Thursday, April 30, 2020

Fame Game: Round Five

We return for another exciting round of the Fame Game! Will Mike be able to guess this week's BOTNS-era celebrity, character, or possibly location, or will he go down trying? Plus, what have Bobby and the BOTNS Orchestra been up to? Find out this week!

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

This Day in TV History: Confessions of a Lady Cop on NBC

This day in 1980, the Police Story franchise ended on NBC with a two-hour TV movie. I have never seen this movie, but I can guarantee you it's not as exciting as its title indicates. On this day in TV history, NBC gave the world Confessions of a Lady Cop.

Credit to to and Garage Sale Finds for the scans.

Police Story began March 20, 1973 as a TV movie, then aired on NBC as an anthology before hanging on as several TV movies. This was the finale...until it came back 7 years later!  Police Story: The Freeway Killings featured Angie Dickinson, Ben Gazarra, Richard Crenna, Tony Lo Bianco, and many more TV vets.  The show was revived yet again in 1988 when ABC reshot screenplays from the original series run for programming during the writers' strike.

All in all, Police Story--with its diversity of storylines and performers--may be one of the most underappreciated but with interesting production history series of the era!

Monday, April 27, 2020

Happy birthday, Jack Klugman!

Happy birthday to the late Jack Klugman! We can all agree that the way that the icon would want to be remembered today is by putting Quincy M.E. on a streaming video on demand service again.

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Top Ten #65

1) The Krypton Factor: Hat tip to John from our Facebook group for posting a link to the debut episode of this short-lived adaptation of a British game show.  It's all about finding the pinnacle of human part with trivia questions and asking the participating warriors to recall dialogue from The Legend of the Lone Ranger.

2) Carol Burnett: Happy birthday to the legend best known for her long-running CBS--you know, I haven't even finished the entry and somewhere Harvey Korman is already breaking up.

3) Honky in the House: I don't care how good this book by former Jeffersons writer Jay Moriarty is, that title alone puts it on the shortlist for best of the year.

4) Madeline Khan: Also on our Facebook group, we discussed who you might "draft" to build a TV show around, and while there were some great answers (join us to learn more!), this one by Friend of the Show Dann intrigued me most because it never would have crossed my mind.

5) ALF: It's National Kids and Pets Day, AND this series was just added to Prime Video again. Oh, ALF was totally a pet. Everyone knows Brian was the real force in that household.

6) Three's Company: Antenna TV celebrates the sitcom (which we celebrated here) with a marathon today. I celebrate it by posting this old Pizza Hut ad featuring Richard Kline:

7) John Barbour: The former Real People star was on TV Confidential again last week, and while I can't say I understood everything he was talking about, he sure had a lot of energy. His memoir is called Your Mother's Not a Virgin, which is almost as good a title as Honky in the House.

8) Shirley Knight: R.I.P. She was nominated for an Emmy for her role in this 1980 Vanessa Redgrave telefilm:

9) HBO MAX: It finally has a launch date: May 27. The announced slate of new programs is weak, and I am not thrilled by Big Bang Theory, so I am anxious to see how deep into the catalog they go, Surely this is the streaming return of Warner Archive Instant faves like McLain's Law, The Man from Atlantis, and of course:

10) Growing Pains/Who's the Boss: Both sitcoms ended this day in April, and I think we can all agree that ABC's "Things That make You Go..." promotional branding campaign gave each show the gravity it deserved.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

Alex Karras returns!

We conclude our semi-official NFL Draft week with another appearance by one of our favorite pro footballer/pitchmen: Alex Karras.  Before Peyton Manning was in every other ad break in any given sporting event, the Detroit Lions Pro Bowl DT carved out a pretty good commercial resume even as he built up his acting career.

I didn't know Alex Karras did commercials for Faygo Redpop.  I didn't even know Faygo did commercials for Faygo Redpop.  I must have grown up in the post-glory years of the Faygo empire.  And, yes, it is Redpop--one word.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

And now a look at the 1983 USFL Draft

I don't think the actual draft of the USFL, the awesome short-lived 1980s spring football league, was televised, but Keith Jackson talking about it is an acceptable alternative:

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

The 1983 NFL Draft

I have zero interest in watching this year's draft, but I love old-school footage like the 1983 draft! Let's go back to the days when ESPN was just a little bit more...reserved in its coverage.Talk about refreshing. Check out part 1 here:

The same uploader posted the next 3 segments as well, and the running storyline is John Elway's drafting by and refusal to play for the Baltimore Colts.  Paul Zimmerman, Howard Balzer, Bob Ley, and a subdued Chris Berman are the talent.

Monday, April 20, 2020

Toyman Alex Karras returns

A couple weeks ago, we looked at the effectiveness of Alex Karras pitching Transformers. Now let's watch him as 'Super Jock" tell us about Super Toe:

Karras is closer to his prime here but still mellow considering he's playing SUPER JOCK!  This looks like a great toy, though I am dissapointed by the apparent lack of potential to break a window. 

And how ANGRY does Super Toe look? They say kickers are a different breed, but, man, I bet you really have to be on eggshells on gameday around this guy.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Top Ten #64

1) Brian Dennehy: R.I.P. to the real Star in the Family, who passed away this week right after we were talking about him in our Facebook group. Maybe someday we'll get that spinoff Dennehy podcast going.

2) Supertrain: Speaking of our Facebook group, there is growing sentiment we should cover this series on the podcast, and if it's not growing now, I plan to make sure it does:

 3) Celebrity Challenge of the Sexes V: This special aired on this day 40 years ago. yes, there were 4 of these before this one.  Here is a summary of the series.

I'm especially intrigued by the Eight Is Enough vs. White Shadow event!

4) Hugh O'Brian: happy birthday to the late star of one of our favorites, Search! Put a candle on a bit of peach melba

5) Tales of the Gold Monkey: It's on the semi-problematic list (just be glad you don't know why if you don't), but as we said in this week's bonus episode, it would have made for some cool toys back when it aired.

6) Peacock: This streaming service is rumored to have launched this week with old favorites (and season 7 subjects)  like Miami Vice and Murder She Wrote, but I don't know of anybody who actually has it.

7) Saul Turtletaub: R.I.P. to one of the creative forces behind Sanford and Son and What's Happening! because of course "Saul Turtletaub" had his finger on the pulse!

8) Dick Sargent: Happy birthday to the late Sargent, who gets too much blame for being the second Darrin on Bewitched...and not enough for being the second dad on Down to Earth.

9) Up with People: Hey, someone did the "favor" of posting the 1986 Super Bowl Halftime show. After this, Up with People was not invited back, as the NFL went with a hipper group next year: Mickey Rooney, George Burns, and some college marching bands.

10) Howard Finkel: R.I.P. to one of the voices of my childhood, the great WWF ring announcer.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

YouTube Spotlight: Dave visits Toy Fair

This clip didn't actually make it into our YouTube playlist for this week's bonus episodes, but since we discussed toys we'd like to see, and since we talked about David Letterman, why not enjoy a clip of Dave at Toy Fair?


His interaction with Milton Levine, inventor of the ant farm, is a highlight!

Friday, April 17, 2020

List-o-rama: Action Figures video playlist is now live!

After hearing our discussion on TV toys we would have liked to have seen than and those we would like to see now, enjoy our official video playlist! Just click below to see Mel Sharples being Mel! Raiders of the Lost Ark toys! Thundaar! Gary Gnu! Paul Williams and Paul Lynde (in separate clips, unfortunately)! And I have an excuse to get an AWA wrestling figures commercial in here!

And remember, our official YouTube channel has all of our past episodes and accompanying playlists for each one!

Show Notes: List-o-Rama: Action Figures We'd Like to See

*Here are our picks for toys we would have liked to have had THEN:

1) Tales of the Gold Monkey
2) Voyagers!
3) The Year Without a Santa Claus

4) Dungeons and Dragons (the animated series)

5) Thundaar the Barbarian

1) The Greatest American Hero
2) Mike Torello from Crime Story
3) Mel Sharples from Alice
4) Eddie Murphy as Gumby
5) Dick Enberg

Honorable mentions: Plastic Man, Gary Gnu, Fat Albert, The Odd Couple playset

*The Golden Girls action figures now in stores come from Neca.

*Mike found this look at prototype Greatest American Hero toys that never really made it to shelves.

*These Year Without a Santa Claus toys came way too late for our tastes.

*This official board game came with figures from the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon:

And now here are our picks for toys we want to see NOW (if not sooner):

1) Search a la Mego Star Trek
2) The Sandbaggers
3) Spider-Woman with mystery villain assortment
4) Universal detectives (Columbo, Quincy, Rockford, etc.)
5) In Search Of... with various Leonards and various show subjects

Honorable mentions: Pray for the Wildcats dirtbike action set, BOTNS Genius Award collection (including Marjoe with real hair), Lego Cheers set

1) Late Night with David Letterman playset
2) Battle of the Network Stars
3) Don Cornelius
4) Bob Uecker
5) Paul Williams as Allison Troy

Honorable mentions: Edna Garrett, Sam the Butcher, Disco Paul Lynde

*There is in fact a Robert Conrad toy, though not in track outfit, but as James West from a 1997 "best of the West" line.

Thursday, April 16, 2020

List-o-rama: Action Figure Wish List

While shows ranging from Transformers all the way to M*A*S*H had action figures during the BOTNS era, plenty didn't, so we offer up a double-decker wish list. First, we look at toys we would have wanted as kids at the time. Then we list toys based on the era we'd love to have now. Join us for all the action and play along with your BOTNS action figures!

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Promo Theatre: The George Jefferson Museum and Vera dunks Henry!

Here's a cool CBS promo that wasn't online when we discussed the Jeffersons. You get a brief glimpse of one of the episodes we cover:

This promo touts CBS' lineup for November 29, 1981, and The Jeffersons looks like the winner on that Sunday night.  It's interesting that both Archie Bunker's Place and One Day at a Time have the first of two-part episodes. A highlight is Archie Bunker telling Stephanie's father to get out. It's nice to see the distaff side of the "booked two dates for the same night--oh, no" plot on One Day at a Time.

On Alice, I can't condone a promo that mentions Mel but doesn't show Mel, even if time is limited. And I do admit I am intrigued by Vera pushing Henry's face into--what is that? A mixing bowl? Did Mel start serving his chili in mixing bowls? It looks tense on Trapper, but I have to investigate this Alice situation.

Is Henry the friend who gives a bad check? I can't believe that. There must be extenuating circumstances!

According to IMDB: Vera cashes a check for an old boyfriend that bounces.

Whew! Henry is off the hook.  Yet he still winds up with a faceful of something. Vera is outraged!

You know, Flo should have kept a bowl of grits handy so when she got the urge to lash out at a regular, she could yell, "Kiss my grits,": while actually forcing the offender to kiss her grits.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Goodbye, Easter, but hello, roller skating

Two of my favorite things are roller skating (preferably Roller Disco) and Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs. However, I can't find a roller skating/Reese's ad, so let's give Easter one last glimpse with this vintage Cadbury's spot:

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Top Ten #63

1) Reese's Peanut Butter Eggs:  No offense intended to anyone, but to me the true meaning of the holiday is it instigates widespread availability of these:

2 Fred Astaire: The GOAT of Rankin-Bass narrators is Burl Ives, but the fact we can even discuss Astaire without dismissing him right away is a credit:

3) Family Circus Easter: We at BOTNS never forgot the Keanes, but this is one of the forgotten holiday cartoons of the era. Will you learn a lesson? Shed a tear? Enjoy a warm, knowing chuckle?  All of the above.

4) The Easter Beagle:  A lesser-screened Peanuts special is still a Peanuts special.

5) David Letterman: Happy birthday to one of the true TV legends.

6) Mort Drucker: The MAD icon drew so many of the stars of the 1970s and 1980s.  R.I.P.

7) Thomas Miller: The prolific producer helped bring the world Full House, but we mourn his passing anyway.

8) Cadbury:  A distant runner-up to peanut butter eggs, yes, but it has its following.

9) The Ten Commandments:  Honestly, ABC showed this each year, but unless it was Superman or James Bond, there was no way I was gonna watch 4 hours of movie on TV.

10) James Drury: R.I.P. to the star of long-running The Virginian, which is kind of on the periphery of our time period, but he was also in this short-lived 1974 series called Firehouse, which I can't help but wonder if it was in any way "inspired" by Emergency.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

If it worked for electronics, it'll work for clam broth

I don't eat clam broth, and in fact I didn't even know what it was until I stumbled on this ad:

Naming a restaurant 'Clam Broth House" is a little restrictive, isn't it? Despite the efforts of this charming fellow to tell us about the other delights one finds at the eatery, all I can think of is...clam broth. I mean, this guy is fighting off lobsters, and I still can't help but think about clam broth. Are the lobsters boiled in clam broth?

How do you even eat clam broth? Like soup? Or do you just dip your whole head in a giant bowl and slurp it up? Oh, come on, don't tell me you can't see this guy doing that.

According to the video uploader, this is Big Bernie.  To me he resembles a deranged Stuart Pankin. It's as if someone thought, "We need a Crazy Eddie approach to hyping our restaurant. If it worked for electronics, it'll work for clam broth."

Friday, April 10, 2020

Happy birthday, John Madden

Happy birthday to one of the most revered sportscasters of all time, the legendary John Madden. After coaching the Oakland Raiders for 10 seasons, Madden joined the CBS booth and became one of the most influential broadcast personalities ever. For better and worse, countless color commentators imitated him or at least were inspired by him. I wonder if we're due for a wave of Tony Romo imitators?

Now let's watch Madden breaking down the 1985 Chicago Bears defense.  You have to love that instead of using the "coach's clicker" he would have later, or even just game film, he has a regular-size board and a marker!

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Promo Theatre: Brian Dennehy is "The Star of the Family"

Brian Dennehy is a fine actor, a commanding presence who has enriched many productions over the years. He's not known as a sitcom star, though.  He WAS one back in 1982, though--the Star of the Family.

The show lasted a mere 10 episodes in the fall of 1982 on ABC, but this promo makes it a must-see. First, you have that classic sitcom take, with Dennehy looking towards the camera, doing a great face palm gesture, and muttering, "Oh, boy." I think I could watch Brian Dennehy mutter, "Oh, boy," for a half-hour. If it's the climax of some sitcom hijinks, well, then all the better!

(By the way, that is not Paul McCartney on Joanie Loves Chachi)

Let's not overlook the notion that guest star Joanna Kerns is interested in both Dennehy's character and his son (Michael Dudikoff!) despite the fact that the two guys look nothing alike. Perhaps they are more alike than I can glean from just this promo. I'm sure the writers have a rational explanation for why Kerns is attracted to both men!

Here's a little more of Star of the Family, created by Rick Mitz, author of The Great TV Sitcom BookHarry and Wally's Favorite TV Shows writes the series "goes to show that TV historians should probably stick to chronicling past shows and leave the creative writing to others." OUCH!

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Another salute to Kenny Rogers on the 40th anniversary of 'The Gambler"

We recently lost legendary music star Kenny Rogers, who was best known as a megaselling country artist but also had a notable screen career, including as an actor.  Today is the 40th anniversary of the premiere of The Gambler, or as it is officially titled--and you have to love this--Kenny Rogers as the Gambler. It's an adaptation of Rogers' #1 hit song from 1978.

(The above promo is from a repeat showing, and, hey, is that Rick Dees trying on a "cowboy" accent?)

The CBS made-for-TV movie debuted Tuesday at 9:00 EST after a White Shadow rerun and up against an episode of failed variety/event series The Big Show on NBC and ABC's combo of reruns of Three's Company and Taxi and a new Hart to Hart. The film was a big hit, spawning 4 sequels over the years; Country Music: The Encyclopedia says "it achieved the highest rating of any TV movie shown over the past two years."  The book also notes that Rogers headlined 3 specials on CBS, and then in 1981 starred in other song-to-movie adaptation, The Coward of the County

Speaking of great titles, I love that Kenny's first CBS special (April 12, 1979) is called A Special Kenny Rogers and not A Kenny Rogers Special.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Happy birthday, James Garner!

Is there a more beloved television star than James Garner? We'll get around to talking about him on the podcast someday. I can't vouch for how he was in person--though I hear good things, and he comes off like a stand-up guy in his memoir--but he is just so dadgum likable even when playing a flawed or even roguish fella.  It's no wonder he was such an effective pitchman:

Even when he is just smiling and rubbing his hands together in anticipation of a nice steak (can we offer you a bottle a' Lowenbrau?), he's charming. We all know that despite the efforts of Us to prove otherwise, celebrities are not  real people*, but if you are gonna do an ad campaign built around the slogan "real food for real people," this guy is a great choice.

Happy birthday to the late James Scott Bumgarner, born this day in 1928!

*Except Robert Pine. We know for a fact HE is a real person.

Monday, April 6, 2020

Happy National Student Athlete Day

On this National Student Athlete Day, our nation's student athletes are sidelined. However, we can still enjoy the timeless exploits of the fellas at Carver High:

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Top Ten #62

1) The Census: It's Census Week. Can we count on YOU?

2) FOX network: It's prime-time premiere (technically Joan Rivers' talk show kicked off the network months earlier) was April 5, 1987 with Married with Children at 7:00 and The Tracey Ullman Show at 7:30.  Then it actually repeated those two shows for the next two hours!

Here's a great piece on the night from TV Obscurities. And isn't it funny to think of Married with Children as a 7:00 P.M. Sunday show?

3) Brent Musberger: Makes it on the list by virtue of this hat:

By the way, this uploader posted dozens of short clips from the NFC and AFC Championship games, and they are GOLD!

4) Dick Cavett: It's National Nebraska Day, and perhaps the most famous TV star born in the Cornhusker State is the talk show host, author, and Woody devotee:

5) Murder, She Wrote: The series is no longer on Prime Video, but you can catch it on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries. Yippee?

6) Frank Gorshin: One of the stars of the Legends of the Superheroes specials entered the world on this day in 1933.

7) The Love Boat: Set a course for Decades this weekend and enjoy the Weekend Binge of the quintessential television program (don't @ me).

8) The 1984 Orange Bowl: Speaking of the Cornhuskers, this isn't exactly the best moment in the state's sports history, but it is one of the most memorable:

9) Max Gail: Happy birthday to the former Wojo from Barney Miller!

 10) Bill Withers: R.I.P.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

New to streaming video in April (don't get excited)

So after consulting different sources and doing some good old-fashioned wearing out of thumb leather by using my remote control, here is what is new to the world of U.S. streaming video in 1970s and 1980s television this month:

Little House on the Prairie (all seasons) --  IMDB TV

Yes, that's it! At least that's all I found. Shout! Factory TV is touting Johnny Carson reruns on its channel, and that's cool, but those episodes and many more are already on Prime Video without ads.  And speaking of ads, this Little House thing isn't so special when you consider the series was on Prime Video proper (ad free, easier to find) until recently. 

Maybe we should be happy that more 70s and 80s shows didn't leave streaming services this month. Murder, She Wrote's first 5 seasons were on Prime before vanishing this week. Will the series move to Peacock, which, like the series, is owned by NBC Universal and has a limited launch on April 15? We'll see.  In fact, let's keep a close eye on all those "throwback" series like Buck Rogers and The Six Million Dollar Man that are currently free on

So there isn't much to get excited about so far in April, but maybe Peacock will not just poach the series NBC has licensed out to other streaming services but will add multiple series that currently are not streaming anywhere. Otherwise, April is looking like a big disappointment for retro TV fans who hoped that some more vintage material might be made available this month.

Friday, April 3, 2020

And now a word from THEIR sponsor: More Ivory Soap

Earlier this week we looked at QB Bert Jones, who played for the Bert Joneses, pitching Ivory Soap.  The brand was fond of clean-cut (read: white) athletes promoting its product. Bert Jones was not an NFL Hall of Famer, but he was a multiyear starter, an All-Pro, even an MVP.

The NBA player that Ivory Soap got, though...

Danny Vranes was a star at Utah (of course!) and the fifth overall pick in the 1981 NBA draft. The 6'7" forward had a few years as a starter in the early 1980s, but in his 7-year career never averaged more than 29 minutes, 9 points, nor 6 rebounds per game.

But he was clean!