This 1985 college football promo just doesn't feel like TBS...until halfway through:
Yes, veteran broadcaster Lindsay Nelson shows up and I think, "Ah, yes, this feels like TBS." It's SUPER Football Saturday Night! "I'm Lindsay Nelson, and I'm part of it!" "All riiiight."
It's easy to forget the Superstation showed college football games in the 1980s, but in fact it was the first cable outlet to show games on a national basis, even beating ESPN. it was a limited package, but it was football! Then TBS began showing SEC games in 1984, but as you can see from this promo, it also showed key intersectional match-ups like...Boston College vs. Army.
In case you're curious, Army crushed the Eagles 45-14. B.C. was coming off a great season culminating in a Cotton Bowl win but had lost star QB Doug Flutie to the USFL. Army would go on to finish 9-3 (but with a loss to Navy!), including a narrow victory over Illinois in an exciting Peach Bowl.
Here's a glimpse of the B.C.-Army match-up . Notice that Harry Kalas leads off the highlights by mentioning the national television audience:
1) Newhart: We celebrated Thanksgiving with Newhart this week, and we celebrate the show again today! Bonus note: On the last TV Confidential podcast, guest Billy Van Zandt, a writer on the show, discusses how the show was done at 5:00 PM during the week and did the episode filming in 90 minutes each Friday so Bob could make a standing 9:00 PM dinner reservation. Guess what? Everyone loved this schedule.
2) Ed McMahon: Around here, there is debate over the true "King of Beers," so, sorry, Ed, but I am ready to declare McMahon himself the King of Thanksgiving.
3) Franklin: The Peanuts character made one of his first screen appearances in Chuck Brown's Turkey Time in 1973 and then proceeded to...Well, I don't remember him doing much of anything after this, but he should have!
4) Bob Newhart: It wouldn't be Newhart without Bob Newhart, and good ol' Bob also gave us two great Thanksgiving episodes on The Bob Newhart Show. Bob. Bob. Bob. I just like writing "Bob."
5) Garry Marshall: Pluto TV just added a channel featuring several of his sitcoms around the clock: Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, and Mork and Mindy. Somehow Hector Elizondo shows up every 15 minutes or so, too.
6) Head of the Class: Who can forget the first-season episode when Charlie ended up eating with his foe, Dr. Samuels, and the two of them ended up seeing each other as human beings?
7) The Wiz: Remember this electronics chain? NOBODY beat The Wiz...until it kind of limped into the new millennium and went out of business.
8) William Sanderson: Declared "a national treasure" on our podcast this week, and who can argue?
9) Howie Mandel: Happy 65th to the former St. Elsewhere star. Do you think performances like this one led to his casting?
10) Vegas$: Decades celebrates this holiday weekend with a binge of...no, not Newhart, not The Bob Newhart Show, but Vega$! Hey, why not? I bet Robert Urich (R.I.P.) could really put the turkey away and watch some football back in the day.
One of the clips in this week's Newhart video playlist is this promo for the 1988 NBC TV movie Maybe Baby with Julia Duffy supporting the team of Dabney Coleman and Jane Curtin!
For a happily married man, life changes completely and he finds himself in distress when his wife decides to have a baby after several years of marriage.
The movie premiered Monday, December 5, 1988 and drew a respectable audience but as edged by Monday Night Football's presentation of the Rams beating the Bears. CBS had Murphy Brown, Designing Women, and ALmost Grown.
Maybe Baby looks madcap in this promo, but the first review on IMDB is 1 out of 10, though the critic puts their credibility in question by leading off with, "As soon as I saw Jane Curtin and Dabney Coleman I knew it would be a waste of time." As of this posting, the movie is available on Prime Video and Tubi. Anyone interested in us considering it for a future season of the podcast?
After the turkey, parades, football, and our podcast (natch), sit back in your extended food coma and enjoy this week's video playlist devoted to Newhart! Click below to see promos, commercials, and interviews! Bob Newhart for libraries! Peter Scolari and Julia Duffy host Friday Night Videos! Craig T. Nelson as Ted Kennedy! And, yes, Captain EO makes an appearance! All this plus a few Thanksgiving-themed commercials when you start the playlist below:
And remember to visit our official YouTube channel anytime for past episodes of the podcasts and video playlists for each one! Happy Thanksgiving weekend!
Celebrate Thanksgiving BOTNS style with classic eighties sitcom Newhart. Dick Loudon loves Thanksgiving at home the way children love Christmas, so naturally, a series of unforeseen events nearly ruins it until three wise men save the day.
TwoMorrows' excellent magazine RetroFan is a favorite in these parts, and though the current issue doesn't have as much 1970s and 1980s TV content as some others have, there is lots of good stuff. The cover story looks at Dark Shadows star David Selby, and there's a history of Kolchak: The Night Stalker that includes the character's appearances in other mediums.
An article on Rod Serling touches on his Night Gallery stint, and a brief fan-written piece on celebrity crushes talks about Lynda Carter's Wonder Woman. The highlight of this issue is once again Andy Mangels' "Retro Saturday Morning" column and its third look at network Saturday morning TV preview specials. My only complaint with it is that it stops at 1985! The checklist of subsequent specials is a nice touch, but I'd gladly read about those ones, especially those from the late Eighties.
There's plenty else to enjoy in the issue, including articles on Casper the Friendly Ghost, the Adventures of Superman series, the insane Jimmy Olsen comics of the Silver Age, and the history of Quisp and Quake. This edition of RetroFan gets my highest recommendation once again! You can find out more at their website right here.
In the 1981-1982 season, CBS launched a daily spinoff of its smash hit newsmagazine 60 Minutes. It's difficult to get information about this short-lived program, but a promo recently appeared on YouTube:
According to the book Total Television, the series was a half-hour newsmagazine intended to get the network a piece of the territory that was traditionally the domain of its affiliates. Many of those local stations were unwilling to clear the show in its 4:00 timeslot, though, and it only lasted 16 weeks. A different CBS News personality hosted the program each day.
The show is a footnote now, but it's an interesting failure and a little-known attempt by CBS to milk its franchise. Later on, the network would have more success replicating the format in prime time.
I was able to find one complete episode on YT, this from October 1981. Note the local-news-style opening. It's a one-topic episode with Mike Wallace anchoring and leading a discussion after the taped piece. And doing commentary is not Andy Rooney, but Bob Keeshan in "civilian" form!
1) 60 Minutes: After decades on the air, it's still the one. Wait, that's a different network. Each Sunday, millions of Americans will BE THERE! No, that's not it. It's still got the touch. Yeah, that's it. Listen to the podcast this week for more than 60 minutes of us talking about it!
2) The Eighties: Not the CNN retrospective, not a VH-1 special, but just the decade itself. You see, watching that episode of 60 Minutes we covered on the pod made me nostalgic time for when corruption, political crimes, corporate malfeasance, etc. just somehow seemed more...innocent.
3) The Bob Newhart Show: 1975 Today is the date of perhaps the second-most beloved classic Thanksgiving sitcom episode, the one where Bob and the gang get tipsy and order Chinese food. You know, people still GOT tipsy back in the Eighties.
4) A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving: The venerable special also known, at least in my household, as Chuck Brown's Turkey Time, also aired on CBS this day 45 years ago. It's also in the news because Apple made some kind of deal to get the special on PBS in addition to its streaming service. How long before someone complains about "taxpayer money" going to that end? I think it's great that it's on PBS. If it's not gonna be on CBS with Peter Paul candy ads, as it was in the Eighties, why not?
5) The Partridge Family: You can celebrate Thanksgiving in 2020 with a gigantic Partridge marathon on Antenna TV starting Wednesday night and going through Friday night. Just make sure you take some time out for football, especially the Steelers game Thursday night. And of course you have to watch the Peanuts special. And the Macy's parade. And that Bob Newhart episode and maybe the WKRP. And--Hey, tell you what, if you find time to watch a Partridge Family or two, great.
And, hey, anyone remember the Partridge Family/My Three Sons reunion (sadly not part of this marathon)?
6) Grandpa Jones: The Hee Haw star knocks it out of the cornfield in this recently uploaded ad:
7) Brian Robbins: Yeah, it's his birthday. So what? It's not like it's a big deal or nuthin'.
(Anyone else hope that Robbins runs his TV production empire in character as Eric from Head of the Class?)
8) Jamie Lee Curtis: Happy birthday as well to the star of Operation Petticoat.
9) Arizona Ripper AKA Bridge Across Time AKA Terror at London Bridge: NBC debuted this TV movie on this day 35 years ago. I am torn between commenting on it and just presenting this clip. I think I'll let it speak for itself:
10) Ed McMahon: Admit it! You have been waiting all year to be able to play this again! The day is almost here!
One of the clips in this week's 60 Minutes video playlist is an example of the segment that preceded Andy Rooney's commentaries on the show: "Point/Counterpoint."
When the newsmagazine debuted in 1968, it featured "Digressions," which showed a then-behind-the-camera Rooney and producer Palmer Williams ("Ipso and Facto") making wry exchanges about one of the topics on the episode. "Point/Counterpoint" replaced it in 1972 with debates between two Washington newspapermen: conservative James Kilpatrick and liberal Nicholas von Hoffman. Later, Shana Alexander sparred with Kilpatrick, and the ensuing dynamic is the source of the Dan Akroyd/Jane Curtin segments on Saturday Night Live:
The Andy Rooney commentaries in essence replaced the segment, though there was apparently some overlap. Kilpatrick himself said that 60 Minutes jefe Don Hewitt axed the bit after Alexander asked for a pay raise.
After listening to this week's podcast, get more 60 Minutes and CBS News--and more--by watching our video playlist for the episode. Click below to see classic segments like Morley Safer and The Great One, Harry Reasoner on Casablanca, Dan Rather on Disco, and more! Also, you can see the full episode w/ads that we review on the pod! All this and promos, commercials, interviews, and of course Joe Piscopo!
*60 Minutes premiered on CBS in 1968 and has aired ever since, mostly (and since 1975) in the Sunday at 7:00 P.M. timeslot.
*Time to play Still on or Not still on?
West 57th: Not still on! Primetime Live: Not still on! 48 Hours: Still on! Dateline: Still on! 60 Minutes Sports: Not still on! 60 Minutes II: Not still on (1999-2005)! MTV 60 Minutes (AKA 5 Minutes): Never on!
*Wikipedia credits 1953's BBC series Panorama as the first TV newsmagazine.
*60 Minutes became a top 20 show in 1976, a top 10 show the next season, and a number one show in the 1979-1980 season. It was then a fixture in the top 10 well into the Nineties.
*Ed Bradley's passing inspired Washington D.C. newsman Jim Vance to get his own earring as a tribute.
*Lesley Stahl is the current dean of the show, still featured as a correspondent after joining the cast in 1991.
*The book we refer to on the pod is 60 Minutes: 25 Years of Television's Finest Hour by Frank Coffey. The book came out in 1993, when the show was still arguably at its peak.
And Woodstock was "something else" for Smith, who recvalled it as a world removed from him at the time. "In August the summer of '69, I had a brush cut, I was reporting for football practice at (college). It was a completely different world," he said, adding with a smile, "I caught up."
*The Morning Program with Rolland Smith, Mariette Hartley, Mark McEwan, and Bob Saget (!) premiered January 12, 1987, failed, and was quickly replaced (November) by CBS This Morning with Kathleen Sullivan and Harry Smith.
*This particular episode of 60 Minutes debuted March 13, 1983, at 7:00, followed by the comedy lineup of Archie Bunker's Place, Gloria, The Jeffersons, and Newhart. Trapper John, M.D. closed the night. During this 82-83 season, Alice was on Wednesdays (same night as Tucker's Witch!) but returned to Sunday in September.
ABC had Search (not our beloved one), Matt Houston, and The China Syndrome. NBC's lineup was Voyagers, Chips, and the movie Nightkill.
*The spinoff for kids, 30 Minutes, aired 1978-1982 on Saturday afternoons.
This week, we put on our reporters' caps, riffle through the papers on our desks, and try to parse out what makes ratings juggernaut 60 Minutes so iconic. Along the way, we also get to explore some vintage commercials, the sartorial choices of some of the reporters, and ask some unexpected what-if questions? It doesn't get more hard-hitting than this!
You know what kind of commercial we don't see anymore? An ad for a movie or a play that consists of a bunch of "civilians" outside the theater raving about what they just saw. Spots like this one for the 1979 film The Champ:
It's even better with a movie because you know they could show actual scenes from it but instead choose to show moviegoers telling us how good it is. I want to see more of this kind of thing. Instead of trying to wow us with spoilers of all the cool shots and stunts in a big Marvel movie. just have ham-and-eggers outside the multiplex, literally wide eyed, declare, "It's the best one yet!" "I've never seen anything like it!" "I can't wait to see it again!"
After all, elite Hollywood types will try to snow-job us, but real people who pay for the movie won't let us down, right?
One of the biggest things I miss about "old showbiz" is the regular presence of cheesy variety specials hosted by comedy icons on network TV. Heck, where are the comedy icons?
50 years ago tonight, NBC showed a Bob Hope special saluting Vaudeville (a big throwback even in 1970!) and Jack Benny's 20th Anniversary Special with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Dinah Shore, and once again, Bob Hope!
40 years ago, on November 16, 1980, ABC presented the network premiere of the smash 1977 film Saturday Night Fever:
1) Greatest American Hero: If you have listened to our podcast this week--and if you haven't, get to it--you know how much we enjoy this series. There are very few legit excuses for not watching it since it seems to be everywhere these days.
2) Superman (1988): Not that there is any resemblance whatsoever (for legal purposes) between the two properties, but, hey, Tubi TV added this Ruby Spears cartoon series at the beginning of the month.
3) Chuck Norris: Tubi also added the cartoon series of another great American hero: Chuck Norris' Karate Kommandos. Why in the world did Warners license this out to Tubi but never bother putting it on its own pay service Boomerang?
4) Robert Culp: Well, now you understand why we went away from the Culp episodes when we talked about Columbo--he was getting his moment later in our season! Salute to one of the most watchable actors of the BOTNS era in any scenario.
5) Connie Sellecca: The phrase "John Tesh is a lucky man" seems not only trite, but redundant since we all knew Tesh was extraordinarily blessed with talent and charisma even before he was associated with Sellecca. As for Connie, I like her so much I might even suggest Hotel for a future podcast!
6) Ed Asner: Happy birthday to one of the most lovable cantankerous pinkos out there! Reading is still fundamental.
7) The Hardy Boys: A trailer for the reboot debuted this week, but we take this moment to celebrate the original:
8) The Doobie Brothers: Congratulations again to the Batty winners and NOW members of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame! Proof once again that a Batty is a sprongboard to other (note I didn't say better) things!
9) Joan Rivers: I can't tell you why I sat down and watched this random upload of The Late Show last week, but I enjoyed it! It features Kate Jackson, Howie Mandel, and Hugh Hefner, plus music by Michael McDonald!
10) R.I.P.: We lost some notable names this week, including the great Alex Trebek, classy and always in control on a variety of game shows; Tom Heinsohn, an NBA great who was a TV icon in the BOTNS era with his CBS gig and his Lite Beer ads; and Ken Spears, one half of the aforementioned Ruby Spears studio.
Talk about a dream team! Check out this clip from this week's video playlist: A promo for a Showtime airing of the 1988 film White Ghosts starring William Katt and Reb Brown!
That's right, Ralph Hinkley and Steve Rogers team up in this action movie filmed in Zimbabwe but set in Vietnam. No, the movie doesn't get great reviews, but William Katt and Reb Brown! It is currently available for streaming free with ads on Tubi TV.
After listening to the podcast this week, enjoy our video playlist with plenty of clips related to The Greatest American Hero. You will see commercials, promos, music, and more, including: Bob Culp feels OUTRAGE! Connie Sellecca warns you against former Batty nominee cocaine! And William Katt released a pop rock album in 1982? All this plus appearances by co-stars Michael Pare, Faye Grant, and even the space shuttle when you click below!
*The Greatest American Hero premiered March 1981 on ABC and ran until February 1983 for a total of 3 seasons and 45 episodes (though, as we say on the show, that includes the added-for-syndication multiple unaired episodes and the Greatest American Heroine pilot).
*ABC first broadcast "The Shock Will Kill You" February 10, 1982 at 8:00 P.M. The Fall Guy and Dynasty followed it. NBC ran Real People, The Facts of Life, Love, Sidney, and Quincy.
*CBS showed She's a Good Skate, Charlie Brown and 1978's Hooper. The Peanuts special is a 1980 cartoon spotlighting Peppermint Patty.
*Joey Scarbury took the show's theme song to #2 on the Billboard charts. You will be able to hear a track from William "Billy" Katt's 1982 solo album in this week's YouTube playlist dropping soon!
Believe it or not, it took eight seasons for us to get to The Greatest American Hero. After steering a powerless space shuttle to a safe landing, Ralph turns into a walking magnet, and only he, Bill, and Pam stand in between a electricity-eating space monster and doom! What a scenario!
50 years ago tonight, acclaimed made-for-TV movie Tribes premiered as the ABC Movie of the Week at 8:30. Joseph Sargent directs Darren McGavin, Jan-Michael Vincent, and Earl Holliman in this story of a hippie joining the Marines:
Networks started prime time at 7:30 then, and ABC led off this Tuesday with a new Mod Squad and followed the movie with a new Marcus Welby. NBC offered The Don Knotts Show, Julia, and its own TV movie: Western The Intruders with quite the cast--Don Murray, John Saxon, Edmond O'Brien, Anne Francis, Edward Andrews. That's not enough? How about Zalman King, Harry Dean Stanton, and a young Harrison Ford?
CBS said, "Rural purge? We don't know anything about that yet," and broadcast Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, and Hee Haw before To Rome with Love and 60 Minutes.
1) Tucker's Witch: The short-lived romantic/detective show isn't the greatest in the world, but we have fun talking about it on this week's podcast, and we're grateful it's out there for viewing. Is that too backhanded a compliment?
2) Art Hindle: Hey, now, mama, let me read your Kindle 'cause, Mama, I'm sure hard to Hindle! (Hopefully you listened to the show this week)
3) Alfre Woodard: Not only did she star (sort of; we discuss on the podcast how underutilized she is) in this week's podcast subject, but it's her birthday! We will take this opportunity to underutilize her with a measly entry in our weekly top ten list!
4) Tim Matheson and Catherine Hicks: The two are so pleasant together that we have to rank them together.
6) The Georgia Peaches: Did you know that Dirk Benedict, Tanya Tucker, and Terri Nunn all starred in an unsold pilot? It aired as a TV movie on this day in 1980.
7) Florence Henderson: It's a few years outside the time frame, but here's another side of Carol Brady:
8) Days of Our Lives: The daytime institution turns 55 today, and the way the industry has changed, I'm almost more surprised it's still around than I am Leif Garrett.
9) Ted Danson: This guy keeps doing things to deserve a spot in the top 10. This time, it's offering an interesting heel performance in both the unaired and the aired versions of the Tucker's Witch pilot. In each, he does to women what he only dreamed about doing to Diane Chambers all those years.
10) The Dean Martin Celebrity Roast: The insults will fly and the booze will flow as Decades runs a marathon this weekend. We covered the show in this episode, and here is another taste of it:
I come across these Nebraska press junket videos quite often, which proves either that someone there was diligent about preserving them and making them available or that Nebraska was the Television Capital ofn the Midwest in the 1980s. I think you know which one I prefer.
Tucker's Witch co-stars Tim Matheson and Catherine Hicks are a charming pair here promoting the series. As I noted in this week's show notes post, Matheson does an admirable job of transitioning from the awkwardness of the show they're hyping being untitled to the premise of said show. Check out Hicks' casual posture!
I also enjoy how the host asks about Shakespeare almost as if she doesn't think the bard is relevant, yet later she surprises them a bit by sharing her own theater bona fides.
After enjoying this week's discussion of short-lived but compelling series Tucker's Witch on the podcast, check out our video playist for the show! Click below to see original promos! Catherine Hicks for the U.S. Treasury! Glimpses of more of Tim Matheson's TV work! And we hope you can handle more Art Hindle!
And remember to visit our official YouTube channel for all of our past episodes plus video playlists like this for each one of them!
*Tucker's Witch aired on CBS October 6, 1982 to November 10, 1982, before returning at the end of the season for a brief run. There are a total of 12 episodes plus the unaired pilot.
*All episodes are now available again on Amazon Prime Video and on this YouTube channel as well as the FilmRise Roku channel.
*The official broadcast version of the pilot premiered Wednesday, October 6, 1982 at 10:00 P.M. It followed Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Alice, and Filthy Rich. Oddly, the latter is the name of a new series on Fox starring...Kim Cattrall from the unaired pilot.
ABC showed Game 2 of the American League Championship Series between the Milwaukee Brewers and the (then) California Angels.
NBC's lineup consisted of Real People, Facts of Life, Family Ties, and Quincy.
*Porky's with Kim Cattrall (born 1956 in Liverpool) and Art Hindle (born 1948) had a wide release in March 1982 and went on to become the #5 box office hit of the year.
*Genre fans may be miffed we don't mention Hindle's roles in Black Christmas and the 1978 Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and he is very well known in Canada, so consider this props!
*The age difference between Cahterine Hicks (1951) and Tim Matheson (1947) is less than 4 years.
*Ted Danson (just for the record, born 1947 and older than all of the other actors we have mentioned) starred in the premiere of Cheers September 30, 1982, so this episode aired a week later!
*Bill Morey went on to become a regular on The John Laroquette Show. He also had a recurring role on Dallas and did voices on G.I. Joe.
*The series' stars talk about the name of the show in this vintage interview from several months before the premiere. Check how Matheson gets past the awkwardness of the lack of a title and right into explaining the premise/
In short-lived detective series "Tucker's Witch," a married couple solves crimes with a little help from the wife's extra psychic abilities. In a twist, Ted Danson plays the villain. In another twist, producers recast the leads and refilmed the pilot for air. In another twist...we talk about both.
40 years ago on this day, Archie Bunker dealt with the off-camera death of his beloved wife Edith:
The two-part season premiere of Archie Bunker's Place featured this scene and more as the show dealt with the absence of Jean Stapleton. The actress expressed the desire to quit playing Edith several years earlier, but appeared in a handful of episodes of this series' first season before the character was killed off before the next.
This episode is the clear highlight of Sunday, November 2, 1980, as the networks still dug out from the delays caused by the strike (as we discussed here). ABC had the 1976 movie A Star Is Born while ABC had The Apple Dumpling Gang and The Gauntlet.
1) Poor Devil:What more can we say about this forgotten 1973 TV movie/failed pilot? Frankly, I think we did a good job of doing 45 minutes on it on this week's podcast!
2) Chuck Brown's Pumpkin Time: Treasure the old shows while you can, folks, because they may not be around forever.
3) Sammy Davis Jr.: Let me tell you something about this guy, man. This talented cat is one of the most extraordinary performers in the business and one of the most extraordinary cats I've ever had the pleasure of working with.
4) Jack Klugman: The Klugger wasn't the most dynamic part of poor Devil, but he got the job done. We have to give credit to his loyal wife Fences, though.
5) Cheers, "Fairy Tales Can Come True": The Bar Wars episodes may come to mind first, especially the explicit Halloween theme of "The Final Judgment," but here's a nod to the third season's charming tale of Cliff finding the possible woman of his dreams in costume at the bar.
6) Fruit Brute: We gave space to Count Chocula last week, so here's the first appearance of the short-lived werewolf cereal:
7) The Brady Bunch: Who can forget the Bradys' foray into horror--sort of--with "Fright Night"?
8) Halloween II: I think these movies lose a little something on broadcast TV, but maybe that's not always a bad thing! I still thought it was weird whenever something like this showed up on "regular" TV:
9) James Randi: R.I.P. to the noted skeptic and frequent Carson guest:
10) Yogi's All-Star Comedy Christmas Caper: Ok, we've been celebrating Halloween, but let's mention that the beloved holiday classic premieres on HBO Max this weekend! Click here to listen to us break it down on the podcast!