Sunday, March 31, 2019

On The Air: Doom Patrol (2019)

What Bob Haney & Arnold Drake had started in the 60's, Scottish writer Grant Morrison added to and refreshed in the late 80's when he was asked to take over writing Doom Patrol at DC.

Subsequently, the series was moved to DC's Vertigo division, which allowed Morrison and all subsequent writers to let their imaginations run wild. It is Morrison's run that fuels DC Universe's Doom Patrol, which spun off from Titans last month.

The original Patrol are present and accounted for, joined by one of Morrison's creations, Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero), whose 64 personalities all have individual abilities. Cyborg (Joivan Wade), originally a Titan in the books back in 1980, graduated to the Justice League, and is in the Patrol, likely at the request of executive producer Greg Berlanti, likely because he feels Victor Stone's story fits right in with the rest of the team.

Berlanti has added layers of backstory for the original trio. For example, Rita Farr, aka Elasti-Woman, had been a B-movie actress all the way back in the 50's. An exposure to some bizarre chemicals gave Rita her powers, but she doesn't have complete control, which makes for some awkward scenes.

Cliff Stone, before he was Robotman, was a womanizing race car driver who was not above getting busy with the family housekeeper. Brendan Fraser shows up in flashbacks, and the fact that he hasn't had any significant movie roles since the "Mummy" series suggests he's attempting a comeback. Someone get him Marie Osmond's phone number. Maybe she can hook him up with Nutri-Systems.

Test pilot Larry Trainor (Matt Bomer, ex-White Collar) wasn't exactly a faithful husband, either, according to this series. Thing was, he was working the other side of the street with his extra-marital affair. The idea here is that the Negative Man is, in fact, Trainor's male lover. It wouldn't be a Berlanti production if he wasn't representing the LGBT community in some form.

And, then, there is Dr. Niles Caulder, the Chief (Timothy Dalton), who, in the books, was later revealed to have had a more sinister agenda for his team. Dalton is the second actor to essay the part. The actor who played Caulder on Titans was given the boot to make room.

Wrapping this in a nice neat bow, at least early on, is Mr. Nobody (Alan Tudyk, ex-Powerless), the victim of an experiment gone wrong 60 years ago, and has a grudge against Caulder. More of Morrison's creations are due as the 15 episode first season rolls on.

In trying to avoid the coarse language that is all over every episode, we have this nice little teaser. Dalton is not present for this group shot.

In the parlance of 90's rap, this is wiggedy-wiggedy-wack.

Rating: A-.

Musical Interlude: Break it to me Gently (1962)

Brenda Lee scored a top 5 hit in 1962 with "Break it to me Gently", which had been recorded the preceding summer. It's gotten some fresh airplay on radio in recent years due to its inclusion on the TV series Mad Men & Pan Am.

Now, I don't know where this clip came from, but the lyrics are posted on the screen in English & Spanish.

20 years later, Juice Newton & Sandy Posey recorded covers of "Break". Posey, because her version hasn't been issued on CD for some reason, has largely been forgotten, although there is at least one video on YouTube that has a photo montage. Newton peaked at #11 on the Hot 100 and #2 on the country chart with her version, which clearly got wider airplay.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Forgotten TV: Masquerade (1983)

It has been generously described by critics as having elements of both Mission: Impossible and The Love Boat. Considering that it didn't last long, Masquerade, a mid-season replacement series for ABC from 20th Century Fox and Glen Larson, would've been better off if it was just a straight spy drama, a la Mission, which would turn up on ABC five years later.

It was a return to television for star Rod Taylor (ex-Bearcats!), who played Mr. Lavender, the head of a covert ops organization under the watch of the US government. Greg Evigan, who'd starred in Larson's BJ & The Bear a few years earlier, and Kirstie Alley ("Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan") co-starred.

Problem? ABC slotted Masquerade on Thursdays as counter-programming opposite NBC's Cheers (which Alley would join a few years later). Game over.

Here's the intro. Theme is sung by country singer Crystal Gayle.

No rating. My folks preferred Cheers.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Musical Interlude: Cracklin Rosie (1970)

I wouldn't blame you if you assumed Neil Diamond's 1970 #1 hit, "Cracklin Rosie" was a love song about a woman. However, it's actually about a brand of wine. I know. Go figure, right?

On The Shelf: Of witches, wrestlers, and old friends

If you are among the millions waiting for season 3 of GLOW on Netflix, the producers have managed a licensing deal with Idea & Design Works (IDW) for a 4 issue miniseries based on the show.

Stylistically, the artwork is more along the lines of modern animation (i.e. Steven Universe), mixed with Japanese anime/manga, given some of the character designs. The GLOW series, a show-within-a-show that reimagines the behind the scenes story behind the 1986-90 series, should have more of an artistic style befitting the era. However, artist Hannah Templer makes up for that with spot-on interpretations of the characters.

The downside is that this is a 4-issue miniseries, and if bingeing is your thing, the trade paperback collection will be along before the end of the summer.

Rating: Incomplete. We'll discuss this further after the miniseries ends in June.
In the 1990's, Topps expanded from trading cards and Bazooka bubble gum to comic books. Like most independent publishers, Topps relied mostly on licensed titles, including The X-Files, Duckman, "Mars Attacks" (now at Dynamite), and Zorro, the latter written by 70's comics icon Don McGregor.

As the Zorro book was cancelled. then-publisher Jim Salicrup (now with Papercutz, formerly with Marvel) had promised a story arc that he said was a labor of love for artist Mike Mayhew. However, Zorro: Matanzas didn't see the light of day until Dynamite acquired a license in 2010.

The plotline is simple. Machete, one of Zorro's enemies, is now in a seat of political power, and has managed to make friends with Don Alejandro de la Vega, whose son, Diego, is secretly Zorro. Oh, the drama. Machete's machinations and manipulations are meant to embarrass Zorro, as well as discredit him. Unfortunately, this marks the coda to Dynamite's license, as otherwise Zorro is now licensed to American Mythology Press. I don't think McGregor & Mayhew ever got around to a sequel.

Rating: B-.
More than 50 years ago, DC Comics introduced Dial H For Hero as the new lead feature in House of Mystery, supplanting Martian Manhunter. The concept has undergone several revivals and reboots, dating back to 1980. The latest is a 6-issue miniseries that is the fourth, and, for now, final release from Brian Bendis' Wonder Comics imprint.

This time around, the "H-Dial" is a magic telephone, an old school model. The fact that it's a red phone is a nod to Batman, and the current holder of the "H-Dial" is a troubled Latino youth named Miguel, who simply doesn't like his current job, working out of a mayonnaise-themed food cart operated by his uncle.

Writer Sam Humphries is also the current scripter for Harley Quinn, so, of course, Harl makes a 1-panel cameo appearance in the opener. Then, it gets wacky. Miguel's first superhero alter-ego is a throwback to the 1990's, the kind of hero that someone like, say, Rob Liefeld would've dreamed up.

This is going to be one crazy thrill ride.

Rating: B-.
It isn't enough that Sabrina, The Teenage Witch will soon merit co-star status in Archie (more on that below), but she's got a new, 5-issue miniseries that will keep readers happy until Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa finds his brains and gets back to his word processor to get Chilling Adventures of Sabrina back on the shelf to complement the resumption of the Netflix series, which returns next month.

Anyway, this miniseries is set in the primary Archie Comics universe, and is a prequel to her current run, not only in Archie, but in Jughead's short-lived series, which was cancelled a while back, very quietly. The story is that Sabrina and her aunts have just arrived in Greendale (the setting of the 1996-2003 live-action series and all subsequent iterations of the franchise), so Sabrina is making new friends, including familiar faces like Harvey Kinkle. Writer Kelly Thompson and artists Veronica & Andy Fish have set about making this as opposite of Chilling Adventures as humanly possible, and that's a good thing. Just wait 'til you see their idea of a Wendigo......

Rating: A.
News & notes: Beginning with Archie 705, out in May, as noted above, the book changes its title to Archie & Sabrina for five issues (705-9), and now, writer Nick Spencer will be joined by co-scripter Mariko Tamaki, beginning with issue 706. This should be fun.

1980's wrestling icon Jim Cornette is the latest wrestling personality to move to comics.

Cornette is collaborating with co-scripter Brandon Easton and artist Denis Medri to serve up Jim Cornette Presents: Behind The Curtain-True Pro Wrestling Stories, which will hit stores in August from IDW. Cornette covers the iconic 1980's & 90's, as the book promises appearances by Hall of Famers Ric Flair, Jerry Lawler, Bret Hart, Shawn Michaels, and the late Andy Kaufman, plus much more. 80 pages for $15 might sound a little cost-prohibitive, but there are reasons for the high price, compared to DC's 80-pagers, for example, which run for nearly half the price.

More Archie news: As mentioned above, Jughead may have had his last solo series cancelled rather unexpectedly, but the current narrator of Archie will be front & center again in June in a 5 issue revival of his 1990 series, Jughead's Time Police. The original version lasted about five issues or so, as memory serves, but the solicitation for the new book sounds even nuttier than the original, if that's even possible. In addition, the 3rd issue of Jughead The Hunger vs. Vampironica promises a reimagining of Li'l Jinx, last seen in Life With Archie (2nd series) as a teenager, but now known simply as Jinx, and rebooted as a cosmic character of some kind. I wonder just what Frank Tieri has up his sleeve this time.......

Titan Books has acquired the rights to Max Collins & Terry Beatty's iconic 1980's detective, Ms. Tree, and will reprint five issues of her original series in a trade paperback collection, out in July. Also, Titan is promising an illustrated autobiography of.......Santa Claus. Out in September, the book is credited as "As Told To" writer Jared Green, with Bill Sienkiewicz illustrating. This will be one for the little kiddo's.

Speaking as we were about Wonder Comics, Naomi will finish "season 1" in June. Seems there's a need for some down time to allow artist Jamal Campbell to begin "season 2", which probably will start before the end of the summer. The series was originally solicited as an ongoing title, but, much like Dynamite, Brian Bendis opted to change gears to ensure that Campbell, already a fan favorite, doesn't miss any deadlines. Wish we could say the same for Doomsday Clock, as one of DC's big event books is perpetually late, and for reasons the publisher is unwilling to share.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

What Might've Been: The Andros Targets (1977)

Inspired and based on the real-life exploits of New York journalist Nicholas Gage, Jerome Coopersmith's The Andros Targets hit the airwaves on CBS in the spring of 1977. Unfortunately, the series lasted just the one season.

Why? Seems one episode struck too close to the ministry of Rev. Sun Yung Moon and his Unification Church, which filed a lawsuit, claiming defamation.

Neither Coopersmith nor series star James Sutorious hit it big again after Targets signed off, but CBS didn't give up on the idea of a drama set at a newspaper. That fall, the final spin-off from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Lou Grant, was plugged into Targets' time slot on Mondays, and, with a built-in audience, managed to last longer.

Here's an intro, courtesy of The Rap Sheet:

The above apparently was taken from a Spanish language channel.

There's also a promo clip on YouTube, with announcer Bill Woodson (ex-The Invaders, The Odd Couple), who'd soon move into cartoons.

No rating.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Sports this 'n' that

Could the NFL's loss eventually be the WWE's gain?

New England Patriots tight end/detergent salesman Rob Gronkowski announced his retirement over the weekend after 9 seasons, all with the Patriots. While coach Bill Belichick may have made some mistakes with Gronkowski, like allowing him to play defense when he was clearly hurting in a late season loss to Miami, a lot of people believe Gronkowski's future lies with the WWE. His pal, Mojo Rawley, is sitting in creative turnaround, doing vignettes that for now seem to be going nowhere, due to all the prioritized storylines running with less than two weeks to Wrestlemania.

However, watching NFL Network on Sunday night, it seems they don't think Gronkowski will make a second career in wrestling, as others have before him, transitioning from the gridiron to the ring, citing his injury history.

The late Ernie Ladd was enshrined in both the NFL & WWE Halls of Fame. Bronko Nagurski, the most famous football player-turned-grappler before Ladd, is also in the NFL Hall. Gronkowski will almost certainly be Canton-bound by 2024 at the earliest, but his future lies in the broadcast booth, not the ring.
Speaking of WWE, it seems that Chairman/CEO Vince McMahon may have made a mistake with his latest copyright-driven decision.

Smackdown wrestler Mustafa Ali, as of Monday, will now be known simply as "Ali". Sorry, Vince, but there is a problem with that particular decision.

Most folks, if you ask them about "Ali", will wax nostalgic for the late boxing icon, Muhammad Ali, the self-declared "Greatest". WWE's Ali (real name: Adeel Alam) is of Indian & Pakistani heritage, and, as he himself acknowledged, "Mustafa" means "chosen one", which probably doesn't sit well with McMahon, whose bizarre quirks, such as shortening the names of his performers randomly, due, supposedly, to his belief that his audience has a sound bye mentality, and that the simpler the name, the easier it is for viewers to remember, leave some to question whether or not he is not only insane in his on-camera role, but in real life, too.

Couple this with the current storyline surrounding another Smackdown wrestler, Kofi Kingston, and people will wonder if, in fact, the 73 year old McMahon is a closet bigot, just like a certain fellow geriatric in Washington.

In Kingston's case, Uncreative is going out of its way to avoid playing the race card in explaining McMahon's persistent interference in Kingston's efforts to earn a WWE title match against current champion Daniel Bryan, but the storyline is exactly the same, sans the covert racial overtones, as Bryan's struggles against corrupt management five years ago. McMahon goes to the recycling bin more often than you or I change wardrobe, and thinks his audience won't notice.

For Ali, there is a secret undercurrent of racism, too, with the name change. However, out of fear of losing sponsorships, more viewers, and major money, they can't come right out and make race an issue. No matter how they spin it on TV, the casual viewer might see right through the veils, and decide to tune WWE out. Can you blame them?

Monday, March 25, 2019

Musical Interlude: Nadia's Theme (The Young & The Restless), aka Cotton's Dream (1977)

Barry DeVorzon & Perry Botkin, Jr. composed what came to be known as "Nadia's Theme (The Young & The Restless)" (italics mine, of course) in 1971 for the movie, "Bless The Beasts & The Children", under its original title, "Cotton's Dream". Two years later, Botkin rearranged the tune when the long running CBS soap made its debut.

"Nadia", of course, is Romanian-born gymnast Nadia Comaneci, the darling of the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics. A video montage composed for ABC's Wide World of Sports, incorporated the track, which, oddly enough, wasn't used by Nadia herself in her floor exercise routine. CBS subsequently produced a documentary special, co-produced with a Romanian television network and narrated by actor-comedian Flip Wilson.

In February 1977, Young & The Restless cast member David Hasselhoff, 5 1/2 years before Knight Rider made him a pop culture icon, made his singing debut on The Merv Griffin Show, and, for the first time, viewers discovered there were lyrics to Botkin & DeVorzon's classic instrumental.

Hasselhoff recorded the song for his own CD 10 years later. DeVorzon released his debut album on Arista, with "Nadia's Theme" as the title track. I actually owned a copy of the LP at one time.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

On The Air: DC Daily (2018)

While shows like Titans and the current Doom Patrol get all the attention, DC Universe's first series was their daily hypecast, fittingly dubbed, DC Daily, which airs Monday-Friday.

Basically, it's Entertainment Tonight for the comics fans, and at half the length of the long running nightly newsmagazine.

For an example, let's take you back to Friday night's show, with Jon Cryer (ex-Two & A Half Men), who has just joined the cast of Supergirl as Lex Luthor:

Cryer absolutely nails it as Luthor. That's all that needs be said.

As for the rest of the show, it's the usual puff pieces you find everywhere else.

Rating: A.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Forgotten TV: Wide Country (1962)

Until today, I didn't even know this existed.

Wide Country is best classified as a modern-day Western, since it's set in the then-present. The series had its roots in a pilot episode that aired on ABC's Alcoa Premiere in March 1962. The following fall, Revue Studios sold Wide Country to NBC, since ABC had a similar series, Stoney Burke, on their fall schedule.

Earl Holliman (ex-Hotel de Paree) & Andrew Prine are the stars in this one season entry. Why one season? Consider the competition: Mr. Ed. Perry Mason. The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet. The Donna Reed Show. Enough said.

I was looking at a compilation video of NBC's fall 1962 schedule, and that's how I ran across Wide Country, which was produced in conjunction with no less than Ralph Edwards (This is Your Life), who must've figured that since Mark Goodson & Bill Todman were experimenting with scripted series (i.e. The Rebel, Philip Marlowe), he could try it.

Following is a sample clip:

Rating: B-.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Musical Interlude: Quando, Quando, Quando (1969)

From The Hollywood Palace:

Engelbert Humperdinck, surrounded by some very attractive dancers, performs his hit, "Quando, Quando, Quando". Humperdinck was the host on this particular night.

"Quando" has been getting some late night airplay on a local oldies radio channel. That Engelbert sings it live in this clip should make folks happy who ain't into lip sync.

Weasel of The Week: President Donald Trump

We have been taught to never speak ill of the dead.

The Bible tells us to turn the other cheek to criticism.

Guess who doesn't comprehend either?

President Donald John Archie Bunker Trump reportedly is a born again Christian, but if you go by mainstream media coverage, he's anything but. We all know that he's too thin skinned to accept criticism of any kind, and holds grudges far beyond their expiration point.

Case in point, the late Senator John McCain.

The Arizona political icon passed away last fall, but Trump is still dancing on his grave, if you will, ragging on him on Twitter and in a speech in Ohio on Wednesday that was met with the sound of crickets chirping, or, otherwise, complete silence.

That should tell Trump that people are tiring of listening to the same, lame, stale rhetoric he's been spewing. His fragile ego won't accept the fact that he's wrong. However, his brainwashed dittoheads lambasted the senator's widow, Cindy, and daughter, Meghan (The View), on social media because they're too stupid to realize their beloved President is an attention-addicted Weasel.

Meghan McCain, on The View, fired back at Trump, but that only invites more trouble from the Twidiot followers of no one's favorite Chief Executive.

That ain't all. Trump is also hearing it from George Conway, husband of one of Trump's loyal, mindless drones, Kellyanne Conway, and El Presidente sounded off on George as well.

To borrow a line from the campy 1967 cartoon, Super Chicken, Mr. Trump, you knew the job was dangerous when you took it (becoming President, that is). You have to accept criticism as well as praise, regardless, because otherwise, as we've already seen, you make us look low-rent.

We'll get you a Weasel costume this time, Mr. Trump. I believe the Estate of Raymond Lewis "Bobby" Heenan would be happy to donate.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

A Modern Classic: Renegade (1992)

It wasn't so much that the networks stopped buying series from author-producer-sometime actor Stephen J. Cannell, but there was more money to be made in the syndication market.

In 1992, Cannell created, produced, and co-starred in Renegade. Cannell played a corrupt California cop, who'd later weasel his way into becoming a Federal marshal, who framed San Diego cop Reno Raines (Lorenzo Lamas, ex-Falcon Crest) for murder. In a way, it was a flipped negative of the seminal 60's drama, The Fugitive. While Raines was on the run, it just happened that Dixon was as crooked as they came, and unlike on Fugitive, Dixon had no redeeming value.

Scope the pilot. The narrator is the inestimable Don LaFontaine.

Co-star Branscombe Richmond branched out into movies a few years back, as he co-starred with Dwayne Johnson in "The Scorpion King". Lorenzo Lamas was last seen playing, ironically enough, a corrupt cop, on the El Rey series, Lucha Underground.

Renegade lasted five seasons (1992-7), and my memories of it come from daily reruns.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

YouTube Theatre: Making M*A*S*H (1981)

As M*A*S*H was rolling merrily along in its 9th season, PBS served up a documentary that served as a love letter to the show.

Mary Tyler Moore narrates Making M*A*S*H:

Edit, 8/21/2020: Unfortunately, the video has been deleted. We have an excerpt to share:

Enough said.

Rating: A.

Monday, March 18, 2019

Moron TV: Would these guys ever be in the New York City Ballet? (1990's)

Remember 10-10-220? A long distance service that came out nearly 30 years ago? The folks there had a roster of celebrity endorsers, ranging from Dallas Cowboys star Emmitt Smith to current Fox analyst Terry Bradshaw, from country singer Toby Keith to Hulk Hogan.

Hogan & Bradshaw appear in this spot, which pre-dates the Huckster's 1993 comedy, "Mr. Nanny".


2019 baseball preview: The rest of the story

With Oakland & Seattle opening the 2019 season in Tokyo on Wednesday morning, kicking off what likely is Ichiro Suzuki's farewell tour of Major League Baseball, we'll do thumbnails of the remaining divisions.

AL East projections:

1. Boston. The only thing the defending champs are missing is closer Craig Kimbrel, who is now a free agent. Everything else appears to be the same.

2. Yankees. Outfielder Aaron Hicks and pitchers Luis Severino & CC Sabathia won't be ready at the start of the season, which means they will have to lean on the big boppers even more until the pitching rotation is at full strength.

3. Tampa Bay.
4. Baltimore.
5. Toronto.

We're lumping the also rans together because I don't see a whole lot of improvement.

AL Central projections:

1. Cleveland. The Indians will remain a contender as long as Terry Francona's in the dugout.

2. Detroit. Don't laugh. The Tigers finally got some offensive backup for Miguel Cabrera in heisting Jordy Mercer & Josh Harrison away from Pittsburgh.

3. Minnesota. The Twins added a power bat (Nelson Cruz), and a power arm (Michael Pineda, who missed 2018 due to Tommy John surgery), and will contend.

4. Kansas City. Speedy outfielder Billy Hamilton comes from Cincinnati to spark the offense, along with catcher Martin Maldonado. The pitching isn't scary.

5. Chicago. Hawk Harrelson's not around to whine about bad calls in the booth anymore. Ex-Valleycat Preston Tucker didn't pan out in Atlanta last year, so he's a non-roster invitee this year. I guess now we know why Houston gave up on him. The rest of the White Sox? Meh.

AL West projections:

1. Houston. The Astros picked up Michael Brantley from Cleveland, adding to an already loaded outfield.

2. Seattle. The Mariners added some pop (Edwin Encarnacion, Jay Bruce), and some bullpen help (Hunter Strickland, Anthony Swarzak). However, getting Bruce meant parting with Robinson Cano. We'll see who benefits more, the Mariners or the Mets.

3. Los Angeles. Brad Ausmus wasn't a big winner in Detroit, so why do the Angels bring him in as the heir apparent to Mike Scioscia?  Who knows? Justin Bour will split time at first with Albert Pujols. Cody Allen comes over from Cleveland, likely as the closer.

4. Oakland.
5. Texas.


Wild Cards: Yankees, Detroit.

Recapping the NL East:

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

NL Central projections:

1. Cincinnati. The Reds feel they can contend. How else to explain heisting Matt Kemp & Yasiel Puig from the Dodgers? Sonny Gray felt like a spare part in the Bronx, but I don't think he can be a big enough factor. Just move power hitting hurler Michael Lorenzen into the rotation. That'll solve some problems.

2. Milwaukee. The Brewers essentially stood pat.

3. St. Louis. Paul Goldschmidt leaves the desert for the Gateway to the West, and cures the Cardinals' offensive woes.

4. Chicago. The window is closing for Joe Maddon & the Cubs.

5. Pittsburgh. One step forward, five steps back.

NL West projections:

1. Los Angeles. Exit Matt Kemp & Yasiel Puig. Welcome back, Russell Martin. Hello, AJ Pollock. The Dodgers will do just enough to win the division.

2. Arizona. The Diamondbacks get Adam Jones & Caleb Joseph from moribound Baltimore. Wilmer Flores was stupidly cut by the Mets. They'll contend for at least the Wild Card.

3. San Francisco.
4. Colorado.
5. San Diego.

They'll be in the Wild Card chase, but no further, despite the usual summer teases.

Wild Cards: Mets, Arizona.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Musical Interlude: Surfin' & Swingin' (1963)

Dick Dale was best known for the instrumental composition, "Misirlou", which gained new life 25 years ago, when Quentin Tarantino chose it for the soundtrack of "Pulp Fiction". Extreme Championship Wrestling picked up on "Misirlou", and would use it for background music on their television programs from 1995-9.

However, there was more to Dale than "Misirlou". In this performance from The Ed Sullivan Show, Dick sings and plays "Surfin' & Swingin'", from the movie, "Beach Party":

The YouTube poster got the title wrong.

Edit, 8/27/19: Had to change the video. If this is still from the Ed Sullivan Show, Ed's been edited out.

In memory of Dick Dale, born Richard Mansour, who passed away on Saturday at 81.

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Forgotten TV: I-40 Paradise (1983)

There was a time when the Nashville Network had a line of original series. The original iteration of TNN (Now the Paramount Network) was a destination for country music fans in the mid-80's up until its' transformation at the dawn of the 21st century.

I-40 Paradise was a daily sitcom, ran for three years (1983-6), and is noted for being the first sitcom to complete production on an episode in a single day. With a largely unknown cast, that's a feat unto itself.

Future country singer Lionel Cartwright not only was a cast member, but the show's musical director as well. He'd hit the charts after Paradise ended, releasing three albums over a three year period (1988-91). Cast member Phil Campbell is the son of Hee Haw icon Archie Campbell, and even appeared on Hee Haw for a time, likely alongside his father.

Here's a sample episode from 1985.

It aspired to be Alice or its spin-off, Flo, on a smaller budget. It was more like the Little Engine That Could, lasting as long as it did. I don't think it's on DVD, though.

Rating: B-.

Friday, March 15, 2019

What Might've Been: The Mary Tyler Moore Hour (1979)

Five months after pulling the plug on her first variety show, CBS gave Mary Tyler Moore another chance.

However, The Mary Tyler Moore Hour didn't fare much better, as it ran for 11 episodes before the plug was pulled. Future film star Michael Keaton was retained from the earlier Mary, in a steady role, given the show's format, while David Letterman was a recurring player in various parts.

The concept harkened back to Jack Benny's seminal series, both on radio & television, as Mary played Mary McKinnon, who had her own show. Even with fellow icons like Lucille Ball and, as you'll see in the following clip, Dick Van Dyke, Mary couldn't draw a decent enough audience. Why? Her self-titled 1970 sitcom was in syndication, and viewers still saw her as WJM producer Mary Richards.

Now, check out this excerpt, which includes a call-back to The Dick Van Dyke Show:

No rating.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Musical Interlude: Back Where You Belong (1983-4)

The members of 38 Special had to be fans of Hill Street Blues.

How else to explain the nod to the NBC crime drama at the start of the video for "Back Where You Belong", off the CD "Tour de Force"? The guys are after a suspect who's had prior relationships with them, making an arrest more difficult than usual.

"Belong" barely cracked the top 20 on the Hot 100, and deserved to go higher.

Classic TV: Press Your Luck (1983)

In 1977, producer Bill Carruthers sold a nice little game show entitled Second Chance to ABC. It lasted just shy of four months. Why? ABC stuck it at noon (ET), where affiliates, including here in the home market, were trying out a lunch hour newscast.

Six years later, Carruthers tried again, retooling his concept. He'd used a visual iteration of the devil, borrowing from Jack Barry's Joker's Wild, and maybe that, too, had something to do with the failure of Second Chance. He subbed out the devil for some gremlins that were christened Whammies. Their cartoonish appearance could appeal to the kiddos who were home from school during vacations.

The end result? Press Your Luck ran for three years on CBS (1983-6) as a lead-in to The Price is Right. Host Peter Tomarken had just come off a failure of his own, Jay Wolpert's Hit Man over on NBC, when he & announcer Rod Roddy were signed for Luck.

This time around, the show developed a devoted fan following, turning those gremlins into cult favorites. In 2002, Game Show Network revived the series as Whammy!: The All-New Press Your Luck, which ran for a couple of years by itself.

We're bringing this up because Fremantle Media, the current rights holder, has brokered a deal with ABC to revive Luck, bringing the concept full circle, this summer. No host has been announced as yet, but ABC is adding to its Summer of Games line of revivals with Luck and the former Goodson-Todman game, Card Sharks.

It's been 13 years since both were part of CBS' Game Show Marathon with Ricki Lake. Can a short-season revival work? We'll soon see. For right now, let's take a time trip to the 80's.....

Rating: A.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Football this 'n' that

The free agency signing period in the NFL starts later today. Trading? That's another story.

It's not enough that the Jets quietly heisted running back Isaiah Crowell from Cleveland last year to bolster their offense after the retirement of Matt Forte. Tuesday, it was reported that LeVeon Bell had agreed to a 4 year deal worth over $50 million to get out of Pittsburgh, where it seems QB Ben Roethlisberger had issues with both Bell and since traded receiver Antonio Brown.

It can be argued that Bell, who sat out last season in a contract dispute over being "franchised" by the Steelers, became expendable anyway with the emergence of rookie James Conner. Moving to New York gives the Jets a 1-2 punch in the backfield behind Sam Darnold, but the trick is making sure both Bell & Crowell get equal touches, and stay healthy.

Brown, the son of former Albany Firebird "Touchdown" Eddie Brown, was traded to Oakland for draft picks. Jon Gruden needed another playmaking receiver after stupidly dealing away Amare Cooper to Dallas last season. "Chucky" should lay off the Corona when he's on the clock. Just sayin'.
Meanwhile, on the other side of MetLife Stadium at the Meadowlands, Giants GM Dave Gettleman didn't endear himself to Big Blue supporters by trading receiver/shampoo salesman Odell Beckham, Jr. to Cleveland for draft picks.

While the Beckham trade conceivably could make the Browns players at last in the AFC North, it does reunite Beckham with former college teammate Jarvis Landry, who came to Cleveland last year from Miami, and gives QB Baker Mayfield an extra deep threat to work with.

Basically, it comes down to this. The balance of power in the AFC North is shifting away from Pittsburgh, which was eliminated from the playoffs in the final week of the regular season, and back to Baltimore, while Cleveland is ready to make some more noise.
All, however, was not jolly for Gang Green on Tuesday, though. After initial reports had Anthony Barr leaving Minnesota for the Jets, those reports were debunked when Barr opted to stay with the Vikings.
As if Patriots owner Robert Kraft doesn't have enough problems, his most recent acquisition (to be made official today) is already expressing his political views in advance.

Michael Bennett is expected to finalize his deal, coming over from Philadelphia. Bennett has told the press he plans to stay in the locker room during the playing of the National Anthem next season. That's getting old already. Can't we just put an end to the controversy generated by President Screwloose (Trump) over the Anthem?

Meanwhile, Bennett may have coaxed his brother, tight end Martellus Bennett, to come out of retirement for another go-round in New England, just so the brothers can play together, something they've never done as pros. Michael's resume also includes a lengthy stint in Seattle, while Martellus' points of call have included the Giants, Dallas, & Chicago.
Seems to me that local newspapers in this market are loathe to even acknowledge the Alliance of American Football, halfway though its initial season.

The Albany Times-Union posts the standings in the sports section daily, but that's about it. El Cheapo Media? Fuhgeddaboutit! If you want to bet on the games, you'd have to get one of the New York City papers, as they're the only ones who have the morning line on each week's games. Apparently, this suggests the AAF will wind up with a very short shelf life after all.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

A Modern Classic: Mad About You (1992)

For eight seasons (1992-9), NBC's Mad About You was a breezy, delightful domestic sitcom. However, the network wasn't entirely comfortable with where to place it on the schedule. First, it was on Tuesdays, then Mondays, and, finally, Thursdays as part of the Must See TV block, which needed a little retooling after The Cosby Show had given way to Friends, and Cheers had segued into the spin-off, Frasier. And, of course, there was also Seinfeld. The network tried to be cute and create a pocket universe in which Mad seemed to be occupying space with Seinfeld and Friends.

Series star/co-creator Paul Reiser (ex-My Two Dads) also composed the show's theme song. "The Final Frontier", with Don Was of Was (Not Was). The late Andrew Gold performed the theme initially, before R & B singer Anita Baker recorded an alternate version for season 6. Gold's earlier hit, "Thank You For Being a Friend", had been co-opted for another NBC series, The Golden Girls, some time earlier.

Mad also provided a recurring role for Hank Azaria (The Simpsons), which could've been bigger if but for his commitments to the Fox series.

Following is a sample open:

My folks used to watch this in syndicated reruns, right alongside repeats of Seinfeld, but for some reason never could bring themselves to watch the network first-runs.

Rating: B.

Weasel of The Week: James Dolan

The man-child in charge of the Rangers, Knicks, Madison Square Garden, & Radio City Music Hall is at it again.

You've heard by now about James Dolan's latest confrontation with an angry Knick fan following a recent loss. The Knicks are cursed to remain a lottery team as long as Dolan, who makes the late George Steinbrenner look like a blessed saint by comparison as a sports bloviator, mismanages the Knicks.

Dolan threatened the anonymous fan with banishment from MSG. Dolan has been the controlling owner of the Knicks for the last 20 years, and has learned nothing from his father, cable magnate Charles Dolan, about public relations and interaction with said public.

No high level free agent worth his salt is going to want to play for the Knicks because of Dolan, who controls everything in the Garden because of his child-like paranoia. He picks up another set of Weasel ears for disrespecting a paying customer, and having the arrogance to call security after this poor soul, as this was after the game.

While WWE Chairman/CEO Vince McMahon presents himself on camera as being a few fries shy of a happy meal, that's just the role he plays. I think now we know where he got the idea to maintain the facade, as a direct slap at Dolan, who has been playing financial hardball with WWE over usage of the Garden.

On ESPN's First Take on Monday, Max Kellerman and Stephen A. Smith branded Dolan a child. Talk about letting him have it with both barrels..

As much as I am loathe to agree with Screamin' A. Cosell, I recommend adding some other items to our "prize package" for Dolan this time, including a beanie, a baby rattle, and.......

Monday, March 11, 2019

Origin of a Classic: Screen tests for Perry Mason (1956)

What if someone else other than Raymond Burr was cast as Perry Mason?

In 1956, Burr was starring in the radio series, Fort Laramie (which we'll look at another time), and initially tested for the role of district attorney Hamilton Burger. William Hopper, son of gossip columnist Hedda Hopper, tested for Mason, as you will see, before being cast as detective Paul Drake.

In this video, introduced by Barbara Hale, we'll see Hopper and Burr's screen tests. Tod Andrews appears as Mason opposite Burr as Burger. As for the two actresses testing as Della Street, which would eventually be played by Hale? No clue.

William Talman can be heard, barely, in the background in the courtroom scene tests with both Hopper & Burr.

Of Recent Vintage: Sounding Board (1990's)

In the mid-to-late 1990's, the home district's music scene was bigger than it is now. In downtown Troy alone, there were at the most five or six clubs hosting music on the weekends, and, during college season, you factored in what was going on at RPI, which had two venues, the McNeil Room on the upper level of the Student Union, and Mother's Wine Emporium on the ground floor.

In 1994, a group of local musicians put together a compilation CD celebrating the women of the local scene. In turn, "A Little Nip" had a little something to do with Time Warner Cable (now Spectrum) launching a weekly music series, Sounding Board, which aired on Friday & Saturday.

Poet-singer-songwriter Amy Abdou, lead singer of the Hand Held Moon, was the series' initial host before leaving for Boston a few years back. The half hour series had room for a couple of short sets and an interview with the artist of the week.

Sadly, all good things have to come an end, and Sounding Board did eventually sign off for good. Spectrum Cable today cannot be bothered to even consider reviving the series.

From 1998, here's MotherJudge and the Urban Holiness Society with "Bread & Beer":

In memory of MotherJudge herself, Caroline Isachsen, who passed away over the weekend from complications from pancreatic cancer.

Show rating: A.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

In Theatres: Captain Marvel (2019)

Marvel Comics has owned the trademark on the name, "Captain Marvel", since the 60's. It is for this reason that DC was left with no choice but to label their revival of Fawcett's orignal version as Shazam!, which is also the name of DC's next film, opening next month.

However, Marvel's handling of their Captain has been just as complicated. About a half dozen characters have used the name at Marvel over the years, including the current one, and this movie is her story.

Carol Danvers (Brie Larson) was introduced in the comics more than 50 years as a military investigator looking into the questionable activities of a rogue scientist, Walter Lawson. Kree soldier Mar-Vell lands on earth, and assumes the recently deceased Lawson's identity, along with the attendant investigation.

Fifty-plus years and several retcons later, Danvers has assumed the identity of Captain Marvel, having long since gained, lost, and regained powers of her own. She originally used the code name, Ms. Marvel, and was given her own series in 1976. Ms. Marvel #1, recently reprinted as part of Marvel's True Believers line, told the story of how Danvers suffered blackouts, a la the Incredible Hulk's earliest adventures, when she changed identities due to some form of amnesia.

"Captain Marvel", the movie, is based in large part on writer Kelly Sue DeConnick's revamp of Danvers in 2012. There is a homage to the original, in the form of Danvers' former mentor, Wendy Lawson, the alter-ego of the gender-flipped Mar-Vell (Annette Bening). Amnesiac Carol has been fed false memories by her Kree mentor, Yon-Rogg (Jude Law), becoming a Kree soldier herself. A torn ID tag results in her being rechristened "Vers" (pronounced "Veers"). As comics students know, Yon-Rogg is no angel, despite the fact that the Kree are locked into an eternal war with the shape-changing Skrulls.

Carol returns to earth, and, because this movie is set in 1995, meets SHIELD agents Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson, of course) and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), but in the first instance, Coulson isn't himself, having been replaced by a Skrull. The fact that the movie makes use of defunct brands such as Radio Shack and Blockbuster Video is a sort-of gag all by itself.

In effect, "Captain Marvel" is a prequel to everything we've seen over the last 11 years. and, at the same time, provides a bridge to next month's "Avengers: Endgame".

Here's the trailer:

The late Stan Lee, Carol's creator, makes an obligatory cameo, which, given the setting, has him rehearsing his lines for the movie, "Mallrats".

Other trailers, in addition to "Endgame", include:

"The Lion King" (Summer): Just because Disney's live-action remake of "The Jungle Book" made a bunch of money, the studio decides to duplicate the trick with three more ("Dumbo" & "Aladdin" are the others). James Earl Jones is the only one returning from the 1994 original, now joined by the likes of Seth Rogen.

"Amazing Grace" (April): A 1972 Aretha Franklin documentary finally sees the light of day.

"Late Night": Mindy Kaling wrote & stars in this comedy-drama about a late night host struggling with the fact that it's time for her to retire. With Emma Thompson, George Clooney and John Lithgow.

Rating: A.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Jan-Michael Vincent (1944-2019)

To millions of viewers, he will be remembered most as Stringfellow Hawke, the lead protagonist of CBS' Airwolf, but by then, Jan-Michael Vincent had logged a lengthy career in television & film.

To millions of kids in 1968, Vincent was Lincoln Simmons, a student assistant to Professor Irwin Hayden (Frank Aletter) in the serial, Danger Island, a component of NBC's Banana Splits. His film credits included "The Mechanic" (w/Charles Bronson), "Baby Blue Marine", and the ABC Movie of The Week entry, "Tribes" (with Darren McGavin), which was released under a different title overseas.

Vincent's run on Airwolf came to an end when CBS cancelled the show due to Vincent's drug issues, but the show moved to USA Cable without Vincent for one final season. His last TV appearance was a guest shot on Nash Bridges in 1997.

Vincent passed away last month at 74 due to cardiac arrest, but his passing has only reached news services today.

Edit, 5/21/19: Dailymotion deleted the Airwolf episode previously posted. In its place is a clip from Dragnet, during its 1960's run on NBC. This might've been what got Jan-Michael cast on Danger Island:

Rest in peace.

2019 NL East preview

Baseball's preseason is well underway. Leading up to Opening Day in less than three weeks, we'll take a look at each of the six divisions. Today, it's the most stacked division in the National League, the East.

Atlanta won the division last year, but didn't stand pat in the off-season. How could they, when three of their four rivals were making moves? Suffice it to say, 2019 will be anything but boring in the East.

Atlanta: The Braves welcomed back an old friend last year in re-signing relief pitcher Jonny Venters. This past off-season saw Brian McCann come home after being in Houston last year. Coupled with free agent signing Josh Donaldson (Toronto), the Braves had added some firepower to their offense behind returnees Nick Markakis, Ozzie Albies, & Rookie of The Year Ronald Acuna, Jr.. McCann will split time behind the plate with Tyler Flowers, but don't be at all surprised to see him spell Freddie Freeman at first, too.

However, pitching is the Achilles' heel that the Braves need to address. Signing Kevin Gausman away from Baltimore doesn't move the meter. One solution would be to bring up Shenendehowa graduate Ian Anderson, who could do wonders for the Braves in much the same way fellow Shen alum Kevin Huerter has for the NBA Hawks.

Miami: Somewhere, Derek Jeter must be wishing he never signed on as the CEO/corporate face of the Marlins. Bringing in former Yankee teammate Jorge Posada as a special instructor this spring doesn't change the fact that the Marlins are a work in progress. Why would Jeter sign off on giving up catcher J. T. Realmuto (Philadelphia)? You'd think he'd have learned a few lessons from the Steinbrenner family from his time in the Bronx.

Meanwhile, Neil Walker comes over from the Yankees to fill a need in the infield, mostly as injury insurance. The pitching doesn't scare anyone, and with all the big boppers gone (i.e. Realmuto), there's another reason why Walker was brought in, and Curtis Granderson was given an invite to spring training after finishing last season in Milwaukee.

Jeter aside, Marlins management is SO cheap (how cheap are they?), they make the Little Sisters of The Poor look wealthy.

To borrow a gag from Bill Cosby's Fat Albert & The Cosby Kids (1972-85), the Marlins aren't just SOL. They've got NC. No Chance.

Mets: Where to begin? The Mets added a former nemesis, Wilson Ramos (Tampa Bay), then traded Jay Bruce to Seattle to get closer Edwin Diaz and bring infielder Robinson Cano back to New York. Outfielder Keon Broxton (Milwaukee) adds some depth and injury insurance for Yoenis Cespedes and Juan Lagares. Jed Lowrie comes to the National League, but he's already hurt, and Todd Frazier starts the season on the injured list with an oblique strain. The team also picked up ex-Tri-City Valleycat J. D. Davis (Houston) for infield depth, though I think he'll see time in the outfield, too. 

Of course, the Mets are ridiculously rich in pitching, starting with Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom, though the back end of the rotation (Zack Wheeler, Jason Vargas) could be replaced at any time after shaky 2018 performances. In addition to Diaz, the Mets get All-Star Juerys Familia back from Oakland, and also picked up Justin Wilson (Cubs) for bullpen depth.

Philadelphia: As I wrote last week, I feel that the Phillies got fleeced by con artist Scott Boras in signing Bryce Harper away from Washington for 13 years. The Phils also got the aforementioned J. T. Realmuto, and traded to get Jean Segura (Seattle), bringing him back to the National League. Andrew McCutcheon returns to the NL as well, after finishing last season with the Yankees. Philadelphia also poached David Robertson, ending his 2nd stint in the Bronx, to be their new closer.

However, all those moves won't equal a division title, which would be the first post-season berth for Philadelphia in eight years. Starting pitching, past Jake Arietta, Aaron Nola, and Zach Eflin, is questionable. Ex-Valleycat Vince Velasquez was routinely lit up last season, and no improvement could lead to the bullpen.

Washington: Harper's gone, taking away a power arm/bat from the outfield. The Nationals, however, may have filled the offensive vacancy in bringing back first baseman Matt Adams for his second go-round after he returned to St. Louis last season, and getting catchers Kurt Suzuki (Atlanta) and Yan Gomes (Cleveland), with Suzuki also on his second tour in DC. The pitching has been strengthened with Patrick Corbin coming from Arizona to replace the fading Gio Gonzalez, and Kyle Barraclough comes over from the Titanic (Miami) for bullpen depth behind closer Sean Doolittle. Brian Dozier moves over from the Dodgers to fill the hole at second base created when Daniel Murphy was traded to the Cubs in mid-season (Murphy's now in Colorado). 

In addition to Corbin, Anibal Sanchez (Atlanta) gives the Nats some help at the back end of the rotation, since Corbin will join Max Scherzer & Stephen Strasburg up front. Trevor Rosenthal (St. Louis), recovering from Tommy John surgery, figures to move into the closer's role ere long if he's regained full command of his pitches.

Projected order of finish:

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

Wild Card-Mets.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Classic TV: How The West Was Won (1977)

As a genre, the Western was dying a slow death on television in the 70's, and it was thought to be over once Gunsmoke was retired to Boot Hill in 1975 after 20 seasons.

Less than a year later, James Arness was back in The Macahans, a 2-hour TV movie for ABC. 13 months later, it went to series as How The West Was Won, which lasted three seasons total, with barely more than two dozen episodes.

Arness top-lined as former Army scout Zeb Macahan, who moved his family from Virginia to Oregon as the series progressed. The supporting cast included Richard Kiley, Eva Marie Saint (season 1), and Bruce Boxleitner (currently on Supergirl chewing up scenery). Because of the lack of episodes, the series hasn't seen the light of day since it ended in 1979.

Arness would land one more series, McClain's Law, for NBC, and would work on some Gunsmoke reunion movies.

Here's a sample intro.

Decent stuff, but there had to be other reasons why, financial or otherwise, why either ABC or MGM was so unwilling to commit to full seasons.

Rating: B-.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Musical Interlude: Love Me Tomorrow (1982)

After more than a decade with Columbia, the pop group Chicago moved to Warner Bros., which distributed 1982's "Chicago 16". Full Moon Records was also associated with Columbia's sister label, Epic, and was home to the Charlie Daniels Band, among others.

"Love Me Tomorrow" was the follow-up to the band's #1 hit, "Hard to Say I'm Sorry", but peaked at #22 on the Hot 100.

What Might've Been: Animal World (1968)

Animal World, hosted & produced by Bill Burrud, landed on each of the broadcast networks between 1968-71. It was, perhaps by design, a short season series, not as competition to Marlin Perkins and his long running Wild Kingdom, but, initially, as a summer replacement.

Originally titled, Animal Kingdom, Burrud changed the title after six weeks to avoid confusion with Perkins' show. While Perkins had Mutual of Omaha as his sponsor, Burrud landed a sponsorship deal with the makers of Kal Kan pet foods.

The first season consisted of just six episodes. The next year, it moved to CBS, but only four episodes aired. After a year's break, Animal World returned in 1971, this time as a winter replacement on ABC, likely as a complement to The American Sportsman.

In 1983, Burrud would revive the series for the Disney Channel, at the time a premium service.

Following is an open and close:

Unfortunately, no episode footage is available.

Rating: A.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

The State of WWE, Winter 2019: This way lies madness!

If you're a die-hard WWE fan, you'll probably get the gist of what I'm driving at here.

On the December 17 Monday Night Raw, in the wake of the TLC event, Vince McMahon, accompanied by son Shane, daughter Stephanie, and Triple H, Steph's husband, made a declaration to the television audience and the fans at the arena that, in the face of record low television ratings caused by viewer apathy over creative complacency, coupled with the usual seasonal competition from Monday Night Football, they would listen to their fan base and attempt to create fresh matches.

Two months later, not much had changed. Instead, the seeds have been planted for a long-term story arc that would finally write off "Mr. McMahon", all so that Vince can focus his energies on reviving the XFL, set to return in February 2020. How, you might ask?

1. Women's Royal Rumble winner Becky Lynch, injured at the event, had been "suspended" in storyline by Stephanie for refusing a request to seek medical attention for her injured knee. A week later, Becky apologized for attacking Stephanie & Triple H, separately, on back-to-back nights. Apology accepted, but.....

Vince McMahon decided that the apology wasn't enough, citing the attacks as an affront on himself indirectly, and reinstated the suspension, making it 60 days, ensuring that Lynch would not face Raw women's champion Ronda Rousey at Wrestlemania next month. McMahon further threw a monkey wrench into things by anointing runner-up Charlotte Flair as Rousey's challenger on April 7.

Initially, my take was that while McMahon made his decisions based on technicalities, it seemed as though he was acting independently of the family with a hidden agenda.

2. Last week, in Atlanta, it was assumed by many that Lynch would crash a televised birthday party for Hall of Famer Ric Flair, Charlotte's father. There had been a surprise party in Flair's honor, attended by Charlotte and some of the same guests who were in attendance, three nights earlier. Charlotte was booked for a live event in Savannah on February 25, and thus when Lynch was "arrested" early on in the show, that opened the door for former World champion-turned-box office superstar Dave Bautista, aka "The Animal" Batista, to make an appearance, ambushing the elder Flair.

This attack had its roots in storyline in a Smackdown segment four months earlier:

This sets up Batista-HHH at Wrestlemania, and this arc will play out this month. However, what if it's also part of a larger arc, involving Vince McMahon?

The timing is curious to be sure, considering the CEO/Chairman was not on screen in Atlanta, but would show up in the heart of Flair country in Charlotte, North Carolina, the next night.

3. A week after Shane had anointed Kofi Kingston as the next challenger to WWE champion Daniel Bryan, along comes Vince to change that, claiming he felt the match needed a bigger box office draw. Thus, Kevin Owens, fresh off the injured list, was tabbed to replace a shocked Kingston. The stunned expressions on the faces of Kingston, Shane, & Stephanie were priceless. Owens & Kingston would team for the first time later in the show to defeat Bryan and his new aide, Erick Rowan.

Again, the issue is with Vince, and whether or not he's actually making these decisions, in the context of the story arc, in concert with the family (doubtful), or is acting on his own, making these moves willy nilly to screw with the same fans he'd paid lip service to two months earlier. And what role does Owens actually play in all this?

My take is this. Batista-HHH is meant to distract the "Cerebral Assassin" away from whatever his father-in-law is up to for the duration. That means Shane & Stephanie have to work together to bring their father back to reality (good luck with that) until HHH can rejoin them. With Smackdown shifting over to Fox in October, they will need to close the books on this story arc well before then. That means figuring out the best way to write off the elder McMahon, creating a scenario where HHH, the mastermind behind NXT's surge in popularity the last few years, Stephanie, & Shane can "run the show" without Vince "meddling" as a test to see if it really is time for Vince, who will be 74 after Summerslam, to, despite what he told ESPN's Jeremy Schaap 10 years ago this month, walk away from WWE. It's a move that many fans feel is way, way overdue in the face of seasonal ratings malaise devolving into a persistent problem.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Saturday, March 2, 2019

Musical Interlude: Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (1990)

Joan Jett & The Blackhearts released an all-cover album, "The Hit List", in 1990. The first single and track was a remake of AC/DC's "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap". By this point, Jett had ditched the angry punk rocker image from her early days for a more glamorous look.

Still, Jett was a few years removed from a star turn in the movie, "Light of Day" with Michael J. Fox (Family Ties). "Dirty Deeds", unfortunately, didn't last long on the top 40, peaking at #36.

Friday, March 1, 2019

Classic TV: Who's The Boss? (1984)

A retired baseball player, widowed, takes a job as a housekeeper for a divorced advertising executive. Each has one child, and gradually fall in love.

Who's The Boss? spent eight seasons on ABC (1984-92), mixing together a trio of actors familiar to network viewers. Judith Light left the daytime soap, One Life to Live, to play Angela Bower opposite Tony Danza (ex-Taxi). Katherine Helmond (ex-Soap) played Angela's mother, Mona. Viewers were also introduced to Alyssa Milano as Tony's daughter.

ABC was rebuilding its Tuesday comedy block after the end of Happy Days (11 seasons) and Soap. Three's Company had morphed into Three's a Crowd. Who's The Boss? proved to be a problem solver. Unfortunately, network suits got stupid at the end and moved the show to Saturdays for its final season. Opposite NBC's Golden Girls. Game over.

Still, it was fun while it lasted. Milano has remained a steady presence on TV in later years (i.e. the original Charmed), and Light moved on to Law & Order: Special Victims Unit in a recurring role as a judge.

Courtesy of Dailymotion, here's the series opener. In memory of Katherine Helmond, who has passed away at 89.

Rating for the series: B.