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COMING THIS WEEK
Paul Lynde Halloween Special on DVDPaul Lynde Halloween Special

I've really been looking forward to this one, this is one of the most anticipated DVD releases in a long time for fans of 1970's variety shows (of which I'm one) and fans of early KISS (count me in once again).

This 1977 holiday themed hour was a star-studded affair with Paul Lynde and some of the greatest stars of that era.

The immortal Margaret Hamilton reprises her role as the Wicked Witch of the West from the Wizard of Oz and things really get rolling when they're joined by Witchiepoo from H.R. Pufnstuf (Billie Hayes) and the diminutive Billy Barty. Nothing matches the joy of seeing Margaret Hamilton and Billie Hayes with a large role to play in a musical comedy setting; when they are on the screen it's magnetic, two artists at the peak of their craft.

Also on hand are Betty White, Florence Henderson, Tim Conway and Pinky Tuscadero (Roz Kelly) who was enjoying a fleeting fame as Fonzie's short term girlfriend.

Most of the jokes are standard 1970's variety show which means occasionally they're actually funny. At the time Paul was appearing on the Donny & Marie program (and they make a cameo here) so naturally there are silly, arbitrary comedy sketches (like Paul picking up truckers with his CB Radio) and requisite disco-ed up dance numbers to contend with but that's part of the charm of shows like this.

All else aside, this special is the Holy Grail for KISS fans.

The Paul Lynde Halloween Special was the first prime time appearance for KISS and it's an auspicious debut, they rock out on three explosive numbers - 'Detroit Rock City, 'King of the Night Time World,' and 'Beth' which was climbing the charts at the time. Great stuff, especially 'Beth' (all numbers were lip-synced) which gets the full-on variety show musical number treatment, it could easily have been Cher or Dinah Shore in the same setting.

This was the first exposure of this seminal band to most teens; they had only been on national TV twice before, once in the afternoon and again late at night. This was a revelation for hardcore fans of the band. By the next year KISS was the hottest group in the nation and I was bored to death with them.

The source tape for this special wasn't in the best of condition (it's a miracle it survived at all) but the DVD looks pretty much like the program did when it was first broadcast, so I'm not complaining.

Another great feature is the bonus audio interview with Peter Marshall, in it he reminisces about Paul in a very frank and revealing chat.He has some delightful stories to tell.

Quite frankly, I can't think of anything better to pop into the DVD player this Halloween, it's kitschy, campy fun that will undoubtedly rocket you back 3 decades in time. It's only $11.00 if you order online now, well worth the price.

Sunday, September 30, 2007 - 8:29am
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RATINGS
CBS was the big winner last night, thanks to Survivor China, even if that debut audience was 13% off from last year. The second season opener of Ugly Betty did OK against Survivor but with a loss of 33% over last season's debut. Other shows losing steam last night - Grey's Anatomy, The Office and ER (33% down - oops!).

Are viewers tiring of the network fare early this year?

The only Thursday shows to build in audience share over last year are Smallville (dead even), Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, Don't Forget the Lyrics (vs the show that formerly had the timeslot, Celebrity Duet), and Without a Trace (vs former timeslot occupant Shark).

The only new show of the night, Big Shots on ABC, was a big dud, dead last in the 10:00 slot.

Friday, September 28, 2007 - 11:36am
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THIS 'N' THAT
Kevin S. Butler writes, "I just heard about poor Alice Ghostley's passing, her death is another sad loss to TV comedy and to fans of the cast members of Bewitched who have already left us. I could sense that she was going to pass soon, I saw Ms. Ghostley on The E True Hollywood Story about Bewitched and she didn't look well; from that appearance I could tell that she was very ill. Although she has passed away, we still have her legacy - her film and TV work that will continue to entertain many generations for many years to come."

And Kevin tells us about this odd bit of TV history: "The set that is now being used for the local Dallas TV talk show Good Morning Texas on WFAA TV channel 8 was the set originally used for WFAA's local kid's show Peppermint Place starring Jerry Haynes as "Mr. Peppermint" along with his head puppeteer and director Vernon Daily.

Lisa Whelchel (formerly of The New Mickey Mouse Club and Blair Warner on The Facts Of Life) made one of her earliest TV appearances on Peppermint Place as a ventriloquist and singer."

I tried to find a picture of the set online but wasn't successful. An old kiddie show backdrop used for the current morning show?

By the way, TV Land will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the classic sitcom Leave it to Beaver with a 48-episode marathon starting on Monday, Oct. 6 at 8 p.m. ET. It kicks off with the show's pilot episode.

Friday, September 28, 2007 - 10:55am
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RATINGS
Looks like NBC had a mixed bag of success last night with their 2 new shows. The Bionic Woman did very well but Life (the better program in my opinion) did poorly. Meanwhile the audience for CBS's Kid Nation was down considerably. FOX's Back To You also experienced a major drop from last week's debut as did Kitchen Nightmares which dipped by 18 percent.

Thursday, September 27, 2007 - 12:25pm
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GREEN HORNET MYSTERY
Robert Gibson writes: "I have a 1942 Dodge carryall that I am trying to identify for restoration and hopefully get some history on. There is a stencil on the back, above the doors, that reads US NAVY 248385 and on the sides is the name Hazel Scott and The Green Hornet; as near as I can find on the web Hazel was in a Green Hornet show and some GI had a crush on her and I am trying to fing a true bio on her or any other information. The VIN # is 4249 4826 Any information you can provide would be appreciated."

Wednesday, September 26, 2007 - 3:25pm
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NEW SHOW RATINGS
Last night premiere of Cane on CBS was a solid winner, attracting 21% more viewers that its lead-in The Unit, tying for first place with NBC's Law & Order: SVU. The biggest loser of last night was - NBC's The Biggest Loser with a dismal 4.7/ 7.

As I predicted Nashville was a huge bomb for FOX and it's been cancelled. Back To You, on the other hand, looks like a winner for the network, as is K-Ville. The controversial Kid Nation on CBS landed in the 17th place for the first outing.

Here's the top 20 for last week in overall viewers:
Sunday Night Football (NBC, Dallas at Chicago: 19.05 million), Survivor: China (CBS, season premiere: 15.35), CSI R (CBS: 14.07), Cold Case (CBS, season premiere: 12.75), Deal or No Deal - Monday (NBC, season premiere: 11.71), Shark (CBS, season premiere: 11.42), 60 Minutes (CBS, season premiere: 11.37), Without a Trace R (CBS: 11.28), Two and a Half Men R (CBS: 10.84), Family Guy (Fox, season premiere: 10.81), Football Night in America, part 3 (NBC: 10.29), Deal or No Deal - Wednesday (NBC, time period premiere: 9.86), CSI: Miami R (CBS: 9.65), The Simpsons (Fox, season premiere: 9.55), The OT (Fox: 9.50), Back To You (Fox, premiere: 9.48), Kid Nation (CBS, premiere: 9.48), CSI: NY R (CBS: 9.18), Desperate Housewives (ABC, clips show: 9.02), K-Ville (Fox, premiere: 8.93).

Wednesday, September 26, 2007 - 10:49am
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SIGNING
Today, Wednesday September 26th, NUMB3RS star David Krumholtz will be signing DVDs at Borders on Sunset & Vine in Hollywood, CA. The event will take place at 7:30pm. Attendees will also have the chance to win a walk-on role on NUMB3RS. NUMB3RS: The Third Season is now available in stores!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007 - 9:19am
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PRESERVING HISTORY?
Ron Zurek alerts us to an email that's making its way around the intertubes:
Dear Carpenters Fan:
I am writing to you about the impending demolition of the famous Newville Avenue residence of the Carpenters, made famous on the cover of their multi-platinum 1973 LP "Now & Then". For those who don't know me, I was national promotion director at the Carpenters' label, A&M Records, from 1981 until 1990. I've met Karen Carpenter and I am still in contact with Richard Carpenter today.

Many people equate Downey with the Carpenters. Their music continues to sell hundreds of thousands of units each year, and come holiday time, is an annual radio staple. My brother, who works at NARAS (The Recording Academy) co-produced a Carpenters tribute album in 1994, and we were overwhelmed by the positive response. Today, "YouTube," the internet, your websites, and numerous TV retrospectives are introducing new generations to the music and the legacy of the Downey duo.

According to information sent to me by Downey City Councilmember Kirk Cartozian, an application for demolition has been received for the "addition" to the property at 9828 Newville Avenue. (The house consists of two connected structures--the "addition" and the main house.) According to a reliable source, another application will be filed to demolish the main house sometime after the addition is torn down.

Please help me get the word out?

I am considering the start up of a campaign to raise funds to buy the Carpenter house from the current owner and preserve it. Please let me know if you might be able to help or know of someone who would. In the meantime, please write to the Downey City Council (rtrejo@downeyca.org and Gcaton@downeyca.org) and the Downey Patriot newspaper (downeypatriot@yahoo.com) and urge them to support the preservation of the landmark Carpenter house. For complete Downey City Council addresses, go to http://www.downeyca.org/city_contact_email.php.

Thank you, Jon Konjoyan

A few years ago Sal Gomez sent me this video of a tour of the former Carpenters home in Downey California when the owners at that time opened it up to the Carpenters' fan club members. Enjoy!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007 - 8:04am
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RATINGS RACE
The new fall season is underway - how are the new shows faring? Last night's premieres of NBC's Chuck and Journeyman did OK, Chuck came in second in its timeslot but behind the numbers Deal or No Deal got last year (6.4/10 versus 9.4/15). Heroes followed Chuck and the numbers jumped 37% but dipped 23% when Journeyman followed at 10:00. Still, the night was a good one for NBC.

Over on FOX, K-Ville's second week was a decent one, holding 96% of Prison Break's numbers but was down 27% from last week.

On CBS How I Met Your Mother is dragging down the night with a number 3 finish, the first episode of The Big Bang Theory that followed drew 10% more viewers.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007 - 12:39pm
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JOURNEYMAN
A while back I told you about Journeyman, a new NBC show that I liked quite a bit. It debuted last night but here's a sneak peek at next week's episode:


Add to My Profile | More Videos

Tuesday, September 25, 2007 - 8:34am
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WHAT I'M WATCHING
These are a few DVDs I'm watching not because I'm reviewing them but because I want to...

The Closer on DVDThe Closer Season One - it's such a joy to discover a show that immediately catapults into my favorite programs list. Critics are raving about this unusual crime drama about a Southern gal (Kyra Sedgwick) with the courtesy of a panther who joins the LAPD to solve their toughest crimes.

This show also stars one of my favorites, J.K. Simmons (the nazi prick from Oz) as her boss. I heartily recommend this one, even for folks that don't normally enjoy this type of show, it's exciting, funny and keeps you guessing to the end with intricate and unexpected plot twists. I'm two discs in and I haven't guessed the ending to any of the shows, that's highly unusual and very pleasing.

Saturday Night Live Season One - I'm surprised how many of these remarkable shows I'm not familiar with since I actually watched most of them when they were first broadcast. Some of these episodes were rerun then chopped down to an hour and rerun again on cable but I didn't realize just how much fantastic material was cut and remained unseen for 3 decades. Cutting Edge comedy and first rate musical performances from the mid-seventies' best entertainers, groups and individuals not usually seen on TV, then or now.

Doris Day Show on DVDDoris Day Show Season 4 - what a strange history this sitcom had, five years on the air (1968-1973) and four format changes!

Doris didn't want to do a TV show, she was shocked to find after her husband's unexpected death that she was broke and he had signer her - against her expressed wishes - to a sitcom on CBS and filming was set to begin in just a few weeks.

Season one had America's sweetheart living on a farm with her father (Denver Pyle) and two boys. For Season two Doris began commuting to San Francisco for a job as a secretary at a magazine. Her boss was played by McLean Stevenson (M*A*S*H*) and a new friend and co-worker was introduced portrayed by the always wonderful Rose Marie (The Dick Van Dyke Show).

For Season 3 Denver Pyle was dropped as Doris and the kids moved to San Francisco where they lived above an Italian restaurant run by Kaye Ballard and Bernie Kopell. Her new neighbor was played by the impossibly persnickety Billy De Wolfe ("pushy, pushy, pushy").

In season 4 the kids vanished without explanation as Doris became a writer for Today's World magazine. She got a new boss (gone was McLean Stevenson, replaced John Dehner) and new co-worker (Rose Marie was dropped in favor of Jackie Joseph). This format stuck until the series was cancelled after season 5.

Season 4 is somewhat funnier that the previous incarnations; The Doris Day Show followed Here's Lucy on Monday nights so I guess the network wanted to 'Lucy' Doris up, giving her an impossibly gruff boss and placing her in wacky situations like being mistaken for a jewel thief or exposing a dating service by becoming a client. It's lightweight, frothy entertainment that works mainly because of Doris Day's shimmering personality, a perky cast, and familiar 1970's guest stars.

Monday, September 24, 2007 - 9:34am
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DEAN-O DVDs
Read the convoluted story surrounding the release of the Dean Martin Show on DVD, it's a fascinating insight into the tangled web behind the rights to classic TV programs.

Sunday, September 23, 2007 - 9:34am
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ANOTHER TELL ALL?
Jay Blotcher alerts us to this: MARCIA Brady is about to bare her deepest, darkest secrets. Maureen McCormick, who played the virginal teen daughter on the original, early-'70s TV series "The Brady Bunch," has inked a deal with Harper Entertainment to pen "Here's the Story," about the dark side of child stardom. According to Harper's executive editrix Maureen O'Brien, McCormick will tell about her exploitation in Hollywood, her lifetime struggle with eating disorders, her bouts with depression and her nearly-fatal drug addictions. "Few knew of the incredibly horrific secrets she kept and deeply traumatic experiences she endured," O'Brien says. (Page Six - NY Post)

According to a story flying around the Net, McCormick will also allegedly detail some "sexual play" she had with her co-star, Eve Plumb - but the publisher yesterday denied that story.

Remember when Barry Williams wrote his tell all book and claimed that he dated Florence Henderson, the lady who played the Brady mom? I was working in Hollywood at the time and heard from someone who had worked on the show - now I'm not saying this is true, this is just what I heard - that, in fact, he didn't date Florence Henderson, he dated Robert Reed, the guy who played the Brady dad. Reed was gay and, according to a male prostitute I knew, had an S&M dungeon in his home. And besides, Florence Henderson doesn't date men, at least according to what she told a friend of mine that was co-starring with her in a Wesson Oil commercial in the 1980s. Some family!

Sunday, September 23, 2007 - 7:39am
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SAD PASSING
From the LA Times: Alice Ghostley, the Tony Award-winning comedic actress and singer who specialized in playing ditsy ladies and was best known on television for her supporting roles as Esmeralda on "Bewitched" and Bernice on "Designing Women," died Friday. She was 81.

Saturday, September 22, 2007 - 11:39am
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THE SIMPSONS
America's favorite animated sitcom returns for a 19th season on Sunday, here's a sneak peek along with interviews with Colbert, Lionel Ritchie, Matt Groening and the regular cast of The Simpsons.

By the way, Sunday's Simpsons is pretty funny. It picks up where the movie left off, at least in the credits, as Homer and his family are seen zipping through the street of a destroyed Springfield and all arrive home to find - Spiderpig. Great stuff. You may want to 'tape' or Tivo the credits to watch it again.

Sunday, September 22, 2007 - 7:49am
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FACTS OF LIFE REUNION
Sam Sanders writes: "If anybody here remembers the TV series "The Facts of Life," will get a kick out of this. Kim Fields (Tootie) was appearing on WFAA-TV in Dallas regarding a play she was appearing in locally. The host starts on the subject of "Facts," and you can see Kim's obvious discomfort with the subject. Then there is a surprise waiting for her...

"BTW, in the middle of the screaming, Kim makes reference that she called "Julie Pie" looking for Lisa Whelchel (Blair). Any St. Louisan here knows that refers to Julie Piekarski who appeared with Lisa W on "Facts" and "The New Mickey Mouse Club." They all stay in touch!"

Friday, September 21, 2007 - 8:49am
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NEW FALL SHOWS
I've been reviewing the new fall shows here and elsewhere on the site; now NBC is offering you the chance to taste a couple of shows early. Click here to see the first 15 minutes of Bionic Woman - click here to see the complete first episode of Life.

Bionic Woman (read the review here) I'm not sure about, it could turn out to be a fine series but it left me a bit cold just based on the first episode. Life (read the review here) is a crime drama that looks like a winner to me, with layers of intrigue and a nice twist to the underlying plot.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007 - 8:49am
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NEW DVDs
There are some exciting new releases coming up - check out these video clips from 3 new TV shows on DVD coming this week.

MY NAME IS EARL - SEASON TWO CLIPS
The Trial - Real Player / Quicktime / Windows Media

Kept a Gut Locked In the Truck -
Real Player / Quicktime / Windows Media

Harassed A Reporter - Real Player / Quicktime / Windows Media

THE UNIT - SEASON TWO CLIPS
Costume Design - Real Player / Quicktime / Windows Media

Expanding the Pod - Real Player / Quicktime / Windows Media

Santa Clarita Studios - Real Player / Quicktime / Windows Media

Woman in Command - Real Player / Quicktime / Windows Media

STARGATE ATLANTIS - Season Three
Clip #1: Echoes - Real Player / Windows Media

Clip #2: Inside Stargate - Real Player / Windows Media

Clip #3: Irresponsible - Real Player / Windows Media

Clip #4: Sunday - Real Player / Windows Media

Tuesday, September 18, 2007 - 12:43pm
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