Wednesday, November 13, 2019

What's Missing on Disney Plus

OK, we've all had a chance to download and explore the new Disney Plus streamer, and we have given it plenty of time to prove itself--over a full day! As exciting as this new streaming video service is, it's time to look at what's not on there. While it's great that there are hundreds of things to watch, including some nice surprises (more classic animation shorts than I expected), I'd like an explanation why these 1970s and 1980s TV hits are not available:

1) The Muppet Show: To me, this is the biggest omission. It's a big chunk of the Jim Henson/Muppet legacy and should be the flagship of a property Disney keeps reviving again and again. The original series should be available to keep the characters vital. Maybe there are music rights precluding a streaming deal, but I have a hard time believing that it's not possible since the first several seasons of the show came out on DVD before Disney just gave up on it with no official explanation.

2) The Incredible Hulk: Some of my personal highlights in the Disney Plus library are the older Marvel Comics cartoon shows--not just Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, but lesser-known efforts like the 1981 Spider-Man and 1979's DePatie-Freleng Spider-Woman. So where, then, is the 13-episode Hulk series that was paired with Amazing Friends for a while on NBC?

I can't figure out why this one is abset. Wikipedia indicates it got a UK video release, but it never made it to DVD in the States. It's frustrating because Disney used the show to do "wacky" Marvel Mash-Ups years ago on Disney XD to complement contemporary Marvel 'toons.  So the footage is there, it's presumably all clear. What's the hold-up?

And while you're at it, Disney, how about the 1970s Fantastic Four cartoon, the 1967 Spider-Man, and of course the 1960s Marvel shorts with the awesome theme songs? And I don't see the harm in releasing the live-action 1977 Spidey show with Nicholas Hammond.

See, the more you look into some of this, the more you realize how much more is in Disney's archives.

3) Star Wars: Droids: Speaking of animation, where is this short-lived 1985 ABC cartoon show? This and Ewoks have been AWOL for years, with no legitimate DVD release. I'm not enough of a Star Wars fan to know if everyone is embarrassed by these as they are the Holiday Special (which I won't even bother to list).  As far as I know, this hasn't been drummed out of canon. It's short, inoffensive, and I remember the advertising but very little of the actual series. Why not throw it on Plus?

4) Room 222: OK, this is a super long shot, but let this be a representative for the vast amount of Fox television shows Disney now owns--shows I fear will languish in the infamous Vault that Disney said it was unlocking with the creation of Plus.  The Simpsons is all well and good (though apparently in the wrong aspect ratio right now), but it's one measly show out of the huge Fpx back catalog. Room is a series we have talked about in our Facebook group. It's family friendly "vintage" programming that would boost the old-school TV live action category on the channel, one of the weakest areas at launch.

Here are some other programs that meet that criteria but have the following strikes againt them: they are "old" but not Disney-branded like, say, movies like The Barefoot Executive:
*The Ghost and Mrs/ Muir
*Nanny and the Professor
*Small Wonder
*Mr. Belvedere

OK, I may be pushing it now, but I'm not even asking for Trapper John M.D. There may be licensing deals blocking some of these shows, but not all of them, and Disney could throw up more Fox shows. What worries me is that it doesn't consider them "worthy" unless it can remaster them for HD presentation.  As much as I wish Disney would take a Prime Video approach and throw up whatever it has even if it looks funky, I don't know that that's gonna happen. But there are hours of family-friendly programs on hand.

5) The Wonderful World of Whatever in Color: Over the years, Disney has had multiple anthology programs on all the networks. Much of the featured programming is on Disney Plus, but wouldn't it be great to see the old intros and outros as they originally aired? While poking around, I saw a Disneyland TV special from the 1960s, but there is so much more. Even if you ignore the episodes that "just" presented an old Disney movie, there are lots of documentaries and theme park specials to show, and some of them have already been available on streaming and DVD. Make them available on Plus!

6) Mousterpiece Theater: Longtime Disney Channel observers will remember this charming series in which George Plimpton introduced classic Disney animated shorts, and he did it exactly the way you would envision and hope he would. I'd love to see this again. Come to think of it, there is a lot of programming from the "premium channel" days that would supplement the Plus catalog.  Remember Duck Presents? Shows like this offer nostalgia for adults and the opportunity to provide--here;s that word I generally dislike--curation for people who don't want to wade through the service for classic shorts.

7) National Geographic Explorer: I admit I don't know a whole lot about this, but it's been on for over 30 years, and there are  lots of Nat Geo TV specials in the vault, too. One thing that stands out when you look at Disney Plus today is how paltry the National Geographic section is. Not all of us are put off by non-fiction programming made before 2010, but I fear the attitude is that we are.  i'd rather see some cool old science specials than current episodes of the likes of Dr. Pol.

8) Empty Nest: You know, it's kind of crazy that I am advocating for Fox and Nat Geo library shows when Disney is sitting on all the Touchstone shows like The Nutt House and Mama's Boy and...

OK, they're not all winners, and I know The Golden Girls is locked in at Hulu (though, wait, Disney now runs Hulu...). I'm not even a fan of Empty Nest, but I have to say it's odd that a series that ran 7 seasons and 170 episodes from a high-profile production company (the same team as Golden Girls) is relegated to runs on diginet Laff and has never received a home video release nor a streaming run.

9) ABC Circle Films: This outfit was folded into ABC proper and may own the rights to Moonlighting (ideal for Hulu) and tons of 1970s made-for-TV movies. Most of them would probably be better fits for Hulu, but, hey, while we're digging around, let's not forget all those movies like The President's Plane is Missing and Nightmare in Badham County (definitely a better fit for Hulu).

10) Vic's Vacant Lot: Unearthing this 1980s ESPN kiddie show hosted by tennis guru Vic Braden would give some co-branding opportunities, some sports programming, and--OK, this is an even longer shot than most of the others on this list, but I'd love to see it.

So let's just make one last entry:

11) Just about everything else: Just give us all of it, Disney. Don't worry about "overwhelming us with choice." If you want, make a Disney Plus for the rubes and a Disney Plus Plus with an extra authentication for those of us who want to wade through your archives like Scrooge plowing through the coins in his money bin!

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

BOTNS Top Ten #41

1) CPO Sharkey: Happy belated Veterans Day to all those who have served, including this fine American, who proves there is no one kinder, more honorable, and warmer than a vet:

2) Sesame Street: Sunday marked the 50th anniversary of the debut of the show on PBS. I'll never not be sad that the show is now primarily an HBO program, but it's good that it's still around.

3) The Doobie Brothers: Still riding the wave of their Batty success, the Doobies continue to make headlines. And then there's this fantastic recent upload:


4) Spider-Man: Your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man stars in multiple series on the new Disney Plus service that debuts today, though (sadly) this one isn't available:

5)  Fonz and the Happy Days Gang: The good news is CBS has made this short-lived 1980s cartoon available in Manufactured on Demand format. The bad news is it's 35 buck. "Hey, CBS! Price gouging isn't COOL, you dig?"

6) Laverne and Shirley in the Army: Well, this DVD set is "only" 25 bucks, but it's half as much material. By the way, sit and think about that for a minute if you missed this when it was on originally: They made a cartoon of Laverne and Shirley joining the Army.

7) Good Times: The classic show, covered here on the podcast, will be part of the next ABC live Norman Lear stunt night. I'm curious to see who they cast, but I'm more curious which castmembers return for a "surprise cameo."

8) Rhonda Shear: Happy birthday to the former host of USA's Up All Night. It's a little outside our time frame, but I think we should acknowledge one of the Mount Rushmore of TV movie hosts, along with Robert Osbourne (TCM), Bob Dorian (AMC), and Colonel PoopyBritches (Channel 82's Kiddie Laff Matinee).

9) Scooby-Doo: Warner Brothers has a scheme to create a--say it with us--"shared universe" of animated features, and it will start with perhaps its flagship character. I already regret encouraging this with a spot on this list, but let's hope for the best.

10) Barry Frank: R.IP. to a man many not know, but a man who had tremendous influence on the television industry. Frank was the IMG big shot who represented many sportscasters and also was instrumental in the creation of classic series like one of our favorites:

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Happy (and mellow) National Stress Awareness Day!

As we look to reduce stress, we present this picture of the Batty-Award-winning band the Doobie Brothers on What's Happening!!

Why do we present a picture of the Doobies on a day focusing on stress relief? No reason.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Does Lucy Van Pelt play the TV Guide Game?

One of my favorite Halloween traditions is watching It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, and though I now have it on DVD, I still pretend I'm seeing it on CBS.  I've been watching this special for decades, and I never noticed until this year that in this scene Lucy Van Pelt is reading a TV Guide with herself on the cover!

I'm just thankful Mike has never called me a blockhead or threatened to slug me during an installment of the TV Guide game...yet.

Monday, November 4, 2019

BOTNS Top Ten #40: Special Daylight Savings Time Edition

1) Paul Lynde: All hail the undisputed King of Halloween, whose 1976 TV special celebrating the holiday is now an annual tradition in my household. I may be the only one watching it next year, but still.

2) Don Johnson: Watchmen, Knives Out, a Nash Bridges revival...the Donaissance continues, but it won't be complete until a reissue of this with remastering and bonus tracks:

3) Arsenio Hall: New standup special on Netflix confirms that...Arsenio is still around.

4) Dennis Miller: Happy birthday to the best Weekend Update anchor of all time, IMO, who also has a nice gig hosting Fridays on Turner Classic Movies this month.

5) The Wizard of Oz: Today in 1956 was the first televised showing of the film, which went on to charm millions of adults and terrorize millions of kids each year around Thanksgiving for decades.

6) Walter Mercado: R.I.P. to the astrologer who was a fixture on TV for years. You can't tell me that knowing Spanish would in any way be a requirement to enjoy something like this:

7) Good Morning America: The ABC morning staple premiered on this day in 1975.

8) Kari Michaelsen: Happy birthday to the former child star from Gimme a break. She of course was the middle daughter. Or was she Samantha? Or the blonde?

Well...I know she wasn't The Chief.

9) Diff'rent Strokes: Today also marks the anniversary of this classic sitcom, which we cover on the podcast right here.  Come to think of it, I think Diff'rent Strokes covered more serious issues during its run than Good Morning America did.  Plus Strokes had a cuddlier star than David Hartman--Conrad Bain.

10) Tom Shales: Happy birthday to the former Washington Post TV critic, though for some reason I have the feeling he'd be kind of grumpy about being included on this list. Sorry, Mr. Shales, but while we respect your work, you're no Gary Deeb.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

YouTube Spotlight: Big League Chew

Boy, does this 1982 commercial bring back memories. We just added it to last week's In Memoriam playlist to replace a Jim Bouton video that was taken down by THE MAN. Enjoy a look back at Big League Chew.

Bouton put up much of the money for the product after two fellow Portland Mavericks associated created the concept. Big League Chew is still around today.

I was not a huge gum kid, seeing it mostly as an obstacle in the wax pack separating me from my baseball cards, but you got to love Big League Chew. In fact, you have to admire that a product so clealry patterned after something dangerous and illegal (for kids) is so successful. this tobacco imitator broke through in a way candy cigarettes never did, and this kind of marketing had a lot to do with it.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Happy National Chocolate Day!

Celebrate with that staple of 1970s and 1980s TV and sponsor of many a CBS SPECIAL PRESENTATION, Almond Joy and Mounds from Peter Paul!

Sunday, October 27, 2019

BOTNS Top Ten #39

1) Patrick Simmons: Still riding the wave of his success at the Batty Awards, Doobie Simmons announced that former members of the band would be welcome if the band were to win induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He must be feeling quite magnanimous, because he added, "Hell, if Gary Sandy shows up, he can join us, too."

2) Bay City Blues: As we enjoy the World Series this week, let;s remember the 1983 Steve Bochco dramedy even if nobody else does (except ESPN Classic, which did rerun the series years ago).

3) Al Burton: R.I.P. to a guy who had an amazing TV career. Not only did he produce shows like The Jeffersons and Fernwood 2Night and create Charles in Charge (hey, let's not speak ill of the recently deceased), but he has co-songwriting credits on Facts of Life and Diff'rent Strokes. And who could forget his theme for this Elliot Gould sitcom:

4) The Bradys: It seems like every week, HGTV announces some new Brady Bunch project combining alumni of the beloved show with some kind of home-related concept.

To be honest, I'm getting a little tired of it.

5) Disneyland: On this date in 1954, the first Disney series on TV debuted, and it was named after the new theme park. Of course it led to numerous incarnations of Disney anthology shows through the years, including the BOTNS era. I can live without Song of the South being on Disney +, but how about we lobby for something like this that should have an actual snowball's chance of being on there?

6) Room 222: The Closer magazine classic TV podcast interviewed Karen Valentine to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the classic high school show and also featured her in a big article on its website.

7) Ned Wertimer: Ralph the Doorman's birthday was today, but there aren't a lot of Ned Wertimer clips out there, so let's watch co-star Sherman Helmsley on Soul Train:

8) Joe Garagiola: Speaking of baseball, remember all those times we heard Vin Scully call the Series on NBC? Well, Joe wasn't as revered, but...he was often there, too!

 9) Ghost Story: Get ready for Halloween with Decades' weekend binge of the early 1970s anthology series also known as Circle of Fear.. Hey, wait, nobody gets this channel. Looks like we got a rock.

10) Dick Van Patten: I recently heard Tony Figueroa say on the TV Confidential radio show that he heard DVP was very protective of the kids on Eight Is Enough. We don't need more reason than that to put him on the list!

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Batty Awards Season 6 In Memoriam Video Playlist

As a tribute to the many notable personalities we mentioned in our In Memoriam segment on this year's Battys, we put together the following YouTube playlist spotlighting some of their work. Click below to see (almost) all of the names listed below as read on the podcast. You'll also see Harrison Ford, Lucille Ball, David Letterman, wookies, Wonder Woman, the Heat Miser (!), and many more!

*Kristoff St. John

*Jan-Michael Vincent

*Morgan Woodward

*Katherine Helmond

*King Kong Bundy

*Sid Sheinberg

*Maury Laws

*Peter Mayhew

*Jim Bouton

*Peggy Lipton

*Doris Day

*Tim Conway

*Max Wright

*Arte Johnson

*Harley Race

*Jack Whitaker

*Valerie Harper

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Show Notes: Season 6 Batty Awards

*We can find no evidence of any discussions of a Doobie Brothers cartoon. Some bands who did have animated series: The Beatles, The Archies, The Jackson Five, Menudo, Josie and the Pussycats...and of course season 6's Jem and the Holograms. Who doesn't think the Doobies belong in that group?

*Tommy Westphall Universe: For those unfamilar with this phenomenon, click here for a quick read. We thank the Westphall snow globe for hosting the Sixth Batty Awards.

*According to IMDB, Richard Mulligan and Richard Moll never worked together on camera, but Moll's Night Court co-star Marsha Warfield did become a regular on Mulligan's Empty Nest.

*The Pittsburgh drug scandals plagued Major League Baseball and the Pirates in the 1980s, with a series of trials in 1985 and multiple suspensions. The mascot was even involved! I recommend this excellent book by Aaron Skirboll for the whole story.

*Jayne Kennedy was a star on NFL Today, a host of Greatest Sports Legends, a Miss Ohio, an actress, and more. Jayne Meadows was an actress in movies like Lady of the Lake, a game show panelist, and one-half of a well-publicized marriage with Steve Allen.

So there's really no reason to confuse them...yet I mix up the names all the time.

Jayne Kennedy 1980.JPG

JayneMEadows (cropped and adjusted).jpg

*Rhea Perlman had a short-lived CBS sitcom in 1996 called Pearl (also starring Malcom McDowell), and did make a guest appearance on an episode of Hot in Cleveland.

*Michael Richards had his own eponymous sitcom shortly after Seinfeld but later had a recurring role on the TV Land original Kirstie, which starred Kirstie Alley. She was on Cheers, which may be why I thought Rhea Perlman and Richards were on a show together...but then again, consider that I keep mixing up Jayne Kennedy and Jayne Meadows.

Monday, October 21, 2019

BOTNS Top Ten #38 (Post-Battys Edition!)

1) Cheers: No surprise that the series tore through the back half of the Battys, considering it's one of our favorite shows. It's good to recognize it every now and then, though, because some people may not appreciate anything made in the twentieth century.

2) The Doobie Brothers: Last week they received one of the most prestigious honors a performer in their field can get...and they also were nominated for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

3) Ed Flanders: Stupid Flanders. Everyone always thinks HE'S so great with his dumb mustache and his--Oh, ED Flanders! Yes! Congratulations to this season's Genius Award winner.

4) Shelley Long: Edged our Cybill Shepherd for Outstanding Female Performer, and if you think Cybill had a tantrum, shame on you for perpetuating that dated stereotype that successful, talented women are hypercompetitive and "difficult" and can't appreciate each other's acclaim.

No, Shepherd was just glad Christine Baranski didn't win it.

5) Ted Danson: Seriously, is it time to just name Ted Danson Emperor?

6) Alan Thicke: The Thickening of Battle of the Network Shows continues in 2019 with his wonderful exasperation, and because I need to get some video in this post, here it is again:

7) Moonlighting: The theme song lost a valiant battle against Cheers but put up a good fight, much like the knock-down drag-out battles between Cybill Shepherd and--hey, wait, you almost got me again.

8) Gary Deeb: Perhaps no other season 6 individual captured hearts and imaginations like former media critic Gary Deeb. Here's MY criticism of the media: Why isn't there more archival footage of Gary Deeb critiquing stuff?

9) Solomon Grundy: Has anyone ever explored a possible link between Grundy and fellow Batty nominee Cocaine? I'm not saying, but I'm just saying. The paranoia, the irritability, the general edginess, the pallor...

10) Bob Uecker: I can only speak for myself, but of all the people who didn't win (let's say that instead of losers to pay tribute to Ned Flanders), the one I most wish I could give an award to is Bob Uecker. Rest assured we put him in the front row inside the snow globe.

Friday, October 18, 2019

Your OFFICIAL list of Season 6 Batty Award winners!

Congratulations to all the Season 6 Batty nominees and especially to the winners! Listen to this week's podcast BEFORE reading this if you don't want the results spoiled, but consider this a handy guide to the categories and results.

Winners are listed in bold below:

Best Sitcom Ensemble (Listener Award)

The cast of What's Happening!!
The Seavers (and others) form Growing Pains
The cast of Cheers
The Doobie Brothers (What's Happening!!)

Outstanding Villain

Eddie Sands (Hardcastle & McCormick)
Eric Raymond (Jem and the Holograms)
John Hurt (Donahue)
Al Dunbar (What's Happening!!)
The Riddler (Legends of the Superheroes)
Solomon Grundy (Legends of the Superheroes)

Outstanding Performance by a Youth

Ernest Thomas (What's Happening!!)
Jeremy Miller (Growing Pains)
Danny Cooksey (Growing Pains)
Dominic Lerner (Jem and the Holograms)

Outstanding Performance by a Non-Human

Cocaine (Growing Pains)
Cursor (Automan)
Automan (Automan)
The Coyote (Hardcastle & McCormick)
Tape recorder (What's Happening!!)

Biggest Exasperation

Frasier Crane (Cheers)
Maddie Hayes (Moonlighting)
Jason Seaver (Growing Pains)
Mr. Carlin (St. Elsewhere)
Phil Donahue (Donahue)

Outstanding Facial Hair

The Doobie Brothers (What's Happening!!)
Cliff Clavin (Cheers)
Dr. Craig (St. Elsewhere)
Willie Stargell (Greatest Sports Legends)

Outstanding Hair

Phil Donahue (Donahue)*
Sam Malone (Cheers)
Jem (Jem and the Holograms)
Jayne Kennedy (Greatest Sports Legends)
Lena Lerner (Jem and the Holograms)
Mike Seaver (Growing Pains)
Huntress (Legends of the Superheroes)

*Chosen by random number generator

Outstanding Performance as Oneself

Ed McMahon (Legends of the Superheroes)
Phil Donahue (Donahue)
Gary Deeb (Donahue)
Buddy Ebsen (Hardcastle & McCormick)
The Doobie Brothers (What's Happening!!)
Bob Uecker (Greatest Sports Legends)

Best Song

Takin' It to the Streets performed by The Doobie Brothers (What's Happening!!)
Gloria performed by Laura Branigan (Automan)
Limbo Song performed by David Addison (Moonliughting)
All Night Long performed by Various Artists in the Jem Jam (Jem and the Holograms)
Gimme performed by The Misfits (Jem and the Holograms)

Oustanding Theme Song (with vocals)

Jem and the Holograms
Growing Pains
Hardcastle & McCormick

Outstanding Theme Song (instrumental)

Legends of the Superheroes
Greatest Sports Legends
What's Happening!!
St. Elsewhere

Outstanding Supporting Performance by a Male

Kelsey Grammer (Cheers)
John Ratzenberger (Cheers)
George Wendt (Cheers)
Frank Gorshin (Legends of the Superheroes)
Alan Hale Jr.  (Growing Pains)

Outstanding Supporting Performance by a Female

Kristy Swanson (Charlie's Angels)
Barbara Bain (Moonlighting)
Rhea Perlman (Cheers)
Laura Branigan (Automan)
Betty White (St. Elsewhere)
Jan Hooks (Tush)

Outstanding Performance by a Male

Ted Danson (Cheers)
Alan Thicke (Growing Pains)
Bruce Willis (Moonlighting)
William Daniels (St. Elsewhere)
Adam West (Legends of the Superheroes)

Outstanding Performance by a Female

Shelley Long (Cheers)
Cybill Shepherd (Moonlighting)
Jayne Kennedy (Greatest Sports Legends)
Jem (Jem and the Holograms)
Mabel King (What's Happening!!)

Best Episode (that we covered)

Power Play (Cheers)

Best Show (that we covered)


Robert Pine Genius Award: Ed Flanders (St. Elsewhere)

Finally, we want to give a special thanks to our listeners for your support and for inspiring us as we completed another fun season. We had a great time making them and hope you enjoyed hearing them.

Stay tuned for more bonus episodes and news on season 7!

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Season 6 BATTY Awards

Live on tape from Tommy Westphall's snow globe, it's the Season 6 BATTY Awards! Join Rick and Mike as the stars vie for top awards like: Best Show, Best Episode, and Outstanding Performance by a Non-human! It all happens!! on theSeason 6 BATTY Awards!

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

BOTNS congratulates The Doobie Brothers!

Congratulations to 2020 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominees The Doobie Brothers, seen here with some surefire TV hall of famers:

This is a huge week for the Doobies because not only do they have a chance to get into the Rock Hall, but they are nominated for at least one Batty Award, a new listener-voted prize! Will they win? Will they be in the mix for other Battys? Which Doobie do you be?

Find out soon on the Battys!

Monday, October 14, 2019

Check your local listings for Batty Night coverage

Check your local listings to see if you have a BOTNS affiliate on the dial in your area. Up and down the BOTNS network, our loyal stations will be running this schedule for Batty Night (all times EST):

9:00 AM: Marathon of nominated series and shows: Catch up on all the programs the BOTNS team will discuss on the big show.

3:00 PM: Pre-Pre-Battys Special hosted by Vince McMahon and Jesse "the Body" Ventura: A close look at the major storylines heading into the sixth Batty Awards. Special interviews by Mean Gene Okerlund.

4:00 PM: Pre-Battys Special hosted by Bill Tush and Ed McMahon: An even closer look at the major storylines heading into the sixth Batty Awards but with slightly more upscale sponsors. Special interviews by Jayne Kennedy and Willie Stargell.

6:00 PM: The Hector Ramirez and Rona Barrett Special: Two of television's preeminent journalists sit down with some of the most intriguing personalities who captured the audience's imagination this past season.

7:00 PM: The Official Battys Red Carpet Special hosted by Ted Knight and Billie Newman: See the stars make their way to [location yet to be revealed] for the ceremony while hearing the latest chatter about the awards show. Also featuring roving reporter Jack McGee.

8:00 PM: The 6th Batty Awards: It's 1970s and 1980s TV's biggest night as stars, also-rans, and inanimate objects gather for the prestigious ceremony celebrating the best of Battle of the Network Shows' sixth season.

???: The Official Battys Post-Show Presented by Lowenbrau: Wrap-up of the highlights of the Battys hosted by ALF and Grossy from CHiPs.

????: Really Late with Tom Snyder: A final look back on the events of Batty Night featuring veteran broadcaster Snyder along with the celebrities still sober/alert enough to appear on camera, plus an assortment of random "civilians."

Sunday, October 13, 2019

BOTNS Top Ten #37

1) Gary Sandy: Or is it Patrick Simmons? Check out this week's bonus episode if you haven't already, and then look at the show notes for an unforgettable live performance of the theme from Shaft.

2) Patrick Simmons: Or is it Gary Sandy? Check out this week's bonus episode if you haven't already, and then look at the show notes to find out why music is The Doctor.

3) Rip Taylor: R.I.P. Rip. If it starts raining confetti, point up at the sky and thank the Ripper for moments like this:


Wow, Rip Taylor would have made an excellent addition to the cast of Happy Days.

4) Julia: Aspire paid tribute to the late Diahann Carroll Saturday with a marathon of her notable sitcom. If only more than a couple thousand people (like me) had access to Aspire.

5) Dean Martin: Amazon Prime Video, through its arrangement with Shout! Factory TV, added several interesting Dino videos this week: 1975 special Dean's Place and two different listings for Dean Martin's Red Hot Scandals of 1976, which confuses me since it looks like there were only one of those made.

6) William Shatner: The icon was at an autograph show in the BOTNS area this weekend, but unfortunately we didn't get a chance to go and ask him about Barbary Coast. There's always next time.

7) Robert Forster: A BOTNS salute to the late actor. To be honest, I've never seen a full episode of Banyon, but I'm betting if Forster is starring in a Quinn Martin Production, it's pretty cool.

8) Phil Collins: We send "get well" wishes to the reportedly ailing Collins, who defined a decade when his music had a prominent role on one of the most influential television programs of the 1980s.

I'm talking, of course,about Take Me Home's use as the closing theme of Saturday Night's Main Event.

9) Demond Wilson: Happy birthday to Wilson, born on this day in 1946 and of course best known for creating the role of Son.

10) Marie Osmond: Happy birthday as well to Osmond, in part because it gives us an excuse to post another Rip Taylor clip:

Friday, October 11, 2019

Show Notes: Simmons or Sandy?

*Thanks for listening to this week's bonus episode! For more background on why we would want to play, let alone create, a game called Patrick Simmons or Gary Sandy? check out our season 6 finale in which we talked about the Doobies episode of What's Happening!!

*Why was Gary Sandy not in The New WKRP in Cincinnati? It's unclear. A Los Angeles Times article from the time of the revival's 1991 debut in syndication says Sandy and Jan Smithers expressed interest in doing guest shots, but this Sun-Sentinel article says:

Gary Sandy and Jan Smithers have been out of contact, but if they can be located and coaxed aboard, they'll be welcome.

If they can be located? The article makes it seem like everyone got the gang back together (or many of them) for a new go-round and just decided to wing it and find the others if they could.

*The Doctor reached #9 on the pop charts in 1989.

*Here's the Isaac Hayes performance of Shaft at the Oscars. Can YOU spot background dancer Gary Sandy?

*The Falcon and the Snowman was a 1985 Orion motion picture based on a true story and a 1979 book.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Gary Sandy or Patrick Simmons

On our recent "What's Happening!!" episode, Mike suggested that WKRP actor Gary Sandy and Doobie Brother Patrick Simmons share an uncanny resemblance. Now he puts Rick to the test to see if he can differentiate between Sandy or Simmons, and we learn a few things along the way!

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

BOTNS Top Ten #36

1) Room 222: If you're nor a member of our Facebook group, you're missing out on a lot of Room 222 talk--well, one of us rewatching the show on DVD and me wishing I had the DVDs, but, hey, it's still talk!

2) Henry Winkler: Are you as fascinated as we are by the existence of a long-running feud between two of the most popular stars in Hollywood? I still don't understand the beef between Winkler and Tom Hanks, but I'm standing with Winkler...just because.

3) Diahann Carroll: R.I.P. to the groundbreaking actress, who, as the star of Julia, proved a black actress could headline a sitcom as well as a white one, then later on Dynasty proved a black actress could wear ridiculously large shoulderpads as well as a white one.

4) Fantasy Island: Sony Crackle added seasons 3 and 4 to the streaming video service recently. MY fantasy is that unlike a few years ago, Crackle keeps the episodes up for more than a month.

Just read that back. I have a sad fantasy life.

5) Life with Lucy: CBS released the much-reviled 1986 Lucille Ball sitcom on an overpriced DVD set...and I kind of want to see it.

6) Movin' On: Decades' "weekend binge" featured the 1970s Claude Akins trucker show, which I swear has been more widely seen in the last 5 years than in the previous 40 for some reason. I think Decades marathons it every couple months. I guess Claude Akins works cheap?

7) Gemini Man: We still haven't given up hope that the Will Smith movie somehow spurs a DVD release of the real thing:

8) Monty Python's Flying Circus: The series is celebrating its 50th anniversary. I remember not quite "getting" it when I was growing up, nor understanding why it was on PBS all the time.

9) Rona Barrett: Happy birthday to the intrepid reporter who keeps showing up in the BOTNS-verse but fortunately hasn't yet found the dirt on US.

10) Fred Stolle: More birthday wishes go to the Australian tennis great. I miss the good, old days of tennis on ESPN in the 1980s, when the voices were the reserved, classy Cliff Drysdale and Stolle, the ads were for champagne and luxury autos, and John McEnroe's mere presence created electricity.

(Note: this clip isn't Drysdale and Stolle, but who cares?)

Sunday, September 29, 2019

BOTNS Top Ten #35

1) Bob Newhart: I didn't watch the Emmys (hard to get excited about that ceremony when a Battys show is right around the corner), but am told Bob opened the Emmys and did well. Much love to the master. Amazing fact: The Bob Newhart Show never won an Emmy. We might have to give it a Batty even before we cover the series, just on principle.

2) Cheers: This week on The Bill Simmons Podcast, the host made a strange advocacy for his pet idea of a Cheers reboot set in Chicago and starring Vince Vaughn (!) as a retired hockey player. This idea is so bad it's almost good in that it reminds you how fantastic the original series is and what folly it is to reboot it.

3) The Brady Bunch: This past week marked the 50th anniversary of the series premiere. That's 50 years of rapier wit, sophisticated storytelling, and layered performances.

Also: Mom always said, don't play ball in the house!

4) Sonny Spoon: I believe one can trace the steady decline of the world right back to when The United States of America inexplicably refused to be charmed by Mario Van Peebles:

5) Sid Haig: R.I.P. to the veteran cult favorite known for his movie roles but also remembered as the lead heel on Jason of Star Command:

6) Mickey Rooney: Turner Classic Movies saluted the Mickster on his birthday with a lineup of films. Yes, films. Sure, TCM doesn't dip into television often, but it would kill them to sacrifice one more screening of A Yank at Eton to show the pilot for A Year at the Top?

7) Reb Brown: Our investigation of his rare Facts of Life appearance made headlines all over the world. Well, not really, but it should have.

8) Bryant Gumbel: Happy birthday to one of the best TV interviewers ever. If you don't believe it, just ask him!

9) The Mandrell Sisters: I'm only halfway through Ken Burns' epic Country Music miniseries, but surely the series devotes at least a half-hour to their variety show and television's overall attempt to cash in on the "country craze" of the Carter years?

10) John Denver: On a similar note, how can anyone tell the story of country music without a deep dive into the Denver/Muppets connection?

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Great Moments in 70s and 80s TV History: You take the good, you take the Cap...

Reb Brown has had a long career filled with cult movies, but it's possible his TV career peaked with the two CBS Captain America movies we talked about in season 4..

As we discussed, there never was (but maybe could have been?) a weekly Cap series. Reb moved on to other projects.

It is weird to stumble upon the actor in the season two opener of...The Facts of Life?

It all starts when Jo (in her maiden Facts of Life adventure) and Blair procure fake IDs to go to this fine establishment:

Guess who is checking IDs? Someone who looks an awful lot like Reb Brown:

If I didn't know any better, I'd say TV's Captain America was relegated to a minor role in a...let's just say not necessarily top-tier sitcom.

Later, when one of the only figures more iconic and inspiring than the Sentinel of Liberty himself appears--of course we're talking about Edna Garrett--look at poor Reb just sitting in the background like some scrub. I mean, he's the one who let them into the Chugalug, but he's hanging out in the corner while the proprietor gets a dose of Ednification.

Not only is this whole appearance not treated as a big deal within the show (he doesn't get an audience WHOOOOOOO! when he appears, for one thing),  but he barely gets billing, relegated to the scrolling end credits with an anonymous description instead of an actual name.

We have found a way to overlook this insult: Clearly this is not Reb Brown, actor, taking a bit part. It's CAPTAIN AMERICA going undercover at the Chugalug to expose...Commie spy ring? Hydra operation? Meatpacking fraud?

Whatever it is, it's clearly more than just checking IDs at a backwoods dive bar.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

BOTNS Top Ten #34

1) George Owens: After a terrible week for Pittsburgh sports that included the arrest of the Pirates' best player and the season-ending surgery of the Steelers' best player, it's time to celebrate one of the finest figures in the city's sports universe. So what if he got involved in a little extralegal gambling?

2) Hill Street Blues: Hey, the Emmy awards are presented tonight, so let's give props to one of the handful of programs to win 4 Outstanding Drama Series trophies, along with Mad Men, The West Wing, and L.A. Law. Of course Hill Street has it all over the others by virtue of its 3 Battys.

3) Batman: DC Comics celebrated International Batman Day this weekend. You know, I am not saying I am one of them, but I be many kids who grew up in the BOTNS era considered Olan Soule the definitive Caped Crusader.

4) Another Day: Because...what the heck is this?

5) Dallas: Hey, if you missed the DVDs from Warner Brothers, you can now get the first 4 seasons from Time Life Video...for an outrageously high price. I guess J.R. would approve!

6) Ann B. Davis: As A Very Brady Renovation continues on HGTV, the surviving cast members miss Alice more than ever...because they could make her do all the work just like on the original show.

7) The NBC peacock: On the one hand, the iconic mascot is a connection to the rich history of the National Broadcasting Company. On the other hand, the decision to name the new Universal/NBC streamer "Peacock" is a decision that rivals anything Fred Silverman did at the network for sheer silliness.

8) John Houseman: The late actor was born on this date in 1902. I'd love to talk about The Paper Chase on the podcast someday, but for now:

9) Mannix: This weekend Decades is marathoning everyone's favorite detective and concussion recipient, Joe Mannix!

10) Ric Ocasek: R.I.P. I could be wrong, but I believe about 60% of all sports and wrestling program used at least one Cars song, often Tonight She Comes, as bumper music.

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.