Tuesday, July 16, 2024

Inside the Guide: TV Guide 50 years ago (June 29-July 5, 1974 Part 7)

We have reached the end of the listings week in this issue of TV Guide from 50 years ago. Yes, I took a week off, and I am sorry, but we are in the 50-year-ago ballpark, eh? I mean, assuming it's the Astrodome or another really big one.

Here is some of what was going on July 5, 1974, in reverse order!

The night ends, more or less, with this eclectic lineup on Midnight Special. TV really crashed after midnight in those days. I don't know why, but I love the mag referring to the artists by their first names in the song listing.

It's a repeat, but I can't NOT mention the first appearance of Cousin Oliver!

Movie night on CBS!

Finally, a look at a few forgotten soap operas of the day. What a great title: How to Survive a Marriage

Somerset, an NBC soap, is a spinoff of Another World that ran from 1970-1976. In fact, it was the first soap spun off from another one. Ann Wedgeworth was one of the stars, and she later made an impact as Lana on Three's Company.

How to Survive lasted just over a year, also on NBC, and was known for its "social relevance" and emphasis on sexual themes. According to Wesley Hyatt's Encyclopedia of Daytime Television, it's 90-minute premiere episode was hyped with a pseudo-nude scene (characters were under covers in bed).

Sunday, July 14, 2024

Top Ten #310: Special In Memoriam Edition

I hate to turn this whole list into a series of obituaries, but, wow, what a week. While I don't want to rank deaths, a few absolute TV icons of the Eighties left us this week.

1) Crackle: With its parent company declaring bankruptcy, the days are numbered for this free streamer. I always complained about its interface and its commercial load, but there was a glorious period when it had all kinds of rare TV shows from the Sony library, most of which have not been made available anywhere else since they left.

Sony never seemed to take Crackle seriously enough, and then somehow it got worse when Chicken Soup for the Soul took over, but at least I got to watch some Mr. Merlin.

2) Dr. Ruth: Who was the more unlikely sex icon of the Eighties, Dr. Ruth or Miss Piggy? The tiny old lady that was willing to talk about it was one of the early Mt. Rushmore faces of Lifetime and one of the breakout stars of the rise of national cable television.

3) Richard Simmons: And talk about an icon! His Sweatin' to the Oldies ads alone would have made him memorable, but he had multiple shows of his own and of course was a frequent guest star all over the dial, sometimes even on programs that didn't mock him.

4) The Munsters: Mike and I saw the new Super 7 figures at separate stores this past week, and they look great. Hot Rod Herman is tempting even at the high price point. Of course, for me, Leo Durocher or Baseball Herman would be a must-buy.

5) Bert Sugarman: I am a few weeks late on this one, but he provides a fantastic interview on Mark Malkoff's Inside Late Night podcast for Latenighter. You will get a lot of info and stories about The Midnight Special.

6) Summer: CBS burned off this unsold pilot on this date in 1984. According to Lee Goldberg's Unsold Television Pilots, it features "the summer adventures of five high school students and the two adults in their lives--the beach lifeguard (Gerard Prendergast) and the woman who owns the disco (Sally Kirkland). I hope it is a literal disco and not just a nightclub in 1984. It also stars Gary Hershberger and Tico Wells/

7) Missy Gold: Happy birthday to the former Benson star.

8) MLB All-Star Game: The Midsummer Classic returns Tuesday night, and if nothing else, we gotta tune in to see Pirates phenom Paul Skenes start the game for the National League!

50 years ago, the game took place in Pittsburgh at Three Rivers Stadium.

9) Rosey Grier: Grier turns 90 years old today!


10) R.I.P. Sika, Shelly Duvall, Doug Sheehan, Benji Gregory, Pat Colbert: And unfortunately, we end with a host of other TV personalities who we lost this week. Sika was one half of the vaunted Wild Samoans tag team. We just celebrated Duvall's 75th birthday in this column. Sheehan was on Day by Day among other shows, and Gregory was the adorable moppet (the kid--not muppet) on ALF. Colbert was on Dallas and Knots Landing.

Sunday, July 7, 2024

Top Ten #309: Special "National Strawberry Sundae Day" Edition!

1) Esther Rolle: The cover subject of the 1974 TV Guide we have been looking at this week was called "Esther Rolle the Fishing Pole" as a youth because she was so thin. More interesting than that (though that is a pretty cool rhyme) is reading her thoughts on the show and advocating for more stories for the females and less cheap laughs. Right from the get-go, Rolle was pushing back against what she saw as the deterioration of the show that made her laugh after a few more years.

2) Tony Orlando and Dawn: Let's run this spectacular Close-Up again after the series premiered 50 years ago this week. 

3) Rubik's Cube: Can you believe the thing debuted 50 years ago? And I am sure it only took about 2 days for some wise-ass to brag about solving it in 10 seconds.

4) Michael Bell: I am a bit late on this one, but The Funtastic World of Hanna Barbera podcast had a great interview with this prolific voice actor recently. His voice was everywhere when I was a kid. In fact, I'm pretty sure he said, "Here," for me a few times when attendance was taken in first grade.

5) Still the Beaver: The TV movie that revived the Beververse was just posted to YouTube this week. To be fair, it's been posted many times before, but why quibble? We touch on the revival of the show right here in our TBS episode.

Bonus: The 1981 CBS movie Return of the Beverly Hillbillies was rerun on this date 40 years ago. How's that for fresh summer programming: A 3-year-old rerun of a movie based on a 20-something-year-old show.

6) Michael J. Fox: Give it up for the man jamming on stage with Coldplay. Just give him a Pepsi and it could be 1985 all over again. Except, you know, Coldplay would all be like 8 and wouldn't form as a band for another decade.

7) Shelly Duvall: Happy 75th to the former star of Fairie Tale Theatre.

8) The Bounder: Michael McKean, Richard Masur, and Jeanetta Arnette starred in this pilot that aired 40 years ago on CBS. Based on a 1982 Britcom, it spotlights a con man played by McKean. Hey, sigh me up!

9) It's Your Move: I guess I should be happy that on his recent TV Confidential podcast appearance, former NBC casting director Joel Thurm talked about the sitcom I used to love. Unfortunately, he described it as a nothing show that wasn't going anywhere but was just a place for NBC to stash Jason Bateman so he wouldn't go elsewhere.

10) National Macaroni Day: Today is not the day to count carbs. Today is the day to enjoy macaroni!

Friday, July 5, 2024

Inside the Guide: TV Guide 50 years ago (June 29-July 5, 1974 Part 6)

A day late, but let's look at the Guide from Independence Day 50 years ago! The highlight for me is this little tidbit at the end of this description of a Waltons rerun:

Yes, it's the debut of the Bicentennial Minute!

Otherwise, there are specials and repeats, with this one being the standout:

Is Tennessee Ernie Ford about to be smothered by that Colonial American flag? And what's up with the incorrect spelling of Dionne Warwick?

Another interesting program is NBC's Comedyworld, featuring Rodney Dangerfield as host with Jimmie Walker, Mark Russell, "the black and white team of Freeman King and Murray Langston, and Puerto Rican Freddie Prinze."

Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Inside the Guide: TV Guide 50 years ago (June 29-July 5, 1974 Part 5)

Not a lot going on here in Northern California this date in 1974, but we do have a nice occurrence in the afternoon reruns when we get to Brady Bunch (Though that cast on Squares ain't bad, either):

Prime time is rerun territory again, but we do get a nice ad to enjoy.

But maybe the most exciting of all is another debut this week! Back in the day, we used to see the summer replacement series, and many variety shows started out as such, including this one:

Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Inside the Guide: TV Guide 50 years ago (June 29-July 5, 1974 Part 4)

The theme of the day for Tuesday, July 2, 1974, as we continue our look at the TV Guide from 50 years ago today is "judge." How judgy can shows be? How judgy can TV Guide be?

First, let's look at The New Zoo Revue at 9:00:

Well, maybe I LIKE being lazy! This episode is getting a little too preachy for my taste. I'll relax NOW if I feel like it, Doug and Emmy Jo!

Later on, it's the magazine itself that seems to get all judgmental in this summary of tonight's Maude rerun. 

Who wrote this, Arthur Harmon? Jeez!

Finally, a serious-minded program on NBC...that the network puts on at 10pm in the summer, of course:

There isn't a lot else going on on this Tuesday. There are short-lived programs like Tenafly and Doc Elliott. Let me go back to the daytime period, though, and since it's a slow day, I will cheat and show you two listings from 50 years ago yesterday.

NBC premiered two games shows this week: Winning Streak with Bill Cullen and High Rollers with Alex Trebek and Ruta Lee. The latter stuck around and saw a few remakes, but the former lasted a mere 6 months and is considered a lost show, but at least one episode survives:

The network canceled the show, which aired its final episode January 3, 1975. The following Monday, a new show took its place: Wheel of Fortune.

I could have just told you about this, but I had to show you the listings because you have to enjoy the thrill of seeing that boldfaced word in the mag: Debut.

Monday, July 1, 2024

Inside the Guide: TV Guide 50 years ago (June 29-July 5, 1974 Part 3)

In the third part of this series, we look at the listings for Monday, July 1, 1974, 50 years ago today! We are squarely in reruns territory, so new prime time programs are scarce, and even the display advertising is a little skimpy. Come on, advertisers, people watch TV in July, too!

Today's big winner for me is The Mike Douglas Show, which welcomes Mac Davis as co-host this week. Today's episode also features Doug Henning, 

Looking through these old TV Guides, the indie stations always jump out, and Channel 40 here looks pretty cool. I like this ad for daily reruns of The Untouchables:

More tomorrow!

Sunday, June 30, 2024

Inside the Guide: TV Guide 50 years ago (June 29-July 5, 1974 Part 2)

Sunday, June 30, in the Northern Cali region featured a lot of cartoons and religious programming, then mostly reruns in prime time.

I am intrigued by Cap'n Mitch's Cartoons, which shows up at 9AM and 10AM on Channel 40, with Johnny Sokko and Banana Splits in between. I found this cool article on Cap'n Mitch's history in the market.

Downhill Racer gets a network airing and a close-up!

Finally, check out the lineup in syndicated Johnny Mann's Stand Up and Cheer:

Jerry Lucas? Is he also doing the Seals and Crofts medley?

Tomorrow in our glance at Monday, July 1, 1974, we get a few cool display ads and the start of a boffo week on a syndicated talk show!

Top Ten #308: Special, man, it's hot out there edition!

1) The Fourth of July: Yes, we are celebrating early, but why not? If you want to get in the mood for Thursday's festivities in the USA and our upcoming 12th season of the podcast, we recommending revisiting last season's Star-Spangled Celebration episode.

2) Canada Day: While we're at it, Happy Canada Day tomorrow to all the great and talented people up North, and also the people who made The Trouble with Tracy.

3) MeTV Toons: The new OTA channel, judging by what I see, is a big hit and may also be driving a lot of subscribers to streamers Philo and Frndly. I haven't been able to see much of it yet, but I have a stack of Peter Potamus waiting for me, and some Eighties toons like Challenge of the Gobots and Police Academy are on here. I am most looking forward to revisiting this one:

4) March of Dimes telethon: 40 years ago tonight, the program featured hosts Hal Linden, Sarah Purcell, Gary Collins, and Mary Ann Mobley. Boy, Collins and Mobley sure did a lot of stuff together. What, were they married or something?

Oh, yeah, they were!

5) The Stanley Cup: I am not a hockey guy, but let me show respect to the just-concluded NHL finals. All I need is a Beachcombers reference to make this a hat trick of Canada pandering!

6) Nancy Dussault: The Too Close for Comfort and Night of 100 Stars performer has a birthday today!

7) David Garrison: Happy birthday as well to the underrated ace of Married with Children and the star of my beloved It's Your Move. Unfortunately, he was never in The Beachcombers.

8) All Together Now: This pilot with Barbara Barrie, Michael Goetz, Don Porter, and Joan Cusack aired 40 years ago tonight on NBC. Lee Goldberg in Unsold Pilots calls it "Still another flop pilot about a couple about to retire when their children come back to roost. The twist here is that Grandpa and their son's gay lover are moving in, too.

9) Martin Mull: I hate to "rank deaths," but this one merits its own item. Mull was known for many ventures, but I love his work on Fernwood 2 Night, a show that was ahead of and of its time in the best ways and sadly remains unavailable in home video or streaming. It's worth finding in unofficial forms. Episodes are on YouTube.

For some reason, his singing of the Domestic Life theme song is in my head. Well, not for some reason--it's because it's so danged catchy. The show didn't have much of a chance to grow, but it, too, is worth checking out. Here is a full episode:

10) R.I.P. Jamie Kellner, Spencer Milligan, Kevin Brophy, Bill Cobbs, Russell Morash: I missed Brophy's death until Sitcoms Online reported it this week. He starred in Lucan, which was on the late and lamented Warner Archive Instant. Morash created PBS staple This Old House. Milligan starred on Land of the Lost, and Cobbs was in...well, everything. Kellner helped unleash Fox Network.

Saturday, June 29, 2024

Inside the Guide: TV Guide 50 years ago (June 29-July 5, 1974 Part 1)

Let's go inside the Guide once more with a deep dive into this issue that tube watchers consulted 50 years ago today!

My copy is a Northern California edition. First up, as mag fans know, is Saturday. That's 50 years ago today!

One thing that amuses me early on when looking at the listings: At 9:00, they just list CARTOON, not bothering to list it as a Scooby movie, and look at this description:

"In animated form." Thanks for clarifying that!

Interesting to me: From 10:00-11:00, all network cartoons have live-action tie-ins, with Trek, My Favorite Martian, Brady KidsI Dream of Jeannie, Rick Springfield, and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (indirectly) appearing. 11:00 has a Superstar Saturday Movie adaptation of Gidget with David Lander as a voice.

I note that two stations, not at the same time, have Bowery Boys movies on this morning. That's a great tradition that was gone for years until TCM picked up the films again.

It Pays to Be Ignorant, also on this Saturday, is one of the best titles ever. It began in Old Time Radio as a panel game show with celebrities, and this short-lived adaptation for TV aired in syndication for one season. Joe Flynn hosted with regulars Charles Nelson Reilly, Jo Anne Worley, and Billy Baxter. What a cast! 

Kind of odd to think of this happening today, but a Democratic Party telethon airs much of the night on CBS.

Next week, the mag pays tribute to Lucy:

One of the notable broadcasts tonight is the film Sweet Charity.

Tomorrow we will take a quick look at Sunday, June 30, along with our usual Top Ten!

Thursday, June 27, 2024

A look at Retro Fan #33

Yes, it's time again to discuss the latest installment of my favorite magazine, RetroFan from TwoMorrows. Not all the articles in this one do it for me, but the variety of topics is cool, and there is one excellent piece that I think will be of particular interest to BOTNS fans. The overall package is always worth it to me.

The cover story is a feature on The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman by noted vintage TV author Herbie J. Pilato. TwoMorrows has talked about the origins of the former (the novel Cyborg) before, but this is a nice dual show-ography adapted from one of Pilato's books.

My favorite article this time out is Will Murray's look at the TV Western craze of the 1950s. The story goes beyond the basic facts in many places, like pointing out that the quiz show scandals that took so many programs off the air helped pave the way for the Western glut on broadcast TV in 1958. There is one odd passage (an editing mistake) that makes it seem like Bonanza debuted in 1964, but otherwise it's a great overview. I like that Murray does not focus only on shows like Bonanza and Gunsmoke but mentions lesser-known oaters and features quotes from the likes of Dale Robertson (Tales of Wells Fargo). As is standard for the mag, it features great illustrations like old comic book covers and trading cards.

Mark Voger remains a favorite contributor, and this month he examines the movie icons of the 1940s taking on the Axis powers during the war. He includes Sherlock Holmes, The Three Stooges, Donald Duck, and more!

There are features on Hot Wheels and Hostess snack cakes, and I learned a lot from the history of the Modesty Blaise comic strip. Scott Shaw! has mined a lot of gold out of San Diego-centric topics, and this issue has his story on the origins of the San Diego Chicken (One of the stars, natch, of The Baseball Bunch).

Andy Mangels delivers yet again with his Saturday morning column. Issue 33 has his overview of The Fantastic Four in TV cartoons, and, yes, he explores Herbie and Fred and Barney Meet the Thing.

It's another winning issue from RetroFan and is highly recommended.

Monday, June 24, 2024

Collectible Corner: This gift was GENIUS

I received way more for my birthday than I deserved this year, including a stack of awesomeness from my podcast co-conspirator, but the one thing I want to share today is this surprise gift from my wonderful wife Laurie:

Yes, that's right, it's an autographed picture from Season 10 Genius Award winner John Schuck! 

How fortunate I am to be motivated daily by the sight of autographed pics of not one, but two Geniuses. Schuck joins, of course the Original Genius, the man for whom the Robert Pine Genius Batty is named...Robert Pine (There was a pretty big clue embedded in there even if you didn't know the answer right away, but you can hear a story about me getting that pic here). This upcoming season of BOTNS is sure to be better than ever with this kind of inspiration!

Sunday, June 23, 2024

Top Ten #307: Special ME edition!

1) Birthdays: Allow me to be self-indulgent for once--OK, all 306 of these have been--and pat myself on the back for having a birthday weekend. The only thing missing was a surprise party I pretended not to know about and then discovered really was not happening after all!

2) Sony buys Alamo Drafthouse Theaters: The countdown begins to my dream event of a big-screen Maude-a-thon.

3)National Hydration Day: What better way to celebrate than by getting knocked into a dunk tank?

(You were expecting Randi Oakes?)

4) Ryne Sandberg: The famous Ryne Sandberg game took place 40 years ago today on NBC's Saturday afternoon Game of the Week. Originally slated as the backup game, it went national due to inclement weather, so B-team Bob Costas and Tony Kubek were on the call on the network.

Sandberg hit two game-tying home runs off Cardinal fireman Bruce Sutter to keep the Cubbies going on the way to an extra-inning victory in what was a spectacular season for the Wrigley residents. No word on whether Punky Brewster attended this game.

5) Marty Short: The veteran funnyman hosts Jimmy Kimmel's show this week. Zaniness is sure to ensue!

6) The Real Brady Bros: Speaking of the Bunch, how did I not listen to this great Barry Williams/Christopher Knight podcast before? The guys review the episodes, welcome guests, and have a good time.

7) Ted Shackelford: Happy birthday to the Knots Landing star!

8) McCloud: 50 years ago tonight, NBC reran "The Colorado Cattle Caper," featuring Claude Akins, John Denver, Farrah Fawcett, and Vic Tayback!

9) Bionic couple: The new RetroFan (review coming this week) features The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman.

10) Mary Hart: The icon joined Entertainment Tonight this day in 1982. She may have had better legs than BOTNS fave Ron Hendren, but he was still tops in hair!

Sunday, June 16, 2024

Top Ten #306: Special "Shout out to the dads!" Edition

1) Father's Day: As Ralph Kiner might say, "To all the fathers out there, happy birthday!"

2) School's out for summer: Congratulations to all the new graduates, and really, congrats to everyone who made it through another year. And if you think this is an excuse to post a clip from High School U.S.A. again, well, you were paying attention in school!

3) The Baseball Bunch: As I posted a while back,I posted a while back, I enjoyed seeing a few "new to me" uploads of the show on The Johnny Bench Archives YT channelThe Bench Archives YT channel. The Baseball Bunch helped countless viewers learn about things like baserunning, bunts, and base hitting. It's not to be confused, of course, with The Bouton Bunch, which taught about boozing, broads, and beaver shooting. 

4) The Tony Awards: The latest installment of the annual salute to the best of theater airs tonight. We have it on good authority that it's the only awards show Tony Danza remembers to watch each year.

5) Hostess Wacky TV Shows: The Retroist substack published a cool article published a cool article about the trading cards from 1978 that featured the likes of Brawl in the Family and Starchy and Hush.

6) Not in Front of the Kids40 years ago tonight, NBC aired this pilot with Don Ameche and Katherine Helmond as grandparents who must take custody of the kids. Of course this was just before The Golden Girls made it OK to watch old people in prime-time TV again.

7) Mister Rogers' Neighborhood: Pluto TV has launched a 24/7 channel for the series and also made scores of episodes available on demand. It's good the show is on streaming so that everyone can see it with the original adult language, extreme violence, and mature themes intact.

 8) The Completely Mental Misadventures of Ed GrimleyIn about a week and a half, Me-TV Toons launches with a host of familiar cartoons--not that it's a bad thing. One of the lesser-shown programs that makes the initial schedule is this 1988 series. Really, even if the show is not that familiar, the character is; don't we all have an Ed Grimley somewhere in our extended family?

9) Boot Camp Match: 40 years ago tonight, in an event aired live on MSG Network, Sgt. Slaughter fought The Iron Sheik in a Boot Camp Match that would go down as one of the best of the decade.

10) R.I.P. Tony Lo Bianco: Somehow, he never won a Tony (but he was nominated).

Tuesday, June 11, 2024

This Day in TV History: The King of Comedy becomes the King of Late Night?

Well, that's what the ad campaign said when Metromedia stations gave The Jerry Lewis Show a weeklong test run in the timeslot occupied by Thick of the Night. 40 years ago tonight, Lewis kicked off the week with guests Frank Sinatra and Suzanne Somers in the debut of his new talk show.

By all accounts, Lewis did not supplant Johnny Carson to become the King of Late Night. In fact, he didn't even supplant Alan Thicke. You can judge for yourself how the show went by watching the above clip.

Monday, June 10, 2024

Collectible Corner: Hightower in animated form in toy form!

 I picked up this little number for a few bucks last week even though I don't remember ever watching Police Academy: The Animated Series.

If I have an opportunity to add Bubba Smith (AKA Hightower) to my toy collection, I am seizing it.

I do know that this series from which the toy comes should not be confused with the Police Academy movie series nor with Police Academy: The Series, a live-action Nineties syndicated sitcom.

If you are interested in checking out the show, it will be part of the weekday lineup when MeTV Toons launches June 25, airing each morning at 6:30 Eastern.

Sunday, June 9, 2024

Top Ten #305: Special June 9 Edition

1) Paramount: It was another week of chaos at the fabled studio as it prepared for (we think) the finalization of the long-in-development sell-off. I really do not want to make light of a perilous situation for the many employees whose careers hang in the balance.

But I do hope that somehow this all ends to me being able to see Blansky's Beauties.

2) Donald Duck: Happy 90th birthday to one of my personal heroes, a man I always rooted for against his nephews, chipmunks, his own inner demons, etc.

3) Pat Sajak: The guy stepped down as host of Wheel of Fortune after umpteen years, freeing up another slot for Ryan Seacrest. You might expect us to make a comment involving missing letters or The Pat Sajak Show, but let's just give the guy credit for a 40+-year run on an iconic game show.

4) National Earl Day: You are encouraged to celebrate both Big Earl and Little Earl today!

5) Michael J. Fox: Happy birthday to another Eighties icon, Is it just me or are we finding a way to get High School U.S.A. in this space each week?

6) National Spelling Bee Finals: 50 years ago tonight, many PBS stations aired a first-ever broadcast (on tape delay) of the event. Jean Shepherd hosted and winced as the winner spelled "O...v...a...l...t...i..."

7) The French Open: It was just announced that NBC lost the rights to the historic tennis tourney to Warner Discovery next year after a 40+-year run (almost as impressive as Pat Sajak!). 40 years ago today, the final saw Martina Navratilova crush Chris Evert. Martina crushed a lot of players that year.

(The next day, Ivan Lendl came from behind to spoil the best chance John McEnroe, who came into the match on an epic winning streak, had to win the French.)

8) Dick Van Dyke: Congratulations to the 98-year-old legend, who became the oldest ever to win a Daytime Emmy this week. In a gracious speech, he said his biggest accomplishment was hanging around to see Pat Sajak's entire run.

9) Martin Lawrence: Congratulations to the star of What's Happening Now!! for finally resurfacing with a successful movie opening this week.

10) R.I.P. Janis Paige, Tom Bower:

Thursday, June 6, 2024

This Day in TV History: June 6, 1984: A great NBA game doesn't do so well

We hear each day about the value of live sports on broadcast TV and how sporting events are one of the only reliable audience draws left for the networks. The NBA is poised to announce a huge media rights deal which is based in large part on getting increased exposure on over-the-air TV.

Yet 40 years ago, June 6, 1984, an attractive NBA Finals match-up pitted the Lakers against the Celtics, Magic against Bird, Kareem against Parish, etc. in Game 4. The game started at 9PM EST and went into overtime, with Boston winning at The Forum to head back home with the series tied rather than being down 3-1. it featured memorable moments like some notable blunders by Magic Johnson and a hard foul by Kevin McHale that floored Kurt Rambis and nearly led to a riot.

Sounds like a ratings winner, with superstars and high-profile teams in a dramatic and hard-fought battle. According to TV Tango, which sometimes posts ratings numbers with its historical listings, the game finished third for the timeslot!

The winner was the execrable 1978 movie Moment by Moment, an ill-advised pairing of John Travolta and Lily Tomlin that somehow was the highest-rated program this Wednesday night. ABC showed it at 9:00 after a Fall Guy repeat.

NBC also beat the NBA game with a Facts of Life rerun and a new Duck Factory before ratings dipped a bit for a St. Elsewhere rerun. A D-Day anniversary special began the night.

In this pre-cable (mostly) and pre-streaming world, the country was more captivated by a Facts of Life rerun than the start of an NBA Finals game between Los Angeles and Boston.

CBS had an acclaimed nature documentary, Lions of Etosha, leading into the game. Today, of course, you would have a pregame special or at least something a little more compatible. In 1984, CBS didn't bother building its whole night around the NBA game, and while 40 years later we can see that it was a key series for the popularity of the league and this was the key game, it wasn't a blockbuster.

Tuesday, June 4, 2024

What we watched: The Baseball Bunch...WITH MUSIC!

When Mike and I talked about The Baseball Bunch a few seasons back, we found some great episodes but had trouble finding the original theme song. Well, I recently discovered a great YouTube account called the Johnny Bench Archives, and whaddya know, it posted a great episode complete with theme song and original music. 

Not only do you get the full theme song, but you get a great montage of baseballers arguing with umpires to the tune of Dave Mason's "We Just Disagree." Guest Ron Luciano, an animated ump who wrote several popular books like The Umpire Strikes Back, is a tremendous addition to the show. He provides a perspective not often seen on the program, and more importantly, he gets to throw out the Chicken.

Looks like this account posted at least one other full episode a while back, so I am going to check that out, too. For now I am happy just to be able to play that theme song...again and again. 

And, oh, by the way, there is also this:

Sunday, June 2, 2024

Top Ten #304: Special Summer Is Here Edition

1)  Summer: Apologies to those who don't like crippling heat and humidity, but this happens to be my favorite time of the year. Remember when they used to have Summer replacement series on broadcast TV? This one started out as such:

2) Welcome to the Fun Zone: 40 years ago tonight, NBC used its SNL timeslot to air this variety special/pilot featuring comedy from the likes of Weird Al and John Candy and music from Carlos Santana and the Fabulous Thunderbirds.

3) Atari buys Intellivision: I somehow missed this news story last week, maybe because it is 2024, but I can't help but feel something when I see those two names together. Maybe they can get Reggie Jackson to do some new ads.

Hey, you know, I could have sworn Reggie did ads for Intellivision, but his own baseball video game was actually for Sega:

4) Jerry Mathers: Happy birthday to the star of High School U.S.A.!

5) Barnaby Jones: 50 years ago, CBS ran "The Black Art of Dying," a Barnaby featuring Genius guest Robert Pine!

6) National Rotisserie Chicken Day: I don't remember the word "rotisserie" being much of a thing except in fantasy baseball until Kenny Rogers Roasters came along in the Nineties.

7) ATX TV Festival: The event going on in Austin this weekend features events like a Suits retrospective. I think we ought to start a BOTNS Festival and do an Associates retrospective.

8) The Fenn Street Gang: This 1973 follow-up to Britcom Please, Sir has made its way to various streamers, including Tubi and Prime. I gotta admit, I had no idea Please, Sir was on Prime until after I discovered this spinoff was!

9) Milo O'Shea: Let;s give a shout to the late actor on what would have been his 98th birthday. He played the eyebrow-raising (and eyebrow-sporting) grandpa on the episode of Jennifer Slept Here that we admired so much on the pod last season.

10) R.I.P. Al Ruddy, Elizabeth McRae, Darryl Hickman

Friday, May 31, 2024

ABC wins the May 1984 Sweeps!

OK, so we are 40 years behind! Still, it was reported 40 years ago Sunday in The New York Times that ABC, already excited about the upcoming 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles, had won the May Nielsen ratings Sweeps period, besting CBS and NBC.

Among the highlights for ABC in May 1984: The series finale of Happy Days, miniseries The Last Days of Pompeii and The Mystic Warrior, and season finales of Hotel and Dynasty. Surprising me, another score noted in the article is The Dollmaker, a TV film with Penny Marshall, John Ritter, and Jane Fonda. I forgot all about this one, but Fonda earned an Emmy for her performance.

The Times noted the big difference was the movies and specials, as CBS got good numbers with its regular programs, like season finales of Dallas and Falcon Crest, but ABC's movies were much stronger. NBC was not even really mentioned. Numbers for the period: ABC 14.9%, CBS 13.5%, NBC 13.3%.

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Checking in again with RetroFan

 It's been a while since I reported on RetroFan magazine, available here, so let's take a look at the latest issue, which happens to have a few features with direct ties to recent BOTNS episodes. As always, the whole package is a great read, but this issue's (May 2024, #32) topic selection is a bit more esoteric than usual.

The cover feature on David Cassidy is a good read, delving into the more complicated parts of the actor's legacy. Mark Voger covers his whole career in brief but with clarity, touching on the 1970s NBC misfire David Cassidy Man Undercover.

Andy Mangels' column is always a treat, and his in-depth look at Thundarr the Barbarian is a highlight of the issue. I only wish it had been around when Mike and I talked about the show on the pod!

One of the more unusual pieces is the "Retro Music" look at Sonny and Cher, whose variety show we covered last seasonwhose variety show we covered last season. Paula Finn focuses on a personal encounter she had with the duo as a starstruck teen in 1967!

Other pieces aren't as directly related to BOTNS, but the Mighty Mouse article is very good, and I enjoy the Retro Travel feature, which goes to Roswell, New Mexico this issue.

I expect the next issue, with a bionic cover duo, to arrive in a couple of weeks, and I look forward to it as always. I get no compensation for plugging the mag, but especially now that it is not going to be sold at Barnes and Noble anymore (Publisher decision in response to changes in B&N rates and policies, I gather), I like to do what I can to make people aware of it.

Tuesday, May 28, 2024

TV-related comics (sort of?) featuring (sort of) Bert Parks

On Free Comic Book Day, I got (not for free) some "funny animal" comics, including these two DC issues from 1952:

Fox and Crow are legit screen stars (I quite enjoy their old Columbia cartoons), but the addition of "Hollywood" to the title of Funny Folks is a bit of a misnomer because the characters that dominated that title, like headliner Nutsy Squirrel, weren't actually in cartoon shorts. 

The latter title also features Tito and his burrito (insert standard disclaimer about it being of its time) and Flippity and Flop (insert standard disclaimer about any resemblance to other cartoon cat/bird teams being purely intentional). All were indeed in 'toons of the era. I have seen Fox and Crow on TV but not the others, but I am sure they have been on the tube at some point, so let's count them!

Hollywood Funny Folks relies on Nutsy, Biggety bear, and Nip and Chip (Parrot and chipmunk who seem to have much the same dynamic of Fox and Crow). Both titles are filled out with colorful ads. What kid wouldn't be thrilled by a comic as for Ludden's cough drops? There are also text features and puzzles.

My favorite part of each issue is this ad with the future Miss America host Bert Parks, who was apparently hip enough in 1952 to be the star of this campaign:

Sunday, May 26, 2024

Top Ten #303: Special Memorial Day Edition!

1) Memorial Day in the USA: Thanks to all who served and especially those who sacrificed.

2) Lenny and Squiggy: In his latest episode of Martini Shot, TV writer Rob Long talks about the Lenny and Squiggy spinoff pilot that was never broadcast, saying, "By many accounts, it is the worst half-hour of television ever produced." Of course now I want to see it.

3) High School USA: 40 years ago tonight, NBC reran this TV movie classic because why not? It should still be an annual tradition each year either at the beginning or the end of the school year. Or in the middle. Really, anytime people are in the mood for good old-fashioned zany entertainment.

4) James Brown: The Godfather of Sports Broadcasting was honored this past week with a Lifetime Achievement award at the Sports Emmys. After his speech, Bill Cowher rushed onstage to put a cape over his shoulders.

5) Phil Donahue: The New York Times on this date 40 years ago had an interesting piece on an FCC ruling that Donahue was exempt from the Fairness Doctrine's equal-time provision, meaning he could welcome guests running for office and not have to offer time to everyone else running for that office. The interesting quote to me comes from a producer of The Merv Griffin Show: "It certainly has been a problem. Often, when we want to being a candidate on the air, we don't because we'd have to invite every jerk who has filed."

6) Philip Michael Thomas: Happy 75th birthday! Let's hope it's not spoiled by Calderon.

7) The Indianapolis 500: 50 years ago tonight, ABC showed the event in prime time. That's the good news. The bad news: It was on tape delay.

8) What Have We Learned, Charlie Brown? 40 years ago tonight, CBS reran this 1983 special that showed the Peanuts gang looking at war sites in France.

9) National Blueberry Cheesecake Day: Any cheesecake day (and apparently there are many of them) is an excuse to post a clip of a Bea Arthur take on The Golden Girls.

10) R.I.P. Richard Foronjy: 

Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Inside the Guide: TV Guide 40 years ago this week(ISH) (April 28-May 4, 1984) Part 11: The articles!

We wrap up our look at this classic 40-year-old TV Guide with some notes on what was in it apart from the listings. Hey, we all know people who read it for the articles!

In this issue, there are some good ones. I mentioned in this postin this post Kenneth Turan's piece on Battle of the Network Stars. That is my favorite article in the issue! 

Garry Marshall's cover story is a warm look back at Happy Days, which was not officially canceled yet but seemed to be headed there. I question some of Marshall's anecdotes, though. He talks about the famous softball team and how it was one of the ways he tried to keep the team together and keep the younger folks out of trouble. That's great, but he says Henry Winkler was pitching one day and thought he was so big nothing could touch him but was getting lit up. Marshall says he went to the mound and told him he was human, and after that Winkler never had a big head. Marshall is not unkind, but his interpretation seems odd. Isn't it possible Winkler was just upset he was sucking?

The review of the week is one I will not mention now but will mention on the podcast later this season!

A two-page story spotlights missing children in light of the pending reair of Adam.

Barbara Bosson comes off as quirky in her profile, and the news section says USFL executives are pleased with the TV ratings.

In the back, after the listings, we get an interesting but brief look at TV in East Germany and a profile of Harry Morgan, then in AfterMASH.

Sunday, May 19, 2024

Top Ten #302

1) Webster: As we mentioned in our post the other day, 40 years ago (ish), Webster had to make the biggest decision of his life: Whether to tape the new Bob Hope special or to do a lucrative personal appearance at a mall in San Diego.

2) Broadcast networks: TV used to revolve around them, and the upfronts were a big deal. The just-concluded ones were lower-key. I think we should have some "downfronts" and celebrate what was gonna be new in Fall 1984.

3) Ricardo Montalban: "Corinthian" may not be in the dictionary, but if you want a definition of "charming," watch this great interview the actor did with David Letterman.

4) David Hartman: Happy 89th birthday to the former Good Morning America host. I am pretty sure he did not have a long-running feud with Bryant Gumbel.

5) Barnaby Jones: 50 years ago tonight, CBS ran the episode "Gold Record for Murder," in which GENIUS winner Marjoe Gortner stars in a story about a hot songwriter whose parents ask for Barnaby's help when he is found dead of a heroin overdose. That is, the writer is found dead. Barnaby is just trying to remember what happened to his Mills Brothers records. Also in the episode are Leonore Kasdorf and Meg Foster.

By the way, both Gortner and Buddy Ebsen sing in the episode!

6) Carol Lynley: Just listened to Ed Robertson interview Lynley biographer Tom Lisanti on the podcast version of the TV Confidential radio program. Lynley, of course, enlisted Roarke's help in fighting a formidable foe on Fantasy Island.

7) Baby names: The list of most popular names came out again, and once again "Rewind" and "Stubbs" failed to make the top 10.

8) Classic Creatures: 40 years ago today, CBS reran a special devoted to Return of the Jedi.

9) Dabney Coleman: A week after we do our voting for a Gary Coleman TV movie to discuss, we lose the great Dabney Coleman. Fortunately, Jack Coleman of Dynasty is still alive and well.

10) R.I.P. Bob Ellison, David Sanborn, Gloria Stroock:

Friday, May 17, 2024

Inside the Guide: TV Guide 40 years ago this week(ISH) (April 28-May 4, 1984) Part 10: A Very Special Display Ad

Let's close our look at the display ads in this issue with a look at a Very Special Webster:

And the episode even gets a close-up (along with a look at Benson):

Do you want to see what happens? I sure do! Well, don't bother trying to see the whole thing on streaming even though Prime and Pluto have the series. This episode, the last of the first season, is not up on either service. It's a 3-parter, and only the middle part, the season 2 opener, is streaming. Parts 1 and 3 are two of the many interesting episodes that didn't make it to streaming for some reason.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Inside the Guide: TV Guide 40 years ago this week(ISH) (April 28-May 4, 1984) Part 9: Friday night!

Continuing our look at the 40-year-old TV Guide, here is some of what was on Friday night, May 4:

Remember Sidelines? I certainly did not, but now I am curious!

Our cat was apparently intrigued by Oliva Hussey's sultry new role.

CBS brings some energy with this ad for the Friday lineup:

I love those old original programs USA Network had it when it was still the quirky USA network:

This ad is somehow dynamic but also less dynamic than it appears. I thought he was leaping onto KITT, but is he just...caressing him?