Wednesday, July 8, 2020

This Day in TV History:The MLB All-Star Game at Dodger Stadium

There will be no All-Star Game in MLB this year, and there may not even be MLB this year, but we have the past! On July 8, 1980, baseball's best assembled at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles for the 51st Major League Baseball All-Star Game. ABC broadcast the event with Keith Jackson, Don Drysdale, Al Michaels, and the immortal Howard Cosell in the booth.

The idea of watching a 40-year-old baseball game may appall some of you, but not me! However, i do recognize that the best part of these old All-Star exhibitions is the player intros.  I loved when MLB started uploading old broadcasts to its official YouTube channel a few months ago, but unfortunately it deleted the best part--the pre-game festivities! And let's not even get into the lack of original commercials.

In this era, the National league was dominant, having won every summer since 1972, and it was talked about as a thing.  Yes, the game didn't "matter," but somehow it mattered.

Oddly, the MLB Vault official channel has only this highlight, with inferior video and the radio call from Vin Scully:

In case you're wondering and don't have time to watch the intros, let me give you the most important info: The defending champion Pittsburgh Pirates are represented in the game by Phil Garner, Dave Parker, Kent Tekulve, and Jim Bibby.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

This Day in TV History: Beauties and the Beasts on July 7, 1980

40 years ago tonight, TV viewers had a choice between beauty and brawn. CBS offered the Miss Universe Pageant, hosted by Bob Barker, Helen O'Connell, and Jayne Kennedy with performances by Donny Osmond; while ABC countered with the WBC Heavyweight title on the line as Larry Holmes defended against Scott LeDoux.

In case you're wondering, NBC had the King--not Don King, but Elvis Presley in 1957's Loving You. Folks, I often lament the sentiment that anything more than 5 years old is "passe" or just won't appeal to modern audiences. Yet I must confess I find it a curious decision to air a 1957 movie in prime time on network television in 1980. NBC seemed to enjoy being in the Elvis business, though; the following spring Don Johnson starred in Elvis and the Beauty Queen, and the network aired various specials in the era like Memories of Elvis in 1978 (of course, the legendary Comeback Special was on NBC in 1968).

Back to the main event, the big match-up of the evening, in which reigning Miss USA (Remember when it aired alongside Fantastic Funnies?) Shawn Weatherly won Miss Universe. It was July 8 in South Korea when it took place but July 7 when it aired here in the States.


She later starred in the first season of Baywatch and the only season of J.J. Starbuck.

As for the heavyweight fight? Holmes crushed LeDoux with a round 7 TKO in front of a partisan crowd at the Met Center in LeDoux's native Minnesota. Holmes would go on to beat a faded Muhammad Ali in an infamous fight, then dominate the early 1980s before a series of retirements and comebacks.  LeDoux suffered several more high-profile losses before retiring and becoming a fixture of AWA wrestling in its ESPN weekday afternoon era as a "troubleshooting" referee.

Perhaps his greatest moment was knocking off Howard Cosell's toupee after a different fight:

Monday, July 6, 2020

Get More Mike Part One: Uncanny X-Men 138

While we're on an extended break here at Battle of the Network Shows, I had the chance to talk to friend of the show Tim Blevins for his podcast Menage a Pop. In part one, we talk about Uncanny X-Men 138, the issue that introduced me to the world of Marvel's Merry Mutants and stirred my imagination. Find it right here or wherever you find your podcasts. Also, check out more episodes of Menage a Pop and Tim's other excellent podcast 20th Century Pop while you're there.

Happy birthday, Grant Goodeve!

Best known as David Bradford on Eight Is Enough, he's a big favorite at BOTNS, so let's crack one open and celebrate!

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Sunday, July 5, 2020

Top Ten #75

1) The Bicentennial Minute: One of the most outstanding things ever produced for television was this series of short segments aired on CBS in 1976.  Here's the final spot that aired, one starring the big guy. Jerry Ford:

2) The Greatest American Hero: OK, maybe the show doesn't scream, "USA! USA! USA!" but it, uh, has "American" in the title.  ALso, the FilmRise Classic TV channel (available on Roku and online) is running a marathon this weekend.

3) Murray Hamilton: So everyone is all fired up to watch Hamilton this weekend, right?

(If you were in our Facebook group, you would have seen that joke two days ago. Lucky you, right?)

4) Hugh Downs: R.I.P. to the former host of 20/20 and also star of shows as varied as Today, Concentration, Over Easy, The Tonight Show...and of course his ill-fated stab at "relevance" in 1995, the rap video showcase "Yo, I'm Downs with It!"

For years, Downs was considered the record holder for hours appearing on TV. Someday i hope to pursue the record for most hours watching TV.

5) Benson: Roku Channel just added the first 3 seasons of the series for streaming, and please, please don't call it "The Jerry Seinfeld Years."

6) Katherine Helmond: Happy birthday to the recently departed star of Soap, which we just so happen to have discussed in our latest season!

7) Hong Kong Phooey: Finished #2, right behind Jonny Quest, in this ScreenRant article ranking the most underrated Hanna Barbera characters.

OK, the article is a little suspect (Should the likes of Quest and Snagglepuss and--Huckleberry Hound, for Yogi's sake???--even be on an "underrated" list with Stanley Chan and Babu? I say no, but it is a fun read even if it might be considered 'clickbait" (totally unlike the scientific, well-thought-out top ten lists we run here from time to time).

8) Carl Reiner: R.I.P. to the comedy legend. Anyone remember Good Heavens?

9) Blazing Saddles the sitcom: Yes, the sitcom. Mike posted a link to this fascinating video in our facebook group this week:

10) Happy Days: Still the definitive account of how America became AMERICA? You guessed it, Season 8's American Musical:

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Happy Independence Day!

Happy holiday, everyone! On this July 4, let's think about the great TV of the 1970s and 1980s that brought us together...and the bad TV that also brought us together for different reasons!

Friday, July 3, 2020

Captain America (1990) DVD is going OOP

Shout! Factory! gave us a decent DVD of the two CBS Captain America TV movies, and it is still available (and it is CHEAP), but the company's website lists the 1990 theatrical movie "Collector's Edition" as "Going out of print in 2020--Save while supplies last!"

Better act quick to get in on these massive savings--you can save a whopping ONE DOLLAR and get it for 13.98 instead of 14.98 right now. I might get 4 or 5 at that kind of discount!

Is it going OOP because someone else has licensed it for a new special edition or blu-ray? I don't know, but who is with me in saying we could use a Captain America/Captain America II Blu-Ray with extras?  Original promos...making of documentary...Reb Brown and Connie Sellecca commentaries!  Someone make it happen!