Sunday, March 7, 2021

Top Ten #110

1) Good Times: March is a slow month for "new" era shows on streaming (even with the debut of Paramount Plus), but at least all episodes of this one, which we talk about here, are now on Peacock. Ain't we lucky we got 'em?

2) Mike Scully: Veteran comedy writer Scully discusses his career on the latest episode of Hollywood and Levine, and best of all, he describes his break in TV came when he worked for What a Country! If he had a hand in that rap scene, I am even more impressed than I am by his The Simpsons background.

3) Daniel H. Travanti: Happy birthday to the star of Hill Street Blues, a two-time Emmy winner and one-time Batty nominee.

4) TNN: It's also the birthday of The Nashville Network, something I didn't watch much when it was around but that I kind of wish was still here, anyway.

5) Actors and Other People for Animals: On a rerun segment of TV Confidential posted this week, then-President Jo Ann Worley talked about her role with one of our favorite charities! Unfortunately there was no discussion of roller disco.  Click here for more on Actors and Other People for Animals.

6) Catherine O'Hara: Congrats to the actress for her Golden Globes win last weekend!

7) Joe and Sons: Here's another look at the short-lived sitcom we talked about this week, complete with a radically different opening sequence:

8) Mary White: Now on Prime Video, this 1977 movie tells the story of famed newsman William A. White, who recounts how he was affected by the tragic blinding of his daughter. Wow, that sounds like a downer, but it has Genius Award winner Ed Flanders.

9) Saturn Awards nominees:  BOTNS congratulates the following nominees in the home video categories for the 2021 Saturns: Kino Lorber for Buck Rogers, CBS for Mission Impossible, Warner Archive for Shazam!

10) R.I.P.: Too many this week! The classy Irv Cross of NFL Today, longtime sports producer Mike Pearl, Dynasty's Geoffrey Scott, and a man who was a big part of my childhood, wrestling promoter Jim Crockett Jr.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

And now a word from their sponsor: Equal time for Burger King

The other day we highlighted a pair of classic John Madden ads for McDonald's.  Today let's look at Emmanuel Lewis pitching Burger King.

It is a canny move to have Lewis hold that Whopper; it looks huge in his hands.  Is it just me, though, or is there something smug about Lewis' 1980s persona? He always was right on that border of cloying and cute, but sometimes he came off as a little too satisfied with himself. I guess the idea is, awwww, he's so cute! Just look at him! And, yeah, that does kind of work.

The fact is, anyone adult doing this kind of ad based on being a star ought to have tongue planted more firmly in cheek. Child stars get away with it, or so goes the assumption, because they are supposed to precocious.  It doesn't always work with me, though!

How old do you think Lewis is here? The spot is labeled as from 1984, and he was born in March 1971.  Maybe it was filmed in early 1983, but I think it's safe to assume he is at least 12 and probably closer to 13.

(For more on my thoughts on this, check out our bonus episode on child additions to TV shows)

Friday, March 5, 2021

This Day in TV History: The 7th Annual People's Choice Awards in 1981

40 years ago tonight*, CBS broadcast the People's Choice Awards, which is at LEAST the seventh- or eighth-most prestigious yearly set of honors in the television industry. The awards represent the 1980 calendar year, and Empire Strikes Back was the big movie winner.  Kenny Rogers and Pat Benatar took home musician honors, and Carol Burnett and Alan Alda were "Best All-Around Entertainers."

Let's take a look at the TV awards.  Alda and Burnett also got the top TV individual awards, and Gary Coleman was "Best Young TV Performer" (we're getting near Batty territory here). Shogun was best mini-series--no surprise there--and the best comedy and drama honors went to MASH and Dallas respectively.

The PCA gave awards to the Best New Drama Series (Magnum P.I.) and Best New Comedy Series (Too Close for Comfort). Best performers in those new series were Tom Selleck and Diana Canova (I'm a Big Girl Now, which was gone after its first season).

Unfortunately I can't find footage of the TV award winners on YT, so here is Brooke Shields winning an award. At least the presenter is Erik Estrada.  And is that Beverly Sassoon with him?

IMDB and Wikipedia list the event as March 8, 1981; some sources indicate March 9, 1981; but the TV listings databases I consult have the event as March 5, 1981, and press material I saw indicate a 3/5/81 broadcast on CBS,

Thursday, March 4, 2021

Happy National Sons Day!

On this National Sons Day, we think it appropriate to celebrate by saluting one of the finest of the many, many television programs featuring familial relationships.  So let's give a big shout to, you guessed it, Joe and Sons:

The sitcom from producer Douglas Cramer (more successful with the likes of Wonder Woman and Love Boat) lasted a mere 13 episodes after the pilot despite some familiar faces in its cast.  Star Richard Castellano is a widower who works at a sheet and tube company while raising his two teenage sons.  Total Television calls it "the only sitcom set in Hoboken, New Jersey!"

Co-creators Bernie Kukoff and Jeff Harris had more luck a bit later with Diff'rent Strokes. This sitcom followed Good Times and preceded Switch Tuesdays at 8:30 on CBS' fall schedule. It was probably squashed by another new sitcom that had that same timeslot: Welcome Back Kotter on ABC, which became a phenomenon paired with lead-in Happy Days (then beginning its second season).

Here's a little more of Joe and Sons:

"What, do you wear this or salute it?"

Wednesday, March 3, 2021

When I think "hot and fast," I think John Madden

John Madden was not only a big-time NFL coach and one of the most acclaimed broadcasters of all time, he was also a pitchman extraordinaire. His Lite Beer run is legendary, and he had a steady gig for Ace Hardware, but I had forgotten about his stint representing McDonald's!

These are great ads. He's totally into it and embraces the telestrator gimmick. I can't find any evidence of Madden doing ads for the Golden Arches after 1986, which means we were deprived of his breakdowns of the McLean and the Arch Deluxe!

Monday, March 1, 2021

We love Minnesota

According to the National Day Calendar and a lot of sites that reference that calendar, today is National Minnesota Day.  It's kind of arbitrary--the state was admitted to the Union on a day in May--but, hey, let's roll with it.

When you think TV and Minnesota, you probably think The Mary Tyler Moore Show, but there is more to the Land of 10,000 Lakes.  For example, remember that the Rocky and Bullwinkle reruns we watched growing up "were shot" in Frostbite Falls. 

One I always forget is Little House on the Prairie. I don't often think of Minnesota as a big domain for disasters (insert Vikings playoffs jokes here), but the oft-beleaguered Walnut Grove was indeed in the state. Coach is set at fictional Minnesota State University.

On the more obscure side, the title character in Lucan roamed through the wilds of Minnesota (which has a town called Lucan) before being brought to civilization.  And thanks to this article for pointing out two more examples. Newton's Apple, a science-based educational show that aired on PBS in the Eighties and Nineties, was produced by a member station in Minnesota. 

Additionally, the very, very short-lived ABC drama The New Land featured Swedish emigrants making a go at a new life in rural Minnesota. That last one is an interesting case. The acclaimed show didn't catch on and is largely forgotten today despite Kurt Russell and Bonnie Bedelia in the cast and a John Denver theme song!

Sunday, February 28, 2021

Top Ten #109

1) Flatbush: See our post the other day about the show's debut in 1979.  I still say a doubleheader of this and Makin' It would make a great hour of television.

2) Betty White's Pet Set: The rare syndicated show hit DVD this week.

ME: Hey, any TV rarity of the era is something to treasure, and we should support releases like this by buying them at retail and showing we want more!
ME AFTER SEEING THE $60 MSRP OF PET SET: They're trying to spay and neuter my wallet!

3) Punky Brewster: The Peacock Original reboot is drawing negative reviews, clearly from people disappointed the new version lacks the gravitas of the original.

4) Unsolved Mysteries: The venerable docuseries has made it from NBC to Lifetime to Netflix and now to podcast form. Or HAS it?

5) Gavin MacLeod: Happy birthday and a hearty salute to the most heroic captain in TV history--yes, even more than the guy we'll see in item 8.

6) The MASH finale: Today is the anniversary of the much-ballyhooed last episode of the long-running series, and I believe it's playing somewhere right this minute.

7) Frank Bonner: Happy birthday to the entertaining performer. I feel like if I wished him well in person for the milestone, he'd try to sell me insurance or something.  And I mean that as a compliment.

8) The 1976 Grammys: On this date 45 years ago, the 18th Grammys presented the big award to one of the only pieces of music I've heard more than that damn MASH theme:

9) Incident in San Francisco: This TV movie premiered on ABC 50 years ago tonight. Dean Jagger, Richard Kiley, Leslie Nielsen...Hey, this looks decent!

10) Ilene Graff: Happy birthday to the talented star of Mr. Belvedere, but it couldn't have been acting to be happily married to BOTNS fave Bob Uecker.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

On International Polar Bear Day, we salute the great Breezly

He's still my favorite polar bear: Breezly Bruin from Breezly and Sneezly, the segment on The Peter Potamus Show and The Magilla Gorilla Show featuring some elements that may remind you of Sgt. Bilko.

There really ought to be more of these guys on YouTube!

Friday, February 26, 2021

This Day in Tv History: Flatbush premieres on CBS

On February 26, 1979, CBS premiered Flatbush, a sitcom that generated some controversy.  It just so happens that the great Gilmore Box channel recently posted the intro on YouTube, and I don't know about you, but I really want to see at least (and probably at most) one episode.  Does this remind you of, oh, about several different things that were prominent in the culture at the time?

Here is a promo hyping the debut. Check out the accent prolific voice-over actor Michael Bell affects in this clip!

The series lasted only a handful of episodes before getting pulled.  Italian-Americans protested the depictions on the show, and the real-life president of the borough called for its cancellation, but it probably didn't help that the show was not good.  Harry and Wally's Favorite TV Shows gives it a mere half star.  You mean to tell me something with Adrian Zmed as SOCKS PALERMO isn't quality work?

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Happy birthday, Ric Flair!

It's amazing that the Nature Boy is still here after years of hard living and health setbacks in recent years, but whether you like it or you don't like it, learn to love it because it's the best thing going today.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Happy birthday, Edward James Olmos!

Happy birthday, Edw--uh, Mr. Olmos.


If you don't want to have a happy day, uh, that's fine, too. Your choice!

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

This Day in TV History: Longstreet premieres with a pilot movie

On this night 50 years ago, ABC broadcast Longstreet, the pilot movie for the series starring James Franciscus as an insurance investigator blinded by a bomb attack.

The program debuted on the regular schedule in Fall 1971 and lasted only 23 episodes but has a cult following in part due to the occasional presence of Bruce Lee. The icon appeared in 4 episodes as Longstreet's martial arts instructor.

The series, owned by CBS, doesn't get a ton of play in syndication (possibly due to its short-lived nature), but it did receive a full DVD release from VEI and is still available.

Monday, February 22, 2021

Top Ten #108

(Note: This post was supposed to run Sunday, February 21, but did not because of my error, though I am blaming it on Steve Urkel, who is technically in the BOTNS era because his show began in 1989. Anniversaries, birthdays, milestones refer to 2/21, not 2/22.  Urkel apologizes for the error, even though he didn't "do that.")

1) The Muppet Show: After months of complaining about this not being on Disney Plus, you better believe I am happy about it finally being there.

2) Bert D'Angelo Superstar: Today is the 45th anniversary of one of the lesser-known Quinn Martin shows.  Paul Sorvino is the titular police detective, a NY transplant who shakes things up when he joins the force in San Francisco.  The Streets of San Francisco spawned this short-lived program, which didn't make it despite featuring the GENIUS Robert Pine in the cast!

3) Tyne Daly: Happy birthday to the 6-time Emmy winner, whose Cagney and Lacey gets a marathon on Decades this weekend.

4) Animalympics: I don't want to give away the mystery subject of our Fame Game episode this week, but this 1980 NBC special featured a lot of notable individuals.

5) The f-word: 40 years ago tonight, the late Charles Rocket let an f-bomb slip in an SNL sketch spoofing Dallas.

6) Guy Smiley: Because I just acquired this guy, who isn't all that smiley for some reason:

7) Christine Ebersole: Not only is it her birthday, but Ebersole's current program Bob Hearts Abishola was just renewed by CBS.

8) Kelsey Grammer: Happy birthday to one of our favorite supporting characters of the 1980s. Er, that is, the guy who played him.

9) Dynomutt: The robotic pooch made the cover of the new RetroFan magazine.

10) Jason Bateman: The official Carson channel just posted this clip of Bateman's first appearance on The Tonight Show, promoting the great It's Your Move in 1984:

BOTNS celebrates Washington's birthday


Saturday, February 20, 2021

This Day in TV History: Oops!

50 years ago this morning, the Emergency Broadcast System made a huge oopsie, knocking off all mainstream TV and radio communications and scaring the heck out of countless Americans.  The EBS was designed to seize the airwaves in the event of a nuclear attack so that the President could address the nation within 10 minutes of the alert.

The EBS ran a test every weekend, but this message was different: The "Hatefulness" was a code word embedded as a signal to broadcast stations that it was the real deal. Each station saw the alert and was obligated to cut into its programming and read a special statement. Well, that's what was supposed to happen. According to this summary, some stations did so, others missed the warning, and some just stopped transmitting without giving the warning.

Chaos reigned until someone at NORAD figured out that the wrong tape had been played. Operators scrambled to find the right code words to signal a false alarm. In a disturbing turn of events, they tried 6 times without success to cancel the alert.  They finally sent out the right code word 40 minutes after the initial alert.

The original New York Times story on this event features a thorough explanation of the EBS system as it worked then as well as a series of reactions to the fact that it apparently didn't work in this case. However, the article says that many broadcasters were able to independently verify the message was a false alarm and some just ignored it because it arrived in the standard testing window.

I remember growing up on irritating EBS messages like this one:

Friday, February 19, 2021

Show Notes: Fame Game #7

*Remember to listen to our latest Fame Game bonus episode before reading this if you want to play along and not be spoiled!

*Previous Fame Games can be found in the archives.


*The video playlist for this episode, featuring promos, sketches, interviews, and more, is right here!

*Our Fame Game figure was born June 28, 1946.

*NBC's Animalympics was conceived as two hourlong TV specials taking off on the Olympics, but after the Olympic boycott, the network canceled the Summer version. The Winter special aired February 1, 1980, and the full-length movie version combining the two received home video and pay cable distribution.

*First Family co-starred Bob Newhart and Madeline Khan as the First Couple. The 1980 Buck Henry joint was panned.

*Gilda Radner Live on Broadway ran August-September 1979. Mike Nichols' filmed adaptation, Gilda Live, had a short box office run in early 1980.

*Radner won her Emmy in 1978 for Outstanding Continuing or Single Performance by a Supporting Actress in a Variety or Music Program, beating Dolly Parton for a Cher special, Bea Arthur for the short-lived Laugh-In revival, Bernadette Peters for The Muppet Show, and castmate Jane Curtin from SNL.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Fame Game 7

When last we played The Fame Game, Mike secured a victory after the previous "Ruth Buzzi Fiasco." Can he turn that victory into a streak, or will the ghosts of previous losses once again haunt him? Find out now when Rick puts Mike through another round of The Fame Game!

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

Happy birthday, William Katt!

Today is the 70th birthday of Batty-nominated William Katt, star of stage and screen and iconic portrayer of Ralph Hinkley on our beloved Greatest American Hero! He also starred in Stephen J. Cannell's short-lived CBS drama Top of the Hill. Check out the Mike Post theme and show open here:

We'd bake a cake, but, uh, we lost the instruction manual, and we don't want to burn down the BOTNS podcast studios, so how about a spirited rendition of "Happy Birthday to You" instead? Maybe we can get Faye Grant and the other kids to sing!

Monday, February 15, 2021

This Day in TV History: A night of specials

50 years ago tonight, NBC brought us its latest Bob Hope Special, co-starring Teresa graves, Petula Clark, and in a sketch I don't think I want to see, "Miss Worley plays an obnoxious child who drives a burglar crazy," as per In his book Thanks for the Video Memories, Wesley Hyatt gives the special *** but Bob himself **** and singles out the opening skit with Der Bingle for praise.

Following Bob on this Monday night: Pure Goldie, a new variety special starring Goldie Hawn and produced by sitcom vets Sam Denoff and Bill Persky. They had all worked together on Good Morning, World in the 1967-68 season.

The special is an apparent rarity, but I did find this clip with Kermit the Frog:

40 years ago tonight, NBC had an interesting lineup: new special Doug Henning's World of Magic, a screening of Animal House, and the original production Women Who Rate a 10. I'm sure that last one is as classy and non-exploitative as all TV from the era is. Believe it or not, though, the ladies got their say first; this is a follow-up to Fall 1980's Men Who Rate a 10.

Sunday, February 14, 2021

Top Ten #107

1) Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown: I just saw this again for the first time in years (it's streaming uncut on Apple+), and I was impressed by how good it was, particularly the last 5 minutes. Chuck Brown still owns the holidays, people!

2) Bud Bowl II: Speaking of rediscoveries, I watched the Bud Bowl II on YouTube last week, and it was far more entertaining than the "real" game I watched last Sunday. BBII has weather, great plays, and a spectacular ending, all framed by Brent Musberger and Terry Bradshaw's enthusiastic commentary.

Now, originally this played out over the course of the 1990 Super Bowl, and it is an excellent example of great storytelling building up to a big finish. Even the snow is developed over the game.  At the start of the action, Brent says it's crisp and cold, and terry ads, "They're even calling for ice and snow." Later, listen to Bradshaw's serious tone as he says, "It's really starting to snow," at the end of the third quarter. Then when we return to the game, he notes that, "We got us a BLIZZARD at Bud Bowl!"

3) The Real Ghostbusters: The official Ghostbusters YT channel is debuting a new episode of the animated series each week, presumably to build up to the live-action revival Ghostbusters: Afterlife later this year. At this rate, we can see all the episodes by, oh, about Summer 2024.

4) A Special Valentine with the Family Circus: It's not quite as hard-hitting as the original Peanuts special. It's not quite as funny. It's not quite as good, really. So what is it? Well, it's another Valentine's Day cartoon special, and there aren't enough of them, so we should appreciate it.

5) Hugh Downs: The late Downs would have turned 100 today. Cook up an omelet and listen to our 1980 season episode for more talk on his eggscellent career!

6) Pat O'Brien: Happy birthday to THE INSIDER, POB, who enhanced those CBS NBA broadcasts so many years ago. Hope he's keeping his nose clean!

7) Mr. Belvedere This day 35 years ago, the show aired a special episode called "Valentine." It is of course the story of Lynn Belvedere's lifelong obsession with Karen Valentine.

8) Karen Valentine: Did someone mention Karen Valentine? It is her day, after all.

9) Hawaii Five-0: Decades has the perfect Valentine's Day binge watch this weekend with--wait, they don't choose this weekend to run Love, American Style? Well, you have to give them credit for not being predictable.

10) Freddy Fender: See the two-time-Batty-nominated artist (for his spot on Hee Haw) pitch his greatest hits in this recently uploaded commercial:

Saturday, February 13, 2021

Happy Birthday, David Naughton!

David Naughton, star of An American Werewolf in London and numerous Dr. Pepper commercials, turns 70 today.  We haven't gotten around to My Sister Sam nor At Ease yet, but one of his other starring TV roles is on my What I'd Like to See list and is a guarantee if CBS does the right thing and puts it on Paramount Plus. That's right, it's my favorite disco sitcom of the Seventies even if I have only seen one episode: Makin' It!

I will admit this is quite possibly the kind of show where the opening delivers so much of what you want that you are better off watching it over and over than the actual episodes. This intro checks off so many of the Disco/Garry Marshall/Period Sitcom boxes, though, we have to consider it one of the best of the forgotten sitcom themes (the sitcom itself is forgotten, but the song itself was a top-5 hit for Naughton)!

Friday, February 12, 2021

This Day in TV History: NBC Salutes President Lincoln

50 years ago tonight, NBC celebrated the birthday of one of our most beloved exploring his horrible murder. At 8:00, the network led off the night with They've Killed President Lincoln! The hourlong production from David Wolper's company used dramatic recreations to explore the infamous assassination and questions of a broader conspiracy:

Cast included Richard Basehart as the narrator, Joseph Leisch Jr. as the prez, and Robert Leonard as John Wilkes Booth. Other notables: Jill Eikenberry and Michael Tucker, Robert Prosky, and Richard Sanders!

There is no truth to the rumor that CBS planned a similar special but axed it as part of the "Rural Purge" because Lincoln was too much of a hick, replacing it with specials about FDR, JFK, and Teddy Roosevelt.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

10 Black TV shows that should be available on streaming or home video

Nothing against Frederick Douglass and other influential figures, but we're staying in our lane, which is more about Scatman Crothers. We celebrate Black History Month with a list of 10 TV shows from the BOTNS era currently unavailable on major streaming services (episodes in "unofficial" form on YouTube/Dailymotion, etc. do not count) nor on DVD/Blu-Ray.

Soul Train: As much a fixture this show is in the national consciousness even today--witness BET's fictionalized portrayal of Don Cornelius and the show's place in society--it has never been available on streaming as far as I know. There are hundreds of hours of a fantastic time capsule just sitting in CBS Viacom's vaults, part of the vast library of music history MTV Networks' parent company bought to (presumably) keep away from potential competitors.

Unfortunately, if BET, which has a fictional series based on the original series, maintains the Soul Train Music Awards, and has its own streaming service that has plenty of room for archival content, isn't going to do anything with the show, we'll probably never see it except in clips and retrospectives. I guess the best we can hope for is that CBS continues to ignore uploads of the show to free video sharing platforms.

Frank's Place: Hey, speaking of shows CBS Viacom owns but isn't doing anything with, consider Tim Reid's short-lived but critcally beloved 1980s dramedy. BET aired reruns years ago, but it is missing in action right now, with nary a hint of a DVD release. How about popping this one on BET+, especially if doing so avoids the thorny music clearance issues that may preclude a home video effort?

The Flip Wilson Show: it received limited "best of" DVDs that are now long out of print, and the reruns are MIA on cable and GET-TV. It's time to bring it back in some form, preferably original hourlong cuts with music, but even the half-hour Best ofs are welcome.

Julia and Room 222: I pair these two because Aspire had them at launch, and it's easy to understand why. The shows have a certain middlebrow patina of virtue, and if that sounds like a knock, hey, I especially love Room 222, and it irritates me that the network has dropped both shows (Julia turns up every now and then).  Julia is known more for being "groundbreaking" in its depiction of Diahann Carroll's titular young professional Black woman, but its gentle nature and charm make it an easy watch. As for Room 222, Shout's season 1 DVD flopped, perhaps because consumers rejected the non-"remastered" prints, but perhaps because quality shows without bug syndication presence just don't always sell.

Paris: This 1979-1980 CBS police drama has an impressive pedigree; created by Steven Bochco, it also gave James Earl Jones his first role as a fictional TV series regular.  It's not well regarded, but this description in Brooks and Marsh's The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows makes me want to see it even more:

What Paris lacked, unfortunately, was a little bit of believability. James Earl Jones, a highly respected actor, strutted through this role speaking in booming, stentorian tones as if it were Richard III.

Isn't that exactly what you want from James Earl Jones? This is an MTM show that should be accessible in the vaults somewhere.

The New Odd Couple I can't make a strong case for this, but, come on, it's Basically I'm just a sucker for anything Odd Couple.

The Gary Coleman Show: We talked about the whole Gary Coleman phenomenon a bit on our Diff'rent Strokes episode, but as big as the child star was, not much apart from the sitcom is still around.  There are many TV movies still unavailable, and while Boomerang did show reruns of this cartoon series featuring Coleman as an angel (itself adapted from one of those movies, The Kid with the Broken Halo), it's not currently streaming anywhere.

I Am the Greatest: The Adventures of Muhammad Ali: Speaking of NBC cartoons, this 13-episode show was a flop, but it did feature the voice of Ali himself. In a time when a new book and/or HBO documentary about the boxing legend comes out every other month, to say nothing of the cult popularity of Mike Tyson Mysteries, it's surprising this isn't out there.  Maybe the ownership--it was produced by an independent company--are in dispute?

Get Christie Love!: The TV movie that spawned the series is in public domain, or must be because it was a staple of every dollar store's "media" section in the DVD era, but since some scattered cable runs, I have only seen a batch of episodes on Brown Sugar when it launched.  The show is a watered-down version of films like Cleopatra Jones, what? 

Bonus: The Insiders: I have long been fascinated by this apparent Miami Vice knockoff, though I sure wasn't fascinated enough to actually watch it when it aired.  Like Vice, it's a Universal show.  It is probably not worth flipping out over, but wouldn't adding something like this to Peacock for Black History Month be cooler than trotting out a handful of overplayed 1990s comedy movies?

Well, it would to me!

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

RetroFan #12

I am posting my usual praise of TwoMorrows' RetroFan magazine much later than usual, and there's a reason for that.  Through no fault of its own, I received my issue #12 weeks later than I should have.  In fact, I want to thank the company again for its kind and professional communication as I fretted over the empty mailbox. 

The publisher sends a digital copy out as soon as it ships the print edition--I believe #13 is shipping this week and maybe even today as you read this--but me in my stubborn ways resisted touching it, holding out to savor the physical copy even though some of the articles were seasonal.  So, yes, I just finished the cool piece on Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer by leading Rankin-Bass historian Rick Goldschmidt, not to mention the look at Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

For fans of the BOTNS era of TV, there is a surprisingly personal and affecting cover story by Chris Mann, author of the great Three's Conpany book Come and Knock on Our Door, and an interview Mann conducted with Nancy Morgan (John Ritter's first wife).  Additional articles of interest include a history of Popeye cartoons on TV and a unique piece spotlighting holiday greeting cards sent out by animation studios like Filmation.

There is much more, too, for fans of TV in general. like the look at the first "invasion" attempt of Doctor Who in the USA and a great history of the short-lived 1950s Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. It's highly recommended as always!

Monday, February 8, 2021

Season 8 Battys by the Numbers

 We hope you all enjoyed the latest installment of The Biggest Night in Vintage TV Podcasting! Here is a look at the eighth Batty the numbers:

Awards won by show: Columbo (6), Brady Bunch (4), Greatest American Hero (4), Newhart (2), Night of 100 Stars (2), Duck Tales (1), Wide World of Sports (1), Tucker's Witch (1)

Way more than 100: Number of stars on Night of 100 Stars
Way more than 100: Number of people who, years later, claimed to be Little Rascals

82: Page of the lost manual that would have allowed Bill Maxwell to be a genius 30 years earlier

21: Total number of categories

15: Number of major operations Evel Knievel claimed to have had in his career
13: Number of sharks in the tank over which he jumped in his ill-fated 1977 rehearsal for a live TV special
1: Number of Battys won by Knievel

11: Nominations without a win for 60 Minutes

5: Number of nominees from the same show in one category (tie): 60 Minutes (Outstanding Performance as Oneself) and Night of 100 Stars (Outstanding song)

5) Number of nominees from the same show in one category without any other nominees (Batty record):  Night of 100 Stars (Outstanding song)

3: Season 8 Battys for Mike Lookinland as Bobby Brady
2: Combined career Battys for Betty White, Alan Alda, Ed Asner, and Mary Tyler Moore

2: Number of times Rick referred to Butch from The Little Rascals as Tommy

1: Number of Battys won by animals (not counting Doug Henning's mustache)
0: Number of Battys won by inanimate objects

0: Number of times Ann B. Davis was actually on Columbo
0: Number of times Peter Falk was on The Brady Bunch

0: Number of awards determined by random number generator (a Battys first!)

Too numerous to track: Number of times the hosts criticized the Blue Ribbon Batty Nominating Committee

Sunday, February 7, 2021

Top Ten #106: Special Post-Battys Edition

We're still basking in the glow of the Season 8 Batty Awards, also known as The Biggest Night in Vintage TV Podcasting. 

1) Columbo and Peter Falk: Did we mention how much we love the character and his show? Only about a dozen times, eh?

2) Robert Culp: Genius. 'Nuff said.

3) The Brady Bunch: We had a spirited discussion of the series to open season 8, and the iconic but not universally respected series took home an impressive 4 Battys, led by Bobby Brady's spectacular night.

4) Connie Sellecca: Won two Battys, and I am proud to say neither was for "Hottest Eighties TV Babe" or something like that.

5) Evel Knievel: In the time it's taken you to read this post, Evel has broken two bones. And he died in 2007.

6) Supertrain: It premiered on this night in 1979, and television was never the same!

7) Alcoa Fantastic Finishes: Just in time for the big game, some uploaded examples of the best in-game commercial segment ever, including this one:

8) Bea Arthur: Hollywood and Levine just featured a great interview with Jim Vallely, who tells a hilarious story about writing a "Not!" joke (a la Wayne's World) for Dorothy and how Bea Arthur delivered it.  I can't do it justice.  Check it out here.

9) Up with People:(return from Top Ten #64): It's a year later, and I'd still rather watch this act than what we're gonna get at the Super Bowl later today.  Here's another Up with People SB clip:

10) Allan Burns/Dustin Diamond: Rest in peace.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

In Memoriam (from the Season 8 Batty Awards)

Here in print is our In Memoriam list from the Season 8 Battys honoring notables from the BOTNS era we lost. You can check out our video playlist, featuring commercials, promos, and more, by clicking right here!

Joe Ruby
Tom Seaver
Kevin Dobson
Diana Rigg
Road Warrior Animal
Jay Johnstone
Mac Davis
Tom Kennedy
The Amazing Randi
Alex Trebek
Paul Hornung
Herb Solow
Abby Dalton
David Proswe
Warren Berlinger
Pat Patterson
David Lander
Charley Pride
Rod Perry
William Link
Dawn Wells
Tanya Roberts
John Reilly
Tommy Lasorda
Don Robertson
Peter Mark Richman
Gregory Sierra
Larry King

Friday, February 5, 2021

Batty Awards Season 8: The Complete List of Winners and Nominees!

Here is the complete list of categories for the Eighth Batty Awards, including the winners! If you want to find out the results as they happen on the podcast, make sure to listen to the show first!

LIVE on tape from The Stratford Inn (Mike) and the Brady house (Rick): The Season 8 Batty Awards!

(Winners in bold)

OUTSTANDING FASHION DISPLAY (Listener-voted award #1)
The Bradys (Brady Bunch)
Evel Knievel (Wide World of Sports)
Leonard Nimoy as Barry Mayfield (Columbo)
Bill and Pam's matching red plaid shirts and black pants (Greatest American Hero)

Huey/Louie/Dewey (Duck Tales)
Bobby Brady (Brady Bunch)
Spanky (Little Rascals Christmas)
Alfafa (Little Rascals Christmas)
Stymie (Little Rascals Christmas)
Ricky Schroeder (Night of 100 Stars)
Allison "Annie" Smith (Night of 100 Stars)

Mike Wallace (60 Minutes)
Ed Bradley (60 Minutes)
Morley Safer (60 Minutes)
Patrick Lichfield (60 Minutes)
Andy Rooney (60 Minutes)
Evel Knievel (Wide World of Sports)
James Coburn (Darkroom)
Jim McKay (Wide World of Sports)
Hal Linden (Night of 100 Stars)
Liza Minnelli (Night of 100 Stars)

Rick Tucker/Art Hindle (Tucker's Witch)
Rick Tucker/Tim Matheson (Tucker's Witch)
Dick Loudon (Newhart)

Mike Brady (Brady Bunch)
Mike Wallace (60 Minutes)
Michael Harris (Newhart)

Mike Brady (Brady Bunch)
Greg Brady (Brady Bunch)
Connie Sellecca (Greatest American Hero)
William Katt (Greatest American Hero)
Jack Klugman (Poor Devil)

Doug Henning (Night of 100 Stars)
Lionel Richie (Night of 100 Stars)
Jose Ferrer (Newhart)
Santa Claus (Little Rascals Christmas)
Andy Rooney (60 Minutes) (eyebrows)

Geno Conforti (Poor Devil)
Adam West (Poor Devil)
Old Man Ribbit (Duck Tales)
Bobby Brady (Brady Bunch)
Butch and Da Woim (Little Rascals Christmas Special)
Andy Rooney (60 Minutes)


Christopher Lee (Poor Devil)
Ted Danson (Tucker's Witch)
Space eel (Greatest American Hero)
Barry Mayfield (Columbo)

Uncle Scrooge (Duck Tales)
Huey/Louie/Dewey (Duck Tales)
Old Man Ribbit (Duck Tales)
Pitcher on Mayfield's desk (Columbo)
Space eel (Greatest American Hero)
Satan (Poor Devil)
The umbrella (Brady Bunch)
Petey (Little Rascals Christmas)
Dickens (Tucker's Witch)
Black cat (Darkroom)
Kraken (Darkroom)

Brady Bunch, Duck Tales, Greatest American Hero, Poor Devil

Newhart, Darkroom, 60 Minutes, Tucker's Witch, Columbo, Wide World of Sports

Mr. Bojangles by Sammy Davis Jr. (Night of 100 Stars), Oh, No/Lady by Lionel Richie (Night of 100 Stars), Theme from Arthur by Christopher Cross and Dudley Moore (Night of 100 Stars), Disco Medley from fashion segment (Night of 100 Stars), What's My Line by the TV stars (Night of 100 Stars).

OUTSTANDING TRIO (Listener-voted award  #2)
The Brady Boys (Brady Bunch)
The Brady Girls (Brady Bunch)
Huey/Dewey/Louie (Duck Tales)
Larry, his brother Darryl, and his other brother Darryl (Newhart)
Doug Henning/Maureen Stapleton/Ricky Schroeder (Night of 100 Stars)

IN MEMORIAM (Note: We will have a separate tribute post tomorrow)

Julia Duffy (Newhart)
Nita Talbot (Columbo)
Anne Francis (Columbo)
Ann B. Davis (Brady Bunch)
Barbara Barrie (Tucker's Witch)
Fences AKA Madlyn Rhue (Poor Devil)
Rue McClanahan (Darkroom)
Hope Schwartz (Brady Bunch)

Connie Sellecca (Greatest American Hero)
Mary Frann (Newhart)
Florence Henderson (Brady Bunch)
Catherine Hicks (Tucker's Witch)
Jocelyn Brando (Darkroom)

Leonard Nimoy (Columbo)
Tom Poston (Newhart)
Will Geer (Columbo)
Bill Morey (Tucker's Witch)
Pat Buttram (Darkroom)
David Carradine (Darkroom)

Barry Williams (Brady Bunch)
Robert Reed (Brady Bunch)
Peter Falk (Columbo)
Tim Matheson (Tucker's Witch)
William Katt (Greatest American Hero)
Robert Culp (Greatest American Hero)
Bob Newhart (Newhart)
James Coburn (Darkroom)
Cyril O'Reilly (Darkroom)

Brady Bunch "The Big Bet," Duck Tales "Once Upon a Dime," Columbo "Stitch in Crime," 60 Minutes 3/13/82, Tucker's Witch "Pilot," Greatest American Hero "The Shock Will Kill Ya," Darkroom "The Partnership/Daisies/Catnip," Wide World of Sports "25th Anniversary Special," Little Rascals Christmas Special, Newhart "Thanksgiving for the Memories," Poor Devil, Night of 100 Stars.

Brady Bunch, Wide World of Sports, Columbo, Duck Tales, Greatest American Hero, 60 Minutes, Tucker's Witch, Darkroom, Newhart

Robert Culp

Thursday, February 4, 2021

Season 8 BATTY Awards

We celebrate the end of another season with "the most exciting night in retro TV podcasting," the BATTY Awards. As always, the awards include the expected like outstanding male and female performances, the unique like outstanding facial hair and nonhuman, and the downright unexpected--you'll have to listen to find out. Plus, we hand out another Robert Pine Genius Award!

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, February 2, 2021

This Day in TV History: The Point (1971)

50 years ago tonight, ABC premiered the animated special The Point, featuring songs and story by Harry Nilsson.  The cast included Dustin Hoffman, Mike Lookinland, and the ubiquitous Paul Frees and June Foray. Nilsson's concept album had come out in December 1970.

Hoffman's deal meant his narration could be used only on one broadcast of the movie, so in subsequent airings and releases, his track is replaced by voice-overs from Alan Thicke and Ringo Starr.

The Point is streaming on Tubi and received a Blu-Ray special edition release last year.

Monday, February 1, 2021

This Day in TV History: Big(foot) night for ABC

On this night 45 years ago, after dispensing with an episode of Swiss Family Robinson, ABC presents a night of spectaculars.  First up, part 1 of The Six Million Dollar Man's fabled Bigfoot episode. "The Secret of Bigfoot" features Stefanie Powers, Severn Darden, and even a cameo by Lindsay Wagner as Jaime Sommers.  Of course the incomparable Andre the Giant plays Bigfoot, who returns in several other episodes in the series' run.

After Bigfoot, it's a big event as ABC debuts epic miniseries Rich Man, Poor Man. The 12-parter with Peter Strauss, Nick Nolte, and Ed Asner is an adaptation of a 1969 Irwin Shaw novel.  The series goes on to be a smash for the network, picking up awards as well as viewers and paving the way for the miniseries boom that included Roots. A sequel titled Book II premieres in September of that same year:

Other BOTNS favorites in the huge cast: Robert Reed, Norman Fell, and Bill Bixby. Dick Sargent has a role, but not Dick York (see last week's Mailbag episode)..

Sunday, January 31, 2021

Top Ten #105

1) Cheers: The only show mentioned on both the top 5 lists of Mike and Rick on this week's mailbag podcast!

2) Alice Cooper: Check out this footage from the American Music Awards broadcast 45 years ago today, January 31, 1976:

3) Jessica Walter: Happy birthday to Batty-Award-winning star of Dr. Strange Jessica Walter!

4) National Backwards Day: On this special "national holiday," su tel kool ta Htraem morf Mork and Mindy:

5) Shogun: The epic 1980 miniseries was a big hit at the Golden Globes this night 40 years ago.

6) Supporting Actors and Actresses: Speaking of the 1981 Globes, both these categories were TIES on this evening.  Vic Tayback (Alice) and Pat Harrington (One Day at a Time) shared the prize, and also splitting an honor were Diane Ladd (Alice) and Valerie Bertinelli (One Day at a Time).

Can you imagine the Globes voters agonizing over all these categories because they loved Alice and One Day at a Time so darn much?

7) Stuart Margolin: Happy birthday to the star of Rockford Files, Love, American Style, and so much more.

8) Hee Haw: Roku Channel added a random (?) batch of mid 1980s episodes last week. I believe this is the first time the show has been on a major streaming platform.

9) Search and Legends of the Superheroes:

Both of these BOTNS beloved programs (click here and here for the episodes) got major props on this week's Warner Archive Podcast in which the hosts picked their favorite WA releases.

10) R.I.P. It's been another tough week for TV deaths. Farewell to Cloris Leachman, Bruce Kirby, Cicely Tyson:

Saturday, January 30, 2021

And now a word from their sponsor: Reggie Jackson is a hot dog!

 I love this 1984 commercial for Wienerschitzel:

Reggie Jackson celebrates National Hot Dog Month (July) with this ad.  Reggie seems on board with everything, and I hope he really did have a good time.  I do find it amusing that the commercial sings about how the chain is more than just hot dogs in Hot Dog Month and then touts a hot dog special at the end.

Is it possible that baseball history has it all wrong and that California Angels Reggie is the best Reggie Jackson, even better than the A's Reggie or the Yankees Reggie?  Sure, his on-field exploits in New York and Oaktown are impressive, but Angels Reggie gives us this singing Reggie, the Jeffersons Reggie, and even The Naked Gun Reggie.

Friday, January 29, 2021

The Mailbag episode video playlist is now live!

After listening to our first mailbag bonus edition of the podcast, check out our video playlist! We start off with the king of viewer mail, David Letterman, and then explore some theme songs, promos, and clips from some of the stuff we talk about in the episode. You will even see Elvis (the King, but not of viewer mail) and Bobby DeNiro! And who better to close a star-studded playlist than Greg Evigan! Just click below to start!

And remember to hit our official YouTube channel for all of our past episodes and playlists to accompany each one of them!

Thursday, January 28, 2021

Show Notes: Mailbag episode #1!

*Thanks to everyone in our Facebook group who gave us topics and questions for our first mailbag bonus episode! We'll do it again, but in the meantime you can always reach us at

And come on and join us in our FB group and talk TV! It's private but super easy to join.

*Rick here: Don't worry, folks, even though I love shows from the 1950s and 1960s, I am true blue to our beloved BOTNS era of the 1970s and 1980s as well! 

*The Munsters Today is on Peacock and NBC. It was in first-run syndication from 1977-1981, somehow accumulating more episodes than the original The Munsters! Could an episode of the pod centered on this one be in the hopper?

*Here for posterity are our lists of "5 faves" (at least at the time we recorded this):

Mike: Cheers, Magnum P.I., Search, Late Night with David LettermanColumbo
Rick: Cheers, The Love Boat, Clash of Champions, It's Garry Shandling's Show, The Odd Couple

*The Simpsons and Seinfeld did start in 1989, but we hereby declare them 1990s shows!

"Suspicious Minds" is actually a song by Mark James, but "In the Ghetto" is indeed a Mac Davis tune.

*Our first episode of the podcast premiered Thursday, September 22, 2016.

*Let's get the 1970s Spider-Man TV series (both American and Japanese) on Blu-Ray!

*Check out this week's YouTube playlist for glimpses of the shows we would like to see on DVD/Blu-Ray.

*Here is a link to Geno's great YouTube channel and another one to Steve's Illuminati Social Club podcast. Please check out their stuff as well as all the other great pods and friends of the show we mention in this episode like 20th Century Pop.

*Thanks again for your support, and get ready for the Season 8 Battys next week! Season 9 is just around the corner!

Mailbag at Battle of the Network Shows

This week, we answer open up the mailbag and answer questions from our Facebook group. We give our thoughts on expanding our format, how we got started, our favorite shows from the seventies and eighties, and, perhaps most importantly, our thoughts on Elvis. Also, we commit to a subject for season nine.

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Promo Theatre: A night of fun on NBC

 I knew I was going to love this promo as soon as I saw the title in my YouTube feed. After all, it's from 1981 NBC. Can we all just agree to call late 1970s-early 1980s NBC The Second Golden Age of Television?

NBC has an odd mash-up of programming tonight, with CHiPs the mainstay being preceded by Boomer and a Flinstones special. The latter was the final Bedrock-themed primetime special the network ran in the 80-81 season.

I have one problem with this promo: Casey Kasem says Fred unwittingly enters a marathon, yet IMDB says he decides to be the first Bedrock citizen to enter the Rockstone Marathon. Well, we have to believe Casey, right?

Monday, January 25, 2021

This Day in TV History: Stay tuned after the Super Bowl for...

For a long time, the Super Bowl was not seen as a launchpad for future hits and would-be hits by the TV networks.  On this day 40 years ago, NBC broadcast Super Bowl XV, in which Tom Flores' Oakland Raiders became the first Wild Card team to win the big game by beating the Philadelphia Eagles 27-10.

Just under 69 million viewers tuned into the game, but NBC didn't take that audience for granted. It kept the night going with CHiPs--and not even a new episode, but a repeat of season 3's Thrill Show, which had aired nearly a year earlier.  Perhaps the strike that delayed much of the 80-81 season affected NBC's plans, but, wow, that sounds like an unimpressive Super Bowl leadout.

Sunday, January 24, 2021

Top Ten #104

1) Henry Aaron's 715th home run: The legend died this week, but this classic moment lives on forever. Curt Gowdy called it for NBC while Milo Hamilton and Vin Scully had their resepctive team radio broadcast calls.

2) Yakov Smirnoff: Happy birthday to the multitalented comedian, actor, and rapper. Don't remember his rapping? Listen to our What a Country! episode for more info.

3) Players Club International: I don't have the heart to look up to see if this is still a thing. I want to be a Player forever.

4) National Beer Can Day: What a special day! How about we celebrate by admiring the dozens of cans of Billy Beer we all kept in our vaults as collectibles?  

Well, at least we can enjoy an old Stroh's ad:

5) Almost Anything Goes: This unusual show premiered (again) his night in 1976 after a summer sting in 1975. Charlie Jones, Lynn Shackleford, and Regis Philbin were commentators for an array of goofy outdoor stunts pitting teams from different towns against each other. It lasted until April.

6) Neil Diamond: Happy birthday to the musician who has done it all, including what has to be the pinnacle of his career, making it to the cover of Parade Magazine recently.

7) Adrian Edmonson: Happy birthday to the man who portrayed this totally rational and reasonable human being:

8) The Muppet Show: Disney Plus FINALLY is bringing the complete series (they say) in February. Will we rank the show again when it does show up there? You bet we will.

9) Peggy Fleming at Sun Valley: The skater's third TV special premiered on this night 50 years ago and featured guests like The Carpenters.

10) Gregory Sierra and Larry King: Rest in peace!

Thursday, January 21, 2021

This Day in TV History: Celebrating the Muppets

35 years ago tonight, CBS (remember when The Muppets were a CBS thing?) presented The Muppets: A Celebration of 35 Years, an hourlong salute to the beloved troupe.  It's one of many Muppet TV specials over the years, and it's worth commemorating this week after the great news that The Muppet Show is finally coming to Disney Plus next month.

Here is a contemporary New York Times preview of the special. It's structured as a gala banquet looking back at the history of Jim Henson and his creations. As you can (hopefully) see above, the special is not hard to find long as you don't look for it on Disney.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

This Day in TV History: The spectacular debut of Sweet Daddy and the less spectacular debut of "Popi"

On January 20, 1976, 45 years ago to the day, CBS kicked off the night with a Good Times that gave us one of the great characters of the era.  The episode title says it all: "Sweet Daddy Williams!"

After our season 4 Good Times episode, I wrote more about this particular program and the greatness of Teddy Wilson and the character. I can't say much more today, but I will add that the program following Good Times on 1/20/76 was the debut of another "ethnic" sitcom, Popi.

Despite goo intentions, the show lasted only 11 episodes, 6 of those burned off in the summer after the show was canceled. This isn't to be confused with the 1969 movie with Alan Arkin and Rita Moreno, though at least one big site does confuse the two!

The show's lead was Hector Elizondo, who talks about the experience here in this entertaining clip and indicates it was crushed by Happy Days.

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

This Day in TV History: Punky Brewster vs. The Refrigerator 35 years ago tonight

On January 19, 1986, Punky Brewster featured a Very Special Episode about the perils of playing in abandoned refrigerators and the benefits of learning CPR. Refrigerators were high on the list of biggest menaces of the 1980s, behind only drug dealers, apples with razorblades, and Judge Doom.

The episode is available for free on, and here is a clip that takes it lightly but gives you a taste:

The Mental Floss oral history of this episode is great reading.  Among the tidbits in here, this episode was the result of a story submission contest NBC held. The kid who won suggested Punky learn CPR, and the show's staff created the fridge story.

You can hear us talk about two other Punky episodes right here!

Monday, January 18, 2021

This Day in TV History: The Reel Game premieres on ABC

January 18, 1971, ABC's mini-block of game shows featured a premiere: The Reel Game hosted by Jack Barry.

The show followed Let's Make a Deal at 7:30 and The Newlywed Game at 8:00.  Total Television says the game featured 3 contestants. "The questions concerned famous people and events, and the answers were "verified" by showing newsreel or other documentary footage.

According to this post, a similar show called Eye Bet aired in Canada at about the same time with host Jim Perry (a BOTNS favorite). The same poster says that the cost of licensing clips proved prohibitive. The Reel Game lasted until May. It was part of Barry's national comeback (he was developing Joker's Wild at this time) after his implication in the quiz show scandals of the 1950s.

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Top Ten #103

1) Betty White: Happy birthday to America's Sweetheart, the legendary Betty White!

2) Name That Tune: FOX has a new version on the air, and no disrespect to Jane Krakowski, but how can you beat the original--uh, any of the originals. I think there were a dozen different versions, but you get my point.

3) Rising Damp: Friday I gave BritBox an A for 2020 partly because of adding series like this, an "of its time" sitcom that I hadn't seen in years. Really I'm just a sucker for this old opening:

4) James Earl Jones: Happy 90th to James Earl! Does anyone else wish they could see:

5) Don Robertson: Speaking of great voices, R.I.P. to the longtime CBS voice, the man who delivered, "This is CBS," as well as countless voice-overs for CBS Sports, from the championship events to, well, this:

6) Nancy McKeon: She was on Mindy Cohn's podcast this week and said the most common misconception about her was that she knew all about motorcycles. Turns out she does NOT! I am crushed. Next thing you know, Henry Winkler will tell us he couldn't assemble a cycle 

7) National Healthy Weight Week: It kicks off now! I know someone who could help us all celebrate this:

8) George Burns 90th Birthday Special: 35 years ago tonight, CBS celebrated the nonage--the noneg--the nonagg--the 90-year-old comedian's birthday with the likes of John Denver, Steve Allen, Billy Crystal, Bill Cosby, and...

9) Super Night at the Super Bowl: CBS aired this entertainment extravaganza on this night 45 years ago. Andy Williams and Jackie Gleason hosted, and stars included Joe Namath, Bob Newhart, The Pointer Sisters, and O.J. Simpson (Cosby now becomes the second-most notorious person mentioned in this list).

Oh, how I want to see ALL of these specials (there were 2 more after this), but here is a clip from the 1978 one, the only thing I could find on YT:

10) Peter Mark Richman: R.I.P. The prolific actor was in many, many shows, including the Dynasty season 3 episode we discussed here.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Happy National Fig Newton Day!

 It's January 16, so of course it's time to celebrate Fig Newton Day here in the USA.

Has that ever happened to you?

Friday, January 15, 2021

Over Easy: It wasn't ALL about eggs

In our deep dive into the 1980-1981 TV season, we discussed the phenomenon of Over Easy on PBS, a daily magazine show aimed at seniors. Well, believe it or not, folks, the show wasn't ALL about eggs, despite what our speculation might have indicated.  Here is proof in the form of two descriptions from the Tuesday, September 16, 1980 listings of a TV Guide:

The next page has an example of something that has always confounded me: The listing for a particular program referring to another entry of the same program/episode at a different time (sometimes a different day).  This was 1986.  Were people figuring out by hand all this stuff fit on the pages? What went into that?

"See 12 noon Ch. 28 for details."  No! Why should I have to look all the way back on the preceding page? Just give me the info here at 3:30!

Thursday, January 14, 2021

This Day in TV History: A memorable debut and a GENIUS guests on Cannon!

On this night 45 years ago, NBC premiered The Bionic Woman, its high-profile spinoff of The Six Million Dollar Man. "Welcome Home Jaime" was the first part of the pilot; the second installment aired the following week.  After two seasons on ABC, the series moved to NBC for one last go-round.

Elsewhere on the dial, CBS' broadcast of an all-new Cannon episode, "The House of Cards," featured guest star and BOTNS favorite (and namesake of the Genius Award) Robert Pine! Dabney Coleman and Pernell Roberts also star as "a small-town newspaperman takes on a dual identity and fakes his own murder."  Roberts is the newspaperman, Coleman is--well, I don't know, but I assume he is a jerk, and Pine is a sheriff.

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Streaming services and classic TV in 2020--Report cards! Part 6

Today we conclude our long-running series grading the major streaming services on how they handled classic TV in 2021. OK, OK, stop applauding! Let's hope 2021 brings lots of surprises for those of us who enjoy older stuff, especially from the BOTNS era of the 1970s and 1980s.

Shout! Factory TV: Hard to give this one a grade. The company is responsible for bringing a lot of rarities into the streamingverse, like The Tim Conway Show. Yet it's tempting to just wait for the same shows to go to platforms like Amazon Prime Video or Tubi, where they often show up later and are easier to watch and track. Shout! went months without adding much of anything TV-wise, but it doesn't drop a lot, either.  Its content is great, but the app itself isn't impressive. That  has been true since the beginning, though.

Most pleasant surprise: The onslaught of Johnny Carson shows (yes, edited for music, but still) on streaming services is due to Shout! getting the rights.
Biggest disappointment:  A general lack of activity for much of 2020, when streaming content was desired more than ever. Also, does Shout! have streaming rights to some of the out-of-print stuff it released on DVD, like It's Garry Shandling's Show? How about super-expensive material like Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman?

Grade: B. I am factoring in the fact that it makes so much of its holdings so widely available.  I hope Shout! kicks it up a notch in 2021, but how can I complain about a company that made Ace Crawford, Private Eye available this year? Many streaming services would not want to touch a short-lived flop like that.

CBS All Access: This one underwent massive changes in 2020 as its parent company expanded its offerings to include programs from BET, MTV, etc.  But how much of it was classic TV? Not very much.  I stopped even checking CBS All Access until suddenly it dumped The Love Boat on the service without fanfare.

Unfortunately it still has only a handful of episodes of Happy Days, to give an example. Many series are either MIA, period, or just missing a bunch of episodes. Other than Love Boat, CBS is focusing on adding movies, kids' shows, and other things while still giving its vast TV catalog short shrift. 

Grade: D+: Love Boat elevates this in a year of inactivity, but I am optimistic that the upcoming rebrand to Paramount Plus will mean more is on the way. The sharing of many shows with Pluto may be a good sign: Give live-streaming to the free Pluto, save on demand for the paid Paramount Plus.

Roku Channel: This free service has a lot to offer, and remember, you can watch it online without a Roku. What it doesn't have is a watchlist function.  It's clunky and hard to find material.  However, it continues to surprise by licensing shows from a wide variety of sources. 

Recent additions like The A-Team and Magnum P.I. are not rare, but it's cool to see Roku grabbing some NBCUniversal content and putting it on a free channel (part of the deal to get Peacock on Roku?) More surprising adds included Head of the Class from Warners and Hazel and Benson from Sony, none of which had been anywhere else. Plus Roku also dips into the world of black and white with shows like Tombstone Territory and is willing to put up short-lived rarities like Good Morning, World.

The biggest drawback is the lack of transparency about what is coming and going.  The tenendency to get several seasons of a series and rotate them out instead of just putting the whole thing up is irritating. Still, while Roku Channel is unsophisticated as an actual streaming video service, it offers appealing content for classic TV fans every month.  That lack of transparency and drawing from multiple sources makes this one of the most constantly surprising channels.

Grade: B+: Maybe Roku will get some of the unused Warner library as part of its deal with HBO MAX so we could see series like Alice, Night Court, Harry O, Eight Is Enough, Gilligan's Island...

Crackle: It's telling that when Mike and I consider shows to cover on the podcast, when we see one that's on Crackle, we try to figure out ways to watch the show without actually using Crackle. The Chicken Soup for the Soul people took over this one from Sony, but they didn't make it any less of a hassle to use.

However, they are licensing shows from places other than just Sony--shows like My Favorite Martian and Father Knows Best. they continue to draw on the likes of What's Happening!! from Sony, making this a fairly consistent proposition: You're gonna find something you want to watch on Crackle...and then try to figure out if anyone else has it. It has a similar issue to Roku Channel, too, in that it has individual seasons and not full series, then rotates seasons out without notice.

Grade: C+: It has some good stuff, and it is free, but, wow, that auto-play when you launch it has to go. Here's hoping they work on Crackle in 2021 and make it more user friendly so we can all enjoy our Starsky and Hutch reruns.