Thursday, December 30, 2021

Bowl season just ain't what it used to be

I miss the old days when pre-New Year's bowl games weren't all (or at least 95%) on ESPN, but when many of them were scattered throughout the dial at random times. Did they mean more then? Yeah, it seemed like they did. But they also meant nothing, and that was part of what was cool about the experience. It was just more football, and you often had no idea when or why it was on a given channel.

Here are some old promos for bowl games that were syndicated:

I mean, don't you miss the days when a bowl game could be on "Channel 46"?

And my beloved Channel 11 got in the game, too.  After the New Year's Run portion of this clip, hear the sounds of "Dancing in the Dark" as WPIX hypes the upcoming "Blue Bonnet Bowl."  And, man, when was the last time anyone on TV referred to TCU as "Texas Christian"?

Finally today, I posted this before, but I love it so much I am sharing it again. Hugo Faces, the great account that gave us that WPIX video, uploaded this clip from 1984. I didn't remember WOR being a major college football player, but they had the Aloha Bowl! I wonder if they ever had the short-lived Garden State Bowl.

PSA: Mini-Munsters is leaving Tubi this weekend

If you are interested in watching The Mini-Munsters movie we talked about this past season, you may want to act now! Tubi's license of it expires this weekend, and it isn't renewing it, one can assume based on it including it on its "leaving soon" list.

It's not the best Munsters you can see, but it's a cool little piece of the franchise's history, and the full version wasn't available on YouTube when we did the podcast (the one we found was a truncated rerun version). So head to Tubi and see it for free before Saturday!

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Happy birthday, Ted Danson!

Today we honor one of our favorite on-screen performers, Batty-winning Ted Danson. Not only was he a star on Cheers, but he has somehow managed to have key roles (lead and otherwise) in multiple other series since then.

Happy birthday to Ted Danson, AKA Mayday Malone! 

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Promo Theatre: Can KITT bust out Michael Knight?

I don't know about you all, but I think I need to see this episode:

We've seen the old "guy breaks partner out of jail" routine, but not usually with a sentient automobile doing it.  And what determination! "They'd never take me alive."

I mean, I am rooting for KITT, but wouldn't it be cool to see him and Michael commiserating on Death Row together?

Monday, December 27, 2021

This Day in TV History: Gunsmoke celebrates the great December 27 holiday

At what point are you "done" with Christmas? And by that I mean the annual viewing of the holiday specials. You might leave up the tree and the lights till after New Year's Day, but are you going to keep watching seasonal specials and episodes after the big day has passed? I find it a bit jarring when radio stations turn off the switch and just stop playing holiday music, especially this past weekend when the day after is a Sunday anyway and people are still in the mood. But what about Christmas television?

50 years ago tonight, CBS led off its Monday night lineup with Gunsmoke, as usual, but on this December 27, it was "P.S. Murry Christmas." The story involved a group of orphans including Willie Aames, Erin Moran, and Jodie Foster! It sounds very Christmas-like, but why run it on a night with no other holiday programming? The rest of the CBS lineup consisted of Here's Lucy, The Doris Day Show (regular episodes), and The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour

What's odd to me is that CBS ran this one on December 27 instead of the week before the holiday. A week earlier, December 20, a rerun of the show from the previous season fit the same slot. I guess maybe everyone figured, hey, Gunsmoke can do whatever it want.

As for me, I am done with the Christmas viewing till next Thanksgiving, but not because I am done with the holiday. I just need to set a barrier for myself so I can move on and catch up on other programming...including some stuff I got for Christmas! So, sorry Gunsmoke "P.S. Murry Christmas," I won't be seeing you tonight.

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Top Ten #157

1) A Charlie Brown Christmas Still the greatest, the bestest, the Charlie Browniest, it's the special so nice I watched it twice this weekend:

2) Boxing Day: Today is the holiday that, as we all know, was established by the late Ferdie Pacheco:

3) Dance Fever Christmas Special: Each day in our Facebook group for the last two weeks, I posted a seasonal TV special or episode I had watched. Well, yesterday's may be the best of the lot: A complete 1980 edition of the long-running syndicated music show, complete with appearances by David Copperfield and celebrity judges Robert Blake, Batty-nominated Chad Everett, and Connie Francis (and their daughters)!

4) Santa Claus: I hope Santa was as good to all of you as he was to me. What a guy!

5) Pat Morita: Another TV holiday highlight for me was the Christmas episode of O'Hara. I'm guessing that's not one that shows up on every "must see" list each season, but I had to honor what I consider my own O'Hara action figure:

6) Yule Log: Often imitated, I grant you, yes; but the PIX 11 was the absolute best:

7) K-Mart: Call me crazy, but I MISS K-Mart. Hey, I got a lot of the toys of my youth there. In 2021, though, it's hard to envision a time when we would have gone there for car stereos:

8) Frosty the Snowman: Congrats again to recent Batty winner Frosty for entertaining millions and helping make the season bright:

9) The Kennedy Center Honors (1981): Cary Grant was among the honorees at the 1981 edition of the annual event broadcast 40 years ago tonight:

10) R.I.P. Corporal Kirschner:

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Merry Christmas from Battle of the Network Shows!

Thanks to all of our listeners! We have a blast doing the podcast, and we hope it comes across, but we also love to hear that it provides a bit of entertainment to folks who love TV of the 1970s and 1980s like we do.

If you are in the mood for some seasonal listening this weekend, here are some Christmas-themed episodes we have done:

Our first holiday special episode was a doubleheader combining The Leprechauns' Christmas Gold with A Family Circus Christmas!

Who can forget The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas? Well, many have, but we hoped to keep the memories alive with our look into this animated special with Tom Smothers.

A couple seasons ago, we went to the funtastic world of Hanna Barbera with a show devoted to Yogi Bear's All-Star Comedy Christmas Caper!

And last year, we went old school by discussing The Little Rascals Christmas Special!

Of course, we celebrated early this year with Season 9's Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July!

Merry Christmas, Happy Hannukah, Happy Kwanzaa, and of course Happy EVEN, even! And if I didn't list your holiday there, well, enjoy that, too, or at least just have a great weekend!

Friday, December 24, 2021

Power Rankings: Networks/Channels by Christmasness

Which TV channel or network feels the most Christmas-y to you? Actually, let me rephrase that: Which one felt most Christmas-y back in the day? Before Hallmark Channel and Freeform turned over their entire daily lineup to the holidays, what station just felt the most festive? Here is my own very personal list:

1) CBS: There was a time, many years ago, children, when CBS was not the Old Folks' Network, or at least it had stuff for the kids as well. It carried the best specials: Rudolph, Frosty, Grinch, and Charlie Brown--and it even helped usher in the season by showing The Wizard of Oz each Thanksgiving. CBS was the network that seemed to run most of the Rankin-Bass classics. It was the clear #1 network of the season. 

And of course there's this:

2) WPIX 11: In addition to running the Christmas episodes of The Odd CoupleThe Honeymooners, and The Twilight Zone, the independent New York station was part of the SFM Holiday Network, making holiday weekends seem special with fancy presentations of Danny Kaye movies and specifically seasonal works. I believe I first saw syndicated specials like Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol and Yogi's All-Star Comedy Christmas Caper on this channel.

Of course, March of the Wooden Soldiers was a PIX tradition for years, the station ran some great Christmas ads like Crazy Eddie's spots, and there was the classic Yule Log each year!

3) NBC/WJAC: NBC was a respectable second among the broadcast nets, running Chipmunks, for one thing, which I enjoyed. It also presented a Bob Hope hour each holiday season. For me one of the big signs that Christmas season was underway was the arrival of the 1950s interstitial segments that would pop up in commercial breaks on local affiliate WJAC: Suzy Snowflake, Frosty the Snowman, and Hardrock, Cocoa, and Joe.

Seeing these made me feel, oh, yeah, it's on! Plus NBC was my go-to for Macy's Parade coverage, which helped kick off Christmas season each Thanksgiving. I just liked NBC best for some reason, so an NBC Christmas episode meant more somehow.

4) HBO: The pay cable network felt like one of the biggest players of the season for me, likely because it seemed to play the same specials over and over again.  In particular, I remember Rich Little's A Christmas Carol and Emmett Otter's Jug Band Christmas being staples of the network's lineup in December, and the repetition of the shows themselves and the promos made it feel like the holiday season.

5) ABC: I know that ABC did show Christmas specials back in the day, but I don't have many vivid memories of them. They did have some of the big Rankin-Bass specials, and they also showed Emmett Otter. ABC can't be ignored given its showings of John Denver, Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town, and many other animated and variety specials. I just don't have a strong association of it as a network with the holiday. I watched a lot of ABC Saturday mornings and daytime, plus Afterschool Special, so I must have received some Yuletide feeling from it.

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Season 9 Batty Awards By the Numbers

Today I'm taking one last look (uh, for now) at the Season 9 Battys. I thought the list of Batty wins by show was interesting:

Rockford Files: 5
Fantasy Island: 2
Battlestar: 1
Alice: 2
SCTV: 2 (NOTE: Not counting non-competitive categories Genius Award and the all-SCTV Best SCTV Cast Member Award)
Battlestar: 1
Rudolph and Frosty: 1
The Master: 1
The Munsters: 1

Killdozer, Soul Train, Baseball Bunch, Thundarr = 0

(The PSA episode earned 3 Battys for various spots we covered)

Also, I want to acknowledge the comments on Tuesday's post pointing out the biggest upset on the show may have been Battlestar winning for its theme song (the only category it won!) over iconic tunes like Rockford and Munsters. I think the one thing people are passionate about above all else is theme songs!

Finally, after the show, Mike thought of one other snub, a massive one that makes me question the sanity of the Blue Ribboners: C-3PO and R2-D2 could have been--many might think should have been--considered for Outstanding Non-Human for their work in the PSA episode. Our apologies to the two legendary performers.

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Batty Chatter: SNUBS and SURPRISES

The unique format of the Battys means that the SNUBS, or what one might consider SNUBS, aren't known until the actual ceremony. This means there is a lot to process on Batty Night. Therefore I am taking the time today to talk about some of what I am hearing after talking to sources, hanging around street corners, and peeping in windows...

One of the biggest SNUBS of the Battys is Catherine O'Hara for Outstanding Female. At least she got a nod in the listener-determined SCTV cast member poll...Timothy Van Patten was snubbed for Outstanding Male despite being a nominal lead on The Master.  Industry insiders tell me they believe he should be thankful for his Biggest Dope award...

Speaking of dope, as we mentioned on the air, cocaine was a surprise exclusion from that category. Its exclusion from the awards is a good thing overall, sources believe...Dirk Benedict hopefully takes his snub for Best Hair with good spirits, but it must be tough seeing co-star Richard Hatch get that nod over him...

Timer's questionable status in the Non-Human category inspired some controversy, with several observers pointing fingers at the prestigious Blue Ribbon committee. Perhaps someone needs a hunk a' cheese?

Bonar Bain's absence from the show hurt many. "Couldn't he get a Supporting Male nod?" one told me. Some have lobbied for guest star categories, with others fearing it would thin out the performance categories too much...Marvin Kaplan of Alice is another painful exclusion.  If you had told me before the season that we would cover Alice and not give Kaplan or Henry a single Batty nom, I would have said you were crazy...

One of the unusual sets of "snubs" is in the Outstanding Youth category. Sharp-eyed fans might wonder why popular characters like Tommy (Alice) and Boxey (Battlestar Galactica) aren't there--that is, unless they are sharp-eyed enough to realize they weren't in the episodes we discussed!

The Chicken's bizarre inclusion in the Facial Hair category puzzled many, even the two of us during the show...Battlestar's overall performance (just one win) was a disappointment to some fans who noted our enthusiasm for the series and its spot in the often-significant series finale position.

On the positive side, most thought the show came off well despite the unconventional venue of Jim Rockford's trailer. "Was it a little cramped? Sure," said one longtime Batty expert.  "Yet everything pales in comparison to, say, the vastness of the astral plane," where the Battys took place several seasons ago. "It didn't affect the show."

Andrea Martin's Outstanding Female win delighted fans of the beloved veteran performer...The new Outstanding Hairpiece category drew plaudits as well.

Perhaps one of the bigger upsets is a song from a PSA winning a Batty over multiple numbers from musically oriented programs like Soul Train and Christmas in July.  Not so fast, though. "Doesn't surprise me," one jaded Batty follower passed along. "Brooks has been lobbying for a show about PSAs for years, and he got his wish."

Much of the chatter after the awards concerned the relative lack of disagreement in many of the awards, including some categories thought to be more bitterly contested. "Does it mean that Rick and Mike are on the same page? Do they need to shake it up more? Were some of the categories not competitive enough? I don't know," pondered one source.  Another was quick to point out, "Don't let (the relative general agreement in many categories) fool you.  These guys have been doing this a long time. There were some agonizing decisions in this show."  Personally, I agree, but then, I also happen to be one of the voters.

Monday, December 20, 2021

Season 9 Batty Awards: In Memoriam

Here for the record and also as one more tribute to some of those in the TV world we lost is the list of names we read in the Batty Awards show for Season 9. Rest in Peace.

Bruce Kirby
Cloris Leachman
Cicely Tyson
Allan Burns
Frank Lupo
Irv Cross
Jim Crockett Jr.
Roger Mudd
Henry Darrow
Jessica Walter
Larry McMurtry

Walter Olkewicz
James Hampton
Felix Silla
Billie Hayes
Norman Lloyd
Charles Grodin
Paul Soles
Arlene Golonka
Douglas Cramer
Clarence Williams III
Ned Beatty
Larry Gelman

Gavin McLeod
Frank Bonner

Anne Beatts
Herb Schlosser
Ed Asner
Willard Scott
Markie Post
Jane Withers
William Smith
Charlie Robinson
Paul Orndorff
Jackie Mason

Ron Popeil
Bobby Eaton

Art Metrano
Michael Constantine
Irma Kalish

Jay Sandrich
David DePatie
Alan Kalter
Val Bisoglio
William Lucking
Joanna Cameron
Peter Scolari
Dean Stockwell

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Top Ten #156

1) Rockford Files: We once again salute the big winner at this season's Batty Awards, a great show that Mike and I enjoy very much! I just hope that Jim doesn't have to hock the Batty to pay for--well, to pay for something. Jim has a lot of weird things happen to him.

2) Battlestar Galactica: BSG gave Rockford a run for its money in the major categories and took home a few awards of its own. Remember this outstanding performance. Keep it in your hearts. You might need it if we ever get to Galactica 1980.

3) Night Court: Finally, finally, finally the iconic 80s sitcom is on streaming. Unfortunately, it's not on HBO Max, and it's not even on Prime Video, but WB has licensed it to Amazon instead of putting it on its own SVOD service. And let's not have the discussion now about Amazon taking old shows and putting them on free IMDB-TV with ads instead of the paid service or even letting Prime members see the shows without ads.

No, let's be grateful the show is finally available. I think I need to cool down a bit now so I can get back into the gratitude mindset.

4) He-Man and the Masters of the Universe/She-Ra: And AGAIN, Amazon puts--Oh, wait, no, these two shows were quietly added to Prime Video this week. hey, good for you, Amazon. BUT STILL!

5) Have I Got a Christmas for You: This Hallmark Hall of Fame presentation premiered in 1977. It's a cheesy and entertaining hour with Milton Berle, Harold Gould, Herb Edelman, Adrienne Barbeau, and many other familiar faces in a story of the Jewish community planning to relieve their Christian friends on Christmas by taking over their jobs so they can be with their families. Recommended for those who enjoy Christmas specials as well as era shows like Love Boat.

6) The Homecoming: A Christmas Story: 50 years ago tonight, this CBS TV movie introduced us to The Waltons. The nation's collective wholesomeness went up 10 points.

Then, 6 months later, some burglars were arrested at the Watergate..

7) Mike Lookinland: happy birthday to the multiple Season 8 Batty winner (Outstanding youth AND heel as Bobby Brady)!

8) Columbo: Author David Koenig has made several entertaining podcast appearances to promote his new Shooting Columbo book, including the Amazing Colossal Podcast and TV Confidential. I don't have the book, but I wonder if he mentions our coverage of the show in our Season 8?

9) Elaine Joyce: Happy birthday!

10) R.I.P. : Ken Kragen (producer/organizer), Joe Siegman , and the great Merle Kitty.

Kragen organized Hands Across America, and Siegman produced The Comedy Shop among many other programs:

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Season 9 Battys: Complete list of winners and nominees

Thanks again for a great season 9! Here is the list of nominees (winners in bold) for the Ninth Batty Awards (Warning: SPOILERS ahead if you haven't yet listened to the show)!

OUTSTANDING YOUTH: Eddie Munster (The Munsters), Sam (Baseball Bunch), Kate (Baseball Bunch), The "angry youth" from the "Talk It Out" PSA, Alfonso Ribiero ('Who Broke My Window?" PSA)

OUTSTANDING PERFORMANCE AS ONESELF: Dick Van Dyke (Fire safety PSAs), Johnny Bench (Baseball Bunch), Chet Lemon (Baseball Bunch), Don Cornelius (Soul Train), Sugar Ray Leonard and Tommy "Hitman" Hearns (Anti-drug-trafficking PSA), Ed Asner (RIF PSA)

OUSTANDING HAIR: Clint Walker (Killdozer), Richard Hatch (Battlestar Galactica), Lily Munster/Yvonne DeCarlo (The Munsters), Thundarr (Thundarr the Barbarian), Gretchen Corbett (Rockford Files), Eugene Levy (SCTV)

OUTSTANDING HAIRPIECE: Ricardo Montalban (Fantasy Island), Lorne Greene (Battlestar Galactica), Polly Holliday (Alice), John Calicos (Battlestar Galactica), Rick Moranis as George Carlin (SCTV)

OUTSTANDING FACIAL HAIR: Lee van Cleef (The Master), Dave Thomas as G. Gordon Liddy (SCTV), Robert Walden (Rockford Files), Murdock (Mini-Munsters), The Chicken (Baseball Bunch)

OUTSTANDING DOPE: Robert Webber (Rockford Files), Robert Walden (Rockford Files), Mel (Alice), Lt. Chapman (Rockford Files), Zontar (SCTV), Sarott (Thundarr), Max/Timothy Van Patten (The Master)

OUTSTANDING VILLAIN: Winterbolt (Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July), Cylons (Battlestar Galactica), Murdock (Mini-Munsters), Satan (Fantasy Island), Killdozer (Killdozer), Voltak (Thundarr), Robert Pine (The Master)

OUTSTANDING NON-HUMAN: Rudolph (Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July), Frosty (Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July), Herman (Munsters), Grandpa (Munsters), Killdozer, The Chicken (Baseball Bunch), Timer (PSAs)

THEME SONG (LYRICS): Alice, Baseball Bunch, Soul Train

THEME SONG (INSTRUMENTAL): The Master, SCTV, Rockford Files, Battlestar Galactica, Thundarr, Munsters, Fantasy Island

OUTSTANDING SONG: "Who Broke My Window," (PSAs) "Work It Out," (PSAs); Emotions “Best of My Love,” Maze “While I'm Alone” (Soul Train); Don't Let the Parade Pass You By," "You're Everything I Ever Wanted," "No Bed of Roses" (Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July)

LISTENER AWARD #1: Outstanding SCTV cast member: John Candy, Rick Moranis, Joe Flaherty, Eugene Levy, Andrea Martin, Catherine O'Hara, Dave Thomas, Bonar Bain

LISTENER AWARD #2: Outstanding catchphrase: Kiss my grits (Alice), He got blowed up real good (SCTV), De plane, boss (Fantasy Island), Stow it (Alice) I'm Don Cornelius wishing you love, peace, and soul (Soul Train), Lords of light and Demon dogs (Thundarr)

(Note: voting ended in a tie, so the RNG determined the winner)

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING FEMALE: Gretchen Corbett (Rockford Files), Polly Holliday (Alice) Beth Howland (Alice), Mabel King (The Master), Carol Lynley (Fantasy Island), Arlene Golonka (Fantasy Island),

OUTSTANDING FEMALE: Linda Lavin (Alice), Yvonne DeCarlo (Munsters), Princess Ariel (Thundarr), Andrea Martin (SCTV), Anne Lockhart (Battlestar Galactica), Laurette Spang (Battlestar Galactica

OUTSTANDING SUPPORTING MALE: Joe Santos (Rockford Files), Noah Beery (Rockford Files) Vic Tayback (Alice), Herve (Fantasy Island), Carl Betz (Killdozer), Adam West (Fantasy Island), Herb Jefferson (Battlestar Galactica), Al Lewis (Munsters) (Note: determined by RNG)

OUTSTANDING MALE: James Garner (Rockford Files), Lee Van Cleef (The Master), Fred Gwynne (Munsters), Ricardo Montalban (Fantasy Island), Client Walker (Killdozer), Lorne Greene (Battlestar Galactica), Richard Hatch (Battlestar Galactica, Dirk Benedict (Battlestar Galactica), 

BEST EPISODE: SCTV “Zontar” Alice "Mel's Recession."  Baseball Bunch “Chet Lemon,” The Master “Fat Tuesday,” Soul Train "Frankie Beverly & Maze/The Emotions," The Munsters "The Treasure of Mockingbird Heights," Fantasy Island "The Devil and Mandy Breem/Instant Millionaire," Thundarr "City of Evil,” Battlestar Galactica "The Hand of God," Rockford Files "The Oracle Wore Cashmere"

BEST SHOW: Rockford Files, SCTV, Alice, Baseball Bunch, The Master, Soul Train, The Munsters, Fantasy Island, ThundarrBattlestar Galactica


Friday, December 17, 2021

R.I.P. Merle Kitty

I'm sorry to announce that we lost friend of the show and beloved pet Merle this week after a sudden illness. He was a rescue cat adopted by Laurie several years before she met me, and he quickly became an essential part of my life, then our life together.

Merle was a great pal and a friendly guy who loved nothing more than a good lap on which to sit, and he was also the loudest cat I have ever known. I mean general all-around noise, as in his dramatic snoring; his tendency to make noises announcing himself, such as when he jumped up on a table; and his vast assortment of sneezes.

His desire to be around people combined with that affectionate noisiness meant that Merle made several inadvertent walk-ons on Battle of the Network Shows. Sometimes he was in the background, and sometimes he interrupted recording with some shenanigans. I think he loved being part of the show!

His favorite episodes that we did were Tucker's Witch because of the cat; Darkroom because of the cat; and for some reason, Hardcastle and McCormick. Merle, one of these days we'll get around to Heathcliff!

Mike and I dedicate this season's Battys to Merle, a great friend of ours who would have been a great friend of yours if he you ever met him. If you are so inclined, raise a Lowenbrau or any beverage of your choice (he was a strict water man) to Merle's memory.  Good-bye, buddy.

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Season 9 BATTY Awards

Live on tape from Jim Rockford's trailer in beautiful Malibu, California, the Season 9 BATTY Awards honor the best from season 9 in categories ranging from outstanding non-human and best facial hair to outstanding lead actor and actress and best show! Join us for the excitement as we determine the winners on air!

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

This Day in TV History: You're gonna have so much Christmas, it's gonna be coming out your chimney

What a night of holiday festivities it was 40 years ago on this date! All kinds of yuletide goodies awaited prime-time viewers Monday, December 14, long as they weren't watching ABC.

8:00 P.M. brings a dilemma that used to drive me crazy as a child: Competing Christmas specials! CBS leads off the night with the Rankin-Bass classic Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. That's a must-watch in any household of which I am part and has been for decades. It's certainly easy to skip the new That's Incredible on ABC.

But NBC isn't making it easy, beginning its night with a rerun of Casper's First Christmas.  All right, that's not essential. But next up is the debut of A Chipmunk Christmas! This Bagadasarian/Chuck Jones special doesn't have the esteemed reputation today that the Rankin-Bass ones (OK, most of them) do, but I watch it each year with my kids, and it's become a perennial for me.

So why in the world would two networks do a kid dirty like that and put cool Christmas specials on at the same time? Sure, I realize that there are only so many weeknights in the month of December, and you only get one 8:00-9:00 hour in each one of them, but it still seems cruel in a pre-VCR (let alone pre-DVR) era!

Things shake out a little after that. ABC has Monday Night Football, the Falcons and the Rams. So that's there for all the Steve Bartkowski fans. CBS settles into normalcy with new episodes of its regular Monday shows MASH, House Calls, and Lou Grant.

NBC, though, continues the seasonal fun with A Bing Crosby Christmas, a compilation of past specials featuring the legendary singer (Oh, it was tempting to write "crooner"), who died in 1977.  And then at 10:00, it's another new one: Mac Davis Christmas Special. The Pointer Sisters and the Commodores join Mac in the next-to-last of his many Christmas shows.

Monday, December 13, 2021

Murder Monday: Eddie Albert is old in "The Body Politic"

That's the big takeaway for me from the fourth-season finale of Murder, She Wrote: Eddie Albert is old. He was old. You know what I mean. And what's wrong with that? MSW is a show for all the gray panthers out there, and they deserve a great performance like the one Eddie gives in "The Body Politic."

See, part of the appeal of the performance is Albert's age. He is a wealthy industrialist whose wife (Shirley Jones, not as young as she was on Partridge Family but not as old as Eddie) is running for the Senate. the highlight of the episode is when George Grizzard's sleazy newsman/talk show host baits him at a news conference (there are rumors swirling about Jones' fidelity) and Albert lunges after him, trying to kick his tail. It's great to see senior citizen rage every now and then on a show that can be pretty sedate about murder.

Just for the record, here are the approximate ages of everyone in the cast when this episode premiered in May 1988:

Albert: 82
Jones: 54
Grizzard: 60
Lansbury: 63
James Sloyan: 48

OK, Sloyan is a bit younger, but I include him because his turn as an oily campaign manager (There are some who are not) is another highlight. Sloyan wowed me as the law enforcement figure in Season 3's "Corned Beef and Carnage," so it was a treat to see him again.

Here's the other big highlight: the utter absurdity of the plot device that gets Jessica involved in a Senate campaign that leads to MURDER! Jessica happens to be visiting Jones' Kathleen Lane (all we hear is that they have known each other 17 years) right when the speechwriter has left. So naturally, Lane pleads with acclaimed mystery novelist Fletcher to take know, just for a while for a few key speeches. Have I mentioned this is the week before the primary vote?

Not everything in this episode works. A lot of shots at the media fall flat, and the jabs at politics are rather tame. There are interesting hints that Lane may actually be a little more less faithful than we think, though, which adds some spice. And Albert, though looking all of his 82, delivers a fun and feisty performance and has some great lines. 

Sunday, December 12, 2021

Top Ten #155

1) John Denver and Rowlf: One of the best things I saw this week was a simple yet heartfelt duet these two performed on 1978's John Denver and the Muppets: A Christmas Together.

2) Lorne Michaels: The SNL grand poobah was honored at the Kennedy Center last week. I haven't seen any of it, but over/under on number of attempted imitations of him is 8.

3) Lisa Whelchel: Based on the buzz about her appearance on Live in Front of a Studio Audience, I believe she could get 3 or 4 Hallmark movies out of that spot.  But some good things could happen to her, too!

4) National Ding-a-Ling Day: Not this:

5) 'Tis the Season to Be Ollie: Come for the opportunity to view a rare holiday special with original commercials. Stay for the crazy disco sequence:

6) Perry Como's French-Canadian Christmas: Now, that's a specific kind of Christmas! This special aired 40 years ago tonight on ABC:

7) Hess: Remember when those toy trucks were everywhere? I think they were all over the place when I was growing up, and we didn't have those stations in our area.

8) Bob Barker: 98 years old today!

9) COZI CONDENSED BOLD: It's still showcased on the network's home page! I wonder if it has a Christmas episode. I'm hoping they run a marathon soon.

10) Michael Nesmith: R.I.P. One of the coolest things of its time was the Monkees revival and how wide-ranging it was.

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Happy National Brownie Day!

We could mark the occasion with a Duncan Hines commercial, or we could remind you of this:

Sunday, December 5, 2021

Top Ten #144

1) HBO: James Andrew Miller's new oral history has everyone buzzing about the network and asking the question, "How many pages does 1st and Ten get?"

2) International Ninja Day: Time for another marathon of The Master! Do you think max will get The Master a gift? Probably a tie. Yeah, I bet he got him a tie.

3) Live Before a Studio Audience airs Tuesday on ABC:
forget Jennifer Aniston as Blair. I have my eye on how Ann Dowd is gonna play Edna.

4) Walt Disney: Walt turns 120 today (insert joke about cryogenics). I think we can all agree that the best way t honor his legacy is to put the 1978 Spider-Man series on Disney Plus.

5) The American West of John Ford: This special premiered on CBS 50 years ago tonight and featured John Wayne, Henry Fonda, and Jimmy Stewart. I presume it went with the legend. By the way, how come John Wayne never had a sitcom?

6) Connie Needham: Happy birthday to the former Elizabeth from Eight Is Enough.

7) Kojak: One of the best videos I saw all week was Brick Mantooth's look at vintage Kojak toys! There's my Christmas list all sorted, then.

8) Miami Vice and Knight Rider: The two series both debut on Peacock this month, with the former joining Roku Channel's lineup as well and the latter also appearing on Netflix, of all places.

9) COZI CONDENSED BOLD It's still featured at the bottom of the COZI homepage! This series is the runaway hit of the year!

10) R.I.P. Eddie Mekka:

Saturday, December 4, 2021

New streaming BOTNS-era titles for December

December is a busy month for 1970s and 1980s TV shows on streaming! Here is an overview, with the disclaimer that I may be missing some, and maybe some of these already were there. It's hard to tell with SVOD sometimes!

The biggest surprise is the original Knight Rider appearing on Netflix. This is one of the most random catalog adds I have seen in some time, but I am not complaining. Netflix isn't out of the old-TV game just yet.

Making it even more surprising is that it is non-exclusive. Starz lost the show, but it is now on Peacock, which also added Miami Vice. It's about time NBC started adding more Universal series to its main streaming service! It also added Sanford and Son to its paid tier. Also, there is a small batch of Dick Cavett episodes here, and it seems to be different from the ones on other services.

Roku Channel also added Miami Vice. Personally, I am happy to watch it for free on Peacock, which still has low commercial load, but good for Roku. It'll be interesting to see if the show looks the same on both outlets. Roku also added some old Christmas specials, including Jack Frost, Casper's First Christmas, and the 1979 version of A Christmas Carol with Hank Winkler.  FOr good measure, it also has the 1984 production with George C. Scott.

Another big surprise is Pluto getting all seasons of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, which I thought would end up on Fox-owned Tubi before CBS-owned Pluto.  Fortunately Hulu still has it. Remember when Hulu got a bunch of old TV shows? It isn't a player anymore, but it is keeping the ones it far.

As for Tubi, it often surprises us during the month, but right now it has added Blossom, Who's the Boss, WHat's Happening!!, Sanford, and T and T.  Speaking of Sanford, that two-season follow-up to Sanford and Son is now on Prime as well, though "the mothership" is not.

Prime Video gives us the strangest case this month. The Jeffersons is on the list that circulated, and all seasons are listed, but as of today, only seasons 5 and 6 are available. Presumably the rest is on the way, but it's odd.

Shout! TV added Laugh-In, which WAS on Prime Video before being shunted off to IMDB.  Amazon loves to make its paying Prime customers go to ad-supported and free IMDB-TV to watch older shows. There is nothing new of note on HBO Max, much to my disappointment.

Crackle counted Fish, which was already added a few weeks ago, for December, but maybe it will sprinkle in some more series throughout the month. As usual, Disney Plus doesn't bother much with older content.

The big loser in December? Starz.  The service used to have a big throwback section with series like He-Man, Sanford and Son, Knight Rider, Miami Vice, and more. Now all those are gone, and the Throwback section is gone, indicating that the channel is out of the retro TV business for now.  It still has some Westerns, but it looks like even that is being scaled back.