Sunday, July 14, 2024

Top Ten #310: Special In Memoriam Edion

I hate to turn this whole list into a series of obituaries, but, wow, what a week. While I don't want to rank deaths, a few absolute TV icons of the Eighties left us this week.

1) Crackle: With its parent company declaring bankruptcy, the days are numbered for this free streamer. I always complained about its interface and its commercial load, but there was a glorious period when it had all kinds of rare TV shows from the Sony library, most of which have not been made available anywhere else since they left.

Sony never seemed to take Crackle seriously enough, and then somehow it got worse when Chicken Soup for the Soul took over, but at least I got to watch some Mr. Merlin.

2) Dr. Ruth: Who was the more unlikely sex icon of the Eighties, Dr. Ruth or Miss Piggy? The tiny old lady that was willing to talk about it was one of the early Mt. Rushmore faces of Lifetime and one of the breakout stars of the rise of national cable television.

3) Richard Simmons: And talk about an icon! His Sweatin' to the Oldies ads alone would have made him memorable, but he had multiple shows of his own and of course was a frequent guest star all over the dial, sometimes even on programs that didn't mock him.

4) The Munsters: Mike and I saw the new Super 7 figures at separate stores this past week, and they look great. Hot Rod Herman is tempting even at the high price point. Of course, for me, Leo Durocher or Baseball Herman would be a must-buy.

5) Bert Sugarman: I am a few weeks late on this one, but he provides a fantastic interview on Mark Malkoff's Inside Late Night podcast for Latenighter. You will get a lot of info and stories about The Midnight Special.

6) Summer: CBS burned off this unsold pilot on this date in 1984. According to Lee Goldberg's Unsold Television Pilots, it features "the summer adventures of five high school students and the two adults in their lives--the beach lifeguard (Gerard Prendergast) and the woman who owns the disco (Sally Kirkland). I hope it is a literal disco and not just a nightclub in 1984. It also stars Gary Hershberger and Tico Wells/

7) Missy Gold: Happy birthday to the former Benson star.

8) MLB All-Star Game: The Midsummer Classic returns Tuesday night, and if nothing else, we gotta tune in to see Pirates phenom Paul Skenes start the game for the National League!

50 years ago, the game took place in Pittsburgh at Three Rivers Stadium.

9) Rosey Grier: Grier turns 90 years old today!


10) R.I.P. Sika, Shelly Duvall, Doug Sheehan, Benji Gregory, Pat Colbert: And unfortunately, we end with a host of other TV personalities who we lost this week. Sika was one half of the vaunted Wild Samoans tag team. We just celebrated Duvall's 75th birthday in this column. Sheehan was on Day by Day among other shows, and Gregory was the adorable moppet (the kid--not muppet) on ALF. Colbert was on Dallas and Knots Landing.

Sunday, July 7, 2024

Top Ten #309: Special "National Strawberry Sundae Day" Edition!

1) Esther Rolle: The cover subject of the 1974 TV Guide we have been looking at this week was called "Esther Rolle the Fishing Pole" as a youth because she was so thin. More interesting than that (though that is a pretty cool rhyme) is reading her thoughts on the show and advocating for more stories for the females and less cheap laughs. Right from the get-go, Rolle was pushing back against what she saw as the deterioration of the show that made her laugh after a few more years.

2) Tony Orlando and Dawn: Let's run this spectacular Close-Up again after the series premiered 50 years ago this week. 

3) Rubik's Cube: Can you believe the thing debuted 50 years ago? And I am sure it only took about 2 days for some wise-ass to brag about solving it in 10 seconds.

4) Michael Bell: I am a bit late on this one, but The Funtastic World of Hanna Barbera podcast had a great interview with this prolific voice actor recently. His voice was everywhere when I was a kid. In fact, I'm pretty sure he said, "Here," for me a few times when attendance was taken in first grade.

5) Still the Beaver: The TV movie that revived the Beververse was just posted to YouTube this week. To be fair, it's been posted many times before, but why quibble? We touch on the revival of the show right here in our TBS episode.

Bonus: The 1981 CBS movie Return of the Beverly Hillbillies was rerun on this date 40 years ago. How's that for fresh summer programming: A 3-year-old rerun of a movie based on a 20-something-year-old show.

6) Michael J. Fox: Give it up for the man jamming on stage with Coldplay. Just give him a Pepsi and it could be 1985 all over again. Except, you know, Coldplay would all be like 8 and wouldn't form as a band for another decade.

7) Shelly Duvall: Happy 75th to the former star of Fairie Tale Theatre.

8) The Bounder: Michael McKean, Richard Masur, and Jeanetta Arnette starred in this pilot that aired 40 years ago on CBS. Based on a 1982 Britcom, it spotlights a con man played by McKean. Hey, sigh me up!

9) It's Your Move: I guess I should be happy that on his recent TV Confidential podcast appearance, former NBC casting director Joel Thurm talked about the sitcom I used to love. Unfortunately, he described it as a nothing show that wasn't going anywhere but was just a place for NBC to stash Jason Bateman so he wouldn't go elsewhere.

10) National Macaroni Day: Today is not the day to count carbs. Today is the day to enjoy macaroni!

Friday, July 5, 2024

Inside the Guide: TV Guide 50 years ago (June 29-July 5, 1974 Part 6)

A day late, but let's look at the Guide from Independence Day 50 years ago! The highlight for me is this little tidbit at the end of this description of a Waltons rerun:

Yes, it's the debut of the Bicentennial Minute!

Otherwise, there are specials and repeats, with this one being the standout:

Is Tennessee Ernie Ford about to be smothered by that Colonial American flag? And what's up with the incorrect spelling of Dionne Warwick?

Another interesting program is NBC's Comedyworld, featuring Rodney Dangerfield as host with Jimmie Walker, Mark Russell, "the black and white team of Freeman King and Murray Langston, and Puerto Rican Freddie Prinze."

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Inside the Guide: TV Guide 50 years ago (June 29-July 5, 1974 Part 5)

Not a lot going on here in Northern California this date in 1974, but we do have a nice occurrence in the afternoon reruns when we get to Brady Bunch (Though that cast on Squares ain't bad, either):

Prime time is rerun territory again, but we do get a nice ad to enjoy.

But maybe the most exciting of all is another debut this week! Back in the day, we used to see the summer replacement series, and many variety shows started out as such, including this one:

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Inside the Guide: TV Guide 50 years ago (June 29-July 5, 1974 Part 4)

The theme of the day for Tuesday, July 2, 1974, as we continue our look at the TV Guide from 50 years ago today is "judge." How judgy can shows be? How judgy can TV Guide be?

First, let's look at The New Zoo Revue at 9:00:

Well, maybe I LIKE being lazy! This episode is getting a little too preachy for my taste. I'll relax NOW if I feel like it, Doug and Emmy Jo!

Later on, it's the magazine itself that seems to get all judgmental in this summary of tonight's Maude rerun. 

Who wrote this, Arthur Harmon? Jeez!

Finally, a serious-minded program on NBC...that the network puts on at 10pm in the summer, of course:

There isn't a lot else going on on this Tuesday. There are short-lived programs like Tenafly and Doc Elliott. Let me go back to the daytime period, though, and since it's a slow day, I will cheat and show you two listings from 50 years ago yesterday.

NBC premiered two games shows this week: Winning Streak with Bill Cullen and High Rollers with Alex Trebek and Ruta Lee. The latter stuck around and saw a few remakes, but the former lasted a mere 6 months and is considered a lost show, but at least one episode survives:

The network canceled the show, which aired its final episode January 3, 1975. The following Monday, a new show took its place: Wheel of Fortune.

I could have just told you about this, but I had to show you the listings because you have to enjoy the thrill of seeing that boldfaced word in the mag: Debut.

Monday, July 1, 2024

Inside the Guide: TV Guide 50 years ago (June 29-July 5, 1974 Part 3)

In the third part of this series, we look at the listings for Monday, July 1, 1974, 50 years ago today! We are squarely in reruns territory, so new prime time programs are scarce, and even the display advertising is a little skimpy. Come on, advertisers, people watch TV in July, too!

Today's big winner for me is The Mike Douglas Show, which welcomes Mac Davis as co-host this week. Today's episode also features Doug Henning, 

Looking through these old TV Guides, the indie stations always jump out, and Channel 40 here looks pretty cool. I like this ad for daily reruns of The Untouchables:

More tomorrow!

Sunday, June 30, 2024

Inside the Guide: TV Guide 50 years ago (June 29-July 5, 1974 Part 2)

Sunday, June 30, in the Northern Cali region featured a lot of cartoons and religious programming, then mostly reruns in prime time.

I am intrigued by Cap'n Mitch's Cartoons, which shows up at 9AM and 10AM on Channel 40, with Johnny Sokko and Banana Splits in between. I found this cool article on Cap'n Mitch's history in the market.

Downhill Racer gets a network airing and a close-up!

Finally, check out the lineup in syndicated Johnny Mann's Stand Up and Cheer:

Jerry Lucas? Is he also doing the Seals and Crofts medley?

Tomorrow in our glance at Monday, July 1, 1974, we get a few cool display ads and the start of a boffo week on a syndicated talk show!