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

Episode 11: 1 Night Court

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!