Friday, October 30, 2015

Rest in Peace, Al Molinaro

Al Molinaro, best known as "Al", the portly owner of Arnold's Restaurant in Happy Days, has passed away at age 96.

Mr. Molinaro was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin. He moved to California in the 1950's, starting up a collection agency which he sold at a huge profit. His subsequent investments in real estate made him financially secure enough to pursue his dream of becoming an actor. This led to guest starring roles in shows like Green Acres and That Girl. He struck up a friendship with Penny Marshall, who recommended him to her brother, Garry, who was the biggest sitcom producer at the time. This led to a recurring role on The Odd Couple as Officer Murray. His biggest break would come in 1975 when Pat Morita left Happy Days. Arnold's Restaurant needed a new owner and it found one in the hapless Al, who always seemed to be a step behind the teens who congregated in his restaurant.

After his departure from the world of Happy Days, Al worked sparingly, turning down offers to work on various Garry Marshall films because he was uncomfortable with the use of profanity in films. He officially retired from acting in 1992.

A Bizarre Pumpkin Fact

"All pumpkins are racist! The difference is that I admit it!"

Thursday, October 29, 2015

A Fiendish Situation

"That's not fair! That's not fair at all! There was time now! There was all the time I needed!"

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

A Physical Trip to the Twilight Zone

At Disney California Adventure, guests can experience a physical trip to Rod Serling's famed Twilight Zone. While the attraction itself is not based on an actual episode of the famed series, there are numerous nods to the show hidden throughout the attraction.

For example, were you to be escorted to the right side library doors, you might notice that they feature the number 22 above one of the doors. Just a random number? Not at Disney!

The number 22 actually refers to the Twilight Zone episode Twenty Two. An actress, hospitalized with a case of the nerves, keeps having the same nightmare over and over again. A forbidding nurse beckons the actress to Room 22, which in the nightmare is the hospital morgue, insisting that there's room for one more. This being the Twilight Zone, the nightmare is actually quite prophetic, but we won't spoil the surprise.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A Roseanne Halloween

"It's no fun to have some 60-year-old guy with a pot belly jump out and say "ooga booga." It was scary when I was 8, it's even scarier now."

Monday, October 26, 2015

It's Coke's World, Charlie Brown

The original airing of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown were sponsored by Coca-Cola, which inserted its logo into the show itself. As a result, it is virtually impossible to present the special in its original format.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Saturday, October 24, 2015

TV Quote Weekends

"This family has had its differences and we’ve squabbled, but we’ve never had knife fights before. And I blame this house."

Friday, October 23, 2015

Treehouse of Horror! Live Action Fun

While live action scenes have appeared in other episodes, the bulk of them have appeared on Treehouse of Horror segments. Like this one, the first live action sequence featuring a 3D rendered Homer:

The other live action sequence featured Regis and Kathie Lee, who get visited by Bart, Lisa, Itchy and Scratchy:

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Treehouse of Horror! All Horror No Treehouse

The only Halloween episode that actually took place in Bart's Treehouse was the first one, which was officially called The Simpsons Halloween Special. It wouldn't officially be called Treehouse of Horror until the next episode when (ironically) it wouldn't take place in the treehouse at all.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Treehouse of Horror! The Tombstone Gags Disappear

One element of the early Treehouse of Horror episodes was a tour through the Springfield Cemetery, which featured witty tombstones emblazoned with various names and jokes. Some of the tombstones featured the names of television shows that had tried to take advantage of the show's success.

As the years went on, it became harder to write for the sequence and as the show's initial creative staff began moving on from The Simpsons, they would inevitably start working on other shows that could get parodied. The producers were afraid that could lead to bruised feelings so they quietly eliminated this element of the show.

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Treehouse of Horror! Roy's Return

In the Treehouse of Horror segment Time and Punishment, Homer tries to repair a broken toaster and accidentally invents a time machine.

Homer proceeds to make mistakes which change elements of the future in many ways. Like creating a world where it rains donuts.

One alternate universe was to feature an additional Simpson family member named Roy who would surprise Homer as a teenaged son he never knew he had. The scene was cut from the episode, but the writers never forgot Roy. When a clueless Fox executive recommended that the show introduce a new family member to spice things up, they brought Roy out of exile to become a snarky parody of Fox's ridiculous request. Roy is introduced in The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show which was meant to mock shows randomly introducing characters to boost ratings.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Treehouse of Horror! Marge's Warning

The very first Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episode premiered in October 1990. Fox executives were so concerned about placing a horror themed episode on a cartoon show that they ordered a warning to be placed before the show. Not wanting to alarm their audience with the standard "parental guidance is advised" warning, the writers devised a tongue in cheek warning to be presented by Marge Simpson.

After the fifth Treehouse of Horror episode aired, the network seemed to forget about the warnings and the writers on the show were more than happy to drop the segment from that point on.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Friday, October 16, 2015

Ten Bad Ideas for Children's Shows

10. “Marijuana Shortcake”

9. “Fat Albert and the Commune Kids”

8. “Steven Spielberg presents The Pyromaniacs”

7. “Booze Clues”

6. “Mighty Morphin Flower Arrangers”

5. “Crackhouse Rock”

4. “Scooby Doo”

3. “George Michael’s Playhouse”

2. “The Little Frenchmaid”

1. “Jerry Springer’s Muppet Babies”

Thursday, October 15, 2015

M*A*S*H Endorsements

The television show M*A*S*H was a huge hit. The cast, however, found it difficult to parlay the show's success into outside deals because of the stark nature of the show. Who would want their products associated with a sitcom based on a war?

Hi-Ho Crackers, the poor man's Ritz Crackers apparently did. They hired Gary "Radar" Burghoff to endorse their line of NotQuiteRitz Crackers.

Leaving a successful show was only the second biggest mistake made by Gary Burghoff...

Technology companies apparently thought highly of the show. Atari hired Alan Alda to endorse its line of home computers.

Now seriously, what is it I'm endorsing? One of these typewriters?

IBM was so sure that M*A*S*H viewers would be swayed by the cast, it hired as many of them as it could three years after the show ended its run to promote IBM's futuristic line of computers. 

We're not sure what's in these boxes or what those odd televisions do, but the checks cleared, so yay IBM!

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Jessica Fletcher and the Case of the Politically Incorrect Talk Show Host

Before he was being politically incorrect, Bill Maher was entertaining granny on not one but two Murder, She Wrote episodes!

In the first episode, the mulleted Maher actually gets to face off against Ms. Fletcher. In the second episode, which aired just one year later, he played a different character on one of the show's "bookend" episodes in which Ms. Lansbury only appears at the beginning and end of the episode to introduce the night's mystery.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

The Amazing Saturday Preview!!

Every network used to showcase its new Saturday morning cartoon lineup each year with a cheesy special, typically aired the Friday before the new lineup premiered. The network's live action stars typically "hosted" the shows, which hyped the new lineup of cartoons. NBC's specials often parodied hit films from that summer, like this special from 1985:

NBC was apparently so happy with the Back to the Future parody, that it commissioned a similar parody in 1986, only this time, they chose Back to School. As anyone who has seen the Rodney Dangerfield film that inspired this knows, NBC couldn't have chosen a more inappropriate film to highlight its children's programming.

They misspelled Marc Price's name as well- poor Skippy

ABC, meanwhile, produced the most 1980's special ever. This "Pac Preview Party" highlights a time when the cartoons didn't even have to pretend to be educational or even worthwhile.

ABC topped itself, however with this special. Not only was it the most 1990's special ever made, it also featured the most inappropriate host for a children's special- Roseanne Barr.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Another Riddler?

Everyone knows Frank Gorshin as being the Riddler in the 1960's Batman.

However, not too many people remember the other Riddler from the show, played by John Astin.

Towards the end of season two, Frank Gorshin was beginning to get upset at his pay. He believed that he was important to the success of the show and needed his paycheck to reflect that. The network, on the other hand, saw things differently. They didn't think that Mr. Gorshin was as important to the show as he thought. Thus Gorshin was out and John Astin was in.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

TV Quote Weekends

"You know it wouldn't hurt you none to put your own Ford in neutral, the way you're always chasing around and working on one dangerous case or another! You know you ain't even had time to go fishing or hunting with me? So the way I see it, that is no way for you to rack up a hundred thousand miles on your dash!"

Saturday, October 10, 2015

TV Quote Weekends

"Personally, I think Dominios is the best of the low quality pizzas."

Friday, October 9, 2015

ABC's TGIF: Perfect Strangers

In the 1980's, ABC found great success running family oriented comedies on Friday nights, long considered a wasteland in the world of television. Eager to create a "branded" night of television, ABC decided to promote their 1988-1989 Friday line-up as TGIF, appealing to families and children.

The first show on the first lineup was Perfect Strangers. Beginning its fourth season, the show had been moved around on ABC's schedule until it found a permanent home on Fridays. The show featured a classic "Odd Couple" situation in which two very distant cousins shared an apartment in Chicago- the straight laced American Larry and the eccentric Greek-ish Balki.

The show kicked off the night, bringing familiar faces to ABC's new branding concept. It would prove to be a success. TGIF would eventually become greater than the actual sum of its parts.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Jessica Fletcher and the Case of the Future Alcoholic

Long before she was lushing it up on Will & Grace, Megan Mullaly was rubbing elbows with the Aspercreme set  on Murder, She Wrote. In 1988, she played a young, idealistic lawyer who helps Ms. Fletcher solve a case. She also dresses in the most 1980's style outfits, complete with an 80's professional mullet.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Good Witch of Laurel Canyon

The first thought that might enter your head after looking at this TV Guide ad for a CBS series is WTF?!?

The story behind this bizarre looking show is even stranger. Starting life as The Good Witch of Laurel Canyon, this bizarre show originally starred Kim Cattrall as the titular witch. That summer, however, Ms. Cattrall starred in Porky's, a scandalous movie featuring adult situations! CBS was scandalized and replaced Kim with Catherine Hicks, renaming the show Tucker's Witch. The show only lasted 13 episodes and also starred Alfre Woodard.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

From the Files of Police Squad!

After the success of Airplane! Hollywood was clamoring for projects from David Zucker, Jim Abrahams and Jerry Zucker, otherwise known as ZAZ. Their signature type of humor was rapid fire jokes, often told with a straight face by actors not known for being comedians. One of their first post-Airplane! projects was Police Squad!, an attempt to bring their sense of humor to the small screen.

ABC picked up the show for a six episode trial, seeking to bring the magic of Airplane! to the network, which was in need of a comedy hit. Leslie Nielsen was brought in to play the befuddled Frank Drebin, who always got his man (or woman) despite his general incompetence. 

The show was a ratings disappointment, despite being one of the most hilarious sitcoms ever produced. As Leslie Nielsen hypothesized, the show required viewers to pay attention in order to catch all of the jokes. That was difficult considering that people at home are distracted by any number of things. The show was canceled after its short season, but provided the inspiration for the Naked Gun films which were wildly successful.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Strange Facts About Mr. Belvedere

Despite setting their sitcom in a Pittsburgh suburb, the creators of Mr. Belvedere had never actually been there. They used a calendar provided by the Pittsburgh Chamber of Commerce to base their scripts on.

Nine episodes of the show never appeared on ABC and only showed up in syndication- the final two episodes of the fifth season and seven episodes of the sixth season. While no reason was given for why ABC chose not to air the two episodes from the fifth season, the seven sixth season episodes were never aired due to poor ratings. ABC never chose to burn those episodes off in the summer, as is frequently done in these situations, but it did burn off the last two episodes as a two part series finale during the summer of 1990.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Ten Changes on HBO's Sesame Street

Ten Changes on HBO's Sesame Street
10. Producers no longer have to bleep Oscar the Grouch's F-Bombs.
9. Prairie Dawn's “Wardrobe Malfunctions” can now air un-blurred.
8. Coming Soon to HBO: Sesame Street- After Dark
7. Bert and Ernie can finally “make it legal.”
6. Guy Smiley can now walk around without pants.
5. Snuffleupagus' protection racket can now be shown on the air.
4. Producers no longer have to bleep Oscar the Grouch's C-Bombs.
3. HBO will now allow “Puppet on Puppet” action.
2. Next week on HBO's Sesame Street: Elmo Gets Even
1. Goodbye Sesame Street- Hello Avenue Q!