Tuesday, September 21, 2021

5 Shows We Could See on Streaming for Hispanic Heritage Month (but don't get your hopes up)

September was another disappointing slate for 70s and 80s TV fans except for the random obscurities Crackle keeps adding, but surprises can happen, so here are some era shows we could see to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month (September 15-October 15). Maybe we'll see something off this list in October.

*Chico and the Man: Is this one of the biggest shows to never be streamed (not counting the old AOL In2TV website)? 4 seasons, nearly 90 episodes, and the sitcom declined after Freddie Prinze's death, but it was a big hit at the beginning of its run. Yet it rarely gets any attention, with little rerun exposure and one paltry sampler release on DVD. HBO Max can really use an injection of some old-school sitcoms.

*A.K.A. Pablo: There's a good reason this sitcom was left out of the big Amazon/Norman Lear streaming announcement earlier this summer. This Paul Rodriguez vehicle produced through Lear's Embassy company flopped in its 6-episode run on ABC in 1984. Yet the cast also includes Joe Santos, Hector Elizondo, and Katy Jurado. Maybe Crackle will dig this out of the vaults.

*A.E.S. Hudson Street: In a similar vein, this Sony show from Barney Miller's Danny Arnold lasted a mere 5 episodes on ABC in 1978. It stars Gregory Sierra as a doctor at an Ambulance Emergency Service hospital in NYC.

*Villa Alegre: There is not a lot of interest in vintage children's programming except maybe iconic shows from the Baby Boomer era like Howdy Doody. And if that programming aired on public television, fugeddaboutit. Sure, you can find reruns of Sesame Street and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, but I don't think the original Electric Company is available anywhere (some individual episodes are for sale on Amazon and iTunes), and that one has Rita Moreno and Morgan Freeman!

How about Villa Alegre ("Happy Village"), a half-hour 1973-1977 program featuring Spanish and English? 

You don't hear too much about it these days, but when you do, you see fond memories of it. I'm not sure who owns rights to it or if the original material exists in full, but I'd love to see PBS, which is happy to shill some of its library for pledges, dig into the vaults and offer more variety than just the Ken Burns archives.

*Paul Sand in Friends and Lovers: Maybe not the most incisive depiction of Latino culture given that Sand plays musician Robert Dreyfuss, but did you know the actor was born Paul Sanchez? Well, now you do.

The series only lasted a half-season and has to be considered a failure, but it's from MTM Productions and created by James l. Brooks and Allan Burns. Penny Marshall, Jack Gilford, and Steve Landesberg joined Sand in the sitcom. Unfortunately, this is controlled by Disney, which shows little if any interest in putting old Fox-owned sitcoms on Hulu, but maybe someday it will get out there.

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