Friday, June 30, 2023

YouTube Spotlight: Reading IS fundamental! Fundamentally scary?

We cheated a bit by throwing this 1992 PSA into the playlist this week, but, come on, it's incredible!

Does Stephen King lure people into libraries here or scare them away? It's a great spot for grabbing your attention.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Show Notes and Video Playlist: Episode 11-5: ABC'S Star-Spangled Celebration

*Happy Fourth of July! If you aren't in the USA, happy July 4. I guess we call the day that here, too. Just have a great weekend, OK?

*Thanks for watching, and of course, given the subject matter, thanks for reading!

*Can something be spangled with anything besides stars?

*Here is the video playlist for this episode, 

Remember, you can always check out our official YouTube channel for all our past podcasts and episode-specific playlists for each one!

*Capital Cities bought ABC in 1985, and Disney took over in 1995.

*For another take on the VP Fair, click here.

*For the record, the only carnie I want to be would be Art Carney.

*In sports in St. Louis, the football Cardinals moved to Arizona after the season, but the baseball Cards went to the World Series and played the Twins in a 7-game thriller.

*Me and Mrs. C had 11 episodes in the Summer of 1986, Summer of 1987, and one month in Spring 1987 on Saturday nights on NBC. The Times didn't like it.

*HBO's Welcome Home was taped earlier on the Fourth at the Cap Center in Landover, MD (in the MD suburbs of the DC area; reportedly chosen after lagging ticket sales spurred a move from DC's RFK Stadium) and shown as a special that night. Proceeds were given to various vet groups, and there were tie-ins with various MLB franchises as Vietnam veterans threw out the first pitches at some ballparks that day.

*Paul Molitor entered the Baseball Hall o Fame in 2004. he was runner-up for the 1983 AL MVP and earned many accolades, but he never won a Gold Glove.

*I am not sure, but I think the player standing next to Molitor in that sequence is pitcher Dan Plesac. The Brewers started 13-0 that season but finished in third place in the AL East.

*Click HERE for our look at Yakov Smirnoff's syndicated comedy What a Country!

*William "Bill Brock" was a congressman in Tennessee, chair of the RNC, and Secretary of labor in the Reagan Administration before leaving to run Bob Dole's presidential campaign.

*Barbara Mandrell was married to Ken Dudney in 1987 (and still is).

*You may not see Chubby Checker perform "The Twist" on this special, but you can see it in our video playlist!

*Of Tongan heritage but hailing from Minnesota, The jets had 5 top 10 hits, a platinum-selling self-titled debut album, and worldwide success."Crush on You" and "You Got It All" were both #3 hits, but the latter actually went to #2 on the R&B chart and #1 on the Adult Contemporary, so it's arguably their biggest hit.

*Phil Driscoll is most known for work in Christian music. He had won a Grammy with Debby Boone in 1985 for "Keep the Flame Burning."

*Hopefully me putting this at the end won't spoil your fun, assuming you had as much fun watching the special as I did, but the disgruntled LA Times letter writer I mention on the pod said this:
After (painfully) watching ABC’s “A Star-Spangled Celebration”--a purported tribute to America--one can only ask to what audience of intelligent patriots and lovers of real talent could such a farce have been directed? Despite all the glitz, all the noise, all the Oprah, all the Tony Bennett, all the Kareem, all the Suzanne Somers, Ben Vereen, et al., this was one of the most pointless, over-promoted and unredeeming TV productions ever foisted upon the gullible citizenry of this great country under the guise of combatting illiteracy. When will the youngsters who run American television ever learn that not all of their audience is made up of mindless teen-agers who weren’t even born when such purveyors of real talent as Fred Astaire and Jackie Gleason were in their prime?

Episode 11-5: ABC's A Star-Spangled Celebration

In 1987, ABC celebrated Independence Day by combining an evening of variety with a rally for literacy. Oprah and Robert Urich host from St. Louis as the likes of Suzanne Somers, Yakov Smirnoff, Barbara Mandell, Atlantic Starr, and a choir of 500 singers entertain from across the country. In between, filmed segments show the different ways America celebrates and provide testimonials from adults who've recently learned to read. If that weren't enough, the wife of the vice president makes an appearance! Rick and Mike break it all down and reveal a little of Rick's carny past. 

#podcast #tv #retrotv #seventies #eighties #abc #oprah #roberturich #july4 #independenceday #america #literacy


Check out this episode!

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

YouTube Spotlight: RJ and Stefanie

One of the interesting things about Hart to hart is the strong chemistry the two leads shared on screen even while they were devoted to other people. When you see these clips, check out the comments and see how many people believe that Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers were actually a romantic couple. Isn't it nice to think that a man and a woman, even if potentially compatible as lovers, can be "just" friends?

The quality is a little rough, but you see a mutual affection and comfort in clips like this vintage Good Morning America clip from our Hart playlist:

To me, this clip is a classic example of their chemistry even though the two are promoting another property. This is from 1983's James Bond: The First 21 Years, a special that appeared on ITV and showcased the likes of then-Prez Ronald Reagan!  ABC in 1983 was the network home of the 007 films and of course of Hart to Hart. It's one of my favorite types of celebrity clips: When performers are in character despite appearing as themselves.

Sunday, June 25, 2023

Top Ten #254

1) Hart to Hart: This week's podcast explores a program that never quite faded away yet doesn't seem to get quite as much attention as many other 5-season hits from its era. Hart Marketing ain't what it used to be!

2) Lionel Stander: Interesting life, indeed, for Hart to Hart's Max, as Mike said on the pod.

3) The Flash: The movie didn't do so well, but we still love him. 

4) Billy Crystal: The Kennedy Center will honor the former star of The Billy Crystal Comedy Hour in December.

5) Little Shots: This pilot, directed by Ron Howard, aired 40 years ago tonight on NBC. A group of preteens spend the last day of summer break together. In the cast are Joey Lawrence, Soleil Moon Frye, and Vincent Schiavelli (presumably not one of the Little Shots).

6) The Tim Conway Show: ME-TV posted this story about nit one, but two different failed shows with the title. With the rising powers of AI, can we get a third one on the air before the decade ends?

7) Michael Lembeck: Happy 75th birthday to the prolific director, Kaptain Kool, and Max on One Day at a Time.

8) Stand Up and Cheer!: 50 years ago today, this syndicated variety program featured BOTNS favorite Hugh O'Brian singing a spirited tribute to peach melba (not really). Below is a clip from a different episode of the series so you can see what it's like:

9) National Leon Day: Yes, it's a thing, and yes, it's an excuse to give my man Mike another Bumper Robinson appearance in the Top Ten.

10) R.I.P. Paxton Whitehead, Frederic Forrest:

Friday, June 23, 2023

Power Rankings: Hart to Hart!

On this week's podcast, Mike rattles off some of the seemingly endless branches of Hart Industries, which has interests in mining, toys, finance...With the caveat that I have not seen every episode of Hart to hart, nor anything close to it, and that I may well be missing references to these areas of the company, here are my picks for divisions I wish the company had:

1) Hart Heartworks: Let's get it out of the way first: A division devoted to manufacturing and developing components for artificial hearts would be a dream for Jonathan Wagner because it would enable pun opportunities every single day.

2) Hart Colonics: Let's get this one out of the way, too: Can't you imagine Jonathan grinning just before a commercial break and telling Jennifer, "Well, our problems are behind us now"?

3) Hart Inkworks: The Harts open a series of seedy tattoo parlors across the region. Why? "Diversifcation," of course. When shady happenings are reported at the flagship, Jennifer has to go undercover and request a giant back tattoo of Jonathan. We find out that Max already has several--not all of Jonathan.

4) Hart Sports Enterprises: A company to organize the professional sports franchises the Harts own. Since I am making this list based on what I wish I could see on the show, I say give the Harts a Major League Baseball franchise circa 1982 or so. I don't mean have Jonathan buy one, I mean I want him to already own one but just mention it in passing because it's needed for a plot that week.

And to up the ante, have the Harts worried about a drug smuggling ring involving the clubhouse and the team mascot, and have them go undercover to ferret out the details. Naturally you have Jennifer be a hotshot "free agent from nowhere" and Jonathan the mascot.

5) Hart Back Alleys: This underexplored part of the company is responsible for creating noirish backdrops that give the Harts opportunities to don trenchcoats and talk like Bogart and Bacall.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

Show Notes and Video Playlist: Episode 11-4: Hart to Hart

*Special thanks again to our friend Maureen for inspiring this episode!

*Hart to Hart aired on ABC for 5 seasons and 110 episodes (1979-1984), then 8 TV movies on NBC and The Family Channel (1993-1996).

*Here is the video playlist for this episode! Click below to see promos, interviews, commercials, music, and more!

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

*FX aired the show from its launch in 1994 until removing it in 1998.

*The episode with the Cary Grant impersonation is "Harts and Palms," a third-season effort in which they go to Hawaii.

*Switch aired on CBS from 1975-1978 and co-starred Robert Wagner and Eddie Albert. The Glen A. Larson program was accused of ripping off The Rockford Files by none other than James Garner.

*It Takes a Thief also starred Wagner and was on ABC for 3 seasons, 1968-1970. Not only was it inspired by the Cary Grant/Alfred Hitchcock To Catch a Thief, but Wagner asked Grant for advice on how to play the lead role.

*Lionel Stander's casting in Hart to hart was a return to the States after being blacklisted and spending many years overseas.

*Aaron Spelling's book is A Prime-Time Life.

*At the time Hart to Hart debuted, Cary Grant was 75, Wagner was 49, and Powers was just about to turn 37. (Since we mention her on the pod, Bette Davis was 71.)

*The episode "What Murder?" was the second episode of the second season, premiering Tuesday, November 18, 1980, on ABC at 10:00 P.M. EST.

*The 1980 Jukebox Awards were taped November 2 in Chicago and aired on NBC November 18. We have a few clips in this week's video playlist.

*The Trial of Billy Jack was the third film in the series, opening in 1974 at number one despite negative reviews.

*Dick Powell, whose house was used for exterior shots of the Hart compound, was a singer and actor who became a mogul and hired a young Aaron Spelling!

*Magic Johnson played center for the Lakers in Game 5 of the 1980 NBA Finals, scoring 42 in a 123-107 win over the Sixers on May 16.

*The episode with Jonathan's exact double is Season 3 Episode 5, "Murder Up Their Sleeve." Stefanie Powers' "rare dual role" episode is much better--Season 2 Episode 3, "This Lady Is Murder."

*"Cruise at Your Own Risk" is the 22nd episode of Season 1.

*One thing we didn't get to in a packed episode: The villain's wife/doctor, the one with the "stash" of pills, is played by Susan Nimoy, the widow of Leonard.

*Tom Mankewicz's memoir, My Life as a Mankewicz, is available where books are sold and also as an ebook! He developed Sidney Sheldon's old concept and turned it into Hart to Hart for Spelling and Goldberg, then got his first chance to direct with the pilot. Maybe in his book, unlike Spelling, he writes for more than a few pages about the show!

(Note: We are aware of the circumstances surrounding Natalie Wood's tragic death, but we chose not to get into it on the podcast. Wagner was named a person of interest in 2018, but it is an "open, unsolved case," according to investigators. After the retirement of the detective who classified Wagner as such, it appears safe to say the 93-year-old Wagner will not be charged.)

Episode 11-4: Hart to Hart

In a "Rear Windowesque" moment, Jonathan Hart witnesses a possible mur-DAH. Then in his rush to stop it, he collides with a moped and gets...AMNESIA. Sure, he remembers how to hail a cab, how to dress to the nines, how to live a life of luxury, but he doesn't remember his wife Jennifer, his loyal aide-de-camp Max, his dog Freeway, or the mur-DAH. How will this calamity affect the Harts' marriage, Max's access to sporting events, and Freeway's access to the couch? Will they solve the mur-DAH? Will Jonathan have to collide with another moped to cure his AMNESIA? Plus, what do Rick and Mike think of this latest and most famous TV entry in the married couple solving mysteries subgenre? Find out!

#podcast #tv #retrotv #seventies #eighties #harttohart #mystery #amnesia #robertwagner #jillstjohn


Check out this episode!

Tuesday, June 20, 2023

More on those "New" shows: Some reviews from Harry and Wally

I think it will be fun to take a look at comments from one of my favorite TV books, Harry and Wally's Favorite TV Shows, about some of the NEW shows we talk about on this week's bonus episode of the podcast. If it's not fun, well, let's call it The New Battle of the Network Shows and forget about it.

Harry Castleman and Walter J. Podrazik  wrote their book, a sort of highly opinionated (but not exhaustive) encyclopedia, in 1989, and it's fun to look at what they thought about all kinds of programs ranging from classics to bombs.

The New Gidget: They gave it a mere 1 of 4 stars, saying the original is "pointlessly updated in this series that tries to drag the Gidget character into middle age. None of this is really worth noting, unless you happen to be planning a Ph.D. dissertation on the evolution of Gidget over the decades."

The New Monkees: The book makes only passing reference to this "undistinguished" spinoff in the Monkees entry, yet later in the book, wham, it gets its own entry, a 1-star review, and this: "It's almost laughable to say that this show does not reach the level of quality of The Monkees, but The New Monkees simply isn't very funny. The music is passable, at best." Kind of a dig on the original as well!

The New Odd Couple: In a 2.5-star take, the authors seem to think the network gave up too soon on the revival, pointing out how the material had already been done multiple times while speculating that maybe it was a thankless task. They note that many critics seemed to think reusing scripts from the Randall/Klugman version was "cheating," though they say that putting old material in new settings has a lot of potential. The entry points out that this was not an "all-Black" version since only Felix and Oscar happened to be Black, in contrast to the Barefoot in the Park sitcom of the 1970s.

The New Dick Van Dyke Show: Another 2.5-er, calling the series "solid, if not exactly groundbreaking," and "several seasons worth of well-written and executed comedy once again split between home life and the world of showbiz," though not on the level of the original DVDS. Harry and Wally don't have a lot of critical analysis but do a good job of laying out the premise of the series and its format shift for the third season in an useful capsule.

The New Andy Griffith: They point out the similarities (quite intentional, of course) to the original but say without Knotts, it's "mostly just bucolic passages of life and family in Greenwood," with the town being the erstwhile Mayberry. 2 stars.

The New Mike Hammer: The book gives both the 1950s Darren McGavin show and the 1980s Stacy Keach revival 2 stars but calls it fun to watch McGavin while seeming to dismiss the blunt retro nature of the Eighties version.

The New Love American Style and The New Lassie get brief mentions in the entries for their respective predecessors.

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Top Ten #253: Special Father's Day Edition!

1) Father's Day: Happy, happy day to all you fathers, sons, daughters, and everyone that loves any of them. I guess it's old-fashioned to suggest you go fetch Dad his pipe and slippers. I mean, who wears slippers anymore?

2) The New Dick Van Dyke Show: Of all the series we talk about on this week's bonus episode, this one may be the most blandly fascinating. I enjoyed this article by Herbie J. Pilato covering the history of the program.

3) New Coke: I think I might decide to embrace the conspiracy theory that Coca-Cola tanked this on purpose as a publicity stunt.

4) The New Monkees: I went through a phase where I watched some of the show, sampled some videos, and listened to a few podcasts, and I found myself rooting for the guys...35 years too late.

5) Cheetos: How about some love for the regular non-flaming-hot variety?

6) CPO Sharkey and The Flip Wilson Show: These 1970s programs are now on multiple free streaming platforms along with Shout! TV.

7) Inane banter: A lot of people said the Tonys were better this year because of the lack of stitled scripted humor. Well, I for one want to defend inane banter! Maybe a break from it is OK, but we don't want it to disappear, do we?

8) Bumper Robinson: Happy birthday to the Night Court alumnus. Of all the characters the show introduced over its 9 seasons, Leon was one of them!

9) The Color of Blood: This British movie aired 50 years ago tonight as part of ABC's Wide World of Entertainment package, specifically Wide World of Mystery. A woman on a train mistakes a murderer for a possible business client.

10) R.I.P. Stan Savran, Glenda Jackson: I looked it up, and there is no truth to the rumor that Jackson was the original choice to co-hose Sportsbeat on KBL with Savran.

Saturday, June 17, 2023

YouTube Spotlight: Bandstand '89

One of the clips from this week's video playlist for our All-New Game bonus episode is this clip from the short-lived USA Network version of American Bandstand:

There doesn't seem to be a lot of this era of the series on YouTube. There is footage from the syndicated season, and here's another segment from the USA stint:

As Wesley Hyatt says in his The Encyclopedia of Daytime Television, Bandstand did not leave ABC because of declining ratings. Rather, Dick Clark took the show to syndication after the network insisted on a 30-minute format and was giving it frequent pre-emptions due to college football. I think Clark should have "leaned in" to that and had Keith Jackson co-host during the season. "Whoa, let me tell you about Expose!"

Friday, June 16, 2023

"New" show ephemera: stuff related to our bonus episode

This week's regularly scheduled Power Rankings will not be seen today so that we can bring you the following special presentation.

We hope you enjoyed this week's bonus episode looking at real and imagined "New" versions of popular shows. Here are a few bits from the TV Guide archives relating to the programs we mention on the pod.

Below is the series that was quickly retooled into The New Andy Griffith Show:

In the interest of fairness, here is one that DID work for many: The "New" Wonder Woman, moving networks and time periods:

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Show Notes and Video Playlist: The All-New Game

*For this week's bonus, we do something a little different. Because we are doing a game, we urge you to listen to the episode before looking at this post and the video playlist if you want to play along with us on the podcast. This post featues info about the real shows we discuss, and the playlist has clips from the real shows. Oh, how I wish I could create some convincing clips for the fake ones!

*Here is the video playlist for the episode, chock full of promos and openings for "New" shows and even some ads for "New" products!

Remember, you can always visit our official YouTube page for all of our past podcasts and episode-specific playlists for each one!

*New Coke, launched in 1985, was rebranded as Coke II in 1990. Just months after its infamous debut, it was relegated to B-team status as Coca-Cola Classic was "brought back" to shelves.

*Lorne Michaels' The New Show was a 60-minute taped comedy show airing Fridays on NBC January to March 1984.

*The New Gidget ran in syndication from Fall 1986 to Spring 1988, 2 seasons and 44 episodes, with Caryn Richman in the title role. A TV movie with Richman preceded it in 1985.

*The New Mickey Mouse Club premiered as a syndicated daily in 1977 and featured, among others, Lisa Whelchel and Julie Piekarski, who would go on to appear in The Facts of Life. This version ran until early 1979. The better-known 1989 version with Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, and more future stars was called The All-New Mickey Mouse Club and appeared on Disney Channel until 1994.

*The New Howdy Doody Show ran in syndication from 1976 to 1978 on weekdays. Lew Anderson played Clarabell.

*The New Bill Cosby Show aired in one season beginning Fall 1972 on CBS on Monday nights. It followed The Bill Cosby Show sitcom on NBC, but it was a variety format featuring regulars like Lola Falana and Foster Brooks. George Schlatter was behind it.

*The New Dick Van Dyke Show did well in a cozy time slot in CBS' powerhouse Saturday lineup in 1971-72, but dropped when it was moved. To lure Van Dyke, CBS agreed to shoot the series in his then-home of Arizona and gave him a 3-year deal. The show lasted 72 episodes and 3 seasons.

*The New Lassie ran two seasons and 48 episodes from 1989-1990 in first-run syndication. Dee Wallace Stone and Christopher Stone co-starred, and one of the original Timmys, Jon Provost, had a role as well.

*To learn more about The New Leave it to Beaver, check out our TBS episode right here. The series began as a CBS TV movie, moved to Disney Channel, and then ended up on TBS. It totaled 101 episodes plus that movie.

*The New Mike Hammer with Stacy Keach and Lindsay Bloom ran 3 seasons on CBS, 1984-1987. Technically it began as Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer, then was paused due to Keach's legal troubles and incarceration before coming back as "The New." A later version with the same star, Mike Hammer, Private Eye, lasted a single season (1997-98) in, you guessed it, first-run syndication.

*The New American Bandstand aired in syndication after the main program ended its long ABC run in September 1987. Dick Clark did not want to remain on the network in a 30-minute format, so he launched a version with "new" in the title, and it ran September until June 1988. The show returned on USA as American Bandstand with a new host, David Hirsch, but ran for only 6 months.

*The New Monkees lasted a mere 13 episodes in syndication in Fall 1987. They seem like nice dudes, though, saddled with a thankless job.

*The New Andy Griffith Show was his and CBS' attempt to retool the failed sitcom Headmaster. it aired only 10 episodes in the second half of the 1970-71 season.

*The New Love American Style was a daytime show on ABC for about 8 months (December 1985 to August 1986) going up against the second half-hour of The Price Is Right.

*The New Odd Couple did recycle some scripts from the original TV series due to a writers' strike. In addition to stars Ron Glass and Demond Wilson, it featured as Murray...GENIUS winner John Schuck! Despite that, it only ran 18 episodes form 1982 to 1983 on ABC/

*Thanks again to Bobby and the BOTNS Orchestra for their fine work in this episode!

The All-New Game

Rick has long espoused the theory that adding "new," "all-new," "brand-new," etc. to the title of a show never works creatively or commercially. This week with the help of the BOTNS Games Lab (TM), we put that to the test in more ways than one as he runs Mike through the paces of "The All-New Game"! Ccan he distinguish shows that had "new" versions from those that didn't?

#podcast #tv #retrotv #seventies #eighties #games #new


Check out this episode!

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

And now, a word from their sponsor: The Disco Body Shaper?

The Museum of Classic Chicago Television account has done it again, sharing a clip so shocking, so astonishing, so Seventies, that words fail me. Let the YouTube commenters do the talking today.

It's the Disco Body Shaper:

This ad has it all except for one important thing.

That's right, it's missing Disco Ethel Merman!

Monday, June 12, 2023

Collectibles Corner: The Iron Sheik and Nikolai Volkoff

In honor of the recent passing of former World Wrestling Federation Heavyweight champ Iron Sheik, I want to share this picture of two action figures from my collection:

I got the Sheik loose last year, and his tag team partner Nikolai Volkoff (also deceased) is a recent find. Laurie got this one for me. It was packaged and beat up but still less than many similar loose figures go for these days (probably because the box was so dinged). The Shiek and Volkoff were the big heel tag team when I first started watching the WWF, so iconic (and, well, cartoony)  that they earned spots on the Hulk Hogan's Rock and Wrestling cartoon on CBS.

These are both good figures, but the headgear really makes them, huh? Both now reside on my Eighties shelf of decade-related memorabilia and toys.

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Top Ten #253: Special "Got this up a few hours late" Edition!

1) The Littlest Hobo: We were surprised by the charm of this CTV program and enjoyed discussing it on the podcast. Even more impressive: The class of the Ramada Renaissance, which is proud to host guests of The Littlest Hobo.

Guests of Battle of the Network Shows are encouraged to stay at their own place, but if they want to visit the podcast studio, we can save them a steak and a bottle a'Lowenbrau.

2) Video games: Mike and I loved the fact that arcade owner Nick held such contempt for his own customers in the "Small Change" episode, even the students who were patronizing his business BEFORE school! Hey, maybe he has a point, though. Too much time in front of screens is dangerous in the short and long term.

Now I gotta burn through the rest of the top ten so I can go watch some TV. I think Catchy Comedy has a Taxi marathon this weekend.

3) Clean air: Don't take it for granted! I took a walk the other morning, and outside it looked like the reception on the Altoona channel that carried In Search Of... when I was a kid.

4) The Baseball Bunch: It's a great day to commemorate the Bunch (click here for our podcast episode. 40 years ago this weekend, the great Cal Ripken visited the show, and also The Athletic published this outstanding recent article about the San Diego Chicken (likely paywalled).

5) The Tonys: CBS broadcasts the official ceremony tonight, but this year I'm giving my Outstanding Tony award to Tony Franciosa this year.

6) Mime: Another form of entertainment explored on the podcast this week!

7) Adrienne Barbeau: Happy birthday to the star of Maude/

8) Men's Health Week: I am going to practice good health by watching more TV this week. I believe that was the prescription from Dr. Joe Gannon.

Thanks, Doc! I hear there's a Taxi marathon this weekend, for starters...

9) The Stanley Cup: This space has covered sports a lot in recent weeks, but we haven't mentioned hockey, so, NHL fans, here you go!

10) R.I.P. The Iron Sheik, Barry Newman, and Pat Robertson: Forget politics; I want to give a shout to the old CBN, which had great classic TV late nights in the Eighties:

Saturday, June 10, 2023

YouTube Spotlight: The Littlest Hobo

In this week's spotlight, we focus on a clip from our Littlest Hobo playlist that promotes another Canadian show: The Alan Hamel Show.

I am more familiar with Hamel as Suzanne Somers' husband since the late Seventies and, somewhat notoriously, her apparent negotiator for Three's Company. However, he hosted multiple successful programs before transitioning to producer, including this daytime talk show. According to this promo, the program has something for everyone, though in the end it is "just for you!"

This website says that the show's Vancouver location was designed to make it easier to draw celebrities from Los Angeles as guests. CTV started the talk show as an alternative to the daytime soaps that were dominating the schedule. 

When The Alan Hamel Show left CTV, guess what replaced it in September 1980? That's right: The Alan Thicke Show! Thicke found success in the daytime slot before heading to the States to do Thicke of the Night.

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


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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!