Friday, June 30, 2017

Weasels of the Week: Vince Russo and ..........take a guess who got another set

Less than six months into his term in office, and President Donald Trump has proven over and over again that he cannot smoothly transition himself into his new role.

Like a petulant child, President Trump picks fights via Twitter when it is not appropriate to do so, if only because he's so accustomed to drawing attention to himself for whatever.

The latest example of the Presidential immaturity came in another set of tweets directed at Joe Scarborough and his fiancée, Mika Berezinski, hosts of Morning Joe. dismissing the couple as crazy (Mika) and psycho (Joe), and even poking fun at what he assumed had been some plastic surgery done on Mika. Even fellow Republicans have ripped the President to shreds over this one.

Reportedly, the Trump administration is alleged to have resorted to using blackmail, specifically sending a reporter from the National Enquirer to dig up some dirt. The once respected tabloid is owned by David Pecker and American Media. Pecker is a friend of the President, and more than willing to stain his tabloid's reputation more than before in service to the President. The Enquirer ran a minor piece alleging that Scarborough was drinking multiple six-packs of beer, which Scarborough denies.

I hate to bring it up again, but for someone who reportedly became a born-again Christian a year ago through Dr. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, President Trump is not behaving in a Christian manner. At 71, the President continues to behave like an immature child, one who is growing drunk with power.

Three Dog Night's 1970 hit, "Liar", is thus dedicated to the President and the tabloid media willing to enable his childish tantrums.



Translated, the President is getting another set of Weasel ears for abusing his office and continuing to perpetuate his childish antics in full public purview.

You say you're a Christian, Mr. Trump. Start living like one.
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Meanwhile, veteran wrestling personalities Vince Russo and Jim Cornette have been waging a verbal feud for nearly 20 years, dating back to when both were employed by the then-World Wrestling Federation. Both have podcasts now, but their ongoing verbal jousting is hardly on the order of the old Jack Benny-Fred Allen feud on radio back in the day. Not even close.

Russo broke into the wrestling business 25 or so years ago, a video store owner and radio talk show host out of Long Island, hired as a writer for what is now WWE. He left the company in the fall of 1999, and, with his success having gone to his head, tried to recreate some of his lame, outlandish ideas in WCW, and, later, TNA (now Impact Wrestling). Cornette has ripped him to shreds repeatedly for being out of touch with reality, among other things.

So what happens? Within the last week, Cornette, who lives in Louisville, was served with a restraining order to stay away from Russo, who currently lives in Indiana. Seems Russo thinks Cornette, who offered to fight Russo to settle their issue, means to kill him, or something like that.

Cornette, for his part, is Xeroxing copies of the restraining order, autographing them, and selling them online, with the proceeds going to local charities. The funny part about this is that Cornette is an avowed atheist. Russo, like President Trump, claims to be a Christian. Like the President, Russo now has a thin skin from all the insults Cornette has hurled his way since both left the WWE. They last crossed paths in TNA several years ago, but the feud isn't ending anytime soon.

To Russo, we offer this 1965 1-hit wonder by the Castaways:



This is because Russo, the other recipient of the Weasel ears this week, is taking more credit than he should for some of the things he did during the Attitude Era. If not for Vince McMahon editing and filtering Russo's nuttier ideas, we wouldn't have WWE today, to tell you the truth.

As the saying goes, you reap what you sow. I'm sure you can look it up in the Bible, Mr. Russo. If you can remember you have one.

Thursday, June 29, 2017

When 2 classics join together (Sanford and Gong, 1976)

Sanford & Son was in its final season. The Gong Show was in its first year. Someone at NBC decided to have Chuck Barris bring his daytime show to primetime with a guest appearance on Sanford & Son.

In "Sanford & Gong", Fred (Redd Foxx) gets on Gong with son Lamont (Demond Wilson) on drums, but with Bubba (Don Bexley) filling in for their friend, Rodney, at the last minute. Fred & Bubba split vocal chores on "Exactly Like You". Of course, it gets chaotic at the end.



I can't remember for the life of me if any of the Sanford cast returned the favor and served as judges on Gong to return the favor.

Rating: A.

Meet the President's role model (1986)

The New York Times and other media outlets, as well as millions of American citizens, seem to think President Trump is a compulsive liar who thinks anything he says is pure political gospel.

The truth is, President Trump reacts to things he sees or reads the way an immature child does in a lot of cases. As for lying, well..........

One can point back to Isuzu's ad campaign from 1986-90, featuring actor David Leisure as Joe Isuzu, who was an unashamed, bald-faced liar whose statements were refuted with graphics during the course of his ads, like this sample.



Leisure parlayed Joe Isuzu into a gig on the sitcom, Empty Nest, and even revived Joe Isuzu near the end of the 20th century.

It wouldn't surprise me at all if President Trump doesn't remember Joe.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Musical Interlude: Made in Japan (1972)

Buck Owens reached #1 on the country chart in 1972 with "Made in Japan", which references the growing--at the time--expansion of Japanese companies into the US. As Buck sings, his "transistor radio comes from far away", which would mean it was either from Panasonic or Toshiba. I think.



"Made in Japan" turned out to be Buck's last #1 single as a solo act, regardless of what he recorded after. Go figure.

Advertising For Dummies: Hawaiian Rice Krispies? (Puffa Puffa Rice, 1967)

Kellogg's thought that uniting the elements of Rice Krispies with Puffed Rice, the latter a rival brand, into a variant on the former would be a hit.

Puffa Puffa Rice, however, didn't even make it to 10 years on the shelves, retired in 1975.

Puffa Puffa Rice debuted in 1967, with an ad shot in Hawaii. Actor William Christopher, at the time a recurring player on Gomer Pyle, USMC, and 5 years away from his iconic role as Father Mulcahy on M*A*S*H, narrates.



Anita Aloha was a featured hula dancer in the ad. I remember seeing the product on store shelves up until around the time it was discontinued. It's a pity. Kellogg's now has just regular Rice Krispies, Cocoa Krispies, and some later variants, but had Puffa Puffa Rice been bigger on the mainland.....!

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

What Might've Been: Medical Story (1975)

NBC thought they had the next great medical drama in 1975. Oh, were they ever wrong.

Medical Story, from producer David Gerber (Police Woman, Police Story) and Kojak creator Abby Mann, was an anthology series, much like Police Story, but set in a hospital. NBC placed it on Thursday nights, inheriting Dean Martin's old perch at 10 pm (ET). Unfortunately, Medical Story didn't make it past Christmas.

So, where did it go wrong? The competition at the time consisted of Harry O, David Janssen's latest series, on ABC, coupled with The Streets of San Francisco, and The CBS Thursday Night Movie. 2 2-hour episodes bookended the 12 episode run.

In the following promo, narrated by Lloyd Bridges (Joe Forrester, another David Gerber entry), we see portions of the series opener, with Bridges' son, Beau, plus Jose Ferrer, and, in a rare dramatic role, Carl Reiner.



I never saw the show, so there's no rating.

Sports this 'n' that

Y'think  maybe WWE regrets their latest attempt at a SportsCenter moment?

With the Monday Night Raw troupe in Los Angeles, CEO/Chairman/head wackjob Vince McMahon thought he saw extra ratings in bringing in America's worst stage parent, LaVar Ball, and sons Lonzo & LaMelo, to appear during the Miz TV portion of the show. Intercontinental champ Mike "The Miz" Mizanin welcomed the Balls, and they teased a throw-down between Miz and the elder Ball. Unfortunately, less than 12 hours later, WWE had to issue a statement regarding LaMelo's use of a racial slur during the segment. You won't find it on WWE's YouTube channel, as they've edited it out, claiming the slur was "unscripted" (DUH!). LaMelo forgot he was in a more public setting than he's accustomed to, less than a week after big brother Lonzo had been drafted by the Lakers.

Here's a thought. While Lonzo is playing in the NBA, LaVar & LaMelo can star in a remake of Sanford & Son. Meantime, we'll send LaMelo a Dunce Cap.
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It was news when Georgetown University brought back one of their 80's stars, Patrick Ewing, to be their new coach after axing John Thompson III at the end of the 2016-7 season. Now, Ewing has hired a former Knicks teammate, former Siena & Seton Hall coach Louis Orr, as an assistant coach for next season. Good luck to both as the Hoyas look to return not only to the top of the Big East, but back to the NCAA tournament next spring.
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Major League Baseball's pace of play initiatives haven't quite sunk in at the minor league level.

How else to explain the glacial pace of the Tri-City Valleycats' first week of games, including last night's win over Vermont, snapping a 3 game losing streak? This was the longest game to date, clocking in at just under 4 hours for 9 innings, and I can't tell if that includes a 46 minute rain delay that was noted in the box score. To date, they've played just 1 game under 3 hours, and that was over the weekend vs. Vermont, and that just missed the 3 hour plateau. Granted, most of the players are coming in from college, and didn't have enough time to practice together before the season started. By this time next month, the length of games will gradually decrease. Well, at least we're hoping.

I neglected to mention in reporting on Friday's loss to Lowell that 'Cats rookie Connor MacDonald, from Australia, is greeted with---what else?----Men at Work's "Down Under" as his walk-up music. 35 years later, that song still resonates.
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A certain local sports anchor has publicly given up on the Mets due to all the injuries, joining the chorus of downstate types who think the team will be sellers instead of buyers at the trade deadline next month. I have to disagree. Think back to 2015, when the Mets netted Yoenis Cespedes at the deadline, and how that turned their season around. One move can still make a difference.

Meanwhile, the Mets finished the California leg of their road trip at 3-4 after sweeping the equally moribound San Francisco Giants. As for the Los Angeles Dodgers, I think a receipt is nigh when Dave Roberts' crew hits New York later this summer. Next stop is Miami, but the Marlins may already be in sell mode themselves, shipping shortstop Adeiny Hechevarria to Tampa Bay for prospects on Monday. Speaking of receipts, the Mets still are looking to collect from the Marlins......!
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The College World Series could wrap up tonight or tomorrow, but the NCAA should also think about pace of play. Every game I've seen so far has gone over 3 hours or better. Today's kids have the mentality, or so it'd seem that a flashy play will get them on SportsCenter just as much as a clutch hit or home run. Just play the game.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Forgotten TV: The Zoo Gang (1974)

I wish I had been able to see this show.

The Zoo Gang was a 1974 ITC series that ran for just six episodes, airing in the spring of '74. An eclectic ensemble cast, including Brian Keith (ex-Family Affair), Barry Morse (ex-The Fugitive), and John Mills, brought to life Paul Gallico's tale of a team of World War II resistance fighters who reunite 30 years later to fight crime.

A year later, The Zoo Gang aired on NBC as a 3-night miniseries, and that's the last anyone's seen of it here, as it's on DVD in the UK only.

The other notable thing is that the theme music was composed by Paul & Linda McCartney, and performed by McCartney & Wings.

The Zoo Gang was the first of Gallico's works to be adapted into series form of any kind since The Adventures of Hiram Holliday some 20 years earlier. I believe there've been one-shot adaptations for the likes of Hallmark Hall of Fame, but there has to be more in the library waiting to be brought to life. Of course, if the Zoo Gang were to be revived today, the setting would understandably be updated to reflect more recent times.

This was Barry Morse's 2nd series for ITC, coming a couple of years after co-starring with Gene Barry in The Adventurer, and by the time NBC picked up Zoo Gang, Morse had moved on to Space: 1999.

Now, let's scope the intro and that kickin' Wings beat.



No rating.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Musical Interlude: Something's Burning (1970)

From The Johnny Cash Show:

Kenny Rogers and the First Edition landed in the top 20 with the Mac Davis-penned "Something's Burning", which would be one of their last hits.



A year later, the group landed their own show, Rollin' On The River, taped & produced in Canada, but once that series ended, it wasn't long before the First Edition went their separate ways.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Forgotten TV: McCoy (1975)

Four years after he teamed with Roger Moore in the British series, The Persuaders, Tony Curtis returned to television, this time in a NBC Sunday Mystery Movie entry, McCoy.

McCoy is a con man who, with the aid of a few close friends, turns the tables on other con artists and assorted other bad guys. Unfortunately, Universal had also developed a similar series, Switch, for CBS, which bowed the same season (1975-6). In a way, McCoy also had a spiritual ancestor in Four Star's short-lived The Rogues, 11 years earlier. This is significant when you look at the following video montage, which collects clips from each of the episodes.

Lloyd Bridges (Joe Forrester) narrates. Roscoe Lee Browne co-stars with Curtis, and you'll see Larry Hagman as a villain in the montage. Hagman had joined the cast of The Rogues during its run, before I Dream of Jeannie turned him into a cultural icon.



Curtis would fare a little bit better when he joined the cast of Aaron Spelling's Vega$ a few years later.

No rating.

Let's not blame it on the rain (Lowell 7, Valleycats 2, 6/23/17)

The Tri-City Valleycats entered play Friday night tied with Connecticut for first place in the New York-Penn League's Stedler division, and sought a sweep of division rival Lowell. The game was played under overcast skies at first pitch, right at 7:00, but the clouds should've been a harbinger of things to come.

Tri-City starter Cristian Javier only went three innings, giving up 2 runs on 2 hits, striking out 6, while walking 4. In fact, it was the walks that were a real problem. You have to remember that in this era, pitch counts are just as important as a pitcher's effectiveness on the mound.

NCAA home run champion Jake Adams gave 'Cats fans a taste of what to expect when he wasted little time hitting his first pro homer with one out in the 2nd. In the 3rd, with Lowell leading, 2-1, Connor MacDonald tied the game with a base hit off Lowell starter Nick Duron, but Abraham Toro was thrown out at 3rd to end the inning. That would also be the end of the 'Cats' offense for the night.

The Spinners jumped on Ben Smith when he took over in the 4th. Smith went just 1 1/3 innings, giving up 5 runs while walking 4. All but one of the runs were earned due to a 'Cats error. Nathan Thompson came in and calmed things down, striking out 7, but first year manager Morgan Ensberg couldn't get the offense going again, and Lowell salvages the final game of the series, 7-2. The Spinners will return to Bruno Stadium in August.

Tri-City opens a 3-game series with Vermont tonight before heading out on the road. Connecticut also lost, so the 'Cats remain tied for first at 2-2.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Classic (?) TV: Battle of the Network Stars (1976)

The success of ABC's Sunday series, The Superstars, which pitted pro athletes from various sports in very different competitions, spawned a primetime, celebrity-driven companion series, Battle of the Network Stars, in which the Alphabet Network would invite stars from NBC & CBS' shows over for a friendly competition. For the next decade, we'd see this take place 1-2 times a year, up until 1985.

Howard Cosell anchored the coverage, with the exception of the May 1985 broadcast. At that point, Cosell had a falling out with ABC, and had seemingly hung up his microphone. However, he'd return for a 1-shot revival in 1988, which would be the last Battle for 29 years.

That's because someone at ABC thought it'd be a good idea to revive Battle anew, this time as a weekly summer series as part of a Thursday block that sees Battle sandwiched in between Boy Band and the revived Gong Show, the latter of which we reviewed earlier. Somehow, I don't think a weekly format works quite so well. Consider also that ABC had revived The Superstars in 2009 to tepid response.

Let's go back to 1976. The Dragnet-esque narration at the beginning is by Lorne Greene.



CBS saw the results, and decided to do their own network-exclusive series on weekends as a component of CBS Sports Spectacular. We'll try to locate some video of that for another time.

Rating: A. It's a guilty pleasure, after all.

A Classic Reborn: The Gong Show (2017)

Chuck Barris passed away back in March, but, trust me, he'd be very proud of the new Gong Show.

Gong becomes the latest classic to be resurrected at ABC, following Sony stablemate The $100,000 Pyramid, and Fremantle's reworkings of Goodson-Todman legends To Tell The Truth & Match Game. Actor-comedian Will Arnett ("The Lego Batman Movie", ex-Arrested Development) not only was one of the judges on opening night, but also serves as executive producer. The MC duties were entrusted to "legendary British comedian" Tommy Maitland (actually Mike Myers, ex-Saturday Night Live, whose makeup turns him into a cross between Benny Hill and Robin Williams), who keeps the show moving at a faster pace than Barris and previous successors ever did.

The judging scale is now 0-10, instead of 1-10, so you don't need to be gonged to get a 0 score, as was demonstrated in the opener. Airing at 10 pm (ET), just like Comedy Central's take on the series 9 years ago, allows for more risque acts to appear, the kind of envelope pushing that Barris wanted to do 40 years ago, but fought with censors at NBC because his was a daytime show (with a syndicated night edition). In all, this was silly, but fun.

Sony offers the trailer:



Why did I invoke Benny Hill? There's a point in the show where Maitland uses a open hand salute, a la Hill's Fred Scuttle persona, during an act. Watch it On Demand, and you'll see what I mean.

Rating: A.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Origin of a Classic: The Gong Show (1976)

With a new version of The Gong Show bowing later tonight, let's take a look back at where it all began.

The story is that co-creator/co-executive producer Chuck Barris didn't plan on hosting the show himself. Instead, John Barbour, later of Real People, was tapped to host. However, Barbour wasn't keen on the idea of satirizing talent shows, and, as you'll see, he plays it straight. NBC suits eventually convinced Barris that the only way to save the show was for Barris himself to take over if he wanted to dismiss Barbour.

The rest, as they say, is history.



We'll see if the new version measures up.

Rating: A.

Musical Interlude: Don't Go Breaking My Heart (1976)

One of Elton John's earliest duets was with Kiki Dee on 1976's "Don't Go Breaking My Heart", which was mostly a vehicle to introduce radio listeners to Dee, who was signed to Elton's Rocket Records, a subsidiary of MCA. That label was also home to Neil Sedaka during his 70's comeback.



Aw, don't they make such a cute couple? Of course, back then we had no idea that Elton wasn't really into Kiki. Strangely, this wasn't on any albums at the time, although it was recorded during sessions for the "Blue Moves" album.

Nearly 20 years later, Elton went back and re-recorded the song, this time with RuPaul, for his 1994 "Duets" CD. In between, he had Miss Piggy sit in as a partner on The Muppet Show.

Anyway, here's the 1994 version:



Compare, folks, and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

A Classic Reborn: Extreme Gong (1998)

10 years after the first revival, Sony brought back The Gong Show, but with a new name, a new format, and a new host.

Extreme Gong was developed for Sony-owned Game Show Network (GSN),  but lasted exactly 1 calendar year (October 1998-99). So, then, why did this Gong fail? Because it was too different from its forebears.

The celebrity panel of judges was excised in favor of viewers using a 900 phone line to cast votes. Don't know how well that fared, since I didn't have GSN at the time, and wouldn't for another decade. Anyway, comic George Gray landed one of his first host gigs, cranking it up to 11 1/2. As this sample video shows, eliminating the elements that made the original Gong a cult classic turned out to be a big mistake.



A few years later, and before Sony sold Comedy Central an even shorter-lived Gong (previously reviewed), the studio tried to posit a revival for the WB. No sale. Now, 9 years after Dave Attell's attempt at reviving the franchise failed, The Gong Show is back, this time on ABC, with the relaunch tomorrow night. We'll have a review of it this weekend.

No rating for Extreme Gong.

Sports this 'n' that

Let's remember that the Tri-City Valleycats aren't Troy's only summer sports team.

Troy's semi-pro football team, the Fighting Irish, had their season opener on June 17, thrashing Lockport, 41-24, at Lansingburgh High. Problem is, due to the usual press issues (lack of manpower, etc.), the game was never reported to the hometown paper. Coverage of the Fighting Irish has been spotty right from the go. It's not the same as it was back in the 70's, when the Captial Region had at one point two semi-pro teams. Albany's Metro Mallers are still around,  but the Irish, if ya will, have risen from the ashes of the short lived Troy Uncle Sams, and have exceeded the latter's successes.

Up next for the Irish will be a road test vs. Broome County in Binghamton on Saturday before coming home July 1 to host Auburn.
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The Valleycats open the home portion of their season tonight vs. Lowell, but the opener last night at Connecticut was even worse than their exhibition loss to the Albany Dutchmen last week. The Tigers shut down the 'Cats, 9-0. I've noted in the past that the teams in the New York-Penn League that gell the fastest are often there at the end, and this may be one of those years where the Valleycats will struggle. Everything runs in cycles in the minors, especially in a short-season league such as the NYPL.
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Could the Yankees have peaked too soon?

The Bombers have lost 7 in a row, something that hasn't happened a similar stretch from October 2011-April 2012, and they hadn't lost 7 straight in the midst of the season in 10 years before losing, 8-3, to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on Tuesday. Of course, it was also the Angels that started the Yankees on their current skid, winning the last two in Anaheim last week. The losing streak has knocked the Yankees out of first place in the AL East, overtaken by Boston.

On a happier note, rookie outfielder Aaron Judge, who leads the majors in homers with 24, has been invited to participate in this year's Home Run Derby, set for July 10 in Miami, where defending champion Giancarlo Stanton could seek to repeat. Judge hasn't yet accepted the invitation, but don't be surprised if he's pushed toward doing so, not just by the team, but also by ESPN, which will carry the event. Ratings, you know.
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After an 8-game winning streak ended with a loss to Adirondack on Sunday, the Albany Dutchmen got back on the winning track Tuesday, shutting out Glens Falls, 8-0. The Dutchmen are playing their home games this season at Siena College in Loudonville, moving away from the Bellizzi Sports Complex in Colonie. Bleecker Stadium is the home of the Albany Twilight League, but now might be a good time to find a more fan-accessible venue for both the Twilighters and the Dutchmen. Just sayin'.
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As Aaron Judge is tearing up the AL, the Dodgers have his NL counterpart in Cody Bellinger, who leads the NL with 22 homers, three of them the last two nights against the Mets at Dodger Stadium. Seems the Amazin's left most of their bats in New York, as the Dodgers have outscored the Mets, 22-6, the last two nights. Corey Seager burned the Mets for 3 dingers in a 12-0 win last night. What is more galling is how many times in the last month that the Mets have given up 10+ runs.

Much as I hate to say it, but I think the clock is finally ticking on Terry Collins' tenure in New York.
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Spectrum Cable sounded the warning a few weeks back, and now it's a reality. The cable company has discontinued its local sports channel, and it was reported a while back that their Friday night High School Football Game of the Week, which returns September 1, would shift over to Spectrum News (cable channel 9). I'll hazard a guess, but too many folks were complaining that they were getting minor league and college games from the Western part of the state (i.e. Syracuse), and not enough coverage of local teams. The upside there is that we'd get to see Triple A teams like Syracuse (Nationals), Buffalo (Blue Jays), and Rochester (Twins), but Charter-owned Spectrum, and Time-Warner before it, barely raised ripples with the Valleycats.

Figure, too, that Siena and UAlbany games will also shift to channel 9 this season, but if Charter is doing this to save money, now we know why Ivan Shreve, Jr. over at Thrilling Days of Yesteryear refers to them as "Charred Her". Just sayin'.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Origin of a Classic: Love and the Television Set (aka Love and the Happy Days--Love, American Style, 1972)

From season 4 of Love, American Style:

It was originally titled, "Love and the Television Set", largely because writer Garry Marshall and the producers didn't initially believe this slice of 1950's nostalgia would take off the way it did. As you'll see, the episode was retitled, "Love and the Happy Days" when Style entered syndication, the end result of Happy Days being spun off in the winter of 1974.

As we've noted, character actor Harold Gould was the original Howard Cunningham, but when it was decided to spin Days off into its own series, Gould was unavailable due to movie commitments, enabling Tom Bosley to take his place and gain icon status. Marion Ross, Ron Howard, & Anson Williams carried over from this episode.

Only the first portion airs, narrated by Howard in character as Richie Cunningham.



Not sure if the poster has the rest of the episode. Somewhere along the way, Warren "Potsie" Weber (Williams) was dumbed down into a nearly clueless imbecile who also was pursuing a musical career in the course of the series.

Fast fact about Style: Co-producer Arnold Margolin also co-wrote the some of the music for the show, and cast his younger brother, Stuart, later of The Rockford Files, as a member of the show's repertory company for the blackout sketches.

Funny thing. Throughout its run, Style aired at 10 pm (ET). Happy Days aired earlier in the evening throughout its 11 season run.

Rating: B. It would get better.

Moron TV: Electra Woman & Dyna Girl (2001)

This is no way to celebrate a cult classic. Not even close.

Electra Woman & Dyna Girl, which marked its 40th anniversary last year with a YouTube-fueled reboot (which we'll look at another time), marked 25 years in 2001 with a failed pilot commissioned by the WB Network, which apparently was looking for a slice of the audience of Buffy, The Vampire Slayer, which, by this point, had moved to UPN.

Markie Post (ex-Night Court) took over the role of Electra Woman, originated by Diedre Hall (Days of Our Lives) in 1976. Now, Hall was still working at the time, and I am not sure if she'd been approached about this project, but it'd been years since Post had anything significant on the air in the post-Night Court years. EW is now a bitter, alcoholic divorcee, whose ex-husband left her for the original Dyna Girl. A young girl whom EW had rescued years earlier is now all grown up, and locates EW, ultimately becoming the new Dyna Girl (Anne Stedman).

I think you'll see in the video just why it didn't make it, and that it would take 15 more years before a serious reboot was mounted.



So the new Dyna Girl has a little Tim Drake to her (Batman fans will get the reference), in that she deduced EW's true ID. While the original series was itself a parody of Batman and a homage at the same time, what with the diagonal camera angles, it earned its own place in pop culture in history (the original theme song is used in the pilot). I think you can see why Diedre Hall turned down the project if offered.

Satire & parody are done best if done with the proper respect to the source material. This falls short.

Rating: D.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Bill Dana (1924-2017)

To many, he will be known simply for the Everyman he created, Jose Jimenez. Bill Dana, though, had more going for him than Jimenez, the character he played on his self-titled 1963-5 sitcom, and, before that, on Make Room For Daddy (aka The Danny Thomas Show) and The Steve Allen Show, as well as numerous guest appearances on Hollywood Palace, The Ed Sullivan Show, and so on.

It was Dana who developed the "Would you believe......?" jokes that Don Adams used in his act and, subsequently, Get Smart. Dana also wrote the 1966 animated musical adaptation of Alice in Wonderland for ABC & Hanna-Barbera, and co-wrote "The Return of Maxwell Smart", aka "The Nude Bomb", a theatrical revival of Smart, in 1980.

It came over the wires earlier today that Dana had passed away at 92, leaving behind a lifetime of laughs.

In later years, Dana took part in the Comic Relief specials on HBO, and landed a recurring role on The Golden Girls.

Let's take a trip back in time to The Steve Allen Show for a classic Jose Jimenez skit.



Dana, born William Szathmary, was the brother of composer Irving Szathmary, who wrote the theme music to Smart, perhaps his most famous work.

Rest in peace, Bill.

Weasel of the Week: Alex Jones

This should surprise absolutely no one.

Leading up to last night's Sunday Night With Megyn Kelly, Infowars founder Alex Jones claimed he had an audio tape of the interview, trying to make himself look good in the eyes of his brainwashed audience of dittoheads.

I took a look at a couple of minutes of the interview, and saw all I needed to see before Kelly brought up the Sandy Hook massacre, which Jones to this day claims was a hoax. He refused to admit he was wrong, and for all the hand-wringing and protests from family members of the Newtown victims, at the end of the night, Jones was the real loser, just as we all thought he'd be. The other hook to the interview was, of course, Jones' ties to President Trump, but in this case, it's neither here nor there. The national spotlight that the Newtown families were afraid would make Jones look like a patron saint in the eyes of his listeners, instead did what it was meant to do, expose him as a fraud, sweating under the hot television studio lights. He just refused to come right out and say he was wrong on national television, because it would make him look weak to his audience if he did that.

No, that's not true. A coward like Jones puts up a brave front as best as he can because he knows if he caves in and confesses, it's the end of Infowars and his career. He's looking to extend his 15 minutes of infamy, but, in this writer's opinion, the clock is ticking toward the end for this Weasel.

They say confession is good for the soul. Alex Jones is a pompous, soul-less jackass whose dimwitted followers would rather crucify Megyn Kelly than give in to the truth. Their loss. Enjoy the Weasel ears, Jones. We'll see to it they come with a special accessory. A straitjacket designed to look like----what else?----a Weasel.

What Might've Been: Karen (1964)

In addition to CBS' The Munsters, Joe Connolly & Bob Mosher's Kayro-Vue Productions sold a sitcom to NBC for the 1964-5 season as part of a network programming experiment.

90 Bristol Court was the umbrella title for a 90-minute block of sitcoms airing on Monday nights. Two of the three components, Harris Against The World (Jack Klugman's first starring vehicle) and Tom, Dick, & Mary (with Joyce Bulifant and a pre-Ironside Don Galloway), failed to get out of 1964. That left Karen as the lone survivor.

Karen, to some extent, was in the mold of the "Tammy" movies that had starred Debbie Reynolds, and, later, Sandra Dee. Newcomer Debbie Watson was cast in the title role, with Richard Denning (ex-Mr. & Mrs. North) as her father, and Gina Gillespie, sister of former Mouseketeer Darlene Gillespie, as Karen's younger sister. Sadly, Karen finished out the season, and was cancelled.

So where did NBC go wrong? Mondays, back then, belonged to CBS with The Andy Griffith Show, To Tell The Truth, & I've Got a Secret. It might've been a better bet to try 90 Bristol Court on a different night.

The Beach Boys performed the theme song, and some think that Brian Wilson wrote it. Somehow, I doubt that very seriously, as this might've actually been written by series musical director Jack Marshall, who also composed the kickin' themes for The Munsters. Judge for yourselves.



Universal, undaunted, gave Debbie Watson another chance the next season, this time in a series version of Tammy, for ABC. That also flopped, cancelled after 1 season. We'll look at Tammy another time.

No rating.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

What Might've Been: Biff Baker USA (1952)

While spy dramas were starting to fill the airwaves on radio and television, some just didn't make the grade when they should've. As with all genres, it's just a case of the network trying to program against its competitors and attempting to gauge audience interest. It's a problem as old as time.

In 1952, Revue Studios cast Alan Hale, Jr. in the title role in Biff Baker USA, a secret agent drama that had Baker using the cover of a importing/exporting magnate, alongside his wife. At the time, Hale's father, Alan, Sr., was, I think, still active in Hollywood. As we all know, Hale dropped the "Jr." when he was cast in Casey Jones (1957) & Gilligan's Island (1964-7).

In "Crash Landing", the Bakers go behind the Iron Curtain to rescue an American pilot.



So why did it fail? One word. Dragnet. CBS dropped Baker, which finished its season in syndication, a practice no longer common in this day & age. Dragnet, of course, had a pre-sold, built-in audience carrying over from radio, something Baker couldn't compete with.

No rating.

Sounds of Praise: The God I Know (2016)

Love & The Outcome is a husband & wife Christian pop combo from Canada whose hit single from last year, "The God I Know", off their sophomore CD, "These Are The Days", is getting heavy airplay on K-Love and other Christian radio channels.

Yeah, I know, I've already burst the bubble for all the boys who might be having at least a passing interest in singer-keyboard player Jodi King. Hey, that's the way it is.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

A Modern Classic (?): Bordertown (1989)

The Christian Broadcasting Network wanted to be more than The 700 Club. So they filled their daily lineup with reruns of classic shows from the 50's & 60's, usually sitcoms and Westerns, which put them in competition with the likes of Nick at Nite.

In the winter of 1989, CBN's Family Channel (now Freeform) introduced its first original Western. Bordertown ran for three seasons total, arriving as it did as a mid-season replacement in January.

The premise was simple enough. The small town of Pemmican, Montana was discovered to be straddling the US-Canada border. As a result, it was renamed Bordertown, and law enforcement was split between a US Marshal and a Canadian Mountie, and both were smitten with the town doctor, a French-Canadian widow. While there would be the running argument over which country was actually better, and this was predictable, the debates would be set aside to handle the case du jour. Case in point, "The Gunfighter", in which a "tenderfoot" feels he needs to settle things with a crooked employer.



Veteran producer Lionel E. Siegel had worked on a number of American shows, mostly crime dramas, which Bordertown technically could also be classified under.

Rating: B.

What Might've Been: The New Show (1984)

Today, NBC will use the last hour of primetime on Saturday nights for an edited replay of the previous week's Saturday Night Live in order to boost interest for the following episode after the 11 pm (ET) news. Back in 1984, however, network executives asked SNL creator Lorne Michaels to develop a similar sketch comedy show for primetime, one that wouldn't be live.

The New Show was a mid-season replacement that spent two months and change on NBC in the winter of 1984. Aside from Michaels, the only other links to SNL were frequent host Steve Martin and recurring guest Buck Henry. The ensemble otherwise included Valeri Bromfield (ex-Fridays) and Dave Thomas (Second City TV), whose SCTV castmates, Catherine O'Hara & John Candy, would make frequent appearances.

Not only would you get the same kind of skits as on either SCTV or SNL, plus a musical guest, but there would be unique performances. Take for example Penny Marshall (Laverne & Shirley) doing some breakdancing with the Dynamic Breakers. I wish I could post that clip, but it's in bad shape. Anyway, this should've been a key part of NBC's resurgence in the 80's, but it wasn't. Why? It aired on Fridays, opposite CBS' Falcon Crest. CBS still owned Fridays at that point.

In this sample clip, George Orwell's dystopian classic is parodied....



No rating.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Forgotten TV: Trauma Center (1983)

In 1983, producer Glen Larson's production company was working with 2 studios, Universal (Knight Rider was in its 2nd season) and 20th Century Fox (Fall Guy was in its 3rd season). Larson sold 2 new shows for Fox to the two networks he was already working with, NBC (Manimal) and ABC.

People forget, what with all the to-do over the infamous flop that Manimal was, that Larson also failed with what amounted to his answer to Jack Webb's Emergency! (1972-7). Trauma Center was also about paramedics, and had a quality ensemble cast, including Dorian Harewood, Jack Bannon (ex-Lou Grant), Eileen Heckart, James Naughton (ex-Planet of the Apes), and Lou Ferrigno, who was looking to avoid typecasting, as this was a year after The Incredible Hulk ended its run.

Pilot aside, there was an early crossover with Fall Guy which, today, would have fanboys plotzing, considering the likely debates over Hulk and The Six Million Dollar Man (Lee Majors' last series prior to Fall Guy) at the time.

As memory serves, Trauma Center aired on Thursdays, and started off opposite CBS' Magnum, P. I.. Ballgame over before it began, as the series was cut just 2 months later.

Following is a teaser for an episode, followed by the intro, narrated by William Conrad, who also had those chores on Manimal.



Yes, Medstar was the original title, but it was changed before launch, likely at the request of the network. Series regular Wendie Malick would later resurface on Just Shoot Me, among other places, and some kids might remember Alfie Wise as Rabbit Ears, second banana to Charles Nelson Reilly on Uncle Croc's Block, another notable ABC flop, back in 1975.

No rating. Never saw the show.

Baseball this 'n' that

Who did the Mets offend to have four players go on the disabled list this week?

First, it was reliever Josh Smoker, who was placed on the DL earlier this week, with Rafael Montero recalled from Las Vegas. Then, after Wednesday's game vs. the World Champion Cubs, pitcher Matt Harvey, who went just 4 innings (shoulder) and 2nd baseman Neil Walker (hamstring) were added. Filling the defensive gap for Walker isn't as bad as you'd think. T. J. Rivera was recalled and started at second in Thursday's loss to Washington.

But, it was in that game that outfielder Juan Lagares injured his thumb, and will likely have been placed on the DL as these words are being written. Lagares is regarded as one of the better defensive outfielders the Mets have. The Mets just got slugger Yoenis Cespedes back from the DL, and avoided placing Michael Conforto on the list, preferring instead to let him rest a stiff back--he missed the Cubs series--before he was inserted in the game Thursday after Lagares went down.

These are troubled times in Flushing Meadows.
==================================
Y'think maybe the Mets regretted letting utility infielder Ty Kelly go earlier this season?

Kelly has gone from Flushing to Toronto to Philadelphia, and helped the Phillies beat Boston on Thursday night. Trust me, this will come back to haunt the Mets when they play the Phillies again. Just sayin', 'cause that's how it seems to work. Just ask the Nationals' Daniel Murphy, who has owned his former club since signing with Washington last year.
==================================
Three days after the MLB Entry Draft, the Tri-City Valleycats held their annual Education Day exhibition on Thursday, playing host to the Albany Dutchmen of the Perfect Game Collegiate Baseball League, a short-season league that starts right at the end of the college season, and wraps in July.

The Dutchmen, in first place in their division in the PGCBL, took advantage of the 'Cats' hospitality and spoiled former Astro & Yankee infielder Morgan Ensberg's debut in front of the home fans with a 3-2 win. As Houston signs their draft picks and figures out where to assign them over the next few days, the 'Cats will open the NY-Penn League season at Connecticut on Monday before the home opener Wednesday vs. Lowell. Something tells me, however, that we could be in for a long summer in the home district.......!
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While the Nationals are in New York this weekend, the annual Congressional Baseball Game was played Thursday night in Washington, with the Democrats beating the Republicans like a pack of government mules, 11-2. This year's edition got more publicity than usual when a lone gunman opened fire during practice in Alexandria, Va. on Wednesday, wounding House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and three others. I would think, too, that this year's game would also honor the memory of former Senator and major league pitcher Jim Bunning, who passed away last month.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A different kind of Cinderella story (1971)

What if the classic fairy tale of Cinderella were adapted for modern times?

Hertz, years before hiring O. J. Simpson as their pitchman, decided to give this a spin, with help from Penny Marshall (The Odd Couple) and Don Adams (ex-Get Smart):



Don, in particular, did a lot commercials in the 70's after The Partners flopped, mostly for Aurora Toys' Skittle line of games. We'll be looking at those in Saturday Morning Archives soon.

A Classic Reborn: The Hardy Boys (1995)

Canada's Nelvana Studios has dabbled with live-action programming from time to time, most notably a weekend actioner with Mr. T (T & T) in the late 80's. If they were hoping to catch lightning in a bottle again, this time with a fresh adaptation of The Hardy Boys, they were mistaken.

This 1995 series was sold in syndication, and, predictably, coupled with a Nancy Drew solo series. Unlike the 1970's series that aired on ABC, these were half-hour shows with done-in-one mysteries. Each series had 13 episodes, nothing more, as if Nelvana must've known this was going to fail.

Check out this sample clip, and tell me what you think.



Insofar as my memory serves, I don't think this was picked up locally, and I never saw the show, so there's no rating.

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

What Might've Been: Accidental Family (1967)

Ah, the saga of Jerry Van Dyke. Searching to find a hit series he could call his own, and emerge from the shadow cast by brother Dick.

Two years after My Mother The Car had spectacularly flopped, Van Dyke was back on NBC, this time reunited with his brother's producer, Sheldon Leonard (Jerry had guested a few times on The Dick Van Dyke Show), for Accidental Family. Leonard, with I Spy entering its 3rd & final season in 1967, was looking for a sitcom hit at NBC as well, as Hey, Landlord had flopped a year earlier, but Family wouldn't be the answer.

Jerry Webster (Van Dyke) was a nightclub comic who left his son (Teddy Quinn) in the care of the manager of a suburban farm (Lois Nettleton) while on the road. Webster was a widower, but insofar as I know, since I never saw the show, there was no indication of flashbacks to his marriage.

Slotted on Fridays against another frosh, ABC's Guns of Will Sonnett, Family was gone by January, replaced with a primetime version of Hollywood Squares.

Here's the opener, "Everywhere a Chick Chick":



No rating.

When do school teachers shill for pens? (1973)

Paper Mate, at the time a division of Gillette, introduced the Write Bros. line of ball point pens in 1973. To help sell the product, which at the time retailed for a mere 19 cents, same as rival Bic's pens.

Actor-comedian Johnny Brown, at the time on Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In, makes a very impressionable teacher, doesn't he?



Gillette, which now is part of Procter & Gamble, sold off Paper Mate to the Rubbermaid folks in 2000. Rubbermaid owns Sanford, Paper Mate's new manufacturer.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

What Might've Been: Anyone Can Win (1953)

In the early days of television, anyone could land a TV show, just based on a level of fame.

For Al Capp, the creator of L'il Abner, this meant getting the opportunity to not only host a game show, but also for America to meet the man behind the riotous cornpone comedy of Dogpatch, USA. Unfortunately, those viewers also proved to be extremely fickle.

Anyone Can Win lasted just a few weeks, launching as a summer replacement in July 1953. A few years ago, the TV4U website had an episode that I took a look at. I don't think this is the same one that was pulled from YouTube:



Hairless Joe was one of the more bizarre denizens of Dogpatch, but I don't think anyone was able to discern who was under all that hair, which was the real end-game.

Rating: B.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Forgotten TV: The Lola Falana Show (1976)

Four years after being Bill Cosby's sidekick, singer-dancer-actress Lola Falana landed her own show on CBS. Veteran producer Allan Blye, working without long-time producing partner Chris Bearde (who was off working with Chuck Barris on The Gong Show), teamed with Bob Einstein, aka Super Dave Osborne, to steer the Good Ship Falana. Unfortunately, this didn't last very long, just a few weeks.

The series opens with a parody of To Tell The Truth with featured guests Muhammad Ali and Hal Linden (Barney Miller). Ali shows us some hidden talent at the piano. Linden plays a corrupt sheriff who brings in a suspect (Pat Morita, Happy Days), then, in the next skit, sings a duet with Falana.

Announcer-repertory player Peter Cullen, better known today as a voice actor, had the same gig on The Hudson Brothers Razzle Dazzle Show 2 years earlier. Blye also brought along Murray Langston (aka the Unknown Comic) as part of Falana's repertory company.

Let's take a look at the opener:



No rating.

A little bit of this & a little bit of that

When NBC lured Megyn Kelly away from Fox News Channel, they thought they'd get the 2nd coming, if you will, of Katie Couric.

So what happens? Kelly's 2nd interview of note for NBC, airing on Father's Day, June 18, is with an unimitigated jerk.

Alex Jones is the founder of the Infowars website, and a dyed in the wool conspiracy nut. Jones is one of those tin foil peabrains that thinks the mass murders at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Ct., and at a movie theatre in Aurora, Co. were faked. He has some semblance of credibility, however, as in the Presidential seal of approval from President Trump, who's not exactly a sane man himself.

Unsurprisingly, six days before the Jones interview is to air, Kelly & NBC are taking heat from parents of the Sandy Hook victims and others. All Kelly wants to do is find out what makes Jones tick. Easy solution, honey. Stick his head in front of an x-ray machine, and you'll probably find a broken cuckoo clock. The man is unashamedly crackers. During the 2016 Presidential campaign, Trump, who stumped for the infamous "birthers" during the Obama administration, appeared on Jones' radio show. What sane person would do that?

In case you wonder, it's people like Jones who are being skewered in a satirical sense in this season's overarching storyline on the CW hit, iZombie, which wraps its 3rd season at the end of the month. Should the interview air, Jones and his idiot followers will be assured of gaining another 15 minutes of fame they don't deserve.
=================================
Closer to home, the hometown held its 50th Flag Day parade on Sunday, thanks in large part to local businessman Michael Fusco, who owns the Franklin Plaza ballroom. Fusco put up $30,000 in order to get the parade on time. Yet, there are those who believe that because of the city's ongoing financial struggles, this could be the last Flag Day parade. What Fusco did, though, should light a fire under other business owners in the city to save some money for next year's parade, and the next, and the next, so that this tradition doesn't become gone with the wind. The challenge should also be for the politico's in charge to check their egos and agendas at the door and help with the cause.
==================================
En route to my brother's apartment yesterday, I could not help but hear the sounds of another parade, this one being Albany's Pride Parade, which ties into the Pride Festival at Washington Park. Albany's more than willing to celebrate the LGBT community, despite the predictable opposition of Christian activists who stood and taunted the marchers. The Gospels tell us that Jesus wanted us to treat our fellow man with love and respect, regardless of race, gender, etc., but by filling their lungs with angry, venomous vigor, these "protesters" miss the point of Jesus' message entirely. Just like the windbags of Westboro Baptist in Kansas, or the hardcore, if you will, Christians in the Bible Belt states in the south. If you show the gays & lesbians kindness & love, they will be more receptive to God's Word. The Bible defines homosexuality under the umbrella term, "fornication". If you treat them with hate, you'll scare them, and that's not what Jesus would have wanted.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Musical Interlude: When Will I See You Again (1974)

To my 11 year old ears in 1974, The Three Degrees' "When Will I See You Again" sounded like the introduction of a new group modeled after Motown legends the Supremes. Little did I know how wrong I was.

In truth, the Three Degrees had been around in some form or another since the 60's. It was "TSOP (The Sound of Philadelphia)", on which the Degrees sang the ending vocals for MFSB, a Philadelphia International studio band, that introduced the Degrees to Top 40 audiences of the period. "When Will I See You Again" comes off their self-titled 3rd album, which came out a short time later. Vocally, it's easy to see the Supremes' influence, but this combo has had more lineup changes over the course of 54 years (yes, they still tour)......

Little League baseball---the game the press forgets until tournament time

Growing up in what is now known as the North Central section of Troy, I had spent many nights at Central Little League, strictly as a fan. The little ballpark on 7th Avenue would be packed with parents and casual fans most nights, with quadruple-headers on Saturday & Sunday afternoons.

But, as with their brethren around the city, Central experienced a sharp downturn in interest and attendance in the mid-to-late 80's. and, for a time, folded.

In 2012, Central was reborn, thanks to the efforts of a neighborhood grass roots group which felt the need to get the kiddo's out of the house, away from their video games, and into some physical activity that would have a positive effect on their futures.

On Saturday afternoon, I made my first visit to Central since the ballfields had been renovated---with help from the Tri-City Valleycats, among others---, and noticed a few changes.

The concession stand is now in a pavillion that was built as part of the renovation process. The public address announcer's booth is in the former concession stand, in between two smaller sets of bleachers. Sadly, the PA wasn't working on Saturday, and the kids who were manning the scoreboard were too easily distracted by lunch and other things to pay close attention to the game at hand. Adult volunteers are needed for the PA and the scoreboard, but I suspect that there's not enough money in the budget to even advertise the need in the papers. Gone are the days where the late Carmen Muscatello, an unabashed Yankee fan, would be in the booth. His presence most surely is missed, regardless of the circumstances that led to his leaving Central in the mid-80's.

Anyway, on a hot Saturday afternoon, the first game of the day commenced at 11:30 am (ET). What may be the most shocking aspect is that there are just 3 teams apiece in the major & minor league divisions. The opener was a minor division game between teams sponsored by the Ale House and Pioneer Bank. Pioneer came back from being 4 runs down in the bottom of the 6th to win, 11-10. To say that this is still a work in progress wouldn't be an understatement. It would actually be accurate.

Not enough time is given to these kids after school to practice as a team, and it shows, as basic fundamentals haven't been fully mastered. I'm told that Lansingburgh Little League still runs, but like the other leagues in town, Lansingburgh & Central don't get the press coverage outside of Central's season-opening parade, which was back on April 29. There was a T-ball game on field B, but that came & went before I even had a chance to walk over and take a look. As was the case when I last was a regular visitor in the 70's, Central Little League is co-ed, and the games are played, at least in the minor division, like it was in your backyard, with the fielding issues intact.

When post-season tournaments begin next month, the local press will only pay attention to teams representing South Troy and Twin Town (North Greenbush), as I don't think Central has enough players for an all-star team of their own. In time, Central will grow, but they need more kids interested in learning the game as well as playing, bottom line.
===========================================
The high school sports season in New York's Section II ended Saturday, and only Fort Ann's baseball team, in Class D, came away a state champion. The Cardinals defeated North Collins to capture the D title. Albany Academy, which won in walk-off fashion Friday to reach the title game, fell to Livionia (Rochester) in similar fashion, 9-8. All four Section II softball teams fell in the semi-final round at Moreau Recreational Fields in South Glens Falls on Saturday. Binghamton defeated Shaker (Class AA), 3-1. Solvay edged Cohoes (B), Deposit beat Fort Ann (D), and Pine Plains knocked out Greenville (C). On Friday, Burnt Hills' girls lacrosse team lost, 19-1, ending their season. Ouch.

Fort Ann's Class D baseball title is their first in 4 years, and 5th overall. Congratulations to the Cardinals and all the other teams for an exceptional season.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Adam West (1928-2017)

Fans of Batman & Family Guy are in mourning this afternoon.

Adam West, whose crowning television achievement seems to be landing the title role in Batman (1966-8), and found a new career as a voice actor, most recently with a recurring gig on Family Guy as the mayor of fictional Quahog, New Hampshire, has passed away at 88.

West made his film debut in 1959's "The Young Philadelphians". Other film credits, aside from the 1966 "Batman" feature, included "Mara of the Wilderness" and "The Outlaws Is Coming", the latter with the Three Stooges. Prior to Batman, West had appeared on The Detectives, and had done commercials for Kellogg's and Nestle's Quik.

Post-Batman, West had to try to get around the typecasting that came with the part, but headlined a 1969 feature, "The Girl Who Knew Too Much", co-starring Nancy Kwan and Buddy Greco. However, after missing out on a PSA that would've reunited him with Bat-partners Burt Ward & Yvonne Craig, West eventually embraced his, ah, destiny, then moved into cartoons, starting with The New Adventures of Batman (1977).

Of course, with news in comics regarding Batman and a certain feline paramour, I couldn't resist using this clip:



West's passing leaves Ward and 2 of the Catwomen, Julie Newmar & Lee Meriwether, among the major players from Batman still with us. Ward, West, & Newmar had recently done an animated DTV, and West had recorded the sequel before his passing.

Rest in peace, Adam.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Musical Interlude: Daisy a Day (1972)

Singer-songwriter-comic Jud Strunk hit the top 20 on the Hot 100 and #4 on the Adult Contemporary chart in 1972 with "Daisy a Day", the title tune from his album. Strunk peaked at #33 on the country chart, but "Daisy" would reach #1---in Australia.

Strunk appeared on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson to perform "Daisy", and would later join the cast of Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In for its final season.



A licensed pilot, Strunk passed away in 1981 from a heart attack while on a plane.

Forgotten TV: The Barbara McNair Show (1969)

In 1969, two African-American women had made television history by headlining their own variety shows. Della Reese had a short-lived series that has been lost to the mists of time. Meanwhile, Barbara McNair had to go to Canada for hers, which lasted two seasons, syndicated in Canada, the UK, and the US.

Now, I'd seen still photos in reference books, but until now, I hadn't seen a video. As it stands, there will be no rating. Here, then, is the first episode:



Ignore the year. The poster acknowledged this was from 1969, but he doesn't have all the episodes, just a small handful.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

What Might've Been: Jimmy Durante Presents the Lennon Sisters Hour (1969)

Ha-cha-cha! Jimmy Durante had gotten three years out of doing his own show in the 50's, and had been a frequent guest on The Hollywood Palace, even hosting that Saturday night show at least once or twice.

So what made ABC suits think he could be a mentor to the Lennon Sisters, who'd left The Lawrence Welk Show?

That was the premise, it seems, behind Jimmy Durante Presents the Lennon Sisters Hour, which lasted just 1 season (1969-70). Now, the Lennons were allowed to expand their wardrobe, if ya will, away from the conservative constraints of the Welk show. Why was it cancelled after 1 season? Wrong time of the night. The show was slotted at 10 pm (ET) on Fridays, and, as memory serves, the first half of the ABC schedule that night was filled with The Brady Bunch and This is Tom Jones. Like, realistically, wouldn't it have made sense to flip Jones and the Lennons?

Veteran game show announcers Charlie O'Donnell & Jay Stewart were the announcers for the show. O'Donnell is heard in the opener, which features Noel Harrison (ex-The Girl From U.N.C.L.E.), Jack Benny, & Jimmy Dean, who'd had his own show at various times in the 50's & 60's before starting that sausage company.....



In January 1970, the series moved to Saturdays, airing a couple of hours after the Welk show, but it didn't help. The whole idea was spinning them off and away from Welk, wasn't it?

I liked what I saw here, though.

Rating: A.

High School this 'n' that

As noted earlier this week, Albany Academy's baseball team is in the New York State Class B semi-finals in Binghamton. The Cadets will play Seton Catholic, but Friday's game is at Binghamton University, not NYSEG Field (home of the Mets' AA affiliate), as reported on Monday. NYSEG Field will host the title game on Saturday afternoon. Fort Ann, the Section II Class D champ, is the only other team from the home region still in the baseball tournament.
=====================================
Troy's 50th anniversary Flag Day parade is Sunday, and as of this writing, I do not know if the city extended an invitation to Troy High's Class AA football champions. The 1996 & 1998 champs marched in the following year's parades, as memory serves, so it'd make sense to have the 2016 champs continue the tradition, shall we say?

I realize the city is a little strapped, but with the seniors on this team set to graduate 2 weeks later, why not let them have one last moment of glory?

Updated, 6/9: The state football champs will march in the parade.
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Speaking of the ol' alma mater, James Allen reports in today's Albany Times-Union that boys' varsity basketball coach Richard Hurley is taking at least a year off to spend time with his family. Hurley, who is also an assistant to principal Joseph Mariano, Jr., is hoping to return to the sidelines for the 2018-9 season. If one of his assistants, say for example Greg Davis, isn't given the interim head coach's job before the December 5 opener at Shenendehowa, who would be a good fit? Honestly, I don't know.

Yes, the schedule is out for some sports, basketball included, for the 2017-8 season. The Shen women return to Zotto Memorial Gym on December 5 for the Troy women's home opener. The boys' home opener is three nights later vs. Shaker. Non-league games haven't been announced publicly as yet, but there's still plenty of time before the season begins.
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The soccer schedules are also out already, and, again, non-league games are not yet finalized. The Troy boys, hoping to improve on a winless 2016 campaign, open at CBA on September 5. The women will have their home opener 2 nights later vs. Ballston Spa. The boys, as of now, have 2 Saturday home games, a night game vs. Niskayuna on September 16, and a lunch-time special vs. Burnt Hills on September 23. The bowling team's schedule is not yet available from the Suburban Council's webpage. Maybe it's just as well if Troy isn't putting a team on the lanes this year. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

William Dozier shills for the Green Hornet (1966)

There are actually two promos in the following video. The first has Batman executive producer/narrator William Dozier extolling the value of his latest acquisition, The Green Hornet. Well, we all know how that ended, don't we? Anyway, the 2nd clip is from the ABC 1966 Fall Preview Special, narrated by Dick Tufeld (Lost in Space, Hollywood Palace), which, as Dozier would say on Batman, "we have already seen":



Yes, Dozier is on the set of Batman, particularly in the office of Commissioner Gordon. Come to think of it, he does look like Neil Hamilton's younger brother, doesn't he?

Insect rock: Antmusic (1980)

Perhaps the greatest Adam & the Ants song of all time. "Antmusic" came off the band's 1980 album, "Kings of the Wild Frontier".




Enough said.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

What Might've Been: Revenge of the Nerds (1991)

20th Century Fox thought they could further cash in on the "Revenge of the Nerds" movie franchise by developing a TV series based on the movies. Nice idea, but it went over about as well as a bug on a windshield. That is to say, not at all.

The third "Nerds" movie was a year away when this pilot aired on Fox. The only familiar name in the cast is former child star Robbie Rist (ex-The Brady Bunch, Kidd Video, Big John-Little John), who would've fit right in----had this been made after the first movie. In truth, instead of continuing the story of the boys of Lambda Lambda Lambda, this is more of a compressed remake of the first film. Maybe that's why it failed.....



Original "Nerds" co-stars Robert Carradine (later of Lizzie McGuire) and Curtis Armstrong (Moonlighting) were reunited for a 3-season reality game for TBS, King of the Nerds (2013-5), but Fox couldn't be bothered to inquire about their availability for this pilot, which might've saved it from ruin.

No rating.

Weasel of the Week: Springfield Soccer Club & the Nebraska State Soccer Association

Back in the day, if a young girl wore her hair or dressed like a boy, she was often referred to as a tomboy, and was treated like one of the neighborhood gang.

Today, an 8 year old girl in Nebraska who wears her hair short----her choice, mind you----was unfairly singled out by some brainless tournament suits in Nebraska, and her team was disqualified because they thought she was a he.

BOLLOCKS & BALDERDASH!!

Consider the case of 8 year old Mili Hernandez, who helped her team to the finals of the Springfield Soccer Club's tournament, but some pea-brain decided that she looked too masculine to be a girl, despite the parents having the appropriate paperwork, including insurance papers, birth certificate, etc., and the whole team was kicked out of the tournament. SSC suits are referring all questions to the Nebraska State Soccer Association, which is to say they're passing the buck and refusing to admit they made a mistake, because they certainly made one. According to articles I read on www.MSN.com, these cold hearted Weasels made Mili cry, but aside from the initial disappointment, she's maintained a positive attitude.

As the story's gone viral, the Hernandez family has gotten support from soccer icons Abby Wambach and Mia Hamm, among others. The more national attention this case gets, the more likely it'll be that SSC and the state suits will reverse course. They have to. Their blind, pea-brained mistreatment of an innocent 8 year old earns them a box of Weasel ears.

Monday, June 5, 2017

Intel finds its perfect spokesman (2017)

For the last couple of years now, Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons has been the advertising "face", if you will, of Intel computers. It could've been just as easy for Parsons to do the ads in character as Sheldon Cooper, but I don't think Sheldon could get along so well with tennis champ Serena Williams......


The ads are getting better as time goes on.

Sports this 'n' that

One more weekend of high school sports remains, as state titles will be decided June 9-10. For schools in New York's Section II, the road will only get tougher.

Only one team remains in women's lacrosse, and that would be Burnt Hills. There are just two teams left in baseball. Fort Ann in Class D, and Albany Academy in Class B. While Spectrum News had their cameras at Fort Ann's game on Saturday, they didn't have enough resources to also cover the Cadets, who seem to get the Rodney Dangerfield treatment no matter what. Coach Dave Rider's club travels to Binghamton on Friday to play Seton Catholic at the home of the Mets' AA franchise (they're not the Binghamton Mets anymore for some crazy marketing reason), with the title game set for Saturday.

Four teams remain from Section II in softball: Shaker (Class AA), Cohoes (B), Fort Ann (D), & Greenville (C). One thing bugs me, though. Why can't Section II host any state championship games? There have been early round state tournament games here, such as at Bruno Stadium last year, but why not the title games on a more regular basis? Just askin'.
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Speaking of the Mets, they could use a little pitching help, and it seems to be finally on its way, assuming Seth Lugo & Steven Matz are activated from the DL as planned this week. The Mets lost two of three to Pittsburgh over the weekend, getting blown out in the two losses. The bullpen, unsurprisingly, has been overworked already, just two months into the season. The restless fan base will never be satisfied, no matter if things turn around.

Meanwhile, one of the volunteers hired to dress as the team's mascot, Mr. Met, was cut late last week after the popular mascot appeared to "flip the bird" during a game vs. Milwaukee. The frustration is that bad.
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Belated condolences to ESPN gadfly Stephen A. Smith, whose mother passed away suddenly last week. While Smith left on bereavement leave, the mother of Golden State Warriors star Kevin Durant stopped by the set of First Take to take issue with Smith's seeming feud with her son. That's a topic to be continued another day, but you knew sooner or later that Smith's Howard Cosell-wanna-be act was going to get him in trouble........
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While the above high school teams were in another part of the state on Saturday, the Albany area hosted the annual Freihofer's Run For Women and a Symetra golf tournament, sponsored by one of the local auto dealership chains. Whereas in the past both had gotten a fair amount of television coverage from one of the network affiliates, that wasn't the case this year. Can't see why, since the NBA & NHL finals are both airing in primetime.
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Add NHL. One article I read raised a fuss over the fact that NBC assigned two games in the series to cable cousin NBC Sports Network. All that says is that NBC doesn't have enough faith that the Stanley Cup final between Pittsburgh & Nashville will be enough of a draw to warrant all the games airing on NBC itself. Not to mention the sheer absurdity of the fact that Nashville is assigned to the Western Conference, but is in the Eastern time zone.. Realignment, anyone?

Sunday, June 4, 2017

What Might've Been: Nobody's Perfect (1980)

It was meant, I think, to be inspired by the "Pink Panther" movies, substituting a fish-out-of-water British detective for a bumbling French one.

However, Nobody's Perfect, also meant to be a showcase for British star Ron Moody ("Oliver!"), may have been a troubled production from the go. Originally entitled, Hart in San Francisco, when it was first announced for the fall 1979 schedule at ABC, the series underwent the name change to avoid confusion with the hour-long drama, Hart to Hart, which starred Robert Wagner, and launched that same season.

As a result, Nobody's Perfect finally bowed during the summer of 1980, lasting just 8 weeks before bowing out. Veteran writers Chris Hayward & Arne Sultan were among the creative personnel. Sultan had been long associated with Talent Associates, which had been hitched up at Universal since the 70's. Hayward's resume is slightly longer, such that he was also a writer for Rocky & His Friends. Unfortunately, their combined experience wasn't enough to save this show from cancellation.

Inspector Roger Hart (Moody) arrives in San Francisco to aid the police there, but, as noted, he comes off as more of a British version of Inspector Cleuseau, except that he's a little more gifted. Sadly, we won't see any of that, as all we have is an intro, courtesy of Gilmore Box.



No rating.

The Whiners have been silenced

Today, the hometown paper decided to discontinue their Sound Off feature from their op-ed section. What began as a forum for readers to anonymously speak their minds on various local & national issues, regardless of topic or circumstance has, in the eyes of Charlie Kraebel, managing editor of The Record and its sister publication, The Saratogian, deteriorated into a lot of nasty back-&-forth sniping. People call in and blame former President Obama for a lot of what's going on. Others will defend President Trump to the bitter end, despite the obvious shortcomings the current Commander-in-Chief has mere months into his administration.

On the local level, some callers can't be bothered to refer to WGDJ owner-afternoon host Paul Vandenburgh by name, but rather "Mr. Talk 1300", and complain about the content of his show. Others rant about hometown politics, including the current imbroglio about the closing of local pools, shutting out the kiddo's from what had been a safe sanctuary for their parents in past years. That's where the abuse of the forum really begins. I've read entries on a regular basis complaining about Time Warner (Now Spectrum) Cable. These people call just for the sake of venting on nonsense. It's always been my belief that if you've got an issue with something not connected to the paper, then call, say for example, the cable company, rather than take up space with what amounts to clutter.

Kraebel is encouraging readers to e-mail the papers, to bolster Pulse of the People. I've been a frequent contributor to Pulse, which is where I dubbed the callers as the Whiner Squad. My goal was to draw feedback, preferably in print, from these callers. The response was like my attempts at fishing in the 80's----bad. A bite here and there, but that's about it. But, watch. the whiners will want their pulpit back, because some of them don't have internet access and thus don't have e-mail. Hey, you made your bed, now lie in it. You want to vent? Hit the library and learn how to use a computer, if you ain't got one at home or work.

The upside for the papers is that the space reserved for the Whiner Squad now can be used for other editorials and/or ads. For what it's worth, my brother, who works in the advertising department at The Record, had the task of transcribing the calls for publication. At least now he doesn't have to deal with the Whiner Squad, and that will ease his mind.

Celebrity Dating Game Week: Flash Gordon meets the Empress of Gong! (1979)

We had this up before, when we did an obit for Dating Game creator-executive producer Chuck Barris earlier this year. As we're wrapping our salute to the series this week, I figured we might as well bring this back out again.

"Chuckie Baby" cameos as a studio janitor at the start of the show, largely to cover the fact that his Gong Show muse, Jaye P. Morgan (or, Mor-goan, as Barris always introduced her) was "fashionably late". Host Jim Lange's attempt at comedy sounds like it's right out of the Barris playbook as well. One of the contestants in game 2 trying to earn a date with Morgan is Sam Jones, football player turned actor, who would star in "Flash Gordon" a year later----which, unfortunately, was the apex of his career.



The original Gong had been off the air for a while by the time this aired, but it will soon return, the first one since Barris' passing.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Sounds of Praise: This Train is Bound For Glory (1977)

"This Train is Bound For Glory" (or, "This Train" for short) may be more closely associated with Sister Rosetta Tharpe, who recorded it twice, once with an electric guitar.

In 1977, country legend Johnny Cash, reuniting with fellow Sun Records alums Carl Perkins, Roy Orbison, & Jerry Lee Lewis, performed "This Train" on his Christmas special. Yeah, it's June, but it's been a while since I put a gospel video up.




In Theatres: Wonder Woman (2017)

We consider our literary heroes to be timeless, seemingly immortal, and adaptable. Originally, the consideration was limited to the likes of Sherlock Holmes or James Bond, just to name two. In recent times, however, the scope has been expanded, given the multi-media platforms given to comic book icons such as Superman, Captain America, and now Wonder Woman.

The greater scope of the Amazon Princess' story has also been expanded. Recent revisions to the character at DC have made her a daughter of Zeus. Ironically, that would make her Hercules' half-sister, and insofar as DC was concerned, one version of Hercules was an enemy of Wonder Woman for years. Yes, Princess Diana of Themyscira is now a demi-goddess, over 5000 years old. DC figured, if rival Marvel can make the likes of Wolverine and Captain America immortal, we can do that, too. They simply didn't emphasize it as much as they have over the last few years.

Last year, Wonder Woman turned 75 in terms of comics publication. It has taken 20 of those years for her to reach the big screen, with her appearance in last year's "Superman v. Batman: Dawn of Justice". Director Patty Jenkins' sprawling epic actually begins where Diana's story in "Dawn of Justice" leaves off, in present day Paris, where Diana (Gal Gadot) receives a photo of her from World War I with a group of men, led by her canonical sweetheart, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine). That their story has been moved back nearly 30 years doesn't diminish the impact the two have on each other. The basic story of their first meeting is the same. The origin of Diana's costume, however, has been slightly altered. There is no competition for her to win to escort Trevor back to Man's World, and her bracelets have been a part of her since she was a child. Just the same, she does encounter resistance from her mother, Queen Hippolyta (Connie Nielsen), and secretly begins training with her aunt, General Antiope (Robin Wright). Of course, Hippolyta finds out---Did you really think she wouldn't?---but consents to letting Diana venture off with Trevor into the "War to End All Wars" in pursuit of Ares, the God of War, whom Diana thinks is a German general (Danny Huston), but......!

Ares has also been responsible for Dr. Poison's attempts to help the Germans win the war. Oh, yeah, like that'll succeed......

Scope the trailer:



Diana, of course, will return later this year in "Justice League". Chris Pine reportedly is interested in returning for the inevitable sequel, and one way to do that would be to copy the formula used for the 1975-8 TV show, which allowed Lyle Waggoner to continue as Trevor, albeit as the son of the original, as the series moved from World War II to the 1970's. The chemistry between Waggoner and Lynda Carter had a lot to do with that, of course. Similarly, there is chemistry between Pine & Gadot, and it will be interesting to see how they try to bring Pine back in a later film.

Other trailers, aside from a redux of "Thor: Ragnarok" (due November 3) include:

"47 Meters Down" (June 16): Entertainment Studios, the production company of comedian-turned-mogul Byron Allen (ex-Real People), serves up this shark-fest, starring Mandy Moore.

"The Hitman's Bodyguard" (August): Ryan Reynolds & Samuel L. Jackson. What's wrong with that?

"Murder on the Orient Express" (November): Kenneth Branagh takes a crack at Agatha Christie's master sleuth, Hercule Poirot.

"Atomic Blonde": Charlize Theron is the title heroine. Co-starring John Goodman.

Rating for "Wonder Woman": A-.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Origin of a Classic: Pilots for Three's Company (1976)

We all know Three's Company was part of the "jiggle TV" that got ABC in so much trouble with parents'  groups in the late 70's. What you don't know is that it took more than one pilot for ABC to accept the Americanized version of Johnnie Mortimer & Brian Cooke's Man About The House.

The first pilot has some slight alterations from the version we all know & love. John Ritter, Audra Lindley, & Norman Fell were the only ones who continued when they shot the 2nd pilot.

Valerie Curtin is one of the co-stars in the first pilot:



Here, the Ropers are George & Mildred, which would also be the title of the UK spin-off from House.

The second pilot had Susan Lanier as Chrissy, but as you all know, Suzanne Somers would later land the part when Three's Company finally goes to series. The first pilot would be reshot as the series premiere. In the second pilot, Jack Tripper (Ritter) has already moved in with Chrissy (Lanier) and Janet (Joyce DeWitt).



Valerie Curtin would later co-star in the series version of the 1980 movie, 9-To-5. As for Susan Lanier, she seems to have dropped off the face of the earth.

No ratings. Just a public service.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

What hath the Lords of Flatbush wrought? Doo-wop for Crazy Eddie (1974)

The common misconception about this next ad is that Crazy Eddie, a now-defunct regional chain of stores in New York City and its surrounding environs, hired members of Sha Na Na to appear in the ad. Not even close.

The success of the movie, "The Lords of Flatbush", had a lot to do with this ad being made. Yes, doo-wop was making a bit of a comeback, as part of the 50's nostalgia wave that really got kickin' with the launch of Happy Days earlier in 1974. Jeff Goldschalk is the lead vocalist of this group.



A few years later, General Mills got in on the doo-wop act to promote a short-lived cereal. Donutz lasted a couple of years, but General Mills' ad agency opted for a quartet of doo-woppin' donuts to sell the product. We'll have that over at Saturday Morning Archives real soon.

Celebrity Dating Game Week: Andy Kaufman's "Foreign Man" tries to win a date (1978)

This is, perhaps, one of the strangest contestants in the history of The Dating Game.

In the 1978 syndicated incarnation of the series, Andy Kaufman (Taxi) appeared, using the name, Baji Kimran, but the voice is definitely Kaufman's "Foreign Man" character, which was also the basis for his role as Latka on Taxi. Andy, it seems, never did anything without a gimmick.



Did you really think "Baji" was going to win?