Monday, January 30, 2017

Batty Awards Aftermath: More Winners and Losers

On one hand, the winners and losers are obvious--just look at the list of nominees and award recipients. But who are some of the less obvious winners and losers of the first Batty Awards? We asked some veteran show business awards experts, industry insiders, and a guy ahead of us in the checkout line to dig a little deeper.

WINNER: The Facts of Life  Many observers were stunned that the oft-derided sitcom did so well, earning discussion in the theme song category and sweeping the female acting awards. When asked for comment, Charlotte Rae twinkled her eye, twitched her nose, grunted, and said, "You ain't seen nothing yet," in a charming lilt.

LOSER: Happy Days One of the most popular BOTNS episodes was shut out on Batty night and didn't even make a dent in the nominations. Has talking about Happy Days jumped the shark?

WINNER: Batty Awards sponsors Early numbers indicate a spike in listenership, which should make sponsors like Mortimer's Moustache Combs very happy. Word has it a similar show is a virtual lock for the end of season 2, though producers may make minor changes (The controversial "pogo stick timer" is said to be far from certain to return).

LOSER: Muppets and puppets ALF barely registered on the show, and pre-show favorites the Zucchini Brothers were upset in the non-human performance category. We won't dignify the theory that the woman accused of being Amelia Earhart in our In Search Of episode was a puppet for the United States government (or possibly of a foreign power), but she lost, too. Perhaps the big takeaway is that Batty voters like real, palpably human performances. Unless they have cool nicknames like "Death Probe."

WINNER: John Parker As it turns out, not only did the man create the Batty-winning theme from CHiPs, but he was responsible for tunes for MASH, Dallas, and the Tom Selleck/Robert Urich TV movie Bunco. It's nice that the Batties have finally given him some recognition. Also: There was a Tom Selleck/Robert Urich TV movie called Bunco?

LOSER: Musicianship in general It suffered a big hit from Rick's disastrous attempt to imitate Bruce Willis' rendition of "Seagram's Golden Wine Coolers" during the podcast.

WINNER: Bono Tom Hanks' loss in the male performance category deprived him of an acceptance speech and a chance to increase his lead over the U2 frontman in their longstanding career ceremony oratory competition.

LOSER: Billy Crystal The BOTNS staff refuses to confirm the rumor that the funnyman and veteran awards show performer's opening song-and-dance number was cut at the last minute, but at least one source insists Crystal was set to do a montage of moments from season 1, culminating in a witty plea to cover Soap in season 2.

WINNER: Everyone  If only for receiving more exposure to Robert Pine's iconic performance as Dolan, we are all winners.

Friday, January 27, 2017

Show Notes: Complete list of nominees and winners from the Season-ending Awards Extravaganza!

Since we explained our choices on the show and since we covered much of the material during the season, I think this is a good opportunity to just list the nominees and winners. SPOILER ALERT: If you want to be surprised, please listen to the latest episode before reading!

Outstanding Youth Performance:

Beany Williams, The White Shadow
Kim Fields, The Facts of Life
PJ, The Family Circus Christmas Special
Brandon Cruz, The Incredible Hulk

Batty Winner: Kim Fields

Outstanding Theme Song:

(All series we covered in season 1 eligible for this award)

Batty Winner: Theme from CHiPS


Outstanding Non-human Performance:

The Death Probe, The Six Million Dollar Man
Granddad's ghost, The Family Circus Christmas Special
The Zucchini Brothers, The Muppet Show

Batty Winner: The Death Probe

Outstanding Song:

"Give In" by Jimmy, CHiPs
"In America" by Cast of Happy Days
Seagram's jingle by Bruce "Bruno" Willis
"Let It Be Lowenbrau" by Arthur Prysock

Batty Winner: "Let It Be Lowenbrau"

Outstanding Female Performance:

Charlotte Rae, The Facts of Life
The woman accused of being Amelia Earhart, In Search Of
Baroness, G.I. Joe
Jane Morrow as Irina, The Six Million Dollar Man

Batty Winner: Charlotte Rae


Outstanding Male Performance:

Tom Hanks as Uncle Ned, Family Ties
Robert Pine as Dolan, Lowenbrau
Bill Bixby, The Incredible Hulk
Ken Howard as Coach Reeves, The White Shadow

Batty Winner: Robert Pine

Outstanding Facial Hair/Mustache:

Shipwreck, G.I. Joe
Steve Austin, The Six Million Dollar Man
Jim Brown, ChiPs
Hector Ramirez, G.I. Joe

Batty Winner: Steve Austin

Outstanding Performance as Oneself:

Leonard Nimoy, In Search Of
Ed McMahon, CHiPs
Steve Martin, The Muppet Show
Jermaine Jackson, The Facts of Life

Batty Winner: Ed McMahon

Outstanding Individual TV Episode:

(All episodes we covered are eligible for this award)

Batty Winner: CHiPs, "Roller Disco"

Outstanding Overall Series:

(All episodes we covered are eligible for this award)

Batty Winner: The Incredible Hulk

Congratulations to all the winners!

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Season One Awards Show

The glitz, the glamour, the guffaws! Rick and Mike roll out the red carpet, welcome the stars, and paint the town as they take a look back at season one with the first ever Batty Awards! Who will win? Only they and a random number generator know, but you can find out in this episode! Plus, an UPDATE on season two.

Check out this episode!

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Tomorrow on Battle of the Network Shows...

Tomorrow the show returns with a special presentation. Join us as we celebrate our first season by giving out the Batties! That's right, we salute the best of what we watched for the podcast by giving out our own unique awards. Some of the categories and nominees may surprise you, but all of left their marks on us (and hopefully on you)!

Tune in tomorrow to see if your favorites are recognized. You don't even have to wait for Sweeps to enjoy this world premiere event.  Just come back here and download or stream the first ever Batty Awards!

Friday, January 20, 2017

CHiPS Movie Update

We mentioned after our CHiPs episode that Dax Shephard had a feature film version in production at Warner Brothers. Well, it's really happening, and the trailer is here:

To summarize, here is some of what the trailer contains:

*Jokes about erections
*Dax Shepherd's flesh
*A Tupac song
*Attempted yuks

Here is what the trailer does NOT contain:

*Actual yuks
*Roller disco
*Robert Pine
*The series theme song

I think my mind is already made up, but let's ask Erik Estrada. Actually, let's not. His official Twitter account retweeted someone calling the new movie pure trash, and The Wrap ran an "article" (this post is more substantial) essentially quoting that tweet and claiming Estrada himself called the movie trash.

Then Estrada called The Wrap's "article" fake news and said he hadn't seen the movie yet. Well, neither have I, but the lack of roller disco alone could make a reasonable person conclude the film is trash.

Head to your local theater March 24 and judge for yourself...or spend a few extra bucks and get one of the DVD sets of the original series.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Upcoming DVDs

TV on DVD has slowed down considerably in recent years, but there are a few things on the horizon for fans of the BOTNS era of television. Here's a look at what's coming out the next few months:

January 17

Love Boat Season 3 (Volume 1 and 2): "Exciting and new"? You be the judge, but keep in mind it's been 7 1/2 years since the last official release of the series. Plus CBS adds insult to injury by splitting the season in half. That's like asking Isaac to tend bar (and point at the camera) with one arm tied behind his back.

January 24

Hooperman Season 1 and 2: Well, at least they're coming out the same day, but I wonder how many who buy season 1 aren't interested in season 2 and vice versa. Get your dramedy from Olive Films. Wait, no, sorry. Get your groundbreaking dramedy from Olive Films.

February 7

227 Season 1: Mill Creek presents this budget-priced re-release. See where the epic saga began!

Dynasty Season 1: What do you do when you finish a long-running series on DVD? Well, you just start over from the beginning, apparently.

Quantum Leap: Complete Series (also on Blu-Ray): Previous releases were marred by music replacements, so unless this Mill Creek repackaging fixes all of that, you might want to leap back in time and record the show off air.

Twilight Zone (1980s) Complete Series: I haven't seen any of these in years, but the price for this repackaging is pretty good...or IS it?

February 14

Kojak Season 1: Who loves you, baby? Universal loves you enough to give you a chance to buy this all over again at the same high price instead of doing a discounted complete series set.

February 21

Lou Grant Season 4: Only 20 episodes this season, but it's great to see Lou continuing on DVD, and I think it's safe to say Shout! will put out S5, maybe by the end of the year. I'd have to do some research, but I think this set will have the episode in which the reporters face a moral dilemma and Lou has to yell at somebody.

March 14

CHiPs Season 5: No roller disco this season, but you will get punk rock (Ponch sings!) and Bruce Jenner (filling in when Erik Estrada holds out in a contract dispute)!

Newhart Season 8: Honestly, I had no idea the show was this far along on DVD. Kudos to Shout! for seeing it through and delivering this final season.

What on this list excites you? Would you like to see us cover any of these series on an upcoming BOTNS?

Monday, January 16, 2017

Further Reading: TV (The Book)

I recently finished TV (The Book): Two Experts Pick the Greatest American Shows of All Time by Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz. I've read Sepinwall's recaps and interviews for years now and also enjoyed his book The Revolution Was Televised about the new golden age of television of the late nineties and 2000s and plan on reading more of Seitz's work.

In TV (The Book), Sepinwall and Seitz used a fairly elegant scoring system to rank the top 100 (fictional) TV programs of all time. They also held themselves to certain rules, choosing not to rank series still on the air (with a few notable, long-lived exceptions) and limiting how many points one-season wonders could earn. They ranked each show in six categories (such as innovation and storytelling) and added up the numbers. In the case of the top five, they wound up with a tie and hashed it out in an Google chat reproduced in the book.

In the book, they present the top 100 as "The Pantheon" in a series of essays written by one or both of them. After that, they include sections called "Works in Progress"--ongoing series with potential (Game of Thrones, Better Call Saul, etc.), "A Certain Regard" (AKA honorable mention), "Miniseries," "TV-Movies," and "Live Plays for Television."

I enjoyed the book. Sepinwall and Seitz write thoughtful, insightful essays, highlighting the best elements of the shows, sometimes zeroing in on prime moments and sometimes expanding the generally accepted thoughts on those. For I Love Lucy, they spend a lot of time on the famous chocolate conveyor belt sequence but also highlight and praise the equally funny comedy of Ricky and Fred's failed attempt at doing the domestic chores in the same episode. They also don't forget to have fun, rattling off hilarious and weird moments in shows like The Simpsons (even combining serious and funny with an in-depth breakdown of Sideshow Bob stepping on rakes) and SpongeBob SquarePants and including sidebar lists ranking things like best mustache, best and worst boss, and best mom and dad.

As for the Battle of the Network Shows Era (1970-1989), well, it fares OK but not great compared to the nineties and aughts (but better than the fifties and sixties). The authors warn readers of this up front. No, they don't mention our podcast, but they explain why earlier decades don't get as much attention, and I accept their reasoning for the most part, especially given that they cut their critical teeth on those later period shows.

Without spoiling their list's details, I've decided to run some numbers for our audience. Just how many BOTNS-era shows made "The Pantheon"? What about miniseries? Well, here goes with some caveats. I chose to leave out Seinfeld, The Simpsons, and Roseanne, shows which began in the late eighties but hit their strides in the nineties (and of course The Simpsons has gone well beyond even that era). Likewise, I left out Gunsmoke, which ended in 1975 but began in 1955 and spanned the entirety of the sixties. For similar reasons, I included Cheers, which lasted into the nineties but stretched across most of the eighties, and I counted China Beach, The Wonder Years, and thirtysomething, shows which began in the late eighties but ended in the early nineties.

The Pantheon (top 100)
  • 1970s:     14
  • 1980s:     12
  • Total:      26
  • Top 10:     2
While a quarter of the list doesn't seem bad, keep in mind that only 12 from the fifties and sixties made the cut, leaving 62 shows from the nineties and 2000s*. From a critical point of view, this makes sense. TV has evolved, especially with the freedom afforded by cable and streaming services, but one could ask if enough time has passed to clearly judge shows that ended only a few years ago? Still, those early decades, though constrained and rough, laid the foundation.

*I say all this as a fan of many of the shows from that period.

A Certain Regard (50 shows presented in alphabetical order)
  • 1970s:      8
  • 1980s:      5
  • Total:     13
Not much to add, but notice the perfect ratio there 26:100 and 13:50. Coincidence I'm sure but a fun one.

Miniseries (ranked 1-20)
  • 1970s:      2
  • 1980s:      3
  • Total:       5
The low number here surprised me, especially since a 1970s miniseries ranked first and they introduce this segment with "TV's dominant format from the mid-'70s through the early '90s." HBO's slate of miniseries dominate this list (I love David Simon's work, but it surprised me to see all three of his miniseries, including one from 2015, on the list). Also, one 1980s miniseries makes it mostly for the historical value of its grandiosity and eighties excess.

TV Movies (Ranked 1-10):
  • 1970s:      3
  • 1980s:      3
  • Total:       6
Finally, we win a category! OK, the other four come from the nighties and 2000s, but a win is a win.

None of the shows we've discussed so far on Battle of the Network Shows made any of their big lists, although we'll probably be discussing at least one, maybe more, in season two. Many ended up in the shorter sidebar lists or got referenced in discussions of other shows. Sadly, they use CHiPs to help explain that while criticism has a lot of subjectivity certain elements can be fairly objective.

Still, I highly recommend TV (The Book). Personally, I'm not a huge fan of these kinds of lists, but Sepinwall and Seitz put a lot of the thought into it, and their love of the medium comes through on every page.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Happy anniversary, Amelia Earhart!

On this day in 1935, legendary aviatrix Amelia Earhart became the first person to cross the Pacific solo from Hawaii to California. In our In Search Of...  episode solved the mystery of her later disappearance in 1937.

Wait, no, we didn't solve the mystery of her disappearance. We solved the mystery of whether or not the In Search Of... episode devoted to her was worth watching. I'm still  proud of our accomplishment.

As a helpful reminder as we celebrate this aviation milestone, let Leonard Nimoy remind you that THIS is Amelia:

THIS woman, despite the claims of a certain individual, insists she is NOT Amelia:

Are they celebrating this anniversary at Leisure World in New jersey?

(To learn more, check out our episode covering this as well as the YouTube playlist)

Monday, January 9, 2017

"New" 1970s and 1980s TV in January

It's easier than ever to find old-school TV on your very own long as you have access to all the digital subchannels that popped up in recent years. Here's a quick rundown of the "new" reruns from the Battle of the Network Shows era coming this month:

Antenna TV: What's Happening!!! and 227 join the lineup, but the real crown jewel, if only for the theme song, is My Two Dads. Also, if you are watching the Netflix revival of One Day at a Time and are curious about the original, it's on Antenna Fridays at 8:00 P.M.

GetTV: Here's a real rarity: the short-lived 1973 Sally Field/John Davidson sitcom The Girl with Something Extra. I would definitely be running my DVR for that if I had one.

Telexitos: If you speak Spanish, you can enjoy Knight  Rider and Airwolf on this channel. Come to think of it, do you really need to speak the language to enjoy them?

Me-TV: BOTNS favorite CHiPs returned before Christmas and is airing weekdays. Watch for "Roller Disco!" Debuting is MacGyver, also airing weekdays, and if you miss the original Kolchak after Netflix lost it this month, well, you can find it here Sunday nights.

Cozi TV: Speaking of stuff that disappeared from Netflix, have you wondered where all those Universal shows have gone? Surprise, surprise, they are showing up on the Universal-owned subchannel. New this month are ColumboEmergency, Rockford Files, and a few shows that left Netflix last year: McCloud and McMillan and Wife.

Here I must play the grump and point out that I don't fully endorse these subchannels because most of them edit and/or time-speed the heck out of the shows to fit them into their commercial formats. If you don't have other options, though, it's better than nothing. Me, I'd rather see these uncut on Netflix.

Which of these "new" series excite you? Is there anything in here you'd like us to talk about on the podcast? Let us know at or let us know in the comments!