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Thursday, August 10, 2017

Upcoming DVD Releases

Last week we looked at some of the BOTNS-era shows that hit DVD in recent months, but today we look at the future...uh, and at TV Shows on DVD to see some of the sets you might want to pick up in the next couple of months--you know, to amuse yourselves in between new episodes of the podcast.

Alice Season 5: First of all, though, let me mention this release that Warner Archive slipped out last week. The fifth season of the long-running sitcom features Robert Goulet, Jerry Reed, and another awkward transition in the "Flo spot."

Just as Belle replaces Flo at the end of season 4--not in between seasons, but with several episodes left--Jolene replaces Belle at the end of season 5--again, not at the end of or between seasons, but with serveral episodes left. Or maybe it's odd that I care so much about the cast dynamics on Alice. As long as Henry is sitting in the counter, I'm good.

August 15

Police Story Season 2: 4 years after season 1, Shout! is finally following up with more of the 1970s anthology series. Typical of a police show DVD--they're never around when you need them.

Rhoda Season 4 and Season 5: Shout! closes this series out this year.  Season 5 will arrive in October, while 4 was already issued as a Shout Select title direct from the company but gets general release on this date. For the unitiated, "Shout Select" means "really expensive."

August 22

Ironside Season 4: Shout! is really full of PEP this summer, is it not? Your favorite wheelchair detective returns, this time in a general release set of season 4 as opposed to the really expen--uh, Shout Select version from 2010.

You know, I just checked a certain major online retailer and noticed it is charging 45 bucks for this set. So these general releases are still generally really expensive. You can just get them from major online retailers now. Well, I guess you can get a deal on shipping that way.

TV Party: The Complete Series: Seminal late 70s/early 80s NYC cable access show comes to video--and Blu-Ray, no less. That deserves a hearty...oi? I don't know; I ain't a punk rock guy. But I'm sure a lot of punks who have grown up and can afford 100-some bucks for the set will be thrilled!
 
August 25

The Magician: The Complete Series: VEI is listing this 1970s short-lived Bill Bixby show for an August 25 release, though it isn't listed anywhere else yet. A lot of people have been anticipating this since it was announced as a title VEI had licensed several years ago. Don't get Bill  Bixby angry. You wouldn't like him when he's angry. I mean, he might flub a trick or something.

Would you like to see us cover this on the podcast? Please say yes so that I have an excuse to buy this.

September 12

Night Gallery: The Complete Series:  Universal repackages the 3 seasons into one spiffy complete box set for the first time, but the transfers and extras are the same...OR ARE THEY?

(Just trying to add a little element of the macabre)

September 26

The Paper Chase Season 3: It's great that Shout! is finally continuing yet another long-stalled series (2009 since previous releases of this one), but would it have killed them to include the handful of episodes in season 4 and just wrapped up the whole deal?

That's not a legal to provoke some deeper question, such as those asked by John Houseman's Kingsfield on the series. I actually want to know.

Greatest American Hero The Complete Series: If you missed your chance to get this great (I'd say "seminal," but I already used the word in this post, and besides, it really doesn't fit here) show earlier, well, guess what? You can get it again and pay about 2-3 times as much as you would have the first couple of times!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Recent DVD releases

It's time again to look at upcoming DVD releases for shows of the BOTNS era. Actually, our last update only brought us to the end of May, so I'll begin with a look at what's out there now, and then I'll be back soon with a look at what's to come in the next few months. Awayyyy we go:

CHIPS Season 6: June 6 brought us the final non-epic season of BOTNS fave and season 1 ender CHIPS. And just out of the goodness of their hearts, the folks at Warner Home Video also made a Complete Series set available. No Jon? NO PROBLEM! As long as the heart and soul of the show, Robert Pine, is still around.

Actually, I tell you, I see Phil Silvers and Julie Newmar are among the guest stars, and I kind of want to see this.

Tales from the Crypt Complete Series: I remember very little about specific episodes. It was on HBO, so everyone kind of hoped to see some nudity, right? Or am I selling this way too short?

Father Dowling Mysteries Complete Series: A reissue of the largely forgotten ABC light drama. Should we cover this on the podcast? If so, the first thing I want to explore is why Tracy Nelson's character is called "Sister Steve."

Highway to Heaven: Messages from Above: A collection of two-part episodes of the series. That's a pretty good idea, now that I think about it. I would like to see some Very Special Episode collections of other shows.

That's My Mama Complete Series: Sony's strategy, as best as I can tell, seems to be to take DVDs that were out of print and combine them into one package that is more expensive than the earlier individual season sets together. In 2017. This is one of the lesser known "blackcoms" of the era but worth a look...at a better price.

Rockford Files Complete Series (also Blu-Ray):  Mill Creek saves you money and shelf space by cramming scores of episodes on like 3 discs. It's a lot better than paying

McCloud Season 1: Reissue of the first portion of the Dennis Weaver NBC Mystery Wheel series.

Jake and the Fatman The Complete Series: Did you know this series ran for 5 seasons with over 100 episodes? Talk about something that just vanished after it went off the air. And it's pretty hard to lose sight of William Conrad (Sorry).

TJ Hooker The Complete Series: Another Sony series (though this release is from Shout) that has seen some cheap DVD releases now getting a really expensive "deluxe" set. If you need every TJ Hooker, though, here it is.

Diff'rent Strokes Season 6: Hot off the presses this week is the latest release of this series, and it's a doozy. Maggie and Sam! Smoking! Kidnapping! Mr. T! Milton Berle!


Thursday, July 13, 2017

Golden Girls Forever by Jim Colucci

Every TV show that runs, oh, more than 5 seasons and 125 episodes or so ought to have its own definitive book, but not many are that lucky. Despite its continued success in reruns and its appeal to multiple demographic groups, I was surprised to see a thick, fancy-looking hardback book devoted to the long-running NBC hit The Golden Girls. Jim Colucci has created what is surely the most comprehensive print collection of  information on the show. It's a slam dunk for anyone who loves the series, but even casual fans will find a lot of interest in here.

The first thing that stands out content-wise about the volume is the access Colucci has gained. Despite its release coming after the death of several key figures, the text makes frequent use of interviews with everyone. He personally interviews bea Arthur, Betty White, and Rue McClanahan and uses archival material for some thoughts of Estelle Getty. He also talks to the producers, writers, and many of the more notable guest stars and supporting players involved with  the show during its 8 seasons.

It starts off with a general history of the show and continues with a selective episode guide. It's surprising that such a hefty book does not include a comprehensive episode guide, but Colucci is not just listing the plots. Rather, he uses the episode chapters to work in other details about the series, how it was made, and the many guests who appeared. If you have a favorite episode, chances are it's included in this section.

Several things stand out from reading this book: 1) Everyone working on The Golden Girls took pride in it and felt they did good work. 2) Bea Arthur could be really prickly as a collaborator. Many stories in here begin with someone talking about how she was cold or distant to them, though they often take pains to say she was a real pro. 3) Estelle Getty's memory issues plagued her from the beginning. Several anecdotes center around her inability to remember lines, an unfortunate circumstance which often annoyed others on the set (including, yes, Arthur).

And I'm not saying this because the author happens to be gay (he mentions this), but there is a significant amount of coverage of the show's appeal in "the gay community," and there is extensive coverage of the fate of Coco, the live-in housekeeper who was axed after the pilot. There are a few appendices asking "Which Golden Girl Are You?" or questions like that, with the respondents being gay showbiz figures. It's no secret that the show has a following in that sector, and I am not complaining, but I will say that while any fan will love this book, gay fans will really  love it.

It's an outstanding piece of work by Colucci and a valuable source of info about a beloved sitcom. The commentary from the cast and creative team is useful, of course, but this book goes the extra mile by getting info from the likes of guest stars (Debbie Reynolds) and even bit players like Quentin Tarantino. I'd be a happy man if every show we covered on the podcast inspired this kind of book--well written, detailed, and offering attractive design and fine production values.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Whatever happened to Coco (and who was he, anyway)? (Golden Girls)

When The Golden Girls debuted on NBC in September 1985, the now-familiar group of 4 gals had company: in fact, live-in company in the person of Coco, a gay houseboy played by Charles Levin in the pilot. Amazingly, the character was suggested  by the network despite NBC's own controversy over the "yeah, he is, but we ain't gonna call him that" Sidney Shorr played by Tony Randall on Love, Sidney just 4 years prior.

You hear different things about why the producers got  rid of the character, but the essence is that while Coco was a popular (and, in 1985, rather novel) presence who was popular with the pilot audience, Dorothy's mom Sophia was a real breakout star. Hence the decision to go with a group of 4 and get rid of Coco. Another consideration was that the dynamic was just better with all gals, the girls might not have much to do besides just sit around if an actual domestic was there, and plus it may have looked like an extravagance for these working ladies to have an actual houseboy. In 2017, I can only say, who actually has a houseboy anymore except for the fabled 1%?

Producers considered comedians Dom Irerra and Paul Provenza (who recalls auditioning in drag), plus future Ferris Bueller stooge heel Jeffrey Jones, for the role, but NBC exec Brandon Tartikoff suggested Levin. The actor had a recurring role on Hill Street Blues as a rather over-the-top gay character, but he reports that pilot director Jay Sandrich told him to tone down all the flamboyant stuff.

As Levin recalls, the role as written was much more "swishy," and he found it hard to reconcile Sandrich's advice with the way show co-creator Susan Harris put Coco on the page. Nevertheless, he played it straight (sorry) in the first reading and thought he blew it. He felt the vibe of disappointment from those who expected him to be Eddie Gregg from Blues.

The night of that audition, an NBC exec called Levin and told him they didn't know what he had been doing, but just show up again and be Eddie Gregg. The actor took this advice the next day in front of an audience and was a hit. Unfortunately for Levin, he wasn't enough of one to survive the pilot, so now Coco remains a lost and largely forgotten character with a cult following.

Levin, who also had a recurring role in Alice, would appear on BTONS season 1 spotlighted program Facts of Life, and also showed up in This Is Spinal Tap, did quite well himself. His biggest post-Girls spot is probably appearing as the Mohel on Seinfeld, though I can't help but recognize him as being part of the 1989 Hulk Hogan vehicle No Holds Barred.

(Note: Thanks to Golden Girls Forever by Jim Colucci for the background info for this post!)

Monday, July 3, 2017

Thanks for a great second season!

We at BOTNS want to thank you for supporting us and for listening to the show! We will be back soon for season 3, but in the meantime, you can continue to help us out by downloading past episodes, reviewing us on Apple Podcasts, and most importantly by spreading the word on social media or just sharing with anyone you think might enjoy our work.

Keep checking in during this offseason for posts about the shows we have already covered, news updates, and of course details about our next Batty Awards. Let us know if there's something you want to be honored at the Battys. Thanks again!

Friday, June 23, 2017

Show Notes: Episode 2-12 Battle of the Network Stars

*In this week's episode, we look at the premiere episode of Battle of the Network Stars, which aired at 8:00 P.M. on November 13, 1976, on the ABC television network.

*The series lasted from 1976 to 1988 and consisted of 19 specials. The 1988 captains were John Davidson, Greg Evigan, and Lorenzo Lamas.

*Highly recommended: this Mental Floss piece we mention on the show, "A Brief History of" the series.

*$20,000 in 1976 money = $87,000 today.

*Holmes and Yo-Yo was a new ABC sitcom for the 1976 season and was yanked after 13 episodes. The series, about a veteran cop who gets a robotic partner, is not to be confused with Future Cop, a 1977 ABC series about a veteran cop who gets a robotic partner.

*"The diminutive Gary Burghoff" is reportedly 5'5".

*The Quest was a short-lived 1976 Western series co-starring Kurt Russell and Tim Matheson.

*Gemini Man was a short-lived 1976 NBC series with Ben Murphy, previously the star of Alias Smith and Jones, as a secret agent.

*Reggie Jackson, AKA "Mr. October," hit 563 home runs in a distinguished Hall of Fame career. After this appearance, he moved to New York and became an even bigger star as a Yankees slugger.

*Rona Barrett was appearing in ABC specials at this time as well as making regular appearances doing gossip and celebrity interviews on Good Morning America.

*U.S. Olympian Mary Decker failed to finish the 3000 meters in the 1984 Olympics after colliding with Zola Budd.

*Lee Majors and Farrah Fawcett were married from 1973 to 1982 but separated in 1979.

*Gymnast Cathy Rigby starred in the 1968 Olympics, then entered acting, where she became famous for playing Peter Pan on stage.

*Dr. Joyce Brothers was a psychologist who became famous for being famous and was a guest star on...just about everything.

*Telly Savalas did indeed claim to give Howard Cosell his first TV role, hiring him when he was a producer on ABC's Gillette Cavalcade of Sports.

*The Superstars competitions, pitting athletes from around the world in a variety of events, aired as a series of TV specials beginning in 1973 on ABC.

*Sadly, Michael Landon never competed on Battle of the Network Stars.



Thursday, June 22, 2017

Episode 2_12: Battle of the Network Stars 1

For our season two finale, we finally take a look at perhaps the ultimate example of the Battle of the Network Shows era, our namesake, Battle of the Network Stars. In this first-ever Battle from 1976, Robert Conrad, Telly Savalas, and Gabe Kaplan lead teams from NBC, CBS, and ABC in athletic competitions for bragging rights and a sizeable prize. Celebrities, Howard Cosell, controversy, swimsuits, short shorts, Speedos, mustaches, the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat! This one has it all!



Check out this episode!