Friday, June 9, 2023

Power Rankings: Canadians who should have been on "The Littlest Hobo"

Power Rankings Friday means we use our scientific, proven methods to rank something related to the show of the week. In this case, it's Canada's The Littlest Hobo, which featured many Canadian actors of renown, many in their early years, but by no means all of them!

Remember, this is based on who would win on a neutral field in Rouleau, Saskatchewan.

1) William Shatner: It's simple: He's gonna be number one or close to it for pretty much any conceivable list like this.

2) Leslie Nielsen: Imagine the off-camera hilarity as the noted prankster tried to blame certain odd sounds and smells on his co-star. And Nielsen would do the same to London, too!

3) Michael J. Fox: "That dog..." [Swigs some orange juice from the bottle] "That dog is special."

4) Kim Cattrall: London and "Lassie" together at last!

5) Eugene Levy: I'm sitting here picturing Levy and the Hobo in the same shot, and for some reason, I am already laughing.

6) Paul Shaffer: "That dog is one kooky cat, I tell ya!"

7) Rowdy Roddy Piper: Piper would have been willing to play the heel and lose out to the Hobo--just as long as he didn't have to take a pinfall, that is. Imagine how much he would have elevated the energy level on the show!

8) Dan Aykroyd: I could see him matching wits with the Hobo as a fast-talking con artist, a fast-talking shady salesman, a fast-talking--Well, you get the idea. Hobo doesn't need dialogue to command the screen, so the two would be a good pair.

9) Bonar Bain: One of our absolute favorite Conrads is of course Mr. Bain, but what a coup it would have been to get his twin brother, also a BOTNS star!

10) Anne Murray: No explanation needed...nor available. Just think of the seismic clamor this would have caused in, say, 1979.

Also receiving votes: Catherine O'Hara, John Candy, Bruce Greenwood, Rick Moranis, Martin Short

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Show Notes and Video Playlist: Episode 11-3: The Littlest Hobo

*Thanks again to Friend of the Show Dann for suggesting this program! And we extend another sincere thanks to our friends and listeners in Canadia and ask that you please excuse our ignorance of Canadian television!

*This week's video playlist contains the actual episode of The Littlest Hobo we discuss, plus promos, commercials, and more, all with a bit of extra Canadian flavor! Just click below to check it out.

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

*The Littlest Hobo ran 6 seasons and 114 episodes on CTV from 1979 to 1985. 

*The series' theme song, "Maybe Tomorrow," is written by John Crossen performed by Terry Bush, a Toronto musician who recorded some other notable jingles. You can see some more of his work in the video playlist this week.

*"Small Change" premiered Thursday, February 7, 1985. The series ended its long run in March.

*Just the week before, CTV saw Check It Out! and Night Heat premiere.

*Chuck Eisenmann trained the Hobo dogs. He was also a big star in and organizer of military baseball teams and leagues in World War II, as you can see in this article.

*Multiple dogs played the title role, and this website gets into the German Shepherd business.

*World Mime Day is March 22 each year!

Episode 11-3: The Littlest Hobo

This week, we venture north to Canada, where resourceful, wise, and perhaps supernatural German Shepherd The Littlest Hobo wanders Ontario in search of humans in need of help. This time, the action centers around an arcade, where he finds a deaf guy, a mime, and a grumpy old man and helps stop a couple of nogoodniks bent on robbing the place.

#podcast #tv #retrotv #seventies #eighties #littlesthobo #dogs #arcades #videogames #canada


Check out this episode!

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Power Rankings: The best regular segments on "Entertainment Tonight"

For this second set of Power Rankings for Entertainment Tonight, we follow our list of recurring segments that should have been with one of the actual regular segments on the program. Remember the rankings are based on the program's 1980s period and are based on who would beat who if the segments squared off in a bounce house in Mesa, Arizona.

1) The opening: Yes, the best part of the typical ET episode was the beginning. You get the theme song composed by Michael Mark, a powerful tune that became synonomous with celebrity-driven infotainment. You get a rundown of the topics on the upcoming episode. Keep in mind at this point, you don't know how much material you will get on a given subject or how much effort is put into it; you just know it's happening, and with that peppy music, everything is on the table.

2) Leonard Maltin's movie reviews: I have discussed these before on the podcast--twice, in fact--but you have to love the opening shot from behind showing Maltin sitting in a theater as a clip plays. His basic decency comes through right away as we remark how patient he is. Then he gets to talk about the movie, using not just a simple thumb, nor even 4 or 5 stars, but a scale of 1 to 10! Surely the nuance of a critique of Troop Beverly Hills gets full play in the more expansive Maltin scale.

3) Box office numbers: Back in the day, before obsessive coverage of weekend box office results, the estimates ET gave Monday night gave us some of the biggest movie biz news you could get on a regular basis without access to the trades.

4) ET Digest: In one tidy segment, you could get birthdays, new home media releases, and maybe an anniversary or two!

5) Premier parties: These segments were pretty useless in one way; who is gonna give an honest opinion to an ET camera at a gala to celebrate Three Men and a Little Lady? Yet they had their own charm. Sometimes there is entertainment value in seeing some befuddled celebrities attempt to produce a worthy sound bite about the latest whatever. And entertainment is the name of the game here.

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Top Ten #252

1) Entertainment Tonight: You voted for infotainment, and you GOT infotainment this week on the podcast!

2) Amazon Prime Video: This is becoming the #1 streamer for classic TV, if it weren't already, adding lots of stuff this month and adding it to Prime proper instead of Freevee. We're talking Mannix, Barnaby Jones, Mork and Mindy, Happy Days, Laverne and Shirley, and more for June. Now, they are still adding (I hope) episodes of some of these, but let's give them some time. I think Prime and Freevee now have more Paramount classic shows than Paramount Plus does.

3) Burt Reynolds: His Burtness was all over the first episode of ET, and the ladies in the show tried to get all over him. I guarantee you Burt will return to BOTNS someday. How could he not?

4) John Tesh: Did Mary Hart's legs ever write a theme as awesome as 'Roundball Rock"? I don't think so!

5) There Goes the Neighborhood: This pilot aired 40 years ago tonight on NBC. Buddy Hackett, G.W. Bailey, and Patrick Collins star as 3 hobos who inherit a fortune.Graham Jarvis and Keene Curtis appear, too!

Lee Goldberg's indispensable Unsold Television Pilots quotes another book: In the book The Sweeps, the authors say the pilot was killed by Hackett, who was funny during rehearsals but "froze up" when the camers started rolling, so that his 'screwball attitude congealed into a stilted, painful tightness that brought the entire production down around him."

Would you like to see this? Me, too! Click below! (Note the upload lists the airdate as 4/6/83, but it is really 6/4/83)

In other news, I just purchased a used copy of The Sweeps.

6) CHiPs: All 6 seasons of the show debuted on Plex--free with ads--this week. You know, sometimes in my quieter moments, I reflect and wonder, how in the world have we discussed that series TWICE? But they were good epsiodes, and you should absolutely listen to them here and here.

7) French Open: As play goes on now at Roland Garros, we commemorate the Ladies' Final of 1983 40 years ago today, with 

8) Parker Stevenson: Many versions of the Hardys have appeared through the years, but only one set encountered both Lorne Greene and Paul Williams! Happy birthday to Parker Stevenson.

9) American Gladiators: The syndicated sports entertainment show, which began in 1989, just got a 30 for 30 documentary on ESPN. Ah, yes, I remember seeing The Last Dance a few years ago and thinking, boy, I wish someone would do a comprehensive, three-hour look at American Gladiators!

Who am I kidding? I totally want to see it.

10) R.I.P. Michael Norrel, George Maharis: 

Saturday, June 3, 2023

YouTube Spotlight: John Tesh's "Roundball Rock"

I have to cheat a little bit on this week's Spotlight post. This clip is from just outside our timeframe. Yet with the NBA Finals underway, this takes me right back to the NBA on NBC and how much fun it was to watch Jordan and Da Bulls. I don't watch much anymore, but back in the day, it was a different story!

Any game was improved by the presentation that began with John Tesh's "Roundball Rock," but take a big match-up like this...I get chills, I tell ya!

Friday, June 2, 2023

Power Rankings: Entertainment Tonight recurring segments that should have been

It's time once again for our official, oft-imitating power rankings! This week we look at regular segments Entertainment Tonight should have had during the 1980s but did not. 

1) Sing Along with John Tesh: The set-up is simple: Clear out space in front of the desk, insert huge piano, let Tesh sit down and tickle the ivories while a guest sings a medley of the week's top 5 hits on the Billboard chart.

2) Face to Face with Ron Hendren: Another segment pairing an anchor with a performer, but in this case Rascally Ron would sit and critique a star's project while that star sat next to him. I don't think Hendren would have any problem being honest in that setting, and it would be a heckuva watch.

I mean, they would actually be side by side because their faces would be looking at a screen, but you get the idea.

3) Nerd Zone: ET could have been way ahead of the "Geek culture" craze by getting out in front of all of it in the early Eighties. It could have hired celebrity "nerd correspondents" like Arvid Engen in character to report on computer games, comic books, and the like.

4) ET Retro: When I say retro, I mean really retro. The series isn't afraid to go for nostalgia or focus on stars of the past every now and then, but I would have liked to have seen the show go wayyyyy back in time every now and then and simulate what the format would resemble in not the 1980s, but the 1880s. Tesh with a stovepipe hat introducing a story about Buffalo Bill's Wild West is my idea of fantastic television.

5) Book reviews: Hey, books are part of "entertainment," right? I don't recall much coverage of anything that wasn't made into a miniseries or written by Jackie Collins. The producers could have given a few minutes a week to some "egghead" to yak about the written word. Dick Cavett could have done this with more than a hint of irony. It may not have been ratings gold, but it would have added to the variety, especially if they enforced a "One Woody a year" policy.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Show Notes and Video Playlist: Episode 11-2: Entertainment Tonight

*Thanks again to all who voted in our Eighties Infotainment Episode poll! As we announced in this episode, the vote was so close that we have decided to go ahead and do Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous next season.

*Check our our playlist for this episode, including the two ETs we discuss, by clicking below! You will also see sports, movie spots, promos, and more!

You can also visit our official YouTube channel at any time for all our past podcasts and episode-specific playlists for each one!

*Entertainment Tonight premiered September 14, 1981, in first-run syndication and continues to this day. It was the first syndicated program sent by satellite.

*Here is the TV Guide ad from the 1981 Fall Preview:

*That Monday Night Football game from the Monday night debut in 1981 saw the Raiders crush the Vikings, 36-14.

*In addition to his long run on The Young and Restless, OG ET host Tom Hallick appears in Irwin Allen's 1976 pilot Time Travelers.

*You can see Marjorie Wallace become Miss World in 1973 in this week's video playlist or by clicking here.

Hill Street Blues won 6 Emmys, including best drama series; while Taxi won 5, including best comedy series.

*Burt Reynolds' Paternity grossed just under $19 million for Paramount in its 1981 wide release. Roger Ebert's review is right here.

*Bo Derek's Tarzan the Ape Man was a big hit despite being trashed by critics.

*Faye Dunaway plays Evita Peron in the 1981 TV movie of the same name--Evita Peron, not Faye Dunaway. The movie co-stars James Farentino as Juan Peron (!) along with Rita Moreno, Signe Hasso, and Michael Constantine.

*The Four Seasons was released in May 1981 and was a short-lived TV show in 1984.

*The second episode we spotlight is from Thursday, September 18, 1986.

*The Bengals beat the Browns 30-13 in the ABC broadcast of Thursday Night Football.

*Mary Hart became co-host in 1982, stepping down in 2011. John Tesh joined her in 1986 and left the series in 1996. Leeza Gibbons was on the show 1984-2000. John and Leeza from Hollywood debuted in syndication in 1993, then became Leeza when Tesh left and ran to Fall 2000.

*Robb Weller was only on the show 1984-1986, but he continued to host Entertainment This Week until 1989.

*John Fogerty's Eye of the Zombie album was a disappointment, and he didn't do another solo album for 11 years.

*It's a Live-In World is a project from the Anti-Heroin Project benefiting the Phoenix House Charities in the UK. The video is in the playlist! 

*Perry King's movie with Loni Anderson is 1986 TV movie Stranded.

*Also in the playlist, head to the end for some vintage Lionel Richie concert footage that includes some dancing on the ceiling!

Episode 11-2: Entertainment Tonight

In our first listener poll episode of the season, we cover two episodes of the original entertainment news magazine Entertainment Tonight. First up, the series premiere. While the show looks familiar, the hosts might not. Luckily, Burt Reynolds is there to hold the hands the audience and fifty pregnant women. Next, an episode from the classic Mary Hart-John Tesh era. This one has 1986 written all over it--Lionel Richie, the Mets, and Judd Nelson! 

#podcast #tv #retrotv #seventies #eighties #entertainmenttonight #maryhart #johntesh #leezagibbons


Check out this episode!

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

YouTube Spotlight: "Meet Millie" with a young Florence Halop

Our YouTube playlist this week features, thanks to the excellent Gilmore Box account, a clip of the opening credits of 1950s CBS sitcom Meet Millie:

We included this vintage piece of TV history because the sitcom co-starred Florence Halop as titular secretary Millie's mother. Halop, born in 1923 is in her early thirties here, though obviously "playing older." She replaced the great Bea Benederet in the role when the program moved to TV from its radio beginnings. The title role changed, too, with Elena Verdugo taking the title role after MGM forced Audrey Totter to leave. One of my all-time favorites, the great Marvin Kaplan, was another regular! In the latter part of the series' run, Roland Winters (Charlie Chan in a handful of flicks) played Millie's boss.

Wikipedia says that the Paley Center has episodes in its collections, but it is hard to find material online. The clips I posted here are all I saw on YouTube. One of my favorite TV books, Harry and Wally's Favorite TV Shows, doesn't even mention it even though it ran 4 years. I'd love to see more of it. There is something charming about that promo above, and you can't go wrong with Kaplan. Make Mine Millie!

Because I may never get the chance to write about Meet Millie again, here are some photos from my personal library:

No pics of Halop, to my regret, but the top is from Prime-Time Television: A Pictorial History by Fred and Stan Goldtein, the middle pic is from How Sweet It Was by Arthur Shulman and Roger Youman (Actually, a later edition of the book under a different title), and the listing is from a TV Guide dated April 2-8, 1955.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Happy Memorial Day from BOTNS!

We celebrate those who serve, and especially those who served and gave their lives in U.S. military operations. Since I posted a Joe Mantegna clip yesterday, it might be better to give the Armed Forces a recruiting moment today and play one of those great vintage Eighties ads that ran all the time:

We'll be back with another Night-Court-adjacent post tomorrow, and remember another episode of the pod arrives Thursday! Happy Memorial Day!

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Top Ten #251: Happy Memorial Day!

1) Night Court: We had a lot to say about the 1980s sitcom this week on our Season 11 premiere!

2) Memorial Day: We thank and honor everyone who died serving in the United States military. Since this holiday belongs to Gary Sinise and Joe Mantegna now (And their work is commendable), here is a look at Mantegna in The Money Pit:

3) Gimme a Break and Kate and Allie: VEI Entertainment re-releases both series on DVD this week.

4) Celebration America: Get this: 40 years ago, NBC aired portions of a Democratic Party fundraising telethon in prime time. The event was hosted by Daniel J. Travanti and Leslie Uggams, and Tom Shales--not for political reasons; he trashes James Watt and The 700 Club in the same piece--panned it

5) Sirota's Court: We mentioned this big What We'd Like to See on the podcast this week. The 1976 NBC courtcom predated Night Court by nearly a decade.

6) National Hamburger Day: Celebrate!

7) The Brady Bunch house: It's on the market again! Listing price is $5.5 million. Just think how much it would be if that lovely vase conveyed!

8) The Wheelers: They didn't make Friday's power rankings, but they are still in our hearts:

9) One Night Band: Also airing 40 years ago tonight, this unsold pilot from MTM Enterprises starred Stepfanie Kramer as the singer of a country band. Lee Goldberg's Unsold Television Pilots says the premise had the band staying one step ahead of their evil manager, who is hunting them down for welshing on the bad contract he conned them into signing. Also in the cast are Brad Maule and, according to Goldberg's book, a young Dennis Haskins!

10) R.I.P. Tina Turner, Ed Ames, Marlene Clark:

Saturday, May 27, 2023

YouTube Spotlight: Starry Night presents "Nikki and Alexander"

Night Court  creator Reinhold Weege and his Starry Night Productions produced the unsold pilot Nikki and Alexander in 1989, and you can take a look at the full episode here.Tim Matheson is a New Yorker who takes in a homeless woman from Russia. It was referred to as a "spinoff" of Night Court in TV Guide, and the TCM website makes the same reference, but I can't figure out how it is. 

Irena Ferris (now Medavoy) is not playing the same character she does on Night Court--a glamorous blonde Soviet official denying Yakov a visa in "Russkie Business," which we mention on the pod! Monte Markham and Nana Visitor also appear. And shout-out to Kyle Heffner, who co-stars and, hey, appears to be the uploader! The great Robert Costanzo appears as a cop.

I can't find much more info about this pilot, but I do know that the end credits look a little familiar:

Friday, May 26, 2023

Power Rankings: Night Court!

Here we go! We kick off this new season of the pod with a look at Night Court, and it also time to resume the weekly power ratings. These are scientific analyses of various aspects of the shows we discuss on the podcast. Remember, this is based on who would win if these characters fought in a steel cage at a neutral site in Little Rock, Arkansas.

1) Harry: For few other hit shows would I fear stirring controversy by naming the main character number one. Harry Anderson was a likable performer who grew as time went on, and the series could have used more, not less, of Judge Stone.

2) Dan: What more can we say about Dan Fielding?

Well, that depends on the statute of limitations.

Later Dan = not so great, but early-mid-show's run Dan is gold.

3) Christine: I still think Night Court had some trouble finding her, but Markie Post is one of the iconic performers of the Eighties, and the majority of fans can't consider it "true" Night Court until she comes aboard.

4) Mac: Everybody loves Mac! Even his in-laws. He's the character you most would want to work alongside.

5) Bull: Great for several laugh-out-loud visual gags every few episodes or so, but often provided the show's heart (for better or worse) before it started straining to find it elsewhere.

6) Selma: What a broad! Oh, what a shame it was she didn't last longer. No disrespect meant to Roz, but Selma alone makes much of that "early" Night Court worthwhile, and despite a short stint I consider her a core character/

7) Roz: Or as the captions read in an episode I just saw, "Ros." (The captions are wrong.) Marsha Warfield had a tough job to do but stabilized the role and the show. She could be higher if the show had been able to figure out how to utilize her sooner.

8) Yakov: You may ask, why, for a sitcom that ran 9 seasons, does a character who only appeared in a handful of episodes rank above many others who were more prominent?

Well, have you heard us talk about What a Country?

9) Florence: She left a big impression in her single season and had a lot of potential. Overshadowed by Selma and Roz but worth honoring.

10) Art: The building's resident handyman had some quirks, but I would hire him to work on the house. Art cracks me up, and the series resists the temptation to overexpose him.

Also receiving votes: Phil, Buddy, Liz, Lana, Mel Torme

Not receiving votes: Leon, Tony Giuliano

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Show Notes and Video Playlist: Episode 11-1 Night Court

*Welcome back to Battle of the Network Shows! We are excited and looking forward to a great eleventh season of the podcast! Join us here each Thursday for show notes clarifying, explaining, maybe even on rare occasions correcting what we say on the podcast.

*This is also the place to get quick access to our official video playlist for this episode, embedded right here/ Click below to see commercials! PSAs! Promos! The opening credits of...Meet Millie? A clip from The Pat Sajak Show? Yes, all that and much more in a supersized playlist!

Remember, you can always visit our YouTube page for access to past episodes and playlists for each one of them!

*Thanks again to Friend of the Show Ian of Ian Talks Comedy!

*The original Night Court ran on NBC for 9 seasons (1984-1992) and 193 episodes. It premiered in midseason 1983-84 (January '84) and then made the Fall 1984 schedule. 

*After beginning its run as a Wednesday night program, it moved to Thursdays at 9:30, where it stayed more or less until NBC placed it on Wednesdays in Fall 1988.

*The series earned 31 Emmy nominations and won 7, more than half of those going to John Laroquette before he withdrew from consideration in 1989. Night Court was nominated for best comedy series 3 times.

*Ratings-wise, it was a top 10 program in seasons 4 and 5 and slid down to the high 40s-ish for its final two seasons.

*Digital subchannel Laff is still around, but it no longer airs Night Court. The series is still streaming on FreeVee, though.

*Reinhold Weege is one man, but we confirm Reinhold Judge pronounces his last name "Judge," not "Judgee."

*Dear John aired on NBC for 4 seasons (1988-1992). It was an adaptation of a British series and starred Judd Hirsch and Jere Burns.

*Karen Austin was the first court clerk, Lana, and left under unclear circumstances. Austin reports being let go after coming down with Bell's Palsy; as Mike says, others have reported stories of conflict on the set.

*Paula Kelly, the series' original public defender (Uh, not counting the pilot, which starred Gail Strickland), actually got an Emmy nomination for her role even though today it's evident they didn't do very much with her. It appears that the producers just wanted to go in a different direction, and Markie Post was the original choice for that role anyway/ of course, it was Ellen Foley who replaced Kelly, so...There was a lot of turnover on this show the first couple seasons! 

Then of course there was the bailiff situation, with Selma Diamond dying after season 2 and capable replacement Florence Halop passing away after season 3.

*Sirota's Court was a short-lived NBC sitcom in 1976. You can see the opening credits in this week's YouTube playlist.

*Here is the picture from TV Guide (1984 Fall Preview) that I mention. It is in the "Early Starters" section along with shows like Riptide, featuring programs that had already debuted.

*You can see a bit of Ellen Foley's short-lived variety show 3 Girls 3 in our YT playlist.

*This particular episode, "Another Day in the Life," premiered February 18, 1988 as part of the series' fifth season. It went up against the Winter Olympics, as we mention on the pod.

*Pat Corley went on to play bar owner Phil on Murphy Brown.

*Marcia Wallace was best known for her role as receptionist Carol on The Bob Newhart Show.

*Here is a link to that Ken Tucker piece I mention that coincided with the series finale.

Monday, May 22, 2023

What to expect here on the website for Season 11

We are excited about the pending Season 11 of your favorite award-giving classic TV podcast! Here is the schedule you can expect once we get going:

THURSDAY: The greatest day of the week. It's PODCAST DAY! We will continue to premiere new episodes each Thursday morning in season for your listening pleasure! Episodes will be available here and on all other major podcast platforms.

Also each Thursday, we will post the Show Notes and the Video Playlist for each new episode. The latter will be on YouTube and linked in that Show Notes post.

FRIDAY: Each Friday will be a Power Rankings Friday with a subjective but totally meaningful ranking of some aspect of the program or topic we cover on the week's podcast episode.

SATURDAY:  YouTube Spotlight pulls one of the videos out of the playlist for the week and takes a closer look.

SUNDAY: The long-running Top Ten (250 weeks in a row and counting!) continues each and every Sunday!

MONDAY: and TUESDAY: There will be a variety of posts on these days, but we may not publish every Monday and Tuesday in season, and they may be unrelated to the current podcast episode. (How's that for solid information? Almost Nimoy-esque!)

WEDNESDAY: We tease the next day's new episode and get you ready for the "podcast week" to begin again!

A few words about the subject matter in Season 11: As you know, we like to keep our schedules under wraps to preserve some surprise from week to week. We can tell you that this is the most listener-influenced season yet, with two episodes chosen by you in polls and more listener-suggested/requested episodes then ever before! 

Two other tidbits: Get ready for a nice stretch of BOTNS because this should be the longest season yet. Also, we are doing several programs we have wanted to do for a long time. I guarantee you we have a wide variety of TV shows and specials on the docket this season...including some actual variety!

Thanks again for your support, and we hope you will join us for this entire exciting season on Battle of the Network Shows!

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Top Ten #250: Special "250" Edition!

1) Season 11: More BOTNS is coming! We posted a teaser this week, and in case you missed it:

2) Brooke Shields: I watched the recent Hulu documentary Pretty Baby: Brooke Shields, and I thought it was very well done, but to be honest, I was kinda holding my breath seeing if something bad would come out about Bob Hope (it didn't).

3) Kurt Loder: On this week's Rolling Stone podcast, Loder had a great attitude about his whole time at MTV but explained why he left: "I don't like seeing old people on television." He said he was getting too old for the gig!

4) National Waitstaff Day: Please remember to tip them!

5) Raymond Burr: It's the late Perry Mason star's birthday, is it not?

6) TV Pilots: 50 years ago tonight, ABC threw together three TV pilots and called it..."TV Pilots": The barbara Eden Show, Catch-22, and The Karen Valentine Show.

7) Newhart series finale: 33 years ago tonight, the famous finale concluded with a shocker as Dick Loudon woke up and saw Bobby Ewing coming out of the shower.

8) Tuscan Frozen Pops: I wish I could embed this in the post, but the uploader has not enabled that option, so if you want to see Buddy Hackett pretend to be 4 years old, go here and start at 16:48,

Or you could not click it and not be horrified like I was. Your choice!

9) Disney's Greatest Villains: 40 years ago tonight, the Walt Disney program aired this tribute to the baddest of the bad. I still find that time Disney was on CBS each week an odd period between the NBC and ABC eras.

By the way, this oft-repeated special does not include Bob Chapek in its rankings.

10) R.I.P. Superstar Billy Graham: The former WWWF (not a typo) Heavyweight Champion died this week at 79.

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Top Ten #249: Special Mother's Day Edition

1) Mother's Day: Baseball Hall of Famer and longtime Mets broadcaster Ralph Kiner said it best: "It's Mother's Day, so to all you mothers out there, happy birthday!"

(The guy was an outstanding player and I loved him as an announcer. See the tribute clip below.)

2) Hal Gurnee's Network Time Killers: Isn't that what most of primetime broadcast TV these days? Anyways, the Letterman YT channel posted the first official installment of this recurring feature that the show debuted during a previous WGA strike.

3) Christina Applegate and Michael J. Fox: Shouts to two stars battling long-term health issues. Applegate may retire from on-screen acting while battling MS, and Fox is the subject of Still, a new documentary that looks at his ongoing fight against Parkinson's. I look forward to the emotional segment examining the time his alcoholic Syntram Corporation exec uncle slapped him.

4) MTV News: Paramount restructuring means it's all over for the division, which may have made more memorable moments in the Nineties but which started in 1987.

5) One Day at a Time: Antenna celebrates the holiday with a big ol' marathon of the sitcom, which did indeed have a mother, and I don't mean Schneider.

6) Michael Douglas: The actor will be guest of honor at next week's Cannes Film Festival and will receive the prestigious Palme d'Honneur, which translates loosely to "the younger guy on Streets of San Francicsco."

7) Academy of Country Music Awards: The ceremony was streamed live on Prime Video last week. I bet back in the day Merle Haggard didn't stream no Country Music Awards. I mean, his Internet connection was horrible in the Seventies and Eighties.

8) Peabodys and Pulitzers: Winners were announced this week, and, no Battle of the Network Shows did not win either. Rest assured, we remain your favorite award-giving vintage TV podcast.

9) Tom Hanks: His debut novel was published this week. It's a thinly disguised roman a clef about an alcoholic Syntram Corporation exec who slaps his nephew.

10) R.I.P. Too long a list this week, as we say good-bye to Jacklyn Zeman, John Roland, Billy Saluga, and Newton Minow.

Tuesday, May 9, 2023

Promo Theatre: A Year at the Top gets a push from CBS!

Longtime BOTNS followers know one of our favorite "We'd Like to See" shows is A Year at the Top with Greg Evigan and Paul Shaffer. (We first talked about it in our Run, Joe, Run episode)

Mike actually did see a little of it on one of his adventures, but the show remains a rarity even in collecting circles.

Therefore it was a thrill to see one of our favorite YouTube channels, The Museum of Classic Chicago Television, post not one, but two vintage promos for the 1977 CBS series last week:

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Top Ten #248: Special "May the 7th be with you" Edition

1) The WGA Strike: I don't want to make light of a serious situation, but I can't be the only one who thinks this might be an opportunity to catch up on the newer shows.

2) Dynasty: Prime Video added the show to its lineup this week.

3) Taxi: I am not sure how these decisions get made, but this show was put on Amazon's FreeVee service. I guess it makes sense: The wealthy people go to the service that costs 100-some bucks a year, the blue-collar cabbies show up on the free one!

4) Free Comic Book Day: I picked up some cool TV-related comics yesterday in the sale bins. I would love to see some nice paperback collections of stuff like this:

5) Long live the King: No, not Charles--King Harley Race!

6) Tony Award nominations: Congratulations to Best Musical nominee Shucked, which we hope--Wait, this isn't the life story of John Schuck?

7) Fantasy Island: 40 years ago tonight, Fantasy Island succumbed to the temptation to deliver a clip show in "Remember When?" as Roarke recounted past fantasies to help a despondent Tattoo recover after a car accident. Not only that, Roarke postponed all fantasies!

8) National Tourism Day: I remember seeing these Jamaica ads about 10 times if I had ESPN on all afternoon:

9) Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Congratulations to Willie Nelson and his fellow honorees.

10) The Met Gala: This is the only Met gala I want to see:

Monday, May 1, 2023

RetroFan magazine #26 looks at "Super Friends," "All in the Family," and more

The current issue of RetroFan from TwoMorrows Publishing dives into the tangled history of the Super Friends franchise. You may wonder, how can Super Friends, of all shows, be a complicated history? Well, just trust me, it is. We got into a bit of it on our episode, but Andy Mangels does a great job of laying out the early production history of the series.

I say "early" history because this piece is only the first part of a four-parter! Next ish brings the awesome Challenge of the Super Friends incarnation.

The other major BOTNS-adjacent piece is the long profile of Mr. T. The man has had a fascinating life outside of The A-Team, and the article hits many of the highlights. However, though it makes extensive use of T's 1984 autobiography, I believe it avoids the part where the star basically admits to killing people when he needed to do so. There may be some doubt about the veracity of T's book, but the guy has some tales to tell.

There is also a good history of The Avengers (the TV show, that is) with a profile of the almost-original Emma Peel, Elizabeth Shepherd. An article on Cheryl Miller delves into the TV show Daktari. There is even a section on Nutopia, the nation crated by John Lennon and Yoko Ono. I enjoyed the story on Mexican monster movies, which touched on the Santo films.

Maybe my favorite part of RetroFan #26 is the summary of All in the Family collectibles. That's right--AITF. In 2023, it might be difficult to think of the show as a merchandising bonanza, but as the Joey Stivic doll indicates, the megahit did spawn many items. Richard Kolkman describes the t-shirts, the campaign buttons (Archie Bunker for President), the board games, and more in a fun story with some great illustrations.

Material from the Sixties, Seventies, Eighties: A good mix of subject matter in this issue of RetroFan, all presented in the usual appealing package. As always, the magazine earns my highest recommendation!

Sunday, April 30, 2023

Top Ten #247: Special "Hey, April only has 30 days?" Edition

1) Bugs Bunny: Today celebrates his first appearance back in 1938. Quick, let's have the party now before Zaz invites Chip and Joanna!

2) Happy Days' series finale: This article on Catchy Comedy's website (the channel has a marathon of the show this weekend) explains how after the emotional series finale, ABC burned off several more episodes. 

So you mean to tell me they didn't all just pack it in after the elephant dance?

3) Grandpa Al Lewis: The icon would have been 100 today, or at least we think so; he wasn't always the most reliable source for info on his own life. He was a reliable laugh getter, though!

4) NFL Draft: We just don't get great moments like this enough anymore (57 seconds in with Mel Kiper is my favorite):

5) The Love Boat Country Jamboree: 40 years ago tonight, the series had a two-hour special with Batty winner Jessica Walter along with Country stars like Tanya Tucker, Mel Tillis, Minnie Pearl...and Bert Convy!

6) National Raisin Day: Remember when the country was captivated by these guys? 

Remember a month later when we were burned out on them?

7) National Poetry Month: Last chance to commemorate something like this:

8) Burt Young: Happy 83rd birthday to the star of movies and TV shows like 1987's Roomies. He was best known for--Whoa, whoa, whoa. When he played Paulie in Rocky, he was only 36?

9) WWWF Championship Wrestling: WWE Network added 10 episodes from 1980 but skipped over Sgt. Slaughter's Federation debut. Those maggots should drop and give me 20!

10) R.I.P. Harry Belafonte:

Friday, April 28, 2023

Rex Reed on "Three Amigos"

I am not a fan of "Three Amigos," but Rex Reed's self-satisfied takedown of it raises my eyebrows. In the clip below, he claims that everyone at his press screening walked out, leaving only himself and the projectionist--and the projectionist was snoozing!

He's full of it here, right? He doesn't make it clear he's joking. The projectionist part is obviously meant to be a punchline, but the rest of it...?

He makes it sound like a bunch of professional critics found "Three Amigos" so reprehensible that virtually all of them violated their codes of conduct and departed the screening before it was over.  Actually, he doesn't say professional critics, just critics, so maybe he has some wiggle room here. The main thing Reed wants to do is be funny and trash the movie, and I have to admit he does it in a way that gets my attention.

I have said it before, and I will say it again: The more I see the Siskel & Ebert imitators, the more I appreciate the originals and how they could pan even popular movies but still be likable.

(For what it's worth, in their print columns, Ebert gave the movie one star, and Siskel called it boring, but neither claimed to have attended a critic screening at which everyone else left early.)

Sunday, April 23, 2023

Top Ten #246: Special 'Keep America Beautiful--put on a shirt if you go out jogging" edition

1) Earth Day: I've been doing my part for years by buying as many DVDs as I can and keeping them out of landfills!

2) National Record Store Day: Speaking of physical media, I hope collectors had fun yesterday!Just so you know, I already have a nice copy of this one on my wall:

3) Cheers: The show hits Blu-Ray this week. if the idea of owning Cliff and Norm in HD isn't an endorsement for physical media, I don't know what is.

4) Lee Majors: Happy birthday to the Fall Guy!

5) Adventures of Don Quixote: 50 years ago tonight, CBS broadcast the BBC production starring Rex Harrison, and the grumpy Times critic said the biggest problem was...Rex Harrison.

6) Carol Burnett: This Wednesday the icon turns 90, and NBC celebrates with a prime-time special. I guess Lorne Michaels won't be involved.

7) Joyce DeWitt: Happy birthday, and thanks for representing fans of brunettes all those years on Three's Company.

8) Super Mario Brothers Super Show: This clearly paved the way for the massive success of the new movie:

9) The Buggles: Or is it Buggle now? Trevor Horn of "Video Killed the Radio Star" is touring as Seal's opening act.

10) R.I.P. Rita Lakin, Barry Humphries:


Monday, April 17, 2023

HBO never was just for fans of "Dream On" and "The Hitchhiker"

One of the many silly things about this ongoing HBO/MAX/Discovery/Warner saga is the idea that HBO Max would dump a bunch of animated and family titles, proclaim that the service was getting out of that realm (after burying a lot of that content on its platform), then rebrand mere months later and announce it was investing heavily in animated and family titles.

The reason given was that parents were uncomfortable with the "HBO" name in association with any kind of family programming but NOW it's all better with the new "MAX" name...even though many parents probably still associate that with Cinemax, the pay cable alternative for folks who thought HBO wasn't adult enough. But what's this about HBO being a turnoff for parents? This new concept ignores decades of the premium channel cranking out acclaimed and popular shows like...

And what about movies like...

And what about the seasonal specials like...

And that's just the Eighties!

It's amusing that so much of the messaging from the revamped company seems to want to "blame" the HBO identity, when the vast majority of complaints I hear since the merger are HBO fans dreading the "garbage" Discovery programming colliding with the Warners and HBO catalogue.

Well, I guess we shouldn't be surprised that Discovery executives who are running the joint don't want to mention how many people are repulsed by that "brand." I don't buy the idea that HBO is some kind of bogeyman for parents preventing them from hunting for kid shows on streaming, though, and I think that's a weak explanation.

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Top Ten #245: Special "National Eggs Benedict Day" Edition!

1) The Midnight Special: Bert Sugarman is loading a lot of clips and some full episodes to an official YouTube channel, as explained in this article. You can see all kinds of stuff on this channel!

2) James Paul McCartney: Speaking of music and TV, today is the 50th anniversary of the UNSA broadcast premiere of this ABC special. (Note: The whole special isn't hard to find, but I am not jinxing it by posting it here!)

3) Martin Lawrence: Happy birthday to the star of What's Happening Now!!

4) Electra Woman and Dynagirl: Shout-out to the excellent Brick Mantooth for posting a cool look at the merchandise and toys associated with the Krofft series:

5) National Orchid Day: You know who loved orchids? That's right, Nero Wolfe! I think he used them as garnishes for giant steak sandwiches.

6) Bugs Bunny All-American Hero: CBS reran this special 40 years ago tonight. The show debuted in 1981, and then CBS was not shy about running it again in the decade! Anyone else miss primetime network cartoon specials like this?

7) National Healthcare Decisions Day: Every major health decision should be accompanied by the surprisingly rocking theme to Medical Center:

8) Saturday Night Live: 40 years ago, Susan Saint James hosted with musical guest Michael McDonald, and her hairstyle lets you know, yep, it's 1983:

9) Taxes: I am sorry to bring the unpleasant reminder that here in the States you gotta pay THE MAN by Tuesday.

10) R.I.P. Michael Lerner, Harry Lorayne, Elizabeth Hubbard:

Friday, April 14, 2023

And now a word from their sponsor: He has a name! It's Joey Stivic!

Check out this ad for an All in the Family tie-in toy in 1976:

The packaging on this thing is tremendous. "Archie Bunker's grandson." The box makes Archie himself prominent and barely shows Joey.

And as for "physically correct?" No comment on that!

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

"Work it out, talk It out!" Now even easier than before!

Indulge me on this one, please! I was watching a block of old commercials when I saw a much better copy of this "Channeling Children's Anger" PSA we featured on our PSA episode a few seasons back:

I can't pass up the opportunity to post this better video and audio. I still don't know the whole story behond The Institute for Mental Health Initiatives, though.

Sunday, April 9, 2023

Top Ten #244: Special Easter Sunday edition!

1) Easter Sunday: Happy Easter and greetings to all of you celebrating holidays this weekend!

2) Michael Learned: Happy birthday to the Waltons star. Wait, or is it the birthday of Michael Lerner?

NOTE: I wrote and published this post before learning about the death of Lerner this weekend. We mean no disrespect to the talented performer and leave up the link in the spirit in which it was intended, a fun tribute to the longtime character actor.

3) Warner Brothers: The fabled studio celebra5tes 100 years this month by...jettisoning the Discovery Networks stuff? Putting Adventures of Superman on HBO Max? Resurrecting Warner Archive Instant?

Well, probably none of that, but we can at least enjoy the old Warner logo:

4) Bob Hope: 73 years ago tonight, Hope made his first national television appearance on NBC's Star-Spangled Revue. Believe it or not, it was not sponsored by Texaco.

5) The Mike Douglas Show: Look at the guest lineup on an episode broadcast 50 years ago today: Paul Williams, Julie Newmar, Geoffrey Cambridge, Hollywood photographer Allan grant, and musician (and early Springsteen bandmate) George Theiss!

6) John Bartholomew Tucker: If you grew up in the BOTNS era, you heard Tucker's voice...A LOT. He was born 90 years ago today and left us in 2014.

7) Saturday Night Live: A new episode premiered 40 years ago tonight, hosted by Joan Rivers with performances by Musical youth.

8) Nike: The new movie Air tells the story of how a shoe company took over the market--no doubt with entirely ethical and above-board business practices in addition to Michael Jordan.

9) The Masters: A tradition unlike any other. I doubt they would want their prestigious event associated with something so base as a top ten list or a podcast, but here you go.

10) R.I.P.: Judy Farrell, Butch Miller:

Sunday, April 2, 2023

Top Ten #223: special baseball is here edition

1) Baseball: We welcome the return of Major League Baseball, with Baseball Fever a fine way to reduce withdrawal symptoms from the end of March Madness.

2) Welcome Back KotterAnd we also welcome back Gabe Kotter, who has been MIA from streaming for years but can now be seen on Tubi. Some of the fashions and attitudes may be dated, but you know what never gets old? A good, "Did I ever tell you about my Uncle Saul?" joke.

3) The Facts of Life: Mere hours after publishing a look at a handful of female-driven sitcoms not on streaming, guess what shows up on Tubi? No, not Welcome Back Kotter, but a shout to all you Marcia Strassman fans out there. The first 6 seasons of Facts are on Tubi, and now the masses wait for the Clooney Era.

4) Wrestlemania: It's what the world is watching this weekend!  (Except me; I'll maybe check out some highlights. I miss the days of Jim Crockett Promotions...but then again, I also miss "Did I ever tell you about my Uncle Saul?" jokes.

5) Night Court: Catchy Comedy (formerly Decades) at least gets off to a decent start with a marathon of the OG Night Court this weekend.

6) Dallas: The long-running smash hit premiered 45 years ago as a miniseries, but from that moment on, there was nothing "mini" about it.

7) AFI Salute to John Ford: 50 years ago tonight, CBS honored the legendary director with this taped special looking at his extraordinary career. In his speech, he railed on for 5 minutes about how superhero movies were destroying cinema.

8) Jeopardy!: The game show honored the late Alex Trebek this week by running his very first episode this past week.

9) Alcohol Awareness Month: Believe us, we aren't just aware of alcohol in April nor in only one single month.

10) R.I.P.: Chabelo, Kathryn Hays, Larry McMurtry, Mark Russell:

Friday, March 31, 2023

Female-driven shows that are not on streaming

In honor of Women's History Month, ending today let's examine a group of Seventies/Eighties TV shows that remain missing in action on major streaming video platforms.

Kate and Allie: In the latest top ten, we noted the anniversary of the CBS sitcom, which debuted this month in 1984. It was never a huge hit, but it had two appealing stars in Susan Saint James and Jane Curtain, and I think the family comedy has its fans and it ran for 6 seasons. I don't think it has even been in reruns much lately. It's owned by Universal and might make a nice add for Peacock, though not one that fits in with the Bravo and WWE shows, but more with stuff like Home Improvement and Leave It to Beaver.

Alice: What is the deal with this one? It had a cup of chili on Prime Video a few years back but was yanked without fanfare and hasn't been seen since despite Tubi and Roku channel adding some other Warner Brothers shows of the era. This one is available on DVD and for digital purchase, so I am not sure why it isn't streaming somewhere, but I expect it to turn up at some point this year.

The Facts of Life: This is complete on DVD and bounced around some of the free streamers like Pluto and Roku Channel for a while, but has been MIA for a while, all for no apparent reason. Most times it appears, it is only for several seasons at a time, too, not the whole series.

UPDATE: I loaded Tubi mere hours after this post published, and the streamer has added the first 6 seasons of Facts.

Rhoda: This has always lagged behind The Mary Tyler Moore Show and even gets less respect in syndication. It's maybe the highest-profile MTM Enterprises show that didn't make it to Hulu (I think only the first season was there and is long gone) when the service made the deal before the Disney purchase of Fox to get MTM, Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere, White Shadow, and other shows.

Julia: It figures that even as streamers scrambled to celebrate Black history by adding catalog shows, they focused on recent stuff like Living Single. Meanwhile, Diahann Carroll's gentle groundbreaking sitcom gets no attention, and even obscure cable channel Aspire doesn't show it anymore. It's a Fox show owned by Disney, and prospects seem bleak unless the company gets really aggressive about licensing back catalog. It would have been a nice addition to Disney streaming and still would be--maybe if and when Disney gets full control and has incentive to add to Hulu again.