Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Samuel L. Jackson sings! (2017)

I'm sure you've seen this commercial a zillion times over the last couple of weeks.

Samuel L. Jackson's no stranger to singing, actually. Did a couple of blues numbers in "Black Snake Moan" that we'll have up sometime down the line. That above snippet sounds like he took voice lessons from the late Isaac Hayes in covering Rev. Al Green, who had a huge hit with "Let's Stay Together" back in the 70's. Next, Samuel will ask, "What's in your CD wallet?".

Sports this 'n' that

The season can't end fast enough for the Mets.

Thought to be a contender for the NL East this season before injuries put a crimp in the club's plans, the Amazin's limp home from Miami after getting swept by the Marlins this afternoon. New York has lost 8 of 10, and it's only going to get worse with the division champion Washington Nationals coming in on Friday. Miami only reinforced the point as it relates to Matt Harvey on Monday night. The Mets would be fools to let Harvey remain in the rotation next year as he doesn't have the arm strength to get beyond 5 innings in a start. Better to move him into the bullpen in what would certainly be his walk year, and you know his parasitic agent, Scott Boras, will want to move him someplace else to fatten both of their portfolios. What Boras, blinded by greed as he is, fails to see is that Harvey is not a quality starting pitcher anymore. He's routinely gotten lit up, as was the case Monday, suggesting that the Mets rushed him back too soon, just as they did with Seth Lugo, who put in 5 tough innings Tuesday, but got a no decision to show for it, and Steven Matz, who is done for the year. Once Harvey realizes this himself, no amount of bull that Boras can spin will convince other teams that Harvey can still be a starter.
Has Troy High's boys' soccer team peaked too soon?

The Flying Horses have now dropped two straight after getting shut out, 5-0, by Shaker Tuesday afternoon. Luckily, their next game isn't until Saturday morning in a Brunch Special vs. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake. In fact, four of their final seven games are at home, so there's time to put a couple more wins on the board before sectionals begin the week of October 16.

Meanwhile, the Troy girls are still looking for their first win this year, and host non-league opponent Broadalbin-Perth for the 2nd straight year tonight. The game was originally scheduled for tomorrow, but because of Jewish New Year, it's been moved a day ahead of schedule. This has been a trend in Section 2, and presumably elsewhere, the last few years, something that didn't happen when I was in school. A year ago, Troy snapped their season-opening winless streak at B-P's expense. Could lightning strike twice in the same place? We'll see.
What is with the defeatist attitude at the New York Daily News lately?

Convinced that the Jets won't win a game this season---they're currently 0-2---the tabloid went so far as to suggest the team "tank" this season so they can get the #1 draft pick next spring, as we've documented previously. Now, a week ago, columnist Frank Isola, also a contributor to ESPN's Around The Horn and a guest co-host last week on Pardon The Interruption, suggested that the Knicks do the same thing this upcoming NBA season.


The Knicks, as long as James Dolan mismanages them, will never sign LeBron James if he decides to become a free agent again. They'd have a better chance of hiring ESPN's resident idiot, Stephen A. Smith, to be a press flack for Dolan than James taking his talents to Manhattan. That's just reality. I honestly think the Jests will actually win a game or two this season, just to prove the nay-sayers wrong. Not that it'd save Todd Bowles' job, because he'll be the sacrificial lamb regardless, but no one in their right mind would tank for an entire season.
The Giants are also 0-2, soon to be 0-3 if they drop one to Philadelphia this weekend. Now, there are headlines suggesting that head coach Ben McAdoo's offense isn't all that great after all. Like, DUH! Recall that Big Blue got off to a similarly slow start a couple of years ago, when McAdoo was the offensive coordinator under Tom Coughlin. McAdoo is wilting under the pressure, and he likely will be out the door if they don't make the playoffs. Just sayin'.
We close with some sad news.

Boxer Jake LaMotta, whose life story was told in the movie, "Raging Bull", passed away at 94 or 95, depending on which sources you're reading. This is because there are conflicting accounts of when he was born, be it 1922 or 1923.

Closer to home, retired Albany Times-Union staffer Mike Jarboe, who spent the last 15 seasons handicapping racing at Saratoga, and being part of a comedy team with sportswriter Tim Wilkin, succumbed to cancer at 63, just 2 weeks after the conclusion of this year's Saratoga meet. Jarboe toughed it out this season, but few readers knew of his condition, despite hints being dropped in the Bankroll Beatdown column during the meet.

Rest in peace, gentlemen.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Musical Interlude: Shine A Little Love (1979)

I had a vision, never fulfilled insofar as I know, of the Electric Light Orchestra being backed by some dancers (don't ask me why) on 1979's "Shine a Little Love". This surreal video, though, is worth the trip.

Monday, September 18, 2017

What Might've Been: Our House (1986)

"Our House is a very, very fine house...."--Crosby, Stills, & Nash (italics mine).

Had NBC placed Our House on a night other than Sunday, maybe it goes past 2 seasons (1986-8). It was slotted at the top of the network's Sunday lineup, meaning it would often be delayed or pre-empted early on in the season due to football in much of the country.

Diedre Hall (Days of Our Lives) led the ensemble, which also included Shannen Doherty (ex-Little House on the Prairie) and Wilford Brimley ("Cocoon"). Hall left Days during season 2 of House after discovering that trying to juggle two series at once wasn't going to work a second time. A decade earlier, after joining Days, Hall, ah, moonlighted in the campy superhero series, Electra Woman & Dyna Girl as part of ABC's Krofft Supershow. While her segment lasted just the one season, Hall endured the longer primetime season with House, but the strain got to be such that she had to sacrifice her 10 year gig on Days, though she'd eventually return.

The basic concept was this. After his son passes on, Brimley's character takes in his daughter-in-law (Hall) and her two children (Doherty & Chad Allen).

My folks rediscovered the series on cable a few years later, and that's how I came to watch a few episodes. Let's take a look at a sample.

Post-House, Brimley spent several years pitching life insurance and oatmeal. You know what Shannen Doherty has done since (Beverly Hills 90210, Charmed, Scare Tactics), often fraught with off-screen drama.

Rating: B.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Raymond "Bobby" Heenan (1944-2017)

Tonight, the world of professional wrestling is mourning the passing of Raymond Louis "Bobby" Heenan, who passed away earlier today, just a couple of months shy of his 73rd birthday.

Although billed as hailing from Beverly Hills, Heenan was really from Chicago, and began his career working for Dick the Bruiser's promotion in Indianapolis, first as a wrestler, then as a manager. Early success led Heenan to move on to the AWA, a brief run in the Georgia territory for the NWA in 1979-80, then, of course to the World Wrestling Federation, where he was first a manager, then a color commentator, from 1984-93. His pairing with Gorilla Monsoon on Wrestling Challenge and Prime Time Wrestling turned "The Brain" into a cult favorite due the chemistry he shared with Monsoon. The short-lived Bobby Heenan Show suffered from being developed without enough time to actually promote the program and give it room to grow.

From 1994-2000, Heenan was a color analyst for WCW, and was later inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. It is believed that had his talk show not bombed, Heenan could've been looked at as a possible star in Hollywood, compared to Emmy winner Ted Knight.

From 1989, here's a montage of Prime Time segments with Monsoon & Heenan at a premiere party for Hulk Hogan's film, "No Holds Barred".

After a couple of brief returns to WWE, Heenan's career in wrestling ended due to throat cancer, which ultimately cost him his greatest attribute, his voice.

Rest in peace, Brain.

What Might've Been: Gloria (1982)

The last spin-off from All In The Family was rolled out in the fall of 1982, just as Archie Bunker's Place was entering its final season. But, for whatever reason, known only to CBS suits who left their brains in mason jars, Gloria was cut off from the family tree.

The initial pilot was, for unknown reasons, rejected by CBS. Tandem Productions went back to the drawing board and reworked it into an episode of Archie Bunker's Place, but brought in writers from WKRP In Cincinnati and veteran director Bob Claver, who'd been with Screen Gems for a number of years (i.e. Here Come The Brides, Partridge Family, The Interns, would direct the entire subsequent series.

Gloria Bunker-Stivic (Sally Struthers), newly divorced from husband Mike (Rob Reiner), has custody of their son, Joey (Christian Jacobs), and rents an apartment from veterinarian Willard Adams (Burgess Meredith), for whom she works as an assistant in order to pay the rent. Reiner would not appear in the series at all, and, aside from the pilot, there would be no more interaction with Archie (Carroll O'Connor). No crossovers between the two series.

That last point, dear friends, is what killed Gloria after 1 season. Someone at CBS had a beef with Norman Lear, or vice versa, we don't know, because despite being placed in the same Sunday comedy block as Place, Gloria was, for all intents and purposes, left out in the cold.

Gloria was given a romantic interest (Lou Richards), who made Mike look like a Rhodes scholar by comparison. You'll see what I mean as we screen the series finale, "An Uncredited Woman". Paul Rodriguez guest stars.

Believe it or else, my late mother, who was a big All In The Family/Archie Bunker's Place fan, just wasn't into Gloria as much, and that may have been the case for much of the country.

Rating: B-.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Origin of a Classic: Dick Powell as Amos Burke (Dick Powell Show, 1961)

Dick Powell had transitioned from musicals to becoming a respected character actor, and, as one of the founders of Four Star, built a television company that should've been an even bigger player than it was.

In 1961, Powell fronted his own anthology series, The Dick Powell Show, on NBC. It was like a double-sized version of Four Star Playhouse, but with a larger cast. Regrettably, Powell passed away halfway through the 2nd season, at which point the series was retitled, The Dick Powell Theatre. The series was cancelled at the end of that season.

The series opener introduced viewers to millionaire playboy police captain Amos Burke, who would resurface two years later when ABC acquired Burke's Law, with Gene Barry (ex-Bat Masterson) taking over as Burke. In "Who Killed Julie Greer?", Powell and producer Aaron Spelling established the star-studded whodunit format for Burke that would be copied in other genres by Spelling and other producers in later years. The cast includes Ralph Bellamy, Edgar Bergen, Ronald Reagan, Edward Platt (later of Get Smart), Dean Jones (who also landed his own Four Star series, Ensign O'Toole, for NBC), Alvy Moore (later of Green Acres), and Leon Lontoc, who would return for Burke's Law in the same role as Henry, Burke's chauffeur.

Was Powell as believable as Burke as Barry would be? Can't say for sure. Barry made the role his own, and got three years out of Burke, including the ill-advised Amos Burke, Secret Agent season, then two more in the 90's under Spelling for five total.

Rating: B.

We'll take a deeper look at The Dick Powell Show/Theatre another day.

Now, this is a soap opera (1971)

Let's take a step back in time, shall we?

This next item clearly was tailored for the daytime soap opera audience, and, back then, Procter & Gamble not only sponsored soap operas, they also produced a few (i.e. As The World Turns, Search For Tomorrow, Another World, etc.).

Comedian-actor Avery Schreiber (ex-My Mother The Car), by this point in his career better known for his comedy pairing with Jack Burns, shaved off his signature mustache to play a truck driver who finds a unique means of winning the heart of a truck stop waitress (Reva Rose).

Aww, isn't that cute? I'd like to see some high school or college kids try to duplicate that scene.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Musical Interlude: Reflections of My Life (1969)

The Marmalade were a 1-hit wonder from England who scored in the fall of 1969 with "Reflections of My Life". This, in all honesty, is the first time I've actually seen the band perform this song. Ever.

High School Fridays: Troy @ LaSalle (football), 9/15/17

You had to believe LaSalle football coach Gary Lauver had the date circled on his calendar when the schedule came out six months ago. The second year coach had lost the Collar City Cup to city rival Troy last year in an embarrassing 54-0 rout, and it was hoped the Cadets would be a little more competitive this season.

Entering tonight's game, the Cadets were 1-1 after dropping a 21-20 decision to the same Columbia team that had themselves been crushed by Troy in their opener. A quick check of the program shows 26 players on the active roster. Could Section 2's "little engine that could" slow down the runaway train that the state champions have become?

In a word, no.

If there was one imperative for LaSalle when this game began, it was to either win the coin toss, or hope that Troy would defer to the 2nd half. They got the latter, then squandered the opportunity. Junior QB Christian Luizzi served up a pick-six to his opposite number, Joe Casale, and just like that, Troy was up, 7-0, before they took an offensive snap.

However, the Flying Horses were also in a giving mood early on, as the Cadets cashed in a Troy turnover with Luizzi punching it in himself from a couple of yards out to tie the score heading into the 2nd quarter.

Then, Joey Ward took over.

The senior tailback scored three touchdowns on Troy's next four possessions, the other being a TD toss from Casale to Dev Holmes. Holmes also caught a 2 point conversion, as Troy entered the break with a comfortable 35-7 lead. It wasn't quite so comfortable for LaSalle, however, as Luizzi was knocked out of the game with a knee injury late in the 2nd quarter. Sophomore Dermot McDonough took over, but could not get the Cadets back into the end zone.

It seemed as though the officials were being charitable with the hosts, as Troy was hit with an inordinate amount of penalties in the 1st & 4th quarters, which led to much griping in the visitors' bleachers. Funny thing. This was the first road game I've covered, and, as was the case when LaSalle visited Picken Field last year, Troy's supporters outnumbered Lasalle's by a wide margin. I just don't get the lack of support for LaSalle, even with a city rival.

Undaunted, Troy added two more scores in the 2nd half. Holmes scored his 2nd rushing touchdown of the season in the 3rd quarter, and freshman Xavier Leigh put the exclamation point on the proceedings with a late 4th quarter touchdown. Leigh would've scored sooner, except that it was called back by a penalty. Troy goes to 3-0 with a 55-7 verdict. LaSalle falls to 1-2.

It won't get any easier for LaSalle, as Homecoming marks the end of their 3 game homestand next week, with Shaker coming to town. The Blue Bison blew away Schenectady, 51-0, and bear in mind, LaSalle beat Schenectady two weeks ago. Troy also has Homecoming next week, entertaining Bethlehem, and will travel to Latham to play Shaker two weeks later, with a stop in Schenectady before that.
Other Troy High news: The boys' soccer team has suddenly caught fire, having won three in a row after beating Bethlehem, 3-2, on Thursday afternoon. Credit the surge to the team's new playmaker and leading scorer, Kevin Vargas, who has tallied 12 goals in the three games, including all three vs. Bethlehem. Coach Mike Murnane's club, now 4-3 overall, will host Niskayuna on Saturday night.

Meanwhile, the girls' soccer team is still looking for their first win after dropping a 2-1 decision to Bethlehem Thursday night. They've been competitive and in every game so far (0-5), but as was the case last year, the first win has been elusive. They're on the road at Nisky Saturday morning, then have back-to-back home games on Tuesday & Wednesday vs. Shaker and, in a non-league game, Broadalbin-Perth. That game was moved up a day, as it was originally scheduled for Sept. 21, but that's Jewish New Year, and schools will be closed on Thursday, something that didn't happen when I was a student at Troy back in the day.

Unfortunately, the volleyball, golf, cross country, and women's tennis teams are also winless. The golf team's short season is already over, it seems, as the league championships took place on Thursday, with Troy finishing last. It's not like it was back in the day, when Troy fielded competitive teams in every sport. With Troy promoting football, basketball, and, to a lesser extent, soccer, softball, & baseball, ahead of the other sports, it's getting harder to field a quality team these days. Just sayin'.

Weasel of the Week: Todd Starnes

Mr. Starnes is a Fox News radio host and columnist, but apparently, he hasn't been paying too much attention to comic books of late.

You see, according to the Huffington Post's Ed Mazza, Starnes ragged on the latest issue of Action Comics, just because Superman rescues some alleged illegal immigrants from a bigot wearing a bandana shaped like the American flag. Starnes, however, ignored another scene in the same issue where the Man of Steel prevents an arsonist from killing some wealthy, well-to-do types.

Starnes even goes so far as to accuse Superman of being an illegal alien himself. If my memory serves me correctly, Supes eventually became a naturalized citizen years ago, but why would a comics icon be used as a political tool in the first place? Well, I'd guess it's because it was a slow news day, and Starnes was desperately looking for something to vent about.

Let's remind Mr. Starnes about what Superman is all about:

If this week's Weasel could actually take the time to read the entire story, and not take his warped perceptions at face value, he'd actually learn something.

The late Jim Croce taught that you don't tug on Superman's cape. However, Starnes, to use another line from "You Don't Mess Around With Jim", is spitting in the wind here, and that's just as wrong.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Even the stars will play the Price is Right (1965)

After the original Price is Right shifted from NBC to ABC in 1963, Mark Goodson & Bill Todman tweaked the format just a tad, substituting one studio contestant with a celebrity guest star.

For the week of March 8-12, 1965, actress Dorothy Lamour filled the guest chair. Unfortunately, host-executive producer Bill Cullen was on vacation that week, so Jack Clark, who was otherwise the announcer on CBS' Password (and filled in for Allen Ludden there occasionally), was the guest host. The following episode is from March 12.

Note that the basic game is not the same as it is today. Contestants' Row didn't have a vacant seat after each winning bid. Instead, the contestants remained for the entire show, racking up some serious numbers.

At the end, Clark plugs the following week's shows with Tom Poston crossing over from To Tell The Truth to fill the guest bidder's chair. Until I found this video, I didn't realize that Cullen had been promoted, getting an executive producer's credit in the final season of the series. And, yes, Bob Barker was accorded the same courtesy late in his run.

Rating: A.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

What Might've Been: The Don Rickles Show (1968)

We've discussed before how game show kings Mark Goodson & Bill Todman had branched out to other genres in the 60's. They tried Westerns (Branded, The Rebel) and crime dramas (Philip Marlowe). But a comedy-variety show?

In 1968, Goodson-Todman sold ABC a half hour comedy-variety show featuring insult comic Don Rickles. The network's mistake was putting it on Fridays, opposite movies on CBS and a freshman drama on NBC, The Name of The Game. ABC was a year or two away from taking control of the night, and while giving Rickles a platform for his brand of comedy, it was on the wrong night of the week. Isn't that how it always works?

Anyway, one episode exists online. The quality is horrid, but it's the best we can do. Pat McCormick was the show's announcer and head writer, and he figures prominently in the opening skit with special guest Jim Nabors (Gomer Pyle, USMC):

The Don Rickles Show didn't finish the season. However, the Merchant of Venom would return in 1972 with another self-titled series, this one a domestic sitcom, but that also flopped. He finally landed a hit--sort of--with CPO Sharkey, but that lasted two seasons.

Rating: C.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Sports this 'n' that

Troy High's boys soccer team won a grand total of 3 games in its first two seasons in the Suburban Council. Headed into tonight's home match vs. Columbia, coach Mike Murnane's club already has 2 wins on the season, the latest a non-league win over Newburgh Free Academy on Sunday, which I didn't know about until I saw a box score in yesterday's Albany Times-Union. Kevin Vargas did all the scoring for the Flying Horses in a 5-3 win, snapping a 2 game losing streak. Troy will be at Bethlehem on Thursday, then back home for a Saturday night special vs. Niskayuna. Currently, Troy sits at 2-3 overall (1-3 in league play). Maybe they'll be a sleeper come sectionals next month? We'll see.
The Capital District Bowling Proprietors Association (CDBPA) is keeping their weekly show off the air this season while they try to figure out a few things. Here's an idea. Cut the fees down to a reasonable level, and the number of entries per week will go up.

Capital Region Bowling has been on the air on 2 different channels over the course of 15 seasons (2002-17), but there's too much lead time between when the show is taped and when it airs. I'm old enough to remember WRGB's iconic TV Tournament Time, which would tape on Friday nights, and be on the air less than 48 hours later, especially after they put bowling lanes at the station's studios in Niskayuna.

The point is, if the CDBPA wants to get the show back on the air, they need to make significant changes.

1. Lower the entry fees for each tournament. I've read where it's as much as $50 per entry. They would allow league bowlers to qualify in league play via a handicap system, which cost significantly less ($10 the last I knew). To attract more bowlers, the scratch fees for the deep pocketed high rollers would be lowered to $25, and handicap tournaments would be no more than about $20.

2. Tapings have been on Sunday afternoons prior to that night's league play. The only change would be to reduce the lead time from tape to air to 1 week, not 2-3, as has been the norm.

3. WNYA, the most recent home of Capital Region Bowling, if it decides to welcome back the CDBPA, should move the program back to a more reasonable time, say around noon, where TV Tournament Time usually aired back in the day.

4. Increased promotion. WNYA didn't run a lot of commercials, but then, the CDBPA wasn't buying enough time for ads, just enough for a weekly show.
Week 1 of the NFL season is in the books, and, oh, is it ever wack.

Consider this. Buffalo (AFC East), Jacksonville (AFC South), and the Los Angeles Rams (NFC West) all lead their divisions after 1 week. Now, we know Buffalo won't stay on top for very long. Miami has yet to play, and New England has assorted issues after losing their opener. The Rams, I think could make a run, now that 2nd year QB Jared Goff has had the training wheels taken off, as Indianapolis found out on Sunday, for the playoffs. Like, the NFC West could have both NFC Wild Cards this season, but, again, it's too early.

As for Jacksonville, so far, the early pre-season upsets have not been flukes after all. They may have given Kansas City the blueprint on how to beat New England, for all we know.

Meanwhile, ESPN's resident idiot, Stephen A. Smith, sounded off on Twitter after Detroit's Matthew Stafford threw a pick-6 on his first pass of the season vs. Arizona. Then, the Lions came back and beat the Cardinals. So, of course, Detroit fans had their fun with the First Take co-host. However, the next night, Suzy Kolber and the Monday Night Countdown crew, given a chance to have a few laughs at the Cosell wannabe's expense, gave him a pass in the C'mon Man! segment, which would've been more appropriate, not even mentioning Smith's ill-timed throwing of shade at Stafford, who signed a phat contract in the off-season.

Now we know why New York Daily News media columnist Bob Raissman refers to ESPN as the Bristol Clown Community College. This, though, should've been the general reaction to Smith's latest social media gaffe:

Like, c'mon, man!!

Smith's arrogance will remind folks of radio tool Mike Francesa, who thinks he knows everything, too, and often gets called out on it.
Speaking of the Daily News, their sportswriters are under the impression that the Jets are tanking on purpose this season with the goal of getting the #1 draft pick next spring. I don't think that could actually happen. Yes, the Jests did cut salary in the offseason by making some stupid decisions, but I don't think going 0-16 is the goal here. If head coach Todd Bowles had any idea this would be the case, would he preside over such garbage? No.
The NFL is looking to overturn an injunction blocking their suspension of Dallas running back Ezekiel Elliott, this after Elliott ran for 104 yards the Cowboys' win over the Giants on Sunday. Good luck with that, but the pettiness that runs in the commissioner's office suggests that, one way or another, they'll enforce the suspension anyway, which is tantamount to abuse of authority. The courts cleared Elliott of charges of domestic abuse, so why can't the NFL? They've come too far in their irrational handling of such matters to actually do the right thing in the first place, such that they'll eventually drive viewers away.

Quite frankly, commissioner Roger Goodell should've fallen on his sword after the Tom Brady mess, but it's clear he hasn't learned thing one from that.
Finally, in WWE news, congratulations to Intercontinental champ/reality star Michael "The Miz" Mizanin, and his wife, Maryse, who announced on Monday Night Raw that they're expecting their first child. Now, WWE Uncreative has to figure out who should beat the Miz for the IC title so he can go on paternity leave in a few months. Meanwhile, the Mizanins' Total Divas castmate, Nikki Bella, will be on Dancing With The Stars starting next week. Two other WWE personalities have competed on Dancing previously. Stacy Keibler finished 3rd behind Drew Lachey and NFL Hall of Famer Jerry Rice in the spring of 2006. Chris Jericho finished somewhere in the top 10 as well a few years later.

The biggest problem for Bella isn't the prospect of fiancee John Cena in the audience, taking attention away from her (not likely until after the No Mercy PPV), but rather Drew Lachey's brother, Nick, and his actress-wife, Vanessa, who are also in the field. Don't say I didn't warn you, but I don't see Nikki winning. Just sayin'.

Monday, September 11, 2017

(Not-so) Forgotten TV: Dear John (1988)

Judd Hirsch returned to television in 1988 with Ed. Weinberger's adaptation of the British sitcom, Dear John. Amazingly, this series lasted twice as long as the original. In England, the original Dear John had two "series" (seasons) between 1986-7. The American version, airing on NBC, ran for 4 years (1988-92).

Hirsch is the title character, a divorced school teacher who enters a support group for divorcees and widowed men and women.

To be perfectly honest, I had not seen the series when it aired initially, but now it runs weekday mornings on Antenna TV (check your listings), so I took a look at it this morning. For now, let's take a look at the pilot.

The closest I've been to a support group like John's was when I was in group therapy for psych issues in the early 80's. That said, I can't totally relate to John's sitch, since I've never been married, though I've been dumped a couple of times by ex-girlfriends. However, in terms of the format, Hirsch, who was comfortable as part of an ensemble on Taxi a few years earlier, finds another comfort zone here. John Tracey is no Alex Rieger, but Hirsch pours as much emotion into the role as he can. While Hirsch didn't win an Emmy, guest star Cleavon Little did for his 1-off appearance in season 1. Go figure.

I'm impressed with the show, and I wish I'd given it more attention back in the day.

Rating: B.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

On The Air: Nightline (1979)

It started as a nightly update on the Iran hostage crisis as America Held Hostage. Since 1980, ABC's late night news magazine has been known as Nightline, and I'd imagine some people might not believe it's still on the air, considering it now airs in back of Jimmy Kimmel Live, and consequently is blacked out in much of the country.

Nightline often devotes a broadcast to one specific topic. In 1989, the subject was the threat of deregulating professional wrestling. Among the guests are the late Frank Deford and future WWE Hall of Famer Captain Lou Albano, who speaks out against his long-time employer.

This might explain in part why Albano had left the then-World Wrestling Federation, and not just to pursue an acting career. Around the time this episode aired, he was co-starring on the syndicated children's series, The Super Mario Brothers Super Show, which wasn't mentioned in the interview. However, Albano smoothed things over with Vince McMahon, and ultimately would return 3-4 years later.

Rating: A.

How many "stars" are shilling for Diet 7-Up? (1981)

I've heard of being the life of the party, but this is the grand prize.

Impressionists Rich Little & Marilyn Michaels (and a few friends) star in this spot for Diet 7-Up. Rich is doing Cary Grant, Jack Lemmon (I think), Groucho Marx, and Humphrey Bogart. Marilyn is Mae West, but I'm not sure about the others.

I'm not sure if they'd did anything together aside from The Kopykats before this. Probably did.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Classic TV: Pop Goes The Country (1974)

Saturday afternoons back in the day didn't just mean sports. There was also a variety of country music programming in syndication, including Hee Haw (from 1971 forward) and our next subject, Pop Goes The Country.

In the course of a half hour, Pop would showcase two or more artists per week, who would also be interviewed by hosts Ralph Emory (1974-80) or Tom T. Hall (1980-2). It was like a compact version of Dick Clark's long-running American Bandstand or Don Cornelius' Soul Train, but without the dancers. Depending on where you lived, usually in the South or Midwest, Pop could've been airing opposite the other two.

If you did the math, then you know Pop ran for just 8 seasons. Why it ended, I don't know. What I do know is that RFD TV does have the cable rights to it at last check, so you might be able to catch up sometime.

From 1979, here's an episode with Dave & Sugar and Don Williams, who leads off with "Tulsa Time", which is more commonly associated with Eric Clapton.

In memory of Williams, who passed away Friday. The "Gentle Giant" of country music will be missed.

Rating: A.

Football this 'n' that

I think everyone assumed that New England would open defense of its Super Bowl title with a win over Kansas City on Thursday. Didn't watch the game (chose Mets-Reds instead), didn't see any highlights. Instead, like everyone else, I was stunned to learn the champs lost at home for the 4th time in 2 seasons and change. Already without one of their best offensive playmakers in Julian Edelman (out for the season), the Pats watched his replacement, Danny Amendola, go out with a concussion. Luckily, Amendola has 10 days, counting yesterday, before the next game, plenty of time to go through concussion protocols to be ready to play. However, defensive star Dont'a Hightower was also knocked from the game, this time with a knee injury. Given that the Patriots need more help on defense than they do on offense, that may be a bit problematic going forward.

And, then, I read this morning of some Pats fans feeling, as the kids say, butt-hurt over the loss and, get this, calling for Tom Brady to be benched in favor of Jimmy Garappolo. Yeah, it's likely they're taking into account Brady just turning 40, and it's a rare game where Brady didn't throw a TD pass, but give me a break. It's only the first game of the season. I guess we know who the fair-weather fans are in New England, don't we?
For now, the Dallas Cowboys can breathe a sigh of relief.

A judge has issued an injunction that will further delay the 6-game suspension of running back Ezekiel Elliott, claiming that the NFL wasn't fair to Elliott. Roughly translated, it seems the league was bent on punishing Elliott, even if the police didn't, for alleged domestic abuse. As a commentator on Yahoo! suggested Friday night, they went through the same thing with Tom Brady until he had to sit out 4 games for deflate-gate last year. Of course, the Patriots won the Super Bowl despite that, so who's to say what'll happen if/when Elliott does serve his suspension? Could Dallas duplicate the Patriots' feat? We'll just have to wait & see.
High school beat:

Troy High ran its winning streak to 15 in a row Friday, throttling Guilderland, 59-26. For the most part, it was the Joey Ward show, as the senior caught 1 TD pass from Joe Casale, ran for 5 more, and, on the first offensive play of the game, threw a halfback option pass to Isaiah Burdette for 69 yards to set the tone. In all, Ward was responsible for 7 touchdowns in some form. You have to remember, Ward was a quarterback himself at Bishop Maginn before transferring to Troy a year ago.

Meanwhile, Columbia spoiled LaSalle's home opener, escaping with a 21-20 win over an undermanned Cadets squad that dressed only 21 varsity players. Guess who's next for LaSalle? Yep, Troy High will be at Sutton Field next week, and it's only going to get worse. Troy has outscored their two opponents by a ridiculous 114-40. Ouch!! I think a recruitment drive is in order at LaSalle.....!

Friday, September 8, 2017

Musical Interlude: My Town (2002)

The country duo Montgomery Gentry served up an ode to small town life with 2002's "My Town", the title cut from their 3rd CD on Columbia.

In memory of guitarist-vocalist Troy Gentry, who passed away today in a helicopter crash en route to a concert booking in New Jersey.

What Might've Been: Blansky's Beauties (1977)

After appearing concurrently in supporting roles in 2 series (Rhoda & McMillian & Wife) and a bazillion commercials for Bounty paper towels, Nancy Walker landed a contract with ABC in 1976. Unfortunately, much like Andy Griffith at CBS a few years earlier, Walker struck out twice in the same season.

After her self-titled, Norman Lear-produced sitcom came & went, Walker was cast in the lead in Garry Marshall's Blansky's Beauties. Set in present-day Las Vegas, Walker played Nancy Blansky, who was a den mother, if you will, for a troupe of showgirls. Unfortunately, Blansky was stuck with a Saturday night berth opposite NBC's Emergency! and CBS' The Jeffersons. Game over.

Curiously, Blansky started with a back-door pilot just a few days earlier on Happy Days, so this was the first spin-off from Days that failed. While Days was set at that time in the late 50's, Blansky's Beauties, as noted, was set 20 years later, and while Walker's character didn't change all that much, the time difference may have been a bit of a factor.

There were crossovers with not only Days, but with, after a fashion, Laverne & Shirley, as well, as Penny Marshall, as a slightly older Laverne, made a guest appearance. Pat Morita reprised as Arnold after his own series, Mr. T & Tina, had also flopped earlier in the season. Eddie Mekka was cast as Joey, the lookalike cousin of his Laverne character, Carmine, which would've been fodder for a future storyline had Blansky been renewed.

Post-Blansky, Lynda Goodfriend and Scott Baio joined the cast of Happy Days, although both would also appear on another Marshall entry, NBC's Who's Watching The Kids?, which replicated a basic plot from Blansky. Kids was also given a quick hook, which suggested that maybe in his seeming obsession with having a hit show set in Las Vegas, Marshall went back to the drawing board too soon.

Marshall also had a recurring role as Nancy's boss, Mr. Smith. Cyndi Grecco, who recorded Laverne's theme song, "Making Our Dreams Come True", does the honors here for Blansky's theme, "I Want it All", not to be confused with the later Queen song of the same name.

Here's a sample video:

Another cast member, Rhonda Bates, would also move on, resurfacing in another NBC flop, James Komack's Roller Girls, before co-hosting the magazine series, Speak Up America. As noted earlier this week, Caren Kaye would return in the fall of '77 in The Betty White Show before joining the cast of Who's Watching The Kids?.

No rating. I have no memory of seeing this show.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Forgotten TV: Half The George Kirby Comedy Hour (1972)

After The Kopykats had been cancelled, George Kirby, who had shot a pilot for a solo series before ABC came a'callin', signed a deal with Westinghouse's Group W division to front a half-hour series.

What some of you might not know was that Kirby was not only a talented comedian and impressionist, but had started his career as an R & B singer. Half The George Kirby Comedy Hour served as an outlet for Kirby to showcase his gifts as both a comic and a song & dance man.

Unfortunately, the series lasted just 1 year. I remember seeing this filling in for some CBS series that the affiliate opted to black out on a Saturday night. Why that was, I don't know, given the lineup CBS had on Saturdays in 1972, but that's when I saw the Kirby show.

Just as unfortunately, we lost Kirby to Parkinson's disease in 1995.

In this clip, George teams with Della Reese for a medley covering "Never Can Say Goodbye", which was a hit for Isaac Hayes and the Jackson 5ive, and "Let's Stay Together" (Al Green).

Kind of like an urban Dean Martin, don't you think?

Rating: B.

Here there be Weasels

Multiple Weasel of the Week awards to be handed out today:

Weasel #1 Craig (My face should be on a milk) Carton. The WFAN morning drive yakker (teamed with Boomer Esiason) was arrested Tuesday on, well, fraud charges. Seems he ran a Ponzi scheme in order to cover some gambling debts. No wonder media columnists Bob Raissman (NY Daily News) and Phil Mushnick (NY Post) have reason to hate on the guy when he's on the air. Yes, he can be annoying while on the air, but it seems that he's had something to hide, and it finally got out in the open. WFAN, unsurprisingly, suspended Carton while the investigation is ongoing. Let the other shoe drop, and send Carton on his way.

Weasel #2: Repeat offender Kim Kardashian needed to remind people she's still around, amid news that she and husband Kanye West are expecting #3 via a surrogate, so she posted a picture of herself wearing only a pair of cowgirl boots and standing on a tree branch. The posts have since been deleted, but the fact that this reality show peabrain decided to call attention to herself in between hurricanes Harvey & Irma is enough to qualify her for another set of Weasel ears.

Weasel #3: Rev. Kevin Swanson is giving Christians a bad name this morning for claiming that Harvey was God's message to the city of Houston to repent, blaming the LGBT community for the storm. Oh, please, give me a break!!!!!

When was the last time you read any passages from the New Testament, Rev. Swanson? Or are the evangelicals in the southern states so stuck on the Old Testament that they can't be bothered to reconcile themselves with the fact that when Jesus was crucified on the cross at Calvary, a new covenant, borne out of grace and love for everyone, was created. Rev. Swanson is a notorious homophobe who also has his own radio show, where he made his rant about Houston and Harvey.

The problem I have is that Rev. Swanson has let his personal feelings inform his message, which is not how it works. In addition, conservative peabrain Ann Coulter weighed in, claiming that she didn't agree with Swanson about the storm being God's punishment, but that it was a "more credible" excuse than climate change.

Oh, really?? What would you say if Irma does similar damage to Miami, with its large Latino population? Probably more of the same garbage.

Enjoy the Weasel ears. You deserve them.

Updated, 3:08 pm (ET): One more set of Weasel ears to hand out, and these are headed for another group of Bible-thumpers who don't get it.

One Million Moms, an off-shoot of the American Family Association, unsuccessfully petitioned Fox to pull Lucifer off the air. Now, they've turned their attention to another Vertigo adaptation, AMC's 2nd year series, Preacher, based on Garth Ennis' demented series. Their problem is a scene depicting Jesus engaging in some debauchery prior to his crucifixion. Ennis is imagining something of the sort happened, and it's being interpreted by the show's writers.

Truth is, and this is the only point on which I'll side with the zealots, is that it didn't happen. It was Ennis' cavalier attitude toward religion in general that turned me off the book when it came out in the 90's, and I gave up on the show after the 1st episode. Anyway, OMM is demanding that Verizon and Procter & Gamble, makers of Febreze, pull their ads from the show, and calling for AMC to terminate Preacher, which moved to Mondays for season 2. Good luck making that happen.

You see, the thing with writers is that they'll use creative license, regardless of subject matter, in order to tell the story as they see it. Yes, I disagree with how Jesus is used on Preacher (Jesus as a talk show host on South Park now seems tame by comparison), but I understand the warped vision of the writer responsible.

OMM is wasting their time, and ours, with another pointless petition. I don't watch Preacher by choice. OMM needs to see that people can make their own decisions, and not be bullied by a group of sanctimonious zealots.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Musical Interlude: Copacabana (1978)

Barry Manilow went for the disco audience with 1978's "Copacabana". It's unclear where exactly "the hottest spot north of Havana" was in the song, be it in Miami or all the way in New York.

Sports this 'n' that

Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott will play in Sunday night's opener vs. the Giants, but after that, he'll serve a 6-game suspension for domestic abuse. The suspension was upheld at a hearing in New York on Tuesday, but because they waited until 5 days before the game to make the ruling, Elliott will be eligible to play, then return in November after serving the suspension. The Cowboys have enough offensive weapons to compensate for Elliott's absence otherwise.
Gamesmanship is one thing, but this is a whole new level of stupid.

The AL East leading Boston Red Sox have admitted to Major League Baseball that someone on their staff, without the knowledge of manager John Farrell & GM Dave Dombrowski, stole the Yankees' signs during a series last month at Fenway Park. They say everyone does it, but with an Apple watch?!?

Yankees-Red Sox is the biggest baseball rivalry, especially in terms of television ratings, but why resort to high-tech thievery, just because the New England Patriots got a slap on the wrist 10 years ago for Spygate? When you do something like that, it stops becoming about the game, and about looking for any advantage you can find, legal or not. Who's to say the Yankees haven't done it to the Sawx themselves? Who's to say the Phillies weren't doing it during their run of NL East titles (2007-11)? Who knows anymore?
With hurricane Irma approaching Florida, the NFL has already decided that in-state rivals Miami & Tampa Bay won't play their opener at Miami on Sunday. Instead, they will wait until the teams' mutual bye week on November 19.

It might not be the best idea in the world, especially on short notice, but what can you do?
Saturday's Alabama-Florida State game saw both teams lose key players due to injuries. The Seminoles' sophomore QB, Deondre Francois, is gone for the season after tearing the patella tendon on his left knee. The defending national champion Crimson Tide lost linebackers Christian Miller & Terrell Lewis, also for the season. Miller has a torn bicep, Lewis tore a ligament in his elbow.

This is the worst case scenario when you have teams starting their seasons before Labor Day for the sake of television ratings. Alabama has enough depth at the linebacker position to make up for the losses. Meanwhile, Florida State's chances of qualifying for the four-team playoff at the end of the season took a major hit with Francois going down in the 4th quarter.
Troy High's boys soccer team took it on the chin Tuesday, dropping a 4-1 decision to CBA. The Flying Horses close out a 3 game road trip tomorrow at Ballston Spa. As of this writing, last week's game vs. Guilderland still hasn't been reported to the press, but the team's record of 1-2 isn't too shabby compared to last year. The question now becomes one of, can they win any more games before sectionals begin next month? We'll see.
Traditionally, WWE tapes episodes of Monday Night Raw & Smackdown in advance when the Christmas holiday falls on a Monday, as is the case this year, or Tuesday. Not this time.

Word got out Monday that Raw will be live on Christmas night for the first time ever, and the New Year's night show will be the first live January 1 show since 2007. Why is this? Blame it on USA Network, it seems, as network suits think they can use WWE to counter-program against an NBA marathon on ABC & ESPN.

Who are they kidding? We've reached the point of the year where WWE routinely gets killed on Mondays thanks to football, and putting Raw opposite a marquee NBA matchup will be no different on Christmas night. In the past, Vince McMahon has conceded Christmas week with pre-taped shows, knowing there might not be enough folks tuning in. This time, though, he's been overruled. One must assume Smackdown will be live on 12/26 and 1/2, just the same.

Meanwhile, speaking of Smackdown, the chairman will make his first appearance on TV since April on the September 12 episode. In the current storyline, son Shane, Smackdown's commissioner, has been suspended from that post, the better to prepare for a PPV showdown with former US & World champion Kevin Owens (nee Steen), likely next month. With the 20th anniversary of the most infamous PPV angle ever approaching, a Canadian wrestler vs. a McMahon will make Owens, a heel, into a de facto babyface in his home country. Seems to me that the old man still can't let go of 1997, but this should be the last time they even think of invoking the '97 Survivor Series for any reason.

Of course, the kicker is that Owens hails from the Montreal suburbs. Enough said.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

What Might've Been: The Betty White Show (1977)

After The Mary Tyler Moore Show ended its run after 7 seasons, CBS spun Lou Grant off into a drama that lasted almost as long. The network then rolled the dice with Betty White, giving her a self-titled sitcom of her own.

The Betty White Show lasted just 1 season, but not for lack of trying. The problem was where it was placed on the schedule. Airing on Mondays, opposite movies on NBC and Monday Night Football on ABC, spelled trouble.

Joyce Whitman (White) is the star of Undercover Woman (a parody of NBC's Police Woman), working with her ex-husband (John Hillerman, ex-Ellery Queen) as her director. The budget for Undercover Woman must've been on a shoestring, since Joyce's stunt double is a male actor who's slightly taller (Charles Cyphers).

The supporting cast also included Alex Henteloff (ex-The Young Rebels), Caren Kaye (ex-Blansky's Beauties), Georgia Engel, another alumnus from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and Barney Phillips (ex-Dragnet), who had been getting back into acting in front of the camera, as he tried his hand at voice acting a decade earlier (Shazzan).

Let's take a look at a sample episode.

All this needed was a better night. White, of course, would rebound big time a few years later, with Just Men! (a game show for which she won an Emmy) and The Golden Girls.

Rating: B-.

Musical Interlude: With a Little Luck (1978)

Paul McCartney & Wings flew all the way to #1 with "With a Little Luck", the first single off their 1978 album, "London Town". Nearly 40 years later, it's still getting significant airplay on album rock & adult contemporary radio, as well as oldies stations.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Forgotten TV: The Tony Randall Show (1976)

After a year off following the cancellation of The Odd Couple, Tony Randall returned to television with a self-titled sitcom that ran for 2 seasons (1976-8). There was, however, a quirk.

The first season aired on ABC, which was home to Odd Couple. The network didn't have a lot of luck with MTM Productions, which packaged The Tony Randall Show, two years earlier with The Texas Wheelers, which is better known today for introducing audiences to Mark Hamill, three years before "Star Wars". Both ABC & MTM hoped Randall could deliver a hit.

This time around, Randall plays widowed judge Walter Franklin, who's not quite the compulsive neatnik that Felix Unger was. For some reason, whether it was money or something else, I can't say for sure, ABC decided not to renew the show, and if memory serves, they never did business with MTM again. MTM otherwise was almost exclusively dealing with CBS at the time, and shipped The Tony Randall Show off to CBS for the 1977 season, coupled with first year sitcoms We've Got Each Other & The Betty White Show and Lou Grant, the last spin-off from The Mary Tyler Moore Show, but this time as a drama. Unfortunately, Randall was pink-slipped again the following spring.

In this sample clip, Judge Franklin matches wits with a persnickety defense attorney......

The show deserved a better fate, like maybe a more favorable night and time. ABC had a loaded schedule in '76, but saw Randall's show as a weak link, or so it'd seem.

Rating: B.

CBS Fall Preview 40 years ago (1977)

The fall of 1977 saw two series move from ABC to CBS, while the "Tiffany of the networks" added some brand new entries. We've already discussed the following:

Lou Grant
Young Dan'l Boone

We've yet to look at:

The Betty White Show
On Our Own
The Fitzpatricks
We've Got Each Other (not included in the following video).
Logan's Run

With the exception of Lou Grant, none of the freshman class managed to stick. The Incredible Hulk & Dallas were mid-season replacements, with Hulk bowing in November, and Dallas, shockingly, aired on Sunday nights when it launched later in the season.

The acquisitions from ABC? The Tony Randall Show and Wonder Woman.

Let's take a look at what was, in fact, a promo video made for network affiliates, and narrated by Dick Tufeld (ex-Lost in Space, Hollywood Palace).

It is what it is, isn't it?

Rating: A.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Rockin' Funnies: Born In East LA (1984)

President Trump probably wouldn't like this video.

Richard "Cheech" Marin, one half of Cheech & Chong, went solo with a send-up of Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA" with "Born in East LA", which was also released in 1984.

The concept is simple. Cheech runs afoul of a INS officer and is deported to Mexico along with some other undocumented "immigrants". "Born" would later be adapted into a feature film, with Marin writing, starring, and directing, three years later.

In addition to a cameo appearance by Elvira, Mistress of the Dark, "Born" also pokes Randy Newman's "I Love LA", ever so gently.

Nearly 20 years later, Marin gave it a whirl as a contestant on Celebrity Duets, trying his hand at country music, singing in his natural voice. Unfortunately, he didn't win, We'll discuss Celebrity Duets another time.

Weasel of the Week: LaVar Ball

Should this surprise anyone?

LaVar Ball, America's worst stage parent, doesn't care if his youngest child, LaMelo, never plays a second of college ball. All he's interested in is exploiting his sons' talent as soon as possible to fatten his wallet.

I'm sure you've heard by now that the elder Ball has produced the next overpriced shoe from his Big Baller Brand, bearing LaMelo's signature. The retail price? $300. LaMelo hasn't started his school year yet at Chino Hills High in Los Angeles, and his greedy father, still looking to realize the money he never made as a pro, now wants to profit off him as well as elder brother Lonzo. In California, there are no rules prohibiting high school players from having their own shoes on the market---and what kid would, anyway---, but this would preclude LaMelo from ever playing for any college. At all. The feeling now is that if LaMelo can't play NCAA basketball, he'll take his talents overseas for a year before declaring for the NBA draft, and that's still about 3 years away.

It doesn't end there. La Loudmouth is also claiming that when Cleveland's LeBron James files for free agency after next season, he'll head for LA and play for the Lakers. Not even Fred Sanford was this delusional.

Add it up, and LaVar Ball gets this week's Weasel of the Week award. Oh, I think there'll be more of those, I'm sure, before his 15 minutes expire.

What Might've Been: Musical Chairs (1975)

In recent years, when classic game shows have been revived for the modern era, producers have hired African-Americans to host the shows. To wit:

Steve Harvey (Family Feud)
Wayne Brady (Let's Make a Deal)
Sherri Shepherd (The Newlywed Game)
Anthony Anderson (To Tell The Truth)
Aisha Tyler (Whose Line Is It Anyway?)
Michael Strahan (The $100,000 Pyramid)
Snoop Dogg (TBS' forthcoming Joker's Wild revival)

None of this would be happening if it wasn't for Adam Wade.

Wade, a singer by trade, was the first African-American game show host, hired to helm the short-lived CBS series, Musical Chairs, which ran for 4 1/2 months in 1975 (June-October).

What Musical Chairs was, really, was CBS' attempt to duplicate the success, albeit in a quiz show format, of Name That Tune, which had been revived at the time by NBC, and, later, in syndication. The problem was, Chairs was slotted in a late afternoon berth on CBS. And, yes, it did air in the home district, at a time before local affiliates realized the full value of syndicated afternoon  programming.

In this sample episode, the guest stars are Mary Stuart (Search For Tomorrow), The Spinners, and Irene Cara, who, at the time, was a member of the Short Circus (The Electric Company).

Wade's only other television series credit of note was an animated cartoon. He was cast in NBC's Super Globetrotters 4 years after Chairs. I'd imagine he'd been on Soul Train during the course of his career.

Rating: B.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

NBC's fall lineup 50 years ago (1967)

NBC didn't learn anything from the previous year's fall preview special, Two in a Taxi, which starred Jack Burns & Avery Schreiber. For 1967, they tried another oddball concept.

Remember Next Year? supposed Earth's future 20 years ahead (1987), which included colonization of the moon. Danny Thomas, fronting a comedy-variety hour in 1967 for NBC, stars along with Jan Murray and Get Smart's Don Adams.

In addition to The Danny Thomas Hour, NBC's freshman class of '67 consisted of:

High Chaparral
The Mothers-in-Law
The Jerry Lewis Show
Accidental Family

Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In debuted the following winter. All except The Danny Thomas Hour and the weekly version of The Kraft Music Hall have previously been discussed.

Now, let's take a trip, as Danny Thomas sees it, to 1987. Murray plays "Mr. Spelling", a left-handed reference to ABC-exclusive producer Aaron Spelling, with whom Thomas sold Rango & The Guns of Will Sonnet to ABC.

The affiliate from whence this video came opted to black out Accidental Family for some reason. Just as well, as it was a flop. We previously showed you ABC's shorter preview. We're trying to locate CBS' 1967 preview, as well as all three networks' 1962 previews.

Rating for Remember Next Year?: C-.

One of Bert Lahr's last appearances, shilling for Lay's (1966)

In the 60's, Frito-Lay decided on a star-driven ad campaign to promote Lay's potato chips (you can see the apostrope in the logo, can't you?).

Bert Lahr ("The Wizard of Oz") appeared in at least two ads, in each case playing two characters. One had Lahr being tempted by the devil. Here, Bert is Christopher Columbus and a Native American who tempts Columbus with the chips, even though they really wouldn't come along for nearly 500 years.

Cartoon fans can tell that Lahr was the inspiration for Daws Butler's characterizations of Snagglepuss and the Funky Phantom for Hanna-Barbera. Lahr passed away at the end of 1967 while filming "The Night They Raided Minsky's".

Friday, September 1, 2017

High School Fridays: Columbia @ Troy (football), 9/1/17

The hardest part of being a champion is having to go back and repeat the success the next year.

So far, insofar as Troy High is concerned, it isn't that hard. Yet.

Columbia provided the opposition on opening night, bringing with them 1st year coach Robert Tracey, who takes over for Craig Cavotta (now at Mechanicville), and walks right into a hornet's nest. Imagine, if you will, if Coach Tracey received a mysterious message before the game that started something like this.....

"Coach Tracey, your mission, should you decide to accept it......."

The Albany Times-Union's James Allen has Columbia finishing near the bottom of Class AA's Liberty Division (with LaSalle occupying the basement). Maybe he knew something the rest of us didn't going into tonight's game. You'll excuse me while I queue up the appropriate mood music for the evening.....

Roughly translated, this was over before it really got started. No, really.

Troy won the opening coin toss, and elected to receive. On the first offensive play from scrimmage, senior tailback Joey Ward was off to the races, 74 yards to the end zone, and, less than 30 seconds into the game, Troy was up, 7-0. Uh-oh!

Columbia's Ari Holmes-Parsons nearly matched Ward, but the Blue Devils turned the ball over on downs, leaving Troy to start at their 24 yard line. Next play, Dev Holmes, on an end-around, bulleted through the Columbia defense to paydirt, and, suddenly, Troy led, 14-0.

Columbia alternated quarterbacks throughout the night, shifting back and forth between Garrett McDonald & Michael Preston. McDonald, a sophomore, got the start, and, aside from Holmes-Parsons' run, couldn't generate much offense. In fact, on the Blue Devils' 2nd possession, McDonald coughed it up, and his opposite number, Joe Casale, collected the loose ball for a touchdown. Troy 21, Columbia 0, not even halfway through the quarter.

The hosts weren't done. Columbia punter Tyler LoPresti went shankopotamus on his first punt, which set up Troy with 1st & goal at the Columbia 10. Joey Ward said thank you very much, and seconds later, Troy hiked the lead to 28-0. I think you get the picture. It was 41-0 after the 1st quarter.

In the 2nd quarter, senior receiver Isaiah Burdette ran for a touchdown and caught a TD toss from Casale, who also found Holmes in the corner of the end zone late in the 1st quarter. At the break, it was 55-0. As the 2nd half began, coach Bob "The Builder" Burns began pulling his starters. Casale & Holmes ended their nights after the 1st defensive series of the 2nd half. Preston broke the shutout, hitting Jayden Torelli for a touchdown pass. Holmes-Parsons ran in for a score late in the 4th quarter, but, contrary to what has been reported on television, Columbia kicker Kyle Coonrad failed to convert the extra point on his team's last touchdown, and Troy comes away a 55-13 winner.

Next for Troy is a 2-game road trip to Guilderland and LaSalle. The Cadets won their opener, beating Schenectady, 27-14, picking up where they left off at the end of last season. I think the Collar City Cup game in 2 weeks may not be the 1-sided affair it was last year. Guilderland, meanwhile, fell to Shenendehowa in their opener, 48-27, and welcome Troy for their home opener. If the Flying Horses can get their 2nd unit to jel, just like the 1st team did tonight, the Dutchmen may be in for another long night.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Celebrity Rock: Kids In America (2017)

Kim Wilde's American breakthrough, 1981's "Kids in America", has been covered by a number of artists over the years, including the Muffs and the Donnas. The Jonas Brothers couldn't leave well enough alone and rebooted the song as "Kids of the Future" for the movie, "Meet The Robinsons", about a decade ago.

Well, producer Greg Berlanti has done it again.

After inserting musical numbers into episodes of The Flash in each of its three seasons, Berlanti, knowing what he was working with on Riverdale, decided to give fans a taste of what could happen if they can form The Archies on the show. With Josie & the Pussycats also in the fold, there's plenty of bubblegum pop to be recycled.

Anyway, in this clip, Archie (K. J. Apa) and Veronica (Camilia Mendes) duet on "Kids", although the 2nd chorus was cut short, likely on the cutting room floor.

The Archies' iconic "Sugar, Sugar" is on the season 1 soundtrack----performed by Josie & the Pussycats. Go figure.

Classic TV: The Joker's Wild (1972)

Jack Barry cemented his comeback in television, at least on a national level, with CBS' The Joker's Wild, which marks its 45th anniversary on Labor Day.

Barry had been exiled in the wake of the quiz show scandals of the late 50's, and after working for a chemical company in New York, returned to television on a regional level first before returning to network television in 1969, taking over for Dennis Wholey as the host of ABC's Generation Gap. Two years later, Barry sold The Reel Game to ABC, with himself as host, and, at the same time, a test run of Joker began in Los Angeles on KTLA before CBS picked up Joker, which launched on Labor Day, 1972.

Game play was different in the early days, as opposed to the end game that everyone remembers, where contestants had to beat the Devil in order to win big prizes, a gimmick that was copied on other Barry-produced programs (i.e. Tic Tac Dough, Bullseye). Joker was one of two shows that Barry sold to CBS, the other being Hollywood's Talking, a revamped version of the 1967 ABC series, Everybody's Talking (Barry was an uncredited co-creator of the show). Barry also sold Blank Check to NBC.

The Joker's Wild's initial run ran for three years (1972-5), and then was brought back in syndication in 1977 after reruns of the original series had proven to be successful on local channels around the country. The syndicated version was also the most successful, running for 9 years (1977-86), with Bill Cullen stepping in after Barry passed away in 1984. The last incarnation ran in 1990 for 1 season.

For the 45th anniversary, TBS is bringing Joker back, with rapper-actor Snoop Dogg as host and co-executive producer, partnered with ultra-busy Michael Strahan (The $100,000 Pyramid, Good Morning America, Fox NFL Sunday).

Let's take a look at an episode from the original Joker's 1st week.

In 1979, Barry spun off a junior version of the show, Joker! Joker! Joker! (previously reviewed at Saturday Morning Archives), a return to the days when Barry was producing shows for children (i.e. Juvenile Jury). This series ran for 2 years.

Rating: A.

Sports this 'n' that

It's looking like the Tri-City Valleycats will miss the playoffs for the 2nd straight season. After dropping 3 of 4 to Hudson Valley, the 'Cats are 6 games behind Stedler Division leader Vermont with 8 games left, including tonight's home game vs. Aberdeen. A loss to the Ironbirds would finish Tri-City, as they would be eliminated from playoff contention with a week to go. To think that just a couple of weeks ago, Tri-City had reached first place in the division, then promptly fell right back into second, and now, third.

I honestly think manager Morgan Ensberg will return next season to allow some stability in the dugout. It's either that, or see if former manager Ed Romero is on speed dial.
Troy's other summer sports team, the Fighting Irish, lost their regular season finale to Watertown, 14-12, on August 26. They're just waiting to find out when they'll start the post-season. As I've reiterated often, it doesn't help when the local press ignores the team due to financial/personnel constraints, and game scores aren't posted on the website until as little as 48 hours after the games are played.  At least the Irish are assured of continuing their season.
The Mets will have an interleague series with old rival Houston this weekend, but, due to the city of Houston still recovering from last weekend's storm, the Mets & Astros will have an unscheduled day off on Friday. Instead, they'll play Friday's game Saturday afternoon as the first half of a split-admission double-header. Meanwhile, Houston's two college teams, Rice and the University of Houston, are still trying to figure out when they can get back to their campuses after starting their football seasons in, of all places, Australia, a week and a half ago. At least Rice has this week off.

The NFL's two Texas teams, the Texans & Cowboys, have called off their annual in-state rivalry game after it was originally moved to the Temple of Excess (AT & T Stadium) in Arlington. Now, try figuring out the pretzel logic of that move.
High school beat: To the surprise of, well, no one, Troy High's golf, soccer, and women's tennis teams have all stumbled out of the gate in this first week of the season. The women's volleyball team will open their season later today at home vs. Averill Park, while the women's soccer team has their home opener a couple of hours later vs. Colonie, hoping to build on momentum after dropping a double-overtime heartbreaker to Guilderland Tuesday afternoon, 2-1. The boys' game between Guilderland and Troy was not reported to the press, but, given how coach Mike Murnane's club has struggled since joining the Suburban Council, assume the Dutchmen won that, too.

Good thing football season starts tomorrow.
I don't know where the kids at Upstate Sports Zone got their information, but they're reporting that the September 15 football game between Troy & LaSalle at Sutton Field would be moved up one night to the 14th. The site was founded by a pair of LaSalle students a year ago, so you'd think they'd know if there would be any changes, but every other source I've checked says that the game will be played as scheduled on the 15th. My first thought was that maybe LaSalle decided to move the game due to a Jewish holiday, but Jewish New Year and Yom Kippur come in the 2nd half of September, so maybe the good group at USZ got their dates mixed up. We'll see in 2 weeks.
Condolences to the family of former Villanova basketball coach Rollie Massimino, who passed away yesterday. Massimino led the Wildcats to the NCAA title in 1985, upsetting Big East rival Georgetown in a game that prompted the late New York Daily News cartoonist, Bill Gallo, to draw a panel that had Pope John Paul II being informed that "The Protestants just slam-dunked the Jesuits", in reference to the religious leanings of the two schools.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

What Might've Been: Funny You Should Ask (1968) & The Children's Doctor (1967)

ABC commissioned Merrill Heatter & Bob Quigley to develop a new game show for them in 1968 after the last one they'd sold to the network, Temptation, had been cancelled by the network. Near the end of October, Heatter-Quigley delivered Funny You Should Ask, a comedy panel game in which 5 celebrities gave answers to specific questions. The object for the contestants, after being sequestered in a sound-proof room during the Q & A round with the stars, was to match the answer to the star that gave it. In other words, it was a variation on Chuck Barris' Newlywed Game, which, coincidentally, was coupled with Funny on the schedule for the majority of Funny's 8 month run (October 1968-June 1969).

TV & radio personality Lloyd Thaxton, nearly a year removed from the cancellation of Everybody's Talking, was the host. As befitting the practice of the day, there is very little of the show available on YouTube or anywhere else. Following is a sample episode with H-Q staple Rose Marie, Dean Jones, Marty Allen, Meredith MacRae (Petticoat Junction), and Stu Gilliam.

Airing in back of Funny was a 5 minute program, The Children's Doctor, with Dr. Lendon Smith, who dispensed advice to the kiddo's and their parents. This program had begun in 1967, and ended in 1969 as well. Back in those days, it was a common practice for networks to use 5 minutes for either news or a public affairs program. The Children's Doctor fit the latter category.


Funny You Should Ask: B-.
The Children's Doctor: A.

I should mention that the reason we're looking at Funny today is because comedian-turned-entertainment mogul Byron Allen has acquired the rights, and a revived version of the series, hosted by Jon Kelley (Extra), debuts next month.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Forgotten TV: Court Martial (1966)

In a way, Court Martial was a belated spin-off from Kraft Suspense Theatre, as a 2-part episode from the latter series' 1st season featured the two leads of Court Martial, Peter Graves (ex-Fury) and Bradford Dillman. However, Court Martial landed on ABC instead of NBC, which was home to Suspense Theatre. Back in those days, it was not uncommon for a spin-off of a show to land on a different network from its parent.

Court Martial was a co-production between England's ITC and Roncom Productions, Perry Como's production company, on behalf of Universal, and would be the last new entry from Roncom, which had Run For Your Life and, presumably, Kraft Music Hall, on NBC at the time.

The format will look familiar, similar to a number of other crime dramas of the period, including the show it's most often compared to, Perry Mason. Let's take a look at the episode, "Silence is the Enemy":

Contrary to what poster Media Mix claims, this was not the series opener.

Court Martial was a spring replacement series on ABC, airing on Friday nights, airing opposite The Man From U.N.C.L.E. over on NBC, which would explain why it wasn't picked up for the fall.

Another strike against it may have been that it was filmed in black & white, as the networks were going to color programming at that time.

Rating: A-.

NFL 2017 Preview, conclusion: NFC South & West

Let's just get right to it.

NFC South:

Atlanta could've won the Super Bowl, if but for some bone-headed plays against the Evil Empire (New England). QB Matt Ryan enters his 10th season in the league, looking to take the next step forward and bring the Lombardi Trophy home, which would properly christen the Falcons' new stadium. However, don't discount Carolina. Yes, the Panthers had an off year, and QB Cam Newton is recovering from some injury issues, but I suspect strongly they'll be in the thick of things. In Tampa Bay, it's year 3 of the Jameis Winston era. Running back Doug Martin begins the season suspended, which takes away some offensive depth. New Orleans will fight for a playoff spot, but one wonders if Drew Brees will have any more chances after this season.

Projected order of finish:

1. Carolina.
2. Atlanta.
3. Tampa Bay.
3 (tie). New Orleans.

NFC West:

In their first year back in Los Angeles, the Rams were undone by the stubborn mule mentality of then-coach Jeff Fisher, who was gone before the season was over, simply because he didn't see any value in letting QB Jared Goff take his chances as a rookie. Seems as though that will keep the Rams out of the playoffs for at least another year. Arizona and Seattle are still the class of the division, and will remain so until the Rams and San Francisco can move back into contention. In the case of the Niners, the post-Colin Kaepernick era can't begin soon enough, but there is still some fallout from Kaepernick's antics last year, as players around the league are still taking a knee during the playing of the National Anthem. The situation is worse now with a deranged lunatic in the White House. Digression over. I see the Niners falling back to pre-Joe Montana numbers. As in, buried deep in the basement. The Seahawks will ride their defense, more so than QB Russell Wilson, back to the playoffs, but they're not running away and hiding. If the Cardinals can keep Carson Palmer healthy the entire season, they could take the division.

Projected order of finish:

1. Seattle.
2. Arizona.
3. Los Angeles.
4. San Francisco.

Wild Cards: Giants, Arizona.

Of course, I could be wrong.

Monday, August 28, 2017

Classic TV: The Cross-Wits (1975)

Ralph Edwards was determined to get a show on the air about crossword puzzles. His first pilot, Crossword, with George Fenneman, wasn't picked up in the 60's. After a 2nd pilot, hosted by actor Bob Hastings (ex-McHale's Navy), wasn't picked up in 1971, Edwards went to the well again in 1975, and this time, the third time was the charm.

The Cross-Wits ran for five seasons (1975-80), with Jack Clark as host. Clark had previously replaced Hastings on another syndicated show, Dealer's Choice, and when Cross-Wits was on the air, Clark was also the original announcer on Wheel of Fortune during Chuck Woolery's run as host.

The format was simple. Two teams consisting of a contestant and 2 celebrity partners tried to solve puzzles for cash & prizes. In this sample episode, we have Jack Riley (The Bob Newhart Show) & Nipsey Russell going up against Rita Moreno (The Electric Company) and Misty Rowe (Hee Haw, ex-When Things Were Rotten).

The above video was posted by one of the contestants on the show.

The Cross-Wits returned a few years after cancellation, with David Sparks taking over as host. Unfortunately, it lasted just 1 season this time around.

The last time a crossword game show was mounted, Merv Griffin gave it a go and put his name to the show. However, after all the hype, Merv Griffin's Crosswords lasted just 1 season as well.

Rating for The Cross-Wits: A.

Sports this 'n' that

The Mets welcomed back pitchers Seth Lugo & Jeurys Familia over the weekend while splitting a 4 game series with first-place Washington, but their M*A*S*H unit filled the vacancies with outfielders Yoenis Cespedes (hamstring) and Michael Conforto (shoulder) going on the DL. They're even thinking they'll get Matt Harvey back come Friday, and maybe Noah Syndergaard soon after.  What they really need is to find the source of all those injuries before the Whiner Squad of NYC talk radio, aka the Valley of the Stupid, starts complaining about conditioning techniques again. If it's any consolation, David Wright began a rehab assignment last week as well, hoping he can get some game action in this season before the reality of retirement sets in.
For those of you who spent $100 to order the Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight on PPV, I really hope you got your money's worth on Saturday night. Mayweather won----what else is new?--in his first fight since retiring 2 years ago, and based on what I've read, he utilized the late Muhammad Ali's rope-a-dope strategy, as McGregor, better known for his exploits in UFC, expended a great deal of energy early in the fight, and was spent by the 10th round, when Mayweather put him away via TKO.

What was even more ridiculous was the fact that ESPN's Stephen A. Smith, normally waving the pom-poms for Mayweather, got into a shouting match with boxing analyst Teddy Atlas, who was explaining how Mayweather won the fight. Smith gets assigned to cover boxing because he fancies himself the reincarnation of Howard Cosell, but lacking the charisma and intelligence. Why Max Kellerman wasn't sent in his place, I don't know. Kellerman gets it when it comes to boxing. Smith doesn't. End of story.
The flooding in the Houston area caused by Tropical Storm Harvey may have been enough of a distraction to the Tri-City Valleycats' Corbin Martin, who started and took the loss Sunday in a 2-1 verdict at the hands of Lowell. Martin is from the Houston suburbs, and would be understandably concerned, even though his family lives 45 minutes away from Houston. Meanwhile, the continuation of the season series between AL West rivals Houston & Texas, scheduled for Houston, will likely be moved, pending a decision later today or tomorrow.

Our prayers are with the victims and their families in this time of need.
So the Giants woke up and beat the Jets in the annual Snoopy Bowl at MetLife Stadium on Saturday. Gang Green made it interesting, trying to come back from a 29-3 3rd quarter deficit, but they come out short a QB. We think. 3rd year QB Bryce Petty has an MCL strain, which may or may not be enough to keep him out long term. If it is long term, then 2nd year pro Christian Hackenberg would be the backup to Josh McCown.

Shoot, I can remember when the NY Daily News used to give away tickets to the annual preseason game between the city's two NFL teams, but that was back when both teams were struggling to fill the stands for home games. Not so much now in the Giants' case, although the Jets could start a Gofundme page to fill MetLife Stadium for their home games.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Musical Interlude: Tender is the Night (1983)

Jackson Browne's "Tender is the Night" is the 2nd single off Browne's 1983 album, "Lawyers in Love". The video shows Browne dealing with a lover's quarrel (with then-real-life gal pal Daryl Hannah).

Vagrancy on Parade: Three Stooges in A Plumbing We Will Go (1940)

In many of their shorts, the Three Stooges have been portrayed as being down on their luck, usually as vagrants.

In 1940's "A Plumbing We Will Go", the boys beat the rap, just by sheer luck, after a judge clears them of raiding a chicken coop, this despite the fact that chicken feathers end up flying out of Curly's pocket. That leads the vindictive, embarrassed beat cop (Bud Jamison) to pursue the boys after they crash a medicine show.

The trail leads to the boys hijacking a plumber's unattended truck, and taking a job at a mansion. Of course, chaos follows.

Some of the gags would be re-used in later shorts, including the famous scene of Curly trapping himself in a cage made of pipes.

Rating: B+.

Valleycats go medevial (Tri-City 9, Lowell 1, 8/26/17)

The Tri-City Valleycats were on a 5 game losing streak, scoring 5 runs in that stretch, and, two weeks after reaching 1st place in the Stedler Division, were on the brink of being eliminated from the playoff picture if things didn't turn around, and quickly.

Fortunately, Lowell starter Angel Padron was a most accomodating guest.

Padron was torched for 5 runs in the 1st inning, and that was more than enough for Tri-City to snap the losing streak, and beat the Spinners, 9-1, before a nearly sellout crowd on Medevial Times night, which also saw kids admitted for free with a paid adult admission, courtesy of General Electric.

Padron had gotten the first 2 outs in the first when the roof suddenly began to cave in. A double by Jonathan Arauz and a single by Gabriel Bracamonte put the 'Cats up, 1-0. Following a walk to Adrian Tovalin, Michael Papierski launched his 4th home run of the season over the left field wall, just to the right of the home bullpen. Jake Adams made it back-to-back jacks with his league & team leading 9th of the year, giving Tri-City a 5-0 lead after 1.

Tri-City starter Juan Robles gave a run right back in the 2nd, with a single by Yoan Aybar and a double by Nick Hamilton putting the Spinners on the board. However, that would be all for Lowell. Robles went 4 1/3 innings, having reached his pitch count, striking out 5 while walking 4. Adam Bleday took over and slammed the door shut, striking out 8 while only walking 1.

The Valleycats added some insurance in the 7th, torching Lowell reliever Rio Gomez for 4 runs, capped by Papierski's bases loaded triple. The unseasonably cool temperatures, dipping below 60 degrees, more than the score, sent fans streaming for the exits early. After Papierski knocked Gomez out of the game, more fans left, secure in knowing the game was over. Bleday picked up the win in relief, pitching 4 2/3 innings.

The two teams will meet one last time later today before Tri-City moves on to play Hudson Valley on Monday, as they'll alternate road and home series the rest of the way.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Classic TV: Shindig! (1964)

ABC's Hootenanny ran into some issues over artists' political views (i.e. Pete Seeger), and ended up getting cancelled. In its place came Shindig!, which covered a wider spectrum of pop music, including rhythm & blues. Los Angeles DJ Jimmy O'Neill served as host for the series, which lasted two seasons (1964-6). Initially, it aired for half an hour on Wednesdays, but expanded to an hour by January of 1965. In the fall, the show was cut back to half an hour, but now twice a week, a la Peyton Place, and airing on Thursday & Saturday nights.

However, by January 1966, the show was back to once a week, as the Thursday spot was taken up by another twice-a-week entry---Batman.

From September 30, 1964, comes a complete episode, commercials and all, featuring the Walker Brothers and other artists who were regulars, including future bubblegum crooner Bobby Sherman, whose cover of the Honeycombs' "Have I The Right" just didn't have the zing of the original.

Could a show like this be mounted today? I doubt it, but it'd be worth a 1-shot pilot special.

Rating: B.

Moron TV: Quite Frankly with Stephen A. Smith (2005)

In his two tours of duty with ESPN, Stephen A. Smith has made it abundantly clear that he thinks, and sounds, like he's the reincarnation of the late Howard Cosell, except that Cosell, at least had class & dignity. Smith leaves that at home when he goes to work.

Some genius thought it'd be a good idea if Smith could parlay his communicative skills into being a talk show host. As if annoying America 5 mornings a week on First Take wasn't bad enough, ESPN gave Smith a primetime forum in the form of Quite Frankly which bowed in 2005, and was cancelled in January 2007 after less than 18 months.

As a talk show host, Smith took his cues from Arsenio Hall in fawning over some of his guests, such as, for example, Shaquille O'Neal:

In the end, he made Hall look like the 2nd coming of Merv Griffin. Remember, Cosell tried doing a variety show more than 40 years ago, and bombed. There was a reason for that. If you're established for doing something specific, like, in Cosell's case, calling boxing & football, and you're asked to move to another venue, like a variety show, and you don't have the talent needed for that gig, it ain't gonna work. Smith was another case in point. Because he's a polarizing, toxic personality on ESPN, he's only there for ratings and click bait.

I tried watching this sad excuse for entertainment, and then wished I had the best of Arsenio's 1989-94 talk show on DVD.

Rating: D.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Musical Interlude: Dirty Laundry (1983-5)

Like, good day, eh? Back in 1985, there was a friendly competition between news organizations in Toronto. The Global TV Network's news department put together a comedy act, the "News Brothers" (a play on---who else?---The Blues Brothers), and put together this video to the beat of Don Henley's 1983 hit, "Dirty Laundry". Henley never released an actual video for the song, so this is the best we can do for now. Not to mention the fact that, like, "Dirty Laundry" is a personal favorite.

Yeah, so they also copied ZZ Top along the way, eh? Not bad, eh?

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Classic TV: Hullabaloo (1965)

In the wake of ABC's Shindig!, which was halfway through its first season, NBC decided to play monkey see, monkey do, and introduced their own pop music jamboree.

Hullabaloo premiered in January 1965, and ran for 2 seasons. Like ABC's Hootenanny, it went from a 1/2-hour format in the 1st season to a hour-long format in the 2nd, but declining interest, it seems, contributed to the show's demise. Unlike Hootenanny & Shindig!, which had a host in place, Hullabaloo went with a different host each week, a practice continued today by another NBC series, Saturday Night Live.

Some of the talent associated with Hullabaloo went on to bigger things. Writers Frank Peppiatt and John Aylesworth moved to CBS and created Hee Haw, the original Happy Days (a short-lived comedy variety series hosted by Louis Nye in 1970), and produced the Harlem Globetrotters' Saturday morning Popcorn Machine (1974-5). Dancer Patrick Adiarte would later resurface during the early years of M*A*S*H as Ho John, Hawkeye & Trapper John's sidekick.

Following is a sample clip, with father & son hosts Jerry & Gary Lewis:

No rating.

Sports this 'n' that

Fresh off sweeping the Brooklyn Cyclones out of town, the Tri-City Valleycats made their final trip to Connecticut on Tuesday, and were reminded that the Tigers have been their personal kryptonite this season. Connecticut finished a suspended game from last month, and, in the regularly scheduled game, trimmed to 7 innings per NY Penn League double-header rules, the Tigers completed the sweep, sending the 'Cats 2 1/2 games in arrears of front-running Vermont with 2 1/2 weeks to go in the season.

For what it's worth, Brooklyn has had the worst record in the NYPL this season, occupying the basement in the league's McNamara Division.
Robert Lee isn't the voice of high school football for Spectrum Sports anymore. In addition to his commitments to Spectrum and Siena College last year, Lee began working for ESPN, mostly calling digital broadcasts of college football & basketball games.

Lee was to have been assigned Virginia's home opener on September 2, but that was switched in the aftermath of the violence in Charlottesville, where the campus is located, 11 days ago. The problem? Some people might think Lee, an Asian-American, might be distantly related to Confederate general Robert E. Lee (he's not). Lee will instead call the Youngstown State-Pittsburgh game on ESPN3.

Like, give me a break. I suppose the same thing will happen if Lee were assigned a Virginia home basketball game this winter.

These are the times we live in.
The Northeastern Football Alliance may be having some problems with some of their teams.

The Troy Fighting Irish were to play Five Rivers last Saturday, but the game was never played, as Five Rivers forfeited. No reason given, but Troy is now 9-0 and will close the regular season at Watertown on Saturday, having already beaten the Red & Black, a holdover from the old Empire Football League, earlier this season. Five Rivers isn't the only team in the league that has forfeited games this season (A forfeit results in a default 2-0 final score), but you wonder if this isn't a by-product of general media indifference in the league.
As much as Brooklyn has struggled this season, the parent Mets are clearly in rebuilding mode, preparing for next season.

2 years removed from their last division title, the Mets have continued to ship out veteran players, some of whom have also been clubhouse leaders. Lost amidst the trade of Curtis Granderson to the Dodgers was the fact that the defending World Champion Cubs claimed catcher Rene Rivera on waivers, which led to Kevin Plawecki being recalled from Las Vegas, as noted the other day. You know what that means if you're a Mets fan like me. The Mets need to find a veteran to help Plawecki and starting catcher Travis d'Arnaud next season. The Mets have lost the first two games of their series with Arizona at Citi Field, and have yet to beat the D-Backs this season (0-5 headed into tonight's game). Thankfully, I don't think they'll end up in the cellar.
Troy High fans already have the home opener marked on their calendars for next week,  but it wouldn't surprise anyone if John Germinerio, who graduated in June, drops in for a visit during the season. Germinerio's staying close to home, as he'll be at Union College to play football. He may not be the starter, but at least he'll get more hometown fans in the seats at Frank Bailey Field.