Friday, April 20, 2018

A sort of homecoming: Marc Guggenheim returns to UAlbany, 4/20/18

Comic book fans come from all walks of life. In the case of award winning writer-producer Marc Guggenheim, he gave up a career as a lawyer to pursue his dream of being a writer.

Guggenheim, a 1992 graduate of the University at Albany, returned to the school earlier today, and was a guest speaker on the main campus prior to a scheduled appearance as a guest of the New York State Writers' Institute at Page Hall.

The evening began with a screening of the series premiere of the Emmy & Annie Award winning Netflix animated series, Trollhunters (reviewed at Saturday Morning Archives), followed by a generous helping of an episode of Legends of Tomorrow, particularly the conclusion of November's Crisis on Earth-X crossover.

Guggenheim, who is stepping down as show-runner of Legends & Arrow after this season to be a consultant instead, explained the structure of a season by stating that they create their ideas by equating portions of a season to acts in a play. In the course of his conversation with Writers' Institute frontman Paul Grondahl, Guggenheim also took questions from the small but interested audience. Seems the frigid weather kept a lot of people away.

After the program ended, I had a chance to ask Guggenheim a couple of questions. Satiating my curiosity, it seems they have discussed the prospect of developing shorter story arcs to build to their primary arc, and there may be some changes afoot, particularly for Arrow, with the creative changes taking effect in the fall. Also, for those of you who are fans of Arrow, and wondering how they came up with Overwatch as the codename for Felicity Smoak-Queen (Emily Bett Rickards), it comes from a novel of the same name that Guggenheim released a while back (copies were available for purchase and autographs), and internet fans encouraged him to give Felicity the handle of Overwatch on the show.

Guggenheim also has donated a grant of $100,000 to create an endowment for the Writers' Institute's Classic Film Series.

Grondahl has said that a video of tonight's program will be on YouTube in due course. When it's available, we'll add it.

What Might've Been: My Sister Sam (1986)

My Sister Sam served as a vehicle for star Pam Dawber's return to primetime, four years after the end of Mork & Mindy. Unfortunately, it couldn't hang on to its audience, and CBS kept moving it around as a result during the 2nd season, leading to a final cancellation in the spring of 1988, with 12 episodes unaired.

Not only did Dawber return, but it was the last series entry for David Naughton (ex-Makin' It, At Ease). The former Dr. Pepper pitchman played the neighbor to Sam (Dawber) and her teenage sister (Rebecca Schaefer).

Unfortunately, My Sister Sam is also remembered for the tragic murder of Schaefer, a year after the series ended. An obsessed fan who'd been stalking the young actress for three years, perhaps from the beginning of the series' production schedule for all we know, shot her down. There've been several more cases of obsessed fans stalking celebrities in the nearly 30 years since, mostly because some of these people get lost in the fabric of the shows they follow, and forget to separate fiction from reality.

Following is a sample intro:

Executive producer Diane English would rebound with her next CBS project, Murphy Brown, which reportedly is being revived to mark its 30th anniversary.

No rating. Never saw the show.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Classic (?) TV: It's a Living (1980)

It was essentially meant to be ABC's answer to CBS' Alice, which, in turn, was adapted from the movie, "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore". However, It's a Living had trouble finding an audience, despite the fact that it came from two of the producers behind Soap and its spin-off, Benson. Getting a late start due to a strike at the beginning of the 1st season didn't help, and neither did changing its title to Making a Living for the 2nd season.

The series was about a staff of waitresses, but unlike Alice, this was set in a nightclub, not a desert diner. Susan Sullivan (ex-Another World) was not retained after the 1st season, and moved to CBS' Falcon Crest. Gail Edwards might be better known for a later gig on Full House. Ann Jillian, during the time Living was off, gave it a try with NBC's Jennifer Slept Here, but that flopped, and after she went public with her battle with breast cancer, Jillian may have spurred interest in Living, such that the series was revived in syndication. However, she left after the 1st syndicated season (season 3), replaced by Sheryl Lee Ralph. By that point, Crystal Bernard (ex-Happy Days) had joined the cast.

This video montage covers the opens to both the ABC & syndicated runs.

Rating: B.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Sports this 'n' that

Whatever momentum Troy High built from beating Albany High in lacrosse on Thursday dissipated amidst the cold weather Tuesday night in a 17-1 loss to Ballston Spa. The blowout defeat drops Troy to 1-5 on the young season. Derrick Cipriani had the only goal for Troy, his 7th in the last three games. Next stop is Columbia High tomorrow night. Troy plays Ballston Spa in tennis, baseball, & softball later today. Weather permitting, of course.
Would it be fair to suggest that the Mets might've been a little overconfident headed into a return match with Washington on Monday? I'd say so.

The defending NL East champions have taken the first two games of the series at Citi Field, rallying from a 5-run deficit on Monday, and handing ace closer Jeurys Familia his first blown save of the season. Last night, Gio Gonzalez ran his career record in Flushing to 11-1 in outpitching Zack Wheeler as the Nats won, 5-2. Bear in mind, these two series have seen the Mets avoid Washington ace Max Scherzer, whose next start will be on Friday.
Meanwhile, the Yankees split a 2-game interleague series against Miami, but Giancarlo Stanton's early season malaise has gotten so bad, he couldn't get a hit against his former club. It's easy to say that Miami manager Don Mattingly would have everything he needs to know about his former star slugger.

On the other hand, the impatient, spoiled fans in the Bronx want instant results, and when they don't get them, Stanton is getting booed out of the building. They don't understand the nuances of the game, nor do they care. They bleed Yankee blue, and that's all that matters to them. In the Bronx, it's a generational thing.

One more thing. I'm tired of ex-Yankee and current Marlin CEO Derek Jeter being blamed for the fire sale in Miami. He's the face of the ownership group, but I don't think he's the one making the final decisions. The media, on the other hand, has other ideas. Their loss.
You don't see this happen often in Arena Football, but the Albany Empire already has a bye week, sooner than planned.

You see, the Empire were to play Baltimore this Saturday night, but that game's been pushed back about three weeks due to a scheduling conflict involving the NHL's Washington Capitals and the NBA's Washington Wizards, both of whom are in the playoffs. One of those teams has priority on the arena for Saturday, so the Empire gets an unscheduled vacation. I'm not sure if that has happened to the once proud league before this.
If you're a wrestling fan who grew up in the 60's & 70's, chances are you grew up watching Bruno Sammartino as the champion of the World Wide Wrestling Federation. Today's generation only knows of him as a retired grappler turned announcer who had a falling out with Vince McMahon in the late 80's.

Either way, the wrestling world is mourning the passing of Sammartino at 82 in his home in Pittsburgh. Sammartino was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame a few years back after more than two decades of discord, and then inducted his former nemesis and protege, Larry Zbyszko, into the same Hall in 2015.

We'll leave you with a 1974 TV match between Sammartino and Mr. Fuji.

Rest in peace, Bruno.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Advertising for Dummies: An awards show for insurance? (2018)

Progressive's latest spot with their "mascots", Flo & Jamie, is a parody of awards shows. "The Safeys" are hosted by Alfonso Ribiero (America's Funniest Home Videos, ex-Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Catch 21, Silver Spoons). I wonder if this is the first in a series.......


A little of this and a little of that

Is John Cena afraid of commitment?

The former WWE champion, now starring in the movie, "Blockers", broke off his engagement to Nikki Bella (Nicole Garcia), according to US Weekly. The news broke Monday, more than a year after Cena made an in-ring marriage proposal at Wrestlemania. His relationship with Bella may have been the reason his first marriage came to an end six years ago, but now, some sources say he's getting cold feet about tying the knot again. Bear in mind, too, that the story will play out on Total Bellas, as well as in the public press, down the line.

My take? Cena's left a string of broken hearts, in storyline and in real life, in the 16 years he's been on the WWE's main roster. Since he already has one foot out the door due to his movie career, I'd say just one thing. Stay tuned.
Nearly 5 1/2 years after the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, conspiracy maven and radio gasbag Alex Jones, who was embarrassed by Megyn Kelly on national television last summer, now faces lawsuits from parents of two of the Sandy Hook victims, just because he won't stop lying about the massacre. He also faces a lawsuit from a Florida man falsely accused of the high school shooting in Parkland, Florida two months ago.

Jones is another blind-to-reality piece of human trash who can't accept the truth. Let's hope this is the end of him and Infowars.
Some sad news for classic TV fans.

Actor-comedian-magician Harry Anderson passed away over the weekend at 65. In the 80's, Anderson parlayed appearances on Saturday Night Live & Cheers into a headline gig of his own, starring in Night Court as Judge Harold "Harry" Stone, fronting a standout ensemble that did for small claims court what Barney Miller did for the police years earlier (Reinhold Weege worked on both series). Anderson followed that with Dave's World, a fictionalized account of the life of syndicated humorist Dave Barry, for CBS.

In recent years, Anderson had left Hollywood, and first relocated to New Orleans, leaving there in the wake of Hurricane Katrina for Asheville, North Carolina, where he passed away. While in New Orleans, Anderson opened a night club and a curio shop, the latter with ties to his interest in magic.

Following is a bit from Night Court:

Rest in peace, Harry. You'll be missed.

Monday, April 16, 2018

On The Air: MLB Network Countdown (2010)

How does MLB Network fill time when there's no games to be played?

One way is to run movies, which they do year-round, but the library is a little short on films, especially when they get played into the ground. In most markets, MLB Network is a basic cable channel, not a premium channel like HBO.

Another is with original programming, using MLB's archives to create shows to stir the memories of long time fans.

MLB Network Countdown is one of those shows, and, now in its 8th season, there's enough material to air it like a syndicated show during the off-season if you catch my drift. Various network personalities take turns serving as host. In this case, Hazel Mae, no longer with the network, MC's a countdown of classic ejections of managers, players, and even fans & mascots.

Rating: A.