Thursday, February 28, 2019

Forgotten TV: Teen Angel (1997)

ABC had hoped to create a supernatural theme to their TGIF block for the 1997-8 season, adding two new series to complement the returning Sabrina, The Teenage Witch.

Unfortunately neither You Wish nor our next subject, Teen Angel, finished the season.

Teen Angel was the second series to bear that title, both likely inspired by Mark Dinning's hit song of the same name for all we know. The earlier series had starred Jason Priestley, a year before Beverly Hills 90210 made him a pop culture icon.

In this series, Marty (Mike Damus) dies of food poisoning after slamming down a six month old burger he found under his best friend's bed. God's "cousin" (Ron Glass, ex-Barney Miller) sends Marty back to Earth as his pal's new guardian angel. As silly as it sounds. Maureen McCormick (ex-The Brady Bunch, Brady Brides) co-starred, but was gone before the series ended. Luckless Jerry Van Dyke (ex-Coach) appeared on both Teen Angel & You Wish, which didn't exactly inspire confidence.

Here's a sample clip:

Despite coming from Boy Meets World producer Michael Jacobs, this Angel was lucky just to get off the ground.

Rating: C--.

Sports this 'n' that

ESPN is looking for another analyst for Monday Night Football. Again.

Jason Witten, after one season in the booth, and mixed reviews from critics, is returning to the Dallas Cowboys for one more season, realizing that his absence last season might've been a reason why Dallas didn't get very far in the postseason. His absence cost QB Dak Prescott a valuable weapon in the offense, and his successors didn't exactly move the meter. With talk that Anthony "Booger" McFarland and his infamous mobile booth might be permanently separated in 2019, Joe Tessitore will either have McFarland in the booth with him, or someone else so that McFarland can be on the field, a la former Fox analyst Tony Siragusa. Stay tuned.
The Philadelphia Phillies just became the latest team to be fleeced by Scott Boras.

The Phillies have agreed to a 13 year, $330 million dollar contract with Bryce Harper. The tempermental Harper stays in the National League East, there is a no-trade clause included, but there also isn't an opt-out clause, one of Boras' favorite tools. Harper appears in a number of YouTube baseball ejection compilation videos because he does have a tendency to lose his temper over questionable strike calls. Harper leaving Washington for Philadelphia means a shift in the balance of power in the division, but the Nationals still have a top shelf pitching staff, which the Phillies are trying to copy. What the move actually means, in this writer's opinion, is not only overtaking the Nationals and Braves in the division after the Phillies' second half collapse last year, but finally ending the dominance the Mets have enjoyed at Citizens Bank Park in recent years. Philadelphia's pitching corps isn't on the Mets' level, either, but.....!

Harper's contract averages out to roughly around $25 million a year, and he'll be the linchpin of the Phillies' offense until 2031. And that's assuming he maintains his physical and mental health over that span. If Harper can mentally mature and stop with the post-strikeout temper tantrums, then the Phillies are players. If not, then second year manager Gabe Kapler has a big problem.
Speaking of the Mets, local fans won't be able to listen to the team's games on the radio this season, barring an 11th hour move. Pamal Broadcasting, parent company of WROW-AM, which carried the team's games last year, chose not to renew their deal, and it doesn't look like anyone's interested. WCBS, the team's new flagship, has a signal that strengthens in the dark, meaning you'd miss the first hour of a lot of night games if you tried tuning your radio to WCBS. I should know. I used to have a transistor radio back in the day, and would tune into WCBS at night. The signal's not always strong or consistent, and you'd have to angle your radio in such a way to get the clearest sound. Here's to hoping WCBS has a website (doesn't every radio station have one?) that will stream the broadcasts. That might be your best bet.
A week before Christmas, WWE Chairman/CEO/head nutcase Vince McMahon, alongside son Shane, daughter Stephanie, and son-in-law Triple H, promised on Monday Night Raw that the fans would have some authority in deciding what they want to see.

Two months later, McMahon has gone back on his word. No surprise there. It's how he's gone about it that has people talking.

Deluded by the belief that he's still a ratings draw, McMahon has made a pair of arbitrary decisions, seemingly without consulting the rest of the family, on the air that have had an adverse effect on forthcoming pay-per-view/WWE Network events.

First, women's Royal Rumble winner Becky Lynch, who had her storyline suspension rescinded by Stephanie & Triple H, was placed back on the suspended list for 60 days, opening the door for frenemy Charlotte Flair to move into the women's title match, Raw division, vs. Ronda Rousey at Wrestlemania on April 7. While, technically, McMahon did nothing wrong, it was his approach to it, undermining his daughter & son-in-law, presenting Flair as if she were his latest mistress or something. This led to Rousey, on the last Raw, leaving her title belt with Stephanie. Now, Flair claims she'll be at Raw on March 4 to be formally declared champion, something her father, Hall of Famer Ric Flair, would never have done in his career. Every title Ric Flair won, fair or not, was earned in the ring. I was there when Ric won the 1992 Royal Rumble at the then-Knickerbocker Arena in Albany. So why would Charlotte, turning heel, take the low road, when her dad, either as a heel or babyface, always did things the right way?

Then, two nights ago, just as Kofi Kingston, an 11 year main roster veteran, was about to sign his first world title contract to face Daniel Bryan at Fastlane on March 10 in Cleveland, with Shane & Steph witnessing the signing, along comes Chairman Wackjob himself, to use his discretion, questionable as that is, to replace Kofi with the returning Kevin Owens, all because the elder McMahon, 73, thinks Owens is a bigger box office draw. What he's not willing to admit, of course, is that there might be a racial subtext. Kingston was inserted in the storyline to replace the injured Mustafa Ali (facial injury).

Ok, it's one thing to substitute a Muslim with an African-American (who once posed as a Jamaican). But to pull the race card ever so subtly, at the end of Black History Month? This sounds to me like McMahon had plans to submarine Ali's push, making him a bigger underdog, but instead, with Ali on the DL, Kingston gets undercut, but at the same time, the stunned expressions on Shane & Stephanie told a bigger tale, one I've been hoping they'd get to for years.

That Vince, at 73, is, in fact, nuts.

Consider that Vince wants to revive the XFL, independent of WWE, and the launch is set for next year. A protracted storyline that has Shane/Stephanie/Triple H, and most of the roster, against the old man for a variety of reasons, culminates with Vince being removed from power for an extended period than he was in storyline in 2011 (3 months), giving him time to concentrate on the XFL's relaunch. Some people might think they could fast-track this and end Vince at Wrestlemania. To me, that's too soon. Stretch it out over the spring & summer, and send him on his way at either Summerslam in August or Survivor Series in November, and keep him away for as long as possible, allowing Triple H to work his magic on the main roster, which has a number of NXT graduates, Owens included. It'll be interesting to see if they include a straitjacket in Vince's farewell package, since his on air persona needs to be sent to Happy Acres. Yesterday.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Dunce Cap Award: Donald Trump, Jr.

While the Ugly American President is en route to Vietnam for a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, son Donald Trump, Jr. has put both feet in his mouth again.

First, Dumb Donald II tried downplaying the roles of his father's friends, such as Paul Manafort, in relation to the investigation conducted by special counsel Robert Mueller into the possibility that Russian agents had something to do with the 2016 election. CNN's Jake Tapper had something to say about that:

Then, he picked up on a headline by the conservative tabloid Daily Caller, and disparaged the accomplishments of transgender athlete Cece Telfer, who won three Northeast-10 track titles for Franklin Pierce University on Sunday. Apparently, truth is something the older men in the Trump family don't believe in. Hopefully, youngest son Barron, President Narcissus' offspring with current wife Melania, doesn't follow in the leaden footsteps of his half-brothers.

To that end, we present the appropriate theme music of the Trump men, courtesy of "Weird Al" Yankovic:

Of course, this means that Dumb Donald II gets a Dunce Cap. What did you expect?

Musical Interlude: It's My Life (1984)

One YouTube commentator has referred to Talk Talk's 1984 smash, "It's My Life", as the official theme song of Animal Planet, largely because the following clip, which got major airplay on MTV from the point of its release in the winter of 1984, was largely consisting of wildlife footage. Bill Burrud and Marlin Perkins would've been proud.

Sadly, this is in memory of vocalist-co-author Mark Hollis, who has passed away.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

What Might've Been: The Baron (1966)

The one drawback with ITC's family of action shows in the 60's was that if it wasn't The Saint or Danger Man/Secret Agent, it wasn't going to last.

The Baron, a 1966 offering, was loosely based on a series of novels by John Creasey. His protagonist, John Mannering (Steve Forrest), was rebooted into an antique dealer/undercover agent in the TV series, when Creasey had envisioned Manning as a reformed jewel thief, kind of like Boston Blackie here in the US. 30 episodes were produced, and aired here on ABC.

It would be several years later before I'd finally get to see the show, as it aired locally for a brief bit, likely capitalizing on Forrest returning to series television in Aaron Spelling's original S. W. A. T. in the mid-70's. I remember sitting at home with my late father one Sunday afternoon checking this show out. Nothing special, really, just another crime drama.

Here's the intro:

Rating: B.

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Musical Interlude: Don't Shed a Tear (1987)

Paul Carrack was one of the voices of bands as diverse as Squeeze, Ace, Roxy Music (yes, he gave Bryan Ferry a breather now & again), & Mike + The Mechanics back in the day. In 1987, he went solo, and released the song, "Don't Shed a Tear", on Chrysalis. "Tear" peaked at #9 on the Hot 100 in February 1988.

Dunce Cap Award: Jussie Smollett

If actor Jussie Smollett ever has to write a book, it should be called, How to Tank Your Career in One Easy Step.

By now, you know that Smollett has gone from victim to having been arrested and charged with filing a false report after it came out that the hate crime attack perpetrated on the Empire star was actually staged by Smollett himself.

The rationale? Smollett is not a happy camper, it seems, as it relates to his salary. Feels as though he's not making enough money off the Fox series. Word is that Smollett won't appear in any new episodes of Empire any time soon. The fact that Smollett is openly gay, and tried to pass this off as a hate crime, makes him a pariah to the LGBT community.

In sports, players renegotiate their contracts all the time, usually because if they feel they're the best at their position, and someone else is making more money playing the same role on another team, well....! Smollett's not even the main star of Empire (that would be Terence Howard and Taraj P. Henson), and so he perpetrates this scam to further his career, in the faint hope he can make more money with a raise? I'm sorry, but this dude flushed his career straight down the toilet. He had to know this would blow up as quickly as it did, due to the public obsession with anything involving celebrities, for good or bad.

For this week's Dunce Cap winner, there is dumb, and there he is.

There must be something in the water in Chicago, considering that less than 48 hours after Smollett's scam was busted wide open, singer R(obert). Kelly turned himself in to Chi-town police after years of denying he'd slept with underage girls. Seems there are videos. His career is over. Then again, it should've been over a long time ago once word first got out that he allegedly had been with a 14 year old.

Why deny it, dude?  Reality and karma will catch up anyway. Oh, yeah, we're giving Kelly a Dunce Cap, too, for spending so much time in denial.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Musical Interlude: Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow) (1967)

From season 1 of The Monkees comes a performance of the Neil Diamond-penned "Look Out (Here Comes Tomorrow)", from the episode, "Monkee Mother", with guest star Rose Marie (2nd appearance).

In memory of Peter Tork, who has passed away at 77 from tongue cancer. The Monkees are now a duo (Micky Dolenz & Mike Nesmith), and are scheduled to hit the home district next month.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

What Might've Been: Mr. President (1987)

After years of mining the White House for monologue material on The Tonight Show, Johnny Carson thought it might be a good idea to develop a sitcom about the President's life away from work.

Carson collaborated with TV vet Ed. Weinberger to create Mr. President, which was one of the first sitcoms to air on Fox in the spring of 1987. Oscar winner George C. Scott, 23 years after East Side-West Side had ended, returned to series television, essaying the title role of a fictional Chief Executive. Conrad Bain (ex-Diff'rent Strokes, Maude) played the Chief of Staff. In the second season, the President's wife left him, so his sister-in-law (Madeline Kahn) stepped in to help care for the President's two youngest children.

So what did in Mr. President? Scott took ill during the second season, and, with ratings likely declining, Fox pulled the plug.

I never saw the show, so there will not be a rating. We'll leave you with a sample episode.

Sports this 'n' that

The rumors were swirling that the Alliance of American Football was already having money problems prior to last week's games. Then, Ron Dundon, owner of the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes, stepped in as the new chairman of the board of directors and invested $250 million into the nascent league.

If the fears of money problems sound familiar with short-season football leagues, well, it's happened before. It was money, among other things, or lack thereof, that sank the World Football League after just two seasons back in the 70's. Despite the TV deal with CBS & NFL Network, among their media partners, the league's structure should've been stronger before play began on February 9. Stay tuned.
The new owners of the San Diego Padres should've been reading from the book of George Santayana.

How else to explain falling for Scott "20 Mule Team" Boras' con game, and shelling out $300 million over 10 years to infielder Manny Machado, who stays in southern California after making the last out for the Dodgers in the World Series? Boras, more often than not, will find a patsy or two, and this time, he had a few extra reasons to fleece the Padres.

I'm not sure if he still represents Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray, but Boras had to be butt-hurt when Murray decided to enter the NFL draft after all, and decided not to report to Oakland's training camp in Arizona. To be sure, Boras will find another gullible owner to overpay for Bryce Harper, who's still on the market.

If I'm an owner, I'm taking into account Harper's propensity for temper tantrums on the field, usually on strikeouts. For all of that talent, he still acts like an immature child when a call goes against him. Yes, baseball is an emotional game, but come on. After all this time, you'd figure Harper would know how the strike zone changes from one game to the next, depending on the plate umpire, and the general inability of the boys in blue to have a consistent zone.
The WWE has begun announcing the Hall of Fame Class of 2019, and it's already a feel-good moment for a lot of fans.

Paul "Triple H" Levesque, on-screen Chief Operating Officer, announced Monday that D-Generation X, the group he co-founded with Shawn Michaels, will be going into the Hall. That makes Michaels (Michael Hickenbottom) a 2-time Hall of Famer, as he re-enters with Levesque, Billy Gunn (Kip Sopp), Road Dogg Jesse James (Brian James), X-Pac (Sean Waltman), and the late Chyna (Joanie Laurer).

Triple H will likely end up a 2-time Hall of Famer himself one day, but including his ex with the group had to be the right move, given Laurer's body of work with and without DX while with WWF/E (1997-2001). The late Rick Rude, already in as a posthumous entry, and a member of DX for about 15 minutes in 1997-8, will not be enshrined a second time.

More inductions will be announced between now and next month.

Monday, February 18, 2019

YouTube Theatre: The Missiles of October (1974)

It was big news in 1974 when ABC developed the first "docu-drama", a three hour special presentation that was presented in the style of a Broadway production, but, as memory serves me, it wasn't live, unlike the recent stream of live specials which have aired on NBC & Fox.

The Missiles of October chronicled thirteen important days in October of 1962 when President John F. Kennedy (William Devane) sought to block the development of nuclear arms imported to Cuba from the Soviet Union. The cast also includes Andrew Duggan (ex-Lancer), Dana Elcar, Howard da Silva, and Martin Sheen as Robert F. Kennedy. Thayer David is the narrator.

Edit, 5/21/19: The video has been deleted. In its place is a fan-made trailer:

Devane, a native of Albany, and Sheen would work together again years later on The West Wing. Devane would later star on Knots Landing for 10 seasons. The Cuban Missile Crisis would be explored again several years later in the film, "Thirteen Days", with Kevin Costner.

Rating: A.

What Might've Been: Couch Potatoes (1989)

This has previously been reviewed at Saturday Morning Archives, but we're giving it a fresh look today.

The year is 1989. MTV's Remote Control was the inspiration for producer Haim Saban's last attempt at a game show. He'd bombed with a pair of Saturday morning games, NBC's I'm Telling! (co-produced by DIC), and the syndicated Treasure Mall, and wouldn't find live-action success until acquiring the rights to what would become the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

Couch Potatoes was a daily series that ran from January-June 1989, with Marc Summers, host of Nickelodeon's Double Dare, serving as MC. Watervliet native Joe Alaskey (ex-Out of This World) was the announcer at first, but due to scheduling conflicts related to his voice-over work, Alaskey was gone before the series was over, replaced by veteran game show MC Jim McKrell. Alaskey will be seen and heard in this sample offering:

While Remote Control had been on the air less than 18 months before Potatoes debuted, it wasn't the only reason Potatoes failed, as I have no memory of the series airing in the home market, even with the unlikely hook of having local talent on the show.

No rating.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Musical Interlude: No Reply At All (1981)

Off the "Abacab" album, Genesis released the bouncy "No Reply At All" in the fall of 1981. All three members (Phil Collins, Tony Banks, Mike Rutherford) double as the horn section, since the actual musicians were unavailable for the video.

A game show for dummies (SCTV, 1984?)

I'm not exactly sure when this aired on SCTV, but this sketch, Half Wits, a parody of quiz shows such as GE College Bowl, was the inspiration for Saturday Night Live's Celebrity Jeopardy! skits.

Alex Trebel (Eugene Levy, impersonating Alex Trebek) has to deal with contestants who look like they're either suffering from extreme stage fright, or are just plain dim.....

Not sure if this was on NBC or Cinemax. If someone can fill in the blank, let me know.

Rating: B.

Friday, February 15, 2019

What Might've Been: Hollywood Beat (1985)

Aaron Spelling wanted to create his own version of Miami Vice, which was entering its 2nd season.  Unfortunately, Hollywood Beat came across as trying to be two things at once. Not only was it a Vice knockoff, but it tried to be an 80's version of the 70's buddy-cop drama, Starsky & Hutch.

Jay Acavone & Jack Scalia were the leads. Scalia, at least, had some cred, having starred opposite Rock Hudson in 1982's Devlin Connection (another flop), and would move on to Dallas after Beat was cancelled. Not bad for a former Jordache model. Edward Winter (ex-M*A*S*H) was the commanding officer. The title song was performed by Natalie Cole.

Following is a sample episode:

No rating. It aired on Saturdays, and back then, that was bowling night, so I never saw the show.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Video Valentine: Teenager in Love (1959)

Dion & The Belmonts sang about the concerns of 50's youth in 1959's "Teenager in Love", taken from the Dick Clark Beech-Nut Show:

Now, come on, poor-mouthing oneself can still net a fellow a date.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

On The Shelf: A history lesson for fans of iconic franchises

DC's line of Silver Age reprint collections keeps getting better & better.

Teen Titans, volume 1, takes readers back to the formation of the team in the pages of The Brave & The Bold (1st series), then an issue of Showcase (1st series), before the Titans are eventually promoted into their own series.

That formation starts with Aqualad, Kid Flash (Wally West), & Robin (Dick Grayson), each being invited to take part in an activity with the begruding approval of their mentors, and the long standing friendships among them, and later members Speedy (Roy Harper) & Wonder Girl (Donna Troy), are formed. Their dialogue is so much different from their appearances in, for example, Detective Comics (Robin) or The Flash (Kid Flash), as writer Bob Haney uses to popular slang of the period, in this case, the early 60's.

While Haney had been maligned in his later years due to settling into a basic writing style, he does try to connect with the teenage demographic. Artist Nick Cardy spent the bulk of the 60's at DC working on the series, as well as Western hero Bat Lash, even spending some time drawing Aquaman, as memory serves.

While the current Titans series on DC Universe is centered on the 80's revival of the team, older readers will want to reacquaint themselves. Getting a DVD collection of the Filmation shorts from 1967 would be nice, too (and I already have one).

Rating: B+. There are some clunkers in the mix, but that can't be helped.

Meanwhile, the Doom Patrol not only debuted in the pages of My Greatest Adventure, they took over the book proper. Creators Arnold Drake & Bruno Premiani had the idea of a team of outcast heroes before Stan Lee & Jack Kirby introduced Marvel readers to the X-Men. All three members were in accidents that turned them into "The World's Strangest Heroes", but later iterations have suggested that Niles Caulder had a more sinister agenda in mind.

The Patrol will be on DCU later this month, spinning off into their own series from Titans, with a cast including Brendan Fraser, Timothy Dalton, and Matt Bomer (ex-White Collar). We'll have a review up for that soon.

Rating: B-.

Archie Comics announced today that Archie will be rechristened Archie & Sabrina beginning in issue 705. Yes, the teenage witch is Archie's new love, and I'm told the title change will be in effect for at least five issues. Writer Nick Spencer has courted controversy with his work at Marvel, but given how he's gotten a positive reception for his work on Amazing Spider-Man, the tide of public opinion seems to be changing. Jughead is the series narrator, just like on Riverdale, and is embroiled in a mystery of his own in the current run. Let's see if Spencer really knows how to connect with today's teens.

Rating: B.

When the Wonder Twins were introduced in Super Friends (1st series) 7 in 1977, they were orphans whose parents died when they were toddlers. Not so anymore in the mind of writer Mark Russell, who has rebooted Zan & Jayna for a new audience. Seems the Twins' father was a friend of Superman, and the Man of Steel was the one who brought the super-sibs to earth. No secret identities in this era of inclusion, but there are some notable traits.

For one, Zan tends to refer to himself in the 3rd person. A little too cocky for his own good, which was often the case in the duo's 80's shorts. Jayna is surprisingly shy, but also smart & savvy. That up-raised ponytail is gone, but then, one must change with the times. Russell does go a little overboard in spots, but we'll forgive him. We'll even be happier if Stephen Byrne can be persuaded to put Jayna in a purple two piece bikini, just for kicks. Beast Boy guest stars in issue 2, and Gleek, now with a mohawk 'do (What?), will be showcased in issue 3.

Rating: Incomplete. A full rating is being reserved until after the miniseries concludes this summer.

Update, 8:40 pm (ET): DC has pulled the plug on their superhero-religious satire, Second Coming, due to arrive next month. Series creator Mark Russell has reacquired the rights to the series, which was ticketed for Vertigo. Seems there are Christians more thin-skinned than ye scribe, and they were butt-hurt over the project enough to raise enough of a stink to force DC to pull the book. Russell has plans to shop the title elsewhere. Image might be a good starting point.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Video Valentine: 'Til I Kissed You (1970's)

From Sha Na Na:

Donny York & Dave "Chico" Ryan serenade Ginger (Pamela Myers), and woo her at the same time, with a cover of the Everly Brothers' "'Til I Kissed You". You can't go wrong with these guys.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Forgotten TV: USA Up All Night (1989)

Back in the day, USA Network offered a more eclectic lineup than they do now.

Evidence of this was in the late night movie anthology block, USA Up All Night, which ran initially overnights on Saturdays, then added Friday night-Saturday mornings about six months in. Actor-comedian Gilbert Gottfried (ex-Saturday Night Live), fresh from a stint on MTV, was the first host, but most people might associate the series with its longest tenured MC, comedienne Rhonda Shear, who did a lot of on location interviews in addition to comedy sketches during commercial breaks.

Up All Night ran for 9 years (1989-98), and was cut when former Fox executive Barry Diller took over USA, and decided to make some changes. The movie roster during the series run was eclectic, all right, a mix of familiar feature films that the network had broadcast rights to (i.e. "The Blues Brothers", "Swamp Thing") and B-movies, such as "Rebel High" & "The Curious Female", the featured films (which we won't see) in a December 1991 installment. The video package has Rhonda alternating between the studio and a 10th anniversary party for the radio version of Rockline (the TV version of which, of course, was over on MTV).

From Rhonda's own YouTube channel:

Giving a "sizzle kiss" on the butt of a Bart Simpson doll? Funny, yes, but it probably wouldn't fly today.

Rating: B.

Video Valentine: Ain't No Woman (Like The One I've Got)(1973)

Today's Video Valentine also appears at Saturday Morning Archives:

The Four Tops changed labels, from Motown to ABC-Dunhill, in the early 70's, and their first major hit for the new label landed them, of course, on Soul Train. Here's "Ain't No Woman (Like The One I've Got)":

Friday, February 8, 2019

Weasel of the Week: David Pecker

David Pecker, long time friend of President Donald Trump, is the CEO of American Media, parent company of the long-running tabloid, the National Enquirer. Like its supermarket kinfolk, the Enquirer, in a bid to stay relevant opposite Comedy Central's Daily Show, for example, has resorted to fabricating headlines in order to sell papers. That the tabloids are now a wee bit overpriced isn't helping.

However, it appears that while Pecker has agreed to work with Federal investigators in regards to Trump's 2016 campaign, it now comes out that the staff at the Enquirer, on orders from Pecker, were attempting to blackmail Amazon and Washington Post owner Jeff Bezos.

While it's well known now that Bezos and his wife had filed for divorce after Bezos' extra-marital affair came to light last year, it seems that Pecker, attempting to do a solid for Trump, wanted Bezos to retract claims that the tabloid's guerrilla journalism in exposing his affair was politically motivated. Trump has long claimed the Post is one of those purveyors of "fake news", and has had a long standing hatred of Bezos, the richest man in the world.

While the Enquirer has gotten in trouble before for fabricating stories about celebrities (i.e. Carol Burnett) in the past, this could end up being Waterloo for the long running magazine, which has taken some heat for its pro-Trump propaganda during the '16 campaign and allegedly paying someone hush money about an alleged affair she had with Trump.

This all runs back to Trump, and to that, we have to ask:

Jealous much, Mr. President?

We know Trump is thin-skinned, and has an enormous ego that, as a Christian, he should've scaled down. As the Bible tells us, "pride goes before the fall". That's a lesson that Trump and his dittoheads, Pecker included, have yet to comprehend. No, this is not so much about politics, but rather Bezos fighting back against a business rival who now has the biggest bully pulpit on Earth. If Bezos wins this fight, say good-bye to American Media and its family of once-proud tabloids, because the supermarket tabloid, which belongs in the fiction section of your local bookstore, not at the checkout counters anymore, is a dying breed.

David Pecker gets the Weasel ears this week for trying to 1) justify his paper's yellow journalism on behalf of Trump, and 2) bullying Bezos, which, so far, isn't working.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Video Valentine: Love & Affection (1976)

During the 80's & 90's, I often heard Joan Armatrading's 1976 hit, "Love & Affection" on the radio, but, just my luck, the DJ's often didn't ID the song. I discovered Joan's music with her 80's smash, "Drop The Pilot", and would luck into some of her earlier material. An ex-girlfriend of mine would play one of Joan's other compositions in concert in the late 80's.

With a week to go before Valentine's Day, this would be appropriate, no?

On The Shelf: The joy of reprints, and rediscovering lost titles

Marvel's True Believers reprint series picks one topic each month, enabling the publisher to reach into the vaults for some classics, some of which hadn't seen the light of day in years.

February brings back the original Ms. Marvel, Carol Danvers, in time for next month's "Captain Marvel" feature film, as Carol is the latest to adopt that guise. In 1976, veteran writer Gerry Conway came up with the idea of bringing back Carol, who had appeared as a supporting character in the earlier Captain Marvel series, which had ended a year earlier, but now suffering from amnesia and a split personality of a sort. Conway, to start, decided to use the trope of Carol becoming Ms. Marvel when Carol herself was unconscious, not unlike DC's Rose & The Thorn a few years earlier. Carol's "blackouts", being unable to remember what she does in costume, also recalls the earliest tales of the Incredible Hulk, which itself was inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde.

Unfortunately, Carol also ends up working for J. Jonah Jameson, who at the time wasn't exactly winning sympathy points with his anti-hero diatribes, usually reserved for Spider-Man. And, yep, the teaming of Spidey & Ms. Marvel (Marvel Team-Up 62, by Chris Claremont & John Byrne), is reissued this week, as well. Unfortunately, the gimmick falls short by not offering a synopsis of what happens next if the story continues elsewhere.

Unlike Conan The Barbarian, showcased last month, and whose early tales were usually done in one, this exposes the flaw in the gimmick.

It would be nice, though, if Marvel actually bothered to release their trade paperback collections at lower prices as an incentive for today's readers to rediscover these characters as Marvel originally presented them.

The Ms. Marvel reprints get a B.
The Conan reprints merit an A-.

As part of its 80th anniversary celebration, Marvel is also reviving selected short-lived series from the 70's. In January, we saw a War is Hell 1-shot, with a lead feature written & illustrated by Howard Chaykin. While it isn't typical Chaykin fare, for which we should be thankful, he takes a page from DC's short-lived 1975 series, Blitzkrieg, by taking a look at things from the enemy's point of view. The upside is that John Kowalski, the character introduced in the series in its dying days, wasn't included, and hasn't been seen in years. Marvel's probably either forgotten him, or is looking for a more appropriate venue for his return.

Rating: B.

This month sees a Gunhawks 1-off by the husband & wife team of David & Maria Lapham (Stray Bullets). It's a decent story, but keeping the title as a plural is a misnomer, as neither lead from the 1972-3 series, Reno Jones or Kid Cassidy, figures into the story. Apparently, the Laphams were given carte blanche to create their own character, with the thought of a future spin-off. Nice idea, but there's a reason why Jonah Hex's last series at DC ended after three years. Today's readers don't have that much interest in westerns.

Rating: B.

Advertising For Dummies: Would you believe a chimp could actually drive a car? (1964-5)

This also appears over at Saturday Morning Archives:

Texaco was looking for alternate endorsers aside from Jack Benny, and recruited Don Adams (pre-Get Smart) for this ad. Bill Hinnant, brother of Skip Hinnant of Electric Company fame, is the frantic attendant, not Gary Burghoff as YouTube commentators assumed. Many thanks to frequent commentator Mike Doran for supplying the information......

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Forgotten TV: The Roy Rogers & Dale Evans Show (1962)

Five years after his Sunday Western series ended, Roy Rogers and his wife, Dale Evans, returned to television with a hour-long variety series that aired on ABC. Unfortunately, it lasted just three months, due to the fact that 1) it aired opposite Jackie Gleason on CBS, and 2) reruns of the 1951-7 Roy Rogers Show were airing on Saturday mornings, keeping that series fresh in the minds of viewers.

Humorist Cliff Arquette's alter-ego of Charley Weaver appeared with Rogers & Evans, but because the series' run was so short, most people still associate the character with appearances on the original Hollywood Squares, which premiered in 1966. Arquette, though, had been a character actor who appeared in other roles elsewhere (i.e. Dragnet) in addition to the Weaver persona.

Edit, 1/4/21: The video was deleted. In its place is the intro:

I have a sample of The Roy Rogers Show over at Saturday Morning Archives.

No rating.

Musical Interlude: Invisible Sun (1981)

The Police released "Ghost in The Machine" in the fall of 1981. "Invisible Sun" was released as a single in the UK, but not in the US (don't ask). However, it was played on American album rock channels anyway. "Sun" soared to #2 in the UK, and represented a departure from the group's usual sound.

Much of the footage in the video was shot in Ireland.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Native Americans drive trucks, too (1969-70)

Jay Silverheels tweaked his familiar persona as Tonto from The Lone Ranger for this ad for Chevrolet.

In those days, for example, a 1970 model would be on the market in the final quarter of the previous year, in this case 1969.

Here a scandal, there a scandal.......

Personally, I'd like to know what kind of person would go out of their way to destroy another person's career, just for the sake of doing so.

By now, you might be aware of the imbroglio in Virginia involving Governor Ralph Northam and a 35 year old medical school yearbook photo that purported to have Northam in either blackface or a Ku Klux Klan ensemble. Northam initially admitted he was one of the two men in the incriminating photo, then walked it back, and later acknowledged he did use blackface to masquerade as singer Michael Jackson around the same time, when Jackson made the moonwalk a thing.

This morning, Lieutenant Governor Justin Fairfax is now facing his own issues, as allegations of---wait for it---sexual misconduct have cropped up against him, just as it seems he would take over as governor if Northam finally finds his moral compass and resigns, as many in Virginia, on both sides of the aisle, are urging him to do.

If it was a Republican operative that dug up the dirt, because Northam & Fairfax are Democrats, then it's another case of dirty pool politics.

We've got something like that here at home.

Troy City Councilman Mark McGrath, no relation to the Sugar Ray frontman of the same name, stepped down amidst reports of leaving racial slurs in a voice mail some time back.

The difference between McGrath and the governor's office in Virginia is that McGrath took ownership of his situation, and did what was best for the community, his political career effectively over. Northam has only taken partial ownership of his sitch, but is refusing to step down, fearing that the GOP would swoop in and take over, since it's likely Fairfax would have to step down as well in the face of his scandal. In each case, the parties responsible for these tactics hide in the shadows like a nest of roaches. McGrath is a Republican, and the Democratic-controlled City Council in the hometown will choose one of their own to fill the seat, representing a section of Lansingburgh. Northam & Fairfax are Democrats, and you have to figure Trumpian Dittoheads representing the Geezers Party (Republicans) had a hand in the twin scandals brewing in Virginia.

This vicious cycle never ends, but it has to. For all our sakes.

Monday, February 4, 2019

This game should've been sponsored by Sominex

I remember struggling to stay awake during Super Bowl IX, when Pittsburgh won the first of their six titles in beating Minnesota. 44 years later, I may have been wide awake all through the New England Patriots' 13-3 win over the Los Angeles Rams to claim their sixth title, but I can imagine there were people that might've been bored to tears.

My brother tried to tell me a war of attrition means lots of scoring. No, that's not always the case. A war of attrition usually involves stout defenses like the two we saw, except that the Rams' run defense had leaks in it that they should've closed, but didn't. In the first & fourth quarters, the Patriots' Sony Michel & Rex Burkhead were allowed to run wild, as the Pats used the same run-first strategy that had worked so well during the playoffs. You'd think that with two weeks to prepare, the Rams would've looked at tapes of what happened to the Chiefs & Chargers.

In contrast, the Pats bottled up Todd Gurley, and he & CJ Anderson made only minimal damage between them. The 3-3 halftime score had to be the lowest in Super Bowl history, and anyone that bet the over took a bath. The grand total of 16 points scored was easily the lowest in the history of the game, and considering that it was the 50th anniversary of the Jets' lone title, you'd swear somehow the Jets stole the Patriots' uniforms for 3/4 of the game, it was so bad.

Kidding aside, Stephon Gilmore iced the game for the Patriots by ending the Rams' last gasp drive with an interception. We remember Malcolm Butler doing the same vs. Seattle a few years ago, but he was bum-rushed out of town after being misused last year. I wonder if Gilmore, who came over from Buffalo, has been assured of job security.

From what I've read the Maroon 5 halftime show was nothing to write home about, and my bro & I didn't bother with it. I didn't have the heart to tell him that Maroon 5's set list included something from SpongeBob SquarePants.

On the other hand, the commercial getting the most attention was a crossover between Bud Light's annoying medieval characters and a certain HBO series.......

Second place, in this writer's opinion, goes to Amazon for finding a means to use Harrison Ford.

We know Patriots QB Tom Brady has no plans to retire. Why? Because he wants at least one more ring and make New England the all-time leaders. With six titles, New England is now tied with Pittsburgh. Brady is obsessed with being #1 all-time. News flash. Most of those six titles he has are marked with asterisks because of the allegedly shady tactics used by the Patriots organization, such that this year's snooze-fest was an exception to the rule for the Pats' detractors. as New England didn't play their best game all the way through, either.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Video Valentine: Lady Love (1977)

"Lady Love" was Lou Rawls' follow-up to "You'll Never Find (Another Love Like Mine)" in 1977. We lost Lou in 2006, but talent like this is forever eternal.

Maybe they should call it the Apathy Bowl.......

The only thing that has gotten more hype than the Super Bowl was Punxatawny Phil, and he didn't see his shadow yesterday.

This year's edition might as well be rechristened, the Apathy Bowl, because while the NFL and its power brokers are ignoring Patriot Fatigue, the Los Angeles Rams aren't being treated as saviors.

Not only is New Orleans still butt-hurt over the officiating gaffe in the NFC title game two weeks ago, the citizens of St. Louis feel like the Rams, who represented the city the last time they played the Super Bowl 17 years ago, betrayed them when they moved back to LA prior to the 2016 season, ending a 23 year run in St. Louis, and there are still some hard feelings, particularly toward owner Stan Kroenke, also the owner of the NBA's Denver Nuggets. I read an article Saturday that said that Kroenke's picture is being placed on dartboards and toilet seats in bars all over the Gateway City.

A judge threw out a frivolous lawsuit demanding the critical final moments of the 4th quarter of the Rams-Saints game two weeks ago be replayed. We all know the officiating system in the NFL is severely flawed, and has been for years. The NFL's media & advertising partners, some will say, have undue influence on how the playoffs play out. Then again, New England owner Robert Kraft is on a few committees, and those same conspiracy theorists would submit that he's not above waving some money to certain people to get what he wants.

Enough about the off-field drama. Let's talk about the game.

New England began their tainted dynasty by beating the then-St. Louis Rams on a last second Adam Vinatieri field goal. Vinatieri is now in Indianapolis, having signed for another season with the Colts. Former Ram Eric Dickerson recently reignited accusations that the Patriots may have allegedly cheated in 2002. Coach Bill Belichick's legacy is tarnished because of nearly 20 years of accusations of chicanery, where the guilty parties are usually answering not to Belichick, who has seven rings total, the first two as a Giants assistant, but likely to Kraft. Tom Brady's Hall of Fame plaque will likely have to have asterisks attached because of all the controversies (i.e. The Tuck Game vs. Oakland, Spygate, etc.), because his accomplishments have been tainted. There is talk that oft-injured TE Rob Gronkowski might hang it up after tonight, with an eye toward joining wrestler pal Mojo Rawley in the WWE. He still looks like he could pass for a college frat boy, so Hollywood could be calling first.

Jared Goff is in his 3rd season. When the 2019 season starts, Brady will be in his 20th season out of Michigan. Goff is trying to treat this like a regular season game (!). Brady and his ego are as defiant as ever, and won't be satisfied until he is universally recognized as the greatest of all time. I'm sorry, but that ain't gonna happen. After all this time, there are still too many people who won't give Brady the benefit of the doubt. Brady wants to avenge what happened last year at this time, when the Eagles reminded him that the NFC East has been his Super Bowl Kryptonite. As for Goff, let's not forget that he has a young, talented nucleus on offense, including RB Todd Gurley, who will be across the sideline from another Georgia alumnus in rookie Sony Michel, who finally is getting his just due in the post-season.

The knock on New England during the regular season was that it seemed Brady insisted the offense be around him and the passing game, not the running game. Belichick changed things up in the playoffs, and the result saw Michel & Rex Burkhead combine for nine touchdowns. James White, a Super Bowl hero two years ago vs. Atlanta, has had two. The Rams' defensive line, led by Aaron Donald and reputed bad boy Ndamakong Suh (formerly with Detroit & Miami), will be prepared either way. Stop the run, and Brady will start chucking like there's no tomorrow. Shut down the prima donna along with the rushing game, and the Rams could make it two in a row for the NFC.

Last year, I picked New England, not believing the Eagles could avenge an earlier loss, but they did. However, it is the Rams' turn to seek revenge. A video game simulation has them winning. All Brady wants is to win a clean game with no controversy. As the Cornelius Brothers sang nearly 40 years ago, it's too late to turn back now. Patriot haters are going to be looking for penalties not being called. Then again, in light of recent events, so will people jumping on the anti-Ram bandwagon. This time, youth will be served and win out over the aging egos.

Pick-Rams. Of course, I could be wrong.

Friday, February 1, 2019

Video Valentine: Cherish (1985)

Hard to believe, but Kool & The Gang have been around for more than 50 years. Like, I only became familiar with them with the release of "Jungle Boogie" in 1973, so what do I know?

Anyway, the R & B legends built a reputation in the late 70's and 80's for soft romantic ballads that still get airplay today on adult contemporary channels. One such example is "Cherish", 1/2 of a two-sided single (with "Ladies Night") off the CD, "Emergency". While the video has a beach setting---the album was released in May of '85---the song also fits as a Valentine this time of year.