Sunday, April 14, 2024

Top Ten #297

1) Good Times: A new show with that title is on Netflix this weekend. Let's just say the original is complete on DVD, streaming on Peacock, and on over the air on Get TV. You can hear us talk about that show right here.

2) Rulebreaker: The new book about Barbara Walters is out this week. If this book were made from a tree, what kind of tree would it be made from?

3) Franklin?: As we mentioned last week, Michael Douglas stars as Ben Franklin in a new Apple Plus series beginning this week. This comes on the heels of its original special in February spotlighting Franklin from Peanuts.

Is the next step a prestige documentary about Season 11 Batty winner Franklin Cover?

4) Check It Out!: For the second week in a row, VEI drops a surprising complete series DVD release. Clearly the world was not ready for the combined hilarity of this and Too Close for Comfort in one single week!

5) National Gardening Day: The perfect way to get outside and enjoy some sunshine, especially if maybe you can take a little TV out there with you.

6) Lionel Richie: I shared this extended version in our official Facebook group this week, and to me it's peak Lionel: Energetic, upbeat, and on message. And check out a cameo by a certain future TGIF star.

7) Verne Lundquist: I am not a big golf guy, save a brief era when I played Lee Trevino's Fighting Golf, but I want to salute this great sportscaster, who hangs it up after this weekend's Masters.

8) NBC Reports: You're Too Fat: On this night in 1974, NBC News looked at this then-pressing issue and concluded that surely advances in nutritional science and education along with sensible policy would make obesity obsolete in 50 years.

9) The Care Bears Battle the Freeze Machine: This special aired in syndication this weekend in 1984. I haven't seen it, but I am pretty sure I know who won.

10)  O.J. Simpson: In BOTNS World, we don't dwell on the NFL Hall of Famer killing two people in 1994. We try to focus on his post-football career as a mediocre actor, mediocre color commentator, and mediocre sideline reporter,

Actually, let me put this here: I have the following memory: One year on Thanksgiving, while I was watching football with extended family, towards the end of the telecast, O.J. got a bad cue or something on an NBC broadcast, and he cursed on the air before they could get the camera off him. I have never found a reference to this moment anywhere. Did anyone else see it?

Monday, April 8, 2024

Collectible Corner: Welcome (not back) to my collection!

Laurie and I attended a cool vintage toy show recently, and it seemed to be a huge success. I love seeing shows with low admission fees in contrast to the comic book shows that charge high ticket prices just to get in and buy stuff. This event was a success to me if only because I bought this beautiful item from 1976:

Now my question is: Dare I open this? This is in original shrinkwrapped form and in great shape. It almost seems like a shame to remove that and break up the packaging.

On the other hand, the box will still be in great shape, and Mr. Kotter will still look spectacular, even if I do open it up and check out the paper dolls inside.

For now, I am going to enjoy the box as is, but who knows if I will resist the urge to try out some different outfits on Mr. Kotter!

Sunday, April 7, 2024

Top Ten #296: Special "Protect your eyes tomorrow" edition!

1) Total Eclipse of the Heart: I have this video in my head for some reason today.

Remember, people, be smart tomorrow and always. Never, ever look directly at Doc Severinsen's outfit.

2) Joe Flaherty: Special shout to the late Joe Flaherty, our Robert Pine Genius Award winner at the Season 9 Battys. What else can I say except he made us laugh real good.

3) National Beer Day: Speaking of Mr. Pine, you know we suggest you celebrate with a Lowenbrau:

4) Too Close for Comfort: VEI surprised by releasing a complete series set of the1980s sitcom this week. Unfortunately, it looks like they used syndicated (and edited) prints. So it's technically incomplete, but all the episodes are there!

Also, 40 years ago tonight, the series' fourth season premiered.

5) Dinah, Won't You Please Come Home:
50 years ago tonight, Dinah Shore starred in this music special from Nashville on NBC, welcoming guests like Glen Campbell, Isaac Hayes, and...Jack Benny? Maybe he played fiddle.

6) Michael Douglas: The star of Streets of San Francisco has been making the media rounds to promote upcoming Apple Plus show Franklin, in which he plays the legendary stateman--Ben, not Franklin Pierce--with a twinkle in his eye.

Come to think of it, has he reached the age when he plays everything with a twinkle in his eye?

7) National No Housework Day: The boys can give Mickey the day off.

8) The National Invitational Tournament: I have always maintained that the winner of the NCAA tourney is just a paper champ unless it accepts the challenge of the NIT winner.

9) Sanford: In a lean month for new shows on streaming, this show stands out as one of the few adds I saw--the 1980 version of the show. Tubi now has, uh, a handful of episodes of each of its two seasons. Well, I said it was a lean month.

10) R.I.P. Barbara Rush, Barbara Baldavin:

(Note: Post was edited to correct an error in the Joe Flaherty item. We featured SCTV in Season 9, not Season 10. We may be able to pick Geniuses, but apparently I am far from one!)

Tuesday, April 2, 2024

Are these streaming services really paying attention?

We know that all streaming services, Internet sites, and anything that can be accessed via a smartphone, smart TV, or connected device is mining our data and throwing it out into the universe, right? Well, then why aren't any of the streamers doing anything useful with it, like, say, helping me find something I might to watch on their platforms?

I am not going to launch a numbing discussions of algorithms, but are any of you satisfied with "recommendations" or "you might also like" rows on your streaming services? I think they are particularly inept in assisting those of us who prefer material made in the 20th century. It's like the systems can't even fathom that someone would rather see a 50-year-old sitcom than a brand-new direct-to-streaming thriller starring The Guy Who Was in That Show We Don't Watch and The Woman Who Was in the Reality Show That We Never Cared About.

I will give you an example: Last year, I started watching Sony's acclaimed series Family (1976-1980), a series in my wheelhouse--earnest, often corny family-centric dramedies--that I never got to see growing up. I really enjoyed discovering the series from the beginning, and I think it was on Crackle I started, but when Crackle started ditching all the Sony library programs, I found it again on Tubi.

Tubi then lost the series (along with fellow Sony fixture Fantasy Island, another show that was on Crackle and Tubi but is now nowhere), and I bemoaned that here. At some point, Sony's own Classic TV Rewind channel started dropping episodes in order verrrrry slowly. Oh, and Tubi added the series again.

Wait, what?

Yes, Tubi re-added it, but I found out by accident last week. I have no idea when Family returned, and my question is, why not? Tubi is a channel that sends me emails all the time. It tells me what's leaving. It tells me what I have in my queue as if I needed a reminder. It tells me what's coming to Tubi and what's new on Tubi. Yet somehow it never got around to telling me a show I had been watching in order on its own platform was back. 

What's the use of their collecting all my viewership data if they aren't going to make use of it? Whatever else they might be doing with my watching habits, they ought to be luring me in to spend more time on Tubi, thus watching their ads, by letting me know when they get back something I actually watched!

When I think of all the goofy stuff they bother to email about and some of the ridiculous recommendations they make on the site, I can only shake my head. I don't think it's a Tubi thing; it's all of them. They just don't care about what we really want to see. They care about what they think we should see. 

Sunday, March 31, 2024

Top Ten #295: Special Easter Edition!

1) Easter: Enjoy the holiday! If you want to revisit our season 10 opener, The Easter Bunny Is Comin' to Town again right here.

2) Major League Baseball: CATCH IT! 

3) Upstairs, Downstairs: The series finale of the original version aired on PBS 50 years ago tonight.

4) Shirley Jones and Richard Chamberlain: Happy 90th to each!

5) Wrestlemania: The first of the annual events happened on this date in 1985 and culminated a week of promotion all over the place, including NBC.

6) The Black Gold Awards: 40 years ago tonight, this syndicated awards show aired in many markets. It was hosted by Lou Rawls and honored excellence in R&B music. Michael Jackson won pretty much every award--but not all:

7) National Prom Day: Celebrate responsibly! Maybe you'll be lucky enough to enjoy a tune.

8) The Movies: 50 years ago tonight, ABC aired part 1 of a two-part special celebrating the history and legacy of Hollywood films. How much could they talk about when Paternity was still 7 years away?

9) March Madness: 40 years ago today, the Final Four featured Georgetown vs. Kentucky and Houston vs. Virginia. the big men in those games: Patrick Ewing, Sam Bowie, Akeem Olajuwon, and Olden Polynice (Yes, UVA actually got to the Final Four the year after Ralph Sampson left).

10) R.I.P. Louis Gossett:

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Top Ten #294: Special Springtime Edition!

1) Spring: I'd say it's been a long, cold Winter, but it really kind of flew right by. Warm weather brings all kinds of goodness, like midseason replacement series. You generally think of those as debuting in January or somewhere in Winter, but shows like Dallas premiered in April. 

Does Dallas really feel like a Spring show? No, but it doesn't seem Summer-y, either. Winter? I think it's just one of those all-time Fall shows.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, Spring! Married with Children premiered in April, too,

2) Norman Fell: Today would have been the 100th birthday of this icon! That's a whole lot of "building shelves."

3) Pretty much everyone on Head of the Class except Dan Schneider: No explanation necessary. I do kind of wonder what Brian Robbins, who was linked with him for years professionally, is thinking.

4) Women's History Month: To educate myself before the month is over, I think it's time I finally dove into that TV Guide with Donna Mills on the cover. 

5) Byron Allen: The bad news is, he may not get Paramount. The good news is, he might save $24 billion he was putting together! Byron, call us up. Maybe we can do business together.

6) People Are Funny: This show hosted by Flip Wilson premiered on NBC 40 years ago tonight. After Charlie and Company, Flip might have pronounced the title as People ARE Funny.

7) Donna Pescow and Robert Carradine: Happy 70th to both of them! It was Robert Hays who co-starred with Pescow in Angie, but we celebrate him anyway!

8) Entertainment Tonight: Imagine our delight when we came across a new upload of the show with the original cast led by Ron Hendren! Most of the ads are removed, but one that remains is for Paternity, the same movie Burt was plugging when we covered the program.

9) Ernie Hudson: It's good to see the star of The Last Precinct headlining the #1 movie this weekend.

10) R.I.P. M. Emmet Walsh and General Hospital stars Beth Peters, Robyn Bernard:

Monday, March 18, 2024

What a false alarm! (Accidentally wrong-dated this earlier)

 I like checking Just Watch for new additions to streaming, but it's not a perfect site. It lags behind a bit, and it is at the mercy of the information it pulls. Last week, I was looking over new additions to Plex, and I saw a thumbnail consisting of an old TV Guide cover.

Wait, that's Larry Hagman! Can that mean that Plex is showing The Good Life, Hagman's 1971 sitcom with Donna Mills as husband and wife who pose as servants because--Well, I'm not really sure.

I clicked through and saw that, yes, the listing indicated that was the show. Amazing! Well, Plex added WB's original Kung Fu before anyone else had it, so it's not impossible. Lorimar co-produced it, so Warner Brothers might have it (Actually, I believe Screen Gems owns the rights). I reasoned, well, maybe it really is on Plex!

Only thing is, that's not the Good Life Plex has. It's not even the 1975 Britcom of the same name (itself easy to find). I went to Plex itself and started playing it, and after a few ads, I saw some kind of reality show about pastoral life, I think. I didn't see credits, and I was too disappointed to bother to find out. 

As a group of famous Brits once sang (I wonder which The Good Life they enjoyed), I should have known better. I did, actually, but I let myself feel hopeful for a moment.

Sunday, March 17, 2024

Top Ten #293: Special St. Patrick's Day Edition!

1) St. Patrick's Day: Happy birthday to all the Patricks out there!

(Actually, Patrick Duffy does turn 75 today.)

2) Murder, She Wrote: The series had several episodes set in Ireland, but one of its best-titled is set here in the States: "Corned Beef and Carnage." I mean, anything I can tell you about the plot can only disappoint, right?

3) Magnum P.I.: The series gets the spotlight in a revamped episode of long-running podcast The Retroist this week, plus Friend of the Show Ian talks to Babs Greyhosky, writer of multiple episodes, on his Ian Talks Comedy podcast.

4) Oppenheimer: I'm surprised to hear everyone making so much fuss out of this 1980 BBC series lately. Was there an atomic incident or something?

5) Saturday Night Live: 40 years ago tonight, Billy Crystal hosted with Al Jarreau as the musical guest. I don't remember this particular episode, but I have a sinking feeling that at some point Billy tries to imitate Al.

6) Lesley-Anne Down: Happy 70th!

7) 6 RMS RIV U: This TV movie premiered 50 years ago tonight, based on a play by Bob Randall. Carol Burnett and Alan Alda meet when both respond to an ad for a river-view apartment.

8) NCAA Hoops: March Madness is among us. This year, BOTNS will continue its tradition of not hosting a pool.

9) American Parade: We the Women: This installment of CBS News' series of documentary specials celebrating the Bicentennial premiered 50 years ago tonight. Hosted by Mary Tyler Moore, it focused on the Suffragette movement in 1920.

10) Sledge Hammer: Catchy Comedy runs episodes of this and Police Squad all day today.

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

What We Saw: The 1984 Academy Awards

I wasn't feeling a strong connection to the 2024 Academy Awards, so with the help of YouTube, I went back in time and watched the 1984 Academy Awards this weekend. What is funny is that by choosing a nice round number for the anniversary--40 years ago!--I picked a night that celebrated a crop of movies with which I connect even less.

Before I address that, let me share the one thing that stands out to me most when watching the Oscars of 40 years ago. It's not the greater star power. I could comment on that, but it would be "grumpy old man out of touch with today's movies" kind of stuff, and I don't want to rip on today's crop of influencers--er, stars. Besides, they gave us exactly the kind of star I might yearn for, Al Pacino, and that didn't turn out so well.


No, the one thing that stands out today is the lack of reaction shots. It is noticeable throughout the entire program, but check out the opening, which contains the best part of the night, Johnny Carson's monologue:

Current awards shows have the tendency to find someone faking a smile or doing a mock pout (or, OK, I concede it happens--showing genuine emotion) after just about every single bit. It's not even every bit, but lines within a bit if presenters are on stage. Look at how, during Carson's segment, the director shoots it like a talk show monologue. The camera is on him almost the entire time. It's almost alarming! Yet I find it refreshing. I like the emphasis on the host and, throughout the ceremony, the people on the stage.

There aren't a lot of great moment for me in this show because I STILL haven't seen most of the big winners, and, boy, you can bet I didn't see them yet. This Oscar night illustrates how the movies of 1983 are a big gap for me. I never saw Terms of Endearment, Tender Mercies, Fanny and Alexander, The Dresser, and even--gasp--The Right Stuff (haven't seen it straight through all the way). I have never seen Silkwood nor Yentl (I actually tried to avoid that one when it was on HBO all the time in the Eighties) nor Educating Rita nor Cross Creek. Therefore a lot of the winners and races don't resonate with me much 40 years later.

Here are some movies of 1983 I DID see: Return of the Jedi, Flashdance, Trading Places, WarGames, Octopussy, Staying Alive, Sudden Impact, Mr. Mom, Risky Business. Those happen to be the other 9 of the top 10 movies (excluding Terms) of 1983. I am not making a popular vs. critical darling argument, just pointing out that I did see a lot of the movies of that year, but somehow I missed most covered at the Oscars. 

I would be more excited about Local Hero, King of Comedy, or others if we are talking critical faves. If we are talking person faves, well, young me saw Superman III and National Lampoon's Vacation.

I am not saying what the Oscars SHOULD HAVE honored, just that I don't have an affinity for what the show did honor. But would it have killed them to nominate Private School so Phoebe Cates could get an invite?

Shirley McLaine's speech is well remembered (Is it one of the first commenting on how long the show is?), and many of the "lesser" awards yield sincere and affecting (if not starpowered) speeches.

Actually, one thing that strikes me is how Carson makes multiple jokes about how people don't really care about those awards--maybe right on the edge of going to insulting. Carson himself is a clear highlight in his final outing as emcee. He is funny, appealing, and always in control.

A highlight is Cary Grant's appearance. Talk about class and star power!

Overall, it was not a great show, but it was a nice watch on a lazy Sunday...broken up into multiple clips in a convenient playlist. Seeing the 215-minute long ceremony at once without breaks might be a bit too much, at least without bigger roles for the likes of National Lampoon's Vacation (To be fair, Christie Brinkley does appear as a presenter).

Sunday, March 10, 2024

Top Ten #292: Special "Casablanca is still my favorite" Edition

1) The Academy Awards: One of the biggest nights in television is when the people who make movies get together to brag about how much more important they are than those who make television!

2) Little House on the Prairie: COZI is celebrating the series' 50th anniversary all month. We celebrated the series' unending misery and misfortune in this episode.

3) Shogun: The acclaimed FX miniseries hasn't caught the whole nation's attention the way the original did, though it is off to a good start.

4) The Incredible Hulk: The pilot movie premiered in Fall 1977, but the first "regular" episode, boxing story "Final Round," was March 10, 1978 on CBS against two reruns: Rockford Files on NBC, the second half of The Boy in the Plastic Bubble on ABC.

5) Sharon Stone: Happy birthday to the actress perhaps best known for her appearance on Magnum P.I..

6) Conference championships: 40 years ago, sports on TV featured a host of NCAA hoops title games, including the final of the long-gone Metro Conference and an OT win for Georgetown over Syracuse in the Big East.

7) Mario Day: Nintendo would have us believe otherwise, but I think today is designed to celebrate Mario Cuomo, who dominated TV pundit shows every few years by thinking about running for president.

8) WNEP Scranton/Wilkes-Barre: 40 years ago, The New York Times ran an interesting piece about this station and how it was spending money on community service and a robust local news staff to get an edge on its competitors. 

Hey, it interested me! After all, this channel was my ABC affiliate when I was growing up. It was also my source of this (the host of which is featured in the article):

9) Daylight Savings: This is the bad one, the one where we lose an hour. That's one less episode of Little House to me and you. Do you think the Ingalls family ever messed around with the clock? It was more like Life Savings Time every episode on that show.

10) R.I.P. Steve Lawrence, Jean Allison: Allison was in an amazing array of 70s and 80s TV shows, including St. Elsewhere, Adam-12, Emergency!, Gunsmoke, Charlie's Angels, and many more.

Lawrence is known as a crooner, but he first stood out to me as the co-host of this:

Sunday, March 3, 2024

Top Ten #291: Special "in like a lion" Edition!

1) Sony's Classic TV Rewind YouTube channel: In what looks to be yet another dry month for catalog TV on streaming, it's time to appreciate this channel, which has stepped up its pace of uploading full episodes lately. Just this past week, it gave us "A Coffin for Starsky," famous Charlie's Angels installment "Angels in Chains," and several episodes of the rare Norman Lear Palmerstown, U.S.A. Hey, the guy in the thumbnail looks familiar:

Now, do I still wish Sony would make its library available on other outlets at a rate of more than one episode per series every week? Yes, I do, but this is sort of like a Sony TV channel, and it's free with uncut episodes.

2) Moonlighting: We didn't get a "Moonlighting Monday" check-in on our Facebook group page this week, but the Stuck in the 80s podcast interviewed Glenn Gordon Caron last week, and today is the anniversary of the series premiere on March 3, 1985.

3) Video Soul: A recent upload of a 1986 episode is a refreshing trip back in time. Host Donnie Simpson and Freddie Jackson have a casual but insightful chat throughout the program. At one point they discuss the differences between Black and White audiences in an intelligent way, not in a "Evening at the Improv" way. The music videos are typical of what BET was playing at the time and I would think are rarely seen anywhere today. Also, look at how relaxed the whole presentation is as it focuses on the personalities and not obnoxious graphics, ad billboards, and musical cues.

4) "Swan Song": Here is a cool milestone: 50 years ago tonight saw the debut of this episode of Columbo with special guest star Johnny Cash! Extended segment below:

5) The Young and the Restless: The looooong-running daytime soap was just renewed for another 3 years.

6) Leap Day: How did you all spend the "extra" day this year? Watching old TV? In other words, business as usual?

7) Barney Martin: The character actor who found fame as Jerry's dad on Seinfeld would have turned 100 today!

8) Superstars of Comedy Salute the Improv: Speaking of the Improv, this comedy special aired 40 years ago tonight on Showtime:

9) Danica McKellar and David Faustino: Happy birthday to two performers who played two iconic yet quite different TV teens.

10) R.I.P. Richard Lewis, Ole Anderson:

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

RetroFan is still bringing it!

It's been a while since I shared my enthusiastic praise (without compensation and with all sincerity) for TwoMorrows' RetroFan magazine, so let me check in with a few words about the current March 2024 issue.

Cover girl Elizabeth Montgomery headlines this #31, with a big story by biographer and noted classic TV author Herbie J. Pilato. He shares the story of his own personal relationship with the actress and also provides an overview of her career that includes her later appearances in many TV movies.

Mark Voger is one of my favorite regular contributors, and in this issue he discusses the history of Howdy Doody, and he does cover the lesser-known revival from 1976.

Now, here is what really blows me away: Andy Mangels' "Retro Saturday Morning" department focuses on two of the live-action efforts of D'Angelo-Bullock-Allen Productions. One is a show I have always wanted to see, the body-switching comedy Big John, Little John with Robbie Rist and the great Herb Edelman. The Region 2 DVD is probably all we are ever gonna get unless some kind soul uploads more episodes than the few already online.

The other is one one of the most obscure programs we have devoted a podcast episode to: Run, Joe, Run! Hey, I appreciate a Bewitched article even if it isn't one of my personal favorites, but I get a warm feeling inside when my favorite magazine digs deeper for something like this 1974-1976 program. Click here for our take on the work of Heinrich of Midvale, but do read Mangels' great feature.

Elsewhere, Scott Shaw! explores the history of Alvin and the Chipmunks, focusing on the Sixties' iteration of the cartoon. In it he asks a vital question: Where the heck is THAT show on DVD? It received a few minimal releases, but we want more!

I enjoyed the look at Peter Gunn and the "Retro Toys" focus on girder and panel building sets. There's even more than that, like a profile of Time After Time, which at first seemed like a departure for the magazine but fit in quite well.

The magazine never disappoints, and I recommend it as much as ever even if I don't always talk about it here!

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Missed "A Coffin for Starsky"? Sony makes it available!

Back when we covered Starsky and Hutch, we mentioned that it was leaving Prime Video and other streaming outlets (except for purchase). I personally picked up the show on disc, but if you do not have it on physical media, Sony's official YouTube rerun channel just uploaded the episode we talked about: "A Coffin for Starsky!" Check it out for free:

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Top Ten #290: Special "Get outta here, winter!" Edition!

1) The Krofft Supershow: OK, we have talked about the Krofft library making its way to streaming on Tubi and Roku for weeks, yet I was still surprised to see this one pop up on Tubi. Viva Kaptain Kool and the Kongs!

2) Jack Benny: I shared in our Facebook group (Come join us!) a link to this great episode I watched this week: One of 4 that CBS reran in August 1977. Why did they do that? I don't know--Benny had died several years earlier--but it's cool that they did. The New York Times ran a very positive review, and when their TV critics liked something, it was a special thing, indeed. CBS even took out a little display ad touting the 4-week run. Maybe they tried to do a barter deal in the spirit of Benny.

This is an original night-of-broadcast recording with commercials:

3) Black History Month: Another February comes to close without any cool surprises like someone unearthing Tenafly and putting it on demand, but let's celebrate one of the great comic supporting actors, Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, who makes an appearance in the episode linked above.

4) Here's Lucy: 50 years ago tonight, the show welcomed Phil Harris in an episode that got into the women's lib movement. This is easily findable online, and it's nice to see old pros even if they were, shall we say, in their golden years.

5) Karen Grassle: Happy birthday to the star of Little House on the Prairie!

6) National Chocolate-covered Nut Day:

7) Ripley's Believe it or Not: In the paper 40 years ago today was an interesting article about producer Jack Haley Jr. being sued by Columbia for allegedly overcharging for use of his personal mansion as a shooting location for the series. He denied it, saying he charged a proper amount and that the practice saved the show money. Jack Palance, much to my chagrin, is not quoted.

8) 227: Rewind is running a marathon of the show Tuesday. Get it? 2/27! Hopefully they make room for "The Butler Did It," DAWG!

9) James Brown: Happy birthday to the godfather of...uh, CBS sports?

10) Barbie: The icon won a People's Choice award last week. What the people want is a live-action Barbie and the Rockers movie with the same cast!

Sunday, February 18, 2024

Top Ten #289: Special "No more football, huh?" Edition

1) Super Bowl Ratings: The Big Game drew huge numbers, and I don't want to diminish the record, but all I'm saying is that Nielsen wasn't counting out-of-home viewership when Burt Reynolds was on The Golden Girls.

2) 1984 Olympics: The figure skating final aired 40 years ago tonight, and ABC was promoting Rosalynn Sumners, but the winner was Katarina Witt. Also, just like last Saturday, ABC broke up its coverage with PBA and Wide World of Sports.

3) National Drink Wine Day: I was never a fan of the stuff, but knock yourself out.

4) Medical Center: 50 years ago tonight, CBS aired an episode called "Girl from Bedlam," and in the supporting cast was Batty winner Leonard Frey!

5) John Travolta: Happy 70th birthday to the star of Welcome Back Kotter!

6) NBA All-Star Game: Remember when the game meant something? Well, I am not sure I do, either, but it was a lot of fun.

7) Cybill Shepherd: Happy 74th birthday!

8) The Dog Days of Arthur Cane Part 1: This ABC Weekend Special premiered 40 years ago today. There have been a lot of "human becomes canine" movies over the years, but for money, this is one of them.

9) Presidents Day: Tomorrow we all celebrate the service of folks like Fred Silverman, Brandon Tartikoff, Bud Grant...

10) Pop Tarts: R.I.P. to the creator of one of the greatest--tastiest--most convenient breakfast foods out there, Bill Post. That is, he invented the Pop Tart, not that he is the food.

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

I am all set with my Perry Mason merch!

One of my favorite Christmas gifts this year was an assortment of Perry Mason supplies from Laurie. I plan to make one of these notebooks my Official Season 12 Notebook! 

Rather chummy look the attorney and the DA are exchanging, eh?

There's more! I especially like the "incompetent, irrelevant, and immaterial" notepad:

In the year ahead, you can bet I will be jotting down notes all over the place as I prepare for the podcast! Remember, we discussed Perry Mason in Season 10 as our "Retro-Retro" episode.

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Top Ten #288: Special "So, what's on the telly tonight?" Edition!

1) The Big Game: I might ask if everyone has had enough football by now, but judging by TV ratings, the clear answer is NO! Enjoy the Super Bowl tonight! And since the real America's Team isn't in it this year, enjoy this:

2) The NFL Today: This afternoon, CBS will air You Are Looking Live, a documentary about longtime pregame show The NFL Today, and it will be available on Paramout Plus as well. I am actually more excited to watch this than the game itself, but I admit I was always more of an NBC game even though they seemed to change their format each season.

3) Happy Lunar New Year: It's the Year of the Dragon!

4) Designing Women: Antenna TV's counterprogramming today: A marathon of the show called "Super Belle Sunday!"

5) Valentine's Day is this week: 40 years ago tonight, CBS had us covered with Be My Valentine, Charlie Brown preceded by the new special Bugs Bunny's Valentine. Below

Then right afterwards came, uh, Airwolf and Mickey Spillane's Mike Hammer.

6) Tina Louise: Happy 90th birthday to the star of Dallas!

7) The Winter Olympics: ABC's broadcast schedule 40 years ago today was dominated by the Sarajevo games, though--this seems kind of odd to me today--they took breaks in the afternoon for bowling and for a Wide World of Sports episode about the Ironman triathlon. Below is a stretch of ads and promos from February 11, 1984:

8) CBS Daytime 90: Legacy of Fear was the entry kicking off  this daytime anthology series the network ran for one week starting 50 years ago today.

9) Larry Merchant: Happy 93rd birthday to the longtime fixture of HBO boxing coverage.

10) R.I.P. Hank Bradford: The writer for The Tonight Show and later The Late Show with Joan Rivers created many Carnac lines in the early 1970s.

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Top Ten #287: Special "Gearing up for the Big Game" Edition

1) John Schuck: Happy birthday to the esteemed Robert Pine Genius winner for Season 10!

2) Sid & Marty Krofft: A slew of their 1970s programs, including series like The Lost Saucer and The Bay City Rollers from The Krofft Supershow. quietly showed up on Tubi the last couple weeks. The lack of fanfare is customary for Tubi adding old shows, but it seems inapt for the Kroffts. Shouldn't this news be accompanied by Rip Taylor being shot out of a cannon?

3) The Grammys: Tonight is the second-biggest night in music. The first is any given night with a Taylor Swift concert.

4) We Are the World: A new Netflix documentary covers the making of the seminal music video, which was recorded after the American Music Awards. It wast he second-biggest night in music in 1985, with the first being, of course, The War to Settle the Score on MTV, where Cyndi Lauper managed Wendi Richter in her loss to Lelani Kai.

5) National Thank a Letter Carrier Day: Why in the world would this day be celebrated on a SUNDAY? Can anyone give me an explanation of such an obscure holiday?

6) Byron Allen: The mogul has made another high-profile bid for a media entity, this time offering to buy Paramount using his revenues Hey, all I care about is making stuff like this circulate again:

7) Amelia Earhart: Here we go again! Someone else believes they have found wreckage from the noted aviator's plane. We are not so sure, though some evidence may indicate there may be potential for information encouraging further investigation.

8) Co-ed Fever: 45 years ago tonight, CBS aired a sneak preview of this series, an Animal House rip-off that was scheduled to join its Monday lineup two weeks later. 

The network canceled it after this single airing tanked, meaning it was technically axed before it even premiered.

9) Groundhog Day: Rick got up, saw the TV, and forecasted 6 more weeks of watching reruns. Expect a similar prognastication in March.

10) R.I.P. Rod Holcomb: The prolific director was behind the camera for many high-profile projects, including the first Captain America movie and the Greatest American Hero episode we discussed.

Carl Weathers: Shame on me for not watching those Fortune Dane episodes when Crackle had them for a very short time.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Murder Monday: Jessica goes VR

After the second great Leonard Lightfoot episode, Jessica Fletcher enters the then-nascent world of virtual reality in Season 10's "A Virtual Murder." Unfortunately, it's not FletcherWorld with a 3-D Jess taking you on a tour of Cabot Cove. Fletcher has written the script for a VR murder mystery game that immerses the player in its own reality--well, by 1993 standards, anyway. I mean, Jessica herself is impressed when she tests it out, calling it remarkable!

I could grab a still from different sources, but I feel I owe it to you to try to get my own screengrab, so here goes:

The episode co-stars Julia "Poor man's Paula Marshall?" Campbell, Kevin "Pre-stero--uh, bulking up for Hercules" Sorbo, Phil "See me, not just hear me" LaMarr, Allan "Yep, I'm a sleazeball again" Miller, and Ramy "Rufus Sewell will study this performance" Zada. It's an amusing look at VR as it was 30 years ago, and seeing Jessica flail around with that VR headset is worth the price of admission.

Sunday, January 28, 2024

Top Ten #286: Special "Probably rooting for the Chiefs" edition!

1) My Three Sons: All 12 seasons are finally on Prime Video, and it's a hodgepodge of edited episodes, complete episodes, missing episodes, and whatnot, but at least most of it is there!

2) National Kazoo Day: An excuse to watch this classic again!

3) Alan Alda: Happy birthday! I'm sure in lieu of presents, he would appreciate...curiosity.

4) Endless parade of awards: Oscar nominations came out this week, but I am just glad the Battys got in there first this season.

5) 1984 Golden Globes: Speaking of awards, 40 years ago today, the Globes were held, and the big TV winners were Dynasty, Fame, and The Thorn Birds. Buffalo Bill got some love, too:

6) The Trial of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg: An ABC TV movie 50 years ago dramatized the famous case and starred Alan Arbus (not Arkin) and Brenda Vacarro.

7) Scooby-Doo: Warner Archive announced 10 Hanna-Barbera made-for-TV movies are coming to Blu-Ray, and it feels like half of them involve Scooby. Give Scoob credit for being a TV star with more longevity than most.

8) Willam Conrad: Me-TV has a funny little story about Conrad and his voice-over work.

9) Catch Comedy: The channel has an interesting marathon this weekend, running short-lived sitcoms. Today's lineup includes Brooklyn Bridge, Square Pegs, and Ferris Bueller.

10) R.I.P. Charles Osgood: Not to be confused with the other bookish-seeming folksy Charleses whose reputations aren't as great these days.

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Top Ten #285: Special "Baby, it's cold outside" Edition!

1) Elton John: With his Emmy win this week, the icon has now reached EGOT status. Should we book Top of the Pops for our Season 12 to make him eligible for BEGOT?

2) Marla Gibbs: The 227 and Jeffersons star charmed as a presenter on Emmy night. She's still sassy, but then again, isn't everyone sassy when they reach the age of 92?

3) The FBI: Warner Brothers' drama doesn't get much attention (Outside of a reference in Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) for a series that ran 9 seasons, but it is streaming on Tubi, it was featured on Ed Robertson's TV Confidential podcast recently, and Robertson co-wrote a new book about the series, The FBI Dossier.

4) Benny Hill: Happy 100th birthday! The song was in your head as soon as you saw "Benny," wasn't it?

5) NBC Saturday night: 40 years ago tonight, the Peacock network continued its memorable 1983-84 season with We Got It Made at 9, Mama's Family at 9:30, and The Yellow Rose at 10 after a Diff'rent Strokes/Silver Spoons combo at 8.

By the way, the Strokes episode is 'Drummond's Lady." I don't even want to know what that's about. I just want to keep running that cool title through my mind this weekend.

6) Let's Make a Deal: BUZZR is celebrating the show's 60th anniversary this month. Or you can choose Screen #2 and watch Tattletales!

7) The Bob Newhart Show: This show just left Prime Video, and it's too good to not be streaming anywhere. Here is an episode posted by Fuzzy Memories. Check out the hilarious effect the channel used on the theme song to thwart bots. stay for the fifth-season finale of the series.

8) The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau: 50 years ago tonight, ABC aired a Cousteau doc called "The Flight of Penguins." It is notable today for being one of the last mainstream documentaries not narrated by Morgan Freeman.

9) Squirrel Appreciation Day: I appreciate you, Rock!

10) Tom Shales: The longtime Washington Post TV critic and co-author of two seminal oral history books died last weekend. An appreciation in The New York Times quoted his take on Gimme a Break: "If I thought television could get substantially worse than this, I am not sure I would have the courage or desire ever to turn the set on again."

Sunday, January 14, 2024

Top Ten #284: Special Pre-MLK Day Edition!

1) Marjo Gortner: Happy 80th birthday to Genius Award recipient Marjoe!

2) The Emmys: The second-biggest night in TV awards is tomorrow. It's all well and good--the Battys are not in competition with anyone--but just consider this: They never gave Marjoe Gortner an Emmy.

3) The Match Game: Tubi added an assortment of 1977 episodes (distinct from the ones on Freevee) of the classic game show to its streaming offerings. This news makes me feel BLANK.

4) Weekend with the Stars Telethon: 40 years ago tonight, stars like John Ritter and Henry Winkler came gathered on a live telecast to raise money for cerebral palsy. Note that some sources I have seen--OK, IMDB--claim this happened January 21, but I am looking at TV listings that say otherwise.

Well, remember this if I forget and put this same event in next week's Top Ten.

Here's a promo from a different year of the event:

5) Happy Days: Speaking of Winkler, Catchy Comedy celebrates the show with a marathon this weekend to honor its 50th anniversary. Meanwhile, Antenna TV has a marathon of The Jeffersons to commemorate its, uh, 49th anniversary. I blame that FOOL Willis for not knowing how to read a calendar.

6) Jason Bateman: Just to make us all feel old, happy 55th birthday, Jason! I guess this does give me an excuse to remind everyone that this series exists:

7) From Russia with Love: 50 years ago tonight, the second Connery Bond film made its TV debut on ABC. Here's a promo from a later broadcast (ABC did tend to recycle the Bonds!):

8) Fantasy Island: One of several high-profile series debuting on this date, Fantasy Island premiered January 14, 1977 on ABC. Unfortunately, even Roarke couldn't keep it on streaming, and it's been MIA ever since it left Tubi last year.

9) Killdozer: The Decades of Horror podcast talked about the TV movie recently, and while I like this show, they didn't really focus on it very much (I think the guy driving the discussion had little interest in talking about it). I humbly suggest you check out our effort if you really enjoy the movie.

10) R.I.P. Bill Hayes, Joyce Randolph: Shout-out to hayes, who played Doug Williams on Days of Our Lives for many years. I want to give a special salute to Randolph, the last surviving castmember of my favorite TV show of all time, The Honeymooners.

Monday, January 8, 2024

Murder Monday: History is made in Season 10

I am guilty of derilection of duty in not reporting on Murder, She Wrote each Monday, but I have to jump in to mention this piece of history. I watch an episode with my wife (virtually) each Monday, and though we have jumped ahead for seasonal episodes, like for Halloween, I don't look ahead at specific installments to scope them out. Therefore, each week I am surprised when I see the cast at the beginning.

Imagine my joy, then when I see the name a genius in the opening credits for Season 10, Episode 2, "For Whom the Ball Tolls." It's not just a genius, but THE Genius--the O.G. himself, the man for whom the Batty is now named, the first-ever Genius Award recipient, Robert Pine!

Pine is the good-hearted, responsible brother of sleazy building developer Kevin Kilner. He is generally a nice guy, displays conscience, and even seems to have a budding relationship with a younger woman. Too bad for him that--Well, just watch the episode.

One Genius is enough to elevate an MSW, but what if I told you TWO Geniuses appear in this one? Returning as NYPD Lt. Gelber is the great Herb Edelman (himself worthy of Genius consideration in the right circumstance, and his right-hand man, Detective Henderson, is played by Leonard Lightfoot!

That's right, the Season 2 Genius winner, honored for his work in Silver Spoons, is in the episode as well. Now, this was a real shock to me. I almost didn't recognize him in his first scene, not because he looked much different, but because of the ignorance of the show's producers. Bruce Lansbury, I hope this doesn't fall on you, but how in the world can you have Leonard Lightfoot in your cast and relegate him to the end credits? I was stunned, but I got over it and just enjoyed his presence in the show.

This instant classic is worth seeing, but then a few episodes later, "The Phantom Killer" reunites us with Gelber AND Henderson. This time, Lightfoot's character even gets to show a little personality (He is super efficient) and some more dialogue. Yes, it appears he is a recurring character! It's enough to make me look forward to the New York episodes though I still love Cabot Cove the best.

I do favor an approach of having Edelman and Lightfoot constants when Jess is in New York except under special circumstances, but I am not looking ahead to see how often this happens!

(Note: Lightfoot's appearance on Murder was mentioned in a previous "Pick Your Pine" game at the end of this season 2 episode, well before I started watching the series each week)

Sunday, January 7, 2024

Top Ten #283: Happy New Year edition

1) 2024: Just think of all the great anniversaries we can commemorate together this year. For example, February will be the 47th anniversary of the debut of Blansky's Beautie, then in March it's the 42 anniversary of the series finale of Mr. Merlin...

2) Anne Scheeden: Happy birthday to the star of Season 11's Exo-Man!

3) MASH and Dick Van Dyke: FOX and CBS recently broadcast specials dedicated to the legendary show and the icon, respectively, and I applaud the networks anytime they devote airtime to something from the 20th century.

4) Family Feud: It's a slow month for new catalog shows on streaming, but a batch of 1980 Richard Dawson episodes of this game show are now on Tubi. 

5) All-Star Laff-a-Lympics: Prime Video snuck on the first season of this toon, though I think it's only for a month to promote Boomerang on Amazon Channels.

6) ABC's Wide World of Entertainment: The late-night wheel block of programming debuted 50 years ago this week  with Once the Killing Starts, a Wide World of Mystery movie, and also featured Dick Cavett, Geraldo, concerts, Monty Python, and reruns.

7) LaWanda Page: Mo Rocca's Mobituaries podcast has an episode devoted to her this week, and I haven't heard it yet, but I don't need to: Just the fact it exists warms my heart.

8) The Golden Globes: If you have a betting pool based on the awards're a fool! Maybe something cool will happen, though.

9) F. Scott Fitzgerald and the Last of the Belles: 40 years ago tonight, this aired as part of ABC Theater. The movie stars Blythe Danner and Richard Chamberlain as F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. Or maybe it's the other way around. You can see for yourself (and also see Susan Sarandon and Richard Hatch) here:

10) R.I.P.: David Soul, Harry Johnson, Glynis Johns, Shecky Greene:

Thursday, January 4, 2024

Rick's Top Ten TV shows of 2023 (Modern shows, that is)

I don't want to disillusion anyone, but, yes, I do watch current TV shows as well as vintage ones! Here is a list of my top 10 favorite modern shows from 2023 (All are Season 1/only season unless specified):

1) The Last of Us: No other TV show hit me as hard as this one did. It gripped me from the beginning and kept me--thrilling me but sometimes devastating me. This is an easy choice for #1.

2) Poker Face: Columbo 2023 is about as good as it gets in this day and age for this type of show. I would scale back on serialized elements next season, but I really do admire how Rian Johnson and Natasha Lyonne raised expectations and met them. A lot of shows these days have natural endings or shouldn't go on forever. This is the one program on the list I most wish had like 50 episodes. It's an easy choice for #2.

3) Jury Duty: I was skeptical of this premise, but, wow, did they pull it off, and they gave us maybe the best finale of a reality show ever. If you don't know anything about the series, watch it now before you find out.

4) Bad Batch Season 2: People love to complain about the Star Wars shows, and there have been disappointments, but hiding in plain sight on Disney Plus is an accessible, enjoyable, emotional program that delivers everything you want from Star Wars. People ignore it because it's a cartoon. The top 4 is pretty solid for me, but the next 6 could be shuffled around. Honorable mention to Star Wars: Visions Season 2 (another fine animated effort) and Mandalorian Season 3 and Ahsoka Season 1, which were not quite what I hoped but were still solid.

5) Only Murders in the Building Season 3: It managed to keep things going and entertaining despite what would appear to be a fairly limiting premise. Will a fourth season be pushing it? Probably, but I will be there for it.

6) Loki Season 2: The Marvel shows often disappoint in the endings, but I thought this one nailed it after a satisfying, loopy set of episodes that proved again how much Tom Hiddelston owned the character.

7) Hijack: Apple Plus' action thriller with Idris Elba is often ridiculous--it reminds me of 24--but I don't know if I had more fun watching anything week to week this year (with the exception of (Poker Face). Honorable mention to Apple shows Shrinking (I can't believe Harrison Ford was in a series and it wasn't a bigger deal) and Lessons in Chemistry (a satisfying sleeper that I hope more than a handful of us watched).

8) What If...? Season 2: Let me pay the show what I mean as a compliment: It is not in any way the kind of What If series I want nor that I expected Marvel to make. I wish it had more one-off episodes and less emphasis on the MCU and maybe a touch less humor. Yet the series is very entertaining and delivers in all 9 of these episodes.

9) Winning Time Season 2: Not as spectacular as the first season, but it is still a fun and compelling watch. Unfortunately, this batch feels rushed. Even more unfortunate: It's rushed because the show was canceled. and this wild ride looking at the 1980s Lakers is over. Honorable mention to ESPN 30 for 30's The Luckiest Guy in the World miniseries about Bill Walton. The sequence with Bill and Larry Bird talking smack about each other 30-some years later justifies it by itself.

10) Abbott Elementary Season 2: A solid season, not as sharp as its first, but still something to enjoy. Just don't watch the finale, which is so bad and ill conceived that it almost ruins what came before it.

Wednesday, January 3, 2024

Season 11 Battys by the Numbers

Here is a summary of  the 11th Battys by the number of awards won per show:

Dallas: 5
Night Court: 3
The Littlest Hobo: 3
227: 3 (including the Genius Award)
The Rifleman: 2
Sonny and Cher:1
Dennis the Menace: 1
Starsky and Hutch: 1
ABC's Star-Spangled Celebration: 1
Entertainment Tonight: 1
Hart to Hart: 0
Exo-Man: 0
(Does not include special listener award for First Camera for the 1983 NBC episode)

So is Dallas the big winner by virtue of taking the most Battys? Or is it Night Court, which won several itself but also (it can be argued) the biggest one (Best Show)?

A few more miscellaneous numbers of note:

Shows pulled from Amazon Prime after we had booked them for our schedule: 3 (227, Hart to Hart, Starsky and Hutch)

(Clearing up something that came up on the podcast) Battys won by Burt Reynolds before the Season 11 awards: 1. In Season 2, His Burtness guested on The Golden Girls and lost for Best Facial Hair to Tom Selleck.

Number of times an imperious J.R. made vague threats about foreclosing on us before realizing that we were doing the show at his ranch: 1

Approximate percentage of times I see Lucas McCain glare towards the camera in The Rifleman opening and temporarily worry that Chuck Connors is mad at me: 60

Number of appearances by Radar in "Bless You Hawkeye" 0 (We had some confusion about this on the Battys)

Number of bailiffs we lost during this season: 0

Number of times special Batty winner NBC's First Camera finished in last place in the ratings in its first 5 weeks on the air: 5

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Two more special unoffical Season 11 Battys

The following are two personal but unofficial Batty Awards I want to give out for Season 11.

As I have mentioned, I read multiple books in preparation for/in conjunction with this past season. The nominees for Outstanding Season 11 Book Rick Read are:

A Prime-Time Life by Aaron Spelling with Jefferson Graham
MASH: The Ultimate Guidebook by Ed Solomonson and Mark O'Neill
MASH: The Exclusive Inside Story of TV's Most Popular Show by David S. Reiss
Various Dennis the Menace collections by miscellaneous creators
The Sweeps: A Year in the Life of a Television Network by Cameron Stauth and Mark Christensen
Starsky and Hutch (A Golden All-Star Book)
Dallas: The Complete Story of the World's Favorite Soap by Barbara S. Curran

And the Batty goes to...

The Sweeps! This contemporary account of the 1983-1984 TV season is a television history book so good and so impactful that I regret not knowing about it sooner. Yet it was an invaluable resource for our special '83 NBC episode. It is not just insightful, though; it is one of the most entertaining TV books you will find. It is worth tracking down a used copy and adding it to your library.

Next up, I want to praise a DVD set. We watch the shows we cover by various means: streaming, home media, maybe sometimes over the air/cable sources. In this season, we made good use of an older DVD set I bought used:

The Batty for Outstanding Season 11 DVD Set Rick Watched goes to...

The Sonny and Cher Ultimate Collection (3-DVD set)

This 2004 set is an excellent compilation of various episodes of the different incarnations of Sonny and Cher. There are bigger collections and different versions, but this one gives you a good look at the show (one you can supplement with online uploads, many of them from old TV Land showings) with complete episodes. The old shot-on-video show isn't gonna look great on your giant HD TV, but the material is the thing.

Also, the set has a generous selection of extras, including selected scene commentary from Cher herself and a revealing set of interviews with producers Allen Blye and Chris Bearde. Anytime you see Paul Brownstein's name on a disc set, you can expect some bonus material, and this is no exception. I believe the set is out of print, but you can still find it at a cheap price if you don't want one of the pricy Time Life box sets.