Tuesday, January 18, 2022

This Day in TV History: Did Bob Newhart read "People"?

40 years ago tonight, CBS aired a new special, People of the Year, produced by People magazine and spotlighting "the 25 most interesting personalities of 1981." It sounds like a light, frothy hour. What interests me is the host: Bob Newhart!

I can't find any footage of the show online, which lets me create the special in my mind. I have strong doubts that Bob Newhart was at all interested about who People ranked as the 25 intriguing folks of the year. However, I do believe seeing him either feign interest or display lack thereof would make entertaining viewing!

A look at the cover of the double issue of the magazine that lists the people in question reveals some of the personalities: President Reagan, Tom Selleck, and People faves like Liz Taylor and Princess Di.

Monday, January 17, 2022

This Day in TV History: A night of winter specials

Is January 17 too late to celebrate Christmas? NBC didn't seem to think so in 1972 when it aired its annual Bob Hope Christmas Show. There was a good reason NBC broadcast the Hope shows after the holiday: They relied on footage shot on the overseas Christmas tours Hope did each year. It seems like today they would get the stuff put together much quicker, but 50 years ago it worked and drew big ratings.

Looking at the entire evening, it seems like a lineup suited for a major holiday, with specials that have family appeal. ABC starts the night with Robinson Crusoe Ice Spectacle hosted by Andy Griffith. I must admit, of all the Daniel Dafoe novels I'd think would be adapted to an ice show, Crusoe has to be far down the list. 

The network follows that with the second night of a broadcast of John Wayne's 1965 In Harm's Way. This feels like the kind of "epic" old movie programming they used to roll out on a holiday.

NBC precedes Bib with Bell System Family Theater's tribute to George Gershwin, hosted by Jack Lemmon and starring Fred Astaire, Ethel Merman, and many more.

CBS wrecks my narrative by showing pretty much its standard lineup: Gunsmoke, Here's Lucy, The Doris Day Show, Sonny and Cher.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Top Ten #160

1) Sanford and Son: Friday marked the 50th anniversary of the sitcom's debut on NBC.

2) Warm weather: Boy, I sure miss it.  Hopefully some of you reading this have something more like this than what I am getting right now:

3) Golden Palace: Hulu is extending the celebration of Betty White's career by adding this (just past our timeframe) Golden Girls spinoff. Of all the TV shows the late White did in her career, this is certainly one of them. 

4) Welcome Back, Kotter: The great Brick Mantooth posted this fun and informative look at the show's merchandising in the 1970s:

5) SAG nominees: Congratulations to stars like Denzel Washington (St. Elsewhere) and Michael Douglas (Streets of San Francisco) for their SAG nominations. Also props to Jean Smart, Michael Keaton, Steve Martin, and Martin Short.

6) National Healthy Weight Week: I think in 2022 we've gone back to not worrying about this--not like back in 1982 (the ad is from Australia, but just go with it):

7) Sara: Mike linked to this in our Facebook group last week: A vintage night-of-broadcast episode of Geena Davis' short-lived 1980s NBC sitcom:

It doesn't seem to work despite an interesting group of talent--Merrill Markoe is the credited writer, and Alfre Woodard, Bill Maher, and Bronson Pinchot appear in the supporting cast--but it's worth a look. I wonder if Maher and Pinchot would have smarm-offs on set to entertain the crew.

8) The Last Hurrah: An interesting recent addition to Crackle is this 1977 Hallmark Hall of Fame adaptation of the Edwin O'Connor novel that was previously filmed as a motion picture in 1958. Carroll O'Connor (no relation, though, oddly, Edwin also wrote a novel called All in the Family!)) plays the Spencer Tracy role. Other stars include Jack Carter, Mariette Hartley, Dana Andrews, and Patrick O'Neal.

9) Georgia on my mind: Congrats to the Georgia Bulldogs, and a shout-out to Friend of the Show James, who is very happy with the result of the National Championship game last week. Because he's a great guy, I wouldn't dream of bringing up THIS game again:

That was 40 years ago, sure, but give me something, OK? It looks like it's gonna be a loooooooong time before Penn State can really compete with Georgia again on the field!

Maybe this is better:

10) R,I.P.: Bob Saget's death was a stunner. Dwayne Hickman will be missed, too.

(Edited to delete a ridiculous mistake I made in the original post)

Saturday, January 15, 2022

This (Yester) Day in TV History: Sanford and Son premieres

I feel like a BIG DUMMY for not pointing out the 50th anniversary of Sanford and Son yesterday. So let's celebrate it today!

The show became a huge hit for NBC and an enduring rerun staple despite behind-the-scenes turmoil.  You know, while there has been at least one big bio of Redd Foxx that I know of, I think someone should do a big book about Sanford and Son. There was so much going on with that production, like contract disputes, Demond Wilson irritating people, etc., that it would make for fascinating reading.

I mean, if we can get books about the Civil War, Winston Churchill, and the JFK assassination, we oughta be able to get a decent read about a popular 1970s sitcom, right?

Thursday, January 13, 2022

This Day in TV History: Me and the Chimp premieres

50 years ago tonight, Me and the Chimp with Ted Bessel (he played Me) premiered on CBS.

Does it surprise you that it only lasted 13 episodes? Does it surprise you that it lasted that long?

Harry and Wally's Favorite TV Shows begins its entry on this one with, "This low-mark in Western civilization is an early creation of Garry Marshall, who later redeemed himself with Happy Days and Laverene and Shirley, both of which are Shakespeare compared to Me and the Chimp."

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

National Milk Day does a body good

The young gentleman who appears in this ad at the 24-second mark may be the coolest kid ever. I wish I were more like him.

This kid steals the show in a spot loaded with graphics, gimmicks, and more! Happy National Milk Day, everyone, and raise a glass to this rocker, who is probably in his forties now. Let's hope he is still ROCKIN'!

Monday, January 10, 2022

Happy birthday, William Sanderson!

 As we established last year, William Sanderson is a Friend of the Show, whether he knows it or not, by virtue of having liked an Instagram post we did when we covered Newhart. So we are especially happy to wish him a very happy birthday today!