Monday, November 27, 2023

Two Eighties icons score with great guest shots: 227 and The Fall Guy

When we discussed 227, Mike mentioned Pee Wee Herman's appearance on the show, but I hadn't seen it until recently. It's one of the livelier episodes I have seen and a wonderful reminder of what a talented performer Paul Reubens was.

Mary and Lester are seeking toys for a charity drive, and they end up in a DC shop where the apparent proprietor is in a hurry to get them out of there. Turns out it's a burglar played by (lesser, but still) Eighties icon Terry Kiser, and he holds them, Sandra, and Pee Wee (in town for a performance) hostage in the toy store.

His energy is infectious, and the whole cast seems to be having a good time. I mean Pee Wee, not Terry, but Kiser is funny, too, in a nice cartoony (but not too menacing) Eighties sitcom kind of way. Herman inadvertently sabotages several attempts to escape, and he does cause some irritation, but he remains likable and in character the whole time. Didn't we need Pee Wee and Jackee to be together at least once? This episode is a must-see, and the toy theme makes it a good Christmas offering.

Just before Halloween, I watched a Fall Guy with special guest Elvira as basically herself. Colt and the gang are on the set as the horror icon (Am I overusing the word?) shoots a movie in a creepy old house. Another treat in this is the presence of mansion owner John Carradine, who appears in a brief scene with his sons. Orson Bean, Signe Hasso, and Doug McClure also have great roles.

Elvira is the star, though, as always. She is in "self-centered diva" Elvira mode here, and it is hilarious. A running theme is her attempt to seduce Colt. Her charisma steals the whole show, impressive whenever Doug Barr is around. OK, I jest, but there is a loaded cast, and Elvira commands the screen the entire time, even at the beginning when her character is particularly snotty.

She returns to the show for another Halloween episode, and that is something I will have to check out. It may be sooner than next October, though, because "October the 31st" is a funny installment with a nice blend of haunts and seasonal fun.

Sunday, November 26, 2023

Top Ten #276: Special Post-Thanksgiving edition!

1) Ed McMahon: Yes, Thankgiving is behind us, but we must pay tribute yet again to the King of Thanksgiving, who kicks off the holiday each year in this (and I am sure many others out there) household:

2) 80 is the new 40?: First, Cher closes (Well, except for Santa) the Macy's parade with a simulation of a singing performance, and then the Cowboys/Commanders NFL game presents a halftime show with Dolly Parton!

3) Black Friday: DVD deals are still out there in 2023. I got a compete series set of a show I never loved but have been meaning to examine (I will keep it a secret for now because we might do it on the pod next season).

4) National Save-a-Life Test: This syndicated program aired 40 years ago this weekend. It was hosted by two experienced pros: Bernie Kopell and Michael Learned. Or was it Michael Lerner? The program taught viewers what to do in emergencies. Hey, I need to know this stuff! Why isn't this on YouTube?

5) Rich Little: Happy 85th birthday! I suppose it's getting easier to do that George Burns impression.

6) Military Family Month: You have one more week to celebrate the military families of the USA! But you have forever to enjoy Major Dad.

7) Urkel Saves Santa: Remember how the Warners regime canned a bunch or projects and took tax writeoffs rather than releasing them? Well, this animated movie was on the list but came out as a digital purchase opportunity this week because Urkel is indestructible.

8) My Father Gave Me America: 50 years ago tonight, a syndicated special featuring Kirk Douglas, Greer Garson, and others paid tribute to immigration's role in the building of the country. 

9) The Brady Bunch: Catchy Comedy runs a marathon of the show all weekend. Of course, the show was one of the first to present a historically accurate depiction of Thanksgiving:

10) Bob Barker: Pluto celebrates the late icon's 100th birthday this week with newly unearthed 1972 episodes beginning tomorrow.

Thursday, November 23, 2023

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

From all of us at BOTNS to all of you...Happy Thanksgiving! 

We present our annual holiday tradition, a performance by BOTNS fave and unofficial KING of Thanksgiving, Ed McMahon!

Sunday, November 19, 2023

Top Ten #275: It's a holiday week!

1) Batty chatter: We apologize for this list being up so late, but the Top Ten Committee was assisting the Batty Committee tabulate the votes for the upcoming Season 11 Batty Awards!

2) Thanksgiving and Black Friday: Get ready, folks, for food, football, and...uh, fairly annoying shopping?

3) Doctor Who: A ton (all?) Classic Doctor Who episodes are now on Tubi, free with ads. They remain on Britbox, which is one reason Britbox rules. It doesn't shed programming very often.

4) World Toilet Day:

5) B.C.'s First Thanksgiving: There aren't enough animated Thanksgiving specials out there. This one, based on Johnny Hart's long-running comic strip, premiered on NBC 50 years ago tonight.

6) Ted Turner: Happy 85th birthday to the mogul, who is in ill heath these days. He is a controversial figure, but how can you not appreciate the man who gave us Bill Tush?

7) Columbo: The excellent Retroist podcast devoted an episode to the classic show last week. He doesn't know what happened to the commentaries on the upcoming Blu-Ray set, either.

8) Family Ties: Rewind TV will broadcast a marathon of the series on Thursday, which is apt because, of course, Thanksgiving is all about the ties that people wear when they get dressed to go and hang out with whoever they end up hanging out with on that day.

9) Sideline reporters: The recent controversy involving Charissa Thompson is interesting, but coaches not wanting to give access is not a modern phenomenon:

10) R.I.P. Stephen Kandel: The writer was story editor on the original MacGyver.

Sunday, November 12, 2023

Top Ten #274: Happy Veterans Day Weekend!

1) Batty Awards: The Top Ten is late this week because we had to spend so much time compiling the early results! Vote now for the two listener-decided awards, either right here on this page or in our Facebook group! Batty season is here, folks!

2) Veterans Day: Happy Veterans Day weekend to all, and special thanks to those who have served. Here is a guy who did:

3) Eischeid, Streets of San Francisco, 9 to 5, Cagney and Lacey, Designing Women: These are some of the shows we watched for the "bonus hour" last weekend and brought up in our Facebook group! All I know is I, for one, want MORE Eischeid!

4) Gunsmoke: 50 years ago tonight, in part 2 of "A Game of Act of Love," the show welcomed guest Michael Learned...or was it Michael Lerner?

(Great episode title, by the way!)

5) Cabbage Patch Kids: This is one of the new inductees into the National Toy Hall of Fame. It would be appropriate if dozens of people trampled each other on the way to the stage to try to get the award.

6) Melanie Gaffin: Happy 50th to the former Whiz Kids star!

7) The Tonight Show: Also airing 50 years ago tonight, the late-night program had guests Bob Hope and Jo Ann Worley. And who could wrangle those two as guest host? That's right, guest host Karen Valentine.

8) Kathy Garver: Greg Ehrbar's new Hanna-Barbera podcast featured Garver last week, and she mentioned BOTNS fave Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends along with a lot more.

9) Alan Alda: This is a cool story from Ankler about how Alan Alda put up his dog tags from MASH for auction and the author tracked down their original owners.

10) R.I.P. Robert Butler: What a career the man had. He directed pilots for Batman, Star Trek, and Moonlighting, plus features like The Barefoot Executive. He was co-creator of Remington Steele.

Friday, November 10, 2023

Battys Season 11 Listener Choice Awards are here! Vote now!

It's the most wonderful time of the year, and by that we mean Batty Season is here! Of course we will cap off Season 11, our most interactive yet, with a ceremony that includes two listener-voted awards! Please leave your choice for the two awards below in the comments below, email us, or vote in our official Facebook group. Voting is open until 6:00 AM EST on Saturday, November 18.

OUTSTANDING DUO (Note: Rick and Mike are NOT eligible for this award):

Sonny and Cher (Sonny and Cher)
John Tesh and Mary Hart (Entertainment Tonight)
Jennifer and Jonathan Hart (Hart to Hart)
Starsky and Hutch (Starsky and Hutch)
Bobby and Pam Ewing (Dallas)
Robert Urich and Oprah (Star-Spangled Celebration)

And though we decided on the show that the series covered on our 1983 NBC episode would not be eligible for competitive Battys, we have to recognize that one somehow. So we have created this special audience-voted award:


A man turns himself into various animals (Manimal)
60 Minutes is vulnerable enough that we can program another newsmagazine against it (First Camera)
A super-intelligent orangutan becomes a government operative (Mr. Smith)
Two young, single guys hire a gorgeous live-in maid for their apartment (We Got It Made)
A glamorous deceased movie star comes back as a ghost to mentor a teenage boy (Jennifer Slept Here)
Wyatt Earp's descendants work as carnival rousters and bounty hunters (The Rousters)

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

My Halloween watching 2023 Part 2

Yesterday I discussed a few Halloween-related TV episodes I watched from shows we covered in our most recent season. While both are enjoyable, "Night Terrors" from the first season of Hart to Hart is a real gem. It's an example of the show at its best, the kind of episode that makes you appreciate how much fun it can be.

Jonathan and Jennifer head to a house party--a haunted house party, that is, because their wacky friends have invited folks to a quirky dinner. It becomes evident how quirky when dinner is served, and then everyone is urged to go on a scavenger hunt in the confines of the roomy, spooky, and allegedly ghostly mansion.

I like that "Night Terrors" shows all sides of the campy series. At first it looks like it will be totally jokey, and there are some great moments when Jonathan is in top form with his quips. I don't mean his lines are that funny, but it's the way he delivers them--breezy, confident, but treating everything as a lark. When another guest says he knows he has seen Jonathan somewhere and suggests maybe the athletic club, Jonathan says he usually does his workouts AT HOME. When he utters this, he smirks and looks right at Jennifer, and the whole moment is glorious.

Yet when the hunt begins and the stakes increase, there is some genuine peril, and everyone involved takes things with appropriate seriousness (I mean, it's still Hart to Hart). The dialogue is sharp, and the script shows is really clever. There are twists and turns and some vivid performances by guest actors like Barney Martin and other familiar faces.

"Night Terrors" is not only a fine Halloween episode, it's one of the best episodes I have seen yet of Hart to Hart. I recommend seeing it even outside of the season.

Monday, November 6, 2023

My Halloween watching 2023: Part 1

I sought out some podcast shows from Season 14 this year and found some interesting episodes.

The Rifleman "Hostages to Fortune": This Season 5 installment opens with Halloween action but doesn't really longer on it. Mark and his friends are out "Halloweenin'" (I like the away Lucas says that) and doing some mild mischief that causes mild ruckus, like cattle getting spooked and going astray. Mark gets a talking-to, but the real story is when he meets an erudite English bookstore owner and his son Percy and befriends them.

The Halloweenin' comes back in the sense that when rustlers actually steal cattle, townsfolk wonder if Mark is involved. However, the heart of the story is the bond Mark has with the new town intellectual, who is starting a ranch of his own. Lucas' jealousy is evident and also called out, though Mark tries to assure his pa that the other guy doesn't know the first thing about ranching. Lucas feels a little down due to his lack of reading (except the Bible), and it's refreshing, really.

The saga plays out in simple, clear, and honest fashion. No, there isn't a lot of Halloweenin' in this half-hour, but there is the good, soloid family Western drama you expect from The Rifleman. And some fights and gunplay, too!

Dennis the Menace "Haunted House." It's Season 3, and already Dennis seems a little too old for a Halloween episode, which is kind of sad. He and Tommy are peripheral characters in this one, roaming the house that Henry and George (I love how Henry always calls him "Mr. Wilson") buy for investment purposes.

The house is supposedly haunted, and shady realtor Harvey Korman (!) is really proud of himself for unloading it on the two "boobs." When the guys have second thoughts, the realtor and his mom (the real brains in the outfit) are not sympathetic. So they keep the place and try to prove it's not haunted by having a sleepover!

They deal with a host of weird noises and happenings, yet even though they know the kids are aware of the situation and actively looking for ghosts and playing all over the joint, it doesn't seem to occur to them they could be causing the anomalies. In fact, they aren't causing all of them! A lively guest spot by Harold Gould adds something to this episode.

More to come this week!

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Top Ten #273: Special "What time is it again?" Edition

1) Halloween and Dia de los Muertos: Hope everyone enjoyed the holidays this week. If you're still a little scared, don't worry. We're all here for you. Here is one more scary clip, though:

2) Bonus Hour: Here at BOTNS headquarters, we plan to enjoy the extra hour gained from turning the clock back (Daylight Savings Time, you know) by watching TV! What a noble effort. Join us in our Facebook group and share what you want to see with the bonus hour today.

3) Texas Rangers: Congratulations to the World Series winners! When I was growing up, the franchise often seemed to be just kind of there. I liked seeing them get their first title.

THIS is actually pretty cool, though:

4) Willie Nelson: Speaking of Texas, congratulations to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees, including 90-year-old Nelson--not exactly a video star in the Eighties, but a big presence nonetheless.

5) The Streets of San Francisco: We've had some nice chatter about this series on our Facebook group, and the show's first couple seasons are now on Pluto on demand. The Michael Douglas/Karl Malden cop series deserves more attention.

Note that also on Pluto now: Barnaby Jones, Roc, Mama's Family, Mannix, Gomer Pyle.

6) The Carroll O'Connor Special: CBS aired this 50 years ago tonight. Hey, when you get to be the star on the #1 show, you get to do specials! In this one, various segments look at the most important women in a man's life: his mother, his wife, and the host of Romper Room. Nancy Walker and Joan Blondell were among the guests.

7) National Donut Day: Not many foods give more instant pleasure than the humble donut.

8) Exo-Man: Guess what TV movie aired on WPIX-11 in New York 40 years ago today! That's right, Sole Survivor with William Shatner and Vince Edwards! But in the afternoon, the channel showed BOTNS fave Exo-Man, proving that the movie's legacy lived on long after its debut in 1977!

9) BBC programs on Roku Channel: Roku makes it difficult to see what's new on its channel, but it has added a slew of old BBC shows lately, including a lot of costume and period dramas. Onedin Line, anyone?

10) R.I.P. Matthew Perry, Peter S. Fischer, Shannon Wilcox:

Saturday, November 4, 2023

Bonus Hour tomorrow: A BOTNS "challenge!"

We mean this as a very low-key "challenge": Tonight we get an extra hour in the USA as we move the clocks back at 2:00 A.M. It's a "bonus hour," if you will, and you can't spell BONUS without BOTNS!

Some may enjoy an extra hour of sleep, some may do an extra hour of chores, some may forget to turn their clocks back and miss the beginning of the early NFL window. We are about TV and finding excuses to watch TV, so we suggest this: Let's use the bonus hour to watch something new--a show we haven't tried yet, an old special, something we have been meaning to sample but haven't yet. 

I plan to do this and report back in our Facebook group, and all of you are welcome. Of course I intend to watch something from the BOTNS era of the Seventies and Eighties, but please check out whatever you want, and don't feel the need to do it at 2:00 A.M. unless you want to simulate the old Late Late Late movie or something like that. Enjoy the bonus hour!