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TOP 30 RATED PROGRAMS OF THE WEEK
(R = repeat)
American Idol - Wednesday (Fox, season finale: 30.73 million), American Idol - Tuesday (Fox: 25.33), Dancing With the Stars Results Show (ABC, season finale: 22.96), Dancing With the Stars - Monday (ABC: 20.19), NCIS (CBS, season finale: 14.13), Lost (ABC, season finale: 13.86), CSI R (CBS: 13.79), Heroes (NBC, season finale: 13.48), Movie: Jesse Stone: Sea Change (CBS: 13.01), The Bachelor: An Officer and a Gentleman (ABC, season finale: 12.67), Two and a Half Men R (CBS, Mon. 9:30 p.m.: 12.31), Two and a Half Men R (CBS, Mon. 9 p.m.: 11.82), CSI: Miami R (CBS: 11.51), Shark R (CBS: 11.03),

24 (Fox, season finale: 10.30), Law & Order: SVU (NBC, season finale: 10.28), CSI: NY R (CBS: 10.25), Deal or No Deal - Monday (NBC: 9.87), Criminal Minds R (CBS: 9.57), So You Think You Can Dance (Fox, season premiere: 9.51), Without a Trace R (CBS: 9.04), Law & Order: Criminal Intent (NBC, season finale: 8.85), Cold Case R (CBS: 8.79), Two and a Half Men R (CBS, Mon. 8:30 p.m.: 8.64), NCIS R (CBS, 8 p.m.: 8.25), The Bachelor: After the Final Rose (ABC: 7.97), Two and a Half Men R (CBS, Mon. 8 p.m.: 7.72), On the Lot (Fox, preview: 7.60), NASCAR (Fox: 7.50), 60 Minutes (CBS: 7.13)

The only thing that makes me happy about that list - I didn't see a single show on it. Hooyah!

60 Minutes was in the top ten for decades; odd to see it at number 30 but I haven't watched it in 10 years.

Friday, June 1, 2007 - 10:26am
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BITS AND PIECES
Look for Brian Regan: Standing Up, a one hour special coming to Comedy Central. Brian is that funny guy from those Late Show with David Letterman comedy bits and his special is laugh-out-loud hysterical, zany fun! The best stand up act I've seen all year. Watch it starting June 10th at 10:00pm on Comedy Central.

Gunsmoke DVDRichard Tolleson writes: On your recommendation, I checked out the Gunsmoke 50th Anniversary DVD's. They are awesome! I had forgotten how good this show was. The writing, direction and acting are as good as just about anything on the air today. So many vintage TV shows are better in memory than in reality. This is certainly not the case with Gunsmoke. I just learned that CBS Video plans a season-by-season release, with season 1 coming in mid-to-late July. If those releases receive the same treatment given these 'best-of' DVDs, they should be a real treat.

Thanks so much Richard – I always thought that Gunsmoke was best after 1967 or so but that was my impression as a kid – it will be interesting to see the first season.

The final 10 (new) episodes of The Loop will debut on FOX Tuesday, June 5 at 8:30 p.m. ET. This is a pretty funny show and it will also be seen on Sundays at 8:30 & 9:30 starting next week.

~G writes: I quite enjoyed the YouTube of Tom Waits on the Mike Douglas show. My mom used to watch this show in the '70s and I would occasionally sit down and watch it with her (I was just a young teen back then). This clip reminds me what a wonderful and classy gentleman Douglas was! I can't imagine any contemporary talk show host being so respectful of somebody as off-beat as Waits. Leno or Letterman would simply use him as a gag for sarcastic jokes and cheap laughs from their audiences. Not only is Douglas fine afternoon television, as you say, it is superior talk-show television!

I second that emotion! DVD gods, deliver unto us a Mike Douglas Show collection - with complete episodes.

Thursday, May 31, 2007 - 7:49am
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NEW ON FOX
Sarah Connor ChroniclesSorry about the light blogging recently, I'll be back up to speed tomorrow. As promised, I'm going to review some new shows coming to Fox next season. I've already gone over the new Kelsey Grammer / Patricia Heaton sitcom in a previous post, next up - Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

I loved the Terminator movies, I even kinda liked Terminator 3 and that takes a forgiving nature. Now Fox is offering a weekly version of those films called The Sarah Connor Chronicles, a fast-paced, explosive sci-fi adventure series that crackles with excitement amid a relentless barrage of gunfire, fireballs, exploding police cruisers and tire screeching car chases.

In this series, John Connor is a back to being a teenager, he and his responsibly paranoid mother Sarah are being chased all over the landscape by killer robots from the future in addition to our present day U.S. government.

Fortunately for the Connors the Terminators on this show are the slow moving, methodical type. The kind of killing machine that will stop in the commission of its prime objective to crack a joke. Like after shooting up a high school science lab, the Terminator halts his pursuit of John Connor long enough to look back, pause and tell the students - "Class dismissed." But then again, if the Terminator had foregone this all-too-understandable pleasure, John Connor would have died in the first 20 minutes and there would be no series.

Also most fortunate for John Connor (but not so much for his mom) is that the robot sent from the future to protect the teenager looks like a supermodel hottie, an adorable young nymphet with bionic lips and heavy metal hips who gets to beat up all the guys she wants.

Action is expensive. The longer you can stay in one spot on television the less expensive the show is to produce. If you're standing still you're talking so The Sarah Connor Chronicles contains it's share of mother and son bonding, robot and boy bonding and governmental types being expressing their concern over Sarah Connor turning up at one crime scene after another.

Still, there's more than enough bang for your buck. Is the premier episode of The Sarah Connor Chronicles as good as the first episode of Lost, Prison Break or 24? Not quite. But perhaps this first episode has to set up the premise for those who haven't seen the movies and that's why Chronicles sometimes has a 'been there, done that' feel.That's not to say this show can't become a great series.

The elements are in place, the premise is strong and time tested. All that's needed now are some superior scripts. Could happen.

Terminator - The Sarah Connor Chronicles won't debut until mid-season but it looks like Fox has a winner with this one. Why they didn't schedule it for fall is a mystery to me.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007 - 2:40pm
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SAD NEWS...
Kevin S. Butler writes: Comic/ character actor/ singer and director Charles Nelson Reilly died Friday May 25, 2007 at age 76.

Best remembered for his TV work on The Ghost & Mrs. Muir, the 1970's CBS daytime and nationally syndicated versions of Match Game and the kid's show Lidsville, Uncle Croc's Block and Spacecats lost his battle with pneumonia.

Born in the Bronx on January 13, 1931, Reilly was raised in New Haven, Ct. He studied at NYC's Herbert Burghoff Drama Studios and made his Broadway stage debut in the original 1961 stage production of How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying with Robert Morse, Michelle Lee, Robert Q. Lewis and Rudy Vallee for which he won the 1962 Tony Award.

In 1964 he appeared in the Broadway stage production of Hello Dolly with Carol Channing, Robert Finch, David Burns and Eileen Brennan. He also did voice overs for many movie and TV cartoons, most notably All Dogs Go To Heaven (as Vic Tayback's henchdog "Killer") and as "Dr. Frankenstone" on The Flintstones Comedy Hour.

Mr. Reilly will always be remembered for his on camera performances on the NBC/ABC versions of The Ghost & Mrs. Muir with Hope Lange, he played "Claymore Gregg," the unscrupulous nephew of Edward Mullhare's imperious "Captain Gregg"). He was also seen on Arnie as the "Giddyyapp Gourmet" and, of course, the 1970's versions of Match Game as one of the show's quipping panelists.

His appearances on Match Game became the bane of his existence, Reilly complained to The Advocate (a gay magazine) in a 2001 interview that, "You can't do anything once you do game shows. You have no career".Hence his on camera appearances became very rare.

On Saturday mornings, Charles Nelson Reilly also appeared on the kid's comedies Lidsville (as "Hoo Doo," the evil magician), Uncle Croc's Block (with Jonathan Harris) and Spacecats with puppeteer and one of my former bosses on Alf's Hit Talk Show Mr. Paul Fusco.

His only TV appearances in recent years were on a tribute to the Krofft Brothers (the producers and creators of Lidsville on The E True Hollywood Story and on an episode of The Drew Carey Show.

Mr. Reilly directed Julie Harris in a 1976 Broadway production of The Belle Of Amherst for The Longacre Theater. He would work with Ms. Harris again 11 years later on the Broadway stage revival of The Gin Game at The Lyceum Theater.

His last projects included a cartoon voice over role for the animated feature film Tom & Jerry Shiver Me Whiskers (as the voice of "Red Parrot Stan") as well as his one man stage show Save It For The Stage - The Life Of Reilly.

He is survived by his partner Patrick Hughes.

Thanks, Kevin. Here's the trailer for what looks like a terrific film, Save It For The Stage - The Life Of Reilly. I can't wait to see this documentary on DVD.

Charles Nelson Reilly also appeared in some memorable Bic pen ads in the sixties. The colors are so bright and gay! No, that's really what they say in this ad.

Finally, here's a Match Game reunion with Charles, Betty White and Brett Somers from the Early Show.

Monday, May 28, 2007 - 2:49pm
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SUNDAY YOU TUBING
Let's look at some comedians that never failed to make me laugh.
I loved the late, great Red Buttons and here's his last TV appearance from a Jerry Lewis MDA telethon. It's very funny, Buttons did variations on this routine whenever he appeared on talk and variety shows.

Rip Taylor was host of the $1.98 Beauty Pageant in the 1970s and here's a bit from that show, produced by Chuck Barris creator of The Gong Show.

Speaking of The Gong Show, I have happy memories spent in the summer of 1976 watching that program. I was stuck in a one light town in eastern North Carolina (Kenansville pop. 1,000) performing in an outdoor drama where the locals treated us like we were radioactive - at least until the show opened, after it was successful they suddenly loved us. There was only one restaurant in town, a Dairy Freeze, and it was disgusting but the owner of the diner that recently closed (who the only Grade D rating I've ever seen in an eating place) re-opened so that we could have lunch there. That's how bad the Tasty Freeze was. This old guy would take our orders and then go next door to the Piggly Wiggly to buy what he needed to make our pork chop sandwiches or whatever. I remember it being delicious but I was just a crazy kid, completely unconcerned about the big, black, hardened blob of unknown substance that sat in a two-inch deep puddle in the middle of the room. Anyway, while we ate, we watched The Gong Show and laughed the half hour away. Here's one of the breakout stars of the show, The Unknown Comic played by Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour supporting player Murray Langston.

This clip from the Gong Show in 1976 features a pre-Pee Wee Herman Paul Reubens.

Sunday, May 27, 2007 - 12:30pm
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AWWW... LOOK AT THE CUTE MONKEY!
I just got back from seeing the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie. Longest 3 hours of my life. Like a bad high school play with a $300 million dollar budget - and like a high school play, at least an hour too long.

Friday, May 25, 2007 - 10:55pm
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BACK TO YOU
Perhaps the most anticipated show on the Fox fall schedule is Back To You starring Kelsey Grammer and Patricia Heaton as bickering news anchors at a local TV station.

Why Grammer felt compelled to return to television so soon after his mega success with Cheers and Frasier is beyond me. It's also Patricia Heaton's return to primetime after Everybody Loves Raymond. One would expect Back To You to be the best possible production with the top writers, producers and a first rate cast. It should at least be as funny as a typical episode of Raymond or Frasier. A high bar admittedly but both stars were afforded the funniest and smartest scripts in the business on their previous outings.

The first episode is promising but not particularly pleasing. Is there a breakout character, a Niles Crane or Marie Barone in this show? Not on the surface. But then again, that's the curse of a first episode setting up what is (for TV) a fairly complicated premise - very often the shows to follow are either much better or much worse so it may not be fair to judge this one so quickly.

The characters are broad in that typical TV fashion - for the most part the supporting cast are empty satellites bouncing around in the vacuum left in the wake of two imploding stars. This show does feature Fred Willard (Fernwood 2night) in the cast, a huge plus as he never fails to be funny, but it doesn't help matters that the laugh track is leaden, tedious and unbelievably phony.

In a day or so I'll run down the other offerings on Fox this fall - there are some interesting programs here, including the weekly version of Terminator called The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Friday, May 25, 2007 - 7:32am
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OH WELL...
Arny Schorr from S'More Entertainment writes: I am sad to announce that it appears that American Greetings has denied DiC and S’more Entertainment the right to release "The Get Along Gang" on DVD. While valid contracts are in place, American Greetings did retain the right to approve whether or not the program should be made available and they chose to not have the series released into the marketplace at this time.

We’re still on schedule for our release of "The Littles" in October and we will have a significant acquisition to announce in the next 30 days.

In my opinion that's a dumb move on American Greeting's part. What do they hope to do with an obscure property like that? Only a company like S'More (and maybe a couple of others) will be able to effectively market a niche product like The Get Along Gang.

Thursday, May 24, 2007 - 7:35pm
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UPCOMING TV ON DVD
Bob Huggins replies to a recent post: "Honey West" and two other Four Star Productions, "Burke's Law" and "Zane Grey Theater" are expected to get an authorized release during the fourth quarter of 2007 from VCI Entertainment. I had received one of VCI's catalogs in the mail and there was brief mention made of the three series. I sent them an E-mail and received the following reply:

"Hello,
These three series will be the complete 1st season. Release dates will be in the 4th quarter. We don't have a firm schedule yet.
Thanks"

So anybody thinking about "Honey West" might want to wait for the real deal later this year.

Regarding "The FBI" and "12 O'clock High," both of these were Quinn Martin produced shows, but their rights are with different studios. "The FBI" is with Warner while "12 O'clock High" is with Fox. Unfortunately, neither of these two studios has done much in the way of pre-1970 TV-on-DVD releases. The good news is that QM's "The Streets of San Francisco" is already out (at least the first half of season 1 with the second half coming in September) and "The Fugitive" is coming in August. Naturally, both of these releases are from Paramount, the only major studio that's made a serious commitment to pre-1970 classic/vintage TV. In terms of vintage, pre-1970s TV-on-DVD, the major studios are really lagging behind Paramount in terms of what they've actually released. I'm not ranking the studios here (other than Paramount) and I may be missing a few titles, but here's my assessment.
Sony
Not bad if you like sitcoms, primarily in color with the likes of Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, Hazel, The Flying Nun, and Gidget. But outside of sitcoms, fuggedaboutit! Sony really hasn't done anything else pre-1970.
Universal
Leave it to Beaver, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Dragnet, Adam-12, The Munsters. Uni has a great catalog, but they have a hard time finishing what they start. Good news is that a part of their vintage catalog (McHale's Navy, Ironside) is now licensed to Shout! Factory.
MGM
These folks often get overlooked, but despite bizarre changes in distribution (themselves, Sony, and now Fox), really aren't bad at all with vintage shows like Mister Ed, Green Acres, The Outer Limits, The Rat Patrol, The Addams Family, and the recent release of Flipper.
Fox
Pretty much limited to the Irwin Allen Sci-Fi series and The Big Valley. But, like Universal, it looks like they may also be going the licensing route with Burke's Law, Honey West, and Zane Grey Theater with VCI Entertainment.
Warner
Gilligan's Island, Cheyenne, The Adventures of Superman and F-Troop are pretty much it unless you throw in the 3-episode Maverick single disc release. I thought when they had their "50 years in television" celebration a while back, that they'd really dig deep into their back catalog . . . not much came of it . . . a real disappointment for vintage TV fans and a missed opportunity for Warner, in my opinion.
Paramount
Gunsmoke, Have Gun Will Travel, Rawhide, I Love Lucy, the original Star Trek, The Untouchables, Mission: Impossible, The Phil Silvers Show, Andy Griffith, Gomer Pyle, Wild, Wild West, The Fugitive, Perry Mason, The Honeymooners, Hawaii Five-0, Hogan's Heroes. 'Nuff said.

TVparty-er Greg adds: I fully agree with you regarding the "buyer beware" policy regarding bootleg copies of TV shows from various internet sites. Consumers must realize these box sets are NOT official studio releases but are either "off-air" or old film print copies burned to a DVD disc. One part of me says not to publicize these sites for fear of studio copyright litigation but another says these sources are the only way a classic TV fan can get ahold of a lot of shows that will never see the light of day. For example, take the recent DVD release from FOX (owners of the MTM library) of the first season of WKRP in Cincinnati. Since the music rights alone would have cost the studio over $4 million and made any release cost prohibitive, I can understand why they replaced the original music but we all know it ruins the essence of the show when canned music is utilized as a replacement. The only way you can obtain the series in its original form is to go to one of these sites and buy a bootleg copy. It's a double-edged sword and a very frustrating dilemma at that.

Thursday, May 24, 2007 - 6:05pm
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DVDS
Mitchell Hadley writes: Noticed your post today on Paul McKinnley's wish list for old shows on DVD. I can't speak to all of the shows he mentioned (don't have time to look them all up!), but I do know that some of them are available:

Science Fiction Theater is available at Vintage TV and Movies and also TV Box Set.

Twelve O'Clock High can be found at All My Favorite Shows.

Honey West (never a big fan of that show myself) is at Skaryguyvideo.

Now, I can't speak to the quality of these DVDs, not having purchased anything from these dealers myself. Buyer beware. It doesn't appear that they're the quality that you might expect from studio-issued box sets. However, if the important thing is actually getting the shows on DVD, this seems to be the answer! And I think these sites are good places to start when looking for hard-to-find old shows.

Now, my question is this: where's the old FBI series?

Thanks for the tip Hadley! As I wrote in response, I hesitate to refer people to companies selling bootlegs because I've had complaints – and somehow they want to hold me responsible. But it is kind of cool to find shows on bootleg releases that otherwise wouldn't be around.

That Skaryguyvideos site has some weird stuff I didn't know existed - like movies starring The Shadow? And this might be your only opportunity to get Ozzie's Girls on DVD. That is, if you would want it.

Keep in mind, many of these DVD collections contain episodes taped off of cable nets - so they're liable to be cut considerably.

By the way, check out the My Word and Welcome To It blog where Hadley digs into a vintage issue of TV Guide and comes up with some revealing nuggets - in this case advanced notice of what turned out to be one of the most outrageous events in the history of television Check it out!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007 - 12:25pm
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WEDNESDAY TALK
I miss those morning / afternoon talk shows of the 1970s. Dinah, Merv, Mike and the others that came and went. Let's go back to those great times thanks to You Tube. First up, Lucille Ball looks back on her career with Dinah Shore in 1978.

Lucy appeared on The Merv Griffin Show a number of times - here's a bit from a 1973 salute to Lucy with Gary Morton, Desi Arnaz Jr. and Lucie Arnaz that includes a surprise visit from Bob Hope. That's Mort Lindsey's big band you hear when Bob walks onstage, Merv's show was top shelf all the way.

Mike Douglas always had a wide variety of talent on his program - often giving airtime to relatively obscure performers. Here is an appearance by Tom Waits from 1976.

Quite a contrast to what's on in the afternoons today.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007 - 6:05am
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Alex Toth Book
TVparty's Billy Ingram and James Counts produced a new book that animation and comic book fans will want to own - 'Dear John: The Alex Toth Doodle Book.'

It's a bit different - a collection of correspondence and sketches from the reclusive master artist Alex Toth's last 25 years.

Click here for more info about the book. There are very few copies left and I haven't heard any serious talk of a second printing; it was released only through comic book stores in August of 2006.

 

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