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