Thursday, October 31, 2019

Musical Interlude: Twilight Zone (1982)

The Dutch rock group Golden Earring earned their first hit record in the US in 9 years with 1982's "Twilight Zone", the first single off "Cut".

Singer Barry Hay plays a spy being pursued by enemy agents (played by the rest of the band). The video was censored due to the image of a topless female assassin (hence the red bar in the bedroom scene).


A little of this and a little of that

It has been 95 years since Washington has seen a World Series.

For the Washington Nationals, a team that began life 50 years ago as the Montreal Expos, this was just meant to be their time.

In a Series that saw the road team win all seven games, the Nationals became the latest first-time champ, and the second in three years, beating Houston, which won their first title two years ago, 6-2. Stephen Strasburg, who won games 2 & 6, was named Series MVP.

Houston manager AJ Hinch will be second, third, & fourth guessed for not using ace Gerrit Cole in relief when he had the chance, and it was the sort of short-sighted thinking that has gotten other managers, including Washington's Dave Martinez, in trouble in the past. Hinch opted to use his bullpen arms, despite the fact that Cole, due to be a free agent, could've pulled a Madison Bumgarner and saved the game and the title.

Bumgarner, you'll recall, pitched five innings in the clinching game of the 2014 Series for San Francisco, and, yeah, he, too, is a free agent this winter.

Washington divested itself of Bryce Harper as the slugger went to Philadelphia, and in essence, may have gotten rid of the albatross that had kept them out of the Series. Harper's Phillies choked away any chance of reaching the playoffs with a late season collapse, and now Philadelphia's notorious fans will have to deal with Harper for a few more years.

Martinez, in his 2nd season as a manager, probably won't win Manager of The Year in the NL. That's likely going to either Mike Shildt in St. Louis or Brian Snitker in Atlanta instead.
Even though the game was in Houston, fans in Washington, watching the game on the Jumbotron at Nationals Park, reminded President Trump that he's not their kind of guy.

A Trump re-election campaign ad appeared on the screen between innings, and it was almost as if the man himself was in attendance. The ad was booed mercilessly by the fans in the ballpark, likely tired of Trump's theatrics in the White House. In their minds, Trump is the worst thing to happen to Washington since Daniel Snyder bought the NFL franchise.
If you're scoring at home, the Nationals' World Series victory gives the nation's capital a World title for the 2nd year in a row. The NHL Capitals, you'll recall, won the Stanley Cup in 2018, ending a title draught dating back to the NFL Trumpets' last Super Bowl, following the 1987 season.
The more content he produces for Warner Bros. and its corporate siblings, including the CW, the more likely it is that producer Greg Berlanti could be sold some stock in the media giant.

Berlanti is responsible for a large chunk of CW programming, 3 1/2 nights worth as of now (Batwoman, Supergirl, All American, Black Lightning, The Flash, Arrow, & Riverdale, with Legends of Tomorrow and Katy Keene due in January), plus Netflix's You (previously on Lifetime) and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and DC Universe's Titans, Doom Patrol, and the forthcoming Stargirl. We're not even sure if NBC's Blindspot, another Berlanti entry, is returning this winter.

Now, Berlanti has his tendrils, unsurprisingly, at HBO Max, as two more DC shows are headed there. A small screen version of Green Lantern (Berlanti was one of the producers of the 2011 Ryan Reynolds-fronted feature), along with Strange Adventures, an anthology series, much like its DC namesake, which is returning in 2020 as well.

And, then, there's more coming to CW. You already know Green Arrow & The Canaries (or, if recent social media hype is to be believed, simply, The Canaries), a spin-off from Arrow, is set for next season. Now, it's being joined by Superman & Lois Lane, which technically would be a spin-off from Supergirl, with Tyler Hoechlin (ex-Teen Wolf) reprising as the Man of Steel, and Elizabeth Tulloch (ex-Grimm) returning as Lois.

Arrow signs off for good in December, likely to be replaced by Legends on Tuesdays, which means fans will have to wait until next October for Canaries. My best guess is either Superman ends up a mid-season launch in 2021, or a pre-existing series winds up either benched or cancelled. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Spook Rock: Pet Sematary (1989)

The Ramones were commissioned by no less than Stephen King himself to record the theme to the first adaptation of King's Pet Sematary 30 years ago.

Rhino Records just released the video on their YouTube channel, with guest appearances by Blondie's Chris Stein & Debbie Harry.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Old Time Radio: The Shadow in Three Ghosts From Halloween (1937)

Seems it was a tradition for radio's The Shadow to have a Halloween episode. Case in point is 1937's "Three Ghosts From Halloween", starring Orson Welles.

Turns out another actor recorded the signature laugh at the beginning, since supposedly Welles couldn't master it.

Rating: A.

Weasels of the Week: Steve McLaughlin & Richard Crist

We are a week away from Election Day as I write, and, once again, the local chapter of Geezers on Parade are, in the words of ESPN icon Chris Berman, rumblin', bumblin', & stumblin' to the polls.

Three weeks ago, Tom Reale, Republican candidate for Mayor, suspended his campaign. At the time, he claimed it was about "family concerns". On Monday, he was singing a different tune as he announced he was reinstating his campaign with a week to go. In his absence, the Geezers, led by County Executive Steve McLaughlin and chief operative Richard Crist, threw their support behind Rodney Wiltshire, who, as an independent candidate, was defeated by current Mayor Patrick Madden in 2015, and, this time, is flying the flag of the Green Party, which keeps getting bamboozled by the bigger parties.

Now, according to published reports, it's been revealed that McLaughlin & Crist put some heat on Reale to drop out of the race, because these idiots thought throwing their allegiance to Wiltshire would be a game changer.

Now, why would the local GOP turn on one of its own? That remains a mystery that not even Nancy Drew would be able to solve on a week's notice.

I've joked that voters went with Madden four years ago because of his resemblance to TV personality Dr. Phil McGraw, and couldn't tell the difference. On Madden's watch, the city has closed its pools, and have been slow to affect repairs such that they hemmed, hawed, and stalled until they realized there wasn't enough time this summer to open the pools before they'd have to be closed again. McLaughlin has his own issues as County Executive, a position previously held by Madden's sister, Kathy Jimino, including allegations of sexual misconduct, which have been swept under the rug in recent months.

Tomorrow, Reale, Madden, & Wiltshire will be in a televised debate on Spectrum News, airing on same-day tape delay. Six days later, Troy residents will go to the polls to separate the real candidates from the poseurs. Meanwhile, for undermining their own candidate with schoolyard bully tactics that don't belong in politics, McLaughlin & Crist each receive not only a set of Weasel ears, but also Dunce Caps, because their tactics may have already gift-wrapped the election for Madden.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Forgotten TV: Steve Allen's Music Room (1980's)

Conflicting sources are citing different launch dates for Steve Allen's Disney Channel series, Steve Allen's Music Room, back at a time when the channel was a premium cable service.

The multi-talented Allen was backed by an all-star jazz combo, with whom he'd sit in on piano with a separate piano on the main stage. Comedy was kept to a minimum, usually a casual wisecrack or twenty.

Current HBO talk show host Bill Maher was Allen's announcer back then. Nearly 30 years earlier, Allen had helped future game show icon Gene Rayburn get started by having Rayburn as his announcer on The Tonight Show. Vintage clips are sprinkled in along with some photos, such as in this case with featured guests Steve Lawrence & Eydie Gorme:

This one has a 1983 copyright, and if the poster is correct, this would've been the series opener. However, some sources say it started in 1982, and those that claim 1984 would be incorrect.

Rating: A.

Sports this 'n' that

It's been a bad week for umpires.

First, veteran arbiter Eric Cooper, two weeks removed from the ALDS between the Yankees & Minnesota, passed away at 52. Days later, retired ump Chuck Merriweather passed away at 69, which means another patch will be added to the umpires' shirts for the remainder of the World Series.

Then, on Sunday, Washington fans took out some frustration on plate umpire Lance Barksdale during game 5. In the 6th, Washington pitcher Tanner Rainey thought he had Houston's Michael Brantley out on strikes, but Barksdale called it a ball instead. Barksdale would later claim that Nationals catcher Yan Gomes showed him up by getting out of position, assuming it was an inning ending strikeout.

To add to the Nationals' misery, Barksdale later called Washington outfielder Victor Rojas out on strikes, even though strike three was outside, and the partisans let him have it.

The theory I have about such strike calls is that if the ball crosses the imaginary lines at the knees or the letters on the batter's uniform, even if it is 1-3 feet outside, it's still going to be called. Just accept it, and move on.
It's rare when the Mets & Yankees make trades, and rarer still for the Jets & Giants.

So it comes as a shock today to learn that the moribound, 1-6 Jests traded 2015 first round pick Leonard Williams, a defensive tackle out of USC, to the 2-6 Giants for draft picks in the next couple of years.

After the Giants lost to Detroit yesterday, a friend of mine from Massachusetts, whose loyalties are split between Big Blue and the Patriots, asked if the Giants needed to jettison Pat Shurmur and his entire staff. I reminded her that the Giants had to deal with some major injuries early this season, contributing to another bad start, not to mention management being too stubborn to see, until it was too late, that Eli Manning wasn't a quality starting quarterback anymore.

Williams, though, addresses a need on the defensive side of the ball. Getting just draft picks, on the other hand, doesn't help the Jests, and the two teams meet in two weeks.
After nine seasons, the Yankees parted company with well traveled pitching coach Larry Rothschild today. It didn't take long for the rumor mill to start spinning with speculation that Rothschild's next stop could be Philadelphia, reuniting with Joe Girardi.

So who replaces Rothschild in the Bronx? Dave Eiland's available.......
After two years of being a deer in the headlights in the Mets' dugout, Mickey Callaway is returning to being a pitching coach, and to the American League, joining Joe Maddon with the Angels. Well, it beats selling golf equipment.........
Back to the World Series. President Trump wisely decided not to throw out a first pitch in any of the Nationals' home games in the series, but when he decided to attend game 5 with wife Melania Sunday, Trump ended up getting booed out of the ballpark.

Anti-Trump fans in attendance used one of his pet catchphrases against him, chanting "Lock him up!", in reference to the ongoing impeachment inquiry, and contrary to Trump's brainless supporters echoing his call for his defeated opponent in 2016, Hillary Clinton, to be locked up, despite the lack of evidence of wrong-doing.

Similarly, the most polarizing President in American history has at times seemed to be made of teflon, despite the past coming back to haunt him (i.e. the infamous 2005 Access Hollywood video). Reportedly now a man of faith, Trump has been targeted by mainstream media because of his past sins. The Bible tells us that when we are born again, we become a new creation. So why doesn't, say for example, 60 Minutes, acknowledge this in regards to Trump. In his own awkward way, he's trying to deny his past sins based on those scriptures, but after being a public figure for so long, keeping his faith under wraps is not the smartest of ideas.

Then again, he still comes across as a deer in the headlights in the White House.

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Classic TV: The Adventures of Jim Bowie (1956)

In 1956, Desilu obtained the rights to a novelization of the exploits of real-life frontiersman Jim Bowie, which aired on ABC for 2 seasons (1956-8). The abrupt, or so it seemed, cancellation upset the show's star, Scott Forbes, such that he walked off the set while the final episode was in production. Seems Forbes had been promised the show would go for five seasons.

Even though there were plenty of episodes for syndication, as 76 were produced over two seasons, the series was out of circulation by the late 60's.

Mike "Touch" Connors guest stars in "The Broomstick Wedding":

Rating: B.

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Musical Interlude: Rockin' Robin (1958)

Bobby Day had a big hit in 1958 with "Rockin' Robin". Here, Bobby appears on a TV show hosted by LA radio legend Art Laboe.

"Rockin' Robin" made a comeback in the 70's when it was covered by Michael Jackson. We'll see if we can find that choice clip.

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Devo (& friends) shills for Diet Coke (1985)

This might be one of the few times Devo actually did any commercial endorsements.

The Ohio rockers appear, along with Vicki Lawrence, Harvey Korman, and Sgt. Slaughter (then with the AWA) in this 1985 spot for Diet Coke.

Baseball this 'n' that

Word out of Philadelphia is that the Phillies have signed former Marlins & Yankees manager Joe Girardi to replace Gabe Kapler, who was fired after the regular season ended. The Phillies collapsed late in the season after getting off to a hot start, and the fiery Girardi, who leaves Fox/MLB Network after 2 seasons, could be what the team needs to get back in the playoff hunt next year.

Meanwhile, the Chicago Cubs have lured World Series hero David Ross out of the ESPN booth to succeed Joe Maddon, who left for the Angels last week.

The Girardi hire in Philadelphia will disappoint Mets fans, who had hoped the Wilpon family would bring him back to the Big Apple, but that would be above the pay grade the Wilpons have set for themselves, with the 2 year Mickey Callaway experiment an example of their unwillingness to spend money on quality management personnel.
Speaking of the Mets, the Wilpons decided that despite leading the Brooklyn Cyclones to the NY-Penn League title last month, 90's hero Edgardo Alfonzo will not be retained as Cyclones manager for 2020. They're not even considering him for the Mets' job.

Let's face it, the Wilpons have become this generation's version of former owner Joan Payson and GM M. Donald Grant, whose penny-pinching left the Mets in a bad position when Fred Wilpon & Nelson Doubleday bought the team 40 years ago.
Washington may be leading Houston, 2 games to none, in the World Series, but the biggest highlight for Houston so far may have been last night's first pitch, thrown by gymnastics champion Simone Biles, who put her own spin on things.....

Edit, 7/21/22: The video was deleted. We'll use the 2019 Series logo.

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Creepy TV: The Ghost of Potter's Field (Circle of Fear, 1973)

We previously screened this over at Saturday Morning Archives three years ago because two of the cast in this entry are known to cartoon fans.

Anyway, this offering from Circle of Fear is evidence that William Castle's vision was squandered by NBC, which cancelled the series (previously known as Ghost Story) after 1 season. Jimmy Sangster, better known for his work at Hammer Films in England in the 60's, was a contributor to the series.

"The Ghost of Potter's Field" deals with a magazine editor (Tab Hunter) and an evil doppleganger. Also starring William Boyett (Adam-12), Robert Mandan (2 years before Caribe), Pat Harrington, Paul Winchell, and Gary Conway (ex-Land of The Giants, Burke's Law):

Yes, it's a Sony property, but it broils me that no one's considered picking this up.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Creepy TV: Halloween With The Addams Family (1964)

Only The Addams Family would mistake bank robbers for trick-or-treaters, and the poor thieves get the scare of their lives. Don Rickles and Skip Homeier are the unfortunate visitors.

Rating: B.

2019 World Series preview

Students of baseball history will remember that the Washington Nationals began life 50 years ago as the Montreal Expos, who were snake-bitten during their 35 years in Canada. The team earned its first playoff berth in the strike-stricken year of 1981, advancing to the NLCS before losing to the Los Angeles Dodgers in five games.

13 years later, when another players' strike hit, Montreal led the National League East, and could've won their 2nd division title. However, the 1994-5 labor issue began a downward spiral for the Expos. A combination of declining attendance, coupled with a decrease in home dates in Montreal (22 games were played in Puerto Rico during the 2003 & 2004 seasons), led to the Expos exiting for Washington after the 2004 season.

Until this year, the Nationals couldn't get past the Division Series round. That all changed two weeks ago when they dispatched the Dodgers, avenging the Expos' defeat 38 years earlier. However, the momentum generated and nurtured in a four game sweep of St. Louis last week may be blunted by the week-long break leading into the start of this year's World Series.

The Houston Astros are in the Fall Classic for the second time in three years, third overall. Their post-season history extends all the way to 1981 as well, as they lost a Division Series that year to the Dodgers, and everyone knows how they fell to the Mets five years later. A member of the American League since 2013, the Astros have become a premier franchise once more.

There are some key players missing who were part of the 2017 team. Catcher Brian McCann retired after Atlanta was eliminated by St. Louis two weeks ago. Homegrown star Dallas Keuchel joined McCann in Atlanta as a late-signing free agent in June. Collin McHugh, who was a key bullpen piece two years ago, finished this season in the minors after a rough return to the starting rotation.

However, the offense is as strong as ever, having picked up veteran catcher Martin Maldonado in mid-season, backed up by Robinson Chirinos, who came over from in-state rival Texas. Former Tri-City Valleycats George Springer & Jose Altuve, the latter the ALCS MVP, are 1-2 in the Astro lineup, so figure 'Cats fans will be tuning in.

Both teams have solid front-line starting pitching. Washington opens with their ace, Max Scherzer. Houston will have Gerrit Cole, who will be a free agent after the series. Where Houston may have a weak spot is in its bullpen. Closer Roberto Osuna blew the save Saturday when the Yankees' DJ LeMahieu took him deep, only for Altuve to save him with a game winning bomb off Aroldis Chapman. Washington had brought in Sean Doolittle to be their closer, but after he got knocked around by the Mets, he lost the closer's role to Daniel Hudson.

This we know. Folks will tune in on Friday for game 3 to see if a certain Bloviator-in-Chief shows up. Houston has the home field, but using the designated hitter allows Washington one extra bat in the lineup off their bench that hasn't seen much playing time in the playoffs. On the other hand, Houston's game 3 starter, Zach Greinke, has been known to hit a few homers, as he did with Arizona and Los Angeles, so he won't be an easy out.

The pick: Houston in 7. Of course, I could be wrong.

On The Air: Best Ever Trivia Show (2019)

Facing competition from Buzzr, Game Show Network has had to produce more original content in recent months.

Parent company Sony has blessed the channel with the silly Best Ever Trivia Show, which launched in June, and is, I believe, in production for its 2nd "season". Sherri Shepherd (ex-The View, The Newlywed Game) is the series host. Sony is keeping former Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings on the payroll, as he's part of a rotation of trivia experts.

Full episodes are not available, and there are excerpts posted via camera phone. Instead, let's sample this promo ad from GSN:

Jennings is demonstrating some comic chops, as if Sony might be obliged to revive Hollywood Squares again, as opposed to the variants airing on Viacom's channels. He's good at "bluffing".

Rating: A.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Musical Interlude: Beat It (1982-3)

"Beat It" was the third single from Michael Jackson's 1982 album, "Thriller", released just a month after "Billie Jean" had hit the charts.

While the video pays homage to classic films such as "West Side Story" and the more contemporary "The Warriors", Jackson's message is more about non-violence, hence the epic dance sequence at the end. Not seen is guest guitarist Eddie Van Halen. Choreographer Michael Peters, who also appeared in "Billie Jean", plays one of the gang leaders.

I chose this video because there have been threats of violence of late between youths in Troy & Albany.

This began with rumors of a rumble during the Troy-Green Tech football game on September 27, leading to a post-game fracas at a nearby restaurant involving some 70 Troy students, but zero from Albany.

Three weeks later, with Albany High next on the home schedule, Troy officials decided to move the game 18 hours from Friday night to Saturday afternoon. Troy won handily, and there were no incidents off the field.

However, 24 hours later, there was an exchange of threats on social media aimed at both schools. The indication from the Troy side was that not only was the high school targeted, but so was the middle school next door. Following is the Troy district's official statement on the matter:

As of press time, there was not a similar statement issued by Albany High.

A school monitor I spoke to on Saturday said that Troy is hoping to appeal to the Suburban Council to reschedule basketball games between Troy and both Albany and Schenectady, the latter because of past issues, from Friday dates to Tuesdays when hoops season starts in December. In all probability, the league will deny the request, and Troy will have to have extra security for those home games. Stay tuned.

Updated, 3:55 pm (ET): A 17 year old Albany High student was arrested earlier this morning after posting a threat to his school claiming he'd be involved in a shooting. No updates yet from Troy.

Update, 4:20 pm (ET): Here is Albany High's official statement, obtained via WTEN:

Update, 10:20 pm (ET): The Troy School District has uploaded this message from Superintendent John Carmello:

Pray that cooler, wiser heads prevail in the long run.

Sunday, October 20, 2019

What Might've Been: Grand Ole Opry (1955)

The Grand Ole Opry's weekly radio show is one of the longest running radio programs in history. The transition to television? Another story altogether.

From October 1955 to September 1956, Ralston-Purina sponsored a monthly, hour-long Grand Ole Opry show, filling in for 2/3 of the 90-minute Ozark Jubilee on ABC. Apparently, the contract was not renewed for the 1956-7 season, as the series did not return.

Before transitioning to first Spike TV in 2003, then, presently, Paramount Network, the original Nashville Network hosted a weekly TV simulcast of the radio show, hosted by singer Bill Anderson. We'll look at that version another time. Here, though, is a school themed show from '56, featuring Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, Little Jimmy Dickens, and much more.

Minnie Pearl picked up the schoolhouse skits and revived them during her stint on Hee Haw years later. Acuff would also join the cast of Hee Haw near the end of his storied career.

Rating: B.

Saturday, October 19, 2019

Forgotten TV: Baby Makes Five (1983)

Producer Alan Landsburg had branched out from doing documentaries (i.e. In Search Of....) to doing reality-variety (That's Incredible!) and sitcoms (Gimme a Break!) in the 80's.

However, not everything he touched turned to gold. After selling Break to NBC, and before scoring with Kate & Allie for CBS, he returned to ABC with Baby Makes Five, a family-centric sitcom that lasted a month in the spring of 1983. The problem? It aired opposite Dukes of Hazzard on CBS. Ballgame over.

It wasn't for lack of trying. Peter Scolari (ex-Bosom Buddies) & Louise Williams (Super Friends, ex-13 Queens Boulevard) are the parents of five kids, hence the title. Critics loved the chemistry between Scolari & Williams, but viewers paid little attention.

Here's a sample clip:

Brandy Gold is the sister of Missy (Benson) & Tracey (later of Growing Pains), and would later appear with her sisters on Hollywood Squares during the John Davidson era (1986-9).

No rating. Not enough of a sample to properly rate.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Sports this 'n' that

Maybe there's a curse attached to those State Farm ads.

The insurance company's newest NFL endorser, Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes, was knocked out of Thursday's 30-6 win over Denver with a dislocated kneecap, an injury sustained in the 2nd quarter. Fellow pitchman Aaron Rodgers has missed some time with injuries himself the last couple of years. Backup QB Matt Moore, sprung from the purgatory that was the Miami Dolphins' bench, put the game away with a long touchdown toss to Tyreek Hill in the 3rd quarter, and will likely start the Chiefs' next game.

To me, it doesn't matter what players are endorsing while active. Injuries are a coincidental side effect.
It's been 10 years since the Yankees' last World Series title. The desperation of fans has been evident in the last two games of the ALCS vs. Houston.

On Tuesday night, Astros outfielder Josh Reddick reported that fans were throwing bottles in his direction during the game, just because he had the nerve to hit a home run earlier in the game.

Then, prior to game 4 last night, Zach Greinke was warming up in the bullpen when some idiots decided to taunt him about his past issues with anxiety & depression. One clever troll decided to stitch up a message that read, "I Plowed Greinke's Wife", on the back of his shirt.

One fan was ejected from the stadium after he was caught in the act of agitating Greinke, who didn't get credit for the win since he didn't go the five innings required of a starting pitcher.

The Yankees' "Bleacher Creatures" are famous for their first inning roll call of the defense. It's just unfortunate that the stands also contain some less than cerebral types that ruin the experience for everyone else. The disrespectful, anonymous curs who've hassled Reddick & Greinke get Weasel ears for their lack of brains. Dunce Caps would be too obvious.
We neglected to mention earlier this week that Jacksonville Jaguars malcontent Jalen Ramsey was traded on Tuesday to the Los Angeles Rams in another case of the rich getting richer, while the Jaguars, a couple of years removed from an AFC title game, have quickly sunk down the rabbit hole in the AFC.
It didn't take long for Joe Maddon to find another managerial gig.

Maddon was hired by the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Wednesday, returning to the franchise that actually drafted him many, many moons ago, and for whom he was a bench coach under Mike Scioscia before beginning his managerial career in Tampa Bay. The Angels ditched Brad Ausmus after one season, so this will be another reclamation project for Maddon, who turned the Rays into title contenders more than a decade ago, and won a World Series with the Cubs three years ago.
If you've been watching AEW Dynamite, you've probably been wondering why former WWE champion Jake Hager (formerly known as Jack Swagger during his time with WWE from 2009-17) hasn't wrestled, but is acting as a goon for Chris Jericho, they have mentioned that Hager is also doing some MMA for Bellator, and his next fight for Bellator comes up a week from tonight, just two weeks before AEW's next PPV, Full Gear. For that reason, Hager hasn't suited up for action, and likely won't see in-ring action for AEW until October 30 at the earliest.

Hager, an All-American out of Oklahoma, is undefeated in MMA, and you wonder if there'll be any cross-promotion, even though Bellator airs on the Paramount Network (formerly Spike TV), which is owned by Viacom, one of WarnerMedia's biggest competitors. Stay tuned.
We are, however, giving out a Dunce Cap to a freshman at Alabama for proving that they are a little too zealous about their beloved Crimson Tide.

Connor Bruce Croll, with the intent of pulling a juvenile prank, called in a bomb threat during Alabama's win last Saturday. Needless to say, there was no bomb, and Croll could face up to 20 years on a felony charge of communicating false information regarding said threat.

We get it. Football is treated like a pagan religion in the South. Thankfully, there are no churches devoted to the sport. Like the New England Patriots in the NFL, Alabama's fan base is immune to other fans tired of the Tide's dominance in football.

The funny thing is, the other southern-based Power 5 conference, the ACC, doesn't have any problems of this stripe......

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Creepy TV: Role reversal, Addams Family style (1965)

From season 1 of The Addams Family:

Lurch (Ted Cassidy) takes the spotlight this time, as he becomes man of the house for a day when his mother pays a call. This episode employs the trope of a little white lie in a typical letter home.

Ellen Corby, a few years before The Waltons, guest stars.

Corby also turned up in an episode of another Filmways series, The Beverly Hillbillies, and must have logged a lot of guest appearances before The Waltons cemented her star status.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Musical Interlude: Invincible (1985)

Helen Slater followed up 1984's "Supergirl" with "The Legend of Billie Jean". However, most people remember the movie for a scintillating theme song, "Invincible", by Pat Benatar.

Sports this 'n' that

The Washington Nationals' sweep of St. Louis in the NLCS can be best described by an old axiom:

What goes around, comes around.

Almost exactly a week earlier, the Cardinals dropped 10 on the Atlanta Braves en route to a blowout win to clinch the NLDS. This time, St. Louis starter Dakota Hudson didn't get out of the first inning, as the Nationals rolled a 7 in the opening frame, and withstood the Cardinals' attempts to rally.

Now, the NL East runners-up have to wait a week before the start of the World Series, which begins October 22.

Meanwhile, the Yankees are down, 2-1, after dropping a 4-1 decision to Houston in game 3 of the ALCS Tuesday night. Rain threatens to push game 4 back to Thursday, and really gum up the works. Stay tuned.
Less than four months after being hired as executive director of Smackdown, Eric Bischoff is out, his 2nd WWE tenure over before it really started.

For all intents & purposes, Bischoff was hired as a liason between WWE & Fox, but there are rumors that Fox wanted Paul Heyman, who instead is shepherding Monday Night Raw. After Smackdown's ratings took a predictable plunge after the October 11 episode, Bischoff was scapegoated out the door, replaced by Bruce Prichard, who was hired a few months before Bischoff. Prichard and Ed Koskey will serve as head writers for Smackdown going forward.

One of the biggest complaints about WWE's stagnating product is that they have, reportedly, more than four dozen writers, few, if any, of whom have been taught anything about the wrestling business, purposely, by Vince McMahon. The simple solution is to shear the fat off the meat, if ya will, and ditch most of these faceless, anonymous scribblers, and let the road agent/producers take over in the writers' rooms. Most of those agents are retired or semi-retired talents such as Shane Helms (aka Hurricane), Chris Park (formerly Abyss in TNA Impact and elsewhere), D-Von Dudley, and Dave "Fit" Finlay, who has been praised for his work with the women's division.

It would also help morale and the confidence of some current talents if they were allowed a significant amount of input in building their characters. Then again, common sense and McMahon severed their friendship a long time ago.
Another week, and more officiating controversy in the NFL.

One crew, fronted by second generation ref Shawn Hoculi, pulled back on what would've been a pass interference or defensive holding call on Houston in their win over Kansas City, which led to the Chiefs' second straight loss. Picking up the flag on a foul committed against Chiefs TE Travis Kelce, didn't just benefit the Texans.

It also benefited the New England Patriots. Conspiracy theorists will contend that the Patriots will stop at nothing to ensure that they get the #1 seed this year, after winning the Super Bowl out of the #2 seed in the AFC last season, and that owner Bob Kraft is emptying out his fridge, if ya will, offering free cases of Velveeta, Miracle Whip, or whatever else he can find, in addition to greasing a few palms, to ensure the Patriots get every favorable advantage possible, fair or foul.

Monday, Green Bay benefited from a pair of bogus penalties called against Detroit's Trey Flowers (an ex-Patriot, don'tcha know) to eke out a one point win at Lambeau Field. However, the next day, NFL VP/operations Troy Vincent (another ex-Patriot) said that the 2nd foul on Flowers shouldn't have been called. Packer lineman Adam Bakihiati admitted he went to one of the officials and complained about Flowers.

We know coaches---and some players---will politick with the zebras to get calls. In the NFL, it's getting worse and worse with each passing week, and the league refuses to do anything about it, for fear that those conspiracy theories could actually be---gulp----true. We noted last week that current Director of Officiating Al Riveron is in Kraft's pocket, because how else to explain his inaction on several replay challenges regarding pass interference, be it offensive or defensive? The league is supposed to be listening to what their fans want, but certain well heeled power brokers don't want to break up the monotony.

Hmmmm, sounds a lot like the WWE, doesn't it?

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

What Might've Been: The Storefront Lawyers (1970)

While ABC had The Young Lawyers, CBS turned to producer Leonard Freeman (Hawaii Five-0) for something similar.

The Storefront Lawyers strung out 13 episodes from mid-September to early January before being taken back to the shop and rebooted as Men at Law for another 10 episodes. Robert Foxworth fronted both iterations. Gerald S. O'Loughlin, better known for his later work on The Rookies, played a DA on Storefront, then joined the firm on Men at Law. Don't ask.

So why did both shows about lawyers with little experience fail? I don't know, but I'd think that both networks were looking for something that wasn't quite along the lines of The New Lawyers, a component of NBC's Bold Ones, which had experienced attorneys embodied by the likes of Burl Ives & Joseph Campanella.

Following is a trailer, culled from CBS' 1970 Fall Preview, and contains footage from the first episode, with guests Edward Andrews and Dean Jagger. Dick Tufeld is the narrator.

I wish I could find the complete Fall Preview for CBS' 1970 slate, since Tufeld and Danny Dark alternated as narrators.

No rating.

Monday, October 14, 2019

Spook Rock: Every LIfe I Take (2019)

Some enterprising dudes on YouTube have found a means to reinvent song parodies.

The Merkins' channel is home to guys cosplaying as movie villains like Jason Voorhees ("Friday The 13th"), Leatherface ("Texas Chainsaw Massacre"), and Michael Myers ("Halloween"; billed as George Michael Myers for a parody of Wham!'s "Careless Whisper").

Here, "Jason" is on stand-up bass with Nate Viall on vocals for a parody of the Police's #1 1983 hit, "Every Breath You Take", which becomes "Every Life I Take":

Yeah, there's more where this came from...

Classic TV: Sneak Previews (1977)

What started as a locally produced series in Chicago in 1975 would soon go national, first on PBS, then in syndication.

Sneak Previews was given the title upon shifting to PBS in 1977 after launching in Chicago as Coming Soon to a Theater Near You. Rival film critics Roger Ebert (Chicago Sun-Times) & Gene Siskel (Chicago Tribune) discussed & debated each week's releases and/or popular films already in wide release. The phrase, "two thumbs up", became a national catchphrase, and, until leaving for syndication, Sneak Previews gave PBS another tentpole series, along with Masterpiece Theater and children's shows such as Sesame Street.

Unfortunately, as the critics' fame grew, money became an issue, and Siskel & Ebert left in 1982, replaced by Neal Gabler and New York critic Jeffrey Lyons. Gabler didn't last long, and was succeeded by Michael Medved, already a part-time contributor to the series.

Siskel & Ebert moved on, signing first with Tribune Entertainment to host At The Movies, but that series lasted just four years before the duo left again, this time jumping to Disney, which gave them Siskel & Ebert & The Movies, while Bill Harris (Entertainment Tonight) and another New York critic, Rex Reed, took over At The Movies.

Here's an episode from 1979, headlined by "Alien", which would be appropriate this time of year.

Rating: A.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Musical Interlude: Little Cowgirl (1946)

Let's take you back to Ken Curtis' singing cowboy days in the mid-40's.

This little nugget of joy, "Little Cowgirl", was co-written by Curtis, and used in the movie, "Cowboy Blues", back in 1946.

There's at least one clip of Curtis singing in character as Festus Haggen on Gunsmoke, and maybe more. He also had some opportunities on Ripcord as well. We'll get that up down the line. Yee-haw!

A rerun worth watching again

Two years ago, the Houston Astros defeated the Yankees in a thrilling 7 game series en route to their first World Series title. Many of the same players are back, although Joe Girardi, who managed the Yankees in the 2017 ALCS, will likely be in the Fox booth this time.

Houston gutted out a five game ALDS win over Tampa Bay in which the home team won all five games. They won the regular season series over New York, 4-3. They also have the most lethal 1-2-3 combination in starting pitching. However, the #3 starter, Zack Greinke, goes tonight, after getting shelled by Tampa Bay in game 3 of the ALDS on Monday. The Bombers answer with Masahiro Tanaka. New York is well rested after sweeping Minnesota away in three games. Winning either of the first two games will swing home field advantage to the Yankees, who'd like nothing better than to return to the World Series for the first time since their last title run 10 years ago. Bear in mind that they lost their top winner, Domingo German, when he was picked up on domestic violence charges last month.

Since German was removed from the roster, James Paxton, picked up in the off-season from Seattle, has stepped up. Luis Severino was finally activated from the IL last month, and has been worked in slowly. Verlander, who will go tomorrow, may still be smarting from a game 4 loss to Tampa, and will look to take it out on New York.

Tri-City Valleycats fans will be tuning in just as much as the Yankee hardcores, because if Houston runs the table and wins it all again, the World Series trophy likely will return to Troy for another visit next summer. The 518 is not 100% Yankee country anymore.

This will be fun to watch, but, knowing the Yankees, the pace will resemble a snail-turtle race on an iceberg.

Pick: Houston in 7. Of course, I could be wrong.

Friday, October 11, 2019

On The Air: Stumptown (2019)

Oni Press becomes the latest comics publisher to land a TV adaptation of one of their books.

Stumptown tells the tale of a military vet turned private eye (Cobie Smulders, ex-How I Met Your Mother) who has to balance her career, love life, and caring for a younger brother with Downs Syndrome, all the while trying to get herself established as a PI.

Veteran comics & mystery writer Greg Rucka cited shows such as The Rockford Files and Magnum, PI among his influences in developing the comics, as well as the TV version. Magnum makes sense, given the military veteran angle, but I'd be willing to throw in Marvel's Jessica Jones, since Dex Parios' favorite interests off the job include sex and alcohol. Just like Jessica.

Jake Johnson (ex-New Girl) co-stars as Grey, one of Dex's confidantes and lovers. Another is Detective Hoffman (Michael Ealy), whose superior officer (Camryn Manheim, ex-The Practice) reminds me a lot of Rockford's primary police contact and frenemy, Sgt. Dennis Becker.

Like the Marvel Cinematic Universe movies that Smulders appeared in over the last 7 years as SHIELD agent Maria Hill (including a guest turn or two on Marvel's Agents of SHIELD), Stumptown uses a classic oldies soundtrack, as demonstrated in the trailer.......

This week's episode has Donal Logue, fresh from Gotham, as a rogue PI. Whether that will be a recurring role or a 1-off, remains to be seen.

Where Stumptown gets in trouble is its time slot, airing opposite S.W.A.T. on CBS, and Chicago PD on NBC. The series is already losing viewers after the first week's curiosity, and when you add the baseball playoffs on cable, I have this feeling Stumptown won't survive the season.

Rating: B--.

Sports this 'n' that

As expected, the New England Patriots defeated the Giants Thursday, 35-14, but that wasn't the story.

Yahoo! reports this morning that there's more controversy over the changes in the rules regarding pass interference. Director of Officiating Alberto Riveron refused to overturn a non-call when it seemed as though the Giants' Golden Tate had been held by a Patriots defender. Giants coach Pat Shurmur wasted a challenge when he should've known Riveron, who has seemingly been in the Patriots' pocket since replacing Dean Blandino, wouldn't do the right thing.

It's not so much the officials themselves, contrary to what the Yahoo! article contends, though. It's Riveron who is being stubbornly resistant to change, despite the fact that there was so much outcry dating back to January, and that Patriots coach Bill Belichick was among those who championed the need for rules changes. Belichick might need to talk to owner Robert Kraft about how much he's bribed Riveron to look the other way. New England doesn't need any more controversy tainting their six Super Bowl titles.

What they do need, though, is to ease Tom Brady's workload. The uberdiva doesn't seem to understand that the run game complements his passing, and he doesn't need to be chucking 40-50 passes per game just so he can pad his stats.

Riveron is scum, and needs to be removed yesterday. If Commissioner Roger Goodell and the owners can persuade Blandino to leave Fox for the second half of the season to clean things up, it'd be golden.
The relentless promotion of Smackdown on Fox continued with Hulk Hogan visiting the NFL pregame show Thursday night. Some of the Fox NFL Sunday crew will be appearing on Smackdown for part 1 of the draft tonight.

Remember when Vince McMahon didn't want to do business with Rupert Murdoch? Well, you know what they say about money & BS.....
FS1 had the other marquee game of the night, game 5 of the ALDS between Houston & Tampa Bay, won by the Astros, 6-1, setting up a rematch of the 2017 ALCS vs. the Yankees, starting tomorrow. Houston won the regular season series with New York, 4-3, but the Yankees, who finished off Minnesota on Monday, will have had four days of rest before first pitch tomorrow night.

So what will be the difference? Rest or momentum? We'll find out together tomorrow. Full preview coming then.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

A Classic Reborn (again): Nancy Drew (2019)

I remember reading some of the original Nancy Drew mysteries when I was much, much younger. Much like the Hardy Boys, the stories were simple, done in one whodunits.

In order to conform to what the CW wants of their product, the 3rd TV incarnation of Nancy Drew has a little too much soap opera for this writer's liking. And you wonder why people compare it to its Wednesday lead-in, Riverdale, whose iconic characters also had to be darkened to appeal to the network's target demographic.

So what's wrong? How about Nancy (newcomer Kennedy McMann) in a strained relationship with her father, attorney Carson Drew (Scott Wolf, ex-Party of Five), made only worse when Carson is found to be in a relationship with a police detective who's been a mentor of Nancy's? How about the fact that Nancy's canonical love, Ned Nickerson, is presented here as an ex-con who'd been defended by Carson unsuccessfully on murder charges? Or that George, one of Nancy's closest buds, was a nemesis of hers in high school instead?

Blame it on the show's creative team, which includes Stephanie Savage & Josh Schwartz (ex-Gossip Girl, Chuck, The O. C.). If Nancy is presented as she was in the classic books, no one would watch, or so the network beancounters claim. As with Greg Berlanti's roster of comic-book-centric dramas, Nancy Drew has to take this direction in order to succeed. Bear in mind that Wolf was the second choice to play Carson. Freddie Prinze, Jr. was originally cast, then cut.

And, of course, there's an overarching mystery, the kind that actually could be solved in one book. The trailer fills you in:

I had high hopes for this show. By now, you'd think I'd know better. Then again, I'm not the target demographic.

Rating: C.

A most unlikely NLCS

It had been a running joke online that the Washington Nationals had never won a playoff series.

The joke has finally run its course, at the expense of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Manager Dave Roberts will be second & third guessed for his decision to use ace Clayton Kershaw in relief, despite Kershaw's well known postseason struggles, in the 8th inning Wednesday, a decision that ultimately cost the Dodgers, and cost them big time. Kershaw gave up back-to-back homers to Anthony Rendon & Juan Soto to tie the game, and, later, ex-Dodger Howie Kendrick, whose resume also includes stints with the Phillies & Angels, won the game with a grand slam against the Dodger bullpen, sending the Nationals to the NLCS for the first time since the franchise relocated from Montreal 14 years ago, 7-3.

But not only was the #1 seed in the NL gone, so was #2.

Third seeded St. Louis rang up 10 runs in the first inning en route to a 13-1 blowout over the Atlanta Braves, and, with the Dodgers losing, the Cardinals, who have not reached the World Series since losing to Boston 5 years ago, will have the home field for the NLCS vs. Washington.

In the nation's capital, the sports fans have something to cheer for besides the NHL's Capitals, who just started their season a week ago. The NFL's Trumpets? Fuhgeddaboutit. The NBA Wizards will begin play in two weeks.

As much as Kershaw has been a playoff choke artist, and it happened again Wednesday, the Nationals have, as a group, done the same. Perhaps letting man-child Bryce Harper leave and chase the money to Philadelphia was a blessing in disguise for the Nationals, as they're still playing, almost halfway through October, while Harper is sitting at home, counting his money while contemplating what might've been had injuries and a late season collapse not derailed the Phillies. Now, there is a hunger in DC not seen in years.

Where Washington has a distinct advantage over St. Louis is in starting pitching. Scherzer. Strasburg. Corbin. Closer Sean Doolittle, however, faded down the stretch. I can say that with certainty since the Mets torched Doolittle twice in late season series. It won't be a surprise after the postseason run ends to learn that Nationals infielder Ryan Zimmerman will follow Atlanta's Brian McCann into retirement. McCann made his announcement after the embarrassing loss to St. Louis, and once the Nationals' season ends, Zimmerman will likely do the same.

St. Louis doesn't have the big names on offense other than first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, formerly with Arizona, and ageless catcher Yadier Molina. Outfielder Dexter Fowler is three years removed from a World Series with Chicago, so all he & Molina need do is flash the bling to inspire their team. Marcell Ozuna is thriving since leaving Miami after the 2017 season, enjoying his first postseason.

I've seen enough of the Nationals' late inning heroics to know it's their time now. We do need some fresh blood in the World Series, after all.

Pick: Washington in 7. Of course, I could be wrong.

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Remember Promise margarine? (1980)

I believe it was Lever Brothers who originally introduced Promise margarine to grocers back in the day, to complement the better known Imperial brand.

Here, singer Carole Demas (ex-The Magic Garden for you 70's kids in NY) sings the praises while walking through a cornfield....

Forgotten TV: Gun Shy (1983)

Someone at Disney thought there would be some more mileage in adapting the "Apple Dumpling Gang" movies into a TV series.

Problem was, the studio sold the series to CBS under a different name, Gun Shy, but without any of the cast from the "Apple Dumpling" movies. In fact, Tim Conway's Ace Crawford, Private Eye was coupled with Gun Shy on the schedule. Both were gone in less than two months. Would it have made any difference if Conway was persuaded to do Gun Shy instead of Ace Crawford, which he co-created?

Hard to say. Conway himself had flopped with a western sitcom, Rango, 16 years earlier, and Disney's mistake was not trying to contact him. Don Knotts wasn't available (Three's Company), so perhaps that would explain their reluctance to bring Conway in, allowing him to try his luck in a different genre.

The cast included Barry Van Dyke, headlining his own series for the first time, joined by Tim Thomerson (ex-Quark), Henry Jones, and Keith Coogan (billed as Keith Mitchell), the grandson of Jackie Coogan. However, Coogan was cut after four episodes, replaced by Adam Rich (ex-Eight is Enough).

So why did it fail? There are multiple reasons:

1. It had been a year after ABC tried with Best of The West, with Joel Higgins and Leonard Frey.

2. It aired on Tuesdays, where CBS was now running 3rd behind ABC & NBC.

3. Disney chose not to market it as The Apple Dumpling Gang: The Series.

Here's the intro:

No rating. Tuesdays meant The A-Team at my house.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

A Modern Classic: That Metal Show (2008)

This next item was previously reviewed at Saturday Morning Archives because reruns aired on Saturday mornings.

VH1 Classic (now MTV Classic) began offering original content about a decade or so ago, and one of the longest running entries was That Metal Show, the title derived from the popular Fox sitcom, That 70's Show. Eddie Trunk, a popular New York radio personality, hosted, assisted by comedians Don Jamieson and Jim Florentine (ex-Crank Yankers).

During the show's run in New York, Jamieson moonlighted as host of a roving game show on SNY, Beer Money, after Chris Carlin was reassigned. Anyway, Metal ran for 15 seasons across 7 years (2008-15), ceasing production as the channel was transitioning to MTV Classic.

Metal aired on Friday & Sunday nights, with the Saturday replays in between. Each "season" lasted 8-10 weeks, allowing for 2 "seasons" per year, except for the first year.

The following clip, culled from VH1 Classic's own YouTube channel, features a compilation of celebrity appearances from the popular Stump The Trunk segment, featuring the likes of Sammy Hagar, Chris Jericho, Sebastian Bach, Scott Ian, and others.

Rating: B.

Monday, October 7, 2019

Three for the reaper

Death was pretty busy this weekend.

On Sunday, comedian-actor Rip Taylor passed away at 84. Best known for tossing confetti into the audience as he made his way on stage for his act, Taylor also made the usual rounds of talk & game shows.

In the late 70's, Chuck Barris took a chance, and installed Taylor as the host of The $1.98 Beauty Show, a parody of beauty pageants and talent contests, the latter of which Barris had already skewered with The Gong Show. Prior to that, Taylor joined the cast of Sid & Marty Krofft's Sigmund & The Sea Monsters.

Here, though, is a shorter version of Taylor's act, from Late Night With David Letterman, circa 1987, when Dave took the show on the road to Las Vegas:

Ginger Baker has been hailed as one of the greatest drummers in rock history. He, along with Jack Bruce and Eric Clapton, formed Cream in the mid-60's. Baker passed away earlier this weekend.

From The Glen Campbell Goodtime Hour, here's "Sunshine of Your Love":

Finally, actress-singer Diahann Carroll had passed away at the end of last week. 51 years earlier, Carroll was cast in NBC's Julia. The network hoped she would do for sitcoms what Bill Cosby did for dramas with I Spy, which had ended its run. Julia, however, would last just a couple of seasons.

Carroll would return in a prominent role in the original Dynasty in the 80's.

From season 1 of Julia, here's a sample episode with guest Susan Olsen, one year before The Brady Bunch:

Rest in peace.

Sunday, October 6, 2019

On The Air: Batwoman (2019)

13 years ago, DC Comics decided to reboot Batwoman for a new audience, and a new era.

The original Batwoman was a product of the Silver Age, posited as a romantic interest for Batman. Kathy Kane had been killed off, then resurrected in a later storyline. By 2006, she was but a distant memory in the eyes of DC editors.

Kate Kane was introduced as a cousin of Bruce Wayne, as editorial sought to expand Wayne's family in the books, beyond his long deceased parents. The decision was also made to make Kate openly gay, and posited her in relationships in the books with Renee Montoya, and, later, Maggie Sawyer.

Inevitably, then, Warner Bros. and producer Greg Berlanti had Batwoman on their radar, leading to Kate making her Arrowverse debut last year during the Elseworlds event. By then, it'd already been announced that Batwoman was in development for this season.

The only misstep the CW has made is placing Batwoman at 8 (ET), with Supergirl moving to 9, where Charmed was last season (Charmed has moved to Fridays, starting October 11). Common sense tells us that the order should be reversed.

In any case, the foundation is there for another hit for CW & Berlanti. Ruby Rose plays Kate, who, in the context of this series, was drummed out of the military, which severed a relationship with a fellow recruit. As the series begins, Kate returns to Gotham after cousin Bruce has gone missing for three years. Her overprotective father (Dougray Scott) is worried she'll make a mistake and be lost to him, unaware that his other daughter has resurfaced (as comics fans know) as the demented Alice (Rachel Skarsten, ex-Birds of Prey, Lost Girl).

As Christopher Nolan's Bat-trilogy (2005-12) rebooted Lucius Fox as Batman's armorer, if ya will, Lucius' son, Luke, fills that role as Kate's associate. In the comics, Luke became the 2nd man to assume the guise of Batwing, although that book was short-lived. One wonders, though, if, eventually, Luke will suit up, or at least have reason to.

Here's a trailer:

Kate will get the red wig and modified cowl down the road, don't worry.

Rating: A.

Sports this 'n' that

When Notre Dame & Navy travel to Ireland to start the 2020 season, ESPN's College GameDay will be tagging along, marking the first time that the series has gone abroad since it began its traveling road show several years ago.

I wonder how they'll react to Lee Corso's schtick with the mascot heads.....
The Mets waited four days before dismissing Mickey Callaway after two seasons. Speculation has already started in regards to his replacement, and many are still calling for Joe Girardi, currently with MLB Network, to leave that gig and come to Flushing after a decade plus in the Bronx with the Yankees, in which he won just one World Series.

On a message board I frequent, I had a different idea, and that was to move Keith Hernandez out of the Mets' TV booth and into the dugout. Since Hernandez, who was on the Mets' 1986 World Series title team, stresses fundamentals, or, as he calls them, fundies, while on the air, I'd think he'd be a fit.

However, there are those that believe this will not be the case. They believe that owners Fred & Jeff Wilpon and/or GM Brodie Van Wagenen interfered with Callaway during the course of this season, and would be a problem with anyone else that takes over. The Wilpons thought they could get a bargain basement clone of former Boston & Toronto manager John Farrell, now with ESPN, and his name's now in the hat for the vacancy. Stay tuned.
As seen on Smackdown on Friday, Brock Lesnar needed just seven seconds to dethrone Kofi Kingston to win the WWE title.


An old MMA nemesis, Cain Velasquez, who's gotten his feet wet in wrestling competing for AAA in Mexico, has been brought in to avenge an ambush attack Lesnar administered to Rey Mysterio and his son, Dominic, four days earlier on Raw. It's been said that the Fox network wants to put more emphasis on athletic competition (read: real sports) over the gimmick-centric "sports entertainment" that Vince McMahon has force-fed his audience for 35 years, and wanted Lesnar. I suspect they will put up the up-front money as an incentive to get Velasquez on board, but the last thing fans want is not so much an absentee champion, as Lesnar appears and/or fights when he feels like it, but another part-time contributor, unless Velasquez is willing to make more frequent appearances.

But by having Kingston lose in a squash, McMahon is sending the message that he values the money coming from Fox more than the talent he already has on the roster. He always has, and always will.

The October 11 show will be part 1 of a 2-part allocation draft, finishing on Columbus Day on Raw, that will cement the rosters for the foreseeable future. However, it would be to the benefit of both WWE & Fox that Lesnar be more of a regular, a team player this time, instead of continuing with the limited dates on his contract that he first signed 7 1/2 years ago.

Velasquez will face Lesnar in Saudi Arabia at Crown Jewel on Halloween. Beyond that, no one's sure if Velasquez will be around for the long term. If not, it's a wasted investment.

Saturday, October 5, 2019

In Theatres: Joker (2019)

Most of us know the basic story of the "Joker", Batman's arch-nemesis.

However, director Todd Phillips felt that the most widely accepted origin of the Clown Prince of Crime, that of a man who fell into a vat of chemicals and came out with bleached skin and emerald green hair, wasn't realistic in his eyes.

Instead, Phillips, along with writing partner Scott Silver, created their own version, an Everyman who's been a victim of bad circumstances that ultimately drive him over the edge.

When we first meet Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), he's employed, via a comedy-centric employment agency, as a clown promoting a going out of business sale at a Gotham City business, circa 1981. Some juveniles steal his sign, then use it to beat him down.

Arthur, soon enough, finds out the truth about his own life, and how he's lived a lie for so, so long. In the words of Ray Bradbury, this way lies madness.

Phillips drew inspiration from a number of sources, including, predictably, Conrad Veidt's "The Man Who Laughs", although an excerpt of Charlie Chaplin's "Modern Times" is shown. In essence, it is a love letter of a sort to Martin Scorsese, as three of his films--"Raging Bull", "Taxi Driver", and "The King of Comedy", all starring Robert DeNiro---were among Phillips' inspirations. DeNiro, in a callback after a fashion to "King", plays a Johnny Carson-esque talk show host. The ensemble cast also includes Zazie Beets ("Deadpool 2"), Brett Cullen, and Marc Maron (GLOW).

"Joker" is powered by an eclectic, diverse soundtrack which includes music by Jimmy Durante and the Main Ingredient, among others. Phoenix is already generating Oscar buzz, just as the late Heath Ledger did 11 years ago in "The Dark Knight", but Phoenix shows some added range and versatility. The pantomimed dance routines are some of the strongest scenes in the movie, perhaps a result of Arthur being inspired by those old movies, not only Chaplin, but there's an old Fred Astaire movie mixed in, too.

Here's the trailer:

It's funny how, more than three decades before the "Occupy" movement became a thing, Phillips & Silver posited Arthur as an inspiration to an anarchistic movement bent on bringing down the rich. Hmmm.

Trailers at today's screening included:

"Gemini Man" (Friday): Will Smith's latest has oversaturated the airwaves with a commercial airing 2-3 times an hour, depending on what channel you're watching.

"Pain & Glory" (November): A Spanish language drama with Penelope Cruz & Antonio Banderas. No Benicio del Toro here.

"Joker" gets an A-.

Friday, October 4, 2019

On The Air: AEW Dynamite (2019)

AEW stands for All Elite Wrestling, a new promotion founded by Cody Runnels, the son of the late Dusty Rhodes, and Matt & Nick Jackson, collectively known as the Young Bucks. Following a series of pay-per-view events, AEW, funded by the Khan family, owners of the NFL's Jacksonville Jaguars, landed a deal with TNT to bring pro wrestling back to the network for the first time since World Championship Wrestling shut its doors after being bought out by Vince McMahon in 2001.

AEW Dynamite, which bowed Wednesday, is aimed squarely at fans who are either tired of the same, tired, recycled dreck McMahon is selling on Raw & Smackdown, the latter marking 20 years on the air by moving to Fox as of tonight, or are fans of the Bucks and other independent stars such as Sammy Guevara, whose previous national television exposure had been a brief stint on Lucha Underground a year or so ago. While it appears that Lucha Underground may have breathed its last, many of its personnel have moved on to AEW, WWE, Major League Wrestling, or Impact, or even the NWA, which is rebooting and getting back into the television business with a YouTube show launching on Tuesday.

Guevara wrestled the first match on Dynamite against Cody, so he'll be part of the answer to an inevitable trivia question. However, it's what happened after the match that started people talking.......

Chris Jericho (nee Irvine), a former WWE champion whose resume also includes stints with ECW, WCW, and New Japan, won the AEW title at All Out at the end of August, but this iteration of Jericho is far from the jokey free spirit who arrived in the then-World Wrestling Federation 20 years ago. Instead, as announcers Jim Ross, Tony Schiavone, & Excalibur stressed, Jericho is unwilling to face Cody for the title at their next PPV, scheduled for next month, and will go to any lengths to eliminate the competition. Hmmmm, that sounds familiar, doesn't it? Of course.

In 2000, Jericho's dogged pursuit of then-champion Triple H was stifled on the air by the power-drunk champion, who had an iteration of Degeneration X to back him up. By the end of Wednesday's Dynamite broadcast, Jericho had assembled his own army to protect him. Guevara turned full heel on Cody. Former Impact tag champs Santana & Ortiz, the last men to use the Latin American Xchange label there, were Jericho's tag team partners vs. the Bucks and Kenny Omega, who was taken out of the match by Jon Moxley (formerly Dean Ambrose in WWE), leaving the Bucks alone.

The final piece of the puzzle was Bellator fighter and former WWE champion Jake Hager (formerly known as Jack Swagger, and who was also, as Jake Strong, the last Lucha Underground titlist), who has complemented his MMA schedule by a stint with Major League Wrestling. The former All-American from Oklahoma figures to be one of the linchpins for AEW going forward.

Why all this help? Jericho is also the frontman for the metal group Fozzy, and records his own theme music. Fozzy goes on tour periodically, and Jericho works around the tour schedule to appear for AEW. The casual fan who is familiar with Jericho from his years with WWE will see him as more of an arrogant, self-serving bully this time around, the same kind of villain Jericho himself had to fight. What comes around, goes around, ya know?

However, the best match on the night, for sheer drama, was the women's title match between Nyla Rose, posited as a monster heel, and Japan's Riho, who looks like she stepped out of the pages of a manga novel. Nyla is also a transgender woman, so there's a story to be told with her that will make headlines. Apparently, that story is not ready, as Nyla was defeated in her quest to be the first AEW women's champion.

We'll take a look at the retooled NXT another time.

Rating: A.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Creepy TV: The Haunted U-Boat (One Step Beyond, 1959)

Six years before being cast as Colonel Wilhelm Klink in Hogan's Heroes, Werner Klemperer took a dramatic turn as a Nazi attache who is just finding out about Adolf Hitler's suicide while aboard "The Haunted U-Boat" in this first season entry of One Step Beyond:

I don't know if the casting directors of Hogan had this in mind when casting Klemperer, but it wouldn't surprise me.

Rating: A.

2019 Divisional Playoff preview

Well, we went 0-2 on the Wild Cards, so let's move on to the Divisional Series.

American League (starts Friday):

Tampa Bay @ Houston: Houston has the advantage in terms of pitching. When your front end of the rotation is Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, & Zach Greinke, it usually means the party's over before it really starts. All three are in postseason form. Verlander recently had a no-hitter, and Greinke nearly followed suit. Cole is a 20 game winner.

Tampa may have gotten a few good bounces in ousting Oakland, but if they don't get the jump on the Astros' big 3, it's over.

Pick: Houston in 4.

As noted in part 1, we're going with the Yankees over Minnesota in 5.

National League (starts tonight):

Washington @ Los Angeles: Much has been made of the fact that the Nationals, who needed an 8th inning rally Tuesday to beat Milwaukee, have never gotten past the divisional round. Patrick Corbin was imported from Arizona last offseason for this kind of scenario, filling the void in the rotation created when Jordan Zimmermann left for Detroit as a free agent. That it took Washington this long to have that extra ace says something about their postseason struggles.

Walker Buehler gets the nod for the Dodgers in game 1, and Los Angeles could have Rich Hill back in the rotation in this series. Given Clayton Kershaw's poor postseason history, it makes sense he's not the game 1 starter. Hyun-Jin Ryu or Kershaw will go in game 2. The Dodgers have too many weapons in their lineup, and while Washington has made the playoffs without Bryce Harper, it won't change destiny.

Pick: Los Angeles in 5.

As noted last time, we're picking St. Louis over Atlanta, also in 5.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Spook Rock: Uncle Tom's Cabin (1990-1)

"Uncle Tom's Cabin" was the 3rd single from Warrant's 1990 CD, "Cherrry Pie". Although the song gets its name from Harriet Beecher Stowe's legendary novel, the song is about an alleged double murder. The video was shot in Louisiana.

Retro Reads: The Mystery Analysts of Gotham City (1964)

No, you won't find the lead subject of this week's On The Shelf in a trade paperback just yet, but since they are reprinting all things Batman, they're bound to do so eventually.

What I'm referring to is The Mystery Analysts of Gotham City, a recurring backup feature in Batman (1st series), which bowed in 1964. The Analysts include Batman himself, as well as police commissioner James Gordon, who, at the time, retained his original appearance as a stout, mid-size fellow, which would explain why the similarly sized Pat Hingle was cast as Gordon 25 years later in Tim Burton's "Batman". Gordon would undergo a permanent change to his present appearance, thanks in large part to the casting of Neil Hamilton for the 1966-8 Batman series, shortly after Bat-mania took hold.

Anyway, these short stories deserve to be collected. Golden Age vet Sheldon Moldoff was the artist, and does a splendid job setting the mood. And, yes, Robin did appear in at least one installment.

Rating: A.

We took a look because this feature was in the back of a facsimile reprint of Batman (1st series) 181, marking the debut of Poison Ivy, back in 1966. At the time, she was just another costumed criminal with sex appeal, a la Catwoman, but the character has been tweaked and evolved and devolved over 53 years, to the point where Ivy, now co-starring with bestie Harley Quinn in a new miniseries, is now more plant than human, which, while internet shippers are having a field day with Harley & Ivy back together, could lead to something involving Swamp Thing down the road.

Back to 1966. While Carmine Infantino & Murphy Anderson did the cover, Moldoff was the interior artist bringing life to Ivy, whose first story was written by Robert Kanigher. Too short, but then, if it was a book lengther, we would not be discussing the Mystery Analysts.

Rating: B.
Everyone knows that Spider-Woman made her debut in Marvel Spotlight (1st series), and Marvel didn't waste any time spinning her off into her own book, with only a slight tweak to her iconic costume, swapping out her cowled mask for one that allows her hair to stand out. Credit that to the aforementioned Carmine Infantino, who drew some of the character's earliest adventures during a stint at Marvel in the 70's where he also got to do at least an issue of their first run of Star Wars. I kid you not.

Unfortunately, Spider-Woman's relationship with secret agent Jerry Hunt didn't last too long. It just wasn't meant to be.

Rating: B.
There was Batman Day a couple of weeks back, and DC trotted out a sneak peek of a forthcoming young adult graphic novel about Bruce Wayne as a youth.

Unfortunately, the first chapter of Nightwalker is but a portent of things to come, and doesn't give us a lot of incentive. Might be worth getting later, though. No rating.

On the other hand, for those who've wondered about the Batman Who Laughs, an alternate universe mashup of the Dark Knight and the Joker, the first issue of that miniseries was reissued for Batman Day. I'm sorry, but I don't dig. Some things just aren't meant to be messed with, and the chemistry between Batman and the Joker over 80 years is one of those things. And, in case you wonder, I turned up my nose at the current Batman-Superman book, which continues BWL's story, an epidemic of chaos I can do without.

Rating: D.

Oh, by the way, BWL's creator, James Tynion IV, will be the new writer on Batman come January.

A Classic Reborn: Nancy Drew (1995)

With a brand new take on the character due next week on the CW, I thought we'd start things off this month with a look back at a long forgotten iteration of Nancy Drew.

In 1995, Canada's Nelvana Studios acquired a license for both Nancy and the Hardy Boys, packaged together in separate half-hours for syndication. Tracy Ryan was cast as Nancy, and would cross over to Hardy Boys in two episodes. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to save either show, as both were cancelled after 1 season due to lack of affiliate interest.

It seems ABC had wanted to bring Nancy back in 2002 in a TV-movie, but that pilot went nowhere, which is why when the CW's Nancy Drew bows October 9, it'll be the first TV appearance of the sleuth in 24 years.

Problem is, it's smack dab in the middle of the baseball playoffs and a burgeoning ratings war in wrestling, and......!

Anyway, here's "Welcome to The Callisto", in which Nancy, who'd been bunking with two of her besties, gets a generous offer after solving a case.....

No rating.