Friday, June 29, 2018
*The Windfall premiered at 8:00 P.M. on December 3, 1974 as the 12th episode of the second season.
*Know Your Lionels: Good Times co-creator Mike Evans played Lionel on The Jeffersons after originating the role on All in the Family. He left the series after the first season and was replaced by Damon Evans, but several years later, Mike Evans took over the role. Former Boston Red Sox OF Dwight Evans never played Lionel, nor did Tigers 1B/3B Darrell Evans.
*DC Comics' Crisis on Infinite Earths miniseries ran 1985-1986 and purportedly "cleaned up" decades of continuity. Crisis on Infinite Norman Lears remains a tantalizing possibility.
*The Cabrini-Green Projects in Chicago were demolished in 2011.
*Here is the Ebony article we talk about on the podcast.
*The Chicago Defender, established 1905, is still publishing today.
*Ja'net Dubois co-wrote The Jeffersons theme, Movin' on Up, with Jeff Barry.
*Director John Rich also directed many episodes of All in the Family after his big run on The Dick Van Dyke Show. He went on to produce MacGyver with Henry Winkler.
*The official spelling is DY-NO-MITE:
*We're unable to find evidence of the series winning an NAACP Image Awards, but it was nominated for two Humanitas Prizes in 1975.
*John Amos is not credited for writing any Good Times episodes, but he was a staff writer on The Leslie Uggams Show in 1969.
*Not mentioned on the show but still awesome part of Good Times: Theodore Wilson in a recurring role as Sweet Daddy Williams. The character was in "only" 7 episodes but made a lasting impression.
*Currently seasons 3 and 4 of Good Times are streaming on Roku Channel. GetTV and TVOne show reruns, and the show is complete on DVD.
*Let us know if you'd like to hear Aqua Battle of the Network Shows! In the meantime, check out this episode's YouTube playlist on our official YT page.
Thursday, June 28, 2018
This week, we tackle the groundbreaking Norman Lear urban sitcom Good Times! Nothing goes as expected when James finds $27,000 stolen from a grocery store. Plus, we delve into the mysteries of the Norman Lear multiverse.
Wednesday, June 27, 2018
Tuesday, June 26, 2018
1. The Pilot movie, AKA "The Awakening," Parts 1 and 2: In this case, I'm recommending the theatrical movie version from the first season DVD set (the two-part TV version appears on the season two set). This offers some fun space opera antics, sexy Princess Ardala, a space cotillion, some space disco, and some of the weirder sci-fi elements that mostly vanished once the series started (including the Computer Council). Wilma seems a little off, and that opening credits sequence we talked about seems A LOT off, but otherwise a good time, plus Buck swears a little.
2. "The Plot to Kill a City," Parts 1 and 2: Frank Gorshin, Anthony James, and others play space assassins bent on destroying New Chicago because they killed one member of their gang. Buck infiltrates them, but things don't go entirely as planned. Markie Post also guest stars as one of the many wayward women Buck rescues in his adventures.
3. "Space Vampire": Listen to our episode.
5. "Flight of the War Witch," parts 1 and 2 (double-sized episode on DVD): In the season finale, Buck, Ardala, the entire Draconian fleet, and, well, just about everybody travels to a parallel universe to help a planet of light people (who conveniently can look like people people) stop the War Witch Zarina (Julie Newmar--really more just a mean lady). A good adventure with some interesting special effects, and Ardala gets to grow a little after Newmar's Zarina puts her in her place (also, she gets to wear this KISS-like action outfit). It almost seems like a season two setup in a lot of ways...but then they revamped the whole show.
7. "Planet of the Slave Girls," Parts 1 and 2 (double-sized episode on DVD): Really, a planet of slaves in general, though Wilma briefly becomes a "slave girl" and almost sweats to death with another one. Features Jack Palance as a superpowered cult leader (he can shoot ray beams from his hands), Roddy McDowall as a clueless bureaucrat, David Groh as a pilot with a beef with Buck and his 20th century ways, plus a cameo by Buster Crabbe (Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon in the movie serials). Also, Buck baffles the 25th century folks with football lingo and busts out some kung fu.
8. "Unchained Woman": Buck goes undercover in a prison to bust out a prisoner/witness (Jamie Lee Curtis), which leads to some Western-style hijinks with a hint of The Fugitive (a relentless android chases them). Michael Delano (the villain in the Wonder Woman episode "Disco Devil" we discussed in season two) plays the heavy. Also features a "sand squid."
9. "Cosmic Whiz Kid": Gary Coleman guest stars as fellow 21st century refugee/genius Hieronymus Fox, who gets kidnapped by Ray Walston. Buck and Wilma have to rescue him, but, well, he kind of rescues himself. Prime Coleman era, and you can't go wrong with Walston, but Coleman and Gerard share very little screen time.
10. "Cruise Ship to the Stars": A woman suffers from a Jekyll and Hyde situation and is committing crimes on a cruise ship and trying to kill Miss Cosmos. Buck shows up to provide security, while Wilma goes undercover (in a terrible, terrible wig). Also features some more space disco and the only appearance of Twiki's "girlfriend" Tina. Also notable for an appearance by Dorothy Stratten as Miss Cosmos.
11. "Happy Birthday, Buck": Wilma and Dr. Huer send Buck on an escort mission to get him out the way while they put together a surprise birthday party for him. Good thing because he ends up thwarting an assassination plot against Huer by a vengeful mutant and a greedy psychiatrist! Morgan Brittany guest stars, and bronze age comics stalwart Martin Pasko writes. Also, we get to see New Detroit! Learn more about the show and "Happy Birthday, Buck" from Pasko himself on this great episode of John Siuntres' Word Balloon podcast, including a bonus Jack Klugman impression (Buck portion starts around the 25-minute mark).
12. "Ardala Returns": Second banana Kane's new hatchet fighter keeps blowing up, so Ardala decides to enlist Buck's help, whether he wants to or not. The Draconians use a cumbersome technique to make their own android Bucks (which will serve an added benefit to Ardala, if you catch my drift). Buck sabotages the clones with his brain waves or something, and Gerard gets to have some fun playing different aspects of his personality.
13. "Olympiad": Should have been called "Space Olympics" because it centers around, well, space Olympics. An athlete wants to defect, and the Directorate uses Buck's celebrity to send him as an emissary and help the athlete defect, which he eventually does with the help of the athlete's space-bobsledding girlfriend.
14. "Planet of the Amazon Women": Another misleading title. Buck gets kidnapped to a planet of mostly women (its men died in a war or ended up as slaves off-planet) and gets put up for auction by TV's Dr. Shrinker. The planet's princess buys him so he can help her start a revolution. Meanwhile, Wilma, Huer, and Theopolis work on a trade deal with the mean, pointy-eyebrowed computer head we mentioned on the podcast.
15. "Vegas in Space": Buck goes to a space casino planet to rescue a kidnapped woman. Along to help, Major Marla Landers (the Wilma replacement that didn't happen). Given the great title, a little disappointing, but notable for the first appearance of Buck's Han Solo cosplay. Also criminally underuses Cesar Romero.
16. "Twiki is Missing": In the B story, Wilma leads a mission to drag a giant hunk of frozen oxygen through a narrow hole in the Earth's atmosphere (or something), which could really help or catch fire and obliterate life on Earth. It ain't all space rainbows and space puppy dogs in the 25th century. Over in the A story, a guy running a mining colony uses three superpowered ladies to robotnap Twiki. If I remember correctly, Buck saves him, then ends up taking him back, and then they run through a bunch of hallways, get caught, escape, and run through them again maybe. Anyway, it all works out. Buck saves Twiki, uses the explosives they're mining to help out Wilma's mission, and frees one of the superpowered ladies from the bad guy's blackmail control...I think.
17. "Escape from Wedded Bliss": The first of the Ardala returns episodes (but last in quality). Ardala tries to force Buck to marry her by threatening to blow up the Earth. I'm no expert on romance, but seems like a bad strategy, princess. Anyhow, he pretends to be down with it so he can get on the mother ship and blow up the weapon. Fun fact. In Draconian culture, the more formal the occasion, the fewer the clothes.
18. "Buck's Duel to the Death": Probably better than "Escape from Wedded Bliss," but I almost forgot to include it, so maybe not. Buck goes to a planet to help it escape Trebor, an oppressive warlord (played by craggy character actor William Smith), but ends up having to fight him to fulfill some kind of prophecy or something. Trebor can shoot electricity, but Buck uses some 20th century know-how to stop him and put the locals on the long road to reestablishing democracy.
19. "Space Rockers": Oh, "Space Rockers," how I wanted to love you. I mean, you're called "Space Rockers," and you feature mind-control space rock music, musicians playing funky space instruments (including one that pretty much looks like a table), plus great guest stars like Jerry Orbach, Richard Moll, and Judy Landers. Yet, "Space Rockers," you didn't live up to your potential, even with the song "Odyssey," which also became some kind of disco hit. You could have been better, or you could have been better by being lamer. Instead, you stuck to the middle (and didn't utilize Erin Gray). I'm not sure what went wrong here really, but it went so wrong that I didn't even notice that Genius Award-winner Leonard Lightfoot plays one of the space rockers. If you're keeping score at home, that means both Genius Winners have played characters in sci-fi productions of questionable quality. Fun fact: Johnny Harris, who created "Odyssey" for this episode, also scored the third season Wonder Woman and worked as Lynda Carter's musical director.
20. "A Blast for Buck": Two words--clip show.
Monday, June 25, 2018
We do have to give credit where it's due, though. When his robot girlfriend Tina praises his moves, Twiki says Buck taught him everything he knew. Then he gives Tina butt bump that almost knocks out her circuits.
So we have to say, hey, Buck and Wilma represent pretty well for us humans:
But at the end, it's Twiki who gets the girl:
Where will 'Cruise Ship to the Stars" rank in our list of season 1 episodes? Find out tomorrow when Mike presents a definitive rating!
Friday, June 22, 2018
*Buck Rogers lasted only two seasons, and the second was a short one at that because of an actors' strike. The more "serious" tone and other changes (like introducing Thom Christopher as Hawk) hurt ratings from the get-go in season 2, and Buck was a goner.
*The book Mike mentions is Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: A TV Companion by Patrick Jankiewicz.
*Buck first appeared in Amazing Stories--no, not the Steven Spielberg anthology series of the 1980s, but the pulp magazine. Phillip Nowlan adapted his 1928 story into a comic strip for the John F. Dille Company in 1929.
*The 1950 TV series ran for 36 episodes in 1950, but the series is completely lost. Eva Marie Saint was one of the actresses who played Wilma in this version!
*Commander Royko in this episode is Christopher Stone, who you can see in our YouTube playlist in a clip from 1970's The Interns.
*Space Vampire is currently the highest-rated Buck episode on TV.com.
*For more info on this episode, check out John Kenneth Muir's essay. He points out parallels to Bram Stoker's original Dracula novel and also claims that the object Buck uses to ward off the Vorvon "is really just Commander Adama's collar medallion from Battlestar Galactica.
Thursday, June 21, 2018
We put up a poll, the listeners voted, and we've responded with Buck Rogers in the 25th Century "Space Vampire." Things get spooky when Buck, Wilma, and Twiki have to face a space vampire...and his one giant eyebrow! Drinking game: drink every time we use space as an adjective.
Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Tuesday, June 19, 2018
and Wonder Woman capped it off by asking the boys which outfit she should wear on her date with Steve Trevor?
For the record, the guys didn't give her much help, leading her to chuckle that she was asking the wrong crowd.
(We're not sure which outfit she picked. Unfortunately the series didn't follow up.)
Friday, June 15, 2018
Carrie Snodgress, Edie Adams, BOTNS alum Jed Allan...David Letterman? Hey, I want to see this movie!
*Lou Grant aired 5 seasons and 114 episodes, all on CBS, Tuesdays at 10 the first season and Mondays at 10 the remainder of the run.
*The Los Angeles Times' Dorothy Chandler was indeed an inspiration for Nancy Marchand's Margaret Pynchon, in addition to The Washington Post's Katharine Graham.
*You can decide for yourself, but Ed Asner still says Lou was canned for political reasons. He talks about it in this article from two weeks ago. In a May 1982 New York Times article, we read:
A spokesman for CBS said ''Lou Grant'' would be canceled ''reluctantly'' because of a ''sharp decline in audience response.'' In each of the three seasons preceding 1981-82, he said, the show averaged a 32 share and a 19.6 rating. This season, the share dropped to 27 and the rating to 16.6. ''Lou Grant'' and ''WKRP in Cincinnati'' have consistently received high critical acclaim.
In September, when the final episode aired, Times critic John O'Connor added some perspective:
The overriding viewpoint could probably be described as liberal. And in his private life, Mr. Asner was prominently associated with liberal causes. Some critics speculate that these political aspects hastened the demise of the series. CBS insists that sagging ratings were the culprits (although reruns of the show have been placing in the top 10 over the summer). There is undoubtedly a bit of truth in both theories. Meanwhile, however, television has lost one of its worthier efforts. That is the unsettling bottom line.'
*Click here for the 1982 SNL sketch starring "Lou Grant" as he does the weather after being fired from CBS!
*The "real-life" Art Donovan was a Baltimore Colts Hall of Fame defensive tackle and frequent guest on Late Night with David Letterman. He made an infamous appearance on the 1994 WWF King of the Ring pay per view as a color commentator.
*Marvel Comics published The Human Fly from 1977-1979. The character was based on real-life daredevil Rick Rojatt. Check out this week's YouTube playlist for more on Rojatt!
*Emilio Delgado is best known as Luis on Sesame Street, but he appears in 19 Lou episodes as Ruben Castillo.
*Gordon Jump is in 6 episodes as National Editor at the Los Angeles Tribune.
*Included among Asner's record 7 Prime Time Emmys is the distinction of being the first to win a major comedic and dramatic acting award for the same role. Uzo Aduba matched that feat for Orange Is the New Black--sort of. She achieved the double because the series was submitted as a drama instead of a comedy after its first season. Asner won different awards for the same character in two completely different programs.
Thursday, June 14, 2018
We follow up our Mary Tyler Moore Episode with a look at its dramatic spinoff Lou Grant. When a tunnel collapses, Lou gets the "L.A. Tribune" team in high gear while managing fragile egos, a TV-loving intern, a human fly, an unhappy assistant editor, a nut job, and...Swedes? Yes, Gilligan's Island comes up, too.
Wednesday, June 13, 2018
Tuesday, June 12, 2018
OK, maybe there is, but is there one more flat-out adorable?
Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong details the creation of this classic show opener. Co-creators Jimmy Brooks (OK, that's James L. Brooks to me) and Allen Burns hired an Iranian director, Rexa Badiyi, to handle it. After directing documentary films in Iran, Badiyi emigrated to the USA and got into television. Other shows he directed opening credit sequences for: Hawaii Five-0 and Get Smart.
Does this guy know how to make a title segment or what?
Later, he directed episodes of BOTNS subjects like The Incredible Hulk and The Six Million Dollar Man, plus many other possible future podcast subjects.
Badiyi was responsible for the concept as well as the visuals, and it was he who thought of the climactic hat toss. Armstrong writes that the beret was meant to symbolize rebellion and "girlish dreams of European sophistication." It wasn't a contrived move, though; the beret was one Moore happened to bring with her.
The weather was freezing cold--hey, it was Minneapolis in February--when Badiyi told Moore to run out in traffic and toss her hat with glee. As Armstrong says, the raw footage didn't stand out to anyone, but edited together with the final freeze frame, it was gold. Burns told the director, "You son of a bitch. You made this work."
In season 2, the opening would change somewhat--the lyrics to Sonny Curtis' theme song were modified, and Mary Tyler Moore ditched the fur coat after getting involved in animal rights--but the essential spirit of the fantastic sequence remained throughout the series' run and is one of the reasons the show is still famous.
Friday, June 8, 2018
Remember, our official YouTube Channel has episode-specific playlists for all of our past shows!
*Third-season opener The Good-Time News premiered Saturday, September 16, 1972, at 9:30 P.M., airing against The Streets of San Francisco and a broadcast of 1967's In the Heat of the Night. The rest of CBS' lineup that night: All in the Family, Bridget Loves Bernie, The Bob Newhart Show, and Mission Impossible.
*Nancy Walker did Bounty ads from 1970-1990, according to Wikipedia.
*Rhoda spun off in 1974 and was a ratings smash for its first two years, even beating its parent show many times, but it tailed off after that. The ratings decline is generally attributed to the decision to split up Rhoda and her hubby, who married in season 1 to spectacular viewership.
*Phyllis lasted two seasons (75-76 and 77-78) and started very strong but declined in its second season. Cloris Leachman won a Prime Time Emmy (one of 8 in her career) for Lead Comedy Actress for this series.
*WJM-TV in Minneapolis is where Mary works as Associate Producer of the 6:00 news show, with Lou as Producer (at the time of this episode we cover) and Murray the writer. Wikipedia says he's the head writer, but I'm not sure how many other people are writing the copy that anchorman Ted Baxter reads.
*Lou dates Mary in season 7's Lou Dates Mary. Jack Cassidy's appearance as Ted Baxter's brother is in season 2's Cover Boy. Cassidy was the original choice for Ted, and the role was reportedly written with him in mind, but he turned it down. And while we're at it, Gavin MacLeod originally read for the part of Lou but asked for the chance to read for Murray before he left.
*Theme song writer/performer Sonny Curtis played with Buddy Holly, then became frontman for a version of The Crickets after Holly's death. He is a Rock Hall of Fame member via the sidemen category as a result of his affiliation with the band. His other most famous hit? He wrote I Fought the Law, recorded by the Bobby Fuller Four.
*The S.S. Minnow left Hawaii before the weather started getting rough.
*Although The Mary Tyler Moore Show did not do well in broadcast syndication, it did do well for Nick at Nite in the 1990s.
*Other TV shows set in Minnesota include Coach and Little House on the Prairie as well as Rocky and Bulliwinkle.
Thursday, June 7, 2018
Check out this episode!
Wednesday, June 6, 2018
Tuesday, June 5, 2018
Monday, June 4, 2018
The following comes from Dynomite! Good Times, Bad Times, Our Times--A Memoir.
Walker first met Celebrity Roasts producer Greg Garrison when doing a shot on a Rowan and Martin variety special that aired on NBC after the duo's Laugh-In ended. He did a 4-minute standup segment, and was treated like an afterthought by Garrison, who told him, "OK, you got some laughs. So what?"
Later in the book Walker says he was sometimes the only black man on the dais for the roasts because they had to have one. Garrison, he writes, still didn't think he was funny.
"The only reason you're on the show," he said, 'is that the Network told me to put you on the show." Though the roasts were on NBC and Good Times was on CBS, my Q score (which measures public appeal and is important to advertisers) was so high that even a competing network wanted me to make an appearance.
But Garrison made sure I rarely told many jokes. Instead, to fulfill his orders I was mostly shown sitting on the dais during the tapings,. When viewers saw the show, there I'd be, howling with laughter at a terrible joke from Charo. In fact, Garrison taped my reaction shots before the roast. I had no idea what joke I'd be laughing at!'
The dictatorial Garrison also insisted that all of the men wear a tuxedo or suit and tie. But when we passed on the way to the set for the first show, I just had on my usual jacket.
"Where's your tie?" he asked.
"In my dressing room," I told him.
"Don't lie to your f****** idol!" he shouted.
He was right. I never did have a tie--and I never wore one on the show, either.
Saturday, June 2, 2018
Friday, June 1, 2018
You will see more Foster Brooks, more Rip Taylor, and Vincent Price for Time-Life Books! Bea Arthur and Madame! And how about Paul Lynde giving a local weather report? All this and more on the playlist!
*The roast of Peter Marshall premiered May 2, 1977, at 10:00 P.M. on NBC, airing against The Andros Targets (CBS) and a movie/failed pilot called Roger & Harry: The Mitera Target (NBC) starring John Davidson as a private investigator.
*Peter Marshall (1926-still around and doing well) was born Ralph Pierre LaCock. His son, former major leaguer Pete LaCock, didn't change his name and ensured kids everywhere would have at least one baseball card that could make them laugh out loud.
*The roster of roasters:
*Zsa Zsa Gabor
*Wayland Flowers and Madame
*Joey Bishop's late night talk show was on ABC 1967-1969, and his eponymous sitcom ran 1961-1965 on NBC and CBS.
*I apologize for making a Teen Mom reference on the podcast. It was done to make a point and will not be repeated this season.
*Wayland Flowers' puppet Madame is, according to this, based on an actual person: Marjorie C. MacGregor, a fixture in D.C.
*Jimmie Walker says some very interesting things about the Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts in his autobio--so interesting, in fact, we will share them in a separate post!
*Foster Brooks was almost 65 when this aired. He later snagged a recurring role on Mork & Mindy, which we talk about here.
*The third canceled Paul Lynde show Karen Valentine refers to remains a mystery, but in addition to The New Temperatures Rising and The Paul Lynde Show, which we mention, Lynde also starred in multiple failed pilots.
*Zsa Zsa Gabor was in Moulin Rouge and Touch of Evil, not to mention Queen of Outer Space, before becoming more known just for being Zsa Zsa.
*Pat McCormick was an actor, game show panelist, and head writer for The Tonight Show.