Wednesday, August 31, 2022

It's National Eat Outside Day!

It's National Eat Outside Day! What say we all head down to Arnold's for some burgers and sodas?

Tuesday, August 30, 2022

Bill Tush: Movie Host and Mailbag Responder!

In our episode on TBS, we focused on Bill Tush's late-night comedy-variety show. Tush was one of the main personalities on the old WTBS, and they used him in all kinds of roles. At about 3 minutes and 50 seconds into this compilation, you can see him doing a mailbag segment with a bit of irreverence. I love that it's mostly people writing in to request movies while a funky beat plays.

Come for Bill Tush, stay for the bee poop controversy!

Monday, August 29, 2022

Facts of Life: The Backdoor Pilots--REVISITED!

I want to thank reader David C., who commented last week on our 2016 post ranking the Facts of Life backdoor pilots:

I just happened to see season 7, episode 4, "Teacher, Teacher" and wondered if it was also supposed to be a backdoor pilot? It seems to set up Jo pursuing a teaching career, and the actors playing the older teachers are familiar TV faces.

As I replied on that post, this is an excellent comment. I didn't remember "Teacher, Teacher" offhand, so I watched it on Pluto TV, and it really does feel like a backdoor pilot. It starts with Jo beginning a student-teaching job, being introduced to her class by veteran teacher Irene Tedrow without any other context. It takes a while for us to see the other gals and Mrs. G., and while they are discussing some other stuff (like Natalie's new job), the focus becomes Jo's gig and a possible corporate job offer.

Then we go back to school--not Eastland, but the school Jo is at--and we get a host precocious kids making cute jokes. The big scene here that screams, "We're seeing if this would work as its own show," is Jo eating lunch in the faculty lounge. As David points out, the fellow teachers are played by Tedrow (Dennis the Menace), Joyce Bulifant (The Mary Tyler Moore Show), and Jason Bernard (Cagney and Lacey). The latter two have an inane conversation about radishes on salad bars that feels meant to humanize them and establish them as actual characters.

Jo tries to ingratiate herself by asking if anyone has read a recent scholarly article on cognitive learning or some such thing, and the teachers brush it off. They are more concerned with the salad bar argument, and these experienced teachers admire Jo's enthusiasm but believe she will bring it down a bit soon enough. The tone is not so much "Jo is learning her path," as, "Here's a potential aspect of a new Jo as teacher sitcom."

The episode ends with Jo pondering a job offer or continuing her student teaching, and her choice is made clear when she blows off an appointment with a recruiter to answer a ridiculously broad question after class by one of the adorable moppets. "Why did World War II happen?" We see that Jo is choosing the low-paying, low-upward-mobility path for now.

Here's the weird thing: I am no expert on season 7 of Facts of Life, but after examining episode descriptions, I don't think this came up before or after this episode. Later Jo got into social work, and there was a proposed spinoff featuring BLAIR becoming headmistress of Eastland. So what happened to this teaching thing? The show went to a lot of effort and brought in a lot of talent for this to be a one-off story idea.

The episode is credited to writers who didn't have much association with the series: Bill and CHeri Steinkellner get story credits, with teleplay credits for Bruce Ferber (and Facts producer David Lerner). This episode feels different. Were they throwing up a trial balloon this early in the season for a Jo spinoff? I don't know, but it sure looks like it. 

Does anyone have more info on this episode and the intentions of the series' producers?

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Top Ten #192

1) TV Guide: Thanks again to the venerable publication for, well, existing in 1972 and inspiring the past week of posts here on the site! Here's another ad from the August 19-25 issue, a two-pager starting on the inside front cover:

2) Puff the Magic Dragon: I'm told that Dragons are the big thing in TV right now, so isn't it time to bring this one out again?

3) 1972 Summer Olympics: As I mentioned earlier this week, we know that these Games ended in disaster, but there were a lot of world-class athletes competing in Munich 50 years ago today.

4) National Red Wine Day: Does Bartyles and James count?

5) Daniel Stern: Happy 65th birthday! Before he was the voice of grown-up Kevin Arnold on The Wonder Years, he was in the cast of short-lived CBS dramedy Hometown:

6) The Old West: Remember these Jack Palance ads for Time-Life Books? John Wesley Hardin once shot a man for snoring!

7) National Hair Loss Awareness Month: August is almost over, so get aware!

8) Billy Goldenberg: The Extras podcast interviewed Gary Gerani about some recent TV DVD/BD releases, including The UFO Incident. The Kino-Lorber disc includes gerani's documentary about composer Goldenberg, whose scores also appeared in Duel and many other TV movies, and who also created the theme songs for the likes of Rhoda and Kojak.

9) Jack Kruschen: The prolific character actor got a nice little write-up on Me-TV's website. Let's overlook the fact that it was inspired by his role on Full House.

10) R.I.P. Joe E. Tata, Len Dawson: In addition to his longtime spot on HBO's Inside the NFL, Dawson was a sports director at a local Kansas City TV station while he was playing quarterback for the Chiefs!

Saturday, August 27, 2022

Inside the Guide: August 19-25, 1972 Letters page

Before we say bye-bye to this 50-years-ago issue of TV Guide, I want to share the letters page with you. The readership had some strong opinions in 1972! 

Some strong words for Curt Gowdy there, but some kind ones for Emergency!

You can see that even 50 years ago, people spent time worrying about things that hadn't happened yet. Witness a reader lamenting the butchery of Patton 3 months before it premiered on ABC. The initial TV broadcast did indeed include most of the film's language, though there were a few edits.

And what in the world is up with "petitioners in New York" trying to ban reruns? Can you imagine TV in the Big Apple without The Honeymooners or The Odd Couple? While I like the writer's praise of Bilko, I can't help but think he might not get many others to call for the removal of I Love Lucy for Crusader Rabbit.

Friday, August 26, 2022

Inside the Guide: Inside Chad Everett's Marriage

Yesterday we concluded our epic look at a week of listings from TV Guide exactly 50 years ago, but what of the other material inside? As we all know, the Guide is more than just those precious listings. In fact, there is an interesting cover story in this one.

Before this magazine appeared, Everett had his notorious appearance on The Dick Cavett show, where fellow guest Lily Tomlin walked off in protest of his remarks. Take a look:

The TV Guide article is all about Everett's marriage (it's great) and his views on women's lib (he prefers traditional marriage roles--he has never changed a diaper--but is sympathetic to some of the concerns). The piece is well written, but Everett's views would raise eyebrows today. For example, he is against test tube babies care! He says of the latter, "I think part of the doctrine of Communist philosophy is to destroy morals and break down the family unit." His wife Shelby disagrees on that one, saying there isn't anything wrong with kids having a place to play with other kids, but she has no complaints in the story.

Chad and Shelby did stay married until her passing!

Thursday, August 25, 2022

This Day in TV History: 50 years ago tonight (Friday, August 25) in TV Guide

We just finished the RNC coverage, and now it's time for Olympic coverage! ABC gears up with a two-hour preview special tonight looking at the ill-fated 1972 Munich Summer Olympics. Let's look at what else is scheduled to run in prime time on Friday, August 25, 1972, thanks to a Los Angeles metropolitan edition of TV Guide.

CBS' night is built around a live preseason football game beginning at 6:00 local time. Here's a closer look:

At 8:00, ABC has that Olympic special, described in this closeup below:

NBC follows Partners with Don Adams with a news special, and that gets its own close-up as well:

At 9:00, CBS goes with the O'Hara, U.S. Treasury repeat. On the East Coast, this led into the coverage of the Redskins/Lions game. At 10:00, it's a locally produced special to fill the gap in network coverage:

The final show on the 3 networks is a welfare special airing on the NBC channel.

Wednesday, August 24, 2022

This Day in TV History: 50 years ago tonight (Thursday, August 24) in TV Guide

With the RNC coverage behind us, it's back to entertainment programming in prime time tonight. At least, that's the goal! Let's see what's scheduled in the Los Angeles area for the night of Thursday, August 24, 1972 according to TV Guide. The region is back in sync with the majority of the country now without the live event programming.

I'm already interested in the 8:00 offerings: a rerun of My World and Welcome to It, a 1965 rerun with Lee Marvin (and hosted by BOTNS star Ed McMahon!), and Kid Power.

The latter is a Rankin-Bass animated series, one that Wesley Hyatt calls "well meaning" in his Encyclopedia of Daytime Television. It aired Saturdays on ABC at 11:30 for one season, then in reruns on Sundays for another season. Allan Melvin is in the voice cast.

You certainly can't accuse that opening of being unclear about the premise of the series!

At 8:30, it's the end of an era with the final broadcast of My Three Sons of its 12-season run on network TV (ABC and then CBS). On ABC, are you ready to ROCK with Three Dog Night? For, uh, 30 minutes? Why bother with footage of the band applying makeup, of all things, when you only have 25 minutes without ads? There must be, what, 5 or 6 songs tops on this "concert special."

A new Julie Andrews special stands out at 9:00. CBS' movie of the night is Apache Uprising with Rory Calhoun.

Later, it's Ironside and Owen Marshall and Bobby Darin--something for everyone? The Guide sure seems high on that Owen Marshall:

Tuesday, August 23, 2022

This Day in TV History: 50 years ago tonight (Wednesday, August 23) in TV Guide

50 years ago today, the primetime scene was even more barren (outside of ongoing Republican National Convention coverage) than the previous couple nights. Of the major networks, only ABC offered anything else nationally--the short-lived comedy combo of The Super and The Corner Bar at 8:00.

Of course, we have a Los Angeles edition of the Guide, and the live coverage ended "early" out there, so let's see what this metro area got Wednesday, August 23, 1972:

In addition to the finale of The Super (not quite esteemed on the level of the final MASH) and the NBC channel getting that Mike Douglas Show in again (Mike Douglas = the most powerful man in television in 1972, and don't dare totally pre-empt his show), we see the return of the Telefun and Hitch ads. Channel 11 sure is proud of its two whole weeks of AHP!

Another series finale here with The Marty Feldman Comedy Machine. Note that the film shorts collection on 28 is what Judith Crist calls "the one goody" of the week in her movies column this week. She says the shorts here are "brilliant and wisely selected." Well, yeah, Judith, but Barney Martin's on Corner Bar!

NBC brings Primus and a Louis Armstrong special. None of this aired tonight in the other time time zones.

American Lifestyle interests me. The half-hour syndicated show lasted for one season and 24 episodes according to IMDB and featured E.G. Marshall visiting and discussing homes of famous Americans. I wouldn't mind seeing some of those episodes!

To get a little video in this post, here's a clip of Tommy Prothro, former head coach at UCLA and, at this time when he has his own show on channel 5, coach of the L.A. Rams. At least, here's his team and playcalling in action on Monday Night Football:

Monday, August 22, 2022

This Day in TV History: 50 years ago tonight (Tuesday, August 22) in TV Guide

Continuing our look at 50 years ago this week, we go to Tuesday, August 22, 1972. RNC coverage still dominates the networks, but there is a little bit more programming than last night even on the East Coast. We are examining a Los Angeles edition, so here we go to the West, where the live coverage is just about done by prime time:

At 7:30-8:00, networks are wrapping up political news coverage, but check out this Mod Squad repeat on ABC! Andy Griffith guest stars!

By the way, looking at Headshop on 52 at 6:30 above, where the topic is marijuana usage, isn't that likely the topic every episode?

CBS begins entertainment programming with summer replacement series The John Byner Comedy Hour at 8:30, while the NBC affiliate, channel 4, brings a Mike Douglas episode (pre-empted earlier that day). At 9:00, it's a Marcus Welby on ABC.

And of course, you have to love the classy PBS program Evening at Pops leading readers right to a hemorrhoid cream ad.

9:30 sees Name of the Game on CBS, a 90-minute show that takes us to the news. Jazz Show has a special presentation on NBC. There's a split on the ABC stations, with bigger channel 7 going with Startime as Santa Barbara's channel 3 gives us the program of the night as far as I'm concerned. I mean, we got Tony Randall and Jack Klugman in an Odd Couple opera!

Startime is interesting--a 1965 episode of The Bob Hope Chrysler Theatre anthology series but known as Universal Star Time in syndication. This originally aired October 6, 1965 on NBC. 

Nationally, NBC showed Snoopy at the Ice Follies at 7:30, so maybe the West Coast missed out because they didn't want to show it at the "late" hour of 8:30.

This is a lackluster evening overall, so let's step back to one of my favorite listings of the day: Independent channel 13 with a Hey Landlord! showing (the only one of the week) at 2:00. The rest of the week in that slot, the station has a travel show, a talk show, Rocky and Friends, and  magazine show What Every Woman Wants to Know.

Sunday, August 21, 2022

This Day in TV History: 50 years ago tonight (Monday, August 21, 1972) in TV Guide

Yes, you get two posts today! In addition to the weekly Top Ten, let's examine what was in the Guide 50 years ago tonight for the L.A. metro region. Prime time for the networks was all about the Republican National Convention, so in the Eastern time zone, it was all politics except for ABC repeating the pilot movie of The Rookies before its evening coverage.

So Los Angeles got some "extra" programming. The CBS affiliate has Johnny Mann's Stand Up and Cheer before a Name of the Game rerun and news.  On NBC, it's Guns at Batasi and then Dr. Simon Locke, which we mentioned here.  ABC follows The Rookies with maybe the most interesting program of the night, Valley of Mystery. That description is cool, and the movie is available on YouTube.

Since there is so little going on tonight, let's check out some things outside prime time. Independent channel 11 got Alfred Hitchcock Presents, but for only two weeks? And channel 5's Movie Theatre has Voyage into Space tonight...and every weeknight!

Top Ten #191: Special Wilt Chamberlain's Birthday Edition!

1) TV Guide: As the jingle told us, nothing gets you into it like TV Guide! Unfortunately, that jingle wasn't around in 1972, which is what we are exploring this week, but how about this:

2) Rod Amateau: This week's Secret Galaxy video looks at the failure of The Garbage Pail Kids Movie and in so doing relates some not-so-great info about director Amateau. Believe it or not, Rod didn't have a strong attachment to the GPK franchise.

Of course, BOTNS listeners remember Rod's work on High School USA!

3) Harry O: Decades has a marathon of the show this weekend. Let's hope they don't cut too much. Some of the best parts are Harry's soliloquies that aren't necessarily directly tied to the plot.

4) Lt. Uhura: When Nichelle Nichols died recently, we heard about how she influenced a generation, but here is some actual proof--an article about her contributions and a promotional video from the Smithsonian:

4) National Senior Citizens Day: Celebrate by being kind to the senior in your life--maybe even inviting your grandpa to stay with you in your off-campus apartment:

5) Big Ten: Congrats to the conference for striking it rich with a huge new TV deal that will involve 3 different broadcast networks (but not longtime partner ABC):

6) Sacheen Littlefeather: The Motion Picture Academy apologized to her for her treatment at the 1973 Oscars. It's still OK to mock Marlon Brando, though.

7) Sesame Street: HBO Max deleted hundreds of episodes without notice, and of course they were the older ones that I'd want to watch. I mean, I wasn't watching them, but I would want to. Let's hope this is temporary and that they aren't shipping them off to some other new paid streaming service.

8) Harry Smith: Happy birthday to Smith, who turns 71. Good for him, but to be honest, I kinda thought he would be in his nineties by now.

9) Saturn Awards Nominations: BOTNS-era series receiving nods for recent Blu-Ray releases: Kolchak, Night Gallery, Six Million Dollar Man.

10) Anne Heche:

Saturday, August 20, 2022

This Day in TV History: 50 years ago tonight (Sunday, August 20, 1972)

Let's continue our look at this 50-years-ago LA edition of TV Guide. Today we look at Sunday, August 20, 1972:

Early on, it's SPORTS! The Angels game has Dick Enberg and Don Wells. The close-up of the Rams preseason game somehow neglects to mention that the game was played the night before! As we discussed yesterday, it was apparently blacked out in the area.

It's mostly movies, public affairs shows, and religion in the afternoon before a rather uninspired prime-time lineup. Again, it's August. However, Sunday wins the award for coolest listings ad of the week:

CBS kicks off at 7:30 with 1968's theatrical film A Dandy in Aspic. Judith Crist calls it "a muddled melodrama" in her column. At 9:30 it has part 2 of 5-part docuseries The Life of Leonardo Da Vinci.

On ABC, it's a rerun of The FBI, a pro football-themed episode with Frank Converse as an extortion victim.  At 8:30 it's 1965's That Man in Istanbul. Crist likes this even less than Aspic, calling it "an even wearier spy movie," while dismissing it as a stale Bond clone.

NBC begins its Sunday night with it's "Pablo and the Dancing Chiahuahua" on The Wonderful World of Disney, follows it with a rerun of The James Stewart Show, and closes with repeats of the venerable Bonanza and a "Lawyers" installment of The Bold Ones,. Hey, Darren McGavin is in that one!

Elsewhere, channel 5 has roller derby. I think I've seen 3 different stations carry that same match-up this weekend!

Most important, look at 9:30 on channel 13 (independent KOCP): THE BIG QUESTION. Michael Jackson interviews BOTNS Genius Award winner Marjoe Gortner! Jackson was an L.A.-based radio host, not a member of the Jackson Five. But still! The big question for me is, where do I find this one?

Finally, NBC sure is proud of young Tom Brokaw:

Friday, August 19, 2022

This Day in TV History: 50 years ago tonight! Saturday, August 19, 1972 in TV Guide

For the next week, we are going to take a trip back to August 1972 thanks to this TV Guide from the BOTNS archives, a Los Angeles Metro edition with Chad Everett on the cover:

Note that it's the end of Summer, and there isn't a lot going on, plus during the week, coverage of the Republican National Convention dominates network broadcasting. However, since it's a West Coast mag and the coverage is live, maybe we'll get some "extra" stuff from this edition.

We start as the mag does, on Saturday, August 19, 1972. One thing that stands out is the preponderance of old movies (well, old even for 1972) on Saturday morning and afternoon. There are a lot of Westerns, for sure.

Hey, you know the vaunted CBS Saturday comedy lineup? Well, it's not quite there yet. Tonight we have iconic All in the Family and Mary Tyler Moore, but they are followed by The New Dick Van Dyke Show and Arnie.

ABC has a "It's Saturday in August" lineup if ever I have seen one. It starts with 1967's The Day the Fish Came Out. TV Guide's movies page describes it as "pretentious," claiming it wastes a good cast. "It's been trimmed 10 minutes for television, but not a scene or character, alas, has been omitted."

Here's a look at the trailer:

After the movie, ABC Comedy Showcase offers two unsold pilots: The Neighbors, which has Jack Burns in a liberals vs. conservatives living next door to each other; and a TV adaptation of Captain Newman M.D. with Jim Hutton.

NBC Comedy Theater is a repeat of The Seven Little Foys, featuring Eddie Foy himself plus The Osmonds and Mickey Rooney. 

Now, the network followed that with coverage of an L.A. Rams preseason NFL game, but I guess it was blacked out in the Los Angeles area, where the game aired on tape delay Sunday morning. So the two affiliates listed show movies instead.

Let's go outside of the networks for the interesting stuff. First off, what is this show with Regis Philbin?

Yes, Philbin hosted a syndicated show about the paranormal for part of 1972. 

Also, check out 10:30 on Channel 5. They are showing the USC-Cal game...from 1971!

Some interesting movies fill out the night. The display ad for The Hangman features Jack Lord, who is not mentioned in the listing on the previous page. Lord, of course, was in Hawaii Five-0 at the time, so this 1972 ad tries to inject a little relevance to the showing of a 1959 film!

Maltin's guide gives it a mere ** out of ****.

Thursday, August 18, 2022

RetroFan's July issue is outstanding!

Hey, just because I didn't get around to writing about the latest RetroFan yet doesn't mean it isn't awesome. In fact, this is one of my favorite episodes in some time. In addition to a cover story on Julie Newmar's Catwoman, there is all kinds of great stuff for us lovers of 1970s and 1980s TV.

For starters, how about a big article on BOTNS favorite Search? Yes, the short-lived Burgess Meredith/Hugh O'Brian/Doug McClure/Tony Franciosa adventure show gets a nice write-up by Bob Greenberger. In addition to the production details, there is interesting info about the resurrection of the program on DVD and the cult status it achieved.

The mag's lead piece is a surprisingly comprehensive (not that I am complaining) history of Fruity Pebbles commercials by Scott Shaw!, who was the campaign's creative director for years. The stories and goodies like original concept art make this a tremendous piece.

Elsewhere, there are articles about Tarzan and Astro Boy cartoons and one about The Untouchables. There's a non-TV-related feature about the 1977 Soviet Expo that really captures the atmosphere of the event and the era.

Again, I assure you I am just a contented subscriber. In fact, I have to admit, 10.95 per issue is a lot for a magazine, but RetroFan delivers each month with its combination of fun articles, attractive design, and superb subject matter. I think the new issue is coming any day now, so I figured I'd better talk about #21 now!

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Brooks on Books: A pair of "Little House" books

I think I mentioned on the podcast that I attempted to read the original Laura Ingalls Wilder books with my family and didn't get too far. Today I talk a bit more about two books related to the Little House TV series that I read for the podcast.

Michael Landon: His Triumph and Tragedy by Aileen Joyce is from 1991, apparently published right after the star's death from cancer. It's a mass-market paperback without an index nor a bibliography nor any notes on references, for that matter. It looks like a quickie effort, and I suspect it was hastily assembled from secondary sources.

That doesn't mean it's without merit, though. It's a breezy read, and I say that despite the fact that I happened to read much of it while waiting at the doctor's office. For anyone unfamiliar with Landon's horrible childhood, like me, it's a great intro to his warped family life and some of the forces out of his control that shaped him.

Landon became what we now would call a control freak, and he had his proverbial demons--drug issues, several marriages that ended in infidelity--but if you were on his good side and he on yours, he seems like a good boss. Just don't ask former associates like Bonanza producer David Dortort and LHOP producer Ed Friendly. The common denominator seems to be, if you didn't give Landon his way, or the freedom to do it his way, he would make you regret it.

The one thing that disappoints me about this slim book is the relative lack of info about the show, which was a huge part of his life and ran 9 seasons. There are other volumes for that material, though, such as...

Confessions of a Prairie Bitch paints a very positive picture of Landon. Author Alison Arngrim, AKA Nellie Oleson, describes a considerate boss who treated the child actors with respect--someone who had a temper and a darker side but was careful to protect the kids and looked out for their welfare.

There is much, much more to Arngrim's memoir, starting with the fact that her upbringing was even more horrible than Landon's. Her account of the continued abuse she received from her older brother is harrowing. She talks with candor about those years as well as her post-LHOP years and activism.

Little House fans have a lot to enjoy here. She dishes about co-stars Melissa Gilbert (they were besties despite their on-screen relationship) and Melissa Sue Anderson (distant and cold, perhaps due to a controlling stage mother, Anrgrim wonders). Her comments about screen mom Katherine MacGregor are entertaining. TV's Harriet Oleson loved to give stage direction to everyone on the set, something that irked others like Landon, though they eventually just gave up and indulged her (And Arngrim says some actors did appreciate the advice).

Most interesting is the real in-depth look Arngrim provides at the working life of a child actor. You may want and expect stories about particular episodes and co-stars, and you get that here, but there is so much more. For example, she writes about the costuming process. Arngrim details the hair and makeup routine she experienced. Along the way she makes these more "routine" aspects of television production compelling, plus she creates significant "characters" of the professionals responsible for those tasks.

Arngrim is funny and sharp but also seems to care about her fellow performers and their lives. Her voice makes this a tremendous showbiz autobiography. Bitch is an essential purchase for a devoted LHOP fan, but it's also a great book for general readers interested in television and celebrity.

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

YouTube Spotlight: Little House goes disco?

When considering which of the many videos to highlight from our YouTube playlist for Little House on the Prairie, we confront a tough choice between intriguing commercials, sobering PSAs, and--oh, who are we kidding? We're spotlighting the disco clip.

Much love to The Media Hoarder for uploading this, and in the comments, the channel posts this message: Melissa Gilbert herself has seen this upload! Her response was: "OMG! Adolescence at its worst!"

The clip is from a 1978 American Bandstand, and it was a time when every song, no matter how old, had to have a disco arrangement.

Monday, August 15, 2022

Power Rankings: Little House on the Prairie characters (non-Ingalls)

This week on the Power Rankings, we take on the daunting task of rating the many characters on Little House on the Prairie. However, we are adding a twist by eliminating Ingalls family members. So no Charles, no Caroline, no Half-Pint, no Mary, no Carrie and no, uh...all those other adoptees and in-laws.

That still leaves us with a great field!

Remember, these rankings consider if these characters squared off against each other on a neutral grass field in Mankato, Minnesota.

1) Isiah Edwards: Yes, it's been said that the man drinks too much, uses crude language, smells too much, and other offenses...and that's just what Caroline has said! But he's a great pal for not just Charles, but the whole Ingalls family, and he is a fine family man in his own right.

2) Doc Baker: He's not perfect--no doctor is (well, except hopefully mine)--but Hiram Baker seems a fundamentally decent guy. His handling of the frostbite outbreak in "Blizzard" is superb.

3) Nels Oleson: This man put up with so much every day, all while running a mercantile in a town where half the eligible buyers had no money half the time. It's a wonder he didn't snap.

4) Nellie Oleson: This placement might be controversial. Some fans may think she's too low, while others may think I give too much credit. When I was growing up, she had "go away heat" with me, and I thought the character was insufferable without being all that entertaining. I appreciate her more now, and also I think she was  featured in a lot less episodes than I would have guessed.

5) Jonathan Garvey: It's Merlin Olsen. 'Nuff said.

6) Lars Hansen: One of the more underrated characters on the show, Hansen ran the mill with a kind heart without sacrificing good business principles. Considering his role in founding the town, he could have been an imperious presence but instead was a great neighbor and friend.

7) Harriet Oleson: See #4, but imagine someone twice as annoying. She's a great heel on the show, though.

8) Miss Eva Beadle: OK, one can question her judgment in sending the kids out into a blizzard, but overall she wanted the best for those children. Or at least most of them.

9) Reverend Alden: You can't tell me Alden ever puts his hand in the till in an inappropriate way! The spiritual leader of Walnut Grove is a source of inspiration and leadership for the community, though he seems oddly powerless before Harriet.

10) Grace Edwards: Isiah's wife puts up with him, so anything her character does has to be seen through that filter.

Also receiving votes: Willie Oleson (a paste eater), Nancy Oleson (basically a Nellie replacement), Mrs. Whipple (a nice employer for Mary), the Edwards and Garvey kids.

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Top Ten #190: Special "Hey, season 10 was pretty cool!" edition

1) Little House on the Prairie: As we said on the podcast, we talked about doing this one for a long time, and it was fun to get to it--Well, as fun as it can be watching deadly blizzards, pestilence, drug addiction, alcohol abuse, typhoid...

2) Our 2-11-year-old demographic: We hope they have enjoyed our most 2-11-friendly season yet, with Rankin-Bass, Spidey, Mister Rogers, the Ingalls family, and of course kids love Jeff Goldblum.

3) Michael Landon: Let's acknowledge the man who did it all on Little House: Produce, direct, write, act--often without underwear!

4) Susan Saint James: Happy birthday to one of the stars of McMillan and Wife, a show we spotlighted a few weeks ago!

5) Emergency: The series celebrates its 50th anniversary this weekend with a special on COZI and a marathon.

6) Melissa Gilbert/Melissa Sue Anderson/the Greenbush twins: I don't know if we gave them enough due on the podcast this week.

7) College Football '72:  50 years ago tonight, ABC aired this preview of the upcoming season. According to, "Lee Majors hosts (replacing previously announced Chris Schenkel).

Say what? In what universe is Lee Majors waiting in the wings in case something happens to Chris Schenkel? Did Majors ever fill in on pro bowling coverage?

8) Victor French: How can we talk about Little House without talking about the incomparable Victor French? Well, we didn't; we made sure to choose an episode that spotlighted Edwards!

9) Big Ten Basketball on ESPN: The long relationship between the collegiate athletic conference and the 4-letter sports network will end in a couple years, and while many focus on football, don't forget the routine of college hoops on the channel (and ABC). Here's a look at some action from 1989 with Dick Vitale and Keith "Whoalemmetellyabout" Jackson.

10) R.I.P.: Clu Gulager, Roger E. Mosley, Olivia Newton-John: Another rough week for celebrity losses. 

Saturday, August 13, 2022

TV Guide looks at Little House on the Prairie

From the 1974 Fall Preview issue of TV Guide, here is the close-up look at the show and a snazzy display ad NBC took out to promote the premiere:

Note that TV Guide is more impressed with another new show, Lucas Tanner, picking it as a "Best Bet" of the week:

NBC only gave half-page ads, though, for newcomers Lucas Tanner and Petrocelli:

That's an entire night of new dramas on NBC Wednesdays, and LHOP is the only one that will make it. It goes into the Eighties, of course, while Tanner will be gone before the next season. Petrocelli lasts two seasons before getting the axe.

Thursday, August 11, 2022

Show Notes and Video Playlist: Episode 10-13: Little House on the Prairie

*Thanks again for supporting us for our tenth season, and stick around for the upcoming Batty Awards!

*Below is the video playlist for this week's episode! Click to see promos, commercials, clips, and even a little bit of history! Plus the circus, PSAs, and how about some disco!

Remember you can always visit our official YouTube channel for past episodes and playlists for each one!

*Little House on the Prairie, a series based on Laura Ingalls Wilder's popular series of books, aired on NBC for 9 seasons, 1974-1983. The 1982-83 season is the "New Beginning" year without Michael Landon. In addition to those 204 episodes, several movie-length specials aired afterwards.

*An ABC miniseries produced under the Wonderful World of Disney banner adapted the books in 2005.

*The show started as a Wednesday night program and then moved to Monday nights for season 3. In its prime, the next 5 or so seasons, it was a big hit for NBC--a top 20 show and a top 10 show in two seasons.

*The books I mention on the podcast are Michael Landon: His Triumph and Tragedy by Aileen Joyce and Confessions of a Prairie Bitch by Alison Arngrim.
*The series' directors include Landon (89 episodes), William Claxton (68), Maury Dexter (21), Victor French (18), and then Leo Penn (3) and a handful of guys who did one episode each.

*The series won multiple People's Choice Awards but was left out of most Emmy categories throughout its run.

*"Blizzard" premiered Monday, January 3, 1977, leading off the night on NBC and followed by Judge Horton and the Scottsboro Boys

CBS' lineup was Rhoda, Phyllis, Maude, All's Fair, and Executive Suite. ABC welcomed some of the Happy Days cast to a rerun of Captain and Tennille, followed by Paul Winfield in Green Eyes.

*I want to mention the episode-by-episode podcast From Plum Creek with Love. I listened to John Hernandez's summary of "Blizzard" after we recorded this podcast. The episode mentions the real-life Schoolhouse Blizzard of 1888, an inspiration for "Blizzard." The storm caught many folks off guard due to relatively (I mean, it was still January, and this was after a big storm and a cold spell) warm weather early in the day before the snow hit.

*The episode with Ernest Borgnine is Season 1's "The Lord Is My Shepherd," a two-parter in streaming that was originally aired as one movie-length episode.

*Season 3's "The Monster of Walnut Grove" is the episode with the Headless Horsemen...or is it? The big baseball game is Season 2's "In the Big Inning." Merlin Olsen debuts as Jonathan Garvey in Season 4's premiere, "The Castoffs." Season 9's "For the Love of Blanche" is the orangutan episode!

Episode 10-13: Little House on the Prairie

In our season 10 finale, Christmas Eve arrives in Walnut Grove...but so does a blizzard! The men must head into the storm in a desperate search for the children, who left school early. Bucolic it ain't! We also cover important topics like religion, paste-eating, and orangutans.

#podcast #tv #retrotv #seventies #eighties #littlehouseontheprairie #michaellandon #melissagilbert #victorfrench #blizzard #christmas


Check out this episode!

Tuesday, August 9, 2022

In Memoriam: Vin Scully

Somehow I left Vin Scully out of the top ten list on Sunday, but I intended no slight. I think I planned to do a separate post last week. At this point I don't have a lot to add, but I want to share a clip of one of my all-time favorite TV sports moments, something that still gives me chills:

This clip begins a little too late. My favorite part is not the climactic homer, but actually the build to the at-bat--specifically the very beginning, when Scully says, "And look who's coming up," and then lays out a bit. I was rooting for Oakland in that Series and could not stand that Dodger team. Yet today I appreciate the moment and the spectacle and treasure this as one of baseball's most amazing finales.

One thing that amazes me is that Scully's stint as a national TV voice of the game was basically one decade. In fact, it was less than that. He took over as main man on NBC's Game of the Week in 1983, and the network lost that MLB package after the 1989 season. 

Of course, if you're on this site, you will understand that with my Eighties-centric viewpoint, I always thought of Vin as THE voice of baseball. I grew up on him, and so there you go. Makes sense, right?

R.I.P., Vin Scully!

Monday, August 8, 2022

Power Rankings: Bosom Buddies essential episodes

We described the short-lived (but still remembered) ABC sitcom Bosom Buddies as uneven for a variety of reasons but mentioned that the series improved in the second season. Where to start if you want to sample the show? Well, we recommend  "Waterballoongate" as a sampler, but here is a list of other decent episodes from someone who has seen 'em all:

1) Pilot: It sets things up very well--maybe too well; the shot-on-film first episode is way better than much of what follows it.

2) All You Need Is Love: Looks at that great 1980s fad--video dating services--and features fun guest stars like Rita Wilson and Stepfanie Kramer. More importantly, it's funny; the reveal involving Wilson's character is great.

3) Who's on Thirst: I believe this is one of the more well-known episodes of the show, and I can say that rewatching it for the podcast, I remembered some of the specific gags 35-40 years later. (I may have first seen it in a rerun). Kip and Henry get stranded in a cabin and become increasingly desperate.

4) The Way Kip and Henry Were: I really enjoy this look at how the lads got a job with Ruth right after (Well, not quite, as we learn) graduating college. It ends on a poignant moment that actually works.

5) The Rewrite: This is one of the first-season episodes that gets at the potential of the show--a little unhinged and goofy, sometimes even surreal, but saying something about the characters.

And 5 other episodes to check out to get a feel for the series:

1) Gotta Dance: It features several things I generally dislike when the show features them: singing/dancing, fake commercials--but it does it much better than many other episodes and features some insight into Kip's relationship with Sunny.

2) There's No Business: This explains how the guys create their 60 Seconds Street agency (though it doesn't go into detail on that sign) with a slimy turn by Joe Regalbuto.

3) The Two Percent Solution: Bringing in Ruth as a silent partner (see the previous entry) was a little flimsy, but this episode looks at the dynamic of the trio (plus Amy, who has the titular interest) as business partners. It's an interesting approach.

4) The Road to Monte Carlo: A life-changing incident, kind of a funny accident, really, makes Kip and Henry re-evaluate their lives.

5) The Truth and Other Lies: Here's where the show, for all intents and purposes, ditches the central cross-dressing gimmick and has the guys come clean.

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Top Ten #189: Special "Yep, it's August!" Edition

1) Bosom Buddies: Come for the wacky premise of two guys dressing as women to stay in an affordable NYC hotel, stay for the chemistry between the two likable leads and the exploration of their friendship. Uh, I mean the sitcom itself, not our podcast.

2) Peter Scolari and Tom Hanks: I just like the idea of listing him first for a change!

3) Telma Hopkins: The episodes of Bosom Buddies that seemed built around showcasing her singing irked me, I will admit, but she is an obvious major talent, and probably better this than Gimme a Break! or Family Matters.

4) Leonard Maltin: This great YouTube channel is posting a vintage Entertainment Tonight Maltin review just about every day, and I am loving it! I enjoy Maltin's palpable disappointment when a movie doesn't work for him. It's like you haven't angered him, you have disappointed him, and somehow that seems worse.

5) American Family Day: The first Sunday in August celebrates family time together, and what better way to observe this than to spend the afternoon watching another family that is on television?

6) Alexei Sayle: Happy 70th birthday to the British comedian who so weirded me out on The Young Ones.

7) The Game and Its Glory: 40 years ago tonight, NBC broadcast this affectionate look at the Baseball Hall of Fame, hosted by Donald Sutherland! An incomplete version is on YT:

8) Sanford and Son: The LP: This showed up the old TV Guide we talked about earlier this week:

The 1972 RCA release looks like a cash-in, all right. In addition to the awesome "Street Beater" theme song by Quincy Jones, it consists of 11 dialogue segments from the show according to this site. The total running time of the LP is about 37 minutes.

9) John Travolta: A Honus Wagner baseball card sold for $7.25 million. As I said in our official Facebook group, I am having this card appraised:

10) R.I.P. Bill Russell, Nichelle Nichols, Pat Carroll: Another tough week for losses. Russell wasn't just a Hall of Famer basketballer; he was a CBS announcer for years and appeared in one of my favorite old sketches on the original SNL. That isn't on YouTube, though, so here he is in Miami Vice. And also in this clip is another famous performer: Bernard King! Oh, and Harvey Fierstein, too.

Saturday, August 6, 2022

Video Playlist: August 4, 1972

I thought it would be fun to put together a video playlist based on yesterday's post looking at the TV highlights of August 4, 1972. Click below to see the clips!

Included in this list are openings of short-lived series like The Partners and The Governor and J.J. You will see some of Dr. Simon Locke, AKA Police Surgeon--including, should you choose to watch it, a complete episode featuring BOTNS star Art Hindle! The David Frost clip is from a different program, but...close enough, eh?

Also included: clips from the very episodes that aired that night, such as Aretha on Room 222, Sonny and Cher on Love American Style, and, uh, Ann B. Davis on The Brady Bunch. You will also see glimpses of a few of the movies broadcast in the San Francisco area on that date.

Ending the playlist, just for fun and since yesterday was August 5, TV news interview footage of John and Yoko from August 5, 1972!

Friday, August 5, 2022

This Day in TV History: 50 years ago LAST night (August 4, 1972 Part 1)

Once again, we go back in time with the help of this vintage TV Guide from the BOTNS archives:

It's Friday, August 4, 1972 in the Bay Area (this is a San Francisco edition). Why are we looking at yesterday in history? Well, because yesterday was a podcast release day, and the Guide back then goes Saturday to Friday!

First, you're thinking, Friday night, 1972--Where's Sanford and Son? Well, we've got you covered:

What IS on tonight? Let's go to the listings:

This is a momentous night of television: Look over on the right and see the two-hour movie that launched BOTNS favorite SEARCH

Otherwise, it's an hour of episodic reruns with the exception of Don Adams' Partners on NBC. CBS has David Janssen in O'Hara, U.S. Treasury. The Bradys have the Sergeant Emma episode with Ann B. Davis in a rare dual role (yet not labeled as such in the listing).

On the next page:

Notice CBS' rebroadcast of Something Evil, a Steven Spielberg TV movie with Sandy Dennis. Also, ABC's The Odd Couple has the first appearance of Gloria. And, hey, Aretha Franklin on Room 222!

Next page:

At 10:00, Channel 7 once again pre-empts ABC programming (in this case, Love, American Style) with a look at the 1972 Olympians. At 10:30 CBS has a rerun of The Governor and JJ after the 90-minute movie. ABC has a golf tourney preview at 10:30. 

Look at the NBC stations (3, 4, and 8) after Search. Each one has something different. David Frost Revue is a syndicated sketch comedy series. Portrait of a Star--I can't find any more info on that one, but I assume it's another first-run syndie show. Dr. Simon Locke is a Canadian show that was syndicated in the States and ran 4 seasons and 104 episodes. Known as Police Surgeon in Canada, it has been rerun here on RTN.

Non-network fare includes a broadcast of Top Hat, the Adam West episode of Outer Limits, Them, and a showing of Our Daily Bread on PBS.

For old-school comedy, how about that lineup on Merv Griffin? And I don't know anything else about that Phil Silvers/Carry On movie at 11:00. Follow that Camel!