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Everything posted by Neil

  1. CBS revives Murphy Brown

    I will be very disappointed if CBS pulls the plug on Murphy Brown after their initial order of 13. It has not been canceled (that I know of) but is on the "iffy" list.

    "PETER FARRELL, the Portland Oregonian's TV columnist from 1979 to 2004 has died at the age of 79." I only bring him up because I had a Life with Lucy battle with him in 1986. (Just to remind: this was BEFORE email, so it was through the regular mail). His review of the first "Life with Lucy" was no rave but he did point out 3 things she did well: pointing to the box with the casserole, dancing to Top Jimmy and tasting her own health drink concoction. His only real complaint was the it was all so "old hat" (yes I suppose, but wasn't that what people expected?) He prefaced this review by saying he's "never really been a Lucille Ball fan". (then I say "find another line of work"!!). It wasn't until after the national reviews came out, the ones that hated the show and Lucy herself so fiercely and cruelly, that Farrell started slamming the show in his column (apparently without viewing any more episodes). I wrote him a letter, chastising him for "changing his mind" about the show and not giving Lucy a chance by viewing additional episodes. I pointed out that his initial review wasn't all that bad. He wrote me back in a most unpleasant and curt tone. Can't remember what he said but something along the lines of "butt OUT. What the hell do YOU know?"!! This same thing happened with "Mame" reviews. I collected every local paper reviews I could find and most of them were fair-to-pretty good; in addition to Variety's qualified thumbs-up. It wasn't until the national magazines came out ("Time", in particular) that "Mame"-bashing became OK. This included our local movie reviewer, whose initial review was kind to the movie and Lucy. (This reviewer was much more into things like "The Exorcist" and later "Star Wars", so "Mame" was not his cup of tea to begin with.) And then at the end of the year, he named "Mame" as one of the 10 worst movies of 1974.
  3. DVR Alerts!

    On Dec. 3rd at 4:30 am (yes AM!!), "The Joey Bishop Show" will feature Mr. and Mrs. Jack Carter, our own Paula Stewart. I looked up Paula on imdb and her bio ends with this statement "More recently, Paula had a radio show on KCLA-FM that features Hollywood celebrities and other people with interesting careers." Does anyone know about this radio show? And I wonder what they mean by "more recently". I don't know what to make of "The Joey Bishop Show". It's not BAD but there's nothing to draw you to it. After the first season, filmed single-cam style in black-and-white, in which Joey lived with his mother Madge Blake and his extended family (including "sister" Marlo Thomas), season 2 was completely revamped. Season 1's supporting cast was gone and the show started filming in front of an audience (at Desilu, of course). Joey was now a TV host with wife Abby Dalton. This format continued for 2 seasons on NBC in color. Dropped by NBC in 1964, CBS picked it up for one last season (continuing the same format) airing at 9:30 on Sunday opposite the #1 rated Bonanza. Its success depended completely on its lead-in: Bob Cummings' new gimmicky comedy My Living Doll (with Julie Newmar as a robot!). I don't know what CBS was thinking. Despite having 123 episodes (70 or so in color), "Joey" had NO syndication life. (I'm only guessing this from listings in my old TV Guides). "Joey" has the distinction of being the only series I know of, that started in b/w, went to color, then back to b/w (for its CBS season.) The format and set, post Madge Blake-season, are similar to "The Danny Thomas Show"---Danny and Sheldon Leonard produced it. Someone in the know told me that the series, never a ratings grabber, continued to be renewed in order to placate producer Sheldon Leonard. If this is the case, why couldn't Lucy use her Desilu muscle to get Ethel Merman's Maggie Brown on the air? --not to mention one of the other sitcom pilots Desilu was churning out.
  4. What do you mean: "lines stuck to the record"? RE: "Stuntwoman". Lucy/Ironman's pay for her H-12 adjusted for inflation would be $800 in 2018.
  5. "Wingding", "Lucy and Joan" "Stuntman"--- Am I the only one who loves the "Wingding" episode? Perhaps if you knew how similar it was to actual shows of the time ("Shindig", the most obvious), the parody might be more enjoyable. Lucy without Viv is a little softer and sweeter this season (as compared with season 3). A most hilarious aspect, albeit unintentionally, of Wingding is its host "Reb Foster" and his awkward movements trying to dance along with the ensemble. In the closing credits "Reb" appears as "himself". He must have had some sort of show like "The Lloyd Thaxton Show". Lloyd was sort of square looking and much older than his audience and introduced rock groups who mostly lip-synced their latest hits while the teens took to the dance floor. "LT" was a 5-day a week, half-hour syndicated series. Despite being swamped by Desilu business, in these three episodes Lucy does NOT look at cue cards, which makes her performance all that much more genuine. This season, she's still got that Lucy Ricardo sweetness, which (IMO) would ebb away during the last half of the 5th season. Decades showed an edited version of Wingding I've never seen before. Much of the original dialogue remains intact (not the CBS morning/NickatNite edits) but when it comes to the Tear Ducts performance on Wingding, the scene opens as the dancers are finishing the title song, Reb introduces Lucy and Mel and then the scene skips the entire first verse, the slow-moving part, and cuts directly to the up-tempo rock verse. And who don't we see the title lucy types out on the typewriter (earlier in the Pop Record company office) when she and "Tink" are trying to come up with something? I suppose it's ridiculous to quibble about TLS continuity but Reb announces that Barney Miller is getting a record of the Tear Ducts song out the very next day---and by the next week, Lucy Carmichael's appearance on network TV and her recording career are never mentioned again. Re: the infamous Joan B.--toilet plunge incident. We assume Lucy was making some comment about Joan's performance (as Joan "FU Lucille Ball" Blondell interpreted it), but she may have been referring to how the scene was playing or some objection to the script....and not Joan herself. When these stories emerge, the press-writers seem to be taking the other person's side, making Lucy look bad---without considering the other possibilities of what Lucy was trying to do. I think Joan worked well with Lucy and would have made a passable Viv replacement. This episodes gives us the only clue as to what happened to Chris. She's going to college "up north". Other than the extended supermarket scene (which, while amusing, seems like filler), "Lucy and Joan" is a solid episode. And I don't care what anyone says, Lucy as Ironman is hilarious----despite the fact the her director and fellow stuntmen don't notice her long lashes, colorful eye-shadow and ruby-red lipstick! Let's see the other Emmy nominees that season pull this off: MTM or Liz M.! The great Lou Krugman appeared in both Wingding and Ironman. I can't think of an episode after that in which he appeared which is a shame because he and Lucy worked well together.
  6. I cannot put my finger on it but there's something OFF about that third season--as compared to the 2nd. The absence of Bob & Madelyn is an obvious factor, but......the premises are good, for the most part. And the dialogue shows spark here and there. So what is it? It may be the absence of funny lines that seemed to flow naturally out of conversation*: a B&M specialty, along with unusual words they used to spruce up dialogue. Lucy Carmichael in the third season just wasn't as "classy". 2nd season: I can't tell the difference between the shows written by "3 Bobs and a Babe" and those written with Fred Fox and Iz Elinson; or the other handful of writers brought in, which leads me to conclude the quality was up to Bob and Madelyn. None of the 4 3rd season Schiller-Weiskopf episodes thrill me, though they contain some funny moments. *such as Viv (bemoaning Lucy economizing on meals) "Pretty soon I'll be nothing but skin and bone." Lucy: "Face it, Viv. You could lose 30 pounds before your skin even gets near your bone."
  7. CBS revives Murphy Brown

    Yes, I attended an MTM filming. The plot had something to do with Lou's old war injury and his sudden affection for Ted---until Ted threw out a big story at the end of the newscast to do a tribute to Lou. What should have been obvious to the home viewer turned in-studio audience member was that there was no underscoring or segue music, so ends of scenes seemed a little odd. We didn't know the scene was over until someone yelled "cut". "Murphy Brown"---I can't say that I was an avid viewer when it was first on. I wanted to like it more than I did. To me, the highlights were the weekly secretaries and any episode that featured Colleen Dewhurst as her mother. That said, I LOVE the reboot! From my memory, it's better than the original. If it runs as long as the original, Candace will be 82!
  8. CBS revives Murphy Brown

    From the stories I've heard, 3 hours seems to be short for a "filmed in front of live audience" show these days. BUT STILL that's a ratio of 9 to 1! A Fran Dresher fan, friend of mine, attended a filming of her "Happily Divorced" series (or whatever it was called). It went on a LONG time and mid-show after keeping the audience waiting, the MC came out and said they couldn't continue because Fran developed laryngitis (how can you TELL?). Did anyone ever see a "Seinfeld"? With all its quick scenes and jumping back and forth, I don't know how they did it in front of an audience in sequence. In the OLD days, a filmed sitcom was done in 90 minutes; a videotaped show was done in one hour (and done twice in the same evening: 5:30 and 7:30). They only stopped if someone muffed a line or for a new set-up including when things went wrong. The only long delay I remember from Here's Lucy was "Franchise Fiasco" with technicians frantically trying to get the yogurt dispenser to work, actually malfunction. They never did succeed. If you watch the episode, the inserts do not match the wide shot. Mary Tyler Moore filming paused whenever Mary entered Lou's office. The wall between his office and the newsroom was on a hinge and they had to adjust it out for Lou's interior, including moving the newsroom file cabinet. Note that on the show, the wall is angled in (in the direction of Lou's office) when they're in the newsroom and out when they're in his office. But they accomplished the switch quickly. And one more remarkable Here's Lucy tidbit (for those who haven't read it the other dozen times I've posted): in "Blind Date/Don Knotts", Lucy being made up like wolfman was done in real time, with Lucy saying her lines off-camera as she was being worked on, while Don read his Ben/Fred bit off cue cards.
  9. 2018 Christmas Colorized Episode

    The sight-gag of the bread is a classic and one everyone remembers, but I'm not wild about the episode as a whole----though it's been a long time since I've seen it. Listening to Tom on Stu's show, evidently this colorization is quite expensive (though he didn't give out numbers) so doing an episode where you already have the colors of the set is less expensive----but they did the Scotland show, which I don't think ever aired.
  10. Working with Lucy

    Actors and staff who have worked with Lucy tend to be polarized about the experience. She's either a thorough professional or something of a tyrant. We tend to believe the stories about Lucy being difficult or rude without considering extenuating circumstances. At least the stories are related with that slant. My "jiggle it a little, it'll open" reminded me of the infamous Joan Blondell toilet-miming. MAYBE Lucy was saying the MATERIAL didn't work and it wasn't a personal slam against Joan; and Joan took it the wrong way and did her "FU Lucille Ball!" exit which wouldn't have sat well with LB. The other one I think was taken (and quoted) wrong was during "Calls the President" when Viv showed her the dress she was going to where and Lucy ALLEGEDLY said "You'd look like a cow in anything you wear". That exchange is usually quoted to show how cruel Lucy could be. But maybe she was trying to be 'bosom buddy'-like funny with a jab she didn't really mean. You also have to look at the possible agenda of the interviewee--such as Herbert Kenwith who seems to have nothing good to say about good friend Lucy.
  11. yes, today is the birthday of that bigamist Thelma Green, Mrs. Valence, Cynthia Duncan, Betty Jo Hansen, Effie Higgins, Sheila Kasten, Lillian Ryander, and of course, the one and only...................MA PARKER! (I'm sure I'm leaving someone out.....and I HOPE someone will correct me.) Some fans of Carole's have set up a facebook page....why don't we all sign it? (or whatever you do with a facebook page)
  12. (a little late on my response) "Kill Bill" may have been a phrase Vivian Vance used along with "Fry Frawley".
  13. RE: "the f I'm talking about" in my "off-topic indeed" observation. Not quibbling about $100/seat. I just thought it mildly funny that they added that 10 tickets were $1000. Of course, they are because 10 X $100 would be $1000. Might I add: no need to get TESTY.
  14. I love any attention Kaye Ballard gets. She is so ACCOMPLISHED but since the theater was not preserved, there's very little archival record of her greatest work....other than Mothers In Law of course. Re: the prices for this event. It's not like buying in bulk saves you anything: COST: General Ticket – $100.00 or Table of 10 – $1,000.00 and then Mr. Winters, Mrs. Winters (nee MISS Winters), both sets of parents and the obstetrician all boge out at the last minute when MS. Winters goes into labor. (Lucy Collins has known her so long before she married, she still calls her MISS Winters......Amazing that in 1975 the idea of a MISS giving birth was STILL enough to raise a maitre d's eyebrow--at least in Bob O'Brien's mind.) (Look how fast I got off-topic...)
  15. "Lucy and the Safe Cracker" Decades is once again running 2 episodes of The Lucy Show right after 2 of I Love Lucy. The first season alternated the original stick-figure opening credits with the black and white kaleidoscope. One time, they ran the stick-figure video with the kaleidoscope audio, the first time I've seen that. They're now into the 2nd season. Even though, I've got those great prints on DVD, I still can't resist tuning it in. Today I watched "Lucy and the Safe Cracker" (Lucy Meets Mooney part 2). My favorite ILL changes from time to time as does my favorite TLS. For a time, "Safe Cracker" was my favorite. It's not one that makes anyone else's list for some reason. But I think it's JAM-PACKED full of great comedy. And great lines---one after another. Character-driven funnies, not Milt Josefsburg "gags" (which often make me do the same). A lot happens in this fast-paced episode. Plus Jay Novello puts in a stellar performance. Highlights: Lucy shoving gooey chocolates into Larry McAdoo's mouth so they can sing the jingle as promised. Lucy being dunked in chocolates: I don't know how they rigged that up so the chocolates stuck to her eye sockets. Could that have been an accident? After that, Lucy does this great "chicken" bit as she's trying to see what's going on. The audience is laughing so hard at Lucy that the others have trouble getting their lines out and heard. Amazing that this is only Gale's 2nd episode and he fits right in as if he's always been there.
  16. Lucy's MAME is coming on Blu-Ray!!!

    I put in a pre-order at Amazon and a few days later got a message "this product is no longer available" (?!).
  17. "Roseanne" - 2018 Revival on ABC

    "The Conners": well , they pulled it off. Like the original "Roseanne" AND the reboot, there's an honesty about the show that allows it to mix drama and comedy--a mix not found in virtually any other show (but granted I don't watch many of them). Usually if an actor left a sitcom (or died), they had their character do one of 2 things: they would be out of town taking care of sick relative (Joseph Kearns in "Dennis the Menace"; Alice Pearce in "Bewitched) or they would get abruptly transferred to PAKISTAN (Bob Cummings in "My Living Doll" Don Defore and Whitney Blake in "Hazel"--resigned and fired respectively). I don't remember: did they kill Valerie off immediately when "Valerie" became "Valerie's Family"? Again, I paid no attention to real-life Roseanne Barr's loud-mouth politics or her tweets (and I don't know why anyone was listening to her in the first place). I'm in the minority who enjoyed her in her own SHOW. The rest of the cast is so very strong, yes, but I wish they hadn't killed Roseanne Conner off. I was hoping Barr would eat enough crow that she could return to her own series. But this is a series that brought Dan back to life, had Becky and Becky2 in the same episode so maybe they could do it. Like one of those "Dallas" dreams. I'm amazed how good these reboots are: Conners, Will&Grace, Murphy Brown. (haven't seen others). I never would have predicted it. Will, Grace, Jack and Karen could be the PARENTS of the originals. It's been 20 years since the debut season.
  18. "Roseanne" - 2018 Revival on ABC

    If you want to see Laurie at her absolute finest, I recommend you rent, stream, download, upload, tweet, Hulu, snapchat, instantgram (or whatever it is you youngsters do these days) the HBO series "Getting On" of a few years ago. There were only 18 episodes, 3 seasons of 6 half-hour shows. If you "like" her as Jackie you'll LOVE her as Dr. Jenna James. (to borrow the tag line from the full page TV Guide ad for "The Mary Tyler Moore Hour"---"If you liked Mary Richards, you'll LOVE Mary McKinnon!!"...but we didn't.)
  19. My Three Sons

    William Frawley's character's mothers sure lived a long time. Ethel refers to Fred's mother in "Lucy's Mother in Law" (sending her a box of lint) and I was reading a bio of Fred MacMurray that told how they wrote the Bub character out of My 3 Sons: He went back to Ireland to be with his mother!! (She needed help taking care of all the young 'uns still living at home....?) Is Frawley's last season of My 3 Sons available on DVD? That would be the show's 5th season. I always assume he left for health reasons since he died the next year, but he did not go willingly. The studio doctor would not insure him and he was in such bad shape he'd fall asleep standing up and had to be prompted to deliver a line--especially bad after his daily "lunch" at Nicoletti's. He showed up on set after William Demarest took over and caused problems and was asked not to visit. The year Frawley left "Sons" was its last black/white year and its last on ABC. In the fall of 1965, Demarest joined the cast, the show went color and moved to CBS for another 7 seasons. When CBS ran the show as part of its daytime schedule they started with these color/Demarest episodes. I know Nick ran the Frawley episodes but I don't remember seeing any. I don't think the series had much of a syndication life beyond the CBS morning run. I only remember Sons from the end of its run and it seemed so BLAND. Up to that time I think it was the 2nd longest comedy (12 seasons) in TV history: the first being 14 years of The "Adventures" (?!) of Ozzie and Harriet. If you put The Lucy Show and Here's Lucy together (which is legit for this purpose), that run equaled Sons. I think "All in Family" and "Archie Bunker's Place" ran 12 years. Have any other sitcoms surpassed these 4? ("Ozzie" at #1; "Lucy/Lucy", "Family/Archie" and "3 Sons", a 3-way tie for #2) (Not counting the animated "Simpsons") If you rank these shows by number of episodes: "Ozzie" had an incredible 435 'adventures' ("Harriet, where's my hat?" could be stretched to an entire show) "Sons" had 430 episodes (an overall average season output of 36, which means there were a lot of episodes those first seasons) "Lucy/Lucy" had 300 (301 if you count "In London") "Family/Bunker" had 298
  20. Episode selecting: I don't know why they never ask US. Or more specifically: ME!! ---(I just picked one of us at random and it turned out to be me. I'm just as surprised as you are.) Harrison wrote----And while "Getting Bald" is a good selection I would have instead went with "Lucy's Schedule" since that was Gale Gordon's ---- I agree "Bald" is a good one and that "Schedule" is even better but of those last 1st season shows my absolute favorite is "Ricky's Raise". How can you beat Fred Mertz in drag making flirtatious faces? !! And that falsetto voice "Hazel! Look!" followed by his bump and grind exit. And then there's Lucy: a stellar episode for her. She inhabits each of the characters she's impersonating but my favorite is her "Miss McGillicuddy" : "Do I have a reservation??"--laughs--"only 17 people that's all.....McGillicuddy". In the "little things they do together" category, I love how they come up with the plan. They've made all the reservations, then Fred points out that this will only make Xavier look bad. "Oh yeah. they have to know it's because of Ricky"; "Well, I guess we could come in and leave a couple of times" "Oh, but they'd recognize us"....then the plot is hatched. You do have to feel sorry for poor Xavier Valdez--who probably gives up show business and goes back to cleaning canary cages.
  21. I'm assuming you mean of the LWL shows that AIRED. I don't remember much about "Sax" but the unaired "Guard Goose", "Gigantigrow" and "Up a Tree" must have been worse. I'm disappointed that my favorite LWL "Legal Eagle" wasn't included. Lucy in the courtroom was the "old Lucy" back again. "Curtis Retires" (can't remember actual title) and "Greatest Grandmother" were worth including. ILL: I could do without Bob Hope, Christmas Show, Tango, Ricky Going Bald and Courtroom when there are so many that are better. Disappointed in the majority of their Lucy Show selections: only TWO from my favorite season #2 (but both good picks); and ONE from season #4 that contained a lot of gems besides "Dean" which is probably the best of the season. Their HL selections: OY! I know they have to include Burtons and I'm on board with Ski Lift/Dinah, OK with Pickle, and maybe even "Harry's Pot" but the rest of them you can have: "Bogie Affair" "Donnie Osmond" "L and Johnny Carson?....SHEESH! I'm not fond any of the HL Lucy and Carol Burnett HLs (dubbed vocals!). "Lucy and Danny Thomas" was perhaps the weakest season opener of any Lucy series, including LWL. There are about 10 to 20 HL gems IMO and they only have two of them. But I'll probably buy the set anyway.
  22. TV advertisements for shows would often carry this tag line: "Mondays at 8:30 on MOST OF THESE STATIONS"---which meant nothing to us kids in the sticks. Locally, we only had the three networks and one independent so "most of these stations" to me meant the show was carried on MOST of the channels we received. What they were trying to say is that the show would be on Mondays 8:30 on most of the CBS affiliates, but the wording was baffling.
  23. ------Does this having something to do with discrepancies in local markets?----- I don't know for sure but I think this may be the reason. I don't have TV Guides from that era but I've got a bunch from the late 50s and early 60s and I Love Lucy, reruns still running in prime time, is all over the place. Local stations evidently had scheduling discretion, especially in smaller markets where one station was an affiliate for more than one network (sometimes all 3). I don't know when the transcontinental cable came to be but the lack of the ability to send the shows to markets electronically, I can only assume, meant that prints were delivered physically to local stations (16mm??) And if a station carried more than one network, was the station "courted" by the networks to run their programming? These dual-network affiliates would run whatever they chose at the original network time and then carry some other shows in off-hours. One affiliate (can't remember which) ran "The Lucy Show" at 7:00 on Saturday. Speaking of local stations opting out of the network feed, I would NOT have wanted to be a kid in Kansas in the 60s. The Kansas TV Guide I have covers a wide enough area that there were 3 CBS affiliates listed and NOT ONE carried I Love Lucy in the morning, though they carried the 2 subsequent sitcom reruns "The McCoys" and "Pete and Gladys". And it's not like the replaced Lucy with ratings-grabbers. Each station ran a different show in the ILL time slot. One station ran a show entitled something like "Farm Life Today". Why was Kansas so anti-ILL? CBS owned I Love Lucy then ;and I read somewhere that the TOTAL budget for a week's worth of 5 episodes was only $5,000! And while I'm asking unanswerable questions: why would CBS have scheduled a failed 2-season 72-episode show like "Pete and Gladys", for 2 full years? (meaning each episode was seen 7 or 8 times on top of the original nighttime run--and summer rerun). It's because CBS was part-owner of the show, as revealed in the closing credits and their out-of-pocket expense was small (my guess). Why was P&G NOT a Desilu production? Since the show it spun off of ,"December Bride", was?
  24. "The Road to Button Bay" a show about the Girl Scouts (or Camp Fire Girls) aired before "Opening Night" in 1962----if my TV Guide perusing memory is correct.

    Burt certainly had a long and unique career, being a minor but semi-regular character on "Riverboat" and "Gunsmoke", TWO failed ABC detective shows, and then at an age when for most actors, the superstar-ship would have already sailed, he hits it big with Deliverance, poses for Cosmopolitan (not completely naked as usually stated) and then spends several years as one of the top box office draws in movies. His later career side-choices are interesting: his Florida theater and his game show Win Lose or Draw. He even had a minor hit with sitcom "Evening Shade" and kept making comebacks.