Sunday, June 30, 2019

Forgotten TV: 3 Girls 3 (1977)

Not to be confused with a Broadway show of the same name, 3 Girls 3 ran into some horrible luck in its all too brief history.

The series first aired in March of 1977, meant to replace Don Rickles' Navy comedy, CPO Sharkey, but when network suits noticed an uptick in Sharkey's ratings, they decided to scrub 3 Girls 3. despite critical acclaim and respectable ratings. I think the truth was, because Rickles was a more established and recognizable name to viewers, as well as network suits, especially considering he also frequented the Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts, the suits stuck with him.

That's not to say the three ladies fronting 3 Girls 3 weren't successful. Far from it.

Debbie Allen rebounded just three years later with Fame, both the movie and the subsequent TV series.

Mimi Kennedy currently appears on CBS' Mom, and her resume over the last 40+ years includes roles on shows as diverse as Homefront and Dharma & Greg.

Ellen Foley would later resurface on Night Court, and sang with Meat Loaf.

Considering ABC & CBS had rejected 3 Girls 3 for a variety of reasons, NBC, needing a hit besides Sharkey and Little House on The Prairie, screwed themselves over. Their loss.

Mimi Kennedy has her own YouTube channel, from which we get this episode, with special guest Flip Wilson. Enjoy.



No rating.

What Might've Been: Dick Clark's Live Wednesday (1978)

After a healthy run hosting a Saturday night variety show for ABC that complemented American Bandstand, Dick Clark was back in primetime in 1978, recruited by NBC to try to shore up their hit-depleted lineup.

However, Dick Clark's Live Wednesday was a colossal dud. Didn't even make it to Christmas.

It wasn't for a lack of trying. However, the variety show, as we knew it, was dying. Carol Burnett had ended her CBS show earlier in 1978, after 11 seasons. Donny & Marie, over on ABC, had morphed into The Osmond Family Show, and shifted from Fridays, where it thrived in its first three seasons, to Sundays, where ABC variety shows went to die, as Sonny Bono, Bill Cosby, & The Brady Bunch had all famously flopped in a losing battle against 60 Minutes and The Wonderful World of Disney.

So what happened?

Clark, with two series on ABC (Bandstand & the then-$20,000 Pyramid), was being asked to perform a miracle for NBC. But on a Wednesday night?? Viewers said no. What NBC was hoping for was something akin to Ed Sullivan's old CBS series (1948-71), since a lot of the guests had done his show back in the day, but it was on the wrong night of the week.

I never saw the show. I was attending mid-week Bible studies at the time, a few months before moving into my current abode. We'll close this piece with a choice clip of comedy legend Rodney Dangerfield.....

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Advertising For Dummies: Would you drink in a bull ring? (1967)

Before Billy Dee Williams extolled the virtues of Colt 45 malt liquor, Canadian actor-comedian Billy Van did a series of spots for the product, dating back to 1967.

Van is better known here in the US for being a repertory player working with Sonny & Cher and the Hudson Brothers, among others, and playing several characters in the syndicated children's series, The Hilarious House of Frightenstein, which played here in the US in the early 70's, and is best remembered for being hosted by horror icon Vincent Price. Here, Billy is in a bull ring in Mexico.....

Videos of Summer: Oliver's Army (1979)

Elvis Costello & The Attractions hit the beach for their 1979 hit, "Oliver's Army".



You know you've made it when your lyrics are woven into a comic book script. Marvel had Spider-Man croon a couple of bars in the pages of his book around the time this was in heavy airplay on the radio.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Ford thinks it has a super car? (1978)

With the first "Superman" movie in theatres, Ford decided they needed to promote their Fiesta as a "Wundercar" (German for Supercar). Christopher Knight (ex-The Brady Bunch) appears briefly, and, no, that isn't Christopher Reeve & Margot Kidder as Clark & Lois. Dick Tufeld is the announcer.

Rappin' Funnies: I Think I Could Beat Mike Tyson (1989)

DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince (Jeff Townes & Will Smith) followed up their multi-platinum, Grammy winning breakthrough, "He's The DJ, I'm The Rapper", with 1989's "And, In This Corner.....", the first single of which suggested that maybe, just maybe, the Prince had bitten off a little more than he could chew.

While the video for "I Think I Could Beat Mike Tyson" starts off with a parody of Philadelphia's most famous fictional citizen, Rocky Balboa, the Prince gives the impression that the success of his last album might have gone to his head. Tyson, Don King, and future Fresh Prince of Bel-Air co-stars James Avery & Alfonso Ribiero appear in the video.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Could Ann B. Davis have given away a Brady Bunch recipe? (1980)

Nope. The timing of this commercial, just a few months, I think, before the TV-movie, "The Brady Girls Get Married", is coincidental. Ann is shilling for Minute Rice, at the time a part of General Foods.



Today, Minute Rice is now manufactured by Riviana Foods, as the product left General Foods probably before the buy-out by Kraft.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The President's past comes back to haunt him again

"Therefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature. Old things are passed away. Behold, all things are become new."--2nd Corinthians 5:17 (King James version).

This may be the truest test of President Trump as a born-again Christian.

You've probably read or heard by now that author and cable personality E. Jean Carroll came forward the other day to say that Trump made a very aggressive approach to her in the dressing room at Burgdorf Goodman in New York some years back. Trump, predictably, denies it even happened, and dismissed Carroll as "not my type".

If Trump is truly a Christian, a fact that the mainstream press hasn't picked up on, preferring to reference the President's childish tantrums and dismissive behavior toward certain parties (i.e. the press) instead of scolding him for his seeming hypocrisy, he should've just let this go without a rebuttal.

But, no. That's not in his character. What makes us question his sincerity about his faith is that ever present ego, which should've been shut down around the time of his meeting with Dr. James Dobson of Focus on The Family three years ago. Carroll, for her part, hadn't been heard from all that much since her CNBC show signed off a few years back.

Naturally, Trump left himself wide open to be skewered by late night yakkers Stephen Colbert, Trevor Noah (The Daily Show), and, in this clip, Seth Meyers:



As Christians, we're supposed to turn the other cheek to the "sins of the past". That's not the Trumpian way.

Poor Mike Pence. The Vice President didn't realize that his job description upon his election included babysitter. It'll be news the next time the President actually sets foot in a church, and can actually read scripture without fumbling, like he did at Liberty University two years ago. Maybe Pence can lead him to the nearest confessional when they have a few free seconds.......

What Might've Been: Kentucky Jones (1964)

Today, sitcoms can function with or without a laugh track. But, back in the 60's, it was a rare bird that didn't have a laugh track.

Kentucky Jones, then, was one of the first "dramedies", although the term wouldn't be coined for another two decades. Dennis Weaver moved over from Gunsmoke to take on the title role, a widower caring for a young Asian orphan. Harry Morgan, fresh from Pete & Gladys, played an ex-jockey who now worked for Jones as a handyman.

So what happened? NBC slotted Kentucky Jones opposite the first half of the already established Lawrence Welk Show on ABC, and another freshman comedy on CBS, Gilligan's Island. Game over. Kentucky survived the season, but no further.

Weaver would return three years later with Gentle Ben on CBS, which lasted a couple of years. Morgan, of course, hit the jackpot with Dragnet, which was revived as a mid-season replacement in the winter of '67, and you know the rest of his resume, I'm sure.

Gilmore Box provides the intro:



I think the script graphics, which were also used on Gunsmoke for a large chunk of its run, were used for this show by design. Musical director Vic Mizzy also worked for Filmways, and scored another freshman comedy that season, The Addams Family.

No rating.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Even maids & butlers can relax (2004)

The emergence of Procter & Gamble's Swiffer products has made house cleaning a lot easier.

So, the company decided to bring together a few well known "domestics", including Robert Guillaume (ex-Soap, Benson), Ann B. Davis (ex-The Brady Bunch, etc.), Joseph Marcelle (ex-The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air), and Marla Gibbs (ex-The Jeffersons)....

Stop the shell game! The Mets need to get rid of Mickey Callaway yesterday

Almost halfway through his second season as Mets manager, and it's clear that Mickey Callaway is in over his head, such that he's become thin-skinned in relation to criticism.

Callaway has been second, third, and fourth guessed for his decision to leave Seth Lugo in the game in the 8th inning Sunday at Chicago, only to see the Cubs continue to take advantage of the fact that Lugo was having a bad day, and won the game. You know about the confrontation Callaway and Jason Vargas had with reporter Tim Healey of Newsday, I'm sure. Both Callaway and Vargas were fined $10,000 each by the team on Monday.

But now, moreso than before, Callaway is on the hot seat in Flushing. The Mets, due again to injuries, are underachieving, aside from rookie phenom Pete Alonso, who leads the team with 27 home runs, breaking a 36 year old team record for rookies held by Darryl Strawberry, and second year utility ace Jeff McNeil.

The debate rages, two days later, over who should've been on the mound in the home 8th at Wrigley on Sunday. Lugo didn't have his best stuff, and should've been pulled. He wasn't, and gave up a game winning homer to Javier Baez.

Callaway came over from Cleveland, where he was a pitching coach under Terry Francona. What Fred & Jeff Wilpon were thinking was, if John Farrell (now with ESPN) could make the transition from pitching coach to manager, having done so in Toronto & Boston, anyone could. The Wilpons spent $20 million on an esports franchise, but can't spare the extra cheddar to find someone with actual managerial experience? The fan base is calling for ex-Yankees manager Joe Girardi to leave MLB Network and take over the team, which last week sent another ex-Yankee, Dave Eiland, packing as pitching coach, bringing in ancient Phil Regan as a stop-gap.

Let's say the Wilpons finally decide to bring in Girardi. It wouldn't guarantee Callaway is gone, because he can go back to being a pitching coach. Currently, he is working way above his pay grade, if you will, and the Mets are worse for it, currently in 4th place in the NL East after getting shelled again, 13-7, this time in Philadelphia, on Monday. Then again, the truth of the matter is that Callaway can't stick around, not after Sunday's episode in Chicago.

And, then, there is the report in the NY Post alleging that first year GM and former player agent Brodie Van Wagenen is meddling from long distance. Supposedly, Van Wagenen relayed word to Callaway to pull reigning Cy Young winner Jacob deGrom from a recent game, which didn't sit well with deGrom. Van Wagenen, of course, is denying the report, but the implication is that there is still an agent's mentality within him, and that he & the Wilpons are sabotaging their own team for whatever. The honeymoon is over for Van Wagenen in New York, that much is clear.

What is also clear is that the Wilpons have become baseball's answer to the NBA's most toxic owner, who also calls New York his home. Yep, James Dolan, owner of the Knicks, Rangers, Madison Square Garden, & Radio City Music Hall. Nearly 40 years ago, Fred Wilpon arrived, partnered at the time with publisher Nelson Doubleday, to buy the Mets. Now, the implication is that time and the game have passed Wilpon and his son, Jeff, and they're too stubborn to see that. If that sounds familiar, it also describes not only Dolan, but WWE CEO/Chairman Vince McMahon, as well. There must be something in the waters in the tri-state area to have multiple sports owners behaving this way. It makes the Steinbrenner brothers in the Bronx look like saints. Weird.

The Wilpons chose not to fire Callaway in the wake of Sunday's meltdown. What are they waiting for? A complete collapse? Entering play today, the Mets are 5 1/2 games ahead of the last place Marlins. While some folks might think Derek Jeter bought into the wrong NL East team by putting his money into Miami, he's not about to go directly against the team he played his entire career for, either. I'd not be surprised if Callaway is finally gone by the All-Star break next month. It's just that it should've already happened, or happened sooner.

Monday, June 24, 2019

What Might've Been: Love Thy Neighbor (1973)

ABC had trouble filling the 8 pm (ET) slot on Wednesday nights in the 1972-3 season. First, Paul Lynde was given his own show after yeoman's work on not only Bewitched, which was now in reruns, six days a week at one point, but on Hollywood Squares over on NBC. Paul fell victim to the same bad luck that had plagued Tim Conway, a popular supporting player who couldn't carry a show as a lead, no matter how hard he tried.

Then, there was Thicker Than Water, Richard Long's final series, which barely got two months in before being cut. I can't remember if Long passed away during production.

Finally, there was Love Thy Neighbor, about two couples, one African-American, one white, looking to get along.

Joyce Bulifant, Ron Masak, Harrison Page, & Janet MacLachlan were the stars. 60's R & B singer Solomon Burke performed the show's theme song. Gilmore Box posted the intro:



If ABC wanted to pick up some of the vibe of CBS' All in The Family, it didn't work. I think the show lasted maybe a month before the fall lineup kicked in. Page would later be a foil for Don Rickles on CPO Sharkey. Masak had better luck, landing a long running gig as Sheriff Burt Metzger opposite Angela Lansbury on Murder, She Wrote, landing the role after Tom Bosley left for The Father Dowling Mysteries.

Joyce Bulifant might be better remembered for a recurring gig on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and as a panelist on Match Game, often miscast as a stereotyped blonde.

Rating: B.

A video for all seasons: Take Me Home (1985-6)

Phil Collins turns a simple drive into town into a global travelogue in the video for "Take Me Home", the final track from his 1985 CD, "No Jacket Required".  In the clip, Phil winds up in London, Tokyo, Sydney, New York, Memphis, & Hollywood, among other places.



Vince McMahon liked the song so much that he obtained a license to use it as the closing theme (well, at least the chorus) for Saturday Night's Main Event for much of its NBC run from 1986 forward.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

MLB creates more flaws for the All-Star Game

To borrow a line from Dennis Miller, I hate to go off on a rant here, but.....!

Major League Baseball, proving that anything that doesn't need fixing can be, badly, tweaked the format for selecting the All-Star teams this year. The first phase narrows the field to three finalists per position in each league, with the American League having one extra spot for the designated hitter. The secondary phase is Wednesday & Thursday, with pitchers & reserves to be announced next Sunday.

Here are the fortunate "finalists":

National League

First basemen
Second basemen
Third basemen
Shortstops
Catchers
  • Willson Contreras, Cubs
  • Brian McCann, Braves
  • Yasmani Grandal, Brewers
Outfielders

American League

First basemen
Second basemen
Third basemen
Shortstops
Catchers
  • Gary Sanchez, Yankees
  • James McCann, White Sox
  • Robinson Chirinos, Astros
Outfielders
Designated hitters
  • J.D. Martinez, Red Sox
  • Hunter Pence, Rangers
  • Nelson Cruz, Twins
A few nits to pick:

Yes, it's a popularity contest, and has been for nearly 50 years. Online ballot stuffing is encouraged during this round, but one vote only will be accepted on MLB platforms in round two. The Yankees have six players who have qualified for the secondary phase, including Aaron Judge, who only just came off the injured list on Friday. 

The funny thing about New York, though, is that the Mets were shut out, including Rookie of The Year candidate Pete Alonso, who has the misfortune of being in a position (first base) that is very, very deep, such that St. Louis' Paul Goldschmidt was also unable to make the cut. Mets fans will howl deep into the night if Alonso isn't picked as a reserve, especially with the numbers he's put up so far this season, tying the team record for homers by a rookie (Darryl Strawberry set the record more than 35 years ago), and has become every bit the gate attraction for the Mets that Judge has been for the Yankees.

The Mets will be represented in Cleveland. Even though pitching aces Noah Syndergaard and Jacob deGrom have been hampered by injuries (Syndergaard) & inconsistency (both), they do merit some consideration, as does second year utility man Jeff McNeil, who's among the NL leaders in batting, and whose performance on the field, be it in the outfield or infield, is as ridiculous as Alonso's power numbers.

Yes, the system is still flawed, and will remain so until they figure out a way to stop the ballot stuffing. One vote per person per day makes the most sense, but there will be the obsessive-compulsive fanatics who'll get around that, too.

The Mets took out the angst over the balloting on the Cubs, 10-2, on Saturday, with Alonso & McNeil among the key contributors. Take note, National League. The Mets are still contenders for the moment. If they're still players post-break, and can channel their energies with any consistency, you might've given them the motivation to make another miracle run. 50 years after their first title, that would be appropriate.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Videos of Summer: You're The One That I Want (1978)

Now, most of us have seen the feature film adaptation of "Grease", either on television, video, or at the theatres, since it was released 41 years ago. How fitting, then, on the first day of summer, that we serve up one of the climatic musical numbers from the movie, John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John's duet, "You're The One That I Want":



This, really, was the first phase of Olivia's image makeover. Three years later, she'd go all the way, shedding her good girl image on the charts with "Physical". Kelly Ward (Putzie) & Barry Pearl (Doody) later moved on to work in children's television. Ward became a writer-producer, and sometimes voice actor at Hanna-Barbera (i.e. Challenge of The Go-Bots), while Pearl became associated with PBS' hit series, Barney & Friends. Go figure. And, oh, yeah, Eddie Deezen (Eugene) would resurface in cartoons as well (i.e. Dexter's Laboratory, "The Polar Express").

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Sports this 'n' that

It's just come across the wires that the Mets have jettisoned Dave Eiland as their pitching coach, and Chuck Hernandez (no relation to player-turned-broadcaster Keith Hernandez) as their bullpen coach. Mike Puma of the New York Post is reporting via Twitter that the team will bring back Ricky Bones as their bullpen coach, and that Phil Regan, 82 years young, would be the interim pitching coach.

Right, and chickens have lips. I'd rather have Bones as the pitching coach. Reddit commentators are already calling for Joe Girardi to leave MLB Network to replace the increasingly in over his head Mickey Calloway after the Mets dropped to fourth place in the NL East following a 7-2 loss to Atlanta last night. Considering that the Wilpons were cheap enough to hire Calloway in the first place, they won't spend the money to hire Girardi. Trust me.
===========================================
A quick reminder of how hyper-sensitive some people or organizations are these days.

After appearing on ESPN's First Take on Monday to vent over the Lakers-Pelicans trade that sent his son Lonzo to New Orleans, LaVar (La Loudmouth) Ball answered moderator Molly Qerin's request to "switch gears" and go to another subject by suggesting that she could "switch gears with him any time".

The general over-reaction, including a statement from the Disney-owned network, was that Ball was out of line. Others, however, have pointed out that in no way did Ball actually make any sexual implications in his remark. Qerin joked about contacting Human Resources at the end of the show.

Ball, though, was raked over the coals for being booked on the show in the first place. His Big Baller Brand is dying a slow death, and his reputation as a delusional stage parent precedes him no matter where he goes. ESPN suits are now, reportedly, hesitant about bringing him back, which is just as well. He's just a huckster at this point.
==========================================
Speaking of getting raked over the coals, that's par for the course for WWE.

Nearly 3 1/2 years after returning to the company after leaving at the end of 2009, Shane McMahon, 49, finds himself as the most despised and overexposed performer on the current roster.

With his sister, Stephanie, doing more PR work for the company (she's in France attending the women's World Cup soccer tournament, and promoting Snackdown's shift to Fox in October), and largely staying off television, and papa Vince, 74 in August, showing signs of no longer being a viable on-camera talent, it falls upon Shane to continue to stale gimmick of being the evil boss. Unfortunately, in order for Smackdown to have a clean slate on Fox in October, the father of three has to be written off at some point, and I'd guess no later than Summerslam.

Where the company gets in trouble is with both of their media partners, as Fox, as well as USA, home to Monday Night Raw, are insisting on the company's top stars appearing on both flagship shows, hence the "Wild Card Rule", which has already been abused and ruined.

While Vince is counting his money from Fox before a second of his programming airs there, coupled with the money from his deal with Saudi Arabia, now in year two of a 10 year agreement, he ignores the fact that, yes, the product is beyond stale, and hollow promises made six months ago have been ignored in storyline (because he thinks viewers can't remember that far back, an urban legend in need of debunking). That has to change, preferably yesterday, mostly for the sake of his son's physical---and, inevitably, mental----health. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Musical Interlude: Solsbury Hill (1977)

After leaving Genesis, Peter Gabriel released his first self-titled solo album in the winter of 1977.

The video for "Solsbury Hill", however, was produced much later, probably before the next album came out.

Today, "Solsbury" still gets some primo airplay on album rock channels.

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

What Might've Been: The Bob Crane Show (1975)

To say that Bob Crane's TV comeback was troubled would be a gross understatement.

Crane had been making movies, such as the Disney film, "Superdad", before he signed with MTM Productions, which sold a sitcom, initially entitled, Second Start, to NBC, intended for the fall 1974 schedule. However, there were some issues, leading to a pair of reshoots. The series finally aired, under the title, The Bob Crane Show, launching in March 1975. NBC was looking for something, anything, to counter The Waltons on CBS.

Crane played Bob Wilcox, a former insurance executive who changed careers by enrolling in medical school. Patricia Harty (ex-Blondie, Occasional Wife) played his wife. It is said that Crane wasn't really happy with the way the show turned out, as he was hoping for something along the lines of what Mary Tyler Moore and Bob Newhart had over at CBS, but didn't get it.

Following is a clip from the series finale, with guest star John Ritter, who had a recurring role on The Waltons.



This was fish out of water territory. Viewers weren't buying. Not seen in the video is John Hillerman (later of Ellery Queen, Magnum, P. I., etc.), who also appeared in this episode.

No rating. Thursdays meant The Waltons or an ABC newcomer, Barney Miller, back in those days.

Sports this 'n' that

When the baseball season began, the Seattle Mariners were one of the American League's hottest teams, riding the emotion of Ichiro Suzuki's retirement after a 2-game series with Oakland in his native Japan at the end of March.

Nearly three months later, the Mariners have all but given up on the playoffs.

In the last two weeks, Seattle traded 1B-outfielder Jay Bruce, who came to the Mariners from the Mets in the Robinson Cano deal, to Philadelphia, and shipped 1B-DH Edwin Encarnacion to the Yankees, as if the Bronx Bombers needed another offensive weapon.

This sudden turnaround will not endear Mariners management to their fan base, although it probably does drive up sales at the nearest Starbucks.
============================================
The US women's soccer team has not allowed a goal in two games in the Women's World Cup after shutting out Chile, 3-0, on Sunday. Thailand, which was hammered, 13-0, last week, celebrated just scoring one goal in a 5-1 loss to Sweden. Baby steps, yo.

Sweden and the US have already qualified for the knockout round, and they have yet to play each other. Oh, this will be fun.
=============================================
Fourteen years ago, New Orleans was ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. The NBA's Pelicans have invited a living, breathing hurricane of hot air into town for next season.

America's worst stage parent, LaVar Ball, is at it again, sounding off after the Los Angeles Lakers included his son, Lonzo, in a trade to New Orleans over the weekend for Anthony Davis. La Loudmouth thinks the Lakers will never win another title. If only he'd paid attention to the fact that his son has had injury issues in his two seasons in La-La Land, and is turning out to be a big bust. The elder Ball still operates under the delusion that he knows more than team owners do.

New Orleans has Mardi Gras every winter. With La Loudmouth coming to town, an even worse circus is coming with him. The Pelicans might want to look into reserving a room at the nearest psychiatric hospital for LaVar.
===============================================
It's just a matter of time before the crybabies in New York's Valley of The Stupid start screaming for Mickey Calloway's head again.

The Mets have lost four of their last five after getting thumped by Atlanta, 12-3, on Monday in the first game of a three game series with the NL East leading Braves. Calloway is almost halfway through his second---and likely last, if this keeps up---season as manager. He's clearly in over his head, a case of the Wilpons going the cheap route to hire a manager after Terry Collins stepped down following the 2017 season. It's not helping, of course, that the Mets are dealing with another injury plague that won't go away, ace pitcher Noah Syndergaard being the latest victim over the weekend (hamstring strain).

The problem with the tin-foil-hat wearing clowns calling into talk radio is that they don't take into account the injuries. They want immediate results, spoiled as they've been for three or four generations by the Yankees' successes. If they don't get the results, they start scapegoating, which doesn't do wonders for anyone's confidence.

I wonder if Dr. Phil could do a week of shows at Citi Field......

Monday, June 17, 2019

Forgotten TV: My Friend Tony (1969)

NBC had a black hole at the bottom of their Sunday lineup behind Bonanza for much of the 60's. Whatever aired at 10 pm (ET) lost viewers from its lead-in.

One example was Sheldon Leonard's My Friend Tony, a spin-off from the short-lived Danny Thomas Hour, even though it took nearly a year before Tony graduated to series. A winter replacement series, My Friend Tony starred Italian actor Enzo Cerusico in the title role as a former street urchin who emigrates to the US to reconnect with the former GI who'd befriended him in World War II, now a professor of criminology (James Whitmore). The two become private eyes, and what Leonard was, I think, trying to do was recapture the magic that made I Spy so successful (1965-8).

Whitmore had failed a few years earlier with The Law & Mr. Jones, and would turn to comedy a couple of years later as a foil for Cleavon Little in Temperatures Rising. Cerusico would not make another American series.

My Friend Tony was created in part by Ivan Goff & Ben Roberts, who'd struck gold writing for Mannix, Ironside, and other series, and created The Rogues & Charlie's Angels, among their many accomplishments. Unfortunately, The Rogues was one of those shows that, like Tony, fell into that post-Bonanza black hole.

My Friend Tony lasted just four months of new episodes (16 weeks) before getting the hook, although reruns continued through the summer of 1969.

Here's an intro/close:



No rating. I was in kindergarten when this came out.

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Musical Interlude: Tender Love (1985)

Force MD's weren't doctors. The MD stood for Musical Diversity, in case you wondered. Just the same, the group burned up radio airwaves in the winter of 1985-6 with the smooth, romantic ballad, "Tender Love". Check it.



Now, that's old school R & B.

Saturday, June 15, 2019

On The Air: Swamp Thing (2019)

I was going to wait a wee bit longer, maybe another month, since my brother's viewing parties are every other weekend, but with the news that came out a week and a half ago, I couldn't wait any longer.

DC Universe's reboot of Swamp Thing has, in the minds of WarnerMedia suits, died stillborn, before it had a chance to well, take root.

How could these beancounting morons not see gold here, with "Aquaman" director James Wan on board as a producer? Word is that WarnerMedia, the end result of Time Warner's merger with AT&T, wants more family friendly programming, and, due to the graphic horror and coarse language, in their minds, Swamp Thing doesn't meet their standards. Idiots. Who are they catering to? Conservative families in the Bible Belt?

Ok, enough venting.

Wan, comics veteran Mark Verheiden, and their team reimagined the classic 1971 short story by Len Wein & Berni Wrightson, updating the tale to the present day with modern tech. Alec Holland's tragic story is told in an hour long summation, if you will, in the series opener. Contrary to comics canon, Abby Arcane (Crystal Reed) is a doctor with the Centers for Disease Control, though I suspect her nefarious father will turn up before all is said & done, unless that was left on the cutting room floor after WarnerMedia cut the episode order from 13 to 10.

There are also elements of Alan Moore's 1980's revamp, giving Swamp Thing elemental powers, and Verheiden, who helped develop this series, added mental telepathy, creating a scene in the 2nd episode that will invoke memories of Moore's work, and, for older fans, some of Michael Fleischer's more gruesome moments in his run on The Spectre in the 70's.

Each episode is an hour, instead of the half-hour format of the 1990-3 series that has been airing on Me-TV and Heroes & Icons of late. The supporting cast includes 80's icon Jennifer Beals, and Tim Russ (ex-Star Trek: Voyager) turned up in the opener.

Here's a trailer:



Enjoy it while it lasts. HBO & CW have both passed. The latter would've insisted on cleaning up the language.

Rating: A.

Friday, June 14, 2019

A Classic Reborn: Card Sharks (2019)

Card Sharks, Goodson-Todman's adaptation of Acey-Ducey, marked its 40th anniversary last year. Undaunted, Fremantle Media, the current rights holder to the G-T library, sold ABC a revamped version of the series to add to the network's expanding family of summer game shows.

Actor-comedian Joel McHale (ex-Community) serves as host, but unlike his predecessors (i.e. Jim Perry, Bob Eubanks), McHale, other than the commercial below, leaves the cards alone.

The last two incarnations of the series, a 1996 unsold pilot we screened yesterday and a 2001 syndicated run hosted by another comedian, Pat Bullard, veered away from the basic concept, which is why they're not held in high esteem. Yes, the set is bigger, and, as with most revivals these days, Sharks gets a hour-long berth, in this case airing Wednesdays on ABC. There are some tweaks with the original game format. For example, while each contestant has to navigate 10 cards instead of 5 to win a game, it's just one game per half hour block. No more best of three, like the original. Because it's weekly, they don't want any cliffhangers.

Here's the commercial:



McHale will be seen next in DC Universe's Stargirl, due next year, barring any other guest appearances in between.

Rating: A.

A Banana Splits horror movie?? Yup.

"Have you seen my childhood?"---Michael Jackson.

This is not how you celebrate 50 years of a children's cult classic.

The Banana Splits hit the half-century mark last year, and, assuming the rights to the series are split between Sid & Marty Krofft, who designed the characters, and Hanna-Barbera/Warner Bros., someone green-lit a DTV that will premiere on SyFy later this summer before being released on DVD.

In a left-handed homage to the series, Bingo, Drooper, Fleegle, & Snorky have been reimagined as homicidal maniacs who kill parents to keep the kids for themselves. The voice actors are trying to approximate the voices of Allan Melvin, Paul Winchell, & Daws Butler, all of whom have passed on since the original series ended in 1970. Judge for yourselves with this trailer, effendis.



Many thanks to Steven Dolce, a frequent contributor to Saturday Morning Archives, for reminding me to discuss this potentially scandalous, nightmarish scenario.

After reading a wacko reimagining of Wacky Races a couple of years ago, nothing surprises me anymore.

My personal take? Someone decided that after Mister Rogers got the biography treatment not long ago, with no warts to speak of, they needed to needlessly deconstruct the Splits, who last were seen in a fresh set of shorts on Boomerang about a decade ago.

Being a Splits fan from way back, I am offended at the very idea, of course, but, as I noted, I'm not surprised someone would take this tack. I've read of comparisons to Five Nights at Freddy's. As we are in an era where Archie Andrews and his friends were repackaged in a warped soap opera mashup of Twin Peaks & Saved by The Bell in order to succeed in primetime, it should surprise no one that the Splits, who made their TV debut the same year that Archie did (1968), would be similarly twisted.

Thursday, June 13, 2019

What Might've Been: Card Sharks (1996)

Before we get to the newly relaunched Card Sharks, we need to revisit a failed pilot from 1996 that I found on YouTube thanks to game show icon Wink Martindale, who actually played the game on the original Sharks.

Denver-based sportscaster Tom Green, who'd hosted the cable series, Sports on Tap, which aired on SportsChannel before it was bought out by Fox, not on ESPN as some people claim, was hired by All-American Television, at the time the rights holders to the Mark Goodson library of shows, to be the MC. Stylistically, this was amateur night. The set looked generic for its time, and All American, which distributed Baywatch back then, thought they were hip. Not here, as you're about to see.



Card Sharks would, in fact, return five years later, with Pat Bullard as host, and that iteration lasted one solitary season.

We'll look at the new version with Joel McHale (ex-Community) tomorrow.

Rating: D.

Sports this 'n' that

Congratulations to the St. Louis Blues, who won their first Stanley Cup Wednesday, defeating Boston, 4-1, to take the finals, 4 games to 3. The Blues entered the NHL in 1967, but, in a way, they did an even bigger solid for the Gateway City, avenging the then-St. Louis Rams' Super Bowl loss to New England 17 years ago. Never mind that the Rams eventually moved back to Los Angeles (and lost to the Patriots again in February), but for the city, whose last sports championship went to the Cardinals a few years ago, this was revenge finally served.
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Meanwhile, the NBA title may be headed north of the border, eh?

The Toronto Raptors lead the defending champion Golden State Warriors, 3 games to 2, headed into tonight's game at Oracle Arena in Oakland. The Warriors are leaving the arena after tonight, and moving across the bay to a new building in San Francisco for next season.

But an even bigger concern is if the Warriors can maintain the momentum of winning on Monday, after one of their big stars, Kevin Durant, went out with an Achilles injury in the second quarter, this after he'd been activated from the injured list for the game.

Former player turned TNT analyst and part time Capital One spokesman Charles Barkley lays the blame for Durant's latest injury on the Warriors, who, in his mind, rushed Durant back a wee bit too soon, due to being down 3-1 in games going into Monday, from a calf injury. Durant won't play tonight, but who's to say he doesn't pull a Willis Reed and try to return if there's a game 7 in Toronto? All we can say for now is, stay tuned.
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So the US women's soccer team blew away Thailand, 13-0, in a first round Women's World Cup game the other day, and have been accused of running up the score by know-nothing critics. As it was pointed out, one key component in determining who advances into the next round isn't just wins, but goal differential. The US is in the same pool as Sweden, which eliminated the Americans in the 2016 Olympics.

Heh, there've been some blowout games at the high school level 'round these parts over the years. Some people just want to vent because, well, haters gotta hate.

Somewhere in Bristol, Stephen A. Smith is asking someone to explain the game to him, since he knows about as much about soccer as he does boxing. Which is to say, not much.
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Have to get this in on what amounted to a botched assassination attempt on former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz over the weekend in Santo Domingo.

Ortiz is presently in intensive care in a Boston hospital, thanks to the Red Sox, after he was shot in the back. Police in Santo Domingo have arrested 10 people (!) in connection, as some believe this was a hit put out on Ortiz. I won't even make jokes about his TurboTax commercial being the cause of the problem, because it really isn't. He had to have offended someone really seriously bad to be have something like this happen.

We've heard the reaction from Boston, where Ortiz won three World Series rings before retiring after the 2016 season, but what about Minnesota, where he started his career?

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Celebrity Rock: Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be Cowboys (1978)

Waylon Jennings hit #1 on the country chart early in 1978 when he & Willie Nelson covered Ed Bruce's "Mamas Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be Cowboys".

Later that year, Jennings was a guest on Cheryl Ladd's first ABC special. The Charlie's Angels star (and former member of the real life Josie & The Pussycats) sits in for Willie on this rendition.




Tuesday, June 11, 2019

On The Air: E! True Hollywood Story (1996)

For 23 years, E! has served up its answer to Biography, expanding the basic scope of that anthology series to focus on not only celebrities and athletes, but also TV shows and other topics.

The E! True Hollywood Story premiered in 1996, and most episodes were an hour or 90 minutes in length, with the occasional two hour show in the mix. If it was a story or a person who made headlines, E! gave it the documentary treatment. It can be said that Mysteries & Scandals, which we previously covered, was a sort-of spin-off.

To give you some idea of what E! was offering, here's a sample bio on Bill Bixby.

 

Rating: B+.

Forgotten TV: The Dennis Day Show (1952)

Dennis Day had spun off from Jack Benny's radio program, and, in 1952, did the same thing on television.

The Dennis Day Show was borne out of The RCA Victor Show, and ran for 2 1/2 years (February 1952-August 1954). Cliff Arquette co-starred as Charley Weaver, the persona he would use for years to come, including a healthy run on the original Hollywood Squares. As we've seen, Cliff would play other characters on other shows, such as Dragnet.

Here's the intro:



By this point, as you can see, Arquette was now billed as Charley Weaver (Charlie in this case), as the character had become popular.

Trying to divest himself from his persona on the Benny programs wasn't easy, but you'd be hard pressed to find episodes anywhere today.

No rating.

Monday, June 10, 2019

In Theatres: Dark Phoenix (2019)

In 1980, Marvel Comics' Uncanny X-Men was the most popular comic book on the planet. In June, Chris Claremont closed what had been a story arc that had been building for about two years or so. One of the original X-Men, Jean Grey, had, ah, graduated from Marvel Girl to Phoenix, but the truth was, she was possessed by a cosmic entity known as the Phoenix Force. Jean was seemingly killed off, having sacrificed herself, in issue 137.

That, however, was undone just a few years later when other writers decided to reboot the original team as X-Factor. However, that's another story for another time.

Twenty years after the conclusion of the original Dark Phoenix story, 20th Century Fox introduced a theatrical version of the X-Men, built more around the X-Men's founder, Charles Xavier, and his former best friend turned nemesis, Erik Lensherr, aka Magneto. The Dark Phoenix story was told in a more compact form, if you will, in "X3: The Last Stand".

Thus, many believe that Simon Kinberg's "Dark Phoenix" is a means of correcting the mistakes perceived to have been made in "Last Stand". Unfortunately, Kinberg again proves his writing style is badly flawed.

Kinberg also messes with Marvel canon in a big way. Stan Lee & Jack Kirby introduced Jean as a 16 year old in the very first X-Men issue in 1963. Kinberg's vision has Jean being admitted into Xavier's school as an 8 year old.

SAY WHAT?

In the course of the movie, Jean (Sophie Turner, fresh from Game of Thrones) is possessed by the Phoenix Force while on a mission in space. Said entity had already destroyed most of the D'Bari, which had been illustrated in Uncanny X-Men 135 in 1980, so the surviving D'Bari, now presented as a race of shape-shifters, not unlike the Skrulls, are in pursuit of the Phoenix Force, and, upon learning of its taking a human host, are now after Jean.

If you look quick, Claremont makes a brief appearance in a scene at the White House, and, yes, the film is dedicated to Lee, who passed away a few months ago.

Following is the trailer:



Hardcore fans will complain about the insertion of Magneto (Michael Fassbender), since he wasn't part of the original story, but here, Erik has become more of a pacifist himself, forced to fight only when threatened. The D'Bari were under the protection of the Shi'ar Empire, but since Fox didn't have the rights to the Shi'ar.....! Unfortunately, as menaces, the D'Bari are uninspiring and devoid of any personality, an accusation thrown in the direction of Jennifer Lawrence (Mystique) in the last X-film. Jessica Chastain is wasted here, her performance duller than dirty dishwater. Even the aliens on Star Trek had more personality.

It didn't help matters that the theatre was nearly empty on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Rating: C-.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

What Might've Been: Angel (1960)

Jess Oppenheimer thought that he could tweak the formula of I Love Lucy just a wee bit. Subbing out Lucy Ricardo (Lucille Ball) for a French emigre (Annie Farge) who was similarly scatter-brained, however, didn't work. Angel lasted just one season (1960-1) on CBS.

Farge has the title role as Angel, who came from France after marrying American John Smith (Marshall Thompson). Her thick accent was the source of a lot of comic plots, but CBS didn't count on how hard it would be to cut into the ratings for My Three Sons, then on ABC, or Bachelor Father on NBC.

In the episode, "Angel's Temper", Angel is working on lengthening her fuse, if you will, while John deals with a salesman (guest star Mel Blanc, The Flintstones, The Bugs Bunny Show, The Jack Benny Program).



I think Mel's also heard in one of the Raid commercials in this episode, a rebroadcast from June 1961.

Marshall Thompson had transitioned from movies to television, but would achieve his greatest TV success with Daktari just a few short years later.

No rating.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Old Time Radio: CBS Radio Mystery Theater (1974)

In the winter of 1974, Himon Brown came up with the novel idea that radio dramas were still viable in the then modern era. Around this time, the classics of the Golden Age, such as The Shadow, Gang Busters, The Bickersons, and The Lone Ranger, just to name a few, were being reissued in syndication.

CBS decided to take Brown up on his offer, and launched the CBS Radio Mystery Theater. I remember seeing the advertisements in the newspaper, with the use of a black cat as the show's logo. E. G. Marshall (fresh from The Bold Ones) served as host-narrator for most of the run. One source has noted that Tammy Grimes had filled in at one point.

The series ran from 1974-82, five nights a week, for a full hour, unlike the classics of yore, which ran for 15 or 30 minutes.

From May 1977, here's "Bottom of The World", with Tony Roberts.



Rating: B.

Musical Interlude: Right Place, Wrong Time (1996)

Dr. John hit the top 10 on the Hot 100 in 1973 with the iconic "Right Place, Wrong Time". 23 years later, with "Right Place" still getting significant FM airplay, "The Night Tripper" appeared on VH1 Duets, to play "Right Place", with the added bonus of the incomparable Eric Clapton on guitar.



In memory of Dr. John, who might also be known to fans of a certain age for the theme from Blossom. Malcolm John Rebennack passed away yesterday at 77.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Musical Interlude: Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (1978)

Elton John's "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road", the single and album, had been out for a while by the time Elton appeared on The Muppet Show in season 2.

While there is a video floating around of the album track being dubbed over the on stage performance on the show, which is actually a show of disrespect toward the show and John, we have the complete performance, as Elton is joined by Dr. Teeth & The Electric Mayhem. The song was edited for content for this performance.