Monday, December 4, 2023

And now, a word from their sponsor: Is this guy doing a Bruce Willis?

 Check out this beer commercial, and tell me if there isn't something familiar about this guy's persona:

Sunday, December 3, 2023

Top Ten #277: Special Post-Thanksgiving/Pre-Christmas Edition!

1) Chico and the Man: I haven't seen a lot of this show, and I bet a lot of people haven't because it hasn't been in circulation much. I was pleasantly surprised by how funny the pilot was when I saw it a few days ago. Bravo to Tubi for making this sitcom available to everyone starting this month.

2) Soul Train: The Soul Train Awards, held last week, ain't what they used to be, but I like seeing the show remembered. That's right, I said the show, not the brand.

3) Melody Anderson: Happy birthday to the star of Manimal! As far as I know, she didn't get the opportunity to turn into animals, though.

4) Quarterback Princess: "What is the original nickname Jim Rome gave Jim Everett?" No, it's actually the CBS original movie that premiered 40 years ago tonight and starred Helen Hunt.

5) The Heisman Trophy: Also 40 years ago, it was Mike Rozier of Nebraska (Nobody called him "Running Back Princess" who won the prestigious award.

6) National Roof Over Your Head Day: You know who has one of the best roofs in television? Snoopy. Of course, in his case, the roof was under his, er, head.

7) Writers of variety shows: There was a flap this week over the Emmy organizers removing the Outstanding Writing in Vareity Series/Special category from the main telecast. You're playing with fire when you risk incurring the wrath of Bruce Vilanch!

8) Big John: On this night in 1983, NBC aired this unsold pilot starring Dale Robertson as a Montana cop who joins the NYPD. Sound a bit like McCloud? Well, let me give you the X-factor: Robertson's partner on the force? You guessed it, Joey Travolta.

9) From Star Wars to Jedi: Yet another program telecast 40 years ago tonight, this PBS program looked at George Lucas and the movies that were then known as the trilogy, not the original trilogy. I am sure Lucas talks in the special about how he accomplished everything he wanted to and would never change a thing about those movies.

10) R.I.P. Marty Krofft, Frances Sternhagen:

Monday, November 27, 2023

Two Eighties icons score with great guest shots: 227 and The Fall Guy

When we discussed 227, Mike mentioned Pee Wee Herman's appearance on the show, but I hadn't seen it until recently. It's one of the livelier episodes I have seen and a wonderful reminder of what a talented performer Paul Reubens was.

Mary and Lester are seeking toys for a charity drive, and they end up in a DC shop where the apparent proprietor is in a hurry to get them out of there. Turns out it's a burglar played by (lesser, but still) Eighties icon Terry Kiser, and he holds them, Sandra, and Pee Wee (in town for a performance) hostage in the toy store.

His energy is infectious, and the whole cast seems to be having a good time. I mean Pee Wee, not Terry, but Kiser is funny, too, in a nice cartoony (but not too menacing) Eighties sitcom kind of way. Herman inadvertently sabotages several attempts to escape, and he does cause some irritation, but he remains likable and in character the whole time. Didn't we need Pee Wee and Jackee to be together at least once? This episode is a must-see, and the toy theme makes it a good Christmas offering.

Just before Halloween, I watched a Fall Guy with special guest Elvira as basically herself. Colt and the gang are on the set as the horror icon (Am I overusing the word?) shoots a movie in a creepy old house. Another treat in this is the presence of mansion owner John Carradine, who appears in a brief scene with his sons. Orson Bean, Signe Hasso, and Doug McClure also have great roles.

Elvira is the star, though, as always. She is in "self-centered diva" Elvira mode here, and it is hilarious. A running theme is her attempt to seduce Colt. Her charisma steals the whole show, impressive whenever Doug Barr is around. OK, I jest, but there is a loaded cast, and Elvira commands the screen the entire time, even at the beginning when her character is particularly snotty.

She returns to the show for another Halloween episode, and that is something I will have to check out. It may be sooner than next October, though, because "October the 31st" is a funny installment with a nice blend of haunts and seasonal fun.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Top Ten #276: Special Post-Thanksgiving edition!

1) Ed McMahon: Yes, Thankgiving is behind us, but we must pay tribute yet again to the King of Thanksgiving, who kicks off the holiday each year in this (and I am sure many others out there) household:

2) 80 is the new 40?: First, Cher closes (Well, except for Santa) the Macy's parade with a simulation of a singing performance, and then the Cowboys/Commanders NFL game presents a halftime show with Dolly Parton!

3) Black Friday: DVD deals are still out there in 2023. I got a compete series set of a show I never loved but have been meaning to examine (I will keep it a secret for now because we might do it on the pod next season).

4) National Save-a-Life Test: This syndicated program aired 40 years ago this weekend. It was hosted by two experienced pros: Bernie Kopell and Michael Learned. Or was it Michael Lerner? The program taught viewers what to do in emergencies. Hey, I need to know this stuff! Why isn't this on YouTube?

5) Rich Little: Happy 85th birthday! I suppose it's getting easier to do that George Burns impression.

6) Military Family Month: You have one more week to celebrate the military families of the USA! But you have forever to enjoy Major Dad.

7) Urkel Saves Santa: Remember how the Warners regime canned a bunch or projects and took tax writeoffs rather than releasing them? Well, this animated movie was on the list but came out as a digital purchase opportunity this week because Urkel is indestructible.

8) My Father Gave Me America: 50 years ago tonight, a syndicated special featuring Kirk Douglas, Greer Garson, and others paid tribute to immigration's role in the building of the country. 

9) The Brady Bunch: Catchy Comedy runs a marathon of the show all weekend. Of course, the show was one of the first to present a historically accurate depiction of Thanksgiving:

10) Bob Barker: Pluto celebrates the late icon's 100th birthday this week with newly unearthed 1972 episodes beginning tomorrow.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

From all of us at BOTNS to all of you...Happy Thanksgiving! 

We present our annual holiday tradition, a performance by BOTNS fave and unofficial KING of Thanksgiving, Ed McMahon!

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Top Ten #275: It's a holiday week!

1) Batty chatter: We apologize for this list being up so late, but the Top Ten Committee was assisting the Batty Committee tabulate the votes for the upcoming Season 11 Batty Awards!

2) Thanksgiving and Black Friday: Get ready, folks, for food, football, and...uh, fairly annoying shopping?

3) Doctor Who: A ton (all?) Classic Doctor Who episodes are now on Tubi, free with ads. They remain on Britbox, which is one reason Britbox rules. It doesn't shed programming very often.

4) World Toilet Day:

5) B.C.'s First Thanksgiving: There aren't enough animated Thanksgiving specials out there. This one, based on Johnny Hart's long-running comic strip, premiered on NBC 50 years ago tonight.

6) Ted Turner: Happy 85th birthday to the mogul, who is in ill heath these days. He is a controversial figure, but how can you not appreciate the man who gave us Bill Tush?

7) Columbo: The excellent Retroist podcast devoted an episode to the classic show last week. He doesn't know what happened to the commentaries on the upcoming Blu-Ray set, either.

8) Family Ties: Rewind TV will broadcast a marathon of the series on Thursday, which is apt because, of course, Thanksgiving is all about the ties that people wear when they get dressed to go and hang out with whoever they end up hanging out with on that day.

9) Sideline reporters: The recent controversy involving Charissa Thompson is interesting, but coaches not wanting to give access is not a modern phenomenon:

10) R.I.P. Stephen Kandel: The writer was story editor on the original MacGyver.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Top Ten #274: Happy Veterans Day Weekend!

1) Batty Awards: The Top Ten is late this week because we had to spend so much time compiling the early results! Vote now for the two listener-decided awards, either right here on this page or in our Facebook group! Batty season is here, folks!

2) Veterans Day: Happy Veterans Day weekend to all, and special thanks to those who have served. Here is a guy who did:

3) Eischeid, Streets of San Francisco, 9 to 5, Cagney and Lacey, Designing Women: These are some of the shows we watched for the "bonus hour" last weekend and brought up in our Facebook group! All I know is I, for one, want MORE Eischeid!

4) Gunsmoke: 50 years ago tonight, in part 2 of "A Game of Act of Love," the show welcomed guest Michael Learned...or was it Michael Lerner?

(Great episode title, by the way!)

5) Cabbage Patch Kids: This is one of the new inductees into the National Toy Hall of Fame. It would be appropriate if dozens of people trampled each other on the way to the stage to try to get the award.

6) Melanie Gaffin: Happy 50th to the former Whiz Kids star!

7) The Tonight Show: Also airing 50 years ago tonight, the late-night program had guests Bob Hope and Jo Ann Worley. And who could wrangle those two as guest host? That's right, guest host Karen Valentine.

8) Kathy Garver: Greg Ehrbar's new Hanna-Barbera podcast featured Garver last week, and she mentioned BOTNS fave Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends along with a lot more.

9) Alan Alda: This is a cool story from Ankler about how Alan Alda put up his dog tags from MASH for auction and the author tracked down their original owners.

10) R.I.P. Robert Butler: What a career the man had. He directed pilots for Batman, Star Trek, and Moonlighting, plus features like The Barefoot Executive. He was co-creator of Remington Steele.

Friday, November 10, 2023

Battys Season 14 Listener Choice Awards are here! Vote now!

It's the most wonderful time of the year, and by that we mean Batty Season is here! Of course we will cap off Season 14, our most interactive yet, with a ceremony that includes two listener-voted awards! Please leave your choice for the two awards below in the comments below, email us, or vote in our official Facebook group. Voting is open until 6:00 AM EST on Saturday, November 18.

OUTSTANDING DUO (Note: Rick and Mike are NOT eligible for this award):

Sonny and Cher (Sonny and Cher)
John Tesh and Mary Hart (Entertainment Tonight)
Jennifer and Jonathan Hart (Hart to Hart)
Starsky and Hutch (Starsky and Hutch)
Bobby and Pam Ewing (Dallas)
Robert Urich and Oprah (Star-Spangled Celebration)

And though we decided on the show that the series covered on our 1983 NBC episode would not be eligible for competitive Battys, we have to recognize that one somehow. So we have created this special audience-voted award:


A man turns himself into various animals (Manimal)
60 Minutes is vulnerable enough that we can program another newsmagazine against it (First Camera)
A super-intelligent orangutan becomes a government operative (Mr. Smith)
Two young, single guys hire a gorgeous live-in maid for their apartment (We Got It Made)
A glamorous deceased movie star comes back as a ghost to mentor a teenage boy (Jennifer Slept Here)
Wyatt Earp's descendants work as carnival rousters and bounty hunters (The Rousters)

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

My Halloween watching 2023 Part 2

Yesterday I discussed a few Halloween-related TV episodes I watched from shows we covered in our most recent season. While both are enjoyable, "Night Terrors" from the first season of Hart to Hart is a real gem. It's an example of the show at its best, the kind of episode that makes you appreciate how much fun it can be.

Jonathan and Jennifer head to a house party--a haunted house party, that is, because their wacky friends have invited folks to a quirky dinner. It becomes evident how quirky when dinner is served, and then everyone is urged to go on a scavenger hunt in the confines of the roomy, spooky, and allegedly ghostly mansion.

I like that "Night Terrors" shows all sides of the campy series. At first it looks like it will be totally jokey, and there are some great moments when Jonathan is in top form with his quips. I don't mean his lines are that funny, but it's the way he delivers them--breezy, confident, but treating everything as a lark. When another guest says he knows he has seen Jonathan somewhere and suggests maybe the athletic club, Jonathan says he usually does his workouts AT HOME. When he utters this, he smirks and looks right at Jennifer, and the whole moment is glorious.

Yet when the hunt begins and the stakes increase, there is some genuine peril, and everyone involved takes things with appropriate seriousness (I mean, it's still Hart to Hart). The dialogue is sharp, and the script shows is really clever. There are twists and turns and some vivid performances by guest actors like Barney Martin and other familiar faces.

"Night Terrors" is not only a fine Halloween episode, it's one of the best episodes I have seen yet of Hart to Hart. I recommend seeing it even outside of the season.

Monday, November 6, 2023

My Halloween watching 2023: Part 1

I sought out some podcast shows from Season 14 this year and found some interesting episodes.

The Rifleman "Hostages to Fortune": This Season 5 installment opens with Halloween action but doesn't really longer on it. Mark and his friends are out "Halloweenin'" (I like the away Lucas says that) and doing some mild mischief that causes mild ruckus, like cattle getting spooked and going astray. Mark gets a talking-to, but the real story is when he meets an erudite English bookstore owner and his son Percy and befriends them.

The Halloweenin' comes back in the sense that when rustlers actually steal cattle, townsfolk wonder if Mark is involved. However, the heart of the story is the bond Mark has with the new town intellectual, who is starting a ranch of his own. Lucas' jealousy is evident and also called out, though Mark tries to assure his pa that the other guy doesn't know the first thing about ranching. Lucas feels a little down due to his lack of reading (except the Bible), and it's refreshing, really.

The saga plays out in simple, clear, and honest fashion. No, there isn't a lot of Halloweenin' in this half-hour, but there is the good, soloid family Western drama you expect from The Rifleman. And some fights and gunplay, too!

Dennis the Menace "Haunted House." It's Season 3, and already Dennis seems a little too old for a Halloween episode, which is kind of sad. He and Tommy are peripheral characters in this one, roaming the house that Henry and George (I love how Henry always calls him "Mr. Wilson") buy for investment purposes.

The house is supposedly haunted, and shady realtor Harvey Korman (!) is really proud of himself for unloading it on the two "boobs." When the guys have second thoughts, the realtor and his mom (the real brains in the outfit) are not sympathetic. So they keep the place and try to prove it's not haunted by having a sleepover!

They deal with a host of weird noises and happenings, yet even though they know the kids are aware of the situation and actively looking for ghosts and playing all over the joint, it doesn't seem to occur to them they could be causing the anomalies. In fact, they aren't causing all of them! A lively guest spot by Harold Gould adds something to this episode.

More to come this week!

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Top Ten #273: Special "What time is it again?" Edition

1) Halloween and Dia de los Muertos: Hope everyone enjoyed the holidays this week. If you're still a little scared, don't worry. We're all here for you. Here is one more scary clip, though:

2) Bonus Hour: Here at BOTNS headquarters, we plan to enjoy the extra hour gained from turning the clock back (Daylight Savings Time, you know) by watching TV! What a noble effort. Join us in our Facebook group and share what you want to see with the bonus hour today.

3) Texas Rangers: Congratulations to the World Series winners! When I was growing up, the franchise often seemed to be just kind of there. I liked seeing them get their first title.

THIS is actually pretty cool, though:

4) Willie Nelson: Speaking of Texas, congratulations to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, including 90-year-old Nelson--not exactly a video star in the Eighties, but a big presence nonetheless.

5) The Streets of San Francisco: We've had some nice chatter about this series on our Facebook group, and the show's first couple seasons are now on Pluto on demand. The Michael Douglas/Karl Malden cop series deserves more attention.

Note that also on Pluto now: Barnaby Jones, Roc, Mama's Family, Mannix, Gomer Pyle.

6) The Carroll O'Connor Special: CBS aired this 50 years ago tonight. Hey, when you get to be the star on the #1 show, you get to do specials! In this one, various segments look at the most important women in a man's life: his mother, his wife, and the host of Romper Room. Nancy Walker and Joan Blondell were among the guests.

7) National Donut Day: Not many foods give more instant pleasure than the humble donut.

8) Exo-Man: Guess what TV movie aired on WPIX-11 in New York 40 years ago today! That's right, Sole Survivor with William Shatner and Vince Edwards! But in the afternoon, the channel showed BOTNS fave Exo-Man, proving that the movie's legacy lived on long after its debut in 1977!

9) BBC programs on Roku Channel: Roku makes it difficult to see what's new on its channel, but it has added a slew of old BBC shows lately, including a lot of costume and period dramas. Onedin Line, anyone?

10) R.I.P. Matthew Perry, Peter S. Fischer, Shannon Wilcox:

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Bonus Hour tomorrow: A BOTNS "challenge!"

We mean this as a very low-key "challenge": Tonight we get an extra hour in the USA as we move the clocks back at 2:00 A.M. It's a "bonus hour," if you will, and you can't spell BONUS without BOTNS!

Some may enjoy an extra hour of sleep, some may do an extra hour of chores, some may forget to turn their clocks back and miss the beginning of the early NFL window. We are about TV and finding excuses to watch TV, so we suggest this: Let's use the bonus hour to watch something new--a show we haven't tried yet, an old special, something we have been meaning to sample but haven't yet. 

I plan to do this and report back in our Facebook group, and all of you are welcome. Of course I intend to watch something from the BOTNS era of the Seventies and Eighties, but please check out whatever you want, and don't feel the need to do it at 2:00 A.M. unless you want to simulate the old Late Late Late movie or something like that. Enjoy the bonus hour!

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Happy Halloween from Battle of the Network Shows!

Not much has changed since last year, so I am rerunning this post from last October which has a summary of our Halloween-related episodes! Have a fantastic and safe holiday!

From all of us at BOTNS to all of you...Happy Halloween! Along with links to some seasonal episodes, we present our customary picture of Batty winner Solomon Grundy (Outstanding Villain of Season 6 for Legends of the Superheroes) holding a Lowenbrau button.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Top Ten #272: Special "I don't want to dress up, but I want some Reese's pumpkins" Edition!

1) Halloween: Get ready because we only have two more days until...Christmas shopping season!

2) Henry Winkler: Last week we mentioned some of the celebrity memoirs hitting stores, but more are on the way! Or should I say, "on the ayyyyyy," because Winkler's book is out Tuesday. You can get it from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or you can go to your local bookstore and snap your fingers so it falls off the shelf into your cart.

3) John Stamos: Meanwhile, Stamos has his own book, and I want to read it--I didn't say buy it, but I want to read it. I don't want to spoil the section about Teri Copley (featured in our 1983 NBC episode this season), but it has a heckuva ending.

4) The Munsters: COZI-TV runs a marathon of the show this weekend--predictable, yes, but also effective. Don't expect to see Mini-Munsters!

5) Kate Jackson: Happy 75th birthday!

6) Living Easy: Records are sketchy, but I believe this syndicated talk show hosted by Dr. Joyce Brothers premiered 50 years ago today.

7) NBA hoops: The regular season started this week. 

8) A Magical Musical Halloween: 40 years ago today, this syndicated special from Dick Clark Productions featured Fred Travalena as host and stars like William Shatner and Mr. T (Sadly, not together)!

9) National Economic Education Month: This is your last chance to celebrate the joys of learning econ from the likes of BOTNS fave Jerome Smith. You could also try something like this (One of the Nineties episodes):

10) R.I.P.: Richard Moll, Burt Young, and Richard Roundtree: 

Monday, October 23, 2023

The Strange Case of Columbo on Blu-Ray

The good news is, the original 1970s Columbo episodes are coming to Blu-Ray in November from Kino Lorber, and it's safe to assume they will be remastered, unedited, and will look great. Once upon a time, that would be enough. Maybe it still is!

The bad news is, when Kino announced it had the rights to the show, it also announced a slate of special features that included audio commentaries on every episode from a variety of authors and experts. hardcore Columbo fans were thrilled! However, when it came time to set a release date, things had changed. Kino reported that all the new extras were gone, including the commentaries--no, especially the commentaries, most would say.

Yet now, a couple months later, the official listing says the Music and Effects tracks are still available on the set, and the commentaries are not listed. What is going on here? No one knows. Kino doesn't "owe" anyone an explanation, and in fact it lowered the MSRP by about 20 bucks to compensate for the alteration of the set. 

We don't know what happened, but we do know that all the extra material was already recorded. It sure doesn't make sense for Kino to yank this unless it was told to by some other entity. Would it be licensor Universal? No one knows, and licensee Kino is being a good partner by not saying anything else.

Of course this invites speculation. Some said the writers' strike was involved. Some said the Peter Falk estate must have objected. There is the matter of this recent settlement:

All we can do is guess. For now it seems that the episodes will come without the commentaries, and this is disappointing, but if you just want the show in HD, this is still a great set. If they had never announced the extras, maybe there wouldn't be any big deal (though Kino's loaded Night Gallery releases would make people wonder why they couldn't do the same for Columbo). The real mystery here is, what happened? 

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Top Ten #271: Special "Hey, a lot of books in this one" Edition

1) Viva Valdez: I had a great time seeing the pilot of this 1976 ABC series on Sony's Classic TV Rewind YouTube channel. Join us in our Facebook group to discuss it!

2) Kojak: Get TV celebrates the series' 50th anniversary this week by showcasing the highest-rated episodes according to IMDB. I hope it doesn't always run annoying banner ads on the top of the screen.

3) Jeff Goldblum: Happy Birthday to Season 10 Batty winner Jeff Goldblum! He had a big night last October, winning for Outstanding Performance as Oneself and also watching his meat locker win for Outstanding Non-Human!

4) Herbie Pilato: The prolific author just released a book about Sean Connery from BearManor Media, and while Connery didn't appear in a Norman Lear sitcom in the late Eighties (Oh, if he would have!), we include it here because of the blurbs! The book features praise from Michael Learned (Sadly, at this point it's easy to assume it's not Michael Lerner) and Genius Award winner John Schuck!

5) Opryland USA: This TV special aired in 1973. Wow! She was on network TV that early? What, did she give away little toy Ford Pintos to all the audience members?

Oh, wait, OPRYland. Sorry. I guess this had something to do with country music.

6) Joan Collins: Her new book, Behind the Shoulder Pads, comes out this week. I hope she finally covers her guest appearance on Future Cop. It feels like the book should be printed on cashmere.

7) Ed Begley Jr.: The other glamour icon of the Eighties released his new book, To the Temple of Tranquiliity...and Step on It! also came out this month. It feels like the book should be released on biodegradable, edible paper--Hey, you know, maybe it is. I should check that.

8) Showtime Sports: After over 30 years, Paramount is closing the division, which focused on boxing. Where do people even see boxing anymore? I miss the old days when it was also super expensive to watch the big fights...but not as super expensive because you could see the replays on HBO and Showtime.

9) Miss Marple: A Caribbean Mystery: This TV movie debuted 40 years ago tonight on CBS and starred the legendary Helen Hayes, the great Barnard Hughes, and the demographically beneficial Jameson Parker! Please tell me the movie ends with Billy Ocean singing an early version of "Caribbean Queen."

10) R.I.P. Suzanne Somers and Lara Parker:

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Top Ten #270

1) Dallas: Hey, this series was so big, such a huge part of the cultural zeitgeist for so long, that it deserves to be at the top again. This is the first time the same show has been #1 two weeks in a row since Elroy's A.M. Ag Report and Horoscope in April 1949.

2) Moonlighting: Just weeks after I wrote off Hulu as a repository for classic TV, it adds this, a long-overdue newcomer to streaming. L.A. Law, already on Prime, is on the way, too. From what I have seen, Moonlighting looks great, and they seem to have done a decent job of preserving essential music even if a lot of the original soundtrack is changed. All 67 episodes are there, and, hey, I think at least half of them have both David and Maddie!

3) Discs: The news that Best Buy is phasing out physical media made me think, uh, didn't that already happen? Actually, while the stores have cut way back, I have still found some good deals online at Best Buy in recent years. But this entry is here to celebrate physical media and having stuff available on disc. It's not just a coaster!

4) Linda Lavin: Happy birthday! I don't think we would have to ask her twice to sing for us!

5) The 1973 Country Music Awards: Johnny Cash hosted the seventh edition of the CMAs, a star-studded affair.

6) Trackdown: Finding the Goodbar Killer: 40 years ago tonight, George Segal and Shelley Hack starred in this CBS TV movie that followed up on the 1977 theatrical Looking for Mr. Goodbar.

7) 1983 World Series: Also 40 years ago, Game 4 between the Phillies the Orioles took 12:30 in the afternoon! I bet there were grumpy sportswriters complaining that kids had an easier time watching the games when they started at 11:00 A.M.

8) Bobtober: BUZZR celebrates Bobtober with a tribute to Bob Eubanks each night in prime time this week.

9) National Grouch Day:

10) Phyllis Coates: R.I.P. to an actress who didn't have a huge presence in the BOTNS era, but, hey, she was Lois Lane!

Monday, October 9, 2023

Great Moments in 70s and 80s TV History: Jessica Fletcher has eyes for...Dick Butkus?

In a first-season Murder, She Wrote, "Sudden Death," Jessica Fletcher, who has inherited a share of a pro football team, "accidentally" wanders into the shower area, and it sure looks like she has wandering eyes. The late great Dick Butkus happens to be on the team, known in this episode as TANK MASON!

Tank looks great, but the "defensive captain" of a pro football team at the age of 43? Impressive!

Jessica is asking about a possible theft in the locker room, but she just happens to do it when the team is in the showers, leading to a run-in with Tank Mason, who says (and, yes, I am taking this out of context), "They don't call me Tank for nothing," even as he takes haste to cover himself with his towel.

His eyes are up THERE, Jess!

OK, so when Tank says he didn't expect to see her there at that time, during the showering, she feigns modesty and runs out. We know better, though, right?

The entire cast for this episode is top notch, featuring known 70s performers like David Doyle, Jan Smithers, Tim Thomerson, then Bruce Jenner; and character actor standouts like Allen Miller, James MCeachin, and Warren Berlinger. I'm on Season 9 of a series watch, and those days of exciting loaded casts like in the early seasons are long gone.

Dick Butkus never returned to Murder, She Wrote despite the simmering tension that is so prevalent in this episode.

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Top Ten #269: Special "Call the day whatever you want tomorrow; I still gotta work" edtiion!

1) Dallas: Hope you enjoy our look at this classic megahit this week on the podcast!

2) Larry Hagman: J.R. Ewing is one of the great characters of all time, and we enjoyed talking about him in the series pilot--and that was actually some of the tamer stuff compared to what he did later!

3) Victoria Principal: We certainly have to give her credit for being one of the icons in the Eighties and perhaps unfairly excluded from our Holy Trinity of Brunettes (longtime listeners know what we mean).

4) National Emergency Test: How about that test we had in the USA on Wednesday? Brings to minds classic EBS tests from the Eighties.

5) Saturday Night Live: 40 years ago tonight, the new season kicked off with host Brandon Tartikoff and musical guest John Cougar. They missed their chance to star together in a Rousters sketch.

6) Monster Cereals: One of the best things about this time of year is the resurgence of the likes of Count Chocula. Cartoon Research posted a cool article about the cereals this week.

7) MLB Playoffs: What a great time of year this is, with the majesty of the national pastime taking center stage. Let's celebrate with a classic moment of Major League Baseball history from 50 years ago today: Pete Rose and Bud Harrelson getting into a brawl:

8) Joseph Barbera: I enjoyed this just-posted segment with a 60 Minutes profile of the legendary animator. I bet Morley Safer dug The Hair Bear Bunch.

9) Sarah Purcell and Chevy Chase: Happy birthday to two TV stars who turn 75 and 80 respectively--the star of Real People and a star who is a real *%$@!

10) Dick Butkus: R.I.P. to a double-threat legend and member of the All-Time All-Name Team. Hey, maybe he wasn't the best performer on My Two Dads, but do you think Paul Reiser and Greg Evigan could have dominated in the NFL? Well, Evigan, maybe, 'cause he's awesome, but my point stands.

Saturday, October 7, 2023

YouTube Spotlight: J.R. on "Eyewitness News?"

 I love it when the real world and the TV world intersect in the form of "in-character" appearances by fictional people--especially on the local news!

In this clip posted by the anchor himself, Jon Crane, J.R. Ewing makes an appearance of sorts to help promote the newscast on KIEM, a Northern California station then affiliated with CBS. This may look kind of goofy--and by goofy I mean awesome--but what small-market station is gonna turn down a chance to get on the Dallas train in that era?

I would love to see the segment end with, "And now, here's Cliff Barnes with the weather!"

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Show Notes and Video Playlist: Episode 11-14: Dallas!

*Thanks for following us through our epic 11th season! Special thanks to our friend John Holm for suggesting we take a look at Dallas!

*Click below for our super-sized video playlist, which is stuffed with original promos, interviews, PSAs, talk show spots, and more!

*And remember, you can always check out our official YouTube page for all of our past podcasts and episode-specific playlists for each one!

*Dallas aired a Texas-sized 14 seasons and 357 episodes on CBS (1978-1991), airing Friday nights for all of its "main" run after the first set of 6 episodes.

*Ratings were strong for almost the entire run. It was a top-10 show in seasons 3 through 9 and #11 in season 10. It was pretty much the most popular entertainment show on TV from 1980 to 1985.

*Dallas was not a huge critical favorite. It won 20 Emmy nominations and 4 wins, the most major being Barbara Bel Geddes' 1980 award for Outstanding Lead Actress, Drama.

*This episode premiered April 2, 1978, the same night as the Alice we talked about in this episode.

*Knots Landing spun off from Dallas in 1979 and lasted 14 seasons, ending in 1993 after 344 episodes!

*Props to Barbara A. Curran's excellent book Dallas: The Complete Story of the World's Favorite Soap. Curran talked to many of the cast and production members and had cooperation from series creator David Jacobs.

Episode 11-14: Dallas

In our Season 11 finale, all roads lead to Dallas and Southfork Ranch! That's right. We finally tackle the grandpappy of the nighttime soaps, and we go all the way back to the very first episode. This one has everything you'd expect: oil, scheming, bakstabbing, family feuds, and cowboy hats! It also have a few things you might not expect like grounded sincerity. Join us for all the fun and a few Larry Hagman chuckles.

#podcast #tv #retrotv #seventies #eighties #dallas #soaps #larryhagman #patrickduffy #victoriaprincipal #oil #jrewing


Check out this episode!

Monday, October 2, 2023

YouTube Spotlight: Simon McCorkindale Speaks

Since we did things a little differently with the YouTube playlist for this week's episode, I want to do something a little different today and present a video not even in the playlist. I just can't quit Manimal, but since Manimal is not available for free except in a few clips, here is star Simon McCorkindale giving an interview on the late Bill Harris' Showtime series:

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Top Ten #268: Special 'Sorry this is up so late" Edition!

1) NBC 1983 Fall Season: We tale a deep dive into the ill-fated but interesting (we hope) 1983 lineup for the network on this week's podcast.

2) Jennifer Slept Here: One of the more compelling and underappreciated series on that 1983 schedule, Ann Jillian's show deserved a longer look than it got. Fortunately it's easy to find online if you want to give it a shot.

3) CHiPS and Miami Vice: Hopefully we'll get some more October adds once the week kicks in, but FreeVee added these two shows. Warning: It's under a Hispanic Heritage Month banner, so I don't know if the shows will last. They are still on Plex and Tubi, respectively.

Is Miami Vice really the greatest choice of show to honor Hispanic Heritage? Well, it does have this guy...

4) Edward James Olmos: L.A. County declared an Edward James Olmos Day last week, and I hope no matter what went on, Olmos just glared at everyone for 90% of the time before finally breaking into a half-grin.

5) October: Yes, it is the month when apparently one must watch horror movies and TV shows, and all horror movies and TV shows must be watched in October. Mike and I will try to edit some jump scares into the podcast.

6) Diff'rent Strokes: One of the shows's most well-known episodes from its later years aired this night 40 years ago: The guest shot of Mr. T.

7) The Rousters: Also on this night 40 years ago, NBC aired the 90-minute debut of one of the series we talk about on this week's podcast: Stephen J. Cannel's The Rousters. It probably could have used a guest appearance by Mr. T.

8) The Honeymooners: It's outside the time frame, but I have to commemorate the premiere of the "Classic 39" filmed episodes season of my favorite show of all time on October 1, 1955!

9) Juvenile Court: 50 years ago tonight, PBS stations premiered the then-newest Frederick Wiseman documentary. I haven't seen this one, but if the others are any indication, it was so long it ran all the way up to Sesame Street the next morning.

10) R.I.P. Michael Gambon, David McCallum:

Thursday, September 28, 2023

Show Notes and Video Playlist: 1983 NBC Fall Season!

*Thanks for listening to this unique and (we hope) entertaining episode. We'll be back next week with our thrilling season finale!

*Special thanks to Geno Cuddy for helping inspire this episode and for sharing his thoughts on Jennifer Slept Here. You can find Geno
@OfficialGenoC on Twitter/X
@officialgenocuddy on Instagram and his Western Wednesdays at Cinema Crazed.
And check out his excellent YouTube channel here!

*The Sweeps: A Year in the Life of a Television Network (1984)  by  Cameron Stauth and Mark Christensen is a wonderful book, and I highly recommend it.

*Click below for the same playlist Mike and I used to prep for the podcast! It's full of 1983 NBC goodness and not-so-goodness, with promos, clips, and full episodes. We also add some promos for other new network shows of the season on ABC and CBS.

*And remember, you can always check out our official YouTube page for all of our past podcasts and episode-specific playlists for each one!

*"Low-key arrogant" Steve Sohmer is still around. he worked 1977-1982 at CBS before coming over to NBC and overseeing its marketing before a short stint as head of Columbia Pictures. He was married to Deirdre Hall from 1991-2006.

For your convenience, here are the new entertainment shows in the NBC Fall 1983 lineup with the star ratings from Harry and Wally's Favorite TV Shows as I mention on the podcast:

*Boone **.5
*Bay City Blues ***
*We Got It Made *
*Mr. Smith *.5
*Jennifer Slept Here *
*Manimal *
*For Love and Honor **
*The Rousters **.5
*The Yellow Rose **.5

*Boone was from Waltons creator Earl Hamner.

*Made aired 22 episodes on NBC and 24 in first-run syndication.

*Let us know if you want us to do a full episode on Manimal, but I think we'd have to give it some time.

*Hopefully you agree with our decision to exclude these shows from the Season 11 Battys.

*Props to Joey Scarbury for his performance of the Jennifer theme song written by Clint Holmes, Joey Murcia, Bill Payne, and Ann Jillian!

*Joel Thurm's appearance on Ian Talks Comedy is right here.

Episode 11-13: NBC's Disastrous 1983

For the 1983-1984 TV season, NBC asked audiences to "Be there!" Audiences had somewhere else to be, and by the end of the season, the network had canceled all nine new shows it had introduced in the fall. What could lead to such a catastrophe? Why wouldn't people want to watch shows about talking orangutans, manimals, ghosts, and more? This week, we dig into this season and talk about some of these failed shows to see if we can find some answers. Be there! 

#podcast #tv #retrotv #1983 #eighties #NBC #Manimal #mrsmith #jenniferslepthere #disaster


Check out this episode!

Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Starsky and Hutch and 227 in "TV Guide" Fall previews

I didn't post these when we did the respective episodes a few weeks ago, so here is your chance to check out the TV Guide Fall Preview issue glances at Starsky and Hutch (the 1975 issue) and 227 (the 1985 issue).

One thing that stands out is the lack of respect for Starsky and Hutch, which may indicate they didn't think much of it or its prospects for lasting. It ended up having a substantial impact even beyond the surface of its solid 4-year run, yet it gets barely a half-page here. And that picture they chose!

Also note Jackee is not in that cast photo for 227 but Alaina Reed is.

Monday, September 25, 2023

The dream is over: Hulu dumping Fox library titles

Deadline reported this over the weekend, but Joe Adalian's excellent newsletter was the first place I saw this: Hulu is letting the licensing deals on many catalog titles expire with no plans to renew them. Among the affected shows are Hill Street Blues and The Bob Newhart Show. St. Elsewhere and The Mary Tyler Moore Show are apparently safe for now.

Adalian confirms this isn't some tax write-off thing, and he also notes that this is intracompany negotiating. I mean, these are 20th Century Fox titles, and Disney owns them and also controls Hulu. Yet there still has to be an exchange of money to stream the titles, and Hulu just decided, nah, we're good.

This is really disheartening not because those particular shows are disappearing--at least those two are still on Prime Video, and maybe they turn up somewhere else, say at Fox-owned Tubi, plus they are at least complete on DVD--but because at one point it looked like Hulu was going to be the streaming hub for classic TV lovers. Netflix stopped (or was denied access to) streaming a ton of Universal and Paramount shows years ago, then Hulu picked up a bunch of great ones, and it looked like, yeah, it's on.

Then it started quietly shedding a lot of its older series, and then most of the Paramount stuff left. Hey, at least there were the Fox shows, which Disney OWNED. And wasn't that at least one tiny rationale of that huge Disney/Fox deal--acquiring library content for Hulu?

Well, nowadays the strategy is to give consumers much less and charge much more, and it looks like now we are going to the phase of jettisoning stuff that is in theory easy to license. Take away the big catalog from Hulu, and what do you have? The FX portion is significant, but it's starting to look a lot less distinguishable from Disney Plus, which is probably not a coincidence. It looks like Disney is blurring the lines between the two services, possibly as a hedge or strategy as it negotiates with Comcast for full control of the service.

Here is the problem as I see it: They are charging money for Hulu, and they are bundling it with D+ and ESPN+ in a way that makes it look like a distinct and valuable property. Yet the value of Hulu keeps going down. It also disheartens that this latest catalog dump indicates that going forward, there is no hope. So much for wishing for Hulu to add MORE Fox shows or even re-adding ones it used to have. Forget about making big deals for other classic shows. Will Moonlighting, rumored to be coming on streaming eventually, still have a home here? Who knows? It won't be alongside good ol' Bob Hartley, though.

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Top Ten #267

1) TV Guide: The magazine gives us fodder for yet another bonus episode this week. We hope you enjoy our attempt to craft a game of sorts out of a cool set of cards that Friend of the Show Dann provided. Just wait till we do TV Guide Charades on an audio-only podcast!

2) Chet Lemon: In case you missed it, yesterday I talked about author Joe Posnanski giving BOTNS vet (via The Baseball Bunch) a shout in his Substack. Here's a cool promo featuring the former White Sox/Tigers OF:

3) Peanuts Anthology: You have to admire Apple Plus' commitment to the world of Peanuts. This weekend it adds a slew of vintage animated specials, some of them ones I don't even remember.

4) National Punctuation Day: And let us celebrate by saluting one of the great commas in television history: The one after Murder and preceding She Wrote. Of course, some folks made it more of an ellipsis.

5) Merv Griffin Show: Check out Merv's guest list on this day 50 years ago: Bob Hope, Richard Pryor, and Buddy Hackett!

6) Vanna White: Congrats to the TV legend for signing a new deal to stay on Wheel of Fortune. Those letters don't turn themselves, you know. Wait, maybe they do. I haven't seen the show in a while.

7) Groundstar Conspiracy: On this night in 1973, this 1972 spy thriller with George Peppard premiered on NBC.

8) John J. O'Connor: The New York Times' TV critic/resident grump wrote an interesting article that appeared in print 50 years ago today. In it, he looked at a recent Saturday morning TV lineup and complained about the amount and nature of the commercials, itemizing what he saw during a stretch of NBC's Emergency +4.

He did note that CBS had its What's in the News segments, and he also gave props to this new develoment:
"And, also each hour, the American Broadcasting Company has clever animations combining music and lessons in multiplication and grammar. These crumbs of quality are tasty but, given the whole menu, hardly sufficient."

9) Fall: BOTNS listeners know that Emotional Summer ended several weeks ago, but the official end is this weekend.

10) R.I.P. Phil Hartman: He would have been 75 years old today.

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Joe Posnanski on BOTNS All-Star Chet Lemon

I'm a happy subscriber to Joe Posnanki's Substack, a prolific showcase for the veteran sportwriter's excellent writing (Just finished his great new book "Why We Love Baseball," too). Often he accepts reader challengers to explore some topic of their choosing. On September 12, he talked about A Batty-nominated athlete: Chet Lemon!

From his Substack on 9/12:

Brilliant reader Michael threw out an interesting challenge — it is to answer this question: Who was a better player, Kirby Puckett or Chet Lemon?

The conceit of the challenge and the analysis is that Puckett is an iconic baseballer of a certain era, while Lemon is just a random 70s/80s guy to many, yet their stats are a lot more similar than you might think when you use advanced numbers. Lemon actually scores higher in both accepted methods of calculating WAR, for example.

Who was the better player? I don’t think the answer matters as much as the question. Chet Lemon is underrated. He was one helluva player, who was not appreciated enough when he played.

I recommend you check out the whole thing, but I enjoy seeing Chet get some love. One thing Joe misses, though, is that great Baseball Bunch appearance Mike and I discuss on the podcast. Surely you have to weight that when comparing a player who was ON the Bunch to a player who was not.

Top Ten #266 REDUX?

NOTE: This list did publish last Sunday, but I entered the incorrect publishing date, so many may have missed it in the feed. We will have a new list tomorrow as usual. Thank you!

1) Starsky and Hutch: We talk about the show on this week's podcast, and we like it! Let's hear it for good, old-fashioned TV violence!

2) Captain Dobey: Due to the nature of the episode we discussed, we didn't talk as much about Dobey as I might have liked, AND I AM GETTING SICK AND TIRED OF IT!

3) The Love Boat 1983 ABC Fall Preview: 40 years ago tonight, the network promoted its new season with the cast of the Boat in character, and all I can say is, why, oh, why is the whole special not on YouTube?

4) Miss America 1984: The annual pageant was held 40 years ago tonight, and Vanessa Williams was named Miss America 1984. She went on to have a long and happy reign, and she--Oops.

5) The Brady Bunch: Big week for the iconic sitcom, with Barry Williams announced as a contestant on the upcoming Dancing with the Stars season and the show's famous house selling for--Well, let's just say the new owner won't have to complain about the price of Sam's meats.

6) Monday Night Football: 50 years ago tonight, the program's third season kicked off with a Jets/Packers match-up, but there was considerably less drama than there was last Monday!

7) The Fugitive: Another TV milestone happened 60 years ago tonight. Yes, just a little outside our timeframe, but I want to mark the anniversary of the premiere of one of the finest dramas ever.

8) National Hispanic Heritage Month: It's kind of cool that it's not a calendar month but goes from mid September through mid October. Hey, I just got an email from Tubi saying it was celebrating the event with...No, not Chico and the Man. Chasing Papi. Oh, well.

9) 60 Minutes: The show begins its 56th season (!) tonight. 56! Wow! At this rate, they might catch The Simpsons someday.

10) John Ritter: The star would have been 75 years old today. It's amazing that he died 20 years ago.

Friday, September 22, 2023

Brooks on Books: Starsky and Hutch in a Golden Book?

Starsky and Hutch, a poster show for excessive violence in television at one point in the Seventies, does not seem an ideal candidate for merchandising aimed at kids. Or does it? Apparently someone thought the younger set would be enchanted by a fictional world of violence, narcotics, prostitution, and other assorted social ills and general coptastic mayhem. We talked on the podcast about this, but here is one of my favorite examples: Western Publishing's illustrated look at our favorite Seventies buddy cop team.

William Blinn is credited as show creator, with comic book vets George Kashdan and Jack Sparling listed as writer and artist, respectively.

The book contains 3 short stories, each accompanied by a couple of big illustrations. 

I don't think these are adaptations of actual Starsky episodes, but, boy, they could be. Some of the themes explored in this book are: Police corruption, assault, organized crime, blackmail, adultery, assassination, and good old-fashioned murder.

The first story has a reference to "an assortment of nodding addicts and rocking winos." Prostitution, I will say, is the one thing not mentioned in this All-Star Golden Book.

One of my favorite moments comes when Starsk and Hutch confront a closed door and confirm that they need a warrant to search the premises, but if the door should happen to open accidentally...and Hutch kicks it down.

Later, a story begins with Hutch acting as a "big brother" type to a woman having relationship troubles, basically seducing her. When he and Starsky go out on some actual policework, he asks her to wait there a couple hours, then keeps checking the time while on the case because he is thinking about "the chick waiting in my pad."

I am not sure what the target audience was for this in 1977, but I love it in 2023. This is great stuff, and it really does feel like the TV show. There is even a scene with Dobey bemoaning his health food lunch and calling to order a veal parmagiana after a stressful moment,

Western, the publisher of Whitman comics as well as Gold Key and Little Golden Books, did other books in this line, like a Charlie's Angels one that I really want to see now. This is a great collectible for fans of the decade, the TV of the era, and especially those who enjoy Starsky and Hutch.