Sunday, May 31, 2020

Top Ten #70

1) Sesame Street: Gets the top spot because, out of all that--buzzword alert--content available on HBO Max, this is the closest thing to what we could consider a "vintage" television series.

2) KITT: Did you know it was Autonomous Vehicle Day? If you see one today, but it a beer.

3) Mr. Belvedere: The surviving cast reunited on Zoom for charity--yes, all of them, even Brice Beckham.

4) John Houseman: One of the original bad asses of the small screen called out T.J. Hooker in a promo we shared earlier this week.  When he talks, people tremble.

5) Richard Herd: R.I.P. to the prolific non-Karl Malden who, long before he was Wilhelm on Seinfeld, starred in shows like T.J. Hooker.  I hope this finally quashes that long beef with Houseman.

6) Night Court: The final episode aired this date in 1992. It's not, I would just like to point out, on HBO Max.

7) Sharon Gless: happy Birthday to Cagney! Or is ir Lacey. Damn it, I always do that.  Happy birthday to the fine star of Switch!

8) Celebrity Comedy Football Classic: We mentioned this earlier this week. Hal Linden you have the juice to make this happen: We NEED a release of this program!

9) Steven Kampmann: Happy birthday to one of the forgotten alumni of Newhart, the first two seasons' Kirk, and also a writer on WKRP.

10) Matlock: Or perhaps I should say, "Maaaaaaatlooooock!" It gets a marathon on Decades this weekend.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Is this the secret origin of the Vlasic stork?

This excellent YouTube account posted another winner this week. It may be the first Vlasic pickles ad to feature its familiar-sounding stork pitchman.  It appears to tell his secret origin!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Promo Theatre: Look out, T.J. Hooker!

NBC is bringing it on Saturday night, and it ain't messing around! Buried in the middle of this collection of non-music segments from Friday Night Videos is this amazing promo for the next evening's lineup on the Peacock network.  You should see a spot for Diff'rent Strokes when you hit play below:

We hear Danny Dark turn from light: Arnold WHOMPS a thief to dark: "Will triumph turn to tragedy?" One of my favorite network promo characteristics is the jarring tone shift that happens in a matter of seconds, especially in the family sitcoms!  Another funny part of the spot is that the jaunty theme music is still playing while Kimberly realizes her dad was shot.

Then it's right back to lightness with whatever this Frog People business is.  Even better, we get the original bad-ass himself, John Houseman, calling out T.J. Hooker from his perch on the red-hot Silver Spoons! I love Houseman's lumberjack look here.  The man is clearly ready to roll up his sleeves and get down and dirty to prove that Hooker is indeed "dead meat."

I guess Cutter to Houston on CBS wasn't even worth of a mention!

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Shows that could be--nay, SHOULD be--on HBO MAX

I write this on the eve of AT&T's big debut of HBO MAX, a confusingly named streaming video services that promises a "curated" collection of "content" from our favorite "brands."  Of course "curated" usually means, "you're not gonna get as much as you want."

In this case, I fear that the service will deliver big hits like South Park, Friends, and The Big Bang Theory but will not dive deep into the company's holdings the way the late, lamented Warner Archive Instant did.  So for our fellow fans of 1970s and 1980s television, here is a list of programs that were on Warner Instant and therefore I assume could be on HBO Max.  We're not talking only rarities, but a lot of this is infinitely more interesting to me than the shows that are already running multiple times a day in syndication.

1) Harry O: David Janssen's atmospheric, often-great private eye show was one of the highlights of Warner Archive Instant and is largely forgotten now.

2) The Man from Atlantis: This genre show has the advantage of being in just about every Warner Archive magazine advertisement I've ever seen!

3) Search: We already talked about it on the site many times, including of course, this episode, but it's worth mentioning again.

4) The Jimmy Stewart Show: Can't get much bigger in terms of star power than Jimmy, and since so many of his movies are controlled by other mega corporations, how about the gentle sitcom? And while you're at it, HBO Max, the Hawkins TV movies are welcome, too.

5) Flo: How many of us would relish the chance to fire up HBO max and blast that Hoyt Axton theme song?

6) The Practice: Not the legal drama, but the medical sitcom--the Junger/Witt Danny Thomas vehicle.

7) Logan's Run: Name value alone has to make it a contender.

8) Shaft: The TV movies from the 1970s would complement the  theatrical movies, and they seem to make a new one every 10 years, so the "brand" is still relelvant. By the way, the fact that the original Shaft movies aren't on the lists of movies available at launch nor coming in June is a red flag for a company bragging about how much content it will have.

9) Wizards and Warriors: Well, it's not like it's going to hog bandwidth--the light fantasy/adventure series lasted 8 episodes.

10) Beyond Westworld: I don't think there's much connection to the current HBO series, but aren't you curious?  This has even less episodes than Wizards and Warriors, but anything with Connie Sellecca is worth watching.

Of course it goes without saying that long-running series not streaming anywhere right now, like Medical Center, Eight Is Enough, The FBI, Night Court, and Alice should be there as well!

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

"Sports" shows that can tide us over until live sports return.

The last several months, broadcast networks and sports channels filled airtime with "classic" games (often not nearly vintage enough for my tastes), and while some sports are already back--auto racing, MMA, German soccer--there is still a void.  Here is a list of "pseudo sports" the TV networks could be rolling out in reruns.  Make no mistake, as far as we here are concerned, "psuedo" means "awesome." Sports Illustrated once called them "trash sports," but at BOTNS, we love 'em.

1) Battle of the Network Stars: Of course! We may have drawn inspiration from this program when creating our podcast, you know.  The nation was captivated by The Last Dance, so I think the logical next step is a documentary on the Gabe Kaplan/Robert Conrad controversy. In the meantime, they can show the original episodes.

2) Celebrity Challenge of the Sexes Read more here about this series of specials, no doubt imitating our #1 choice.  The events kicked off with Phyllis George against O.J. Simpson in ping pong (!) and Ed Anser vs. Lola Falana in a marathon (!) among many other great events. They say history is written by the victors, and maybe Battle "won," but 2020 viewers will gain from seeing this series.

3) US Against the World : Here's an interesting NBC special that takes the Battle gimmick and pits the USA against the UK and "the rest of the world" in a series of events.  I'm looking at the list of stars, and it's loaded--Don Rickles, Chevy Chase, Roger Daltrey, Kate Jackson...Some stars I didn't expect, like Rod Taylor and Marty Feldman.  And would it surprise you to hear that Ed McMahon was a host?

Check out this Rod Taylor site for great info on this 1977 event, including this cool pic:

4) Celebrity Bowling: Maybe we can't understand the rules, but we here at BOTNS love us some celebrity bowling. This show is perfect for these troubled times--low stakes, low impact, and low cost.  Some might even use the term "low rent," and we that a bad thing?

5) Rock N Roll Sports Classic: ABC followed its own success with this made-for-TV event starring the likes of The Jacksons, Rod Stewart (who was also in US Against the World), and of course the biggest star of all at the time, Leif Garrett. What could be more ROCK AND ROLL than competing in goofy events on network television?

You'd better believe two things: 1) Rod is kicking soccer balls during this event and 2) BOTNS icon Ed McMahon is a host. make that THREE things, actually, because another BOTNS icon, Alex Karras, is the OTHER host!  Here is a closer look at the 1978 event.

6) The Superstars: OK, we had to get to "real" athletes at some point. didn't we? After a two-hour event in 1973, ABC turned the IMG production into a recurring series until the mid 1980s, when NBC picked it up. World-class athletes from team and individual sports competed in a variety of events to determine a champion, and for a while, Renaldo Nehemiah was dominant!

7) ABC Celebrity Comedy Football Classic: I know just enough about this to know I want to see it--I really, really want to see it--but not enough to rank it higher.

8) Celebrity Billiards: This California-based Minnesota Fats series just makes eligibility for our list by virtue of making it to 1971.  VCI Entertainment released a few episodes on DVD years ago, but since then I don;t think anyone has done anything with this. Fats versus a celebrity in billiards + trick shots = the format. That's it.  That's enough for me!

9) Sports Challenge: Granted, this is sports trivia, but you get to see accomplished athletes competing, with classic clips sprinkled throughout.  All this and Dick Enberg in snazzy sportcoats! ESPN Classic showed these years ago, so they are in the vaults.

10) Celebrity Tennis: I have never seen any of this syndicated weekly mid-1970s program, but I am sure at least one Van  Patten is involved. More importantly, the producers of Celebrity Bowling are involved, so we know the show is legit.  Jed Allan even hosted this one, too.  Apparently celebrities formed doubles teams and played each other for prizes for the audience, much like the bowling show.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Happy Memorial Day!

BOTNS salutes all of those who sacrificed their lives in defense of the USA, and we hope all of our listeners everywhere have a safe and healthy day!

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Top Ten #69

1) Justice League: Snyder cut? BAH! If HBO Max really wants to reward/gain subscribers, it will give us a remastered version of the 1997 pilot.  But since that is outside our time frame, here's a look at the Super Friends, who are also more compelling:

2) Fred Willard: As beloved as he became in later years through appearances in the Christopher Guest movies and--well, wow, what wasn't he in--perhaps his best work was as the clueless sidekick Jerry Hubbard on Fernwood 2Night.

(BTW, shout-out as well to the late Phyllis George, who we talked about earlier this week.)

3) Brothers: On National Brother's Day, let's recall one of the forgotten long-running series of the 1980s, Brothers, which aired on Showtime--OK, now I can see why it was forgotten--in the second half of the decade.  The main "hook" was that it featured an openly gay character, but the sitcom ran for 115 episodes!

4) Henry Winkler: Props to the star for sharing a glimpse of Fonzie's jacket on The Tonight Show Friday night, but, uh...didn't I already see that in person at the Smithsonian? Did Henry Winkler steal the Fonz's jacket from the Smithsonian?

5) The Powers of Matthew Star: Speaking of Happy Days, the series returns to Me-TV in June, but the big story is that this 1982 NBC series will be on the channel as well! granted, it's only Sundays at 6:00 in the morning, but it's one hour they won't be showing Andy Griffith!

6) The Dean Martin Show: On this day in 1974, NBC aired the last episode of Dino's variety show.  You think they might have had a drink or two to celebrate?

7) Gary Burghoff: Happy birthday to the star of AfterMASH!

8) Head of the Class: Warner Archive is bringing out the first season on DVD next month. Still no word on What a Country!

9) T.J. Hooker: Decades has a marathon this weekend.  But wait. Is a certain crusty acting veteran coming after Hooker? More on this in a Promo Theatre post later this week!

10) St. Elsewhere: Just because! We just talked about the series, but here's a syndication promo that was just uploaded. It doesn't really strike me as a 4:00 P.M. show, though:

Friday, May 22, 2020

ABC's The Happy Days of Garry Marshall

I finally had a chance to watch last week's ABC special, The Happy Days of Garry Marshall. It's a pleasant, sentimental way to spend a couple hours.  It's tempting to make a comparison to the movies of a certain director.producer, but that's too easy. So I won't.

For classic TV fans, it's maybe a little disappointing that half the special is devoted to the feature films. Let's face it, Marshall's TV work will never be as esteemed as Norman Lear's, but he had a distinguished record of creating hits, and the special had to tear through the TV portion of the resume. Worse to my eyes, it blew right past The Odd Couple and only focused on three sitcoms: Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, and Mork and Mindy. I'm not saying I expect 10 minutes on Blansky's Beauties--OK, part of me hoped for that--but more on Odd Couple, or at least more detail on the process of Marshall the producer, would have been nice.

Of course, there is one grim factor surely influencing the decision to focus on the shows the special focuses on: People aren't around from The Odd Couple anymore. The 3 shows that are spotlighted have representatives who can talk on camera (it's still jarring to realize Robin Williams isn't here, though).

The special glosses over unpleasant issues like the notorious discord on Laverne and Shirley, and it feels very shallow, but it's a nice way to relive childhood memories if you grew up on Marshall sitcoms.  The movies, to me, don't get the benefit of nostalgia, and so I'm not as interested. Credit, though, to the production for getting the likes of Julia Roberts, Anne Hathaway, and Richard Gere to share memories and appreciations. For that matter, there aren't too many of the performers on the TV side who aren't represented.  It's a well-made look at the prolific writer/director/producer, and at the risk of sounding like a curmudgeon, I'd rather see clips and bloopers from 40-year-old series than most of what ABC is showing nowadays, so I approve. I would prefer to see clips from something like this (even if Marshall didn't have a whole lot to do with it)...


 than the same old stories about Happy Days, but I realize I'm in the minority.

Thursday, May 21, 2020

This Day in TV History: 40 years ago tonight, an intriguing night of television

The three broadcast networks offered an intriguing night of television May 21, 1980--animation, original movies, and old favorites.

CBS started the night with Bugs Bunny's Bustin' Out All Over, a special I do not remember but surely have been watching if I had the chance. There must be dozens of these primetime Bugs and Looney Tunes specials that no one runs and that aren't on Boomerang--but this one is available for a price on YouTube! It features 3 new Chuck Jones toons.

Then CBS follows with a spinoff of Rhoda--an animated spinoff! Yes, it's Carlton Your Doorman, a failed pilot run here as a special. Lorenzo Music voices the titular role as he does on the sitcom; like Rhoda, this is an MTM production. Unlike Rhoda, it didn't lead to anything...yet it did win an Emmy for best animated special!

NBC has perhaps the blandest lineup this Wednesday night--a rerun of Real People, an hourlong Diff'rent Strokes rerun, and a Quincy repeat. People profiles Famous Amos, and at 10:00, the M.E. tackles the issue of elder abuse.  The interesting choice is the Strokes episode--a Thanksgiving episode broadcast in the middle of May. The second half-hour originally aired as Hello Larry, but it seems it was already retconned as an episode of the successful show 9as it appears in DVD and in reruns today).  They sure weren't giving up on Larry, were they?

Back to CBS, which followed its animated hour with The Grass Is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank. Remember Erma Bombeck? Well, as a child of the era, I may not have read her newspaper columns about the humorous foibles of suburban life, but, oh, do I recall the book collections being all over the place. This TV movie adaptation of Bombeck's work, originally aired in 1978, stars Carol Burnett and Charles Grodin and was intended as a series pilot. Unfortunately, "critics hated it."

How about ABC's lineup, you ask? Well, if you need a little excitement, the network has you covered with Perry Como's Bahama Holiday. The Captain and Tennille and Loretta Swit join the scenery to produce "the next best thing to visiting Nassau."

After that special comes Murder Can Hurt You, a 1980 TV-movie I have been meaning to see after hearing frequent references on Gilbert Gottfried's podcast. The spoof of TV detective/cop shows stars Don Adams, Gavin Macleod (as Kojak), Tony Danza (as Baretta), Roz Kelly, Victor Buono (as Ironside), and many, many more!

What a night of television! What would you watch out of this collection of entertainment?

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

R.I.P. Phyllis George

Pioneering sportscaster Phyllis George died last week at the age of 70.  She had a distinguished television career that included stints on CBS Morning News and Candid Camera, but I was just watching her on this great clip courtesy of the Classic Sports YT account:

The team works well here. Phyllis and Irv are likable and just easy to watch, and Brent is--well, Brent is Brent! The whole crew is in good form, but what's up with guest analyst Alex Hawkins? Hawkins was a sort of lovable rogue who was fired several times by CBS (including after this 1977 season when he was busted for drunk driving and marijuana possession) and a fixture on Atlanta broadcasts for years, but he brings very little to the table in this one. Maybe he didn't follow the league that closely except for the Falcons, but he begs off a basic set-up question from Brent.

But we are here to celebrate Phyllis George, who was known for doing features but is solid here at the desk in this role.  She received all kinds of sexist hatred just for appearing on The NFL Today, but each time I watch one of these vintage clips, I see (granted with hindsight) the former Miss America is a great broadcaster and effective pro football personality if not a seasoned journalist.  In 2020, with standards having changed so much, it seems kind of quaint to think of the criticism she received not just for being a female, but for landing in so many broadcast newsy roles without a news background.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Retro Fan Magazine catches up with Reb Brown, TV's Captain America!

The current issue of RetroFan magazine gives the cover spotlight to BOTNS favorite. We talked about the 1979 CBS Captain America movies here, and we also found him in a Facts of Life episode. Of course he's been in all kinds of other roles in his career, but this interview focuses on his stint as the Sentinel of Liberty.

My biggest takeaway is that Brown seems like a great guy--humble, friendly, and thankful to the fans and for his experience as Cap. He keeps using the word "purity" to describe what compelled him to the character.

Here are some other items that strike me:

*He says the reason the movies didn't go to series was that Marvel jacked up its licensing fee and there would have been no budget left to do anything but show him riding his motorcycle in his living room. He adds that it broke his heart it didn't become a series.

*He was not asked to be in the 1980s Hulk movies on NBC but would have loved to have done them.

*Similarly, someone reached out to him about doing a cameo in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and he was game, but then they never got back to him.  Boo!

*He got the part while under contract with Universal and getting a meeting with producer Allan Balter. They just clicked, and the part was his.

*Unfortunately, they didn't ask him about this:

It's a cool interview in another fine magazine from the folks at TwoMorrows Publishing.

Sunday, May 17, 2020

Top Ten #68

1) Garry Marshall: Say what you will about the legendary producer.director/writer, but it's not bad to get a 2-hour network special in prime time 4 years after you're gone.  I haven't seen it yet, and so I can't verify that it devoted a good 10 minutes to...

2) Loni Anderson: Friday marked the 40th anniversary of The Fantastic Funnies on CBS, and Anderson was an adept host who actually seemed to enjoy talking about comic strips.  Check out this post for more.

3) Darth Vader: Yesterday we mentioned Darth's work promoting the Saturda-morning lineups of both ABC and CBS in 1977.  Oh, how I wish I could share (or just SEE, for that matter) footage of Vader choking Jim Backus--a battle that must have rivaled Solomon Grundy vs. Ed McMahon--but we will have to settle for this:

4) Kathleen Sullivan: Happy birthday to the former broadcaster, born this day in 1953.  Remember when for about 6 months it seemed she was gonna be the Next Big Thing?

5) Mannix: If you're not getting enough two-fisted investigators in your life--I know i am not--Decades has you covered with a marathon of Mannix this week. So I'm gonna post this awesome TV Land promo because it still cracks me up:

6) The Krypton Factor: Hey, with everyone hungering for live sports to come back, why doesn't ABC show reruns of the ultimate in human competition?

7) Jerry Stiller: R.I.P. to the star of...well, lots of things, but we were intrigued by The Stiller and Meara Show when we looked at June 1986 in our most recent TV Guide Game podcast.

8) Marty Pasko: R.I.P. to the comics scribe and animation/TV writer and editor.  he worked on things as diverse as Thundaar and Simon and Simon and also did a lot of work on this one:

 9) The Equalizer: A female-slanted reboot starring Queen Latifah will hit CBS next season.

10) Scooby-Doo: Speaking of reboots, they're giving another shot at this franchise with Scoob, and--you know what, the original show is easy enough to find. Maybe we can just watch some of that.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

RetroFan magazine looks at Saturday morning!

I give my strongest recommendation to RetroFan magazine, now a bi-monthly publication that offers a great blast of nostalgia in a visually appealing package.  Originally I wanted to spotlight the latest issue's cover story this week, but since it's Saturday morning, let me highlight a different piece: Part 1 of a look at network Saturday morning preview shows!

Andy Mangels is a prolific writer, producer, and historian whose Retro Saturday Morning column appears in each issue. This time, he covers those half-hour or hour specials the networks used to spotlight the new and returning programs kids would see on the Fall network Saturday schedule. Often airing on Friday nights, these extravaganzas might combine animation with live action, Saturday stars with special guest stars, music with comedy--in short, all kinds of goofy stuff might happen, as Mangels shows in his article.

(Remember that Mike looked in depth at one of these specials right here on the website!)

The only frustrating thing about reading the story is how little of the subject matter is readily available, or even available, period. Mangels states at the beginning most of these programs are rare and that they are licensing nightmares that will never see legit home video release. Therefore we have to rely on clips for most of these (some are intact online), and Mangels' excellent research uncovers a lot of cool details.

I won't give away those details here, but I think my biggest takeaway is the awesomeness of the year 1977. Not only did ABC, CBS, and NBC all have preview specials. but Darth Vader appeared in two of them.  On ABC he apparently introduces some clips from shows like Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels. On CBS, however, he force-strangles Jim Backus!

Not to be outdone, NBC's C'mon, Saturday! features the gimmick of a kid (the then-star of Annie on Broadway) programming the network's weekend mornings. Her special advisor is Mister Wister, played by Leonard Nimoy, who, Mangels reports, sings "Turn, turn, turn your dial, right to NBC," to the tune of Row Your Boat!

There are tons of fun tidbits like that in this lengthy story, and it's illustrated with vintage ads, screenshots, and promo pics. So if you want to go back in time and see how the networks promoted their Saturday morning lineups--and why wouldn't you--and want to revisit Kaptain Kool and the Kongs, Jimmy Osmond, and the Banana Splits, pick up this issue of RetroFan.

Friday, May 15, 2020

This Day in TV History: Fantastic Funnies on CBS

40 years ago today, CBS led off its Thursday night with Fantastic Funnies, a charming look at the comic strips.

Why did CBS do this special? I don't know. But it seems like back then, networks did that more often: just run specials on interesting topics for prime-time programming.  Loni Anderson, who would voice Blondie in a 1987 animated special, is an enthusiastic host, and she puts in the work, doing multiple hair style and wardrobe costumes to introduce each segment. Often her look is designed to match the particular strip she introduces.

The special, co-produced by longtime Peanuts animation figure Bill Melendez, uses some interesting techniques to adapt a print medium for a TV special. There are multiple animated segments, for one thing, including the screen debut of Marmaduke. We see cool footage of the cartoonists talking about and, even better, drawing their characters.


 Perhaps the biggest takeaway, though, is the sheer amount of music in this special. There are original songs like a musical video about reading "the funnies." There is a number from the stage play Annie. Anderson herself even sings various theme songs associated with comic strip characters like Popeye.

There is even a segment from CBS show WKRP  with Johnny Fever reading Flash Gordon during a Cincinnati newspaper strike. A little something for everyone! I am not sure it's the most coherent special, but it sure is entertaining and an outstanding watch for any comic strip fan.


Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Great Moments in 70s and 80s TV History:Spider-Man Meets Some Guy

One of the highlights of the underappreciated 1981 Spider-Man animated series is this cameo.  Check out this scene from episode 4, Curiosity Killed the Spider-Man:

Spidey ponders, "Say, where have I seen that guy before? time to worry about it now."

And to think I was excited to see Black Cat in this episode!

Monday, May 11, 2020

This Day in TV History: Rankin Bass do Tolkien

On Sunday, May 11, 1980, ABC premiered a Rankin/Bass movie, a two-hour J.R.R. Tolkien adaptation: The Return of the King.

The producers did The Hobbit in 1977 and enlisted another all-star cast for this follow-up. Wikipedia has the date wrong, by the way; listing its premiere as November 11, 1979.

By the way, remember a couple days ago when we talked about NBC's TV movies airing May 8 and May 9 1980 and how it promoted Capricorn One as 'coming soon"? Well, it WAS soon--May 11! Was it too confusing to just tell people "Sunday"?

Sunday, May 10, 2020

Top Ten #67

1) MAMA: 
Expectations for Mother: 95% of all TV moms
Reality for Mother:

Just kidding! Happy Mother's Day to my wonderful mom and all the other muthas out there.

2) Reb Brown: The one true Captain America (arguably) is the cover subject of the newest edition of the delightful Retro Fan magazine.  We'll write more about it later, but we highly recommend the piece and the mag in general.

3) Mayberry R.F.D./Matlock: Both series are getting plenty of play on Me-TV as part of its Mayberry month promotion. Why don't we celebrate with a classic moment from former Royals slugger JOHN Mayberry:

4) Ken Berry: Speaking of Mayberry and Mama's Family, Me-TV published a list of things you never knew about Ken Berry. Hmm. yes, I suppose there are some people who haven't devoted their lives to exhaustive Ken Burry study, so we do have a duty to educate them.

5) Family Ties/Facts of Life: Antenna TV's marathons this weekend celebrate Mother's Day with Elyse Keaton and Edna Garrett (she did have a son, but he was a bit of a tosser).

6) Nurse: The 1981 show is forgotten now, but it is Nurses Week, and Michael Learned did win an Emmy for the series:

7) Mrs. C: As ABC prepares to celebrate Garry Marshall with a two-hour primetime special on Tuesday, we offer a salute to one of the friskiest TV moms out there, Marion Cunningham.

8) Teri Copley: Happy birthday to Ms. Copley, who won a nationwide rocket science competition to win the role of Mickey on We Got It Made.

9) Laverne and Shirley: The final episode of the long-running hit sitcom aired on this date in 1983, but its final moments featured neither Laverne nor Shirley!

10) Alex Karras: The NFL released its 2020 schedule this week, which I really see as an excuse to post another Alex Karras commercial (also starring Alice's Celia Weston):

Saturday, May 9, 2020

This Day in TV History: A pair of deuces on NBC 40 years ago today

An unusual programming strategy crafted NBC's prime-time lineup 40 years ago today.  On May 9, 1980, NBC featured two movies--but it showed the second part of each one.  Yes, rather than show 1976's King Kong on Thursday and The Curse of King Tut's Tomb on Friday, it started each the first night and finished them the next.

Notice how Casey Kasem kind of glosses over Tut in that promo and instead rushes to hype Capricorn One, which is "coming soon." Tut stars Raymond Burr, as Kasem says, but top billed is Eva Marie Saint in the original TV movie, with Robin Ellis as famed archaeologist Howard Carter.  Also in the cast: BOTNS favorite Tom Baker, AKA the Fourth Doctor!

The 1976 Kong is of course the Dino DeLaurentiis remake, a big-budget production that did well in theaters despite its less-than-stellar reputation.  NBC spent a then-record amount to license the movie and got an expanded ("bloated?) edition of the film that was 134 minutes in its original theatrical run. This 1980 screening was NBC's second of the movie; it debuted to much hype in 1978 (Multiple sources call it "October 1978," but I can't find the actual airdate).

The longer running time encouraged NBC to do it as a two-night event (or maybe it was the other way around), but it seems odd to pair it with a TV movie instead of an hour long program each night. So the Kong-size Kong is split into two two-hour slots, but the regular-length Tut gets two one-hour slots.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Happy birthday, Darren McGavin!

We haven't really given this talented actor his due on the podcast yet, but BOTNS salutes the late Darren McGavin, formerly William Lyle Richardson, on what would have been his 98th birthday.

On the TV side, McGavin is best known for Kolchak: The Night Stalker, but he was in the Six Million Dollar Man pilot, had a recurring role on Murphy Brown, and of course starred in this:

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

1970s and 1980s TV on Hoopla

One of the coolest resources for borrowing books and streaming TV and movies is Hoopla, which is accessible through participating library systems. The number of borrows you get each calendar month is determined by your local library, and mine recently doubled the number, making it easier to "burn" them on TV episodes.

Even as the world attempts to emerge from quarantine, Hoopla remains a valuable and totally FREE resource, and you can view TV shows on your computer, your phone, or best of all on its Roku app.  Here is the 1970s and 1980s television I found on Hoopla. Most of them are courtesy of an apparent licensing agreement with MPI Home Video.

Poldark: Not the modern version, but the original BBC production of the Winston Graham novels.  Both seasons are available.
The Doris Day Show: The ever-changing sitcom aired on CBS 1968-1973. All 5 seasons are available.

Family Affair: Brian Keith and Sebastian Cabot co-star with adorable kids in this gentle CBS family sitcom that ran on CBS 1966-1971. All 5 seasons are on Hoopla.

Dark Shadows: The original run lasted till 1971, just peeking into the BOTNS era, but the Hoopla offerings only span 1967-1968--"Collections" 1-9 from MPI.

Robin of Sherwood: This 1984-1986 series debuted on ITV but also aired in the USA on Showtime and on PBS stations. All 3 seasons are on Hoopla.

Here's Lucy: Lucille Ball's follow-up to The Lucy Show ran 6 seasons (1968-1974) on CBS, and the whole series is available.

The Merv Griffin Show: A package of compilations--I think the same one that has been on streamers like Hulu, IMBD TV, and Tubi--of the long-running talk show is on Hoopla. There are 38 "episodes" ranging from the 1960s to the 1980s.

The "one episode=one borrow" policy doesn't seem too bad for hourlong episodes, but it seems a little stingy when you consider you might be able to borrow a whole disc of them from a physical library. However, the service is easy to use and FREE.  if you are into classic TV and don't have the DVDs or other streaming outlets, you can get older material like The Honeymooners Lost Episodes, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Donna Reed Show, and more.

Monday, May 4, 2020

This Day in TV History: 40 years ago, a spectacular night on ABC

I could tell you about May 4, 1980 on ABC, but why don't I let Ernie Anderson do it?

The Battle episode features the following team captains: William Devane for NBC, Cathy Lee Crosby for ABC, and Chad Everett for CBS. Among the luminaries competing are BOTNS faves Grant Goodeve, Larry Wilcox, Randi Oakes, and Patrick Simmons--er, Gary Sandy.

The Ritter special is a showcase for the star at the height of Three's Company fame. Directed by longtime Company helmsman Dave Powers, co-starring Joyce DeWitt and Suzanne Somers, and coming from Ritter's own production company, the hourlong broadcast features several sketches with costars like Vincent Price and Howard Hesseman.

The special got a seemingly random DVD release in 2004--or was it random? Well, Whitney Pastorek doesn't seem to think so in this blistering review from Entertainment Weekly. Reaction today to the special is indeed mixed at best.

People didn't care for it in 1980, as you can tell by this brief Picks and Pans review:

The concept—a spoof of America’s neurotic hang-ups—and the cast are too good for the material. Vincent Price is smooth as a behavioral psychologist, and Howard Hesseman is zonked out as a rock star’s shrink. The ubiquitous Ritter is, as ever, likable. But the skits drone on, as if this were a run-through, not an edited show.

(Vintage ad from via

Sunday, May 3, 2020

Top Ten #66

1) CBS Evening News: The long-running nightly newscast premiered this day in 1948. Of course, the show hits its peak in the 1960s and 1970s when legendary anchor Walter Cronkite landed on the

2) Alison Arngrim: The Little House star was on the TV Confidential podcast talking about her ongoing project of donning bonnets and reading from the original Laura Ingalls Wilder books, often joined by her costars. A pandemic would be about the sixth-worst thing that happened on Little House on the Prairie.

3) Stars in the House: Speaking of stars doing good things during quarantine, this ongoing YouTube show featured TV child stars this week, with Mindy Cohn, Mackenzie Phillips, Jill Whelan, and Glenn Scarpelli!

4) Bernie Kopell: I conclude that Bernie Kopell is one of the finest actors of his generation. A first-season Fantasy Island episode has Kopell portraying a nebbishy henpecked husband who gets no respect form his family.  We all know from Love Boat that he is actually an alpha super-desirable Lothario. Yet I was still able to buy him in his Island role. It just goes to show the power of a craftsman to totally immerse himself in a character.

5) Dallas: The megahit soap went out with a bang on this date in 1991. No, I mean this was the series finale, not the Who Shot J.R. thing--that was a decade earlier. It did have over 350 other episodes, you know.

6) George Gaynes: Happy birthday to the late actor.  I can hear my podcast partner in crime saying "Punky" right now.

7) Jim Bouton: The excellent Baseball by the Book podcast just featured author Mitchell Nathanson, whose new biography of the pitcher talks about the short-lived Ball Four sitcom that we wanted to see and one of us actually did. Nathanson says the series was hampered by the emphasis on joke-joke-joke and the fact that Bouton was spreading himself thin as star and producer while training for an MLB comeback.

8) Fruit Stripes gum: We discussed this on the Charo episode this season.  See, it's not ALL highfalutin scholarly theory on our podcast.

9) Murder, She Wrote: After being so rudely yanked from Prime Video a couple months ago, the hard-hitting, racy romp of a detective show is now on IMDB TV (the first 5 seasons).

10) Barnaby Jones: Decades is running a marathon this weekend of one of the only TV detectives who makes Jessica Fletcher look vigorous.

Saturday, May 2, 2020

YouTube Spotlight: Rudy Vallee and Casey Kasem

This week's Fame Game #5 bonus episode spotlights a long-time star of live action and animation. One of the clips in this week's YouTube playlist is this curio: Rudy Vallee performing Winchester Cathedral on Shebang.

Yes, the show is a good 4-5 years out of our time frame, but, come on! Casey Kasem is a 1970s and 1980s icon, and Rudy Vallee--Well, Rudy Vallee was on an episode of CHiPs.

Friday, May 1, 2020

Fame Game #5 You Tube playlist is now live!

This week we celebrate our Fame Game subject with a list of commercials, clips. and more! In addition to our Famer, you'll see Raquel Welch! The Muppets! Dean martin! Multiple cartoons! And finally, The Burns and Schreiber Comedy Hour makes its triumphant debut in the BOTNS playlists! Click below!

And remember, for all of our past podcasts and episode-specific playlists for each one, head to our official YouTube channel!

Show Notes: Fame Game #5

Remember, if you want to play along with us, listen to this week's bonus episode BEFORE reading these show notes and before watching this week's YouTube playlist!

*Our Famer was born July 24, 1936.

*Granny Goodwitch was in Sugar Crisps cereal ads and on Linus the Lionhearted.

*The Pound Puppies cartoon, based on the toy line by Tonka, aired as a special in October 1985, then as a regular series on ABC 1986-1989.  A 2010 revival on Hub lasted several more seasons.

*Paw Paws is a syndicated 1985-1986 Hanna Barbera series.

*Henry's wife Chloe appeared on only one episode of Alice: Season 5's Henry's Bitter Half.

*Our Famer did NOT kill the rest of the participants in the Dean Martin Roast of Frank Sinatra.

*One role we did not mention but that we have discussed on the podcast: Aunt Minerva from Legends of the Superheroes: The Roast.

*The Love Boat episode with our Famer as herself is one of the post-main-run movies, 1987's Who Killed Maxwell Thorn? in which she appears along with other BOTNS faves like Alan Thicke, Bert Convy, The Bos, Charo, Gordon Jump...the list goes on and on. Robert Reed and Florence Henderson play Mike and Carol Brady!

You can see the opening to the episode in this week's video playlist on our official YouTube channel.

*Our Famer, as we mention, is active on Twitter and is also on Cameo.