Thursday, January 28, 2016

"Survivor: The Ride"

One of the more bizarre television tie-ins was Survivor: The Ride at Paramount's Great America. Since CBS and Paramount were part of the same corporate family, it seemed like a no brainer to open up something themed to the network's hit reality show.

This being Paramount Parks, however, the ride itself left a lot to be desired. It was merely a "Disk-O" style ride with random Survivor theming bolted to it. The ride could have just as easily been themed to be a CSI centrifuge or Hawaii Five-Oh Oh!

When Viacom foolishly split itself up just because Wall Street investors thought they should do it, Paramount Parks ended up, oddly, in an entirely different company than Paramount Pictures. CBS chose to sell the parks off and the new owners chose not to keep any of the licensed characters or attractions. Survivor: The Ride quickly became Tiki Twirl.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Rest in Peace, Abe Vigoda

Abe Vigoda, famed character actor, has passed away at age 94. Mr. Vigoda had taken on a legendary status on the Internet, after false rumors of his demise had spread quickly on the then newly accessible information superhighway. He had made his name years before, however, taking on legendary roles in The Godfather and Barney Miller.

Mr. Vigoda got his start on Broadway, starring in numerous plays throughout the 1960’s. It was his breakout performance as Sal Tessio in The Godfather that put him on the map. He gained even greater fame in the show Barney Miller, in which he played the ever grumpy, one foot in the grave detective Phil Fish. It was undoubtedly Mr. Vigoda’s strong performance as an aging detective who possibly should have retired decades prior that led to the false reports of his death that would eventually surface. Abe had a marvelous sense of humor about the situation and often appeared on late night programs, allegedly to remind the world that he was still alive.

Mr. Vigoda stayed quite active up until the end, dying peacefully in his sleep. Many people had assumed he was immortal, certain to outlive us all. It was his larger than life persona that made us wish that were true. Mr. Vigoda will certainly be missed.

Rest in Peace, Abe Vigoda

Perry Mason vs. Law & Order SVU



Monday, January 25, 2016

CNN Signs On

CNN, the first cable news channel signed onto service on June 1, 1980. After channel founder Ted Turner explained that this channel would only feature new programming, the first CNN anchors began the broadcast- David Walker and Lois Hart. They had previously been a husband/wife anchor team in the local Sacramento market and were personally chosen by Ted Turner to launch his news network.

Mr. Walker and Ms. Hart would stay with the network until the late 1980's.  Mr. Walker would move to CNBC, where he would become its first anchor as well. The couple later returned to Sacramento to finish out their careers and are currently retired.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Marion Ross Knows Best

Long before she starred as America's Mom, Marion Cunningham, on Happy Days, Marion Ross was paying her dues as a guest star on various television shows, including a stint as a diving instructor on Father Knows Best.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Married... With Different Children

The odds were stacked against it; it was a seemingly crude sitcom airing on a new network that many thought would quickly fail. Strangely enough, not only would the network become successful, but the show in question would be one of its breakout shows. Married... With Children would become the earliest hit show on the Fox Television network, but it didn't seem like it after the pilot had finished shooting.

Fox liked both Katey Sagal and Ed O'Neill as the parents, but decided it wanted a different set of kids for the show. Originally, Tina Caspary was cast as Kelly and Hunter Carson was cast as Bud.

After recasting the show, Fox had found its Bundy kids- Christina Applegate as Kelly and David Faustino as Bud.

Monday, January 18, 2016

The Songwriter, the Meth Maker and the Beauty

What do Disney songwriter Richard B. Sherman, 

Breaking Bad's Bryan Cranston,

And Linda Hamilton have in common?

Maybe Jessica Fletcher can help solve this case?

Obviously! They were all involved in the same episode of Murder, She Wrote. Richard B. Sherman wrote Menace Anyone? and Bryan and Linda starred in it alongside Angela Lansbury.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Friday, January 15, 2016

"Happy Days" Guest Star Week: Tom Hanks

Tom Hanks is now one of the biggest stars in the world, a two time Oscar Best Actor winner.

In the early 1980's, however, Tom Hanks was paying his Hollywood dues by starring in an episode of Happy Days. He played a Karate expert who challenges Fonzie to a fight.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

"Happy Days" Guest Star Week: Crispin Glover

Best known as George McFly from Back to the Future, Crispin Glover has been creeping out nearly everyone for quite some time now.

During the last season of Happy Days, he was a thieving student named "Roach". It was during the show's last season. 

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

"Happy Days" Guest Star Week: Richard Moll

He earned his fame from his role as the lovable eccentric Bull on Night Court.

On Happy Days, he found himself on the other side of the law as a member of the mob.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

"Happy Days" Guest Star Week: Ed Begley, Jr.

Ed Begley, Jr. is known as an environmentalist and a prolific actor today.

On Happy Days, however, he played a young street tough who was in a gang that Richie Cunningham wanted to join. After accomplishing a series of dares, he and Potsie are accepted into the gang only to refuse the invitation.

Monday, January 11, 2016

"Happy Days" Guest Star Week: GW Bailey

Long before GW Bailey played a detective on TNT's The Closer and Major Crimes, he had a guest starring role on the television classic Happy Days.

On Happy Days, he played a skeevy photographer who tried to take advantage of Joanie Cunningham.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

TV Quote Weekends

"The reason there is no J street- because it looked too much like an I at those times. So they omitted it because they didn't want to create confusion."

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Rest in Peace, Pat Harrington, Jr

Actor Pat Harrington, Jr. best known for his portrayal of the snooping superintendent Schneider, has passed away at age 86.

Mr. Harrington was born into a show business family; his father was a well known vaudeville performer. After attending college and serving a stint in the military, Pat headed for Hollywood, where he found steady work in both guest and recurring roles on shows such as Make Room For Daddy, The Bing Crosby Show and McHale's Navy.

He wouldn't find his iconic role until the 1970's however, portraying the nosy Schneider on One Day at a Time. The trailblazing show was one of the first to portray a divorced single mother raising her daughters on her own. Pat's character served as a surrogate father to the Romano family; his seemingly endless snooping was just his way of watching over them.

In recent years, Mr. Harrington mostly worked in guest starring roles, retiring completely after being diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. After suffering a brain hemorrhage, he passed away peacefully yesterday, no doubt still watching over his real and television families.

See the USA....

In the 1950's, it was common for television shows to have just one sponsor; in fact, some popular shows were actually produced by the sponsors themselves. This led to the plain, inoffensive programming that is often associated with the 1950's. The huge power that sponsors wielded meant that nothing that would anger or offend audiences would make it onto television screens. One of the more popular performers of the 1950's was Dinah Shore, whose popularity with middle America and the South ensured her a spot on NBC in her own variety show.

However, even Ms. Shore required a big money sponsor to stay on the air and that sponsor was Chevrolet. The car maker even put its name in the title of the show.

Regular contests were held offering Chevrolets as prizes, using Dinah's show to drum up publicity.

As a result, Dinah Shore became indelibly linked with Chevy in the public's mind and her signature song was the Chevrolet jingle- See the U.S.A. in Your Chevrolet. The song was so popular she would often be asked to sing it years later, long after her official relationship with the car maker had ended.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Malcolm and the Coincidences

The sitcom Malcolm in the Middle was a big hit for the Fox network in the early 2000's. While many sitcoms featured a relatively sane family whose peace was often interrupted by their wacky neighbors, the family in Malcolm in the Middle was the wacky family. When the family's annual vacation is abruptly canceled, they discover that others in the neighborhood threw an annual block party purposely scheduled for a time when it was believed they'd be out of town.

After the show concluded, actress Jane Kaczmarek was given her character's wardrobe as a gift from the network. She was wearing one of the outfits one day when she happened to catch a rerun of the show. She was wearing the same outfit that her character was wearing on the rerun.

Actor Aaron Paul had auditioned for the role of Francis, Malcolm's oldest brother. He desperately wanted the role so that he could work with Bryan Cranston, but it was not to be- yet. He would later co-star with Mr. Cranston in Breaking Bad.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Jessica Fletcher and the Case of the Future Gangster

Long before he was playing gangsters on the big screen and just two years before he played one of The Untouchables, Andy Garcia was menacing poor Jessica Fletcher as a street tough on Murder, She Wrote. (Don't worry, she gets out of the situation unscathed.)

Monday, January 4, 2016

Perry Mason and The Mystery of the Multiple Actors

Ask just about anyone about Perry Mason and he or she would probably mention Raymond Burr, the only person who ever played Perry Mason.

Actually, that statement isn't actually true. Three others have played Perry Mason, two of them before Raymond Burr. Warren William was the first, playing Perry Mason in a series of films for Warner Brothers.

Donald Woods came next, portraying Perry Mason in just one film- The Case of the Stuttering Bishop.

After the classic series left the air, an attempt was made to bring it back in the 1970's with Monte Markham playing Perry. 

The show was a failure, showing that audiences had become too accustomed to Raymond Burr as Perry Mason, who returned to the role in the 1980's in a series of TV films.