Friday, October 30, 2020

YouTube Spotlight: This one's a real gas, man!

Let me tell you cats something, man, this video was not in the Poor Devil playlist when it first went up this week, but it should have been, and it's there now! From Saturday Night Live November 19, 1983, guest host Jerry Lewis gets bypass surgery less than a year after his real-life heart attack:

This is the opening sketch of the episode, and the cast seems to be having a good time. LEWIS sure is. Did he really get some anesthesia?  He's almost too loose, and the quality of the sketch doesn't necessarily merit the reactions on stage, but so what? Jerry is a veteran of live television and "breaking up" during the hijinks, so why not go with it and try to make it a happening?

You may be familiar with Joe Piscopo's Frank Sinatra, but his Dean Martin is much less known! And as for Eddie Murphy, he's magnetic as always, but you can tell the audience is gonna love him even if he starts lapsing into Michael Jackson instead of Sammy Davis Jr.

Thursday, October 29, 2020

The Poor Devil video playlist is now live--I mean really live, man

After enjoying this week's podcast, celebrate the TV movie Poor Devil with this week's video playlist! Click below to watch commercials! Promos! PSAs! And we take the opportunity to load the playlist up with a really cool cat, man--this guy Sammy Davis Jr. See clips from NBC Follies, Sammy and Company, and more! And Sammy Maudlin makes an appearance! And Don Rickles because why not? Just click below!

Remember to visit our official YouTube channel for past episodes and playlists like this for every one of them! And Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Show Notes: Episode 8-6: Poor Devil

*Sammy Davis Jr. was indeed involved with Anton Lavey's Church of Satan, but he eventually had a falling out with the organization, though his memoir doesn't give details as to why.

This piece is a nice summary of various proclivities of Davis, including his association with Satanism. It also makes the case that Poor Devil was Davis' attempt to get a Satanistic sitcom off the ground.  This article and others claim that religious groups' protests killed off the project. 

*The blog/website/podcast by Amanda Reyes is Made for TV Mayhem, but I misidentified the book as such. The book's title is Are You in the House Alone?

*NBC Follies lasted 14 episodes at the beginning of the 1973-1974 season.

*Sammy and Company was a late-night program in first-run syndication weekends from April 1975 to March 1977. Here is a fascinating account of the series. Davis needed the money at the time, sure, after some rough years, but he also loved the format. However...

However, Sammy’s familiarity with his guests, mixed with his legendary generosity and the occasional effects of drugs and alcohol, became a toxic combination; Sammy generally exhibited his worst tendencies as host. On screen, he came across as unduly unctuous – with his over-the-top flattery and his uncontrollable laughter at the mildest of his guests’ jokes. Sammy arguably had more individual talents than anyone in entertainment history, but being an insightful interviewer probably wasn’t one of them. (One episode featuring Chita Rivera and Liza Minelli found Rivera patiently waiting for Sammy’s rambling and incoherent questions; both Sammy and Liza were seemingly high as kites.)

The series inspired the famous Sammy Maudlin sketches on SCTV.

*NBC made-for-TV movie Poor Devil premiered February 14, 1973 (Valentine's Day), preceded by Adam-12 and followed at 10:00 by Search.  ABC had The Paul Lynde Show, The Girls f Huntington House, and Owen Marshall, Counselor at Law with guest Robert Reed.  CBS' lineup: The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour, Medical Center, and Cannon.

*The movie has some great location shooting of early 1970s San Francisco, but the scenes in Hell were done on soundstages.

*To hear more about A Year at the Top, check out this bonus episode.

*Helen Wheels is a 1973 single from Paul McCartney and Wings.

*Finally, thanks again to James, and we ask, *What are YOU gonna do when Pine-a-Mania and Battymania run wild on you? 

Tomorrow on Battle of the Network Shows...


Episode 8-6: Poor Devil

In TV movie "Poor Devil," Sammy Davis Jr. the demon sees a chance to get out of the furnace room if Christopher "Lucifer" Lee will just let him convince Jack Klugman to sign over his soul. Also, Adam West plays a jerk. What the h-e-double-hockey-sticks?!

Check out this episode!

Monday, October 26, 2020

Chuck Brown's Pumpkin Time: One of my favorite moments

 Let's kick off Halloween Week with one of my favorite moments from one of my favorite animated specials.  If there's one bright side to the Big Three of Peanuts holiday programs going to streaming video and off broadcast television, it's the wake-up call it seemed to give so many: Hey, we watch these and treasure them every year.

This little bit gets me each time I see it.  The gang is having a Halloween bash, and while Lucy and Violet look at a pumpkin and strike a contemplative pose, look who comes running out of nowhere like a bat out of hell:

All right, these screencaps are terrible. Apologies for my old-school DVD, but I'm sure glad I have it/ You know why? Because it means i don't have to count on a broadcast network showing it in and likely chopping it up.

I love this moment because Charlie is just running through the room yelling with his arms raised for no apparent reason. What is he doing? What's going on at this party? If Charlie, a guy who is often fairly reserved, is carrying on like this, what is happening in the other room?

People often remember the "grown-up" moments of the holiday specials, like Linus' sermon at the end of A Charlie Brown Christmas, but times like this remind you that they are kids, after all. Maybe it's no wonder we never see adults around here!

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Top Ten #91

1) Scrooge McDuck: The star of this week's podcast subject, Duck Tales, deserves the #1 spot for his derring-do, his ducky pluck, and of course his massive wealth. No, our rankings aren't for sale...but we don't mind renting out a spot every now and then.

2) Donald Duck: Yes, that's right, Don gets the nod instead of the nephews! I still haven't accepted Huey, Louie, and Dewey, and that business with stealing Scrooge's dime in "Once Upon a Dime" (as we discuss on this week's pod) doesn't help any.

3) The Mary Tyler Moore Show: Chuckles Bites the Dust premiered this day 45 years ago! To make one more Duck Tales reference, Scrooge launched his empire in part with peanuts. Fortunately, none of those elephants mistook him for one.

4) Tony Franciosa: Happy birthday to one of the stars of our beloved Search! I can hear Cameron now: "Bianco! Biaaancoooo!"

5) Ed Asner: The 90-year-old was on the TV Confidential podcast again and was delightful as ever. Here's Ed talking about that famous MTM episode:

6) Count Chocula: In the middle of a frustrating shopping experience, I made an impulse buy of a giant box of the stuff yesterday, and I haven't regretted it one bit. Well, maybe a little bit.

7) Evel Knievel: No, we're not done with Evel yet! Here's yet another 1970s Evel-related ad. Even though it's for kids' bikes, I'm still disappointed it doesn't feature flaming hoops, spinouts, and crashes.

8) Marion Ross: Happy birthday to the iconic Mrs. C! Since we just posted an orange juice ad, let's give apple juice equal time:

9) Hammer House of Horror: Decades ran a big batch of the 1980 British anthology series this weekend. Huh. I guess some holiday is coming up or something?

10) Christopher Hewitt: I didn't expect the future Mr. Belvedere to show up on an episode of one-season wonder On Our Own as I watched it on Prime Video, but there he was! His performance as a hammy actor in this episode makes his later work in his most famous role look minimalistic:


Saturday, October 24, 2020

YouTube Spotlight: Duck Tales toys at the gas station!

One of the more intriguing videos in our video playlist for this week's Duck Tales episode is this 1989 Sunoco spot:

You know what I miss about the old days? Being able to get cool toys at gas stations.  Actually, I don't remember many of the fill-up joints near me carrying sweet merch like this. I recall being able to get 18-wheelers with oil brand names on them and stuff like that, but Duck Tales toys? No way.

I want that Gyro Gearloose, by the way!

Friday, October 23, 2020

The Duck Tales video playlist is now live!

After listening to this week's podcast, check out our video playlist devoted to Duck Tales! We have plenty of stuff, including promos! Commercials! Donald Duck orange juice! Alan Young and Russi Taylor (Birdie in the McDonald's ad)! Bagpipes? And who was going to Disney World after the Super Bowl the season Duck Tales premiered? Click below to find out!

And remember to visit our official YouTube page for all of our past podcast episodes and video playlists to accompany them! 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Show Notes: Episode 8-5: Duck Tales

*Special thanks again to Geno from our Facebook group for suggesting we talk about Duck Tales and for sharing his thoughts on the series! Come on over and join us to talk about classic (and maybe not-so-classic?) television!

*Duck Tales' original incarnation aired September 1987 to November 1990 in first-run syndication, mostly weekday afternoons.

*Uncle Scrooge McDuck first appeared in Carl Barks' comic book story "Christmas on Bear Mountain" in the issue of Four-Colour cover-dated December 1947. He then made a cameo in the animated opening of The Mickey Mouse Club, but his first speaking role came in the 1967 short Scrooge McDuck and Money, in which Bill Thompson provided the voice. Here is some more info about Scrooge.

*Huey, Louie, and Dewey debuted in the syndicated Donald Duck comic strip by Ted Osborne and Al Taliaferro. They made their screen debut the following year in 1938's Donald's Nephews.

*Talking dogs vs. non-talking dogs? Ducks with and without pants? We will just have to continue exploring these issues because we don't have solid answers.

*Disney bought Capital Cities/ABC in 1995.

*Roy E. Disney, nephew of Walt and son of Roy O. Disney (who died in 1971), was a longtime member of the Disney board of directors and an active figure in the company for years.

*Donald Duck Presents aired vintage Disney animated shorts on The Disney Channel from 1983-1992.

*Scrooge McDuck is not in season 1 of The Mandalorian, but we are not sure if he will show up in season 2.

*Old Man Ribbit is credited to William Callaway, whose other TV animation roles include Clumsy Smurf, Ming the Merciless, and Aquaman!

Episode 8-5: Duck Tales "Once Upon a Dime"

This week, we dive into the deep end of the money bin as we take on a lister request, eighties cartoon Duck Tales. On every duck's favorite holiday, Dime Polishing Day, Scrooge McDuck tells the duck tale of how he got his number one dime and became the world's richest duck.

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Promo Theatre: EISCHIED returns!

 Don't ask me to explain why, but very little in this world gives me more joy than hearing Casey Kasem say, "Eischeid!"

Joe Don Baker and James Stephens! Looks like a good episode!

Monday, October 19, 2020

Happy birthday to the late Robert Reed

Our season premiere covered The Brady Bunch last month, so we feel it's appropriate to mark the late actor's birthdate of this day in 1932.  Reed was more than just Mike Brady, of course, starring in The Defenders before his most beloved role and in a recurring role on Mannix.  One role we didn't discuss on the pod, though: Dr. Adam Rose on the short-lived Michael Learned show Nurse.

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Top Ten #90

1) Lt. Columbo: One of the best characters in TV history and also one of the biggest pains in the butt--but in a good way. if you didn't get enough of him from our podcast this week, here's another glimpse:

2) Leonard Nimoy: As we discussed this week, Nimoy's Barry Mayfield (yep, I get joy from writing that name as well as saying it) is one of the series' best villains, and seeing him match up with Columbo is a riot.

3) DeForest Kelley: Just because we talked about Shatner and Nimoy on the podcast this week, and I feel bad Kelley wasn't on Columbo.

4) The BBC: Founded on this day in 1922 for--as far as those of us in the States are aware--the express purpose of running Are You Being Served and Keeping Up Appearances hundreds of times a year.

5) Pam Dawber: Happy birthday to the underrated straight man of the Mork and Mindy team.

6) Nita Talbot: She is one of the more interesting parts of "A Stitch in Crime."

7) Supermarket Sweep: Finally, because...someone demanded it, a revamp of this one premieres on ABC tonight. My own criterion for a good game show: Was Orson Bean on it? If not, it probably isn't worthwhile.

8) Tom Kennedy: If they made a game show called Who Hosted the Most Game Shows? he would have to have made the speed round. R.I.P.

9) Louis Gossett: I for one had no idea he did Oreo commercials in the Eighties:

10) Conchata Ferrell: R.I.P. to the popular actress, who was in many, many things before Two and a Half Men, none of which had a theme this awesome:

Saturday, October 17, 2020

YouTube Spotlight: Everyone's got a Columbo impression...

One of the clips that most intrigues me in this week's video playlist for Columbo is the 1989 promo for the ABC revival of the series, a commercial that has Mark Linn-Baker doing his Columbo impression for the camera.  Let's take another look:

It's not bad, eh? Maybe it's a little "cringy" today--maybe it was then--but you can't blame him for giving it a shot.  The fact is, Peter Falk is up there with Peter Lorre and Jimmy Cagney as actors who are difficult to not imitate after watching them.

Linn-Baker had some in-house competition in 1989, though. It's Growing Pains star Jeremy Miller, an unexpected challenger to be sure, but one who gives it his all:

Are there more of these floating around? What other 1989 season ABC stars would you like to see in promos doing their best Columbo? Here's my quick list:

1) Burt Reynolds (then playing BL Stryker on the ABC Mystery Movie alongside Falk and Louis Gossett's Gideon Oliver): 'Nuff said.

2) Jackie Mason (Chicken Soup):  I might pay to see this.

3) Timothy Busfield (Thirtysomething): I don't know why this idea amuses me, but it does.

4) Christopher Hewitt (Mr. Belvedere): Like YOU haven't pondered what his Peter Falk would sound like!

5) Diane Sawyer (Primetime Live): Why not?

Friday, October 16, 2020

The Columbo video playlist is now live!

 After listening to this week's podcast, how about enjoying just one more thing? Actually, there are dozens of things to enjoy in our video playlist for this episode! Click below to see vintage promos, Emmy speeches, glimpses of Mrs. Columbo, and more! If you ever wanted to see Mark Linn-Baker impersonate Peter Falk, this is your chance!

And remember to visit our official YouTube channel for more episode-specific playlists like this plus every edition of our podcast!

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Show Notes: Episode 8-4: Columbo

 *Columbo has 43 episodes (plus 2 pilots) in its 1970s run on NBC and 24 in its second stint on ABC from 1989-2003. It was part of the NBC Mystery Movie on NBC from 1971-1978, starting as a Wednesday show and moving to Sunday.

*The series won 13 Emmy awards, including 4 for peter Falk as Outstanding Lead Actor (3 were for Drama Series, but 1 was from a year Columbo  was classified as a Limited Series).

*Thanks to The Consummate Culp for this Mad scan of Mort Drucker's rendition of Falk as Columbo (as well as frequent and beloved guest star Robert Culp:

*A Stitch in Crime premiered February 11, 1973. It was preceded on NBC by part 1 of Rascal (a 1969 movie with Billy Mumy and a pet raccoon) on The Wonderful World of Disney and followed by the premiere of Jack Webb's Escape

ABC offered an episode of The F.B.I. and part 1 of 1962 WWII epic The Longest Day, while CBS started the night with Play It Again, Charile Brown and The Flintstones on Ice (!). At 9:00 CBS presented Duke Ellington...We Love You Madly, a tribute starring Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Sarah Vaughan, and more.

*The Dick Van Dyke episode we mention is season 2's "Negative Reaction."

*Leonard Nimoy is the star of this episode, but William Shatner was in season 6's opener "Fade in to Murder" and 1994's "Butterfly in Shades of Gray." Walter Koenig appears in the former.

*Mrs. Columbo lasted two seasons and 13 installments on NBC, becoming Kate Loves a Mystery midway through as the network tried to retool it by changing the lead character to a divorcee named Kate Callahan and shedding references to Columbo. One possible reason (besides the fact that people hated the very idea of a spinoff of the unseen character) for the change is here. Hint: Mike totally got the problem and pointed it out on the podcast.

*Check out our discussion of The Waltons and Will Geer right here!

* lists Sharaton Universal Hotel in L.A. as a location for exterior hospital shots in the episode. The locale is not listed on IMDB as one of the exterior locations used for Medical Center.

*Charlie, is the pressure OK? Just thought we'd ask one more time to be on the safe side.

Episode 8-4: Columbo "A Stitch in Crime"

Classic detective Columbo squares off with a doctor as arrogant as Columbo is rumpled. That doctor--Leonard Nimoy. We're not sure, but it might be possible that Columbo, if things go right, could maybe catch him...but will we ever really know?

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Looking at the new RetroFan magazine

My favorite magazine going today is TwoMorrows' excellent bimonthly RetroFan. Each issue features stunning design, glossy pages, bright colors, and most importantly tremendous material covering retro movies, music, toys, collectibles...and of course television!

The current issue's main feature is Fifty Years of Shaft, which mentions the CBS telemovies with Richard Roundtree, and it also contains interviews with Family Affair's Kathy Garver and Geri Reischl (AKA Fake Jan) from The Brady Bunch Hour.  

There's a great piece on Godzilla toys which touches on the NBC cartoon series and a story on humorous presidential campaigns showcasing Pat Paulsen. I love the Will Murray article pointing out similarities between Spider-Man and pulp hero The Spider, and there is much, much more to enjoy here.

My favorite article once again is Andy Mangels' look at network Saturday morning preview specials. This issue's part 2 focuses on 1978-1983, combining research and commentary to provide an entertaining view of a longtime television staple. It leaves you wanting more not because Mangels' work is lacking, but because so many of these specials are rare and unavailable for viewing.

it may be tough to find this September 2020 issue in a store right now, but if you head over to the company's website, they have print and digital versions as well as other fine publications like Back Issue. I say this only as a satisfied subscriber: Head on over there and tell 'em BOTNS sent ya!

Monday, October 12, 2020

My 5 favorite Wide World of Sports Events (that I have not seen)

On our latest podcast, we discuss some of the wide array of events covered on ABC's Wide World of Sports as it spanned the globe for decades. I spanned the Internet for a few minutes to seek out some of these sports, and these are my 5 favorites:

Cycloball: One of the many events listed here on ESPN. Wikipedia lists it as airing February 1964 and has it as two words: cyclo ball.  I am pretty sure this is soccer on bicycles, which is impressive but not as cool as "cycloball" sounds.

Fireman's competition: Venerable Keith Jackson called at least one of these on the show.

Frog jumping: I remember when Peter and Bobby were prepping for a big frog competition on The Brady Bunch! This was presumably major league frog jumping, though.

Rattlesnake hunt: Does this have anything to do with Stone Cold Steve Austin?

International Bikini Sports Competition:  This is listed on Wikipedia as being on the program in February of 1972, but it's not on the ESPN site, and it's not hard to imagine why. Please tell me Keith Jackson announced this.

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Top Ten #89

1) Evel Knievel: The subject of our podcast this week broke about umpteen bones over the course of his career. Were you not entertained? 

2) Jim McKay: One of the other stars of this week's episode, the classy McKay was the iconic host of Wide World of Sports, and it's hard to find anyone who said a bad word about him (except maybe in Mike's family?).  So let's see of we can critique his performance in his commentary after the 1980 Miracle on Ice.

No, I can't do it. Classy as always.

3) Saturday Night Live: This day in 1975, NBC's venerable late-night comedy/variety series premiered, meaning it has been on the air for 45 seasons--many of them watchable.

4) Biography: I Want My MTV on A&E:  I just saw this documentary this week, and though you have every reason to be skeptical--a network that lost its way produces a show about a network that lost its way--it's excellent and well worth your time if you enjoyed the early days of the network.  Er, the one that lost its way.  Er, MTV.

5) Happy Days/Brady Bunch/Cheers: Hey remember when MTV stopped showing videos and began a steady spiral into pointlessness? Why do I bring that up now? No reason.

Oh, by the way, these 3 classic sitcoms are coming to...Hallmark Drama.

6) Webster: On this day 35 years ago, the classic episode "Alien" premiered on ABC. Now, I have never seen this one, but I can tell it's a classic after reading this summary on IMDB:

While George prepares for an IRS audit, Webster becomes convinced that he is from Jupiter after reading an article in a tabloid newspaper that Rob shows him.

7) Frank Gifford: Let's also salute Wide World announcer and frequent Evel commentator Frank Gifford, who expressed genuine concern for the guy who exhibited self-destructive behavior.  I guess it was good prep for being in the booth with Cosell and Don Meredith.

8) David Morse: Happy birthday to the hard-luck doc from St. Elsewhere, which we discussed a few seasons ago.

9) Who's the Boss: The comedy debuted on Antenna TV this week, and over-the-air television hasn't been the same since!

10) The New Twilight Zone: Decades' Weekend Binge is a marathon of the 1985 version of the show, which didn't exactly disprove our theory that anything with "new" in the title is probably going to disappoint.

Saturday, October 10, 2020

YouTube Spotlight: Evel's rival Super Joe Einhorn

One of the clips in our video playlist this week is a brief look at 1970s daredevil cyclist Super Joe Einhorn:

According to, Einhorn had a wild stunt jumping career that was cut short when he suffered brain damage in a crash in Illinois. The accident retired him just before his proposed jump over Niagra Falls in a cycle that looked a heck of a lot more like a cycle than Evel's Skycycle.

The same page mentions a challenge Einhorn made to Knievel to start with 16 cars and then keep adding cars until one of them crashed! Super Joe was even on Wide World of Sports (Evel was a commentator on at least one jump!) several times in the 1970s, though he seems forgotten to most nowadays. 

Friday, October 9, 2020

The Wide World/Evel Knievel video playlist is now live!

After listening to this week's podcast, click below to enjoy our official video playlist for the episode.  You will get all kinds of material from Wide World of Sports and of Evel Knievel, including: Celebrity Demolition Derby with Keith Jackson! Dandy Don for Lipton tea! Toys galore! Don Rickles! And who is Super Joe Einhorn?  All this and more promos, commercials, and of course STUNTS!

(Note that we did include some of the longer-form material we talked about on the show, but we included it at the end of the playlist in case you just want to watch a bunch of shorter clips without interruption.)

And remember you can visit our official YouTube channel for past episodes of the podcast and video playlists like this for each one of them!

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Show Notes: Episode 8-3: Wide World of Sports: Evel Knievel

 *Wide World of Sports premiered April 29, 1961 on ABC and aired as a regular anthology program until January 3, 1998.

*David Foster's Love Theme from St. Elmo's Fire won a Grammy for best Pop Instrumental Performance in 1985 and reached #15 on the Billboard Hot 100.

*The U.S. Olympics teams won 16 of the 48 medals at the 1984 Summer Olympics, well ahead of China's 11.

*Laff-a-Lympics aired 1977-1978 on ABC Saturday mornings.

*Though some didn't like the ABC Sports yellow blazers, others, uh, didn't, either. That second link is Esquire's look at sports broadcasting "uniforms."

*Evel Knievel (1938-2007) was on Wide World 7 times officially, and this piece on ESPN credits him with 5 of the 20 top-rated episodes of the program.

*An unaired 1974 pilot with Sam Elliott as Evel is on YouTube. Second lead Gary Barton makes this comment under the clip:

Being the second star of this pilot, I think I would have been a lot richer today had it gone to series (it actually was picked up as a series but canceled because of people writing in afraid their kids would try and imitate Evil on their bikes. Canceled 2 weeks before shooting the first season.

*Evel's final TV special, Evel's Death Defiers, was intended as a pilot, but when Evel crashed in training, the show went off as a live broadcast with footage from that jump and, as intended, stunts from others. The broadcast, January 31, 1977 on CBS, was a huge flop even though it was co-hosted by Telly Savalas and Jill St. John!

Here is an interesting account of that special and the assault convinction and decline of Evel.

*Hanna-Barbera's Devlin aired 16 episodes on Saturday mornings on ABC in 1974.

*Team America debuted in Captain America in 1982, had its own Marvel comic for 12 issues, and later became Thunderriders.  Ideal Toys created Team America after dumping Evel.

Episode 8-3: Evel Knievel meets Wide World of Sports

This week, we span the globe to bring you our most daring episode yet! Join us for all the thrills, spills, and chills when Evel Knievel meets ABC's Wide World of Sports!

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

1980-1981 TV Season: Shogun Week on NBC

 As we discussed in our latest episode, NBC started the strike-distorted 1980-1981 season with a bang as new miniseries Shogun dominated the first week.  CBS and ABC would claim that the season didn't actually start until later in the year, when more new shows were ready, but by the end NBC's early lead was wiped out anyway.

However, NBC had Shogun for one glorious week in September:

NBC went all-out in promoting the mini, running big display ads in TV Guide each day the series aired. Here is a look at the original print advertising from the September 13-September 19 1980 edition of the magazine:

And here is how TV Guide introduced the show in its "Screening Room" column and in a close-up:

Monday, October 5, 2020

1980 Season: What was the least popular show of the season?

As we discussed on this week's podcast, Dallas was the highest-rated show of the TV season that began 40 years ago.  It was by far the most popular regular program of the year. But what was the least?

Unfortunately, it's difficult to get detailed ratings information from past seasons. Most Internet resources copy the same top 30 list that Wikipedia runs, and even that is not necessarily rock solid.  I'd sure like to see the rest of the list.  As for getting comprehensive weekly rankings, fuggedaboutit.

However, we do have some kind souls gathering information and sharing it with the rest of us.  Ratings Ryan is a blog that collects ratings articles from vintage newspapers and posts the scans for viewing.  This site has some of the Nielsen-inspired news stories from the first half of the season. Unfortunately, there is nothing for the Spring half yet.

Of course we can assume that short-lived series that were canceled after the season were low rated. Examples include Freebie and the Bean (9 episodes), Aloha Paradise (8), Walking Tall (7) Breaking Away (7 aired), Secrets of Midland Heights (6 aired), CBS spring replacement series sitcoms Checking In (4) and Park Place (4).  All of these flopped, though some had tougher timeslot opponents than others.

However, there's one title that keeps popping up in the old articles that bother to mention the bottom 5 shows of a given week.  Several times, lumped in with random one-offs like The Smothers Brothers Special, you find NBC Magazine with David Brinkley. The public affairs/news show aired each Friday night at 10:00, opposing ABC's Friday night movie and...Dallas.  

Well, it's not hard to see why the series tanked, and it was obviously just something to throw at the competition without sacrificing a promising entertainment program (insert joke about 1980 NBC). 

The show languished in the ratings for several reasons, but it did  last several seasons! Here is an interesting NY Times piece about the show, one in which the 60-year-old Brinkley sounds kind of stuffy about what he's putting on the air.  He doesn't want to put rock stars on and sniffs that they belong on 20/20.  He criticizes "chasing crooked preachers" like on 60 Minutes, and says investigative pieces are OK if the subject "matters."  Well, LA-dee-DAH!

On the one hand, it's really unfair to say that this public affairs program, which lasted several seasons and did its duty by eating up time against an iconic show at its peak, is the least popular show of the 1980-1981 TV season. On the DID get terrible ratings, and that's the pick for now.

Here are a few glimpses at this low-rated NBC time filler:

Hey, isn't that Benny Goodman? Isn't he...a musician? I guess rock stars are for 20/20, but those swing stars matter!

Sunday, October 4, 2020

Top Ten #88

1) Dallas: This week we discuss the 1980-1981 TV season on the podcast, and the biggest deal of that season was the prime-time soap that was red hot with the "Who Shot J.R.?" storyline. SPOILERS BELOW!

2) Over Easy: Admit it: After listening to our show this week, you are a little deflated this series wasn't about eggs, aren't you?

3) Mac Davis: R.I.P. to the songwriter/performer.

4) The Halloween That Almost Wasn't: Our friends at 20th Century Pop discussed this Halloween special on their show this week.  Was it the nadir of Judd Hirsch's career? You decide!

5) Thundarr the Barbarian: The cartoon series debuted on this day in 1980 with all kinds of gore, scantily clad women, and of course Max Von Sydow. Wait, being told that was CONAN the Barbarian...but the cartoon had some of that, right?

6) Cheers: Do we ever need an "excuse" to put Cheers on the list? I think not.  This week, Decades has its Weekend Binge showcase the Batty-winning classic, and also, Ken Levine's excellent podcast features a first-person account of the premiere of the show.

7) Misfits of Science: The series premiered this day 35 years ago, and Toy Galaxy posted an amusing history of it this week. Here's the opening of the series:

8) Shogun: The biggest event of the early part of the 1980 season was the rollout of Shogun, which dominated an entire week in mid September:

9) Clifton Davis: The star of That's My Mama (and many other productions) turns 75 today!

10) Hammer House of Horror: The 1980 anthology series joined Crackle this month:

Saturday, October 3, 2020

YouTube Spotlight: The City vs. Country Showdown: Underseen gem of the 1980-81 season?

One of the highlights of this week's massive video playlist commemorating the 1980-81 TV season is this NBC promo, not because it attempts to position Marie Osmond as sultry, but because of the event following Marie's show:

We here are big fans of the sports entertainment TV events that popped up in the BOTNS era in the wake of Superstars and Battle of the Network Stars, and this is a new one.  It doesn't seem to be readily available, but some digging reveals it premiered Tuesday, December 9, 1980 in a two-hour slot, followed by Steve Allen Comedy Hour.  It must be rare; I can't even find a reference to it in Vincent Terrace's massive guide to network specials.

Let's take a look at the guest list in lieu of more footage: 

On the Country side (I assume): Glen Campbell, Charley Pride (yes!), Catherine Bach (yasssssss!)

On the City side: Lou Gossett Jr., Grant Goodeve (yassssss!), Danielle Brisebois (What?)

And of course we see Larry Wilcox with slop over his head, and if that isn't enough, as Casey Kasem tells and shows us in the promo:


All right, this is now on the official MUST-SEE list! Now, young Rick might have watched A Charlie Brown Christmas at 8:00 on CBS, but Now Rick wants to save that for the holiday and watch this great event now--as in, right now.

The special made Picks and Pans in People that week: and the description makes it sound even better:

“Country” stars like Melissa Gilbert, Glen Campbell, Tanya Tucker, Charley Pride and Catherine Bach vie with such “city” slickers as Lou Gossett, Linda Evans and Charlene Tilton in trashsport events from cow milking to jump rope.

Friday, October 2, 2020

The 1980 TV season video playlist is now live!

 In what may be our largest video playlist yet, we throw all kinds of great stuff at you to help you discover or relive the 1980-1981 television season! We have news clips of the Olympic boycott and the Mt. St. Helens explosion! Network hype promos! There are promos touting the programming lineups! Take a look at notable movies and syndicated shows! Michelle Pfeiffer visits The Tonight Show! We even have PSAs featuring Gregory Peck, Telly Savalas, and...The Little Rascals? All this and EGGS! Just click below!

Remember to visit our official YouTube page each week for episode-specific playlists, and check out back episodes of the podcast while you're there!

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Show Notes: Episode 8-2: The 1980 TV Season

 *This week, we do something a little different and take a deep plunge into the 1980-1981 television season on its 40th anniversary.

*The top 5 shows in the year before, 1979-1980, were: 60 Minutes, Three's Company, MASH, Alice, and Dallas.

*'A House Divided," the Dallas third-season finale in which J.R. Ewing was shot by [spoiler redacted] aired March 21, 1980, meaning viewers had to wait 7 1/2 months for season 4 opener "No Mr. Nice Guy," which aired as part 1 on Friday, November 7, and part 2 on Sunday, November 9, to see if he would pull through. 

However, the series didn't answer the true mystery, the identity of the would-be assassin, until November 21's "Who Done It?" That was the highest-rated series TV episode in the USA until the MASH finale in 1983.

Is anyone interested in us doing a full episode on Dallas?

*Shogun, the NBC miniseries based on James Clavell's 1975 novel, premiered on each of 5 nights from September 15-19 and was a huge ratings success.

*Roots aired on ABC in 1977, and sequel Roots: The Next Generation premiered in 1979.

*Mount St. Helens erupted May 18, 1980.

*In fairness to Jean Doumanian, she had a tough job, taking on Saturday Night Live with little time to build it after the departure of many of the show's creative and behind-the-scenes talent as well as its cast. She also faced resistance from many who stayed on the series.

*The short-lived Foul Play TV series did indeed star Barry Bostwick and Deborah Raffin.

*Here's a closer look at Those Amazing Animals:

*Freebie and the Bean starred HECTOR Elizondo as "Bean" Delgado and Tom Mason as "Freebie" Walker.

*CBS' House Calls with Wayne Rogers and Lynn Redgrave lasted 3 seasons, 1979-1982.

*Click here for our season 6 look at the Donahue episode spotlighting the "Clean Up TV campaign."

*Lily Tomlin: Sold Out premiered February 2, 1981 on CBS. It's a meta special based on Tomlin taking her Broadway show to Vegas and debating about whether to change the act for the different audience. Co-stars include Paul Anka, Liberace, and Joan Rivers.

*Life is a Circus, Charlie Brown premiered on October 24, 1980 and is on DVD; in fact, I bought the collection it's in for my son several years ago and should have watched it by now!

*The American Music Awards actually premiered in 1974!

*Ryan's Hope (1975-1989) was about an irish-American family in New York, and "Ryan's" was the name of the bar the patriarch ran.

*Over Easy with Hugh Downs may have had eggcentric segments, but the PBS series was about aging.

*Our print resources, as we mention on the show, include the following:

-Watching TV by Harry Castleman and Wally Podrazik
-Total Television by Alex McNeil
-The Encyclopedia of Daytime Television by Wesley Hyatt
-The Emmys by Thomas O'Neil
-The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows by Tim Brooks and Earle Marsh
-TV Guide

Episode 8-2: Back to the Egg--1980-81 TV Season 40th Anniversary

This week, we take a broader approach than normal as we celebrate the--oof--40th anniversary of the troubled 1980-81 TV season. Strikes, Olympic boycotts, elections, "Shogun," "Who Shot J.R.?" and more--we try to cover it all. Plus, a surprising amount of egg talk.

Check out this episode!