Monday, December 31, 2012

Celebrity Rock: What Are You Doing New Year's Eve? (2011)

New Girl's Zooey Deschanel, the "She" in She & Him, reunites with "(500) Days of Summer" co-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt ("The Dark Knight Rises") to cover Nancy Wilson's "What Are You Doing New Year's Eve". The clip was initially released last year, and uploaded by Zooey herself, on her YouTube channel, HelloGiggles. Like, we know Zooey can sing, but did anyone think Gordon-Levitt could carry a tune? Whoa!

The next thing ya know, Zooey's next duet might be with her sister, Emily (Bones). Then again, they might have done that already.........



Happy New Year, everyone!

Classic TV: Bewitched (1964)

Seeing as how this classic sitcom is airing nightly on Me-TV starting tonight, let's take a look back at Bewitched. I had previously reviewed this series over on my other blog, Saturday Morning Archives, several months back, since the series began daytime reruns on Saturdays during the 1971-2 season.

Series creator Sol Saks wanted to break the stereotype surrounding witches, and came up with the perfect romantic comedy in a sitcom format. On the surface, Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery) is your typical suburban housewife, married to advertising ace Darrin Stephens (Dick York). However, as Darrin discovers in the opener, she is much more than that. However, her mother, Endora (Agnes Moorehead) disapproves of the union of witch & mortal, and is forever sabotaging Darrin's work and/or homelife, demanding respect from her son-in-law, more than anything else.

However, it seems Endora is in the minority, amazingly. Darrin finds some compassion for Samantha's Aunt Clara (Marion Lorne) and Aunt Esmerelda (Alice Ghostly), and while he was initially annoyed, he seemed to warm up to wisecracking, prank-happy Uncle Arthur (Paul Lynde).

York's health problems would not allow him to finish the series, and so, veteran actor Dick Sargent, who had nothing but bad luck with earlier series (Broadside & The Tammy Grimes Show), was brought in to succeed York as Darrin. The height difference between the two actors was obvious (Sargent was slightly taller). The series ended in 1972, though reruns continued as part of ABC's Saturday morning lineup for another year, due largely to ABC not ordering enough new animated programming.

As we have documented previously, Bewitched spawned a delayed spinoff, Tabitha, which lasted one season in 1977, and launched the career of star Lisa Hartman. A year earlier, a pilot, under the respelled title, Tabatha, with Louise "Liberty" Williams in the title role, had been shot, but went unsold. As for Tabitha, we'll bring that up for discussion in the new year.

Here's a rarity, a network promo for the first season:



Perhaps the closest thing to a spiritual successor would be Sabrina, The Teenage Witch, which spent 7 seasons on first ABC, then WB, from 1996-2003. Sabrina (Melissa Joan Hart) had a mortal boyfriend who was not privy to her being a witch until the end of the series, based on the Archie Comics series. Some genius at Sony decided a few years ago to make a feature film version of Bewitched that didn't do justice to the source material. Another example of today's Hollywood in that it's easier to make a movie based on a beloved classic in name only, taking too many liberties and hoping fans won't notice. Unfortunately, the fans do notice and stay away in droves. "Bewitched", the movie, with Nicole Kidman as Samantha, was a bomb.

Rating: B-.

Now, the real season begins

After a 4 month slog, the NFL is now down to its 12-team postseason tournament, leading to the Super Bowl on February 3. Of course, for the most part, the field is predictable, filled with the usual suspects.........

AFC:

Perhaps the biggest injustice was the omission of Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck from the Pro Bowl roster. Like, are they really that comfortable with charismatically-challenged types like Tom Brady (Yawn!), Peyton Manning, and Matt Schaub? At least one of these guys won't be in the game after all if his team makes it to the Big Game.

Seedings:

1. Denver
2. New England
3. Houston
4. Baltimore
5. Indianapolis
6. Cincinnati

1st round:

Cincinnati @ Houston (Saturday): This is where the whole apple cart can be upset. If Cincinnati wins, they punch their ticket to Denver and a likely consolation prize of seven months worth of Papa John's Pizzas (since Manning is a franchisee). If form holds, Houston gets a rematch with New England, who were rude in running up the score a few weeks back. 

Indianapolis @ Baltimore (Sunday): It would mean more to the NFL's media partners & power brokers to get a Colts-Broncos match-up in the championship game, but unfortunately, the evil empire (New England) stands in the way, and like the politically protected schoolyard bully, the Patriots will likely get to the finals, though they don't deserve it. Baltimore gets Ray Lewis back, but it may be too late to save their season.

The picks: Houston over Cincinnati, Indianapolis over Baltimore, as the meeting of Luck & Manning will have to be in the second round.

NFC:

The Giants won't be defending their Super Bowl title, the losses to Atlanta & Baltimore in weeks 15-16 costing them the division title and a playoff berth, despite giving Philadelphia's Andy Reid a golden parachute via a 42-7 thumping of the Eagles on Sunday. In New England, they're breathing a sigh of relief.


Seedings:

1. Atlanta
2. San Francisco
3. Green Bay
4. Washington
5. Seattle
6. Minnesota

1st round:

Minnesota @ Green Bay (Saturday): On Sunday, in their home finale, the Vikings needed a last-second field goal to beat the Packers. The bad news is, they have to play their division rivals yet again, this time at Lambeau Field. If the Vikings can do us a favor, they can eliminate Green Bay and spare us more of those lame Aaron Rodgers ads for State Farm. I wonder if he has the same agent as Peyton Manning.....! If Minnesota wins, they play Atlanta next, otherwise, Green Bay punches its ticket to San Francisco.


Seattle @ Washington (Sunday): Two of the top candidates for Rookie of the Year meet. Seattle's Russell Wilson, out of Wisconsin, is making sure that Redskins QB Robert Griffin III, despite his endorsements and wonderous play, isn't a slam dunk pick. Both teams are scorching hot right now, and it will be a shootout.

The picks: 

We'll go with Minnesota to make it two in a row over Green Bay, and Washington over Seattle, setting up Falcons-Vikings & Niners-Redskins in round 2.

Of course, I could be wrong........

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Classic TV: The Invaders (1967)

It was rare that producer Quinn Martin stepped away from the crime drama genre that put him on the map. There are at least three instances. The first was the military drama, 12 O'Clock High. The last was Tales of the Unexpected, in the late 70's. In between was The Invaders, a science fiction series that bowed as a mid-season replacement in January 1967 on---where else?---ABC, but ultimately lasted just 14 months on the air.

The story goes that Martin was looking for something of a tentpole series to replace The Fugitive, which was in its final season. Created by Larry Cohen (Branded), The Invaders told the story of David Vincent (Roy Thinnes), a lone witness to the landing of an alien spacecraft. These beings came from a dying world, seeking to colonize the Earth and convert it to their liking. Oh, I'm sure you've probably read stories like that before and since, and the concept invoked memories of the 50's feature film, "Invasion of the Body Snatchers". The gimmick here was that the aliens could be identified by having an extra finger, an inability to bleed, and, if captured or killed, their bodies would dissolve into virtually nothing, leaving zero clues behind. Over the course of 14 months, Vincent built a small group of allies, but, sad to say, the conflict didn't reach its resolution at the end of the series. Nearly 30 years later, the concept was revisited in a miniseries on Fox, rather than ABC, with Thinnes reprising as Vincent and passing the torch to a new hero (Scott Bakula, Quantum Leap).

Dick Wesson was house announcer for QM at the time. The narrator is Bill Woodson, better known for similarly setting the stage a few years later for The Odd Couple, before moving to cartoon work in the late 70's. Jimmyredproductions uploaded the open to the episode, "Genesis".



Rating: B.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

What Might've Been: Max Monroe, Loose Cannon (1990)

Legendary television producer & executive Fred Silverman, like others before him and since, does have a clunker or three on his resume. It just happened that one of those clunkers didn't deserve to be.

Max Monroe, Loose Cannon spent a month of Fridays on CBS in 1990, marking time for the network before a revival of the 70's icon, The Brady Bunch, was ready to air (and lasted just as long as this show did). Posited as a sort-of cross between Martin Riggs (Mel Gibson's "Lethal Weapon" character) & Jim Rockford (James Garner), Monroe (Shadoe Stevens, ex-Hollywood Squares) was an eccentric detective with many talents. In one instance, he was presented as being able to play chess blindfolded. Go figure.

Where this show went wrong was, predictably, where it was placed on the schedule. CBS needed a lead-off show for its Friday block to lead into the fading Dallas. Stevens was a hot commodity thanks to his 3 years as announcer-panelist on Squares and had at the time inherited (to an extent) American Top 40 from co-creator and founding host Casey Kasem, who'd take the show back a few years later. Unfortunately, it would take a few more years for Stevens to land another, and more successful, acting gig, this time as part of an ensemble in support of Harry Anderson on Dave's World. Carrying his own show, sad to say, didn't work as well as hoped.

I wanted to like this show. I really did. Unfortunately, it just didn't work out. Shadoe currently is back at CBS, this time as announcer and sort-of-sidekick to Craig Ferguson on the Late, Late Show. He also has his own YouTube channel, from whence we get this Max Monroe sample clip:



It's kind of like Silverman thought he saw something when Shadoe was a panelist on Squares, and wanted to make him a bigger star. It just wasn't meant to happen.

Rating: C.

Friday, December 28, 2012

And the hits just keep on coming.......

Death has been busy this week.

On Thursday, General Norman Schwartzkopf, who led US forces during the 1991 Gulf War, passed away at 78. Schwartzkopf had for all intents & purposes faded out of public view in recent years after retiring from the military.

On Wednesday, singer Fontella Bass left us at 72. Ms. Bass is still best remembered for her 1965 hit, "Rescue Me".



Rest in peace.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Marvel does it again: Another franchise hero "dies" for the sake of the almighty dollar

If we have learned anything from comics over the years, especially in the last 20, death is not permanent, but just an excuse for a publisher to give an iconic character a glorified vacation so they can try something different and hope the sheep (consumers) play along. What Marvel Comics is finding out, and quickly, is that if you go to the well one time too many, the sheep will turn on their shepherds.

The latest example is the "final" issue of Amazing Spider-Man, which hit comic shops yesterday. Issue #700 utilizes a morality play mixed with an oft-used plot device, but the results have created controversy, damaging the reputation of a writer who's done better work than this.

The plot is like this. Peter Parker's mind has been swapped with that of an old enemy, Dr. Otto Octavius, aka Dr. Octopus. Ock's in Spider-Man's body, while Peter is in Octavius', which is ravaged by old age and disease. Since the media has already spoiled the story, well, let's just say that the homily that fueled Peter Parker's quest for justice for 50 years, "with great power comes great responsibility", now has been passed to Octavius. Yes, they did the impossible. They killed off the classic Spider-Man.

A year or so ago, in the Ultimate line, Parker was killed off there, and the mantle of the Spider, shall we say, was passed to a younger boy of Hispanic background, Miles Morales. Apparently, that was done in the name of "cultural diversity", but all that was, really, was a test case to see if they could get away will killing off Parker in the core Marvel Universe, at least in the short term. Was it really bad enough that the latest Spider-Man movie didn't live up to the standards set by the earlier trilogy? No, not really, if you have been following the books (and I haven't). Writer Dan Slott has been around for some twenty years, and had worked on books based on cartoons (i.e. The Batman Adventures) before landing a gig at Marvel, and has piloted Amazing Spider-Man for nearly 100 issues, which, given the increased frequency of publication at Marvel in recent times, isn't 10 years worth of stories, but slightly less. Slott has talked about this being a case of Octavius now having to redeem himself for all of his past misdeeds, since he has all of Parker's memories.

This all makes former editor-in-chief Joe Quesada's equally brain dead decision to end Parker's marriage to model-actress Mary Jane Watson a few years back in the books that much more stupid, in this writer's opinion. At least they're still married in the newspaper strip, and, trust me, more and more people will turn to the strip than try out Superior Spider-Man, debuting in 2 weeks and starring Octavius as Spidey. That alone tells me that Marvel is still courting the violence-obsessed fanboys who want their heroes to be dark & gritty, instead of having someone use humor, as Peter Parker did, to offset their own personal foibles. No, I'm not going to give Slott the dreaded Weasel ears this week, nor a Dunce Cap. Instead, I recognize that he's working under an editorial mandate. Trust me, though, with Disney now in charge of Marvel, this won't last. I'm told it's supposed to be a year-long arc, but if sales fall, as I think they will, they will rush the resurrection of Peter Parker. After all, there's supposed to be another Spider-Man movie in about a year or two.........

On Video: General Spanky (1936)

Hal Roach's Our Gang, aka the Little Rascals, starred in just one feature film during the glory years, but to say that the whole gang was involved would be lying.

George "Spanky" McFarland headlines "General Spanky", but the only other Rascals featured are Carl "Alfalfa" Switzer & Billie "Buckwheat" Thomas. It's kind of a cheat, isn't it?

I wish I could pull up a clip and post it off YouTube, but there are none to be had, so let's get on with the story.

The movie is set during the Civil War. Buckwheat is one of the youngest, if not the, youngest slaves in history. Spanky's a shoeshine boy, and we don't see Alfalfa until the second half of the picture. Spanky & Buckwheat meet on a riverboat, where 'Wheat just can't seem to stay out of mischief (nothing new). The boys eventually dive off the boat and swim to shore, and eventually Spanky reunites with an adult benefactor he met on the boat. Said benefactor takes the boys in, and when Spanky learns about the war, he decides to form his own juvenile army, which is where Alfalfa enters the picture. When the benefactor is arrested as a "spy" by a jealous, power-mad officer, Spanky takes action to help his new friend.

As much as I watched the classic shorts as a teenager, I found "General Spanky" to be lacking, largely because you only had three Gang members present, at least the ones I was familiar with. This was just a means for Roach to get the kids into a feature film, as his other franchise, Laurel & Hardy, had graduated to feature films by this point. Unfortunately, it just didn't work, and the kids never got another chance.

Rating: C.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Classic TV: The Odd Couple (1970)

Neil Simon's The Odd Couple started as a Broadway production, and then was adapted into a feature film in 1968, with Walter Matthau reprising his stage role as Oscar Madison, opposite Jack Lemmon as Felix Unger. The success of the movie prompted Paramount to ask Simon if they could adapt it again, this time for television.

In 1970, The Odd Couple debuted on ABC, and would remain for five seasons before beginning a much more fruitful run in syndication. Tony Randall was cast as Felix, a neatnik who worked as a photographer. Jack Klugman, who had been Matthau's understudy on Broadway, was a slam dunk pick, then, as Oscar, a sportswriter who wasn't exactly a candidate for the Good Housekeeping Seal, if you get my drift. Both men had been divorced from their wives and now shared an apartment in New York.

If anything, the show was on the pulsebeat of pop culture, such that there was a crossover with the game show, Password, which both actors had appeared on separately during that franchise's run. In one instance, Klugman's then-wife, Brett Somers, who had a recurring role on Couple, spent a week playing Password opposite Klugman. In the aftermath of the infamous "Battle of the Sexes" tennis exhibition, which, coincidentally, also aired on ABC, the participants of said match, Billie Jean King & Bobby Riggs, guested as themselves. Riggs, you might say, felt so natural in front of the cameras, such that he might've missed his true calling.

Retrorebirth provides us with the 2nd season intro. Narrator Bill Woodson is better known to cartoon fans of a certain generation for his work on shows such as Battle of the Planets & Super Friends.



In memory of Jack Klugman, who passed away on Monday.

Rating: A.

Charles Durning (1923-2012) & Gerry Anderson (1929-2012)

Two more passings to report.

Character actor Charles Durning, star of stage, movies, & television, passed away earlier this week at 89. Durning is known to today's generation of television viewers from his appearances opposite Burt Reynolds on Evening Shade, but had amassed quite a film resume over the course of his career, in films such as "The Sting", "Dog Day Afternoon", "Tootsie", and "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas", the latter of which also starred Reynolds and Dolly Parton. Durning won a Tony award for his work in "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof" in 1990.

What some of you probably don't know is that Durning was also a war veteran, having served in the Army during World War II, and was awarded the Silver & Bronze Stars and 3 Purple Hearts, along with a Victory Medal.

Gerry Anderson was best known for creating puppet adventure series for children such as Stingray, Fireball XL-5, Thunderbirds, & Captain Scarlet and the Mysterions, and the science fiction series, Space: 1999 & UFO. News has just come over the wires of Anderson's passing at 83 earlier today. Anderson also produced the feature film, "Journey to the Far Side of the Sun", which went by the title, "Doppleganger", in England, in 1969.

We will leave you with an intro from Stingray:



And Durning's musical turn, "The Sidestep", from "Whorehouse", uploaded by kjm2672:



Rest in peace, gentlemen.

On DVD: Ultraman (1966)

In the mid-70's, the Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) engaged in a brief exchange of programs with WOR of New York. A year prior, WOR had participated in a similar experiment with England's Thames Television, which led to the introduction of The Benny Hill Show to American audiences. Japan's enduring gift, however, had first reached American shores a decade earlier, right along with the first wave of imported anime.

Ultraman lasted one season of 39 episodes from 1966-67, and had the same taste in rubber-suited monsters as were seen in Toho LTD.'s family of movies ("Godzilla", "Mothra", et al), though from a different studio.

The concept was simple enough. Ultraman, from a distant galaxy, was in an accident with a space cruiser piloted by Shin Hayata, a member of the Science Patrol. Hayata was thought to have been killed, but in truth, Ultraman brought him back to life by merging his life force with that of Hayata. From there, it's a standard monster-of-the-week concept that was picked up by American producer Irwin Allen for 2 of his series, Lost in Space & Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, though that ultimately doomed those series as well.

Ultraman would continue with a change in titles every year or so, including Ultraman Tiga, which flopped when it made its American debut on Fox as a Saturday morning entry in 2002 (and was reviewed on my other blog, Saturday Morning Archives, a while back). Another incarnation, Ultra 7, was tried out in reruns on TNT as a Sunday entry some years ago, but because of the early airtime assigned to it, few realized it was even there in the first place.

Following is an Americanized version of the show open. The DVD release I have has the original Japanese graphics....



The monster-of-the-week gimmick gets tiresome in a hurry, and the dubbing, predictably, is sometimes out of sync.

Rating: C.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Countdown to Christmas: Santa plays "Concentration" (1968)

Concentration had a tradition of having two----count 'em, two---"Santa Claus"es playing the game on Christmas Eve. Hugh Downs (The Today Show, later of 20/20) is the host, and this episode is near the end of his run. Bob Clayton would take over and carry the baton until NBC cancelled the series 5 years later.

This particular treat comes from 1968, and uploaded by thechadmosher.



Today, the only way you can play the game is to go online, as Yahoo! has it on its games page, or at least the last I knew. You'd think someone would have the stones to revive the show for the 21st century......!

Rating: A.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Jack Klugman (1922-2012)

Earlier tonight, it was reported that one of the most cherished & beloved television icons of the 1970's & 80's had passed away.

Jack Klugman had the distinction of starring in two popular, iconic series in the 70's, first in The Odd Couple (1970-5), then, Quincy, M. E., which started as a component of the NBC Mystery Movie before graduating to a regular, one hour series. Klugman passed away earlier today at 90 after a lengthy illness.

Klugman had acted on a number of anthology shows, including Kraft Suspense Theatre & The Twilight Zone, and had made the usual rounds, before being cast as Oscar Madison, a slovenly sportswriter, in The Odd Couple in 1970. Klugman had stepped in for the original Oscar, Walter Matthau, on Broadway, and that got the attention of playwright Neil Simon. Klugman, paired with Tony Randall, was comedy gold.

During the Couple's run, Klugman appeared on Password, playing opposite then-wife Brett Somers, and, seemingly as part of the deal, Password host Allen Ludden would appear as himself on Couple when Felix & Oscar played the game. Klugman also had a passion for horses, and would end up owning some. One race horse, Jacklin Klugman, named for the actor, was a runner-up in the Kentucky Derby & Preakness a number of years back.

Retrorebirth uploaded the open to Quincy, which reminded viewers of Klugman's dramatic range. His titular coroner championed a number of social causes in addition to solving murders.....



Rest in peace, Jack.

'Tis the season to be queasy, part 2

It's beginning to look like the Giants won't be defending their Super Bowl championship next month.

For the 2nd straight week, "Big Blue"'s offense disappeared, this time losing to Baltimore, the team that handed the Giants their only Super Bowl loss, after the 2000 season. The Ravens, to their credit, needed the game just as badly, if not more, as they clinched the AFC North title for the 2nd straight year. Right now, however, Baltimore holds the 4 seed in the AFC, and if everyone holds serve next Sunday, the first round matches would be:

5 Indianapolis at 4 Baltimore
6 Cincinnati vs. 3 New England

Houston & Denver get a week off as the top seeds, and their opponents the weekend of January 12-13 will be determined by the outcomes of the Wild Card games.

The Giants finish at home against Philadelphia, which already beat them this season, and it looks like the Eagles will have Michael Vick back at QB one last time, as rookie Nick Foles suffered a broken hand in Sunday's loss to Washington. Vick is virtually a goner, along with coach Andy Reid, after the season, as the Eagles are assured of finishing in the cellar. The Giants can do no worse than third, but a win, coupled with Washington clinching the division by beating Dallas, would leave them in second, and still needing tons of help to advance. Given the Eagles' mastery of the Giants in recent years, I'd say they'll at least save face.

The same cannot be said for the Jets. As I wrote last night, they turned in a poor showing vs. San Diego, allowing the Chargers to at least save face for one week. I saw one headline this morning that alleged that Tim Tebow told his coaches he didn't want to play. I didn't read into it, but I have to believe that might've been more hyperbole than anything else. The Jets, as I wrote before, traded for Tebow to keep him away from New England, much like the Yankees would trade for someone or claim them off waivers to block the Red Sox from doing the same. Such front office strategies, as the Jets found out to their sorrow, don't always work. For all of his own bluster and hyperbole, Rex Ryan and the Jets administration must be held accountable for misusing Tebow, and not defining his specific role on the team clearly enough. Had they done so, we wouldn't have this mess.

Let's consider the NFC playoff picture for a moment:

1. Atlanta
2. Green Bay
3. San Francisco
4. Washington
5. Seattle
6. ???? (Minnesota or the Giants or someone else)

Let's say the Giants somehow pull one out of the fire and make the playoffs. They would have to return to San Francisco for the 4th time in 2 seasons, and the Niners, this time, won't have ex-Giants Brandon Jacobs and Mario Manningham waiting. Jacobs was suspended by the team, disgruntled about his role and lack of playing time, and Manningham injured his knee in a loss last night to Seattle. Washington, regardless of what happens, can't move up any higher, and thus would have Seattle coming in, with their hot rookie QB, Russell Wilson, out of Wisconsin. A marquee matchup that could either be a shootout, or, as we saw last night, another blowout in favor of the Seahawks. They aren't just hot now, they're scorching. The winner of a Seattle-Washington game would have the honor of facing Atlanta, and that isn't easy, either.

For Giants fans, they can look on the bright side. There's always the chance Jacobs will come home if he asks for a trade, as he seemed to be hinting that he was regretting leaving for the West Coast as a free agent. Don't hold your breath, though.

As for the Jets, they'll have someone new roaming the sidelines in September. Just don't know who, and right now, I don't really have a clue. If Ryan stays, then owner Woody Johnson might just have too much baby powder on the brain, if you get my drift........

Countdown to Christmas: All I Need is Love (2012)

Cee-Lo Green (The Voice) serves up some Christmas cheer with help from the Muppets. "All I Need is Love" comes from Green's new CD, "Cee-Lo's Magic Moment", which was also the name of a TV special that aired last month. Walter, one of the newest Muppets, figures prominently, and gets, ah, initiated by Miss Piggy. Not sure if she gave Walter the chop last year in the movie. He'll grow on you, I'm sure.

From Cee-Lo's VEVO channel:

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Dunce Cap Award: Wayne LaPierre & the New York Jets

It has come to this for the beleagured New York Jets.

Heading into today's home finale vs. San Diego, a game the Jets lost, 27-17, Gang Green began entertaining the idea of cleaning house after the season ends next Sunday vs. Buffalo. According to the New York Daily News, the Jets are considering trading both Mark Sanchez AND Tim Tebow after the season. Tebow, for whom the Jets wasted two draft picks in a March trade that was designed solely to prevent him from going to a division foe, such as the hated New England Patriots, reportedly wants out anyway, as he wasn't being used the way he was promised. The Jets abandoned the Wildcat offense with Tebow, but used it today with WR Jeremy Kerley instead to some success.

What's likely to happen? Consider:

As I've said before, I'd peg coach Rex Ryan as gone after 4 seasons. The novelty is gone, and the Jets' offense has regressed, right along with Sanchez, who appeared to have peaked a little too early, a price paid for leaving USC too early, as his former coach, Pete Carroll, now with Seattle, has maintained. GM Mike Tannenbaum and offensive coordinator Tony Sparano, the latter of whom was chased out of Miami because of offensive ineptitude last year, appear to be on the firing line as well.

A popular rumor sends Tebow home to Jacksonville, which would have him sharing the QB job with either Blaine Gabbert or ex-Dolphin Chad Henne, whichever one ends up remaining with the Jaguars after a lost season of their own. Sanchez? A friend of mine suggested that Seattle would be a landing spot for him. It'd reunite him with Carroll, and he'd back up rookie sensation Russell Wilson. The Jets conceivably could take Matt Flynn off the Seahawks' hands. Seattle had acquired Flynn in the offseason after he'd caddied Aaron Rodgers for four years in Green Bay, but drafted Wilson as an "insurance policy". Some insurance. Wilson's in the conversation for Rookie of the Year with fellow QB's Robert Griffin III (Washington) & Andrew Luck (Indianapolis). If not Seattle, maybe Arizona, which has a QB problem of their own, or even Philadelphia, which figures to do some house cleaning of their own, starting with Andy Reid & Michael Vick. Nick Foles, their rookie QB, isn't the answer. Stay tuned.

In the real world, Wayne LaPierre, head of the National Rifle Association (NRA), made headlines Friday when he brazenly suggested that schools should have armed guards present to prevent a repeat of the Newtown massacre 9 days ago. The Daily News characterized him as idiotic and insane, and rightfully so. LaPierre is thinking with his wallet and his profit margins. His defiant stand, stubborn, actually, makes that other stubborn mule, Rex Ryan, look like a choirboy by comparison.

LaPierre seems to think that troubled kids like Adam Lanza will be deterred in the future if there are security guards, armed to the teeth, standing at the gate, if you will, to prevent them from going in and shooting up the schools. No, what's needed is to identify the kids who have disorders, such as Asperger's Syndrome, which Lanza had, and get them help ASAP. Proper treatment, plus parental supervision & discipline, is a better deterrent. Leaving guards at the gate waves a red flag at these kids, as if the guards were matadors and they're bulls looking to cut them down. Not a good idea.

As such, LaPierre and Jets management, including owner Woody Johnson, get Dunce Caps this week. The Jets' caps are retroactive to the Tebow deal, which was doomed to fail after all, 9 months ago. LaPierre, meanwhile, needs to go into sensitivity training, and, maybe, back to school.

Countdown to Christmas: I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus (1987)

From the first "A Very Special Christmas" volume comes John Mellencamp's cover of "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus". The video was shot during a sound check on the "Lonesome Jubilee" tour, which also came out in 1987.

Uploaded by JohnMellencampdotnet.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

What Might've Been: Blondie (1968)

Blondie had been on screen in a series of feature films with Penny Singleton (later of The Jetsons) in the title role, opposite Arthur Lake as Dagwood. In 1968, producers Joe Connolly and Bob Mosher (better known for Leave it to Beaver & The Munsters) adapted the long running comic strip into a sitcom, co-produced by Universal and King Features TV (KFTV's only live-action series that we know of), for CBS.

Patricia Harty was cast in the title role, with Will Hutchins (ex-Sugarfoot) as Dagwood. Jim Backus (ex-Gilligan's Island) was cast as Dag's boss, tyrannical Julius Dithers, and, to top it all off, child actors Peter Robbins & Pamelyn Ferdin, better known at the time for their work on the Peanuts specials (as Charlie Brown & Lucy, respectively) as Alexander & Cookie, though if memory serves, Alex & Cookie were already grown up in the strip by 1968.

Where CBS fouled up was airing the show on Thursdays. Back then, NBC owned the hour with Daniel Boone, which had a very loyal audience. The network might've been better served trying this on a different night.

I never saw the show, so I can't rate it. 2Nicks uploaded the open.



Friday, December 21, 2012

Weasels of the Week: "Twidiots"

The worst thing you can do on Twitter is threaten to kill someone. Unfortunately, that's been happening with some frequency of late.

In the wake of the Sandy Hook Elementary massacre last week, there were some copycats who were implying via Twitter that they were intent on doing the same thing. Luckily, nothing came out of these misguided, ill-advised tweets.

However, there were two cases of NFL players being threatened by what I like to call "twidiots" this week.

The first involves beleagured Jets QB Mark Sanchez, who was benched on Tuesday after a horrid performance against Tennessee, resulting in Gang Green being eliminated from playoff contention. One Bravee Grandou threatened to kill Sanchez come Wednesday, all because he lost a huge chunk of cash betting on the game. Grandou later said he wasn't going to follow through on the threat after all, and tried to pass it off as blowing off some steam, according to the New York Daily News. The truth is, Grandou's rant was likely fueled by also being inebriated to the point where his first impulse was to see Sanchez dead.

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, the struggles of 49ers kicker David Akers led to him getting some threats. Never mind that the Niners are in a tight race for the NFC West title with Seattle, whom they play on Sunday. Both Akers and the twidiot have deactivated their accounts. Akers, according to Yahoo!, is 25-35 in field goal attempts this year, and still in line to possibly be named to the NFC Pro Bowl team. Akers isn't the first Niner to get death threats. If you refer back to January, WR-KR Kyle Williams received threats after his misadventures in the NFC title game vs. the Giants. Former teammate Josh Morgan, now with Washington, got death threats after the Redskins lost to St. Louis earlier in the year. Lest we forget, Billy Cundiff, now a free agent after both Baltimore and Washington have cut him this year, was getting threats after the Ravens were screwed out of the Super Bowl by New England.

The common threads in these cases are likely two things: 1) a large amount of money, such as the wad Grandou lost, was being wagered on these games, and 2) the twidiots were overly sloshed when they made the threats. Yahoo! dismissed Grandou's apologies as half-hearted, and an attempt at getting free publicity. The truth is, in the wake of Sandy Hook Elementary, any attempt at issuing a death threat, even to a pro athlete, is going to be treated as a serious threat now. The solution's an easy one.

To paraphrase a popular anti-drunk-driving slogan, friends shouldn't let other friends post death threats on Twitter when drunk, or even sober. Thus, the twidiots get the Weasel ears this week.

What I'm reading: A collection of icons in a new light

I'm finding these days that the best comics aren't from the "big 2". They're actually being put out by independent publishers who rely on licensed properties to turn a profit, and of late, I'd rate them ahead of DC and/or Marvel.

Dynamite, for example, is giving fan fiction affectionados a real treat with Masks, which adapts an old Spider pulp story by adding The Shadow, The Green Hornet & Kato, Miss Fury, and, soon, a 20th century Zorro. The Shadow was the selling point for me personally, and I'm digging this story very much. In New York, criminals have taken over the city, and it seems that the force behind it all may also be in control of state government. Heh, in real life, some people might think that's actually true of a certain long tenured politician. The inestimable Alex Ross is painting the interiors, as well as doing some of the variant covers. 'Nuff said. Rating: A+.

Dynamite is also home these days to no less than Sherlock Holmes, who stars in a brand new miniseries, The Liverpool Demon. Holmes & Watson, thus, are thrust into a case involving the supernatural, and in the opening issue, Holmes demonstrates his skills while at the same time indirectly debunking fortune tellers. Oh, what fun. Rating: A.

Idea & Design Works (IDW) launched a Joe Palooka miniseries this week, but it's not the boxing hero you remember from Ham Fisher's comic strip back in the day. Instead, this Palooka is a MMA fighter named Nick Davis, on the run after accidentally killing a man while trying to stop some robbers. It'll be interesting to see where this goes, but anyone expecting a revival of the classic strip will be sorely disappointed. Davis obtains the Palooka monicker when he takes a last minute MMA bout south of the border, and wins, drawing the attention of his pursuers. If you're into MMA, you might want to give this a look. Rating: B.

DC is taking a chance on alienating their long time readers, especially in the back pages of All-Star Western. Some of the backups have been good, and one of them, the newly created Barbary Ghost, guested in the Jonah Hex feature in last month's issue, before exiting stage left with Hex's squeeze, Talullah Black, to take care of an ongoing case. Meanwhile, the Revolutionary War hero, Tomahawk, is no longer a clone of Daniel Boone, but recast as a Native American. I am so not digging. Cinnamon was a solo act when she was introduced to readers in 1978, but now she's been reconfigured as 1/2 of a romantic team of crime solvers with Nighthawk. That I can buy. We've been introduced to a Victorian ancestor of Dr. 13, The Ghostbreaker, to try to explain why the present-day Terrence Thirteen became so interested in debunking the supernatural. Maybe writers Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray are just being given too much carte blanche, or it may be an editorial decision. However, future issues will offer attempts to tie in the former Wildstorm team, Stormwatch, to the 19th century. Spare me. The Shade, a long time villain who'd been reconfigured as a sort-of anti-hero during James Robinson's run on Starman in the 90's, will get the same treatment. I'm sorry, but some ideas should be left on the cutting room floor.

I'll go on record now as saying I'm not on board with Marvel's forthcoming Superior Spider-Man. He's supposed to be better than the Spidey we all know and love, but with a grittier feel to him. Give me a break! What is this obsession with replacing Peter Parker in the webs? They pulled it off in the Ultimate line, but in the mainstream, now known as Marvel NOW!, I doubt it'll actually work. You know what they say. If it ain't broken, don't fix it.

Now, let me close out with news that long time fans will actually appreciate. It's been reported that come 2014, the Star Wars comics will shift from Dark Horse back to Marvel, which adapted the original trilogy, and managed to keep Star Wars in publication for nearly a decade. Since Disney purchased the franchise from creator George Lucas earlier this year, this was inevitable. Look for those original Marvel books to be reissued, by Marvel, instead of Dark Horse, right around the time the license change takes effect.

Countdown to Christmas: Last Christmas (1984)

The British pop duo Wham! had broken through big time in the US in 1984 with the album, "Make It Big". Capping off the year, Wham! released the single, "Last Christmas", which of course got tons of airplay on top 40 radio, and today would fit as a seasonal treat on adult contemporary channels or 80's-friendly oldies stations.

Of course, we know that Wham! called it quits a couple of years later, and George Michael went on to a solo career that started off hot, but, due mostly to legal issues, has tapered off in recent times. As for Andrew Ridgely, the silent half? One solo album, and then, nothing. Oh, well........

"Last Christmas" was uploaded by Wham!'s VEVO channel.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

What Might've Been: The New Breed (1961)

The success of The Untouchables enabled producer Quinn Martin to form his own production company, QM Productions, which was very active in the 60's & 70's, specializing mostly in crime dramas (there were two exceptions, the military series, 12 0'Clock High, and the horror anthology, Tales of the Unexpected).

The first of these wasn't The F.B.I., as most of you might assume, though. The honor instead went to The New Breed, which spent one solitary season on ABC in 1961-2. I have a faint memory of seeing at least one episode in syndication years later, but it hasn't seen the light of day since.

The New Breed starred Leslie Nielsen, whom most of you might only think of as a comic performer, based on his later works. John Beradino, better known for years of playing Dr. Steve Hardy on General Hospital, co-starred with Nielsen, but isn't featured in this sample clip from the episode, "The Deadliest Sex".



What hurt the show? The competition included comedy icon Red Skelton. Enough said there. As I said, New Breed resurfaced in syndication in the 70's, but not for very long. It's probably too obscure now to even be considered for a DVD release.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

What Might've Been: When Things Were Rotten (1975)

Despite his success in movies, Mel Brooks felt he could still contribute something to television. It'd been 4 years since Get Smart, which Brooks created with Buck Henry, had ended, so Brooks decided to go in another direction with his satirical brand of humor.

When Things Were Rotten aired on Wednesdays during its only season on ABC in 1975, with a skewed view of Robin Hood in an unfortunately short-lived comedy-adventure series. Dick Gautier (ex-Get Smart) was cast as Robin, and Misty Rowe came over from Hee Haw to play Maid Marian. After Rotten ended, Rowe would return to Hee Haw and later star in a spinoff from that series, Hee Haw Honeys, some time later. There were a couple of other familiar names in the cast. Bernie Kopell, of course, had also been on Get Smart as the villainous Conrad Siegfried, and later moved over to That Girl to play one of Marlo Thomas' neighbors. Dick Van Patten would later rebound with Eight Is Enough, which, coincidentally, would occupy Rotten's timeslot and hang on to it for a few years in the 80's. Henry Polic II would move to the Saturday series, Monster Squad, the next year, then resurface on Webster and the game show, Double Talk, both in the 80's.

I remember sitting in front of the TV watching this and getting some yuks, and wishing it could've been renewed. Here's the theme song:



Years later, Brooks would revisit Sherwood Forest with the feature film, "Robin Hood: Men In Tights", which did decent business, but save for the above video, Rotten remains lost in the Paramount vaults.

Rating: A.

For a New York sports fan, 'tis the season to be queasy......

I think I speak for a lot of Mets fans when I say that they goofed big time----again----by unloading Cy Young Award winner R. A. Dickey in a trade that was completed on Monday. Dickey returns to the American League, where he previously had pitched for Texas, Seattle, & Minnesota (as documented in the movie, "Knuckleball!") before coming to New York in 2010. Next season, Dickey, along with catchers Josh Thole & Mike Nickeas, will reunite with shortstop Jose Reyes in Toronto, where the 2011 NL batting champ was traded just a few short weeks ago from Miami. Catcher John Buck, who was part of the Miami-to-Toronto trade, now gets flipped back to the NL East without playing an inning in Toronto.

I get that the Mets are trying to rebuild their farm system for the future, and one article I read noted parallels between what GM Sandy Alderson is doing now, compared to the work of Frank Cashen 30 years ago, when he inherited an even worse Mets team. However, the departure of the veteran Dickey leaves the Mets with just three front line starters for 2013: Johan Santana, Dillon Gee, & Jonathan Niese, and of those three, only Niese finished the season. Another pitcher, Mike Pelfrey, recovering from Tommy John surgery that ended his season in May, signed with Minnesota on Monday.

The Mets have holes everywhere. They locked up third baseman David Wright with a huge extension, but couldn't spare the extra cheddar to give Dickey what he wanted, and he inked his extension on Monday, sealing the deal with the Blue Jays. They let Jason Bay go, and could lose another outfielder, Scott Hairston, if they're not careful. As noted before, Lucas Duda is recovering from an off-season injury sustained last month. Andres Torres returned to San Francisco as a free agent, so the trade last year ends up as a bust for the Un-Amazin's. Par for the course.

Turning to the NFL, the Jets were eliminated after losing to Tennessee on Monday, 14-10, in another snoozer, although this was more competitive than their Thanksgiving night slaughter at the hands of the hated Patriots. It's looking more and more like owner Woody Johnson will need more than just Band-Aids to fix this team, and Mark Sanchez & Rex Ryan may be on the fast track out of town when the season ends in 2 weeks. The Giants could soon join them, after getting blanked by Atlanta, 34-0, on Sunday. One more loss, be it to either Baltimore or Philadelphia, and they won't get to defend their Super Bowl championship. Nothing new there, but the fact that they can flatline like this after blowing out New Orleans the week before is just maddening, not only to coach Tom Coughlin, but to the fanbase as well.

Since the NHL isn't in session, thanks to a lockout and the glacial pace of negotiations (the Fehr brothers haven't exactly been geniuses when it comes to labor issues, just ask anyone about their work with baseball's players union), the NBA is suddenly more attractive, and in New York, there's a renewed energy, thanks to the hot starts of both the Brooklyn Nets and the NY Knicks, the latter in first place in their division despite losing to Houston on Monday, as the Rockets completed a season sweep. The Knicks have comfort in the fact that they've humbled LeBunco James and the Miami Heat twice this season, which means an el receipto will be headed their way later in the year.......

Oh, and as for the Yankees? Well, they're saying all the right things, acknowledging that Toronto has suddenly become a threat in the AL East. Boston faded, and Tampa Bay is barely above water. No one knows if Baltimore was a 1 year tease or are all in for the long haul. The Yanks lost Andruw Jones, who is headed for Japan next season, and could lose another outfielder, Nick Swisher, while retaining perennial hit machine Ichiro Suzuki. They signed Kevin Youkilis, the latest of the Boston "Idiots" to swap Beantown red for Yankee blue, as a stopgap until Alex Rodriguez recovers from his latest injury.

Any more stupid moves will have the most hardcore fan reaching for the Tums. Stay tuned.

Monday, December 17, 2012

On The Air: Dish Nation (2012)

Celebrity gossip is a regular topic on morning radio, so it seemed to make sense that someone had an idea to build a TV show around gossip on the radio.

Dish Nation launched in September, and is filled with jump cuts from one city to another, with morning teams in Atlanta, Houston, and New York in particular. Representing the Big Apple are veterans Scott Shannon, whose last TV gig was as an original VJ at VH1 in the mid-80's, and Todd Pettengill, who cut his teeth as a morning host in my district in the late 80's-early 90's before moving to his current gig. During his early years in NYC, Pettengill also signed with the then-World Wrestling Federation to host a Saturday morning highlight show, and spent more than 4 1/2 years with the promotion before leaving in the fall of 1997.

Edit: 12/9/14: The original video posted was deleted. In its place, co-host Rickey Smiley appears on Good Day LA to talk up the show in the only remaining clip related to season 1.



The jump-cutting is necessary since they can't get some of these folks in the same building to tape a week's worth of shows in a singular studio. Meh, that's the price you pay for experimenting.

Rating: C.

God does not approve: Westboro Baptist is at it again!

"Like sands through the hourglass, so are the days of our lives"---
                                                                                                spoken by MacDonald Carey at the beginning of Days of Our Lives from its beginning in 1965.

The above statement can now be amended to apply to the psycho-zealots of Westboro Baptist Church. The Kansas-based church announced plans to---wait for it----protest the funerals of the young victims of Friday's massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary. Their agenda is actually obvious. The state of Connecticut recently legalized same-sex marriage, which the Phelps family and their brainwashed congregation see as a red flag and an invitation to extend their 15 minutes of infamy.

However, this time, someone has finally come along to put a stop to this nonsense. The secret "hacktivist" group collectively known as Anonymous posted what they claimed was personal information about certain church members, and accused Westboro Baptist of "breeding hatred". Well, gee, there's a revelation for you. They've also launched a petition calling for the church's tax-exempt status to be revoked because of a number of factors, including the accusation that the church really isn't a church anymore, but rather a cult, and that the congregation has shrunken in number, according to an article found on Yahoo! News. Congregation members have been present at funerals in Aurora, Colorado earlier this year, and in Tucson. A second petition is calling for the church to be rebranded as a hate group. What other hate groups do you know that use funerals as bully pulpits when they should be taking their anti-gay case to the state capitals and governments?

Simply put, Westboro wants to keep themselves in the news, but the first real threat to their bullying tactics may be the thing that takes them out of play once and for all. Stay tuned.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

2 Classics reborn: The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour (1983-4)

When Hershey's invented their Reese's family of peanut butter cup products, their ad campaign touted the union of "two great tastes that go great together". NBC tried doing the same by reviving a pair of classic game shows as a 1 hour entity, and it went down in flames.

The Match Game-Hollywood Squares Hour debuted on Halloween in 1983, and maybe that was a bad sign in and of itself. Original Squares host Peter Marshall had just finished a run with Fantasy, the first new series for producer Merrill Heatter without newly retired partner Bob Quigley, but was not asked to return to the tic-tac-toe game that made him a television icon, denying him the opportunity to work with good friend Gene Rayburn. Instead, Mark Goodson went outside the box and hired ex-Sha Na Na frontman Jon "Bowzer" Bauman to inherit Marshall's role as the "Master of the Hollywood Squares". Big mistake. Take away the grease and the basso profundo voice, and Bauman looked like just another guy doing a game show for the first time. He just didn't look right filling Marshall's role, and whatever friendship he'd cultivated with Rayburn over the years when he was a panelist on Match Game had dissolved. Less than a year later, this hybrid series was cancelled.

Incidentally, Bauman was going solo on a syndicated show, The Pop 'N' Rocker Game, which aired on weekends in fewer homes than his NBC gig, and, yep, that too was axed after 1 season. After that, Bauman was hired as one of VH1's first on-air personalities, and lasted a couple of years there. Today, he's a bloated shell of his former self doing the nostalgia circuit. Rayburn passed away a few years back, and is up in game show heaven with a couple of the panelists in this episode, long-time pal Charles Nelson Reilly & Phyllis Diller.

Uploaded by Blackwood Company.



Rating: B-.

An epidemic of lunacy

What hath Adam Lanza wrought?

The 20 year old who slaughtered nearly 2 dozen innocent children Friday before committing suicide wasn't the only one who had ideas about mass murder this close to Christmas. Consider:

In Oklahoma, an 18 year old wanted to recruit friends to lure other students into an enclosed room, lock up the room, and kill the duped victims. This guy was busted Friday morning, central time, presumably before the Newtown massacre, after police had received a tip on Thursday night.

In Southern California, a 40-something man opened fire in a crowded shopping mall on Saturday, shooting some 50 bullets in the air. No one was killed or injured, and the gunman in this case is presently cooling his heels in the local jail as well.

In Indiana, a 60 year old man with 47 different guns in his possession was also arrested Friday after he tried to first kill his wife, threatening to burn her to death if she fell asleep, then saying that if he wanted to, he'd go into a nearby elementary school. The way it was described by Yahoo! News, it sounds like Von Meyer, the Indiana man, might've wanted to duplicate what Lanza did in Newtown. However, because of his age, it's assumed that Meyer might be a little delusional. As was the case in Oklahoma, police were contacted on Thursday, and Meyer was arrested early Friday.

Back in Newtown, police were called to a Catholic church in the city this morning after some loser phoned in a bomb threat, forcing evacuation of the parish, which was standing room only in the wake of Friday's massacre. Police aren't sure if this was some prankster's idea of a sick joke. If it is, it isn't funny at all.

Will this madness ever stop? Eventually, but making amendments to existing gun control laws or implementing new ones isn't the answer. What is the answer, though, is identifying potential threats and addressing them in a civilized, professional manner before more innocents are harmed. Also, minimalizing the tabloid media's obsessive need to overanalyze these incidents needs to be addressed. Now.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Massacre in Newtown: An update

Since I wrote my initial post on this subject, more information has come to light on the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown Ct. on Friday, and it is predictably disturbing.

The shooter, Adam Lanza, took his own life. Par for the course. The New York Daily News, in today's editions, reported that Lanza was----wait for it----diagnosed with an undisclosed personality disorder. In other words, this mook might have been schizophrenic. Worse still, he was carrying his brother's ID, which is why said brother, Ryan, was initially ID'd as the perp. Lanza, 20, slew his mother, who was a teacher at the school, then went to the school and killed 26 more, including 20 children (up from 18 in the initial posting), before turning the gun on himself to avoid going to jail and accepting the consequences and responsibility for his heinous actions.

One clue as to his motive might be the fact that his parents were divorced, and the father has long since remarried. Ryan Lanza told reporters he hadn't seen Adam in more than 2 years, which asks a more important question. How did Adam get hold of one of his brother's ID cards?

There is a local angle to this case in relation to my home district. The principal at Sandy Hook was in line for a doctorate from Russell Sage College, and thus, The Record ran a feature piece on her.

The biggest question remains unspoken, of course, in every other city. What if this happens here? We don't know that for sure. While schools around the country are using metal detectors and other means of security to dissuade kids from carrying guns into school to resolve personal conflicts, they still have to watch for the disillusioned, disaffected, disconnected-from-reality types who somehow, despite their afflictions, can gain access to guns and think that it solves all their problems. No, it doesn't. It never will.

Countdown to Christmas: St. Day Carol (1968)

From Here Come The Brides comes a tender Christmas ballad that has rarely been heard otherwise.

Toward the end of the episode, "A Christmas Place", Joshua & Jeremy Bolt (David Soul & Bobby Sherman) perform an acoustic duet of "St. Day Carol", also known as "Sans Day Carol". While Sherman would go on to a brief but productive career on the pop charts during the first half of the 70's, it'd be 8 more years before we'd hear Soul sing again ("Don't Give Up On Us", which was posted a while back).

Uploaded by Clydesplace.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Is this the price of innocence? 18 children dead in Connecticut

Until today, I hadn't heard of the small town of Newtown, Connecticut. You probably didn't, either, but we're going to be acquainted with the city for a while in the wake of a Columbine-esque massacre that took place this morning.

At last count, more than 2 dozen people, most of them children, were killed by another one of these self-esteem-challenged punks cut off from reality and taking out their lack of social standing on innocent victims. Predictably, the gunman is dead, but his accomplice is in police custody. Assuming he has any sense, he'll offer at least some semblance of remorse for his part in this.

It makes the incident in an Oregon shopping mall seem tame by comparison, especially in terms of body count. In time, we'll learn the names of these socially disengaged young men, and Inside Edition and the evening news will devote plenty of time for days to come to this tragedy.

But is that what these guys really wanted? Is that what any of these gunsels want in the first place? 15 minutes of fame, extended to who knows when (the news coverage stops)? Real bright, guys. NOT!!!!

At the very least, instead of letting this be a blueprint for the next guy with a grudge to go postal, there should be a counter-point, such as, obviously, psychiatric counseling. If these guys are indeed lacking self-esteem and have no idea how to address those issues, there's no shame in seeking help. Sadly, none of these guys ever consider that option. To them, the mindset is "Me Against the World". That's the wrong way to address it. Labeling these kids as mentally ill isn't the answer, either. That gives the mental health system a black eye every time there's one of these incidents.

Again, there's no shame in asking for help, whether it's asking a parent, a psychologist, or even a clergyman. That option's always there. Just take a few extra seconds to think it out before you do something you'll regret later.

Weasel of the Week: KTBS-TV management

There are things that I just don't get.

In Shreveport, Louisiana, a meteorologist was fired from her TV gig because she had the courtesy to politely respond to a viewer's complaint on the station's Facebook page about her hair. Viewers, including the guy who started this whole fracas in the first place, are demanding that she get her job back.

On October 1, Emmitt Vascocu left a message on KTBS-TV's public Facebook page being critical of the short hairstyle of meteorologist Rhonda Lee. Ms. Lee responded with a very polite message thanking Vascocu for his comments, and even educated him on her African-American heritage, including her hair. Vascocu apologized. Another unenlightened soul left a message and also got a polite response. Ms. Lee's superiors at the station didn't take too kindly to her out-front approach in handling this matter, feeling that such problems should be left well enough alone.

SAY WHAT?

Instead of supporting Ms. Lee, the suits at KTBS fired her for "violating their social media policy", which Ms. Lee contends she was not fully aware of, nor did anyone try to explain it to her ahead of time, on November 14. Instead, these clowns put their heads in the sand, leaving a valued, trusted on-air personality out in the open to deal with this criticism alone. That's tantamount to throwing her under the bus and letting it run over her. Real classy, guys. NOT!!!!

Rhonda Lee demonstrated class, dignity, and respect throughout, and she is rewarded with a pink slip. Let me put it this way. If she wasn't African-American, she might still have her job. Since no one person at KTBS is willing to own up to making this lame decision, the management team gets the Weasel ears this week. Let's see them talk their way out of that.


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Countdown to Christmas: Jack Benny goes "Christmas Shopping" (1957)

Jack Benny's on-air reputation, forged first on radio, then on television, was that of a miser who was loathe to spend big for any reason. In this holiday offering from The Jack Benny Program, Jack, like everyone else, sallies forth to buy Christmas gifts for his friends, including his valet, Rochester (Eddie Anderson). Mel Blanc guest stars in this 1957 episode.



Jewish Life TV airs the series every now and then, so this episode is bound to show up there before Christmas.

Rating: A.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Classic TV: Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1964)

From 1964-70, producer Irwin Allen tried to be a major player in television before turning to films. Three series were sold to ABC, and a fourth (Lost In Space) found its way to CBS.

The first series, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, anchored (pun intended) ABC's Sunday primetime lineup from its launch in 1964. Spun off from the movie of the same name, Voyage starred Richard Basehart as Admiral Nelson and David Hedison (who starred in the original "The Fly") as Capt. Lee Crane. The crew of the Seaview fought not only enemy spies, but an assortment of bizarre threats during its run.

Mona0628 uploaded this season 4 episode, which reunites Hedison with one of his "Fly" co-stars, horror icon Vincent Price, in "The Deadly Dolls":



Me-TV holds the rights to the series, and has it running on weekends in late night. Apparently, it doesn't fit in with the westerns & crime dramas during the daytime.....

Rating: B.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Musical Interlude: Metal Head (1983)

Blotto, the kings of the upstate NY music scene in the early 80's, were way ahead of the curve when they unleashed "Metal Head" in 1983. They could see the emergence of heavy metal in the mainstream, thanks of course to MTV. Like, you couldn't escape the sounds of Judas Priest, Quiet Riot, and the Scorpions, to name a few, back then. Blue Oyster Cult's Buck Dharma makes a guest appearance, as the Cult and Blotto have been friends for a long time. In fact, years later, Blotto would open for the Blue Oyster Cult on a nostalgia-driven twilight show at Albany's Corning Preserve.

It's just too bad I never saw Blotto during the glory years, that's all I have to say.

Uploaded by.......wait for it.....Blottodotnet.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Countdown to Christmas: The Heart of Christmas (2011)

Christian pop singer Matthew West released "The Heart of Christmas" last year. The video comes from West's VEVO channel.



Enough said. Amen.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Classic reborn?: East Hollywood Squares (In Living Color, 1990's)

Give Keenan Ivory Wayans credit. The man knows his television history.

The founding father of the Fox hit, In Living Color, made one of the smartest decisions of his career when it came to mounting a skit sending up Hollywood Squares. Rather than call on the most recent host at the time, John Davidson, Wayans went one step further, and called on the original master of the Squares, no less than Peter Marshall, who was doing some guest-star work back in those days, having acted on The Love Boat, among others, but at least for one night, and probably whenever they did this skit, Marshall was back in the millieu that made him an icon.

Like, hey, it's better than having Jim Carrey try to impersonate Marshall, and fail.



Look at it this way. Howard Stern tried to do a parody of Squares on his NYC-based TV show, sans Marshall, and it bombed. Badly.

Rating: B+.

What Might've Been: Ghost Story (1972)

Ever wonder why horror-themed series are so few & far between on television? I have, too, but I wish I could come up with an answer that made sense.

In 1972, NBC tried to fill the need with a one-hour anthology series, Ghost Story, which was the brainchild of filmmaker William Castle ("Rosemary's Baby", "The Tingler"). Television vet Sebastian Cabot (ex-Family Affair) was cast as Winston Essex, who served as the show's host. A nice idea, but what killed this project was where it was placed on the schedule---on Friday nights. Never mind that it had Sanford & Son among its lead-ins, Ghost Story for some reason lost viewers as the night progressed.

Halfway through the season, NBC & Screen Gems decided on a change of title and format. Gone was the heavy emphasis on the supernatural, and Cabot was cut right along with it. The series title was changed to Circle of Fear, which bore more of a resemblance to an earlier NBC anthology, Kraft Suspense Theatre in that it involved more common murder mysteries and less things that go bump in the night. Also, with Cabot gone, the network hired American Top 40 host Casey Kasem as off-screen announcer. I know this first-hand from having seen at least one episode back in the day. Kasem parlayed this gig into becoming NBC's house announcer for a few years.

Jpwrites uploaded this open from an episode of Ghost Story, which would end up being Sebastian Cabot's last series.



Sony owns the rights to the series, but it's languishing in the vaults somewhere, though I understand it was meant to be released on DVD. Ghost Story aspired to be a, ah, spiritual successor to Rod Serling's Night Gallery, but was left wanting. Circle of Fear wanted to be more like those radio mysteries from back in the day, and was ignored. Some people just don't know a good thing when they see it.

Rating: B+.

Update, 8/23/13: Capnvid47 uploaded the open to Circle of Fear. Unfortunately, Casey Kasem's voice-over intro has been long since deleted.

Countdown to Christmas: The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas (1973)

Now, here's a holiday treat long forgotten, as it hasn't aired on cable in years.

DePatie-Freleng produced The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas for NBC in 1973, and assembled a star-laden cast for the 30-minute special. Tommy Smothers is the bear in the title, as Ted E. Bear, whose curiosity about Christmas has him postponing his hibernation for a while. The voice cast also includes Arte Johnson (Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In), Barbara Feldon (ex-Get Smart), and, as the narrator, in his first gig for DFE, radio & cartoon icon Casey Kasem.

Lionsgate now owns the rights to Bear, and have been seemingly reluctant to air it on TV for some reason. In fact, in order to get the complete special, you have to buy it, or rent it for at least 24 hours for $1.99, according to YouTube. As it is, Lionsgate's Video On Demand channel on YouTube provides this sample, encompassing the first 2 minutes or so, with a tag at the end urging you to buy the video in order to view it in its entirety.

Hey, it ain't my fault, pilgrims.



Rating: A.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Countdown to Christmas: All I Want For Christmas Is You (2012)

I'm pretty sure you've heard the buzz on this one.

Earlier this week, Mariah Carey stopped by Late Night With Jimmy Fallon and, with the aid of Fallon, his house band, the Roots, and some school children, redid her 1994 Christmas hit, "All I Want For Christmas Is You", with Fallon & the Roots improvising by using classroom instruments. Like, hey, hey, hey, Fat Albert started this way---sort of---40 years ago!

Uploaded by the series' YouTube channel:

Friday, December 7, 2012

What Might've Been: The Kopykats (1972)

They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. What happens when you bring some of the greatest impressionists together under one roof? It's supposed to be classic comedy at its best. Unfortunately, it happened to be on the wrong night of the week.

The Kopykats were the stars of the short-lived ABC Comedy Hour in 1972, a mid-season replacement series that was supposed to be the network's answer to the Kraft Music Hall over on NBC, which had ended its run. The troupe included top talent such as Rich Little, Frank Gorshin, George Kirby, & Fred Travelena. The Kopykats appeared in 7 out of the 13 episodes, and those 7 were repeated during the summer of '72, with the the amended title, The ABC Comedy Hour Presents the Kopykats.

Istash posted the following complilation clip, with Kirby & Marilyn Michaels as Archie & Edith Bunker in an All In The Family skit, which is ironic when you think about it. Next, Kirby & Michaels are Ralph & Alice Kramden, and Rich Little is hysterical as Ed Norton, in The Honeymooners.

I should note that Joe Baker would join Little on his NBC variety show 4 years later, and embark on a brief voice acting career during the remainder of the decade.



This was flat-out hysterical. If you loved the Honeymooners or All In The Family, you'll fall out of your chair laughing. Rating: A+.

Countdown to Christmas: I Think You Might Like It (2012)

You know, I just don't get media hype sometimes.

John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John are together again, this time on a Christmas album, but the spin-meisters are intentionally forgetting that the duo last appeared together in 1983's "Two of a Kind", which was a bomb at the box office, despite the fact that they had scored a monster hit 5 years prior with, of course, "Grease". "Take a Chance", the B-side to "Twist of Fate" on the soundtrack, was the last time Travolta had gotten any radio airplay, as I don't think there were any singles released from the remake of "Hairspray" a few years ago. The chemistry is still there on their first single since '83, "I Think You Might Like It", which also includes a guest appearance by Travolta's actress-wife, Kelly Preston.

The video comes from Olivia Newton-John's VEVO channel:

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Classic TV: The Muppet Show (1976)

In some respects, since Kermit the Frog was a featured star, The Muppet Show would be a spin-off from the long running PBS series, Sesame Street, except that the Children's Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop) had nothing to do with the show. Instead, it was produced by England's ITC, better known for its line of spy shows (i.e. The Saint), puppet shows (Thunderbirds), and had a sci-fi series on the air around the same time that Muppet Show hit the air (Space: 1999). ITC had done variety before, having packaged shows with Tom Jones, Val Doonigan, & Engelbert Humperdinck between the late 60's & early 70's, all for ABC here in the US. The Muppet Show, lasting 5 seasons in syndication, would be the studio's most successful variety series.

The show was set in a theatre that was being leased to Kermit and the gang by J. P. Closse, whose nephew, Scooter, was the go-fer, who meant well, but was often presented as a bumbler.

Following is a season 2 musical number with Rich Little:




There were the classic comedy skits that have become just as much a part of pop culture as the show itself. In later years, the series found a cable home on the Disney Channel, and today, Disney owns the rights to the series, but can't be bothered to dust it off and put it on one of their networks for a new generation. It certainly would've helped with last year's "The Muppets" feature film.......!

Rating: A.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Dave Brubeck (1920-2012)

It has come across the wires that jazz icon Dave Brubeck has passed away at 91, just one day short of his 92nd birthday.

In 1959, Brubeck recorded his signature tune, "Take Five":



Mere words just aren't enough here. While I never saw Brubeck play, I think everyone has at one time heard "Take Five" and gained an appreciation for jazz, and for Brubeck in particular. Rest in peace, Dave. Heaven's orchestra just got bigger.

Dunce Cap Award: Hannah Sabata

It's too bad America's Dumbest Criminals didn't quite work out, because this week's Dunce Cap winner certainly would qualify.

Hannah Sabata, 19, pulled a robbery in Waco, Nebraska a week ago, and decided to brag about it on YouTube. She uploaded this video herself under the name, "Jellie Beanie":



Dum-de-dum-dum-dummmmmmb!

What is it with kids today? They brag about doing things like this as if it's some great achievement. To quote Aretha Franklin and the late Whitney Houston's classic duet from years ago, it isn't, it wasn't, and it ain't ever gonna be! Ms. Sabata was arrested Tuesday as a result of her airheaded decision, and she claims the government is at fault. Please. None of this would be happening, methinks, if she bothered to get a job. For now, she gets a Dunce Cap for advertising her stupidity and making it easy for the police to find her.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Countdown to Christmas: The Big Little Jesus (Dragnet, 1954)

Dragnet presented a Christmas tale in 1954 that was later remade for the 1967-70 version.

The keynote to this tale is the theft of a Nativity scene from a Los Angeles parish, and it's up to Joe Friday (Jack Webb) & Frank Smith (Ben Alexander) to locate the missing Nativity. I remember seeing the remake many times, and the surprise reveal is worth the price of admission alone.

Uploaded by Pizzaflix. George Fenneman (You Bet Your Life) is the announcer.



Rating: A.

Football this 'n' that

Three days later, there is still some buzz over the murder-suicide of Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher and his girlfriend, leaving their 3 month old daughter orphaned. The child is living with her grandmother in Long Island, but will face questions later on about why her mom & dad were gone so soon.

Meanwhile, NBC commentator Bob Costas has come under fire for using his halftime commentary segment on Sunday to take a stand on gun control. The real issue, as had been speculated upon in the newspapers on Monday, was whether or not Belcher was suffering from any sort of brain trauma after four years with the Chiefs, who signed him as an undrafted free agent out of Maine in 2009. We won't know the answers on that score for a while yet.

The NFC East race tightened on Monday as Washington bested the Giants, but there might be a bit of controversy surrounding the Redskins' 1st touchdown. Quarterback Robert Griffin III was tackled, but appeared to fumble. The ball popped right into the hands of receiver Josh Morgan, who scored the touchdown. Replay confirmed it, but in this writer's opinion, it shouldn't have. Griffin looked like he was down by contact. Instead, he got the benefit of the star system favoring him at home. The zebras botched this one. The ground can't cause a fumble, by rule, but since there wasn't enough evidence to prove he was down.......! Yeah, right.

The clock, though, is ticking on Andy Reid in Philadelphia. The Eagles came oh so close, yet oh so far in losing to Dallas on Sunday, and then Reid finally decided that rookie Nick Foles would be the starter for the rest of the year, which means the end of the trail for Michael Vick in Philly, and probably, Reid as well. If Vick is healthy enough to play, he should be back in there at QB. Foles is 0-3 as a starter.

The Jets are almost in the same predicament. Mark Sanchez was benched Sunday, and with Tim Tebow inactive due to a rib injury, Greg McElroy, out of Alabama, took over and led New York over Arizona. However, Rex Ryan won't commit to a starter for next week's game vs. Jacksonville just yet. Tebow may not be ready. McElroy's been waiting for his chance, and Sanchez has regressed so far, his time in New York may be over. If the Jets don't make the playoffs, Ryan's time could be over, too.

The Bowl Championship Series title game is set, with Alabama looking to repeat by beating Notre Dame. It's a classic matchup that will guarantee major ratings for ESPN, which will carry the game on January 7. There are still those doubters who don't think the Fighting Irish deserve to be there, the main argument being, perhaps, that the school is still an independent in football, or some other lame excuse. The BCS is on its last legs, with a playoff format taking effect two years from now, but it's finally delivered a quality matchup that fans have wanted. There will be those people, not just ND loyalists, mind, that will want the Irish to break the Southeastern Conference's stranglehold on the BCS title trophy. That storyline sells itself. There won't be any need for channel surfing that night, trust me.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Countdown To Christmas: 12 Days of Christmas (1982)

SCTV's most popular segment had to be The Great White North, a parody of talk shows hosted by Bob & Doug McKenzie (Rick Moranis & Dave Thomas). In the early 80's, the McKenzie bros were just flat out everywhere, eh? A feature film, "Strange Brew", didn't exactly win over critics and moviegoers, but it's probably a guilty pleasure for anyone who's a true, loyal fan of the Second City troupe.

Prior to "Brew", however, was "The Great White North", the album, released in 1982. The album produced two novelty singles. The first, "Take Off", featured fellow Canadian Geddy Lee of Rush, and got tons of airplay on radio, though no video was ever made. There wasn't a video made for Bob & Doug's wacky take on "The 12 Days of Christmas", but some enterprising souls, identified at the beginning of the following video, decided to create their own version, complete with an animated Bob & Doug.

The most ironic thing of all is, nearly 30 years later, after a successful movie career ("Honey, I Shrunk The Kids", "Ghostbusters", etc.), Rick Moranis decided to turn his attention to----wait for it----country music. I kid you not. Heard about it on a VH1 special. I'll try to find a clip if available. Until then, scope out the McKenzies' "12 Days Of Christmas".

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Countdown to Christmas: The Tiny Tree (1975)

Here's a holiday treat you just don't see too often anymore.

DePatie Freleng produced The Tiny Tree, which bowed in 1975, and was an annual attraction for the remainder of the decade and into the 80's, though I think it went out of circulation by the 90's. It aired in primetime, but I never got to see it, hence, there won't be a rating.

If memory serves, this aired on CBS, which made sense, since one of their stars, Buddy Ebsen (Barnaby Jones) stars here as the voice behind Squire Badger. R & B star Roberta Flack is the featured vocalist, with music composed by the legendary Johnny Marks (Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer).

Uploaded by BobHershey.

Musical Interlude: Blood & Roses (1986)

The Smithereens burst onto the scene in 1986 with the driving "Blood & Roses", used in the movie, "Dangerously Close". It gained a lot of heavy radio airplay, but until today, I hadn't seen the video, shown below, and uploaded via the band's official YouTube channel.



Edit, 12/9/16: Here's the original video, courtesy of the Smithereens' Vevo channel.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Weasel of the Week: David Stern

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman isn't the worst in his position anymore.

That dubious honor now goes to outgoing NBA Commissioner David Stern, who levied a $250,000 fine against the San Antonio Spurs on Friday after the Spurs' coach, Gregg Popovich, opted to rest four of his star players and sent them back to San Antonio instead of playing them in a nationally televised game on Thursday against the NBA champion Miami Heat.

To Stern, it's all about the perception of "image" as far as the Association is concerned, but it's a bunch of smoke & mirrors. Stern prefers to market his league based on individual stars, but it's still a team game, which is how Popovich operates his team. 4 NBA titles speak for themselves as far as San Antonio goes. So why punish Popovich for doing what he felt was the right thing in the long term, given that there are still as many as 7 months left in the season, counting the playoffs?

Because, in Stern's twisted mind, the Spurs, despite having the likes of Tony Parker & Tim Duncan, don't generate ratings or controversy. Parker, for example, isn't tabloid bait anymore now that he's divested himself of actress Eva Longoria (the two divorced a year or two ago). The Spurs were wrapping up a long road trip, and, in Popovich's mind, he needed to give some of his stars a break. To his credit, the Spurs played hard for 48 minutes, losing by 5. That doesn't satisfy Stern in the least bit. With him, it's all about the darlings of Madison Avenue (i.e. LeBron James), and preserving the facade that serves as the league's image. Remember last season, when Stern maneuvered a deal that led to Chris Paul going to the Clippers? That was because the league had ownership of the New Orleans Hornets at the time, and Stern blocked a trade to the Staples Center's other tenants, the Lakers. What purpose did that serve?

What purpose does Stern serve now, having overstayed his welcome in the NBA? Actually, none. He's making it harder for some people to actually care, and by that, I mean the casual fans who usually are surfing for somethng else on the tube, be it wrestling, football, or, say for example, CSI. He doesn't really care about the fans, otherwise, he'd finally get a clue and reduce ticket prices to make them more affordable for Joe Sixpack and his working class family. Anyone that thinks that Adam Silver, the commish-in-waiting, will be a change of pace will be fooling themselves. As long as Madison Avenue suits and network executives have something to say about the Association's product, nothing's changing.

That is, unless Stern finally realizes he's wrong. He joins Andrea Peyser as this week's Weasel for showing no class or respect toward a franchise that actually does things the way they're meant to be. Pete Rozelle wasn't a fan of the late Al Davis. Stern and the Spurs are on that same primrose path, and it's all Stern's fault.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Dunce Cap Award: Alec Baldwin

30 Rock star and Capital One Bank pitchman Alec Baldwin proved he's not as smart as he thinks he is.

Baldwin's back in the news, particularly the New York tabloids, after Genevieve Sabourin, who reportedly had been stalking the actor for some time, even before he wed Hilaria Thomas earlier this year, was arrested earlier this week. Sabourin is this generation's Margaret Ray, a celebrity stalker who just won't go away. More on that later.

After New York Post columnist Andrea Peyser wrote a piece in Thursday's editions in support of Sabourin, Baldwin earned his Dunce Cap Award by ripping into Peyser & the Post via Twitter. Understandably upset over Sabourin's harassment of his wife, also via Twitter, Baldwin went on the defensive, but by venting his rage at the paper, he only gave them more grist for the mill. If you want the gossip hounds off your trail, don't feed them crumbs every time you turn around. How simple is that? If only Lindsay Lohan, who did get a runner-up vote this week, by the way, would learn that painful lesson.

Sabourin claims she's had a 2 year relationship with Baldwin. Oh? So how come they've never been seen dating? Because the relationship, it seems, is all in the poor woman's head, like so many other deluded souls before her. She went after Hilaria Thomas-Baldwin simply to get under Alec's skin yet again. Classic. We can't give Sabourin a Dunce Cap because she just isn't in her right mind, and needs psychiatric help.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the tragic story of Margaret Ray, she famously, and repeatedly, broke into David Letterman's home and would claim to police that she was the talk show icon's wife, which of course wasn't true. No amount of psychiatric care could cure her, apparently, and she left us a few years back. I have this feeling that Genevieve Sabourin is following that same primrose path.

Oh, and one more thing. We'll give Andrea Peyser the Weasel ears for not reading between the lines and realizing that Sabourin, whose cause she's championed, is in the wrong for pursuing the Baldwins the way she has, and using her column to beg for, oh, I don't know, sympathy, maybe, for Sabourin? Alec Baldwin should've known better than to give the media more fuel for the fire, further tarnishing his own star. After 30 Rock ends its run this season, and after the likely other shoe dropping if Capital One decides to cut Baldwin from their celebrity roster, it'll be hard for Baldwin to land another high profile gig so quickly. Of course, I could be wrong.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Countdown to Christmas: The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978)

It is regarded as one of the worst Christmas specials in television history, which is a little bit odd, considering that it is spun off from one of the biggest movie franchises of the latter half of the 20th century.

In 1978, CBS presented The Star Wars Holiday Special, which reunited most of the cast of the previous year's sci-fi blockbuster. Critics panned it, and it was never shown on television again. It would be another few years before the next film, "Empire Strikes Back", hit theatres, and, you know the rest.

FuzzyMemories.TV uploaded this clip, which includes Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) singing an "Ode to Life Day", which is how they celebrate Christmas in a galaxy far, far away.........



Rating: D. What I saw of this wasn't that great, and I was looking for something else to watch in short order.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Marvin Miller (1917-2012)

For years, Major League Baseball operated under a different system that bound players to their teams, leaving the players with little or no say as to their contract status.

In 1966, Marvin Miller, a labor economist who'd worked with some labor unions, such as the United Auto Workers (UAW), was elected as the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players Association (MLBPA). It was Miller who negotiated baseball's first collective bargaining agreement in 1968. Because it was a labor union, after all, inevitably, the players went on strike three times, and were locked out twice, under Miller's watch (1966-82). In between, Miller opened the doorway to free agency and arbitration, leading to the steadily increasing salaries today's owners are still dealing with. In short, if you've got a beef with today's players adopting a vagabond, mercenary mentality, changing teams on a seemingly annual basis, well, Miller would get the lion's share of the blame.

Miller passed away on Tuesday at 95, long since retired from his involvement with baseball, and has been denied entry into the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, despite endorsements from Commissioner Allan "Bud" Selig all the way down to current players. Miller won't be eligible until the class of 2014 after his last bid failed, and it'll be every three years going forward. It is believed that the pool of current & former team executives on the Veterans' Committee denied Miller induction out of spite because of what his efforts had done to them in an adverse manner. Because he made as much of an impact on the game to this day as any player, manager, or executive of that same era, Miller should finally be allowed his place.

Rest in peace.

Countdown to Christmas: A Vision of Sugar Plums (Bewitched, 1964)

From Season 1 of Bewitched comes this holiday tale that illustrates two sides of the story about caring for orphans at Christmas.

Abner Kravitz (George Tobias) is only agreeing to take in an orphan for Christmas only, despite wife Gladys' attempts to convince him otherwise. They don't have children, and this would be a good start. Meanwhile, Darrin (Dick York) & Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery), with a new Christmas tree installed at home, welcome a young boy (Billy Mumy, one year before Lost In Space) into their home. I am not certain, but this might've given the producers the impetus to eventually give the Stephenses their own children (Tabitha & Adam) in later seasons to complete the family.



Update: 12/19/15: This episode is included on a DVD compilation I recently acquired, so I finally got to see this. The colorized version you're seeing (now all in one, though the Dailymotion poster put the wrong episode number & title on it purposely to avoid the copyright police), presumably, comes from a rebroadcast when the series went to color. Look close for a cameo by Bill Daily (one year before I Dream of Jeannie) and Gerry Johnson (who took over for Bea Benaderet on The Flintstones) at the end of the show.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Celebrity Rock: Windmills of Your Mind (1969)

If you only know Ed Ames from his work as Mingo on Daniel Boone, it's easy to forget that he was a singer first, and had a pretty fine run of success with the Ames Brothers some years prior to Boone. In July of 1969, Ames was a guest on The Johnny Cash Show and sang Henry Mancini's "The Windmills of Your Mind".  Ed was on a bill that also included the Monkees (minus Peter Tork) and Roy Clark (Hee Haw). PeterRabbit59 uploaded this long missing gem, complete with intro by Johnny Cash.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Let the kids play: Storybook Squares (1977)

In the late 70's, NBC, presumably after years of viewer requests, decided to bring back the Storybook Squares as a holiday treat on the parent Hollywood Squares. Storybook, as a stand-alone Saturday afternoon series, aired for 8 months in 1969. This time, announcer Kenny Williams is blowing one of the trumpets and acting as town crier instead of the "Guardian of the Gate", as they didn't completely reassemble the original Storybook set, which was pretty cool when you think about it.

The biggest change is that it's not just the kids that are playing this time. Their parents get in on the action. Jared Oswald uploaded this July 1977 offering with guests including Karen Valentine,



Sadly, as the franchise has been revived twice since the original series ended in 1981, no one has bothered to try the Storybook format again. You know MTV ain't gonna, not with Hip Hop Squares.

Rating: A.