Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Bob Iger's plan to revitalize Disney...probably won't include adding library shows to Disney Plus

When I read that Bob Iger was back in at CEO after a short "retirement," I joked that he was unhappy with the lack of progress at getting the 1982 Incredible Hulk cartoon on Disney Plus. While I don't think he is all that concerned with the appalling lack of progress in getting library content on the company's streamer, I do think there could be a possible opportunity here if the cards fall right and if certain conditions are met. OK, now I sound like Leonard Nimoy.

3 years ago, I speculated on what kinds of cool BOTNS-era shows could appear on Disney Plus. The only one available is The Muppet Show, and yay, Disney, for that. 

I think it's about time to give up on most of my "What's missing" list (I still think Vic's Vacant Lot would be a blast), but here's a pared-down version of semi-realistic possibilities for 2023. Iger has called for a profitable Disney Plus, and that means less spending. Last I checked, it's still cheaper to restore an old show for HD than it is to create [Insert name of Disney Plus Original you don't care about].

*Marvel cartoons: Ok, I WAS joking about the 1982 Hulk, but really, what's the deal here? This and the 1960s Marvel cartoons, the 1967 Spider-Man cartoon, even the 1970s Fantastic Four...Get it all up here. No more excuses. 

*Wonderful World of Disney: It's amazing that the company that used to project so much concern for and care of its legacy is ignoring so much of it in the streaming age. There is so much TV footage featuring Walt, and while much of it is intros to movies and material already available, there are still plenty of themed episodes they could post. And what would be the problem with just posting an intro to a classic Disney movie?

*Vault Disney: Call it Bob Iger's Wonderful World of Disney. Call it Disney Plus' Wonderful World of Iger. The new returning CEO is said to be a booster of the Disney "brand" and history. There are a lot of cool Disney specials, like those relating to the theme parks, that are on YouTube but not on the flagship streaming video service. Put some of this together and let Iger record some new wraparounds for context. The nostalgic Disney lovers would eat it up.

*Disney Channel shows: Speaking of nostalgia, a lot of kids who grew up watching Disney Channel in the Eighties are now streaming video consumers, and I see many of them lamenting the fact that they can't watch the stuff they did then. In that aforementioned post in 2019, I mentioned Mousterpiece Theatre as a popular program the then-premium channel ran that is no longer available anywhere. There are plenty of others: anthology shows showcasing the classic animation shorts (And oh, yeah, a ton of those are still missing on D+), exercise shows, etc.  In fact, you know what would be cool? A quality documentary about the origin and early years of Disney Channel.

*The Star Wars Holiday Special: I have been saying for years that Disney oughta unveil this as a Christmas treat for the fans. Drop it on the service Christmas Eve as a surprise and let people discover it and make a big deal out of it. If they do it this year, I'll give Bob Iger all the credit for it.

So I have given up on non-Disney TV movies, Fox library shows, 1980s sitcoms that aren't already on Hulu, and plenty of other cool stuff. I think it's reasonable to hope for a few bones from this list. Make it happen, Bob Iger, and blame the delay on Chapek if you must!

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Two BOTNS favorites together at last: Ethel Merman and FENCES!

Here's an interesting clip recently posted on YouTube: From The Tonight Show, Johnny Carson welcomes Ethel (Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July) Merman AND Madlyn Rhue (Poor Devil), AKA "Fences."

Merman sings, of course, and then joins Johnny at the desk; while Rhue has all kinds of things to say in her panel segment. My only regret is that this is just before Ethel's disco era!

Wait, the classic clip has been restricted by the uploader! I can't embed it anymore, but you can still click here to see Ethel Merman peforming disco numbers before a befuddled kids' audience.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Top Ten #205: Special "Between two big holidays now" Edition!

1) Ed McMahon: Yes, we posted this video again on Thursday, but we aren't gonna miss another chance to salute the King of Thanksgiving singing his timeless Thanksgiving carol:

2) Shadow Chasers: RetroFan's article on the series this month has me interested in seeing more of this 1984 series! But as you can see below, so is Ricardo Montalban!

3) Matt Houston: Decades is running a marathon this weekend, and I can't help but wonder if someone asked for Magnum P.I. but they hoped they could slip this one in and no one would notice.

4) Black Friday: Just ain't the same without the riots and 2:00 A.M. sales.

You know, I don't think this is the kind of store that had riots and 2:00 A.M. sales.

5) Games Mother Never Taught You: This TV movie premiered 40 years ago tonight on CBS. It stars Loretta Swit and is based on a best-selling book about the corporate world by Betty Lehan Harragan:

6) Robin Givens: Happy birthday!

7) Miami Dolphins: The team went to 11-0, en route to an undefeated season, with a decisive win over the St. Louis Cardinals 50 years ago tonight on Monday Night Football.

8) Cyber Monday: I am gonna skip the hassle and see if I can get this guy to do my shopping for me this year:

9) Disgusting Thanksgiving foods and side dishes:

10) Jaleel White: Did you do that? Well, Mr. White, if you are asking about entertaining millions of us, yes. Yes, you did.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

RetroFan brings it with a great article on "Shadow Chasers"

I was way behind on my magazines and didn't get to RetroFan for a while this time around, but the current issue, #23, is one of the best ones of the year. It also has more 1970s and 1980s TV material than the previous edition.

The most remarkable feature is the story on the short-lived ABC TV series Shadow Chasers. Editor in Chief Michael Eury's opening column mentions that this show was a new one even to him, a confessed TV junkie. Author Jeffrey S. Miller  talks to creator Kenneth Johnson (The Incredible Hulk, V) and gets the scoop on the interesting blend of paranormal thrills and comedy.

Andy Mangels' extensive piece on Flash Gordon covers the Filmation cartoons (and also mentions The Man Who Hated Laughter!), and the production thereof is an interesting story. Eury's history of Colorforms is another standout piece, loaded with illustrations and culminating in a glorious two-page spread that features a ton of licensed sets the company put out over the years, from The A-Team to Wonder Woman.

All this, plus the history of M&Ms, Yellow Submarine, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Will Murray's look at The Prisoner (which does not spoil the finale). This issue connected with me big time, and I give it a stronger recommendation than even my usual strong recommendation!

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving from BOTNS!

From all of us at Battle of the Network Shows to all of you, Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

But allow us to let the King of Thanksgiving set the tone for this holiday:

As a reminder, here are a few Thanksgiving-themed episodes of the podcast if you are in the mood today:

We wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Top Ten #204

1) 8 Billion: The world's population has topped 8 bil!

This says to me we have some room to grow the podcast.

2) Michael J. Fox: The beloved Family Ties star received an honorary Oscar from the Academy this weekend. There is no truth to the rumor that Tom Hanks came onstage and slapped him, thinking it was his bottle of vanilla extract.

3) Rudolph cereal: I couldn't resist getting a box of this last week. It delivers!

4) Drew Barrymore: The then-7-year-old hosted Saturday Night Live 40 years ago tonight. Half the cast and staff said, "OK, we give up, we can't keep up with the host this week," and went to bed early each night.

5) National Toy Hall of Fame: The Hall welcomed three new entrants: The top, Masters of the Universe, and Lite-Brite.

6) Soap: Get ready for Antenna TV's upcoming Wednesday-Friday Thanksgiving marathon of Soap (Hey, why not?) by listening to our episode from Season 7.

7) Hear No Evil: This CBS movie premiered 40 years ago tonight and starred Gil Gerard as a cop who has gone deaf and must track down an evil motorcycle gang (who set up the explosion that cost him his hearing) with his partner Bernie Casey. Gerard's character's name? BILL DRAGON!

8) National Absurdity Day: I was trying to think of a wacky BOTNS-era TV personality that most captured the feeling of absurdity, and of course I came up with it: Economist Jerome Smith on Tomorrow with Tom Snyder.

9) Neighbours: FreeVee is resurrecting the long-running Australian soap opera.

10) R.I.P. John Aniston and Robert Clary:

Friday, November 18, 2022

Trade Week #7: One more (for now?) BONUS streaming video trade

OK, here's a trade we saved as a bonus one because it's a little sketchy. For one thing, it goes into the nether worlds of professional wrestling! Then it involves a program that premiered this year. For yet another, I propose a streamer acquiring a show it already has!

ESPN Plus trades AWA Championship Wrestling to Peacock for Joe Montana: Cool Under Pressure.

Joe Montana was one of my favorite athletes when I was a kid, and I still have a soft spot for the legendary quarterback. Several times in this space, I have mentioned my enjoyment of the 6-episode docuseries that aired as a Peacock original in 2022.

Yet I don't think it got much traction, and it deserves more attention. Therefore, I propose a run on ESPN to go along with all the sports documentaries--30 for 30 and otherwise--that reside there. I'm sure the network would promote it. Heck, you could get Chris Berman to do a 24/7 stream hyping it.

In return, Peacock gets more content for its WWE Network section. Now, this is a litlte tricky because I have never seen official confirmation of this, but I think WWE owns the old AWA wrestling programming that appeared on ESPN in the 1980s. It has a few of the episodes available on demand. Note that I wrote, "a few." WWE has shown little interest in adding to its AWA section, but I have interest in it, so that's why I am suggesting this!

Adding to the intrigue is that ESPN also owns the footage, or at least I assume so based on the fact that ESPN Classic used to run reruns of it in heavy rotation. Well, there is no ESPN Classic linear channel now, and ESPN Plus has exactly zero of the old pro wrestling programming the network used to carry, so no harm in making it official and giving all of it to Peacock.

Who knows, WWE might even get a thrill out of adding a ton of stuff that was originally branded ESPN. You know, mainstream and all that. Peacock gets hours of new on-demand material for the wrestling fans, and ESPN Plus gets a quality docuseries about an all-time great,