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STUFF
You've heard about the new trend - putting political ads on You Tube in hopes that they'll catch on and lead to enhanced popularity for the candidate. Here's one I ran across quite by accident - it's Christopher Knight (no, not the kid from The Brady Bunch) who's running for the Rockingham County, NC School Board. I'm going to offer it without comment and let you decide whether you would vote for the guy based on this ad. I'll just say I wouldn't vote against him because of it - but then I'm kind of a sci-fi geek and the special effects are at least as good as Jason of Star Command.

From the mailbag, Joseph House writes: In 1999, you had Ripcord in your oldies section that included a sound-byte of the title song. One of the only vestiges of the show that existed. It was the prototypical skydiving drama, in many ways the same thing to skydiving as Jonny Quest was to action adventures. I saw the show as a kid, & it was how I learned about skydiving but I know more about the show from trivia & what IMdB stated about it than from my memory of watching it. It's one of those shows I was captivated by as a kid and would like to get a perspective of what to think of it now. It seems like a waste to drown it in the sea of obscurity. I'm surprised recordings of the show haven't been preserved by skydiving clubs for posterity. I suppose if a saw an episode, I may find out why it got consigned for extinction. But its mustard seed impact on aviation entitles it to a more dignified sendoff. It was cutting edge skydiving while skydiving itself was in its infancy and the filming of the episodes was history in the making. Somebody really fixed something that wasn't broke when TVP's idea of progress was to remove RC's theme song from its roster. Restoring it to its slot among the TV archives will be greatly appreciated.

IMdB has pretty good details about the show. But it's all postings. No sound bytes or clips. A lot more fuss is made over Andy Griffith, Gilligan's Island, I Love Lucy, Leave it to Beaver, & The Flintstones than over Ripcord. Some of these are constantly recycled through all the oldies stations. Seems like too many of them show all the same shows, while some of the rarer gems like this one, 77 Sunset Strip and Sea Hunt, seem to be one week wonders at best. At least the latter 2 sometimes get shown.

Thanks for reminding me of that page, Paul - you can find it here. I don't remember where the video clip came from or I'd recapture it. I loved that show as a kid as well, along with Whirlybirds, another syndicated show that took to the skies for adventure.

You have to check out Ken Levine's incredible blog and the story of his first time directing a sitcom, in this case Wings in 1995.

This not watching TV except on DVD gets a bit frustrating when I see teasers for this season's The Shield episodes - I want to see this season's episodes Sooo badly. But there's no point in starting now, several episodes into the season. So I wait on pins and needles for the season 7 DVD set. And the last half-season of The Sopranos can't get here quickly enough. Don't tell me how it ends!

Paul McKinnley wants to suggest these titles for DVD - Ruff 'n' Reddy, Heckle and Jeckle, Popeye, Crusader Rabbit, Mighty Mouse, Beany and Cecil, Honey West, Twelve 0'Clock High, The New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, The Banana Splits, Shazzan, Maverick and the old Science Fiction Theatre.

Popeye cartoons on DVDGood news Paul - the definitive Popeye collection is on the way. Check out the cool package design - not the modernized cartoony look you'd expect. What a great collection this is going to be. Out of your list, New Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and Shazzan (not to be confused with Shazam) could turn up, maybe this year, that is if Huck Finn still exists. Those are Hanna-Barbera titles and they've been aggressively releasing their library (thank you HB!). The Banana Splits apparently doesn't exist in its original form, only in hacked up, incomplete segments so it's on the unlikely list for now but still worth releasing in my opinion.

What's holding up Mighty Mouse, Heckle and Jeckle, and Crusader Rabbit? Do Science Fiction Theatre and Beany and Cecil still exist in any great numbers? Maverick, I predict, will be coming to DVD this year but there's no release date. There's been a nice sampler with a handful of episodes out for some time.

As for Honey West and Twelve 0'Clock High - your guess is as good as mine. If you're Catholic you might want to light a candle over those!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007 - 12:09pm
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DVD EXTRAS
Gunsmoke on DVdI'm just going to go on record as saying to all of you out there producing extras for TV shows on DVD - you need to check out the two Gunsmoke 'Best Of' volumes, they contain the best episode commentaries I've ever heard. The reason they're so good? The interviewees stick to stories about the production of the shows with behind-the-scenes tales from the principal players that are a great deal more revealing than most. You come away with a great deal of knowledge about how things were done on the other side of the camera, all too often audio commentaries are of the 'let's watch the show together' stripe.

The producer of the Gunsmoke DVDs - Paul Brownstein - is the gold standard of the industry because, in addition to knowing the right people to interview and what to ask, he finds the lost gems hidden in the vaults - in this case syndication promos and rare talk show appearances. And he leaves in the interstitials where possible ("Gunsmoke will continue after station identification.").

Look at this list of extras for volume 2 alone:
Commentary by Ed Asner on Hung High
Commentary by Bruce Dern on The Jailer
Commentary by Buck Taylor on The Pillagers
Commentary by James Arness on A Quiet Day in Dodge
Special episode introductions by James Arness
Special introduction by John Wayne on series premiere episode "Matt Gets It"
Rare home movies filmed on the set by Dennis Weaver
James Arness as Matt Dillon and Dennis Weaver as Chester on The Ed Sullivan Show
Bloopers and gag reels
Amanda Blake on The Mike Douglas Show and The David Frost Show
Westerns Channel Gunsmoke Memories
A CBS executive remembers Gunsmoke
Museum of TV & Radio Q&A with cast
Emmy Award footage
Original CBS network promos
Photo galleries

Another key component in Brownstein's productions - he gets the stars of the shows (in this case James Arness who played Marshall Dillon) to do introductions to the episodes. At first I thought this was an unnecessary bit - now I find it kind of interesting, it provides a bridge between the past and the present. For my money, these kinds of extras are a great deal more valuable than the mini-documentaries that are so popular.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007 - 10:34am
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CHUCK McCANN
Chuck McCann ShowNew to TVparty is a telephone conversation I had recently with Chuck McCann, one of television and film's great character actors. He's also one of Hollywood's busiest voice actors, boomers know him as the voice of Sonny the Cuckoo Bird in the Cocoa Puffs commercials- that's just one of hundreds of roles he's famous for. Here's a sample of our talk:

Chuck McCann Show(PART TWO) - Real Player / Quicktime
Chuck talks about the time he was performing the role of Sailor Clyde on the Captain Kangaroo show in 1959 and about living and working (and becoming friends with Jason Robards) in New York in the 1960s. Stories about working on Cool McCool, Turn On (the notorious TV flop that lasted one episode, produced by Laugh-In's George Schlatter), and the Steve Allen Tonight Show. I asked Chuck about playing W. C. Fields in the TV movie Mae West - as far as I'm concerned no one has inhabited the role of Fields better than Chuck did in that film.

You can find the entire article and conversation here.

Monday, May 21, 2007 - 11:16am
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SUNDAY YOU TUBE
Here's a corny routine from The Dean Martin Show with Paul Lynde:

Joan Crawford died almost exactly 30 years ago - on May 10, 1977. Here she is doing what she's not known for - singing in a movie from 1937, The Bride Wore Red.

Of course, even Joan Crawford didn't do Joan Crawford as well as female impersonators and cabaret performers. The best was probably Charles Pierce, here from the mid-1980s:

Here's a excerpt from The Hollywood History of Camp (looks like something homemade to me) that touches gives you a bit of Crawford and Bette Davis at the end - as well as Mae West, Gloria Swanson, Marilyn Monroe and other movie star icons.

Sunday, May 20, 2007 - 1:34pm
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MAYBERRY'S FINEST

Thirty five years after Mayberry R.F.D. left the air, a new line of foods is coming out with the Mayberry brand.

From the press release:
That's right. America's beloved hometown cook and the folks at Diversity Brands are teaming up to create an exciting new line of packaged foods that will bring the flavors of Mayberry right into homes all across America, and beyond.
The new line of foods will stroll onto store shelves in late summer.
Among the millions of us still avidly tuning into Mayberry is Phil Connelly, president of Choice Food of America, a partner in Diversity Brands.
"I've always loved ‘The Andy Griffith Show,'" said Phil, who is without question the biggest Goober at the Nashville-based food company. "When I think of Mayberry, I think of good friends, family, home and delicious food. Those are all qualities that we're shooting for with Mayberry's Finest." (Let's hope his aim is better than Barney's!)
Phil adds, "While we're focused on providing only the very best foods, we also plan for the appeal of the packaging and promotion to be a reflection of the wholesome entertainment and fun of the show itself."
"We're thrilled to have an association with ‘The Andy Griffith Show,' and to have this wonderful opportunity to create some delicious premium foods that also connect with the fond memories and deep affection that millions of people have for Mayberry and what "The Andy Griffith Show" stands for," says Marcela Gómez, president of Diversity Brands.
Marcela and Phil both conveniently dodge questions from us about how Mayberry's Finest plans to deal with the only two foods that Aunt Bee doesn't know how to prepare: homemade "kerosene cucumbers" and marmalade. All Phil will say is, "Wait and see. Wait and see."
And while it doesn't take a keen investigative mind like Barney's to predict that the companies involved with creating Mayberry's Finest would be enthusiastic about the new line of foods, what is the reaction on Main Street in Mayberry-that is, among the show's many devoted fans?
For the answer to that question, no one is in a better position to know than Kenneth Junkin, leader of TAGSRWC's "Hearty Eatin' Men and Beautiful, Delicate Women" chapter (Tuscaloosa, Ala.) and one of the biggest fans of TAGS.
"This is the biggest thing to happen with Mayberry in years. I couldn't be more excited about anything," says Kenneth. "There's nothing I like more than good food and Mayberry," he adds. "To have them combined and to actually be able to get a real taste of Mayberry is the best of both worlds," says Kenneth, who apparently was so overwhelmed by the big announcement about Mayberry's Finest that he forgot to mention any passion he might have for University of Alabama football. (Shazam!)

If you grew up down South as I did, during the early-1970s, there was an Andy Griffith line of canned foods and country ham. Seems to me if they want this line to be a success, you've got to have country ham (the kind that makes red eye gravy) and sausage. And grits, right? Mostly what I see are canned beans and biscuit/ muffin mixes, that kind of thing. I'd have gone for a more 1960's retro package design, this line looks like the same old thing to me with a picture of the Taylor family (Ain't Bee, Opie and Andy) on top.

To be honest, I hope the stuff is good, as tasty as Glory foods at least. But then I don't eat a lot of canned foods or do much baking. Look for Mayberry's Finest in your stores and let me know what you think.

Sunday, May 20, 2007 - 8:30am
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COMING TO A TV NEAR YOU
Here's the Fox schedule for this fall, with new shows in caps:
Monday
8:00 p.m. Prison Break
9:00 p.m. K-VILLE
Tuesday
8:00 p.m. NEW AMSTERDAM
9:00 p.m. House
Wednesday
8:00 p.m. BACK TO YOU
8:30 p.m. 'Til Death (new time)
9:00 p.m. Bones (new time)
Thursday
8:00 p.m. Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?
9:00 p.m. KITCHEN NIGHTMARES
Friday
8:00 p.m. THE SEARCH FOR THE NEXT GREAT AMERICAN BAND
9:00 p.m. NASHVILLE
Saturday
8:00 p.m. Cops
9:00 p.m. America's Most Wanted
Sunday
7:00 p.m. The OT (NFL post-game)
8:00 p.m. The Simpsons
8:30 p.m. King of the Hill (new time)
9:00 p.m. Family Guy
9:30 p.m. American Dad

Then the network plans to shake it up in January '08:
Monday
8:00 p.m. K-Ville (new time)
9:00 p.m. 24
Tuesday
8:00 p.m. American Idol
9:00 p.m. House
Wednesday
8:00 p.m. Back to You
8:30 p.m. 'Til Death
9:00 p.m. American Idol
Thursday
8:00 p.m. Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?
9:00 p.m. CANTERBURY'S LAW
Friday
8:00 p.m. Bones (new day and time)
9:00 p.m. New Amsterdam (new day and time)
Saturday
8:00 p.m. Cops
9:00 p.m. America's Most Wanted
Sunday
7:00 p.m. King of the Hill (new time)
7:30 p.m. American Dad
8:00 p.m. The Simpsons
8:30 p.m. Family Guy (new time)
9:00 p.m. THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES

Finally settling into this shedule in Spring, 2008:
Monday
8:00 p.m. Prison Break
9:00 p.m. 24
Tuesday
8:00 p.m. American Idol
9:00 p.m. House
Wednesday
8:00 p.m. Back to You
8:30 p.m. THE RETURN OF JEZEBEL JAMES
9:00 p.m. American Idol
9:30 p.m. 'Til Death (new time)
Thursday
8:00 p.m. Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?
9:00 p.m. Canterbury's Law
Friday
8:00 p.m. Bones
9:00 p.m. New Amsterdam
Saturday
8:00 p.m. Cops
9:00 p.m. America's Most Wanted
Sunday
7:00 p.m. King of the Hill
7:30 p.m. American Dad
8:00 p.m. The Simpsons
8:30 p.m. Family Guy
9:00 p.m. The Sarah Connor Chronicles

All of this assumes the new shows will survive and the returning programs thrive.

The Sarah Connor Chronicles will bring the characters from the Terminator movies to series TV. Sarah and her son are on the run from enemies from the future - sounds like The Invaders all over again. I'd watch it if it was good.

Back to You will be the one to keep an eye on - it stars Patricia Heaton (Everybody Loves Raymond) and Kelsey Grammer (Frasier) as two news anchors who are constantly at odds.

The guys behind Rescue Me (Denis Leary and Jim Serpico) are hoping you'll like their new one - Canterbury's Law, about a tough female defense attorney (ER's Julianna Margulies).

Friday, May 18, 2007 - 11:14am
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