Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Say it ain't so, Dolan: This ain't MY Lowenbrau

If there's one combo we like here at BOTNS, it's steak and a bottle a'Lowenbrau.  The genius Dolan showed us the way in a classic commercial that we discussed in some detail.

The entire "Let It Be Lowenbrau" campaign was a great one, filled with emotional appeals to friendship, good times, and general positive vibes. Who cares what the beer tastes like?

The great SeanMc YouTube channel recently posted a later Lowenbrau ad, a travesty that attempts to (it could never succeed) destroy that great legacy of warmth and comfort crafted by the likes of Dolan. As painful as it is, let's take a look:

I can't even begin to try to inhabit the mind of whoever conceived this abomination, but the spot smacks of straining to be "cool." Lowenbrau doesn't have to be cool. More to the point, Dolan didn't try to be cool. He just WAS cool.

And rap? RAP? Lowenbrau is not a "rap" brand. It's not even a brand. It's a way of life.

If Dolan saw this debacle, he wouldn't be able to digest even a succulent steak. He'd be so disturbed, in fact, he'd probably have to sell his Knicks tickets and hole up in the den for the evening.

This is so awful, I can't resist. I was going to just link to the ad as I did above, but, no, it requires an embed here so we can all cleanse our palates for the timeless combo we treasure--and I don't mean neon and drum machines:

Sunday, September 15, 2019

BOTNS Top Ten #33

This time out, we're paying tribute to the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention in Hunt Valley, Maryland, this weekend. We were unable to attend but supportive of the concept, and maybe BOTNS can be there in the future!

1) The Brady Bunch: However, this week's number one has to be the unsquashable 1970s classic, which was revived (sort of) yet AGAIN and drew huge numbers for HGTV in A Very Brady Renovation. Hopefully the cable channel can revive the Bradford house next. And speaking of...

2) DVP: Dick Van Patten's brief but notable stint as a heel boss in The Snowball Express was screened on Turner Classic Movies recently and scrutinized by the BOTNS team this week.

Check out some other TV mainstays in the movie in this clip:

3) Loni Anderson: I hope everyone in Hunt Valley asked her about Easy Street:

4) Loretta Swit: I know it's not a reflection on Ms. Swit, but I just could never take Houlihan seriously knowing she and Burns were a thing. Not that I'd recommend telling her that at a fan convention.

5) William Sanderson: Not only did he appear at the convention, but he has a memoir out! I didn't even know he could read!

OK, that was a lazy, cheap joke. To make up for it, here's a clip of him not playing a dullard:

6) Tom Berenger: Another con attendee, Berenger wasn't really known for TV, but he was in the last episode of Cheers, and anyone cool enough to be on Cheers is good enough for our top ten.

7) The Muppets: Disney + scrapping the announced new series means the original Muppet Show is even more of a no-brainer for the service, right? Right?

8) Frank's Place: And, hey, BET+'s ridiculous 9.99/month price point surely means everything that was ever on BET, including reruns of the acclaimed Tim Reid dramedy, will be on there, right? Right?

I would watch old Video Soul episodes with Donnie Simpson, though!

9) Dark Shadows: Getting another reboot, this time for the CW, and that sounds horrible, but it sounds like the guy doing it is a huge fan of the original show. Plus it's actually going to be a sequel, not a reimagining.

10) Geri Reischl: "Fake Jan" isn't part of A Very Brady Renovation, but she did her duty on the variety show and was part of the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Great Moments in 70s and 80s TV History: Cliff Clavin's anticipation

Remember the joy of receiving the new TV Guide in the mail? Well, think about what a big day it was for the fine members of the U.S. Postal service. In season 7's Please Mr. Postman, Cheers' Cliff Clavin tells a trainee she had better get a good night's sleep because...

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Fred MacMurray in The Chadwick Family

While celebrating Fred MacMurray's birthday last month--hey, didn't everyone--we came across this 1974 ABC Movie of the Week: The Chadwick Family, an unsold pilot:

Also in the cast: Kathleen Maguire, BOTNS favorite Alan Fudge, Barry Bostwick, Bruce Boxleitner, and Darleen Carr among others.

According to IMDB, in this dramatic story, A father finds himself taking care of a "family" that in addition to his son and three daughters, also consists of two sons-in-law and his youngest daughter's Chinese boyfriend.

The movie premiered April 17, 1974 against a supersized (sorry) Cannon rerun on CBS and part 2 of a broadcast of Judgment at Nuremburg on NBC. It started at 9:30, an odd time for a movie, because it followed the pilot of Robert Forster's short-lived Nakia:

Anyone remember either of these 1974 projects?

Sunday, September 8, 2019

BOTNS Top Ten #32

1) MDA Telethon: Labor Day just isn't the same anymore without Jerry Lewis hosting the annual extravaganza. When Mike and I have our inevitable bitter breakup, I want us to be reunited by Frank Sinatra on national television.

2) The Loch Ness Monster: We don't care what any fancy report says, it'll always be a monster to us, not a dumb, old eel! That is, we can't say definitively that he is not a monster, and the probability is that there is evidence to indicate it may be a possibility...

3) The Carol Burnett Show: The show was the subject of a cool podcast episode from Closer with author Wesley Hyatt, and Roku Channel just added an assortment of episodes from the series' first five seasons.

4) Star Trek: Both the Original Series AND the Animated Series premiered on the SAME DATE--today--in 1966 and 1973 respectively. COINCIDENCE?

Wait, no, I mean...

5) Archie Bunker's Place: Antenna TV celebrated the series' 40th anniversary this week.

6) Alan Thicke: I just want another excuse to post this:

7) Willie Tyler: Happy 78th birthday to Tyler, and we also give a shout-out to Lester.  Yeah, that sentence isn't very impressive in itself, but I didn't move my lips when I wrote it.

8) Heather Thomas: Happy birthday to Ms. Thomas, and who wouldn't jump off a tall building for her, amirite?

9) Bob Newhart: The comedy legend turned 90 this week, and Decades is celebrating all weekend with The Bob Newhart Show, Newhart, and Bob. What, no love for his obscure series BN?

10) The Rockford Files: Amazon's free ad-supported streaming service IMDB TV added the classic series for September.

Friday, September 6, 2019

National Read a Book Day: TV-related books

Since it is National Read a Book Day, we are offering some recommendations of books based on series we have spotlighted on the podcast.

Golden Girls Forever by Jim Colucci: A fun book with impressive research.  As I said in a review two years ago 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.

Hailing Taxi by Frank Lovece with Jules Franco: Long out of print, this big 1988 trade paperback does the show justice, offering history, trivia, and critical assessments.

Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live by Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad: The mainstream attention of Jim Miller and Tom Shales' oral history overshadowed this one, but I think it remains the definitive history of the original cast years, and to me that's the most interesting period of the series, anyway. Diehard SNL fans really need to read both, but this is one of my favorite TV books. It was written in 1986 but is available on Kindle.

Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong: Imperfect book, as I wrote here in a review, but essential for fans of  The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Come and Knock on Our Door: A Hers and Hers and His Guide to Three's Company by Chris Mann: An excellent overview of a series that may not be seen as high art but sure gives Mann a lot of interesting stuff to write about. This is a very entertaining book

Mike recommends these two comprehensive TV series histories with episode guides:

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: A TV Companion by Patrick Jankiewicz: This book features a lot of a behind-the-scenes information, including interviews with many of the major players. Although clearly a fan, Jakiewicz doesn't steer clear of some of the backstage the problems or acknowledging weaker elements of the show (um, season two.)

Hardcastle and McCormick: A Complete Viewers Guide to the Classic Eighties Action Series by Deb Ohlin: A fun and surprisingly detailed look at the show, including a number of statistical lists about everything from car chases to various forms of problem-solving violence.


We still await the definitive histories of Silver Spoon, The Facts of Life, and many more!

Thursday, September 5, 2019

May we suggest "Close Encounters"?

Last month's (!) issue of Entertainment Weekly (hey, why change the name of one of the most respected brands in all of quality infotainment) featured a brief piece spotlighting novelist Laura Lippman. This part caught our eyes:

The Last TV Show I Binged
I’m in the middle of a St. Elsewhere binge. I really love and admire it, but it was really hard on its women. I can’t help noticing how much punishment the female characters were put through.

May we suggest checking out the episode Close Encounters? And while we're at it, hey, why not listen to our episode covering the series and zeroing in on Encounters?

Good luck to Ms. Lippman in the ongoing journey through the halls of St. Eligius. Sounds like she has a ways to go before achieving our feat (OK, one of us did it) of watching all episodes on Hulu.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Happy Labor Day!

Happy Labor Day from all of us at BOTNS to all of you! On this day we salute two of our favorite hard-working Americans:

Sunday, September 1, 2019

BOTNS Top Ten #31

1) Valerie Harper: R.I.P. to the sitcom star, whose 1980s sitcom got taken away from her (and is likely underseen today because of the legal issues).

2) Gary Sandy: The former WKRP star captivated us and our listeners this week (just check out our Facebook group). Dare we say that Gary Sandy is...having a moment? And are we confident it's not Patrick Simmons?

3) Eddie Murphy: He captivated the nation, despite not being Gary Sandy, by signing up to host Saturday Night Live this December. All of us who insist on telling everyone else we never watch the show have an excuse to watch it again!

4) Jamie Farr: The veteran actor guested on Hollywood and Levine (Ken Levine's outstanding weekly podcast) this week, and, as usual, he came across as just about the nicest, most gracious guy around.

5) Designing Women: The complete series is now on Hulu! Everyone post in the comments how far into your rewatches you are.

6) The Banana Splits: I don't want to prejudge a movie before--oh, what am I saying. Of course this is going to be terrible:

The Banana Splits Movie Poster

Let's just remember the original and hope that maybe this new version somehow spurs increased accessibility for that one.

7) Conway Twitty: Anyone else see this ad a hundred times back in the day (it's slightly past the BOTNS era, but, come on, we're going to Twitty City)?

8) Gloria Estefan: Happy birthday to the singer of some songs that helped define the 1980s and also helped drive me insane. Please, please don't start singing Conga unless you know a shootout over a drug bust gone bad is going to break out just before the commercial.

9) John Travolta: The former Welcome Back Kotter star made headlines this week by...sort of almost mistaking a drag queen for Taylor Swift at the VMA Awards? I still don't understand why a RuPaul's Drag Race "star" was on stage at all? I feel old. This kind of thing never happened to Gary Sandy.

10) Sonny and Cher: Time Life just released a new best of set of their variety series that costs 100 bucks because, well, because that's how Time Life rolls. I wish I could get Get-TV and watch the episodes there,

Friday, August 30, 2019

Happy birthday, Fred MacMurray!

One of our favorites, the star of movies like Double Indemnity and later the anchor of My Three Sons, was born August 30, 1908. There is no truth to the rumor that Fred celebrated all his birthdays at once so he would have more time to golf.

Frederick Martin MacMurray starred on Sons through its end in 1972. Let's enjoy the Douglas Family Quintent with special guest vocalist Katie:

Thursday, August 29, 2019

This Day in TV History: "The Fugitive" ends

On August 29, 1967, the running stopped as The Fugitive wrapped up the saga of Richard Kimble. The high-rated episode is considered a leading influence on subsequent programs that ended with an actual conclusion rather than just a 'regular" episode.

This season, Mike and I discussed the St. Elsewhere finale, with me speculating that the series as a whole is overshadowed by the infamous ending. Yet perhaps that notorious twist is what will make the show be remembered at all in another 20 years. I hate to say it because I think The Fugitive is one of the best series ever, but there aren't many non-genre hour dramas from the sixties that people still talk about today. I happen to think that's an indictment on people, not on those TV dramas, but the point stands.

What are some of your favorite series finales? Do you think every series "must" end with some kind of conclusion that provides closure?

And to tie it in with our time period, here is a cool clip from The Museum of Classic Chicago Television: a clip from a rerun of The Fugitive plus some commercials from the time:

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Thank you for a great season 6! Stay tuned for more...

We thank you all for a tremendous season 6 of Battle of the Network Shows! We hope you enjoyed listening to the episodes as much as we enjoyed making them. It's not quite over yet, though; we will revisit the characters, plots, and shady bootlegging schemes of this batch with our season-ending Batty Awards!

In the meantime, and before we return in the fall with season 7, keep visiting here for videos, pics, and other stuff. the weekly Top Ten will continue, and when we start back up with regular episodes, you will be the second to know.

Yes, the second--but you can be the first if you join us in our Facebook group. Visit us here and get the early word on upcoming episodes and surprises, and more importantly, just hang out and talk 1970s and 1980s TV with us. In fact, our Facebook group members are voting right now on a special listener-decided award for the Battys!

Thanks again for your support! To borrow a phrase from Batman in season 6, BOTNS listeners...DISPERSE! (But keep coming back on the regular!)

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

Great Moments in 70s and 80s TV History: Gary Sandy introduces a special WKRP rerun

One of the most famous sitcoms episode is the 1978 WKRP in Cincinnati Thanksgiving installment titled Turkeys Away. What fascinates me is this clip of series star Gary Sandy introducing a repeat of it in December 1980:

I don't remember many reruns getting this kind of special treatment back then. Sandy talks about the big reaction the original broadcast got, so I guess CBS figured this rebroadcast would get good numbers.

Personally I'd like to see every rerun get a special intro like this.  "Hi. I'm Grant Goodeve. When we first broadcast this episode of Eight Is Enough, we didn't anticipate the dozens of cards and letters we received talking about the Who's on First routine performed by Dick and Nicholas."

I also think it's funny that Sandy jokes about showing a Thanksgiving episode several weeks after the holiday. Hey, if they can do that, we can run this post months before the holiday. It's really this intro, though, not the episode itself, that excites me.

(As it happens, November 27 was Thanksgiving in 1980, and CBS ran a new The Waltons, while the preceding and the following Saturday each saw a new WKRP, or so I think. I am unable to confirm the airdate reported by the YouTube poster as December 13, 1980, and in fact, I saw an indication that a different episode aired that evening. )

Monday, August 26, 2019

YouTube Spotlight: The What's Happening!! playlist

The closer of our  What's Happening!! playlist this week is the Givens family singing Bubbling Brown Sugar, the title song of a hit 1976 Broadway musical. This is one of my most memorable episodes; I swear it was on every few weeks in reruns, Either that or this song was just that_darned_catchy!

This clip is from the season 2 episode Going Going Gong in which Rerun auditions to go on The Gong Show as Raj and Dee try to break the Givens kids on the same show. It's a fun episode, though in retrospect it may be a symbol of the show losing its way a bit--emphasizing Rerun and gimmicks.

These kids are fantastic, though it's funny that they seemingly know only one song chorus that they repeat again and again and again. What an infectious bit of music, though!

The play was nominated for several Tony awards, including Best Musical. More importantly, who won the Gong Show? You'll have to watch the episode.

Sunday, August 25, 2019

BOTNS Top Ten #30

1) What's Happening!!: The BOTNS season 6 finale features the 1970s ABC sitcom, a show that seems to get a lot more love than one might think.

2) The Doobie Brothers: Arguably the most memorable episode of What's Happening!! is the two-parter with the Doobies, and it has everything--tunes, bootlegging, musicians trying to act... The Best Song category at this year's Batty Awards is going to be LIT!

3) Gary Sandy: The discussion Mike and I have on the pod this week proves that Gary Sandy is still "over" with TV viewers, or at least with us. Anytime you have the likes of Patrick Simmons, a strong enough personality in his own right, compared to YOU, you have done something right. Who is up for more Gary Sandy discussion on BOTNS?

4) Al Dunbar: We struggled to make sense of Al's business model, but we agree that the bootlegger was one cool cat, at least until Skunk Baxter and the Doobies made him back down like a jive turkey.

5) Jim Colucci: The Closer Weekly TV podcast, which I didn't know about until this week, featured an interview with this author, who is following his Golden Girls book with something even better--a "definitive" Love Boat book. Is it too early to give this man a Congressional Medal of Freedom?

6) Monteeg: Kevin Smith is doing an anime (?) version of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe, and according to this story, it will focus on "unresolved storylines" of the original 80s cartoon.

We can think of something that deserves some follow up:

(Pic courtesy of the encyclopedia)

7) Jack Whitaker: R.I.P. Imagine a network today utilizing an "essayist" the way ABC utilized Jack Whitaker.

8) Barnaby Jones: Me-TV, apparently worried its median viewer age might dip below 55, is adding George Utley's favorite series to its weekday lineup. It's nice to freshen up a schedule that needs it, but it's adding it to the not-so-coveted timeslot of 4:00 A.M. I don't think even George would get up that early.

9) Dabney Coleman: I saw an announcement that he's joining the cast of Yellowstone. I don't care what kind of character he is playing, as long as it's a jerk.

10) Tom Seaver: Pats QB Tom Brady lost an effort to gain a trademark on 'Tom Terrific," partly because, hey, pal, Tom Seaver already has that nickname. We celebrate any victory of baseball over football, the 1970s over the 2000s, and Captain Kangaroo over Deflategate.

Friday, August 23, 2019

What's Happening!! playlist is now live!

After determining which Doobie you be, take a look at our playlist for this week's show. Click below to enjoy: Shirley Hemphill and Richard Pryor! Mr. T and Tina! Eric Monte refuses to join the Norman Lear love fest! And Fred Berry dances on Soul Train AND Alice! All this plus promos, commercials, and did we mention The Doobies?

And remember to check out our official YouTube channel for more playlists like this plus past episodes of the show!

Show Notes: Episode 6-12: What's Happening!!

*What's Happening!! aired 3 seasons, 1975-1979 (it began as a summer series), and 65 episodes on ABC. As we mention, the spinoff/sequel What's Happening Now!! actually lasted 66 episodes.

*Doobie or Not Doobie is a two-parter from middle of the series' second season, premiering January 28 and February 4, 1978.

*Here is a link to our Love Boat episode, in which we discuss the very show that followed this What's Happening!! in 1978.

*Here is the TV Party article on the history of What's Happening!!

*The 1975 Cooley High film was a smash before inspiring the loose adaptation in the TV series. The first version was a single-camera dramatic pilot, but Fred Silverman suggested retooling it into the format that became popular.

Wikipedia claims that the movie also inspired The White Shadow, and many websites repeat that, but the only source I can find for that tidbit is one solitary Huffington Post article on Erykah Badu, who is a big fan of the film.

*I personally think that Henry Mancini's theme song for the show ranks among his best work right along with The Pink Panther and Moon River.

*The Doobie Brothers did not appear in What's Happening Now!!

*As Mike alludes to, Doobie guitarist Skunk Baxter is a missile defense expert--and a self-taught one, no less! Read this great piece from Business Insider to learn his story. The article mentions Baxter was a reserve police officer in the L.A. area. I'd like to think his frontier justice approach to apprehending Al Dunbar in the episode inspired his entry into law enforcement.

*Fred Berry, who was part of the dance group The Lockers, died at 52 in 2003.

*For more on the strange death of brief semi-regular Ray Vitte, look at this article. Vitte died in police custody under mysterious circumstances after a conflict with the cops.

*The same website explored the departure of Mabel King from the series, using comments from Ernest Thomas. Essentially, she disliked the stereotypical maid role she had and departed when she was unable to influence the creative direction.

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Episode 6-12: What's Happening!! "Doobie or not Doobie Parts 1 and 2"

We take it to the streets in our season 6 finale with a real Doobie--er, doozy. Join us as we groove to the infamous Rerun bootlegs the Doobie Brothers episodes of What's Happening!! Does it live up to memory or play a bit like a poorly recorded bootleg of a major rock act in a high school gym? We'll let you know, but how can you go wrong with laughter's the best medicine and music is the doctor?

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

YouTube Spotlight: Voyage of the Yes starring Automan's Desi Arnaz Jr.

A few weeks ago, we talked about Automan on the podcast, and of course we created a video playlise devoted to the show. One of the more interesting clips is this segment from 1973 TV movie The Voyage of the Yes:

The movie starred Automan's Desi Arnaz Jr. and The Jeffersons' Mike Evans as teenagers who decide to sail from California to Hawaii. The movie, which is available on Prime Video, is very well reviewed on IMDB.

It premiered January 16, 1973 on CBS against an ABC TV movie take on Frankenstein and the second half of a The New Doctors episode on NBC.  The Voyage of the Yes also features Scoey Mitchell, Beverly Garland, Della Reese, Steve Franken, and Dick Powell Jr.! The series pilot apparently has it all--drama, race relations, and a shark! Click here for Made for TV Mayhem's take on the movie.

Monday, August 19, 2019

YouTube Spotlight: St. Elsewhere's Denzel Washington on nutrition

I'd like to see stars re-record these PSAs after they become megastars. For example, I enjoy this 1980s food stamps PSA from Denzel Washington, then a regular on St. Elsewhere, but imagine the intensity and gravitas a late-1990s Denzel would give it!

I mean, he comes across as very pleasant and a regular guy, but, man, I want to see some urgency.

(Click here for our whole St. Elsewhere video playlist.)

Sunday, August 18, 2019

BOTNS Top Ten #29

1) St. Elsewhere: The acclaimed medical drama is the subject of our podcast this week! Check it out to hear Mike (who has seen every episode) and I (more a newbie) discuss the legacy of the series, our favorite performers, and an interesting episode with guest stars including...

2) Betty White: Isn't it always appropriate to put Ms. White in a top ten list? She is very good in Close Encounters, the Elsewhere episode we talk about on BOTNS.

But we don't need an excuse to put her on the list!

3) Welcome Back, Kotter: Antenna TV is running a marathon this weekend. All over the country, millions of kids are annoyed at the reminder that school starts soon...yet simultaneously delighted by Gabe's charming story of the time his Uncle Saul accidentally boarded a school bus instead of the commuter train.

4) The Bold and the Beautiful: For the first time in it's over-30-year history, the show won the important soap opera demo of women 25-54 years old. I suppose it helps that there are only, what, 4 soaps on the air now.

5) Rue McClanahan: A woman in the star's native Ardmore, Oklahoma, opened an AirBNB with a Golden Girls theme. No, it doesn't resemble the show's set. No, it doesn't come stocked with cheesecake. No, it doesn't--Look, it has pictures of the cast, OK? What else could you want from it?

6) Magic Johnson: The NBA legend celebrated his 60th birthday by releasing a list of his 60 favorite TV shows. What a fantastic idea, and we forgive him for neglecting Automan.  Fun fact: We have covered 6 of his shows on our podcast, and you may hear us talk about another very, very soon (HINT: It ain't Judge Mathis).

7) Real People: The police shut down a promotion tied to The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel that had Amazon offering gasoline for 30 cents a gallon. Heaven forbid people save money. the whole thing reminded me I finished watching Real People's first season on Prime Video, and about 35% of each episode is people mocking, ranting about, or otherwise complaining about gas shortages and prices.

8) Martin Mull: Happy birthday to the former Barth (and Garth) Gimble!

9) Carol Burnett: The Paley Center announced it is celebrating her and Norman Lear (We're not ranking HIM yet AGAIN this week!), Bob Newhart, Lily Tomlin, and Carl Reiner. What better way to honor Ms. Burnett than by...making more seasons of The Carol Burnett Show available on Prime Video?

Well, I'd appreciate it. Man can't live on Real People alone.

10) Gail Fisher: The late actress was born on this date in 1935. If she were around today, she would be especially delighted to learn Mannix made the prestigious Magic Johnson 60.

Friday, August 16, 2019

St. Elsewhere playlist is now live!

After listening to this week's podcast, click below STAT to enjoy a collection of videos from the show, including promos, commercials, and more!  You will see Ed Flanders on Kung Fu! Howie Mandel sits down with Johnny Carson! Ed Begley Jr. as a pitchman at the beginning and end of the eighties! All this, plus glimpses of things we talk about on the pod, like Hell Town and The Insiders!

And remember to check out our YouTube channel for past podcasts and playlists like this for every episode.

Show Notes: St. Elsewhere

*St. Elsewhere aired from 1982-1988 on NBC, 6 seasons and 137 episodes.

*Close Encounters is the seventh episode of the series' third season and premiered Wednesday, November 20, 1985 at 10:00 P.M.

*The crossover with Cheers occurs in the episode titled...Cheers! It is the season 3 finale from 1985.

*Ed Flanders died too young at 60 in 1995.

*The series was finally added to Hulu in 2018, but only season 1 is available on DVD.

*The infamous series finale aired May 25, 1988. Here is a compelling piece by Matt Zoller Seitz on the legacy of the episode. He discusses many of the meta aspects we mention on the podcast. Entertainment Weekly asked a group of cast members to comment on the finale in 2012. And here author Sean Munger provides more perspective, arguing that the producers got to do the finale they really wanted to end the fifth season before being renewed by NBC at the last minute.

*The Emmy year Mike highlights is 1984, when Elsewhere received writing noms for 4 different episodes, winning for season 2's The Women, while the other two slots went to Hill Street Blues.

*The astronaut in this episode is played by David Ackroyd. The other grandfather of Dr. Craig's granddaughter is played by prolific character actor Ramon Bieri.

*Betty White guested as Captain Gloria Neal in this episode and the earlier season 3 episode Red, White, Black and Blue.

*Oliver Clark, John Doe #6 here, played Ed Herd in a recurring role on The Bob Newhart Show alongside Jack Riley's Mr. Carlin.

*According to IMDB, the sequence where John Doe #6 changes the channels and hears snippets of various theme songs is edited on Hulu. WKRP, Newhart, Hill Street Blues replace Star Trek, Dragnet, and Leave It to Beaver.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

Episode 6-11: St. Elsewhere "Close Encounters"

This week, we return to Boston and travel to the very center of the Tommy Westphall Universe to talk about classic hospital drama St. Elsewhere. Betty White pays a visit to investigate the condition of an astronaut, Denzel Washington and Alfre Woodard get cozy, an amnesiac decides he's Mary Richards...much to the consternation of "The Bob Newhart Show's" Mr. Carlin.

Check out this episode!

Sunday, August 11, 2019

BOTNS Top Ten #28

1) Legends of the Superheroes: This week's podcast celebrates the Challenge and Roast NBC specials , which debuted almost 41 years ago and were fondly remembered for...almost 3 weeks.

2) Ed McMahon: As we mention on the show, Eddie Mac inaugurates the Three Timers Club with his prominent role in this week's podcast, following appearances in CHiPs and ALF. The prize is a yellow blazer and a six-pack.

3) Reading Rainbow: Friday was Book Lovers' Day, which reminds us all that while TV is great, so are books--like Total Television, The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows, and of course, A Book by Desi Arnaz.

4) Smokey Bear: The iconic fire safety advocate turned 75 this week. One question: When did he lose his middle name, "The"? It's like he just stopped using it and everyone went along with it. Shows how much power the guy still has.

5) Norman Lear: They're doing more Lear sitcoms as live specials later this year, and frankly I think people are gonna get sick of ol' Norm. The good news is ABC hasn't revealed which shwos will be adapted, meaning Hot L Baltimore is still in play!

6) Buck Rogers: Seasons 1 and 2 are now available for streaming free on the NBC app.

7) Shelley Hack and Tanya Roberts: The box cover art for the forthcoming Charlie's Angels Blu-Ray set from Mill Creek gives these two pretty much equal footing with the others, and I think that's a big win for them.

8) American Graffiti: Premiered today in 1973 and inspired the great blend of nostalgia, family humor, and elephant dancing that we know as Happy Days.

9) Duran Duran: Believe it or not, this week also saw the celebration of Duran Duran Appreciation Day. I don't know about you, but EVERY day is Duran Duran Appreciation Day around HERE, Jack!

 10) Bruce Willis: Did you remember that Bruce hosted the Emmy Awards in 1987? I sure didn't. This week's announcements that the upcoming Emmys will be hostless makes us yearn for the days when you could get some random star to do it. The next year, John Laroquette was the emcee, and then it was the triumvirate of Jay Leno, Candice Bergen, and Jane Pauley!

Friday, August 9, 2019

Legends of the Superheroes YouTube playlist is now live!

Your companion playlist to this week's podcast is here! Click below to see highlights from the original Legends of the Superheroes specials along with: Frank Gorshin as Frankenstein! Ed McMahon as a sweepstakes pitchman! Ruth Buzzi as...a country singer! All this plus vintage promos, PSAs, and of course Pink Lady and Jeff! And you might just see a glimpse of a certain other notorious special of the era, too.

Check out our official YouTube page for past podcast episodes and more playlists like this one!

Show Notes Episode 6-10: Legends of the Superheroes

*The specials aired January 18, 1979 (The Challenge) and January 25, 1979 (The Roast) on NBC at 8:00 P.M.  January 19 saw the premiere of Captain America on CBS. Click here for our look at the Cap movies!

*As we mention, Warner Archive released these on DVD years ago as a Manufactured on Demand package. Actually, were they released...or did they escape? [RIM SHOT]

*Special credit to Marc Tyler Nobleman for the excellent work he did on his great blog Noblemania. He tracked down many of the participants of Legends of the Superheroes and conducted invaluable interviews. Check out his site for a closer look at these remarkable superhero shows!

*Here's a look at the actress who plays Giganta, Aleshia Brevard, born Alfred Crawford.

*Was Charlie Callas really banned from The Tonight Show for shoving Johnny Carson? The Carson estate claims it's an urban legend, and The New York Times, in adding a correction to its obit of Callas, goes so far as to outright state it did not happen. However, as this article's comments show, people do remember Callas shoving Carson. The same piece has a Carson rep refute the story. However, the footage isn't available, as far as we can tell, and isn't that the one sure way Carson Enterprises could refute the tale--by releasing the footage?  Mark Evanier adds some perspective here, including an intriguing alternate theory.

*Mordru's battle with the JLA, JSA, and the Legion of Super Heroes is in the original Justice League of America #147 and #148.

*Which is the better phrase from the specials: "Joy of the oppressed, wonder of the multitudes," or "Superheroes disperse!"

*There is no truth to the rumor that Retired Man is being developed as an Arrowverse spinoff for the CW network.

*To learn more about Brad "Ghetto Man" Sanders, check out this 1989 Chicago Tribune piece.

*We may not have known much about Alfie Wise, who plays The Atom, but according to Rotten Tomatoes, he was evidently some sort of good luck charm to film luminary Burt Reynolds. Though his movie appearances were usually nondescript (this description could also apply to the actor's participation in such busted TV pilots as Call Her Mom and Young Tom Christian), Wise could always count on a moment or two to shine whenever cast in a Reynolds vehicle.

*Green Arrow was in the first season of the Super Friends cartoon series, getting a prominent role in the episode Gulliver's Gigantic Goof.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

Episode 6-10: Legends of the Superheroes

Long before the Avengers assembled on the silver screen, the Arrowverse filled the CW schedule, or Netflix canceled the Defenders, NBC and Hanna-Barbera gathered some of DC Comics' greatest heroes and villains for a live-action TV event, and they chose the most obvious setting...the comedy variety special. 1960s Batman stars Adam West, Burt Ward, and Frank Gorshion join various standups, comedic actors, and unknowns in one of the oddest curiosities of the 1970s. Also, BOTNS fav Ed McMahon!

Check out this episode!

Monday, August 5, 2019

YouTube Spotlight: Super Sunday!

Did you remember that Jem started out as part of a weekend anthology series? I sure didn't. In the wake of our Jem episode, here's a look at the opening of Super Sunday. Anyone remember the other cartoons?

Sunday, August 4, 2019

BOTNS Top Ten #27

1) Automan: Could our podcast instigate a resurgence of interest in the short-lived cult show?

Well, it could!

2) The Odd Couple: Decades is showing a weekend marathon of the classic sitcom, and I and many others who had access to WPIX in the 1980s can tell you it's a show that never gets old.

3) Desi Arnaz Jr.: On Automan, he was a bit of a nebbish, but back in the day he made hearts melt all over the world. Check out our friend Steve's post in our official Facebook group (just ask to get in) for proof!

4) Harley Race: R.I.P. to the former NWA heavyweight champ. he got national exposure in the 1980s WWF, but let's remember the kick-as 1970s Race:

5) Nick Buoniconti: I really wish HBO would make available some old Inside the NFL episodes to pay tribute to the late Miami Dolphin-turned-TV host. It's difficult for people who weren't around to understand the impact of the show in the 1980s. In a time when highlights were NOT available on demand, you got game analysis and sweet NFL Films footage each week.

6) Merlin Olsen: Because I love the way he invites us to watch Father Murphy at the end of this NBC promo. It's somehow both stilted and folksy. "We're looking forward to seeing you..."  Wait, aren't I gonna be seeing YOU?

7) Alan Thicke: Hey, THIS still hasn't gotten old:

8) One Day at a Time: The first two seasons of the original non-woke version of the sitcom are on Crackle. Honestly, it's possible that this has been true for months and I just forgot because it's Crackle. Have you seen any What's New on Crackle in August stories? I haven't, either, and I looked for them!

9) Tina Cole: Happy birthday to one of the reasons the Dodie years of My Three Sons were watchable.

10) Richard Belzer: After the man has appeared in seemingly dozens of shows and become the linchpin of the Tommy Westphal Universe, I still remember the birthday boy (born today in 1944) for this.


Friday, August 2, 2019

The Automan playlist is live!

Click below to follow up our Automan episode with a YouTube playlist full of promos, music, and more! See Chuck Wagner on Tattletales! Desi Arnaz Jr. sings! Clips from Solid Gold AND American Bandstand! All this and more in our most Branigantastic playlist ever:

And remember to check out our official YouTube page for past episodes and playlists like this one!

Show Notes: Episode 6-9: Automan

*Thanks again to listener John Holm for suggesting Automan as a potential show topic!

*Automan aired just one season (not even) in 1983-84 on ABC.

*Murder MTV premiered at 8:00 P.M. Monday, March 12, 1984, followed by Why Me? and opposing Bloopers and Practical Jokes on NBC and Scarecrow and Mrs. King on CBS.

*Tron is a  summer 1982 Disney film that performed below expectations at the box office but is well enough remembered to have spawned video games, cartoons, even a sequel in 2010.

*Heather McNair's Wikipedia page is quite sparse, but her other credits include playing Marion Davies in Chaplin (1992).

*Laura Branigan died at the age of 52 after a pop career led by her mega-smash 1982 single Gloria.

*Her Life as a Man got this review in the Christian Science Monitor in 1984. The author calls it an "excellent drama" but doesn't mention Joan Collins nor Robert Culp.

*Emerald Point N.A.S. was also a one-season wonder at this time. The CBS primetime soap starred Dennis Weaver, Sela Ward, Patrick O'Neal, Susan Dey, and Richard Anderson among others.

*Cool facts about Chuck Wagner: He was on a non-celebrity edition of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, he once toured as ringmaster for Ringling Brothers/Barnum & Bailey, he was in the original Broadway cast of Into the Woods.

*Folks, dare we cover Manimal next? While Automan is fondly recalled in many circles, Glen A. Larson's other 1983 series is a staple of "worst of" lists.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Episode 6-9: Automan "Murder MTV"

Someone might kill an up-and-coming pop star (Laura Branigan) unless Walter and Automan stop them. Along the way, Automan straps on a holographic guitar and rocks out. Why? It's the eighties, baby! Why else?

Check out this episode!

Sunday, July 28, 2019

BOTNS Top Ten #26

1) Jem: The greatest rock star of all time got her due this week on the podcast. Now it's time to start the push to get her into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

2) The Seavers: Revisit our earlier Growing Pains episode and celebrate National Parents Day. It takes a strong parent to deal with a sensitive topic so deftly: "Cocaine? Cocaine?"

3) Eric Raymond: Speaking of Jem, every heroine needs a villain. And every villain needs heroin (see the unreleased darker fourth season episodes--come on, you don't think Eric Raymond had his hand in some dangerous stuff?).

4) Linda Kelsey: Happy birthday to the intrepid reporter on Lou Grant, Billie Newman, who continues to inspire our famous crack research team every day.

5) Quincy: The announcement that Comcast/NBC/Universal/Omegacorp's streaming service is coming in spring 2020 means we can start the official countdown to the return of the good doctor to video on demand.

6) Captain Kangaroo: Ellen Barkin declared on Twitter this week: I’m informing you now...Captain Kangaroo told me to go f*** myself. She's probably taking it out of context.

7) The Fall Guy: Decades' binge watch is the Lee Majors 1980s action show. The excitement on The Fall Guy is so high octane it makes me wish summer were over!

Well, maybe not, but, hey, you can see dozens of episodes this weekend on Decades.

8) Sally Struthers: Happy birthday to Sally, who is significantly below Linda Kelsey because she married Meathead.

9) Aaron Spelling and Phill Norman: I'm not sure I buy the story Spelling tells, as recounted in this interesting article, but it's a good one.

10) Life with Lucy: TV Shows on DVD reports that the beloved final sitcom from Lucille Ball is getting a complete series release. And by "beloved," we mean "reviled."

Friday, July 26, 2019

The JEM playlist is now live!

It's Friday, and that means it's time to explore our latest featured series with a bunch of related clips on our YouTube playlist! Click below to see more Jem and the Holograms including the theme song, promos, toy ads, and more! Plus we dive into the MTV era with videos featuring Stevie Wonder, Mick Jagger, Bruce Springsteen, Madonna, Tina Turner...and Kurt Loder! All this and more!

And don't forget to check out our official YouTube channel for playlists like this and past episodes of BOTNS!

Show Notes: Episode 6-8: Jem and the Holograms

*Jem and the Holograms aired in syndication for 65 episodes from 1985 to 1988.

*These episodes, #23 and #24 of the first season, The Jem Jam parts 1 and 2, premiered February 8 and February 15, 1987, when the show was a weekend series, teamed with Bigfoot and the Muscle Machines and The Inhumanoids. For more on the latter, check out this cool piece. You can see a Super Sunday intro spotlighting these cartoons in this week's YouTube playlist.

*The Stingers are a German glam rock band!

*Barry Harman (lyrics) and Anne Bryant (music) wrote the songs featured in the series.

*There is indeed an anti-drug episode of the series! It's Alone Again in season 2 and spotlights two (conveniently) new characters in a story based on pill abuse.

*Here are the "guest stars" in the episode:

Roland Owens = Stevie Wonder
Ron Cox = Mick Jagger
Lena Lerner = Tuna Turner
Dominick Lerner = Michael Jackson (sort of)
Luna Dark = Madonna
Johnny Deacon = Bruce Springsteen
Randy James = Johnny Deacon's drummer

*As far as we know, unlike Deacon, the real Springsteen is not an accomplished pilot. However, the current Swamp Thing series on DC Universe names many of its episodes after Bruce songs, and the pilot episode is titled Pilot. Coincidence? Yeah, most likely.

*Here's a look at the current global helium shortage (no mention of Eric Raymond, though).

*Here is a cool 1986 article on the Barbie and the Rockers/Jem feud.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Episode 6_8: Jem and the Holograms "The Jem Jam" Parts 1 and 2

In another listener poll, our listeners chose eighties cartoon Jem and the Holograms. We chose two episodes promising appearances by stand-ins for some of the biggest acts of the eighties. Can you guess the real identities of the likes Roland Owens, Luna Dark, Johnny Deacon, Ron Cox, and the mysterious Lina Lerner? Also, some of the Starlight girls have some issues--including Vietnam flashbacks--the Misfits cause trouble, and bears bear!

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Happy birthday, Bert Convy!

On this day in 1933, BOTNS superstar Bert Convy was born. Before his early death in 1991, he was an actor and game show host, and I think eventually we should have a Bert Convy episode.

I'm not sure folks who know him from Password, Tattletales, or even the 1978 TV movie The Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders know he was an accomplished stage performer, appearing in numerous Broadway productions including the original Fiddler on the Roof. Here's Bert showing off his singing talent:

Monday, July 22, 2019

YouTube Spotlight: The Joe Piscopo New Jersey Special

Joe Piscopo makes his way back to the blog with an appearance in one of the clips on our YouTube playlist for Moonlighting. One of the original series promos also touts an original ABC presentation, The Joe Piscopo New Jersey Special.

In case you somehow forgot, Joe Piscopo is from New Jersey. So it's only appropriate that he return to the Garden State for a primtime TV special. the program aired 10:00 on Tuesday, May 13, 1986, losing out to Stingray on NBC and a CBS TV-movie called Second Serve (based on Renee Richards' autobiography).

This was several years after Piscopo's SNL run, and it was less successful than a 1984 HBO special.  A contemporary Chicago Tribune review was lukewarm.

Unfortunately, the result is an occasionally amusing hour that is mostly undistinguished for its persistent self-indulgence.

Danny DeVito has a prominent role, Eddie Murphy and then-governor Thomas Kean less so.

This special is available on YouTube in segments, but here is an official clip from its apparent rights holder:

Sunday, July 21, 2019

BOTNS Top Ten #25

1) Moonlighting: We have received good feedback to this week's podcast, and while we appreciate the recognition of our awesomeness, we figure it's a response to the brilliance of the show. Again, we say, some streaming service oughta pick it up.

2) Allyce Beasley: I mispronounced her name during said podcast, and I apologize for the error. I should have just said "Agnes Dipesto." And i should have rhymed the whole episode.

3) Alan Thicke: Because I feel the need to link to this just one more time (for now):

4) J.J. Starbuck: Anyone remember this series?

5) Rebecca Schaeffer: This week marked the 30th anniversary of the My Sister Sam star's slaying by a deranged fan. Part of her legacy is the changing of anti-stalker laws.

6) Space: 1999: Now available in a new Blu-Ray set from Shout! Factory. Screen the show at midnight instead of Star Trek and irritate Rick (reference to previous podcast episode).

7) Don Knotts: Happy birthday to the late comic icon, whose proudest accomplishment remains his epic battle against Norman Fell in our Three's Company episode.

8) Robin Williams: Happy birthday to the late comic icon, and it's no disrespect to rank him below Don Knotts, but it does seem kind of cool to do so.

9) Eddie Murphy: Reportedly in talks to do standup comedy for Netflix for 70 million dollars! Just quit messing around and give us Norbit 2. Or better yet, would 70 million be enough to get Universal/NBC/Concast to license those Eddie years SNL episodes it's sitting on?

10) Ted Danson: One of our all-time favorites already has a series lined up after The Good Place.

Friday, July 19, 2019

The Moonlighting playlist is now live!

This week's YouTube playlist is now up, and you can click below to see more of Moonlighting, including: Commercials! Promos! Curtis Armstrong! Dolly Parton and Allyce Beasley together at last! All this and more when you click below:

Remember to check our official YouTube channel for more playlists like this and past episodes!

Show Notes: Episode 6-7: Moonlighting

*My Fair David, the fifth episode of Moonlighting's second season, premiered October 29, 1985, on ABC, sandwiched between Who's the Boss/Growing Pains and Spenser for Hire. It aired against Riptide on NBC and an original TV movie called Into Thin Air on CBS.

*The Dream Sequence Always Rings Twice is the famous black-and-white episode, it's highly recommended, and it aired two weeks before this one.

*For more talk of Bruce Willis at his Bruno-ist, check out this episode for our discussion of his Seagram's ads from the 1980s, and click HERE for Mike's exploration of his musical career.

*Willis was an arms dealer in an episode of Miami Vice (No Exit) before landing the role of David Addison.

*The Yellow Rose starring Cybill Shepherd and Sam Elliott aired on NBC in the 1983-84 season. The nighttime soap lasted only 22 episodes.

*The limbo originated in Trinidad but was originally tied in with the slave trade. Around the mid-twentieth century, it became the peppy signifier of fun we know today!

*Barbara Bain played agent Cinnamon Carter on Mission Impossible, co-starring with husband Martin Landau.

*The series' theme song, recorded by Al Jarreau and written by Jarreau and Lee Holdridge, reached #23 on the Billboard singles chart and #1 on the AC chart in 1987.

*Check out this fascinating Chicago Tribune piece from the time of the series finale. In it, the author points out the decline of the ratings, implying that the time slot shift to Sunday night was partly responsible, and also quotes TV critic Tom Shales blaming the consummation of the David-Maddie relationship for the decline of the show.  However, it also touches on on-set tensions, production delays, and all the things that added up to a rocky ride.

*Here's another article debunking the "Moonlighting Curse."

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Episode 6-7: Moonlighting "My Fair David"

Fed up with David's antics--limbo party, anyone--Maddie challenges him to act like an adult for a week. Will he, or won't he? Also, some guy gets kidnapped or something. Plus, we put on our own detective hats and try to answer whether the "will they, or won't they?" aspect of the show truly caused its demise?

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

YouTube Spotlight: Back to Thicke

We're running an extra YouTube Spotlight because we want to ensure as many people as possible see THIS:

This number was performed on the 1988 Crystal Light National Aerobic Championship, which alone might merit an investigation if I weren't so fixated on Thicke;s song. Here's a closer look at the tune and analysis of the lyrics if you are interested in doing your own investigation.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Happy birthday, Alex Karras!

The late Webster star and NFL great was born on this date in 1935. Karras' TV career had more variety than you might think; in addition to his family sitcom fame in the 1980s, he was a Tonight Show regular, a member of the Monday Night Football booth for several seasons, and the star of efforts like this:

The 1977 TV movie is an interesting look at the world of pro grappling that I never see discussed in conversations about wrestling movies. It's a worthwhile watch, though, co-starring Nicholas Colasanto, Susan Anspach, Elisha Cook Jr., and Tracey Walter. At first glance it's a movie about a lug of a rassler who wonders if he is right for the woman he falls for, but, hey, he's also being stalked by a homicidal loner!

Read more about the movie here.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

BOTNS Top Ten #24

1) Bob Uecker: Mr. Baseball steals the show in our Greatest Sports Legends episode this week, as we talk as much about Mr. Belvedere as we do sports and legends. I think we should all thank Ueck for the excuse to watch a ton of old Miller Lite commercials.

Come to think of it, all things considered, was the "Tastes great, less filling," campaign the best in TV history? It should be in the conversation.

2) Terry Bradshaw: I hope Bradshaw is secure enough in his skin these days to not be offended at being runner up to Bob. He still has the 4 Super Bowl rings and his legacy as a surprisingly effective pitchman:

3) Jim Bouton: While we're on a sports theme this week, R.I.P. to Jim Bouton, who (with co-author Leonard Shecter) turned a diary of his season with the expansion Seattle Pilots into one of the most outstanding and influential sports books of all time, Ball Four. Longtime BOTNS listeners will remember we discussed Ball Four the TV series as a "What We'd Like to See" feature back in this episode AND a  "What We Saw" episode here!

4) Love Boat: You know what I would be doing this weekend if I had Decades channel? Figuring out how I inadvertently paid for a streaming package that included it. But THEN I would settle in and watch the Love Boat marathon, coming out of it on Monday in a Stubing stupor.

5) Charlotte Rae: Watching some early Facts of Life on Roku Channel makes me think that if anything, we undersold what a "force of nature" Rae was. I mean, it takes guts and gusto to sell every_single_line with a wink, a wiggle, and a lilt

6) Rip Torn: His greatest TV role came after our time period on The Larry Sanders Show, but I can't imagine seeing him in anything and not being entertaining. Me-TV pays tribute to him, highlighting his appearance on Columbo, here.

7) Quincy: Hey, all this furor over Friends and The Office leaving Netflix MONTHS from now makes me wonder where the heck everyone was when Quincy M.E. just left with little warning? I was fighting the fight back then, folks. Now y'all want to jump on the bandwagon and talk about beloved series switching streaming services? Well, at least Friends and The Office are going somewhere, unlike Quincy, still in limbo.

8) Lynda Carter: Speaking of Me-TV, this article on TV stars who made disco albums in the 1970s would be great even without the picture of her, but with it...

9) Eric Laneuville: Happy birthday to the former St. Elsewhere regular. Hey, would anyone like to hear us cover that one on the pod?

10) Eddie Mekka: Because we can't emphasize too strongly how great that Me-TV disco article is. Did you know Mekka cut a record called Big Boss Man in 1979?

Saturday, July 13, 2019

YouTube Spotlight: Pac-Man Meets the Pittsburgh Pirates

This week's Spotlight focuses on one of the more intriguing items from our Greatest Sports Legends playlist: A 1982 Atari Pac-Man ad featuring the Pittsburgh Pirates:

Now, the info at the end indicates this was a local campaign targeting the Western PA area, but I am intrigued. In how many markets did they do this? keep in mind that though they had won the World Series in 1979, the Pirates had a bad year in the strike-torn 1981 season, finishing well below .500, so they weren't exactly a hot marquee team.

It's funny to see manager Chuck Tanner trying to track down his starting middle infield of 2B Johnny Ray, who was one of my favorites as a kid for his "J-Ray" nickname; and SS Dale Berra, who was one of my favorites as a kid for his massive cocaine habit (just kidding!). Berra would become a notorious figure in baseball circles as the Pittsburgh drug trials blew up, but for now, the guy just wants to Hoover up those Pac-pellets.

As for the game, I was never an Atari man--we had like every other system except that one--but this version of Pac-Man was reviled even though it was a huge seller. it was a big hit in the Bucco clubhouse, though!

Friday, July 12, 2019

The Greatest Sports Legends YouTube playlist is now live!

If you are a fan of sports in general, hilarity, Pittsburgh sports, or Mr. Belvedere, you will want to check out this week's massive YouTube playlist. Click below to see Terry Bradshaw sing! Bob Uecker on The Tonight Show! The Immaculate Reception! Iron City beer! And speaking of beer, plenty of Miller Lite commercials with Mr. Baseball himself!

Enjoy, and remember to visit our official YouTube channel for past podcast episodes and playlists like this one!

Show Notes: Episode 6-6: Greatest Sports Legends

*Greatest Sports Legends aired in first-run syndication from 1972-, producing 207 episodes. In this week's podcast, we discuss the profiles of Terry Bradshaw (May 1987) and Bob Uecker (July 1985).

*The series featured multiple hosts over the years, including Jayne Kennedy (who hosts the Uecker episode) and George Plimpton, but also jocks (ex- and current) like Tom Seaver and Reggie Jackson.

*Despite what Rick says on the podcast, the New England Patriots have won 6 Super Bowls, with quarterback Tom Brady winning all of them.

*Here's a cool pic from Pinterest of the old Sears catalog NFL merch:

*Terry Bradshaw played QB for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1970-1983, then entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1989. he started his broadcasting career in 1984 as a color commentator on CBS' NFL game coverage, then moved to FOX and became a studio analyst.

*Check out Franco Harris' Immaculate Reception in our YouTube playlist this week!

*Willie Stargell, the "guest host" for the Bradshaw episode, is himself a Hall of Famer, entering the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1988 after a 21-year career with the Pittsburgh Pirates in which he hit 475 home runs.

*Bob "Mr. Baseball" Uecker was a career .200 hitter.

*Mr. Belvedere aired 1985-1990 on ABC. Let us know if you want us to cover it on the podcast!

*There are no plans for a Belvedere revival...none that we know of, anyway.

*Ahmad Rashad is a former NFL Pro Bowl Wide Receiver and sportscaster who was NBC's main sideline reporter during the Michael Jordan years.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

6-6: Greatest Sports Legends Terry Bradshaw and Bob Uecker

This week, we look back at an unofficial TV genre, weekend dad TV, the kind of show that might fill the gap between the early game and the late game. Greatest Sports Legends combines interviews and documentary footage to cover the great athletes of the day. In a typical episode, Willie Stargell interviews Terry Bradshaw. Then an atypical episode parodies the show buy focusing on legendary bad player, raconteur, announcer, and actor Bob Uecker.

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Steve Dorff and Friends: Growing Pains

As promised on our Growing Pains episode, a review of Steve Dorff and Friends: Growing Pains, Theme from Growing Pains and Other Hit T.V. Themes. Even before I listened to the CD, I felt disappointed. The liner notes revealed that the album featured new recordings of the various theme songs by Dorff and others. I would have preferred the original versions, but this issue seems to plague TV soundtracks. Nevertheless, I dug into the 35 minutes of this album. Before I get into the individual songs, I should mention that most use a lot of generic eighties soft rock production that I don't care for--the electric piano sound that launched a thousand ballads, highly processed, harmonized guitar lines, drum machines, etc. That said, Dorff does have a knack for writing catchy melodies.

"Growing Pains Theme: As Long As We Got Each Other": This remake of the duet version features B.J. Thomas and Dusty Springfield. It clocks in at over 4 minutes, but it doesn't sound weird that way. With an added verse and many added choruses, it feels more like a duet that the truncated versions, and Dorff didn't add a bridge or any extra parts really. Instead, he leans on the best aspect of the song--the chorus. At the end, Thomas and Springfield vamp over background singers repeating "As long as." You know, this one works.

"Spenser: For Hire Theme": The highlight for me. I liked this theme back when, and I like it here. It combines some cooler eighties synth sounds (the kind that could almost fit with Miami Vice) with a melody and general arrangement that would have worked on a seventies detective show. Saxophone and admittedly cheesy guitar trade melody lines, and strings (or string-like sounds) add that seventies touch.

"My Sister Sam Theme: Room Enough for Two": Kind of weird. Kim Carnes couldn't make the recording session, so Jill Colucci (the writer of two songs I've never heard of) fills in. It opens with a one-minute instrumental intro, and then Colucci sings the very brief lyrics. I guess Dorff and lyricist John Bettis never wrote a full-song version of this one.

"Murphy Brown Suite: Like the Whole World's Watching": I don't get this. From what I can tell, Murphy Brown didn't have much of a theme song, so I don't know where this originally appeared. I'm also not sure what makes it a suite. Anyway, vocal group Take 6 gives a spirited performance, singing a capella for about half the song before some drums and other instruments join. They also sing Murphy Brown's name a bunch of times. Baffling.

"F.Y.I.": Another instrumental, and I dig this one. This must have served as the theme for Murphy's TV news magazine F.Y.I., and it fits. Energetic piano drives most of the song, although Dorff makes room for a wailing guitar solo, too. It sounds a little like early Bruce Hornsby and the Range. A lot more exciting than a ticking stopwatch.

"Growing Pains/'Aloha' Episode: Swept Away": You know, I kind of like this one, too. The cheese factor goes up, and yet it feels more like a soft, spreadable cheese than a hard cheddar. Christopher Cross plays tasteful lead acoustic guitar, and various synths play various mellow sounds. You can really visualize the Hawaii montage that must have gone along with it. No doubt, Mike fell in love, Jason and Maggie had some alone time, Carol learned about Hawaiian culture (and maybe fell in love, too), and Ben did something goofy (hula dancing, surfing, finding a cursed idol?). Anyhow, a nice calm song.

"Growing Pains/'Graduation Day' Episode: This is the Day": B.J. Thomas returns for this catchy tune produced very much in the same style has the theme song. I'm pretty sure it might hold a record for the most key changes in one song. In fact, I'd swear it had key changes in the middle of lines. I can't figure out the point of view. Some parts sound like Jason and Maggie talking to Mike, but other parts sound like Mike talking to them: "I believed with every part of my heart/I would catch that one falling star for you/Oh, it might be a shade overdue/But this is the day."

"The Oldest Rookie Theme": This theme to the short-lived Paul Sorvino The Oldest Rookie, um, awesome. Electronic percussion and rhythmic synths churn under the sunny main melody (played on harmony guitars natch). Then blues harmonica adds a dash of incongruity before a heavier "riff" section (just imagine two or three or a dozen guitar players moving to the front of the stage, then riffing together). At the end of that section, electric piano and more blues harmonica trade back and forth (just imagine the keytar player and Bruce Willis moving to the front of the stage and facing off) before transitioning back to the main melody. If The Oldest Rookie had been a hit, everyone would know this song.

"Just the Ten of Us Suite: Just the Six of Us/Doin' It the Best I Can": I don't mean to pick on the talented guys in Take 6 (they sing lovely harmonies and seem full of joy), but again, weird. I guess it qualifies as a suite by actually having two parts, though. The first part, which takes up the bulk of the running time, features the guys from Take 6 (hence the title) doing an a capella variation on "Doin' It the Best I Can." That ends, and without transition, the actual original recording from the show kicks in. If you don't remember this Growing Pains spinoff or its theme, it features Bill Medley (fresh off his Dirty Dancing resurgence) giving it his considerable all in this spirited, positive-thinking theme. Like the show itself, it doesn't quite live up to Growing Pains.

"Whattley By the Bay Theme": Whattley By the Bay featured on CBS Summer Playhouse, a good reason for not having heard of it. Richard Gilliland (J.D. from Designing Women) played, to quote IMDB, "a big-city newspaper editor [who] decides return home to the town where he grew up." A pleasant instrumental in the same spirit as "Swept Away."

"Medley: Every Which Way But Loose Theme, I Just Fall in Love Again, Through the Years": The true disappointment of this album. I admit some of that disappointment comes from my own expectations, but it does seem like a missed opportunity. The liner notes explain that Dorff accompanies his own vocals on piano, which seems fair enough, and that the singers best known for the included songs join him: Eddie Rabbitt, Anne Murray, and Kenny Rogers. You can imagine it on a variety show or an awards show. Dorff sits alone at the piano in the spotlight and starts singing, then out of the shadows steps Eddie Rabbitt. The crowd goes nuts, Rabbitt takes over the vocals. The same happens for the other two songs, and then all three join Dorff for a final rousing chorus of "Through the Years" (or better yet the Growing Pains theme). Alas, this doesn't happen. Dorff does start alone, but then Rabbitt and Murray only join him with subtle background vocals. Rogers at least gets a chorus of "Through the Years." I didn't know the "Every Which Way But Loose Theme," but I recognized "I Just Fall in Love Again" from my mom's love of Anne Murray, and of course "Through the Years" was a big crossover hit.

Final thoughts: Going back through a second time to write this, I ended up a little more positive on the album overall than I thought. The instrumentals definitely stand out and seem more adventurous than some of the other pieces. Then again, the two Take 6 pieces show a willingness to experiment. I just didn't get the experiment. Music played a huge part of TV in the BOTNS era, and I wish there were more collections out there.