After hearing us do the podcasting equivalent of throwing around the ol' horsehide for about 40 minutes, continue to enjoy The Baseball Bunch with us by watching our video playlist! In addition to the Chet Lemon episode we discuss (most of it, at least), when you click below you will find commercials, PSAs, talk show appearances, singing, and of course HIJINKS from the San Diego Chicken!
Friday, July 23, 2021
Thursday, July 22, 2021
*The Baseball Bunch aired August 1980-Fall 1985 in first-run syndication, then had exposure in reruns. The episode we discuss aired in 1980 or 1981.
*The excellent Sports Illustrated article we reference is right here.
*NBC broadcast the MLB Game of the Week from 1957 to 1989, with exclusive rights from 1966 till it lost the package. Vin Scully and Joe Garagiola became the #1 announce team in 1983. Bob Costas and Tony Kubek were the #2 team in that stretch.
*The first player to get a contract with an annual salary of a million bucks per year is Nolan Ryan, who signed a 4-year contract with the Houston Astros as a free agent after the 1979 season.
*Was baseball best in the 1980s? You tell us!
*Listen to us discuss the Punky Brewster 1984 NLCS episode here.
*To learn more about Chet Lemon, click here.
*Lance Parrish was in Diff'rent Strokes' "Baseball Blues" in season 7. Teammates Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker were in "A Sense of Debt" from season 4 of Magnum P.I.
*I think Mike thought Kevin McReynolds was the "Peanut" he was remembering, but Jim "Peanut" Davenport was a player, coach, and manager in the San Francisco Giants organization, including in the Eighties.
*The epic Braves-Padres brawl went on and on, and here is the ninth-inning action. We'll put a condensed version in this week's playlist! Here is a contemporary account of the saga from Ron Fimrite.
*Johnny Bench is a two-time MVP, 14-time All-Star, and was a first-year no-brainer entrant into the Hall of Fame in 1989.
*Thanks for listening, and remember, have fun!
Summer in America means baseball, so break out the peanuts and Cracker Jacks. For a few years in the eighties, Major League Baseball made an educational baseball show for kids--The Baseball Bunch. Johnny Bench, the Famous Chicken, the Dugout Wizard, and guest Chet Lemon teach the Bunch about shagging flies, eating right, and more.
Wednesday, July 21, 2021
Tuesday, July 20, 2021
50 years ago tonight, NBC premiered a summer variety series starring Richard and Karen Carpenter, Make Your Own Kind of Music. In addition to the brother/sister act, Mark Lindsay was a regular along with Tom Patchett and Jay Tarses. That comedy team went on to write for and produce TV like The Bob Newhart Show and Buffalo Bill before splitting in the mid 1980s and doing stuff like The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd (Tarses) and ALF (Patchett).
The show lasted 8 episodes, and each one started with the theme of the letter "A" and went through the alphabet. The series aired 8:00 P.M. on Tuesdays, replacing The Don Knotts Show. In September, NBC revamped the night, with Ironside at 7:30 (replacing The Bill Cosby Show) and the debuting Sarge with George Kennedy at 8:30.
I don't know if there are a lot of full episodes of Make Your Own Music floating around, but there are a lot of highlights on YouTube!
Monday, July 19, 2021
It's time for my regular unsolicited, uncompensated reminder that TwoMorrows Publishing's RetroFan exists, is awesome, and that it has a new issue out. Issue 15, with Ricky Nelson on the cover includes a look at Evel Knievel toys of the Seventies, an article the infamous "rural sitcom purge," and a piece on The Muppet Show. If that ain't enough, Andy Mangels has a comprehensive story on Filmation's Super 7!
And while we're at it, I just snagged the new issue of its sister pub, Back Issue, and the theme of this one is TV tie-ins of the (comic book) Bronze Age. Included are the likes of Sledge Hammer, Emergency, and V!
Sunday, July 18, 2021
1) Alice: Can you believe it took till our ninth season to get to this sitcom? Or is it harder to believe that this sitcom lasted 9 seasons itself?
2) Crisis on Infinite Norman Lears: The fantastic event Mike and I have alluded to on the podcast (and by alluded to, I mean BS'ed about and thought it sounded funny) became one step closer to reality this week when Amazon dumped multiple Lear series onto its Prime Video and IMDB-TV platforms. Great move, Amazon, and you saved a lackluster July for classic TV fans. Now how about making IMDB-TV shows free for those who actually pay for Prime?
3) Vic Tayback: Mel Sharples rules! Sure, he's stingy, grouchy, and chauvinistic, but that usually lasts for only about 22 minutes, and he's much better in the last minute or two.
4) Marvin Kaplan: I'm sure the late great character actor would have been honored to learn he topped my Power Rankings of Diner Regulars. He's also #1 on my list of TC's Gang Members:
5) Linda Lavin: I guess we should give the star of the show some love, huh? I mean, the show is called Alice, not Mel, Henry, nor Flo. Wait, that last one sounds familiar.
6) "Kiss my grits!": If you could pick one phrase to epitomize the rise of "Southern chic" of the late 1970s, it would probably be something else--maybe a Billy Carter quote? But this one would be no lower than number 6!
7) Tommy and Vera: Honestly, I feel bad about leaving them out so far. Tommy wasn't even in the episode we covered!
8) Audrey Landers: Happy birthday to someone who, as you might imagine, shows up a lot in the shows we cover for the podcast. In fact, I think I have seen her a handful times just in things we are doing this season!
9) Jackee: Because a waiting room I was in happened to have Days of Our Lives running, and I saw her and thought, "Hey, it's Jackee!" Good a reason as any to put her in the top ten, right?
10) R.I.P.: Paul Orndorff, Charles Robinson, and a special word for Rebecca Schaeffer, who was killed on this day in 1989.
Saturday, July 17, 2021
We alluded to it on the podcast, and chatter still has it that the set of Alice wasn't always the most harmonious one. That's why one of my favorite clips from this week's playlist is this one below, one that shows the cast members having a good time and enjoying each other's company--at least as far as I can tell!
By the way, the source of this video, the LindaLavinOfficial channel, is a treasure trove of clips from the BOTNS era, and I am sure glad it's around and uploading such a wide variety of rare material.
I'm not sure why the upload doesn't note the origin of the clip--maybe to avoid the copyright police--but this is from Dinah!, and Shore would appear on the series in its fourth season. According to tv.com, this episode premiered October 4, 1978.
Friday, July 16, 2021
After listening to this week's episode, revisit the world of Alice and beyond by checking out our video playlist! Just click below to see promos, commercials, music and more! You'll also see the trailer for Kiss My Grits, breakdancing in Mel's Diner, and all kinds of singing! Plus Vic Tayback in a pantyhose ad!
And remember, you can always visit our official YouTube channel for all of our past podcasts and episode-specific playlists for each one!
Thursday, July 15, 2021
*There's a newwwww pod in town, and it's feeling good! OK, I'll stop now.
*Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974) with Ellen Burstyn was a big hit. Burstyn won Best Actress at the Oscars, but the movie also won a nomination for Original Screenplay for writer Robert Getchell. Diane Ladd, later Belle on the series, won a Supporting Actress nomination for playing Flo in the film.
*Mother, Juggs, and Speed (note the extra "g") was the adaptation of the Raquel Welch/Harvey Keitel/Some other guy film. ABC burned off the unsold pilot in August 1978. The name change was due to concern from the network that a female character have a double entendre name. See, "Juggs" is not a reference to breasts because it is a nickname derived from her surname, Juggston.
*Alice aired an impressive 9 seasons and 185 episodes.
*"Mel's Recession" is episode 23 of the second season. It premiered Sunday, April 2, 1978 on CBS prceding the series premiere of Dallas and following 60 Minutes, Rhoda and short-lived On Our Own.
ABC had The Young Pioneers and a presentation of High Plains Drifter.
NBC led off with The Wonderful World of Disney (part 1 of The Barefoot Executive), followed by Project UFO and TV movie Love's Dark Ride.
*The E! True Hollywood Story of Alice ***
*The waitresses by season in which they were featured:
Alice and Vera 1-9
Flo 1-4 (left midway through 4)
Belle 4-5 (left midway through season 5)
*Rick's Power Rankings of diner regulars:
1) Henry: Clear no-doubter number one (Marvin Kaplan)
2) Earl 9Dave Madden)
3) Charlie (Ted Gehring)
4) Chuck (Duane Campbell)
5) Jason (Patrick Cronin)
*Rick's Power Rankings of series catchphrases:
1) Kiss my grits!
2) Stow it!
3) Dinghy broad!
4) When donkeys fly!
5) Mel's self-satisfied chuckle
*The 1982 feature film Kiss My Grits stars Bruce Davison, Susan George, and Bruno Kirby. The action flick is not connected to Alice. I love this description of the Jack Starrett-directed movie from a commenter on Letterboxd: "Basically a Hee haw version of Out of the Past."
*Here's some info on Flo's favorite catchphrase. According to this piece, the show changed from the original, "Kiss my honeydew," which flopped.
*Thanks again to friend of the show Kevin for inspiring this show idea!
*For the record, I still do kind of want to buy season 5.
In a season two episode of the long-lived Alice, diner owner Mel receives bad news from his accountant and decides he has to give one of the waitresses "the sack." In the ensuing struggle to keep their jobs, the ladies all end up at Mel's fortress of slobitude. We dive into this, the characters' transition from the big screen to the small screen, and Rick's mild obsession with the show.
Wednesday, July 14, 2021
Tuesday, July 13, 2021
50 years ago tonight, A's slugger Reggie Jackson gave the NBC audience the highlight of the night with a towering home run in the annual MLB All-Star Game! Here are Curt Gowdy and Tony Kubek on the call:
And here is the original televised opening of this star-studded game. I mean, yeah, the All-Star Game by definition has some starpower, but this one featured 22 Hall of Famers, including both managers.
Sunday, July 11, 2021
1) Dick Van Dyke: The venerable screen icon was on fire in this week's PSA episode of the podcast. He proved he could do much more than testify to the importance of ottoman avoidance. Here's DVD in action again:
2) Timer: The enigmatic figure at the heart of so many essential Saturday morning PSAs. Actually, he was in the heart in some of them.
3) Sugar Ray and Tommy Hearns: Two more stars of our latest podcast; I am still hoping someone will unearth a lost pilot featuring those two teaming up to take down drug traffickers.
4) Bob McGrath: OK, so one website lists today as his birthday, and I reserved a slot for him on the list, only to find out apparently he was born June 13? Well, you know what, Bob McGrath deserves a spot on ANY top ten list!
5) Alfonso Ribiero: What can I say? He was never Carlton to me. He was that kid singing his heart out in this spot:
6) Sela Ward: Happy 65th! She's no Bob McGrath, but at least she was actually born on this day!
7) Bruce McGill: Happy birthday to the great character actor who was the focal point of one of the great episodes of Miami Vice, "Out Where the Buses Don't Run." Check out this cool fan-made trailer for the episode:
8) 7-Eleven: July 11--Get it? Yes, it's 7-Eleven day! It's not just for giant slushies and stale hot dogs anymore. It sells stale burritos, too!
9) The Newlywed Game: Debuted this day on 1967 right in the buh...eginning of the week.
10) R.I.P.: Chick Vennera, Richard Donner, William Smith
Saturday, July 10, 2021
This week, we included all the spots we discussed in our YouTube playlist, so instead of highlighting one of those, we'll use this space to show a couple more public service announcements!
First up, here's the one I bet many of you thought was a lock for our podcast when you saw it was an all-PSA episode. Just because we didn't include it doesn't mean it's not one we know and love:
Next up is another PSA from the legendary Dick Van Dyke. He knew about a lot more than just fire safety!
Friday, July 9, 2021
If you want to see all of the public service announcements we discuss in this week's episode, you're in luck because they are all right here in this week's video playlist!
You'll see Dick van Dyke, Sugar Ray and the Hitman, Timer, Ed Asner, a bunch of heartwarming kids, and more! Plus get a look at Gary Coleman playing with fire, and hear McGruff singing about the dangers of drugs!
And remember, you can visit our official YouTube channel anytime to hear past podcasts and episode-specific playlists for each one!
Thursday, July 8, 2021
*Welcome to the newest edition of the show notes, brought to you this week from the home office in Pueblo, Colorado! We mean no offense to the fine people of Pueblo despite some of my hearsay on the podcast. Enjoy this look at what the place has to offer. There is still a government office there!
*ARE TV stations required to show a certain amount of PSAs each broadcast day? It's confusing, as this site points out:
The same website says the average station airs 200 PSAs a week!
*The Timer spots began on ABC in 1975. Longtime voice vet Lennie Weinreb voiced the character, who was created and animated by DePatie-Freleng. The character actually appeared earlier in two Afterschool Specials in 1973 and 1974 (voiced by Len Maxwell in the former).
The USDA currently recommends 3 cups of dairy each day, possibly including lower-fat cheeeses like part-skim or reduced-fat varieties.
*Sugar Ray Leonard vs. Thomas Hearns II ("The War") took place June 12, 1989 in Nevada. I screwed up the result on the podcast; the rematch was a controversial draw, while Sugar Ray won the 1981 fight by TKO.
*BOTNS makes no claims nor assertions regarding substances used by either of the parties in the aforementioned PSA.
*Anyone remember these?
*The credited production company on the Dough Nuts is Greengrass Productions, which worked on a lot of ABC Weekend Specials.
*I'm not convinced that IS John Vernon in the "Bookmobile" RIF ad, but it's possible. Does anyone know?
*Credit to YouTube commenter Louis Garrison for pointing out Wendell Brown is the star of that ad, but Brown is not credited with a role in Claudine. Is it possible two child actors were conflated here?
*Remember to not ever tell a lie (not even small ones)!
Along with entertainment and advertising, public service announcements, or PSAs, filled the airwaves in the seventies and eighties. This week, we pick a range of them to discuss, featuring lessons on nutrition, health, safety, and morality, plus music, celebrities, animated characters, and Droids. Most importantly, we might all learn a little something along the way.
Wednesday, July 7, 2021
Tuesday, July 6, 2021
Ethel Merman has become the breakout star of this season of BOTNS, and if she hasn't, well, I am gonna try my darndest to make it happen. As much joy as her performance in Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July gave all of us, it's tough to top her late 1970s disco album and subsequent disco TV tour that took her all the way to The Tonight Show. And of course there is this:
But it's difficult not to think about what might have been--the missed opportunities of TGV appearances Merman could have but did not make. Here is my list of 5 appearances I wish we got, concentrating on her disco/Rankin-Bass era up until her death in 1984.
1) Saturday Night Live: I confess this as much for the stories as for the television. Imagine the backstage hijinks, the chaos, the general awesomeness of Ethel Merman partying with John Belushi all week. You have a larger-than-life icon who consumed all the air in the building, let alone the room; someone with a legendarily voracious lust for life...and Belushi. Would 30 Rock still be standing today?
2) Three's Company: My pitch to you: Merman plays Stanley's long-estranged sister, who coms to town to make up with her brother...and ends up trying to make time with Jack! 'NUFF SAID.
3) CHIPS: Notice I don't spell it CHiPS. You know why? Because when Ethel Merman is on, everything has to be ALL CAPS!
4) Buck Rogers: Don't tell me you can't picture it.
5) Soul Train: Can you really be considered a legend in the musical corner of showbiz if you never appeared on Soul Train? Nothing against Merman, but many would argue no. Duke Ellington...Nat King Cole...Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart--All legends with one glaring gap in the resume. It boggles the mind that Merman wasn't on the Train to do her disco version of Alexander's Ragtime Band.
Monday, July 5, 2021
After the amusing title of the previous episode, "Corned Beef and Carnage," Murder, She Wrote goes for raw impact with the follow-up, "Deadly Gold!" What a great title. Says it all. And this episode, which originally aired November 9, 1986, does indeed offer death...and gold, or at least the promise of it.
Yet with all that's going on in this one--sunken treasure, intrigue in Cabot Cove, BOTNS icon Grant freakin' Goodeve--I am too distracted by the presence of one man, the great Leslie Nielsen. Oh, it's not that I can't accept him in serious roles after seeing him ham it up in Police Squad and The Naked Gun. No, it's that 1) he plays a yacht owner looking for treasure a mere year and a half removed from playing a respectable ship captain in Season 1's "My Johnny Lies Over the Ocean." It was much less than a year and half for me watching these in 2021. So it's distracting to see Nautical Nielsen so soon after his indelible first-season appearance.
And number 2) I can't help but wonder when I see Nielsen on MSW, did he bring the...you know, the thing on set with him? Oh, I'll just say it: Was Leslie Nielsen walking around the production of a Murder, She Wrote episode while working his infamous fart machine?
Admit it, once that thought is in your head, you find it difficult to think about anything other than Angela Lansbury's reactions. How about The Bos himself, AKA Amos Tupper? The mind reels!
It's a shame because it is a fun episode, though Grant Goodeve is underutilized. Nielsen's David Everett is a roguish former flame of Jessica, and the show keeps us guessing as to his intentions/motives/general character all the way through. He is in debt, involved with shady loan sharks, and has assembled an interesting crew of partners to search for possible treasure.
Oddly, the recently deceased Robert Hogan appears as new town doctor Wylie Graham, who is taking on a role at the hospital. It's odd because this episode seems to set up the character as a professional (and personal--does he have eyes for Jessica?) rival for William Windom's Seth Hazlitt, yet he only shows up once more in the series, several episodes later. Hogan returns several years later as a different character, so I guess Graham was just a concept that the show abandoned.
"Deadly Gold" is a fun episode that deserves an attentive watch. Good luck giving it one, though, while trying to bury the notion of that fart machine.
Sunday, July 4, 2021
1) Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July: We had a lot of fun this week talking about this underappreciated (?) Rankin-Bass special and enjoying our Christmas season just a little bit early!
2) USA! USA!
3) The Bicentennial: 45 years ago tonight, network TV went all out for the Bicentennial, including a new Bob Hope special and Happy Birthday, America on NBC; Walter Cronkite and various celebrity co-hosts on CBS presenting fireworks and celebrations, and ABC's special on the West and a 1972 movie about immigrants in the 18th-century Midwest, The New Land. OK, maybe ABC didn't go "all out."
4) Ethel Merman: One of the only stars who could upstage The Mickster, Ethel won our hearts in Christmas in July and didn't even have to resort to disco to do it! A year before, she wowed 'em with her performance on Sesame Street Christmas. Could Ethel be the Queen of Christmas?
5) Ed Bernard: Happy birthday to the veteran character actor. Let's take this opportunity to enjoy this awesome theme song again:
6) Cheers: Look out, my duties and responsibilities--I have resumed my Cheers watching!
7) Little House on the Prairie: The series moved from Peacock's Premium tier to, uh, it's Un-premium tier, meaning it's free with ads. It's not an earth-shaking development, but July is such a weak month for "new" vintage TV on streaming that this counts as big news.
8) Quincy, M.E.: This series should be on Peacock, but fans will have to settle for it being back on COZI. If you can't summon the courage to care about that, then, Mister, we have a big problem, and I'm gonna take it all the way to the top!
9) William Shatner: The announcement last week that William Shatner would host a show on RT America and the subsequent backlash somehow doesn't even make it into the top ten of bizarre Shatner stories.
10) R.I.P.: Stuart Damon of General Hospital, Ray MacDonnell of All My Children, and John Langley (co-creator of COPS).
Saturday, July 3, 2021
When we first stumbled upon this video, it was bizarre, nonsensical, and inexplicable: Ethel Merman performing a disco version of Alexander's Ragtime Band to a live and TV audience of children:
However, now that we know Ethel starred in Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July, as we discuss on the podcast this week, and that this performance took place not too long before that special was in production...
Nah, sorry, it's still bizarre, nonsensical, and inexplicable. And I love every second of it!
The song was a little--I don't like to use the word "dated" on a site devoted to classic television, so let's say it was a little traditional even in 1978. Even the hearty discofication of it can't change the fact that, "the bestest band what am, oh, my honey lamb," isn't gonna sound cutting edge. I doubt it did when it was written.
Ethel gives this her all, though, and if you look hard enough, you can see, or at least imagine, genuine enthusiasm from an appreciative disco-and-ragtime-crazy cross-section of America's youth. The playlist for the podcast features her singing this on The Tonight Show, but this performance is even more amazing. What better way is there to celebrate this Independence Day weekend than to celebrate Ethel Merman's attempt to cash in on disco...by watching this again and again and again...
Friday, July 2, 2021
After listening to this week's podcast, continue celebrating Christmas in July by watching our video playlist for this episode! Click below for Rankin-Bass clips, network promos, and of course Ethel Merman! All this plus vintage holiday-themed commercials from 1979!
And remember you can check out our official YouTube channel anytime for past podcasts and episode-specific playlists for each one!
Thursday, July 1, 2021
*Christmas in July is not an official holiday in the USA, but feel free to celebrate with us anyway!
*Special thanks again to James and Lucille for supporting the show!
*Our Season 4 episode covering Popeye Meets the Man Who Hated Laughter is right here.
*Frosty's Winter Wonderland debuted December 2, 1976.
*This special premiered November 25, 1979 on ABC at 7:00 P.M, followed by Mork and Mindy and the TV Movie When She Was Bad... CBS had 60 Minutes, Archie Bunker's Place ("barney and the Hooker"), One Day at a Time, and the theatrical film Oh, God. NBC led off the night with Wonderful World of Disney, followed by an airing of Smokey and the Bandit and Prime Time Sunday.
*Huge Oversimplification Dept.: The "family hour" guidelines for network programming came out of the prime-time access rules which gave network programming time back to local affiliates. The idea was to encourage more "public interest" and family-oriented programming. When that didn't really happen, the networks got "back" the Sunday 7pm-8pm hour with the proviso that it be used for public affairs/family programming.
*Johnny Marks is the songwriter who wrote "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."
*Shirley Booth is not in this special, but she appears as Mrs. Claus in The Year Without a Santa Claus (1974). Darlene Conley, a long-running soap star (notable for a long Emmy-winning run on The Bold and the Beautiful as Sally Spectra) took on the role for this one. The Mickster is Santa in Year Without as well as in this one.
*Jack Frost's own special premiered December 13, 1979, or over two weeks after his debut on Christmas in July. As Mike said off air, Rankin-Bass really was ahead of Marvel with this whole "shared universe" thing, introducing the character like this and priming the audience!
One note: Paul Frees voices Frost in this one, but in the actual Jack Frost special, the role is played by...Darlene Conley. No, it's Robert Morse.
A Christmas special in July?! Not just any Christmas in July special either. This 97-minute Rankin-Bass special might have it all...literally. Ancient history rears its head when an evil king wakes from a long slumber. If he succeeds, Rudolph could lose his shiny nose, Frosty and family could melt, Santa could lose Christmas, Ethel Merman could lose her circus, and the world could plunge into an eternal winter! Happy Christmas in July!
Wednesday, June 30, 2021
Monday, June 28, 2021
Last month I lucked out on That's My Mama coming to Crackle, so let's take another few guesses/wishes for BOTNS-era shows on streaming video services in July 2021. The early lists make this look like a terrible month, and June wasn't all that great, so let's hope we get some surprises. There is one notable program I think may well make an unannounced appearance next month, but I can't reveal that one, so here are my votes for a few other pleasant and unexpected adds:
*Night Court on HBO Max: HBO Max's official list of July additions is noticeably devoid of catalog shows, licensed shows, and anything before 1990. It's time, HBO! We've heard about the reboot for months, we're getting more casting announcements each month...Please don't hold this back for the fall. Throw us a bone and give us a classic sitcom in July. Its relative lack of exposure in recent years makes this a refreshing newcomer to streaming if it arrives.
*Kojak on Peacock: This streamer is going in the wrong direction as far as catalog content goes (We still don't know why they yanked so many of its classic movies shortly after launc). It appears to be sitting out the summer, assuming the Olympics is enough to bring in new eyeballs. Well, it isn't.
According to Peacock itself, it is LOSING Little House on the Prairie next month, and I have no idea why unless someone else has licensed it for it a run. So maybe there is "room" for one more. I'm assuming Shout! only had DVD rights and not streaming rights, or it would have put it on its OWN channel long ago. So let's see Theo Kojak hit Peacock in July.
*The Ken Berry WOW! Show on Shout! TV: This is the kind of oddball show Shout! adds from time to time, and it has streamed many programs from the TV Classics library of Paul Brownstein, most recently adding CPO Sharkey and several Don Rickles specials. Shout! even has music-heavy shows like some of the Glen Campbell variety programs, so maybe it can bring us the short-lived but notable 1972 summer-replacement series. In addition to Berry, the cast includes Steve Martin and Terri Garr. It's only 5 episodes and would be a cool summer breeze for classic TV fans.
Sunday, June 27, 2021
1) SCTV: This week, we discussed the reliably awesome comedy show and had a great time discussing memorable sketches, characters, and of course ZONTAR! Check out our official playlist for the episode for many clips, but here is one more bonus promo:
2) Joe Flaherty: We mentioned on the podcast how much we loved this particular SCTV cast member, though he wasn't showcased as well in the particular episode we cover. So here's another quick look at him:
3) National Sunglasses Day: Is this a legitimate holiday? Who cares if it gives me an excuse to post this again:
4) Andrea Martin: Another one of our favorites from SCTV gets another shoutout in this space, and, oh, yeah, how about Catherine O'Hara (but she gets more than enough pub for Schitt's Creek):
5) General Hospital: Congratulations to the long-long-longtime soap for its big Daytime Emmy win this week. I think it beat out ones of other soaps for the honor.
6) Laraine Newman: The comedy vet was on the TV Confidential podcast and made a charming guest. And oddly, she's also testifying in the ongoing trial of Robert Durst!
7) America Talks Back: 35 years ago tonight, NBC gave an hour of its schedule to the PEOPLE! That is, it aired the thoughts of the public on television itself, as this contemporary article explains.
8) The Greatest American Hero: How's this for a scenario: Decades is showing dozens of episodes this weekend. In how many will Bill and Pam wear the same shirt?
9) Marv Albert: The legendary icon has retired as Turner's voice of the NBA, and rather than make cheap jokes here, let's watch a clip of Marvelous Marv back in the day:
10) Joanne Linville: R.I.P.
Saturday, June 26, 2021
As part of this week's video playlist celebrating SCTV, we include a John Candy clip from The New Show:
We could do a whole pod episode on The New Show someday, but for now, if you don't know about it, it was Lorne Michaels' primetime comedy/variety show that aired midseason 1983-1984 (so January 1984), right before he returned to Saturday Night Live.
The show was a massive flop despite quality guests and a recurring cast that included fellow SCTV alum Dave Thomas, Buck Henry, and Valri Bromfield. But did it ever really have a chance? NBC stuck it on Friday nights, which CBS ruled with Dallas, and this was after a Fall lineup that included notorious bombs Manimal and Mr. Smith. So it was a tough road from the beginning.
Here's a good look back at the series. Don't expect to find it on Peacock someday, though, because according to his staffers interviewed for that piece, "It's not something Lorne wants remembered."
Friday, June 25, 2021
After you listen to us talk about SCTV: Zontar, check out our jam-packed official video playlist for the episode! Just click below for classic segments from the series, plus commercials, promos, and...Jack Anderson talking about Watergate? DeForest Kelley on a press junket? Yes, all this and John Candy and Dave Thomas on The New Show as well when you click below!
And remember you can always visit our official YouTube channel for past podcasts and episode-specific playlists for each one!
Note that sometimes people visit our channel and are disappointed to find the podcast itself because they "wanted to see the show and not two guys talking about it." Well, this time the playlist has, while it lasts, the full SCTV episode we discuss on the podcast.
Thursday, June 24, 2021
*SCTV aired--wait, I know I do this a lot in the show notes, but do I really have to break down the broadcast history of this one?
Well, it ran 135 episodes in first-run syndication, NBC, and Cinemax! Please go here for more detailed info.
*Martin Short played interviewer Brock Linehan, a character inspired by Brian Linehan, host of City Lights, a talk show that got syndication in both the USA and Canada.
*The Zontar episode of SCTV (from season 4) aired October 30, 1981 after The Tonight Show (with Michael Landon and Steve Landesberg) and against Fridays on ABC and a double-overtime NBA game on CBS.
*Marty Feldman's appearance on Fridays on that night doesn't seem to be related to any specific project he was promoting.
*Hatchy Milatchy aired on WNEP (Scranton, PA) up until the late 1980s.
*There is an appalling lack of Bonar Bain footage on YouTube. He was in an episode of Maude ("Vivian's Surprise") as Arnold Harmon, twin brother of Arthur; and on an episode of Diff'rent Strokes ("The Van Drummonds") as Anna van Drummond (yes, Anna).
You know, Kimberly plays cousin Hans in that episode, so as a kid I always assumed Ana was Conrad Bain in--say it with me--a rare dual role.
*Joel Silver was active in Hollywood at the time of this episode but not really "a thing" until afterwards. Apparently Silver played a role in Moranis getting on SCTV, so while people now can say the Larry Siegel character is a takeoff on Silver, in 1981, no one outside "the biz" would have known that.
And just because it amused me and I was not used to seeing bad things said about Rick Moranis, here is an unattributed quote on IMDB by Michael Pare about Streets of Fire:
"Rick Moranis drove me out of my mind. There's this whole wave of insult comedy. In the real world, if someone insults you a couple of times, you can smack them. Or punch them. You can't do that on a movie set. And these comedians walk around, and they can say whatever they want. I'm just not that handy with that. Comedians are a special breed. They can antagonize you and say whatever they... want, and you can't do anything to stop them... He's this weird looking little guy who couldn't get laid in a whore house with a fistful of fifties. He would imitate me. The first thing he says to me is, "Do you just act cool, or are you really cool?" That was the first sentence out of his mouth to me in Joel Silver's office. And I was like, "Oh... this is not going to go well." But he was one of Joel's dear friends, and he ended up making a bunch of movies for Disney. I just wasn't that sharp. I wasn't ready for that kind of crap".
*We don't have any more information about that Scorcese-directed Netflix reunion special, but we wish we knew when it was coming! Last I saw, it was in limbo but not dead.
This week, we take a look at the classic sketch comedy show SCTV in an episode that includes G. Gordon Liddy on a children's show, George Carlin and Don Rickles in rom-coms, an alien invasion, and perhaps most importantly Conrad Bain's twin brother Hank Bain (played by Conrad Bain's twin brother Bonar Bain)!
Wednesday, June 23, 2021
Tuesday, June 22, 2021
TV Guide previewed the subject of our newest podcast, The Rockford Files, in its 1974 Fall Preview issue. Here is its spotlight:
Also a display ad NBC bought:
And finally, the listing for the premiere episode on Friday, September 13, 1974:
The thing that stands out to me is the reference to the other gimmick detectives on TV like Cannon. It makes it sounds like Rockford is another one of those and, I believe, shortchanges the quality of the program.
Also, the "Best Bets" column with picks for each day of the week does not mention Rockford but does single out fellow NBC program Sanford and Son and also mentions Chico and the Man as a likely hit. The only other show mentioned? CBS' Planet of the Apes, which author Stephen Scheur says is silliness saved somewhat by Roddy McDowall.
Sunday, June 20, 2021
Saturday, June 19, 2021
Welcome back to YT Spotlight, where we take a clip from our latest video playlist and showcase it in its own post. We put a lot of stuff into this week's Rockford Files tribute, and one of the intriguing promos is this hype for NBC's 1974 season:
What an odd jingle! At one point it's like, "Yeah, you never heard of this stuff, but you didn't know Sanford and Son until you actually watched it!"
As the commenters point out, this turned out to be another sorry season for the Peacock Network despite new hits like Rockford and Little House and Police Woman. However, it was still an improvement over the 73-74 campaign, and NBC even beat out ABC for second place while CBS won the season.
Friday, June 18, 2021
We started our ninth season with a tremendous show, The Rockford Files, and of course we loaded up this week's playlist with great stuff! After you enjoy the podcast, click below to see promos, interviews, and more! See all that and Serpico! James Hong telling his favorite joke! And Gretchen Corbett as Wonder Woman (sort of)!
Thursday, June 17, 2021
*We give special thanks to all of our listeners as we kick off our ninth season!
*Thanks also Ed Robertson's invaluable book about the series, 45 Years of the Rockford Files, available here in its latest edition.
*The Rockford Files aired 6 seasons on NBC, March 27, 1974 (when the pilot aired; the series proper began Fall 1974) to January 1980 (when the sixth season was cut short, as we discuss on the show). It ran for 123 episodes and won an Emmy in 1977 for Best Drama. Robertson says in his book that he learned the episode "Quickie Nirvana" (Season 4) was the one submitted for consideration that season.
*"The Oracle Wore a Cashmere Suit" is the second episode of The Rockford Files' third season. The series
*The character Mike mentions, Lew Archer, had a short-lived TV series in 1975, and you can catch the intro in this week's YouTube playlist.
*Robert Mitchum narrated the "Beef: It's What's for Dinner" campaign in 1992, and contrary to what I suggested on the podcast, he came after James Garner's "Real Food for Real People" spots, which ended after the latter star had quintuple bypass surgery!
*Harry O with David Janssen aired two seasons on ABC, 1974-1976.
*Serpico with David Birney lasted one season on NBC (1976).
*You can see clips from the above series and a whole lot more in this week's video playlist.
*Guest star Robert Webber amassed his staggering list of credits in the Fifties, Sixties, Seventies, and Eighties before dying too young at 65 in 1989. He played Maddie Hayes' father in multiple episodes of Moonlighting.
*The late Joe Santos is in 7 episodes of The Sopranos as Angelo Garepe, Carmine's consigliere.
*The episode that bested this one for the Edgar award for writing: James John Sweeney's "Requiem for Murder." It's not Quincy, but The Streets of San Francisco.
*Some other episodes we mention and recommend on the podcast:
*"Irving the Explainer" is in Season 4.
*Rita Moreno first appears in Season 4's "The Paper Palace," and please give us credit for not picking her episode for the sole purpose of making her Batty-eligible and BEGOT-eligible.
*The rock and roll/mob episode Mike mentions is Season 6's two-part "Only Rock and Roll Will Never Die," also written by David Chase.
*Isaac Hayes' Gandy Fitch first appears in Seasons 2's "The Hammer of C Block." Season 3's "just Another Polish Wedding" is the backdoor pilot for the proposed Gabby and Gandy series with Hayes and Louis Gossett, and it's one of the best backdoor pilots you'll see.
*The Rockford Files is currently on Peacock (the free tier) and Roku Channel.
*BOTNS' discussion in this episode is not an endorsement of the use of illicit substances in the recording industry nor the use of mentalism in law enforcement.
In our season 9 premiere, we investigate one of the quintessential detective shows "The Rockford Files." Rockford butts heads with a celebrity psychic, the police, a manic drummer, and a slick music executive in David Chase's first "Rockford" teleplay.
Wednesday, June 16, 2021
Tuesday, June 15, 2021
Yes, 40 years ago tonight, ABC burned off an unsold comedy pilot at 8:00 P.M. That sitcom is...Bulba!
Now, it may have appeared as icomedy Special in the TV listings of the day, but isn't Bulba a much more exciting title?
Lee Goldberg's Unaired Pilots books lists August 3 as the airdate, but it looks like that was merely a rerun, and today, June 15, is the TRUE premiere! I may be stalling a bit because I don't have much to say about the show. Goldberg tells us it is "The misadventures of a U.S. embassy in the fictional, island country of Bulba. Variety summed it up by saying, 'No laughs, no chance.'"
The cast featured Joyce Van Patten, Lyle Waggoner, Miles Chapin, Jeff Altman, Gailard Sartain, Bill Hicks--Wait, the Bill Hicks? Yes, he played "Corporal Phil Repulski!" Anyone remember this show?
Well, guess what? It's on YouTube:
Monday, June 14, 2021
50 years ago tonight, NBC gave its viewers another installment of NBC Comedy Theater, or as they might have called it, Unsold Pilot Theater. This is an interesting one, though, and I like this description from the "TV Scout Report" (I believe syndicated) in a PA newspaper of the time:
Hal Kanter, who created and produced Julia, and who is doing the James Stewart series for next season, wrote And Baby Makes Five, a sometimes comedy on Comedy Theater. Cliff Robertson and Angie Dickinson, who weren't the names when this was made that they are today, star as a city pair who head for the country. Gee, it sounds just like Green Acres.
Ouch! Note that this show should not be confused with Baby Makes Five, a Peter Scolari sitcom that had 5 episodes on ABC in April 1983. Yet I don't have a link to a video of the 1971 show, so here are the opening credits from the 1983 one:
Sunday, June 13, 2021
1) Norman Lloyd: Ed Robertson welcomed Columbo Phile author Mark Dawidziak on the TV Confidential podcast recently, and they discussed the time Lloyd directed an episode of the detective series ("Lady in Waiting") while Peter Falk was feuding with the studio and producers! It's a great story well worth a listen.
2) The Love Boat: Hey, if it's good enough for David Letterman, it's good enough for me!
3) Like Magic: CBS aired this unsold pilot 40 years ago tonight. A contemporary TV preview in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette says: "For the kids: Melissa Gilbert stars in Like Magic, a fast half-hour of comedy and magic acts. And good, clean fun."
4) Richard Thomas: Happy 70th birthday to the former Waltons star! I know one thing we won't be getting him: a wooden plank.
5) National Kitchen Klutzes Day: What a glorious holiday THIS is! How will you celebrate? By starting a fire? By losing a digit? Or merely botching an important meal?
6) Harry's Battles: Take a look at this unsold pilot with Dick Van Dyke if you missed our post about it earlier this week.
7) Strong National Museum of Play: This Variety article says the Rochester museum plans a game show collection. Hopefully they have some artifacts from Face the Music and Sale of the Century!
8) Mama's Family: If you are getting tired of Father's Day hype, maybe the Mama's marathon on Decades this weekend will be an effective antidote.
9) Seinfeld Funko Pops: Anyone get the Kramer and pretend it's a Michael Richards Fridays figure?
10) R.I.P. This week we say goodbye to Clarence Williams III, John Sacret Young (China Beach creator), and the great Larry Gelman.
Saturday, June 12, 2021
40 years ago tonight, Detroit hosted the WBC Heavyweight Championship bout between undefeated champ Larry Holmes and Olympic gold medalist Leon Spinks. The fight occurred just a couple months after the death of boxing legend Joe Louis, for whom the venue was named.
ABC, led by Howard Cosell, broadcast the fight live in prime time. Holmes won by a third-round stoppage to retain the title. After the fight, he inadvertently--at least everyone is pretty sure it was an accident--busted Cosell in the mouth while rushing to get at ringside observer/future challenger Gerry Cooney. You know, weird stuff just found a way to happen to Holmes.
Friday, June 11, 2021
An excellent companion to the ongoing History of Late Night series is the Playboy Interviews collection Late-Night Talkers, available for Kindle. The collection includes Cavett, Leno, Stewart...many notables except, unfortunately, Johnny Carson.
The David Letterman interview from the October 1984 issue is a real winner, though. You get Dave as the 12:30 show is taking hold but the sting of past failures is still strong. His comments are often funny but also insightful. There are some moments of sincerity and vulnerability, too; at one point he expresses guilt and shame about not realizing what the Vietnam War did to his contemporaries who served (he got a favorable position in the draft lottery).
Asked about guests who he didn't like--remember, this is only 1984--he gives this answer:
"The only guest who really bothered me was Andy Rooney--and he was especially disappointing, because here was a man I'd admired for a long, long time. Years before 60 Minutes, Andy had done a series of news specials that I think represented American television at its best: entertaining, intelligent--absolutely state of the art stuff. But when you actually meet the guy, you quickly discover that he doesn't just appear to be a nasty curmudgeon, he is a nasty curmudgeon."
The questioner asks what guests excited him to have on the show, and Letterman responds, "This may sound crazy, but I found myself really looking forward to meeting Johnny Bench."
Asked if he watches much TV, Dave says sometimes if he likes something he will try to catch it, and he mentions Cheers. Then he adds, "But I must say I do enjoy watching The Love Boat. To me, that's American TV at its finest."
The interviewer wonders, "Because it's so bad?"
The reply: "I won't go on record saying The Love Boat is bad TV. It's solid American fare, and there's no mystery as to why it has succeeded. Every week, people from other television shows are thrown together in what's presented as a glamorous circumstance. And I get a kick out of that."
Thursday, June 10, 2021
Wednesday, June 9, 2021
Tuesday, June 8, 2021
Monday, June 7, 2021
Murder Monday will return soon, but today we want to recognize VCR Day. Take your old one out of storage or, better yet, fire up that circa-1987 recording of The Tonight Show with original commercials!
Sunday, June 6, 2021
1) National Yo-Yo Day: Yesss! Finally a day to recognize one this classic:
Hey, you celebrate your way, I will celebrate mine.
2) D-Day: Remember the courageous effort of the Allies on June 6, 1944!
3) Gavin McLeod: What a tremendous career this icon had, appearing in many TV series before finding increasingly pivotal roles on series with 138 (McHale's Navy), 168 (The Mary Tyler Moore Show), and 255 (The Love Boat) episodes.
4) Family and Police Woman: Tubi TV added the complete runs of these understreamed 1970s series for June.
5) That's My Mama: Crackle now has the short-lived sitcom. Forget about Mama, anything with Teddy Wilson and Ted Lange is worth seeing.
6) Amanda Pays: Happy birthday to the star of shows like Max Headroom!
7) David Schultz: Happy birthday to someone who didn't just slap John Stossel in an inafamous 202/20 segment, but knocked him down twice.
8) 1981 French Open: 40 years ago today, Hana Mandlikova beat Sylvia Hanika in straight sets to win the tournament, which had its home on CBS in the USA at the time.
9) Saturday Night Live: Congratulations to the late-night institution for topping the season ratings in the 18-49 demo--that includes all of prime time, not just late night, for the first time ever.
You probably expect me to insert some snide comment or allusion tot how SNL isn't what it used to be.
Well, I don't want to disappoint!
10) Rest in Peace: It was a tough week, as we lost Paul Soles (I'm still not convinced that was him as Spider-Man in Spider-Woman), Arlene Golonka, and Robert Hogan in addition to B.J. Thomas:
Saturday, June 5, 2021
Can you believe today is the 50th anniversary of the U.S. premiere of The Val Doonican Show?
OK, maybe he isn't as much of a presence in the culture today, but Irish singer Doonican was a fixture on BBC for years even before ABC gave him a slot after Lawrence Welk on Saturday nights. It didn't catch on here, lasting only as a summer fill-in.
ABC had trouble filling that post-Welk slot at 8:30; The Pearl Bailey Show had run there the previous few months. In the 1971 Fall season, Welk was a victim of his demographics, getting canceled by ABC and moving to syndication. ABC went with Bobby Sherman's new sitcom (see yesterday's post) and a movie of the week.
40 years ago tonight, NBC broadcast the original movie Side Show, starring Lance Kerwin (James at 15) and directed by William Conrad! According to IMDB:
A teenage boy runs away from home. He joins the circus but finds out that it's not all what it's cracked up to be. But then the boy becomes a witness to a murder, and he must try to stay out of the killer's way.
Sounds pretty good to me! There is a tension between the "regular" circus folks and the side show acts. There's romance, intrigue, and danger! Also in the cast: William Windom, Barbara Rhoades, Red Buttons, Tony Franciosa, and Connie Stevens.
Friday, June 4, 2021
50 years ago tonight, ABC followed a Brady Bunch rerun with The Bobby Sherman Special at 8:30.
Sherman's guests were Rip Taylor and The Fifth Dimension in this half-hour "sneak preview" of sorts for his sitcom vehicle Getting Together, which itself was set up in an episode of The Partridge Family in March. The teen idol's career had peaked by the time the show debuted, and Getting Together was yanked at the end of the year and replaced by Bewitched (in its final days) for the rest of the season.
It's easy to second-guess now, but you can't blame ABC for giving Sherman a shot after several smash records and a popular stint on Here Come the Brides. Sherman eventually became a full-time EMT in the 1970s!
Thursday, June 3, 2021
Well, we hit on one of our guesses/hopes for the month when Crackle added That's My Mama. June looks like a thin month for fans of 1970s and 1980s television--in other words, everyone--and I have only found a few other new additions so far.
Tubi TV added the complete runs of Police Woman and Family.
That about does it!
These services are apparently sitting this one out: Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney Plus, Britbox, Paramount Plus, Peacock. What do they all have in mind? They are paid services! Even Roku Channel has come up short so far in June, though. HBO Max does have at least one season of Super Friends coming later this month, and maybe Prime Video will surprise us, but as of now June is a big catch-up month.
Wednesday, June 2, 2021
All I can say about this is, what the deuce is this?
The great Fuzzy Memories TV uploaded this spot, recorded from Chicago TV in 1978, but doesn't remember this brand. Does anyone know more about this "old-fashioned flavor"?
Tuesday, June 1, 2021
What a combination: Ernie Anderson voicing a promo for (I assume) the first Doobie Brothers Farewell Concert! It kicks off this great batch of promos and ads from a Tijuana ABC affiliate!
Is there anything that Anderson doesn't make sound better? Final concerts..San Francisco...even music itself is all the better for Ernie having spoken about it. The only drawback is he doesn't call them "The BATTY-winning Doobie Brothers!" Then again, they wouldn't win one for about 35 years, so I can't blame him.
Thanks to the great uploader ewjxn for posting!
Monday, May 31, 2021
Happy Memorial Day to everyone out there, especially our veterans and loved ones of veterans who lost their lives in duty. One of the staples of daytime TV in the 1980s was the extended commercial for a series of books, and one of the most impactful of those series was Time-Life's promo campaign for The Vietnam Experience. Here's an example:
Sunday, May 30, 2021
1) The great outdoors: In our Facebook group, we just discussed this compilation of new Fall TV in 1974, and, wow, the frontier and the wide-open outdoor spaces are big in '74 with the likes of The New Land, Little House on the Prairie, Kodiak, and Sierra.
2) Gabe Kaplan: On the WTF podcast with Marc Maron, he went into one of the biggest events of the 20th century: the argument with Bob Conrad on Battle of the Network Stars!
3) Ted McGinley: Happy birthday to the veteran performer who absolutely never killed a show. And I'm not just saying that because I'm afraid that now the podcast will be canceled tomorrow morning.
4) The Waltons: Given that The CW just announced a new Waltons special coming later in 2021, now would be a good time to celebrate the original--wait, that's right. Prime Video yanked it right after we did an episode on it and got interested.
5) Tony Danza: What a joy it was watching Danza guest-host The Tonight Show in 1987, asking probing questions to Burt Reynolds like, "Sex scenes--what's up with that?" I'm sure Johnny wasn't rushing home from his vacation to reclaim his spot.
6) Wally Cox: Or is it Tyrone Power? Watch this great ad for Jockey:
7) Ralph Carter: Happy birthday to the star of Good Times and--never forget--singer of a pretty groovy disco tune or two.
8) Lorna Patterson: Do we need a reason? (BTW, I just found out she was married to Michael Lembeck after her marriage to BOTNS fave Robert Ginty!)
9) The Rookies: Decades is about the only place to see this series, and it has a marathon in progress right now.
10) MGM: Will we see the likes of Fame on Prime Video now?