Saturday, December 31, 2022

My Favorite Things Week #4/Brooks on Books: This Day in Game Show History by Adam Nedeff

I must confess I got a lot of great books in 2022 that I have not been able to read yet, but for today's post I am reviewing something that I DID read and something filled with info about Seventies and Eighties TV: This Day in Game Show History by Adam Nedeff From BearManor media.

It's actually 4 books because, presumably to keep down page count and price, each volume contains 3 months at a time, one chapter/entry for each calendar day of the year. In truth, the paperbacks are still pretty expensive, but I purchased the digital versions. Game show historian Nedeff delivers a fun daily read that could be pored through with ease, though I kept discipline and didn't jump ahead. Using the calendar gimmick as a starting point, he creates a history of games shows. I can't think of any major examples that aren't represented somehow; even though he uses this format and not a conventional encyclopedic format, Nedeff covers so much in here.

For example, just looking at, oh, let's say Volume 2, April-June. May 4, 1987 is the premiere of Classic Concentration, a logical opportunity to discuss the NBC revival of the old classic. The day before that, though, yields May 3, 1955, the date on which Twenty Questions ends, and so we get a history of that radio/TV program.

Birthdays are commemorated as well, of course, as on April 27, the date Casey Kasem entered the world. The legendary DJ didn't have a big presence in this area, but Nedeff tells the story of his super-rare (only a test run in 4 cities) 1999 show 100%.  Deaths get entries as well, and then there are some quirkier choices, like April 10, when Dr. Salk tested the polio vaccine. This is a pathway into talking about Bill Cullen's efforts in dealing with polio.

Many entries are ways to get various bits of info into the book. Take April 9, the debut of TV Guide. Nedeff lists all the issues of the magazine with game-show-themed covers. Leafing through this volume now, I see all kinds of interesting facts, like that Norman Lear hosted a revival of Quiz Kids in 1981 for CBS Cable. And wouldn't you like to see ESPN Plus add episodes of 1988's NFL Trivia Game, hosted by Gabe Kaplan?

Some entries are quite short, others a bit longer, but all are compelling. Nedeff draws from a variety of sources including interviews, contemporary reports, and more, and supplements it all with a wide variety of photos. What could be a haphazard or lazy effort becomes a treasure of trove of info for game show and TV history fans.

Thursday, December 29, 2022

My Favorite Things Week #3: YouTube channels!

Favorite "Official" YouTube channel of 2022: Letterman

This could have been a fiasco. In fact, I am guilty of assuming, as soon as Don Giller announced he was stopping updating his channel and becoming a consultant for this official channel, that it would be a net loss for the fans. On the contrary, this has been an incredible resource, a channel that proves that sometimes there is value in "curation."

Every now and then, the channel does post full classic episodes, but it's mostly great vintage clips from the NBC and CBS years. However, it's not just clips. It is clear there is thought behind all of this. For example, they posted Darlene Love singing "Christmas (Baby, Please Come Home") this season, but they also put up a supercut of the annual show tradition over the years. Showing not just the singing but Letterman coming over each time and thanking her with apparent sincerity makes for a touching experience.

Clips are selected to match current events and occasions like holidays, but they also do other interesting things on the account. The running series of people involved with the show (mostly writers but others as well) is a highlight, with insightful comments and memories from the folks who were there. And of course every now and then Dave himself drops in for a brief comment or chat. Plus Giller shows up in the comments sometimes with tidbits and context. Overall, this is an essential for any fan and also a prolific, worthy tribute to the show's legacy

Wednesday, December 28, 2022

My Favorite Things Week #2: Streaming!

Favorite streamer of 2022 (paid): Peacock

Yeah, this is a surprise, but if you look at minutes watched, I think I spent more time per week on here than on any other paid streamer. Laurie and I still enjoy Murder Monday every week, even if I have been lax about writing it.  Then there was Little House for Season 10, and I watched my share of old-school wrestling on the WWE Network section.

The only dumb thing Peacock did was dropping Rockford Files. Well, and not getting Kolchak. And of course...

OK, it's not perfect, but it's good value when you are on a promotional deal!

Favorite streamer of 2022 (free): YouTube

Yeah, gotta be YouTube, which offers not just the heart and soul of old TV (at least until copyright police remove it), but the GUTS--the vintage ads, promos, bumpers, tel-ops, and more that made up the experience of actually watching TV in the Seventies and Eighties. YouTube is both the most frustrating and rewarding platform out there, and you have to watch what you want right away just in case, but I could live off this alone.

I don't want to, but I could.

Tuesday, December 27, 2022

My Favorite Things Week 2022 #1!

Hello again, friends! To close 2022 on a positive note, I am going to share a few notes this week about some of my favorite things of this past year. You know how the song goes: "Taxi and Cheers, but no so much Wings; these are a few of my favorite things!" Something like that.

I apologize for stepping outside the BOTNS timeline, but today's items are Sixities-centric!

Favorite DVD: Jackie Gleason's TV Treasures: 70th Anniversary Collection from MPI: It is rare these days that I find out about something, pre-order it right away (not worrying at all about the reviews, quality, etc.) and tear into it as soon as it arrives, but this was my most anticipated set of the year. The collection of segments from, for the most part, American Scene Magazine and other 1960s Gleason programs is far from perfect, and it does leave you wanting more. I hope we GET more! Music clearances are the presumed reason for so few complete episodes of the Gleason variety programs, but keep working on it, MPI.

Favorite streaming add: I loved seeing Night Court on FreeVee beginning December 2021, but my favorite and most unexpected addition to a streamer was Tubi dropping 4 episodes of the aforementioned American Scene Magazine program (the syndicated half-hour cutdown version). I loved these so much I even asked Tubi if more was on the way. Of course, I didn't get any real info, but they knew that I enjoyed the show. 

American Scene used to air on WOR-NY when I was a kid, but I don't think this material has been in "official" circulation much in the last, say, 30-some years. I'd love to think that more rare Gleason material is on the way in 2023, but with the "throw everything out there" approach of the DVD (Don't get me wrong; I appreciate all of it) and the presence of only 4 episodes on Tubi ("a mere bag of shells, as Ralph Kramden would say), I fear this is it for now. I enjoyed what I got, though!

To bring this into the BOTNS era, I was gifted a collection of the 1970s Honeymooners specials and sat on the Christmas episodes for months. I finally watched them this weekend, including the Christmas Carol, and enjoyed them very much! 

Monday, December 26, 2022

Power Rankings: Wrapping Up the 12 Days of Christmas Watching 2022

Many of you are off work today, and if you desire some holiday listening, we'd love you to spend part of your day with the podcast. You can find a list of seasonal episodes in this post!

As for me, my holiday watching was a lot different this year, and I wasn't able to get many of my usual specials into the mix, but the 12 Days of Watching gave me a lot of new episodes and plenty of enjoyment! To wrap up the festivities, here is my list of favorites, bottom to top (not counting the commercials):

10) Saturday Night Live: Do I need to see this again? Not unless I am producing a George Foreman documentary. Or a Janeane Garafolo one.

9) Gimme a Break: Nell's Joeymania killed this one for me.

8) Solid Gold Christmas Special 1982: Loved it for what it was, but it might be one and done. After all, I have many other Solid Gold  Christmas episodes to watch!

7) Siskel and Ebert: They just really did not like Christmas Vacation.

6) Hollywood Palace: Can't go wrong with Bing this time of year!

5) Donny and Marie Christmas: I enjoyed this way more than I expected or cared to admit. This is a toss-up with Palace.

4) The Love Boat: Cheesy, corny, often absurd...In other words, classic Love Boat.

3) Wonder Woman: I am not sure this will be a perennial in this house, but what an epsiode! It's more toy-centric than Yule-centric, but I loved watching it.

2) The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet: A tremendous episode that I can see revisiting in future years.

1) Sale of the Century: Call me crazy...crazy for DEALS! I had a blast watching this episode, and though I may not need to see it again anytime soon, this was minute for minute the most Christmasy fun I had in the 12 Days.

Sunday, December 25, 2022

Top Ten #209 "Yes, Virginia, There Is a Top Ten Today" edition

1) A Charlie Brown Christmas: Still the greatest.

2) Santa Claus shilling for NBC: Hey, if HE likes Remington Steele...

3) Tiny Tim and Miss Vicki: The Carson Estate posted the 1969 wedding last week:

4) Opening Night: What a lineup on this special that aired 50 years ago tonight on CBS! Sammy Davis and Milton Berle were among the acts featured:

5) Kennedy Center: An even better lineup appeared 40 years ago tonight on the pre-taped Kennedy Center Honors special, including Gregory Hines, Johnny Cash, and more saluting Benny Goodman. Gene Kelly, and more!

6) Silver Spoons: And how about THIS lineup on NBC 40 years ago tonight: Mr. T and John P. Navin Jr. in this rerun. Mike and I talk about this episode here.

7) William Shatner: Please remember to practice good tree safety this and every year!

8) The Waltons: Enjoy a marathon this afternoon on Me-TV. I love the one where Old Man Walton wins a major award that turns out to be a leg lamp.

9) Immaculate Reception: December 23, 1972! Is it the greatest play in NFL history? Perhaps. If you're a Steeler fan--and why wouldn't you be--it's up there.

10) Humphrey Bogart: Not TV of the 70s and 80s, but it's Bogart, and he was born today, so he makes it!

Saturday, December 24, 2022

12 Days of Christmas Watching 2022 Day #12: Love Boat brings us home!

What better way to end this "12 Days of Watching" adventure than with a look at what I like to call the quintessential TV show of the BOTNS era, The Love Boat? The program didn't produce as many holiday episodes as you might expect given its 9-year, 250-episode run, but it created one I had never seen: Season 6's "The Christmas Presence," highlighted by BOTNS fave Mickey Rooney.

After a debacle like yesterday's Saturday Night Live experience, I had to turn to a safe bet, and as always, the Pacific Princess brought us through the rocky waters of Christmas--OK, that's a little much because I loved everything except the SNL stuff, but still I am pleased to end this 12-day journey with a Love Boat.

As I said, we tend to love the Mickster around here. Hey, we never had to work with him! He is classic Later Years Mickey Rooney here, actually even underplaying a bit for the fantastical character he plays: Angelarum Dominicus, an elderly but lively gentleman who boards under  mysterious circumstances and proceeds to meddle in the lives of everyone on the ship--well, at least the credited guest stars and the main cast. It's fortunate that he works for the forces of good, albeit with a bit of a Rooneyesque impish bent, because he does magic. I mean, he does literal magic, pointing at things and making them disappear and appear, transmorgrifying things, and doing everything but pulling a rabbit out of Captain Stubing's hat. Folks, MAGIC IS REAL in the Love Boat universe!

I want to talk about Captain Stubing here because, as gracious as he is to Dominicus, he is a bit rough with the crew on this one. More important is his dogged focus on getting the Christmas tree decorated. In itself, no biggie. It IS a Christmas cruise, as Julie announces at the beginning. What disappoints me is that Stubing hasn't planned ahead more. Why is there not a big tree with decorations in place as soon as the passengers board for what is, after all, a themed voyage? Julie has done her part by getting the ship decked out, and Gopher got the tree, but the public should have been able to enjoy a fully trimmed tree from the get-go. Was there some logistical situation that prevented that? I hope so because this is uncharacteristic of Stubing, and perhaps sublimated guilt over it comes out in his riding Julie and Gopher to get that tree done.

Back to the guests: A bearded Donny Osmond pouts because wife Maureen McCormick is late. Never get a wife with a career, he whines, because she will, like, show up late for stuff. A pair of nuns (Teresa Wright and Jan Rooney) brings a boys' choir on board after having to cancel their tour due to the lead singer's throat issues. A couple of suspicious "businessmen," Keenan Wynn and Henry Gibson, are apparently smuggling gold. The Mickster involves himself in all these situations, plus provides an assist on that tree thing AND ensures Isaac can talk to his mom for Christmas. What about Doc? Well, let's just say Adam Bricker gets to show he is more than just a lothario and display some actual medical skills.

I KNEW I could count on Love Boat for the holiday cheer that I lacked yesterday! Unlike most of the series' efforts, this has one single story credited to one pair of writers. It's appropriate since The Mickster appears in all of the various stories and really sticks his nose everywhere he can (Talking about the character, not the actor...I think).

And look at the Christmas splendor on display in this Getty Images pic:

We get it all here--laughs, tears, relationship drama, life-or-death drama, and the mystery of a whimsical stranger on board. And it all ends with a goofy but charming shot of Merrill Stubing's big blue eyes gazing up at the stars and acknowledging the same higher power that Dominicus had addressed moments earlier:

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Friday, December 23, 2022

12 Days of Christmas Watching 2022 #11: I'm gonna watch a Christmas SNL one way or another, dadblast it!

I was determined to see a new-to-me (or at least in the last 25 years or so) Christmas episode of Saturday Night Live this season. I had to step outside our BOTNS time frame, and even then I ended up seeing a notorious bomb of episode, one that didn't have a lot of Christmas atmosphere, anyway!

I tried first with a 1984 Season 11 episode from December with Jay Leno. Well, Peacock says it is from December 22, 1986, but in fact the airdate is FEBRUARY 22.  No wonder I didn't see a lot of Christmas!

I didn't see a lot of anything in the episode because Peacock edits it to a ridiculous 22 minutes. The cold opening is gone. The monologue is there. Weekend Update is (for the most part) there with the first appearance of A. Whitney Brown. There is an amusing sketch with the observational comedy guys ("I mean, HEY!").

That's about it! Missing are both Neville Brothers performances. No surprise there, but also cut are 6 sketches not counting the cold open, including one with Randy Quaid as Lyle Alzado! What a tragedy! This sample of the Quaid/Anthony Michael Hall/Robert Downey Jr. season is barely there.

So I time-jumped to 1994 and Season 20's ninth episode, starring George Foreman and Hole. This one actually DID air December 17, 1994, so, yay, Peacock, for getting that right. The stage is decorated.  The first sketch has the Clintons in front of a Christmas tree. 

That's as far as it goes, though, and not only is this a terrible episode, but Peacock cuts the most interesting bad segments and leaves us with barely over a half-hour. Missing are Foreman going back in time to box Adolf Hitler and Foreman as the Hulk ripping on the writers for making lame sketches. I'd rather see either of those than what is left, even the sketch with my guy Chris Elliott getting George to read a bedtime story (I liked parts of that, actually).

I won't go into detail, but it starts poorly and doesn't improve much. The opener has Bill and Hillary--so Phil Hartman and Jan Hooks, right? WRONG! They are not here anymore. It's Michael McKean--great but miscast here--and Janeane Garafolo, who is ALL over this episode (I mean like in almost every segment that exists in this version) and ineffective throughout. If your kids ever ask you why she was "a thing" in the Nineties, this is not good evidence.

I love Big George and was a huge fan when he won the Heavyweight boxing crown in 1994, but he was much better as a broadcaster on HBO later. This is not his best work.

NOTE: I later saw that the Leno episode was situated between two other episodes that did have proper dating, so it was obvious looking at the whole season that it was out of place. Also, Season 11 did have an actual Christmas episode with Terri Garr. So I missed out on that...all 24 minutes of it. Peacock, you deserve a spot on the Naughty List. You can get off it by adding Quincy in January.

We cannot end this season of watching on such a sour note. We need something truly Christmasy to get this SNL debacle out of our chimneys, something that will give us surefire entertainment and help us maintain those holiday smiles. Yes, we have to turn to one of the heavy hitters, and it just so happens it has a Christmas episode I have not seen. Be here tomorrow as I unwrap the 12th present and close out our 12 Days of Watching!

(I wouldn't mind seeing Randy Quiad as Lyle Alzado as a stocking stuffer)

Thursday, December 22, 2022

12 Days of Christmas Watching 2022 Day #10: A traditional Christmas...with the Solid Gold Dancers and Madame

Solid Gold was a pretty big deal back in my youth--an hour of music, comedy, and the Solid Gold Dancers! With modern eyes, I see the music is excerpted/lip-synced in many cases; the comedy isn't so great; and the Dancers, while posited back then as the embodiment of straight male fantasy, are just bizarre

So of course I love it! We put Solid Gold into a Listeners Poll a few seasons ago, and it lost to Soul Train. There's no shame in that defeat, but I am still watching the occasional episode, including the 1982 Christmas Special posted above. This one is not only Christmas-y, it is very Solid-Goldy.

As the uploader indicates, a few things have been trimmed for various reasons, but this is most of the original two-hour special, which aired in syndication before Christmas 1982. This episode takes a different approach in counting down not the top 10 hits of the week, but the top 40 seasonal hits of all time. We can quibble with the choices. OK, we can outright complain about the choices--Christmas Waltz at #2? Overall, it's a good list, and I won't argue with the #1 pick.

The execution is sometimes uneven. A handful of special guest stars do most of the songs, while many are presented in snippets of the original recording while the Solid Gold Dancers do weird interpretive dances. Donna Summer, with a new hairdo and serious look, handles some of the more spiritual tunes. Marie Osmond does several, including "Let It Snow" (but sadly not with Erik Estrada--see our Osmonds post yesterday). 

Peter, Paul, and Mary are all over the place for some reason, as is John Schneider, who does some heavy lifting on "Silent Night" while doing almost as many wardrobe changes as the Solid Gold Dancers. John Davidson is amiable enough in doing various numbers, and Laura Branigan brings a lot of energy and a jarring transition to a couple of standards.

Of course co-hosts Marilyn McCoo and Rex Smith are in the house, but Smith gets the proverbial lump of coal. McCoo does numerous duets and performances while Smith is on the sidelines most of the show, seemingly usurped by Davidson, of all people. 

Let's talk about the comedy!

Wait. It's Christmastime. Let's talk instead about my favorite guest performances in this episode:

4) Andrae Crouch: "Joy to the World": I was less happy about them pairing him with Peter, Paul, and Mary later. He is truly joyous here!

3) Jerry Reed, "Please Come Home for Christmas": Reed was pretty cool for a while back in that era, and I enjoyed his take on this one.

2) Crystal Gayle, "Silver Bells": Forget the S.G. Dancers, the personification of early 1980s glamour to me was Gayle, and she does a classy version of this timeless ballad.

1) The Chipmunks: What a coup by the producers to book the Munks! They do a great song, but Wife of the Show Laurie was distracted by the single tooth each one had, and I was distracted a bit by the Dancers performing as, uh, sexy candy canes (?) for no apparent reason.

OK, the comedy: Wayland Flowers and Madame are outrageous as ever, and Jeff Altman works hard, but the latter didn't go over very well in this household, and indeed he seemed to be doing the same characters he always did on the show. Much funnier is a bizarre video of children playing set to Kenny Rogers singing "Kids." Much funnier than THAT is a random "man on the street" segment that asks about favorite holiday gifts and gets offbeat responses like a young man grinning while embracing his wife and saying, "The time we sent her mother back east for a couple weeks!"

So there IS comedy, just not in the expected places always. And, oh, those dances are pretty amusing.

Overall, this is a fantastic piece of 1980s entertainment with a strong Yuletide flavor. I haven't even mentioned Sister Sledge!

Wednesday, December 21, 2022

12 Days of Christmas Watching 2022 Day #9: Donny and Marie and a cast of thousands

Are there too darn many Osmonds? I am not commenting on their religion, their family planning, or anything. I am just observing this 1979 Donny and Marie Christmas special and thinking, man, there are Osmonds all over the place!

The show is built around the stars Donny and Marie, of course, but then you get the B-teamers like aspiring teen star Jimmy (I confess, when he first came out on stage, partly due to the camera angle, partly due to the age of the source video, and partly due to the hairdo, I wondered if he was Billie Jean King). The other Osmond boys show up, too, and dance and sing and even act and tell jokes. We're talking Wayne and, uh...Osgood Osmond. Mordecai...Biff? I'm lost.

Then you throw in the grandkids like little Travis and Amy and...Spot? Again, I am lost. It doesn't help when we see the Osmond wives. Then some random old people come out on stage, and I think they are the Osmond parents, but, heck, I don't know for sure. I guess in 1977 everyone knew everyone in this family. Many see this kind of scene and think family is what Christmas is all about. I think, wow, they can't even face each other in one living room but need two giant ones side by side.

I don't have to tell you that the Osmonds do a lot of holiday caroling and whatnot. They get help from an array of guest stars like Erik Estrada, who enters on a motorcycle and brings his 1977 charisma if not a particular aptitude for singing "Let It Snow." He does it anyway, though, dueting with Marie in one of the show's standout numbers. Why does it stand out? Christmas is only several days away, and I am practicing goodwill!

Other guest stars come by to help out, too. Cindy Williams is game enough to appear in multiple sketches. Dorothy Hamill ice-skates all over the place, sometimes as a backdrop for a musical number. My favorite is Adam Rich, who gets a show-long storyline about assembling props for a "12 Days of Christmas" number. I am going to give away my favorite joke here. After coming up with ridiculous substitutes for items 1-8, Gunther Osmond (I think) asks where the rest of them are, and Adam says, "Where I come from, eight is ENOUGH!"

I should have seen that one coming, but it got me, and I had a genuine laugh.

I'm having a little fun with this special (though I really did enjoy that Eight Is Enough gag), but it's a great watch. The Osmonds may not be everyone's cup of nog these days, but they have undeniable charisma--some more than others, but Donny and Marie are big time here in 1979--and you get great Christmas atmosphere and a host of carols. I enjoyed Marie's wistful yet wholesome rendition of "Blue Christmas."

It's all served up with that family-friendly aura that doesn't mean only "wholesome" content, but actually depicts a large extended family celebrating together. Everyone seems to enjoy each other's company, with a few mild familial jabs here and there all in fun. It's a pleasant sight, and I am not going to research and verify all these wives and kids pictured above stayed together and remained happy forever. I am going to let it be so, at least through the holiday season. This really is the kind of show they don't make anymore, at least not in a sincere way, and I appreciate that we can enjoy it even on YouTube (Thanks, Dave's Osmonds Videos for the upload).

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

12 days of Christmas Watching 2022 Day #8: $ale of the Century with a holiday classic!

A game show brought me some of the best Christmas watching of the season! We talked about Sale of the Century in our game show episode back in , and there we explained what made it such a good series. This episode from December 23, 1988 takes it up a notch by adding CHRISTMAS to the mix!

(Thanks to Sale of the Century Archives for posting the original episode as aired on NBC!)

The producers went all out here. I bet they taped this in, what, August at the latest, but you would never know it. It's not just decorating the set, though it looks lovely, and not just giving Summer Bartholomew a seasonal dress, though she looks lovely. Every question of the trivia-based game is about the holiday--Santa trivia, prominent retailer trivia, toy trivia, and more! 

Even the prizes are themed, including a trip to Santa Claus, Indiana. That may not sound like much, but when Jim Perry throws in hundreds of dollars in spending money and slashes the price to a dollar--well, that's a bargain! It's like a half-hour yule log...only instead of a piece of wood crackling, there are human beings competing for cash and prizes. OK, it's not like a yule log at all except that watching it is awesome.

Everyone is in a good mood here. Defending champion Angela is excited to try to go for the car again (and a La Petite grand piano today--hey, how can a grand piano be petite?). Jeff is introduced as "a man of the cloth," and the reveal that his family has had a clothing business for several generations brings the kind of game show jovial reactions you expect. 

And then there's the wine taster Ursula, giving off slight "Andrea Zuckerman after 3 glasses of spiked punch at the off-site holiday party" vibes. She is into it all right, almost too much, but it works for the game because we have the right host in charge.

That host, my friends, is Jim Perry, who gets an exciting game here to show off his skills. He does it all here, from reacting with that appropriate jocularity to the contestants to controlling the game to even sweetening the pot with a little cash when the lead contestant is pondering spending game dollars on a prize. And as the show often has him do, he even throws to break at one point by relating a Bob Hope joke about Gerald Ford golfing. 

I always thought Perry was one oft he most underrated hosts in game show history, and he backs me up in this one. Check out the way he explains a mild "situation" that occurs in the lightning round to the affected contestant: subtle but definitive, and not intrusive on the game. A funny moment occurs halfway through the show when Bartholomew forgets a prop tied to a bargain skit, and Perry reacts with aplomb. It's another outstanding performance by a true pro.

All this adds up to a tremendous Christmas episode, and let me tell you one other thing: The game itself is a thriller. Sale is not as difficult as Jeopardy!, but it provides exciting game play with its speed and the format that encourages close scores. I won't spoil the outcome, but this contest is up for grabs until the very end.

Don't take my word for it, though. Just look at the face of Jeff and his clear elation at getting a Fame Game (sit down, Mike) win and earning not the $15 card that would bring him a huge lead in the game, but an assortment of...lamps. If this doesn't scream, "Ho ho ho and all that jazz," I don't know what does:

Monday, December 19, 2022

12 Days of Christmas Watching 2022 Day #7: Wonder Woman vs. TOYS

For her Christmas episode, the Amazonian heroine fights one of her greatest opponents: TOYS! Yes, toys, like a model plane dropping bombs and a robot duplicate of herself! As a kid, I would have passed on the bombing fighter plane, but, yeah, a Wonder Woman android would have been a cool gift!

The one gripe I have about this episode apart from a ridiculous ending is how biased it is against toys. Its title is "The Deadly Toys." Toys are used as deadly weapons. Perhaps worst of all, toys are seen as juvenile preoccupations. 3 brilliant scientists are mocked for unwinding by playing a war game with miniature soldiers. I think that last one is the worst of all. Granted, 1977 was not a time when "intended for adult collectors" was something you saw on a lot of toys, so collecting wasn't what it has become now, but come on, to each their own, right?

On a totally unrelated note, I just went to the other room to admire my Lynda Carter Wonder Woman action figure.

The plot isn't worth getting into in too much detail because it starts out nonsensical and gets more so. A major is fired up because those 3 men overseeing the XYZ Project for the government are being targeted by someone. They are being replaced by androids! Do you know what it would mean if the XYZ Project fell into the wrong hands? Well, DO YOU?

I actually don't. In fact, I don't even know what it means if it does NOT because at the end, when--spoiler here--the bad guys are foiled, Diana explains to Steve why they should not be detained. You see, if they are caught, then the foreign agents will know it can be done and will do it again. If they are allowed to go free, they will go back to the foreign agents, who will think they did it...until they don't...I totally didn't get that part, sorry. Yet Diana says it with such fervor that I buy it. Really, I think Steve Trevor on some level is just like, "You're so gorgeous that I will go along with whatever you say, Diana!" And just think, that is the "glammed down and bespectacled" version of the woman!

So let's focus on what we DO get in the episode: Wonder Woman vs. Wonder Woman! Yes, dual Lynda Carters, and sometimes Lynda and/or a cool stuntwoman! Cool toys! Frank Gorshin as the old eccentric toymaker/toy store owner! And not only is Wonder Woman is spectacular as ever, but at times there are two of her, sort of. That old toymaker does great work making androids!

There isn't a lot of real action apart from the WW vs. WW brawl in the toy shop basement, but there are transformations, jumping around, magic lasso, deflecting bullets, etc. I swear on more than one occasion Wonder Woman adds a little flourish--an extra leap here, an extra twirl there--to show off a bit and compensate for the lack of a true physical threat.

What we don't get is a lot of Christmas spirit, though there is enough to make it a legit holiday installment of the series. It all takes place in December, there are some seasonal decorations, and at one point Steve asks computer IRAC what he should get Diana for Christmas. The response is, "Ask Wonder Woman," which Trevor assumes is sarcasm or nonsense. I am disappointed to report there is no follow-up on this, no awkward gift exchange at the end. 

The end does have one tacked-on but of Yuletide cheer. After the confusing ending with the bad guys (Please don't make me get into that again), Diana rushes off saying she has one more thing to do. Cut to Wonder Woman spray-painting a message on the window of the toy store:

It is an odd moment...

but a happy one, and I appreciate it!  You, too, Wonder Woman!

Sunday, December 18, 2022

12 Days of Christmas Watching 2022 Day 6: Christmas "Adventures"

I love that the old Ozzie and Harriet Nelson show is called The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. It's not like the family is having adventures like Rin-Tin-Tin or Robin Hood. I also love that MPI is releasing quality DVD sets of the entire series AND that the same episodes are appearing on Prime Video.

The sitcom did a bunch of Christmas episodes, and I have seen many of them, but the first-season effort "Late Christmas Gift" is new to me this year. You know who it isn't new to? Those in 1965 who watched this encore presentation of it when it premiered in 1951. Unfortunately, some of the restored episodes are these rebroadcast versions with a little of the original material missing, presumably due to elements issues with the primary versions (I don't think Ozzie preserved all the ones he reworked for later showings).

NOTE: This is a version on YT presented "for educational purposes," but I give a strong recommendation to the official Season 1 DVDs, the licensed streams on Prime Video, or (like me) the licensed streams on Prime Video if you are too lazy to get up and put in the DVD (I had a cat on my lap, to be fair).

Since I am going through the series from the beginning, it's a bit jarring to see the 14-years-older Oz presenting this one. He is a bit older, but, well, aren't we all. And altered or not, this is a great Christmas episode that illustrates some of what I like about the series. It starts with a low-key premise: Ozzie and older son David get their gifts from Grandma Nelson a bit late--a thick geography book and a hip sports jacket. That's pretty much it.

Yet we got a lot of entertainment out of Ozzie trying on the jacket and, after first fretting he is too old to wear such a trendy piece of clothing, loving it, doing some mild boasting about getting smiles from the young girls in the malt shop. The key with Ozzie is it's always mild boasting, it's harmless, and in fact he almost always backs down and admits the truth. He remains likable and just deluded instead of arrogant.

They get a lot of mileage out of this, but one question remains: Did Ozzie's mother really intend to give David the book and Ozzie the jacket? I like the fundamental decency underlying all this. Ricky teases David about being saddled with the book, but David refuses to admit he isn't into it--not just to spite Ricky, but because he wants to appreciate the gift. And Ozzie's reaction and how he handles things when they learn the truth is great.

However, the show is not just decent, but it's funny. Once you get into the rhythms of the series, it's a great watch with sharper observations about everyday life than you might expect if you have never seen it before. "Late Christmas Gift" is an example of why The Adventures works overall and also why it brings us so many solid holiday episodes.

Top Ten #208: "Better get that shopping done" edition

1) 12 Days of  ChristmasWatching: Yes, we will have TWO posts today because it is one of the 12 Days of Christmas Watching. We have 6 more ahead of us, so keep checking each day because I have a lot of different types of holiday episodes lined up.

2) The Leprechaun's Christmas Gold: Comic Book Resources ran a story on this oft-neglected Rankin-Bass special, but it neglected to mention our podcast. Go figure.

3) The Snoop Sisters: This NBC mystery wheel show featuring geriatric crimesolvers premiered 50 years ago tonight!

4) 1982 Christmas shows: 40 years ago tonight, it was a Christmas extravaganza! CBS had Grinch iand 'Twas the Night Before Christmas,and Deadly Encounter with Larry Hagman as a former combat pilot fighting mobsters--OK, that one isn't seasonal.

The Love Boat featured Mickey Rooney as...could it be Santa? A Perry Como special followed on ABC.

And even NBC offered Xmas episodes of Diff'rent Strokes and Silver Spoons.

6) Disco and toys: Two of reality's best things come together in this ad, a complement to the Christmas-themed one we posted last week.

7) The Liberty Bowl: 50 years ago today, Georgia Tech edged Iowa State 31-30. This year's edition features Arkanasas and Kansas in Memphis on December 28.

8) The Grinch: The iconic character we discussed in relation to his lesser-known Halloween special is all over the place this time of year. News articles say the Grinch is coming for retailers. Blow-up dolls of Grinchy are being used to circumvent HOV restrictions. Best of all, a Florida cop dressed up as a Grinch and gave onions to speeders.

9) Leonard Maltin: One of our favorite movie experts was born on this day in 1950, and we salute him even if, due to tired themes and uninspired commentary, he has to give this post...a 4.

Also, shout-out to Larry D. Mann, who would have been 100 today. Among his accomplishments was voicing the great Yukon Cornelius.

10) R.I.P. Stuart Margolin:

Saturday, December 17, 2022

12 Days of Christmas Watching 2022 Day 5: Be careful out there. Santa's watching!

We are going back to the world of commercials today. Hey, that's television, too! Here are a pair of ads posted by Canadian YouTube account bmuz.

First up, a spot for retail chain Zellers that may remind you of a certain Batty-winning television program:

Does the guy in that ad remind you of a certain Genius-award-winning actor? Everyone is trying, and it's Christmastime. I enjoy this commercial and the way it is shot. Maybe it could be a little grittier, but how many large retail chains want to be associated with "gritty"?

Next up, NFL Hall of Fame quarterback with a seasonal Isotoner ad. These commercials were ubiquitous at the time, but the holiday variant is a nice watch:

Marino was one of the highest-paid guys in the league. Were Istoners really expensive? You know what, let's not go there. It's the thought that counts, and with the slogan, "Take care of the hands that take care of you," Marino indicates what is really on his mind: Making sure his offensive lineman keep his butt off the turf.

Friday, December 16, 2022

12 Days of Christmas Watching 2022 Day 4: Gimme a Break, indeed!

We got off to a bad start with Gimme a Break season 3's "A Kanisky Christmas." I chose a third-season episode because I wasn't in the mood for a Joey episode. I rejected the thumbnail for a Season 6 selection, figured this one was safe, and as soon as I started the clip, who do I see? Nell Carter, of course. BUT ALSO JOEY!

Joey was on the show as early as the third season? Wow. And sigh. And it's not the performer's fault that I dislike this episode so much, though the character's cloying persona is a little grating. It's the fact that Nell is so singular about making Joey's first family Christmas after being taken in by the Kaniskys a SPECIAL one that she treats everyone else in the house like reindeer droppings.

I understand the desire to have family together, and the Kanisky household needs some healing because the holiday hasn't been the same since the mom died. The show makes this clear near the end by having the characters say as much, but it doesn't let Nell off the hook, in my view. 

This is the classic example of why fans hurl accusations of shark jumping at programs that add cute moppet characters during their runs. The viewers are already worried the focus of the series will shift to the newcomer, but in "A Kanisky Christmas," within the story itself, the main character shifts HER focus to the newcomer and isn't repentant about it. Even a brief interlude when the Kanisky Kids point out her hypocrisy for yelling at them about family while she hangs up on a long-distance call from her mother can't deter Noel from her Joey obsession.

Everyone has an excuse for being absent on Christmas Eve. Samantha is babysitting. Good for her, she is helping someone else enjoy the evening. Julie has a date from a guy she has wanted to ask her out for months. Good for her, but who asks a high schooler out for a date on Christmas Eve? Kari has a ski trip planned with a bunch of friends. Again, not necessarily normal for kids her age, but it's her life. The Chief has that thing called...oh, what is it, duty, as in, work, as in, he is Chief of Police and has to work. That's kind of important. I assume there's crime in this area, though the only hint of that we see is Nell flinging loaded stockings all over the place.

Nell doesn't accept any of these excuses, whining about not just family being together--that would be tolerable--but about how JOEY needs a great Christmas and JOEY needs to see Santa and JOEY is gonna grow up and make a video for "Nothin' My Love Can't Fix" that MTV will play way too often. She pouts. She whines. She hurls the family's Christmas stockings to the ground. Joey has an excuse for being so petulant, but Nell is a grown woman!

There's not enough Dolph Sweet in this episode, but you can say that about most every Gimme a Break. The funniest moments to me come from the daffy line readings of resident friend of the family (and moron) Officer Simpson (Howard Morton) and the dyspeptic readings of John Hoyt as Grandpa. There's a funny bit of business Nell Carter does when the "sanatation engineer" comes to the door for a Christmas bonus.

I will say this for "A Kanisky Christmas": It is all about the holiday, so it is a true Christmas episode, and it does try to redeem itself with a happy "surprise" ending that reunites the family. So if you can overlook Joeymania more than Nell can, you might find some Xmas cheer in this one.

Thursday, December 15, 2022

12 Days of Christmas Watching 2022 Day 3: Siskel and Ebert like nothing!

On the third day of watching, my true love gave to me: 4 lousy movies.

On this December 1985 edition of At the Movies, Siskel and Ebert pan all 4 new releases. Not all are Christmas releases, but lest you think they are Scrooges, they hate one of the non-Xmas movies most of all!

I have only seen one of these movies, though I know I saw bits of Santa Claus: The Movie. The lads here don't make me anxious to catch up. The stinker of the show is a gambling movie called Fever Pitch, with Ryan O'Neal and BOTNS-iverse players Catherine Hicks and Chad Everett  in a story written and directed by Richard Brooks. 

Hey, wait a minute!

Considering they talk at length about how the film is a low point of the distinguished career of Brooks (Elmer Gantry, In Cold Blood) and how flip the story treats the serious issue of gambling addiction, let's just move on to the next selection. All I will say is, hey, the studio was on my back the whole time.

One Magic Christmas is a 1985 Disney misfire that features Harry Dean Stanton as a craggy guardian angel. Well, the craggy part checks, but Siskel points out how miscast he is in this role. Apparently one bad thing after another happens to the family that Stanton is protecting, to the point of absurdity. The guys don't like this one, either, and I think I will skip it.

Remember the blockbuster that was to be Santa Claus: The Movie? I recall a big marketing campaign dedicated to the Tri-Star bomb. Lithgow's performance (not as Santa) looks like a riot.

The highlight of this segment on the show is the guys trading ideas of how to make this a decent movie. Gene's pitch sounds a lot like The Nightmare Before Christmas!

Finally, Roger and Gene take a look at the ambitious Starchaser: The Legend of Orin. Mike exposed me to this movie a while back. Maybe I should say he infected me with it. No, it's worth seeing, and it has many ideas from the mind of screenwriter and Robert Pine Genius winner Jeffrey Scott. Siskel and Ebert happen to think too many of those ideas come from Star Wars, so that's another pan from the pair.

So 4 up, 4 down on this December episode of the show. Maybe we will find some more Christmas joy tomorrow in our third day of watching! Come back and join me...if you can find it in your heart this holiday season to forgive me for Fever Pitch.

Wednesday, December 14, 2022

12 Days of Christmas Watching 2022 Day 2: Der Bingle and Family

One of the forgotten great variety shows of the 1960s is The Hollywood Palace, an old-fashioned program that often featured mega star power. The most frequent of the various guest hosts during its 1964-1970 run on ABC was Bing Crosby, who trotted out his family for some holiday shows, including this 1968 edition I watched:

Der Bingle welcomes Glen Campbell, John Byner, and the Lennon Sisters for an hour of music, fun, and comedy--or two out of three ain't bad. OK, I'm a little un-festive there. Byner is a talented guy who scored better on other episodes and shows. Here I don't think his stuff hit the mark quite as much, but, hey, it's Christmas! There's something cool about seeing Bing and his young son just off to the side in silhouette, watching Byner do a stand-up routine on stage.

There is plenty of music, and I do think it's fun! Campbell sings Wichita Lineman, natch, and some other tunes, and the Lennons do some charming holiday numbers that sound just like you would want Christmas carols sung by the Lennon sisters to sing. Campbell interacts with Crosby, even giving him the White Album as a present ("John wears clothes on this one")!

One thing that kind of makes me cringe when watching these Crosby specials (apart from the obvious thing; see the italicized note below*) is that some of the kids seem a little less talented than their parents, and I can't help but wonder if they really want to be out there performing. The parents have no such problem; Bing and wife Kathryn's breezy "When the Kids Are Married" is one of the best numbers.

Hey, did I mention there is a dude juggling on a horseback? The segment was recorded elsewhere, which is a shame. I'd love to see Bing and his kid standing off to the side reacting to that one. It's still a remarkable part of the show and an exciting change of pace from the songs.

It's an unapologetic old-fashioned stage show, and I like that. The stage (and the halls) are all decked out with seasonal decorations. The massive tree looks good. Everyone seems to be happy to celebrate together, and the Christmas cheer is off the charts here. Bing is at that stage where he begins to look as old as Bob Hope always joked he was (Bing is about 65 here), but he still has that amiable cool aura. He comes off as a good sport, too, when he "catches" Byner impersonating him. And of course Crosby gets in a few digs in at the absent Hope.

I enjoy the Bing Crosby specials, and this episode of Hollywood Palace delivers a big jolt of Christmas fun of the old-school variety. Oh, and this version has some ads dedicated to people smoking like the chimneys Santa slides down on Christmas Eve!

*There is an unfortunate circumstance that accompanies any vintage special like this: The allegations made by some of Crosby's kids that he beat them. Just look at the comments on this YouTube video. Many may find it tough to watch. I have read conflicting information, but regardless I watch these and think of Bing the character and set aside the "real world" possibilities of troubled family life off camera.

Tuesday, December 13, 2022

12 Days of Christmas Watching 2022 Day 1: It begins!

This is your friendly neighborhood podcaster Rick sending you all Season's Greetings and announcing that starting today and going up to December 24, I will be sharing the 12 Days of Christmas Watching with you. Each day I will post a few words about a bit of holiday television I watch this season, with the only rule being it will be something I have never seen before, or at least something I don't remember seeing before.

Maybe we can make this an annual tradition on par with screening A Charlie Brown's Christmas, with the lighting of the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Plaza, and with me stabbing myself with one of the cheap ornament hooks I insist on keeping each year as I pull them out of the box.

So how do I start the 12 Days for 2022? Uh, well, I don't want to write about a few things because what I saw first is from a series we are likely covering in Season 11. So...oops!

To save this new feature from instant terminal lameness, though, let me share a cool commercial. Take the world's biggest toy store and combine it with the world's biggest trend, and you get 1979's roller disco Toys R Us ad!

This has it all, except Ethel Merman! OK, some actual toys would be nice, but skates are toys!

Another thing is, this isn't an actual store. If it is, boy, I really regret growing up 40 minutes away from the nearest location. They knew they didn't need to show the products or the setting, but all they had to do in 1979 was show DISCO, and everyone would arrive ready to buy.

I don't think that is a Christmas commercial, so here is the classic one that I loved even though it irritated me because I didn't have a store in my town:

I'll be back tomorrow with more variety!

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Top Ten #207

1) Peter Billingsley: Let's face it: He owns December.

2) George Clooney: The actor was honored at the Kennedy Center last week, no doubt due to his work on The Facts of Life. (NOTE: I run this item knowing full well there is a risk that Matt Damon made a sarcastic reference to the show in the actual event, but I didn't see it.)

3) Bess Armstrong: Several notable actresses celebrate birthdays today, but let's give a special shout to Armstrong because Prime Video adding her 1977 sitcom On Our Own two years ago remains one of my favorite streaming video surprises.

4) Ed Asner: Stars like Brendan Fraser, Christina Applegate, and Jean Smart are participating in tonight's virtual table read of It's a Wonderful Life to benefit the Ed Asner Family Center. I shouldn't have to remind you: Table Reading Is Fundamental.

5) Headline News: It looks like it's another soon-to-be casualty of the new regime at Warner Brothers. OK, fantasy Headline News draft--who you got, Bobbie Battista or Chuck Roberts?

6) Last of the Summer Wine: I think Freevee just added 8 or 9 seasons of the Britcom, which sounds like a lot. and it is, but...that's less than a third of the series.

7) Cry for the Strangers: 40 years ago tonight, a bearded Patrick Duffy headlined this CBS TV horror movie.

8) MAX: HBO Max is said to be changing to MAX, clearly inspired by:

9) Bernie Kopell: Did the world really need an article built around a tidbit from a 1983 interview in which Kopell talked about how his character jumped rope on Love Boat? No. Am I glad MeTV published it, and did I read it? Yes.

10) R.I.P. Penelope, Bob McGrath, Kirstie Alley, Mills Lane:

Friday, December 9, 2022

R.I.P. Penelope

On one hand, I hate to write this not even a year after saying goodbye to our beloved cat Merle, but then again I am glad to say a few words about another Pet of the Show, chihuahua Penelope. We just said bye to her yesterday.

Actually, Penelope and Merle are linked not only because Laurie and I were fortunate to enjoy their love. Their appearances on the podcast were intertwined because I believe the majority of Penelope's rare "guest spots" on the show were direct results of her being annoyed by Merle. Unlike that hammy cat, who loved the attention, Penelope had no desire to be on air, but I think we caught some of her aggrieved barks anyway! maybe Merle was just trying to get her some pod time!

I don't think she enjoyed classic TV, and we recorded our Run Joe Run episode before I met her, but I want to think she supported the podcast anyway. She befriended Mike and even his own pet--or maybe she just didn't notice the presence of an extra animal until way after the fact. She was almost 19, after all, and her senses weren't quite as sharp as Heinrich of Midvale's.

We loved her, though, and she loved us. Laurie and I will miss her more than I can express right now, but I want to mention her and acknowledge her part in Battle of the Network Shows. She didn't do research, she didn't watch the shows, and she made only occasional background yips, but just being our princess and being there for Laurie and I made her an essential part of everything in my life. I'll ask you once again to raise a Lowenbrau or your beverage of choice, and maybe just give your own pet an extra pat on the head today. Farewell, Penelope.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Oh, Magoo, you've done it again!

Earlier this year, I acquired this gem at a used toy store:

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder; I loved it, but my wonderful wife Laurie beheld it as "ugly." I think she may have felt physical revulsion at the old doll, but I loved it and had to get it. Laurie, to her credit, did not object to me bringing it into our household.

And now that same wonderful Wife of the Show has surprised me with another Quincy Magoo just in time for the festive holiday season:

Yes, it's Santa Magoo! What better way to get pumped up for one of the great all-time Christmas specials, Mr. Magoo's Christmas Special, than with this little guy! Now I have not one, but two Magoos. I can stand them side by side and pretend my vision is as blurry as his! 

I will admit this new Magoo is a little brighter, a little more robust, a little more less weird than the previous one, but I am not going to dis Original Magoo. he will remain Magoo Prime throughout the year, with Santa Magoo stepping in to help out this time of year.

Let's all celebrate with some razzleberry dressing!

Sunday, December 4, 2022

Top Ten #206

1) Wink Martindale: The game show icon turns 89 today, and that deserves a shout in and of itself. Wink also has one of the coolest YouTube channels out there.

2) The Flip Wilson Show: One of the most popular but most forgotten programs of the 1970s is now streaming, as Shout! Factory TV added a bunch of the half-hour syndie versions this month.

3) National Cookie Day: I don't really get into Christmas cookies. I mean, I eat them if they're there because, hey, they're cookies. Something like this is more my style, though:

4) CBS' holiday lineup: 50 years ago tonightt, CBS delivered the Christmas cheer and family goodness. Just look at this great lineup: How the Grinch Stole Christmas! at 8, Frosty the Snowman at 8:30, Perry Como's Winter Show at 9, and The New Bill Cosby Show  at 10. 

Well, 3 out of 4 ain't bad.

5) Ethel Merman: Judging by the numbers on our post earlier this week, I am starting to think Ethel isn't a "draw" anymore. What if we gave you Ethel singing a Christmas song? Or at least a song on a Christmas special?

6) Telly Savalas: Me-TV has run some inane stories lately, but all is forgiven when they write about Telly's clothing line. It's a skimpy article, but it's still worth reading.

7) Mr. Belvedere: Do we need an excuse? The man should be celebrated every day for surviving this incident Mike posted about in our Facebook group this week.

8) Falcon Crest: The popular nighttime soap premiered on this night in 1981, right after Dallas and The Dukes on CBS.

9) Marisa Tomei: Happy birthday to the star of A Different World and As the World Turns.

10) R.I.P.: Clarence Gilyard:

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Bob Iger's plan to revitalize Disney...probably won't include adding library shows to Disney Plus

When I read that Bob Iger was back in at CEO after a short "retirement," I joked that he was unhappy with the lack of progress at getting the 1982 Incredible Hulk cartoon on Disney Plus. While I don't think he is all that concerned with the appalling lack of progress in getting library content on the company's streamer, I do think there could be a possible opportunity here if the cards fall right and if certain conditions are met. OK, now I sound like Leonard Nimoy.

3 years ago, I speculated on what kinds of cool BOTNS-era shows could appear on Disney Plus. The only one available is The Muppet Show, and yay, Disney, for that. 

I think it's about time to give up on most of my "What's missing" list (I still think Vic's Vacant Lot would be a blast), but here's a pared-down version of semi-realistic possibilities for 2023. Iger has called for a profitable Disney Plus, and that means less spending. Last I checked, it's still cheaper to restore an old show for HD than it is to create [Insert name of Disney Plus Original you don't care about].

*Marvel cartoons: Ok, I WAS joking about the 1982 Hulk, but really, what's the deal here? This and the 1960s Marvel cartoons, the 1967 Spider-Man cartoon, even the 1970s Fantastic Four...Get it all up here. No more excuses. 

*Wonderful World of Disney: It's amazing that the company that used to project so much concern for and care of its legacy is ignoring so much of it in the streaming age. There is so much TV footage featuring Walt, and while much of it is intros to movies and material already available, there are still plenty of themed episodes they could post. And what would be the problem with just posting an intro to a classic Disney movie?

*Vault Disney: Call it Bob Iger's Wonderful World of Disney. Call it Disney Plus' Wonderful World of Iger. The new returning CEO is said to be a booster of the Disney "brand" and history. There are a lot of cool Disney specials, like those relating to the theme parks, that are on YouTube but not on the flagship streaming video service. Put some of this together and let Iger record some new wraparounds for context. The nostalgic Disney lovers would eat it up.

*Disney Channel shows: Speaking of nostalgia, a lot of kids who grew up watching Disney Channel in the Eighties are now streaming video consumers, and I see many of them lamenting the fact that they can't watch the stuff they did then. In that aforementioned post in 2019, I mentioned Mousterpiece Theatre as a popular program the then-premium channel ran that is no longer available anywhere. There are plenty of others: anthology shows showcasing the classic animation shorts (And oh, yeah, a ton of those are still missing on D+), exercise shows, etc.  In fact, you know what would be cool? A quality documentary about the origin and early years of Disney Channel.

*The Star Wars Holiday Special: I have been saying for years that Disney oughta unveil this as a Christmas treat for the fans. Drop it on the service Christmas Eve as a surprise and let people discover it and make a big deal out of it. If they do it this year, I'll give Bob Iger all the credit for it.

So I have given up on non-Disney TV movies, Fox library shows, 1980s sitcoms that aren't already on Hulu, and plenty of other cool stuff. I think it's reasonable to hope for a few bones from this list. Make it happen, Bob Iger, and blame the delay on Chapek if you must!

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Two BOTNS favorites together at last: Ethel Merman and FENCES!

Here's an interesting clip recently posted on YouTube: From The Tonight Show, Johnny Carson welcomes Ethel (Rudolph and Frosty's Christmas in July) Merman AND Madlyn Rhue (Poor Devil), AKA "Fences."

Merman sings, of course, and then joins Johnny at the desk; while Rhue has all kinds of things to say in her panel segment. My only regret is that this is just before Ethel's disco era!

Wait, the classic clip has been restricted by the uploader! I can't embed it anymore, but you can still click here to see Ethel Merman peforming disco numbers before a befuddled kids' audience.

Sunday, November 27, 2022

Top Ten #205: Special "Between two big holidays now" Edition!

1) Ed McMahon: Yes, we posted this video again on Thursday, but we aren't gonna miss another chance to salute the King of Thanksgiving singing his timeless Thanksgiving carol:

2) Shadow Chasers: RetroFan's article on the series this month has me interested in seeing more of this 1984 series! But as you can see below, so is Ricardo Montalban!

3) Matt Houston: Decades is running a marathon this weekend, and I can't help but wonder if someone asked for Magnum P.I. but they hoped they could slip this one in and no one would notice.

4) Black Friday: Just ain't the same without the riots and 2:00 A.M. sales.

You know, I don't think this is the kind of store that had riots and 2:00 A.M. sales.

5) Games Mother Never Taught You: This TV movie premiered 40 years ago tonight on CBS. It stars Loretta Swit and is based on a best-selling book about the corporate world by Betty Lehan Harragan:

6) Robin Givens: Happy birthday!

7) Miami Dolphins: The team went to 11-0, en route to an undefeated season, with a decisive win over the St. Louis Cardinals 50 years ago tonight on Monday Night Football.

8) Cyber Monday: I am gonna skip the hassle and see if I can get this guy to do my shopping for me this year:

9) Disgusting Thanksgiving foods and side dishes:

10) Jaleel White: Did you do that? Well, Mr. White, if you are asking about entertaining millions of us, yes. Yes, you did.

Saturday, November 26, 2022

RetroFan brings it with a great article on "Shadow Chasers"

I was way behind on my magazines and didn't get to RetroFan for a while this time around, but the current issue, #23, is one of the best ones of the year. It also has more 1970s and 1980s TV material than the previous edition.

The most remarkable feature is the story on the short-lived ABC TV series Shadow Chasers. Editor in Chief Michael Eury's opening column mentions that this show was a new one even to him, a confessed TV junkie. Author Jeffrey S. Miller  talks to creator Kenneth Johnson (The Incredible Hulk, V) and gets the scoop on the interesting blend of paranormal thrills and comedy.

Andy Mangels' extensive piece on Flash Gordon covers the Filmation cartoons (and also mentions The Man Who Hated Laughter!), and the production thereof is an interesting story. Eury's history of Colorforms is another standout piece, loaded with illustrations and culminating in a glorious two-page spread that features a ton of licensed sets the company put out over the years, from The A-Team to Wonder Woman.

All this, plus the history of M&Ms, Yellow Submarine, the Creature from the Black Lagoon, and Will Murray's look at The Prisoner (which does not spoil the finale). This issue connected with me big time, and I give it a stronger recommendation than even my usual strong recommendation!

Thursday, November 24, 2022

Happy Thanksgiving from BOTNS!

From all of us at Battle of the Network Shows to all of you, Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

But allow us to let the King of Thanksgiving set the tone for this holiday:

As a reminder, here are a few Thanksgiving-themed episodes of the podcast if you are in the mood today:

We wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 20, 2022

Top Ten #204

1) 8 Billion: The world's population has topped 8 bil!

This says to me we have some room to grow the podcast.

2) Michael J. Fox: The beloved Family Ties star received an honorary Oscar from the Academy this weekend. There is no truth to the rumor that Tom Hanks came onstage and slapped him, thinking it was his bottle of vanilla extract.

3) Rudolph cereal: I couldn't resist getting a box of this last week. It delivers!

4) Drew Barrymore: The then-7-year-old hosted Saturday Night Live 40 years ago tonight. Half the cast and staff said, "OK, we give up, we can't keep up with the host this week," and went to bed early each night.

5) National Toy Hall of Fame: The Hall welcomed three new entrants: The top, Masters of the Universe, and Lite-Brite.

6) Soap: Get ready for Antenna TV's upcoming Wednesday-Friday Thanksgiving marathon of Soap (Hey, why not?) by listening to our episode from Season 7.

7) Hear No Evil: This CBS movie premiered 40 years ago tonight and starred Gil Gerard as a cop who has gone deaf and must track down an evil motorcycle gang (who set up the explosion that cost him his hearing) with his partner Bernie Casey. Gerard's character's name? BILL DRAGON!

8) National Absurdity Day: I was trying to think of a wacky BOTNS-era TV personality that most captured the feeling of absurdity, and of course I came up with it: Economist Jerome Smith on Tomorrow with Tom Snyder.

9) Neighbours: FreeVee is resurrecting the long-running Australian soap opera.

10) R.I.P. John Aniston and Robert Clary: