Monday, December 31, 2018

YouTube Spotlight: Paul Williams--driver and pitchman

In our recent Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries episode, we discussed the phenomenon of Paul Williams the songwriter, Paul Williams the actor, even Paul Williams the teen idol. Yet we ignored Paul Williams the Grand Prix driver.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Happy birthday to the late Davy Jones!

Davy Jones (1945-2012) of course became famous for hitting Marcia in the nose with a football during the Brady vacation in Hawaii.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Happy birthday, Inga Swenson!

Perhaps best known for playing Krause on Benson, Inga Swenson was an acclaimed stage star long before that role.

Benson lost in our workplace sitcom listeners' choice poll a while back, but I am sure we will get around to it someday! In the meantime, enjoy Inga singing in the 1978 NBC presentation of Ziegfield!

Friday, December 28, 2018

The YouTube playlist for "Forgotten Sitcoms" is now live!

The two series we discuss this week may be short-lived, but we have a nice long YouTube playlist for you. Click below to enjoy: Mel Brooks for Bic Pens! Richard Dawson plays Brett Somers while Fanny Flagg plays Charles Nelson Reilly! Joel Higgins for Farm Aid! All this plus commercials. promos. and the steely game show nerves of Henry Polic II!

Remember, you can always head to our official YouTube page for episode-specific playlists each week!

Show Notes Episode 5-11: Forgotten Sitcoms

*Thanks again to listener and friend of the show Ian for making this episode possible!

*This week we discuss When Things Were Rotten's seventh episode, Ding Dong, the Bell Is Gone, which premiered on ABC October 22, 1975 at 8:00 P.M. against, as we say on the show, Game 7 of the 1975 World Series between the Reds and the Red Sox on NBC (seen by over 51 million viewers) and Tony Orlando & Dawn on CBS.

*We also discuss Best of the West's fourth episode, The Calico Kid Returns, which also aired on ABC. This episode premiered October 1, 1981 at 8:30 against Magnum P.I. (a repeat of the Digger Doyle episode we talked about here) and The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan's Island.

*HA! and The Comedy Channel launched April 1, 1990 and November 15, 1989, respectively. Viacom and HBO joined forces and merged the channels April 1, 1991 with CTV: The Comedy Network, and then in June, the channel was rebranded as Comedy Central.

HA!'s launch lineup included classics like The Phil Silvers Show and Car 54 along with short-lived sitcoms like When Things Were Rotten and Camp Runamuck.

*Dick Van Patten also starred in Mel Brooks 1993 feature film Robin Hood: Men in Tights.

*Misty Rowe (Maid Marian) was also on early Happy Days as carhop Wendy, was one of the Hee Haw Honeys, and created a children's show called Misty's Magical Mountaintop.

*The Who's on First routine was a staple of burlesque, but Abbott and Costello immortalized it. They first performed it for a national audience on The Kate Smith Radio Hour in 1938.

*Former singing cowboy and Frontier Doctor star Rex Allen sings the memorable Best of the West theme song written by show creator Earl Pomerantz.

Pomerantz, an accomplished sitcom writer before Best of the West, went on to write for The Cosby Show and develop Major Dad (1989-1993). For more on the series and why it didn't last, check out this series of posts on Pomerantz's excellent blog.

*Leonard Frey was in the original The Boys in the Band stage production and was in the film adaptation. He earned an Oscar nomination for Fiddler on the Roof.

*Valri Bromfield was a regular on Lorne Michaels' unsuccessful prime time effort The New Show. Check out this week's YouTube playlist for a few sketches!

*Be sure and let us know if you would like us to revisit more forgotten sitcoms or lesser-known shows from other genres!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

5-11: When Things Were Rotten and Best of the West

This week, we take a look at two forgotten sitcoms, the Mel Brooks Robin Hood spoof “When Things Were Rotten” and early eighties oater “Best of the West.” Along the way, we meet some old friends, encounter another take on Who’s on First, and get into a heated exchange about “Alias.”

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

This Day (and a week or so) in TV History: December 1978 brings...Stubby

Merry Christmas to all of our listeners! Today let's return to that vintage TV Guide we've been mining this week for a look at a Hallmark Hall of Fame movie that premiered on Sunday, December 17, 1978. It features one of the greatest names in Christmas movie history:

Beau Bridges IS Stubby Pringle! I love it. What a supporting cast, too: Julie Harris, Strother Martin, Edward Binns, Chill Wills, and Kim Hunter.

The movie is based on a 1964 story by Jack Schaefer that was published in Reader's Digest

Here's a clip, and the whole show is available online if you do a quick search:

Here's the original close-up from the Guide:

Monday, December 24, 2018

This Day (sort of) in TV History: December 1978 on CBS

It was actually Monday, December 18, but check out the doubleheader kicking off the evening on CBS (times are CST):

Sunday, December 23, 2018

This Day in TV History: December 22, 1978 (Part 2)

Yesterday we took a look at what was on the tube 40 years ago, to the very day, courtesy of the December 16-22, 1978 St. Louis edition of TV Guide. It's no longer to the day, but it's still 40 years later, and that's a neat round number, so let's examine the sports, late night shows, and other options on that day.

(By the way, if you're wondering, A Charlie Brown Christmas had aired on Monday that week.)

Elsewhere on the dial, Navy took on BYU in the 1978 Holiday Bowl. Remember that back in the pre-ESPN days, and even later, many bowl games were syndicated across the country.

 The Kansas City (!) Kings played the Phoenix Suns in NBA action on another independent station.

On PBS, Dick Cavett welcomed William Safire before staples Wall Street Week and Washington Week in Review and a special titled Wild Horses, Broken Wings.

Later that evening on NBC, The Midnight Special, hosted by Dolly Parton, featured Paul McCartney and Wings, Frankie Valli singing Grease, and Chuck Mangione performing...what else? Feels So Good!

Preceding it at 11 (remember, this was when the show was 90 minutes) on The Tonight Show, Johnny's guests were Bert Convy and Marilyn Horne. ABC went with a Baretta rerun, while the CBS Late Movie was Quo Vadis.

Speaking of movies, here's a sampling of the movies shown on various local stations on December 22, 1978:
*The Trouble with Angels (1966) at Noon central
*Savage Wilderness (1955) with Victor Mature and Anne Bancroft
*Uncertain Glory (1944) with Errol Flynn at 3:00 P.M.
*Nothing But a Man (1964) with Ivan Dixon at 10:30
*Moby Dick with Greg Peck at 11.

It's also cool checking out some of the cartoons on during the morning: Popeye, Bugs Bunny,Heckle and Jeckle, The Flintstones, Tom and Jerry, Mighty Mouse...all the classics! Of course that's in addition to kiddie staples like Romper Room, Sesame Street, and Captain Kangaroo.

What do you think about TV in 1978? Better? Worse? Bert Convier? Well, clearly the last one is true.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

This Day in TV History: December 22, 1978

Let's go back in the BOTNS time machine and take a look at what was going on 40 years ago today on December 22, 1978! Our guide for this journey is THE guide--a vintage TV Guide covering 12/16/78-12/22/78 and featuring the Bradfords on the cover (Don't worry, folks, they will return later).

This day happened to be a Friday, but because it's Christmas season, we get plenty of yuletide specials to accompany standard end-of-the-workweek programming.

You get your game shows in the morning. For example, Hollywood Squares had the Lennon Sisters along with stalwarts like Paul Lynde, George Gobel, and Rose Marie. Match Game featured Fannie Flagg and Carol Jones. The Gong Show was more of an evening show, and among its judges today was Steve Martin.

In the afternoon, Mike Douglas' co-host that week was Carroll O'Connor, and wouldn't you know, they just happened to invite Danielle Brisebois on this day's episode. Also on the show: George Carlin and Mac Davis! Now, that sounds like a blockbuster.

Less intriguing is Dinah!'s guest roster. Shore welcomed Robert Logan, Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Beth Howland, Marilu Henner, and the Hudson Brothers. OK, I won't scoff at TV's Vera, but this lineup can't compare to Carlin and Mac Davis.

Let's start with the prime-time lineup, and let's go right to two joyous Christmas specials on ABC! (Note that times are central because this is a St. Louis edition of the mag)

In a parallel reality, John Davidson was Mr. Christmas and had a TV special every year up until the early nineties instead of "only" in 1977 and 1978. This particular special co-starred Harvey Korman AND Linda Lavin (poor Beth Howland is relegated to daytime duty). The Guide  description also mentions a ballet rendition of the Nativity and "a disco spoof of Saturday Night Favor/" It doesn't get more festive than that!

The description of Eight Is Enough is deceptive. The "two-hour movie" is a repeat of a two-parter from the previous season of the show, with Will Geer (recently in our Waltons episode) as a thief who makes off with the family's presents and wheels. Also in the guest cast are Judy Strangis and Nicholas "Spider-Man" Hammond! Below is an ad for a syndicated rerun:

Not to be outdone, NBC led off the night with a Bob Hope special presented by Texaco.

Among Bob's guests: Andy Gibb, Dionne Warwick, and the AP All-America college football team.

Note that the special was "still in production as of press time," which surely means Bob's monologue was ultra-topical.

NBC followed Bob with a Rockford Files repeat and an episode of the short-lived Eddie Capra Mysteries.

CBS shunned Christmas programming in favor of its regular lineup: Wonder Woman (in which she takes on...a leprechaun?), The Incredible Hulk (with two-time BOTNS star William Lucking!), and Flying High, the sexy stewardess show with Connie Sellecca that only lasted--you know, I totally would have watched that.

Come back tomorrow for a look at PBS, sports, and late-night options from 40 years ago!

Friday, December 21, 2018

The YouTube Playlist for The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries is now live!

This week, enjoy a special sleuthtastic playlist devoted to the Hardys and Nancy Drew! Click below to see Goldie Hawn duet with Shaun Cassidy! Count Chocula! Paul Williams' finest TV moment! All this and promos, commercials, music (including Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da, natch), and more!

And remember to head to our official YouTube channel for episode-specific playlists each week!

Show Notes: Episode 5-10: The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries

*The Hardy Boys (with some format changes) ran on ABC 1977-1979, alternating with Nancy Drew until season 3.

*Meet Dracula, the second-season two-part premiere, aired September 11, 1977 and September 18, 1977 at 7:00 P.M.

*The special investigators known as our crack research team tracked down the book Mike's elementary school class read.

He still doesn't know how it ends, though.

*The Stratemeyer Syndicate was the company that controlled the rights to the young detectives. Previous efforts to put the boys on TV included several stints on The Mickey Mouse Club, a failed pilot in 1967 with Tim Matheson, and Filmation's Saturday morning cartoon on ABC 1969-1971. There was also a 1990s series from the same people who produced the Nancy Drew series around that time. Click here for more info.

*Nancy Drew has been less prolific on TV, but there was a failed pilot produced by Desilu in 1957. The CW is currently working on a version.

*Regarding the Hardy's ages: Wikipedia reports Frank is 18 and Joe 17, though previous incarnations of the characters in all media had them younger. The Hardys are clearly much younger in The Mickey Mouse Club serials.  Similarly, Nancy Drew was originally 16, then aged up to be 18 and post-high school.

At the time of the series' premiere in January 1977, Parker Stevenson (Frank) was 24, Shaun Cassidy (Joe) was 18, and Pamela Sue Martin (Nancy) was 24.

Cassidy is the son of Jack Cassidy and Shirley Jones and the half-brother of David Cassidy.

*Martin also left Dynasty early, abandoning her character of Fallon after 3 seasons. Emma Samms replaced her.

*We (and by we I mean me; I deserve the blame since I started the topic) totally ignored tons of other Draculas in pop culture, including the Hammer films and comic books like Tomb of Dracula. The rights to the Lugosi version are with Universal, but Bram Stoker's creation is in public domain...hence, for example, Bram Stoker's Dracula from Francis Ford Coppola. Love at First Bite is an American International production that features George Hamilton as Count Dracula.

*The Disney movie aired on September 11 against the premiere of this episode is the 1973 TV flick The Mystery of Dracula's Castle with Clu Gulager, Johnny Whitaker, and Mariette Hartley.

*Lorne Green plays Inspector Hans Stavlin in this episode.

*It's about 520 miles from Paris to Munich.

*Here is the lineup of songs performed by Paul Williams as Allistair Troy:
-The Hell of It from the 1974 cult movie Phantom of the Paradise
-You and Me Against the World
-The Family of Man

*The series' lone Emmy nomination was in 1977 for Enzo Martinelli, but not in the regular cinematography category. Instead, it was in the category of...AHEM...Special Classification of Outstanding Individual Achievement, where two different awards were bestowed for The Big Event's production of The First 50 Years, a celebration of NBC's history,

*Wikipedia says this about Interpol's ability to make arrests: Contrary to frequent portrayals in popular culture, Interpol is not a supranational law enforcement agency and has no agents who are allowed to make arrests

Thursday, December 20, 2018

5-10: The Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew Meet Dracula

Long before cinematic shared universes were a thing, the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew, shared rotating weeks of "The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries," and met each other on screen in a series of crossovers. They also met Dracula! Or maybe someone pretending to be Dracula! Suspects include Paul Williams, Lorne Green, and the mayor of Transylvania.

Check out this episode!

Monday, December 17, 2018

Happy birthday, Dave Madden

The late Dave Madden, regular on Alice and co-star on The Partridge Family, was born on this date in 1931. We have to find a way to get him into the official BOTNS universe.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

This Day in TV History: This was it (this was it): One Day at a Time premieres

On Tuesday, December 16, 1975, the NormanLearverse was expanded yet again as One Day at a Time debuted on CBS:

Despite running for 9 seasons and over 200 episodes, the show has a relatively low profile today. It has been on Antenna TV in recent years, but I thought the Netflix remake would give it a higher profile.

This premiere episode was part of a CBS lineup that featured Good Times at 8, Joe and Sons at 8:30, MASH at 9, and ODAT before an episode of SwitchJoe and Sons lasted only 14 episodes. From Douglas Cramer's company, it starred Richard Castellano as a widower. Also in the cast: Jimmy Baio and Jerry Stiller.

Also on that night, Johnny Carson welcomed Shecky Greene, Ted Knight, and Ethel Merman to The Tonight Show!

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Happy Birthday, Nick Buoniconti

The former Miami Dolphins Hall of Fame linebacker turns 78 today. He was a big part of the sports on TV landscape in the 1980s, co-hosting Inside the NFL on HBO with fellow great Len Dawson. Back in the day before NFL Network, 5-hour pregame shows, etc., Inside the NFL was a really big deal.

And like every notable athlete of the day, Nick did his share of shilling for Miller Lite!

Friday, December 14, 2018

The Jeffersons playlist is live!

This week our YouTube playlist focuses on The Jeffersons. Click below to enjoy: Isabel Sanford shilling yogurt! A glimpse of Checking In! Sherman Hemsley on Soul Train! Plus more commercials, promos, and music!

Show Notes: Episode 5-9: The Jeffersons

*The Jeffersons aired 1975-1985, 11 seasons, on CBS, mostly on Sunday nights.

*A Case of Black and White, season 3, episode 17, premiered January 31, 1977 at 8:00 P.M. opposite The Captain and Tenille (guest star: Tony Randall) (ABC) and Little House on the Prairie (guest star: Willie Aames) (NBC).

*The House That George Built, season 8, episode 8, premiered November 29, 1981 at 9:30 P.M. following Alice. On ABC that night: Sizzle, a TV movie with Loni Anderson and John Forsythe, while NBC aired a new TV version of Of Mice and Men starring Robert Blake and Randy Quaid.

*Murder She Wrote aired on CBS 1984-1996.

*Norman Lear and All in the Family had to wait for Sherman Helmsley because the actor was in Purlie on Broadway.

*Paul Benedict, who played the veddy English neighbor Bentley, was born in New Mexico and actually served in the Marines.

*The crack research team has been unable to find evidence of Ned Wertimer (Ralph the doorman) starring in a PSA about racial discrimination in housing. Please let us know if you can track down this ad!

*Zara Cully played Mother Jefferson on the show until her death at age 86 in 1978.

*Peter Lawford, British actor and personality, was of course related to the Kennedys by marriage and was one of the Rat Pack.

*Ja'net Dubois not only sings "Movin' on Up," but she gets a writing credit for it along with Hall of Fame songwriter Jeff Barry.

*Here's Bruce Fretts' Entertainment Weekly piece about the stage revival of the series.

*The short-lived medical comedy E/R (Elliot Gould and George Clooney, awesome theme song performance by Lou Rawls) was technically a Jeffersons spinoff because George and Louise's niece was one of the nurses.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

5-9: The Jeffersons "A Case of Black and White" and "The House That George Built"

After George airs his feelings about mixed marriages, he has to engage in full-on farce to save a business deal. Years later, a near-death experience leads him to open a museum...about himself.

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

This Day in TV History: Magnum P.I. debuts, Greg Evigan, Geraldo, and soaps!

On Thursday, December 11, 1980, CBS premiered the original Magnum P.I.

The two-part Don't Eat the Snow in Hawaii was up against Games People Play (with Greg Evigan as one of the guest stars!) on NBC. The short-lived reality program focused on unusual sports was intended as actors-strike-friendly programming.

ABC's comedy lineup consisted of Mork and Mindy, Bosom Buddies, Barney Miller, and It's a Living.

At 10:00, it was Knots Landing on CBS and Number 96 in NBC. The latter lasted even less time than Games; it was a tamer version on a very popular Australian prime-time soap. It ran Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday of this week as a launch stunt.

If you weren't interested in the soaps, you could turn on ABC and see 20/20 with Geraldo Rivera ripping the lid off of heroin trafficking. According to the description on Ultimate 70s, Posing as a buyer of heroin in Afghanistan, he traces the drug from its source, through western Europe, to the streets of America.

Monday, December 10, 2018

YouTube Spotlight: Betty Thomas Meets Barry Bremen

One of the most interesting clips from our YouTube playlist for our Hill Street Blues episode is this one featuring notorious "prankster" Barry Bremen and Emmy winner Betty Thomas:

Known as "The Great Imposter," Bremen faked his way into some high-profile entertainment events, like the Super Bowl, but this might be his biggest achievement. According to Wikipedia, he was arrested and fined for this stunt but later apologized to Thomas and told her he thought she really wasn't there to accept. Hmm...

There is an ESPN 30 for 30 short about Bremen, a pop culture fixture in the 1980s. As Bremen once said before his death in 2011, this kind of thing was a lot funnier--and easier--before 9/11.

All that being said, maybe the best thing about the clip is how focused The Hoff is at 1:15.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Happy birthday, Redd Foxx!

BOTNS salutes the late Redd Foxx, legendary comic and star of Sanford and Son. Do you think we should cover that one on the podcast someday?

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Happy birthday, Kim Basinger!

BOTNS sends birthday wishes to Kim Basinger, who is of course best known for her appearance in the essential Charlie's Angels episode Angels in Chains.

I think she later did some stuff with Bruce Willis, too.

Friday, December 7, 2018

The Hill Street Blues playlist is now live!

After checking out our exploration of the seminal 1980s cop show, check out this episode's official YouTube playlist! Click below for Michael Conrad winning an Emmy! Beverly Hills Buntz! Bruce Weitz teams up with Nancy Walker! Daniel J. Travanti visits the Loudons! All that and more promos, PSAs, and cool stuff!

And remember, you can always head to our official YouTube page for series-specific video lists that accompany each of our shows!

Show Notes: Episode 5-8: Hill Street Blues

*Spotlight on Rico, season 3, episode 20 of the series, premiered April 28. 1983, at 10:00 P.M. on NBC. We think it aired against Tucker's Witch (CBS) and 20/20 (ABC). Also on NBC's Thursday night lineup at this time: Fame, Cheers, and Gimme a Break!

*Hill Street Blues ran 7 seasons, 146 episodes, 1981-1987, and was a modest rating success in its prime years after a disastrous premiere season. It did dominate the Emmys after its inaugural year, though, which helped NBC keep it around, along with info indicating upscale advertisers were interested.

*Beverly Hills Buntz, the spinoff with Dennis Franz, lasted one season (1987-88) and 9 episodes (4 more were produced).

*Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburgh was the college show creator Steven Bochco and several cast members attended.

*Fort Apache, the Bronx is a 1981 movie with Paul Newman, Ed Asner, Ken Wahl, Pam Grier, and Rachel Ticotin.

*Guest star Jonathan Banks is in his mid-30s in this episode. He had already in movies like Airplane! and series like Little House on the Prairie, Barnaby Jones, and 3 episodes (as 3 different characters) of Lou Grant.

*Michael Conrad was only 58 when he died of cancer. Before Hill Street, among his many credits was The Longest Yard. He was also a regular on the Judd Hirsch cop show Delvecchio, which Bocho wrote for and which also starred Hill Street co-stars Charles Haid and James B. Sikking.

*"Sonny Crockett" in this one is  Dennis Burkley, who co-starred in the 1980 Sanford on NBC.

*Orson Welles' talk show pilot was filmed in 1978 and, according to Wikipedia, never surfaced. It was a 90-mintue show with Burt Reynolds, Angie Dickinson, and The Muppets. Welles himself directed, and it was shot single camera! It's too long for our official playlist, but the pilot is on YouTube!

Thursday, December 6, 2018

5-8: Hill Street Blues "Spotlight on Rico"

This week, we delve into the gritty, chaotic, groundbreaking Hill Street Blues. We hit all the important topics: the large cast of character actors, the serialized storytelling, the classic theme song, and the mustaches. Guest stars include Dennis Franz, Jonathan Banks, a robot, and Sonny Crockett?!

Check out this episode!

Monday, December 3, 2018

We Need Your Vote Part 2

As we near the end of season 5, we'd once again like our listeners to help us choose a couple of the shows we'll discuss. In part 1, we asked which "Rural" show y'all'd like us to pontificate on and ended up choosing Hee Haw.

This time, we'd like you to choose between one of three "Sketch Comedy/Variety Shows." Let us know in the comments for this post by 11:59 P.M. Eastern time Monday December 10, at our Facebook PageFacebook Group, or through e-mail. Choices below:
  1. Fridays
  2. SCTV
  3. Saturday Night Live (Original Not Ready for Primetime Players).
This episode will air as our season finale!

BOTNS salutes the late Ken Berry

We salute Ken Berry, who died this weekend at 85. His breakthrough hits, F Troop and Mayberry R.F.D., may be a little before our time period, but he was a fixture of 1970s and 1980s TV nonetheless. Remember when you were sitting down to watch a rerun of The Brady Bunch and that weird episode with the new family popped up? That Kelly's Kids episode was maybe the first "backdoor pilot" I ever saw, way before I understood the concept.

He was the lead in Mama's Family, but I remember him more for just...turning up everywhere. The Cat from Outer Space seemed to be on cable TV all the time.

 Plus there were the Kinney shoe ads:

Plus he was one of those guys who always turned up on the shows that kept TV going in those days--the daytime talk shows, the game shows, the "these shows are more TV than anything else" shows like The Love Boat and Fantasy Island.

R.I.P. to one of the more versatile performers of the era, a reliable actor whose amiable screen persona always brightened up my TV set...even if I never did understand each time The Brady Bunch was hijacked by that Kellys Kids episode.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

The Naked Gun premiered on this date in 1988

People don't really look at it this way, but is this the best TV-to-film adaptation of all time?

Of course The Naked Gun is based on the 6-episode Police Squad! series that aired on ABC in 1982.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Happy birthday, Richard Pryor!

On the late comedian's birthday, we choose to remember not just his classic episode of Saturday Night Live, but of course his 1980s show...Pryor's Place!

Sid & Marty Krofft's 1984 CBS Saturday morning show is an odd footnote now, but I remember watching it. It was a fitting successor to the classic Kukla, Fran, and Lenny Bruce.