Thursday, August 31, 2023

Encore: Knight Rider

Before we get back into the swing of season 11, we present one more encore episode. This time, we look back at Knight Rider, starring one TV's most charismatic stars and David Hasselhoff! We kid the Hoff! Still, a big shout-out to William Daniels as KITT, the talking, thinking, turbo boosting car. Why of all our episodes did we choose Knight Rider? Well, one, we had to check out a sweet KITT replica at a comics convnetion. Two, we wanted to give the well-known BOTNS boost to Knight Rider guest star and fellow podcaster Jason Bateman. Three, to remind everyone of the devastating affliction of CAR AMNESIA! One day...we'll find a cure. 

#podcast #tv #retrotv #eighties #knightrider #thehoff #davidhasselhoff #jasonbateman #caramnesia


Check out this episode!

Monday, August 28, 2023

Murder Monday 9-2: 'Family Secrets" takes me back to Cabot Cove

Reminder: Murder Monday may (and often will) contain spoilers for the episode discussed.

We return to Cabot Cove for the second episode this season, which makes me happy, but it's not a strong outing. The mystery elements are a little weak, and the characters are silly. I enjoy seeing Seth again, though, and Sheriff Mort Metzger has a few amusing moments of SWAGGER. 

One thing I like about it is that we get multiple looks at a neglected corner of Cabot Cove: The liberry! Jessica is doing research on poisons (for her writing, natch--research for her novels) when she runs into a former student. Randy is now a journalist in the big city (Portland, and I don't mean in Oregon) and is digging through records because he has a bead on huge secrets in the town's legendary story of Mad Maggie, who went to a looney bin after a shooting accident in which she killed her husband. What a scandal! He plans to write a book about it.
Randy goes to the local diner and makes a really awkward attempt to talk to a waitress there. He doesn't ask her, but he says he NEEDS to talk to her, so she is put off. Meanwhile, a local Pillar of the Community (someone who was there at the scene of the Mad Maggie incident; hmm) and his son are working on a real estate deal in their office, and the son peers out his window at the waitress as she walks away. We also meet Token Oldie Emily, who knew Mad Maggie; and her daughter Janet, and the two of them are organizing a fundraising lunch for a local Community Center.
Suffice to say Randy is killed in the library, and one of those who find the body is...ARNOLD! Yes, a librarian character, Arnold, someone nerdy in a great cliched way but harmless. Or is he? Randy had reported that Arnold was miffed he wouldn't let him co-write the book. That makes no sense—just one of the silly story elements here, like the fact that Randy is killed by a blow to the head by a paperweight that he always carries with him. You know, the lucky paperweight you absolutely have to have with you when you are on the road looking at real estate records in the library. Be a shame if one of those notorious library gusts came through and blew away some vital records.
I want to see more Arnold. I want to see more of the library, which looks like an inviting place apart from the murders. It leaves me wanting more!
The supporting cast is not distinguished, but Caroline Williams returns a mere 2 episodes after being in the Season 8 finale. Not so odd in real life, but watching these the way we are not taking several months off between seasons, it stands out. Creepy Arnold is the standout here, plus going back to Cabot Cove, but it's not a strong installment.

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Top Ten #263 Special "Lot of self-promotion in this one" Edition!

1) The Loch Ness Monster: Yet another "This time we really mean it," effort is underway to find Nessie, and this time the difference is...Actually, I don;t know, but I bet it's AI. They're claiming to use AI somehow, right?

2) In Search Of..: There is now a preponderance of evidence to indicate that Battle of the Network Shows ran a so-called "encore presentation" episode this week. Whether our investigation may turn up more glimpses of this phenomenon in the future remains to be seen, but it is clear that something is happening in the podcast realm.

3) Back to school: If you are heading back to school, good luck. If you want to relive those days, uh, why? No, if you are in the mood for something school-related, may we suggest our combo Head of the Class/What a Country! episode?

4) Quincy: The savviest, sexiest, shoutiest medical examiner has returned to  broadcast TV with a run on Get TV. OK, this is a good thing, but now let's get the show on streaming in uncut, uncompressed episodes...or we'll GO RIGHT TO THE TOP!

5) Sgt. Slaughter: Happy 75th to the Sarge, who I met yesterday at a convention. By "met," I mean I looked over at his table and wished he didn't charge so much for an autograph but thought he looked in pretty good shape.

6) SWAT: The 1970s action show was added to Tubi this week. It's more than just a theme song, people! But, hey, here's the theme song:

7) Jane Curtin: The actress made news this week by saying she recently watched her old SNL episodes and found none of it funny--basically, you had to be there. Imagine what she'll say when she gets to the Jean Doumanian season!

8) Showtime in the Catskills: 50 years ago tonight, Channel 11 in New York aired a rerun of It's Showtime in the Catskills, and, oh, how I wish I had more info. Hosted by Corbett Monica, the episode welcomed Henny Youngman and a bunch of other entertainers.

9) National Dog Month: We love dogs here and even talk about 'em sometimes! Happy Dog Month! Our Littlest Hobo episode is here, and Run, Joe Run is here.

10) Universal crime shows: Roku Channel added some new 24/7 live streaming channels, including one devoted to various shows like Kojak and another with nothing but Murder, She Wrote all day long. On a related note, check out our returning Murder Monday feature! And, hey, would it kill them to show Toma or something like that every now and then?

(Note: There are so many notable passings this week that we will do a separate post later this week to commemorate them.)

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Encore: In Search Of

In honor of the big Loch Ness Monster search this weekend in Scotland, we offer an encore presentation of one of our favorite early episodes. We once again join Leonard Nimoy on a voyage of mystery and discovery as he searches for answers to Nessie and the disappearance of Amelia Earhart. Will he find answers this time? Will he reveal that Amelia Earhart is the Loch Ness Monster? Does this encore presentation have anything to do with a slight production delay on our part? We might never know the answers. Then again, it's just possible that one day we might...maybe. We'll see. Only time will tell...or not. #podcast #tv #retrotv #seventies #insearchof #leonardnimoy #lochnessmonster #ameliaearhart

Check out this episode!

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

Dream Theater: Stone Cold Dennis Franz

Last night, I dreamed a disheveled (not necessarily a redundancy; he had been beaten) Dennis Franz, Mike, and I were in some abandoned warehouse. Franz--I am guessing NYPD Blue-era version--was manic after having freed himself from captivity.

He started raving about how they had gotten his friend, and now HE was gonna get THEM, starting with the other guy in the room with us. I have no idea who it was--someone I know? Someone Franz knows? TV's Mr. Belvedere, Christopher Hewitt?

Well, I am glad I don't know because Franz picked up a cinderblock and, "off camera," at least, smashed the other guy with it. What were Mike and I doing? We weren't podcasting, I can tell you that. I think Dennis--hey, at this point, we're on a first-name basis--saw our unease because he said to us, "They do it on TV; we can do it here."

Yes, that was the capper and the end of the dream.

They do it on TV; we can do it here.

Should The Tao of Franz be our new guiding principle?

Monday, August 21, 2023

Murder Monday returns! Episode 9-1: "Murder in Milan"

No more messing around, no trying to backfill the seasons I skipped over--Oh, all the Jessica we could have shared together--but I am just gonna do it: I'm gonna Bring Murder Monday back in real time (sorta) as Wife of the Show Laurie and I continue our journey through the series.

After a spotty seventh season with numerous non-Jessica Fletcher installments, the show has delivered a solid eighth season and transplanted our heroine to New York City, where she now lives part time (It's kind of sketchy) and teaches (THAT is even sketchier, but every now and then, we might actually get proof of that!).

Season 9 kicks off in beautiful Italy, with plenty of establishing shots to prove we are in Italy the whole time, no doubt about it. What a country (Apologies, Yakov)! What a setting! What a treat!
Well, actually, I was disappointed. I don't need Italy. The setting is not just Milan, but a Milan film fest hosting a movie adapted by one of Jessica's books and directed by a young hotshot director played by, you guessed it, Gary Kroeger.

You know what else says "Hollywood power and glitz"? A hotshot producer played by, you guessed it, Paul Gleason.

Paul and Gary want to work together on a new hot property, a best-selling novel, but Gary has a deal with a film producer (Susan Blakely), and she won't let him out of it. She seems to have a personal thing for him, too. Really, she has issues with everyone, and suddenly financial reports from the movie based on Jess' book come in and show millions in overages. Can her finance guy explain it? Can Gary? Why the devil does this big Hollywood producer apparently work full time out of Milan?

Another thing that doesn't ring true is the hot ingenue starring in the movie and dating Kroeger. Frankly she looks about 10 years too old to be an ingenue. OK, I just looked it up. Ouch, she is like 23 or 24. She just looks older, and Laurie said the same thing!

It's a disappointing episode. While it is funny to see George "Hey, I was in the original SNL cast" Coe as the ingenue's dad, the depiction of the film scene is shallow and unconvincing. And what a waste of  Cesar Romero, who is the lead actor in the movie and flirts with Jessica but has little involvement with the plot. I guess I should be thankful to see the kind of old-school star the show used to spotlight, but he is underutilized.

This season opener isn't as special as I think it is supposed to be. I hope we go back to Cabot Cove next week.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Top Ten #262: Special "Yep, a lot of the kids are going back to school already" edition

1) NBC: The Peacock network (not to be confused with Peacock, the network) comes off very well in this week's bonus episode looking at our favorite networks year by year in the Eighties. BE THERE!

2) BET: One of the prominent cable networks of the Eighties is, per reports, off the market. Is it too much for a last-ditch bid so we can buy it and put on Donnie Simpson and Charlie and Company again?

3) The Eighties Lakers: It's Showtime again on HBO! Well, you know what I mean: The Showtime-era Lakers are back on each week on the second season of Winning Time.

4) Sylvester McCoy: Happy 80th birthday to a man who may not have been the best Doctor but who may have the best name of anyone who played the Doctor.

5) Babe Ruth: One of the legend's game-used baseball bats just went for $1.3 million at auction, this after another one sold for $1.85 million earlier this year. We're holding out for a bat used by the Babe when he met Phineas Bogg and Jeffrey.

6) Rumpole of the Bailey: The popular BBC (and PBS) series is now on BritBox.

7) ABC's Concert of the World: 40 years ago tonight, up against an SNL rerun, ABC broadcast a special hosted by Paul Williams and starring Aretha Franklin, the Commodores, and Melissa Manchester. the concert was taped at the new Palais des Festivals in Cannes.

8) Justine Bateman: I must admit, of all the people I might have guessed would appear on Matt Belloni's The Town podcast to talk about the consequences of AI, Justine Bateman was not one of them, but she gave us at least One to Grow On.

9) National Radio Day: I miss commercials for radio on television:

10) R.I.P. Shelley Smith:

Saturday, August 19, 2023

YouTube Spotlight: Bonus Episode List-o-Rama Battle of the Network Networks

In our playlist for this week's bonus episode, we set aside most of the famous programs we mention and devote some slots to the lesser-known series we watched back in the Eighties. One of them has some degree of fame today because of its star:

Yes, a young Jim Carrey was the lead in the short-lived (13 episodes) show from MTM Enterprises about a young animator named Skip Tarkenton (!) who lands a dream job at a studio but discovers it is struggling. I watched the first episode a while back, and while many things didn't seem credible, I thought it had enough potential to deserve time to grow. The premise and setting are cool even if a few things seem to require some more explanation.

Unfortunately, it premiered at a time just before Thursday night on NBC was a big deal, and it didn't make it. Wikipedia has a great explanation of how the network's shoddy scheduling wreaked havoc on continuity and may have turned off those who did watch. Most episodes are easy to find online if you want to see it for yourself!

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Show Notes: Bonus Episode: Our Favorite Networks

*We hope you enjoy one of our longest bonus episodes yet! Call it a Listorama, call it whatever you like, but call it...FUN!

*Click below for our playlist for this episode, a video potpourri of promos and intros from many of the lesser-known shows we mention on the podcast!

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

Update 8/18: Rick here, and this was MY mistake: I do want to correct myself. I referred to the Public Broadcasting SYSTEM on the show, when it is actually the Public Broadcasting SERVICE. (Thank you to loyal listener Mario!)

*Here for your convenience is a list of our favorite networks by year. If you want to find out while listening to the podcast, make sure you check the episode out here before reading this post!

*We focused on the Eighties.

*1980: Mike NBC Rick PBS
Saturday morning: Mike ABC Rick ABC

*1981: Rick CBS Mike CBS
Saturday morning: Rick ABC Mike NBC

(CBS' slogan was "Reach for the Stars!")

*1982: Mike ABC Rick ABC
Saturday morning: Mike NBC Rick ABC

*1983:Rick NBC Mike NBC
Saturday morning: Rick ABC Mike NBC

*1984: Mike NBC Rick NBC
Saturday morning: Mike ABC Rick CBS

*1985: Rick NBC Mike NBC
Saturday morning: Rick NBC Mike NBC

*1986: Mike ABC Rick NBC

*1987 Rick NBC Mike NBC

*1988 Mike NBC Rick NBC

(The Writers' strike lasted about March-August 1988)

*1989 Rick NBC Mike ABC/NBC tie

So the tally:
Saturday mornings:

Overall network:
ABC 3.5
NBC 13.5

List-o-rama: Battle of the Network Networks

For this week's very special oversized bonus episode, Rick and Mike dig deep into their memories and pick their favorite networks for each TV season from the 1980s. ABC, CBS, NBC, PBS, and eventually the fledgling Fox Network all get at shot at the title, but wil one come out victorious? 

#podcast #tv #retrotv #eighties #list #networks #nbc #abc #cbs #pbs #fox


Check out this episode!

Tuesday, August 15, 2023

BOTNS worlds collide: Sonny & Cher & Chuck & Howard!

One of the episodes on The Ultimate Sonny and Cher Collection DVD set features the star of our most recent podcast, Chuck Connors, along with the stars of the previous installment's leads (Sonny and Cher, natch). Not only does Connors interact with Cher in this third-season opener from 1973, he interacts even more with another special guest. You guessed it, he sings with Howard Cosell. Chuck is on the right in this cap below:

OK, I don't know how much they actually sing, but they are acting like they are singing, and that's enough for me. This segment is a general store setting with a running song interrupted by quick jokes. I wish I could remember some of them. I'm still reeling from the sight of Howard and Chuck singing.

Earlier the two men appear in an extended "Lady Luck" sequence, with Howard blackmailing Chuck and Cher for their illicit relationship.

At the end of that, they appear to be singing and dancing, too, but at least they are in the back and there is so much else going on that you can pretend not to see them.

In the "Window on the World" segment, you get to see Howard and Chuck tell a few jokes and exchange barbs with each other. Cosell pretends to paintbrush the actor at the end!

But do you really want to know what THIS is?

If all that isn't enough for you, earlier on in that "Lady Luck" sequence, another old BOTNS friend appears as a bartender:

Monday, August 14, 2023

Power Rankings: Half-hour Westerns!

This week, rather than attempt to rank elements of the Rifleman, I am doing something different and listing some other half-hour Western programs of yore that I can recommend. Remember, the rankings are based on what would happen if these series squared off against each other in a dome in Rock Ridge.

1) Have Gun -- Will Travel: I don't remember this one being at all when I was a lad, but I discovered it as an adult and found it one of the best of the genre. Growing up, I really only knew it for the image of Richard Boone as the black-clad Paladin and of course "The Ballad of Paladin." It's an excellent program, though, and it's complete on DVD and streaming on Pluto (yet not, for no good reason that I know, on Paramount Plus).

2) Gunsmoke: I am required by law to mention Gunsmoke in any list of Western TV shows, and I am also required to mention William Conrad played the lead in the radio version. The half-hour version of the series lasted its first 6 seasons, and all episodes are on DVD and have aired in syndication. Unfortunately, these seasons are not on Paramount Plus nor Pluto at this time.

3) The Westerner: An excellent, thoughtful series from Sam Peckinpah (probably going places he wanted to on The Rifleman) and starring Brian Keith. At 13 episodes, it's an easy watch, and it's on DVD as well as various streamers, including free ones Tubi and Roku Channel as well as Prime Video.

4) Wanted: Dead or Alive: I haven't done a deep dive into this one, another series that I don't think was on much in my rerun-infested youth. It's highly marketable because of star Steve McQueen, so it is easy to find on DVD and is also on streamers like Starz and Prime. I do like what I have seen of it!

5) Bat Masterson: Another Prime Video star (but also found elsewhere and on DVD, though the best sets are harder to find and/or out of print). I always enjoy the characterization of cooler-than-thou Gene Barry as Bat, and the series' light touch is welcome but maybe has led to it being a bit underrated. It also boasts one of the best theme songs in TV history:

6) Dick Powell's Zane Gray Theater: An anthology with some great stories, it spawned The Rifleman and The Westerner! Powell produced, hosts, sometimes even stars. Unfortunately, DVD releases stalled out halfway through the series, but you can find many episodes on YouTube. This is one of my favorite show titles of all time, by the way.

7) A Man Called Shenandoah: I enjoyed the premise of this one: Robert Horton is a man left for dead and struggling to remember who he is. He roams the West trying to discover his identity. I watched the entire series on my dearly beloved but defunct Warner Archive Instant. It feels like a good candidate to pop up on Tubi someday, but for now you can get the Warner Archive DVD set.

8) Death Valley Days: Another anthology, with many episodes hosted by Ronald Reagan, and it is chock full of interesting stories and cool guests. I don't understand what happened to this one. Most episodes were issued on DVD, and for a while Starz streamed it. Yet now, despite the rightsholders (and maybe Starz, directly or indirectly) paying a lot to restore the episodes, it is MIA on streaming and you have to catch it on YouTube. Grit TV shows a few episodes every Saturday, but that seems like kind of a waste.

9) Tate: The title character in this 1960 summer replacement series is a Civil War vet who lost an arm in the conflict but continues as a bounty hunter. The uniqueness of the character adds a spin to the Western srories. Timeless (speaking of late and lamented; the company put out a lot of great DVD sets before Shout swallowed it and put an end to that) released the entire series, and you can find it on Tubi, Roku, and YouTube.

10) Yancy Derringer: Available on DVD and on Prime Video, this 1958 CBS series starred Jock Mahoney in the title role as a former Confederate officer working as a secret agent for the Feds in Reconstruction-era New Orleans. The setting and Derringer's dandy-ish image, plus the butt kicking of X Brands as his Native American sidekick, make this an interesting program.

There's 10 for you, and I didn't even include Lawman, Zorro, The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp (with BOTNS icon Hugh O'Brian,Chuck Connors' Branded (Apparently butchered for syndication forever, I am sad to say), or The Rebel...nor many other half-hour oaters worth checking out!

Sunday, August 13, 2023

Top Ten #261: Special "National Filet Mignon Day" Edition!

1) The Rifleman: Our retro retro episode this season looks at a terrific oater (there's that word again) from the golden era of Westerns on TV. it was a lot of fun revisiting the series...and it gave me an excuse to post that comic book cover (No, I am not gonna do it again).

2) Chuck Connors: Sure, someone could talk about the things Chuck didn't do as well as other actors, but how about we focus on what he COULD do: Play baseball, play basketball, handle the heck out of a rifle, be tall, dispense parental advice in a credible manner, sock guys in the jaw, and glower. To me that's an icon.

3) Johnny Crawford: The actor who played Mark on The Rifleman is one of the more effective child performers we've talked about in all our podcasts. 

4) Paul Fix: The veteran actor did a fine job as Marshal Micah Torrance on The Rifleman but wasn't in the episode we discussed, "Ordeal," so I want to commend him here.

5) Fairies and Kudzu: 40 years ago tonight, CBS led prime time with these two shows back to back. The latter is based on the Doug Marlette comic strip (I had no idea they tried to make a series out of it), and the former is a 1981 Emmy-nominated animated special. Based on a children's book, it offers a voice cast including Hans Conreid, Frank Welker, June Foray, and Morgan Brittany.

6) Gretchen Corbett: Happy birthday to one of our favorite Rockford stars! To celebrate, here she is in an entirely different 1970s Universal show!

7) Black Sheep Squadron: Friend of the Show Steve Cloutier and his pal Dave Brodbeck have expanded their podcast roster, supplementing their episode-by-episode Rockford Files (Hey, there's that one again!) show 200 a Day Plus Expenses with a new one dedicated to this WWII-set 1970s program. Now we just need to get BSS on streaming so we can all watch it! I think in the USA, the only place currently running it is Heroes and Icons.

8) Barbie: The movie continues to dominate the box office! She's been a superstar for decades, though!

9) Lou Brock: On this date 50 years ago, the Hall of Famer known for stealing bases got his 3,000th hit.

10) Danny Bonaduce: Happy birthday to the actor-turned...turned...well, turned all kinds of things! In the words of Beavis, "Bon-a-DUUUU-ceeee!" He has had serious health issues in recent years, including brain surgery, so we hope is recovering well.

Friday, August 11, 2023

You Tube Spotlight: Johnny Crawford on "Shivaree"

One of the videos in our Rifleman playlist this week showcases Johnny Crawford, singer; as opposed to Johnny Crawford, Mark McCain. 

Crawford was much more than an Emmy-nominated child actor on The Rifleman. As our playlist shows, he was an original Mouseketeer several years earlier. While the Western was airing on ABC, Crawford had a successful pop career that included 4 Top 40 singles. Years later, he fronted a band called The Johnny Crawford Orchestra.

How about Shivaree, though? Host Gene Weed's epic forehead suggests "wide open spaces" more than any episode of The Rifleman did. This was syndicated daily music show that ran just over a year in 1965-1966.

Thursday, August 10, 2023

Show Notes and Video Playlist: Episode 11-10: The Rifleman

*We hope you enjoy this season's journey into the so-called Silver Age of TV (Dennis the Menace was a special tie-in with the Eighties toon). We remain focused on the BOTNS era of the Seventies and Eighties but plan to keep the occasional steps back to the earlier days of TV!

*Here is the video playlist for this week's podcast. Note that the second video is the full episode we discuss this week, "Ordeal," courtesy of an official upload from FilmRise. 

But you will also see commercials, promos, music, and more! Just click below:

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

*For info about the series beyond these show notes, check out this official website.

*The Rifleman aired 5 seasons, 1958 to 1963, on ABC for 168 episodes plus a pilot on The Zane Grey Theater. It remains widely available on streaming outlets including YouTube.

*"Ordeal" premiered November 17, 1959 at 9:00 on ABC.

*Michael Jordan had a famous stint with the Chicago White Sox organization but didn't appear in an official regular season game (He is still the GOAT, though). Danny Ainge made it to a Blue Jays rookies baseball card and played several seasons with the club. appear in a game. Another two-part star was knicks great Dave Debusschere. So, yes, Wikipedia is wrong if it says Chuck Connors is the only athlete to play in both MLB and the NBA!

*Johnny Crawford was 12 when the show premiered (Connors was 38).

*The Westerner is also widely available. The half-hour Brian Keith starrer from Sam Peckinpah aired Fall 1960.

*North Fork was on a Hollywood soundstage, though the show did use locations at various times. This local New Mexico source assures us that it is not a real town:

To close, there is a gentleman that keeps calling our office. His first inquiry was about the ranch where Lucas McCain and his son lived in the television western show – The Rifleman. The ranch was supposed to be located near the fictional town of North Fork, New Mexico. This gentleman has decided North Fork, New Mexico is close to Silver City. We keep saying that North Fork, New Mexico was a fictional town. The gentleman from another state continues believing it was near Silver City and wants us to share the secret with him… describing the location of North Fork, New Mexico. If you know something we don’t know about North Fork… please call our office at 538-3785.

*TV ratings for the series were generally good. It finished fourth its first season, 13th its second, then in the 20s the enxt two season before dropping out of the top 30 in its final season.

*Here is the Minus 5 song "The Rifleman" that Mike mentions on the show.

*Four Star Playhouse was an anthology program that aired from 1952 to 1956 on CBS. Many of the episodes are easy to find on various streaming outlets.

*Here is something I wish I had:

*Finally, I will just put this here without comment:

Episode 11-10: Retro-Retro The Rifleman

The Old West comes to BOTNS in this season's Retro-Retro episode. Chuck Connors stars as Lucas "The Rifelman" McCain in this half-hour oater from the late fifties and early sixties. In "Ordeal," Lucas and his son Mark find themselves stranded in the desert after their meat salt mining expedition goes awry. Will they make it to safety or end up buzzard food? Find out on this exciting episode of Battle of the Network Shows! #podcast #tv #retrotv #fifties #sixties #therifelman #chuckconnors #ordeal #westerns #oater #meatsalt


Check out this episode!

Monday, August 7, 2023

YouTube Spotlight: Cher as Fitness Icon

Before the Oscar for Moonstruck revitalized her acting career, Cher was perhaps most prominent in a series of fitness gym commercials, like this one we included in this week's Sonny and Cher playlist:

That was far from the only ad, nor even the only club. Cher also starred in many more ads like this:

For a while, Cher was arguably a bigger fitness icon than a music icon, let alone a screen icon!

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Top Ten #260: Special "Hey, we've done this feature for 5 years?" Edition!

1) Sonny and Cher: The B(OTNS) Goes On this week on the podcast as our variety show poll winners get the spotlight. Mike and I decided not to emulate the playful bickering, but we did give the Bob Mackie costumes a try.

2) Donny and Marie: Hey, don't be too discouraged, Osmond fans! We're gonna look at this variety show next season. It's gonna be a long wait, but the good thing is this is one act we don't have to worry about doing something controversial before we get to their show...

3) Tina Turner: She rocked and rolled and just gave Sonny and Cher a big jolt of energy. Here's a different performance from when Cher had her solo series:

4) Catherine Hicks: Happy birthday to the star of Tucker's Witch!

5) Manbeast: Myth or Monster: This night back in 1983, CBS broadcast this 1978 movie from the producer of In Search Of... to a national TV audience...or did it?

No, it totally did. It beat Quincy and Monitor reruns on NBC but lost to the Love Boat/Fantasy Island combo on ABC.

6) National Friendship Day: On this occasion, let's celebrate one of the best enduring friendships in television history: No, not David Letterman and Jeff Altman, not Mike Cowgill and Rick Brooks, but Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble:

7) The Mike Douglas Show: Check out Mike's lineup on this day 50 years ago: Co-host Pat Cooper, Jim Bouton, Foster Brooks, and fitness guru Debbie Drake!

8) Soleil Moon Frye: Happy birthday! That Punky revival came and went so fast, it seems almost like a dream, but it did happen, didn't it?

9) Carol, Carroll, or Carol: Fun little quiz that ran this week on Me-TV's website. It's no Michael Lerner or Michael Learned, but it's fun.

10) R.I.P. Paul Reubens, Carl Davis: Pee Wee needs no introduction. We also salute composer Davis, who created the memorable music for The World at War.

Thursday, August 3, 2023

Show Notes and Video Playlist: Episode 11-9: Sonny and Cher

*Thanks to our listeners for voting in our variety show poll and choosing Sonny and Cher!

*Below is the official video playlist for this episode, and it's packed with promos, commercials, comedy, music, bloopers, and more! You will even see some of the material from the episode we discuss on the pod. Just click below!

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

*The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour aired on CBS from August 1971 to May 1974. It spawned The Sonny Comedy Revue (ABC, 13 episodes) and Cher (CBS, about a season and a half before Cher ended it to relaunch the show with Sonny). Then they had one more run together with CBS' The Sonny and Cher Show.

*The original version launched as a Summer show in 1971 Sundays at 8:30, moved to Wednesdays at 8:00 in 1972, and came back in 1976 as a Friday 9:00 show. It ended its run in Summer 1977 Mondays at 10:00.

*Sonny Bono became mayor of Palm Springs in 1988 and a U.S. Congressman in 1995.

*ABC had a "This Is the Place to Be" campaign in the early Seventies:

*The "official" listed heights of the couple are 5'7" for Cher and 5'5" for Sonny.

*Shields and Yarnell had their own variety show (didn't everyone?) on CBS at this time. They did the robot mime on many other shows, including The Muppet Show.

*David Steinberg's self-titled Canadian show aired this season, too, premiering on CTV and running in syndication in the USA/

*Props to the Tina Turner website I consulted for info on her performances.

*We have a lot more to go in Season 11, but we will see you in Season 12 for Donny and Marie!

Ep. 11-9: Sonny and Cher

In our second listener poll episode of the season, we look at a seventies variety show forma, and Sonny and Cher beat out Donny and Marie and Captain & Tennille for top honors. We discuss an episode from the post-divorce iteration of the show, featuring guests David Steinberg, Shields and Yarnell, and the great Tina Turner! Witty banter, comedy, mime, and music. The only things missing are puppets and...comedy. We kid! 

#podcast #tv #retrotv #seventies #varietyshow #sonnyandcher #cher #tinaturner #davidsteinberg #shieldsandyarnell #mime


Check out this episode!

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Brooks on Books: Two "MASH" books I read for the podcast

Let me clarify: I did not read all of Bear Manor Media's massive TV's MASH: The Ultimate Guide Book by Ed Solomonson and Mark O'Neill. Much of the book is its big epsidoe guide, and I am reading that as I watch the show. This is a great resource for fans of the show. It concentrates on trivia and production info rather than critical analysis of each episode, but the overviews of each season provide additional insight as to the direction of the series at a given point.

I made use of one of the many interesting appendices for yesterday's post: The authors have a "Missing in Action" section listing episodes in which selected key characters do not appear. There are also sections on awards, TV ratings, and many other valuable indexes and lists.

It's not just a book of facts, though; the authors feature interviews with cast members, producers, and writes like BOTNS favorite Ken Levine. Larry Gelbart provides a foreword in addition to an interview. The history of the series is summarized in the text but is also woven throughout the interviews and supplemental material. 

I bought the digital version and gained an immense appreciation for the book's scope and organization. This is a must-have for serious fans of the series.

David S. Reiss' MASH: The Exclusive, Inside Story of TV's Most Popular Show is a different type of book. For one thing, it was published in 1980 as a semi-glossy trade paperback (at least my edition is) with extensive use of photos. It is more of a journalistic look at the series (then still on the air) than a reference.

There is an episode guide, but it is basic and it ends after the eighth season! The reason to pick this one up is to see what the series and working on the series was like at the time. The contemporary perspective is compelling, and Reiss uses his extraordinary access to produce a lot of good info. The chapters on the cast members read like magazine profiles. The pieces on Gelbart, Gene Reynolds, and Burt Metcalfe in the "Producers" section contain a lot of insight into how the show developed.

I picked this up at a great price years ago at a used book store, and I am glad I did. The comprehensive, more modern view of TV's MASH is essential, but you can pick up a lot from something published at the series' peak, like Reiss' work. It's a fun read and a cool trip back into the era.