Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Women's History Month: 10 shows we'd like to see streaming or on DVD

In honor of Women's History Month, I compiled yet another list of unavailable (for the most part) TV shows from the 1970s and 1980s that should be available on streaming or DVD.  The guidelines are the same as last month's Black History month post, but these shows are fronted by female leads. The following programs are unavailable on the major streaming services in the USA (unofficial uploads to sites like YouTube and DailyMotion are welcome but do not count) and have not received official DVD/Blu-Ray releases. Here we go:

Amy Prentiss This was on our radar even before the passing of star Jessica Walter last week, but i bet a lot of people reading her obituaries thought, "Wait, she won her Emmy for what, now?" I recently heard Cy Chernak suggest that this Ironside spinoff was ripped off by Prime Suspect.  In the series, the Emmy-and-Batty 9for a different project)-winning Walter becomes head of the SFPD and meets a lot of resistance.  Also starring Art Metrano! Only several episodes, but it could get plunked on Peacock or packaged with other NBC Mystery Movie selections.

All's Fair: Not all Norman Lear shows have been part of the national consciousness. I don't expect to see a live recreation of one of these episodes anytime soon.  I'd like to see a good, old original episode of it, though. The concept seems to be from another century now, and that's because it is! Bernadette Peters and Richard Crenna are liberal/conservative newspeople who are separated by age and background as well as political beliefs. It also stars Michael Keaton and Jack Dodson.

Madame's Place: Let's not minimize the significance of Madame just because she was Puppet-American. This show is high on camp value but low on exposure in the last, what, 30-some years? I imagine it would have an instant cult following were it made available, but perhaps clearances make it impossible.

Double Trouble: I get a rush of nostalgia whenever I see a snippet of or promo of this 1980s NBC sitcom which had a seemingly endless rerun stint on USA Network soon after its original run. The Sagal twins starred, but stalwarts Donnelly Rhodes and Barbara Barrie were also in the cast along with scene stealers Jonathan Schmock and (future Arrested Development  creative force) Jim Valelly.

This is kind of a limbo show in that no one runs it anymore yet I bet it would have high, "Ohhh, yeah, THAT show!" factor among children of the Eighties. It was an unexceptional sitcom about teenage life, but the twins were charming enough to make the show worth another look.

Jeannie: How about a cartoon for our list? I Dream of Jeannie has never been out of syndication and is frequently a national presence on cable or on diginets, but this animated spinoff is way out of circulation. The series ran only one season of originals and subbed Julie McWhirter for Barbara Eden; in fact the entire cast was replaced and Jeannie "served" a teen surfer voiced by Mark Hamill.

Flying High: Anything with two-time Batty Award winner Connie Sellecca should be available, says I.

Gimme a Break!: Nell Carter's star vehicle is barely mentioned today but was one of NBC's more bankable shows during its grim pre-Cosby years. This show was a rerun staple in the 1980s. Yes, Antenna TV has carried it in recent years, and other stations, too, and, yes, it got a DVD release years ago. But the DVDs are out of print, and I feel that this series just isn't talked about as much as one would think a family-friendly 6-season, 137-episode sitcom would be.  Hey, networks, looking for a throwback Black-themed sitcom and don't want to carry Cosby's stuff? Here's an option!

The Late Show with Joan Rivers Not to be confused with That Show with Joan Rivers, a more obscure talk show that has received exposure in the streaming era, probably by virtue of being fortunate enough to be available enough to be released by someone who is motivated to do something with old shows. Rivers was an excellent host, and while the work of her friend-turned-foe Johnny Carson is all over the place these days (and I'm glad for it), you have to scour YouTube for examples of Rivers' highest-profile pre-E! years series. It's worthy of more attention than just the infamous falling out with the King of Late Night.

Tracey Ullman Show: It deserves to be remembered for more than just being the launching pad of The Simpsons. Ullman has had, what, a dozen shows with some variation of her name in the title? This is the one I'd like to revisit, one of the flagship early Fox Network programs.

Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters: I'm sure it's impossible, but the Mandrells were huge in the early Eighties.  Music, comedy, and more were the hallmarks of this variety series that ended too soon when Babs stepped out of the singing life to rest her voice. It was maybe the last of the big primetime network variety shows, and it was a solid performer for NBC on Saturday nights at a time when it didn't have a lot of hits. Plus it had Krofft puppets!

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

The TV Guide Game March 30, 1981

This week, we go back 40 years for the TV Guide game to March 30, 1981, when a major historical event disrupted the TV schedule. Rick tries to guess what Mike would have watched from the originally planned schedule, and we ponder a number important questions raised by the schedule and the day's events.

Check out this episode!

Sunday, March 28, 2021

Top Ten #113

1) Jessica Walter: We salute the late great Walter, who won two Battys for her portrayal of Morgan le Fay in Dr. Strange

2) Leonard Nimoy: Speaking of Batty winners, Season 8 superstar Nimoy is getting a statue outside Boston's Museum of Science. Let's hope it's too big for Columbo to pick up and slam on his desk.

3) William Shatner: We can't let our guy Bill be overshadowed by Leonard, can we? Props to the living legend, who celebrated his 90th (!) birthday this week. Also, check out this cool article about one of his 1970s guest shots.

4) The Fall Guy: Decades has a weekend-long marathon because what better way to celebrate the arrival of Spring than by watching dozens of episodes of Fall?

5) Play It Again, Charlie Brown: You may be getting ready for the Easter Beagle, and don't you worry, sports fans, that special is making the list next weekend, but  tonight in 1971, CBS premiered this one, which centers on Schroeder! It doesn't appear that Apple Plus is going to show this one, but it is available on home video and can be found if you look around online.

6) Album Tracks: After seeing this great segment from this rock-oriented show that aired on NBC Owned & Operated stations, I want to see more! Check our pre-MTV Bob Pittman and Lee Masters here:

7) The 1980s "Showtime" Los Angeles Lakers: You may have known that HBO was producing a television  series based on the glamour team of the fantastic NBA Eighties, but did you know Michael Chiklis and Adrian Brody were slated to play Red Auerbach and Pat Riley? I just found out, and I can't wait to see this.

8) Betty Buckley: The former star of Eight Is Enough (and, OK, many other things) was on The Carson Podcast this week, and also, 40 years ago, the show spotlighted her (and Grant Goodeve) singing in a special epsiode as the family somehow had to do a telethon Joanie organized for "Unified Charities."

9) George Segal: R.I.P. The bulk of his TV series work came after our era, but he was a frequent presence on the small screen throughout his career. He starred in the short-lived 1987 series Take Five:

10) Richard Gilliand: Shout-out as well to the veteran actor known for shows like Designing Women.

Friday, March 26, 2021

This Day in TV History: The biggest detective show premiere ever?

50 years ago tonight, the pilot movie for Cannon premiered on CBS. William Conrad's rotund detective may not get the critical or popular love that a character like Columbo does, but give him credit: The series proper premiered Fall 1971 and went on for 5 seasons and 122 episodes, a great run.

The show still doesn't get much respect.  Yes, it had a high-profile run on TV Land when that channel launched...but the promos often mocked Frank Cannon's size:

Yes, the complete series is on DVD, but CBS licensed it out to VEI, which issued a set that, whole complete and lacking major problems, is workmanlike and unrestored. You can judge whether that's actually appropriate for the series.

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Happy birthday, Haywood Nelson!

Happy birthday to Mr. Nelson, born this day in 1960. He's best known as the naive but good-hearted Dwayne Nelson on What's Happening!! but also has a regular spot on Grady and was in numerous commercials. But did he ever have a finer moment than this?

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

And now a word from their sponsor: Lauren Bacall for High Point coffee (1982)

Even though she has a pleasant demeanor in this ad, even though she is (for the most part) smiling the whole time, even though I know she is making an effort to sell me something...Lauren Bacall scares the bejeezus out of me in this commercial.

But I like it! I don't drink coffee, but I am not going to argue with Ms. Bacall!

Can you imagine the glare some idiot would have received if he asked on set, "You know how to derink coffee, don't you? You just put your lips together...and slurp."

Thanks to prolific uploader EWJXN for this clip

Monday, March 22, 2021

Introducing Murder, She Wrote Mondays on BOTNS!

I have a confession to make: After doing prep for our Murder, She Wrote episode, I became-well, not hooked on the show, exactly, but let's just say in my household, we are enamored with our ritual of watching an episode of Murder, She Wrote every Monday--because the show and day start with the same letter, you see--and then committing a real-life murder afterwards.

Just kidding about that last part! What I like to do afterwards is tell my co-conspirator Mike about why the episode was so cool (it almost always is), though I usually wait until the next day to let the episode simmer.

Is the long-running Angela Lansbury vehicle a "great" show? Well, I don't know, but it is a fun show.  The ridiculous plots, the bucolic yet shady Cabot Cove, the endless parade of relatives who get embroiled in murder...It's all great, and that's not even mentioning the show's best asset: Its weekly lineup of guest stars, many of whom are figures we have praised on this very podcast for their work in other vintage television programs.

So now, because Mike suggested it--blame him if you don't like it, but don't blame Amos Tupp-AH, who is a humble lawman just doing his job--I will share these thoughts each Monday with you. We'll start with season 3 since, well, I saw those earlier episodes a while ago.

Here's what you will not get in Murder, She Wrote Monday posts:
*Comprehensive plot summaries
*Video clips
*Detailed production notes and histories

Here's what you will get:

I expect most posts will be focused on something that strikes me about each episode--a guest star, a line of dialogue, an accent, etc. Hopefully we will all have fun with this.

Sunday, March 21, 2021

Top Ten #112

1) Charlie's Angels: The original pilot movie for the series debuted on this date in 1976. Critics, academics, and social workers hailed it as the dawn of a new era in television, one that would prove there was room for thoughtful depictions of the human condition and not just simple entertainment appealing to prurient interests.

2) National Single Parent Day: Who is your favorite TV single parent? I mean ones that we know of; I'm assuming that Vicki form Small Wonder didn't get knocked up in high school.

Here's one we haven't talked about much on the site:

3) The Greatest American Hero: Yes, it's time for another shout for one of our favorites, which celebrated its 40th anniversary this past week!

4) The White Shadow: It's a timely marathon on Decades as March Madness gets into gear this weekend and the channel runs 43 episodes of the CBS show we discussed in our first season.

5) Gunsmoke and Mission Impossible: Congrats to the two series for their nominatons for Best Box Set in the Home Entertainment Media Play Awards.  I thought the MI Complete Series box was huge until I saw the Gunsmoke Complete Series box, which I think can be used as a fallout shelter after you remove the discs.

6) Frances McDormand: Congratulations to the former Leg Work actress on her Academy Award nomination for Best Actress!

7) National Countdown Day: Anyone remember short-lived music video countdown show Hot!? It aired in first-run syndication in 1984.  Here's a great summary of what it was about, and here is a clip of the program:

8) Battlestar Galactica (the original, natch) and Buck Rogers: Both series launched on Tubi this week.

9) Hill Street Blues: The episode NBC aired this night in 1981 is titled "I Never Promised You a Rose, Marvin," and I have to admit I am still laughing at that.

10) Yaphet Kotto: R.I.P.  Kotto didn't do a ton of regular series TV work until Homicide in 1993, but he was nominated for an Emmy for his role as Idi Amin in 1977's NBC movie Raid on Entebbe (not to be confused with 1976's ABC movie Victory at Entebbe):

He also starred in 1983's short-lived For Love and Honor:

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Looking at the latest issue of RetroFan magazine

 It's time for another unsolicited plug for my favorite pop culture magazine out there right now, TwoMorrows' bimonthly RetroFan! The current issue, with cover stars Mark Goddard and Marta Kristen from Lost in Space, has a lot of interest to 70s and 80s TV fans, including:

*A look at Bob Crane's oft-forgotten career as a superstar radio personality (Hey, The Bob Crane Show was in 1975...and Hogan's at least ended in 1971).

*Andy Mangels' comprehensive history of Dynomutt and Blue Falcon.  Mangels has become my favorite regular in the mag; his stuff always delivers!

*Will Murray's look at the not-so-clear origins of Archie Andrews.

*A look at 1970s Partridge Family trading cards.

In addition to that and the Lost in Space coverage, you get amusing pieces on generic products (trust me, it's very entertaining), the World Famous San Diego Zoo (itself a fixture of 70s and 80s pop culture, though more on that is coming in part 2 next time), and more!

I have seen the magazine at Barnes and Noble, but it's always available in print and digital online. Check it out, and tell 'em BOTNS sent you!

Friday, March 19, 2021

National Poultry Day: Wheel...of...CHICKEN!

Let's celebrate by playing WHEEL OF CHICKEN with Frank Perdue:

Well, actually, I guess the point is that if you buy his product, you don't have to play Wheel of Chicken. But doesn't it look kind of fun to spin it and take your chances?

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Happy 40th birthday to "The Greatest American Hero!"

On March 18, 1981, The Greatest American Hero premiered on ABC with its two-hour pilot. We covered the show in our most recent season and loved revisiting it so much that we gave it multiple Battys. As we mention on the podcast, the series is easy to find streaming for free, so you have no excuse! Go watch it!

50 years ago tonight, NBC ended its prime time with an original Arte Johnson special titled--you guessed it--Ver-r-r-y Interesting. It was produced by the same team that did Laugh-In and featured guests like Bing Crosby, Elke Sommer, Billy de Wolfe, and Joe Flynn.

Wednesday, March 17, 2021

Happy St. Patrick's Day from BOTNS!

Today it will be nice to celebrate with a Shamrock Shake. I don't care how "authentic" it is, I don't even care how 'good" it is, and I certainly don't care how healthy it is. I just want one!

Does anyone else miss Uncle O'Grimacey? I guess he went out with the Irish urban beat cop.

The Shamrock Shake debuted in 1970 and was reportedly lemon lime, though I refuse to believe that. I hope to get some minty goodness today even though, like so many other things in life, the treat itself ain't what it used to be.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

This Day in TV History: Project Peacock presents Donahue and the Kids

NBC had a rough 1980-1981 season after a promising start led by Shogun, but it produced acclaimed work. Project Peacock was a series of prime time specials aimed at kids. 

Perhaps the most famous of them is January 1982's The Electric Grandmother, based on Ray bradbury's I Sing the Body Electric. Other specials include How to Eat Like a Child with Dick Van Dyke and The Big Stuffed Dog by Charles M. Schulz. The latter is the saga of a stuffed Snoopy--an adventure featuring Abe Vigoda, Noah Beery Jr., Gordon Jump, and Robert Ginty!

40 years ago tonight, the second of the series, Donahue and Kids debuted. Phil Donahue talked with kids who confronted lige-threatening illnesses in this hourlong program, which won an Emmy for Outstanding Children's Program.

The ideas of Donahue doing his regular show with a bunch of kids sounds funny, but this was a serious topic; the focus was on Gerald G. Jamplonsky's Center for Attiudinal Hearing, a California institute devoted to teaching kids positive thinking.

Monday, March 15, 2021

This Day in TV History: Robert Forster IS Banyon!

50 years ago tonight, Banyon premiered on NBC. The Robert Forster P.I. series (it was written especially with him in mind) lasted a mere 16 episodes but still sounds cool.

After this airing of the two-hour pilot, the series made the Fall 1972 schedule for Fridays at 10:00 P.M. but was off the air by the end of January 1973. Martin was brought on after the movie, which must explain the year-and-a-half gap before the series proper began. Forster was the only cast member to make it to the regular series, which co-starred Joan Blondell and Richard Jaeckel.

Less than a year ago, to mark the late Forster's birthday, we picked this series as a "What We'd Like to See," and it still has that status! Here is a great post summarizing the original movie and recounting how original creator Ed Adamson was apparently edged out by Martin. The author calls the role, at least in the pilot, a rare misfire of a performance by Forster, but I am still intrigued.

The Quinn Martin show set in 1930s Los Angeles is controlled by Warner Brothers but presumably has some kind of issue preventing it from home video release. I don't think the show even made it to the dearly departed Warner Archive Instant streaming service.

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Top Ten #111

1) Michael Lerner:  Or is it Michael Learned? Check out our latest bonus episode!

2) Michael Learned: Or is it Michael Lerner?

3) Daylight Savings Time: Remember what a pain in the butt it was to account for DST when you were setting up a recording on one of these badboys?

4) Wojeck: I'm very intrigued by this Canadian show, even though it falls outside our timeframe, after reading up about it with regards to our bonus episode this week. John Vernon pre-Quincy'ed television by playing a crusading coroner!

5) Billy Crystal: Happy birthday to the star of Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell.

6) Mitzi Roarin' in the 20s: This special aired on CBS on this night 45 years ago and won Emys for Bob Mackie's costumes and for John Freshci's lighting direction. Watch this clip and admire the lighting direction:

7) The Wizard of Oz: Earlier on that same Sunday in March 1976, CBS started the evening with The Wizard of Oz, which we all remember as a classic annaul St. Patrick's Day tradition. Wait a minute...

8) Rick Dees: Happy birthday to Dees as well. It's Adrian Zmed's birthday, too, but I want to post this:

9) National Potato Chip Day: It's one of America's bestest snacks, and let's watch Justin Wilson telling us why:

10) R.I.P.: Farwell to Frank Lupo and Roger Mudd. We talked earlier this week about Dan Rather's first day as head CBS anchor 40 years ago; Mudd was also in the running for that spot and went to NBC soon after losing it.

Saturday, March 13, 2021

The YouTube playlist for Michael Lerner or Michael Learned is now live!

After playing along with our latest bonus episode game show sensation, you can click below to hone your skills at Michael Lerner or Michael Learned:

Unfortunately it's a lot easier to find videos of Lerner than learned--uh, I mean the other way around--and we had to stretch a bit. So you can enjoy some clips of TV movies Lerner was in even if you don't see much of him. And you will also see commercials, a PSA, awards, and more!

Remember to visit our official YouTube channel for similar playlists for all of our regular episodes and many of our bonus ones as well as past editions of the podcast itself!

Friday, March 12, 2021

Show Notes: Bonus Episode: Michael Learner or Michael Learned?

 *Michael Lerner was born June 22, 1941. Michael Learned was born April 9, 1939.

*Banacek, with George Peppard as an insurance investigator, premiered as part of NBC's mystery wheel in March 1972 and lasted 17 episodes.

*Michael Lerner earned his Supporting Actor award at the 1991 Oscars for Barton Fink. he had the misfortune of sharing the category with Jack Palance, who won for City Slickers. Others nominated that year: Tommy Lee Jones (JFK) and Ben Kingsley and Harvey Keitel for iBugsy.

*Learned won 3 Emmys for her performance on The Waltons and one for Nurse.

*Wojeck, which gave Learned her first TV role, was a 1966-1968 Canadian series starring the great John Vernon as a coroner.

*Learned was on Reading Rainbow in Applemondo's Dreams. The 1994 episode spotlighted the titular book by Patricia Polacco.

*The Police Story with Learned is "Love, Mabel."

*The Police Woman with Lerner is "Tennis Bum."

*The pilot for Police Woman aired as an episode of anthology series Police Story in its first season, then itself ran 5 seasons on NBC. Maybe we should do Police Story or Police Woman next?

*Omen IV: The Awakening is a TV movie that premiered in May 1991 on Fox.

*Learned grew up in D.C.; Lerner grew up in Brooklyn.

*For the record, you see this note when you open Lerner's Wikipedia page: 
Not to be confused with Michael Learned.

Guess what you see when you open Learned's page.

Thursday, March 11, 2021

Michael Learned or Michael Lerner

In the grand tradition of Patrick Simmons or Gary Sandy, we proudly present another unique podcast game when Mike asks Rick to determine whether Ma Walton herself Michael Learned or venerable character actor Michael Lerner fits a given trivia question. Is Rick learned enough to face the challenge?

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

This Day in TV History: Dan Rather replaces Walter Cronkite

40 years ago tonight, the CBS Evening News transitioned from Walter Cronkite to Dan Rather. Though there had been a buildup to this first Rather newscast, and though reporting at the time indicated Cronkite had chosen his successor, the iconic personality reportedly grew to regret leaving and to resent Rather. Maybe he didn't like Rather opening the show by saying, "Good riddance to bad rubbish; Danny R is in the hizzy!"

Actually, you can watch the first episode here thanks to one awesome uploader:

Cronkite was facing the supposed mandatory retirement age at the network, and he expressed interest in doing things like more specials and his new series Universe (a flop). So CBS probably hoped for a smooth passing of the baton.  Really it wasn't until years later that most of the stuff came out about tension between the two.

As for Rather, he stayed on more than two more decades at the network before leaving amid controversy, one of several issues he had during his long tenure.  The 60 Minutes episode we discussed was post-Rather taking over as anchor, and so he wasn't one of the cast at that time, but it's important to remember he had a significant and varied career at CBS News even before taking over the anchor chair on the flagship news program.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Happy 100th birthday to the late Alan Hale Jr.!

Today is the 100th birthday of the late Alan Hale Jr., best known as Jonas Grumby, AKA The Skipper.  Shame on you, though, if you think Hale is only about Gilligan's Island. He was also in Gilligan's Planet, The New Adventures of Gilligan, Rescue from Gilligan's Island...

In all seriousness, I loved ol' Skipper. Yes, I do lament the fact that, given he was born in 1921, his age on that show was dangerously close to my age now.  More important is that he is one of the few who can rival Oliver Hardy in the "frustrated glances at the camera" department. In addition, we can't forget his Batty-nominated turn as a mysterious cab driver in a notable Growing Pains episode! He lost to Kelsey Grammer in our Season 6 awards, but many talented performers have fallen to Frasier.

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!