Saturday, October 16, 2021

Happy National Department Store Day!

October 16 is a day to celebrate retail shopping--like we don't do that enough the rest of the year. Still, it's nice to take a minute to remember my favorite stores of old, like Hills. It was where the toys where, you know.

Friday, October 15, 2021

Happy birthday, Linda Lavin!

Today is the birthday of one of the iconic female performers in TV history, one who headlined one of the biggest and beloved sitcoms the medium has ever seen. Yes, we're talking about Linda Lavin, though Lucille Ball was born on this date, too.

We just discussed Alice in our most recent season, and Lavin was the star for all 9 seasons--no small feat. She has a distinguished career on stage and screen beyond the long-running CBS comedy, but I want to commend her for her awesome YouTube channel, which has behind-the-scenes clips and specials galore.

Happy birthday, Linda Lavin!

Thursday, October 14, 2021

This Day in TV History: TV movies and baseball

40 years ago tonight, CBS and ABC took different approaches to countering the National League Playoffs (Expos vs. Dodgers) on NBC. ABC broadcast an original movie with a veneer of prestige, a biopic of an important figure of the 20th century:

Jaclyn Smith was nominated for a Golden Globe for playing Jackie, and the movie also picked up 3 Emmy nominations in side categories. James Franciscus (JFK), Donald Moffat, and Rod Taylor also star.

Meanwhile, CBS, after Mr. Merlin and WKRP, showed The Two Lives of Carol Letner, which pretty much sounds like trash.  I know which movie I'd want to watch, and it ain't on ABC!

The above promo is taken from a rerun from 1984, when Meredith Baxter-Birney and Don Johnson were parts of bigger and better things. Also in the cast is the great Dolph Sweet, who is also in Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy! Stalwarts Robert Webber and Graham Jarvis appear, too. This one just seems like fun...for the viewer. Maybe not so much for Carol Letner.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Power Rankings: SCTV

OK, so we have ranked casts/characters of some other series we covered in this ninth season, but surely we're not foolish enough to attempt to do so with the cast of SCTV, right?

Aha! We ARE that foolish! Well, I am, at least.

This is a difficult task, ranking the cast of SCTV, a series with a massive amount of talent and a wide variety of skills and strengths. Yet do it I must. Anyone who was a regular performer during the series' run is eligible. Remember the criteria: If these castmembers fought each other today in Killarney, Ontario, who would win?

1) Dave Thomas: Already this is impossible! AARGH! Thomas gets number one because he seems like a quintessential "glue guy," and it's nice to reward them every now and then. Other performers may have bigger fame outside the show, but in some ways, Thomas IS SCTV.

2) Rick Moranis: Then again, so is this guy. See how tough this is? Moranis' high spot is personal; I think for me his appearance to hilarity induced ratio may be the highest on the show.

3) Joe Flaherty: One of the more underrated performers of not just this show, but the time period.

4)  Andrea Martin: Why is it everyone on this list feels "underrated"? Can an entire ensemble be underrated? Martin truly is one of the outstanding talents of her generation, and on other shows, she would be even higher.

5) Eugene Levy: It's amazing that in some ways his "modern" successes overshadow his SCTV work. Well, we're not forgetting it.

6) John Candy: Might seem a little low, but we're ranking him on SCTV only, and many of his iconic sketches just didn't click for me as those of some of the others.

7) Marty Short: Again, he is a beloved performer, but his prime was away from the show, and being number 7 is no shame on this list.

8) Catherine O'Hara: Another solid glue performer, but she doesn't have that one brilliant character like Thomas' 

9) Harold Ramis: Gets a spot based on his OG status.

10) Tony Rosato/Robin Duke (tie): Tough list to crack, and besides, their stints were so short that many don't realize they were on this show as well as SNL.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

This Day in TV History: Taste of Evil (1971)

50 years ago tonight, ABC premiered original movie A Taste of Evil, and if you think the title is great, consider the cast: Barbara Stanwyck, Roddy McDowall, Arthur Connell, William Windom, and Barbara Parkins. 

We don't usually embed full movies/episodes here, more for practical reasons than anything else (they are liable to get yanked at any time), but this one is all over the place though not officially on home video. The dark story focuses on a 13-year-old rape victim who, after a long stint in a sanitarium, returns to a troubled home and finds more traumatic experiences.

A Taste of Evil has an impressive pedigree behind the camera as well. Director John Llewellyn Moxey is like the Spielberg of network TV movies, and screenwriter Jimmy Sangster did Hammer movies like Curse of Frankenstein

Elsewhere on the networks on Tuesday, October 12, 1971, CBS led off with Monkeys, Apes, and Man from National Geographic at 7:30 and followed it with new episodes of Hawaii Five-0 and Cannon. NBC had new installments of Ironside, Sarge, and The Funny Side. ABC bookended the movie with new Mod Squad and Marcus Welby.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Happy Chris Columbus Day!

This is of course Columbus Day, an occasion when all Americans come together to celebrate the legacy of one of our finest filmmakers, Chris Columbus. Of course we all know him as the man behind Nine Months and Stepmom, but did you know he also created a cartoon series in 1986?

I don't remember watching this one, but it has an impressive voice cast: David Lander, Pat Carroll, Howard Morris, John Stephenson, Henry Gibson (not doing Boris Karloff), Pat Fraley, Nancy Cartwright...Even Gino Conforti is a regular!

So on this Columbus Day, let's take a moment to think about the great man's lesser-known achievements. Fire up an episode of Galaxy High School.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Top Ten #136

1) Mr. Merlin: We wrote about this short-lived sitcom earlier this week when it celebrated its 40th anniversary. I'm not sure many people were clamoring for it on Crackle, but I for one am glad that stuff like this is available.

2) National Handbag Day: Stylish fashion accessory? Self-defense weapon? Why not both?

3) William Shatner: It's really going to happen: A 90-year-old is going into space. I bet Shatner himself thought it was a ridiculous idea until he heard they were gonna ask George Takei.

4) 1971 Country Music Awards: Aired this night 50 years ago! Charley Pride was the big winner, but I can't find a clip of him on the show, so enjoy Jerry Reed:

5) National Metric Day: You know, I'm still not feeling it. I like seeing these old Schoolhouse Rock-ish PSA segments, though!

6) Flip Wilson Show: Time Life just announced a big DVD set of the Flipster's highly rated but underseen (today) variety show, and because it's them, start saving up now.

7) Vega$: I read that this week's launch of CSI Vegas disappointed. Only one move left, CBSViacomParamount: Put reruns of THIS on Paramount Plus!

8) HBO World Championship Boxing: I just finished the cool docuseries The Kings, which made me nostalgic for the good times I had watching the action in the squared circle on Home Box Office. Too bad the documentary was on Showtime! Well, I give them credit for making it, of course.

9) Happy New Year's Day, Charlie Brown: You might be thinking, why this special NOW in Halloween season? Well, reports indicate Apple Plus is developing a new Peanuts special tied to the holiday, and I say, OK, but we already have one!

10) R.I.P. Alan Kalter: I don't want to diminish his stint as announcer on The Late Show, but, jeez, so many of the stories I saw about his death neglected to mention anything else. The big one for me: His work as a voice of USA Network. I loved the way he introduced this one: