Sunday, September 29, 2019

BOTNS Top Ten #35

1) Bob Newhart: I didn't watch the Emmys (hard to get excited about that ceremony when a Battys show is right around the corner), but am told Bob opened the Emmys and did well. Much love to the master. Amazing fact: The Bob Newhart Show never won an Emmy. We might have to give it a Batty even before we cover the series, just on principle.

2) Cheers: This week on The Bill Simmons Podcast, the host made a strange advocacy for his pet idea of a Cheers reboot set in Chicago and starring Vince Vaughn (!) as a retired hockey player. This idea is so bad it's almost good in that it reminds you how fantastic the original series is and what folly it is to reboot it.

3) The Brady Bunch: This past week marked the 50th anniversary of the series premiere. That's 50 years of rapier wit, sophisticated storytelling, and layered performances.

Also: Mom always said, don't play ball in the house!

4) Sonny Spoon: I believe one can trace the steady decline of the world right back to when The United States of America inexplicably refused to be charmed by Mario Van Peebles:

5) Sid Haig: R.I.P. to the veteran cult favorite known for his movie roles but also remembered as the lead heel on Jason of Star Command:

6) Mickey Rooney: Turner Classic Movies saluted the Mickster on his birthday with a lineup of films. Yes, films. Sure, TCM doesn't dip into television often, but it would kill them to sacrifice one more screening of A Yank at Eton to show the pilot for A Year at the Top?

7) Reb Brown: Our investigation of his rare Facts of Life appearance made headlines all over the world. Well, not really, but it should have.

8) Bryant Gumbel: Happy birthday to one of the best TV interviewers ever. If you don't believe it, just ask him!

9) The Mandrell Sisters: I'm only halfway through Ken Burns' epic Country Music miniseries, but surely the series devotes at least a half-hour to their variety show and television's overall attempt to cash in on the "country craze" of the Carter years?

10) John Denver: On a similar note, how can anyone tell the story of country music without a deep dive into the Denver/Muppets connection?

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Great Moments in 70s and 80s TV History: You take the good, you take the Cap...

Reb Brown has had a long career filled with cult movies, but it's possible his TV career peaked with the two CBS Captain America movies we talked about in season 4..

As we discussed, there never was (but maybe could have been?) a weekly Cap series. Reb moved on to other projects.

It is weird to stumble upon the actor in the season two opener of...The Facts of Life?

It all starts when Jo (in her maiden Facts of Life adventure) and Blair procure fake IDs to go to this fine establishment:

Guess who is checking IDs? Someone who looks an awful lot like Reb Brown:

If I didn't know any better, I'd say TV's Captain America was relegated to a minor role in a...let's just say not necessarily top-tier sitcom.

Later, when one of the only figures more iconic and inspiring than the Sentinel of Liberty himself appears--of course we're talking about Edna Garrett--look at poor Reb just sitting in the background like some scrub. I mean, he's the one who let them into the Chugalug, but he's hanging out in the corner while the proprietor gets a dose of Ednification.

Not only is this whole appearance not treated as a big deal within the show (he doesn't get an audience WHOOOOOOO! when he appears, for one thing),  but he barely gets billing, relegated to the scrolling end credits with an anonymous description instead of an actual name.

We have found a way to overlook this insult: Clearly this is not Reb Brown, actor, taking a bit part. It's CAPTAIN AMERICA going undercover at the Chugalug to expose...Commie spy ring? Hydra operation? Meatpacking fraud?

Whatever it is, it's clearly more than just checking IDs at a backwoods dive bar.

Sunday, September 22, 2019

BOTNS Top Ten #34

1) George Owens: After a terrible week for Pittsburgh sports that included the arrest of the Pirates' best player and the season-ending surgery of the Steelers' best player, it's time to celebrate one of the finest figures in the city's sports universe. So what if he got involved in a little extralegal gambling?

2) Hill Street Blues: Hey, the Emmy awards are presented tonight, so let's give props to one of the handful of programs to win 4 Outstanding Drama Series trophies, along with Mad Men, The West Wing, and L.A. Law. Of course Hill Street has it all over the others by virtue of its 3 Battys.

3) Batman: DC Comics celebrated International Batman Day this weekend. You know, I am not saying I am one of them, but I be many kids who grew up in the BOTNS era considered Olan Soule the definitive Caped Crusader.

4) Another Day: Because...what the heck is this?

5) Dallas: Hey, if you missed the DVDs from Warner Brothers, you can now get the first 4 seasons from Time Life Video...for an outrageously high price. I guess J.R. would approve!

6) Ann B. Davis: As A Very Brady Renovation continues on HGTV, the surviving cast members miss Alice more than ever...because they could make her do all the work just like on the original show.

7) The NBC peacock: On the one hand, the iconic mascot is a connection to the rich history of the National Broadcasting Company. On the other hand, the decision to name the new Universal/NBC streamer "Peacock" is a decision that rivals anything Fred Silverman did at the network for sheer silliness.

8) John Houseman: The late actor was born on this date in 1902. I'd love to talk about The Paper Chase on the podcast someday, but for now:

9) Mannix: This weekend Decades is marathoning everyone's favorite detective and concussion recipient, Joe Mannix!

10) Ric Ocasek: R.I.P. I could be wrong, but I believe about 60% of all sports and wrestling program used at least one Cars song, often Tonight She Comes, as bumper music.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Say it ain't so, Dolan: This ain't MY Lowenbrau

If there's one combo we like here at BOTNS, it's steak and a bottle a'Lowenbrau.  The genius Dolan showed us the way in a classic commercial that we discussed in some detail.

The entire "Let It Be Lowenbrau" campaign was a great one, filled with emotional appeals to friendship, good times, and general positive vibes. Who cares what the beer tastes like?

The great SeanMc YouTube channel recently posted a later Lowenbrau ad, a travesty that attempts to (it could never succeed) destroy that great legacy of warmth and comfort crafted by the likes of Dolan. As painful as it is, let's take a look:

I can't even begin to try to inhabit the mind of whoever conceived this abomination, but the spot smacks of straining to be "cool." Lowenbrau doesn't have to be cool. More to the point, Dolan didn't try to be cool. He just WAS cool.

And rap? RAP? Lowenbrau is not a "rap" brand. It's not even a brand. It's a way of life.

If Dolan saw this debacle, he wouldn't be able to digest even a succulent steak. He'd be so disturbed, in fact, he'd probably have to sell his Knicks tickets and hole up in the den for the evening.

This is so awful, I can't resist. I was going to just link to the ad as I did above, but, no, it requires an embed here so we can all cleanse our palates for the timeless combo we treasure--and I don't mean neon and drum machines:

Sunday, September 15, 2019

BOTNS Top Ten #33

This time out, we're paying tribute to the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention in Hunt Valley, Maryland, this weekend. We were unable to attend but supportive of the concept, and maybe BOTNS can be there in the future!

1) The Brady Bunch: However, this week's number one has to be the unsquashable 1970s classic, which was revived (sort of) yet AGAIN and drew huge numbers for HGTV in A Very Brady Renovation. Hopefully the cable channel can revive the Bradford house next. And speaking of...

2) DVP: Dick Van Patten's brief but notable stint as a heel boss in The Snowball Express was screened on Turner Classic Movies recently and scrutinized by the BOTNS team this week.

Check out some other TV mainstays in the movie in this clip:

3) Loni Anderson: I hope everyone in Hunt Valley asked her about Easy Street:

4) Loretta Swit: I know it's not a reflection on Ms. Swit, but I just could never take Houlihan seriously knowing she and Burns were a thing. Not that I'd recommend telling her that at a fan convention.

5) William Sanderson: Not only did he appear at the convention, but he has a memoir out! I didn't even know he could read!

OK, that was a lazy, cheap joke. To make up for it, here's a clip of him not playing a dullard:

6) Tom Berenger: Another con attendee, Berenger wasn't really known for TV, but he was in the last episode of Cheers, and anyone cool enough to be on Cheers is good enough for our top ten.

7) The Muppets: Disney + scrapping the announced new series means the original Muppet Show is even more of a no-brainer for the service, right? Right?

8) Frank's Place: And, hey, BET+'s ridiculous 9.99/month price point surely means everything that was ever on BET, including reruns of the acclaimed Tim Reid dramedy, will be on there, right? Right?

I would watch old Video Soul episodes with Donnie Simpson, though!

9) Dark Shadows: Getting another reboot, this time for the CW, and that sounds horrible, but it sounds like the guy doing it is a huge fan of the original show. Plus it's actually going to be a sequel, not a reimagining.

10) Geri Reischl: "Fake Jan" isn't part of A Very Brady Renovation, but she did her duty on the variety show and was part of the Mid-Atlantic Nostalgia Convention.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Great Moments in 70s and 80s TV History: Cliff Clavin's anticipation

Remember the joy of receiving the new TV Guide in the mail? Well, think about what a big day it was for the fine members of the U.S. Postal service. In season 7's Please Mr. Postman, Cheers' Cliff Clavin tells a trainee she had better get a good night's sleep because...

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Fred MacMurray in The Chadwick Family

While celebrating Fred MacMurray's birthday last month--hey, didn't everyone--we came across this 1974 ABC Movie of the Week: The Chadwick Family, an unsold pilot:

Also in the cast: Kathleen Maguire, BOTNS favorite Alan Fudge, Barry Bostwick, Bruce Boxleitner, and Darleen Carr among others.

According to IMDB, in this dramatic story, A father finds himself taking care of a "family" that in addition to his son and three daughters, also consists of two sons-in-law and his youngest daughter's Chinese boyfriend.

The movie premiered April 17, 1974 against a supersized (sorry) Cannon rerun on CBS and part 2 of a broadcast of Judgment at Nuremburg on NBC. It started at 9:30, an odd time for a movie, because it followed the pilot of Robert Forster's short-lived Nakia:

Anyone remember either of these 1974 projects?

Sunday, September 8, 2019

BOTNS Top Ten #32

1) MDA Telethon: Labor Day just isn't the same anymore without Jerry Lewis hosting the annual extravaganza. When Mike and I have our inevitable bitter breakup, I want us to be reunited by Frank Sinatra on national television.

2) The Loch Ness Monster: We don't care what any fancy report says, it'll always be a monster to us, not a dumb, old eel! That is, we can't say definitively that he is not a monster, and the probability is that there is evidence to indicate it may be a possibility...

3) The Carol Burnett Show: The show was the subject of a cool podcast episode from Closer with author Wesley Hyatt, and Roku Channel just added an assortment of episodes from the series' first five seasons.

4) Star Trek: Both the Original Series AND the Animated Series premiered on the SAME DATE--today--in 1966 and 1973 respectively. COINCIDENCE?

Wait, no, I mean...

5) Archie Bunker's Place: Antenna TV celebrated the series' 40th anniversary this week.

6) Alan Thicke: I just want another excuse to post this:

7) Willie Tyler: Happy 78th birthday to Tyler, and we also give a shout-out to Lester.  Yeah, that sentence isn't very impressive in itself, but I didn't move my lips when I wrote it.

8) Heather Thomas: Happy birthday to Ms. Thomas, and who wouldn't jump off a tall building for her, amirite?

9) Bob Newhart: The comedy legend turned 90 this week, and Decades is celebrating all weekend with The Bob Newhart Show, Newhart, and Bob. What, no love for his obscure series BN?

10) The Rockford Files: Amazon's free ad-supported streaming service IMDB TV added the classic series for September.

Friday, September 6, 2019

National Read a Book Day: TV-related books

Since it is National Read a Book Day, we are offering some recommendations of books based on series we have spotlighted on the podcast.

Golden Girls Forever by Jim Colucci: A fun book with impressive research.  As I said in a review two years ago I'd be a happy man if every show we covered on the podcast inspired this kind of book--well written, detailed, and offering attractive design and fine production values.

Hailing Taxi by Frank Lovece with Jules Franco: Long out of print, this big 1988 trade paperback does the show justice, offering history, trivia, and critical assessments.

Saturday Night: A Backstage History of Saturday Night Live by Doug Hill and Jeff Weingrad: The mainstream attention of Jim Miller and Tom Shales' oral history overshadowed this one, but I think it remains the definitive history of the original cast years, and to me that's the most interesting period of the series, anyway. Diehard SNL fans really need to read both, but this is one of my favorite TV books. It was written in 1986 but is available on Kindle.

Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong: Imperfect book, as I wrote here in a review, but essential for fans of  The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

Come and Knock on Our Door: A Hers and Hers and His Guide to Three's Company by Chris Mann: An excellent overview of a series that may not be seen as high art but sure gives Mann a lot of interesting stuff to write about. This is a very entertaining book

Mike recommends these two comprehensive TV series histories with episode guides:

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: A TV Companion by Patrick Jankiewicz: This book features a lot of a behind-the-scenes information, including interviews with many of the major players. Although clearly a fan, Jakiewicz doesn't steer clear of some of the backstage the problems or acknowledging weaker elements of the show (um, season two.)

Hardcastle and McCormick: A Complete Viewers Guide to the Classic Eighties Action Series by Deb Ohlin: A fun and surprisingly detailed look at the show, including a number of statistical lists about everything from car chases to various forms of problem-solving violence.


We still await the definitive histories of Silver Spoon, The Facts of Life, and many more!

Thursday, September 5, 2019

May we suggest "Close Encounters"?

Last month's (!) issue of Entertainment Weekly (hey, why change the name of one of the most respected brands in all of quality infotainment) featured a brief piece spotlighting novelist Laura Lippman. This part caught our eyes:

The Last TV Show I Binged
I’m in the middle of a St. Elsewhere binge. I really love and admire it, but it was really hard on its women. I can’t help noticing how much punishment the female characters were put through.

May we suggest checking out the episode Close Encounters? And while we're at it, hey, why not listen to our episode covering the series and zeroing in on Encounters?

Good luck to Ms. Lippman in the ongoing journey through the halls of St. Eligius. Sounds like she has a ways to go before achieving our feat (OK, one of us did it) of watching all episodes on Hulu.

Monday, September 2, 2019

Happy Labor Day!

Happy Labor Day from all of us at BOTNS to all of you! On this day we salute two of our favorite hard-working Americans:

Sunday, September 1, 2019

BOTNS Top Ten #31

1) Valerie Harper: R.I.P. to the sitcom star, whose 1980s sitcom got taken away from her (and is likely underseen today because of the legal issues).

2) Gary Sandy: The former WKRP star captivated us and our listeners this week (just check out our Facebook group). Dare we say that Gary Sandy is...having a moment? And are we confident it's not Patrick Simmons?

3) Eddie Murphy: He captivated the nation, despite not being Gary Sandy, by signing up to host Saturday Night Live this December. All of us who insist on telling everyone else we never watch the show have an excuse to watch it again!

4) Jamie Farr: The veteran actor guested on Hollywood and Levine (Ken Levine's outstanding weekly podcast) this week, and, as usual, he came across as just about the nicest, most gracious guy around.

5) Designing Women: The complete series is now on Hulu! Everyone post in the comments how far into your rewatches you are.

6) The Banana Splits: I don't want to prejudge a movie before--oh, what am I saying. Of course this is going to be terrible:

The Banana Splits Movie Poster

Let's just remember the original and hope that maybe this new version somehow spurs increased accessibility for that one.

7) Conway Twitty: Anyone else see this ad a hundred times back in the day (it's slightly past the BOTNS era, but, come on, we're going to Twitty City)?

8) Gloria Estefan: Happy birthday to the singer of some songs that helped define the 1980s and also helped drive me insane. Please, please don't start singing Conga unless you know a shootout over a drug bust gone bad is going to break out just before the commercial.

9) John Travolta: The former Welcome Back Kotter star made headlines this week by...sort of almost mistaking a drag queen for Taylor Swift at the VMA Awards? I still don't understand why a RuPaul's Drag Race "star" was on stage at all? I feel old. This kind of thing never happened to Gary Sandy.

10) Sonny and Cher: Time Life just released a new best of set of their variety series that costs 100 bucks because, well, because that's how Time Life rolls. I wish I could get Get-TV and watch the episodes there,