Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Brooks on Books: "Carol Burnett" (Little Golden Book)

It's difficult to summarize the career of beloved TV legend Carol Burnett in a few sentences. It's quite possible to do so in an adorable children's picture book, though, as Andrea Posner-Sanchez (text) and Kelly Kennedy demonstrate in Carol Burnett: A Little Golden Book Biography.

I wasn't aware that the company had branched out so extensively from fairy tales and The Poky Puppy to not just notable IP (go to a rack at your local bookstore and see all the Little Goldens based on DC, Disney, Marvel, Dora, SpongeBob, etc.), but to biographies of famous real-life individuals. There are books for Betty White, Lucille Ball, and, oh, yeah, non-TV stars like Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr.

I was interested in getting the Carol Burnett story, and wonderful Wife of the Show Laurie got it for me. There is a lot of compression, of course, in 24 pages, and there is little about her career after The Carol Burnett Show, but the book gets the high points. You won't see a lot of the darkness, but you get the other highlights, like the ear-tugging and even The Garry Moore Show.

The illustrations are charming, with Kennedy's style age appropriate but also befitting the subject somehow. My favorite part of the book is a two-page spread showing the cast in a hospital sketch. Not only do you see Carol, Harvey, Tim, and Vicki, but you even get to see a Little Golden Book version of the Lyle Waggoner!

This is a fun little book that may be more for collectors and TV fans like us than for the alleged target audience. I am glad to have it on my bookshelf, though, and I love the idea of introducing the wee ones to legends like Burnett.

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Top Ten #214

1) Columbo: The classic detective show (and BOTNS fave) got a lot of props this week as Rian Johnson's acclaimed new Peacock series Poker Face was proud about acknowledging the influence of its predecessor. Star Natasha Lyonne has more than a hint of Columbo in her performance, too. I think removing an eye for the role was a bit too "Method," though.

2) Judd Hirsch: Congrats for the Oscar nomination! Can he add an Academy Award to go on the shelf next to his Batty (Biggest Exasperation in Season 3)?

Also, is anyone else thinking that if he wins, Tony Clifton will interrupt his speech?

3) Lynda Day-George: She's the cover girl on the new RetroFan I got this week, and respect to a mag that puts 2023 LDG, not 1973 LDG, on its cover.

4) Michael J Fox: The subject of a new documentary that premiered at Sundance. I can't confirm that it is designed to commemorate the 40th anniversary of High School USA.

5) 1983 Golden Globes: Among the awards given out 40 years ago tonight (though the show was taped several nights earlier): Best New Male Actor to that young ingenue Ben Kingsley!

6) National Corn Chip Day: What better way to enjoy some football today than with a bag of unhealthy salty snacks?

7) Dick Clark Productions: Penske Media, which somehow owns every trade publication in Hollywood now, bought DCP this week, and I swear I thought that happened several years ago. Am I the victim of a wacky practical joke?

8) Bob Hope's All-Star Super Bowl Party: 40 years ago tonight, NBC aired this special, in which Bob got us ready for the Big Game with the likes of Audrey Landers, Don Rickles, and...

9) Ann Jillian: Happy birthday to another of the stars of that Hope special!

10) R.I.P. Lance Kerwin, Billy Packer, Lloyd Morrisett:

Monday, January 23, 2023

Murder Monday: Does Rian Johnson listen to BOTNS?

On the heels of his popular murder mystery film Glass Onion, director Rian Johnson talked to The New York Times about the classic TV that influenced his upcoming series Poker Face, which stars Natasha Lyonne as a woman who is forced to go across the country and solves mysteries each week as she does. Her "super power" is an ability to tell when anyone is lying.

I recommend reading the entire article because Johnson and Lyonne talk about an affection for Seventies and Eighties television and the case-of-the-week structure it offered (Poker Face, premiering this week, offers self-contained stories within an overall narrative arc for the season). Lyonne admits she didn't grow up as a TV person, but Johnson, as we know from the promotion he did for Onion, LOVES the stuff.

Johnson names 3 episodes that stand out as particular influences: Magnum P.I.'s fourth-season opener "Home by the Sea," a memorable one Mike and I have discussed; Columbo's "Any Old Port in a Storm" (Donald Pleasance + wine); and, hey, what do you know? Guess what episode of Murder, She Wrote Johnson highlights?

That's right, Season 1's "Murder on the Bus," the episode Mike and I discussed on the podcast!

Johnson says: "This episode is kind of Hitchcock-like, in the tradition of The Lady Vanishes, where a group of suspects are all displaced together. This one just happens to guest star Linda Blair and Rue McClanahan." There is something so perfect about that last sentence, I won't quibble about not mentioning Larry Linville or Michael Constantine.

He adds that he misses "the contract the audience had with the show," where Jessica would encounter a murder every single week, but she "was never looking into the camera lens and rolling her eyes and saying, 'Not again!' It was like, if you don't talk about it, we won't talk about it. There was something delightfully charming about that." 

As for Lyonne, she mentions the NYPD Blue pilot, "Etude in Black" from Columbo (Cassavetes), and The Twilight Zone's "The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine" with Ida Lupino. OK, that last one is a little further back, but who is going to complain about a Twilight Zone reference?

Sunday, January 22, 2023

Top Ten #213

1) The Battys: We don't mean to make our show a competition with other competition shows, but I think that our listenership once again beat the Globes when you factor in out-of-home listening like bars, lemonade stands, lean-tos, taxicabs, Arnold's Drive-In, and the astral plane.

2) Night Court: In a recent 2023 predictions post, I indicated the revival of the series would not do well. The two-episode premiere Tuesday night did very well, and it may be a legit hit for NBC and may indeed rekindle interest in the original. So I may have been off when I made that prediction...but I'm feeling much better now.

3) The Bob Newhart Show: Hi, Bob! Half the series is now on Prime Video.

4) The Fall Guy: How apt that this show also steps onto Prime this week! Of course, both shows were linked beginning in the Seventies for airing on the same night and offering sophisticated "smart" television comedy that endures--Wait, being told that was The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

5) Olivia D'Abo: Happy birthday to Kevin Arnold's groovy (if not always rational) older sis.

6) Sally Field: She will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Screen Actors Guild next month.

7) The Family Tree: This sort-lived NBC drama about a blended family debuted 40 years ago tonight on NBC. It tanked despite a cast that included Anne Archer, Frank Converse, Joanna Cassidy, Melora Hardin, and a young James Spader!

8) NFC Championship: Also 40 years ago today, the Washington Redskins played the Dallas Cowboys on CBS for the conference championship. Highlights are below, but the NFL put the whole game on YouTube a few years ago as well.

9) Crazy Like a Fox: Decades runs a marathon of the series this weekend, and you may want to set your DVR because while Crackle streams it, it only has the first 24 episodes (and calls it all "season 1" even though it has some of the first and second seasons).

10) National Polka Dot Day: He supposedly hated this gimmick, but I can't resist. RIP Dusty Rhodes:

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

RetroFan has an interesting mix in its latest issue

Longtime readers of this site will not be surprised that I was delighted by the latest issue of RetroFan magazine from TwoMorrows, nor by my disclaimer that I am not compensated in any way for my review. I kind of wish I were; it's an expensive publication. Yet every couple of months, it satisfies with its mix of pop culture, and while it leans 50s/60s, it often has something of interest for us 70s/80s kids.

The January 2023 issue features talented writer Mark Voger's look at Leave It to Beaver plus Lost in Space co-stars Angela Cartwright and Bill Mumy in a cover story, but in a more BOTNS-era-centric piece, the mag looks at Wesley Eure from Land of the Lost. My favorite story in this edition is the comprehensive history of Underdog, a toon I watched quite a bit growing up. I believe my first exposure to it was on WNEP's Hatchy Milatchy!

Rankin-Bass historian Rick Goldschmidt contributes a story about The Little Drummer Boy--not my favorite of the studio's Christmas specials, but this article makes me want to revisit it.

There is a small piece on Cabbage Patch Kids. Scott Shaw! does a lot of pieces centered on 1960s California surf culture, which is not really in my wheelhouse, but he makes them entertaining. I love the spread spotlighting bizarre gifts from 1960s mail-order catalogs.

OK, I said my favorite story was the Underdog profile. Well, my favorite thing in this issue, period, is the first in a series by Andy Mangels presenting, in chronological order, the Saturday morning TV ads that appeared in comic books. This time takes us from 1962-1969, and I only wish the reproductions were a little bigger, but this is a gem!

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Top Ten #212: Special Happy New Year--I mean, now we know 2023 is really gonna be a thing, so safe to say it now--Edition

1) Eddie Murphy: He got a lifetime award at the Golden Globes this week. I admit I didn't see it; did he mention that standup special? And which would people rather see, a new standup special or Beverly Hills Cop 4 (which we ARE getting)?

2) Carol Burnett: Hey, look what just came out this month:

3) Albert Brooks: Remember when Albert Brooks (no relation) would go on shows like The Tonight Show and just be really funny? Johnny falls so far our of his chair, he winds up on The Dick Cavett Show.

4) Dick Cavett: Speaking of Cavett, there is a really good PBS American Masters this month about Groucho Marx's appearances on his talk show. The program focuses heavily on the earlier ones and doesn't dwell on the later ones when signs of decline were evident. Gilbert fans: You don't exactly hear Groucho say Chico needed the money, but it's close!

5) Charo: Happy birthday--we think--to the legendary Charo, who we talked about more here!

6) Let's Get Personal: Here's an oddity from Wink Martindale's excellent YouTube channel: A failed game show pilot hosted by Chuck Woolery. "Hey, we got game play, compatibility, psychology...We got everything!" "Is there any way you can throw in comedy sketches?" "Give me a minute..."

7) Happy Days: The iconic show premiered on this night in 1974 on ABC.

8) 1983 Hula Bowl: The college football all-star game took place 40 years ago today, with future Hall of Famer Dan Marino named one of the outstanding players.

9) National Hat Day: Oh, I will tell you who could rock a hat:

10) R.I.P. Adam Rich and Carole Cook:

Thursday, January 12, 2023

2023 Predictions

What do we have to look forward to apart from the return of the podcast for Season 11? Here are some educated guesses. Don't worry, I am not gonna start this off with a cheesy comment about the podcast being better than ever and the listeners being more appreciated than before. 

I'll save that for the end.

*Amazon will continue to add shows from the Fox library now owned by Disney, shows that haven't been doing much anywhere else. 

OK, you want names? Here are 3: The Fall Guy, Mr. Belvedere, Trapper John M.D.

*Meanwhile, Warner Brothers shows that were on Prime will show up on Tubi.

OK, you want names? Here are 5 series that were all on Prime Video for short periods of times, then disappeared and didn't turn up elsewhere:

CHiPs, Alice, Kung Fu, The Dukes of Hazard, Dynasty.

I confess, the last one is a Fox show, but since Fox owns Tubi, all the more reason to include it!

I'll go ahead and say 3 of those 5 will end up on Tubi in 2023.

*Prime Video will add two Warners shows of its own--Eight Is Enough and Welcome Back, Kotter--to its FreeVee lineup.

*Disney Plus will do very little for "us" in 2023, but it will do one awesome thing by adding the Japanese Supaidaman for the series' 45th anniversary.

*Hulu will continue to sit out the "classic TV" game for the most part, keeping what it already has but not adding much of note.

*Glenn Gordon Caron will excite fans again with a Moonlighting tease, only to clarify that the show's streaming debut is "closer than ever!"

*The Night Court revival on NBC will not be successful, and it will do little to bring positive attention to the original series.

*People will spend most of 2023 fearing, not looking forward to, the Paramout Plus reboot of Frasier.

*2023 will be the year Quincy finally returns to streaming, but not on Peacock. UniversalComcastNBC will license it to Tubi.

*Crackle will continue to lose and re-add many of its Sony library shows several times a year.

*MPI will delight fans by finishing the DVD releases of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet...

...and then aggravate them by announcing a complete series with extras like episodes from the 1973 Ozzie's Girls.

*Warner Archive will not release any "new" live-action releases in 2023 but will sneak in an animated series that hasn't yet been on home video.

*The podcast will make its triumphant return for Season 11 and will find new ways to give our listeners voices.

*I will find a way to revitalize the Fame Game after Mike humbled it in 2022!

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Top Ten #211

1) Larry Storch: We lost the veteran comic actor not too long ago, and he would have been 100 today. I also want to highlight this great scene that my dad somehow stumbled on one night. A drunken guy played by Storch "holding court" at a cocktail party and getting huge laughs...despite making little if any sense! if you are interested, check out the first few minutes below:

2) Remington Steele: The 1980s NBC show is a surprise add for Prime Video this month.

3) Set This Town on Fire (1973): 50 years ago tonight, Chuck Connors starred in this NBC movie written by Roy Huggins. A man returns to town after being convicted of manslaughter, and the witness who helped put him away doubts his own testimony. Also in the cast: Carl Betz, Lynda Day George, and a young Charles Robinson.

4) Bob Eubanks: Happy birthday to the iconic broadcaster and game show host.

5) Benson: Prime Video added the whole run of the series this month. So, yes, you get the one where Benson and Kraus were forced to put aside their differences and work together!

6) O'Malley/Inspector Perez:  Returning to NBC, the network 40 years ago tonight offered a double shot of failed pilots featuring "ethnic" themes. Jose Perez is a homicide cop who moves from NY to SF and lives with his mom. 

O'Malley features Mickey Rooney, Anne Francis, Tom Waits (!), and Mark Linn-Baker. According to Lee Goldberg's great Unsold TV Pilots, Rooney's Mike O'Malley "is an eccentric New York City private eye who works out of the back room of a Soho gallery, drives a '59 Caddy convertible, wears Hawaiian shirts, and likes to listen to big band music. A TCM description calls him a forties-style detective working in the Eighties. Unsold? More like SOLD as far as I am concerned!

7) National Bubble Bath Day: Enjoy a nice relaxing stint in the tub today.

8) Charles Osgood: Happy 90th birthday to the CBS newsman. This is the "good" CBS news guy named Charles, so it's OK to celebrate.

9) College football: Georgia and TCU will decide the national championship on the field tomorrow night. Back in my day. you had a bunch of teams play not necessarily the best other teams, and you took a POLL! And we liked it! Well, not really.

10) R.I.P. Earl Boen: One of the great "That Guys":

Monday, January 2, 2023

What's new in old shows on streaming in January 2023?

We're not off to a blazing start for 2023, but still there are a few nice surprises greeting us with the new year as we peruse the various streaming video sites! Perhaps good things are on the way this year.

Maybe the best surprise, albeit months too late for my taste, is that Peacock finally added the original Kolchak the Night Stalker and The Six Million Dollar Man! I believe both are on the Premium tier, but they are available after being only on the NBC app. Both shows were missing on the official list of Peacock adds for the month. Are these saved as surprises, or are they left off on purpose?

In another surprise, Paramount Plus bolstered its Gunsmoke collection by adding a bunch more seasons, taking the series right up into our BOTNS era. For some reason the earliest seasons are still not on streaming.

It's really hard to keep up with Roku Channel, which doesn't seem to like letting people know what is new, but it now has all 4 seasons of The Rookies, continuing its relationship with Sony, and it looks like it added some old MGM shows like Bat Masterson and Sea Hunt.

Speaking of Sony, its odd deal with Crackle manifests itself yet again, as a bunch of catalog shows are gone (but to return?), while the site lists as "news" series that have been there before, like Charlie's Angels and Starsky and Hutch (both still on Prime in their entirety and without ad breaks).

Hey, that's right, Prime Video is adding Sony shows, too, now! The latest is a nice surprise: Benson with the great Robert Gillaume is now available. Tubi added a few things available eslewhere, like a few seasons of Hart to Hart and 227

Now, stepping outside the timeframe, there are two programs announced for January that have not as yet appeared. Pluto is adding Rawhide, and Prime Video is adding Twelve O'Clock High. The latter is of particular interest--another relatively deep dive into the Fox TV vaults for Amazon--and it's nice to see Pluto getting more and more from the CBS library. Plex has all of the original Fugitive now. It's funny that CBS is stingy with Pluto, giving it only two seasons, while Plex gets the whole show. I am not sure when Paramount Plus added The Andy Griffith Show, but it's there now as it should be.

So what are the big takeaways here? I see two. One: Catalog shows like the ones we like are often left off of the press releases touting the material coming to the streaming services. It is annoying but does lead to some nice surprises once the month actually arrives. Two: Kudos to Prime Video for maintaining a commitment to library shows. The shifting of so many programs to FreeVee rankled (still does, really), but at least we know now that Amazon will keep acquiring older programs and will keep spreading the wealth, giving some of it to paid customers rather than dumping all on FreeVee.

Sunday, January 1, 2023

Top Ten #210: special "New Year" edition!

1) New Year! Here's to a great 2023 and an awesome eleventh season of the podcast! 

We still miss ya, Dick Clark:

2) 1983 Sugar Bowl: One of my earliest bestest sports memories is seeing Penn State win the National Championship (often called "mythical" in the pre-playoff days) by beating Georgia on New Year's Day 40 years ago.

3) Superman: The Movie: Let's continue to look back to my childhood even as we look ahead to a new year. This recent upload gives me goose bumps by summoning my feelings of watching the movie on ABC back in the day:

4) Jackie Gleason: And why not include yet another favorite of my youth? Gleason made it into some of "My Favorite Things" this week and was viable well into the 1980s:

5) Columbo: COZI TV celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, and it begins today with a marathon of Columbo. More to the point, longtime readers of this feature should know Cozi has finally dropped COZI CONDENSED BOLD from its homepage.

6) Good Times: If comedy is more your thing, TV One has a Times marathon today.

7) Safecrackers: I saw this intriguing (I didn't say great) game show pilot on Wink Martindale's YouTube channel:

8) Happy New Year, Charlie Brown!: If this had come out 15 years earlier, would it be a perennially viewed classic?

9) Rose Bowl: 50 yeats ago today, USC thumped Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.

10) R.I.P. Barbara Walters:

Roberto Clemente: Let's take a moment to remember baseball legend Roberto Clemente, who died 50 years ago today while on a humanitarian mission.