Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Look who's shillin' for the Air Force (1974)

In 1974, future baseball Hall of Famer Dick Williams was out of work, having resigned from the Oakland Athletics after two World Series titles. Then-owner Charles O. Finley refused to release Williams from his contract until he negotiated a deal with then-Angels owner Gene Autry in mid-season.

However, Williams would not sit idle. In what was probably his only commercial endorsement deal, Williams did this spot for the Air Force. Don't know who the actor is playing Superman, but his profile didn't exactly look super.....

Monday, April 29, 2019

Classic TV: Mr. Belvedere (1985)

More than 30 years after Clifton Webb last brought him to the screen, Mr. Belvedere arrived on ABC as a spring replacement in 1985. British actor Christopher Hewett stepped into the role of housekeeper Lynn Aloysius Belvedere, to use the man's full name, who sold himself into a job with the Owens family. Belvedere served as a counselor to the Owens' youngest son, Wesley (Brice Beckham), which certainly eased the burden for Wesley's parents.

Mr. Belvedere ran for a total of six seasons, and is certainly overdue to resurface on cable. The series marked the non-commercial acting debut of former baseball player Bob Uecker (George), who was, and still is, the radio voice of the Milwaukee Brewers. However, you'd have to believe Uecker landed the gig after years of shilling Miller Lite as much as his work with the Brewers. Uecker also found time to land a supporting role in the "Major League" movies with Charlie Sheen, Tom Berenger, and friends.

Here's the series opener. Title song performed by Leon Redbone, and co-written by Gary Portnoy, better known for composing the theme from Cheers:



Rating: B.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Celebrity Rock: You Spin Me Round (Like a Record) (2019)

Paul Rudd made a return trip to The Tonight Show earlier this week to promote "Avengers: Endgame", and, as usually happens, he & Jimmy Fallon hit the WABAC machine to revisit a classic music video by covering the song themselves. In this case, Dead or Alive's 1985 1-hit wonder, "You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)". Too bad they couldn't get two volunteers to be the rest of the band......

Saturday, April 27, 2019

In Theatres: Avengers: Endgame (2019)

It is epic in its scope. It is also a coda to the first era of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (2008-19).

"Avengers: Endgame" is the culmination of everything we've seen, starting with the first "Iron Man" film, and up through last year's "Infinity War".

The story tells us five years have passed since the events of  "Infinity War". Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) has settled down, married his long-time girlfriend, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), and they have a daughter. Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) is one of the last to feel the effects of Thanos (Josh Brolin) and his "snap", but then business takes Clint to Japan.

Meanwhile, Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) is spending more time as the Hulk, but not as the brutal savage we all know. Instead, taking a cue from what comics writers have done with his cousin, Jennifer "She-Hulk" Walters, the writers of "Endgame" have Bruce settling into being a genius Hulk, a call-back to some of Peter David's epic run back in the day. This also leads to some of the more amusing moments of the movie.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth), distraught and despondent, has settled into New Asgard, which amounts to a fishing town, and begins to look like his old pal, Volstagg. And not in a good way.

What happens over the course of three hours and a minute is completely crazy, including a time trip to 1970, which gives Michael Douglas and the late Stan Lee (final appearance) quick shots with wigs recalling their looks from that era, and, bear in mind, this would be before Douglas first gained fame on The Streets of San Francisco. For Stan, go to YouTube, find his appearance on To Tell The Truth, and you have an idea of what he looked like back then. Unfortunately, his wig was flapping in the wind, spoiling the shot.

There are no surprises in the closing credits. All there is, really, is one final curtain call for the core cast, as the first era closes.

Here's a trailer, one you've probably seen a few times.



Spider-Man (Tom Holland) returns later this summer in "Spider-Man: Far From Home".

Trailers:

"Toy Story 4" (June): Tom Hanks & Tim Allen are back for another go-round. When a child makes a toy out of plasticware, well, Woody sees it as a new member of his growing family, and the adventure begins anew.

"Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" (December): Speaking of finales, this apparently will end 42 years of sci-fi history.

We've previously seen trailers for "The Lion King" and "The Biggest Little Farm".

"Avengers: Endgame" merits an A-.

Friday, April 26, 2019

Forgotten TV: Nearly Departed (1989)

Someone at NBC thought it'd be a cool idea to develop a more up-to-date (for its time, anyway) version of Topper. Unfortunately, Nearly Departed scared more viewers away than it attracted, and was gone after a month.

Eric Idle (Monty Python's Flying Circus) & Caroline McWilliams (ex-Benson) play a British professor and his wife, who were killed in a rockslide. The new family taking over their home has no idea of what they've just bought into. Wendy Schaal (ex-Fantasy Island) & Stuart Pankin (Not Necessarily The News) co-starred.

Edit, 9/7/2020: Had to change the video. Here is the intro, and, yes, Eric Idle performs the theme song, in this case in a song & dance routine.



Idle would try again with a series at NBC, but this time, it was a cartoon, Stressed Eric, and that bombed as well.

No rating.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Classic TV: Ripley's Believe it or Not! (1982)

Robert L. Ripley's long running Ripley's Believe it or Not! made its television debut 70 years ago, transitioning from radio, as many before it had. However, this first series, airing on NBC, lasted a year. Ripley passed away during the season, necessitating the use of guest hosts for the rest of the term. The series had also been a comic strip, appearing in several newspapers, for many years.

In 1981, producer Jack Haley, Jr., one of the folks behind the "That's Entertainment!" movies in the 70's, obtained the rights to develop another TV series based on Ripley's. A pilot aired on ABC in May 1981, bringing Jack Palance (ex-Bronk) back to television. As it turned out, Ripley's would solve ABC's Sunday night problems over the course of four seasons (1982-6), while Palance had three different co-hosts over that span, including his daughter, Holly, and singer-actress Marie Osmond.

This sample entry comes from 1985. Co-writer David Vowell had previously been a writer for Jack Webb's various dramas (i.e. Dragnet) years earlier.



In 1999, a French animation studio tried to adapt Ripley's as an adventure series aimed at kids, but managed only 26 episodes for the then-Fox Family Channel (now Freeform). A year later, Sony revived the live-action series, with Dean Cain (ex-Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman) as host, and lasted three seasons on TBS.

Next month, Ripley's returns, with the fourth live-action series in this country. Actor-producer Bruce Campbell is the series host this time, and the series shifts over to the Travel Channel for 10 weeks.

The 1982 version merits an A. My folks alternated between this and Voyagers! during the latter's lone season.

Musical Interlude: Don't Say You Don't Remember (1971-2012)

Beverly Bremers might not be so much of a household name today, as she was a 1-hit wonder in the 70's, but she is still recording & touring, just the same.

Her 1-hit wonder, "Don't Say You Don't Remember", peaked in the top 10 on the Easy Listening (Adult Contemporary) chart in 1972. There are differing accounts of whether or not it reached the top 40 on the pop chart at that time. The sound evokes memories of the girl groups of the 60's by design, but the video, a mashup of performances from the 1971-2 period and in 2012, when the video was posted on YouTube, will change your vision of the song.



When "Remember" was released, Beverly was a label-mate of a couple of more established stars at Scepter, B. J. Thomas and Dionne Warwick. Who knew?

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Classic TV: That's Incredible! (1980)

The success of NBC's Real People, from Laugh-In creator George Schlatter, prompted ABC to come up with a similar series.

What producer Alan Landsburg (In Search Of.....) gave them was a hybrid that was equal parts magazine and variety show, though with no musical guests most of the time. That's Incredible! was a spring replacement series that launched in March 1980, and would run for five seasons total (1980-4).

Former NFL quarterback Fran Tarkenton (Vikings, Giants) teamed with actors John Davidson & Cathy Lee Crosby to host the series, which featured human interest stories, and some unique talents. In the former category, we present a nice little feature piece on a 5 year old golfing prodigy who'd made his television debut a couple of years earlier, and today is one of the world's best known golfers, five-time Masters champion Tiger Woods.



Landsburg would sell a short-lived sitcom to ABC, Baby Makes FIve, three years later, but had better success at NBC (Gimme a Break!) & CBS (Kate & Allie). That's Incredible! was revived for a brief run in 1988 under the title, Incredible Sunday. Davidson, who was in his 3rd & final season hosting Hollywood Squares, returned to co-host.

Rating: A-.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Not even Pee-Wee's Playhouse was this creepy (2019)

"When you think you've got all the answers, I change the questions!"---Roddy Piper.

WWE threw fans for a loop Monday when Bray Wyatt (Windham Rotunda) returned with a new look.

In a clear parody of children's shows such as Pee-Wee's Playhouse & Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, Wyatt has traded away his straw hat and "Eater of Worlds" persona for a bizarro children's show host (audience reactions were pre-recorded) in Firefly Fun House. Check it.



The puppet characters had been introduced over the last two weeks, and fans made an easy connection between them and Wyatt. The reason for the swerve and the new look? Impending fatherhood, I'm going to guess. It was recently announced that Wyatt and his girlfriend, erstwhile ring announcer JoJo Offerman, are expecting their first child (which explains JoJo's absence, as she's been on extended maternity leave for several weeks), and the feeling is that Wyatt wanted to clean up his character, shifting from the cult leader from the swamp to the wackiest kid show host since Stanley Spadowski (Michael Richards) in "UHF" 30 years ago.

Stay tuned.

Monday, April 22, 2019

YouTube Theatre: Swamp Thing (1982)

With a brand new Swamp Thing series bowing on DC Universe next month, what better time than now to revisit the first live-action appearance of Len Wein & Berni Wrightson's classic monster.

"Swamp Thing" was released in February 1982, produced by Ben Melniker & Michael Uslan, who'd later make a cottage industry out of Batman by kicking off a new series of films for the Caped Crusader seven years later. Oh, by the way, a month before "Batman" was released, Melniker & Uslan served up a sequel to "Swamp Thing".

Described by critics as campy, if only because of a homage to the melodramatic serials of the Golden Age, "Swamp Thing" adapts Wein & Wrightson's original story, making only one cosmetic change in turning Federal agent Matt Cable into Alice Cable (Adrienne Barbeau, ex-Maude) in order to give the titular creature (Dick Durock) a romantic interest, although Swamp Thing's canonical girlfriend, Abby Arcane, would show up in the sequel.

Alec Holland (Ray Wise) and his sister, Linda, have developed a miracle bio-restorative formula. Anton Arcane (Louis Jourdan) wants the formula at all costs. If you've read the story in the comics, you know how this goes.

Rather than show the movie, which is available in its entirety on YouTube, including Barbeau's nude scene, we'll give you a trailer.



Writer-director Wes Craven is better known for darker horror films, such as the "Nightmare on Elm St." series, which devolved into camp comedy late in its run, and "The Last House on The Left". In fact, the first "Nightmare" followed "Swamp Thing" two years later.

Rating: B-.

What Might've Been: Jackee (1989)

Jackee Harry was the breakout star of NBC's 227, which launched in 1985. Someone decided that she was worth a spin-off series, so following the 4th season, Jackee, who dropped her last name pro tempore, was given a try-out with Jackee, which, as you'll see, was later packaged as part of 227's syndicated package. This clip comes from an airing on Logo.



There have been many cases of a supporting player being unable to carry a show as a lead, Tim Conway and Jerry Van Dyke being two of the most legendary cases. Jackee falls into this category.

Rating: C.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Musical Interlude: Physical (1981)

Olivia Newton-John permanently shattered her image as a girl next door, as if "Grease" hadn't done that three years earlier, with the release of 1981's "Physical". The title track hit #1 in several countries, including the US and Newton-John's native Australia.

The official video had Olivia, in a leotard, tights, and leg warmers, in a gym, trying to get some men to lose weight by exercising. However, this performance clip has her in a floral dress, white tights, and boots. What show this is from, I don't know.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Musical Interlude: Yes, I'm Ready (1979)

Teri Desario peaked at #2 on the pop chart in early 1980, teaming with KC (Harry Casey), minus the Sunshine Band, for a cover of Barbara Mason's 1965 hit, "Yes, I'm Ready".

Now, with prom season around the corner, how many of today's kids do you think would want to hear this song?



Unfortunately, Desario never reached that high on the charts again, and I think this was the last hit for Casey, too.

They're movin' on back!: The Jeffersons & the Bunkers return

This has sweeps stunt written all over it, and the internet seems to be divided.

"It" is a one-night only return of two of Norman Lear's classic sitcoms from the 70's, All in The Family & one of its most enduring spin-offs, The Jeffersons. On Wednesday, May 22, ABC will present a live, 90-minute special recreating classic episodes of both series.

The mastermind behind this project is late night host Jimmy Kimmel, who made the announcement on his show on Thursday. Kimmel also revealed a large chunk of the cast for the special.

For All in The Family, Woody Harrelson (ex-Cheers, True Detective) and Marisa Tomei ("Spider-Man: Homecoming") will fill Archie & Edith Bunker's chairs, with Ellie Klemper as Gloria.

For The Jeffersons, Wanda Sykes will play Louise opposite Jamie Foxx (Beat Shazam) as George. Will Ferrell will play neighbor Tom Willis.

While acknowledging that the two series are products of their era, there is concern online that Kimmel will use the special to make not-so-subtle statements against President Trump. Kimmel and CBS counterpart Stephen Colbert have both made Trump a very public punching bag in their monologues, but we'll see come May 22 if those fears are justified.

For now, we'll leave you with a season 1 intro from The Jeffersons:

Friday, April 19, 2019

What Might've Been: Friends & Lovers (1974)

Tony Award winner Paul Sand had been impressive appearing on The Carol Burnett Show & The Mary Tyler Moore Show, such that the latter's production company gave him his own show.

Unfortunately, that act of charity didn't take Sand as far as anyone might've hoped.

Friends & Lovers (aka Paul Sand in Friends & Lovers) was given a cushy perch on CBS' Saturday schedule, hammocked in between All in The Family & Moore. With the creative pedigree of Allan Burns & James L. Brooks, how did it possibly fail?

Sand played a bass violinist, Robert Dreyfuss, who was shy and awkward with women. Insofar as viewers were concerned, being a sharp contrast to the politically charged humor of All in The Family made them turn away from Sand and flip back for Moore afterward.

At home, Emergency! was the choice, so I never watched the show, and can only guess. We'll leave you with an intro:

Weasel of the Week: Jane Doe

Let's say that you're the parent of a 6 year old girl, likely finishing kindergarten. You decide to have Build-a-Bear Workshop host a birthday party for your daughter, AND they let you have the run of the joint. You invite guests to bring Build-a-Bear toys they've created. Amidst the birthday cake and other treats, how would you run the party?

I ask because one parent decided her daughter JUST HAD to have all the toys brought to the party she threw at a Build-a-Bear Workshop, and virtually at the last minute, as the guests and their parents were leaving, DEMANDED that the children give up their toys. The ones these kids and their parents spent hours putting together on their own time.

Understandably, the guests were upset. Seems to me this self-entitled parent just gave her daughter a bad case of affluenza on top of the extra toys.

This video comes from an ABC affiliate in Chicago (which is also the broadcast home of the Cubs):



Once I caught wind of this on reddit, I started searching around for further information. Seems Bad Parent is also on a local school board, and feels entitled because of the power she wields. What message does that send to her little girl? I've read some comments from sympathetic folks who feel that poor little girl will end up having some social issues down the road because of her greedy mom, who gets the Weasel ears this week.

The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, advised children to obey their parents in the sight of God, "for this is right". However, if what the parents are doing isn't right, what happens then?

Thursday, April 18, 2019

What Might've Been: The Goodtime Girls (1980)

After successfully mining the nostalgia of the 50's (and later, the 60's) with Happy Days & Laverne & Shirley, Garry Marshall tried moving further back in time with a mid-season replacement series that ABC picked up in 1980.

However, The Goodtime Girls ended up a 1-season wonder, after the network moved it out of its cushy post-Days perch after a month. Apparently, it was slotted to give Laverne a bit of a breather during the 1979-80 season.

The show was set in the 40's, as evidenced by the Andrews Sisters' "Don't Sit Under The Apple Tree" being used as the theme for the pilot, the credits of which will follow shortly. With an ensemble cast mostly comprised of future stars such as Annie Potts (later of Designing Women and "Ghostbusters II"), Peter Scolari (who'd follow up with another Paramount entry, Bosom Buddies, the following fall), Adrian Zmed (later of T. J. Hooker), and already familiar talents like Georgia Engel (ex-The Mary Tyler Moore Show) & Sparky Marcus, fresh from The Bad News Bears, which had flopped on CBS a year earlier.

Here is said video:



Yes, the title card was edited off.

Sad to say, we lost Georgia Engel earlier this week.

No rating. Never saw the show.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Musical Interlude: Cherry, Cherry & Solitary Man (1966)

In the fall of 1966, Neil Diamond landed his first hit singles on the pop charts. Not just the Monkees' "Daydream Believer", mind you, but his own singles.

In October, Neil appeared on Where The Action Is to perform "Cherry, Cherry" & "Solitary Man". Sounds like he's singing live at least on "Solitary", with a pre-recorded instrumental track (and backing vocals on "Cherry").

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

A Modern Classic: Highlander (1992)

Spun from the popular movie series, Highlander transitioned to television with a syndicated series that ran for six seasons (1992-8), continuing the story of the MacLeod family.

Adrian Paul (currently appearing on Arrow) had the lead as Duncan MacLeod, whose brother, Connor (Christopher Lambert) was the hero of the movie series.

As with a lot of shows in their later years, my folks caught up with Highlander via daytime reruns on cable. Not sure if they actually followed the series in first-run episodes.

Anyway, Jim Byrnes (ex-Wiseguy) joined the show at an early point, and eventually became the narrator in his role as Joe Dawson, a Watcher who was a sort of mentor-guardian to Duncan.

Following is a sample episode. Title song is performed by Queen.



Rating: B.

Sports this 'n' that

Nearly three weeks into the season, the Chicago Cubs have reverted back to being the pre-Joe Maddon Scrubs. Not a good way to start the season, especially if it is Maddon's walk year.

Last week, the Cubs sent relief pitcher Carl Edwards, Jr. to their Triple A team in Iowa. Edwards is carrying an abysmal 32.40 ERA with the Cubs, and right before his demotion, according to Yahoo!, some pea-brained Instadork served up some racist spew on Instagram, which the Cubs, the MLB Players Association, and MLB itself, are investigating.

One Yahoo! commentator noted that the timing is just flat out bad in the wake of the scandal surrounding actor Jussie Smollett's alleged fabrication of a hate crime earlier this year.

What some of these "fans" fail to understand is that all players go through slumps. You can't expect perfection from major league ballplayers. It just doesn't happen.
===========================================
As the Stanley Cup playoffs continue first round action tonight, two of the best teams in the East are in danger of being eliminated.

Tampa Bay, which had the best record in the league, is in a 3-0 hole vs. Columbus. Likewise, Pittsburgh is staring down the barrel of a possible sweep at the hands of the New York Islanders. Like, who saw that coming?
==========================================
The Knicks, per a newspaper report over the weekend, are recruiting one of their all-time greats, Patrick Ewing, to represent the team at the draft lottery. Like, they think lightning will strike twice, since Ewing was the overall #1 pick coming out of Georgetown when the Knicks won the very first draft lottery 35 years ago. It's official. Owner James Dolan is delusional.
==========================================
Multi-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson tried a race of a different kind on Monday, as he ran his first Boston Marathon. The goal was to finish in under three hours. Didn't happen. The rain didn't bother Johnson, since he's used to driving in the rain.

Well, at least sports fans in Boston had the distraction since the Red Sox lost another one, falling to Baltimore in the annual Patriots' Day game. No, I don't think any of the NFL Patriots threw out the first ball.
===========================================
As part of the run-up to Wrestlemania, WWE ran a series of matches during the Axxess fest two weeks ago, with matches taped for broadcast for their new miniseries, Worlds Collide, on WWE Network. One online commentator found it strange that the Undisputed Era, heels in NXT, were treated like babyfaces in New York.

Well, there is a good explanation for that, as we've documented in the past. Undisputed Era member Bobby Fish is from Albany, currently living in Saratoga when he's not with NXT, and likely had family & friends coming down from the 518 to cheer him and Kyle O'Reilly to victory over SAnitY (that's how it's spelled on TV, folks). Luke Harper, from the Buffalo area, also got some love from the Empire State as he put down Dominik Dijakovic (local fans remember him as Donovan Dijak), with both men showing some serious athletic prowess. Anyone that's seen Dijak on Ring of Honor would attest to that.
===========================================
The current NXT tag team champions, the former War Machine, then renamed War Raiders upon arriving in NXT, were called up to the big club on Raw, and greeted with a few more changes.

The team is now known as the Viking Experience, consisting of Erik (Hanson) & Ivar (Raymond Rowe). The name changes are for marketing purposes, but didn't sit well with online fans. Rowe is also the husband of Riott Squad member Sarah Logan, so they'll now travel together, provided, of course, that Logan doesn't get moved to Smackdown in the Superstar Shakeup tonight.
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America's Idiot, Stephen A. Smith, was recently gifted by ESPN with a contract extension worth $10 million. Smith is no more than a professional bloviator who came to the network as a basketball beat writer from Philadelphia, but has shown time & again that he has no clue when it comes to other sports. However, his penchant for putting his foot in his mouth draws ratings, when online viewers would rather see him get flushed with the dishwater. More often than not, his First Take partner, Max Kellerman, takes him to school, especially on boxing.

Kellerman, oh by the way, has a new short-form series, Max on Boxing, on the ESPN networks, which they should keep Screamin' A. Cosell (Smith) away from at all costs. Just sayin'.

Monday, April 15, 2019

Of Recent Vintage: The Jamie Foxx Show (1996)

After leaving In Living Color, Jamie Foxx landed his own self-titled sitcom, but not on Fox. Instead, Jamie landed at the nascent WB network, where his show ran for five seasons (1996-2001).

Jamie plays Jamie King, an aspiring musician who relocates from Texas (where Jamie is from in real life) to California, and takes a job at a hotel owned by his aunt & uncle. Otherwise, it's standard sitcom fare, doubling as an outlet for Jamie to show off his other talent as a singer, having made his singing debut on Color a few years earlier.

In this sample clip, Jamie uses a broom as a mic and starts crooning the Drifters' "On Broadway", with help from his aunt & uncle.



Yes, that's Garrett Morris (ex-Saturday Night Live) as Uncle Junior. These days, in between albums and movie gigs, Jamie hosts Fox's summer series, Beat Shazam, as in the music app, not the superhero.

Rating: B.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Musical Interlude: Beautiful Sunday (1972)

Daniel Boone, the fictionalized account of the legendary frontiersman, was still on the air in reruns when a singer by that same name landed a 1-hit wonder with "Beautiful Sunday". Hmmmm.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

In Theatres: Shazam! (2019)

In concept, he's been around for 80 years, same as the Batman.

However, the man we once knew as Captain Marvel now answers to "Shazam!", thanks to some copyright legalities dating back decades. Marvel Comics actually went so far as to issue a cease & desist order against DC after their first Shazam! book bowed at the end of 1972, since they acquired the copyright to Captain Marvel.

The core of the new film is based on Geoff Johns & Gary Frank's reimagining of the hero, which began in 2011. Johns advanced Billy Batson in age from 12 to 14, and decided that Billy & Mary were no longer directly related, much less fraternal twins. In the context of his story, Johns made Mary a high school senior, getting ready for college, all this despite living in a group home with Billy and four other youths, including canonical best pal Freddy Freeman. Worth noting is that in order to make his vision as separate from Superman as possible, Johns decided Billy wouldn't have a career in journalism, and Freddy wouldn't be hawking newspapers despite his disability.

One other alteration was made with Dr. Thaddeus Bodog Sivana (Mark Strong), who is not your average mad scientist. Turns out there's a twist to his story that recalls a similar plot device in "Fantastic Four". All I'll say is that Sivana's & Billy's fates are intertwined, and leave it at that.

Zachary Levi (ex-Chuck) hams it up as Shazam 2.0, inheriting the name from a certain wizard (Dijimon Hounsou), and allowing Billy to revel in his newfound power. Recalling Roy Thomas' reboot of 1987, as he was the one who originally decided Billy's mind would be in an adult body when powered, I could see this as having elements of "Big", which came out around that time, and the early 80's series, The Greatest American Hero, given Billy's struggles to adjust to his new powers. The wizard never did give him a guidebook, after all. I'm surprised they couldn't find Joey Scarbury's theme from the latter series for the soundtrack, as it would've fit perfectly.

Let's take a look at a trailer, which will have some scenes familiar to you from commercials....



Other trailers include:

"Dark Phoenix" (June 7): The likely coda for Fox's X-Men movie series is loosely based on Chris Claremont & John Byrne's 1980 story arc.

"Men in Black International": Emma Thompson & Colin Firth have to shepherd a new agent. Fourth film in this series, first without Will Smith.

"Dora & The Lost City of Gold": Live action spin-off from Nickelodeon's long running Dora The Explorer, except that Dora is now in high school. Michael Pena ("Ant-Man & The Wasp") plays Dora's father.

"The Secret Life of Pets 2": Self-explanatory funny animal silliness.

"Avengers: Endgame" (April 26): Clocks in at three hours, they say, to wrap up 11 years of plots, or so it'd seem.

"The Hustle": Anne Hathaway & Rebel Wilson in a female empowerment comedy of some sort. Soundtrack includes some vintage Tom Jones.

"Pokemon: Detective Pikachu" (May 9): Ryan Reynolds voices the title character, as the long running collectible card game franchise moves to live action, with a dash of CGI.

"Shazam!" rating: B+.

Friday, April 12, 2019

What Might've Been: The Richard Pryor Show (1977)

Richard Pryor impressed NBC suits with a primetime special in the spring of 1977. That fall, Pryor landed a berth on the fall schedule. That was the good news. The bad? Tuesdays, opposite ABC's killer combo of Happy Days & Laverne & Shirley. We looked at CBS' entry in the sweepstakes, The Fitzpatricks, earlier this week.

The problem was that Pryor's brand of comedy belonged at a later hour, say, around 10 pm (ET), not 8 pm. The low ratings resulted in a quick hook, as Pryor was gone after a month.

Perhaps Pryor must've known this would not work, as he only taped the four episodes that did air, which, along with the special, were produced by Burt Sugarman (The Midnight Special), who surrounded Pryor with an ensemble cast, some of whom would become big stars themselves. For example, Tim Reid & Robin Williams would rebound with hits the next season. Reid in WKRP in Cincinnati, and Williams with Mork & Mindy. Vic Dunlop, a stand-up comic, would later turn up as a frequent contributor to the 1979 remake of Make Me Laugh, and Sandra Bernhard became a comedy icon herself, including a star turn with Jerry Lewis & Robert DeNiro in "The King of Comedy".

Keep your eyes open for Reid, Williams, & Bernhard, all supporting Pryor, with Jeff Corey as the judge, in a send-up of To Kill a Mockingbird.....



No rating. Back then, there were still plenty of Mets games on the cable.......

Sports this 'n' that

Coming out of Wrestlemania, WWE is dealing with some major injury issues.

Former women's champion Nia Jax confirmed earlier today that she has to undergo surgery on both knees after tearing the ACL ligaments in both legs. She's been working through the pain for about a year, she says, but recovery time looks to knock her out of action for the rest of 2019, and a likely return point would be on or before next year's Royal Rumble.

Meanwhile, Big E, the muscleman of the New Day, acknowledged he tore his meniscus, and he, too, goes on the injured list, although it's likely they'll keep him around to keep the act together for the time being.
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As many might've feared, Ring of Honor has fallen into the trap of sports entertainment, after years of being an alternative to WWE's preferred form of wrestling product.

At last weekend's G1 Supercard, a joint promotion with New Japan Pro Wrestling, former WWE stars Enzo Amore (Eric Arndt) & Big Cass (Will Hennessey), now billing themselves as nZo & CazXL, respectively, crashed the party after the Guerrillas of Destiny, the sons of former WWE star Haku, captured the ROH tag team titles. Seems the New Japan folks weren't notified ahead of time of the angle, but officials at Madison Square Garden, long a WWE stronghold, were, and the New Japan folks ain't too happy about it.

Also, former Impact stars Angelina Love & Velvet Sky, collectively known as the Beautiful People when they worked in TNA-Impact, reunited, now using the name Allure, with Mandy Leon, commentator-turned-wrestler, as the 3rd member of Allure. Velvet is also the current steady of Bully Ray, so you can guess how she got the gig. Angelina, meanwhile, is the wife of former ROH & TNA star Davey Richards, who retired a couple of years back, but how much d'ya wanna bet the former American Wolf comes out of retirement if the price is right.......
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NBA Hall of Famer Earvin "Magic" Johnson resigned as President of Basketball Operations for the Los Angeles Lakers earlier this week, and some ignorant types are pointing the finger of blame at---who else?----LeBron James, whose reputation for diva behavior has resurfaced in La-La Land. James' CBS reality series, Million Dollar Mile, was an even bigger bust than the Lakers, having been bumped from its Wednesday perch after 2 weeks of bad ratings.

Lakers GM Rob Pelinka, an ex-agent, like Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen, is also being fingered as part of the reason Johnson left. Johnson still holds a stake in the Dodgers, last we checked, so he's not done in LA yet. Stay tuned.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Musical Interlude: Metal Head (1982)

Local rock legends Blotto had their debut single, "I Wanna be a Lifeguard", played on MTV right from day one. Regular airplay got the attention of Blue Oyster Cult guitarist Buck Dharma, who sat in with the band on this next item, 1982's "Metal Head". Dharma doesn't appear in the clip, of course, but this also got a ton of airplay on MTV.



In memory of singer Sarge Blotto (Greg Haymes), who passed away Wednesday from a form of cancer.

Forgotten TV: The Fitzpatricks (1977)

In my mind, CBS' The Fitzpatricks was placed on the wrong night in 1977. The network thought that the hour-long family drama would be good enough counter-programming against ABC's 1-2 punch of Happy Days & Laverne & Shirley. Nope. Low ratings & frequent pre-emptions due in part to those low ratings led to the series' demise in January '78.

What CBS was hoping for was a contemporary drama that was along the lines of The Waltons, but set in present times. While they did have a couple of young stars primed for the teen magazines of the day in Clark Brandon and Jimmy McNichol (whose sister, Kristy, was starring on ABC's Family), they also had Helen Hunt (ex-Swiss Family Robinson) in the supporting cast, a long ways away from "Twister" & Mad About You.

Here's the intro:



No rating. Didn't see the show. I think my folks were watching whatever was on NBC at the time, because they definitely weren't into Happy Days.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Musical Interlude: Private Eyes (1981)

Hall & Oates hit #1 on the Hot 100 with "Private Eyes", the title track from their 1981 album, released in September. Guitarist GE Smith would later become the bandleader on Saturday Night Live.

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

A Modern Classic: Seinfeld (1989)

They said it was a show about nothing. Nine years of nothing meant something, after all.

Seinfeld anchored NBC's Thursday lineup for much of the 90's, coupled with Cheers and, later, its spin-off, Frasier, from 9-10 pm (ET).

Jerry Seinfeld developed the show based on his stand-up act, and populated his fictional universe with the kind of diverse personalities you'd find on, say for example, The Bob Newhart Show or Taxi. For example, you had Elaine (Julia-Louis Dreyfus, ex-Saturday Night Live, currently on Veep), Jerry's ex-girlfriend, now just a close friend whose later relationships would be the source of many an episode. Kramer (Michael Richards, fresh from "UHF") was the eccentric neighbor who, like Lenny & Squiggy on Laverne & Shirley years earlier, didn't believe in knocking on the door. Then again, it seemed as though he left his brains in his apartment. George (Jason Alexander) was the neurotic other Everyman who, in the context of the series, worked for the Yankees as a traveling secretary. Apparently, he didn't do enough traveling.

Everyone has their favorite episodes or catch phrases, such as "Yadda, yadda, yadda", or in the case of the infamous Soup Nazi, "No soup for you!". Al Yaganeh's restaurant now is a national chain thanks to the show.

And speaking of the Soup Nazi, check out this excerpt........



My folks didn't watch the show in first run initially, but caught on with the reruns in later years.

These days, Jason Alexander is shilling for KFC. Patrick Warburton (Puddy) does likewise for National Car Rental, and always seems to find primetime and/or cartoon work. Jerry is likely to turn up at Citi Field to see his beloved Mets, even sitting in the TV or radio booth occasionally, and has a new online series, Comedians in Cars Drinking Coffee, which started on Crackle, then moved to Netflix.

Series rating: A-.

Monday, April 8, 2019

Old Time Radio: Life With Luigi (1948)

Much has been made about how Hollywood had steadfastly avoided casting an Asian-American to play Charlie Chan in the movies, although Keye Luke, who played #1 son Lee opposite Warner Oland, later broke the barrier with the animated Amazing Chan & The Chan Clan series.

Asian-Americans weren't the only minority being disrespected by Hollywood. Far from it.

For Cy Howard's Life With Luigi, a 1948 series about an Italian immigrant, the producers cast Irish-American J. Carroll Naish, a 2-time Oscar nominee, in the title role, with Alan Reed (Duffy's Tavern) as Luigi's bestie, Pasquale. Howard, who'd scored a hit with My Friend Irma (adapted into a feature film with Dean Martin & Jerry Lewis), got five years out of Luigi (1948-53) on CBS Radio.

CBS, flush with success, tried to duplicate it with a TV version in 1952 with the same cast. However, there's a big difference between radio & television when it comes to portraying characters like Luigi. Italian-Americans raised a fuss over the show, which was cancelled, and later retooled with Vito Scotti replacing Naish. It bombed on video a second time.

Meanwhile, check out "Luigi Needs a Driver's License", and you can probably figure Italian-Americans had a problem with the radio show, too, and its depiction of Luigi.......



No different than your average radio comedy.

Rating: B.

Sports this 'n' that

Baylor won the NCAA women's basketball championship Sunday night, dethroning defending champion Notre Dame, 82-81. The Lady Bears have now won three NCAA titles, likely all of them under current coach Kim Mulkey. Congratulations to Baylor.

Now, can Texas Tech make it a Texas Two-Step, and beat Virginia in the men's title game tonight? Stay tuned.
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La Loudmouth (LaVar Ball) just doesn't get it, and it'll be a while if he ever does.

With his shoe company, Big Baller Brand, fading away as expected because of overpriced merchandise, more than anything else, the Fred Sanford of stage parents was back in the news the last few days.

First, Ball claimed he was vetting the process of finding a new agent for son Lonzo, out for the season with an ankle injury, after Lonzo parted company with Harrison Gaines, and filed suit against Alan Foster, a family friend and business partner in Big Baller Brand who apparently got a little greedy in his own right.

Now LaVar tells TMZ Sports that he thinks middle son LiAngelo is better than Duke's Zion Williamson, who was just named the James Naismith Award winner for 2018-19. News flash. If as expected Williamson declares for the draft, like everyone thinks he will, that will give him more than a leg up on LiAngelo, who flushed his college eligibility down the drain last year thanks to his father.

Well, let's put it this way. If Lonzo is forced to retire early, he & La Loudmouth can mount a remake of Sanford & Son.......
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Speaking of Williamson, now there's reports that Nike, which supplied Williamson with his shoes this season, also allegedly paid his family to agree to send Zion to Duke.

Will this madness never end? In upstate New York, scholar-athletes don't have such vetting. It's between them, their coaches, and their parents, and that's as far as it's supposed to go.

In a nutshell, college basketball & football have been corrupted by sponsors who see dollar signs without bothering to do due diligence to see if the blue chip prospects that they're getting behind are actually worth investing in before he plays a pro game. Amazingly, college hockey & baseball have avoided such scandals.

In New York, we do things the right way. Period.
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Wrestlemania is in the books, and, for whatever reason, WWE decided to extend the show to an alarming 5 1/2 hours, which isn't sitting well with the New Jersey Transit Authority. The PPV/WWE Network portion of the show got underway at 7 pm (ET), and didn't end until 12:30 am this morning, and this was after a 2 hour pre-show, half of which aired on USA Network.

WWE finally delivered on fan service, as all but two championships changed hands Sunday night/Monday morning. To wit:

Seth Rollins ended Brock Lesnar's 2nd run with the Universal title in the PPV opener. It took just 2 1/2 minutes, as apparently, Lesnar didn't want to wait since his match wasn't the headliner, and with a UFC return rumored to be set for August vs. Daniel Cormier, this might just be, finally, hail & farewell to Lesnar, barring of course media mark/CEO/Chairman Vince McMahon deciding to bring him back again someday.

Becky Lynch won the Smackdown & Raw women's titles in a three-way, one-fall main event over Charlotte Flair & Ronda Rousey.

Australia's IIconics (Billie Kay & Peyton Royce) won the women's tag titles from Sasha Banks & Bayley in a one-fall, four team match that also involved two other teams from Raw in Nia Jax & Tamina Snuka and the Divas of Doom (Beth Phoenix & Natalya, who used the team name back in 2011-12).. However, the IIconics' countryman, Buddy Murphy, saw his cruiserweight title reign end at the hands of Tony Nese.

Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins, a pair of Long Island natives, won Raw's men's tag titles from the Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder). Ryder & Hawkins last were champions on Smackdown all the way back in 2008.

Finn Balor, using his Demon King persona, took back the Intercontinental title from Bobby Lashley, as that title has bounced between the two of them the last few months.

Finally, Kofi Kingston unseated Daniel Bryan as WWE Champion. With the subliminal racial overtones in the build to this match, this was the right move to make.

The only champions to retain were the Usos, who won a 4-way of their own over Shinsuke Nakamura & Rusev, The Bar (Sheamus & Cesaro), & Ricochet & Aleister Black to keep Smackdown's tag titles, and Samoa Joe, who retained the US title in under a minute over a still injured Rey Mysterio. Despite reports that Mysterio had been cleared to compete a day earlier, he apparently wasn't 100% after all.

Also: Shane McMahon beat The Miz in a falls count anywhere match, his first singles win at the "Showcase of The Immortals" since 2001. Kurt Angle retired after losing to Baron Corbin, whom no one wanted facing Angle. It certainly seemed to me as though this was forced on Angle, but we'll never know the truth. Braun Strowman won the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal, but the absurdity of it all was having Saturday Night Live's Colin Jost & Michael Che hiding under the ring most of the match, then trying to eliminate Strowman. Carmella won the women's battle royal, for whatever that's worth.

The scene shifts back to Brooklyn tonight.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Musical Interlude: Hyperactive! (1984)

Thomas Dolby followed up "She Blinded Me With Science" with "Hyperactive!", the first single off his 1984 CD, "The Flat Earth". Dolby adds ventriloquism to his many talents, or so it'd seem.....

Saturday, April 6, 2019

A Modern Classic: Jake & The Fatman (1987)

In the mid-80's, former network executive Fred Silverman had reinvented himself as a television producer. With business partner Dean Hargrove, Silverman shepherded a revival of Perry Mason as a series of TV-movies for NBC, rather than CBS.

That initial success led to a gold mine for Silverman & Hargrove, starting with NBC's Matlock (which finished its run on ABC), and followed by their first sale for CBS, Jake & The Fatman.

In a way, you can say that Jake & The Fatman was a reimagining of Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe, except that J. L. McCabe (William Conrad) was a district attorney instead of a private eye. Conrad had starred in Nero Wolfe a few years earlier in his first post-Cannon project, but it was a bust.

Jake (Joe Penny, ex-Riptide) was the legman for McCabe in much the same way Archie Goodwin was for Wolfe. The series began & finished in Los Angeles, spending some time in Hawaii in between after Magnum, P. I. ended its first run. In all, Fatman ran for five seasons, although it was a mid-season replacement entry for season 2. Either that, or it'd been delayed by the writers' strike in 1988, such that the 2nd season didn't begin until the calendar flipped to 1989.

Fatman also begat Dick Van Dyke's Diagnosis: Murder, which began with a pilot episode in the 4th season. As it happened, Fatman came out of a back-door pilot of sorts during Matlock's 1st season, though Conrad, Penny, & Alan Campbell didn't play exactly the same characters, especially Penny, who played a mobster's son on Matlock.

Following is an intro from the 5th season:



It is said CBS made the decision to move the show back to LA halfway through the 4th season, probably to save money. Since Me-TV has Matlock & Diagnosis: Murder on their roster, why not Jake & The Fatman, too?

Rating: B.

Friday, April 5, 2019

Baseball this 'n' that

A week into the season, and, at least for now, baseball's haves & have nots have switched places.

Nowhere is that more apparent than in the American League.

In the east, Tampa Bay sits atop the division, off to a 5-2 start, while the defending World Series champion Boston Red Sox are in the basement, 2/3 of the way through a season opening trek through the west at 2-6. The injury plagued Yankees are in 3rd place at 3-4 after spoiling Baltimore's home opener on Thursday. The Orioles are in 2nd place at 4-3, as the division's other surprise.

Out west, Seattle, whom we picked to finish 2nd and contend for a wild card, has exceeded expectations, currently leading at 7-1. Houston is in 4th at 2-5, while the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, after spending all that money on Mike Trout to keep him from leaving as a free agent, occupy the basement at 1-6 after getting shellacked last night by Texas, which is sitting in 2nd place at 5-2. Ex-Met Matt Harvey started the Angels' home opener, and got smacked.

Speaking of the Mets, they sit at 5-2 after losing, 4-0, to Washington on Thursday, as Stephen Strasburg gained a measure of revenge after the Mets chased him off the mound five days earlier in DC. Philadelphia, for now, is in first, as they were idle yesterday following a 9-8 loss to the Nationals on Wednesday.

And what has happened to the Chicago Cubs?

Joe Maddon, in what is likely his walk year in Chi-town, has seen the Cubs revert to the Scrubs, as they are tied for 4th in the NL Central at 1-5 following a soggy loss to Atlanta on Thursday. The Braves swept the Cubs, who are finding out they may have gotten damaged goods in signing Yu Darvish to a 6-year deal last year after getting him as a free agent from the Dodgers. Darvish, who was a phenom coming from Japan when he signed with Texas seven years ago, couldn't get out of the 4th inning against Atlanta.

Braves pitcher Max Fried retired the first 17 batters to face him before giving up a hit, and he wasn't the only one flirting with a no-hitter on Thursday. Cleveland's Trevor Bauer and the bullpen got as far as the 8th inning before Toronto's Freddy Galvis broke up the no-no.
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They say everything runs in cycles. That would suggest that Milwaukee, currently leading the NL Central at 6-1, will cede the division in the next year or two, and maybe, just maybe, Cincinnai can finally get out of the cellar. Just sayin'.
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Mets fans are, of course, complaining about the team playing a day game after a night game, and that the Amazin's were exhausted as they took the field vs. Washington. Didn't help that they were kept at Marlins Park well after Wednesday's game ended for random drug testing.

Common sense would've suggested that Wednesday's game vs. the Marlins should've been a matinee, but the Marlins had the option on what time to schedule the game, and chose a 6:10 (ET) first pitch. They've already dumpster dived into the cellar, but the Marlins had no way of knowing they were giving the Nationals a competitive advantage less than 24 hours later. MLB's pea-brained schedule makers booked today as an off-day for the Mets & Nats as a window for a make-up game in case of a rainout on Thursday, which, of course, didn't happen.
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Maybe the Yankees should consider adding Johnny Mandel's theme from M*A*S*H to their playlist, as the injury plague that normally would bedevil the Mets has landed 11 players on the injured list, the latest being Troy Tulowitzki, who was acquired as injury insurance for Didi Gregorius, who won't be ready until summer at the earliest with his injury issues. Pitcher CC Sabathia served out a 5 game suspension, which ended Tuesday, then was moved to the injured list so he could begin a rehab assignment as he recovers from offseason cardiac issues.

It's going to be a long summer.

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Weasel of the Week: Ron Dundon

Sports owners acting on impulse aren't always acting in the best interest of sport, but rather, protecting their bottom line.

Carolina Hurricanes owner Ron Dundon invested $250 million in the fledgling Alliance of American Football, and became its controlling partner in the process. In hindsight, in the wake of the league suspending operations on Tuesday, it's more like a case of a well-heeled weasel entering a sparsely filled hen house.

As reported earlier this week, Dundon, acting on his own over the objections of league founders Charlie Ebersol and Bill Polian, elected to shut the league down. $70 million out of the $250 million invested will be lost, and, ignoring the partners he'd usurped, Dundon took a me-first approach, and pulled the plug, cutting his losses to protect his portfolio. In other words, to borrow from the Steve Miller Band, Dundon took the remaining money and ran.

Week 9 runs opposite the NCAA men's basketball Final Four. Major League Baseball ate into AAF ratings last week. Most games air on cable or on satellite/online-only Bleacher Report, although CBS was ready to get back in the pool. CBS had a game scheduled for noon (ET) to lead to the Final Four. Dundon, afraid of bleeding more money, decided to bail, leaving CBS, NFL Network, and CBS Sports Network scrambling to fill time Saturday & Sunday.

Here's a highlight reel of what you might've missed from a recent game.



I honestly think Dundon, or from this point forward, Dumdum, acted too rashly, too quickly, all to save his money and his reputation, such as it might be. Ebersol & Polian, who should've known better than to let him have complete control, look like chumps getting fleeced.

Dumdum, then, gets the Weasel of the Week award for his Benedict Arnold power play. I wonder what a weasel looks like on ice skates........

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Musical Interlude: Hooked on a Feeling (1974)

Sweden's Blue Swede preceded ABBA to the American charts by a year, and hit #1 with their cover of B. J. Thomas' "Hooked on a Feeling". Due to drug references in Mark James' original composition, some lyrics were rewritten.

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Sports this 'n' that

Last year, in his first season as a major league manager, Philadelphia's Gabe Kapler made some questionable decisions, but eventually adjusted, although the Phillies came up short of the playoffs.

A year later, Baltimore's first year skipper, Brandon (Jekyll &) Hyde, is already under the microscope.

Monday, Hyde pulled starter David Hess, a rookie himself, after 6 1/3 innings vs. Toronto and 82 pitches.

The problem? Hess was working on a no-hitter.

If the struggles of ex-Met Johan Santana following his 2012 no-no vs. St. Louis told us anything, it's that in its wake, team owners are now increasingly gun-shy about letting starters finish no-hit bids, putting future player health ahead of the best interests of the team at that moment.

Is preserving player health in the best interest of the team? Yes, in the long term. Too much money is invested too early in young players by today's standards (blame greedy player agents for that, and, yep, we're looking at Scott Boras as the root cause), and today's pitchers aren't conditioned to go the distance. The average starter, at this point in the season, goes 5-6 innings per start, regardless of pitch count, for fear that overuse will lead to arm or shoulder problems and the dreaded Tommy John surgery.

Oh, by the way, Baltimore continued its hot start, beating Toronto, 6-5.
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Yesterday, we reported that Alliance of American Football chairman Ron Dundon admitted publicly he was seeking help from the NFL and its Players Association.

Today, the league, per Dundon, over the objections of founders Bill Polian & Charlie Ebersol, is suspending operations, pending a meeting later today.

Gee, there's a shocker. Not.

The league's problems have been apparent from the get-go.

1. There are no northeast teams, out of respect to Vince McMahon's plans to revive the XFL next year, and they will again have a team at the Meadowlands, as they did in 2001.

2. After the opening week saw one primetime game on CBS, the network opted to farm out most of the schedule to CBS Sports Network, though there were reports that 2 games would eventually move to CBS. However, with CBS busy at present with the NCAA men's basketball tournament, well, that would explain some of the declining ratings, wouldn't it?

3. Not every cable or satellite provider has CBSSN, Bleacher Report's channel, or NFL Network, which are carrying the bulk of the games. Never mind the quality of play, if not enough eyeballs are tuned in, the league is destined to fail anyway.

4. If Dundon, Ebersol, and/or Polian wanted the NFL's help, they should've made arrangements before the season started.

5. It just might be that while San Antonio is averaging 30,000 fans in the Alamodome (also home to the NBA's Spurs), AAF teams in NFL cities such as Atlanta are struggling, and this could be because fans in those cities are, well, burned out until NFL pre-season begins in July.

Funeral services for the AAF are likely at the end of the month, if not before Easter. It was fun while it lasted.
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While the Mets are off to a 3-1 start, the Seattle Mariners are equally hot, with no signs of slowing down at this early stage.

Seattle, now 6-1 after beating the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim Monday night, have benefited just as much from the off-season trade that sent Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz to New York for Jay Bruce, who homered off fellow ex-Met Hansel Robles in Monday's game. Diaz earned his 3rd save in as many chances as the Mets downed Miami, 7-3.
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The women's final four is now set.

It'll be Notre Dame vs. Connecticut, and Baylor vs. Oregon in the semi-finals in Tampa. In the UConn-Notre Dame game, it's a rematch of last year's semi-final, won by the Irish en route to the national title. Are we seeing a repeat, or does UConn have enough left for another upset? Stay tuned.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Musical Interlude: High Hopes (1959)

No, it doesn't look like Frank Sinatra has crashed the set of Romper Room. In truth, it appears this number comes from Sinatra's own variety show.

Sinatra & Eddie Hodges recorded "High Hopes" for the movie "A Hole in The Head" in 1959. Here, though, Frank is joined by a chorus of kiddo's.



Sinatra would use the chorus in re-recording "High Hopes" two years later.

Sports this 'n' that

The NCAA men's final four in basketball is now set, but only one regional #1 seed remains.

Virginia managed to survive an overtime game vs. Purdue in one of two games that saw ACC vs. Big 10 over the weekend. Michigan State won the other, upsetting overall #1 seed Duke, 68-67. The other teams in the semi-finals are Texas Tech (Big 12) and Auburn (SEC).

The most intriguing story, at least in this writer's opinion, is Michigan State, which will play Texas Tech on Saturday night. This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Spartans' most famous NCAA tournament game, the 1979 final, which introduced America to future NBA Hall of Famers Earvin "Magic" Johnson (Michigan State/Lakers) and Larry Bird (Indiana State/Celtics). Has Spartans coach Tom Izzo even schooled the current team on Magic's heroics in '79? Well, there's always YouTube.

Auburn alumnus Charles Barkley routinely embarrasses himself on national television. If it isn't in the studio for TNT or CBS, it's usually what has become an annual tradition during tournament time, and that, of course, is doing some lame Capital One commercials with Spike Lee & CBS' Jim Nantz joining Barkley and Capital One pitchman Samuel L. Jackson. This year's series is too lame to even be posted here.

I'm just going to go out on a limb and say it'll be Michigan State vs. Virginia next Monday.
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With two weeks remaining in the regular season, Alliance of American Football chairman Ron Dundon, also the owner of the NHL's Carolina Hurricanes, thinks the league would make a good developmental system for the NFL, and is trying to negotiate some sort of deal with the latter league's players association.

Which begs to ask. Why didn't anyone think of that before?
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I originally was going to include this next item over at Tri-City SportsBeat, but, nah.

Connecticut is going to another women's final four. Yeah, yawn over that if you like, but the Huskies aren't the dominant force they had been in past years. Still, they dispatched UCLA on Friday, then struggled early before putting away top seeded Louisville on Sunday at Times-Union Center. UConn will play the winner of tonight's game between Notre Dame & Stanford next Sunday.

Attendance at the TUC was just under 10,000 on Sunday, or, just above average for a Siena men's regular season game. Total attendance between Friday & Sunday came to over 17,000.

Next year, the TUC will host a men's regional, and then, the women return in 2021.

Bank on this. TUC GM Bob Belber is hoping Syracuse gets into the regionals next year.
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One weekend in the books isn't enough to justify everyone's predictions in baseball.

So Philadelphia swept defending NL East champion Atlanta. Big whoop. Atlanta was missing some front-line pitchers due to injury/ The Mets are a game back at 2-1 after failing to complete a sweep of their own at Washington on Sunday after Trea Turner hit a walk-off homer, his second dinger of the game, off Justin Wilson, in the bottom of the 9th. New York travels to Miami tonight.

During ESPN's broadcast on Sunday, Alex Rodriguez repeatedly referred to Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins as "Haskins" until someone off-air finally convinced him he'd goofed. A-Rod and his current honey, actress-singer Jennifer Lopez, were spotted at Saturday's game between the Braves & Phillies by FS1 cameras, so the announcers, referencing that Rodriguez is also a studio analyst for Fox, suggested he "get back to work".

As for the Mets, it seems GM Brodie Van Wagenen looks like a genius early on by placing rookie first baseman Peter Alonso on the roster. Unfortunately, manager Mickey Calloway stupidly benched utilityman Jeff McNeil on Sunday, despite four hits on Saturday, claiming he didn't like the matchup with Nats starter Patrick Corbin. Whatever happened to playing the hot hand?