Thursday, March 23, 2017

Just Watch Us Now!

Season two of Battle of the Network Shows is closer than you might think, and, as Leonard Nimoy would say, this vintage NBC fall promo might just offer some possible clues about what you could or could not expect. Just Watch Us Now!

Monday, March 20, 2017

Upcoming DVDs

Our last post looking at future releases of BOTNS-era TV shows on DVD took us up through March 14, so it's time to see what we have on tap for the spring. There isn't a whole lot out there beyond reissues, but there might be something on the list to interest you. Remember to let us know if you'd like us to cover any of these series in an upcoming episode!

April 4

The Carol Burnett Show: The Best of Tim Conway: Various rights and clearance issues make complete season sets a virtual impossibility, so in the meantime, enjoy a perpetual, confusing array of lesser releases!

Diff'rent Strokes: Season 5: Two words for you: "Bicycle Man." The show really kicked it up a notch with the Very Special Episodes this season. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll never look at Gordon Jump the same way again.

May 2

Vega$ The Complete Series: All together in one package. Amazon has it for 50 bucks right now, and that's not terrible $ for 67 episodes.

May 9

ALF: The Complete Series: ALF, of course, starred in one of our episodes in the first season, but the DVD world is giving him much less respect than we did. The earlier DVD release was substandard, featuring syndication cuts. This version, sadly, appears to be no different. Maybe some Melmacian bootlegs are floating around.

Lou Grant Season 5: Shout! finishes off the great newsroom drama with the final season. -30-.

Mannix and Streets of San Francisco (Complete Series): I wish CBS would make these available for streaming somewhere because these sets are a heckuva lot more $ than that Vega$ one.

May 30

Hart to Hart: Complete Series: Imagine having every episode at your fingertips! Like the one where...Uh, or the one with...Uh...(Suffice to say I'll have to do some brushing up if we ever cover this one on the podcast).

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Further Viewing: Cryin' Time With Tom Hanks

Here at Battle of the Network Shows, we love Tom "There's no crying in baseball" Hanks, but we also love us some Tom "I hit Alex" Hanks, so if we have the chance to celebrate some more Hanks crying, we'll take it...even if it means watching a kind of lame TV movie.

In 1982, post Bosom Buddies, Hanks starred in Mazes and Monsters, a CBS TV movie based on a novel based on an erroneous real-life story about a game of Dungeons & Dragons gone wrong. Hanks plays Robbie, who transfers to Grant University after flunking out of Tufts for playing too much Mazes and Monsters (he also has some dark stuff in his past, but his parents blame the game). After, oh, possibly a day or two, he joins a group of gamers made up of Jay Jay (Chris Makepeace from Meatballs and My Bodyguard), Daniel (David Wallace, AKA Todd Chandler #3 from Days of Our Lives), and Kate (Wendy Crewson, Harrison Ford's first lady in Air Force One).

Teen genius Jay Jay comes from an eccentric family and wears funny hats. Pretty boy Daniel bemoans a life of one-night stands. Kate feels she can't be herself with guys (until she meets Robbie and they play Mazes and Monsters, jog, eat, make out, and study in a duet-scored montage). A few other recognizable faces show up in smaller parts: Clark Johnson (Meldrick Lewis from Homicide: Life on the Street), Murray Hamilton (the mayor from Jaws), and Kevin Peter Hall (the Predator from Predator) playing a monster.

Anyway, the Mazes and Monsters game soon gets out of hand when Jay Jay tries to take it up a notch by staging a new version in some mysterious caverns. No crying in this one but plenty of yelling.

Robbie's emotional/psychological troubles reemerge, and he starts to role-play his character from the game, a monk called Pardieu...all the time. He disappears on a quest (given to him, he thinks, by his god Hall, voiced by Hanks), and, well, all this gives Hanks ample opportunity for some crying.

In Manhattan on his quest, Robbie gets mugged and fends for himself.

This leads to a tearful phone call to Kate (who he dumped so he could practice celibacy--she moved on to Daniel). Unfortunately, the audio cuts off near the end of this clip, but you can find the full movie on Amazon Prime or, um, other places.

Finally, the gang finds Robbie atop one of the Two Towers of his quest, in fact one of the World Trade Center towers,and we get this...

While we can't really recommend Mazes and Monsters, it does have some cheesy music, Jay Jay's hats, and of course Tom Hanks giving it his tearful all.

Monday, March 6, 2017

"New" 1970s and 1980s TV this month

It's time to take another look at the shows from the BOTNS era hitting television and streaming. It's a slow time, but there are some news tidbits to share:

The 40th anniversary of Three's Company is March 15, and Sitcoms Online reports that Antenna TV and Logo are celebrating with marathons. Also, according to the article, Logo is also showing Mama's Family. Who knew?

A new digital subnet, Light TV, is now on the air...sort of. If its website is any indication, it's only in NY and LA right now. Fortunately, other sources on the web have actual information. The channel comes from MGM, according to Wikipedia, and is headed by  Mark Burnett and Roma Downey and aims to be inspirational, positive, and other bright and sunny adjectives.

Some of the shows it airs, according to Sitcoms Online: (Seriously, Burnett, you can't get a decent website set up?):  Highway to Heaven, Touched by an Angel, Little House on the Prairie. You know what I'd like to see? The old syndicated religious-themed anthology Insight. Anyone remember that? Would you  like to see us cover that on the podcast?  Well, I would (Hey, Mike, make a note!).

Get TV added The Life and Times of Grizzly Adams on Super Bowl Sunday, while TV Land added M*A*S*H (returning for the 4077th time) on Presidents Day weekend. Maybe someone will show The Leprechaun's Christmas Gold for St. Patrick's Day.

Get also aired a Blue Thunder marathon a few weeks ago just before adding Airwolf  to its weekday schedule. Speaking of rarities, Get is showing a Crazy Like a Fox marathon overnight March 12 into March 13.

In the world of streaming, not much new. I think Hulu's addition of The Golden Girls last month is going to have to last us for...who knows how long? Netflix has no interest in 70s/80s TV, and unfortunately even Crackle seems to have mostly given up. Amazon Prime surprises us sometimes, though, and maybe something new will turn up.

Warner Archive Instant is still adding TV shows periodically. It now has the first 5 seasons of Medical Center, the first 3 seasons of Falcon Crest, and seasons 1, 3, and 4 (don't ask me why no season 2) of Scarecrow and Mrs. King in addition to other short-lived series like Flo that have been there for a while.

DVD is still the best way to see your favorite shows from the era. Does anything mentioned here interest you as a potential podcast subject or just to kick back and watch in reruns?

Monday, February 20, 2017

Tale of the Tape: Abraham Lincoln vs. Dolan

On Presidents Day, we celebrate the monumental legacies of former presidents Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. Every day, we at BOTNS celebrate the monumental legacy of Dolan from the Lowenbrau commercial.

I hate to pit two equally great men against each other, but just for fun, as a sporting proposition, let's compare these legendary figures. With apologies to Nick Bakay, we give you...


Category: Primary occupation
Lincoln: 16th prez of the USA
Dolan: Associate at unspecified firm
Edge: Lincoln, but remember we're judging Dolan by his 1977 status.

Category: Personal sacrifice
Lincoln: Staked his life on preserving the future of the Union
Dolan: Braved crosstown traffic to get a huge steak
Edge: Dolan. Lincoln never had to deal with rush hour

Category: Ideal night of entertainment
Lincoln: Our American Cousin at Ford's Theater
Dolan: The Knicks at the Garden
Edge: Dolan. The Knicks were pretty cool in the 70s, and we can only guess about the performance until someone discovers what Mary actually said when asked, "Other than that, how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln?"

Category: Theme song
Lincoln: "Hail to the Chief"
Dolan: "Let It Be Lowenbrau"
Edge: Dolan. HIS theme song won a Batty.

Category: Right-hand man
Lincoln: Secretary of State William Seward
Dolan: Michael Moriarty
Edge: Lincoln. Given Moriarty's rep, it's surprising that Seward was the only one who experienced a knife attack.

Category: Archenemy
Lincoln: John Wilkes Booth
Dolan: Ed in Human Resources
Edge: Lincoln: Let's face it, Booth is one of history's biggest villains, but no one at the firm is a match for Dolan.

Category: Signature look
Lincoln: Stovepipe hat
Dolan: Tasteful jacket/tie
Edge: Lincoln with the extra flair, but in fairness to Dolan, he's coming straight from work and Manny's probably has a dress code.

Category: Obstacles caused by subordinates
Lincoln: Frustrated by indecision of incompetent generals
Dolan: Nonplussed by indecision of Frank when looking at the menu
Edge: Dolan

Category: Reputation
Lincoln: Validated by hundreds of historians and scholars
Dolan: Validated by a dead ringer for Jimmy Valvano
Edge: Lincoln...barely

Category: Leadership style
Lincoln: Deliberates over agonizing decisions
Dolan: Knows exactly what he wants
Category: Stance on conflict
Lincoln: A house divided against itself cannot stand
Dolan: If you guys work out the carpool situation, I can get us courtside next Friday
Edge: Dolan. It took Lincoln 4 years to achieve peace!

Category: Signature speech
Lincoln: Four score and seven years ago...(The Gettysburg Address)
Dolan: Give the me the biggest steak you got and a bottle 'a Lowenbrau
Edge: Dolan--He gets right to the point.

TOTAL: When you look at the numbers, Dolan wins 7-5 in an upset...or is it an upset? As beloved as he is today, Abraham Lincoln was a controversial and divisive figure in his day, but everyone in the office loved Dolan. Even Ed from Human Resources eventually accepted an invite to enjoy Mrs. Dolan's cooking and Bob's famous mashed potatoes.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

BOTNS Celebrates National Pizza Day Part 2: Ron Howard should have sued

In 1977, Pizza Hut and Dr. Pepper teamed up to offer premium drink glasses to customers featuring the stars of Happy Days, which of course we discussed in this episode of the podcast.

Let's take a closer look, starting with the star of the show himself, the icon, the legend...Potsie:

And his loyal sidekick, The Fonz:

"Whoa. Don't forget shortcake."

Ralph Malph looks kind of menacing here. Or maybe he looks like David Letterman. Or maybe both.

I've saved the worst for last. Ron Howard, or someone who cared for him, should have tried to block the release of merchandise with this "likeness":

"Duhhhh....gee, Fonz, whaddya wanna do today? I reckon we could go on over to Al's and throw rocks at them fancy college kids."

It's like someone took Opie Taylor to a secret underground lab in the Ozarks, conducted experiments on him for years, then released him by driving a van into Milwaukee, shoving him out the back, and speeding away.

Enjoy National Pizza Day, everyone! Thanks to the collectors on the Internet who posted pics of these swank glasses. Special credit to anyone who was actually able to ingest food in 1977 while staring at that Richie glass.

BOTNS celebrates National Pizza Day! Part 1: You take the good, the bad, you take an XL with pepperoni

Shouldn't every day be National Pizza Day? Let's celebrate this occasion with a look at some of our Battle of the Network Shows superstars enjoying pizza. In Season 4, episode 23, the girls on The Facts of Life (a series we discussed in this episode of the podcast) are studying hard when Mrs. G gives them some sustenance.

What's  the only thing more alluring than Mrs. G? How about Mrs. G with a fresh pizza in her arms?

Natalie knows how to take care of a pizza:

No better way to enjoy a study break than with some pizza:

Enjoy National Pizza Day, everyone!

(H/T to Cousin Geri: A Facts of Life Appreciation Blog, which I consulted to learn in which episode this scene occurs)