Thursday, December 31, 2020

This Day in TV History: Erin and Joe team up

On this night 40 years ago, NBC broadcast the King Orange Jamboree Parade from Miami, Florida as a primetime event. Co-hosting with Joe Garagiola was BOTNS favorite Erin Gray! I guess it's like the old saying about Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire. She gave him class, she gave him sex appeal, and he gave her...uh, witty anecdotes about growing up with Yogi Berra?

Since I can't find any footage of the event, here is a look at the two co-stars pitching products:

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Inside the Guide: Daytime talk!

Today we go back to that September 13, 1980 TV Guide for a look at daytime talk. Which looks more appealing to you?  This episode has a couple of BOTNS favorites:

But THIS show has a great-looking display ad on the same page!

Which one are you watching?  I will tell you that on this particular day, Mike and Steve welcome Jaye P. Morgan, Andrae Crouch, James Keach, and Charlie Callas.

Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Inside the Guide: A pair of Brady Bunch reruns

Today we go to the September 13, 1980 issue of TV Guide, which happens to be the Fall Preview issue but which contains some interesting items in the regular ol' listings.

Take this juxtaposition of two Brady Bunch reruns on different channels but at the same time:

The second one is concise and to the point. The first amuses me.  This is 9:30 in the morning, and I can't help but wonder how many in the target audience would see this listing and say, "Ooh, E.G. Marshall!" or "Ooh, I loved The Defenders!"

E.G. Marshall! Yes, it's good to see him pop up in an episode, but that seems an odd choice to highlight given that the rest of the episode involves boys vs. girls, slumber party shenanigans, and the dilemma of Marcia claiming to be falsely accused.

I guess that's what made TV Guide the bible back in the day: its willingness to provide that kind of info.  You know what info is not in the Guide? Episode title, premiere date...or, in the case of the second episode here, much of anything.

In case you're curious, that E.G. Marshall episode is season 2's "The Slumber Caper," and the veteran actor is the principal who punishes Marcia for a mocking drawing of her teacher that was found in Marcia's desk. It premiered October 9, 1970.

As for that second one, that is a vague description, but maybe it refers to the season 4 "You're Never Too Old," in which the kids try to set up Carol's mother with Mike's father.

Monday, December 28, 2020

This Day in TV History: Roller Disco Redux and more!

On this night 40 years ago, NBC gave America a special encore presentation of one of the best episodes in TV history: "Roller Disco" from CHiPs! Yes, it brought back the two-part classic originally broadcast in September 1979, and it even presented it as one seamless two-hour block!

Listen to our dissection of "Roller Disco" here!

Does it matter what else was on that night? Probably not. ABC went for prestige witn Omnibus hosted by Hal Holbrook and Paul Newman's directorial debut, The Shadow Box with Joanne Woodward. CBS had a night of reruns, including a Christmas episode of Alice. Well, kudos to CBS for declaring that the holiday wasn't over just because it was 3 days ago!

Sunday, December 27, 2020

Top Ten #100: Special, uh, 100th edition edition!

1) Christmas specials: I know I watched my share this season (Hello, 1984's A Christmas Wish with Mr. T and Emmanuel Lewis), but it seems like there is never enough time to see as many as I want!

2) John Amos: Happy birthday to Genius Award winner John Amos!

3) Alan Thicke:  Guess what beloved clip was mentioned on this week's Christmas episode of Gilbert and Frank's Amazing Colossal Podcast?

4) Knots Landing: The long-running nighttime soap prremiered this day in 1979 on CBS!

5) A Chipmunk Christmas: The more I watch this, the more impressed I am by it. It's one of the more underrated 1980s animated specials.

6) The Kennedy Center Honors: On this day 40 years ago, the third annual event celebrated Jimmy Cagney and Leonard Bernstein (neither of whom had a sitcom, unfortunately).

7) Wonder Woman: The one true WW, Lynda Carter, appeared on HBO Max as the service added the complete series just before Christmas!

8) The Jim Nabors Show: One of the more surprising additions to the streaming service is Prime Video adding the 1978 daytime program to its offerings. Take THAT, Soul and Wonder Woman 84!

9) K.T, Oslin: R.I.P. to the 80s country music star. Here's a nice piece of decade nostalgiaL Remember the USA Today TV show?

10) Our listeners (and readers):  Thanks to all of you for your continued support of the show and for reading the website! We have been here 100 weeks with the Top Ten, and we will continue for another billion more starting in 2021! Thanks again!

Saturday, December 26, 2020

Merry Christmas again? Hey, we're full of the holiday spirit

 If by chance you aren't ready to let go of the Christmas spirit just yet, here is a list of our holiday special episodes along with some reminders of the episodes we discuss in them:

Our first installment from back in our premiere season covers The Leprechauns' Christmas Gold and A Family Circus Christmas! Click right here to listen or to revisit it!

Next we looked at The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas in our third season! That episode is right here.

Then, just before our seventh season, we learned the true meaning of Even with our episode about Yogi's All-Star Comedy Christmas Caper! You can find that one here!

And last but not least, our most recent special closed our eighth season! Click here to hear us talk about The Little Rascals Christmas Special!

Have a wonderful holiday weekend!

Friday, December 25, 2020

Merry Christmas from BOTNS: More classic holiday ads

 We again wish our listeners Merry Christmas! 

Remember when Kmart was a retail giant?

How about this classic Coca-Cola ad?

Growing up, I almost always caught at least a little of the Yule Log presentation on WPIX-11:

And WPIX also broadcast a holiday message each season. Here's one of them:

Merry Christmas (and Even), everyone, from all of us at Battle of the Network Shows to all of you!

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Merry Christmas from BOTNS: Classic holiday ads

Today and tomorrow we will share some favorite holiday-themed vintage commercials as we wish you a very merry Christmas and happy holidays!

First up is a great Kellogg's ad from 1980, one I don't remember seeing as a kid:

Next up is another promo for A Charlie Brown's Christmas, one also from 1980, the TV season we celebrated in our own current podcast season:

Finally today, another warm-and-fuzzy spot, the great Toys R Us Christmas jingle.  These ads were bittersweet for me since the closest one was 45 minutes away at a time when 45 minutes away was a big deal:

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Today in TV History: 50 and 40 years ago tonight

On December 22, 1970, CBS' only Christmas-themed offering was a rerun of a 1968 Beverly Hillbillies episode to start the night.  It did have A World of Love, a star-studded special presented in conjunction with UNICEF.  At 10:00 perhaps 60 Minutes' report on unsafe toys had a seasonal theme!

NBC had a Christmas episode of The Don Knotts Show, a new Julia, and a broadcast of the 1954 White Christmas with Der Bingle and Danny Kaye.

40 years ago, on Monday, December 22, 1980, CBS ran the lone Christmas episode of Flo, "The Miracle of Casa de Huevos." In an alternate universe somewhere, it's a beloved classic run in households all over the country each year.

(The episode is available for purchase here.)

NBC had a 3-hour (!) Little House on the Prairie retrospective. That is a LOT of heartbreak, crisis, and pestilence. ABC followed a new That's Incredible! with a Monday Night Football game between the San Diego Chargers and America's Team: the Pittsburgh Steelers. I won't reveal the outcome, but I think cheating was involved.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Today in TV History: 50 and 40 years ago tonight

40 years ago tonight, CBS got into the Christmas spirit with one of The Jeffersons' yuletide episodes, "All I Want for Christmas." In it, George plays Santa at the community center and makes a promise he may not be able to keep to an orphan played by the great Meeno Peluce! The long-running series had 4 other seasonal installments during its run.

ABC had an interesting lineup on this Sunday night: a reair of the Rankin-Bass Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town at 7:00, and an original movie A Time for Miracles starring Kate Mulgrew as Elizabeth Bailey Seton, the first native-born American to become a saint.

And in between those two offerings? ABC ran an episode of Charlie's Angels with this description on IMDB: Spunky Maggie Cunningham hires the Angels to find her son Clifton, but the routine missing person's case turns out to be only the tip of an iceberg involving prostitution, smuggling and murder

Tis the season!

NBC debuted Coach of the Year with BOTNS fave Erin Gray and Robert Conrad. I think this has shown up in countless dollar DVD bins over the years:

On December 21, 1970, NBC's holiday offering led off the Monday lineup: A Red Skelton special featuring Freddie the Freeloader.  ABC had a primetime match-up between the Bucks and the Lakers--Monday Night Basketball?

CBS led off with "Baker's Dozen," a Gunsmoke that originally aired Christmas Night in 1967. It isn't a Christmas episode, but it involves orphans! Later that night, one of The Doris Day Show's Christmas episodes, "It's Christmas Time in the City," premiered.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Top Ten #99:

1) The Little Rascals: Our holiday special this week took a look at one of writer Romeo Muller's lesser-known efforts, this 1970s NBC special that doesn't seem to be on anyone's radar (except BOTNS) anymore. Now we need to get more of these PSAs on the Internet!

2) A Charlie Brown Christmas: The greatest of all time was free last weekend on PBS and Apple TV+ but can still be seen this weekend on the latter and of course via our video collections, where this special surely resides.

3) Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town: Last week I posted a look at what the true premiere date is for this classic Rankin-Bass animagic work, noting that it appears to have debuted 12/13/70 but that the official histories indicate 12/14/70.  Well, I listened to the excellent commentary track Greg Ehrbar does for the recent Blu-Ray release, and he says it's 12/13...which is nice except an article by him on Cartoon Research says it's 12/14! The mystery continues!

What isn't mysterious is how great the Mickster is in it and what a fun special this is. I think it's going into my annual rotation now.

4) Betty White: BUZZR has a Betty-thon all week starting tomorrow and featuring Password, Match Game, etc.

5) Angel Tompkins: Happy birthday to Ms. Tompkins, Gloria from our beloved Search.

6) The Great Santa Claus Switch: 50 years ago tonight, a special episode of The Ed Sullivan Show featured the host narrating this story with Art Carney and the Muppets.

7) A Christmas Dream: A year after his special with Emmanuel Lewis was a modest hit for NBC, Mr. T got a repeat performance on this night in 1985 even though this otherwise great article says it only ran once.  Just think: T, Webster, David Copperfield, Ed Koch, Willie Tyler and Lester--The 1980s, folks! How could that not have been repeated?

8) The Facts of Life: I watched two Christmas episodes of the series--from the later seasons, no less--and I have to justify it somehow.

9) Jets/Dolphins: Sunday afternoon on this day 40 years ago, NBC experimented with an announcerless game between these two teams.  That may not seem like a big deal considering many sports announcers would score below "zero announcers" in polls with fans, but no announcers was a bold move. There were frequent cut-ins to Bryant Gumbel with updates and summaries.

10) WKRP in Cincinnati: On this night in 1980, the sitcom aired an episode titled Bah, Humbug in which Carlson learns the error of his ways after being visited by the ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future. Hey, that's a cool idea! Someone else should use that as the basis for an episode.

Saturday, December 19, 2020

YouTube Spotlight: The Little Rascals

In our YouTube playlist this week, we dig a little deeper into the world of The Little Rascals Christmas Special, including some clips of the series' alumni in their later years. An example is this clip of George Spanky McFarland on Cheers. It's "Woody Gets an Election" from the show's 11th and final season, and it premiered April 22, 1993.

Classic Cliff! McFarland died several months after this episode aired.

We didn't put this in the playlist, but here is the full appearance of McFarland and some other grown-up Rascals on Tomorrow with Tom Snyder on November 12, 1974:

And here is Spanky on The Pat Sajak Show in 1989:

Friday, December 18, 2020

The Little Rascals Christmas Special playlist is now live!

After listening to this week's podcast, keep the Yuletide cheer going with our video playlist! You will see vintage promos! The Little Rascals on the dangers of sharp objects! Post-Rascals Rascals! And because 'tis the season, lots of Christmas commercials from 1979! And did NBC really follow the special with a TV-movie called Friendship, Secrets, and Lies?

And remember to visit our official YouTube channel anytime for all of our past episodes and video playlists for each one!

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Show Notes: Episode 8-13: The Little Rascals Christmas Special

*The Little Rascals Hanna-Barbera cartoon premiered in September 1982 on ABC as part of the Saturday morning show The Pac-Man/Little Rascals/Richie Rich Show. In September 1983, it was part of The Monchichis/Little Rascals/Richie Rich Show. In 1984, it was part of Foul-Ups, Bleeps, and Blunders/Little Rascals/Match Game Hour.  OK, we're just kidding with that last one.

Eugene "Porky" Lee sued HB and King World in 1984, claiming unapproved use of his likeness in the cartoon, and was joined by Spanky, Butch, and The Woim. The suit was settled out of court.

*The original Hal Roach Our Gang shorts were later distributed as The Little Rascals while MGM retained rights to the Our Gang name and continued producing them from 1938 to 1944.

*The short Mike mentions is an MGM effort titled Wild Poses and is currently available in altered form here.

*Billy "Froggy" Laughlin was one of the unlucky ones, dying in 1948 at the age of 16 after being hit by a truck while delivering newspapers.

*The Little Rascals Christmas Special premiered Monday, December 3, 1979, on NBC after The Berenstain Bears' Christmas Tree and followed by Friendship, Secrets, and Lies.

CBS' lineup was White Shadow, MASH, WKRP, and Lou Grant.  ABC had 240 Robert and Monday Night Football (Raiders at Saints).

*Here is the informative Little Rascals Facebook group with the 12/3/19 post I cite on the podcast.

*The Blue Comet was a passenger train that ran 1929-1941 in the NY/NJ area.

*Frank Nelson was active in TV almost up to his death in 1986.

*The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry was published in 1905 in The New York Sunday World.

*According to this account, the Norman Lear Little Rascals project yielded two unaired pilots and, despite Lear having little involvement, led to his hiring Gary Coleman for Diff'rent Strokes.

*Merry Even, everyone!

Episode 8-13: Holiday Special "The Little Rascals Christmas Special"

On this year's holiday special, cartoon versions of the Little Rascals learn some difficult lessons about eavesdropping, paying attention to weather forecasts, running scams, and being greedy, little so-and-sos during difficult economic times. It's really sweet.

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Night of 100 Stars: Who was missing?

On the latest episode of the podcast, we dive into the 1982 Night of 100 Stars gala broadcast on ABC and discover there are actually way more than 100 stars. Yet many big ones are missing from the event. Here is a list of 10 stars who should have (and as far as I know could have) been there:

*Cary Grant: It's great seeing so many screen legends on stage, but maybe the best movie star of all is conspicuous by his absence. He was long retired as a performer, but all he had to do was walk out on stage and wave, right?

*Katharine Hepburn: Does this seem at all like her "thing"? No, but she was arguably the biggest female screen legend not there, and she was red hot after the success of On Golden Pond.

*Audrey Hepburn: We're talking STARS here, right? Grace Kelly IS on the special, but Hepburn would have made a nice addition.

*Frank Sinatra: His New York, New York was released a mere couple of years before this event, and he spent 1982 doing high-profile concert gigs and a residency at the Golden Nugget. He would have been a great choice to close the event.

*Alan Alda: Arguably the biggest primetime TV star not at the event, coming off Emmy recognition and starring in one of the most notable programs on the airwaves.

*Robert Redford: The special emphasizes Old Hollywood over 1980 Hollywood, but Newman and Redford together would be a natural treat.

*Jack Nicholson: Any event with numerous Hollywood celebs from this era seems incomplete without some reference to Jack.

*Johnny Carson: Maybe the biggest TV star, period, not at the special.  Maybe it was too difficult logistically, and he had moved his show from New York years ago, but still, he was THE Academy Awards host at this point.

*Burt Reynolds and Clint Eastwood: Two macho men who were among the top box office draws of the early Eighties.

*Darth Vader: One of the biggest villains of all time and not at all publicity shy.

Now, anytime people complain about who is left off of an all-star team, others will point out, not without reason, "Well, who are you gonna remove to make room for them?" So then I will now list the stars who should have been REMOVED from the Night of 100--

No, it's Christmas season! I am not going to do that.  Let's just consider this a way the show could have been even bigger, even more spectacular, than it already was.

Monday, December 14, 2020

This Day in TV History: Santa Claus Is Coming to Town premieres (we think)

50 years ago today, the beloved Rankin-Bass classic Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town premiered on ABC. At least that's what you see if you Google the special or look it up on Wikipedia, IMDB, or

That seems pretty solid. Yet if you look at the TV listings for December 14, 1970, on Ultimate and TV Tango, you see ABC as showing The Young Lawyers at 7:00, Silent Force at 8:30, and Monday Night Football at 9:00. Each site lists Sunday, December 13, as the airdate of Santa.

Animation/record expert Greg Ehrbar, who recorded a commentary track for a home video release of the special, writes this in a piece on Cartoon Research:

The first broadcast was on Monday, December 14th, 1970, pre-empting the short-lived drama The Young Lawyers. It competition was the fading Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In and the long-running Gunsmoke on CBS. One of its sponsors was Parker Brothers.

That settles that, right? The TV listings sites must be wrong, right?

Well, maybe it's not so simple. I write that because I checked two local newspaper TV listings for Sunday, December 13, 1970, and each listed Santa as premiere that night.

What is going on here? I e-mailed the pre-eminent Rankin-Bass historian, Rick Goldschmidt (author of acclaimed books on the studio and its output; his website is here). He was gracious enough to give me a quick response, saying that he always heard December 14 and that he researched it back in the Nineties, likely getting the date from original press materials, and enver heard December 13.. He pointed out that TV was very different back in 1970, and that's absolutely true. For one thing, note that the networks still had the 7:00 hour for themselves!

Rick suggests that maybe some markets did air it a day earlier, and that seems to be the case, but it's still a bit of a mystery to me. I joked yesterday in the top 10 post that the Mickster's performance was too big for just one night!

To 2020 eyes, a Sunday night premiere makes more sense than a lead-in to Monday Night Football, but the "official" date is obviously December 14.  So with that in mind, happy 50th, Santa Claus! And happy 50th to that episode of Silent Force!

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Top Ten #98

1) Night of 100 Stars: It was the most impressive display of starpower I've seen all season! And that was just Mike and me! The Stars weren't bad, either. Well, some were better than others. Listen to this week's episode to learn more!

2) Santa Claus Is Coming to Town: We'll have more on this tomorrow, but it's the 50th anniversary of this classic special, and while its official premiere date is December 14, some markets may have aired it December 13.  My theory: the Mickster's performance was so big it needed both nights.

3) Sammy Davis Jr.: After the questionable Poor Devil, Sammy finds redemption on the podcast this week as we praise his performance of Mr. Bojangles. Here's a different version:

4) Andy Panda: Seeing the images of good pandas everywhere sullied by Lola Falana's bizarre number on Night of 100 Stars makes one appreciate the bland but respectable performances of Andy on Woody Woodpecker shows back in the day.

5) Bob Hope: Hey, everybody, this is Rick "Not another top ten" Brooks here at Tan Son Nhut. That's Vietnamese for "Rick needs another item and wants to tell ya that many of the Hope Christmas specials are still streaming on Prime Video."

Unfortunately it's mostly the USO tours, and we need more like this:

6) McDonald's: Remember this heartwarming Christmas ad? I only wish they had done a roller disco version with Ronald holding the kid up underneath a shimmering disco ball.

7) The Golden Girls: Their Nightmare Before Christmas episode, the first Xmas one they did, is all over the place and does the unthinkable by nearly wasting Teddy Wilson, but give the show credit for trying.  You didn't see Empty Nest do a Christmas episode, did you? Did you? Seriously, did you? I don't remember watching much of that show at all.

8) Dick Van Dyke: Happy birthday to the legendary star of Van Dyke and Company!

9) John Davidson: Speaking of dudes with self-titled shows, it's also the birthday of this guy:

10) David Lander: R.I.P. to one of the biggest show stealers of the Garry Marshall universe.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

YouTube Spotlight: Ed Koch on SNL

One of the clips in our Night of 100 Stars playlist features the then-mayor of New York City in his monologue as host of Saturday Night Live

His Honor was by no means camera shy. Not only was he on SNL four times while in office, he was on plenty of talk shows, variety shows...Koch even made appearances on My Two Dads and Gimme a Break!

His catchphrase, "How'm I doin'?" and his ubiquity in the media, plus New York's prominence in the media landscape, made him a very well known public figure in the 1980s.

Friday, December 11, 2020

The Night of 100 Stars playlist is now live!

After enjoying our 100th episode celebration, check out our video playlist devoted to the original iNight of 100 Stars! Note that many segments from the show itself are on YouTube, but we left those out EXCEPT for the spectacular version of "Mr. Bojangles" that we praise on the podcast.  We got to give the Poor Devil his due, right? 

On this playlist you WILL see promos, commercials, music, and more! John Candy IS Orson Welles! Commercials from June Allyson, the Rockettes, and Lola Falana! And what is the deal with Van Johnson and David Letterman? Click below for all of this and more!

And remember to visit our official YouTube channel anytime for past editions of the podcast and video playlists to accompany each one!

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Show Notes: Episode 8-12: Night of 100 Stars

*This episode is our celebration of 100(ish) episodes of the podcast! Thanks again to all of you for listening to and supporting our show!

*Remember you can write us at! Our YouTube channel with the Poor Devil playlist, complete with SCTV and Sammy Davis Jr. clips, is right here.

*The original Night of 100 Stars (there were two more in 1985 and 1990, respectively) was taped February 14, 1982, and aired on ABC March 8, 1982.

CBS countered with Mr. Merlin, Private Benjamin, MASH, House Calls, and Lou Grant. NBC offered Little House on the Prairie and the 1978 movie The Boys in Company C.

*For a contemporary take on the special, click here for John O'Connor's original review in The New York Times.

*Here is the New Yorker piece we mention on the pod, and here is a shorter blurb addressing the charges the stars rang up that producer Alexander Cohen had to cover.

*Norman Lear's special, I Love Liberty, aired March 21, 1982, also on ABC.

*Patrick Simmons had left The Doobie Brothers at this point, but he would rejoin the band in 1982 for a farewell concert tour.

*Doug Henning (1947-2000) had a World of Magic special each year but 1981 from 1975-1982. he also made multiple appearances on The Tonight Show and guested on The Muppet Show and many other shows.

*Priscilla Lopez made What I Did for Love famous in the original Broadway production of A Chorus Line and later won a Tony for her performance in A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine.

*Lola Falana actually had her own self-titled short-lived variety show in early 1976 on CBS.

*George Burns in Nashville debuted in 1980 as his second LP of the year after I Wish I Was 18 Again.

*Ed Koch was mayor of New York City from 1978 to 1989.

*Ben Vereen had a recurring role on Webster in the show's first several seasons.

*Night of 100 Stars won the Emmy for Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Program at the 34th Emmys broadcast in September 1982.

*Thanks again for sharing 100 episodes with us, and look out for our holiday special!

Episode 8-12: Night of One Hundred Stars 1982

To celebrate our 100th episode, more or less, we look at Night of One Hundred stars and ask the important questions like: what do you do for 2 ½ hours with 200 stars; if you have 200 stars, why call it night of 100 stars; and will this song ever end?

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

This Day in TV History: Two new shows premiered 40 years ago...two days ago

Because we've been focusing on the 1980 TV season this year, I want to step back and provide some more info on two CBS programs that debuted 40 years ago two days ago--Freebie and the Bean and Secrets of Midland Heights.

The new hourlong programs premiered December 6, 1980. Here is a promo from the following week's episodes. We posted this Sunday in the weekly Top Ten post:

But if you want more about these two series, where better to go than TV Guide? Here are the write-ups from the 1980 Fall Preview issue:

Secrets was essentially Lorimar's attempt to cash in on Dallas and get a younger audience, but it was gone after one season. King's Crossing, an ABC soap that premiered a couple years later, came from the ashes of this series but wasn't any more successful.

As for Freebie, it lasted a mere 9 episodes and was yanked before the end of January.

Monday, December 7, 2020

My list of alternative 'Darkroom" hosts

On the latest episode of the podcast, I express some ambivalence about James Coburn as host of Darkroom.  I just don't think he's quite right for the role.  I don't want to just throw that out there with some alternative possibilities, so here is my list of people who would have been available in 1982 and might have made interesting "faces of the show":

Vincent Price: No brainer if they could get him.

Jack Palance: He didn't debut on Ripley's Believe It or Not until 1982, so this show could have nabbed him first!

Bob Cummings: He was active in dinner theater around this time, and while hardly an icon of the macabre, he DID play a photographer on TV years before!

Leonard Nimoy: Nimoy can do it all! In Search Of ended its on-air run in March 1982, so maybe Leonard would have been available to do Darkroom in time for its November 1981 premiere.

James Garner: Well, it would freak a lot of people out to see the Polaroid pitchman in this kind of role. Especially the people from Polaroid.

Elvira: Cassandra Peterson's horror hostess character was developed (sorry) in 1981, so the time frame would be right.

Howard Cosell: Sounds weird? Maybe, but Cosell could make everything he was involved with better. Don't believe it? Just ask him.

Ted McGinley: Just think, a mere several years before joining The Love Boat as the ship's photographer, McGinley could have run with the photography gimmick and established a different narrative: The guy who brings fresh energy to shows that need a boost and helps lengthen their runs.

Bette Davis/Joan Crawford: Imagine the two legends perpetuating their long feud by trying to outdo each other in alternating host segments on Darkroom. The fact that Crawford died 4 years earlier only adds to the spectacle.

Ed McMahon: I would do anything to get him on the podcast again and into the 5-Timers Club.

Sunday, December 6, 2020

Top Ten #97

1) Darkroom: Our most macabre season yet built up to a journey to the most dangerous of all rooms in the house: the darkroom.  I used to think it was maybe the basement or the attic, or the kitchen with all the appliances.  And don't they say that most household accidents take place in the bathroom?

Where was I? Oh, yeah! Enjoy this week's podcast!

2) James Coburn: The host of Darkroom is James Coburn, and while he may not have been the ideal choice, he's still James Coburn.  Check out another glimpse of the man as he hosted SNL:

3) Frosty the Snowman: I kicked off my own holiday special season with one of my favorite Christmas cartoons of all time. Let's hope I'm not too busy, busy, busy to watch the rest of my faves this year.

4) Connie Sellecca and Danny Aiello: I have been watching On Our Own on Prime Video, and lately the short-lived 1977 CBS sitcom offered some interesting guests. Sellecca showed up as a model (makes sense), and Aiello showed up as an L.A. Rams quarterback. Wait, what? No, I am not making that up.

5) Magnum P.I.: All seasons of the show, which we discussed here, are now available on Roku Channel.

6) The NBC Mystery Wheel: Good week for NBC Mystery Movie fans: IMDB-TV added Banacek, McCloud, and McMillan and Wife; and VEI announced it is reissuing its DVD set of The Snoop Sisters

Peacock, how's about keeping it going and streaming Hec Ramsey and Lanigan's Rabbi?

7) Warren Berlinger: R.I.P. to the prolific character actor, someone I just saw playing an amorous IRS agent (that sounds as credible as Aiello as a Rams player) on Alice.

8) The Price Is Right: The Bob Barker years are now available on the show's own Pluto TV channel 24/7, but if we don't want to go over, maybe we should just say 20/5.

9) Freebie and the Bean and Secrets of Midland Heights: On this night 40 years ago, CBS premiered these two new series. Neither made it:

10) Abby Dalton: R.I.P. to the former star of Abby Dalton, who starred on Falcon Crest but did her best acting job years earlier by pretending to love the title star on The Joey Bishop Show.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

YouTube Spotlight: Darkroom

One of the more obscure clips in this week's Darkroom video playlist is this Ernie Anderson promo for two premiering shows on ABC:1979's Beach Patrol and Samurai!

Beach Patrol? Samurai?

First of all, why are these even IN a playlist devoted to Darkroom?

Well, it's because Michael V. Gazzo, one of the stars of the "Catnip" segment in the Darkroom episode we discuss, has a role in Beach Patrol.  According to IMDB, he is "Banker."

Both these movies are failed pilots that ABC burned off on April 30, 1979. Patrol is a Spelling/Goldberg production co-starring Paul Burke, Jonathan Frakes, and Robin Strand, but the focus is apparently the "comely female cop who transfers from the narcotics division...and is assigned to a special police team patrolling California's beaches in dune buggies..." (IMDB)

Christine De Lisle is the "comely female cop." Lee Goldberg's book of unsold pilots says she is targeted for assassination after spotting a fugitive mafioso. Sadly, it appears Gazzo may not be the mafioso. Is that Banker? I do not know.

As for Samurai, check this out: It's not obvious from the promo, but the lead character is a half-American, half-Asian DA/samurai played by...James Shigeta? No, though he is in the cast. It's Joe Penny!

Goldberg calls this a "ludicrous and unintentionally funny pilot." Other interesting names involved: Dana Elcar, Norman Alden, Phillip Baker Hall. Credited co-exec producers are Danny Thomas and Fernando Lamas!

Friday, December 4, 2020

The Darkroom video playlist is now live!

Do you dare enter The playlist?  Click below for vintage series promos, ads, and more, including James Coburn for Schlitz beer! And can plants really communicate with humans?

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

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Show Notes: Episode 8-11: Darkroom

*Thanks again to listener Greg for suggesting this show, and you can check out his band The Explainers right here!

*Note that there are major spoilers for the Darkroom episode we cover on the podcast!

*NBC's streaming portal for the series is here.

*Darkroom aired November 1981 to January 1982 on ABC, running Friday nights at 9:00 P.M.

*James Coburn, in his early fifties at the time, was in movies like Goldengirl, Looker, and Loving Couples just before Darkroom. Wikpedia reports that Coburn's severe arthritis limited his output in the 1980s.

*This particular episode premiered Friday, Christmas night 1981, following Benson and Bosom Buddies and preceding Strike Force with Robert Stack!  NBC started the night with NBC Magazine and then had The Gathering Part II.  On CBS, it was a Christmas episode of The Dukes of Hazzard, Falcon Crest, and a Mike Wallace interview special.

*William F. Nolan wrote Logan's Run (the novel and the pilot of the TV series), The Norliss Tapes, Trilogy of Terror, and many pieces of genre fiction in addition to "The Partnership" segment of this episode.

*Speaking of Leonard Nimoy and about plants, as we do in this episode, the first "regular" episode of In Search Of... is titled "Other Voices" and explores the idea of plant life responding to human thoughts.

*Does anyone know more about the short-lived career of Elizabeth Halliday? She isn't even listed in the cast credits for the episode at

*Our crack research team was unable to find more information about the cat in the 'Catnip" segment.  Or was it THWARTED by mysterious forces hailing from....The Darkroom?  

Cinema Cats has no information.

*This article says that Darkroom spawned a motion picture, though that has been disputed elsewhere. A comment in this article says that on the audio commentary of the Blu-Ray of said movie, Nightmares, the director denies it!

Episode 8-11: Darkroom: "The Partnership, Daisies, Catnip"

In another listener request episode, we discuss the short-lived horror anthology Darkroom. Hosted by James Coburn, Darkroom delves into the macabre and mysterious lurking, sometimes literally, under the mundane world. In this episode, Mr. Haney has plans for an unsuspecting David Carradine, Rue McClanahan talks to the daises, and guy learns the hard way not to mess with cats.

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

This Day in TV History: Blue Christmas, indeed

 On this night 50 years ago, CBS ushered in the month of December with what sounds like one of the most depressing television specials ever. Check out this summary of Blue Christmas: The State of the Economy from

This report examines the nation's current economic ills and explores possible avenues of recovery. Interviewed are: Paul McCracken, chairman of President Nixon's Council of Economic Advisors; Paul Samuelson, M.I.T. economist and winner of the 1970 Nobel Prize for economics; Walter Heller, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors to Presidents Kennedy and Johnson; Leonard Woodcock, president of the United Auto Workers; Milton Friedman, economics professor at the University of Chicago; and Arthur Wood, president of Sears, Roebuck and Co.

All right! Who's ready to sing some carols and do some Xmas shopping! I think viewers who sat through must have needed an extra wassail or two to get through it. It's epscially funny to me that it comes at the end of the night after a lineup of Beverly Hillbillies, Green Acres, Hee Haw, and To Rome with Love (sitcom about a professor in Rome--a professor from Iowa).

40 years ago, on December 1, 1980, the prospects were a little brighter.on CBS at 10:00 P.M. as it reran A Country Christmas: