Monday, December 30, 2013

Hawaiian Honeymoon

The final episode of GREEN ACRES acted a s backdoor pilot for an unrealized sitcom which would have starred Elaine Joyce as an Ann Sothern-style private secretary. Something I had forgotten until today, however is that the episode preceding that was also a backdoor pilot. "Hawaiian Honeymoon" has Lisa and Oliver on a "5th Honeymoon" but they take a back seat to Don Porter as the owner of the hotel they go to in Hawaii and his interfering, somewhat ditzy daughter, played by Pamela Franklin. Porter had previously played the father of ditzy, interfering daughter, GIDGET in that series! Gidget, who spent a lot of time on a beach. So most likely, this series was passed over as being too like the other show which had only been gone for about 6 years at that point.

Seen below is Mary Mayumi, an amazingly cute actress who plays the desk clerk at the hotel. She's sort of a combination of a Disney girl and an Asian Brady. IMDB shows her as being in an episode of BONANZA around the same time. They also show her as being the same person as Rinko Mayumi, an actress who appeared in Japanese films 25 years later. I'm thinking that could be a mistake on IMDB. Does anyone know anything about Mary Mayumi?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The Carpenters Christmas Special-1977

Like it or not, Christmas always brings to mind those who are no longer with us. We all lose so many people in life ho are important to us. One of the greatest singing voices of the 20th Century belonged to Karen Carpenter and her music was a major part of my teenage years. I was 18 when this holiday special aired. Almost 19 really. Looking back with Karen so healthy still tears me up.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

My Prime Time Christmas Week-1980

Christmas week, 33 years ago, in 1980. I was not only still addicted to television but earlier in that year I had purchased my first Betamax machine! Let’s take a look at what I probably watched on prime tome TV that week!

Saturday, December 20th, 1980

CBS-New Christmas-themed episodes of WKRP IN CINCINNATI and THE TIM CONWAY SHOW

The TV series version of FREEBIE & THE BEAN was on CBS and a football game on NBC but, as I recall, I opted for a new episode of THE LOVE BOAT on ABC reuniting singer Jack Jones (best known for that show’s theme) and his father Allan Jones (best known for the Marx Brothers movie, A NIGHT AT THE OPERA).

10:00-11:00 PM
With a choice between CBS’s SECRETS OF MIDLAND HEIGHTS (a show I don’t even remember) and ABC’s FANTASY ISLAND with Toni Tennille, I think I opted for the latest chapter of the mini-series, TINKER, TAILOR, SOLDIER, SPY with Sir Alec Guinness on PBS.

Sunday, December 21st, 1980

ABC-A YEAR WITHOUT A SANTA CLAUS—It was a rerun but I was a sucker for holiday specials then so I went with this. And besides, PBS was only offering an hour of a women’s bowling championship.

8:00-9:00 PM

I most likely skipped CBS’s ARCHIE BUNKER’S PLACE and ONE DAY AT A TIME (my favorite show 3 years earlier), ABC’s CHARLIE’S ANGELS rerun and NBC’s CHIPS (which I never watched) and PBS’s COSMOS in favor of an hour of ED SULLIVAN SHOW clips on the local independent UHF channel.


A Kate Mulgrew TV movie and a Robert Conrad TV movie canceled each other out and I settled for ALICE on CBS, followed by THE JEFFERSONS and TRAPPER JOHN, MD.

Monday, December 22nd, 1980


I never watched NBC’s LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE (especially not, as in this case, a 3 hour rerun!) or ABC’s THAT’S INCREDIBLE which means I most likely watched CBS’s forgotten sitcom duo of FLO and LADIES’ MAN. If I’d had any sense I would have watched John Carradine as Dick Cavett’s guest on PBS!


I believe I skipped CBS’s reruns of M*A*S*H and HOUSE CALLS as well as the local station’s Fu Manchu flick with Christopher Lee, all so I could watch SHE LOVES ME on PBS, the musical version of THE SHOP AROUND THE CORNER starring TV’s POLDARK, Robin Ellis, with Gemma Craven. It’s been a favorite ever since.


If I’m right about the above, that also eliminated my watching a rerun of LOU GRANT, possibly my favorite show at that time.

Tuesday, December 23rd, 1980


Four Christmas specials vied for my attention—Greer Garson narrating LITTLE DRUMMER BOY, the animated THE BEAR THAT SLEPT THROUGH CHRISTMAS, a holiday concert from the Cleveland Orchestra and a rerun of John Denver’s now-classic Christmas special with the Muppets. I chose that one. Denver’s specials during the late seventies/early eighties were almost uniformly great!


More Yuletide joy from NBC with Mac Davis’s Christmas special (guest-starring Mills Watson, Linda Gray and Melissa Manchester). Meanwhile, ABC stuck to its guns with reruns of THREE’S COMPANY (wearing out its welcome by this point) and TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT. CBS reran Jean Stapleton’s post ALL IN THE FAMILY TV movie, AUNT MARY about a lady baseball coach but I had seen it the first time. PBS, though, was running the conclusion of Dr. Jonathan Miller’s utterly fascinating THE BODY IN QUESTION, which is where I went.


A HART TO HART rerun on ABC or a new episode of THE STEVE ALLEN SHOW with Bob and Ray?  Hmmm...Knowing myself as I was, I’m sure I went for HART TO HART but I’m kicking myself now!

Wednesday, December 24th, 1980


After watching and taping Jimmy Stewart in the Mormon Church’s lovely syndicated special MR. KRUEGER’S CHRISTMAS at 7:30, 8 PM brought a choice between ABC’s 2 hour EIGHT IS ENOUGH rerun, CBS’s FAT ALBERT and NUTCRACKER specials and NBC’s REAL PEOPLE. I probably went for the EIGHT IS ENOUGH, leaving me to also skip DIFF’RENT STROKES and THE FACTS OF LIFE in the next hour as well.


There was a David Copperfield magic special on. I never missed those so I skipped QUINCY and VEGAS that night.

Christmas, 1980


THE WALTONS was new on CBS that night, opposite the perennial SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN on ABC and something I don’t recall seeing called GAMES PEPLE PLAY with Bryant Gumbel and Johnny Bench on NBC. I wasn’t watching THE WALTONS regularly anymore but I may have gone with that, having seen the Christmas special so many times already.


Henry Winkler’s disappointing AMERICAN CHRISTMAS CAROL from a year earlier was on ABC again. A new episode of MAGNUM PI—which I liked but never followed regularly—was on CBS. I’m thinking I opted for Dick Clark’s non-holiday musical special on NBC with Frankie and Annette and, of all people, Vaughn Meader! Thus, I also skipped the never-liked KNOT’S LANDING at 10 as well.

Friday, December 26, 1980


The day after Christmas saw a new episode of THE INCREDIBLE HULK on CBS opposite a new episode of MARIE (sans Donny by this point) on NBC guest-starring Andy Williams. BENSON and Danny Thomas’s I’M A BIG GIRL NOW with Diana Canova were on ABC. Thinking I went with the green guy.

9:00-1100 PM

Pretty sure I’d seen FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE several times by that point already so I would have thought I’d have skipped that rerunning on ABC. I hated CBS’s DUKES OF HAZZARD with a passion, though. NBC had something that sounds totally alien to me—Betsy Palmer in a comedy-drama series entitled NUMBER 96. (???) Never heard of it. A quick check of IMDB shows it to be a rather tame and very short-lived US adaptation of a mega-popular but controversial Australian soap. Add to that yet another episode of THE SECETS OF MIDLAND HEIGHTS and I probably went with 007 after all.

 And that was my prime-time week, Christmas, 1980!

And that was my prie-time week, Christmas, 1980!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Yvonne Craig on The Dating Game

One of my earliest TV girlfriends--as opposed to TV sisters--, here's Batgirl, Yvonne Craig, on THE DATING GAME in 1967. Almost as interesting is that one of the bachelors she doesn't choose is prolific character actor Charles Cyphers, described here as a "sportsman and poet" some 7 years prior to his first film role.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Merry Christmas From the Flying Nun

 Spotted on Facebook. 
Yes, it was one of the silliest premises ever. It was a wonderful show, though, filled with heart and humor and memorable characters all around. I look at it now and think it would have run for years if they'd dropped the flying schtick completely once the series had been established.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

The Blacklist

I never heard of THE BLACKLIST until today's news that it's been renewed for a 2nd season. Just watched the pilot on HULU though and now it's today's new favorite thing. In one sentence--It's SILENCE OF THE LAMBS without the cannibalism aspect. I've always enjoyed James Spader. A unique personality at his best and ideally suited to quirky roles like this. Not sure how long they can realistically draw out the premise but for now I'm enjoying it. 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

R.I.P. Jane Kean

Her friend, actor Michael Townsend Wright, reports the passing of Jane Kean yesterday. She was MY Trixie Norton on THE HONEYMOONERS, the color musical series that I grew up with in the sixties. As you watch MR MAGOO'S CHRISTMAS CAROL this year, think of her. (She voiced Scrooge's lost love) 

Monday, November 25, 2013

Out of the Inkwell-1962

Producer Hal Seeger revived the Fleischer Brothers' Koko the Clown in a series of early sixties made for TV cartoons that I sorta kinda barely remember I think. I know I had an understanding of who Koko was long before such books as Leonard Maltin's OF MICE AND MAGIC and even have some drawings of a Koko-like clown left over from high school days. Since the originals were then rarely revived on TV or even in theaters, where else would I have known him from?

That's Larry Storch voicing Koko AND the villain by the way, uncredited and hard to believe but confirmed by Larry himself! There are a couple lines where I definitely hear Larry but if you hadn't told me, I never would have guessed it.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Christmas in Connecticut-1992

Somehow I missed this TV remake of the holiday classic CHRISTMAS IN CONNECTICUT when it aired in 1992 but it caught my attention this year when I noticed it was directed by...Arnold Schwarzenegger???!!!

And it's good! Kris Kristofferson's bland performance comes nowhere near that of his vivacious  co-star, Dyan Cannon, but hers is as good as anything she did back in her seventies heyday and the two do look good together. Tony Curtis is also quite fun and manic. Other co-stars include Jimmy Workman (Pugsley in the 2 ADDAMS FAMILY movies), Richard (SHAFT) Roundtree...

...and Cincinnati TV legend Bob Braun (known nationally for his Craftmatic bed TV commercials which I'm led to believe are STILL running 12 years past his death!).

It's not the original but as remakes go, it offers much updated holiday fun. Catch it if you see it this season.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The NBC Mystery Movie

One--or two...or more... depending on how you look at it-- of my favorite TV series in the seventies was the NBC MYSTERY MOVIE. This was what became known as  a wheel series, offering a different series each week in rotation in a 90 minute or sometimes 2 hour movie format. The most famous, of course, was COLUMBO with Peter Falk's unique characterization of the ramshackle genius detective spinning off from an earlier TV movie and running off and on in various formats for more than 3 decades.

My favorite though was McCLOUD. It started off on another rotating series but moved to the Mystery Movie and became a staple through the decade. Dennis Weaver finally finds his niche as a fish out of water cowboy detective in Manhattan. Loosely inspired by Clint Eastwood's COOGAN'S BLUFF.

Nick and Nora Charles got an update in the form of San Francisco Police Commissioner and Sally McMillan, stars of MCMILLAN AND WIFE. Although much, much younger than star Rock Hudson, Susan St. James offered sexy, zany byplay to some taut mysteries. After a few episodes, Hudson shaved his mustache, cut his hair and began to let it go grey. By the last season, the show lost Susan and continued on as simply McMILLAN.

In movies, BANACEK's George Peppard was always rather cold and wooden but in this made to order series about a rich Boston insurance investigator (vaguely similar to radio's YOURS TRULY, JOHNNY DOLLAR), that comes across as the epitome of cool.  

HEC RAMSEY reunited the volatile producer/star of the fifties series MEDIC for an excellent western with a twist that the aging, rustic hero, was actually a scientific detective. Former Paladin Richard Boone returned to TV for one last hurrah in what many have speculated to be literally an updated HAVE GUN WILL TRAVEL.

THE SNOOP SISTERS was a delightful short run series with Helen hayes and Mildred Natwick sort of presaging Jessica Fletcher times two as aging mystery novelists who solve murders against their police detective nephew's wishes.

Perennial sidekick James McCeachin was Tenafly, a cool cop in hot times. He was great but the series never caught on.

Jessica Walter probably guest starred in every single one of the series above and below as she was in everything in the seventies but here was her chance to shine as a lady police chief. Unfortunately, she didn't get to shine long.

After COLUMBO, Jack Klugman's QUINCY, ME, about a medial examiner who solves murders  must surely be considered the next most successful of the Mystery Movie series, graduating to its own along-running one hour show.

With McCloud and McMillan hits, NBC tried again with McCOY bringing film star Tony Curtis to TV as a reformed gambler who solves mysteries.

FARRADAY AND COMPANY starred former big screen hoofer Dan Dailey as a man who escapes from a South American prison and returns to the US many years later to find a private investigator son he never knew he had. Togetehr, they solve mysteries.

James Farentino's COOL MILLION was almost a hot blooded version of BANACEK.

And finally, film star Richard Widmark brought his 1968 movie character MADIGAN to TV for a short run.


Monday, November 11, 2013

The New Three Stooges

Just released is this collection of the 1960s low budget cartoons featuring Larry, Moe and Curly Joe. They ere cheap but had all-new wraparound silliness with the aging live-action trio. The added filter of nostalgia makes these seem much better than they were...or are.

Monday, November 4, 2013

The Jim Nabors Hour

Jim Nabors was not only surprisingly popular in the long-lasting GOMER PYLE USMC but he and the American public also discovered that he had a truly surprising singing voice. As his albums became bigger and bigger sellers in the age of psychedelic music and acid rock, Jim decided to use his show biz power to quite while he was ahead on GOMER and do a variety show where she could sing. He didn't want to lose the great chemistry he had with his co-stars though so he took Frank Sutton and Ronnie Schell along with him.

For two seasons, THE JIM NABORS HOUR hosted comedy, music and guest stars like Carol Burnett, Michael Jackson, Glen Campbell, Roy Rogers, Rock Hudson (don't go there) and, as seen on this ad, Andy Griffith, who had gotten Jim his start in TV.

This was one of my mother's favorite shows.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Paul Lynde Halloween Special

Arguably the most infamous TV special of the excessive seventies, THE PAUL LYNDE HALLOWEEN SPECIAL probably got remembered for its early appearance by KISS. Certainly that's why it was bootlegged so much over the years. But in time, the entire special took on a weird luster it certainly didn't have originally. 

Lynde was one of those singular talents that TV couldn't quite figure out what to do with. He was known and loved as Samantha's Uncle Arthur on BEWITCHED in spite of the fact that he only appeared a little more than a handful of times throughout that series' run. His greatest fame came as the sardonic center square on HOLLYWOOD SQUARES.

But Paul really wasn't a particularly good actor and various attempts to have him play characters who weren't just Paul Lynde failed--often miserably. And Paul Lynde, as himself, came best in small doses.

In 1976, Paul was a regular on Donny and Marie Osmond's variety show and someone decided to give him this special in which the 2 Osmonds cameo. That, of course, makes this the only time Osmonds and KISS appear on the same show.

Other guests included WIZARD OF OZ witch Margaret Hamilton and HR PUFNSTUF witch, Witchipoo (Billie Hayes). Betty White, Florence Henderson, Tim Conway and ABC flavor of the month Roz Kelly also appeared.

It's definitely not the best showcase for Paul Lynde's humor but over time it may well have become the thing most younger fans know him from...and that's all because of KISS, whose fans passed the show around from the earliest days of home video.