Wednesday, April 16, 2014

N is for : The New Zoo Revue!!

When I was young, there was a certain block of shows I'd watch every morning. In that block were such famous classics like Sesame Street, Romper Room, Mr. Roger's Neighborhood, and Captain Kangaroo. Another staple of my morning shows was one that might not have been as famous, but was just as adored....The New Zoo Revue.

The New Zoo Revue was a syndicated, half hour, children's show that ran from 1972 to 1977 and featured creator "Doug" (Doug Momary) and his "helper" "Emmy Jo" (Emily Peden). The rest of the main cast consisted of three anthropomorphic animals who helped Doug and Emmy Jo demonstrate different life lessons.

There was Henrietta...a demure, southern belle type, hippo who loved to cook and wore a tutu, Charlie....a wise, inventor, owl who was very uptight and yelled a lot, and Freddie....a fun loving, younger, frog who wasn't very bright.

The set was like a little town where each person had their own home. Doug and Emmy Jo lived in separate houses (even though the two were, actually, married in real life), Henrietta also lived in a traditional house. Freddy lived in a grotto under the pond, though I don't think I ever remember them showing where the entrance was and Charlie lived in a big tree house that was accessed by an elevator. I remember thinking how cool that elevator was, when I was a kid, and wanting a tree house just like that.

A very cool casting bit of trivia was that the recurring character of Mr. Dingle, the elderly mailman, was played by a young (at the time) Chuck Woolery.

Not a great pic, but trust's him!

I mainly remember a lot of singing and dancing and Charlie the Owl chastising Freddie the Frog all the time. I also wanted a cool turtleneck sweater with a big "M" on it, too.

Ah, back in the carefree days of youth.

Honorable Mentions: Newhart, Nancy Drew Mysteries, Night Gallery

Tune in tomorrow for a pair of strange fellows........

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

M is for : Magnum P.I.!!!

(You have spoken and you told me....Magnum P.I.!)

Some shows you watch and think...."Yeah, I really like that one."...and, as the years go on, you kind of forget about that show until something or someone reminds you. Well, Magnum P.I. isn't one of those shows.

It's timeless.

It's unforgettable.

More was just an all around great series.

Starring Tom Selleck, in the lead role of Thomas Magnum, Magnum P.I. ran on CBS from 1980 to 1988
and became a television phenomenon. Who can forget Selleck's mustachio'ed grin....that red Ferrari...those Hawaiian shirts...."Higgy Baby"?

It seemed that Thomas Magnum lived a dream life. He got to live on a huge, private,estate acting as a 'security consultant' for reclusive author Robin Masters (who is never seen, but voiced by Orson Welles). Living at "The Robin's Nest" has other perks such as the wine cellar, the tennis court, and of course, the Ferrari. He also did "P.I." er, I mean, "private investigator" (never say "p.i.") work on the side. The only thing that made Magnum's life in paradise not so peachy was the estate's majordomo (in other words, the 'guy who runs the joint')....Jonathan Quail Higgins (played by John Hillerman) or, as T.C. would call him, "Higgy Baby".

Higgins, for the majority of the series, was a constant thorn in Magnum's side and, with his "lads...twin Doberman Pincers, Zeus and Apollo, did their level best to make sure Magnum didn't get too comfortable with all the amenities. As the series went on, they two became pretty good friends even though Magnum often suspected that Higgins was, in reality, Robin Masters himself.

Magnum palled around the islands with his buddies Rick (who never used his birth name of Orville) Wright and Theodore "T.C." Calvin. Rick, originally, owned a Casablanca style bar, but was later changed to the King Kamehameha Club, a country club for the rich where Higgins sat on the board of directors. T.C. had a helicopter business, "Island Hoppers" (the chopper featured in the opening credits) and spent more time ferrying Thomas around then actual, paying, customers.

Magnum was a veteran (along with Rick and T.C.) of the Viet Nam war as well as an ex Naval Intelligence officer, where he had some useful contacts to utilize when needed. Many episodes revolved around the plight of Viet Nam vets as well as the trials and tribulations of those who serve our country.

While the show was hugely successful, it was a double edged sword for Tom Selleck. The shooting scheduled conflicted with his chance at grabbing the role of Indiana Jones and he lost it to Harrison Ford. To be honest, though, I'm not sure I could ever picture Selleck in that particular role, though we get a glimpse of Selleck as "Indy" in the episode "Legend of the Lost Ark".  The show was, in essence, a replacement for another Hawaii based cop show, Hawaii Five O, and inherited most of their shooting equipment as well as production team. Hawaii Five O is even mentioned in an episode as Magnum makes reference to "McGarret". Magnum P.I. did crossovers with other CBS shows such as Murder She Wrote and Simon and Simon.

For a show to run eight years and not, really, "jump the shark" (at least for me) is a testament of not only great writing, but great acting and true chemistry between the cast.

It's a show, like I said, that I'll never forget.

Honorable Mentions: M.A.N.T.I.S, Manimal, MacGuyver, M.A.S.H

Tune in tomorrow for a show that was a real zoo...literally.

Monday, April 14, 2014

L is for : The Love Boat!!

(First off, let me start by saying how sorry I am that I haven't had the time to get around to visit or respond to the comments here. Know that I truly appreciate each and every one and I'll be around soon...I promise! Now, on with the show..... )

It was a very familiar tune on Saturday nights. For those of us who actually watched t.v. on Saturday nights, that is.

The Love Boat was an Aaron Spelling production that ran on ABC from 1977 to 1986. It starred Gavin MacLeod (as Captain Merril Stubing), Bernie Kopell (as Doctor Adam Bricker), Fred Grandy (as Yeoman Purser Burl "Gopher" Smith), Ted Lange (as Bartender Isaac Washington), and Lauren Tewes (as Cruise Director Julie McCoy) and the plots (usually there were three stories per show) revolved around different guest stars and their character's romantic escapades.

And, speaking of guest stars, in the nine years this show was on the air, I think almost every actor who ever graced a screen, large or small, made a guest appearance. Everyone from Milton Berle to Hulk Hogan graced the Pacific Princess and 'climbed aboard for a new romance'.

As with most things, though, the show began to go downhill (in my opinion) with the introduction of Capt. Stubing's daughter, Vicki (played by Jill Whelan). Also, near the end of the series, a replacement was brought in for Laruen Tewes' Julie (your Cruise Director) McCoy in the person of Patricia Klous, playing Juile's sister, Judy. It's always been my experience that when a show starts mixing up the cast, adding here, dropping there, it's a sure sign that things are on a downswing.

Now, when Ted McGinley shows know you're pun intended. It wasn't soon after Ashley (seriously?) "Ace" Covington Evans, the ship's photographer and resident pretty boy appeared, did the Pacific Princess dock for the last time.

It was a fun show, while it lasted and one of the best things about it was seeing old stars you hadn't seen in, literally, decades and watching them mixing and mingling with Hollywood's next generation. Sure the stories were a bit hackneyed and formulaic, even doing "crossover" segments with other shows such as Charlie's Angels and Fantasy Island , but they were still a lot of fun and more imaginative than almost any sort of "reality" show you'll find littering the airwaves today.

Honorable Mentions: Laverne and Shirley, The Lone Ranger, Lost in Space.

Tune in tomorrow for......well, I'm not quite sure, actually. To be honest, I only had up to today's prepped (show pick, pictures, etc.) so tomorrow is up in the air. I have four contenders for "M" and, since that'll put us midway into this crazy blog-a-thon, I'm going to make awesome the heavy lifting. Don't worry, it's not too heavy of lifting, but I'd like you to cast your vote for one of the following:

  • Magnum P.I
  • M.A.N.T.I.S
  • Manimal
  • MacGuyver

If there's a tie (or I don't get any comments...which is entirely possible :) ) I'll randomly draw one from a hat. 

No, I swear I will!

Until then.....

Saturday, April 12, 2014

K is for : Kolchak, The Night Stalker!!

After The Twilight Zone and before The X-Files, there was a little show about an investigative reporter who stumbled upon all sorts of stories that just couldn't be explained.

It was called Kolchak: The Night Stalker and it was one of the few shows, that scared the bejeebus out of me, that I would watch regularly.

The plot revolved around Carl Kolchak (played by Darrin McGavin), a reporter for the Independent News Service (INS) and how he would manage, each week, to find strange and "unexplainable" cases to report....much to the gastric distress of his editor, Tony Vincenzo. (played by character actor Simon Oakland)

The show started out as books in the early 70s, then made for t.v. movies before being turned into an ongoing series.

Carl Kolchak was on of those "pain in the @$$" reporters....too tenacious for his own good, but never backing down from a good story. Always wearing a crumpled blue suit, a porkpie hat (which I think was even out of style for the early 70s) and never without his trusty tape recorder and camera, Kolchak tracked down everything from vampires, to mummies, to zombies, to evil spirits. Usually it was only Kolchak and, maybe, one other person who ever saw the true nature of the supernatural threat and, almost always, any hard evidence Kolchak collected was destroyed by some freak accident. It was as if the universe wanted him and only him to know what was going on.

Kolchak: The Night Stalker is said to be one of Chris Carter's strongest influences in coming up with The X-Files and that he wanted McGavin to reprise his role as Carl Kolchak on that show, as well. McGavin didn't want to come back as the intrepid INS reporter, but he did appear as retired FBI agent, Arthur Dales...described as the "father" of the X-Files division.

In 2005 ABC tried to reboot the series with Stuart Townsend and Gabrielle Union, but it never took off. I watched a few of those episodes and could see why.

Even though it only lasted about twenty episodes, Kolchak: The Night Stalker remains an influential show as well as an awesome "cult classic".

Honorable Mentions: Knight Rider, Kojak, and Kung Fu

Tune in Monday for love.....exciting and new......

Friday, April 11, 2014

J is for : Jeopardy!!


Created by Merv Griffin (the same guy who created Wheel of Fortune), Jeopardy has been around since 1964 and is seen, as many, as one of the premier "quiz shows" of all times.  At least, I know it's one of my favorites.

It was, originally, aired in a daytime slot on NBC up until 1975. From there it went nightly and syndicated.

The original host was Art Fleming until 1984, then Alex Trebek took over.

For the uninitiated, Jeopardy is a "general knowledge" game where you must answer in the form of a question.

There are six categories that have six questions each. Each question is given a dollar amount. Should you answer the question correctly, you get the amount the question was worth added to your total...

"I'll take Superman for $200.00 please, Alex."

"This is the name Superman was born with."

"What is Clark Kent?"

"Oh, sorry....the answer we were looking for is "What is Kal-El".

If you get the question wrong, the amount is deducted from your score. It's very possible to wind up in the negatives if you aren't careful.

The first round is made up of fairly simple (relatively speaking) questions. Round two is a bit harder and the dollar values of the questions are doubled.

There's also a Daily Double, where you wager some or all of your total on one question. If you get it right, you get the amount you wagered added to your total. If not, it's taken away.

If nothing else, it's a show that not only makes you think, but also measures how quick you can think.

It's been parodied quite a bit. From Weird Al Yankovic's "I Lost On Jeopardy"

 to Saturday Night Live's "Celebrity Jeopardy" (where Darrell Hammond's Sean Connery steals the show).

To wrap it up, there's Final Jeopardy. There the contestants are given a category, they make a wager...some or all of their score so far....and the one who answers correctly and, then, has the most points...wins. It's pretty simple, really,.....IF you know the questions :)

Honorable Mentions: The Jeffersons, Josie and the Pussycats, Jason of Star Command

Tune in tomorrow for a reporter who always seemed to stumble onto all sorts of supernatural mischief.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

I is for : I Spy!!

I Spy was a Cold War Era "spy" show starring Robert Culp (before his Greatest American Hero days) as secret agent Kelley Robinson and comedian Bill Cosby as his friend and partner, Alexander "Scotty" Scott. It ran on NBC from 1965 to 1968 and was one of my Grandma's absolute favorite show.

The premise of the show was fairly simple. Tennis pro Kelley Robinson and his "coach" Alexander Scott traveled the world playing tennis.....or so the cover went. In reality, they were spies (hence the show's title) keeping the world safe from nefarious countries and all their schemes. Scott was the "brains" and Robinson was the "muscle", though I can't quite remember them ever mentioning the agency they worked for besides just the Pentagon.

The show was a huge success due, much in part, to the craze of the genre back then and also the James Bond films. Of course a show like this wasn't without it's controversy. I Spy was the first show to feature an African American lead and it was actually banned in some areas of the South. Another part of it's success was the chemistry between Cosby and Culp and their hip banter during even the most dire of circumstances.

Even though the show was only on for three seasons, it racked up it's share of awards*

  • First-time actor Bill Cosby won three consecutive Emmy Awards for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series in 1966, 1967 and 1968. Robert Culp was also nominated in the same category for all three seasons of I Spy.
  • Eartha Kitt, who played a drug-addicted cabaret singer in "The Loser" (written by Culp), was nominated in 1966 for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Single Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role in a Drama.
  • In 1967 Culp was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Writing Achievement in a Drama for his third-season script "Home to Judgment."
  • In addition to writing the theme music, Earle Hagen composed an original musical score for many episodes of the series, often flavored with the ethnic music of the Far East, Mexico or the Caribbean. Hagen received Emmy nominations for all three seasons of the show and won for the "Laya" episode in 1968.
  • I Spy won as "Best Dramatic Series" at the 1967 Golden Globe Awards for its 1966-1967 season.
(* source: Wikipedia)

As a fan of the "Cold War Era", a show like this was right up my alley. It had hip, suave, agents, beautiful girls and karate chops to the neck. What more could you ask for?? :)

Honorable Mentions: I Dream of Jeanie, In Living Color, It Takes A Thief

Tune in tomorrow where all your answers must be in the form of a question.....

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