Monday, March 31, 2014

What Might've Been: Bert D'Angelo: Superstar (1976)

Quinn Martin, to be perfectly blunt, ran into a streak of bad luck in the mid-70's.

With Streets of San Francisco doing well on ABC, and Cannon & Barnaby Jones in the top 20 on CBS, Martin proved he still had a Midas touch. Unfortunately, even the best are prone to clunkers. His first sale to NBC, Banyon, was a bust, and the only other QM series NBC gained came after the studio'd been sold to Taft Broadcasting, making it a sister company to Hanna-Barbera. And, like Banyon, Tales of the Unexpected & A Man Called Sloane lasted but one year each.

Over at ABC, Martin had bombed out headlining Burt Reynolds in Dan August, but in the winter of 1976, he tried out another Bert---Bert D'Angelo: Superstar, about an egotistical cop (Paul Sorvino) who wasn't in the mold of your typical Martin cops. Superstar lasted six months (February-July) before being given the boot. By that point, Martin had long been usurped by Aaron Spelling as the go-to producer for crime drama at ABC.

No episodes are available on YouTube, which tells you how obscure this series is. However, it wouldn't be the last sale to ABC. All we have is a promo, narrated by studio announcer Ernie Anderson:



No rating. Never saw the show.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Classic TV: Remington Steele (1982)

Pierce Brosnan's career path toward inheriting the mantle of James Bond is almost similar to that of Roger Moore, who played Bond in the 70's and early 80's. Moore had starred in a number of TV series, including Maverick and The Saint, but Brosnan needed only one series.

Brosnan, then unknown to American audiences, was cast as the title character in Remington Steele, which spent 4 full seasons, plus 3 TV-movies to make up the 5th season, on NBC from 1982-7. Steele was actually a con man, true identity never revealed, who walked right into a perfect opportunity when private eye Laura Holt (Stephanie Zimbalist) needed a male boss for her detective agency, since she was getting few clients. The romantic tension between the two developed gradually, and would have led to marriage, had NBC's Brandon Tartikoff not made the decision to cancel the series after 4 seasons. When the decision was reversed, there was still no room for a full-time slot for the 5th season, so they went with the TV-movie format.

Steele was also the first series gig for Zimbalist, a 2nd generation star, having previously appeared in the miniseries, Centennial, among others. She also had the benefit of having her father, Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. (ex-The F. B. I.), appearing periodically as Daniel Chalmers, a master con artist and mentor to Steele. As it would turn out, there was more to that link than previously revealed.

After making a few guest appearances in season 2, Doris Roberts (ex-Angie) joined the show full-time as IRS agent turned operative Mildred Krebs. Roberts landed the gig after an audition following a guest appearance on another NBC series, St. Elsewhere, which, like Steele, came from MTM Productions. It should be noted that after Steele & Elsewhere ended their runs, MTM never sold another series to NBC. While Brosnan finally got his license to kill as Bond, Roberts would return to series television a decade after Steele ended, returning to her comedy roots in Everybody Loves Raymond.

If you ever wondered why Moonlighting, which came along a couple of years after Steele and aired opposite Steele, seemed so similar in tone, well, series creator Glen Gordon Caron had been a writer on Steele during the first season.

Courtesy of Hulu, we present the season 2 finale, "Elementary Steele", in which we find Sherlock Holmes & Dr. Watson in a decidedly different light........




Steele airs on Sundays on Me-TV, so if you missed the fun the first time, now's your chance to catch up.

Rating: B.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

A Classic Reborn: Masquerade Party (1974)

It was a clever premise, a twist on the panel shows such as What's My Line? or I've Got a Secret.

Masquerade Party, however, went through a number of emcees over the course of its initial 8 year run (1952-60), including Bert Parks and CBS newsman Douglas Edwards. Comic Allan Sherman served as a producer, and may have also had something to do with the genesis of the series.

Of course, the original Masquerade Party was before my time, and wasn't in syndication when I was growing up. In 1974, Stefan Hatos, who served as an executive producer, revived the series, this time with business partner Monty Hall (Let's Make a Deal). Richard Dawson, 2 years away from Family Feud, was tapped to host. This version lasted just 1 season in syndication, but the celebrity panel was trimmed from 4 to 3, with one seeming constant---Bill Bixby.

That same year, Hatos & Hall revived a more obscure series, It Pays to be Ignorant, with Joe Flynn (ex-McHale's Navy) as host, with Charles Nelson Reilly (Match Game), JoAnn Worley (Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In) & British comic Billy Baxter as the panel. Unfortunately, there are no clips from that series' 1974 incarnation to be had, and we'll deal with Ignorant in greater detail another time.

Right now, let's take a look at a clip from Masquerade Party from the Dawson era. Bixby is joined by Lee Meriweather (Barnaby Jones) & Nipsey Russell on the panel:



Rating: B.

On the doorstep of championships.......

Three weeks ago, Siena College's men's basketball team thought their season was over. One-and-done in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC) tournament. Spring break followed, and during that time, Siena officials accepted a bid to compete in the College Basketball Invitational (CBI), a 3rd tier tournament that admits teams with losing records. The school paid a nominal fee to host three games at the Times-Union Center, and advanced to the final round, which begins Monday at Fresno State.

Siena then hosts the final two games in the championship series, but it won't be in Albany. For the first time in what seems like forever, Siena will have meaningful men's basketball games played in their on-campus arena, the Alumni Recreation Center, due largely to a scheduling conflict at the TU Center next weekend. Siena chose to play games 2 & 3 of the finals at the ARC, sacrificing added revenues from ticket sales in the process. That itself is rare, but necessary in this case. And how ironic would it be, then, since the University at Albany couldn't get out of the first week of the NCAA tournaments, that Siena would end up with a championship they never expected?

Meanwhile, Union College of Schenectady has punched its ticket to the NCAA Frozen Four, hockey's version of the Final Four, for the 2nd time. To get there, coach Rick Bennett's Dutchmen had to go through two teams coached by Bennett's two immediate predecessors---Vermont (Kevin Sneddon) & Providence (Nate Leaman). On Friday, Union had a ridiculously easy time with Vermont, winning 5-2. Earlier today, the Dutchmen dispatched Providence, 3-1.

It has been 29 years since Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) won an NCAA title, the school's 2nd. Some of the stars of that team, including Adam Oates & Joe Juneau, went on to productive careers in the NHL. Can the same be said of Union if they win their 1st National title? We'll just have to wait & see. To be sure, the Dutchmen have been the toast of New York's Capital Region in hockey the last few years. ESPN assigned former NHL & AHL coach Barry Melrose, who piloted the Adirondack Red Wings to a Calder Cup title or two back in the day, as color analyst for the two games. Good luck charm? Nah, just a happy coincidence, but you know that perhaps, deep down, he's rooting for the Dutchmen to bring a title home. So are we all.

Friday, March 28, 2014

What Might've Been: Best of the West (1981)

For some reason, comedies set in the Wild West don't have much staying power.  For example, F-Troop lasted just two seasons, and when ABC needed a similar show to replace it, they went to Tim Conway and Rango, which barely got through one season.

In 1981, ABC decided to try again, this time with Best of the West, which toplined Joel Higgins (ex-Salvage 1) as Marshal Sam Best, who moved West with his family, but often had to deal with a nefarious businessman, Parker Tillman (Leonard Frey). In some episodes, however, Tillman & Best worked together, with Best still perhaps suspicious of Tillman's motives.

Rex Allen performed the title song. The supporting cast included Meeno Peluce (ex-The Bad News Bears) as Best's son, Carlene Watkins as Best's wife, Elvira, and Tracey Walter as Frog, Tillman's good-hearted henchman. In that respect, Frog was meant to be Best's answer to Enos (Sonny Schroyer) on Dukes of Hazzard. Walter, though, would later resurface in the 1989 "Batman" movie as one of the henchmen of the Joker (Jack Nicholson), but didn't land too many TV roles otherwise.

Here's the intro:




This was fun, but not enough people were interested. Then again, it was on opposite Magnum, PI.

Rating: B+.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Musical Interlude: You're The Only Woman (You & I)(1980)

Lately, Ambrosia frontman David Pack has turned up hosting one of those Time-Life/StarVista music infomercials, which are the only infomercials that I really give a rat's butt about. Well, them and the Dean Martin ones, but that's beside the point. Back in 1980, Ambrosia broke out big time with the album, "One Eighty", which produced hits like "Biggest Part of Me" and this song, "You're The Only Woman (You & I)".

Following is a live performance cut taken from an episode of Don Kirshner's Rock Concert, a syndicated answer to The Midnight Special over on NBC. We'll take a closer look at Rock Concert another time, but right now, picture yourself, if you're in my age group, getting ready for your junior prom............

Classic TV: The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau (1968)

Oceanographer Jacques Cousteau began making a series of documentaries that aired on ABC from 1968-75, usually on Sunday nights, under the title, The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau. If memory serves me correctly, the series, after production ended, moved to PBS, where reruns aired well into the 90's. The sample episode you'll see is a 1991 reissue under a different title. Alan Landsburg, who'd later score hit series with In Search Of..... and the sitcoms Gimme a Break & Kate & Allie, served as an executive producer with Cousteau, though I seemed to think that David L. Wolper was also involved in the series at some point.

As we noted before, the series was an inspiration to singer John Denver, who wrote his mid-70's hit. "Calypso", in honor of Cousteau. For American audiences, Rod Serling (Twilight Zone, Night Gallery), whose last creation, The New People, would air on ABC in 1969, served as narrator.




Rating: A.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Musical Interlude: Hero (1993)

From David Crosby's 1993 solo record, "A Thousand Roads", comes "Hero", a duet with Phil Collins, not to be confused with subsequent hits by the same name recorded by Mariah Carey and the team of Chad Kroeger (Nickelback) & Josey Scott (Saliva)(theirs was for 2002's "Spider-Man").

Crosby plays a convict who gets a visit from his wife & son, with flashbacks showing the father & son at play, interspersed with Crosby & Collins in a darkened studio. The two had previously acted together 2 years earlier in "Hook", but never appeared together on screen (Crosby played a pirate, Collins a cop).

Directed by actor Sean Penn. Whodathunk?


Dunce Cap Award: Steve Drain (and there's a weasel lurking, too)

It's been a week since Westboro Baptist Church founder Fred Phelps passed away, but the haterizing goes on.

The hypocrites showed up at a concert by New Zealand pop singer Lorde in Missouri, with their usual crap. Much to their surprise, a counter-protest presented a banner that read, "We're sorry for your loss", referring to the death of Phelps, 84, who had been surprisingly excommunicated from his own church, likely due to his advanced age. Phelps had been in hospice care when he passed.

Unfortunately, the irony of it all, particularly the concert, was lost on Westboro's new top gun, Steve Drain, who reportedly didn't understand why the counter-protesters were offering sympathy & compassion. Uh, Mr. Drain, you haven't been living your entire life in a bomb shelter, have you? This is what people do when someone loses a loved one. Bear in mind that the Westboro "congregation", 40 strong, is made up mostly of Phelps family members. They, along with Drain, just don't get it, and likely never will. Their doctrine is hopelessly lost in a misinterpretation of the Old Testament, and for Drain to expose himself as being unable to recognize a spark of humanity in the face of his church's campaign of hate, well, he just earned himself a Dunce Cap. Man, this was too easy.

Meanwhile, closer to home, another Baptist minister made headlines----and enemies, I'm sure----by raffling off an AR-47 rifle Sunday & Monday. Yes, you read that right. He held another service Monday night to give away another rifle. The AR-47 is the same weapon of mass destruction used by Adam Lanza on the students & faculty at Sandy Hook Elementary in December 2012. While these rifles, raffled off by Rev. John Koletas of Grace Baptist Church in Lansingburgh are compliant under Governor Cuomo's SAFE act, it doesn't seem right that they'd be raffled off in the course of a church service, which swelled to a whopping three hours on Sunday. Koletas would be better off giving away No-Doz.

Editorial cartoonist Bill Bramhall of the New York Daily News characterized Koletas as being a little bit loopy in Tuesday's edition, but not loopy enough to merit a Dunce Cap. My beef is he'd have been better off if he raffled off the rifles in a separate event. He also reportedly has a beef with another Lansingburgh pastor who has been in the news, Rev. Willie Bacote of the Missing Link Men's Ministry, which is housed, and here's the irony again, in the former 6th Avenue Baptist Church at the Troy-Lansingburgh border. Bacote has played social activist in recent weeks, taking umbrage with the local police over a nightclub imbroglio a few weeks back, but for Koletas to bar anyone associated with Bacote's church from buying a raffle ticket---a Schenectady gun owner won Sunday's raffle--is wrong. Bacote has been working with the police on a buy-back program to take AR-47s and other assault rifles off the streets.

Koletas, then, gets the dreaded Weasel of the Week award. The Bible teaches us to love thy neighbor. You'd think all of the city's churches would work together toward the same goal, but Koletas, who has had a past history with the police himself, particularly an arrest record, may be feeling like he's a lone voice in the wilderness. What could be worse? How about a service sponsored by the NRA? Naaaaaaah.

A Modern Classic: Quantum Leap (1989)

Donald Belisario's last project for Universal, Quantum Leap, marks its 25th anniversary this month.

Leap was a mid-season replacement when it bowed in March 1989 on NBC, and was a sci-fi-centric variant on the concept of the movie, "Heaven Can Wait", which in turn was a remake of an earlier film. In this case, scientist Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula) ends up hopping from one life to another, occupying someone else's consciousness to ensure that history remains on course.

In that regard, this is also a little variant on an earlier time-travel series that Universal made for NBC, Voyagers!, but while that series was aimed at families, and especially kids, Leap was adult entertainment, considering that Bakula often had to dress in drag if Beckett leaped into the body of a woman. The parents groups would've had a field day if Leap aired earlier than 10 pm (ET).

Now, let's take a look at an open from Season 4:




Reruns have aired on NBC-Universal-Comcast channels such as SyFy and the now-defunct G4, so they have the rights, but not the inclination to air the series anywhere at present.

Rating: B.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

WWE's Hall of Fame Class of 2014---and who should follow in future years

On April 5 in New Orleans, WWE will induct 7 new members into its Hall of Fame, with the entire ceremony airing on their new online network. Let's take a look at the inductees:

Celebrity Wing:

Mr. T: All of the other participants in the first Wrestlemania main event, save maybe for the Rockettes and the late Liberace, are already in, so why not Mr. T? In the space of a few short years, T went from being an ordinary nightclub bouncer who was introduced to network television audiences on NBC's The Big Event to cultural icon. Sylvester Stallone cast T in "Rocky III", which also happened to include a cameo by Hulk Hogan, and the rest is history. T appeared in the first 2 Wrestlemanias.

Posthumous selection:

Paul Bearer: Around this same time last year, Bearer (William Moody) passed away, and his death was weaved into the Undertaker-CM Punk storyline. That made his selection a slam dunk pick. Bearer was known to fans in Texas & Florida as spoiled rich boy Percival Pringle III, and although Pringle became a babyface at the end of his World Class run, Moody will forever be known for his Gomez Addams-esque persona, based in part on his real life former occupation as a mortician.

Women's division:

Lita: In her 7 years with the company (1999-2006), the Xtreme Diva captivated audiences with her daredevil stunts during Hardy Boyz matches, but then turned her back on the fans when she aligned with Edge toward the end of her run.

80's icons:

The Ultimate Warrior: The former James Hellwig debuted in World Class as the Dingo Warrior, ironically managed by Percy Pringle at one point before turning babyface, a role he'd play for the rest of his career. Incoherent promos aside, he was good in quick bursts, such as TV squashes, and enjoyed a 9 month run as World Wrestling Federation champion (1990-1).

Jake "The Snake" Roberts: Cable viewers first saw him on WTBS as part of Paul Ellering's original Legion of Doom with the Road Warriors and the late Buzz Sawyer. Roberts then gravitated to World Class, then Mid-South, but when he came up north in 1986, the karate gi he favored was gone, replaced with a traditional pair of trunks & boots. Didn't matter. He invented the DDT as a killer finisher, but a lot of today's wrestlers use it as a transitional move. One of the best promo artists of his time. Of all time, for that matter.

Carlos Colon: What Jerry Lawler is to his home city of Memphis, Colon is and has been to Puerto Rico for about the same length of time. While Colon appeared in 1 Royal Rumble, his sons, Carly (Carlito) & Eddie (now Fernando of Los Matadores), and nephew Orlando (Diego of Los Matadores), have made the Colon name just as important to WWE audiences as the McMahons or Harts.

90's icon:

Razor Ramon: Why isn't Scott Hall going in under his own name? Because Vince McMahon figures on enshrining him twice, the second time as part of the NWO (which would make Hogan a 2-time inductee as well), down the road, but rightfully, Hall should go as himself regardless now. To start with his faux Cubano persona, brought with him up from WCW in 1992, means McMahon will ignore Hall's AWA success with the late Curt Hennig and his first WCW run (1990-2), culminating with the Diamond Studd, the precursor to Ramon. You can bet Diamond Dallas Page, who has been mentoring Hall & Roberts, will be on hand, and likely induct one of them.

So when does the NWO go in? I'd guess in 2016, to mark the gimmick's 20th anniversary, and that would get two more Kliq members, Kevin Nash & Sean "123 Kid/Syxx/X-Pac" Waltman, into the Hall, leaving Triple H as the only one not yet in, unless he goes in next year. Hogan & Hall would join Ric Flair as the only 2-time inductees if this happens. There are others still waiting to be called, including:

*The Fabulous Freebirds: It's a crime that Michael Hayes, the lone surviving Freebird, hasn't yet gotten in, along with his late partners, Terry Gordy & Buddy Roberts, if not also Jim Garvin. Yes, the 'Birds had only a cup of coffee working for McMahon in 1985, but if other Mid-South stalwarts like Roberts, Jim Duggan, Ted DiBiase, and the late Junkyard Dog are already in, why not the 'Birds?

*Jim Cornette: So what if he has burned his bridges with WWE? Cornette's body of work cannot be denied.

*"Macho Man" Randy Savage & Owen Hart: Two posthumous entries that should've gone in already. Hart's widow reportedly has settled issues with WWE, but there is also the urban legend surrounding Savage and a supposed---and inappropriate at the time---dalliance with Stephanie McMahon, presumably while she was in high school, that is holding back the former WWF & WCW champion from getting in. Triple H may have to work another miracle behind the scenes to get this one done.

*Larry Zbyzsko: His former mentor and nemesis, Bruno Sammartino, went in last year, so it makes sense if Zbyzsko, a former AWA champion, eventually goes in, considering the years he spent in the 3WF in the late 70's, and contemporaries from that era are already in (Sammartino, Superstar Billy Graham, Tony Atlas).

What do you think?

On DVD: The Timid Young Man (1935)

Before signing with Columbia, Buster Keaton made a series of shorts for Educational Pictures, which billed itself as "The Spice of the Program". Now, I can't say for sure if they lived up to that label, but they scored a coup when they signed another comedy icon of the silent era, Mack Sennett, to direct Keaton in 1935's "The Timid Young Man".

In it, Keaton's character says he "hates" women, but may actually be afraid of commitment. See for yourself.




This is included on a 2-disc DVD set, "Lost Keaton", from Kino Video. We'll be looking at more selections from this set down the road.

Rating: A-.

Celebrity Rock: Dying To Be Heard

Let's put it this way. "Will Robinson" grew up to be a rock star.

Bill Mumy, who achieved icon status with Lost In Space in the 60's, turned his talents to music in the 80's, first with the comedy duo Barnes & Barnes, who scored a minor hit in 1981 with "Fish Heads". In the 90's, Mumy teamed with fellow actors Miguel Ferrer and David Jolliffe, among others, to form the Jenerators, who've released three CD's over the last 20 years.

I actually owned a copy of the band's self-titled debut, which was the first place where I heard Mumy's solo acoustic composition, "Dying To Be Heard". He also released it on a solo CD around the same time. A few years ago, he played "Dying" while being interviewed for a DVD. The following video comes from that DVD.




It's too bad he's never played in my neck of the woods.

Monday, March 24, 2014

What Might've Been: Whiz Kids (1983)

In the wake of the feature film, "War Games", with Matthew Broderick & Ally Sheedy, CBS introduced a series about a team of amateur sleuths using computer technology to help solve crimes.

Whiz Kids lasted just 8 months, airing first on Wednesdays before moving to Saturday nights. In this writer's opinion, CBS would've been well served airing this on the back end of their Saturday morning lineup, since they were looking for a hit show back then.

Matthew Laborteaux (ex-Little House on the Prairie) played Richie, the leader of the team. The supporting cast included A. Martinez (ex-The Cowboys, later of the soap, Santa Barbera) as the team's police contact, Jeffrey Jacquet (ex-Mork & Mindy), & Max Gail (ex-Barney Miller), who had top billing. After 8 seasons of playing a cop, Gail, now with thinning hair and a mustache, played an investigative reporter who was the kids' unofficial mentor. Unfortunately, it was Gail's only shot at being a lead.

WREYTube uploaded the open:




Series creator Phil DeGuere had waited two years for Whiz Kids to come to fruition. Sad to say, while his dream had been realized, it crashed in less than a year. It was almost as if they wanted to mix together Encyclopedia Brown (which was later adapted by HBO), The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and other detectives (Universal, which produced Whiz Kids, had a license for the Hardys & Nancy just a few years earlier), with then-modern ideas, but viewers weren't interested. Gail aside, they could perceive that this show was meant to be more about the kids in the first place. Television wasn't ready for a prime time show with a juvenile lead just yet, but that would change soon enough, with the emergence of Punky Brewster (NBC) & Doogie Howser, MD (ABC).

No rating  Never saw the show.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Classic TV: Maverick (1957)

Up until he tried his hand at situation comedy, it seems as though James Garner played virtually the same character in every one of his series.

Maverick started it all. Garner was Bret Maverick, a gambler by trade who'd rather run from trouble if he could. The format of the series allowed for an anthology format, with Jack Kelly appearing as brother Bart, and, for a while, a pre-The Saint Roger Moore as cousin Beau. Moore was available after The Alaskans had failed. Rare was the time when two of the three Mavericks were in the same episode.

Producer Roy Huggins later worked with Garner on not only The Rockford Files, but also Nichols, which was Garner's 1st attempt at revisiting Maverick. In the 80's, Garner was persuaded to revive Bret Maverick, but that series lasted maybe a year or two, with country singer Ed Bruce along for the ride. Nichols barely lasted a year, and thus was the worst of Garner's TV efforts.

I first discovered Maverick airing in daily repeats on WSBK out of Boston back in the 70's. Today, the series is airing on Encore Westerns, a premium service (check local listings).

SpudTV brings us the open & close:



Garner had a small role in the feature film version of Maverick, which had Mel Gibson in the lead. Gibson tried, but he just wasn't a perfect fit.

Rating: B+.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Musical Interlude: Eli's Coming (1969)

Laura Nyro wrote "Eli's Coming" for Three Dog Night, which hit the charts in 1969. The producers of ABC's short-lived Music Scene weaved a comedy sketch around the song, and as we join the video in progress, we are in the midst of a seance conducted by a psychic (Lily Tomlin, Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In). Oh, I've always wondered what this song was really about, and now I know. Creeeeee-py, man!



Friday, March 21, 2014

Classic TV: Hee Haw (1969)

It was Nashville's answer to Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, and even though Hee Haw only spent three seasons on CBS, it actually outlasted Laugh-In by what amounted to a country mile, thanks to a 20+ year run in syndication.

Everyone has their favorite segments: "Gloom, Despair, & Agony on Me". "Pickin' & Grinnin'". The cornfield, which was the show's version of Laugh-In's joke wall. News reporter Charlie Farqueson (Don Herron). The Empty Arms Hotel. And so much more.

Country singers Roy Clark & Buck Owens, to reverse the billing, were the ringmasters for this three-or-more-ring circus of country silliness, although Owens left several years into the syndication era. Established talents such as Grandpa Jones and Stringbean were well known as bluegrass musicians before joining Hee Haw, and for a number of years, Jones' Christmas tale of "Conrad" was a regular on country radio playlists. We've previously featured the Hee Haw Gospel Quartet, whose membership at various points included Clark, Owens, Jones, and Kenny Price. Price, along with Lulu Roman and Misty Rowe, was briefly spun off into a sitcom, Hee Haw Honeys, which helped the career of singer-actress-turned-talk-show host Kathie Lee Gifford (then known as Kathie Lee Johnson) in a big way, even though Honeys lasted just 1 season. For Rowe, it was the 2nd sitcom bomb, the other being 1975's When Things Were Rotten. We'll discuss Honeys another time.

Shortly after the series shifted to syndication, actor George Lindsey joined the show, bringing with him his Mayberry RFD character of Goober Pyle, who had of course debuted on The Andy Griffith Show. Lindsey would also demonstrate some singing ability with a few novelty numbers during the course of his run. As time went by, actors Dub Taylor, Slim Pickens, and Joe Higgins (the sheriff in those Dodge Trucks ads in the 70's) joined the show for periods of time. As memory serves, Pickens & Taylor joined around the same time that country legend Roy Acuff did.

To give you some idea, here's Archie Campbell & Gordie Tapp, with another favorite bit, "Pfft, You Was Gone", which makes good use of the razzberry.



Currently, the series airs in reruns on RFD-TV (check your listings), which in some markets is a premium service.

Campbell was one of the best performers on the show, and even recorded a cover of Mike Douglas' "The Men in My Little Girl's Life" several years ago. Oh, what fun!

Rating: A.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Musical Interlude: Praying to a New God (1989)

Wang Chung's last hit never made it into the top 40 in 1989, but the video might leave an indelible impression.

"Praying to a New God" was the only single to come off the CD, "The Warmer Side of Cool", and is also the first track on the CD. The band broke up two years later, and after side projects with other parties, Jack Hues & Nick Feldman reformed Wang Chung in 1997. They're definitely on the nostalgia circuit, methinks.

Look quick for a couple of cameos by MTV doll Martha Quinn, each for about a second or two. Martha had returned to MTV for her 2nd tour of duty a few months before "Warmer" came out.


On The Shelf: Archie Comics changes the status quo----or can it?

In comics history, there have been a few classic romantic triangles.

There's Popeye fighting with Bluto over the attention & affections of Olive Oyl. It made for great theatre in many of the classic shorts, but has been downplayed in recent incarnations.

And, then, over in sugary-sweet Riverdale, you have Archie, forever torn between Betty and Veronica. However, Archie Comics is putting that trio at risk, just for the sake of a few extra bucks and readers.

It was announced at the New York Comic-Con last year that the company would send Betty Cooper, the blonde girl-next-door, and heiress Veronica Lodge, out of town and away from Archie Andrews for an undetermined amount of time.

Writer-filmmaker Michael Uslan, better known for the "Batman" & "Swamp Thing" movies in the 80's & 90's, had previously crafted the "Married Life" story arc in Archie that was spun into the current Life With Archie (2nd series), helmed presently by DC Comics vet Paul Kupperberg. Now, he's been tasked to shake things up in the "real" world of  Archie and his friends, beginning in June. The idea is to send Betty & Veronica out of the country, with two exchange students, I believe, replacing them as Archie's romantic interests.

I'm sorry, but this ain't gonna work. As I noted above, this is just another grab at boosting sales. Besides, when Veronica was granted her own solo series in 1990, she was traveling the world on her own. In other words, it's been there, done that. In addition, Newsday reported that Girls creator Lena Dunham is being brought in to do a short-flight story arc next year that will satirize the mushrooming popularity of reality TV, and, yep, Betty & Veronica play a part in that story arc, which means that Archie Comics has already torpedoed their much-ballyhooed plans to break the girls away from Archie in the long term. They claim the "Farewell" arc in Betty & Veronica isn't an alternate reality, a hoax, or anything like that.

Here's the problem. Comics fans already are up in arms over the fact that DC broke up Superman and Lois Lane 2 1/2 years ago to start the New 52 Universe. Marvel split up Spider-Man (Peter Parker) and Mary Jane Watson, and in today's books, both Lois & Mary Jane have new boyfriends, for however long that lasts. It's filed under, "if it's not broken, why fix it?". Thankfully, Marvel readers have solace in the Amazing Spider-Man newspaper strip, where MJ & Peter are still happily married, and that's despite the fact that co-creator Stan Lee allowed for a brief "One More Day"-type arc to appear a few years ago, perhaps to appease Joe Quesada, who was the editorial dork who approved "One More Day".

Given all that we know about Archie Comics' plans going forward, Betty & Veronica will be back home in Riverdale in time for Christmas.

Meanwhile, another filmmaker has announced his latest comics project.

Kevin Smith is working with both Dynamite & DC for a 6 issue crossover pairing Batman & Green Hornet, this one set in the continuity of the Batman TV show, and will carry the Batman '66 logo. The two iconic heroes will again meet Colonel Gumm, who was played by Roger C. Carmel on TV, but now Gumm has been promoted, in his own mind, anyway, to General, as Smith attempts to make Gumm more of a credible threat. Good luck with that. DC & Dynamite will co-publish the miniseries, with covers by no less than Alex Ross. Michael Allred, who's been doing covers for Batman '66, is doing variant covers for collectors. The miniseries will be released online first, then go to print in June. Will it be worth the $4 cover price? Yep.

Also at DC, Dan DiDio's fanboy admiration for Jack Kirby takes root again, as The Forever People return in June, this time with Infinity Man sharing cover billing. Keith Giffen will co-write and draw. Giffen mimicked Kirby's artistic style on some of his early works, but he & DiDio didn't exactly hit big with their last Kirby revival, OMAC, which was cancelled after 8 issues, matching the original series' output in the 70's. DiDio took himself off writing the current Phantom Stranger series, and his track record as a writer has not been that good. You've been warned.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Musical Interlude: Easy Lover (1984)

Genesis vocalist-drummer Phil Collins had tested the waters of a solo career in the early 80's, and had a great deal of success with hits like "In The Air Tonight" and movie songs like "Separate Lives" (from "White Nights")  and the theme from "Against All Odds".

In 1984, Collins teamed with Earth, Wind, & Fire's Philip Bailey for the latter's only hit single away from the band. "Easy Lover" comes from Bailey's solo CD, "Chinese Wall", and was uploaded by EWF's VEVO channel:


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Here there be Weasels

We've got a bunch of Weasel ears to hand out this week.

We'll start in Fayetteville, NC, where it seems school administrators have their heads in the sand when it comes to bullies. You've read, I'm sure, the story of 9 year old Grayson Bruce, who was being bullied because he carries a My Little Pony lunchbox. Instead of identifying and disciplining the students who've hassled young Mr. Bruce, the Buncombe County School District advised the youngster to leave his lunchbox at home. They claim the lunchbox, which has a picture of Rainbow Dash from the current Friendship is Magic series, seen on The Hub, is a "trigger" for bullying.

SAY WHAT?!?

Noreen Bruce, Grayson's mom, disagreed, blasting the district's stance as "flawed logic". She's got a point.

Not surprisingly, the "Bronies", a community of adult fans of the cartoons, has pledged their support behind the Bruce family. A Facebook page already has 18,000 "likes". It all comes down to the perception of the product and who/what it's meant for. The perception that some kids have ingrained into them is that My Little Pony is for girls, and that boys like Grayson should have a Batman or GI Joe lunchbox. So he's a junior Bronie. The bullies and blind administrators who don't respect that get the Weasel ears.

Now, let's move closer to home, and a different kind of bullying.

It came out over the weekend that some wiseacres at Shaker High in Latham started a parody of the March Madness brackets, focusing on certain female students, 4 for each of the 4 grades (9-12), and their looks. The administration there is calling it a form of cyberbullying, being conducted on Twitter. The dweebs behind this haven't yet come forward as of this writing. They think this is a joke. It isn't. If they don't have the brains to try to decide for themselves who they want to date without resorting to some stupid mock tournament, they need therapy. You know what they say. The mind is a terrible thing to waste, and these Latham Weasels, whomever they are, wasted theirs with this tripe.

Finally, sports agent Steve Weinberg, the rep for Emmanuel Sanders, played a game of human chicken with at least three teams before the former Steelers wide receiver signed with Denver. He made promises to a couple of teams, including Tampa Bay, then reneged on the deals. What kind of agent does that? An agent who's also a total Weasel who's previously been decertified, then reinstated. This sort of fool's folly could get him decertified by the league again. I don't think it would take much for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell to void the deal, or send Weinberg back to whatever hole he came from. Much as I like both the Steelers & Broncos, two quality organizations, Weinberg comes across as Dim Shady, the worst kind of con man. I wonder if Scott Boras taught him everything he knows.........

Monday, March 17, 2014

Classic TV: The Adventures of Ellery Queen (1950)

Earlier, I posted the first part of my contribution to Movies Silently's "Sleuthathon", with Philip Marlowe. I meant to do this next one yesterday, but had a brain cramp and forgot.

A while back, we'd looked at the last TV incarnation of Ellery Queen, from 1975. Now, let's go back further in time, to the early 1950's, and a live broadcast of The Adventures of Ellery Queen.

I first discovered this series, as I did with Philip Marlowe, via a DVD compilation from Radio Spirits, which I'd acquired a while back. It plays as any crime drama of the day would, but it doesn't hold up quite as well as it should, perhaps because it was live and recorded on kinescope. Judge for yourselves in "Murder To Music", starring Lee Bowman as Ellery.




To me, the last version, with Jim Hutton as Ellery, because it was the first version I'd seen, was better, but your opinion may be different from mine. Bear in mind that this was a half-hour series, the norm at the time. Today, they would again go with a hour-long format, but it'd get lost in all the procedurals that are already out there.

Rating: B.

MLB 2014 preview, part 5: NL Central, AL & NL West

We're wrapping things up all in one tidy package, with the regular season starting this weekend Down Under.

NL Central:

The PITTSBURGH PIRATES ended a 21 year post-season draught, surprising everyone by winning a Wild Card berth, and beating division rival Cincinnati to advance to the Division Series. 

But, inevitably, there are changes. Marlon Byrd, acquired from the Mets in August, left for Philadelphia as a free agent. Starting pitcher AJ Burnett joined him there soon after. After letting another ex-Met, John Buck, leave, the Bucs picked up Chris Stewart from the Yankees to back up Russell Martin. Another late season rental, Justin Morneau, is now in Colorado, and Garrett Jones, whom he was platooning with at first, left for Miami as a free agent. Replacing Burnett in the rotation is Edinson Volquez, who came over from the Dodgers. Aside from all that, the Pirates look like they'll be there at the end again.

After losing the World Series to Boston, the ST. LOUIS CARDINALS saw some pieces leave as well. Boston, in fact, picked up closer Edward Mujica, who will set up for Koji Uehara. David Freese, a World Series hero in 2011, joins Albert Pujols with the Angels. However, St. Louis gets Peter Bourjos from the Angels, and brought in Jhonny Peralta from Detroit and Mark Ellis from the Dodgers to help in the infield. Again, for the most part, the team stands pat, but they've anointed Trevor Rosenthal as their new closer. Be very afraid.

The CINCINNATI REDS bade farewell to Dusty Baker after another quick hook in the playoffs, and promoted pitching coach Bryan Price to the manager's seat. The hype surrounds outfielder Billy Hamilton, he of the minor league stolen base record in 2012. They think that he's the second coming of classic thieves such as Lou Brock, Maury Wills, & Vince Coleman. Shin Soo Choo left for Texas as a free agent, opening a spot for Hamilton.

After losing Prince Fielder after the 2012 season, the MILWAUKEE BREWERS said goodbye to outfielder Corey Hart, who missed most of last year due to injury. Hart chased the money and went to Seattle. Ryan Braun returns from suspension, and the onus is on him to prove he simply made a mistake and can rectify it by playing up to his full potential cleanly. The biggest question, however, is in pitching. After Yovanni Gallardo & Kyle Lohse, you have Matt Garza, who comes over from the Cubs after a disappointing first season in the NL. Aside from that, there are question marks.

Speaking of the CHICAGO CUBS, it's another year and another makeover. Rick Renteria replaces Dale Sveum in the dugout. The Cubs picked up Ryan Kalish (Boston) & Justin Ruggiano (Miami) to shore up the outfield. Emilio Bonifacio, who spent last year in the AL (Toronto & Kansas City), figures to be in the mix in the infield. They're hoping Kalish at least can give Anthony Rizzo some help offensively. Otherwise, it's going to be the same old thing in the Second City.

Projected order of finish:

1. Pittsburgh.
2. St. Louis.
3. Cincinnati.
4. Milwaukee.
5. Chicago.

NL West:

Don Mattingly finally got the LOS ANGELES DODGERS into the playoffs by winning the division. Now, it's on him to do it again, and in this day & age, that ain't easy. They're trying out Dee Gordon at second to replace Mark Ellis (St. Louis), which isn't a good proposition. However, the problem facing the Dodgers is the pitching. Reliever Ronald Belisario is gone (White Sox). So is Chris Capuano (Boston). Dan Haren comes over from Washington to fill a spot in the rotation, and maybe regain his old form. Mike Baxter & Justin Turner left the Mets and could contribute off the bench. Kenley Jansen is designated as the closer, but is recovering from injury. So why pick up Chris Perez from Cleveland? Insurance.

Last year, the COLORADO ROCKIES used the early season cold to their advantage, and looked like world beaters. Then, reality set in. In the off-season, they made a bunch of changes. Outfielder Dexter Fowler was shipped off to Houston in exchange for Brandon Barnes. Ex-Valleycat Jordan Lyles came in the same trade. Todd Helton retired, so Justin Morneau (Pittsburgh) fills the void at first. In the pen, LaTroy Hawkins (Mets) returns to Denver, joined by Boone Logan (Yankees), Franklin Morales (Boston), & Brent Anderson (Oakland). Morneau, at least is reunited with former Minnesota teammate Michael Cuddyer, which could make Cuddyer more of a threat.

In ARIZONA, the DIAMONDBACKS added some punch by picking up Mark Trumbo from the Angels. They also dismissed fading reliever Heath Bell, sending him to Tampa Bay. Addison Reed (White Sox) is the new closer. However, the rotation may have just taken a fatal hit with Patrick Corbin facing Tommy John surgery. Offensively, not much has changed.

The SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS could win again this year. After all, they've won the Series the last two even numbered years. Could be a pattern. They got some rotation help by picking up Tim Hudson (Atlanta), whose season ended early due to injury last year. Mike Morse comes over from Baltimore, returning to the NL, and for the second time, Andres Torres was allowed to leave. Meh.

Someday, the SAN DIEGO PADRES will be back in contention for a full season. This won't be the year. Josh Johnson comes over from Toronto to help in the rotation, but there's little else to believe there's room for change in the standings.

Projected order of finish:

1. Los Angeles.
2. San Francisco.
3. Colorado.
4. Arizona.
5. San Diego.

AL West:

The LOS ANGELES ANGELS OF ANAHEIM may seem like they may have to move to Rancho Cucamonga if they disappoint again. This off-season, they sent Peter Bourjos (St. Louis) & Mark Trumbo (Arizona) packing, picking up David Freese from St. Louis, but I don't like the lack of outfield depth. It would appear as if Albert Pujols, bothered by foot injuries the last couple of years, and Josh Hamilton may be on their last legs. Owner Arte Moreno may be regretting doing his best Steinbrenner imitation in terms of spending.

OAKLAND took a hit, losing Jarrod Parker for the year as he will have Tommy John surgery. AJ Griffin will start the season on the disabled list as well, and the void may be too much for the 2-time division champs to overcome. Worse, they let Bartolo Colon go (Mets), and, oh, they could use him now, couldn't they? The ATHLETICS did get Craig Gentry from Texas to provide some outfield assistance, but there's not enough offense to justify a 3rd title.

Locally, people may be interested in the HOUSTON ASTROS mostly to see how well former Valleycats such as Jose Altuve are faring. Pitcher Matt Albers returns to Houston this year, but Jordan Lyles was shipped off to Colorado. Otherwise, Houston still has a problem winning games.

The TEXAS RANGERS welcomed Shin Soo Choo back from the NL (Cincinnati), and picked up JP Arencibia from Toronto to back up Geovany Soto. The big story, of course, is Prince Fielder, who comes over from Detroit to add more offense. Suddenly, the Rangers are contenders again. Or are they?

However, the SEATTLE MARINERS need to remember what has happened the last two years to teams who've stockpiled players and duped themselves and the pundits into thinking they'd be winners (see Miami, Toronto). Robinson Cano (Yankees) took the bad advice of an idiot named Brodie Van Wagenen, with the blessing of Jay-Z, and chased the money. Seattle also picked up Corey Hart (Milwaukee), Logan Morrison (Miami), reliever Fernando Rodney (Tampa Bay), and welcomed back Willie Bloomquist (Arizona). Not exactly Murderer's Row for a new generation, though Rodney will contribute right away, and shoot imaginary arrows into the night. Rodney & Cano, at least, can remind their new mates how they helped their native Dominican Republic win the World Baseball Classic last year.

Projected order of finish:

1. Texas.
2. Seattle.
3. Los Angeles.
3 (tie). Oakland.
5. Houston.

Wild Cards:

NL: San Francisco, St. Louis.
AL: Seattle, Yankees.

Musical Interlude: The Unicorn (1968)

Begorra! 'Tis St. Patrick's Day, lads & lassies, so why don't we mark the occasion with a track from one of the best known Irish bands of all time.

The Irish Rovers (later known simply as The Rovers) first made waves in the US in 1968 with the rousing tale of "The Unicorn". Their last foray on the charts came in the 80's with "Wasn't That a Party". There's live performances of the band, but those are more recent vintage, nothing from back in the 60's when "Unicorn" first came out. So, we have a clip with the record playing.




I wonder how many Irish pubs are playing this song on their jukeboxes today. If not this, then perhaps something from U2 or the Chieftains......

What Might've Been: Philip Marlowe (1959)

I was rummaging through some of the DVD compilations I acquired from Radio Spirits over the years the other day, and decided to revisit some of the TV/radio combos I had on my shelf.

Then, my good buddy Ivan Shreve over at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear put the word out about Movies Silently and their "Sleuthathon" blogathon, which wraps today. I promised two entries, and, by gum, we'll get to them straight away!

First up is Philip Marlowe, Raymond Chandler's seminal sleuth, who made his TV debut in 1959 for ABC. The kicker, though, is that it's one of those rare non-game shows from the game show legends, Mark Goodson & Bill Todman.

Today's generation will remember star Philip Carey not for this series, but his long stint on another ABC show, One Life to Live, dating back to the 80's, when soaps were in fact big business. So you can figure it threw me for a loop or two seeing this show, which was before my time.

Full episodes aren't available on YouTube, unfortunately, so jpwrites cobbled the following video together, which tosses in highlights of a particular episode in between the opening & closing:




Marlowe would return years later, in a cable series (HBO, I believe), with Powers Boothe in the title role. From what I saw here, this should've gotten a second season at least, but the competition back then, as now, made programming very tricky. It was never an exact science to begin with, but Carey acquits himself well as Marlowe. In a way, the by-play between Marlowe & Lt. Harris (William Schallert) mirrored Peter Gunn, and maybe, just maybe,  that's what turned viewers off.

Rating: A.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Will Albany get any respect in the NCAA?

You're a 4-time America East men's basketball champion, with all four titles coming in the last nine years. You haven't gotten very far in any previous tournament appearance. So when Selection Sunday comes, how does the NCAA reward you for your 4th league title?

If you are the Great Danes of the University at Albany, you go to Dayton, Ohio to play a "play-in" game vs. Mount St. Mary's for the right to be fed to Florida of the SouthEastern Conference (SEC).

As another famous Great Dane would say, "Ruh-roh!".

What does coach Will Brown have to do to get the Danes a better spot at the big boys' table? Granted, they weren't the dominant team in their league this year. After all, they were the 4th seed in the America East tournament, and played the first two rounds at home, dispatching top seeded Vermont to set up the tournament final---on the road---at Stony Brook. Never mind that it was a bad week for the Seawolves, whose women's team was blown out of Albany by the UAlbany women's team on Monday, or that both games were on national television on one of the ESPN networks, but what would any team from the America East, or any mid-level league for that matter, get a fair shake as long as the current system is in place?

In a word, no.

The NCAA tournament is built around the "power conferences", such as the SEC, the Big 10, the Pac 12, the Big 12, the Big East (though that isn't quite as powerful now), and the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC). The smaller leagues are treated like tomato cans for up and coming boxers during the regular season, and once in a while, one of those tomato cans will come up big and knock off one of the big boys. UAlbany knows the tomato can feeling all too well, having played and lost to the likes of Syracuse and Duke. No, the NCAA and their television partners (CBS, TNT, et al) see only schools with name recognition and reputation (i.e. Syracuse, Duke, Florida, North Carolina, Oklahoma State) as the teams that will draw the most eyeballs. To them, mid-level schools such as UAlbany and Stony Brook are just small fish playing in a bigger pond surrounded by sharks. If they can manage an upset, as Siena did 25 years ago in beating Stanford in their first NCAA tournament appearance, great, but reality will bite them eventually. It always does.

The good ol' boys on the NCAA selection committee will protect and take care of their favorites, and have the underdogs (i.e. Albany) put in a difficult position. UAlbany is 0-forever vs. the ACC, for example, as Virginia sent them packing a few years back. This is where the "Smallbany" perception of New York's capital hurts its sports teams. As it happens, the Great Danes are the #1 Division 1 basketball school in their market right now. It's a cycle thing, after all. Siena's down, UAlbany's up. Even Scooby-Doo knows that.

Will I be watching Tuesday night? You bet. This is where those of us who never went to the school jump on the bandwagon. I ain't wasting my time with a bracket, though. I never get out of the first round, and it's not because I work in the Albany area. It just happens. However, because I went to a high school whose colors include purple (part of Albany's color scheme), well, I can be partial........

Saturday, March 15, 2014

In Theatres: Son Of God (2013-4)

"Son of God" is a spin-off from last year's hugely successful History Channel miniseries, The Bible, focusing strictly on material pertaining to Jesus, from birth to crucifixion to resurrection. If you hadn't previously seen the miniseries, the Old Testament content is addressed in a swiftly paced preamble.

The entire film is told from the point of view of the Apostle John, who was personally responsible for 5 books in the New Testament, including the Book of Revelation. Jesus (Diogo Marado) begins His ministry and performs miracles that raise the ire of the High Priest Caiaphas, who dismisses Jesus as a blasphemer who uses demons. I've never been able to understand how a man in Caiaphas' station could be that dense as to not recognize the Messiah, especially when he's been called out for his hypocrisy.

However, there are some glaring defects in the adaptation of the Gospels. To wit:

*--Mary Magdalene is depicted as traveling with Jesus and His disciples, but that was never always the case. She was the first one to discover He'd been resurrected, but her role in the story was expanded.

*--This also applies to Nicodemus, whose meeting with Jesus is told at the beginning of chapter 3 of the Gospel of John. However, in the movie, it is shown prior to Jesus' betrayal and subsequent arrest.

*--Jesus had warned Peter that he would in fact deny Him three times. According to the Gospel of Matthew, Peter's denials came at night, during Jesus' trial. The movie depicts the denials being in broad daylight, after sentence had already been passed. Worse, there was no rooster, which was part of the original prophesy. Apparently, they couldn't find one that could crow on command.

*--Pontius Pilate is depicted as a far more cruel tyrant, rather than being sympathetic to Jesus. In turn, his wife, Claudia, has a vision of Jesus' torture, and warns Pilate that he will regret his actions. Indeed, the Romans are cruel and unforgiving to the people of Israel.

The husband & wife team of executive producers Mark Burnett (Survivor) and Roma Downey (ex-Touched By An Angel) thought that by moving a few pieces around, they could build a little extra suspense. Uh, no. Downey also plays Jesus' mother, Mary, and is featured prominently, especially near the end of the movie during the crucifixion sequence. In fact, she is the only "name" actress in the cast.

To give you some idea of the movie, here's the trailer:



Trailers:

"God's Not Dead" (opens next week): 90's icon Kevin Sorbo stars as a college professor who doesn't believe in God. Co-starring Dean Cain, with music by the Newsboys.

"The Fault in Our Stars" (Summer): A young woman, already on oxygen, struggles to deal not only with her affliction, but the affections of a young man who has fallen for her.

"Heaven Is For Real" (April 16): A pastor's pre-school aged son has a near-death experience that takes him to Heaven & back. A true story that became a best-seller. With Greg Kinnear and Thomas Haden Church.

"Rio 2" (?): If you saw the first film, prepare for more outrageousness. Voices include George Lopez, Anne Hathaway, & Jamie Foxx.

"Son of God" merits a B.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Moron TV: The Man Show (1998)

Comedy Central's The Man Show was simultaneously a celebration and mockery of the average male's lifestyle. It lasted 5 years, or maybe 2 years too many.

Comics Adam Carolla (Loveline) and Jimmy Kimmel (who moved over from another Comedy Central show, Win Ben Stein's Money) were the initial hosts, and for Kimmel, it was just another step on the ladder leading to his current ABC talk show. Within a year, as we noted over at Saturday Morning Archives when reviewing the duo's follow-up for Comedy Central, Crank Yankers, Kimmel was adding a second gig, doing comedy skits and adding his expertise as a football handicapper on Fox NFL Sunday, a gig that lasted until he left for ABC.

Once that move took place, you'd think that would've been the end of The Man Show, since Carolla wasn't interested in doing the show without his pal Kimmel. Comedy Central had other ideas, and hired two more comics, Joe Rogan & Doug Stanhope, to replace Carolla & Kimmel. They got 2 years, but the quality of the show went downhill. I believe around the same time, Rogan was doing some moonlighting of his own, hosting NBC's Fear Factor, and today is a color commentator for the UFC. Stanhope? Who knows?

One of the signatures of the series was the "Juggy Squad", a group of scantily clad ladies whose primary function was to bounce on trampolines. One ex-Juggy would move into the wrestling business after leaving the show. Christy Hemme won the 2004 WWE Diva Search, but lasted a scant more than a year before moving to TNA, where an injury forced her to trade in her leotards and tights for a ring announcer's gig.

Right now, let's give you a sample from the Kimmel-Carolla era:



Carolla is back on the air, hosting a reality show for Spike, Catch That Contractor, which has him as a cross between Bob Vila and consumer advocate David Horowitz. Go figure. Well, he always was the more serious one anyway.......

The Man Show's target demo was college males. You'd think Comedy Central would dust off the reruns after all these years, but they sit in the vaults. Then again, the network executives might be too buzzed themselves if you know what I mean and I think you do.

Rating: C--.

On The Shelf: The real "bionic man" debuts, plus other things

Dynamite Entertainment has been running a little book called The Bionic Man for some time now, which implied that they couldn't obtain a full license from NBC-Universal-Comcast to do a book based on the 70's series, The Six Million Dollar Man, for some reason. Well, that's no longer the case.

Following the lead of other publishers' efforts to continue popular series after they've been cancelled (i.e. DC's Smallville, Dark Horse's Buffy The Vampire Slayer), Dynamite finally gained a full license, and earlier this week debuted The Six Million Dollar Man: Season Six, which purports to be what would've/should've/could've been had the series been renewed by ABC for another year, or shopped to another network, as Universal did when The Bionic Woman left for NBC for its final season.

Recently, Dynamite had been doing a Bionic Man vs. Bionic Woman miniseries, after the latter's solo book did a quick dip. Now that this miniseries is done, it would appear that this version of the franchise is finished, and if Bionic Woman were to relaunch anew, Dynamite could add a Season Four tag. Just sayin'.

On to the book. The first story arc brings in Maskatron, a character who wasn't used under that handle on TV, but was marketed as an action figure, which, if memory serves, was made by Kenner back in the day. Anyway, Maskatron is impersonating Col. Steve Austin while the real deal is on a mission elsewhere, so the usual havoc follows. Issue 2 promises a meeting between Maskatron and the "Seven Million Dollar Man" (I believe that was Monte Markham's character on the show), so this will last a while. Seeing as how I have recently obtained season 1 on DVD as a birthday gift, this will keep me busy. I like the artwork, and the story has promise. Since I have room in my budget now.....!

Rating: A-.

The reason I say that I have room in my budget is because Archie Comics sneakily decided that The Fox is now a series of miniseries, largely because the old MLJ/Mighty Heroes still don't have the same kind of fan appeal as their contemporaries. Dean Haspiel acknowledged in the text page of issue 5 that he's already working on the next miniseries, to be titled, "Fox Hunt". Hopefully, this will be better than the "Freak Magnet" arc that just ended, since it fell off the rails a bit despite the fact that veteran writers Mark Waid & J. M. DeMatteis were involved. DeMatteis wrote the final issue, likely to give the overworked Waid a breather.

DC still hasn't confirmed if Scooby-Doo Team-Up is actually a finite miniseries. However, this book has gone off the rails. Batman & Robin are back for the 3rd issue, which finishes things with the Caped Crusader for the nonce, but Bat-Mite joins the party this time, and, to poke fun at the very existence of him and Mr. Mxyzptlk, among others, writer Sholly Fisch introduced a humanoid imp who's Scooby's #1 fan in the 5th dimension. Worse, Larry, Robin's personal obsessed fan-imp from the 2003 Teen Titans cartoon, makes a cameo appearance.

And that's not all. In issue 4, it's a crossover with Teen Titans Go!, which will likely be a jumping off point for some folks. Like, I ain't going to be satisfied unless they can get Scooby together with Bugs Bunny and his pals........

Thursday, March 13, 2014

What Might've Been: Salvage-1 (1979)

Not even Fred Sanford was this ambitious.

Andy Griffith returned to television in January 1979 with Salvage-1, this time playing a junkman with a dream. The idea was that he wanted to build a rocket to the moon to collect junk there and bring it back to earth to sell it for profit. Pretty radical stuff.

The series launched with a TV-movie, then went right to series, which didn't finish out the calendar year. The second season didn't start until the November sweeps, but after two weeks into that second season, ABC pulled the plug as the ratings tumbled.

One of Griffith's co-stars, Joel Higgins, moved on to Best of the West before landing his biggest success with Silver Spoons over on NBC, where he played second fiddle to Ricky Schroeder, and, ultimately, Alfonso Ribiero.

Classic Television Fan uploaded this sample:



As we all know, Griffith would return with Matlock, and the rest is history.

Rating: C+.

MLB 2014 preview, part 4: AL Central

AL Central:

The DETROIT TIGERS are missing one significant piece this year. Manager Jim Leyland went back into retirement after leading Detroit to another division title, and so Brad Ausmus, who played most of his career with Detroit and Houston, takes over, but is missing two key players. First baseman Prince Fielder's stay in Motown was short, as he took the money and ran off to Texas. Doug Fister was dealt to Washington in exchange for utilityman Steve Lombardozzi, Jr., whose father played for Minnesota during their championship years. Detroit gave up again on reliever Jose Valverde in mid-season, and he is in the Mets' camp, hoping to help their pen. Joaquin Benoit signed with San Diego, but the Tigers in effect had swapped free agents, as they picked up Joe Nathan from Texas to be their new closer. As far as the rotation goes, you might as well pencil in Cy Young winner Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander as #'s 1 & 1A, followed by Drew Smyly, Anibal Sanchez, & Rick Porcello. Ian Kinsler also comes over from Texas, as he replaces Omar Infante (Kansas City). Figure Lombardozzi will be given a first baseman's glove to spell the often immobile Miguel Cabrera, who moves back across the diamond now that Fielder is gone, turning over third to rookie Nick Castellanos.

I just don't see any sort of collapse here. If there is, it'd be a surprise, other than Ausmus' relative inexperience as a manager.

One of the biggest surprises of 2013 was the re-emergence of the KANSAS CITY ROYALS. Next year marks the 30th anniversary of their only World Series title, gift-wrapped, some say, by a blown call vs. St. Louis. The 2014 Royals don't have the same kind of star power as their forebears, more like a group of no-names who've been held back from the national spotlight because the Royals have been a divisional doormat in recent years. Then again, they were this-close to their first post-season berth since 1985, and a Wild Card is in their reach, if not the division title.

The CLEVELAND INDIANS have teased with resurgences the last couple of years, especially last year, in their first year under Terry Francona. The biggest changes are in their pitching staff. Relievers Chris Perez (Dodgers) & Joe Smith (Angels) left for the bright lights of LA. Scott Kazmir is in Oakland. Ubaldo Jiminez is in Baltimore. For offensive help, they picked up outfielder David Murphy (Texas). The wild card in all this is Carlos Santana, who all of a sudden doesn't have a steady position. Management decided he couldn't be a catcher anymore, but to keep his bat in the lineup, they'll make him more of a utility player. Mostly as a DH, Santana will also spell Nick Swisher at first and Lonnie Chisenhall at third. Yeah, the acquisition of Yan Gomes from Toronto before last season convinced them he and not Santana was their catcher of the future. As far as Santana goes, well, Detroit converted Brandon Inge into a third baseman near the end of his run there, and many moons ago, Johnny Bench added years to his Hall of Fame career in Cincinnati by playing third and first when he couldn't catch anymore. I think Santana's being groomed to replace Swisher at first if Swisher doesn't duplicate the numbers he put up with the Yankees before coming to Cleveland.

Robin Ventura is finding out the hard way how difficult it is to win in CHICAGO with the WHITE SOX. After just missing out on the division title in 2012, the ChiSox fell apart last season. So what does management do to solve the problem? They trade closer Addison Reed (Arizona), and see two other hurlers leave town in Gavin Floyd (Atlanta) and Hector Santiago (Angels). Reliever Scott Downs comes from Atlanta via free agency, but the biggest pickup was getting Ronald Belisario from the Dodgers? Aside from ace Chris Sale, the pitching rotation isn't that scary.

Lost amidst all the hype surrounding Derek Jeter's retirement tour is the fact that Paul Konerko is also hanging up his cleats. The fact that the White Sox don't look that close to contending this season will ensure he's an afterthought in the media's minds, except in Chicago.

Because they always make a run late in the season, no one is resorting to dissing the MINNESOTA TWINS as the "Twinkies" again. Besides, manager Ron Gardenhire wouldn't stand for it, I'm sure. As a player, Gardenhire came up with the Mets during their lean period in the early 80's, so he's steeled himself against overanalysis of his team's troubles enough to avoid getting blamed. Aside from losing catcher Ryan Doumit (Atlanta), the Twins have stood pat. Doumit's been replaced by Kurt Suzuki, whose 2nd tour of duty in Oakland was a short one, and Minnesota welcomed back outfielder Jason Kubel, who was with Arizona and Cleveland the last two years. The pitching has been bolstered by the addition of Phil Hughes (Yankees) and Ricky Nolasco (Dodgers). Then again, given how Hughes has been shaky the last couple of years.......!

Bear in mind that the Twins won't see NL East teams this year. That's the good news, especially after they got whacked by the Mets before the 3rd game of their series was snowed out. Bad news is, they have to play the NL West. Uh-oh.

Projected order of finish:

1. Detroit.
2. Kansas City.
3. Cleveland.
4. Chicago.
5. Minnesota.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Rockin' Funnies: Lucky For You (Tonight I'm Just Me)(2000)

Even though SheDAISY's hit, "Lucky For You (Tonight I'm Just Me)" deals with a serious subject, multiple personality disorder, otherwise known as schizophrenia, the video produced for the song is a little on the lighter side. The three ladies who make up SheDAISY portray multiple characters in the video (you try figuring out who's who), and whichever one plays the plus-sized customer looks like she got the fat suit from Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl, who wore a similar costume for the "Learn To Fly" video a year earlier. Some might think that this was the country answer to "Learn", except that the Foo Fighters had the advantage of having Tenacious D (Kyle Gass & Jack Black) as guest stars in a subplot.

"Lucky For You" springs from SheDAISY's VEVO channel:

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Classic TV: Hart to Hart (1979)

Aaron Spelling dealt exclusively with ABC during the 70's, and decided he needed a break from the cookie cutter police dramas he'd been cranking out. In 1979, he gave ABC another hit, this one borrowing from an older, forgotten series.

There are parallels between Hart To Hart and the radio-turned-TV series Mr. & Mrs. North. In each case, the title protagonists are husband & wife amateur sleuths, but that's where the similarity ends. Hart sprang initially from the pen of screenwriter-turned-novelist Sidney Sheldon (I Dream of Jeannie), but his initial pitch was for the couple to be a pair of spies. Spelling and business partner Leonard Goldberg bought the rights, and with help from writer-director Tom Mankiewicz, rebooted it into the series we know today.

Robert Wagner had been a year removed from Switch when he was cast as electronics magnate Jonathan Hart, a self-made millionaire. The story goes that Spelling had wanted Cary Grant, but Grant had long since retired, and there was the belief that Grant wouldn't have been believable as Hart. Spelling wanted Wagner's real-life wife, Natalie Wood, to play Jennifer, but Wagner was, according to accounts, "reluctant". Stefanie Powers, whose last two series, The Girl From U.N.C.L.E. & The Feather & Father Gang, each lasted a season, landed the part. Lionel Stander played Max, the chauffeur/bodyguard/cook, and also narrated the open.

Hart To Hart lasted five seasons, and fell into the predictable formula storytelling of other Spelling shows (i.e. Charlie's Angels). It took viewers a while to warm up to the show, which cracked the top 20 in its 2nd season. For Wagner, this was his first series to go beyond three seasons, as Switch & It Takes a Thief  topped out at three each.

A Hart To Hart fan channel uploaded the 1st season open to YouTube. Bear in mind that the narrative changed beginning in season 2 to what most of us may be familiar with.


)

Spelling would go the millionaire-as-amateur-sleuth route again with Matt Houston during the 80's, and I think it was while Hart was still on the air.

Rating: B.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Musical Interlude: Come Undone (1993)

Duran Duran's 2nd single from their self titled CD, otherwise known as "The Wedding Album", was also one of their more, ah, interesting videos.

"Come Undone" is layered in some unconnected images tied to a central theme. Most jarring of these is the reveal of a common man coming home from work and stripping to reveal he's also a cross-dresser. Mind you, this was less than a year after "The Crying Game", and all of its attendant controversy. Somehow, the use of a woman submerged underwater in chains trying to escape seems tame by comparison.........

Uploaded by EMI's YouTube channel.

A Forgotten Classic: An Evening at the Improv (1982?)

Sometime in the 80's, the Arts & Entertainment Network (now known simply as A & E) decided to angle for the young adult audience that was tuning in to The Tonight Show, then still hosted by Johnny Carson, if not also MTV, which would later get into the stand-up comedy arena themselves.

Wikipedia claims An Evening At The Improv ran from 1982-96, which I find a little hard to believe, so I'll have to check for verification, since some Wikipedia contributors are about as accurate as a blind gecko. Genial, monocle wearing Budd Friedman got the show rolling with a few quick one-liners before turning it over to the host(ess) du jour until the end of the show. Sadly, A & E hasn't seen fit to dust this off for the sake of nostalgia, for whatever reason.

From 1992, here's the opening segment of an episode at the start of Star Trek Week, with William Shatner. I suspect his attempt at stand-up is almost as bad as his attempts at singing.



Rating: B.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Riddle me this: Jackpot! (1974)

It used to be that riddles were meant for giggles. In 1974, producer Bob Stewart decided to try to make them more about winning money.

Jackpot! lasted nearly 2 full years in its initial run on NBC, but was sabotaged by network executive Lin Bolen's demand that the riddles be sacrificed in favor of a traditional Q & A game. Apparently, someone in market research didn't have a clue.

Geoff Edwards hosted not only Jackpot!, but would fly across country to LA to do The New Treasure Hunt, a syndicated Chuck Barris entry, which was airing weekly around the same time. Back then, it was unprecedented. Edwards would do another NBC show for Stewart, Shoot For The Stars, then came back to Jackpot! for its final go-round, also in syndication, in 1989, a year after a Canadian produced remake, which aired in the US on USA Network (now a sister network to NBC), had folded. Unfortunately, this Jackpot! failed to finish the season.

In memory of Edwards, who passed away a few days ago at 83, here's a sample clip of the original Jackpot!, with announcer Don Pardo (currently on Saturday Night Live), and the theme song, "Jet Set", composed by Mike Vickers, formerly of Manfred Mann's Earth Band, and better known as having also been used on This Week in Baseball:



I apologize for the poor quality, but full episodes are very rare, given the practices of the day. Thanks to Paul Paxton for the above video.

Rating: A-.

MLB 2014 preview, part 3: AL East

American League East:

After their 3rd World Series title in the last decade, the BOSTON RED SOX do not return intact for their title defense. Catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia left via free agency (Miami), as did center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury (Yankees) and reliever Matt Thornton (Yankees). Starter Ryan Dempster announced he would take this season off. I'd bet he's probably a step away from retirement. Edward Mujica comes over from St. Louis to fill a bullpen vacancy created by Thornton's departure, and you know that the Joel Hanrahan experiment was a non-starter as Hanrahan was lost early to injury. Franklin Morales was dealt to Colorado, in exchange for infielder Jonathan Herrera.

The question remains, of course. Can Boston repeat? They couldn't in '05 and '08, so would '14 be any different? The YANKEES seem to think they're ready to return to the postseason after missing the party last year. In are Carlos Beltran (St. Louis), Brian McCann (Atlanta), Brian Roberts (Baltimore), & Kelly Johnson (Tampa Bay), in particular. Out are Curtis Granderson (Mets), and, of course, Alex Rodriguez. Masahiro Tanaka creates a Japanese 1-2 punch with Hiroki Kuroda behind CC Sabathia, but where the Yankees could get in trouble is if David Robertson falters as the closer, inheriting the mantle of Mariano Rivera.

The BALTIMORE ORIOLES didn't seem to have a problem losing Roberts, figuring Ryan Flaherty is ready for a full-time role at second. Then again, Flaherty is surrounded by stars in the infield, with Manny Machado & Chris Davis at the corners, and J. J. Hardy at short. However, closer Jim Johnson took the money and ran to Oakland, which gave up Jemile Weeks in return. Tommy Hunter is the new closer. Like the Yankees, the 9th inning will be worth watching in Baltimore at the start.

Last year, the TORONTO BLUE JAYS made so much noise, and got little in return for their investments. Worse, they dealt away one of those off-season investments, utilityman Emilio Bonifacio, in mid-season, and Kansas City gave up on him as well. Hmmmm. Josh Johnson is in San Diego. Catcher J. P. Arencibia went to Texas. Outfielder Rajai Davis is in Detroit. Toronto welcomes Erik Kratz, whom the Phillies gave up on (bad idea), but Dioner Navarro (Cubs) is the likely starter at catcher. No, they're still not ready to be a playoff team.

The TAMPA BAY RAYS will feel the loss of Kelly Johnson moreso than letting Fernando Rodney go (Seattle), trust me. We're looking at a sudden, but not steep, decline. Reliever Heath Bell (Arizona) is already on the downside of his career, on his 4th team in as many years. Good thing he's not the closer. Another good thing was retaining first baseman James Loney, who gives Evan Longoria and friends some help on offense.

Projected order of finish:

1. Boston.
2. Yankees.
3. Baltimore.
4. Tampa Bay.
4 (tie). Toronto.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

What Might've Been: That's My Mama (1974)

If you've ever wondered what inspired the "Barbershop" comedies with Ice Cube and Cedric the Entertainer a few years back, well, you might want to hit the ol' WABAC machine and take a time trip about 40 years into the past.

That's My Mama was ABC's attempt to produce a hip, urban sitcom on the order of NBC's Sanford & Son. Unfortunately, it lasted barely three months into its 2nd season when the show was cancelled. The bitter irony was that the series finale aired on Christmas Eve, 1975.

Clifton Davis starred as an inner city barber, with Theresa Merritt as the Mama in the title. Most of the action, though, took place at the barbershop. Ted Lange, later of The Love Boat, played Junior, Clifton's best buddy, and was in line to star in an update of the series in the 80's, had it been cleared by enough stations in syndication. I think it was meant to be coupled with an updated What's Happening!.

That's My Mama boasted a creative pedigree that included comedy writers Alan Blye & Chris Bearde, who'd worked with the likes of Andy Williams and Sonny & Cher on their variety shows. Bearde also had a  hand in the Hudson Brothers' short-lived Saturday morning variety series for CBS, which bowed the same year, and teamed with Chuck Barris to package The Gong Show. There were, however, some casting changes during the course of the series. Ed Bernard, for example, was cut after 2 episodes, replaced by Theodore Wilson. However, Columbia Pictures Television, which produced the series, found another gig for Bernard, casting him in the crime drama, Police Woman. Lynne Moody, who'd played Clifton's sister, left after the 1st season, replaced by Joan Pringle. Can't figure that one out.

In the late 80's, Clifton Davis & Jester Hairston (Wildcat) were reunited in an NBC sitcom, Amen. Davis today is an ordained minister and has occasionally hosted the TBN talk-variety series, Praise the Lord. Lange has recently resurfaced on GSN's Mind of a Man.

MatttheSaiyan offers this promo, taken from ABC's 1974 fall preview special.



So much promise, but airing on Wednesday wasn't exactly the smartest of moves.

Rating: B.

Friday, March 7, 2014

MLB 2014 preview, part 2: NL East

National League East:

It's not so certain to say that the ATLANTA BRAVES are back. Yes, they ended a 7 year stretch where they weren't division champions, but they didn't get very far in the postseason.

And, then, there are changes. Catcher Brian McCann is gone (Yankees), but now 2nd year catcher Evan Gattis will be the understudy to Ryan Doumit, who comes over from Minnesota, and returns to the NL (previously was in Pittsburgh). Cosmetically, that's really the only major change in the starting lineup, as everyone else returns. Reliever Johnny Venters is back after missing most of last year due to injury, but Eric O'Flaherty is gone as well, and has landed in Oakland. Former staff ace Tim Hudson fled via free agency to San Francisco, so GM Frank Wren picks up Gavin Floyd from the White Sox to fill the void. However, Floyd is likely to be a reliever himself, provided Brandon Beachy is all the way back from injury.

No one expected the MIAMI MARLINS to be as competitive as they were last year. However, they're not sneaking up on anyone this time. Rookie of the Year Jose Fernandez raised eyebrows by hot-dogging it on the basepaths after hitting a homer vs. Atlanta. Sorry, but the 2nd coming of Dwight Gooden he ain't. Teams have to figure him out and quickly, otherwise, the 2nd year starter could be looking at a Cy Young award this year. Pretty heady stuff, and, yeah, Gooden pulled off that daily double in New York 30 years ago.

Offensively, Miami got some veteran help for Giancarlo Stanton. Shortstop Rafael Furcal missed last season, his last in St. Louis, but he's being asked to move to 2nd base this year, with Adeiny Hechavarria entrenched at short. Casey McGehee was in Japan last year after a cameo appearance with the Yankees in 2012. Donovan Solano, who was the starting second baseman last year, may start on the bench if Furcal is healthy. That's something that ain't so certain. Meanwhile, Jarrod Saltalamacchia becomes the catcher, coming over from the World Champion Red Sox, and returns to the NL East, where he started his career (Atlanta). Miami also upgraded at first, picking up Garrett Jones from Pittsburgh. Scary? Maybe.

The PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES have one glaring problem. Their star players are old. Period. They're the NL's answer to the Yankees, and ownership ain't exactly breaking the bank to solve the problem. Ryan Howard has had injury issues the last two seasons. So has Chase Utley. They're near the end of the trail, but then that's when the "Fightin' Phils" will start proving people wrong. They welcomed back Marlon Byrd, who started his career in Philadelphia, and played last year with the Mets & Pirates, to help Dominic Brown and Ben Revere in the outfield. To back up Carlos Ruiz, GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. signed journeyman Wil Nieves (Arizona), but there's a reason he's always on the move. Erik Kratz, who was being groomed as Ruiz's successor, was shipped off to Toronto for pitcher Brad Lincoln. Sounds to me like the Phils got the worst of that deal. Roy Halladay retired, but is Roberto Hernandez (Tampa Bay), the former Fausto Carmona, the answer? Cole Hamels, Mr. Hard Luck last year, will miss almost the first month, and then the Phillies picked up AJ Burnett (Pittsburgh). Makes the decision to cut Vance Worley loose after the 2012 season even more of a bad one, doesn't it? Sure it does. Worley wasn't exactly a world beater in Minnesota last year. Proof? The Mets lit him up.

Speaking of the METS, Sandy Alderson must have been drinking James Dolan's kool-aid, because the GM thinks the Mets can win 90 games this year. Uh, maybe, but I wouldn't count on it, especially if he's been anywhere near Dolan, who has all the basketball acumen of a bag of chips. An empty one, of course, but you get the idea.

Most of us assumed the WASHINGTON NATIONALS would have repeated as division champs last year. Didn't happen. Now, Davey Johnson has retired, and Matt Williams comes over from Kirk Gibson's coaching staff in Arizona to take over. The only real cosmetic change is in the starting rotation, as Doug Fister comes over from Detroit to be the 4th starter (he was a #2 in Detroit) behind Stephen Strasburg, Gio Gonzalez, & Jordan Zimmermann. The starting offense remains intact, which helps, but they also signed free agent outfielder Nate McClouth (Baltimore) to provide some insurance behind the likes of Denard Span & Bryce Harper. Backup utilityman Steve Lombardozzi, Jr. was shipped off to Detroit for Fister. That may come back to bite the Nats later.

Projected order of finish:

1. Washington.
2. Atlanta.
3. Mets.
4. Miami.
5. Philadelphia.

Stuart Snyder resigns from Cartoon Network-----disenfranchised viewers appear to rejoice

The following also appears on my other blog, Saturday Morning Archives:
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The Los Angeles Times reported Thursday that Cartoon Network President Stuart Snyder is resigning at the end of the month. While current series such as Regular Show, Steven Universe, Uncle Grandpa, Adventure Time, and The Amazing World of Gumball, as well as the beleaguered DC Nation block were all developed on his watch, Snyder is also being blamed, along with partner-in-crime Rob Sorcher, for needlessly putting live-action programs on CN that didn't belong there. The ill-fated CN Real block was doomed from the start, and should've been parsed among other networks in the Time Warner chain (i.e. Tru TV). The last live-action series on CN, Incredible Crew, was a 1 season bust created by entertainer Nick Cannon, one of the busiest guys in show business today, and more closely associated with rival Nickelodeon.

No successor has been named as yet, but the last imprint of the Snyder era was the bone-brained decision last month to cede the 8 pm (ET) hour to [adult swim], starting March 31. Mike Lazzo, who has been with CN since before the development of [as], would be a good bet to take over if they want to keep it in house.

Meanwhile, folks on message boards are calling for a female president who would restore the gender balance in terms of programming, and erasing the stigma of CN targeting boys 6-14 with poor imitations of comedy (i.e. Teen Titans GO!).

As Rick Nelson put it in "Garden Party", more than 40 years ago, you can't please everyone.

But, then, I speak for those of us who are happy to see Snyder headed out the door........




Now if they can solve the problem of getting Beware the Batman and other action shows back on the air, we'd be all set.......! In the meantime, this may call for a party, with this theme song.......


Thursday, March 6, 2014

What Might've Been: Ozzie's Girls (1973)

Seven years after The Adventures of Ozzie & Harriet came to an end----the series wasn't picked up for syndication in my area at the time---Ozzie & Harriet Nelson returned to television in a brand new sitcom, Ozzie's Girls, which was in syndication for one season.

With Ricky & David having grown up and left the nest (David was an associate producer), Ozzie decides to rent out their rooms to a pair of college students (Brenda Sykes & Susan Sennett). I think the idea was that Ozzie wanted to recapture the magic of the earlier series (which we'll review at a later date), but viewers had either forgotten about him & Harriet or had never seen the original series, due to its lack of availability in syndication at the time.

Ozzie's Girls was, I think, the last series for executive producer Al Simon at Filmways. The studio had moved toward dramatic programming, but had bombed out with Bearcats! over at CBS, and their last sale to that network was the iconic 80's crime drama, Cagney & Lacey, but by then, the familiar global logo was gone, and Filmways ultimately was sold first to Orion Pictures. The rights to this series now belong to Warner Bros., according to sources.

I never got to see the show, but we'll leave you with the pilot. Let me know what you think.