Sunday, January 31, 2021

Classic TV: Video Village (1960)

 Video Village was one of the first shows sold by Merrill Heatter & Bob Quigley to CBS, launching in 1960. 501 episodes, stretched out across a 2 year period (1960-2) in daytime, plus a short-lived evening edition and a Saturday morning show that ended the day after the parent show did, aired, with three hosts.

Jack Narz was the first host, aided by Joanna Copeland (later Mrs. Johnny Carson), when the series was in New York. Red Rowe would fill in occasionally. When H-Q shifted production to Los Angeles, future icon Monty Hall stepped in as the final Mayor, developing the patter that would turn Let's Make a Deal into an iconic series of its own. Seems he was a boy singer, too, just like another future game show legend, Peter Marshall, whom H-Q would hire four years after Village ended to begin a 15 year run on Hollywood Squares.

Announcer Kenny Williams would appear on camera briefly, though he was heard throughout calling out the numbers as the game is played. This entry is episode #500, the pentultimate episode of the series.

Don't Monty and Eileen Barton make a cute couple riding the cart?

Rating: A.

When your client can't give up the lie, you resign

 I am referring to a team of lawyers retained by America's Oldest Baby, former President Donald Trump, who were set to be Trump's defense team at his impeachment trial next week. On Saturday, the group of five all resigned from the case, citing a conflicting difference in defense strategy.

The lawyers want to argue whether or not a trial for a now-former president would be constitutional. This would be a reasonable enough argument that would allow for Trump to be acquitted for the 2nd time in as many years. These barristers are using something called common sense.

Unfortunately, Trump wants to continue to trade on the big lie, that the 2020 election was stolen from him, ignoring the fact that his own ignorance of public safety as the coronavirus pandemic developed over the past year was what really did him in. He just refuses to accept the fact that the voters turned on him because of his negligence.

CNN's New Day addressed this topic earlier today:

The lawyers decided that they weren't going to risk their careers on the lies of a deranged, 74 year old man-child who can't accept the fact that he lost, so they resigned.

The one lawyer that Trump could turn to, Rudy Giuliani, has already said he will not represent Trump due to the fact that he was there at the rally on January 6 that led to the insurrection at the Capitol. Then again, Giuliani has his own problems.

Specifically, Giuliani was called out by GOP strategist Steve Bannon on the latter's podcast earlier this week about his own lies regarding the insurrection, trying to claim that the anti-Trump Lincoln Project and "antifa" members were disguised as Trump supporters on 1/6. The problem with that loopy argument is that many of the idiots involved in the insurrection already 'fessed up via social media, bragging about what they did, and some have already lost their jobs. 

How Goofiani can ignore clear evidence like that to push Trump's agenda, I don't know. Texas Senator Ted Cruz, not exactly a patron saint of honesty himself, has volunteered his services, but no word on whether or not that offer was actually accepted by America's Oldest Baby.

The big lie has been debunked many times over. Evangelical Christians who are still supporting Trump need to revisit the Gospel of St. Matthew, chapter 7, verse 15:

"Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves."  (King James version)

As Christians, we have been deceived all along, and, yet, many continue to buy into Trump's lies. Trump could very well be acquitted again, but he needs the right kind of counsel that can ignore his whining and focus on something more tangible, such as the questionable constitutional right to this trial after the twice impeached Trump has left office.

A local pastor keeps telling his flock that the "rats" are getting caught. But it's not the ones he thinks they are.

Saturday, January 30, 2021

YouTube Theatre: Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked (2003)

 In 2003, the History Channel, a sister network to A & E, produced a documentary that traced the history of superheroes in comics up to that point.

"Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked", narrated by Keith David, takes viewers from the Golden Age and the development of Superman all the way to the early 21st century and the fallout from 9/11, with commentary by Dennis O'Neil, Neil Gaiman, Kevin Smith, Paul Levitz, Stan Lee, Joe Quesada, Jim Steranko, and others.

The writers did make a couple of factual errors in the script, as read by David. One of those was the fact that Watchmen was not released in 1985. It was written at that time, but didn't see print until a year or two later. Otherwise, it's fine.

Rating: A.

Friday, January 29, 2021

On The Air: Resident Alien (2021)

 Dark Horse Comics has occasionally dipped its corporate toes into television, usually not with much success, aside from the current Umbrella Academy on Netflix. Adaptations of Timecop, an ABC live-action series, and Big Guy & Rusty The Boy Robot, a 1999 animated series for Fox, didn't fare very well in the ratings.

SyFy, meanwhile, hasn't had any sustained success with comic book-centric series of late. Deadly Class was one and done. Happy! & Krypton each got two seasons before being cancelled.

Enter Resident Alien.

Based on a series of miniseries produced by Dark Horse since 2012, Resident Alien uses the familiar concept of an alien crash-landing on Earth. But, unlike sitcoms such as My Favorite Martian, Mork & Mindy, & ALF, the newest alien emigre (Alan Tudyk, late of Doom Patrol & Harley Quinn) came here with evil in mind, due to his planet's distrust of humans. His goal is to terminate life on Earth.

However, after assuming human form, he takes on the role of a small town doctor while he tries to locate the remnants of the device he brought with him. At the same time, he now is thrust into a mystery surrounding a killer.

Tudyk, it seems, specializes in genre roles. His resume also includes Firefly, Powerless, and several sci-fi and comics-centric animated films.

Let's take a look at the trailer.

If you were expecting something between My Favorite Martian and, say for example, Marcus Welby, MD, fuhgeddaboutit! British creators Peter Hogan & Steve Parkhouse have produced five miniseries over the last nine years, with one final series on the way soon. Not sure if they accounted for the prospect of a romantic interest that could turn the alien's head away from destroying Earth, though.

NBC-Universal-Comcast wanted to make sure people tuned in to the opener, such that it was simulcast on USA Network on Wednesday. 

As I've never read the books, I came into this cold. This will not change SyFy's or Dark Horse's bad luck.

Rating: C.

Thursday, January 28, 2021

On The Air: The Chase (2021)

A little more than 5 years after it ended its first American run on GSN, The Chase is back, this time on ABC.

Positioned in the center of the network's Thursday Winter Fun & Games block, The Chase has not one, not two, but three alternating chasers, all former Jeopardy! champions. James Holzhauer, Ken Jennings, & Brad Rutter. One will be on stage, the others kibitzing backstage while their comrade can't hear their commentary, but the viewers can.

As we've talked about, the rotation system conceivably allows for Jennings to also guest host Jeopardy!, and I shan't be surprised if Rutter & Holzhauer are also afforded opportunities to do that down the line.

Sara Haines (The View, ex-Strahan & Sara) is the series host. Just as pretty as Brooke Burns, who MC'd GSN's version, but then, you already know that if you watch The View.

Jennings was the chaser in the opener, and likely is back in the chaser's chair tonight for week 4.

It's a standard quiz game, as contestants will try to build a bank, a la Weakest Link, against the chaser du jour, although some of these contestants come across as though they studied Wile E. Coyote's ACME Game Show handbook.

Haines, Holzhauer, Jennings, & Rutter talk about the show, including clips from the opener:

With ABC scheduling so many game shows during the season in various parts, you'd swear that they were going back to the early days of television. Which isn't such a bad thing.

Rating: A.

A little of this and a little of that

 The Mets traded home grown (literally; he's from Long Island) lefty Steven "Welcome" Matz to Toronto for Sean Reid-Foley and prospects. Speculation is that disposing of Matz's salary opens up space for one more major free agent, be it Trevor Bauer, Kris Bryant, or someone else. 

Of course, seeing as how the Mets will play against the AL East again this year, there's always the chance Matz will have a chance at revenge, because that's usually how this works.
The Mets lost out on free agent outfielder and ex-Tri-City Valleycat George Springer, who will stay in the American League after signing with Toronto last week. The Blue Jays, who finished 3rd behind Tampa Bay and the Yankees in the AL East, are looking to improve their position for a possible playoff spot.
Former NBA ref Tim Donaghy resurfaced on Wednesday night---as a heel referee for Major League Wrestling. Not much of a stretch.
Rumors are flying that if Vince McMahon ever decides to sell the WWE, NBC-Universal-Comcast would be in a position to make the best offer.

On Monday, it was announced that the WWE Network, which has only been in existence since 2014, would be folded into NBC's Peacock streaming service, starting in March.

Meanwhile, after it was announced last week that Comcast would discontinue NBC Sports Network at the end of the year, there was speculation as to what would happen to NXT, which anchors USA Network's Wednesday lineup, and, during the winter, airs opposite hockey on NBCSN. The NHL's broadcast deal with NBC expires at the end of the current season, and reportedly, ESPN wants back in, as they're already streaming selected games on ESPN+, but would like to regain the broadcast contract they lost a few years back.

What's likely to happen: If NBC retains the NHL, NXT would shift to either Tuesdays or Thursdays. If the NHL contract does move to ESPN, well, NXT would stay where it is, and everyone's happy.
Speaking of NXT, Cameron Grimes (Trevor Lee), out with a storyline injury since the end of 2020, is the latest target of online cancel culture.

Some old, racist tweets dating back well before he signed with WWE resurfaced on Wednesday. Some people just don't have lives and would rather ruin someone else's to get their jollies.
The new Duchess of Dumb, Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, is in hot water yet again.

She's gone on record claiming the mass shooting in Parkland, Florida a few years back was a "false flag" incident. CNN obtained a 2 year old video of Greene, before her election in November 2020, hassling Parkland survivor David Hogg. Hogg appeared on CNN's morning show, New Day, earlier today:

Greene claims the video was something different entirely, trying to deny what really happened.

We have recently located the president of Greene's election campaign:

She carries a gun. She has supported the QAnon conspiracy theories. She's not exactly a brain surgeon, that's for sure. Hogg reaching out to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy isn't going to work. He's still trying to land another movie role, as long as it isn't another remake of "Invasion of The Body Snatchers".....!
The other Duchess of Dumb, Kayleigh McEnany, has not formally signed with Fox Shmooze, contrary to reports that surfaced earlier this week. It's only a matter of time. Fox Shmooze is bleeding ratings these days, since Tabloid Carlson & Spam Hannity's acts have gone stale, and Kaylame is no help.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

A copycat spinoff plot: Phyllis (1975)

 When Rhoda was spun off from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, the title character (Valerie Harper) had moved back to New York from Minneapolis.

Ed. Weinberger & Stan Daniels decided to copy that idea when Phylllis Lindstrom (Cloris Leachman) was granted her own series. Problem was, Phyllis lacked the charismatic appeal of the other shows.

After having been widowed, Phyllis and her daughter, Bess (Lisa Gerritsen), return home to San Francisco to start a new life. Henry Jones (ex-Channing) co-stars.

Here's the opener.

Barbara Colby had filmed three episodes before being murdered by an unknown assailant in Los Angeles. Her part was recast with Liz Torres taking over the role. 

Unfortunately, Phyllis was bleeding ratings from having Rhoda as a lead-in, and during season 2, both series were moved to Sunday nights in an effort to change the downward slide. It didn't work, and Phyllis was history after 2 seasons.

In memory of Cloris Leachman, whom we have learned has passed away at 94 after a lengthy career that saw her earn an Oscar (1971's "The Last Picture Show"), and 8 Emmy awards for her work on Moore and other projects.

No rating out of respect.

Forgotten TV: The Queen & I (1969)

 After Blondie had bombed out halfway through the 1968-9 season, CBS decided another sitcom would fill the void.

Unfortunately, what they got was another bomb.

The Queen & I, from Bing Crosby's production company, was an ensemble comedy set aboard an aging cruise ship whose owners are looking to sell it for scrap, but the crew has other ideas.

Larry Storch (ex-F-Troop) was at the head of the ensemble as a junior officer aboard the ship who came up with one get-rich-quick scheme after another to try to save the ship. Ok, so there were elements of Phil Silvers' You'll Never Get Rich (aka Sgt. Bilko, aka The Phil Silvers Show). Storch hadn't headlined a show since he had a variety series years earlier, prior to F-Troop, and had passed the time post-Troop with guest roles (i.e. Mannix) and cartoons, including Cool Cat and Merlin The Magic Mouse for WB.

The supporting cast included Carl Ballantine (ex-McHale's Navy), Dave Willock (Wacky Races, ex-Margie), Pat Morita, five years before Happy Days turned him into a pop culture icon, and Barbara Stuart, who came over from a recurring gig on Gomer Pyle, USMC, which was in its final season. Billy De Wolfe (ex-Good Morning, World) was the authority figure getting in the way of the crew's schemes. De Wolfe would later move on to The Doris Day Show, and was heard in Frosty The Snowman.

To be honest, I had never heard of this show until I had seen it on a television schedule grid per Wikipedia. Since I never saw it, I can't fairly rate it, and the open, uploaded by Gilmore Box, is the only footage available on YouTube.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

What Might've Been: The Super (1972)

 The runaway success of Norman Lear's adaptation of the British sitcom, 'Til Death do us Part into All in The Family was bound to produce imitators. But who knew that ABC's summer 1972 sitcom, The Super, is actually a branch of the Family tree from a creative standpoint?

That's because Rob Reiner co-created The Super, and co-wrote some episodes, 12 years before he scored his first hit as a filmmaker ("This is Spinal Tap").

Richard Castellano ("The Godfather") had the title role as a building superintendent in New York who had one wish. To tune out his family and the tenants of his building, so he could have some solitude and watch TV over a can of beer. Of course, because of his responsibilities (today, we'd call him a building manager), he couldn't have more than a few passing minutes, if not seconds.

Due to the Munich Olympics, The Super's run came to a premature end after 10 weeks. The last two episodes were never aired.

Gilmore Box offers the open:

My folks sampled this show in the pre-cable days. It was okay, and deserved a better fate.

Rating: B.

Monday, January 25, 2021

A Classic Reborn: Walker (2021)

 This ain't your father's Walker, Texas Ranger. Not even close.

Given the CW's obsession with family drama, the rebooted Walker fits the type.

Contrary to the original Chuck Norris crime drama for CBS (1993-2001), Cordell Walker (Jared Padalecki, fresh from Supernatural) is back home after a 2 year undercover mission. His wife, Emily (real-life wife Genevive Padalecki) is murdered, thus setting up what appears to be a season-long mystery, another CW specialty.

In another contrast, Walker has two kids, a son and a daughter, so we are also getting a look at his family life. Father Bonham (Mitch Pileggi, ex-The X-Files, Supergirl) will fill the sage advice-guiding light role that Noble Willingham had in the original series. Predictably, Cordell has issues with his daughter because he'd been away for so long. If it's the chop-socky stuff you want, well, Walker does have a partner (Lindsey Morgan, fresh from The 100) to fill the void, but if you're thinking of shipping them, fuhgeddaboutit. She's already got a boyfriend.

Let's take a look at the trailer:

As with a lot of these reboots, the original series is readily available on cable (rights are shared between INSP, Get TV, et al), so getting a steady audience is going to be a problem. However, given the CW's other habit of early renewals, regardless of quality, Walker is assured of at least two seasons.

Rating: Incomplete.

Baby be unhinged, conclusion: Donald Trump sent the White House staff home on Inauguration Day to spite President & Mrs. Biden

 While the Legion of The Brainwashed never attempted another attack on the Capitol last Wednesday, America's Oldest Baby, Donald Trump, decided to be his usual petty, spiteful self, in one last tantrum before leaving Washington.

Trump was long gone by the time President Joe Biden was sworn in, shortly after 12 noon (ET), but he left another stain on his administration, which some of his media sycophants tried to blame on the Bidens.

You see, chief White House usher Timothy Harleth, who came with the Trumps from New York, and the White House staff were sent home for the day earlier that morning, leaving the Bidens at the door, unable to enter. How embarrassing, right? Right.

"WAAAAHHHHH! My staff won't work for you! Find your own! WAAAAHHHH!"

That's the last time I'll use that image, unless he does something childish again.

Anyway, the staff returned to work Thursday morning, but it's believed that Harleth, because of his close ties to Trump, will likely leave anyway in due course, unless President Biden can convince him to stay on, since he wants a more bi-partisan Washington.

Harleth, let's hope, should consider that option, considering the man-child he worked for has also the social grace of a mushroom.

The clock strikes midnight for football's Cinderella, and a prospective MVP gets robbed by his coach's stupidity AND a corrupt league system

The Super Bowl is now set, but the NFL did its fans a grand disservice with the NFC title game.

But before we discuss the post-season Bay of Pigs, as Chris Berman used to refer to the Packers-Buccaneers games when both teams were in the NFC Central back in the day, let us look at the final chapter of the Buffalo Bills' Cinderella run.

Just as they did back in October, the Kansas City Chiefs outplayed the Bills in virtually every aspect of the game. Buffalo's only touchdown, admittedly was a gift, courtesy of the Chiefs' Mecole Hardman, who fumbled a kickoff, giving Buffalo 1st & goal, setting up the Bills' only touchdown of the 1st half. 

Then, Patrick Mahomes took over. Game over. Buffalo wasted a 9-0 lead. Hardman more than made up for his gaffe. Mahomes had no lingering effects of the concussion he suffered last week vs. Cleveland.

Things, however, got chippy in the 4th quarter, as the Bills' defense showed signs of frustration that weren't evident in the earlier meeting. While the clock read 10:05 pm (ET), for the Bills, it was midnight, and Cinderella's coach reverted back to a pumpkin.

Chiefs 38, Bills 24.

While fans would've been happy either way with the result of the AFC title game, the NFC game was a different story.

Green Bay & Tampa Bay had a Bay of Pigs game in Tampa back in October, on the same day as the first Chiefs-Bills game, and Tom Brady's new playmates had their way with the Packers, 38-10. This time, the game was closer in terms of the final score, but the Packers fell victim this time, on their own field, to the NFL's selective officiating, as well as coach Matt LaFleur suffering a brain cramp.

Down 8 points in the 4th quarter, facing 4th & goal, LaFleur opts to have Mason Crosby kick a field goal to trim the deficit to 5, and give the ball back to Brady and the Tampa offense. Earlier, after a Packers touchdown, LaFleur decided to go for 2, and failed. It was too early for a 2 point conversion.

What clinched the game for Tampa Bay was a pass interference call on Green Bay's Kevin King, giving Tampa a 1st down and the game. A couple of kneel-downs later, and it was over. However, the refs held their flags on a similar play late in the 2nd quarter when Tampa Bay should've been called for pass interference, which would've negated an interception. The Bucs scored on the ensuing drive to take a 21-10 lead at halftime.

At the time, we all assumed the refs would just let the teams play throughout, as is often the case in the post-season. Someone in the league office, whether it was director of officiating Al Riveron, or someone else, decided to make sure Brady & the Bucs would be the first host team to play a Super Bowl. Aaron Rodgers and the Packers were screwed, not only by these anonymous Weasels, but by LaFleur's second half brain farts.

"Wasn't it, like, uh, you know, nerves with him?"

No, Mortimer. It wasn't just that. It was LaFleur's 1st conference championship game, but we've seen coaching gaffes like that before. Seattle's Pete Carroll and then-Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn both made 4th quarter coaching blunders in the Super Bowl vs. Brady and the New England Patriots. And Quinn's Falcons were the victims of selective officiating, too.

We've said all along that Brady is motivated to prove he can win a Super Bowl without Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Fine. However, his legacy remains tarnished, because the league's shadowy power brokers bent over backwards to ensure he'd represent the NFC after going 6-3 in 9 previous Super Bowls, most of which were tainted. They see more (ad) money and ratings in Brady being rematched with Mahomes (KC beat Tampa Bay in the regular season) on the league's biggest stage. Al Riveron and friends basically told one of the league's biggest sponsors, State Farm, which employs Rodgers & Mahomes in those silly commercials, screw you.

No, Mr. Riveron, SCREW YOU! You let the entire country know that even though he won't be the league's MVP---we think----Tom Brady is more important to the league as the NFC's representative, just because you want to make history in Tampa on February 7. No, you're getting a set of Weasel ears for that.

And as for LaFleur, he's not getting off scot free, either. He gets a Dunce Cap for his blunders in the 2nd half. The Packers are owned by the city of Green Bay, and I am hoping the city fathers get together to send LaFleur back to school.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

NFL championship Sunday preview

 It has come down to the conference championships. Both games are revenge games. Both are loaded with enough drama to make daytime soaps look even more obsolete.

NFC Championship: Tampa Bay @ Green Bay (Fox): The Buccaneers shredded the Packers back in October, 38-10. Don't think that State Farm shill/Packers QB Aaron Rodgers has forgotten about that. He has Green Bay playing at another level, they say, and has been motivated all season to prove he wasn't ready to be put out to pasture, just because the Pack drafted another QB last spring.

Tampa Bay last was in the Super Bowl back in 2002, when they defeated Jon Gruden and the then-Oakland Raiders. They also are hosting this year's Super Bowl in 2 weeks, and ownership would love it if Tom Brady can get them that rarest of rarities, the opportunity to not only host the game, but play in it, too. That, plus Brady's drive to prove he can win the big one outside of the Belichick Bubble in New England, is a big motivator for Tampa.

However, Brady will be without a key receiver in Antonio Brown, ruled out earlier this weekend due to a knee injury sustained last week in beating New Orleans. This reminds that the last time a diva receiver was held out of an important game for Brady, Terrell Owens was ruled inactive for a Super Bowl vs. the Giants, and we all know how that turned out. Still, Brady has plenty of weapons at his disposal, and a more efficient running game than he had in New England in recent years. He's also proven he can thrive in the cold, but Lambeau Field is a completely different venue this time of year. The Pack will be ready for him this time.

There's going to be some shredding of defenses today, but this time, it's going the other way.

Pick: Green Bay.

AFC Championship: Buffalo @ Kansas City (CBS): These two teams also met in October, on the same day as the first Packers-Bucs clash. The defending champions won that day in convincing fashion, but a lot has happened since then.

Patrick Mahomes has been cleared to play after going through the concussion protocols this week, but as we saw last week vs. Cleveland, veteran Chad Henne is a more than capable backup in case Mahomes needs a breather.

The onus for Buffalo's defense is not only to contain the Chiefs' running game, Mahomes included, but how to shut down the ridiculous Tyreek Hill, whose highlight reel catches make Cleveland's Odell Beckham, Jr. look minor league by comparison. Of course, double-teaming Hill will leave an opening for TE Travis Kelce. Catch-22, anyone?

Josh Allen has improved tremendously this season, the hiccup vs. KC aside, and sports bars across New York will be rooting for the Bills, even though they're not supposed to be packed due to COVID-19 restrictions. The Bills have not been to the Super Bowl since the Jim Kelly era of the early 90's, when they played four straight Super Bowls, losing all 4 (Giants, Washington, and twice to Dallas). In an era when such jinxes have been exorcised in other sports (i.e. Red Sox & Cubs in baseball, Cleveland in basketball), the Bills will come close, but it's not their time yet.

Pick: Chiefs.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Last chance for a revival: The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island (1981)

 It had been two years since the last Gilligan's Island TV-movie had aired on NBC. Unfortunately, series creator Sherwood Schwartz was running out of ideas, such that he had to borrow a plot concept from a Saturday morning cartoon from the 70's not connected with his franchise.

"The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island" (italics mine, of course) wound up being the final chapter for the castaways, in more ways than one.

For starters, Jim Backus (Thurston Howell III) had been in ill health, and limited to a cameo at the end of the movie. To fill the void, David Ruprecht was brought in as Thurston Howell IV, this despite the fact that in the canon of the series, the Howells had no children to continue the bloodline. Schwartz was left with no choice but to ret-con that detail. Ruprecht didn't quite go out of his way to imitate Backus' inflections and vocal mannerisms, and did a servicable job, such that, had they tried another film after Backus' passing, Ruprecht would've fit right in.

Secondly, Judith Baldwin departed after 2 outings as Ginger Grant, replaced by Constance Forslund, whom I believe was on one of NBC's daytime soaps at the time.

Finally, the plot-lifting I was referring to involved the Globetrotters.

In both of their animated series, the last of which aired on NBC, coincidentally enough, the 'Trotters had to solve their mysteries by playing a game of basketball---this device was also used in their appearances with Scooby-Doo---which was the lamest of devices. In another coincidence, Scatman Crothers (ex-Chico & The Man), who worked on both 'Trotter cartoons (1970, 1979), played the team's coach this time.

You might say that Martin Landau & Barbara Bain (ex-Space: 1999, Mission: Impossible) were playing against type as the villains of the piece, as they wanted the island for some sort of magic metal or some such. The title card is the closest we're going to get to any actual footage of the movie. There's a trailer, but the YouTube poster used that to dub his comments over the theme song.

Long time Los Angeles Lakers announcers Chick Hearn & Stu Nahan were brought in to call the game, if ya will.

There is a commercial available, but it is not solely for the movie. There is a scene with Forslund and Dawn Wells (Mary Ann) where a robot breaks into their hut during an exercise class. Just the sight of Wells in leotards & tights is worth the price of admission alone. Team Mary Ann, I'm sure, had a field night.

Sadly, the movie fell victim to the law of diminishing returns. Schwartz would fail that same year with The Brady Brides, which brought him back under the Paramount umbrella. His production company, Redwood, produced the movie, along with the sitcom, Harper Valley PTA, for Universal. Long story short, while the movies air from time to time, fans are more interested in the original series, and this was the weakest of the three movies.

Rating: C.

They say death comes in threes.........!

 In the last 24 hours, we've had three celebrity deaths.

Baseball Hall of Famer Hank Aaron, 86, passed away Friday. Aaron spent almost his entire career with the Braves in Milwaukee & Atlanta, and held the MLB home run record at 755 before being topped by Barry Bonds, though Bonds' numbers are tainted because of allegations of steroid abuse.

I remember watching at home the night Aaron broke Babe Ruth's record, and the idiot fans running onto the field to congratulate him as he rounded the bases. That scene is forever etched in baseball lore.

Aaron finished his career back in Milwaukee with the Brewers, back when the Brew Crew was in the American League. He spent most of his retirement years working for Turner Sports.
Actor Gregory Sierra, 83, had accumulated an impressive resume in the 70's, appearing on a trio of hit shows, Sanford & Son, Barney Miller, & Soap. Sierra left Sanford when he was cast as Chano on Miller, then left Miller when he was given his first and only lead role, in the short-lived A. E. S. Hudson Street.

The 80's saw Sierra turn to drama. After another short-lived sitcom, Zorro & Son, Sierra was cast on Miami Vice, but his character was written off fairly quickly, replaced by Edward James Olmos.
This morning, we are learning of the passing of radio & television talk show icon Larry King, 87, as the result of a recent bout with COVID-19.

King made the transition to television when he signed with CNN in 1985. His radio show featured some outlandish guests, including one yo-yo who claimed to come from the planet Fringus. I kid you not. The show aired in late night locally back in those days.

Speaking of yo-yo's, King appeared in Sacha Baron Cohen's political spoof, "The Dictator". Suffice to say, he was treated better than Rudy Goofiani in the current "Borat" sequel.....!

Rest in peace.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Presenting.....the new Duchess of Dumb

 Kayleigh McEnany may be gone, but Washington still has to deal with a Duchess of Dumb.

The mantle, for lack of a better term, has been passed to freshman Georgia Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. She followed through with her threat to introduce articles of impeachment against President Biden, dating back to his time as Vice President, on charges that have long since been debunked.

Ring of Fire's Farron Cousins explains, with an ad at the end.

So why is this Georgia Peachbrain doing this? Because former President Trump is facing an impeachment trial of his own, and, this Dumb Dora believes, what's good for the goose is good for the gander.

Not in this case. There is evidence supporting the belief that Trump encouraged and/or incited the siege on the Capitol 2 weeks ago. The GOP case against the Biden family had smoke, but no fire. No sizzle or steak. No evidence. And you know, as we talked about it yesterday, MTG would be wise not to cross Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who would shred MTG's case in mere seconds. In other words, Marjorie Mushmind has no case, and will be exposed as being too naive to realize she's wrong. Farron Cousins thinks she's mentally ill because she bought into that QAnon BS. No, she's not. She's just another walking stereotype, the kind that Don Henley referenced in "Dirty Laundry" back in 1983, except that she's not in the news business, but in politics, which is even more dangerous for dim bulbs.

What Might've Been: On The Rocks (1975)

 Based on a British sitcom, Porridge, ABC's On The Rocks was originally coupled with Barney Miller at the front of their Thursday night lineup.

But when Barbary Coast tanked, Rocks was moved to Mondays to make room for Welcome Back, Kotter. with Miller moving into Rocks' old slot. As a result, a clever advertising campaign to promote Miller & Rocks----"Funny cops & funny robbers"---went to waste, and Rocks was history by season's end.

Broadway star Jose Perez, whose previous TV experience included the short-lived Colucci's Department a couple of years earlier, top-lined as Hector Fuentes, a street-smart con just sent back into stir. Hal Williams swapped his policeman's blues from Sanford & Son for a prison two-piece as Lester. Audiences were introduced to Rick Hurst, later of Dukes of Hazzard, as dumb-as-a-bag-of-hammers Cleaver. Missing from the group shot above is TV vet Tom Poston. Seeing a commercial for the show, it looks like Leonard Stone was in the cast, but IMDB doesn't acknowledge it, so it might've been a similar fellow.

My folks & I gave this show a try, seeing as how we were already into Barney Miller. So much potential, wasted by the fact that viewers apparently abandoned the show. 24 episodes were produced, a full season's worth, but most have been lost, due likely to the network practice of the day of wiping videotapes for re-use, a trend more commonly associated with daytime programming.

Rating: B.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

In the end, all they did was cry wolf.......

 Every state capitol in the US, from Albany to Austin, was heavily guarded leading up to the inauguration of President Biden on Wednesday, just in case the Legion of The Brainwashed actually showed up. By the time the inauguration began, the former President, Donald Trump, had already left the scene, unwilling to break bread with his successor. Unwilling to publicly admit he lost.

As for the threats of protest? There was one lone soul in Pennsylvania. Same thing in Albany.

Image courtesy of Yahoo!

Mark Leggiero found himself all by himself at the state capitol, carrying a makeshift Trump flag, and gave a statement to the Daily Gazette. Disappointed? Sure, but he should've known that by this point, as the kids say, the majority of the protesters were all talk and no walk.

The Proud Boys disowned Trump. They got their 15 minutes of fame thanks to him, and this is how they thank him? Well, their brains were a little scrambled to begin with.

Unfortunately, there's still some brainwashed fools in Washington. Freshman Marjorie Taylor Greene went on Twitter and pinned the blame for 100 coronavirus-related deaths to the incoming President. Sorry, but that's not true. Your boy Trump fumbled the ball a year ago, in the hope of avoiding mass panic, or so he claimed. As fellow blogger Chuck Miller suggests, MTG would be wise not to cross swords with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. It won't end well. A Southern-fried bimbo (MTG is from Georgia) challenging "Alex From The Block"? (AOC is from the Bronx, aka J-Lo Country) Fuhgeddaboutit! MTG will end up like Trump, a 1-term wonder.

Same with Lauren Bohbert in Colorado. When you sleep with dogs, in this case, QAnon cultists, you're bound to get fleas. 

Already, Biden is signing executive orders to reverse some of Trump's ill-advised policies and ideas. The fun is just beginning.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

On The Shelf: DC takes a look at another alternate future

 This month & next, DC is serving up its latest experiment in creating an alternate future.

Future State is set a few years into the future, so they say, but it's just an excuse for them to try out new characters assuming the roles of familiar heroes.

Take, for example, The Next Batman. DC decided to bring back Timothy Fox, Lucius' eldest son, who hasn't been seen since the pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths era of the early 80's. The reason for this might be because Tim's younger brother, Luke, the 2nd man to wear the costume of Batwing, didn't get over with the audience, as they say in wrestling.

I'm waiting on the trade paperback for this one, as the cover price, due to backup features and page count, is exorbitant, in the neighborhood of $6-7.

As we've talked about, the Wonder Woman of this new era is a young lady from South America, Yara Flor, and, already, they're teasing a relationship between her and this era's Superman, Jon Kent (Clark & Lois' son).

Future State: Superman-Wonder Woman offers this glimpse. Both are dedicated to their duties, and it's a matter of time, they'd like you to think, before sparks start flying, if they haven't already. Decent stuff, and cheaper than the individual Superman & Wonder Woman miniseries in this set.

Keep in mind that DC spun this out of the recent Dark Nights: Death Metal event, but some of these stories can stand alone, as this does. And if you're not down with a future love story, you ain't living right.

Rating: A-.

On the other side of the Super-spectrum, there is Kara Zor-El: Superwoman, and it seems that Kara is a little put out by the fact that her cousin's son has taken up the family business without her. She's running things on another world, and has her own issues. The origin story, recapped here, is what was used as a template for the current Supergirl series on CW, which will begin its final season later this year. Anyway, Marguerite Bennett is the writer, and crafts a tale of Kara taking a runaway under her wing, unaware of the issues this newcomer has, and this is a problem. I'm not digging the direction this is going.

Rating: C.

DC is comfortable having multiple people using the name Robin. Damian Wayne is getting a solo series in April (more on that later), but in the future, Tim Drake has reclaimed the mantle in Robin Eternal, which also sees Tim's on-again, off-again girlfriend, Stephanie "Spoiler" Brown, return to action, and yes, the romantic tension between them mirrors original Robin Dick Grayson (now Nightwing) and Barbara Gordon (Batgirl/Oracle)'s relationship over the years. With Bruce Wayne seemingly dead, Tim is more driven as a detective than ever. Best work of Eddy Barrows in years.

Rating: A.

And, then, there's Catwoman.

Mourning her lost love, Selina Kyle is now a feline Robin Hood once more, this time hijacking a train carrying a group of kids and some "secret" passengers to get them away from the Magistrate, whatever that is (they're the big bads). And, oh, is she in for a surprise in part 2 next month. We're digging. Makes a great companion piece to Tom King's Batman-Catwoman.

Rating: A.
As had been hinted, when Damian Wayne begins a solo run as Robin in April, writer Joshua Williamson envisions Damian as a fashionista by having him wear different costumes for different occasions.

Marvel did this years ago with the Wasp (Janet Van Dyne), who wore different costumes seemingly every few months. With the anti-social Damian, I can't help but think of Ben Stiller's "Zoolander" as a template, with the attitude added. Luckily, Damian doesn't have anyone to be his Hensel. Yet.

An appropriate closing theme for a Presidential Weasel: I'm a Loser (1964)

 America's national nightmare officially ended a short time ago, as Joe Biden & Kamala Harris were sworn in as the next President & Vice President.

However, Donald Trump, ever the Weasel, refused to acknowledge that he was soundly defeated 2 1/2 months ago, and fled Washington earlier this morning for Mar-a-Lago in Florida. A video posted last night had him glossing over the lies and misinformation that pockmarked his administration, ignoring the fact that his mishandling of COVID-19, more than anything else, negated any and all positive things he'd done.

The original poster child for affluenza just cannot accept the simple fact that on his biggest stage, he was......a loser.

When your businesses go belly-up the way Trump's casino & hotels in Atlantic City did, you're a loser.

When you get repeatedly called out for lying about everything from immigration policies to the election, welp, you're a loser.

Therefore, we dedicate this Shindig clip of the Beatles' "I'm a Loser" to Trump.

Of course, he's getting another Weasel of The Week award for refusing to cooperate with the incoming administration. Washington is seeing a spoiled brat who never grew up leave, and a more diplomatic President take over. Amen.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

YouTube Theatre: Bugsy Malone (1976)

 Imagine, if you will, if Hal Roach had been asked to have Our Gang do a gangster spoof as the follow-up to "General Spanky", had that film been more successful.

In 1976, Alan Parker came up with a concept that might have been the kind of film Roach could've made 40-45 years earlier.

"Bugsy Malone"'s cast was made up entirely of children, including future Oscar winner Jodie Foster. The only other notable names in the cast were Scott Baio (later of Happy Days, Charles in Charge, etc.) and John Cassisi, who would appear in Fish. Grammy winner Paul Williams composed the soundtrack, and serves as a voice double for the piano player. Baio had the title role as Malone, a boxing promoter who was moving into show business after falling for an aspiring singer.

The other voice doubles included impressionist Julie McWhirter, fresh from The Rich Little Show, Archie Hahn, and Louise "Liberty" Williams, who doubles for Foster on "My Name is Tallulah", a track we've previously showcased. 

We're doing this one as a public service. No rating.

Dunce Cap Award: Jared Porter

 For the 2nd straight year, the Mets have to make a change before spring training begins.

Last year, they were forced to dismiss former star Carlos Beltran as manager because of his involvement in the 2017 Houston Astros sign stealing scandal.

This year, a barely fresh out of the box GM gets the heave-ho, all because it came out in the wash that he pulled a Brett Favre stunt with a reporter.

And if you don't know what that means, well.....!

Jared Porter, whose previous ports of call have been with Boston, Arizona, and the Chicago Cubs, was fired earlier this morning by owner Steve Cohen after it got out that Porter had sent dozens of messages to a reporter who'd emigrated from a foreign country. He was smitten, and couldn't get over her turning him down.

Yes, there was sexting involved, including a certain body part that should never be seen in public.

"What was I thinking?"

It was a similar case that ran Brett Favre out of New York after 1 season as the Jests' quarterback, and he finished his career in Minnesota.

"Uh, don't you think he should be reading, ah, uh, what's his name?"

You mean Santayana, right, Mortimer? Exactly!! Seems to me Porter either doesn't follow football, or doesn't know anything about New York sports history outside of baseball.

Now, with spring training a month away, the Mets have to look for a new GM all over again. Former GM Sandy Alderson is the President this time, and has to resume the vetting process to find someone who is 1) a capable, competent executive, and 2) free of scandal.

Meanwhile, Jared Porter is this week's Dunce Cap winner. Enough said.

Update, 8:00 pm (ET): Here is the official statement of Mets President Sandy Alderson:

Monday, January 18, 2021

Another look at: Batwoman (2021)

 There was much hand-wringing and cringing when it was announced that Ruby Rose would not return to Batwoman for the series' 2nd season. Things were made worse when showrunner Caroline Dries decided not recast the role of Kate Kane (Rose), and opted to introduce a new character to fill the Bat-suit, red wig included.

So they came up with Ryan Wilder (Javicia Leslie, fresh from God Friended Me, another Greg Berlanti series that ended its run last spring), an African American homeless lesbian. Ryan was introduced to DC readers in the series finale of Batgirl just a couple of months ago in a short cameo, to justify Dries' decision. What that said was that publisher Jim Lee signed off on the deal. Now, it was up to Leslie to make Dries look like a genius.

So far, well, so good, to an extent.

Let's look at the trailer from the CW first, before we continue:

Tommy Elliott, aka Hush (Warren Christie), was just introduced at the end of season 1, and, I suspect, fans are going to have issues over how he was handled in last night's opener. Alice (Rachel Skarsten) is taking the supposed death of her sister in an unexpected way. Then again, sometimes grief does have people looking for liquid solutions, if you know what I mean.

Some folks were speculating that Ryan, because of the flashbacks, might actually be someone else. Specifically, Tiffany Fox, long-lost sister of Luke (Camrus Johnson). Since Luke's older brother, Tim, has resurfaced in the pages of DC Comics after 40 years away (more on that another time), this might make some semblance of sense, but we'll see where it goes.

Right now, I'm on the fence. We'll withhold our rating until later in the season.

The third time was the charm

 Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Tom Brady had already suffered the indignity of losing twice to the same divisional opponent this season, his first in the NFC. He didn't want it to happen three times.

Sunday, Brady was on his favorite stage, in the postseason, on national television, determined to make sure he didn't lose to New Orleans for the third time. The adjustments that coach Bruce Arians and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles made after the Saints had swept Tampa in the regular season paid off handsomely. Drew Brees may have played his last game in New Orleans, if not forever, limited to 135 yards passing with 1 TD and, most tellingly, 3 interceptions.

Brady's goal, obviously, is to prove he could win another Super Bowl without his former coach in New England, Bill Belichick. As of this morning, he's halfway there. Leonard Fournette and the defense made sure of that as the Buccaneers advanced to the NFC title game with a 30-20 win over the Saints. Brady, like Aaron Rodgers on Saturday, ran for a score. His 4th quarter TD put the game away with about 4 1/2 minutes left.

While the Patriots are contemplating what might've been, and Belichick turned down a Congressional Medal of Freedom from President Trump, who was handing out medals just because he could, Brady had problems adjusting to the NFC early on. In the days in between beating the Washington Deviants and the Saints, Brady reportedly was open to returning to Tampa Bay next season.

However, should Tampa Bay fall in the frozen tundra in Green Bay, then Brady will be hearing the same questions that Brees is hearing now. Will he retire?

After 15 seasons in New Orleans, Brees, who started his career with the then-San Diego Chargers after being drafted out of Purdue University, has been talking about retirement. He's just a year younger than Brady, having just turned 42 on Friday. If he does, New Orleans does have Taysom Hill, who performed admirably in Brees' absence earlier this season, and Jameis Winston, who found new life in N'awlins after leaving Tampa as a free agent. It was Winston who put the Saints in the end zone in the 2nd quarter on a trick play with Hill unavailable due to injury. Still, coach Sean Payton & Saints management may consider drafting another QB to be safe.
Less than 24 hours after the Buffalo Bills had literally knocked Lamar Jackson out of the playoffs, Kansas City Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes found himself on the sidelines with a concussion, and Chad Henne, the former Dolphins & Jaguars QB, given a chance on the big stage for a change, made sure the defending champions would return to the AFC championship game.

Facing 3rd & 14 late in the 4th quarter, Henne ran for 13 yards. Then, on 4th & 1, Henne threw a 2 yard pass to Tyreek Hill to lock down the Cleveland Browns. One kneel-down later, the Chiefs had secured a 22-17 win.

Mahomes is in the concussion protocol, and has to go through five stages in order to be cleared to play next Sunday vs. Buffalo. If he's not ready by Saturday, 24 hours before game time, it may be Henne, who, like Tom Brady, played his college ball at Michigan, who would have to face the Bills.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Origin of a Classic: The New, Original Wonder Woman (1975)

 A year and a half after an ABC Movie of The Week tried to adapt then-current comics, Wonder Woman was given another chance.

"The New, Original Wonder Woman" (italics mine) proved to the network that the 3rd time was the charm. The first attempt being a campy sitcom pilot from William Dozier in 1967, and that, too, was set in the then-present.

This time, the setting is World War II. A Nazi pilot (Kenneth Mars, ex-He & She) is plotting to bomb a Navy yard in New York and steal some important papers. He sends a 2nd pilot (Eric Braeden, The Young & The Restless, ex-The Rat Patrol (as Hans Gudegast)) on a mission, only to be intercepted by Major Steve Trevor (Lyle Waggoner, ex-The Carol Burnett Show). The resulting collision leads, to, well, I think you know the rest.

Stanley Ralph Ross' story adapts the long told story about how Diana (Lynda Carter) made her way to "Man's World", a deception to get around a dictum from her mother, Hippolyta (Cloris Leachman, Phyllis), who wanted her daughter to remain on Paradise Island.

Ross also takes a good natured poke at the story of Marvel's Spider-Man by having Diana hook up with a talent agent (Red Buttons) after foiling a bank robbery. Ah, but what if she knew about the agent's duplicitous nature?

The following clip addresses said bank robbery:

The supporting cast also includes Stella Stevens and Henry Gibson ("Nashville", ex-Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In). The campy approach, using comic book captions, a gimmick also used on Spidey Super Stories when it aired on The Electric Company, and in more recent times by Eminem ("Without Me") and the recent CW series, iZombie, may be a big reason why it took so long for Hollywood to finally take Wonder Woman seriously.

Rating: B.

Caught in the stampede

 Depending on what happens today between defending champion Kansas City and upstart Cleveland, the road to the Super Bowl in the AFC could still run through Buffalo.

The Bills eliminated Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens, 17-3, Saturday night, knocking Jackson out of the game in the process. His counterpart, Josh Allen, wasn't as spectacular as he was a week earlier against Indianapolis, but then, he didn't have to be. Buffalo's defense sprang to life to save the night.

In the 3rd quarter, already down 10-3, Jackson drove the Ravens into scoring position, but an ill advised pass into the end zone was intercepted by Taron Johnson, who ran the distance, 101 yards, tying a postseason record held by George Teague, to ice the game.

At the end of the quarter, a bad snap had Jackson retreating all the way toward his own end zone. His pass fell incomplete, but Jackson was called for intentional grounding. Worse, he laid prone in the end zone, and was removed from the game with a concussion.

Rookie Tyler Hundley, activated from the practice squad earlier in the day, took over at quarterback to start the 4th quarter, and came across looking like a Jackson clone. However, he couldn't get the Ravens into the end zone, and the 6,800 fans in Bills Stadium began celebrating.

You'd have to go back to 1995 for the last time the Bills had gotten this deep into the playoffs, but the question now is, where do they play next week in the AFC title game?

Cleveland can help answer that question if they upset the Chiefs today. The Browns can't be too happy with the disrespect shown by the oddsmakers, who have Kansas City as a 10 point favorite, this despite Cleveland having beaten Pittsburgh the last two weeks, dropping a combined 72 points on the Steeler defense in those two games.
Meanwhile, in Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers shredded the top ranked defense in the league, and even ran in for a score, as the Packers dismissed the Los Angeles Rams, 32-18. The Packers now await the winner of tonight's game between Tampa Bay & New Orleans, safe in knowing they'll host the NFC title game one week from tonight.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

YouTube Theatre: The Castaways on Gilligan's Island (1979)

 The ratings for "Rescue From Gilligan's Island" (italics mine) were such that NBC, starved for hits to begin with, commissioned a sequel from creator-executive producer Sherwood Schwartz. While "Rescue" was independently produced through Schwartz's Redwood Productions, it seemed apparent he couldn't do it alone a 2nd time, so he hitched Redwood's wagon to Universal for "The Castaways on Gilligan's Island", which premiered in May 1979.

This is actually 2 films in 1. The first half repeats the rescue effort from the first film. After discovering a lost plane on the island (which wasn't there in the series), the gang try to return home on their own, but the plane breaks down while attempting to retrieve Gilligan (Bob Denver). They're soon rescued by the Navy, and brought back to the mainland.

However, Thurston Howell III (Jim Backus) decides to build a resort on the island as a tribute to the time spent there.

That sets up the second half, intended as a pilot for an anthology series in the vein of Aaron Spelling's Love Boat over on ABC. Publicly, Howell owns the resort, though his wife, Lovey (Natalie Schaefer) and the rest of the gang are "silent partners". Tom Bosley (Happy Days) and Marcia Wallace (ex-The Bob Newhart Show) are among the guests.

Years after the movie series ended, Russell Johnson (Professor Roy Hinkley) revealed that a little known band, the Eligibles, re-recorded "The Ballad of Gilligan's Isle", which was originally recorded by the Wellingtons for season 1, for seasons 2-3 of the series and the movies. Ronnie Scribner, who had been making the rounds of guest shots (i.e. Fantasy Island), would turn up six months later in the miniseries adaptation of Stephen King's Salem's Lot.

Alas, this would be the last call for Judith Baldwin as Ginger. When the cast reconvened for "The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island" two years later, Baldwin was replaced by Constance Forslund. Don't ask.

No rating. Just a public service.

Friday, January 15, 2021

NFL Divisional Playoff preview

The NFL playoffs have reached the divisional round. Four quality matchups over two days.


Baltimore @ Buffalo (Saturday, NBC): There was a headline earlier this week that said that Ravens QB Lamar Jackson was worried about a weekend snowstorm in Buffalo. Please. Last I checked, the storm warning the National Weather Service is advertising is for Essex County and in Vermont. I don't think Essex County is near Buffalo.

That said, Jackson & his counterpart, Buffalo's Josh Allen, will air it out. They will run. This will be a track meet, quarterbacks included. This will be a fun game to watch.

Buffalo gets receiver Cole Beasley back, which will be a plus. This will be tight. For once, the oddsmakers got it right.

The pick: Buffalo.

Cleveland @ Kansas City (Sunday, CBS): To show how stupid those same oddsmakers are, they installed the defending Super Bowl champs as a 10 point home favorite, ignoring the fact that the Browns dropped 72 points on Pittsburgh the last two weeks.

Speaking of stupid, that brings us to ESPN bloviator Stephen A. Smith. On today's episode of First Take, Smith got taken to school by Max Kellerman and Ryan Clark. And, oh, by the way, Clark used to play for the Steelers. The last time Smith threw a football was probably in gym class. A lifetime ago.

Once again, when it comes to football, Smith is dumber than a bag of hammers.

The Browns are hot right now. "Screamin' A." thinks the Chiefs have learned from their comeback wins last post-season, en route to the Super Bowl. Maybe they have, but the Browns are motivated to prove they're not a doormat anymore. They will hang with the Chiefs up until the 4th quarter.

Pick: Kansas City. By a field goal.


Los Angeles @ Green Bay (Saturday, Fox): Had this game been played a decade ago, ESPN's Chris Berman would dust off his John Fascenda impersonation to discuss the legendary "frozen tundra" of Lambeau Field. Aaron Rodgers proved his critics wrong. They wrote him off too soon, and he puts up impressive numbers. Jared Goff gets his starting job back at QB for the Rams after John Wolford went down with a concussion last week. This will make great theatre.

Pick: Green Bay.

Tampa Bay @ New Orleans (Sunday, Fox): Round 3 between 40-somethings Drew Brees (who turns 42 today) and Tom Brady. Brees & the Saints swept the regular season series, and they're back where they started the season, in New Orleans. Up until this season, a Brady-led team had never been swept by a divisional opponent. Could the 3rd time be the charm? Brady's sole remaining motivation is to show he can win the big one away from the umbrella of his former coach, Bill Belichick, who'll be watching at home. Brady's had the last laugh this season on Belichick, and I think he finally gets one on Brees, too. That would set up the NFC title game as something Berman often referred to when the Bucs & Packers were in the same division back in the day. The Bay of Pigs.

Pick: Tampa Bay.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Of Recent Vintage: The Chase (2013)

 We had this up before, but the previous video we used was taken down by YouTube, so we're trying again.

A year after it had bowed in England, The Chase made its American debut on Game Show Network, with actress Brooke Burns (ex-Dog Eat Dog) as host, and Mark Labbett, aka "The Beast", as the Chaser. Four "seasons" of varying length, a final total of 51 episodes, aired over a 2 year period (2013-15). To his credit, Labbett brought a very intimidating presence to the show.

It's a standard quiz game, but there is the daunting challenge of trying to save whatever money has been banked from being captured by the chaser. The Road Runner would have a better chance of winning, more often than not.

As would normally be the case with GSN, expenses, more than ratings, led to cancellation. The series returned with weekday reruns several months back.

In this sample clip, future Jeopardy! champ James Holzhauer tries his luck:

Fox had put in the first bid for the series, with another Jeopardy! champion, Brad Rutter, as a chaser, joining Labbett. However, Fox ultimately passed. Their loss became GSN's gain for a while.

As you know, The Chase has returned, this time on ABC, with Rutter & Holzhauer as chasers along with Ken Jennings. It appears the trio will alternate, as this allows Jennings to also act as guest host on Jeopardy! for the duration. Nine episodes have been ordered, with Sara Haines (The View) as host. Two episodes have aired and are available On Demand on cable, and on ABC's website. The season is set to end, presumably, barring pre-emptions, on March 4.

Rating for the GSN Chase: None. We didn't see enough of the show.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

On The Air: Celebrity Wheel of Fortune (2021)

 Earlier this week, we showed you an episode of Wheel of Fortune with an all star theme.

Bolstered by the return of Family Feud to its original home, ABC, with a Celebrity format, Sony cut a deal with ABC to bring a similarly formatted Wheel to the Alphabet Network. What that does is it enables Wheel, which is closing in on its 50th anniversary in a few years, to have aired on three different networks over that span (it moved from NBC to CBS for the end of its daytime run).

Pat Sajak & Vanna White preview the roster of celebrity contestants.....

The crossovers with other ABC games & shows are predictable. Leslie Jones (Supermarket Sweep) played last week. We'll soon see Holey Moley's Joe Tessitore, Rob Riggle, & Jeanne Mai, as well as Drew Carey (The Price is Right), who will make a homecoming to ABC.

And, yes, we'll look at ABC's reboot of The Chase soon enough.

If you haven't been watching the regular Wheel lately, now's a good time to start. Leslie comes off as your average contestant, but almost as hyperactive as, say, Richard Simmons.

Rating: A.

Sports this 'n' that

 The NBA is paying a steep price for deciding not to remain in bubbles in the regular season. COVID-19 is still a major problem.

Take, for example, the Boston Celtics, who've had three games in the last four days postponed due to COVID-related issues. As we hinted yesterday, Brooklyn's Kyrie Irving is being investigated by the league in relation to a holiday party that could very well have been a super-spreader event, for all we know. Including the Boston-Orlando game, three NBA games were postponed last night due to COVID.

Now, I get that these athletes don't want to be away from their families for extended periods, as they were when in the bubble at the end of last season. But you have to be smart about it.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has green-lit travel to Orchard Park for Buffalo's divisional round game vs. Baltimore this weekend, since things worked so well last Saturday when the Bills beat Indianapolis. They're capping fan attendance at just under 7,000, but snow reportedly is in the forecast for the weekend, and traditionally, Buffalo gets hammered every time there's a snowstorm. Bring snowshoes!
ESPN bloviator Stephen A. Smith really needs to stop provoking celebrity sports fans.

It wasn't so long ago that WWE superstar-actor-reality TV veteran Mike "The Miz" Mizanin got on the stump for his hometown Cleveland Cavaliers on First Take, and took Smith to promo school.

A little more than 3 years ago, actor-singer Jamie Foxx appeared on First Take pretending to be Stephen A.'s "twin brother", Cleveland. On Tuesday, Foxx appeared on Smith's new ESPN+ show, Stephen A.'s World, and, like The Miz, shredded Smith. Foxx, you see, was on to promote his new movie, "Soul", and to defend his hometown Dallas Cowboys, whom Smith has regularly haterized on First Take

And, yeah, he does go into his Stephen A. mimic as Cleveland to start.....

All this proves is that "Screamin' A. Cosell" doesn't know what he's talking about when it comes to football. Never has, never will.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

A little of this and a little of that

 The never ending trend of pro athletes infected with diva behavior has produced another potential super-team in the NBA.

Word has come across the wires that former NBA MVP James Harden has been traded to the Brooklyn Nets as part of a 4 team swap-a-palooza also involving Indiana and Cleveland. Harden had grown unhappy in Houston of late, and prior to the start of the season last month expressed a desire to be traded to Brooklyn, where he'd be reunited with former teammate Kevin Durant.

Maybe this is what brings Kyrie Irving out of his self-imposed hiatus for "personal reasons", although reports are the league is investigating a recent family party where Irving, against precautions regarding coronavirus, was photographed without a protective mask.

Right about now, ESPN bloviator Screamin' A. Cosell (Stephen A. Smith) is having a herd of cows, since he was opposed to Harden coming east.

Stay tuned.
Add Smith. ESPN suits love him so much, they're giving him his own show again, this time on ESPN+. Why would you want a streaming service just to listen to Smith doing nothing but blow out hot air? Only because his dream job's already taken. They have someone more talented as the voice of Goofy.
From the "What have you done for us lately?" file: Three years removed from winning a Super Bowl, Doug Pederson was dismissed as Philadelphia Eagles coach on Monday, 8 days after all but throwing the season finale against Washington. Sure, the Eagles played more like the Beagles this season, but all he did was raise the temperature for the territorial rivalry with the Giants for next season and beyond.
A week after the Legion of The Brainwashed descended upon Capitol Hill, Missouri Senator Josh Hawley has doubled down on his insistence on objecting to the certification of incoming President Joe Biden, such that Hawley wrote an op-ed for a local newspaper in Missouri, where he noted that the Democrats had raised objections to the 2000, 2004, & 2016 elections.

The problem, Senator Jackass, is that their objections, save maybe for 2000, were minor and not worthy of media coverage. I've noted here before that former NY Senator and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton conceded the 2016 election, and did so the night of the election.

"It's easy for guys like him to ignore facts, isn't it?"

It sure is, Mortimer. Hawley's whining in the press gets him a Dunce Cap.
History was made earlier today when President Donald Trump was impeached for the 2nd time in as many years, this time for inciting the Legion of The Brainwashed to riot last week, continuing to lie about the election, and tricking them into thinking he'd walk with them to the Capitol. He slipped away in a limo back to his hidey-hole in the White House, instead, but these goofs didn't realize that. Blinded by hatred, itself created by a self-serving demagogue, these geeks gave up their freedom. I'm reading that over 70 cases are on the books in the coming days.

Trial, however, may wait until after next week's inauguration. Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell indicated he wants to wait 'til then, which might be a stall tactic to convince President Man-Child to finally man-up and accept the fact he had the smack laid down on him two months ago. Apparently Senator Pruneface wants to make sure Trump gets his post-term pension and Secret Service protection for him and his family. If Trump is forced out, and prohibited from ever running for office again, even dog catcher, he doesn't get any of those benefits. In other words, McConnell doesn't want to lose a wealthy friend like Trump.

On The Air: The Hustler (2021)

 Amidst the usual collection of reboots of classic game shows (i.e. To Tell The Truth, which begins a new season later this month), ABC finally has come up with an original game show for primetime.

The Hustler, anchoring the Thursday lineup for the duration, has nothing to do with billiards or the movie of the same name, which starred Paul Newman & Jackie Gleason way back in the day. No, this is more of a detective game, in which the players try to deduce the identity of the titular player, hidden among them.

Craig Ferguson (ex-Celebrity Name Game, The Drew Carey Show) returns to ABC to serve as host. You have five players per week. Each week's game is self-contained. The players build a bank based on the number of questions they answer. Two players are eliminated along the way via contrivances. Ratings will determine whether or not this series will advance past its initial season. If you're into mysteries, this is for you.

Following is a sample clip of a recent episode, courtesy of ABC's YouTube channel:

 You do know that inevitably, they'll try a celebrity version of this game......!

Rating: A.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

How should President Trump's term end?

 With a week-plus to go before Joe Biden is sworn in as the next President of the United States, the current President, Donald John Archie Bunker Trump, remains defiant, clinging to the misguided belief that the election was "rigged" or "stolen". He reluctantly conceded that Biden would be coming in a week from tomorrow. However, his brainwashed followers still are planning another insurrection, not only in Washington, but in every state capital in the country, including in Albany.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has initiated the process for a 2nd impeachment, this time charging America's Oldest Baby with inciting the Legion of The Brainwashed to riot six days ago. Several Republican Senators & Representatives, including one of the 518's own, Elise Stefanik, continue to stand behind Trump.

A local pastor referenced a prophecy that said that Trump would be impeached twice, but would not be convicted. That prophecy is halfway to being fulfilled. However, what about the rebels in Congress? 

To censure all those Senators & Representatives would result in more runoff elections like the ones they had in Georgia last week.

Before we go further, we must ask ourselves why did these fools trade their oath to the Constitution in exchange for loyalty to a attention-addicted demagogue who had no political experience, and, in the minds of many of his detractors, has sought to profit from his position, as if the White House and the country were another business venture. Over 100 lawmakers have put their careers in jeopardy because of their loyalty not to the Constitution, but to a 74 year old man-child whose reputation is now irrevocably destroyed. Once he was elected, he became addicted to the power that comes with the post. His behavior is that of a spoiled child unaccustomed to defeat, and he'll never admit he was wrong, either.

The goal of this 2nd impeachment is to ensure that Trump can never run for public office again. I'd extend that to his 2 oldest sons, Dumb Donald II and Stupid-E, as well as daughter Ivanka, and anyone else stupid enough to stand by him. The NY Bar Association is contemplating revoking Rudy Goofiani's license to practice law. Just as well, as he is past retirement age anyway.

This, friends, is the last perception of Donald J. Trump.

To answer the question in the subject box, there's two solutions.

1. He leaves as quietly as possible. He's already said he won't attend the inauguration, but those plans, of course, are subject to change, especially if he continues to behave like a comic book villain.

2. I have had a vision of Trump leaving office in a straitjacket. escorted out by two men from the nearest psychiatric hospital.

What do you think?

How Celebrity Wheel of Fortune got started? (1997)

 If you think Celebrity Wheel of Fortune, which debuted on ABC last week, is just a fresh spin-off from the syndicated Wheel, well, it does have its roots in the parent series.

Now, I don't know when this started, but the first example that came up on YouTube is this offering from 1997, as Pat Sajak & Vanna White welcome Olympic gymnastics champion Kerri Strug, actor Alan Rachins (Dharma & Greg, ex-LA Law), and hyperactive fitness guru Richard Simmons, who flirts with Vanna early in the show. She seems amused by Richard's antics, right along with the studio audience......

Edit, 5/19/23: Had to change the video. This is the first part of the show.

Seems no matter where Richard went in those days for guest appearances, his whole schtick was that he was hyperactive 24/7. Someone should've had decaf available for him...!

Rating: A-.

We'll look at the current Celebrity Wheel of Fortune later this week.

Monday, January 11, 2021

A Classic Reborn: Name That Tune (2021)

It isn't enough that Fox has developed its own music game show in the summer series, Beat Shazam. No, they needed something to fill airtime during the winter, too.

So they went out and dug up and old chestnut that hasn't been on the air in years.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, production began on the new Name That Tune last year in Australia, meaning that contestants who'd signed up for the show were getting all expense paid round trip airfare down under, hoping to come home richer beyond their own dreams.

Actress Jane Krakowski (ex-30 Rock, Ally McBeal) is the series host, with Randy Jackson (ex-American Idol) as bandleader/announcer. As such, Randy is more involved in the show than, say for example, Stan Worth, who was the bandleader during the Tom Kennedy years of the 70's. There is a pool, I hear, on how often Jackson calls someone, "dawg", like he did on Idol.

I'm joking. As with other game show revivals over on ABC (i.e. Match Game, To Tell The Truth), there are two games per hour long show. In this teaser, Jane tries to explain the appeal of bringing Tune back.

I've read that there was an attempt to bring the show back at its original network, CBS, with Elizabeth Banks (now piloting the revival of Press Your Luck for ABC) as host, but that went nowhere. Same thing with a pilot fronted by Donny Osmond. Tune is being paired with The Masked Dancer on Wednesday nights for the duration.

Rating: B.

Now we are eight: Day 2 of Wild Card Weekend

 The NFL playoffs move into the divisional round on Saturday, and after the Wild Card round, three division champions have already been sent packing.

The latest was AFC North champion Pittsburgh. The Cleveland Browns raced out to a 28-0 first quarter lead, and were never headed, beating the Steelers for the 2nd straight week, 48-37, which, you have to believe, raises questions about Ben Roethlisberger's future after 16 seasons in Pittsburgh.

There are two factors in play that led the Browns to victory.

1. Momentum. As noted above, Cleveland beat the Steelers last week, when Roethlisberger was being rested by coach Mike Tomlin. A bad snap less than a minute into the 1st quarter set the tone, and, with Cleveland up, 28-0, after the frame, Roethlisberger and the Steelers had to abandon the running game. There was a defensive lapse in the 3rd quarter, but Pittsburgh could not sustain their momentum through the second half. A 4th quarter TD toss from Roethlisberger to Chase Claypool came too little, too late to give them a chance.

2. Motivation: Cleveland hadn't been to the playoffs since 2002. The Browns had not won a playoff game since the original Browns (now the Baltimore Ravens) did in the mid-90's. Factor in the win in week 17 over Pittsburgh, then having to go on the road to beat the Steelers again. Factor also the disrespect shown by oddsmakers, who installed Pittsburgh as a 6 point favorite at home, ignoring the previous week's game.

Well, I've often said the oddsmakers are morons...!

Speaking of the Ravens, Lamar Jackson finally got his first playoff win, as Baltimore collected a receipt from the Tennessee Titans earlier Sunday, erasing an early 10-0 deficit to set up the win.

The AFC Divisional Round is now set:

Cleveland @ Kansas City.
Baltimore @ Buffalo.

Over in the NFC, #2 New Orleans easily handled Chicago, setting up a 3rd meeting this season with Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. New Orleans swept the regular season series, something Brady is not used to.

That also means that #1 Green Bay will host the Los Angeles the other divisional game.

Picks coming on Friday.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

An after-school history lesson: Last of The Mohicans (1971)

 A ways back, we took a look at the 1950's series, Hawkeye & The Last of The Mohicans, the first made-for-TV adaptation of James Fenimore Cooper's novel. We noted at the time there was another series, made in the 70's, and at that time, it wasn't available on YouTube. It is now.

Last of The Mohicans was produced by the BBC in 1971 as an 8 part miniseries, with each chapter running 45 minutes. A year later, this was imported to the US by WGBH for PBS' Masterpiece Theatre (now simply Masterpiece), with the remainder of the allotted 1 hour run time filled with shorter, unrelated items.

After its PBS run, Mohicans was repackaged for American syndication in 16 half hour chapters. Locally, it aired on WTEN (then a CBS affiliate, now an ABC affiliate) ahead of its network primetime block. That's the iteration I remember. 

Here's the opener in its half-hour form. Closing credits have been edited off.

Rating: A.