Sunday, January 30, 2022

Top Ten #162

1) Solid Gold: I shared this video in our Facebook group this week: An episode of the show co-hosted by Ol' Blue Eyes and also featuring Air Supply and Juice Newton!

The episode is a lot of fun, but it's odd seeing the Solid Gold Dancers do an ongoing countdown to Sinatra songs. And why have Joe Piscopo on to do his Sinatra shtick for a whole segment when the real Sinatra is already on the show?

2) NBC Let's All Be There: This pin I just got and posted about the other day fills me up with that NBC spirit:

3) Going Ape!: Not TV, but this 1981 feature film starring several stars of Taxi was released on Blu-Ray this week. 

Now, I don't want to spoil anyone's fun, but we have to consider the feelings of dumb animals, so I gotta ask: How was Tony Danza treated during the making of this movie?

4) Joe Montana: All the quarterback talk in the NFL playoffs this month made me think about my guy from the Eighties, Joe Cool. That Peacock docuseries got some publicity before it debuted, and buzz whatsoever. Anyone seen it? Is it any good?

5) 1982 Golden Globes: The big TV winners at the ceremony 40 years ago tonight were MASH and Hill Street Blues, but the Mickster won for this:

6) Billy Crystal Comedy Hour: Also 40 years ago, NBC premiered this variety series (not "just" comedy!), which only lasted a month.

7) Phil Collins: The birthday boy (January 30, 1951) played Phil the Shill on Miami Vice and of course did a few other things in the Eighties as well.

8) Todd Bridges: He was announced as being part of the cast of Celebrity Big Brother 3, which may not sound like much, but, hey, he's still here. He was also great on the latest Live Before a Studio Audience.

9) Betty White: Her time in the spotlight continues with an NBC special tomorrow, and while you may think it's time to retire her form the top 10, don't you want to listen to Cher singing the theme to The Golden Girls?

Well, maybe not. But I put Betty at #9, not Cher.

10) R.I.P.: Peter Robbins and Morgan Stevens. Two men who had troubled lives. Here is a clip of Robbins, the original voice of Charlie Brown:

Friday, January 28, 2022

Happy birthday, Alan Alda!

To many people, he WAS MASH at a certain point...and they hated it!

Happy birthday to 86-year-old Alan Alda, who we discussed in our MASH episode a few years back. I Googled him to double-check the birthdate and saw these top two results in the "People also ask" section:

Does Alan Alda have Alzheimer's?

Is Alan Alda a nice guy?

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Collectible Corner: BE THERE!

In the debut Collectible Corner post, here's a memento I recently acquired, one that had me singing as soon as I saw it:

Let's do this!

B-O-T-N-S, let's all be there!

Nah, doesn't work.

Mike and Rick, let's all be there!

Better but not quite.

Rick and Mike, let's all be there.

Hmm...I like that one...

Battle of the Network Shows, let's all--no, that does not work at all.

Hey, Mike, I think we need to change the show title!

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

And now a word from their sponsor: Susan Anton for Harrah's

The Kino Blu-Ray release of Goldengirl has been delayed, but while we wait (I remember Geno in our Facebook group mentioning the movie a while back), here's star Susan Anton for Harrah's. Of course we see our friend Telly, too. Talk about glamour and beauty! And Anton ain't bad, either!

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

What We Saw: "One of the Boys" (1982)

 In this week's Top Ten, we marked the 40th anniversary of the premiere of One of the Boys, a flop starring Mickey Rooney and a young Nathan Lane and Dana Carvey. I can't let it go, though! Sadly, the only full episode online that I can find is this one:

Watching it is almost a disappointment. It's not laughable. It's not over-the-top embarrassing. It's just...bad.  I hoped to see more evidence that, "Ah, yes, here is where we can tell The Mickster was a jerk to Carvey."

But instead it just seems like the whole thing falls flat. It's amazing that two prolific sitcom writers (Saul Turtletaub and Bernie Orenstein) could create a show so devoid of jokes--and I mean attempts at jokes, let alone good jokes.

Here is what TV Guide said in 2002 when it called this one of the 50 Worst Shows of All Time:

Monday, January 24, 2022

National Peanut Butter Day!

Ah, peanut butter: A versatile, handy, and tasty food. Enjoy it with jelly, with chocolate, with bananas...just enjoy it. And it's easier to enjoy it with a sprightly jingle!

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Top Ten #161

1) One of the Boys: Today is the 40th anniversary of the debut of this sitcom classic starring the Mickster with help from Dana Carvey, Nathan Lane, and Scatman Crothers!

Despite the cast and the pedigree (created by the prolific writing team of Turtletaub and Orenstein), the show flopped and made #24 on TV Guide's Worst Shows of All Time list in 2002.

2) Merlin Olsen: The NFL Hall of Famer and 14-time Pro Bowler topped my list of 1980s NFL commentators the other day.

3) Barney Miller: The popular sitcom debuted on this night in 1975. It was even more popular than One of the Boys! We talk about the show in this episode.

4) Roots: One of the biggest TV events of the 1970s was this epic miniseries, which debuted this night in 1977.

5) Gil Gerard: Happy birthday to the former star of beloved cult classic Sidekicks!

6) National Pie Day: How about topping your piece of pie with some nice whipped topping?

7) COZI Condensed Bold: I hadn't checked in for a few weeks, but it made it through the holidays! Yes, that breakout hit show Cozi Condensed Bold is still spotlighted on the network's official website!

8) Open All Night: Me-TV ran an article about the short-lived (about as short as One of the Boys, for context) sitcom this week, and though it could have had a little more context (it doesn't mention the earlier Britcom Open All Hours, it quotes a first-name-only commenter from Ken Levine's blog for some reason), it's cool the show and star George Dzunda get some pub.

9) Winnie the Pooh: I just discovered the original version of the character is now in the public domain, meaning the long-awaited Rewind Stubbs Meets Winnie the Pooh crossover is how doable!

10) R.I.P. It was another tough week of losses, including Ralph Emery, the face of Nashville Network back in the day:

Also, Ron Franklin, the voice of ESPN college football coverage for years; Yvette Mimieux, and Louie Anderson.

Friday, January 21, 2022

Power Rankings: NFL color commentators of the 1980s

The recent passing of John Madden inspired me to rank my favorite NFL color guys of the BOTNS era. Hey, the former coach thrived on competition, right?

This ranking is a very personal list of what I felt back then combined with a wee bit of adjustment for the decades of sports watching I have enjoyed since. Note that I didn't watch the NFL on TV on a regular basis until the early 1980s, and I also cheated to include a couple guys who started early Nineties-ish.

Also keep in mind that there was no Sunday Ticket, I was too young to roam the sports bars, and bonus coverage wasn't as much a thing. I just remember there were less games, period.  So regular folks didn't necessarily get a lot of exposure to the full network announcer rosters beyond the top teams and the guys who happened to be calling the local game.

1) Merlin Olsen: I was an NBC guy growing up. I liked the Steelers and the AFC anyway, but I also just liked NBC. So my team of choice was not Summerall and Madden, but Enberg and Olsen. Merlin seemed like a decent guy, and I didn't even watch Father Murphy.

2) John Madden: It's impossible to miss his importance and his impact, but back then I didn't appreciate him as I would later. Even now, I think this rating is as much because of his great commercials as much as his work on CBS.

3) Paul Maguire: I liked him a lot on NBC, and for a while, I thought he even made the ESPN broadcasts tolerable. He was a funny guy and a likable presence. Is there an alternate universe in which HE is the star of Father Murphy?

4) Dan Dierdorf: I thought he got a little full of himself on Monday Night Football, but in retrospect, it couldn't have been easy dealing with everyone else on that show. I liked his work on CBS teaming with Verne Lundquist, but that was wayyyy outside the time period. However, he did do work before MNF on CBS, so I am including him!

5) Todd Christensen: Boy, whatever happened to him? He went from a rising star in the NFL booth lauded for his use of big words to something like the 12th team on ESPN college football coverage. I mean, Roy Firestone loved him. ROY FIRESTONE, people! I really dug him and his pairing with the venerable Charlie Jones.

6) Don Meredith: But I admit it's more the idea of Dandy Don since I was well aware of the myths of the glory days of Monday Night Football in the 1980s but didn't always watch much of it.

7) Terry Bradshaw: It's easy to forget his color commentary run on CBS after he's been on the FOX pregame show so long. It wasn't easy at the time to forget his playing career as a Steeler fan watching the likes of Cliff Stoudt and Mark Malone (who himself became a play-by-play guy).

8) Dan Fouts: He had a heck of a career in both pro and college football broadcasting.

9) Hank Stram: Another one where it's more the idea of Hank Stram and the fun of imitating him because I don't think I actually got to watch too many Jack Buck/Hank Stram games.

10) Beasley Reece: Nothing against the guy, but he kind of became a punchline for us when we saw the announce teams in USA Today the weekend of the games or when he actually turned up on an NBC game: "Who the heck is Beasley Reece?" Pretty sure I somehow had at least 4 or 5 football cards of him, though.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Happy birthday, Tom Baker!

The performer best known as the Fourth Doctor was born this day in 1934. We talked about how much we liked Baker in our look at Doctor Who several years ago. In fact, at the end of that season, he won a Batty for Outstanding Male Lead in a rough category, and the "Genesis of the Daleks" storyline won for Episode, co-star Elisabeth Sladen won Supporting Female, and the Giant Clam won Non-Human!

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

National Popcorn Day: Celebrate with some Jiffy Pop!

That's right, I suggest we mark the occasion of National Popcorn Day by whipping up a batch of the arm-killing, kernel-burning, time-wasting treat of our childhoods: Jiffy Pop!

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

This Day in TV History: Did Bob Newhart read "People"?

40 years ago tonight, CBS aired a new special, People of the Year, produced by People magazine and spotlighting "the 25 most interesting personalities of 1981." It sounds like a light, frothy hour. What interests me is the host: Bob Newhart!

I can't find any footage of the show online, which lets me create the special in my mind. I have strong doubts that Bob Newhart was at all interested about who People ranked as the 25 intriguing folks of the year. However, I do believe seeing him either feign interest or display lack thereof would make entertaining viewing!

A look at the cover of the double issue of the magazine that lists the people in question reveals some of the personalities: President Reagan, Tom Selleck, and People faves like Liz Taylor and Princess Di.

Monday, January 17, 2022

This Day in TV History: A night of winter specials

Is January 17 too late to celebrate Christmas? NBC didn't seem to think so in 1972 when it aired its annual Bob Hope Christmas Show. There was a good reason NBC broadcast the Hope shows after the holiday: They relied on footage shot on the overseas Christmas tours Hope did each year. It seems like today they would get the stuff put together much quicker, but 50 years ago it worked and drew big ratings.

Looking at the entire evening, it seems like a lineup suited for a major holiday, with specials that have family appeal. ABC starts the night with Robinson Crusoe Ice Spectacle hosted by Andy Griffith. I must admit, of all the Daniel Dafoe novels I'd think would be adapted to an ice show, Crusoe has to be far down the list. 

The network follows that with the second night of a broadcast of John Wayne's 1965 In Harm's Way. This feels like the kind of "epic" old movie programming they used to roll out on a holiday.

NBC precedes Bib with Bell System Family Theater's tribute to George Gershwin, hosted by Jack Lemmon and starring Fred Astaire, Ethel Merman, and many more.

CBS wrecks my narrative by showing pretty much its standard lineup: Gunsmoke, Here's Lucy, The Doris Day Show, Sonny and Cher.

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Top Ten #160

1) Sanford and Son: Friday marked the 50th anniversary of the sitcom's debut on NBC.

2) Warm weather: Boy, I sure miss it.  Hopefully some of you reading this have something more like this than what I am getting right now:

3) Golden Palace: Hulu is extending the celebration of Betty White's career by adding this (just past our timeframe) Golden Girls spinoff. Of all the TV shows the late White did in her career, this is certainly one of them. 

4) Welcome Back, Kotter: The great Brick Mantooth posted this fun and informative look at the show's merchandising in the 1970s:

5) SAG nominees: Congratulations to stars like Denzel Washington (St. Elsewhere) and Michael Douglas (Streets of San Francisco) for their SAG nominations. Also props to Jean Smart, Michael Keaton, Steve Martin, and Martin Short.

6) National Healthy Weight Week: I think in 2022 we've gone back to not worrying about this--not like back in 1982 (the ad is from Australia, but just go with it):

7) Sara: Mike linked to this in our Facebook group last week: A vintage night-of-broadcast episode of Geena Davis' short-lived 1980s NBC sitcom:

It doesn't seem to work despite an interesting group of talent--Merrill Markoe is the credited writer, and Alfre Woodard, Bill Maher, and Bronson Pinchot appear in the supporting cast--but it's worth a look. I wonder if Maher and Pinchot would have smarm-offs on set to entertain the crew.

8) The Last Hurrah: An interesting recent addition to Crackle is this 1977 Hallmark Hall of Fame adaptation of the Edwin O'Connor novel that was previously filmed as a motion picture in 1958. Carroll O'Connor (no relation, though, oddly, Edwin also wrote a novel called All in the Family!)) plays the Spencer Tracy role. Other stars include Jack Carter, Mariette Hartley, Dana Andrews, and Patrick O'Neal.

9) Georgia on my mind: Congrats to the Georgia Bulldogs, and a shout-out to Friend of the Show James, who is very happy with the result of the National Championship game last week. Because he's a great guy, I wouldn't dream of bringing up THIS game again:

That was 40 years ago, sure, but give me something, OK? It looks like it's gonna be a loooooooong time before Penn State can really compete with Georgia again on the field!

Maybe this is better:

10) R,I.P.: Bob Saget's death was a stunner. Dwayne Hickman will be missed, too.

(Edited to delete a ridiculous mistake I made in the original post)

Saturday, January 15, 2022

This (Yester) Day in TV History: Sanford and Son premieres

I feel like a BIG DUMMY for not pointing out the 50th anniversary of Sanford and Son yesterday. So let's celebrate it today!

The show became a huge hit for NBC and an enduring rerun staple despite behind-the-scenes turmoil.  You know, while there has been at least one big bio of Redd Foxx that I know of, I think someone should do a big book about Sanford and Son. There was so much going on with that production, like contract disputes, Demond Wilson irritating people, etc., that it would make for fascinating reading.

I mean, if we can get books about the Civil War, Winston Churchill, and the JFK assassination, we oughta be able to get a decent read about a popular 1970s sitcom, right?

Thursday, January 13, 2022

This Day in TV History: Me and the Chimp premieres

50 years ago tonight, Me and the Chimp with Ted Bessel (he played Me) premiered on CBS.

Does it surprise you that it only lasted 13 episodes? Does it surprise you that it lasted that long?

Harry and Wally's Favorite TV Shows begins its entry on this one with, "This low-mark in Western civilization is an early creation of Garry Marshall, who later redeemed himself with Happy Days and Laverene and Shirley, both of which are Shakespeare compared to Me and the Chimp."

Tuesday, January 11, 2022

National Milk Day does a body good

The young gentleman who appears in this ad at the 24-second mark may be the coolest kid ever. I wish I were more like him.

This kid steals the show in a spot loaded with graphics, gimmicks, and more! Happy National Milk Day, everyone, and raise a glass to this rocker, who is probably in his forties now. Let's hope he is still ROCKIN'!

Monday, January 10, 2022

Happy birthday, William Sanderson!

 As we established last year, William Sanderson is a Friend of the Show, whether he knows it or not, by virtue of having liked an Instagram post we did when we covered Newhart. So we are especially happy to wish him a very happy birthday today!

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Top Ten #159

1) National Balloon Ascension Day: You know what THAT means! It's time to say hello to our friend Henry Winkler and all his pals at ABC!

2) Betty White: Not that we'd want to or would be able to, but many outlets are making sure we don't forget the late actress. I think the only channel not running a marathon is ESPNU.

3) Houston Knights: Crackle gets 2022 off to a HIGH-OCTANE start with its addition of this short-lived 1980s series:

4) The Pat Sajak Show: debuted this day in 1989.

5) The Rockford Files now on Get-TV: Could the programmers at Get be influenced by the Battys? If so, hey, guys, can you get your hands on Munsters Today?

6) Bionic Woman: Super 7 announced new Reaction Figures (TM, I'm guessing) of the show:

7) Other shows premiering on various diginets this week: Among them, we have Amen and Gimme a Break on Cozi, Welcome Back Kotter on Antenna, and Hawaii Five-0 on Heroes and Icons.

Note that BOTNS does not endorse these presentations and warns that all of those shows will likely be edited, time-sped, credit-crunched, and/or cropped for fake widescreen. Yet we don't want to complain too much about giving people the chance to see old shows for free.

8) Lee Van Cleef: The late star of The Master (sorry, TVP fans) was born on this date in 1925.

9) The Waltons: The series is back on Prime Video so members can enjoy it without ads--oops, no, it's on Amazon's IMDB-TV. Oh, well. We looked at the show when it was on Prime and enjoyed it.

10) Marilyn Bergman: R.I.P.: The late songwriter and hubby Alan had a prolific career for film and TV, including creating themes for Good Times, Alice, and this awesome number:

Friday, January 7, 2022

Promo Theatre: NBC gives us the Facts in 1984

Here's a great promo for NBC's lineup on March 14, 1984. Note that there is a SPOILER at the end (and in the thumbnail) for a long-running storyline on St. Elsewhere.

There are several things I like about this. First is the sheer incongruity of all these shows together.  Night Court lasted long enough to straddle several eras at NBC, yet still it seems odd to be paired with Facts of Life. And does that comedy combo seem like an obvious lead-in for an intense St. Elsewhere?

The lineup seems even wilder when you consider what preceded the shows spotlighted in this promo. At 8:00, NBC aired a Dean Martin Celebrity Roast of Mr. T!

The other great thing about the clip is the awesomeness of Danny Dark, but we all know that. In this particular spot, I love the TV announcer shorthand. NBC used to use this a lot, it seems to me, but so many of their shows already had one-word titles--Cheers, FriendsFrasier, Seinfeld... It just strikes me as funny to refer to Facts of Life as Facts as if the series needs no other description.

Did anyone else refer to it like that? "Hey, are you going to give me a ride to the hospital on--" "Sorry, gotta go! Facts is on!"

Wednesday, January 5, 2022

Happy National Screenwriters Day!

One of the oldest jokes in Hollywood goes something like this: Did you hear about the dumb actress who wanted to get a Batty? She was so stupid she slept with the screenwriter.

It was something like that. Anyway, it's National Screenwriters Day, so let's celebrate Genius Award winner Jeffrey Scott, who tossed out more ideas in any one given episode than most of us have in a year.

Monday, January 3, 2022

Murder Monday: Get ready for some wild game action in 2022!

I bought this as a Christmas present for one of the only women more wonderful than Jessics Fletcher: My wife Laurie. "A Game of Strategy and Pursuit!"

This looks even more action-packed than Parcheesi! At some point in 2022, we will try out the game and report back here on a Murder Monday.

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Top Ten #158: Special "Hey, it's 2022!" Edition

1) Dick Clark: The King of New Year's Eve remains such even in 2022.

2) Happy New Year, Charlie Brown: One of the more underseen Chuck Brown specials is worth it for the wild-and-wooly musical chairs bit alone:

3) Maude: More sitcoms should have New Year's episodes.  The Norman Lear Effect YT channel shared this one last week:

4) National Buffet Day: Let's all go kill those resolutions today! I miss the wings at the Ponderosa.

5) My Three Sons: 50 years ago tonight, the long-running sitcom aired "The Liberty Bell," an episode with Sal Mineo as Jim Bell, an old buddy of Robbie's who wants him to go on a motorcycle trip around the country!

6) Fiesta Bowl: Maybe my favorite "big" bowl game growing up because of the Penn State/Miami game in 1987:

7) Sugar Bowl: Maybe my second-favorite bowl game growing up because of the Penn State/Georgia game in 1983:

8) Orange Bowl: I actually loved the Orange Bowl on NBC, but it was hard to watch PSU get its tail kicked against Oklahoma, and in fact, I really disliked those Big Eight teams each year:

9) John Madden: R.I.P. I could watch a whole documentary about those Miller Lite ads:

10) Betty White: R.I.P. A heckuva run! She is missed already. Crackle is adding Betty White's Pet Set, her syndicated animal-centric show this month.

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Happy New Year from Battle of the Network Shows

Rick, Mike, and Rewind Stubbs wish all of you a happy and healthy 2022! The podcast will return soon with our tenth season, and we have all sorts of cool stuff planned. Let's all have a fantastic year together!

Or, put another way...