst on ABC's Afterschool Special, NBC's Special Treat, and elsewhere, mixed amidst the daytime soaps. To them, Runaways apparently was a turn-off. It shouldn't have been.

Rating: B.