Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Forgotten TV: The Marty Feldman Comedy Machine (1971)

Marty Feldman was taken from us too soon when he passed away in 1982 in Mexico, where he was working on the movie, "Yellowbeard".

More than a decade earlier, after appearing on The Dean Martin Show and David Frost's At Last The 1948 Show, among others, Feldman, who'd had another series or two in his native England, starred in his own sketch comedy series, The Marty Feldman Comedy Machine.

The series lasted just one season, debuting in the US as a spring replacement series in April 1972, six months after its launch in the UK. Feldman's writing staff included Irish comic Spike Milligan and a couple of American writers who'd soon launch lucrative film careers behind the camera, Barry Levinson and Larry Gelbart.

If the opening animation looks familiar, it should. It's the work of Terry Gilliam (Monty Python's Flying Circus). Given the rapid pace of the sketches, I'd say Feldman was drawing from the inspiration of the Pythons and other comics.

Following is a sample episode with guest Orson Welles.

Edit, 7/3/2020: This is a different video, still with Orson Welles, but also with Spike Milligan.



Feldman also drew upon his experience with Dean Martin by getting producer Greg Garrison on board for Comedy Machine. Wikipedia claimed the show aired in the US on ABC, but with the Martin-Garrison connection, I'd suspect it was actually on NBC.

No rating.

Monday, March 30, 2020

On The Air: Pennyworth (2019)

From the same warped minds that brought you Gotham (2014-9) comes a tale of the early years of Batman's major domo, Alfred Pennyworth. The series bowed on Epix last summer, and is still available On Demand. Catch it now while Epix is available for free to non-subscribers.

As our story begins, Alfred (Jack Bannon) has been discharged from the British Special Air Service (SAS; the equivalent of our Air Force), and is working as a bouncer at a London nightclub while developing his own business as a security agent. Yes, he does come from a family of butlers, as his father is one. However, executive producers Bruno Heller & Danny Cannon have mashed together a number of elements that a Batman fan might recognize, though the names might be different. For example, the Raven Society, the villains on this show, could easily be an analogue for the Court of Owls, Scott Snyder's contribution to the Bat-mythos, for better or worse.

Many of the episode titles for season 1 reference British singers or actresses (i.e. Julie Christie, Marianne Faithful) from the 60's, and the opener kicks off with a round of the Rolling Stones' "Paint it Black", which served as theme music to the 1980's Vietnam drama, Tour of Duty. In short, Heller & Cannon are using Pennyworth as a sort of homage to the 60's British spy dramas (i.e. The Saint, Danger Man).

However, where this plot falls off the track is the supposition that Thomas & Martha Wayne worked for something called the No Name League, which is, of course, in opposition to the Raven Society. Like, please! I recall that in the late 90's, Marvel tried to suggest that the parents of Peter Parker (Spider-Man) were spies. I've heard of going off the grid, but this is ridiculous. Now I know why DC Universe has been reluctant to pick up reruns of Gotham up to this point. Some folks don't agree with Heller & Cannon's warped vision.

Edit, 11/26/20: YouTube has made the trailer age-restricted. In its place is a title card:


And in the books, DC decided to let Tom King kill off Alfred late last year. We think. Ya just never know.

Rating: B-.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Musical Interlude: What's on Your Mind (Pure Energy) (1988)

Information Society's first two albums had a distinct pop culture flavor, thanks to an iconic 60's sci-fi cult favorite.

The band used audio samples from Star Trek on various tracks on their 1988 self-titled debut, and the 1990 followup, "Hack". This was the result of the band making contact with Adam Nimoy, son of 60's & 70's icon Leonard Nimoy, who was a fan of the band (Adam, that is). Adam aided the band in obtaining the rights to use audio samples not only of his father's dialogue as Mr. Spock, as you'll hear in "What's on Your Mind (Pure Energy)", but also DeForest Kelley, on the same track, and William Shatner, on the followup single, "Walking Away".



We should point out that Leonard Nimoy's other contribution to 80's pop was a guest appearance in a Bangles video ("Goin' Down to Liverpool").

Friday, March 27, 2020

Is Domino's aspiring to be the new Cheers? (2020)

Domino's' contribution to the Super Bowl commerical parade last month was a homage to the classic 80's sitcom, Cheers, using a few bars of Gary Portnoy's theme song, "Where Everybody Knows Your Name", which, oh, by the way, was released as a single, but didn't go very far up the charts.

Anyway, the commercial includes a cameo appearance by George Wendt as Norm Petersen. I honestly couldn't tell if they used some computer trickery to recreate Wendt's Cheers debut from season 1......



Sneaky way of promoting the new Pie Pass service, I know, but a cool way of honoring a classic TV show at the same time.

Guess who fiddles while the sports world is quarantined?

As I write, Wrestlemania is just over a week away, a two-night event this year due in part to COVID-19. At a time when one major sports event after another (i.e. Kentucky Derby, Indianapolis 500) is being postponed because of the virus, WWE Chairman/CEO Vincent K. McMahon, 74, stubbornly presses on. Wrestlemania was originally set for Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, home to the NFL Buccaneers and XFL Vipers, but was moved to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando due to the virus.

Vincent McMahon

There are those who questioned McMahon's unwillingness to break from tradition and postpone the big dance. Problem is, the proposed make-up date, June 7, puts it within 2 months of the 3rd of the Big 4 PPV's, Summerslam, scheduled for mid-August. This week's television programming was pre-recorded, as will be the case next week, including Wrestlemania. The belief is that McMahon, who reportedly was in Orlando for the tapings this week, despite the fact that fellow septugenarian Jerry Lawler, 70, missed Raw, and likely is out indefinitely, back home in Memphis.

Karma, meanwhile, is sending McMahon a very strong message.

Already, four title matches scheduled for the event have had to be altered.

Michael "The Miz" Mizanin, 1/2 of Smackdown's tag team champions, has been sidelined with an undisclosed illness. He & John Morrison (Hennegan) were supposed to face the winner of a match between long time frenemies The Usos and The New Day, airing tonight, at Wrestlemania.

Roman Reigns (Joseph Anoi'a), a two-time Lukemia survivor, withdrew from a Universal title match vs. Bill Goldberg due to his own health concerns. An angle on Smackdown will reveal Reigns' replacement.

Dana Brooke had been named as one of five challengers just a week ago for the Smackdown women's title, held by Bayley (Pamela Martinez-Solow), has withdrawn due to being quarantined, likely due to exposure to COVID-19.

US champion Andrade, in line to add the Raw tag titles in a match where he'd team with Angel Garza vs. The Street Profits, is out with a rib injury. Austin Theory is being called up from NXT to fill the vacant slot. despite losing a TV match two nights ago to Tyler Breeze.

There is also concern over the following:

Edge (Adam Copeland), with his health history, may postpone his Last Man Standing match vs. Randy Orton. We'll know for sure come Monday at the latest.

Brock Lesnar, the WWE champion, lives in Canada, and due to the travel ban implemented by President Trump, may not be able to appear, postponing his match vs. Scotland's Drew McIntyre (Galloway), which would be the 5th title match affected by the health crisis.

Former champion Rey Mysterio (Oscar Gutierrez) is also under quarantine at present, but it is not clear if he was exposed to COVID-19. For this reason, Andrade was moved into the tag title match vs. The Street Profits, but now that's been flipped.

McMahon can brag about having vindicated himself against the US Government over 25 years ago, but Karma's a completely different opponent. As Nero reputedly fiddled while Rome burned to the ground many centuries ago, McMahon is fiddling with the health of his personnel while trying to protect his bottom line. At a time when, because of his age, he should be home, enjoying his sunset years, the workaholic McMahon, like his pal, President Donald Trump, is thumbing his nose at common sense at the wrong time. We'll see how everything unfolds over the next 10 days, but, trust me, McMahon, the man who alienated wrestling purists with his expansion of the family business in the mid-80's, will find he has to pay a heavy price this time.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Fred "Curly" Neal (1942-2020)

Together with Meadowlark Lemon, Marques Haynes, and Geese Ausbie, Fred "Curly" Neal was part of the core of the Harlem Globetrotters during the 60's & 70's. While Neal's likeness appeared on television in animated form, he didn't lend his voice to his animated self (actors Stu Gillam (1970-3) and Scatman Crothers (1979) subbed), he and the Globetrotters were making annual appearances on Wide World of Sports on ABC, in addition to the toons and a short-lived variety show airing on rival CBS.

Sadly, the news has come across the wires that Neal has passed on at 77.

Following is a compilation package of a 1978 Wide World appearance by the Globetrotters in Atlanta. Howard Cosell is the commentator.



Curly did have his share of commercial endorsements, but I've been meaning to use this video for a long time. Rest in peace, Curly.

A little bit of this and a little of that

Starved for programming due to COVID-19, ESPN went into binge mode the last few days.

First, after Tom Brady signed with Tampa Bay, the network devoted seven hours of programming to Brady on Sunday, and their talk shows, including Get Up and First Take, continue to make Brady a topic on a daily basis, with Mike Greenberg, host of Get Up, doing yeoman's work, sharing screen time with First Take moderator Molly Querin, Max Kellerman, and bloviator Stephen A. Smith. Granted, Smith has also gotten extra air time on Get Up, but we need less of him, not more.

Two days later, to celebrate Peyton Manning's birthday, ESPN gifted viewers with a marathon of Peyton's Places, a series which premiered on ESPN+ last year, with sneak peaks during ESPN programming. Sure, just what we don't need. The folksy, telegenically challenged Manning, already an annoyance with the ongoing Jingle Sessions spots for Nationwide with country singer Brad Paisley, being genuflected as if he were his greatest rival, Brady.

On the other hand, Manning also turned down an offer to move into the Monday Night Football booth, which is a sign the network is desperate to get Anthony "Booger" McFarland out of the booth after two seasons. McFarland works best as a studio analyst, anyway.

So what's next? They missed a golden opportunity to really pat themselves on the back last year, their 40th anniversary year. Now, they can make up the time by unspooling some old SportsCenter tapes.

Just sayin'.
=============================
President Trump is dreaming if he thinks we average schlubs can go back to work after Easter.

Baseball's most notorious agent, Scott "20 Mule Team" Boras, thinks we can still play 162 games and a full postseason this year, which would drag the 2020 season all the way to Christmas.

Both are delusional. But, then, we knew that, didn't we?

Both are worried about the bottom line. Trump is afraid of the economy falling into a recession on his watch, which, coupled with COVID-19, would doom his reelection chances in November. This is the downside of a political neophyte being in the nation's highest office. At least his predecessor, Barack Obama, had some experience in the Senate---not much, mind---before being elected 12 years ago to the Presidency. Trump is afraid his carefully crafted persona will crumble once and for all.

Boras, meanwhile, represents a bazillion clients in baseball, and has almost singlehandedly ruined the fan experience, as teams have had to overcharge for tickets and concessions in order to justify the bloated salaries, a vast majority of them the result of Boras and his greed. He doesn't understand that this year, baseball should and likely will play a shorter season, something we've seen in the past after labor-related work stoppages. He was ripped to shreds on Yahoo! for putting his bottom line ahead of common sense.

In fact, that greed is the only thing he has in common with Trump. And that's a good thing, because I don't think Boras would make a great politician. Ever.
===============================
Closer to home, radio listeners have gotten a rude shock this week.

The long time WROW morning team of Ben Patten & Jay A. Scott was split. There's been no report in the press that I know of, but as of Monday, what was known as Jay & Ben in The Morning has been rechristened as The Magic Morning Show, with Patten, who signs on at 3 am, now joined by traffic reporter Monica Velez ("Flounder"'s fate is unknown at this point). The program still runs from 5:30-9 am (ET), while Patten is in the studio from 3-8 am on Saturdays.
==============================
 A number of streaming services, including CBS All Access and WWE Network, are opening up their paywalls for viewers who are essentially shut-in by COVID-19. It's only temporary, but an incentive to subscribe just the same.

Meanwhile, Spectrum Cable is giving some comfort food of their own by opening up Epix and the Showtime family of channels, normally premium channels, to viewers to give them additional options during the pandemic. Again, there is an incentive to subscribe. How long it lasts depends on how long the pandemic-induced lockdown continues.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Weasel of The Week: Jerry Falwell, Jr.

You're a second generation Southern Baptist preacher who inherited the country's largest Christian university. With students being asked to stay off campus and extend spring break due to COVID-19, why in the blue hizell would you want them to come back when the lockdown is still in effect?

If you're Jerry Falwell, Jr., son of the 80's evangelist, and the man in charge of Liberty University in Virginia, you do it because you want to thumb your nose at the liberals and anyone else opposed to President Trump's policies.



We all know Trump will scapegoat his predecessor, Barack Obama, because that's what spoiled, thin skinned man-children do. While Trump is haphazardly trying to convince the country that the lockdown will be lifted by Easter (yeah, right), his impulsive Twantrums remind us that he is not 100% fit to run the country, and never has. And Falwell walks in lockstep behind the Poser President.

We don't have megachurches in upstate New York. Some churches, including Victory Christian in Albany, are experimenting with live-streaming their services, in Victory's case on their Facebook page. I attend a church in Watervliet which has a small congregation to start with, and the pastor made the decision last week to suspend mid-week services for the duration, but can safely practice social distancing on Sundays. Still, they're continuing to distribute produce to families in the area a couple of times a month, doing their part to help those in need.

I cannot speak for any community service that Liberty does in Lynchburg, but Jerry Falwell, Jr., this week's Weasel, is letting personal politics, and his loyalty to President Pinocchio, get in the way of protecting his students, and there are students who are blindly willing to follow. Online classes, apparently, while they've become a thing here and elsewhere, not only for colleges, but grade schools, too, aren't making the grade at Liberty.

Sorry, but Jerry Falwell, Sr. would not have approved.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Cam Newton, yogurt salesman (2016)

Let me start by making a correction to something I wrote yesterday.

I was under the assumption that Cam Newton was already a free agent after Carolina signed Teddy Bridgewater away from division rival New Orleans, and signed the XFL's uncrowned MVP, P. J. Walker, trading Kyle Allen to Washington in the process.

Turns out Newton was still under contract to the Panthers, but management was ready to move on. It's been reported in the last few minutes that Carolina is planning on cutting Newton loose after all, so he can test the free agent market.

It's just the latest blow to Newton's career.

In 2017, Dannon cut Newton as the pitchman for Oikos Greek yogurt, replaced by actor-singer John Stamos.

Here's a sample of Newton shilling for yogurt:

Monday, March 23, 2020

On CD: The Lone Ranger Rides Again (1952-4)

I've noted before that my first exposure to the Lone Ranger radio show came in the early 70's, when WQBK-AM (now WGDJ) aired reruns as part of an afternoon block that also included Gang Busters and The Shadow. These reruns came from the Brace Beemer era of the series. It wasn't until years later that I learned Beemer was not the first radio voice of the Ranger.

In fact, Beemer stepped into the lead role after the passing of Earle Graser in an auto accident. Beemer, who'd been the announcer-narrator, was now the star.

Radio Spirits has released a fair number of CD box sets of the series, and The Lone Ranger Rides Again collects 20 episodes late in the Beemer era, from 1952-54. As was the case in the TV series that bowed in 1949, Fred Foy, later the announcer for Dick Cavett, was the narrator-announcer. On TV, Foy replaced Gerald Mohr in the role. Also, the Ranger's nephew, Dan Reid, Jr., appeared in a few episodes, played by various actors, including Dick Beals and James Lipton.

Following is the episode, "The Easterner", from October 1952.



Lipton, better known to a later generation as host of Inside The Actors Studio on cable television, passed away earlier this month.

Playing the CD's brought back some memories. If you're a serious fan of the Ranger, you have to have this.

Rating: A+.


Sports this 'n' that

There may not be an Olympics this year, and the International Olympic Committee is actually considering that option.

Already, Australia & Canada have announced they will not send teams to Tokyo for the Games, scheduled to start July 24. Team USA's swimming & track teams, and Germany have called for the Games to be postponed due to COVID-19. You could say the IOC and host Japan are being optimistic about the pandemic having run its course by summer, but we don't know for sure if that's going to actually be the case.

Let's say the travel bans and all the other coronavirus-related restrictions are lifted by, say, Memorial Day. That's still not enough time for athletes to get back into more coordinated group training. The basic idea is to push the Olympics back a year, to July 2021, to allow athletes to make up for the lost training time.

Optimism, even cautious, is one thing. Reality is another.
========================================
Right now, the Carolina Panthers don't have a starting quarterback.

Cam Newton is a free agent after 9 seasons in Charlotte. Kyle Allen was just traded to Washington for draft picks. The new ownership regime in Carolina is bent on changing the team's culture in the post-Ron Rivera era, while Allen joins Rivera in Washington. Yahoo! was suggesting Newton would be a reclamation project for Bill Belichick in New England. In truth, yogurt salesman Newton, who's been plagued by injuries in recent years, may be doomed to be a journeyman backup no matter where he lands, just like Robert Griffin III, whose run in Washington was similarly cut short by injuries, and was last seen caddying for Lamar Jackson in Baltimore.

Replacing Newton AND Allen? How about the uncrowned XFL MVP, P. J. Walker? Word is that the Panthers will sign Walker, who was lights out for the undefeated Houston Roughnecks.
=============================================
Speaking of the Patriots, which we really weren't, their second dumb move of the postseason in as many weeks came today with the release of kicker and leading scorer Stephen Gostkowski, who's almost certain to join Tom Brady in Tampa Bay unless another team claims him first.
=============================================
Another former Patriot, party boy par excellent Rob Gronkowski, is officially in the WWE.

Introduced by his good buddy, Mojo Rawley, Gronkowski appeared on Smackdown on Friday, announcing he will be this year's emcee for Wrestlemania, now a 2-night, pre-taped (!) event on WWE Network April 4-5. You'll recall it was Gronkowski who helped Rawley win the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal at the big dance a couple of years ago. Had it not been for COVID-19, which is forcing WWE to tape their shows in advance this week and for next week, as well as taping the Showcase of The Immortals, in virtually empty arenas, Gronkowski likely would've entered the battle royal himself. However, the battle royals are off this year's card due to COVID-19-centric restrictions.

Already, the rumor mill is churning that former NBA & WCW star Dennis Rodman wants to fight Gronkowski. I'd sooner see him taking collections for Kanye West, but that's just me.
=======================================
With ESPN starving for programming due to COVID-19, they're adding a late afternoon replay of First Take on ESPN2, ensuring that viewers will need to reach for the Maalox or Alka-Seltzer after listening to Screamin' A. Cosell (Stephen A. Smith) pretend for two hours that he actually knows something about a sport besides basketball, and getting taken to school by Max Kellerman day after day. Maybe Bayer, which acquired Alka-Seltzer and the rest of Miles Laboratories' line of products years ago, should be a sponsor.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Old Time Radio: Michael Shayne, Private Detective (1944)

Brett Holliday's hard boiled sleuth, Michael Shayne, made his debut on radio for Mutual in 1944, with Wally Maher, the uncredited voice of MGM's Screwy Squirrel, as Shayne. Having already topped the best seller lists in books, and with a series of movies starring Lloyd Nolan, Shayne became a household name in radio.

Standard fare of the day, including this 1945 sample, "The Malcolm Boyd Case":



Rating: B-.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

YouTube Theatre: Coward of The County (1981)

After his 1978 hit, "The Gambler", became the inspiration for a series of TV-movies, Kenny Rogers saw another hit song, 1979's "Coward of The County", follow the same path, except this film was a 1-shot, and, like the "Gambler" movies, aired on NBC.

Rogers is Rev. Matthew Spencer, whose nephew, Tommy, is bullied by a trio of good ol' boys, two of whom are in basic training in the military. The movie moves the period depicted in the song to the early days of the US involvement in World War II.

"Coward", the song, peaked in the top 10 on the Hot 100, and topped Cash Box magazine's singles chart. The film version, however, hasn't been seen on television all that much in recent times.



This was the classic case of the underdog finally finding the courage to stand up to the bullies, especially after they gang raped his girlfriend, who'd jilted one of the bullies, so they believed, for Tommy.

In memory of Rogers, 81, who passed away earlier today. No rating out of respect.

Musical Interlude: Girl I'm Gonna Miss You (1989)

Ah, as the old expression goes, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.

German producer Frank Farian thought he could fool the music buying public into thinking two young, photogenic singers, Fabrice Morvan and Rob Pilatus, were the voices of Milli Vanilli. And, for about a year, the public bought into it.

While on a Club MTV package tour, a track started skipping, forcing Pilatus & Morvan off stage, and into the Hall of Shame. Farian was forced to admit the two weren't the singers after all, fronting instead for a group of studio singers, one of whom, Charles Shaw, had filed suit, but Farian bought his silence.

Pilatus & Morvan parodied the scandal in a commercial for Beech-Nut gum in 1991, and guest starred in the animated series, The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3, that same year. However, despite releasing their own material, the scandal had scarred the act for good, and Pilatus passed away a few years later.

Regardless, the videos produced for the album, "Girl You Know It's True", a revamped version of the German 1988 release, "All or Nothing", offered viewers some visual escapism. Proof of this is this next nugget, "Girl I'm Gonna Miss You".



I remember seeing Milli Vanilli---Pilatus & Morvan---in concert, and, like most folks, was fooled, though it did sound like some tracks were sung live. Farian was overcome by greed to retain the deception, but the damage to his professional career was irreversible.

Morvan is still recording today, and spent some time as a DJ in Los Angeles.

Friday, March 20, 2020

Old Time Radio: Sherlock Holmes (1952-British)

It seems Basil Rathbone cast a very long shadow as Sherlock Holmes.

Rathbone had played the legendary detective on radio and in movies during the 40's, often with Nigel Bruce as Dr. John Watson. As we discovered a while back, Ronald Howard's turn as Holmes in a syndicated TV series in the 50's wasn't quite up to grade.

Then, we discovered the BBC had produced their own Sherlock Holmes radio show, starting in the early 50's. Over the course of a 17 year period (1952-69), Carleton Hobbs starred as Holmes in 80 adaptations of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's works, with Norman Shelley as Watson. A sample episode was included in a TV/radio Detectives DVD compilation from Radio Spirits several years back.

And here is the episode in question, "The Three Garridebs", from 1964:



I believe the Radio Spirits collection may have marked the first time that any of Hobbs' radio work had made it into America. Hobbs, who passed away in 1978, at age 80, had put his own distinctive stamp on Holmes. One day soon, we'll give an ear to a Basil Rathbone radio production of Holmes.

Rating: A.

Sports this 'n' that

The NFL free agency signing period has begun, and, so far, it seems the NFC South could be the biggest winners.

As we all know, Tom Brady decided that 20 years was enough in New England, and, pending a physical, is signing with Tampa Bay as Jameis Winston's replacement. Winston, in five seasons with the Bucs, was erratic, throwing too many interceptions, most of them at critical times. Brady now has the skill receivers in Mike Evans and OJ Howard that he didn't have with the Patriots last season.

Other moves:

Todd Gurley is returning to Georgia. Cut by the Rams for salary cap reasons, Gurley signed a 1 year deal with Atlanta. The former Georgia Bulldog will return to the Peach State to a hero's welcome to be sure.

The Giants cut journeyman defensive back Antoine Bethea, then signed Colt McCoy, late of Washington, to be Daniel Jones' backup. There's still some offensive line issues to be addressed, however, and if they think the draft will fix that, well......!

The Joe Flacco era in Denver is over after 1 season. The Broncos cut Flacco on Thursday, though he's recovering from injury.

In addition to Gurley, the Rams also cut Clay Matthews, Jr., ending his Los Angeles homecoming after 1 season.

Ha-Ha Clinton-Dix will be reunited with coach Mike McCarthy in Dallas after 1 1/2 seasons in Washington. Why Green Bay dumped him in the first place, I'll never know.
========================================
The Boston Red Sox's chances of making the 2020 postseason just took a big hit.

Ace pitcher Chris Sale will undergo Tommy John surgery, and will miss the season, and a chunk of 2021, as well. A move long overdue, given his struggles last year, and in the Sawx' run to the 2018 World Series title.
========================================
The general paranoia over COVID-19 has claimed the New York Racing Association.

After two backstretch workers at Belmont tested positive earlier this week, NYRA has suspended racing indefinitely. OTB-TV's Seth Merrow broke the story on Thursday. That means the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, set for April 4, will be postponed or cancelled, as the major stakes races of the spring continue to be shuffled in the wake of the pandemic.
=========================================
COVID-19 has also penetrated the NFL.

New Orleans coach Sean Payton tested positive earlier this week, but says he's fine and expects a full recovery, per ESPN.

Over in the NBA, two Los Angeles Lakers and four Brooklyn Nets, including injured superstar Kevin Durant, have tested positive over the last week, raising doubts as to whether or not the NBA will finish out the season.

With the NCAA tournament cancelled. the Associated Press declared Kansas the men's national champion in their final poll of the season. Talk about going old school.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Musical Interlude: Hanging by a Moment (2001)

Lifehouse burst on the scene in 2001 with their debut CD, "No Name Face". The first single, "Hanging by a Moment", peaked at #2 on the Hot 100, and topped the Modern Rock Tracks chart.

Singer-songwriter Jason Wade would forgive you if you mistook him for actor Mark-Paul Gosselaar (currently on mixed-ish), since they do look a little bit alike facially, and there've also been comparisons to Val Kilmer, before Kilmer went to seed. While Wade is a born-again Christian, the band is not, and has been classified as an alternative rock act.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Retro Reads: Golden Age back-ups in Detective Comics in 1940

In the last installment of On The Shelf, we discussed DC's facsimile edition reprinting of Detective Comics 38, heralding the debut of Robin. That oft-reprinted tale, by Bill Finger, Bob Kane, & Jerry Robinson, had some nice back-up features as well, that haven't seen the light of day in the 80 years since. Until now.


Cover


Bart Regan: Spy was the first of the backups. Coming from the pen of Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel, and drawn by Maurice Kashuba, Regan is only given 6 pages to tell a story, a done-in-one mystery, as was the norm in those days. Truth be told, I wasn't familiar with Kashuba at all until reading this short. As it is, the pace is very quick, as again was the norm. I wouldn't be at all surprised if Kashuba stepped in for Joe Shuster on Superman once in a while.

Rating: B.
=========================
Next is Red Logan, written & illustrated by Ken Ernst in a style similar to some of the adventure strips appearing in newspapers of the day. Logan is an investigative reporter for the Times Courier, and after reading this, I began to wonder if he wasn't the inspiration for Jimmy Olsen's Mr. Action phase in the post-Jack Kirby issues of his first series.

Rating: B-.
============================
Next comes The Crimson Avenger, written & drawn by Jack Lehti. Modern readers might remember The Crimson more from his appearances in Justice League of America (1st series) in the 70's, and subsequent inclusion in Roy Thomas' All Star Squadron in the 80's, which led to the hero getting his only starring series, a 4 issue mini, drawn by the late Gene Colan, later in the 80's. Standard stuff, but Thomas would give the Crimson the respect he deserved more than 40 years later.

Rating: B-.
============================
The first text piece of the issue is a review of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic, Kidnapped. Actually, it's not so much of a review, but rather, a prose adaptation of the tale, without illustrations. Fast forward.
============================
Fred Guardineer wrote & drew Speed Saunders, who, like the Crimson Avenger, gained a new audience in the 90's as he was retconned into the Hawkman mythos as a cousin of the first Hawkgirl, and grandfather to the more recent iteration, Kendra Saunders, introduced in the 90's JSA series. This short piece answers the question of when a kidnapping isn't a kidnapping, a plot used many times since.

Rating: B.
===============================
Next is Steve Malone, District Attorney, written & drawn by Don Lynch in a style more closely resembling Kane's work. It's also styled such that you'd be forgiven if you mistook it for reprints from the Sunday funnies. Average.

Rating: B-.
================================
Then comes Cliff Crosby, written & drawn by Chad Grothkopf. One cannot help but think of some newspaper strips with this one, too, but nothing spectacular.

Rating: B-.
=================================
The next text page is Richard Martin's The Case of The Vanishing Train, which wraps in just two pages. You're going to wish they assigned an artist to this one. Maybe they still can, 80 years later.

Rating: B.
==================================
Finally, there's Slam Bradley, another Siegel & Shuster collaboration, only by this point, Shuster wasn't drawing the feature anymore, focusing, of course, on Superman. Dennis Neville took over the art chores here. Shorty Morgan, Slam's sidekick, didn't make it to the modern era when Slam appeared in issue 500 of Detective, released more than 40 years later. Modern creators like Ed Brubaker and the late Darwyn Cooke liked Slam enough such that he was brought back, along with son Slam, Jr., in a recent Catwoman series, before editorial decided that the Princess of Plunder was Batman's honey, once and for all. Slam's suit here, though, looks like something out of the Clark Kent collection. Hmm. Blue must've been Siegel & Shuster's favorite color. In this case, it's more lighthearted than anything, as Slam & Shorty want to go to a wrestling card, but are sidetracked more than once. Good stuff.

Rating: A-.

Overall rating for the issue: B.

Death claims two more stars

'Tis a sad, sad day in Hollywood, it is, this St. Patrick's Day.

Lyle Waggoner (ex-The Carol Burnett Show, Wonder Woman) passed away earlier today.at 84. Not all the details are yet available.

As some of you are aware, Waggoner nearly altered his career trajectory when he did a screen test for Batman a couple of years before Burnett came a'callin'. Of course, we know the rest of that particular tale.

In 1969, Waggoner landed an endorsement deal with Dodge that parodied superheroes. Gary Owens (Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, Space Ghost, etc.) is the narrator:



Yes, it does seem like the audio is a bit ahead of the video.

On Monday, Hollywood said goodbye to Western star Stuart Whitman, at the age of 92. Whitman earned an Oscar nomination in the 50's for "The Mark", and landed one of his first TV gigs on Highway Patrol before starring in 1967's Cimarron Strip for CBS.

Edit, 3/18/20: Cimarron Strip videos have been privatized. In its place, we present Stuart Whitman in an episode of Police Story, from a fan channel for the series:



Rest in peace, gentlemen.

A little of this and a little of that

Some of the sports world's rites of spring have fallen victim to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Masters, golf's biggest event of the season, scheduled for Easter weekend (April 9-12), was postponed late last week, with no makeup date set. Along with it, the women's amateur tournament at Augusta National has also been pushed back to an unspecified date.

Horse racing fans will have to wait until after Labor Day for the Kentucky Derby.

Reports out of Louisville say that the first leg of the Triple Crown, set for May 2, is being pushed back to September 5. Now, the question remains as to whether or not the other two legs of the Crown, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes, would also be moved. For tradition, they'd have to be. Belmont reopens right after Saratoga finishes its season on September 2, so they'd be on course for the Stakes to take place on October 5 or 12.

Finally, WWE capitulated, and bowed to the wishes of the city of Tampa to move this year's Wrestlemania, set for April 5, to the company's Performance Center in Orlando. The Hall of Fame induction ceremony, scheduled for April 3, and NXT's Takeover: Tampa, set for April 4, have been postponed, with no makeup dates set as yet, though the belief is they'll do something on video and patch it into broadcasts of Monday Night Raw & Friday Night Smackdown.
======================================
Time to hand out some Weasel ears to some self-serving Tennessee Twerps for trying to profit off COVID-19.

Noah & Matt Colvin went on a shopping spree in Kentucky and their home state of Tennessee, buying up entire supplies of hand sanitizer, with the intention of selling the product over the internet for $70 per bottle. That is, until the DA's office in Tennessee shut them down, and forced them to donate their merchandise to a local church and first responders. Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slattery III, according to the New York Post, ordered the Colvins to stop buying and selling hand sanitizer and other medical supplies for the purpose of price gouging for personal gain.

Apparently, these two idiots don't live in Knox County, where Mayor Glenn "Kane" Jacobs might take a more personal hand in things. And I mean that.
===========================================
Fans in New England are going to be suffering more than just the effects of COVID-19 over this next item.

After two decades with the Patriots, and six Super Bowl titles in nine appearances, Tom Brady has decided to seek his fortunes elsewhere. Whomever signs him will be immediately deemed a Super Bowl contender, but let's remember, too, that Brady didn't win any national titles in college while with Michigan, so he's not automatic. Maybe if he wins one without a greedy owner like Robert Kraft as his final boss, he'll finally get the respect accorded to him by all the detractors, who believe Kraft used his influence on NFL committees to fix things in the Patriots' favor for years.

Now, the question for coach Bill Belichick, who has a total of 8 rings (2 as an assistant under Bill Parcells with the Giants), is if his system can work with another quarterback. Stay tuned.
==============================================
Nothing to me says Chicken Little Syndrome more than shoppers going completely cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs at the checkout.

Take for example a Walmart in the hometown.

I went shopping on Saturday, looking to pick up some new sneakers. I got that and a few other items, but when I reached the checkout, there were people with full carts in every checkout aisle, acting like the world was coming to an end over COVID-19, as Governor Cuomo is requesting businesses to either scale back hours or close for the duration, in an effort to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Far as I know, New York doesn't have a real hoarder problem like the two jabronies in Tennessee. However, hand sanitizer is hard to find because you have people who are driven first by fear, then greed and selfishness, going all survivalist to hoard the necessary goods for themselves. To paraphrase an old expression, fools and brain cells are soon parted.
==========================================
The NFL will soon expand its season to 17 games and add to the playoff field. Why? The owners aren't satisfied with the money they're making now.

If this keeps up, they'll bleed the season into baseball's preseason. Pray that never happens.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Forgotten TV: Sgt. TK Yu (1979)

Following the 2-part Legends of The Superheroes, Hanna-Barbera trotted out an unsold pilot for a comedy-crime drama, Sgt. TK Yu, which was a vehicle for Korean-born comedian-actor-singer Johnny Yune.

Unfortunately, there is very little available online about the show. No video footage. There is, however, this ad:


It only aired once, and apparently couldn't find an audience, so it wasn't rerun. For the life of me, I still can't figure out why H-B was dealing exclusively with NBC on their live-action projects. Legends was clearly on the wrong night and channel, for example, and ABC might've been able to do something with Sgt. TK Yu.

Johnny Yune passed away 8 days ago at 84 due to complications from dementia.

No rating.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Musical Interlude: Two Divided by Love (1972)

From Kenny Rogers & The First Edition's short-lived Rollin' on The River:

The Grass Roots perform "Two Divided by Love", with Dennis Provisor & the late Rob Grill sharing vocals. Rogers does the intro:

On The Shelf: A mixed bag of the old and new

Marvel Comics has expanded upon what originally was a stand-alone miniseries several years back, Marvels. While that's been reprinted and reissued a couple of times, and there are sequels out there, a series of 1-shots, under the umbrella title, Marvels Snapshots, have hit the stands.

The opener showcases a post-World War II Sub-Mariner. Let's pause for a moment and consider that creator Bill Everett did give Prince Namor a human companion in the Golden Age, one Betty Dean, a police detective who fell in love with Sub-Mariner. Alan Brennert and Jerry Ordway's tale addresses the fact that Namor, a product of a mixed marriage between a human and an Atlantean, does have human feelings after all. Nearly 40 years after his debut at DC, Ordway still delivers the goods. We need more from him, sooner rather than later.

Rating: A.
========================================
To coincide with the relaunch of Strange Adventures as a 12 issue series, DC issued a facsimile edition of an issue of Mystery in Space in which Adam Strange teamed with the Justice League. It's a sequel to an early issue of Justice League of America involving the alien dictator Kanjar Ro. At the time, Kanjar was one of these cookie cutter villains that you knew would be defeated by the end of the issue, because villains back then were often more flawed than they realized. Good reading.

Rating: A-.

After being ousted from Batman, Tom King follows up his epic Mister Miracle series with the aforementioned Strange Adventures, working once again with artist Mitch Gerads, and they're joined by Evan "Doc" Shaner, an expert on Silver Age art if there ever was one. Adam and his Rannian wife, Alanna, have settled on Earth to raise their daughter, but there are issues when Adam is signing copies of a memoir, and it goes from there. King inserted a quote from artist Carmine Infantino, who drew most of Strange's earlier stories, in the script. This will make you think.

Rating: Incomplete.
=========================================
We've all read the oft-reprinted story from Detective Comics 38, marking the debut of Robin, 80 years ago. As part of the "birthday" celebration, DC has issued a facsimile edition of this issue as well, which allows us to sample backup features such as Speed Saunders, Slam Bradley, & Crimson Avenger, plus some lesser known characters that we'll look at another time. The late Bill Finger is credited with creating Robin, with Bob Kane and Jerry Robinson developing the visual look that would remain for decades to come. The origin would later be adapted in a more modern context more than 50 years later on Batman: The Animated Series. We'll also discuss Speed, Slam, & the Crimson another day.

Rating: B.
==========================================
Spinning out of last year's Event Leviathan, Brian Bendis & Alex Maleev's next chapter is a 1-shot, Leviathan Dawn, which sets up an all-new CheckMate limited series. The roster includes Green Arrow, Lois Lane, and Manhunter (Kate Spencer). One wonders if Bendis didn't develop this as a veiled manifesto against a certain President.

Rating: B.

Saturday, March 14, 2020

On DVD: I Led Three Lives (1953)

In the post-war America of the late 40's  & 50's, there arose a new enemy.

The Communist Party sought to subvert America's ideals, and its members were pawns of the Soviet Union. There was even an anti-Communist comic book, How Joseph Stalin Hopes We Will Destroy America, a 1-shot that is among those hard to find items of the era.

In Hollywood, the answer to the infiltration of the Communists was to do dramatized series about normal citizens who infiltrated the party as covert agents of the FBI. There was a movie, "I Was a Communist For The FBI", starring Frank Lovejoy, which had a corresponding radio series with Dana Andrews in the lead. We'll look at that series another day. Right now, though, comes TV's entry into the counter-espionage race.

I Led Three Lives is based on the memoir of one Herbert A. Philbrick, who, at the direction of the FBI, infiltrated the Communists. Film star Richard Carlson was cast as Philbrick, and served as narrator. I Led Three Lives, produced by ZIV, ran for three seasons (1953-6).

Following is the intro:



Most of the plotting seems rather redundant, which makes it a miracle that the series lasted as long as it did.

Rating: B-.

Musical Interlude: Sausalito Summer Nights (1980)

During the 70's, there were a few acts from the Netherlands that made their way on to the American charts, but they were few & far between, and usually 1-hit wonders like Tee Set and Mouth & MacNeal.

Diesel falls into the 1-hit wonder category with 1980's "Sausalito Summer Nights", which cracked the American pop chart in early 1981.

The band appeared on TopPop, the Dutch answer to England's popular Top of The Pops:

Friday, March 13, 2020

What Might've Been: The Hanna-Barbera Happy Hour (1978)

It is the spring of 1978. NBC is looking for a primetime hit not named Little House on The Prairie. The ideas sent to the network just lacked execution.

The product supplied to the network by Hanna-Barbera in those days were mostly reruns picked up from other networks (i.e. The Flintstones, Josie & The Pussycats) or made-for-TV movies that somehow failed to register with audiences (i.e. "The Beasts Are on The Streets").

And, then, there is The Hanna-Barbera Happy Hour, a Thursday night variety show hosted by a pair of puppets, Honey & Sis, where celebrities tried to put on happy faces interacting with the puppets, but it was clear viewers weren't interested. ABC owned Thursdays back then, with Welcome Back, Kotter & What's Happening! airing from 8-9 (ET).

Here's a sample:



Celebrities in hot tubs? The Kroffts tried that several months later with Pink Lady & Jeff, and, yes, that, too, bombed, although Pink Lady, a Japanese pop duo of the day, were more appealing than a pair of puppets passed off as teenagers. Something tells me they wanted to sell this and the subsequent Legends of The Superheroes miniseries to ABC, and the "Alphabet Network" passed on both. Remember, NBC was desperate back then.

No rating. Never saw the show. We watched either Kotter or The Waltons or baseball.

They don't teach this at boot camp (1987)

In a 1987 commercial for the NYNEX Yellow Pages, a precision drill team literally rocks out. Don't know who the team leader is (Burton Richardson?), but this kicks.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

YouTube Theatre: The Saint Takes Over (1940)

Leslie Charteris' The Saint conquered movies & radio before moving to television in the 60's. The common thread was that Simon Templar, billed on radio as the "Robin Hood of Crime", was a debonair gentleman who worked both sides of the law.

Most of you are probably familiar with the 60's TV incarnation, starring Roger Moore, or even the short-lived follow-up series with Ian Oglivy, Return of The Saint. However, before all that, The Saint appeared in movies, as well as a radio show with Vincent Price as Templar (previously reviewed).

If you found a picture next to the word, "class" in the dictionary in reference to gentlemen, chances are pretty good you'd find one of Price or George Sanders, who played Templar in five films total, including 1940's "The Saint Takes Over".

A police inspector is suspended from the force after being framed for murder involving a race fixing scandal and thousands of dollars. Templar enters the fray to clear the inspector, a frenemy of his......

Edit, 7/3/2020: The video has been deleted. In its place is a photo of a poster for the movie.

The Saint Takes Over FilmPoster.jpeg

That same whistling was used in the radio dramas, too. I believe the melody may very well be the same as the TV theme song composed by Charteris, and conducted in the 60's by ITC's go-to composer, Edwin Astley.

Rating: A.

The fallout of COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

On Wednesday, President Trump, acting in the best interests of the nation's health, as well as the world's, suspended global travel by placing a ban on overseas flights until the coronavirus runs its course.

Unfortunately, one of his pea-brained media sycophants, radio-TV bloviator Sean Hannity, told listeners on his syndicated radio show that he thought COVID-19, to use the medical technical term, was a hoax. No, it isn't.

The disease originated in China at the end of last year, and the news media has bombarded television viewers and radio listeners with updates daily for much of the winter. The World Health Organization branded COVID-19 a pandemic on Tuesday. Trump has tried to downplay it, to assuage any fears the public might have, but, given how he's been perceived as being the Joe Isuzu of politics, any legitimate concerns he has will be seen as a case of crying wolf.

Then came word this morning that Academy Award winning actor Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, have tested positive for COVID-19 while shooting a movie in Australia. Still think it's a hoax now, Hannity?

The concerns over the virus are such that the NBA has suspended play until further notice. Television shows, such as Dr. Phil, The View, Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, and The Ellen Degeneres Show, just to name a few, are taping in empty studios. CW series such as Riverdale and The Flash, which shoot in Vancouver, British Columbia, have suspended production. This is serious business, friends, not a hoax.

That being said, Sean Hannity gets the Dunce Cap for misinforming his listeners on purpose. If a fellow Fox News talk host such as Tucker Carlson is sounding legitimate warnings about COVID-19, then Hannity should follow along. The President is facing his biggest crisis in office to date, but all that mis-speaking over the last few years may be coming back to haunt him. He's trying to man up. If only Hannity and others would drop the facades and pay attention.

Update, 6:29 pm (ET): The National Hockey League has also suspended regular season play. Major League Baseball has cancelled preseason games, and delayed the start of the regular season to the week of April 6. WWE Smackdown, scheduled for Detroit tomorrow, has been relocated to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, site of last night's NXT broadcast. However, this time, the arena will be empty. 

Update, 9:04 pm (ET): The XFL, after announcing Sunday's LA-Seattle game would be played in an empty stadium, has changed course, and suspended play for the rest of the season.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Whistling for Dr. Pepper (1980)

Dr. Pepper pitchman David Naughton (ex-Makin' It) had already started branching out with his series of jingle spots for the product, working with cartoon legends Bugs Bunny, Popeye, & Fred Flintstone (as seen at Saturday Morning Archives), so it was a natural that he'd move on to some different legends, such as, in this 1980 entry, Mickey Rooney. Thing is, the jingle is whistled in its entirety.....

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

On The Air: DC Universe All Star Games (2020)

DC licensed a role playing game, DC Heroes, back in the 80's. It's one of the basics to a new DC Universe mini-series, All Star Games.

Actors Freddie Prinze, Jr. & Sam Witwer serve as executive producers, while Witwer (ex-Smallville, Supergirl, Riverdale) doubles as host. He & Prinze are joined by actresses Vanessa Marshall & Clare Grant, and WWE superstar Xavier Woods, who's also the brains behind the UpUpDownDown gaming channel on YouTube. Crossover, anyone? Prinze has had a couple of turns as a writer for WWE, so there's a connection between him & Woods.

The series launched last month, and is available on DC Universe to stream from the beginning. Judge for yourselves:



We looked at the opener, sampled above, and found it about as entertaining as watching paint dry. That is to say, if you're not a gamer, it's boring.

Rating (for non-gamers): C.

American League East preview 2020

With Opening Day 16 days away as I write, we begin our annual baseball forecast, and we'll start in the American League East.

Image result for american league logo

Despite a plague of injuries that seemed to never end, the Yankees won the division last year, introducing America to new names like Gio Urshela and, as Chris Berman might christen him, Luke "AMF" Voit. Voit's emergence, in particular, made former top prospect Greg Bird expendable (now with Texas). Shortstop Didi Gregorious is also gone, having gone back to the National League (Philadelphia), so the Yankees, you'd think, would have to replace two offensive weapons.

Nope.

Outfielders Aaron Judge & Giancarlo Stanton will start the season on the injured list, moving Miguel Andujar into the outfield to fill the void. As Yogi Berra is reputed to have said, "it's deja vu all over again". Outfield prospect Nick Solak is gone (Texas), taking away some needed depth.

The pitching staff has also been ravaged. CC Sabathia retired. Domingo German starts the season suspended (domestic abuse), and won't be back until June. James Paxton is on the IL. Aside from Masahiro Tanaka, JA Happ, & Gerrit Cole, the Bombers suddenly have rotation issues.

But will they repeat? As Berman would say, that's why they play the games.

Boston felt the effects of the Houston sign stealing scandal. Alex Cora was shown the door, replaced by Ron Roenicke. Two key starters, Rick Porcello (Mets) and David Price (Dodgers) are gone, and so is outfielder Mookie Betts (Dodgers), one of their best hitters. Utility player Brock Holt took the money and ran (Milwaukee). Face it, the Sawx are scared stupid. No playoffs this year.

I honestly think Tampa Bay & Toronto will dicker for a Wild Card berth, especially if they get off to a fast start.

Projected order of finish:

1. Yankees.
2. Tampa Bay.
3. Toronto.
4. Boston.
5. Baltimore.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Musical Interlude: Read 'Em & Weep (1981)

You were expecting, maybe, Barry Manilow?

While Manilow scored his final Top 40 hit to date in the fall of 1983 with the Jim Steinman-penned "Read 'Em & Weep", Steinman's favorite collaborator, Meat Loaf, recorded "Weep" first, for his album, "Dead Ringer", released two years before Manilow's version.



It's funny how this has been ignored by album rock channels over the years.

Monday, March 9, 2020

What Might've Been: Sidekicks (1986)

Last time, we talked about how Sidekicks was spun from a Disney Sunday Movie, "The Last Electric Knight", and was a showcase for teen karate ace Ernie Reyes, Jr., who'd made his television debut---we think---three years earlier at the Jerry Lewis MDA Telethon.

Sidekicks was also a vehicle for Gil Gerard (ex-Buck Rogers in The 25th Century) to return to television after some time away. Gerard was cast as Sgt. Rizzo, designated to act as a guardian for young Ernie after his grandfather (Keye Luke, seen mostly in flashbacks after the pilot) had passed away. Disney and Motown Television blew it by not keeping Luke around as more of a Mr. Miyagi type advisor-trainer, as they were looking to pick up the audience from the "Karate Kid" movies.

Originally set to air on Fridays when it launched in October, Sidekicks shifted to Saturdays after Lucille Ball's Life With Lucy was given the gate. Personally, they would've been better served forgetting about primetime, and slotting this on Saturday mornings in between The Real Ghostbusters and Bugs Bunny & Tweety.

Following is a sample clip. Frank Bonner (ex-WKRP in Cincinnati) plays Rizzo's partner, and reunited with former WKRP co-star Richard Sanders in this particular instance, with Sanders playing an FBI agent, but the hook here is the acting debut of wrestler Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat, then with the World Wrestling Federation (now WWE), who'd cameoed several months earlier on The A-Team. Ricky plays Ernie's cousin.



Why this is in the Disney vaults, rights shared with Suzanne DePasse's current production company, I don't know.

Rating: B.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

A Classic Reborn: The Disney Sunday Movie (1986)

32 years after Walt Disney Presents first debuted, the Disney brand returned to ABC in February 1986. Disney had ended its assocation with NBC after the 1980-1 season, and shifted to CBS for two seasons.

The second time around at ABC was only a wee bit better. Three seasons, the last of which saw The Disney Sunday Movie shrunken to the more traditional hour-long format of its forebears. Disney CEO Michael Eisner was the series host, usually doing skits at the start of the broadcast with Mickey Mouse.

However, CBS had 60 Minutes and a relatively new series at the time, Murder, She Wrote, airing opposite the Disney package. While the kids watched, adults usually voted with their remotes. The Disney package moved back to NBC, under the title, The Magical World of Disney, still hosted by Eisner, in 1988.

Following is a sample open, previewing the first half of a pair of hour-long films, "The Last Electric Knight", a pilot for the subsequent Sidekicks. "Knight" introduced real-life karate ace Ernie Reyes, Jr. to audiences, but folks still remember him more for being associated with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film franchise.



We'll look at Sidekicks, which also starred Gil Gerard, Nancy Stafford, & Keye Luke, another time.

Rating for The Disney Sunday Movie: None. I didn't watch. I usually went to another room after the Eisner-Mickey skits.

Sports this 'n' that

The Brooklyn Nets spent a ton of money to lure in Kevin Durant & Kyrie Irving as free agents prior to this season. Durant hasn't played due to a torn Achilles, and Irving is done for the season.

However, word out of New York is that coach Kenny Atkinson won't finish the season, and rumors are that Irving is pulling a LeBron James and wants his former coach in Cleveland, Tyronn Lue, as the next coach in Brooklyn.

You don't see players in other sports leveraging management to get the manager/coach they want, so why does the NBA let them get away with it? Because it's marketed as a players' league, where individual stars matter more than team play. Been that way for years.

Here's a thought. Why not get ESPN bloviator Stephen A. Smith out of the studio, and let him try coaching an NBA team. He won't last more than two weeks, tops, then go crawling back to Bristol with his tail between his legs. Whatever happened to respecting authority?
=========================================
One of the big bugaboos of the NFL the last few seasons has been officiating gaffes.

The XFL is no different.

Saturday, in the final seconds of Houston's win over Seattle, QB PJ Walker took a knee on 4th down. Should've been 1st down, Seattle, with 2 seconds left. Roughnecks are up 9. The zebras decided to let the clock run out.

The league released a statement a short time later saying they made a mistake. The NFL waits 'til the day after the game, or maybe two or three, to say they goofed. The officiating supervisor assigned to the game has already been reassigned. How's that for quick action?
===========================================
Tim Tebow is on spring/summer vacation from ESPN's SEC Network to play baseball for the Mets. The other day, he was reassigned to minor league camp after going 2-13 at the plate with a home run. So far, the Wimpons have resisted the temptation to have the offensively challenged Tebow, more than a decade removed from a Heisman Trophy with Florida, with the big club as a means of goosing ticket sales. No, that ship sailed already.

Far as I know, there are no Tebow baseball cards. Yet.
============================================
If there is anyone or anything wrestlers and wrestling journalists agree on, it's this.

Brad Shepard is an even bigger carny than Vince McMahon himself.

Shepard is claiming that a WWE employee not connected with HQ has coronavirus. The Fox network, through their WWE on Fox account, refuted this claim. Shepard is hated by other, more credible journalists because he never tells the truth. He's better off writing for a rag like, say for example, The National Enquirer. President Trump reads it, and is friends with the owner, David Pecker. Watch. Trump gets re-elected in November, and hires Shepard as his new speechwriter. He'd be better off calling Ben Stein, who used to do that for Richard Nixon back in the day.

Shepard probably flunked journalism in either high school or college, assuming he even went to the latter. He's about as credible as a four dollar bill.
=========================================
Ya probably haven't noticed if ya don't watch Fox college basketball coverage, but the network acquired some old, archived theme music. Turns out it used to belong to NBC for their NBA coverage back in the day. If ya don't know what I mean, here's a sample open:



Well, Disney buying the network gave them money to burn, and.......

Saturday, March 7, 2020

The Frito Bandito gets busted-----by Chief O'Hara? (NOT!)(1968)

Batman wasn't too long out of production when Stafford Repp, now playing a desk sergeant, appeared in this 1968 spot for Fritos corn chips, and meets with the Frito Bandito (voiced by Mel Blanc):

Thursday, March 5, 2020

Remember when "Midasize" was a thing? (1979)

Midas Mufflers was a primary sponsor of ABC's Wide World of Sports, Pro Bowlers Tour, and, presumably, Monday Night Football for many years. In the mid-70's, the chain came up with the buzzword, "Midasize", as a means of luring new customers to get their brakes repaired and/or replaced.

Midas employed a number of celebrity endorsers, usually in pairs or groups, for some ads, with talent as diverse as Lee Van Cleef, Burt Mustin, Charles Lane, Richard Kiel, Art Metrano, John Hoyt, and, in this 1979 spot, William Boyett (ex-Adam-12), who would also shill for Soft Scrub bathroom cleaner, then a property of Clorox.




Musical Interlude: Cry For Help (1991)

British pop-soul singer Rick Astley shifted gears on his 1991 CD, "Free". The first single, "Cry For Help", peaked at #7 on the Hot 100, and topped the Adult Contemporary chart. Astley co-wrote "Cry", with Rob Fisher (ex-Climie Fisher, Naked Eyes), but "Cry" would be his last top 10 hit in the US.