Saturday, February 29, 2020

When United Airlines was a major player (1975)

Today, you don't see too many airline ads outside of Southwest Airlines.

Back in the day, though, they were everywhere. Delta, Eastern, American, TWA, Pan Am, and United were the big names in the airline industry.

Character actor Sorrell Booke, four years before The Dukes of Hazzard made him a pop culture icon, appears in this 1975 United ad, narrated by Burgess Meredith (Korg: 70,000 BC, ex-Search, Batman):

A Modern Classic: Married....With Children (1987)

It was one of Fox's first primetime shows, and, until it was overtaken by The Simpsons, its longest running series.

Married.....With Children took the concept of the domestic sitcom and flipped it on its head. It was never a top 20 show with any sort of consistency, but reruns continue to air on cable to this day. At last check, Viacom had the cable rights, with the show airing on Logo & CMT.

Children was built around Al Bundy (Ed O'Neill), a former Chicago high school football star turned shoe salesman, husband, and father of two. Al's wife, Peg (Katey Sagal), was a rarity in sitcoms. A housewife adverse to housework, instead swiping money from her husband to go shopping, a trait passed down to daughter Kelly (Christina Applegate), a stereotypical dumb blonde. Bud (David Faustino) was more like his dad, right down to having his sister's back (and she his) in times of need.

Married....With Children was the symbol of Fox's attitude in the late 80's & early-to-mid 90's, such that a Michigan housewife, Terry Rakolta, offended by the show, organized a boycott. The Parents Television Council, predictably, weighed in, declaring the show the worst on television two seasons in a row. Those media nannies wouldn't know freedom of expression if it came up and bit them in the neck.

The series also attracted a variety of guest stars, including pro wrestler King Kong Bundy (written into the show as a relative), NFL great-turned-actor Bubba Smith ("Police Academy", ex-Blue Thunder), musicians such as Peter Noone of Herman's Hermits fame, and comedian Sam Kinison. Robert Englund even showed up as an iteration of the Devil for an episode.

Everyone has their favorite parts of the show. My folks caught up with the reruns in the 90's, looking for something to watch, and found it entertaining. Well, it had to be, to last 11 years. A 3rd season episode that never aired on Fox surfaced on FX in 2002, well after the series ended. I think what people really liked was Al beating up some of Kelly's prospective suitors or causing havoc at the theatre or nudie bar.

This video compilation illustrates the physical abuse Al heaped on people. They never learned that Al lived by an excerpt from Tennessee Ernie Ford's seminal hit, "Sixteen Tons". If the left don't get you, the right one will.

Sagal & O'Neill have stayed busy post-Children. Sagal landed three more hit series with Futurama (also for Fox), 8 Simple Rules (John Ritter's final series), and Sons of Anarchy. O'Neill is wrapping up another elongated sitcom hit with ABC's Modern Family after giving crime drama two tries (Big Apple and Dick Wolf's 2003 remake of Dragnet). Christina Applegate has had a couple more series as well, but Faustino has all but disappeared.

Rating: B-.

Friday, February 28, 2020

There's one less taxi in town

18 months ago, there were two cab companies in town. By the time Black & White Taxi called it a day last year, the hometown didn't have any taxi service based in the city at all.

Capitaland Taxi, Black & White's sole competitor within the confines of the Collar City, had closed its office on Ferry & 4th Streets several months back While the company sign is still on the windows, the building was leased out to a pop-up restaurant operated by the owners of nearby Sunhee's Farm & Kitchen.

Today comes word that Capitaland has closed its one remaining central office in Colonie, eight months after ending a temporary rental of a kiosk at Albany International Airport.

Capitaland Taxi goes out of business

The above image was acquired from WNYT's website.

What did in Black & White and Capitaland? The emergence of ridesharing services such as Uber, which has an app customers can put on their phones. I don't know if the local cab services have gotten that far.

Black & White's office on Fulton Street remains empty as of press time. There are still cabs, based out of town, that pass through the city limits of the hometown, but hiring one of these cabs may very well now be pricey, as they're trying to compete with Uber.

Let's face it. An era is over, or soon will be.

Forgotten TV: Mama's Boy (1987)

Here's an NBC sitcom that the network didn't know what to do with.

Mama's Boy was erratically scheduled throughout the 1987-88 season, with no steady spot on the schedule. How then-programming boss Brandon Tartikoff missed the boat on this one, I don't know. I never saw the show.

Given that this came from the Witt-Thomas-Harris production group (Soap, Benson, Golden Girls, etc.), now linked with Touchstone Television as of Golden Girls, Mama's Boy should've been treated better. Nancy Walker (ex-Rhoda, McMillian & Wife), still shilling for Bounty paper towels by this point, was the "Mama" in the title, paired with a clean shaven Bruce Weitz, who came over from Hill Street Blues. Walker had made a couple of appearances on Golden Girls as Angela, the sister of Sophia (Estelle Getty). Tartikoff should've paid attention to Walker's history. Like, say for example, Tim Conway or McLean Stevenson, Walker could not carry a show as a lead (i.e. Blansky's Beauties, The Nancy Walker Show), and it seems someone at the network got cold feet.

Gilmore Box offers the open. Sounds like Take 6 recorded the title song.

No rating.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

Musical Interlude: The Man (2019-20)

"The Man" is the latest single off Taylor Swift's 2019 CD, "Lover". While there's a credit card commercial in heavy rotation with Taylor as a waitress, she directed this video herself, and uses it to take a few pointed shots at former manager Scooter Braun and her former label, Big Machine, which own the rights to her earlier works.

Taylor doesn't appear as herself until the very end of the clip, but otherwise is masquerading as the title character of the song. Keep an ear out at the end for an even more familiar voice when "The Man" speaks to Taylor.....

Yeah, that was the People's Movie Star, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, dubbed in as "The Man" (the actor's name is Loren?) meets with Taylor at the end of the video.

Now, let's see Taylor & Dwayne make a movie together.......

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Who's the real fear monger?

It's been on the news the last couple of days that the stock market has taken a plunge due to investors' legitimate fears about the potential spread of coronavirus here in the US.

A co-worker told me earlier today that the market is moving back up the ladder, which is a good sign. However, President Trump misinterpreted the fears of the stock market, and blamed his favorite target, the "fake" news media (i.e. CNN, MSNBC) for, well, fear mongering.

No, Mr. President. They're not at fault. In times of crisis, such as the potential health crisis we may soon be facing en masse in this country due to coronavirus, which has its origins in China, the stock market reacts the way it did, because fear is an all too real, all too human emotion. It's happened in other, more dangerous crisis situations, so to Dow Jones, et al, coronavirus is no different.

Mr. Trump's latest Twantrum this morning reminds us again, that, for all of his bluster, for the faux tough guy facade that won over voters four years ago, there is this other side of Donald John Trump:

Image result for Editorial cartoons depicting President Trump as a baby

The media downplays a lot of the positive things Mr. Trump has done to this point, preferring instead to emphasize the image fostered by him of the Ugly American, the 70-something man-child that reacts as a juvenile does when things don't go his way.

The stock market's success, you see, is something Trump is counting on as a plank on his re-election platform. You can't plan for something like coronavirus, and fear of the unknown does lead to panic in various forms, including the stock market.

No, the media is only reporting on the legitimate news that is coronavirus, and what hazards it will bring here. The fear monger, Mr. Trump, is you. Your paranoia over how the news media perceives you is a big reason why there are still people still not sold on you as President. Just because MSNBC and CNN don't genuflect before you and promote you as a solid leader, doesn't give you the right to cut them down every time there's a story that paints you in a bad light.

This we know. Before you were President, you had business dealings with North Korea and Russia, as any businessman would. Because much of the free world sees them as hostile nations, you're under greater scrutiny than any other President because you can't separate your past business dealings from the here & now.

The funny part about how the media frames allegations of Russian meddling this time suggests that your friend, Vince McMahon, should be President. And his media image isn't that much better than yours. Think about that.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Musical Interlude: Happy Together (1967)

Everyone knows The Turtles' biggest hit was 1967's "Happy Together". Here's a performance from The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour, as seen in rerun on E!:

Monday, February 24, 2020

On The Air: Batwoman mid-season report (2019-20)

When we first reviewed Batwoman back in October, we thought it was fresh, hip, and happening.

A lot has changed in four months.

Season: 1st.
When: Sundays, 8 pm ET.
Previous rating: A.

Where we are: To use an early episode title, Batwoman has, from a creative standpoint, fallen down the rabbit hole. At first, Greg Berlanti seemed to have the show he'd wanted all along, as Batwoman (Ruby Rose, ex-Orange is The New Black) was the first openly gay heroine to headline her own book, and now had a CW series to match.

Unfortunately, the network's obsession with focusing on family drama, which is a factor in virtually every CW drama, save maybe for the recently launched Katy Keene, the latest entry from the Berlanti camp, coupled with creative focusing on just one villain, has dragged this show down.

Alice, aka Beth Kane (Rachel Skarsten, ex-Lost Girl, Birds of Prey), isn't going away, and it's upsetting commentators online, who feel she needs to be shunted off stage for at least one, maybe two or more, episodes, so that there can be other stories to be told. Batwoman doesn't have a deep rogues' gallery, unlike cousin Batman, and while much of what we've seen has been loosely adapted from the comics, the writers don't see a need to bring any other enemies into the mix until perhaps next year. The idea, though, is that Alice is meant to be to Kate what the Joker is to the Batman. The one arch-nemesis that will always be there, although Joker tends to be overexposed himself in some media for long periods of time.

Alice, meanwhile, is a bit of a victim herself. She and her companion, Mouse, had to have escaped from the latter's father, Augustus Cartwright, an abusive dirtbag who resurfaced in the February 16 episode. Flashbacks are likely coming to explain how Alice & Mouse escaped Cartwright's clutches.

Some lesser Bat-villains have appeared here, as the producers did the same thing they did with Arrow, drafting some of Batman's foes to fill out the TV rogues' gallery. One such villain, Nocturna, has appeared in Batwoman, and made her TV debut last night. 

Fans have had issues with Berlanti's writing staff across the board. This is no different, and it is the indifference, coupled with the writers' insistence on shoehorning characters and plots into places where they don't belong, that might force Batwoman into an early grave after Season 2 ends next year.

Revised rating: C+.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Classic TV: Stop The Music (1949)

Stop The Music began as a radio show in 1948. FCC laws of the period forced the series to shift to television after a few months, where it began a seven year run (1949-56). This was one of a handful of games emceed by Bert Parks, who most people today would remember from a lengthy run hosting the Miss America pageants.

For the first three years, the show ran for a full hour, which today would be just normal, before being reduced to a half hour. Trade publications credited Harry Salter, the show's musical director, as its creator as well. Salter was also associated with Name That Tune.

From 1955, here's a sample episode with featured vocalist Jaye P. Morgan, blonde at the time, before she vamped it up on The Gong Show more than 20 years later. Kenny Williams is the announcer.

Mark Goodson gets an "in association with" credit here, but co-produced the radio version in one of his first games.

No rating. Just a public service.

Friday, February 21, 2020

What Might've Been: Fast Times (1986)

Four years after "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" topped the box office, and spawned a hit single for Jackson Browne, director Amy Heckerling decided to revisit the characters in a sitcom.

Fast Times, however, lasted less than two months as a mid-season replacement series. Apparently, the time lag between the movie & the show, despite the film being readily available on video, may have been too much. Vincent Schiavelli and Ray Walston reprised their roles as teachers from the movie, and for Walston, it was the start of a television comeback, as he had mostly been doing movies since My Favorite Martian ended 20 years earlier.

Screenwriter Cameron Crowe served as a creative consultant for the series. Singer Moon Unit Zappa was hired on as a technical consultant, having just graduated high school prior to the series (and, yes, that means she was a student when she recorded her 1982 one-off, "Valley Girl"), and had a better grasp of the youth slang of the period. Zappa also is among the guest stars in the sample episode below, along with Jason Hervey, later of The Wonder Years.

The other notable facts? Danny Elfman & Oingo Boingo composed the music for the show, which marked the TV acting debut of Patrick Dempsey, who'd later land the role of his career on Gray's Anatomy.

The sample episode, "My Brother The Car", is bookended by Aretha Franklin's "Freeway of Love".

Apparently, no one wanted to party with Spicoli anymore.

No rating.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Musical Interlude: Time Won't Let Me (1968)

Well before MTV came up with The Basement Tapes as a means of locating unsigned bands, Dick Clark tried out a similar contest on ABC's Happening '68, hosted by Paul Revere & Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere & The Raiders.

The contest winners in the summer of '68, the Heart Beats, were an all-female quartet out of Lubbock, Texas, predating the likes of the Runaways, the Bangles, & Go-Go's by a few years. The Heart Beats remained a regional attraction in their home area for the next twenty or so years before hanging up their guitars & microphones. Here, the ladies perform a cover of the Outsiders' 1-hit wonder, "Time Won't Let Me":

I don't know if they even took a chance on the Basement Tapes.

Forgotten TV: The Dumplings (1976)

If you look at Norman Lear's track record, for every hit he had, like, for example, All in The Family, Sanford & Son, or Good Times, there would be the occasional clunker.

For some reason, audiences didn't really warm up to The Dumplings, which was plugged into the lineup in January 1976 as a winter replacement. The pilot had aired in the fall of '75, and was replayed during the series run.

James Coco (ex-Colucci's Department) and Geraldine Brooks (in her final role) were the leads. Gillette pitchman George S. Irving, until then better known for his voice work (i.e. Underdog), landed a rare live-action series gig as part of the supporting cast.

I never saw the show, so there isn't going to be a rating. Gilmore Box provides the following video, with the title song performed by Steve Lawrence.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Weasel of The Week: George Zimmerman

Two weeks ago, Democratic presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren & Pete Buttigieg issued tweets commemorating what would've been the 25th birthday of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teen shot to death by George Zimmerman in 2012. Zimmerman, remember, was acquitted a year later when a Florida jury bought into his defense that he acted in self-defense under the state's "Stand Your Ground" law.

Today, Zimmerman, retaining conservative ambulance chaser Larry Klayman as his attorney, is suing the two candidates for a total of $265 million dollars, claiming that, even though he wasn't mentioned by name in the tweets, the candidates' statements were meant to remind voters of what he did.

Friends, you know what that makes him?

Image result for cartoon weasels

Yup, a Weasel. Klayman gets a set of Weasel ears, too, for encouraging this nonsense.

If Zimmerman hadn't been acquitted seven years ago, he'd have been on President Trump's list of pardons yesterday. You would think Zimmerman could go on with his life after acquittal, but no. Apparently, he's still butt-hurt about the whole incident, and wants to profit from it any way he can, rather than go out and, you know, find a real job. Someone should explain to this fool that his 15 minutes expired already.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

What Might've Been: A. E. S. Hudson Street (1978)

A. E. S. Hudson Street (AES stood for Ambulance Emergency Service) deserved a better fate than it got.

From Barney Miller co-creator Danny Arnold and writers Tony Sheehan and Chris Hayward, the latter a veteran writer whose career resume also includes Rocky & His Friends and Get Smart, Hudson Street reunited the creative team with an original Miller regular, Gregory Sierra (a different actor played the part in the pilot), who heads the ensemble as Dr. Menzies. Sierra had left Miller after 2 seasons to return to Sanford & Son for its final season.

Hudson Street aired on Thursdays during the spring of 1978, but instead of being coupled with Miller, it aired much later in the evening (10 pm ET), which contributed to its demise.

13 years later, Arnold decided to try again, rebooting the series as Stat, with Dennis Boutsikaris taking over as Menzies. It had an even worse fate, lasting just six episodes.

Gilmore Box brings us the open:

Ray Stewart was also a frequent guest on Barney Miller, as Driscoll, whose partner, Marty (Jack DeLeon), was either brought in as a suspect or was filing a complaint. Ralph Manza, a veteran character actor, had a resume that included a stint as George Peppard's sidekick on Banacek.

No rating. Never saw the show.

A little of this and a little of that

It's pilot season for the television networks, and the CW has picked up yet another one from Greg Berlanti. This one, though, is a modern day reboot of Kung Fu.

Note I said, "modern day". Instead of trying to revive the original 1970's series, set in the Old West, or its latter-day sequel, Kung Fu: The Legend Continues, which ran back in the 90's, Berlanti is setting the new show in the present day with 1) a female lead, and 2) casting Asian-American actors in the lead roles, including the protagonist's family. More on this as additional information becomes available.
Whomever succeeds Donald Trump as President, either this year or in 2024, should consider walking away from social media upon taking office.

Trump threw another Twantrum today, threatening to sue former special prosecutor Robert Mueller, and the other prosecutors who investigated the 2016 election.

This coming after Trump was shredded for awarding the Presidential Medal of Freedom to radio gasbag Rush Limbaugh, who is battling cancer. Limbaugh in turn shredded Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg, the first openly gay Presidential candidate. On his yack-fest today, Limbaugh claimed that Trump told him to "never apologize" for his homophobic remarks toward Buttigieg.

Trump has also talked about pardoning former NYPD commissioner Bernard Kerik, and Michael Milken, who was convicted on charges of insider trading several years ago, and reportedly has commuted the sentence of former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich, another friend. This surprises no one. Hopefully, he's also gifted them with something he should himself be carrying. Bibles.
NBC has deep sixed former NHL player turned studio analyst Jeremy Roenick, who had been suspended. Roenick got himself in hot water for suggesting on air, supposedly, a threesome with his wife and studio anchor Kathryn Tappen. You'd think they'd learn by now.
Closer to home, a local eatery has been struggling just to get off the ground.

The Brunch House, which opened on Congress Street late in 2019, is only open six days a week (Monday-Saturday), but no hours are posted, and, passing by on a Saturday morning, the joint wasn't yet open past its scheduled 8 am open, from what the owner told me the last time I'd stopped in. Brunch House was briefly shuttered, along with the neighboring Olompia Grocery, back in the fall due to code violations, but with the grocery back open, Brunch House seems to have other issues.

Monday, February 17, 2020

On The Air: Katy Keene (2020)

The CW has a lot invested in Lucy Hale.

After Life Sentence bombed several months back, Hale returns, this time in the title role of the CW's latest Archie Comics adaptation, Katy Keene.

Unlike the rest of Greg Berlanti's shows for the network, Katy Keene is being shot in New York, rather than Atlanta (Black Lightning) or Vancouver, British Columbia (everything else). The reason for that is Katy's choice of careers. She wants to pursue a career in fashion, as seen in the comics, starting off as a personal shopper for Lacy's department store (a parody of Macy's, of course).

The series is set five years after the events on Riverdale, although Ashleigh Murray moves over from the Wednesday night series to reprise as singer-songwriter Josie McCoy. Some of the more familiar supporting characters from Josie & The Pussycats will turn up here, including Alex & Alexandra Cabot. If you're a Riverdale fan wondering why Ginger Lopez hadn't been used on that series, well, there's a reason for that. Seems showrunner Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa decided that Ginger would be rebooted as a male, Jorge Lopez. It happens, folks.

The vibe I get is that, career goals aside, with the series set in New York, Hale'd be better off angling for a remake of Marlo Thomas' seminal 60's sitcom, That Girl.

Here's the trailer:

The early returns on Katy Keene, which has replaced the outgoing Supernatural on Thursdays, haven't been very good, ratings wise. However, CW is committed to at least two seasons (26 episodes). It will find its audience, but on a different night.

Rating: C.

The 80's began with a Miracle.......

40 years ago, come Saturday, February 22, the United States did the impossible.

The media dubbed it, the Miracle on Ice. It was adapted into the feature film, "Miracle", with Kurt Russell as Team USA coach Herb Brooks, more than two decades later. The fans attending the game in Lake Placid during the 1980 Winter Olympics, and millions more watching at home, went bananas. 

But, bear in mind, this was the semi-finals. The Gold medal game took place two days later vs. Finland. Russia's domination in hockey was brought to a halt.

Al Michaels called the game with Ken Dryden, back then known for his exploits as a goaltender for the NHL's Montreal Canadiens.

Many of the players on Team USA, and Coach Brooks, would later move on to the NHL. After the Cold War ended, several Russian players would emigrate to the US to play NHL hockey as well.

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Musical Interlude: Driving my Life Away (1980-3)

The late Eddie Rabbitt racked up a stack of pop & country hits in the late 70's & early-to-mid 80's. "Driving my Life Away", released in 1980, ultimately got Eddie booked on Nashville Now, presumably during the series' 1st year in 1983.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Remember when they told stories to sell toothpaste? (1970's)

Back in the day, some commercials, particularly for Procter & Gamble products, told short stories to sell the products.

Take, for example, this early 70's spot for Crest toothpaste. Arthur O'Connell (ex-The Second Hundred Years) plays a shopkeeper who convinces a young football player that he needs more than a helmet to protect himself......

Sports this 'n' that

ESPN & Knicks announcer Mike Breen and Pardon The Interruption co-host Michael Wilbon are bound for the Basketball Hall of Fame later this year for their media contributions. Wilbon, who also contributes to NBA broadcasts, and Breen both have had the thankless task of having to put up with ESPN bloviator Stephen A. Smith, which is kind of like hazard pay at the network.

If Smith should ever get the call, someone would have to investigate to see if it was vetted by a certain fellow bloviator in Washington.....
Major League Baseball is bracing for some unpleasant on-field violence this season in the wake of the Houston Astros' 2017 sign-stealing scandal that netted them the World Series.

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Ross Stripling, whose trade---with outfielder Joc Pederson---to the Angels was derailed, has said he'll play headhunter on any ex-Astro, which includes the Mets' off-season signing, Jake Marisnick, and ex-Valleycat J. D. Davis, who begins his second year in Flushing.

Stripling won't get to play against the Astros this season after all, but the Mets will, as their interleague schedule sees them playing the AL West.

Marisnick & Davis both sounded contrite when speaking with reporters, but tabloid media in New York isn't buying. Astros owner Jim (Whooping) Crane wasn't helping matters earlier this week when he claimed the tactics didn't have an impact on the game. DUH! Of course it did.

Now, the sound of banging trash cans couldn't be picked up by microphones on the field during games. All we know for sure is that the Astros' current players still with the team from 2017, including ex-Valleycats Jose Altuve & George Springer, will have bullseyes all season.
Ex-Met Zack Wheeler, now with Philadelphia, is whining about his el cheapo former employers and how they negotiated with him. Mets GM Brodie Van Wagenen tried to defend the team, but there's no defending the fact that the Wilpons wanted to move on from Wheeler, who'll likely burn the Mets badly this season.
Former Syracuse QB Eric Dungey, who washed out in Cleveland and with the Giants last season, has taken a week's leave of absence from the XFL's Dallas Renegades to deal with some family issues, promising to return in week 3.

The timing, though, couldn't be worse for Bob Stoops' Renegades, who were upset by St. Louis in their opener. Starting QB Landry Jones is questionable for tomorrow's game vs. Los Angeles with a knee injury. I don't think Stoops ever started 0-2 at Oklahoma any time in his storied career, but there is a first time for everything.......
Hot story making the rounds the last 24 hours has ESPN/Fox analyst/playboy Alex Rodriguez angling to buy the Mets.

Rodriguez may want to talk to his steady, singer-actress Jennifer Lopez, about being part of the ownership group, and to ex-Yankee teammate Derek Jeter about how hard it is to run a major league franchise. Jeter and his group have been castigated for the Marlins' stumbles the last couple of years, and Rodriguez, whether J-Lo jumps in with him or not, will get the same treatment from the hardcore New York fan base if he can't improve the team's fortunes.

Friday, February 14, 2020

On The Air: The Flash midseason review (2019-20)

Sorry this has taken so long to get around to, but hey.

The Flash

Season: 6
When: Tuesdays at 8 (ET).
Previous rating: B-.

Where we are: The CW held back the start of the 2nd half to February 4, which might not have been a good idea.

In the wake of Crisis on Infinite Earths, which wrapped last month, all of the Arrowverse characters, which now includes Black Lightning, are on one earth. Extra earths are reserved for the movie universe, and shows airing on DC Universe (i.e. Titans, Doom Patrol, & the forthcoming Stargirl). This opens a myriad of crossover possibilities without the need for an annual sweeps stunt.

Season 6 shows that new showrunner Eric Wallace, unlike his predecessors, actually has a clue. The big bad in the first half, Bloodwork, a Geoff Johns creation, is gone. A new story arc began on February 4, and, once again, the writers have decided that Barry Allen (Grant Gustin) has to be basically oblivious to the most obvious of scenarios.

Case in point: Wife Iris (Candice Patton) has been shunted off to a mirror universe, and replaced by a doppleganger whose true intentions will be revealed in due course. Just how long defines "due course" in this case is unknown.

Meanwhile, explorer Nash Wells, aka Pariah (Tom Cavanaugh), finds a doppleganger of his own, which conceivably could be Eobard Thawne (Cavanaugh, instead of Matt Lescher), who killed Harrison Wells and assumed Wells' identity in season 1. Fans have anticipated the return of Thawne, who had but a small part to play in event crossovers the last two seasons. Cisco (Carlos Valdes) has taken a leave of absence, but I'd not be surprised if they bring him back toward the end of the season in May.

By splitting the season into two extended arcs instead of one protracted one, interrupted only by the event crossover, it gives the writers more flexibility. Unfortunately, they waste this opportunity by continuing to insult the intelligence of the older comics fans who are not in the target demographic the CW is looking for.

With Arrow having ended its run, Flash now becomes the elder statesman of the CW-DC line. The only thing that would kill this show dead is if the writers and Wallace run out of ideas.

Rating: B.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Video Valentine: Shallow (2019)

From the most recent iteration of "A Star is Born", stars Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper performed a live duet at the Academy Awards of "Shallow":

Who knew Cooper had this kind of talent? Like, seriously! It ain't exactly Barbra Streisand & Kris Kristofferson from a different era, but Lady Gaga won over some new fans with this.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

A 6 year old girl points a finger-gun at her teacher. Chaos follows.......

This is just so, so sad.

Six year old Margot Gaines, a kindergartener, has Down's Syndrome. In a fit of anger in class recently, Margot pretended to point a gun at her teacher.

The result? While little Margot doesn't have an official police record, after the police were called in, a police report was filed. This news report fills in the blanks.

Here's the key. Margot has Down's Syndrome. It was stated in the report that she didn't understand what she was saying or doing. And, yet, school district suits went ahead and filed a report with the police, scarring this child potentially for life. Surely, the teacher had to know about Margot's condition, and even if she didn't, she over-reacted. Which is what a lot of teachers and principals have been doing since 9/11/01.

My heart goes out to the Gaines family. And so do prayers.

On The Shelf: An assortment of goodies

She is to Sherlock Holmes what Catwoman would ultimately be to the Batman.

So it seems so fitting, then, that before Tom King's much-anticipated Batman-Catwoman limited series from DC hits shelves, Titan Comics gives some spotlight to one Irene Adler.

As Sir Arthur Conan Doyle envisioned her, Irene is an opera singer by trade, and earned the respect and admiration of Holmes by outwitting him on at least one occasion. As Titan has a license to adapt the BBC's Sherlock (which also begat CBS' just concluded Elementary), so the publisher decides to give Adler a forum for an undetermined length, mixing in another literary starlet, Jane Eyre, among others, as Adler is set to meet with Holmes' nemesis, Professor Moriarty.

Even though she only appeared in one of Doyle's books, A Scandal in Bohemia, that hasn't stopped today's writers from envisioning Adler & Holmes as a couple, and I'd not be surprised if Holmes does turn up before this story ends.

Rating: A.
A while back, we reviewed 80's wrestling icon Jim Cornette's graphic novel history of wrestling. Now, there's another volume which expands upon the ground Cornette already had covered, and then some.

The Comic Book History of Professional Wrestling was actually published first, released in either late 2018 or early 2019, and begins its tale at the very beginnings of the wrestling business, tracing its history from early pioneers including Farmer Burns, George Hackenschmidt, and Frank Gotch, to some of today's talents. Speaking of modern talents, current stars such as Christopher Daniels (AEW) and Roderick Strong (WWE/NXT) endorsed the book, and that says something.

Rating: A.
Meanwhile, we're revisiting Aimee Garcia & AJ Mendez's GLOW vs. The Babyface, the final chapter of which hit stores last week. The trade paperback is on course for a spring release. Anyway, it turns out that one of the new characters in the story was an analogue for one of the two authors. I'll let you guess which one.

Artist Hannah Templer's artwork is of the popular Cal Arts style popularized on TV by the likes of Steven Universe and Gravity Falls.

Final rating: B-.
DC recruited legendary filmmaker John Carpenter to write a Joker one-shot not as any tie-in to Todd Phillips' Oscar & Golden Globe winning movie (Joaquin Phoenix won both awards for best actor), but as part of the Year of The Villain event. In this writer's opinion, Carpenter's opus should've been allowed to stand on its own merits. as it really has little or nothing to do with the event itself. Contrary to a popular cliche, ignoring such facts gets in the way of a good story.

Rating: B-.
As Brian Bendis' reimagining of Young Justice begins its 2nd year, Bendis has brought in Naomi co-creator David Walker as co-scripter, now that Naomi is a part of the cast. That's the good news. The bad? The latest issue is a case of too many cooks.

The flashback sequence with Travis "Warlord" Morgan, drawn by his creator, Mike Grell, is superior in every way to everything else in the book. A framing sequence with Morgan and Superboy (Conner Kent), illustrated by Michael Avon Oeming, Bendis' collaborator on Powers, drags the story down. Oeming's downfall is in how he draws faces. If he was looking to the Golden Age for inspiration, I could understand, but this was just not good. I'd take Grell drawing a whole issue or two any day of the week.
On a lark, I picked up Frank Miller & John Romita, Jr.'s DC Black Label miniseries, Superman: Year One, which posits a young Clark Kent serving in the Navy before formally beginning his crime fighting career. I think there was a scene in an early story in the Golden Age that depicted the difficulty of collecting a blood sample from the Man of Steel, and that's addressed here. Downside, though, is that Miller's script is way too chatty, and nearly overshadows one of young Romita's better efforts to date.

Rating: C+.

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Sports this 'n' that

The XFL's Los Angeles Wildcats have set a record for fastest coaching change in football history.

After the Wildcats' defense allowed four touchdowns against Houston on Saturday, defensive coordinator Pepper Johnson, the former Giants star linebacker who later played & coached for the Jets, was fired on Monday. Defensive captain Anthony Johnson declared himself a free agent as well, dissatisfied with head coach Winston Moss.

Moss, who played in the NFL as well, was in his first game as a pro head coach. Growing pains, y'all.
You'll recall that Toronto Raptors owner Masai Ujiri got into an altercation with an Oakland sheriff's deputy after the Raptors won the NBA title last June. Now, the deputy, Alan Strickland, is suing Ujiri for damages worth up to $75.000. A mere bag of shells compared to most frivolous lawsuits.

While this may actually have a chance of being heard in court, I disagree with the timing of Strickland's suit, 8 months after the fact.

On the night of the incident, Strickland wrongfully assumed Ujiri didn't have the proper credentials, but videos show that he did. Any major contact, and Strickland has cause to arrest Ujiri for assaulting an officer. If that was the case, this should've been settled already.

                    "Duhhhh, he hasn't been back at work, has he?"

That's just it, Dimwit. He's claiming chest injuries, which by now should've been healed. He just got bad advice from the looks of things, but that's chump change compared to our next case.
In June 2017, the Houston Astros lit up Toronto reliever Mike Bolsinger for four runs., in the thick of the sign-stealing scandal that has since tainted their World Series title.

Bolsinger was sent to AAA Buffalo by the Blue Jays after the game, and he spent 2018 playing in Japan. Now, he's butt-hurt, and suing the Astros, demanding, among other things, that they forfeit their winnings from the Series, totaling some $31 million, and donating it to kids' charities in the Los Angeles area.

                          "Hasn't that money been used already?"

Probably. Bolsinger has retained a Los Angeles area attorney looking for his 15 minutes of infamy, and said ambulance chaser is enabling the suit, which has zero chance of succeeding, unlike the Ujiri case, which may actually see the light of day in a Northern California courtroom, in this writer's opinion. Bolsinger gets the Dunce Cap because his is a little more frivolous and ridiculous.

Hmm, that sounds like something Walt Frazier might've said.
Speaking of the Astros, former pitcher Charlie Morton, now with Tampa Bay, says he regrets not doing anything to stop the scheme. Former manager AJ Hinch has basically said the same thing.

So what stopped them? Fear of destroying clubhouse morale, in this writer's opinion. The 2017 postseason would've had a different scenario had the Astros' scheme been stopped in house.

What Might've Been: The first test episode of Green Hornet (1966)

A couple of years ago, we located a test episode for The Green Hornet, in which the only series regular to appear was Bruce Lee.

Following is the first version of this test episode. Lee and guest Jeff Corey are present. Lynn Borden (Hazel) plays Lenore Case. Lloyd Gough is on board as reporter Mike Axford. Michael Lipton is Britt Reid/Green Hornet.

As with Jay Murray, who was in the other test video, Lipton never landed a starring gig. Producer William Dozier finally settled on Van Williams for the title role, with Wende Wagner as Lenore Case.

Rating: B.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Volkswagen takes a step back in time (1970)

Here's a clever little ad from Volkswagen, circa 1970.

The setting is the 1949 auto show. While since-defunct brands Studebaker, Packard, & DeSoto (the latter better known as Groucho Marx's sponsor on You Bet Your Life) get the attention, Volkswagen quietly goes about its business.

Featuring Wink Martindale and McLean Stevenson.

At the time, Stevenson was appearing on The Doris Day Show, and, depending on when this ad debuted, Martindale would soon or was at the time helming a revival of Can You Top This? in syndication, with Morey Amsterdam & Richard Dawson, among others.

Death has been pretty busy lately......

Hollywood has been in mourning the last few days, and with good reason.

Actor and game show icon Orson Bean was struck & killed by a vehicle in Venice, California last week. Bean, 91, is best remembered for a long tenure as a panelist on To Tell The Truth, although he also occasionally appeared on both iterations of Match Game with Gene Rayburn, including this 1964 installment, also featuring Jayne Mansfield:

Bean also guest-hosted Truth on occasion when original moderator Bud Collyer was unavailable. Bean's acting resume included appearances on The Twilight Zone, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, and the short-lived John Goodman sitcom, Normal, Ohio.

Former network executive turned producer Fred Silverman left us on January 30 at age 82 from cancer. After leaving NBC in the mid-80's, Silverman formed his own production company, which revived Perry Mason as a series of TV-movies, and followed that up with a line of crime dramas for the networks, including Matlock, Jake & The Fatman, & Diagnosis Murder.  Originally known as Intermedia Entertainment, Silverman's company also developed Saturday morning shows such as Meatballs & Spaghetti (in collaboration with Marvel Productions) & Mighty Orbots, for CBS & ABC, respectively. Unfortunately, the cartoons each lasted one season.

Image result for Fred Silverman

He is best known as a network executive, however, having helped shepherd into production several beloved hits of the 70's, including The Mary Tyler Moore Show, The Waltons, Cannon, Kojak, The Bionic Woman, Eight is Enough, Donny & Marie, Soap, & Love Boat. Moving to NBC in 1978, however, proved to be a disaster, such that he hired Jean Doumanian to take over Saturday Night Live after Lorne Michaels' hand picked successor, Al Franken, shredded Silverman on air. Doumanian, however, lasted only one season as well.

Amsterdam native Kirk Douglas passed away last week at 103. In between movie roles in the 50's, Douglas took the time to make some television appearances, such as jamming with Jack Benny on the latter's CBS series, and being a mystery guest on What's My Line?  in 1953:

Finally, Robert Conrad, who seemed to be a primetime fixture in the 60's & 70's, passed away at 84. Conrad's body of work included The Wild, Wild West, Hawaiian Eye, The DA, Baa Baa Black Sheep, aka Black Sheep Squadron, A Man Called Sloane, Centennial, and a stint as a pitchman for Eveready batteries.

What you might not know is that Conrad was also a singer, early in his career. Trust me, it was news to me, too.

Rest in peace, gentlemen.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Video Valentine: A Little More Love (1978)

Shortly after "Grease" left theatres, Olivia Newton-John released the album, "Totally Hot", on her home label, MCA Records. The first single, "A Little More Love", followed her last single from "Grease", "Hopelessly Devoted to You".

Both represented a career transition for Olivia, from country singer to pop star. One wonders if Taylor Swift didn't have that in mind when she made the same transition a few years ago.

Anyway, here's "A Little More Love":

Sports this 'n' that

Vince McMahon's XFL 2.0 launched on Saturday, and has already shown to be more about the games, and not the sideshow antics that doomed the first iteration in 2001.

Case in point comes in this highlight reel of the Houston-Los Angeles game, which aired on Fox. Fox NFL Sunday anchor Curt Menefee is on the call with college game analyst Joel Klatt.

Houston opens the season with the 37-17 win, and looked mighty impressive.

Earlier in the day, DC defeated Seattle, 31-19. Former Seahawks QB Jim Zorn, whose last pro coaching job was in Washington a lifetime ago, is the Seattle coach. Shane McMahon, Vince's son, who was written off WWE television in October, was a sideline guest of the Defenders.

Today's games will air on FS1 & ESPN.
As spring training begins later this week, the Boston Red Sox have not finalized who will replace Alex Cora as their manager. There were rumors that bench coach Ron Roenicke would be the man, but nothing has been confirmed as of press time.

Meanwhile, Houston lured Dusty Baker out of retirement to replace AJ Hinch, and wipe out the stench of the sign stealing scandal that tainted their World Series run in 2017.
This next item was originally discussed over at Tri-City SportsBeat, but bears discussion here, too.

On Wednesday morning, five days after a loss to Schalmont, LaSalle Institute, sitting in first place in the Colonial Council's Liberty Division, fired second year head coach Jon Desso, despite a 12-4 overall record (10-1 league) heading into Saturday's home game vs. Mohonasen.

Desso was unwilling to talk to reporters on Wednesday, and first year athletic director Craig Ward, a 2008 LaSalle graduate, would only talk about promoting assistant coach Josh House, who works in the admissions department otherwise, leaving more questions than answers.

Contrast the basketball team's performance this season with that of the hockey team.

The Skating Cadets, under coach Tim Flanigan, have lost 12 straight after dropping a 2-1 decision to CBA on Saturday night. If this was a college league, chances are Flanigan, a veteran coach with more than two decades experience, two sectional titles, and a state title to his name, would be gone by now. However, despite the misfortune this season, Flanigan, also a physical education teacher and golf coach during the fall, does have tenure on his side. Desso, another LaSalle alumnus, didn't, and it's likely that there might've been some lingering issues between Ward & Desso, assuming they were students at the same time at the school, that might've come to light in recent weeks.

I get that high schools don't want any unnecessary or negative publicity, unlike the colleges. It doesn't help that the result of House's first game as head coach wasn't reported to the press in a timely manner. We may never know the rest of the story.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

In Theatres: Birds of Prey (& The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020)

A superhero movie, this ain't.

What "Birds of Prey (& The Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn)" is, instead, is a screwball comedy-adventure/crime drama that is never sure of what it's supposed to be.

As with the DC Universe animated series that bears her name, Harley (Margot Robbie, who doubles as a producer) has split from the Joker, and now out on her own. Apparently, budget issues at WB dictated that Harl would have only one hyena, instead of two, as depicted in the comics. Anyway, Harley runs afoul of mob boss Roman Sionis (Ewan McGregor), aka Black Mask, a Batman enemy from the 80's.

So does street urchin Cassandra Cain (Etta Jay Basco), who has pilfered a valuable heirloom belonging to the family of one Helena Bertinelli (Mary Elizabeth Winstead), aka the Huntress, who's after Sionis and his henchman, Victor Szasz, for the massacre that ended her family. In Harley's case, without being tethered to Joker, she's now at the top of everyone else's hit list.

We've mentioned in this space how DC has reposited Harley as their answer to Marvel's Deadpool, who has gone from serious assassin to clown prince since his introduction nearly 30 years ago. This movie reinforces that point to an effect. By herself, if given the chance, Harley would be a one-woman Looney Tunes revue, which makes it all the more galling that instead of being paired with her natural match, Daffy Duck, two years ago, Harley ended up with Gossamer, while Daffy matched wits with "Mistah J" himself.

Casting, aside from Robbie, was an issue. You'll see what I mean in this trailer. Mind the language.

50-something Rosie Perez as Renee Montoya?!?! I guess Sofia Vergara decided she wanted to still do shampoo commercials with her spare time now that Modern Family is ending. By now, we're desensitized to African-Americans playing caucasian characters, in this case, Jussie Smollett-Bell as Dinah Lance, aka Black Canary. It's routine casting.

As for other trailers.....

"Downhill" (Friday): Will Ferrell in a family dramedy.

"Clemency" (March 6): Alfre Woodard in a prison drama.

"The Assistant": Workplace drama with Julia Garner in the title role.

"The Way Back": A former high school basketball star returns to his alma mater more than 25 years later as a coach.

"Birds of Prey" gets a B--.

What Might've Been: Goober & The Truckers' Paradise (1978)

The late George Lindsey must've found a means to obtain the rights to the character of Goober Pyle from The Andy Griffith Show, as he took Goober with him when he began appearing on Hee Haw, but also appeared in other roles in other skits on the latter series.

In 1978, Lindsey co-wrote & starred in an unsold pilot for CBS which would've been the third and final spin-off from Griffith, albeit seven years after Mayberry, RFD had ended.

Goober & The Truckers' Paradise brought the beloved grease monkey back to primetime, but now all spiffied up, as we'll see in the video, and we get to meet some of the Pyle family that never made it to Mayberry. Seems ol' Goob made enough money to start a business of his own. Leigh French (ex-The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour), & Audrey Landers (later of Dallas) co-star. Ray Stevens wrote & recorded the theme song.

Unfortunately, this 3 1/2 minute clip is all we have.

8 years later, Goober returned to primetime one final time in the TV movie, "Return to Mayberry".

No rating.

Friday, February 7, 2020

On The Air: Tommy (2020)

With Evil having ended its season a week ago, CBS had something entirely different warming up in the bullpen, if you will.

Tommy is a new crime drama that already has some folks up in arms because of subject matter, that in particular being the lead character, newly minted Los Angeles Police Chief Abigail "Tommy" Thomas (Edie Falco, ex-Nurse Jackie, The Sopranos, who doubles, predictably, as executive producer), who is openly gay.

Chief Thomas was hired after a damaging scandal forced her predecessor out of office, and so Tommy is imported from Long Island to be the first female police chief in the history of Los Angeles.

Right off the bat, there's a conflict between the LAPD, particularly involving a rogue cop, and ICE agents seeking to arrest an illegal immigrant. Unlike another freshman crime drama, All Rise, Tommy creator-co-executive producer Paul Attanasio paints the picture of ICE & the LAPD learning to work together to achieve the same goals, but doing things the right way. What that says to me is that Attanasio isn't about to make any inflammatory political statements about a certain bloviator in Washington in order to make this show work. Nuh-uh.

Following is a trailer. Audrey Marie Anderson, fresh from Arrow, appears in the opener.

The first episode attracted nearly 5 million viewers. And that, remember, was opposite Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. I honestly think CBS can find room for it on the fall schedule. Evil was losing viewers as its season progressed, and, to be honest, the jury's still out on Tommy.

Rating: B-.

Sports this 'n' that

If you believe local sports anchor/radio talk host Rodger Wyland in the Albany Times-Union, the Boston Red Sox flushed their chances of getting back to the postseason this year by dealing away two of their best players, pitcher David Price and outfielder Mookie Betts, to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Betts, who moonlights as a PBA bowler in the offseason, is set to be a free agent after this season, and Wyland claimed he thought Betts could command a $400 million dollar contract on the open market. Someone check and see if Scott "20 Mule Team" Boras is Betts' agent. Probably is.

The Dodgers, to make room for Betts, shipped Joc Pederson off to the Angels. Kenta Maeda went in the three way deal, and goes to Minnesota to bolster their rotation, as scary as that could be.

For a team that doesn't have a new GM in place yet, and spring training fast approaching, the Sawx will contend, but fall short. Penance, you know.
The father & son team of Fred & Jeff Wilpon screwed the Mets' fan base by deciding that Jeff just had to be involved in the team's operations, regardless of who the majority owner is.

That's why hedge fund mogul Steve Cohen backed out of the deal to buy the team. Oh, the Mets still will be sold, but Jeff Wilpon just can't let himself go from the franchise. Try therapy, Jeff. It's good for you.

The Wilpons have behaved like the 2nd coming of the Paysons and M. Donald Grant ever since the late Nelson Doubleday sold his interest in the team. Hard as it is to believe, but you'd be better off as a Yankee fan now. The Steinbrenner brothers are choir boys compared to the clowns currently running the Mets.
And, then, there is James Dolan.

First, Dolan dumped Knicks president Steve Mills earlier this week, and decided that what seemed to work for the Mets could work for him, too.

Thursday, Dolan hired player agent Leon Rose, who will bring along with him another leech, William "World Wide Wes" Wesley, oblivious to the fact that after 2 seasons as GM of the Mets, agent-turned-executive Brodie Van Wagenen has lost the respect of the fan base.

On ESPN's First Take today, Max Kellerman, no fan of Dolan, took issue with Dolan trying to spin his way through the week's activities.

Dolan comes from the Donald Trump School of Alternative Facts, obviously. Stephen A. Smith was at a remote location somewhere instead of in the studio, which might be just as well, because in all probability, Kellerman would've roasted him for the zillionth time. Dolan really doesn't care about the Knicks' fan base. If he did, he wouldn't pick fights with fans and former players, such as Charles Oakley. He's also thin skinned, like President Teflon, and forgets the Knicks' successes in the 90's were under the stewardship of his father, cable mogul Charles Dolan, who was also in charge of the Rangers when they won their last Stanley Cup in 1994. Former Ranger player & broadcaster John Davidson is now the team's president, and Dolan wants to take credit for that, too. He rarely discusses Ranger business, does Dumbass Dolan..
Speaking of ESPN and the Mets, Jessica Mendoza is leaving the Sunday Night Baseball booth, but will continue to work for the network. She's also leaving her position with the Mets. The timing of the latter decision coincides with media reports that Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred was said to be concerned about possible conflicts of interest involving Mendoza and former pitcher Pedro Martinez, who is a commentator for MLB Network while also drawing a paycheck from the Red Sox.

Five'll get you ten that ESPN, for a sweeps stunt, will have Alex Rodriguez joined in the booth by his honey, singer-actress Jennifer Lopez, this season. After the negative press that J-Lo & Shakira got for their Super Bowl halftime show, spin doctoring might be in her future......

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

Classic TV: Meet the creator of the Lone Ranger (To Tell The Truth, 1960)

As To Tell The Truth host Bud Collyer celebrates 35 years in broadcasting with this September 1960 installment of Truth, the headline game features Fran Striker, who at the time claimed to be the sole creator of The Lone Ranger.

To think that six years later, the Ranger and the Man of Steel would be part of CBS' star packed Saturday morning lineup, with Collyer returning to the radio & theatrical cartoon role that made him an icon while continuing with Truth.

Rating: A.

Sports this 'n' that

So word is getting around that hedge fund mogul Steve Cohen is backing away from taking majority control of the Mets. Seems Fred & Jeff Wilpon changed some details in the midst of negotiations for whatever reason, as if they're deathly afraid of becoming totally irrelevant when the 5 year window for retaining control of the team before ceding to Cohen was to expire, after the 2024 season.

If mascots could talk, what d'ya think Mr. Met might be saying right about now?

Mr. Met and colleague announce Wednesday, May 16, 2012, at City Hall that the New York Mets will host the 2013 MLB All-Star Game. (Photo by Marc Levine/MLB via Getty Images)

"Here's another fine mess you've gotten me into, Fred."

The above image was acquired from the NY Daily News.

The Wilpons are intentionally being cheap, preferring to invest in e-sports franchises rather than improve the Mets. This explains why they've refused to hire experienced managers since Terry Collins ended a seven year run after the 2017 season. They're not doing what's best for the team any more than Madison Square Garden's resident man-child, James Dolan, is for the Knicks.

It could be worse. The Wilpons could sell the team to Dolan. No, I don't think we want to think about that.
So people are whining about the XFL 2.0 opting to use the college rule about pass receptions requiring one foot in bounds for it to be a legal catch. This rule is also used in high school football, and it takes away any doubts about catches, in this writer's opinion. As with the short-lived Alliance of American Football last year, there won't be any point after touchdown kicks (extra points), but there won't exactly be two point conversions. There's a 3-level system where the PAT would be worth anywhere from 1-3 points.

Let's give Oliver Luck & Vince McMahon some credit. They're trying to make it more exciting than it was in 2001, when McMahon first launched the league amid media bias against him over the WWE's Attitude Era. You have coaches with pro and/or college experience (June Jones falls into both categories, for example), like ex-Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops and former Bears coach Marc Trestman, and a mix of players looking to make a name for themselves, perhaps using the league as a stepping stone to the NFL or just putting themselves out there to get back into the "big league". Ex-Steelers QB Landry Jones falls into the latter category.

Plus, putting the cable broadcasts on ESPN allows the league to be beamed into more homes than it was when it was on TNN (now the Paramount Network) 19 years ago.

Bear in mind that Tommy Maddox, who led Los Angeles to the only XFL title to date, later went to Pittsburgh as a warmup act for Ben Roethlisberger, so who knows? The fun starts on Saturday afternoon.

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

Classic TV: Armstrong Circle Theatre (1950)

Armstrong Circle Theatre was one of David Susskind's first TV series under the Talent Associates banner, launching on NBC, and staying there for seven seasons before moving to CBS to finish its run.

The anthology series mostly had dramatic productions, with the occasional comedy break. Future icon Rod Serling wrote two episodes, as he built his reputation, leading to the development of Twilight Zone at the end of the 50's.

One such comedy break is headlined by radio legend Fred Allen, who strings together three short stories, including one by James Thurber, and one by E. B. White. Our cast also includes one of Allen's radio mates, Kenny Delmar, and Charlotte Rae, a few years away from a stint on Car 54, Where Are You?. This episode aired in November 1954, 2 1/2 months after Allen joined CBS' What's My Line?. A fan channel devoted to the game show posted this episode on YouTube:

One of these nights, we'll take a trip to Allen's Alley......

Rating: A.

Sometimes, a game show can be a family affair (Password, 1965)

We've all had family game nights. Mark Goodson & Bill Todman took it a step further when frequent Password guests Jimmy & Gloria Stewart were invited to bring their twin daughters, Judy & Kelly, to the show.

The Stewart family played the game more than once, including this installment from March 1965. Erstwhile announcer Jack Clark fills in for Allen Ludden. It's safe to say the twins inherited their father's comic timing.......

I believe it was during the Password Plus era when Lucille Ball, then-husband Gary Morton, and Lucy's two kids with Desi Arnaz, Desi, Jr., & Lucie, appeared together for a week. I'll have to check into that.

Rating: A.

Monday, February 3, 2020

In the end, it was a great game

Super Bowl LIV, 49ers vs. Chiefs, lived up to what little hype had been generated in the two weeks prior.

As fans, we were happy to see a game devoid of any sort of controversy. Kansas City & San Francisco put on a show, as expected.

But, to get this party started, because the game was in Miami, this guy showed up.......

Yes, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson appeared on videotape, but you can thank Fox's deal with WWE just as much as the game being in Miami for Johnson even being there. The intros were vintage Rock, circa 20 years ago.

And he wasn't the only wrestling personality appearing, even in ads.

Ric Flair was shilling for Sabra hummus. Apparently, he can only do commercials wearing his wrestling robe. John Cena paired with Jimmy Fallon to do a spot for Michelob. Whodathunk? Well, it was better than Cena, as the voice of Ernie the elephant, shilling for Wonderful Pistachios a few years back. He joins Johnson in the "Fast & The Furious" movie franchise this year. WWE got its usual promotional spots in for Smackdown, and, supposedly now unrelated, the returning XFL, including one spot for the latter with Fox studio anchor Curt Menefee.

Speaking of ads, there were the usual hits & misses. The biggest hit was the league's self-congratulatory bit, a coda on its centennial season with a young boy running a ball all the way to the game site. Former Niners QB's Steve Young & Joe Montana were among the luminaries, leading to a funny bit in the middle.

Critics are split on a bit for Genesis (a relatively new automobile brand) with the husband & wife team of singer-songwriter John Legend and model Chrissy Teigen. It was, admittedly, disjointed. So was a bit where halftime performer Jennifer Lopez had to chase down a thief, and there was a Scooby-Doo moment here, plus a cameo by Lopez's squeeze, Alex Rodriguez. Tide's collaboration with Bud Light in a couple of their spots was way too cheesy.

Back to the game. Kansas City, down 3-0 in the first quarter, took its first lead as Patrick Mahomes ran it in himself. However, the Niner defense was as advertised, and the Chiefs weren't running away and hiding. Yet.

Down 20-10 in the third quarter, Mahomes & the Chiefs went to work, and scored the last 21 points. San Francisco had one last chance, but Kendall Hunter picked off Jimmy Garoppolo with under a minute to go. Ballgame. Kansas City defeats San Francisco, 31-20.

With apologies to Sesame Street, this game was about the numbers 15, 25, & 50.

It had taken Kansas City coach Andy Reid 15 years to get back to the big game, after the first Eagles-Patriots Super Bowl ended in defeat.

It had been 25 years since San Francisco last won the big game, beating the then-San Diego Chargers. They've now lost their last two Super Bowls (Baltimore & Kansas City).

It had been 50 years since the late Hank Stram delivered the first Super Bowl championship to Kansas City. I don't think anyone will be surprised if Reid decides that he has emptied his bucket list, if ya will, and decides to retire after winning. The coming days & weeks will tell the tale.

Hail, then, to the Chiefs.