Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Happy Halloween from Battle of the Network Shows!

Not much has changed since last year, so I am rerunning this post from last October which has a summary of our Halloween-related episodes! Have a fantastic and safe holiday!

From all of us at BOTNS to all of you...Happy Halloween! Along with links to some seasonal episodes, we present our customary picture of Batty winner Solomon Grundy (Outstanding Villain of Season 6 for Legends of the Superheroes) holding a Lowenbrau button.

Sunday, October 29, 2023

Top Ten #272: Special "I don't want to dress up, but I want some Reese's pumpkins" Edition!

1) Halloween: Get ready because we only have two more days until...Christmas shopping season!

2) Henry Winkler: Last week we mentioned some of the celebrity memoirs hitting stores, but more are on the way! Or should I say, "on the ayyyyyy," because Winkler's book is out Tuesday. You can get it from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or you can go to your local bookstore and snap your fingers so it falls off the shelf into your cart.

3) John Stamos: Meanwhile, Stamos has his own book, and I want to read it--I didn't say buy it, but I want to read it. I don't want to spoil the section about Teri Copley (featured in our 1983 NBC episode this season), but it has a heckuva ending.

4) The Munsters: COZI-TV runs a marathon of the show this weekend--predictable, yes, but also effective. Don't expect to see Mini-Munsters!

5) Kate Jackson: Happy 75th birthday!

6) Living Easy: Records are sketchy, but I believe this syndicated talk show hosted by Dr. Joyce Brothers premiered 50 years ago today.

7) NBA hoops: The regular season started this week. 

8) A Magical Musical Halloween: 40 years ago today, this syndicated special from Dick Clark Productions featured Fred Travalena as host and stars like William Shatner and Mr. T (Sadly, not together)!

9) National Economic Education Month: This is your last chance to celebrate the joys of learning econ from the likes of BOTNS fave Jerome Smith. You could also try something like this (One of the Nineties episodes):

10) R.I.P.: Richard Moll, Burt Young, and Richard Roundtree: 

Monday, October 23, 2023

The Strange Case of Columbo on Blu-Ray

The good news is, the original 1970s Columbo episodes are coming to Blu-Ray in November from Kino Lorber, and it's safe to assume they will be remastered, unedited, and will look great. Once upon a time, that would be enough. Maybe it still is!

The bad news is, when Kino announced it had the rights to the show, it also announced a slate of special features that included audio commentaries on every episode from a variety of authors and experts. hardcore Columbo fans were thrilled! However, when it came time to set a release date, things had changed. Kino reported that all the new extras were gone, including the commentaries--no, especially the commentaries, most would say.

Yet now, a couple months later, the official listing says the Music and Effects tracks are still available on the set, and the commentaries are not listed. What is going on here? No one knows. Kino doesn't "owe" anyone an explanation, and in fact it lowered the MSRP by about 20 bucks to compensate for the alteration of the set. 

We don't know what happened, but we do know that all the extra material was already recorded. It sure doesn't make sense for Kino to yank this unless it was told to by some other entity. Would it be licensor Universal? No one knows, and licensee Kino is being a good partner by not saying anything else.

Of course this invites speculation. Some said the writers' strike was involved. Some said the Peter Falk estate must have objected. There is the matter of this recent settlement:

All we can do is guess. For now it seems that the episodes will come without the commentaries, and this is disappointing, but if you just want the show in HD, this is still a great set. If they had never announced the extras, maybe there wouldn't be any big deal (though Kino's loaded Night Gallery releases would make people wonder why they couldn't do the same for Columbo). The real mystery here is, what happened? 

Sunday, October 22, 2023

Top Ten #271: Special "Hey, a lot of books in this one" Edition

1) Viva Valdez: I had a great time seeing the pilot of this 1976 ABC series on Sony's Classic TV Rewind YouTube channel. Join us in our Facebook group to discuss it!

2) Kojak: Get TV celebrates the series' 50th anniversary this week by showcasing the highest-rated episodes according to IMDB. I hope it doesn't always run annoying banner ads on the top of the screen.

3) Jeff Goldblum: Happy Birthday to Season 10 Batty winner Jeff Goldblum! He had a big night last October, winning for Outstanding Performance as Oneself and also watching his meat locker win for Outstanding Non-Human!

4) Herbie Pilato: The prolific author just released a book about Sean Connery from BearManor Media, and while Connery didn't appear in a Norman Lear sitcom in the late Eighties (Oh, if he would have!), we include it here because of the blurbs! The book features praise from Michael Learned (Sadly, at this point it's easy to assume it's not Michael Lerner) and Genius Award winner John Schuck!

5) Opryland USA: This TV special aired in 1973. Wow! She was on network TV that early? What, did she give away little toy Ford Pintos to all the audience members?

Oh, wait, OPRYland. Sorry. I guess this had something to do with country music.

6) Joan Collins: Her new book, Behind the Shoulder Pads, comes out this week. I hope she finally covers her guest appearance on Future Cop. It feels like the book should be printed on cashmere.

7) Ed Begley Jr.: The other glamour icon of the Eighties released his new book, To the Temple of Tranquiliity...and Step on It! also came out this month. It feels like the book should be released on biodegradable, edible paper--Hey, you know, maybe it is. I should check that.

8) Showtime Sports: After over 30 years, Paramount is closing the division, which focused on boxing. Where do people even see boxing anymore? I miss the old days when it was also super expensive to watch the big fights...but not as super expensive because you could see the replays on HBO and Showtime.

9) Miss Marple: A Caribbean Mystery: This TV movie debuted 40 years ago tonight on CBS and starred the legendary Helen Hayes, the great Barnard Hughes, and the demographically beneficial Jameson Parker! Please tell me the movie ends with Billy Ocean singing an early version of "Caribbean Queen."

10) R.I.P. Suzanne Somers and Lara Parker:

Sunday, October 15, 2023

Top Ten #270

1) Dallas: Hey, this series was so big, such a huge part of the cultural zeitgeist for so long, that it deserves to be at the top again. This is the first time the same show has been #1 two weeks in a row since Elroy's A.M. Ag Report and Horoscope in April 1949.

2) Moonlighting: Just weeks after I wrote off Hulu as a repository for classic TV, it adds this, a long-overdue newcomer to streaming. L.A. Law, already on Prime, is on the way, too. From what I have seen, Moonlighting looks great, and they seem to have done a decent job of preserving essential music even if a lot of the original soundtrack is changed. All 67 episodes are there, and, hey, I think at least half of them have both David and Maddie!

3) Discs: The news that Best Buy is phasing out physical media made me think, uh, didn't that already happen? Actually, while the stores have cut way back, I have still found some good deals online at Best Buy in recent years. But this entry is here to celebrate physical media and having stuff available on disc. It's not just a coaster!

4) Linda Lavin: Happy birthday! I don't think we would have to ask her twice to sing for us!

5) The 1973 Country Music Awards: Johnny Cash hosted the seventh edition of the CMAs, a star-studded affair.

6) Trackdown: Finding the Goodbar Killer: 40 years ago tonight, George Segal and Shelley Hack starred in this CBS TV movie that followed up on the 1977 theatrical Looking for Mr. Goodbar.

7) 1983 World Series: Also 40 years ago, Game 4 between the Phillies the Orioles took 12:30 in the afternoon! I bet there were grumpy sportswriters complaining that kids had an easier time watching the games when they started at 11:00 A.M.

8) Bobtober: BUZZR celebrates Bobtober with a tribute to Bob Eubanks each night in prime time this week.

9) National Grouch Day:

10) Phyllis Coates: R.I.P. to an actress who didn't have a huge presence in the BOTNS era, but, hey, she was Lois Lane!

Monday, October 9, 2023

Great Moments in 70s and 80s TV History: Jessica Fletcher has eyes for...Dick Butkus?

In a first-season Murder, She Wrote, "Sudden Death," Jessica Fletcher, who has inherited a share of a pro football team, "accidentally" wanders into the shower area, and it sure looks like she has wandering eyes. The late great Dick Butkus happens to be on the team, known in this episode as TANK MASON!

Tank looks great, but the "defensive captain" of a pro football team at the age of 43? Impressive!

Jessica is asking about a possible theft in the locker room, but she just happens to do it when the team is in the showers, leading to a run-in with Tank Mason, who says (and, yes, I am taking this out of context), "They don't call me Tank for nothing," even as he takes haste to cover himself with his towel.

His eyes are up THERE, Jess!

OK, so when Tank says he didn't expect to see her there at that time, during the showering, she feigns modesty and runs out. We know better, though, right?

The entire cast for this episode is top notch, featuring known 70s performers like David Doyle, Jan Smithers, Tim Thomerson, then Bruce Jenner; and character actor standouts like Allen Miller, James MCeachin, and Warren Berlinger. I'm on Season 9 of a series watch, and those days of exciting loaded casts like in the early seasons are long gone.

Dick Butkus never returned to Murder, She Wrote despite the simmering tension that is so prevalent in this episode.

Sunday, October 8, 2023

Top Ten #269: Special "Call the day whatever you want tomorrow; I still gotta work" edtiion!

1) Dallas: Hope you enjoy our look at this classic megahit this week on the podcast!

2) Larry Hagman: J.R. Ewing is one of the great characters of all time, and we enjoyed talking about him in the series pilot--and that was actually some of the tamer stuff compared to what he did later!

3) Victoria Principal: We certainly have to give her credit for being one of the icons in the Eighties and perhaps unfairly excluded from our Holy Trinity of Brunettes (longtime listeners know what we mean).

4) National Emergency Test: How about that test we had in the USA on Wednesday? Brings to minds classic EBS tests from the Eighties.

5) Saturday Night Live: 40 years ago tonight, the new season kicked off with host Brandon Tartikoff and musical guest John Cougar. They missed their chance to star together in a Rousters sketch.

6) Monster Cereals: One of the best things about this time of year is the resurgence of the likes of Count Chocula. Cartoon Research posted a cool article about the cereals this week.

7) MLB Playoffs: What a great time of year this is, with the majesty of the national pastime taking center stage. Let's celebrate with a classic moment of Major League Baseball history from 50 years ago today: Pete Rose and Bud Harrelson getting into a brawl:

8) Joseph Barbera: I enjoyed this just-posted segment with a 60 Minutes profile of the legendary animator. I bet Morley Safer dug The Hair Bear Bunch.

9) Sarah Purcell and Chevy Chase: Happy birthday to two TV stars who turn 75 and 80 respectively--the star of Real People and a star who is a real *%$@!

10) Dick Butkus: R.I.P. to a double-threat legend and member of the All-Time All-Name Team. Hey, maybe he wasn't the best performer on My Two Dads, but do you think Paul Reiser and Greg Evigan could have dominated in the NFL? Well, Evigan, maybe, 'cause he's awesome, but my point stands.

Saturday, October 7, 2023

YouTube Spotlight: J.R. on "Eyewitness News?"

 I love it when the real world and the TV world intersect in the form of "in-character" appearances by fictional people--especially on the local news!

In this clip posted by the anchor himself, Jon Crane, J.R. Ewing makes an appearance of sorts to help promote the newscast on KIEM, a Northern California station then affiliated with CBS. This may look kind of goofy--and by goofy I mean awesome--but what small-market station is gonna turn down a chance to get on the Dallas train in that era?

I would love to see the segment end with, "And now, here's Cliff Barnes with the weather!"

Thursday, October 5, 2023

Show Notes and Video Playlist: Episode 11-14: Dallas!

*Thanks for following us through our epic 11th season! Special thanks to our friend John Holm for suggesting we take a look at Dallas!

*Click below for our super-sized video playlist, which is stuffed with original promos, interviews, PSAs, talk show spots, and more!

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

*Dallas aired a Texas-sized 14 seasons and 357 episodes on CBS (1978-1991), airing Friday nights for all of its "main" run after the first set of 6 episodes.

*Ratings were strong for almost the entire run. It was a top-10 show in seasons 3 through 9 and #11 in season 10. It was pretty much the most popular entertainment show on TV from 1980 to 1985.

*Dallas was not a huge critical favorite. It won 20 Emmy nominations and 4 wins, the most major being Barbara Bel Geddes' 1980 award for Outstanding Lead Actress, Drama.

*This episode premiered April 2, 1978, the same night as the Alice we talked about in this episode.

*Knots Landing spun off from Dallas in 1979 and lasted 14 seasons, ending in 1993 after 344 episodes!

*Props to Barbara A. Curran's excellent book Dallas: The Complete Story of the World's Favorite Soap. Curran talked to many of the cast and production members and had cooperation from series creator David Jacobs.

Episode 11-14: Dallas

In our Season 11 finale, all roads lead to Dallas and Southfork Ranch! That's right. We finally tackle the grandpappy of the nighttime soaps, and we go all the way back to the very first episode. This one has everything you'd expect: oil, scheming, bakstabbing, family feuds, and cowboy hats! It also have a few things you might not expect like grounded sincerity. Join us for all the fun and a few Larry Hagman chuckles.

#podcast #tv #retrotv #seventies #eighties #dallas #soaps #larryhagman #patrickduffy #victoriaprincipal #oil #jrewing


Check out this episode!

Monday, October 2, 2023

YouTube Spotlight: Simon McCorkindale Speaks

Since we did things a little differently with the YouTube playlist for this week's episode, I want to do something a little different today and present a video not even in the playlist. I just can't quit Manimal, but since Manimal is not available for free except in a few clips, here is star Simon McCorkindale giving an interview on the late Bill Harris' Showtime series:

Sunday, October 1, 2023

Top Ten #268: Special 'Sorry this is up so late" Edition!

1) NBC 1983 Fall Season: We tale a deep dive into the ill-fated but interesting (we hope) 1983 lineup for the network on this week's podcast.

2) Jennifer Slept Here: One of the more compelling and underappreciated series on that 1983 schedule, Ann Jillian's show deserved a longer look than it got. Fortunately it's easy to find online if you want to give it a shot.

3) CHiPS and Miami Vice: Hopefully we'll get some more October adds once the week kicks in, but FreeVee added these two shows. Warning: It's under a Hispanic Heritage Month banner, so I don't know if the shows will last. They are still on Plex and Tubi, respectively.

Is Miami Vice really the greatest choice of show to honor Hispanic Heritage? Well, it does have this guy...

4) Edward James Olmos: L.A. County declared an Edward James Olmos Day last week, and I hope no matter what went on, Olmos just glared at everyone for 90% of the time before finally breaking into a half-grin.

5) October: Yes, it is the month when apparently one must watch horror movies and TV shows, and all horror movies and TV shows must be watched in October. Mike and I will try to edit some jump scares into the podcast.

6) Diff'rent Strokes: One of the shows's most well-known episodes from its later years aired this night 40 years ago: The guest shot of Mr. T.

7) The Rousters: Also on this night 40 years ago, NBC aired the 90-minute debut of one of the series we talk about on this week's podcast: Stephen J. Cannel's The Rousters. It probably could have used a guest appearance by Mr. T.

8) The Honeymooners: It's outside the time frame, but I have to commemorate the premiere of the "Classic 39" filmed episodes season of my favorite show of all time on October 1, 1955!

9) Juvenile Court: 50 years ago tonight, PBS stations premiered the then-newest Frederick Wiseman documentary. I haven't seen this one, but if the others are any indication, it was so long it ran all the way up to Sesame Street the next morning.

10) R.I.P. Michael Gambon, David McCallum: