Monday, May 31, 2021

Happy Memorial Day!

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

Top Ten #118

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?

Saturday, May 29, 2021

3 classics I'd like to see streaming in June 2021

So far, the classic TV picture for June 2021 looks dim. Where are all the Sony shows that were said to be coming to Hulu? When will Peacock and Paramount Plus start adding series from their huge back catalogs? The biggest disappointment for me is that on the list I saw, Tubi has no "new old" TV series coming in June.

There can be surprises, thoguh, so with that in mind here are 3 reasonable guesses/wishlist items we might see in June (with full awareness that I whiffed on Hulk, Maverick, and Riptide last month).

1) Mannix on Paramount Plus: Some ya-hoo from CBSViacom, or is it ViacomCBS, announced here that this streamer, which still seems stuck in the past, will add 1,000 movies in June, adding, "They're real movies, not deep library." 

This guy is a CEO! What chance do we have of getting old TV shows on here when a bigwig is bragging that the upcoming catalog dump is REAL movies--in other words, the same stuff that's been recycled on TV and streaming for the last decade. What a horrible comment. Yet maybe we'll get lucky and find a vintage series buried in with The Avengers.  

(That's the Ralph Fiennes/Uma Thurman flop based on the TV show that won't be coming to Paramount Plus in June, not one of the mega blockbuster Marvel movies.)

2) That's My Mama on Crackle: If Hulu isn't yet ready to get Sony library shows like Riptide, maybe Crackle can re-add this 1974 sitcom a la its surprise add of Grady in May. Anything with Theodore Wilson is worth watching.

3) Ball Four: While we wait for all those cool MGM shows to come to Prime Video (uh-huh), Amazon can throw us a bone by adding this short-lived 1976 sportscom with Jim Bouton. We have talked about this on the podcast; I want to see it, but Mike actually did see it. 

Is this a long shot? Sure, but last year Amazon added On Our Own, an obscure short-lived sitcom also produced by Time-Life Television, so why not? Amazon owes me something for moving so much content away from Prime Video to ad-supported IMDB-TV.

Friday, May 28, 2021

10 shows with Asian-American characters i'd like to see streaming

I made lists for African American History Month and Women's History Month, so why not for Asian-American/Pacific Islander Month? Really, any excuse to write down some old TV shows I want to see again...

This one is much more difficult because of the lack of Asians on television in the 1970s and 1980s.  So to get a respectable list, I cheated and focused on shows that aren't streaming--some of these are on DVD--and ones that featured Asian-Americans in the supporting cast, not just leads. If I am missing some worthy efforts of the 1970s and 1980s--and I know I am--please add your own suggestions in the comments. 

1) Mr. T and Tina: Notorious Pat Morita flop from the creator of Welcome Back, Kotter that only lasted 5 episodes but has some historical value for the Asian-American casting. Poor Morita left Happy Days for this.

2) O'Hara: Speaking of Pat Morita, this short-lived police procedural (1987-1988; I am actually surprised it made it to 30 episodes) is worth a spot on this list for this alone:

3) Sidekicks: See above. Actually, see this promo again:

4) The Amazing Chan Clan: It's not high art, but it could at least be thrown up on Boomerang. Keye Luke plays Chan in this incarnation of the famous detective.

5) Longstreet: It's a reach, but this series featuring James Franciscus as a blind investigator has cult status in part because it features Bruce Lee in a handful of episodes. Shouldn't anything with Bruce Lee be available?

6) Quincy M.E.: Shoutout to Quince's awesome right-hand man Sam Fujiyama. I have been yearning to see this one on streaming video on demand pretty much ever since Netflix dropped all its Universal catalog shows years ago.

7) and 8): China Beach and Tour of Duty: Where are the 1980s Vietnam War shows? 

9) Kung Fu: It was on Prime Video for a very short time, but now is MIA despite a relatively high-profile reboot running on CW. Seems like a natural for HBO Max. And, yes, David Carradine was the lead, but the show also starred Keye Luke.

10) The Courtship of Eddie's Father: Miyoshi Umeki played the Corbetts' housekeeper in this gentle family sitcom (another James Komack show) which aired on the gone-but-not-forgotten Warner Archive Instant.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

This Day in TV History: An Evening with the Harlem Globetrotters (1971)

50 years ago tonight, NBC kicked off an annual series of specials with the world-famous sports entertainers by premiering An Evening with the Harlem Globetrotters. According to

Joe Garagiola hosts the first of what will be a series of yearly specials with the famed basketball clowns. The Trotters perform many of their familiar routines, plus some new ones developed during their 43-year history. The antics of Meadowlark Lemon and Showboat Hall will benefit from TV sports techniques of slow motion and instant replay. Nipsey Russell and a 5-year-old basketball whiz named Steve Christry are guests.

I can't find video of the special, but I have this great 1971 Vitalis commercial that made it to our recent YouTube playlist devoted to our 1971 Saturday Morning bonus episode.

And here is some more footage of the guys in 1971:

And here is that great theme song to their cartoon series:

1971 was also notable for the team because it suffered one of its rare losses to the Washington Generals that year, blowing a big lead and giving up a buzzer beater in Martin, Tennessee.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Monday, May 24, 2021

This Day in TV History: Controversy at the Indy 500

It seems like no one can mention the rise of the NBA in the 1980s without mentioning that in the darkest days of the league, the Finals aired on tape delay. Remember that in that era, major sporting events didn't have the perceived God-given right to live broadcasts across the nation. 40 years ago tonight, the venerable Indianapolis 500, aired at 9:00 P.M. on ABC after a repeat of a documentary called Mysteries of the Sea.

The Sunday, May 24, 1981 edition of the race became one of the most memorable in its history due to a controversial finish. The initial declaration of Bobby Unser as winner didn't hold up, and on Monday runner-up Mario Andretti became the official champ. Officials made that call after reviewing an illegal pass by Unser during a pit stop.

ABC took full advantage of the tape delay. During the race coverage, announcers Jim McKay and Jackie Stewart, calling it as if it were live, highlighted the infraction knowing a protest was in the works. Andretti appeared on the telecast after the race in a live segment and talked about his side of it.

According to the great Wikipedia coverage of the event, ABC's production garnered criticism for a slant towards Andretti. A similar infraction by him was ignored while the announcing of the Unser move made it seem like it was obvious at the actual time.

However, on October 9, an appeals board overturned the overturning, making Unser once again the winner. Today the official victor of the 1981 Indy 500 is indeed Bobby Unser. Andretti tried another appeal before giving up.

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Top Ten #117

1) Holmes and Yo-yo: My household was split when we watched the pilot of this seminal John Schuck series recently. I loved it; she was wrong.

2) Eight Is Enough finale: 40 years ago tonight, the nation said good-bye to Eight Is Enough. The show didn't say anything back, but if it did, would it have done an extended Waltons joke with everyone in the case saying it to us and to each other as well? You know what, the show was running out of steam at that point, and I bet it would have.

3) Barbara Barrie: OK, so I didn't exactly shower with praise on our Tucker's Witch episode. She is an accomplished actress who deserves props on her birthday.  Have a happy one!

4) The Ice Palace (1971): 50 years ago tonight, this unusual program premiered.on CBS: A variety show featuring Ice Capades performers and various guest acts. If the first episode didn't feature at least one of them saying, "Ice to see you!" well, then we know why it only lasted a few months.

5) World Turtle Day: Must...resist..typing...COWABU--

6) Rewind Stubbs: Have you met our new listener-named mascot? He's sweeping the nation, and you can find out more about him here!

7) Charles Kimbrough: Happy birthday to the performer best known for Jim Dial on Murphy Brown, and I has a class in college with someone called Jim Dial because of the supposed\ resemblance. Don't sleep on the Chef Boyardee ad, though:

8) Fog: Jay Sandrich directed this unsold comedy pilot from MGM with Scoey Mitchell, Robert Ayres G.W. Bailey, and Dick O'Neill as "a luxury captain who, after an accident at sea, is reduced to helming a tramp steamer until he can prove himself again." (Lee Goldberg's Unsold Television Pilots 1955-1989)

9) The Wonder Years: Since the reboot has landed a place on ABC's Fall 2021 schedule, it's a good time to appreciate the original.

10) Paul Mooney and Charles Grodin: R.I.P.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Happy Birthday, Michael Constantine!

The respected actor turns 94 today!

Born Gus Efstratiou, he was in a variety of roles on stage and screen before landing the role of Principal Seymour Kaufman on the great Room 222

He starred in the short-lived Sirota's Court, a show which Mike mentioned in our Facebook group recently.

And of course he had a key role when we looked at Murder, She Wrote and "Murder Takes the Bus."

Friday, May 21, 2021

National Waitstaff Day

 Happy National Waitstaff Day! If you don't want to celebrate with us, you can...

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Mascots and Merch: Meet Rewind Stubbs

We'd like to officially introduce you to the brand-new, retro-futuristic, super-duper official Battle of the Network Shows mascot Rewind Stubbs! The inimitable, super-talented cartoonist, painter, puppet-maker, and wood carver Hobbes Holluck designed and illustrated for us (with some guidance from our Blue Ribbon Mascot Committee), and we couldn't be happier with the final results. We think it captures the essence of a lot of what we love from the BOTNS era: cartoons, Muppets, TVs, VCRs, and of course roller skates.

We also held a naming contest in our Facebook Group. The suggestions included: The Batty Bottie (or Botty), Batty McBattface, Bosley, Warren "Botsie" Weber, Nettie, Worky, Rewind Stubbs, and Gary Sandy (or was it Patrick Simmons?). After the nominating period, group members voted, and Rewind Stubbs emerged victorious.

The creator of the name Rewind Stubbs sent the suggestion via our mailbag and wishes to remain anonymous but had this to offer as a pitch:

  1. The mascot's TV-shaped body resembles Rerun's roly-polyness (though I don’t recall whether he roller-skated).
  2. The reference to rewinding hearkens back to the VCR era during which the very shows you focus on originally aired.
  3. C'mon, it's catchy!
Hard to argue with any of that, and the fun doesn't stop there. The winner will receive a fabulous prize featuring Rewind from our brand-new TeePublic Store! That's right, folks. You can now get official BOTNS merch, everything from t-shirts to phone cases, coffee mugs, throw pillows and even...tapestries. If you're looking for a way to support the show or have a BOTNS fan in your life, we hope you'll consider something from the BOTNS store.

Rewind Stubbs!

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

This day in TV History: What a night it was in 1981

May 18, 1981 was a magical night for network television, or as magical as it could be without a Doug Hennig special. Let's go through the evening.

CBS kicks off with Failed Pilot Theatre, a presentation of The Wonderful World of Phillip Malley. Lee Goldberg's essential guide to TV pilots describes it thus:

The age-old story of an absent-minded professor (Stephen Nathan) whose experiments often go awry, causing chaos at the small university where he works--and who romances the dean's (William Daniels) daughter (Lori Lethin). 

Other notables in the cast include Stuart Pankin, Alvy Moore, and Stubby Kaye!

At 9:00 it's a pair of reruns of MASH  and House Calls, followed by a new special at 10:00: Grammy Hall of Fame. This program honors not artists, but recordings selected for induction. Did anyone even know this was a thing? Andy Williams hosts the celebration of recordings like Judy garland's Over the Rainbow and the Budapest String Quartet's 1952 version of Beethoven's Quarter for Strings. I wonder if Budapest String Quartet was still a draw in 1981.  Was there ever a Stars on 45's Tribute to Budapest String Quartet?

ABC, not to be outdone, started the night with That's Incredible! Featured on tonight's show, according to, "A Mayan "crystal skull" used by the Indians during religious rites--" I gotta stop right here because I am having flashbacks to the last Indiana Jones movie.

After that, Mare Winningham stars in Monday night made-for-TV movie Freedom, a tale of a teenager who runs away from a troubled home life and joins a carnival! I have to say, the first descriptions of this film didn't mention the carny part, and now I am more interested.

NBC's Monday begins with "Oleson vs, Oleson," a repeat of a season 7 Little House on the Prairie  episode. Then movie night on the Peacock network brings Bitter Harvest, a based-on-true-events depiction of a dairy farmer (Ron Howard) fighting against chemical contamination harming his cattle and his family. 

Also in the cast of the movie are the icon Art Carney, Richard Dysart, and Barry Corbin. If that's not enough, how about Dwight Schultz and the great G.W. Bailey?

Monday, May 17, 2021

YouTube Spotlight: Jane Seymour on "Here Come the Double Deckers"

One of the most fascinating series Mike and I talk about on this week's bonus episode is the beloved live-action English show Here Come the Double Deckers. We couldn't find full episodes online for this week's YT playlist, but there is this clip of a 19-year-old (or so) Jane Seymour as Alice:

That's the literary Alice character, not Alice Nelson nor Alice Hyatt.

Seymour was about 18 or 19 when she made this, and just 3 years after it aired, as several commentators on this upload point out, she was in Live and Let Die:

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Top Ten #116

1) Here Come the Double Deckers: Of all the 1971 Saturday morning shows we talk about in this week's bonus episode, this may have captured our imagination the most.

2) Norman Lloyd: Here's another number: 106, as in the actor, one of the ones we praised in our St. Elsewhere episode, left us this week at the age of 106. It had to happen sooner or later, but I think some of us were starting to wonder. R.I.P.

3) Tina Turner: Congratulations to new Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, who in addition to being one of the biggest music video stars of the 1980s was also in the short-lived but notable sitcom Mr. T and Tina.

Wait, being told that was not her. Well, she was on a lot of other TV shows in the Seventies and Eighties.

4) The Texas Rangers: 40 years ago tonight, NBC aired this "contemporary Western" pilot that starred Richard Farnsworth, Larry Gilman, and Jim Sundberg (added that last one to see if you were paying attention).

5) National Biographer's Day: Wouldn't you love to see David McCullough do a huge bio on, say, Michael J. Fox?

6) Donahue: My top YouTube watch of the week is this great episode from featuring Verne Gagne and other AWA wrestlers, including then-champ Nick Bockwinkel and a young Hulk Hogan. What a disappointment, though, that Donahue doesn't take a bump. I mean, come on, at least a gentle airplane spin or something. Maybe Hogan was releasing pent-up frustration from this episode when he dropped Richard Belzer.

7) Filmation: When we explored Saturday mornings of the 1970s, we saw that Rankin-Bass was still strong, but, man, Filmation was dominating.

8) Tomfoolery: Kind of a kiddie version of Laugh-In, this 1971 show also intrigued us.

9) T.J. Hooker: I think Decades runs a Hooker-thon every month. Well, another one is happening right now! T.J. is always on the case.

10) The Pink Panther: I feel like he was one of the biggest stars of the era who faded a bit. The cartoons are still floating around, though, and now he is part of Me-TV's new cartoon lineup.

Friday, May 14, 2021

The 1971 Saturday Morning playlist is live!

After listening to this week's special bonus episode, explore the world of 1971 with our video playlist! See show intros, hear theme songs, watch clips...and 1970 footage of Phil Collins???  All this plus commercials and PSAs of the time are yours to enjoy. Just click below!

And remember, you can always visit our official YouTube channel to get past episodes of the podcast and the episode-specific playlists that accompany them!

Thursday, May 13, 2021

Show Notes: Bonus Episode: 1971 Saturday Morning TV

*Thanks for listening to this bonus episode looking at the Spring 1971 Saturday morning lineup, and get ready for Season 9 coming soon!

*Since we recorded this episode, as members of our Facebook group know, I have obtained a copy of Harry and Wally's excellent The TV Schedule Book, which we use as our main resource for this episode.

(I did not pay $1,080 for it)

*Fred Silverman was head of Programming at CBS at this point in time and was involved in Saturday morning. Notably, when he was running Saturday mornings before his promotion, he developed Scooby-Doo for CBS.

*Laugh-In aired on NBC from January 1968 to March 1973.

*We will have an In the Know segment (audio) with Josie in this week's YouTube playlist for the show thanks to the upload of animation historian Greg Ehrbar. If you can't wait to see it:

*Josie and the Pussycats in Outer Space premiered in the 1972-73 season on CBS.

*The Super Globetrotters cartoon we refer to premiered on NBC in 1979.

*Check out RetroFan #2 for a history of The Groovie Ghoulies in all its formats.

*Edward Lear is no relation to Norman, just for the record.

*I was mistaken on the 1971 Heckle and Jeckle on NBC being the Filmation ones, as Mike points out, but we will include the newer intro in the playlist since it's a little more unique.

*Lancelot Link dubbed human voices over the chimp actors. TV Party reports it was the highest-budgeted Saturday morning show of all time as of 1971. The sets cost money, and they developed new ways of lighting to be able to shoot the chimps' faces. Synchronizing the voices to the footage was a painstaking process. I did start looking into how they "trained" the "performers," don't want to know.

50 Saturday Mornings Ago

In this extra-sized bonus episode, we look at the Saturday morning schedule from spring 1971. How did the networks compare? Did Saturday morning '71 look much like '81? What show had a character named Doughnut, and how on earth does Phil Collins fit into all of this? Pour some cereal and sit close to the speakers because we have the answers!

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

This Day in TV History: Celebration with Lynda Carter

Lynda Carter was one of CBS' featured stars in the late Seventies/early Eighties, getting her own showcase variety special about once or twice a year. And why not?

On May 11, 1981, Lynda Carter's Celebration premiered on CBS. According to Vincent Terrace's book of primeitme specials, it's "A lively hour of music, songs, and dances in which Lynda entertains with some of her show business frends." Those pals include Ray Charles, Jerry Reed, and...Chris Evert?

P.S. It's not hard to find the entire show online if you want to watch it!

Monday, May 10, 2021

This Day (OK, yesterday) in TV History: NBC's "Hour Glass" premieres

We mentioned in the Top Ten yesterday that the first network hourlong entertainment program premiered 75 years ago. Unfortunately, Hour Glass is a lost show, so there aren't any clips to punctuate this follow-up post, but you can see a few pictures and a lot of other info here.

It's outside our time frame, but I think this is a cool piece of TV history worth noting. The program aired Thursday nights on NBC at 8:00 PM, so its premiere followed In Town Today and Your Esso Report. There wasn't a lot on TV in 1946!

Marsh and Brooks' The Complete Directory to Prime Time Network and Cable TV Shows has a great entry about Hour Glass, which the book calls a forefather of big-time TV like Your Show of Shows, Berle's shows, and The Ed Sullivan Show. The authors point out how barren the prime time landscape was with New York "the only city with more than one station." Standard Brands sponsored the program and gave it budget enough to do things like...have actual sets.

The first episode led off with a song by Evelyn Knight, a sketch with Paul Douglas, and a 2 1/2-minute coffee commercial. The program continued with a Joe Besser sketch, ballroom dancing, an explanation of TV itself, a Doodles Weaver monologue, a film depicting dancing in South America, and another long coffee ad. What a lineup!

The show soon featured bigger stars, and Brooks and Marsh cite the first TV appearance of Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy as a pivotal moment and a precursor to radio stars invading TV. The program's second host, Helen Parrish, became a star until leaving to have a baby!

Perhaps the most interesting bit of this entry in the book is the list of the influence of this experimental show: They learned, for example, not to let single commercials run 4 or 5 minutes; that money is better spent on obtaining "star" talent than on fancy, highly visual sets; that viewers liked the idea of a regular host (or hostess) providing continuity from week to week; and that TV in general was a medium which demanded staging and pacing far different from movies, the stage, or radio.

This particular program ended in 1947, and NBC returned to this kind of variety with Texaco Star Theater in 1948. Berle's breakout series is of course a well-known piece of TV history. Hour Glass remains one of the key lost programs that we may never see again!

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Top Ten #115:

1) Mother's Day: Happy day to all the mothers out there, and thank you from your grateful children! We remind you of the existence of the Dennis the Menace special aired 40 years ago in 1981 if you're disappointed to find there is no Charlie Brown Mother's Day show.

2) Cheers: Rolling Stone ranked the top 100 sitcoms EVER, and to me the top 10 looks solid. If we're not counting The Simpsons as a 1980s show--and so far, we are not--#2 Cheers is the highest BOTNS show on the list. So add this to its multiple Battys in the Cheers trophy case.

3) NBC's Hour Glass (1946): Did you know that 75 years ago today, the first hourlong network program premiered? it did, and no footage exists, but we're gonna pre-empt Murder Monday tomorrow to talk more about it.

4) CBS 1970s sitcoms: Speaking of that Rolling Stone list, All in the Family, MASH, and MTM are 5-7 on that list. Poor Bob Newhart--his show is 'only" 26 (Newhart doesn't make it). The Jeffersons is 48, WKRP is 79, Maude is 68, and in a huge surprise for me, Good Times is 60.

5) The 1971 Emmy Awards: NBC broadcast the 23rd edition of the ceremony, hosted by Johnny Carson, 50 years ago tonight, with the big winner The Bold Ones: The Senator (!) and All in the Family.

6) James L. Brooks: Happy 80th birthday to the influential producer/director who had a hand, or at least a finger, in so many seminal shows. And, hey, guess who won one of those Emmy Awards in 1971?

7) FilmRise TV Classics: An app available on Roku and other platforms is a repository for all the Peter Rodgers Organization properties that have been floating around (Celebrity Bowling, Movin' On, etc.) and now That Girl and others.  This article says it's getting Make Room for Daddy, and I hope that's coming soon because the show recently left Prime Video.

8) Alley Mills: Happy birthday to the former star of The Associates and The Wonder Years. Because it's Mother's Day, let's look at her accepting an award for the latter:

9) Jaleel White: This week, a story made the rounds that he didn't feel welcomed by the cast of Family Matters when he joined as Urkel. I'm not sure how I feel about that. It's a shame if he felt uncomfortable on the set--I mean, regardless of how you feel about the character, he was barely a teenager at the time--but if you're gonna try to make me think negative thoughts about Reginald VelJohnson, well, it ain't happening.

10) Billie Hayes: R.I.P. 

Saturday, May 8, 2021

This Day in TV History: Mayday for Mother!

40 years ago tonight, NBC led off the evening with a cartoon Mother's Day special: Dennis the Menace in Mayday for Mother.  In it, the scamp struggles to create the perfect gift for his mom.

The DePatie-Freleng production was the first animated appearance of the then-30-year-old comic strip character. Creator Hank Ketcham is the credited writer, and the cast includes Joey Nagy as Dennis, Kathy Garver as Alice Mitchell, Larry D. Mann (Yukon Cornelius) as Henry, and a young Nicole Eggert as Margaret!

Dennis returned in 1986 in his own syndicated daily cartoon series from DIC, and I have a feeling he will make his way onto the podcast eventually.  For now, enjoy one of the few Mother's Day animated specials of the era!

Friday, May 7, 2021

Promo Theatre:

On March 3, 1978, after a presentation of Ski Lift to Death, AKA Snowblind (I gotta see that one sometime), CBS hyped several shows, including the premiere of The Incredible Hulk!

The TV movie had aired in the fall, but March 10 was the first episode of the series as an ongoing Friday night thing. Following that one, the quirky Husbands, Wives, and Lovers was another series premiere at 10:00. It didn't last long (I've sampled it thanks to Friend of the Show Ian), ending in June.

Thanks to the great channel ewjxn for uploading this clip!

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Happy birthday, George Clooney

Whatever you think of Geo. Clooney the actor, the star, the activist, the director, etc., I think you have to admire his career. The guy kept plugging away at misfires and minor roles in the TV world (Roseanne excluded) until hitting it big with ER and somehow becoming a movie star. Has any other star had that same trajectory--toiling away on numerous mediocre TV shows until becoming a silver screen staple? Well, maybe Burt Lancaster.

Clooney turns 60 today. Wait, is he still a movie star? While we figure that out, let's celebrate some of his earliest roles.

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Inside the Guide: David Hartman, Boy Scout

In 1981, the Boy Scouts were proud to run a full-page ad featuring household name David Hartman:

Notice that they don't even bother identifying him, not even with an itty-bitty caption. granted, it is TV Guide, but Hartman (still around today at 85) was the co-anchor of Good Morning, America and well known at the time...and a boy scout!

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

This Day in TV History: Bugs Bunny All-American Hero

 40 years ago tonight, according to most sources*, CBS premiered the animated special Bugs Bunny All-American Hero. It featured Bugs and a panel of historians and political scientists talking about the nature of patriotism and his own role in advancing official government-approved narratives in his films.

Nah, just kidding! Like other Looney Tunes specials of the era, it features footage from classic cartoons linked by a newly created framing sequence. In this case Bugs helps his nephew study for a history test

*Vincent Terrace's book on TV specials gives an airdate of Thursday, May 14, which I believe is incorrect. It's a disappointing strike against print media in my ongoing effort to prove print is more reliable than online!

Monday, May 3, 2021

Murder, She Wrote Monday: James Sloyan steals "Corned Beef and Carnage" (Episode 3-5)

Murder, She Wrote Monday continues with one of the best titles (if not episodes) I have seen yet in the series: "Corned Beef and Carnage." It feels like it should be a book in one of those endless cozy mystery series that show up on Amazon's Kindle Deal of the Day--you know, like Book 8 of The Katzman Deli Mysteries.

(Photos courtesy of IMDB)

In fact it is another third-season installment of Murder, She Wrote, and the guest cast is impressive: Susan Anton, Warren Berlinger, David Ogden Stiers, Genie Francis, Bill Macy, Ken Swofford, and Marcia Wallace. best of all is Richard Kline as a smarmy (shocker, huh?) ad exec. Oh, and Jeff Conaway and Genie Francis return as aspiring actor Howard Griffin and Fletcher niece Victoria Brandon, a couple we met all the way back in the first season's second episode. Of course the niece is implicated in murder!

The great news is this episode delivers, easily the best so far in season 3. One of the highlights is a performer not in that guest roster above: James Sloyan as Lt. Spoletti. In this New York City episode, we get one of my favorite "authority figure" characters. Of course whenever she encounters murder in the big city, Jessica usually encounters incompetent boobs who relish her help or condescending know-it-alls who resent it. I think we should add a third category: People who start out as know-it-alls but soften and work with her. Spoletti is perpetually exasperated and fun to watch.

(Photo courtesy of

At one point, he says out loud, "Why is it that I always feel tall blondes are lying to me?" Jessica replies without hesitation, "Adolescent trauma, Lieutenant. But about the..." and goes right into a spiel about some clue. It's one of many LOL moments in the episode.

It's a knockout episode with a great speech by the murderer. It falls right on the borderline of cheesy and--Aw, who am I kidding. It's cheesy and awesome. Kline has never been oilier. Add this to your season 3 watchlist, folks!

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Top Ten #118

1) The Jim Nabors Show: After being way too excited about several episodes making their way to YouTube recently, I can now enjoy the old syndicated talk/variety show on Crackle!

With frequent commercial interruption. And maybe music subs.

Wait, why am I so happy about this again?

2) Arbor Day: Let's put aside our collective disappointment that Apple Plus didn't bother with It's Arbor Day, Charlie Brown and instead think about the true meaning of Arbor Day:

3) Rewind TV: Antenna TV's spinoff subchannel focusing on the 1980s and 1990s now has a launch date: September 1.

4) Don Rickles: Mr. Warmth is Mr. May on Shout! TV, which added 4 of his 1970s TV specials as well as CPO Sharkey to its streaming library. You get yelled and insulted each time you click on an episode.

5) Fantasy Island: The entire run of the original is now on Tubi TV after those misers at Crackle only gave us a couple seasons at a time. It's almost like the realization of a...of a...what do they call it when you want you dream of something and hope it happens someday? Ah, yes--a wish!

6) Arson Awareness Week: Consider yourself awared! Also consider yourself wanting to see this movie again:

7) Father Dowling Mysteries: Decades has a marathon all weekend for those who need respite from the intensity and thematic heaviness of Murder, She Wrote.

8) Grady: This one came out of nowhere: Crackle also added the short-lived Sanford and Son spinoff, albeit with the same missing episode (I think a Christmas one) that never seems to be available. More Whitman Mayo is always welcome around here.

9) Free Comic Book Day: I didn't celebrate yesterday (Arbor Day Weekend plans, you know), but maybe we should make today Comic Book TV Show Day and start by watching one of these:

10) Olympia Dukakis: Rest in peace.