Player

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

What's Missing on Disney Plus

OK, we've all had a chance to download and explore the new Disney Plus streamer, and we have given it plenty of time to prove itself--over a full day! As exciting as this new streaming video service is, it's time to look at what's not on there. While it's great that there are hundreds of things to watch, including some nice surprises (more classic animation shorts than I expected), I'd like an explanation why these 1970s and 1980s TV hits are not available:

1) The Muppet Show: To me, this is the biggest omission. It's a big chunk of the Jim Henson/Muppet legacy and should be the flagship of a property Disney keeps reviving again and again. The original series should be available to keep the characters vital. Maybe there are music rights precluding a streaming deal, but I have a hard time believing that it's not possible since the first several seasons of the show came out on DVD before Disney just gave up on it with no official explanation.

2) The Incredible Hulk: Some of my personal highlights in the Disney Plus library are the older Marvel Comics cartoon shows--not just Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, but lesser-known efforts like the 1981 Spider-Man and 1979's DePatie-Freleng Spider-Woman. So where, then, is the 13-episode Hulk series that was paired with Amazing Friends for a while on NBC?

I can't figure out why this one is abset. Wikipedia indicates it got a UK video release, but it never made it to DVD in the States. It's frustrating because Disney used the show to do "wacky" Marvel Mash-Ups years ago on Disney XD to complement contemporary Marvel 'toons.  So the footage is there, it's presumably all clear. What's the hold-up?

And while you're at it, Disney, how about the 1970s Fantastic Four cartoon, the 1967 Spider-Man, and of course the 1960s Marvel shorts with the awesome theme songs? And I don't see the harm in releasing the live-action 1977 Spidey show with Nicholas Hammond.

See, the more you look into some of this, the more you realize how much more is in Disney's archives.

3) Star Wars: Droids: Speaking of animation, where is this short-lived 1985 ABC cartoon show? This and Ewoks have been AWOL for years, with no legitimate DVD release. I'm not enough of a Star Wars fan to know if everyone is embarrassed by these as they are the Holiday Special (which I won't even bother to list).  As far as I know, this hasn't been drummed out of canon. It's short, inoffensive, and I remember the advertising but very little of the actual series. Why not throw it on Plus?

4) Room 222: OK, this is a super long shot, but let this be a representative for the vast amount of Fox television shows Disney now owns--shows I fear will languish in the infamous Vault that Disney said it was unlocking with the creation of Plus.  The Simpsons is all well and good (though apparently in the wrong aspect ratio right now), but it's one measly show out of the huge Fpx back catalog. Room is a series we have talked about in our Facebook group. It's family friendly "vintage" programming that would boost the old-school TV live action category on the channel, one of the weakest areas at launch.

Here are some other programs that meet that criteria but have the following strikes againt them: they are "old" but not Disney-branded like, say, movies like The Barefoot Executive:
*The Ghost and Mrs/ Muir
*Nanny and the Professor
*Small Wonder
*Mr. Belvedere

OK, I may be pushing it now, but I'm not even asking for Trapper John M.D. There may be licensing deals blocking some of these shows, but not all of them, and Disney could throw up more Fox shows. What worries me is that it doesn't consider them "worthy" unless it can remaster them for HD presentation.  As much as I wish Disney would take a Prime Video approach and throw up whatever it has even if it looks funky, I don't know that that's gonna happen. But there are hours of family-friendly programs on hand.

5) The Wonderful World of Whatever in Color: Over the years, Disney has had multiple anthology programs on all the networks. Much of the featured programming is on Disney Plus, but wouldn't it be great to see the old intros and outros as they originally aired? While poking around, I saw a Disneyland TV special from the 1960s, but there is so much more. Even if you ignore the episodes that "just" presented an old Disney movie, there are lots of documentaries and theme park specials to show, and some of them have already been available on streaming and DVD. Make them available on Plus!

6) Mousterpiece Theater: Longtime Disney Channel observers will remember this charming series in which George Plimpton introduced classic Disney animated shorts, and he did it exactly the way you would envision and hope he would. I'd love to see this again. Come to think of it, there is a lot of programming from the "premium channel" days that would supplement the Plus catalog.  Remember Duck Presents? Shows like this offer nostalgia for adults and the opportunity to provide--here;s that word I generally dislike--curation for people who don't want to wade through the service for classic shorts.

7) National Geographic Explorer: I admit I don't know a whole lot about this, but it's been on for over 30 years, and there are  lots of Nat Geo TV specials in the vault, too. One thing that stands out when you look at Disney Plus today is how paltry the National Geographic section is. Not all of us are put off by non-fiction programming made before 2010, but I fear the attitude is that we are.  i'd rather see some cool old science specials than current episodes of the likes of Dr. Pol.

8) Empty Nest: You know, it's kind of crazy that I am advocating for Fox and Nat Geo library shows when Disney is sitting on all the Touchstone shows like The Nutt House and Mama's Boy and...

OK, they're not all winners, and I know The Golden Girls is locked in at Hulu (though, wait, Disney now runs Hulu...). I'm not even a fan of Empty Nest, but I have to say it's odd that a series that ran 7 seasons and 170 episodes from a high-profile production company (the same team as Golden Girls) is relegated to runs on diginet Laff and has never received a home video release nor a streaming run.

9) ABC Circle Films: This outfit was folded into ABC proper and may own the rights to Moonlighting (ideal for Hulu) and tons of 1970s made-for-TV movies. Most of them would probably be better fits for Hulu, but, hey, while we're digging around, let's not forget all those movies like The President's Plane is Missing and Nightmare in Badham County (definitely a better fit for Hulu).

10) Vic's Vacant Lot: Unearthing this 1980s ESPN kiddie show hosted by tennis guru Vic Braden would give some co-branding opportunities, some sports programming, and--OK, this is an even longer shot than most of the others on this list, but I'd love to see it.

So let's just make one last entry:

11) Just about everything else: Just give us all of it, Disney. Don't worry about "overwhelming us with choice." If you want, make a Disney Plus for the rubes and a Disney Plus Plus with an extra authentication for those of us who want to wade through your archives like Scrooge plowing through the coins in his money bin!


Tuesday, November 12, 2019

BOTNS Top Ten #41

1) CPO Sharkey: Happy belated Veterans Day to all those who have served, including this fine American, who proves there is no one kinder, more honorable, and warmer than a vet:




2) Sesame Street: Sunday marked the 50th anniversary of the debut of the show on PBS. I'll never not be sad that the show is now primarily an HBO program, but it's good that it's still around.




3) The Doobie Brothers: Still riding the wave of their Batty success, the Doobies continue to make headlines. And then there's this fantastic recent upload:


 

4) Spider-Man: Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man stars in multiple series on the new Disney Plus service that debuts today, though (sadly) this one isn't available:




5)  Fonz and the Happy Days Gang: The good news is CBS has made this short-lived 1980s cartoon available in Manufactured on Demand format. The bad news is it's 35 buck. "Hey, CBS! Price gouging isn't COOL, you dig?"

6) Laverne and Shirley in the Army: Well, this DVD set is "only" 25 bucks, but it's half as much material. By the way, sit and think about that for a minute if you missed this when it was on originally: They made a cartoon of Laverne and Shirley joining the Army.



7) Good Times: The classic show, covered here on the podcast, will be part of the next ABC live Norman Lear stunt night. I'm curious to see who they cast, but I'm more curious which castmembers return for a "surprise cameo."

8) Rhonda Shear: Happy birthday to the former host of USA's Up All Night. It's a little outside our time frame, but I think we should acknowledge one of the Mount Rushmore of TV movie hosts, along with Robert Osbourne (TCM), Bob Dorian (AMC), and Colonel PoopyBritches (Channel 82's Kiddie Laff Matinee).

9) Scooby-Doo: Warner Brothers has a scheme to create a--say it with us--"shared universe" of animated features, and it will start with perhaps its flagship character. I already regret encouraging this with a spot on this list, but let's hope for the best.

10) Barry Frank: R.IP. to a man many not know, but a man who had tremendous influence on the television industry. Frank was the IMG big shot who represented many sportscasters and also was instrumental in the creation of classic series like one of our favorites:



Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Happy (and mellow) National Stress Awareness Day!

As we look to reduce stress, we present this picture of the Batty-Award-winning band the Doobie Brothers on What's Happening!!

Why do we present a picture of the Doobies on a day focusing on stress relief? No reason.


Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Does Lucy Van Pelt play the TV Guide Game?

One of my favorite Halloween traditions is watching It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and though I now have it on DVD, I still pretend I'm seeing it on CBS.  I've been watching this special for decades, and I never noticed until this year that in this scene Lucy Van Pelt is reading a TV Guide with herself on the cover!



I'm just thankful Mike has never called me a blockhead or threatened to slug me during an installment of the TV Guide game...yet.


Monday, November 4, 2019

BOTNS Top Ten #40: Special Daylight Savings Time Edition

1) Paul Lynde: All hail the undisputed King of Halloween, whose 1976 TV special celebrating the holiday is now an annual tradition in my household. I may be the only one watching it next year, but still.




2) Don Johnson: Watchmen, Knives Out, a Nash Bridges revival...the Donaissance continues, but it won't be complete until a reissue of this with remastering and bonus tracks:




3) Arsenio Hall: New standup special on Netflix confirms that...Arsenio is still around.

4) Dennis Miller: Happy birthday to the best Weekend Update anchor of all time, IMO, who also has a nice gig hosting Fridays on Turner Classic Movies this month.

5) The Wizard of Oz: Today in 1956 was the first televised showing of the film, which went on to charm millions of adults and terrorize millions of kids each year around Thanksgiving for decades.



6) Walter Mercado: R.I.P. to the astrologer who was a fixture on TV for years. You can't tell me that knowing Spanish would in any way be a requirement to enjoy something like this:




7) Good Morning America: The ABC morning staple premiered on this day in 1975.



8) Kari Michaelsen: Happy birthday to the former child star from Gimme a break. She of course was the middle daughter. Or was she Samantha? Or the blonde?

Well...I know she wasn't The Chief.

9) Diff'rent Strokes: Today also marks the anniversary of this classic sitcom, which we cover on the podcast right here.  Come to think of it, I think Diff'rent Strokes covered more serious issues during its run than Good Morning America did.  Plus Strokes had a cuddlier star than David Hartman--Conrad Bain.

10) Tom Shales: Happy birthday to the former Washington Post TV critic, though for some reason I have the feeling he'd be kind of grumpy about being included on this list. Sorry, Mr. Shales, but while we respect your work, you're no Gary Deeb.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

YouTube Spotlight: Big League Chew

Boy, does this 1982 commercial bring back memories. We just added it to last week's In Memoriam playlist to replace a Jim Bouton video that was taken down by THE MAN. Enjoy a look back at Big League Chew.



Bouton put up much of the money for the product after two fellow Portland Mavericks associated created the concept. Big League Chew is still around today.

I was not a huge gum kid, seeing it mostly as an obstacle in the wax pack separating me from my baseball cards, but you got to love Big League Chew. In fact, you have to admire that a product so clealry patterned after something dangerous and illegal (for kids) is so successful. this tobacco imitator broke through in a way candy cigarettes never did, and this kind of marketing had a lot to do with it.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Happy National Chocolate Day!

Celebrate with that staple of 1970s and 1980s TV and sponsor of many a CBS SPECIAL PRESENTATION, Almond Joy and Mounds from Peter Paul!