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?

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Inside the Guide: TV Guide 40 years ago this week(ISH) (April 28-May 4, 1984) Part 8: BOTNS!

Just one photo today from this Guide because it stands on its own.

The starpower has dimmed a bit by this 16th installment of the series, but there are some big names and some future stars. The broadcast team of Howard Cosell, Scott Baio and Debby Boone won't make anyone forget the classic days of Monday Night Football.

This edition of the mag also has a feature story by Kenneth Turan on the series that focuses on the glory days, and, yes, there is are extensive comments from Robert Conrad airing his old grievances. The article is kind enough to not point out the show is nearing the end.

Sunday, May 12, 2024

Top Ten #301: Special "301 is almost as cool a number as 300!" Edition!

1) Gary Coleman: We asked for votes to determine the TV movie we will discuss in the upcoming season of the podcast, and you spoke! We'll keep the winner a secret for now, but I can tell you that it won't be this one (It wasn't a selection). It might be too intense for our coveted 2-11-year-old demographic anyway.

2) Mother's Day: Have a happy holiday, everyone, whether you're a mother or not. Antenna TV offers a Family Ties marathon, or you can take out your DVDs and let Mom her real Eighties fave: Tour of Duty.

3) The Fall Guy: The new movie may not be huge, but the show is on Thursdays and Heroes and Icons, and we still have our memories of it. Hey, remember a few days ago when we posted this awesome 1984 ad?

Seriously, I need to see this episode. I only wish it were Dave Winfield and not Paul Winfield guest-starring.

4) Pulitzer Prizes: Just seeing the announcement of the 2024 winners made me want to see some Lou Grant.

5) Pee Wee's Playhouse: The iconic Eighties show is now streaming on Shout! TV or, if you aren't into needing 60 minutes to see a 22-minute show, Tubi.

6) Bugs Bunny Mother's Day Special: 40 years ago tonight, CBS reran this 1979 special, which co-stars fan favorite Granny.

(I doubt she is a fan favorite, but, come on, it's a day for grandmas, too).

7) Tom Selleck: The TV star has a new memoir out this week, and it seems like he has some cool stories, including one related to generating publicity for the Magnum series finale. As someone who saw the ad bwlow dozens of times in the Eighties, I want to see an ad with him holding up the book and saying, "Of course I love the humor. It's a very funny book."

8) Saturday Night Live: On this night in 1984, Saturday Night Live took an unusual approach to its ninth-season finale, bringing back 5 guests to serve as hosts: Betty Thomas, Billy Crystal, Edwin Newman, Ed Koch, and Father Guido Sarducci. Talk about overkill, SNL! You had me again at "Edwin Newman."

9) Apple's Way: 50 years ago tonight, the short-lived Earl Hamner sitcom reached its apex with guest star (and BOTNS fave) Alan Fudge making an appearance.

10) R.I.P. Jeannie Epper: Lynda Carter gave a wonderful tribute to her stunt double on Facebook.

Saturday, May 11, 2024

Inside the Guide: TV Guide 40 years ago this week(ISH) (April 28-May 4, 1984) Part 7: Must See TV?

Here's NBC's Thursday 40 years ago, beginning with a Cheers that you know is good because--well, because it's Cheers. Also, have you ever wondered, was Jim Carrey always like that? Take a look?

Closing it out is Hill Street Blues:

Friday, May 10, 2024

Inside the Guide: TV Guide 40 years ago this week(ISH) (April 28-May 4, 1984) Part 6: Wednesday night is HOT on ABC!

Look who's bringing the HEAT on ABC on this Wednesday night in 1984! I love the idea of Paul Winfield as a superstar ballplayer for some reason:

Then a notable Dynasty featuring the first appearance of Diahann Carroll!

And finally, whoa, what is happening on Hotel? And most important, is Connie Sellecca gonna be OK?

Tuesday, May 7, 2024

Poll: Choose our Season 12 TV movie!

Season 12 of the podcast is in the works! Some of your suggestions are already in our lineup, but we have one more slot to finalize. Help us determine our TV movie this season by selecting the Gary Coleman "Kid" classic that YOU want us to discuss!

Update: Voting has now closed! Stay tuned for info on Season 12, and you won't have to wait long to see which movie we spotlight in our Gary Coleman episode!

Vote here in the comments or by sending an email to You can also vote in the poll in our official Facebook group (membership is free and easy!) by Saturday, May 11!

The choices are:

  1. The Kid from Left Field (1979)
  2. The Kid with the Broken Halo (1982)
  3. The Kid with the 200 I.Q. (1983)

Monday, May 6, 2024

Inside the Guide: TV Guide 40 years ago this week (April 28-May 4, 1984) Part 5: Tootsie on HBO

I believe the tradition of "world television premieres" of theatrical films on HBO started in the Nineties, but it feels like it has been even longer than that. It amuses me, then, to see the hype for the week's big movie debut in May 1984. It begins with this ad on Sunday:

May was only a couple days away! The actual premiere for the acclaimed flick Tootsie is not on the following Saturday, but on Thursday, May 3, and HBO has a big ad for that day, too.

In her column previewing the week's movies, Judith Crist says "hoorahs are in order" for Tootsie, calling it a delight. "It's not only a delicious comedic perception of bisexual humanism," (Note: I am not sure I know what that means) "but also a knockout farce that made Dustin Hoffman, in the title role, a prime candidate for Best Actor Oscar and Best Actress."

Sunday, May 5, 2024

Top Ten #300!

1) The Rockford Files: Mike was on the great 200 Dollars a Day Plus Expenses podcast with Friend of the Show Steve and Dave. I listen to a lot of podcasts at double speed to save time, but for this one, I listened at one-quarter speed to prolong the experience.

2) 300: Hey, what a nice round number! I set my goals big, so my next milestone is gonna be 305. I think I can make it! Maybe we can match Knots Landing's number of episodes (344).

Here's a nice 300 moment to enjoy:

3) Phil Donahue: The iconic talk host was awarded a Presidential Medal of Freedom, but more importantly, the man was on in Albany 3 times with 3 different episodes at the same time!

4) The New Fred and Barney Show: I recently discovered the From Pencils to Pixels podcast, and I was delighted last week to discover the hosts just released a tribute--including an audio commentary--to this NBC "modern" Flintstones series.

5) National Cartoonists Day: May you not be interrupted by your daughters' annoying friend Monroe today so that you can get a few strips done.

6) Free Comic Book Day/Star Wars Day: Hope you got something cool yesterday and maybe spent some money supporting a local business.

7) Frankenstein: The True Story: This 1973 British TV movie with Jane Seymour (not as the Monster), James Mason, David McCallum, and Leonard Whiting is the subject of a book by Sam Irvin, who just won a Rondo Award for Best Writer!

8) Goldfinger: 50 years ago tonight, ABC reran this classic James Bond flick. I believe it would be on ABC and TBS approximately 00700 times over the next 20 years.

9) The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp: The series was added to FreeVee this week, and it was also announced as joining FETV's lineup. Why mention a 1955 TV series here? Well, because we love Fifties TV, too, but also because it stars BOTNS legend Hugh O'Brian!

10) Cinco de Mayo: OK, some say it's a not a real holiday. I don't care if it gives Sony an excuse to post another episode of Viva Valdez.

Friday, May 3, 2024

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

You know how big Donahue was in the Eighties?

He was so big that in a market like Albany, his show was on 3 different channels at the same time every weekday--and all of them different episodes!

(Unfortunately, unlike the show we discussed, Gary Deeb is in none of these episodes listed above.)

Thursday, May 2, 2024

Inside the Guide: TV Guide 40 years ago this week (April 28-May 4, 1984) Part 3

You know what happened on May 1, 1984. The NFL Draft. Yes, it was televised, but it was only on ESPN, and it was on TUESDAY, May 1, 1984, in the daytime. 

It was not the big TV event (and ratings-grabber) it is today!

By the way, I always loved it when something went on so long that TV Guide decided it had to put in another listing. "1984 NFL Draft Continues."  "We gotta put something there, or people will think ESPN went off the air."

Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Inside the Guide: TV Guide 40 years ago this week (April 28-May 4, 1984) Part 2

Rolling on with this Albany edition of the Guide from 40 years ago this week!

Monday is dominated by reruns, but I enjoyed a few of the ads. I can't help but admire this low-key local ad for daily Love Boat reruns. No official art, no photos, just a list of the guests. Was this done with any involvement with the syndicator?

Then look at this striking ad for a show I don't remember seeing: First-run syndie Video Hits.

I think people forget that music videos were not just the domain of MTV. There were shows like this all over the place, plus Radio 1990 on USA, Friday Night Videos on NBC, and occasional filler blocks of music like HBO's Video Jukebox.

Let's close on a serious note with this ad and close-up based on a re-air of Adam, the movie based on John Walsh's efforts to find his kidnapped son.