Thursday, January 31, 2019

Forgotten TV: Casablanca (1983)

"Those who fail to remember history are doomed to repeat it."---George Santayana.

Warner Bros. had tried to adapt Casablanca as part of its 1955 Warner Bros. Presents anthology series, but pulled the plug early. The studio wanted a rising star, Anthony Quinn, to assume the role of Rick, originated in the feature film version by Humphrey Bogart. However, Jack Warner was unwilling to close the deal, and Charles McGraw wound up with the role, and the series flatlined.

28 years later, Warners tried again, this time teaming with veteran producer David Wolper to develop a new version of Casablanca for NBC, with David Soul (ex-Starsky & Hutch, Here Come The Brides) as Rick. The end result was even worse, as only five episodes aired. With the original film airing on cable with some frequency, viewers could only accept Bogart as Rick.

Not only that, but while the 1955 version was set during the Cold War, the 1983 series was set up as a prequel to the movie. Go figure.

I never saw the show, so there won't be a rating. We'll leave you with the show intro, including a brilliant rendition of "As Time Goes By", performed by Scatman Crothers (ex-Chico & The Man), who stepped into the role of Sam, originated by Dooley Wilson.



I've seen the movie, so I can understand why viewers couldn't accept either small screen adaptation.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Musical Interlude: I Don't Have The Heart (1990)

James Ingram soared to #1 on the pop chart in the fall of 1990 with "I Don't Have The Heart", his first solo chart-topper.



In memory of Ingram, who passed away on Tuesday at 66.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Video Valentine: Baby Come Back (1977-8)

Not to be confused with the Equals' hit of the same name nearly a decade earlier, Player hit #1 in early 1978 with the bouncy "Baby Come Back".

Bassist Ronn Moss is better known today for his 25 year run on CBS' The Bold & The Beautiful, but is still touring after leaving Beautiful in 2012.



With Valentine's Day a couple of weeks away, now's a good time to start pulling some Video Valentines.....

Sunday, January 27, 2019

What Might've Been: The Reel to Reel Picture Show (1998)

Pax (Now Ion) tried to get into the game show arena in 1998. Problem was, the producers of The Reel to Reel Picture Show went belly-up less than a month into the series run.

Peter Marshall was the host, and the story goes that Marshall was among those who wasn't paid by the time the series was abruptly halted after five weeks worth of shows were taped. An ignominious end for the show, which looked like a smoosh of Bullseye and The Joker's Wild, but lacked the panache and polish of those shows' producer, Jack Barry. Marshall had done quite a bit of acting since All-Star Blitz, his last collaboration with Merrill Heatter, had ended 12 years earlier, including an appearance on Burke's Law. I believe he's doing some satellite radio oldies show these days.

Anyway, here's a sample episode:



Rating: B.

Maurizio @ The Arts Center of The Capital Region, 1/26/19

"It's good to have friends."---Barney Ross (Sylvester Stallone), "The Expendables", 2010.

Nearly 3 1/2 years after the release of his debut solo CD, "Before The Crowd", Maurizio Russomanno hosted a night of acoustic music in front of a near-sell out crowd comprised largely of family and friends inside the Joe Bruno Theatre at the Arts Center of The Capital Region on Saturday night. The occasion was a celebration of Russomanno's 20 years as a solo performer, after he'd spent almost a decade in various local bands such as the Anomalies.

Proceeds from the event, he announced, would be for the benefit of long-time Hudson Valley Community College professor and Record columnist John Ostwald, who is battling cancer, and had a fundraiser earlier in the day in his honor at the Italian Community Center.

Two relatively short sets, less than an hour apiece, showcased Russomanno's gifts as a singer & songwriter, mixing material from "Crowd" and more recent compositions in the course of the evening, with room for one cover song, a John Prine track. Considering that attendance was built on the strength of social media alone, as there was no mention of the event in the local press, it was a solid night of music. Russomanno's interaction with the audience , with short ancedotes between songs, recalls VH-1 Storytellers, or, for the home district readers, the late, lamented Sounding Board, which was must-watch for local music fans in the 90's. He owned up to being nervous, which explained a Thermos filled with coffee during the first set. The party, if you will, broke up sometime around 10:30, leaving at least one attendant wondering if the Bruno Theatre has hosted plays as well as concerts. Personally, I can't say for sure, but a steady schedule would give the Theatre Institute at Russell Sage College a run for their money. However, I do know a theatre group associated with Sage that could use the space...............!

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Musical Interlude: Magnet & Steel (1978)

Walter Egan had just one big hit, 1978's "Magnet & Steel". In the 40-plus years since, it's remained an adult contemporary radio staple. This video, which I've found for the first time, is off Egan's Vevo channel:

Friday, January 25, 2019

Forgotten TV: The Paper Chase (1978)

After the 70's started with a pair of failed legal dramas, CBS went back to the well in 1978 with an adaptation of the 1973 film, The Paper Chase, which itself had been adapted from a best selling novel.

John Houseman reprised his film role as Professor Charles Kingsfield. However, the focus was on his students, and their lives away from the classroom. Hart (James Stephens), for example, worked nights as a bartender to make ends meet.

The theme song, "The First Years", composed by Charles Fox and the late Norman Gimbel, was performed by folk-rockers Seals & Crofts, and could've easily been released as a single if needed.

So what went wrong? CBS put Chase on Tuesdays, opposite ABC's 1-2 punch of Happy Days & Laverne & Shirley. Ballgame over. However, PBS acquired rerun rights to the series, a rare occurrence in those days, which reignited interest. Showtime acquired the rights to the series, and production resumed in 1983 for three more seasons. Unfortunately, no one's willing to try this series on cable today.

Following is a sample episode:



James Stephens would later move on to The Father Dowling Mysteries with Tom Bosley (Happy Days) and Tracy Nelson. Robert Ginty came over from Black Sheep Squadron, then returned to Universal to co-star in another CBS series, Magnum, P. I..

No rating.

Taste testing coffee in a restaurant? Why not? (1983)

During the 80's, Procter & Gamble, at the time the parent company of Folgers coffee, did a series of ads where they subbed in the product for restaurant coffee, just to gauge consumer interest. Actor Bryan Clark ("Trading Places") is our tour guide.



It's too bad Folgers moved on from this campaign, because this was actually worth watching.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

A coffee ad that didn't perk up (2000)

KISS co-vocalist Paul Stanley cut a jingle for Folgers coffee back in 2000. However, there were concerns because of KISS and what it represents in the minds of a lot of folks, so this commercial, which has Stanley crooning during a circus rehearsal, never saw the light of day. It was unearthed and posted to YouTube in 2014.



Now, what could be so wrong?

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Sports this 'n' that

In six months, the doors of the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown will swing open for four new members:

Mariano Rivera (Yankees): He was the set-up man for John Wetteland when the Yankees ended their World Series drought in 1996, beating Atlanta in six games. It was the Bombers' 1st Fall Classic in 15 years, and began a new dynasty in the Bronx. The very next year, Rivera was promoted to the closer's role after Wetteland was let go (more on him later), and the Yankees would win four more championships (1998-2000, 2009) as a result. The team's choice of Metallica's 1991 hit, "Enter Sandman", as Rivera's entrance music redefined the metal anthem, but then, I think they took their cues from ECW's Sandman (Jim Fullington), who used the same song as his entrance.

Edgar Martinez (Seattle): Converted to a full-time designated hitter from the infield, Martinez became one of the game's most prolific hitters.

Mike Mussina (Baltimore, Yankees): Mussina was a teammate of Rivera on some of those Yankee World Series teams, something he'd never have had a chance to be a part of had he played his entire career in Baltimore, which has not reached the series in more than 35 years.

Roy Halladay (Toronto, Philadelphia): As tough a big game pitcher as there was, Halladay was a big reason for the Phillies winning it all in 2008, only to fall short of repeating the next year in losing to the Yankees. Posthumous selection.

The induction ceremony takes place July 21.
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Fans in New Orleans are so butt-hurt over an officiating screw-up in the NFC title game on Sunday, that several people are filing lawsuits against the NFL. Frivolous? You better believe it.

I watched the game, saw the controversial non-call at the center of this firestorm, and I can understand why there are people calling for changes that would allow officials to review pass interference calls.

In truth, it was a double-whammy. It was not only pass interference on the defense, but you could also call targeting, since it was a helmet-to-helmet hit. In college, they review targeting calls on a regular basis. Seems to happen every week during the season. How the geeks in the striped shirts could justify letting it all go is incomprehensible.

Of course, there are conspiracy theories, the most prevalent belief being that the league wanted the Rams and 3rd year QB Jared Goff in the Super Bowl opposite Public Enemy #1, the New England Patriots. Obviously, as I wrote the other day, the league's power brokers were unwilling to allow a total youth movement to commence in Atlanta, which is why the biggest diva in the league, Tom Brady, who had a mature adult moment in consulting his opposite number, Patrick Mahomes, after the AFC title game, gets to play for #6 again

The sad truth is while people will still genuflect toward Brady, he is not the greatest of all time. His career forever tainted by scandals and the general suspicion that the Patriots don't always abide by the rules, and their owner, Robert Kraft, has undue influence on the committees he's a part of. Brady's Hall of Fame resume has an asterisk next to it for a reason. The league could've thrown the book at New England, but instead opted for a couple of slaps on the collective wrist due to Kraft and his power.

All that having been said, it's now coming out that some inebriated moron had a laser pointer directed at Brady during Sunday night's game. Not that it did any real damage. Brady didn't realize it was there, and functioned effectively anyway. Can someone check and see if he's made of teflon?
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Rumors are circulating online that the newly formed All Elite Wrestling, founded by Cody Runnels and Matt & Nick Jackson, and partially funded by the Khan family, owners of the Jacksonville Jaguars, will announce a TV deal that would get Atlanta-based superstation TBS back into the wrestling business after nearly 20 years away.

In the dying days of World Championship Wrestling in 2000, TBS cancelled WCW Saturday Night and other wrestling related programming, ending a decades-old tradition. Runnels, raised in the Atlanta area, may have had that tradition in mind if the rumors are true.
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There was a rumor circulating that the revamped XFL, to debut next year, would have ABC/ESPN & Fox as their TV partners this time. The Fox half of the equation would be understandable, since the network will be the new home of Smackdown starting in October, and ABC, or, more specifically, ESPN, began covering WWE wrestling events a few years ago when current WWE reporter Jonathan Coachman was with the "Worldwide Leader in Sports".

However, Charlie Ebersol's Alliance of American Football launches February 9, six days after the Super Bowl, and if it succeeds, then the XFL, which Vince McMahon created with Ebersol's father, former NBC exec Dick Ebersol, nearly 20 years ago, would be facing an even tougher mountain to climb for viewers when the relaunch starts. The AAF has a deal in place with the CBS Sports Network, which also has a TV deal with the Arena Football League. Stay tuned.

Shillin' Squares: Peter Marshall for Product 19 (1966)

They say that Peter Marshall's stint as a pitchman for Kellogg's Product 19 cereal landed him the gig as host of Hollywood Squares, which launched in the fall of 1966.

Here, a box of the cereal magically enlarges in size so Peter can better explain its virtues.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

What Might've Been: Pindemonium (1992)

Once upon a time, bowling was a favorite pastime for couples. There are still mixed leagues today, but date night at the bowling alley? Yep, that's still a thing, but it's mostly groups, not just one couple.

In 1992, Brad Lachman, whose resume as a producer included Solid Gold, accepted a pitch from one Jim Cahill for a show that was described as a cross between Bowling For Dollars and The Newlywed Game, the latter being our last subject.

Cahill called his project, Pinheads, but Lachman and/or MCA didn't think that would fly with audiences. So, the show was retitled, Pindemonium. Ken Ober, two years removed from both Remote Control and the first TV adaptation of Parenthood, was tapped to host. Unfortunately for Cahill & Lachman, no one bought the show for syndication.

Hence, all we have is this pitch reel.



Entertaining and amusing. Ober would get back into the game show business soon enough, including a remake of Make Me Laugh, before his passing in 2009.

Rating: B-.

Classic TV: The Newlywed Game (1966)

The producers of Howdy Doody had grown up, and moved into the game show business.

E. Roger Muir and Nick Nicholson, to reverse the usual billing, are the guys who came up with the idea for Chuck Barris' The Newlywed Game, which launched on ABC in July 1966, and ran for nearly 8 1/2 years, ending in December 1974. Muir & Nicholson would go on to produce their own shows eventually, and even brought Howdy back for a short spell in 1976.

The concept was simplistic enough to be copied by another studio, such as a show we recently looked at, The Neighbors, which was built around gossip more than anything else. As the title implies, the Newlywed Game pitted four couples who had been wed a year or less against each other.

As it turned out, viewers weren't ready to give up on the concept, and so the series has returned time and again, its most recent run being on GSN (2009-13), with singer Carnie Wilson and comic-talk show host Sherri Shepherd as hosts. Surprisingly, GSN didn't hang on to the show's classic repeats long enough to reach the 50th anniversary in 2016. Bounce TV (check listings) is the current rights holder to cable broadcasts.

LA based radio personality Bob Eubanks began his TV career with Newlywed at 28, making him the youngest game show host at the time. Today, I believe he's back to his radio roots.

Here's a sample episode:



During the GSN run, they trimmed the number of couples from four down to three, as if it'd make much difference.

Rating: B.

Monday, January 21, 2019

Musical Interlude: Lost in The Fifties Tonight (In The Still of The Night)(1985)

In 1983, Billy Joel recorded "The Longest Time", which would be the last single off his album, "An Innocent Man". The video showed Joel returning to his high school for a class reunion.

While the theme isn't quite the same, Ronnie Milsap provided Nashville's answer two years later.

"Lost in The Fifties Tonight (In The Still of The Night)" is the title song of Milsap's CD, released in the summer of 1985. Like clockwork, it hit #1 on the country charts in the US & Canada, and peaked at #8 on the adult contemporary chart.

In the video, Milsap isn't playing the piano for a change. Instead, he's fronting a band at a high school prom.



Today, Ronnie Milsap is still recording, but he's more likely to be found on the gospel charts these days.

It's time to let someone else represent the AFC in the Super Bowl

As a rule, I will not watch New England Patriots games unless the Evil Empire is in the Super Bowl. That said, I didn't see a single second of Sunday's overtime win over Kansas City, earning the Pats their 3rd straight AFC title.

I'm sorry, but the only ones who aren't suffering from Patriot Fatigue are the team's devoted fans in and outside of New England.

Since the 2000 season, six teams have represented the AFC in the Super Bowl:

New England (This will be their 9th trip in the Tom Brady-Bill Belichick-Robert Kraft era; record is 5-3).
Baltimore (2-0).
Oakland.
Denver.
Indianapolis.
Pittsburgh.

Kansas City has not been to the big game in nearly 40 years. Not since Super Bowl IV. Sunday was the closest they've been in that span. However, the corporate mentality of the NFL and its advertising partners in New York seems to be that the Super Bowl is all about which NFC team can beat New England, never mind anyone else that represents the AFC.

For the Los Angeles Rams, this will be their first trip since returning to California. When the team was in St. Louis, they reached the big dance twice in three years, with Baltimore's first of two titles in between. For those keeping score, "The Greatest Show on Turf", led by Kurt Warner, won a thriller over Tennessee, then lost to New England two years later.

Thus, the Rams will again have revenge on their minds when they go to Atlanta on February 3. Los Angeles can consider themselves fortunate for the referees being stupid enough to ignore a helmet-to-helmet pass interference penalty that should've been called late in the 4th quarter on Sunday, enabling them to force their game at New Orleans into overtime, and then win it.

In the case of the Chiefs and their phenom QB, Patrick Mahomes, I am reminded of a promo a pre-Stone Cold Steve Austin cut when he was in ECW in 1995, explaining why WCW gave up on him so soon. Austin did a brilliant, spot-on mimic of Dusty Rhodes in insinuating that WCW higher-ups, Rhodes included, felt Austin wasn't ready to be a main event star. We all know the rest of that story, of course.

The implication I get from New England winning yet again is that the NFL's power brokers, despite the fact that they had a money game right in front of them in Chiefs-Rams II after the two teams did their impersonation of a Big 12 college game on Monday Night Football, felt they couldn't let both Mahomes and the Rams' Jared Goff play on their biggest stage together. No, they think there's more money and drama in the NFL's pre-eminent drama queen, Tom Brady, continuing to play like a man possessed, and with Patriot owner Robert Kraft sending over cases of macaroni & cheese and whatever else he can come up with to influence the power brokers to see things his way, this nonsense will continue.

Brady is never going to be thought of as the greatest of all time in my eyes, not when his entire run has been tainted by questionable officiating in his favor, starting with the "Tuck Game" vs. Oakland 17 years ago. He was never great shakes at Michigan, and, remember, he was a 6th round pick back in 2000. That chip on his shoulder ain't an Eveready battery, and he ain't Robert Conrad, circa the 70's. Brady & the Patriots have hogged the post-season in the AFC, by hook & by crook, for far too long.

Take the hint, Tom. You've peaked. It's over. Take your lumps like you should in Atlanta, and walk away.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

What Might've Been: The Neighbors (1975)

Before Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, before he became a beloved talk show host, Regis Philbin was given his first game show gig by ABC in 1975, a few years after he'd been Joey Bishop's sidekick.

The Neighbors ran for almost a full calendar year (1975-6), ending in April of '76. Online commentators have said this was a knockoff of Chuck Barris' Newlywed Game, which ended its ABC run a year prior to The Neighbors.

The concept leads to such speculation. Two contestants have to deduce what their neighbors said about them for cash & prizes. The set did look like they were aping Newlywed on a smaller scale.

Here's a sample episode.



A quiz show built around neighborhood gossip hasn't been done since. This was a good reason why.

Rating: C.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

What Might've Been: Bullseye (1980)

The beauty of syndication for game shows is that, more often than not, it expands the lifespan of the show. What would last anywhere from 6-13 weeks on a network can go as much as 2 years, as Jack Barry & Dan Enright's Bullseye did (1980-2).

The producers were looking for something that would complement Tic Tac Dough, which enjoyed a healthy syndicated run well into the mid-80's. Bullseye was just another variant on the modern Dough and other B-E gimmicked games.

Jim Lange (ex-The Dating Game) served as host. Two seasons, nearly 400 episodes. About halfway through season 2, with ratings declining, B-E switched to a celebrity format to boost ratings. All that did was prolong the inevitable cancellation. Bullseye would land rerun gigs on cable (CBN, USA, GSN) as recently as 2007 following cancellation.

Following is a sample episode, complete with commercials:



Rating: A.

Championship weekend: new blood or the same old, same old?

Shortly after 3 (ET) on Sunday, the NFL's final four will commence with the NFC title game. By the time the AFC title game ends, roughly about seven hours later, we'll know who'll be going to Atlanta for the Super Bowl two weeks later.

NFC: Los Angeles @ New Orleans: The Saints won the first meeting between these two teams, and some think there's no reason to believe the script will be flipped.

The league has two storylines to choose from here. In one, Saints QB Drew Brees is looking to get back to the Big Game, 10 years after New Orleans won its only championship, and it would be a fitting coda to a storied career if he got there, won again, then retired, a la John Elway and Peyton Manning. On the other side is one of the NFL's young guns in Rams QB Jared Goff. Even though the Rams play on the grass at the LA Coliseum, their offense has seemed to be a reimagining of the "Greatest Show on Turf" that won it all nearly 20 years ago when the team was in St. Louis. Sean McVay, in his 2nd season, has already begun to build his own legacy as one of the brightest coaching minds in the game.

Revenge is also on the menu, as the Rams are looking to even the score. From a marketing standpoint, the NFL would benefit more if they put more emphasis on the youth movement, which would make the league that much more relatable to the youth demographic. This also applies to the AFC nightcap, which may be delayed just a wee bit since the league doesn't want the games overlapping each other, unlike in the regular season. Brees & Goff will light up the scoreboard, and it will come down to the final play. New Orleans has won any number of ways this season, be it blowouts or late escapes. It may be the latter this time, but it won't be enough.

Pick: Los Angeles.

AFC: New England @ Kansas City. The Patriots beat KC in Foxborough earlier this season, and for some odd reason weren't flagged for any accepted penalties. To New England's legion of detractors, that of course suggests something shady.

However, the Patriots rediscovered their running game last week vs. the Chargers, as rookie Sony Michel ran for three scores, and Rex Burkhead, whom the Pats heisted from Cincinnati two years ago, added another. Offensive diversity is essential to most teams, and the Patriots have been the last team you'd expect, what with Tom Brady's penchant for padding his stats and ego at the expense of the running game. The recent suspension of receiver Josh Gordon only means more catches for Philip Dorsett, who was let go by Indianapolis out of stupidity. However, the temperatures may be colder than the Pats are accustomed to back at home, as they're talking about an arctic vortex hitting KC in the wake of the snowstorm that is making its way to the home district as I write.

The Chiefs, of course, are happy to be the #1 seed, and are looking for payback. The cold temperatures may mean more of the running game for both teams. I don't think you're going to see Brady or Patrick Mahomes air it out all that much, and if Mahomes is allowed to roam free, the Patriots are in trouble. New England was 3-5 on the road this season, as opposed to 9-0 at home. Brady wants another trip to the Super Bowl. Not this time.

Pick: Kansas City.

Why am I going against the grain? Did you see the Rams & Chiefs on Monday Night Football? Sequel, anyone?

Of course, I could be wrong.

Dogs are also a little girl's best friend (1960's)

Back in the day, Ken-L Ration was one of the bazillion brands of Quaker Oats. Today, a lesser known company, Retrobrands, holds the rights to not only Ken-L Ration, but also Puss 'N' Boots cat food, another product Quaker gave up years ago.

Check out this adorable bit with a little girl and her dog. Actor Olan Soule (The Andy Griffith Show) is the narrator.



Awwww, isn't that cute?

Friday, January 18, 2019

On The Shelf: a sasquatch cop, and the return of old favorites

In the last five issues of Mark Russell's acclaimed Exit Stage Left: The Snagglepuss Chronicles, DC had room for a back-up feature that turned out to be a very fresh idea.

Sasquatch Detective's five chapters have been collected into a 1-shot special, which actually hit stores in December, but Diamond Comic Distributors shorted some stores' orders, including in the home district. They're weird like that, so Sasquatch has only just fallen into my lap.

The book starts with a new origin story for the titular sleuth, Tonya Lightfoot, by series creator Brandee Stillwell and veteran artist Ron Randall. To make a long story short, Tonya decides to make her own mark in the world, and what better way to do that than integrating herself with the human race by becoming a cop?

In her own way, Tonya is sweet and adorable, and the door is open for more stuff down the road.

Rating: A-.
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It was news when Marvel obtained a new license to adapt Robert E. Howard's legendary sword & sorcery hero, Conan The Barbarian. In addition to launching a new Conan series, Marvel also reacquired the rights to their earlier material, dating back to 1970, and Roy Thomas' seminal run, bolstered by artists as diverse as Barry Windsor-Smith, Neal Adams, & John Buscema.

Marvel's 1st Conan book ran for well over 200 issues before being cancelled in the 80's, and also spun off the black & white Savage Sword of Conan (which returns as a color monthly next month), and King Conan (later retitled, Conan The King), in addition to introducing readers to more of Howard's heroes.

This month, Marvel is reprinting some of those classics as part of their True Believers series, which can be had for $1 a copy. If the original issues by Smith, Adams, et al, are priced out of your budget range in the secondary market, you can't go wrong with the True Believers reprints. Plans also call for Conan to be meeting certain fan-favorite Marvel heroes real soon.

The reprints merit an A.
========================================
The complaints regarding writer Brian Michael Bendis include the fact that he ignores what other writers have done before him on certain books (i.e. Superman), and he'd rather tell his own stories with no regard to consequence.

Bendis' new DC imprint, Wonder Comics, launched last week with the return of Young Justice, coinciding with the revival of the popular cartoon series over at DC Universe. The streaming service has an online exclusive comic with no ties to the book on the shelves.

Anyway, Bendis not only brings back Robin (Tim Drake), Impulse, and Wonder Girl (Cassandra Sandsmark), but will include Amethyst, a heroine from the 80's, whose last series didn't fare so well, a Teen Lantern, and the great grand-daughter of Jonah Hex as part of his team, at least for now. We'll also see the return of the 90's Superboy (Connor Kent), which suggests to me that Bendis has his preferences.

In time, the other Wonder Comics titles will roll out, bit by bit. Another fresh idea, Naomi, is set to debut next week, for example, but I'd not be surprised that by the end of the summer, she'll be joining the YJ team.

Young Justice gets an A-.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Dunce Cap Award: Robert Cronin

Ladies & gentlemen, we have a candidate for America's Dumbest Criminals.

Robert Cronin was arrested earlier this week, and charged with statutory rape and endangering the welfare of a child, among other charges, after a young girl he'd raped last year gave birth in November to a baby.

Now, here's the weird part.

Cronin, in an interview with WTEN reporter Anya Tucker on Wednesday, denies ever actually having intercourse with the pre-teen. No, this dunce claims she became pregnant after making contact with some clothing after he'd pleasured himself on said clothing.

Scope the video from WTEN:



Cronin, 33, does look like a deer in the headlights, doesn't he? With all the latest scientific tech at their disposal, Niskayuna police could certainly tell he'd had physical contact with the victim. Direct contact, not indirect, as this week's Dunce Cap winner claims. Like, hasn't this imbecile seen enough Law & Order: Special Victims Unit episodes to know better?

And what is it with perverts and pre-teen girls, anyway? I also read something about a Louisiana geek who'd raped an 11 year old girl, too. There's one in North Carolina, too. The only jailhouse advice I'd give these morons is, don't drop the soap. Ever.

Musical Interlude: When You're in Love With a Beautiful Woman (1979)

I know Valentine's Day is four weeks away as I write this, but I just felt I needed to post this one.

Dr. Hook hit #6 on the Hot 100 and #5 on the Adult Contemporary chart in 1979 with the bouncy "When You're in Love With a Beautiful Woman". I remember hearing this for the first time on my transistor radio when I picked up a feed from a Catskill (!) AM station.



Backing vocalist-percussionist Ray Sawyer passed away a couple of weeks back, and we are all poorer for the loss.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Advertising For Dummies: You can't write with a fruit, but you can name a pen after a fruit (1970's)

Bic is known for pens, lighters, and razors.

In the 70's, the company introduced the Bic Banana, a marker that came in various colors other than banana (yellow). Over at Saturday Morning Archives, we have a school themed ad with actor Charles Nelson Reilly in a banana suit.

However, we're showcasing just what the pen is all about Filmmaker Mel Brooks narrates.

Sports this 'n' that

LaMelo Ball might as well give up any hope of playing in college.

Ball, the son of La Loudmouth (LaVar Ball), and his SPIRE Institute team were recently removed from a pending tournament because an officer, Alan Foster, with La Loudmouth's company, demanded a $10,000 appearance fee for SPIRE.

SAY WHAT? GET OUT!

Foster was reported as a "consultant", per Yahoo! Sports, but what consultant worth his salt would make exorbitant demands worthy of that other licensed con artist, Scott Boras? All La Loudmouth is interested in is profiting off his sons, regardless of whether they're pros (Lonzo) or ex-amateurs (LaMelo & LiAngelo), and doesn't care about rules. He should. LaMelo & LiAngelo will never see the inside of a college gym unless they're paying customers.

I wonder if the Harlem Globetrotters are hiring........
=========================================
The other shoe dropped for Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray on Tuesday with the announcement that he will, in fact, declare for the NFL draft. Boras can't be too happy with that, but I'd not be surprised if he's replaced by someone who would have a better grasp on things grounded in reality.

Murray is aiming to be the first two-sport star in the pros since Deion Sanders & Brian Jordan in the 90's. Well, unless you count Boston's Mookie Betts as a card carrying member of the Pro Bowlers' Association..........
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Apparently, WWE Chairman/CEO/head lunatic Vince McMahon thinks he has to fill the slippers of his late friend, Hugh Hefner, too.

The 73 year old McMahon has turned back the clock in recent weeks. Seeing as how most of his writers are experienced in writing for daytime soap operas, McMahon decided, for the second time in a year, to take a married couple on his roster, and put them through an emotional wringer for no other reason than to juice flailing ratings.

Last summer, it was Bulgarian-born Rusev and his wife, Lana (actress C. J. Parker-Perry, "Pitch Perfect"), involved in a feud with Rusev's former tag team partner, Aiden English, who hasn't been seen much of late. Now, it is Naomi (Trinity Fatu, Total Divas), and husband Jimmy Uso, dealing with Mandy Rose (Tough Enough graduate Andrea Saccomanno) trying to break them up in the name of jealousy & envy. So far, it isn't working, and Rose's acting in these skits is not up to par. Let's say she doesn't move the meter at this desk, and leave it at that.

That's all been on Smackdown, and McMahon figures, he might as well get this out of the way before the series changes networks in October from USA to Fox, where the emphasis will change to athletic competition, whether McMahon likes it or not.

Over on Monday Night Raw, Alexa Bliss (Lexi Kaufman) was caught in a "gotcha" moment for less than a minute Monday. Seems she was in the middle of a wardrobe change, didn't answer the knock on her dressing room door in a timely fashion, and a courier carrying a latte let himself in. Bliss had to hastily cover her bare breasts.

The only winners there are millions of young boys 16-up, but, reality, guys. Alexa is already spoken for (engaged to WWE cruiser champ Buddy Murphy of Australia).

In this case, I honestly feel sorry for Alexa. I really do. These skits are threatening to send the "women's revolution" in the company skidding back about 10-15 years, but McMahon doesn't care. All he wants is to get more eyeballs on his product.

Well, here's more reality. People will watch if you give them what you promised last month. Fresh matches and feuds, as long as you can take the time to get people interested in the parties involved. There are an infinite number of stories to be told, but it seems McMahon and his scribblers keep reaching into the recycling bin for old material to be updated, rebooted, and reimagined.
========================================
Come Sunday, we'll know who will advance to the Super Bowl. However, nothing is certain.

In the AFC, they're expecting freezing temperatures in Kansas City for the 2nd straight week. That actually could swing the advantage to New England, since the stat nerds will remind that the Patriots excel in such conditions. However, this is a revenge game for the Chiefs after New England blew them out of the yard earlier this season. I've got an idea of what the league wants to see on February 3, and it doesn't involve New England. Not when you have a shiny new marketing toy (Patrick Mahomes) to showcase on the biggest of stages. It's not exactly going to be a passing of the torch. Tom Brady doesn't know when to say when, but it seems he'll soon lose Rob Gronkowski, who's hearing the warnings from his body.

In the NFC, the New Orleans Saints & Los Angeles Rams, once upon a time rivals in the NFC West, engaged in one of the best games of the season, topped only by Rams-Chiefs. This could go either way, too, but I think that if the NFL plays it right, this year's Super Bowl will be about their youth movement, with Jared Goff at QB for the Rams opposite Mahomes. The Saints won the first meeting, so this is another revenge game

Final picks on Saturday.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Musical Interlude: Love is The Drug (1980-6)

Singer-actress Grace Jones released her cover of Roxy Music's "Love is The Drug" in 1980. However, it failed to chart anywhere. Five years later, the track was reissued on Jones' greatest hits CD, "Island Life", and a music video was released a year after that for a remixed version of "Drug".



Jones was coming off the 1985 CD, "Slave to The Rhythm", and an appearance in the James Bond movie, "A View to a Kill", before "Life" was released. This, to me, turns out to be her finest musical hour.

What Might've Been: The Carol Channing Show (1966)

Carol Channing was a big sensation on Broadway, headlining, for example, in "Hello, Dolly" in 1964. This attracted the attention of Lucille Ball and ex-husband Desi Arnaz, who wanted to develop a sitcom for Channing.

However, the pilot for The Carol Channing Show comes across as too derivative of I Love Lucy and The Lucy Show, the latter of which was entering its fifth season in 1966, and employed the writing team from Lucy. The supporting cast included Richard Deacon (fresh from The Dick Van Dyke Show), character actress Jane Dulo, who had a recurring gig on Get Smart, and later was a regular on Sha Na Na, and ex-Mouseketeer Sherry Alberoni. Arnaz employed his ace musical director, Wilbur Hatch, as a "music supervisor".

The Lowe in Lowe-Arnaz Productions would be Channing's 3rd husband, Charles Lowe.

Now, let's see where this went off the rail.



Arnaz, of course, would finally make a sale of his own the next year with The Mothers-in-Law, and Deacon would turn up there in season 2. As for Carol, who passed away today at 97, and in whose memory this is dedicated, after scores of guest appearances, she'd finally land a series gig, albeit in a cartoon. She was cast as the voice of Grandmama in the 1992 remake of The Addams Family for ABC, and that series lasted two seasons.

No rating, out of respect.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Joe Weider would be proud of this cat (1970)

Ralston Purina's ad agency may have had bodybuilding icon Joe Weider in mind when they came up with this ad in 1970.

An average "97 pound weakling" (voiced by Marvin Kaplan, ex-Top Cat) is forced off the beach and away from his girlfriend by a bully cat. Substitute Purina Cat Chow for the Weider Method, and......



The announcer at the end is William Schallert (ex-The Patty Duke Show), who was a studio announcer for ABC at the time, and would also be the original voice of Milton the Toaster when shilling for Kellogg's Pop Tarts.

Creepy TV: Three Stooges in If a Body Meets a Body (1945)

The Three Stooges are, as usual, unemployed, but opportunity for fast money comes in a most unusual way in 1945's "If a Body Meets a Body".

You see, in the context of this tale, Curly has an uncle who just passed, and they're trying to locate Curly, who may get a split of the inheritance.......



Delightfully silly.

Rating: A-.


Sunday, January 13, 2019

Forgotten TV: Blind Date (1950)

When people think of Blind Date, the 2001 series emceed by comedian Roger Lodge comes to mind immediately. That series had a pretty healthy run in syndication, and we'll be looking at that another time.

However, more than 50 years earlier, Blind Date had transitioned from radio to television, and landed on three of the then-four broadcast networks after a run on radio. Arlene Francis, better known, of course, as a panelist on What's My Line?, had been the host on radio, and made the transition when ABC acquired the TV rights in 1950. After a couple of years, actor Melvyn Douglas took over, and when the series made its last shift to DuMont, comic Jan Murray was the last MC.

The best way to describe the 50's version would be equal parts improvisational comedy and game show, the improv part being, well, unintentional after all. That might be because the show was, I think, broadcast live, and that leads to some very nervous contestants, such as in this sample entry with Arlene Francis.

Edit, 1/4/21: Had to change the video. 



Blind Date moved to NBC sometime in 1951, then moved to DuMont some time later.

Rating: C.

A global offer to buy soda (1971)

Coca-Cola came up with this imaginative spot in 1971, riffing on, and using lyrics from, the New Seekers' "I'd Like to Teach The World to Sing". As the graphic shows at the end, this was shot in Italy, which I didn't really know as an 8 year old.......



I'd like to see them revive this campaign......

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Another hometown tradition dies out

Digital First Media, aka El Cheapo Media, corporate parent of The Record and its step-sister publications, The Saratogian & The Daily Freeman (Kingston), is, in turn, owned by a hedge fund, which means that their only concern is their bottom line. Profit margins and ledger reports are more important to these folks than the communities served by their newspaper holdings.

That said, it shouldn't come as much of a shock, then, to learn that Digital First, in another effort to pinch pennies, is closing The Record's downtown office at the end of next month. The present staff is being retained, and will report periodically to The Saratogian's office in Saratoga Springs.

What little foot traffic came to the office at the River Triangle building was largely there to purchase the weekly coupon supplements in advance of their weekend releases, in order to get a head start on their grocery shopping. Perhaps the closing of the office was inevitable after The Record sold their long standing Broadway base (now an apartment/retail complex) and moved their printing operations to the Albany Times-Union's Colonie plant a few years back.

To paraphrase Bruce Springsteen, Digital First keeps taking one step up, and ten steps back when it comes to the hometown. The hedge fund owners' role models probably include Ebenezer Scrooge, for all we know. They don't care as much about the communities they serve as they say they do. If they did, they'd find another solution. However, common sense is just as scarce as surplus petty cash, it seems.

Friday, January 11, 2019

So....what did Sgt. Schultz do after the war? (1966)

This ad isn't complete, and I'm going to try to find a complete version if at all possible. Anyway, this TWA commercial features John Banner (Hogan's Heroes) as a baggage clerk who's about as lonely as a Maytag repairman. Garry Moore is the customer. There's a reason why this ad is cut off so abruptly, and I'll tell you about it in a bit.



The video cuts off after Banner dons his helmet and plugs Hogan's Heroes. What you don't see is Robert Conrad---as James West---pulling a gun on "Schultz" so he can plug The Wild, Wild West. Both series were at the top of CBS' Friday lineup in 1966.

Sports this 'n' that

Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray has seemingly done an about-face and, as of Wednesday, is considering the prospect of declaring for the NFL draft.

Now, we know that won't sit well with his baseball agent, Scott (20 Mule Team) Boras, who's only concerned about fattening his own already overstuffed bank account and wallet, anyway. However, the idea might just convince Boras to think about getting certification from the NFL Players Association, if enough NFL players are familiar with him through news articles.

However, in Oakland, one blogger had a herd of cows over Murray's announcement.

Jen Rainwater, a feature writer for Athletics Nation, decided to be a Twidiot and ranted on Murray. The tweets have since been deleted, but the damage was already done. To Rainwater, who lost her job on Thursday.

Rainwater wished ill on Murray for no other reason than the perception that he had already betrayed the A's organization before spring training even starts in Arizona next month. What Rainwater gets for being so callous and disrespectful is a set of Weasel ears. Seems only fitting.
=========================================
The Mets added roster depth this week with the signings of infielder Jed Lowrie and pitcher Luis Avilan.

Avilan, who has pitched for Atlanta, among others, was inked to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training in Port St. Lucie next month. Lowrie, whose resume includes stops in Boston, Oakland, and Houston, signed a 2 year, $20 million deal. Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen is Lowrie's former agent, which would explain some things.

The Mets are now three deep at second base with Lowrie joining Robinson Cano and Jeff McNeil. McNeil can also play third, as can Lowrie, and people on Reddit are already writing off New Jersey product Todd Frazier as if the Mets would deal the former Little League World Series hero. Uh, no, I don't see it happening.

If anything, spring training should be interesting just for the drama alone.
=========================================
After going 2-2 with our playoff picks last week, let's see if we can improve in the division round.

AFC:

Indianapolis @ Kansas City (Saturday): Colts QB Andrew Luck may just be the Comeback Player of the Year. However, there's no stopping the league's most exciting player to date, Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes, who is a candidate for MVP. This will be a shootout, but this time, the Chiefs will have the last word.

Pick: Kansas City.

Los Angeles @ New England (Sunday): Ho hum. This figures to be the Patriots' last home game of the season. Philip Rivers & the Chargers are hungry, looking to end the Patriot dynasty, at least for now. Figure that if all else fails in Foxborough, Bob Kraft will send officiating czar Alberto Riveron an extra case of macaroni & cheese to see things his way.........

Pick: New England.

NFC:

Dallas @ Los Angeles (Saturday): What figures to be the start of a big 24 hour period in LA will also be a proving ground for the Cowboys as well as the Rams. Dak Prescott & Dallas won a tight one to advance, just the 2nd playoff win in the last decade or so for Dallas. However, reality is about to set in for the Cowboys. Figure Aaron Donald & Ndamakong Suh will have a couple of meetings with Prescott in the backfield, and their defensive mates will bottle up Ezekiel Elliott, Cole Beasley, and friends.

Pick: Los Angeles.

Philadelphia @ New Orleans (Sunday): Does Nick Foles' Magic Carpet Ride II continue, or does the magic finally run out in N'Awlins? It's a revenge game for the Eagles, who were blown out of the yard by the Saints in the regular season.

What the league would love is for both conference title games to be 1 vs. 2. They'll get their wish.

Pick: New Orleans.

Of course, I could be wrong.
=======================================
Arizona hired former Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury earlier this week, and ESPN bloviator Stephen A. Smith couldn't deal with it. Neither could a Dallas sports anchor. Kingsbury ankled USC to take the Cardinals' job after a losing record at his alma mater. Kingsbury was a star QB for the Red Raiders, but was a bust in the NFL 15 years ago.

Part of why teams have so much trouble winning has to do with the personnel on the field, players & coaches both. If communication is the issue, then changes are made. However, there's also something to be said about the level of competition.....!

The haters just need to shut up and wait 'til September.......

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Musical Interlude: Stranger in My House (1983)

A pea brained programmer in Denver kept country singer Ronnie Milsap from reaching #1 on the country chart with 1983's "Stranger in My House".

You see, the airhead in Denver thought this didn't sound so much like a country record, but rather closer to Led Zeppelin (????), but this was nowhere close to metal. Pop-rock? Yep, "Stranger" peaked at #23 on the Hot 100, and hit the top 10 on the country and adult contemporary charts.

Former football player Mike Reid wrote "Stranger", one of several songs that he'd written for Milsap before launching his own recording career.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Classic TV: Love is a Many Splendored Thing (1967)

The other day, we talked about how 20th Century Fox had dipped into the daytime waters. Their first effort was for CBS, and, as was the case with The Best of Everything (ABC) & Return to Peyton Place (NBC, previously reviewed), it was based on a Fox movie.

Love is a Many Splendored Thing was spun off from a 1955 movie of the same name, with the hyphen removed from the series' title, and both were based on a book by Han Suyin. There was also a hit song around the time of the movie that's been covered by a number of artists.

The TV Love spent six years on CBS (1967-73), but Fox ended its association with the series a year in after the departure of head writer Ima Phillips over a controversial storyline. At the end, CBS bowed to a request by Procter & Gamble to have the company's four CBS soaps air together, bumping Love to a later, less desirable time slot.

Most episodes have fallen victim to the then common practice of wiping, that is to say, networks would erase videos to reuse them over and over again. This 1967 installment is in the public domain.



Musical director Eddie Layton might be better known for his many years as the house organist at Yankee Stadium.

No rating.

Musical Interlude: Five O'Clock World (1965)

From Hullabaloo comes a live performance of the Vogues' "Five O'Clock World". There are clips that dub over the original or remastered album versions of the song, but on Hullabaloo, they put more emphasis on live performances.



This episode aired in January 1966. 21 years later, "World" was included on the soundtrack to the Robin Williams dramedy, "Good Morning, Vietnam". Nearly a decade after that, Drew Carey co-opted it for his self-titled ABC sitcom, and created a boss opening sequence to go with it.

Monday, January 7, 2019

Sports this 'n' that

The Mets made a trio of deals over the weekend, doing their best impersonation of the Yankees, circa the 70's & 80's, by dealing prospects, along with some established players.

On Saturday, the Mets acquired speedy outfielder Keon Broxton from Milwaukee. Relief pitcher Bobby Wahl went to the Brewers with prospects in exchange. Wahl came to New York from Oakland for Jeurys Familia back in July, but with Familia back in Flushing, Wahl, presumably, became expendable. Sunday, the Mets sent catcher Kevin Plawecki to Cleveland for prospects. After acquiring Wilson Ramos as a free agent, the Mets must've felt the light hitting Plawecki didn't figure in their plans for this season, and might've been out of options.

Finally, New York sent some minor leaguers to Houston, getting former Tri-City Valleycat J. D. Davis in return. Davis, a power hitter who can play both outfield & infield, didn't have a position certain for him in Houston, and will likely be a utility player in reserve.
=========================================
Independent wrestler Priscilla Kelly is getting publicity, and attendant criticism along with it, for a crass stunt in a match over the weekend. She reached under her tights to pull out a tampon, which she used on her opponent.

I can remember when the late Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes of TLC used condoms to make fashion statements back in the day. Tampons? Fuhgeddaboutit!

On the other side of the spectrum, with acting jobs fewer & further between, actor David Arquette has dipped back into the wrestling business.

You might recall that Arquette headlined a movie populated with wrestlers from World Championship Wrestling, "Ready to Rumble", 19 years ago. In order to better promote the movie, at least in his warped mind, pea-brained matchmaker Vince Russo decided that Arquette would be WCW's world champion. If WCW hadn't already jumped the shark, making Arquette the champion would've done just that.

On Saturday, a couple of months into his in-ring comeback, Arquette was on the winning end of a tag team match in which blase NWA villain Jocephus got his head shaved by his arch-enemy, and Arquette's tag team partner du jour, former NWA champ Tim Storm, after the match. I guess you had to be there.
=========================================
The NFL has reached the divisional round of the playoffs.

In the AFC, top-seeded Kansas City will host #6 Indianapolis on Saturday, while #2 New England will face the upstart Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. In the NFC, defending Super Bowl champ Philadelphia will seek to avenge a regular season bludgeoning at the hands of the New Orleans Saints, while Dallas visits the Los Angeles Rams. Predictions coming on Friday.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

Names making news

I was watching the local news earlier whilst doing laundry. Watervliet, you see, has two laundromats within a short distance of each other that have flat screen televisions to provide some form of entertainment, if ya will. Anyway, the anchor teased a piece on possible Democratic presidential candidates in 2020, and who should appear in the video?

Yep, nobody's favorite candidate, Hillary Clinton.

Apparently, Swillary hasn't taken the hint yet that America doesn't want her in the White House ever again. She brought too much baggage with her last time, and the power brokers in the Democratic party dug their own grave by arranging it so she, and not a more deserving Bernie Sanders, would run against a still clueless political neophyte in Donald Trump, who pulled what amounted to an upset, while giving some voters cause to reach for the Pepto-Bismol (and they still do, halfway through his term).

What the Democrats need is a more credible candidate without the baggage. That should be a reality show all by itself.
==========================================
Speaking of the President, doesn't it seem as though he comes off more like a child than usual, forcing a partial shutdown of the government because he's not getting his precious border wall? Yep. He's not backing off his demand for $5 billion in government funding for the wall. The Democrats, led by New York's own Chuck Schumer, are willing to put up just under $2 billion, but to tighten pre-existing security. A wall is not the answer, and never has been.

If Trump thinks he can build the US' answer to the Great Wall of China, he is more out of touch than we thought. Instead of sending him to jail after his term ends, he's bound for the nearest insane asylum......
==========================================
Closer to home, Troy City Council President Carmella Mantello, arrested for DUI on December 26, provided an object lesson that President Manchild should be paying attention to, but won't.

Ms. Mantello, you see, is owning her situation. She pled guilty on January 3, and has had her driver's license suspended until April. She's agreed to take classes to learn from her mistakes. She made the usual apology to the hometown she let down in the press before sentencing. By taking ownership of her mistakes, she's put herself a few flights above Trump in the common sense department. She's up for re-election in November, and you wonder if the voters will remember any of this by then.

Would that a certain education administrator in town would also learn from this, and stop his own Trumpian behavior as it relates to El Cheapo Media and Troy High.

Saturday, January 5, 2019

A Classic Reborn: Return to Peyton Place (1972)

20th Century Fox dipped into daytime soaps in the early 70's. First, they tried The Best of Everything on ABC, which, I think, lasted a year or less.

Then, the studio decided to turn to a familiar brand.

Return to Peyton Place was a daily continuation of the earlier ABC primetime series, but this time, the show aired on NBC (don't ask), and ran for nearly 2 full years (April 1972-January 1974). Of course, there was a great deal of cast turnover in the five years in between series. For example, Ryan O'Neal had transitioned to movies (i.e. "Love Story"), and would not return. Lawrence P. Casey (ex-The Rat Patrol) stepped in to fill O'Neal's role as Rodney Carrington, but after over a year, Casey was gone, replaced by Yale Summers (ex-Daktari). Cast turnover was and still is fairly common in daytime drama. One other case had radio & TV veteran Stacy Harris in the original cast in 1972, until he left and Frank Maxwell (ex-The Second Hundred Years) took his place.

Actual series footage seems to have been lost to the mists of time. YouTube poster jsellison created what he thought the open might look like:



The series did well enough initially to warrant a 1-shot primetime episode in 1973. However, ratings began to decline after CBS revived Match Game, and NBC pulled the plug at the start of 1974.

No rating.

Friday, January 4, 2019

The NFL's silly season begins

The road to the Super Bowl begins tomorrow with two days of Wild Card playoffs. Only one of the four match-ups is not a rematch from the regular season.

Saturday:

Indianapolis @ Houston (ESPN/ABC): Yes, the game will air on both networks, in much the same way ESPN will bombard your senses with the third National Championship match between Alabana & Clemson two nights later (sub ESPN2 for ABC, and you get the idea). Monday Night Football has been repurposed on ESPN2 all season, so this time ABC gets the call while "The Deuce" overloads on college hoops to compensate.

Digression over. Houston owns the tiebreaker over Indianapolis, based on a better divisional or conference record, as both finished 10-6 on the season. Speaking of Clemson, former Tiger DeShaun Watson directs the Texans' offense, and has managed to stay healthy in his sophomore season in the NFL. The Colts' Andrew Luck has stayed healthy as well, and has managed to stop taking requests for commercial endorsements, since he looked like such a tool for DirecTV a couple of years back.  Houston's strength, however, is on defense, with JJ Watt, Jadaveon Clowney, & friends. Luck will fall for a change, and that will make the difference.

If Houston wins, they punch their ticket to Foxborough to play the Patriots. If Indianapolis wins, they go to Kansas City, and the winner of Sunday's Chargers-Ravens game goes to New England.

Pick: Houston.
=================================
Seattle @ Dallas (Fox):

Much has been made of the fact that the Seahawks have beaten Dallas the last three times these two teams have met. However, Seattle's vaunted "Legion of Boom" defense is no more. Kam Chancellor retired. Richard Sherman took the money and ran to San Francisco. Dallas acquired Amari Cooper from Oakland earlier in the season, and all he did was give the offense enough of a boost to win the division.

The winners, however, won't know until after the end of Sunday's Eagles-Bears game what their destination will be next week.

Can Dallas break not only the Seahawk hex, but their own playoff futility? Does Seattle have one more big playoff run left? Momentum is on the Cowboys' side for a change.

Pick-Dallas.
===================================
Sunday:

Los Angeles @ Baltimore (CBS): The Ravens have a young gun of their own in Lamar Jackson, the former Heisman Trophy winner out of Louisville, who has supplanted Joe Flacco as the starter, which may signal Flacco's exit after 11 seasons.  Philip Rivers wants what Eli Manning has, and that, of course, is a Super Bowl. Manning has two, and while Manning has regressed off and on the last few seasons, Rivers has been steady. Baltimore has also found another new star on offense in rookie running back Gus Edwards, who came literally out of nowhere this season. Los Angeles gets Melvin Gordon back, after he missed the Week 16 meeting between these two clubs due to injury.

Like the Seahawks, the question with Baltimore's defense is if it can carry the Ravens to another Super Bowl. That question will be answered on Sunday. There's also the continuing drama with Baltimore DB Eric Weddle, who came over from the Chargers in 2017.

Pick-Baltimore.
======================================
Philadelphia @ Chicago (NBC): Remember the Fog Bowl game between these two back in the 80's? That was wack all by itself, but this is a different generation, and there won't be any fog in Chi-Town on Sunday.

Last year, the Eagles soared all the way to the title, riding the arm of Nick Foles, who's back in the saddle after an injury to Carson Wentz---again. Chicago made noise by picking up Khalil Mack from Oakland in the offseason, and he's been a key to their defensive resurgence.

I honestly think that if a division winner falls this weekend, it's in this game. If Chicago wins, they will travel to Los Angeles. If Philadelphia wins, it'll be Dallas at Los Angeles, and the Eagles will go to New Orleans. I don't think Mitch Trubisky, in his 2nd season, is ready to take the Bears up the next notch on the ladder. These two teams didn't meet in the regular season, and that freshness will be key.

Pick-Philadelphia.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Thursday, January 3, 2019

On The Air: The Masked Singer (2019)

Based on a Korean talent show, Fox's newest entry, The Masked Singer, is a guilty pleasure.

Twelve famous people don full-length costumes and masks in this three month excursion into insanity. Nick Cannon (Wild 'N' Out, America's Got Talent, ex-All That) serves as host. The judges doubling as aspiring sleuths are singers Robin Thicke & Nicole Scherzinger, actor-comic Ken Jeong (ex-Dr. Ken), and comedienne-activist Jenny McCarthy Wahlberg.

Opening night saw players dressed as a Lion, a Unicorn, a Monster, and a Hippo, among others. Voices are, of course, electronically disguised in interviews. Six more aspirants debut next week. I have to admit, having a fondness for mysteries myself, I was fooled by this week's reveal just as the judges were, though I keyed on one of the clues, even if they didn't.

Check out this Hippo with a retro-New Jack Swing sound from the 80's....



Among the guesses were former NBA star Allen Iverson and former two-sport standout (and current NFL Network analyst) Deion Sanders, both of whom have some recording history. Ye scribe, sitting at home, took a swing at another two-sport star, Mookie Betts of the World Series champion Boston Red Sox, who has moonlighted in bowling in recent years. We were all wrong.

The Hippo, you see, was Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who's currently on the outs with his team, and could follow LeVeon Bell out the door after the season. Brown, of course, has local ties, too, since his father, "Touchdown" Eddie Brown, was a superstar with the Albany Firebirds in Arena Football back in the day.

Now I've got something to fill my Wednesday nights until Spring.

Rating: A-.

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Death times four to start the year

They say death comes in threes. We're just two days in the new year, and four famous people have already left us.

Comedian-writer Bob Einstein, most recently on Curb Your Enthusiasm, passed away at 76. Einstein is still better known for his bumbling, but well-meaning, stuntman, Super Dave Osborne, who headlined his own series on Showtime back in the day. Einstein also was a writer and performer on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour in the 60's, usually appearing as Officer Judy.

Songwriter Norman Gimbel wrote the lyrics for a very large number of songs in movies & television. In the 70's alone, he was responsible, with Charles Fox, for the themes from Happy Days, Wonder Woman, & Laverne & Shirley. He also co-wrote Roberta Flack's #1 hit, "Killing Me Softly (With His Song)". Gimbel was 91.

Veteran wrestling personality Gene Okerlund, also 76, had started as an insurance salesman before being hired by AWA's Verne Gagne. Okerlund followed the likes of Jesse Ventura and Hulk Hogan to the then-World Wrestling Federation in the early 80's, and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Okerlund also recorded a couple of novelty tracks, particularly covers of Little Richard's "Tutti Frutti" and Rick Derringer's "Rock & Roll Hoochie Koo", the latter of which can be found over at Saturday Morning Archives.

Finally, Daryl Dragon was the Captain of Captain & Tennille with then-wife Toni Tennille. The couple topped the charts with "Love Will Keep Us Together", "Do That to Me One More Time", and a cover of "Muskrat Love", which they performed on Tennille's short-lived talk show in 1980.



Daryl Dragon was also 76.

Rest in peace, gentlemen.

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

What Might've Been: Anything For Money (1984)

A quiz show crossed with Allen Funt's seminal Candid Camera should've worked.

Unfortunately, Anything For Money, distributed by Paramount in 1984, lasted one season. 30 weeks total, due to early ratings success in a number of markets. Locally, the show aired at lunch time on the NBC affiliate, which hadn't launched a noon newscast at that point.

Impressionist Fred Travalena (ex-The Kopykats) was tapped to host. Veteran announcer Johnny Gilbert also was the announcer for Paramount's previous venture into game shows, Make Me Laugh, five years earlier. In that same fall of 1984, Gilbert also began his current run as Alex Trebek's announcer on Jeopardy!, now in its 35th season in its current iteration.

Travalena, no stranger to game shows himself as a panelist on Match Game, for example, was a charming, genial MC. However, it took nearly a decade before he landed another gig as a game show host (Baby Races), and Money deserved a better fate than it did.

This sample comes from a feed from WCBS in New York, complete with commercials.



Rating: B.

Origin of a Classic: The pilot movie of Cannon (1971)

In 1971, Quinn Martin made his first sale to CBS after dealing exclusively with ABC since signing on as executive producer of The Untouchables 12 years earlier.

Cannon launched with a 2 hour TV-movie that looked like your basic whodunit. The only difference between the movie and the show itself, which launched that fall, was that Frank Cannon (William Conrad) seemed to live a pretty lavish lifestyle for a retired cop-turned-private detective.

Cannon has returned home from Japan, and takes the case of a widow (Vera Miles) of an old war buddy. Small town corruption rears its ugly head in due course. The supporting cast is a veritable cornucopia of familiar names, including Earl Holliman (ex-Hotel de Paree, later of Police Woman), Norman Alden (ex-Rango), Ross Hagen (ex-Daktari), Barry Sullivan (ex-The Tall Man), John Fiedler, and J. D. Cannon, the latter of whom would later turn up on McCloud.

Edit, 4/13/2020: The video has been deleted. Here's the intro:



Rating: B.