June 27, 2014

My Tribute-Top Six Bob Hope Special Appearances

Almost since I started blogging there was one thing I wanted to talk about. My love for the actor/comedian Bob Hope. I was lucky to grow up when he was still doing his variety specials, and loved every one of them. I wanted to do an article on him, but just listing his specials sounded boring even to me. Of course we can also discuss his movies, USO shows, commercials, the way he was master of the monologue, and live shows which I am proud to say I was in the audience of once. This guy was a true legend.

So instead what I will do is discuss six specials appearances by Bob Hope. Those times when he popped up unexpectedly, or as a guest star, and stole the show. Here now are six favorite Bob Hope "special appearances".

#6.The Tonight Show

One night back in the good old days, Don Rickles as guest hosting The Tonight Show when Bob Hope and friends decided to surprise Don. This clip is doubly special for me, because just recently I had the pleasure of seeing Don Rickles live at Foxwoods.


#5.Spies Like Us

How do you spice up a horrible movie? Well ok, horrible may be an overstatement. This Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd vehicle was ok. In the middle of one scene, Bob Hope suddenly appears and delivers a straight line. It's a nice homage to his classic road movies with Bing Crosby.


June 25, 2014

A Look at Sitcom Stars in TV Movies

There was an interesting trend in the 80's and early 90's. Over the summer break, many sitcom actors and actresses would all appear in the same TV movie. The movie usually had a plot and characters which had nothing to do with the various shows these actors came from. Nevertheless, seeing all these people from so many different shows together was something I loved!

These movies were corny and often had so many stories winding through them you couldn't even keep track of them all. There were also standard cliche's. The romance, the nerd becomes cool, the lame song at the end. But despite all of this silliness they were fun to watch! Here are five examples of what i am talking about :

Crash Course (aka Driving Academy, 1988)

A movie about kids taking driver's ed in the summer. Starring Brian Bloom (As The World Turns), Dick Butkus (My Two Dads), Olivia D’Abo (The Wonder Years), Jack’ee Harry (227), Alyssa Milano (Who’s the Boss?), Charles Robinson (Night Court), Rob Stone (Mr. Belvedere), Tina Yothers (Family Ties), Edie McClurg

Plus Harvey Korman and Ray Walston

So yeah, kids enroll in a summer driving school. There's your movie. Of course there is a lot of stuff going on in the film. When I first saw this I LOVED it. I really did, I guess I was just the right age. Because when I watched it again a few years later, I thought it was corny and goofy. But still watchable. I could give a whole synopsis of this (and the rest of these) TV movie but with all the characters getting their own storyline I would be here all day.Let's just say that this film is full of corny goofiness.

June 21, 2014

Five TV Cliffhangers That Were Never Resolved!

I talked the other day about the sitcom Alf. The series ended on a cliffhanger....which was never resolved! The show was cancelled and that was that. Until a TV movie came along to fill that gap. While the movie sucked, at least it was something. Many shows don't even get that much, and will leave a cliffhanger unresolved forever. Now unlike Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory, it does not aggravate me when this happens. But is is annoying.

There are lots of these actually but here are five TV cliffhangers that annoy me because they will never be resolved!


I loved this show, have I mentioned that? The final episode had Benson and the Governor running for Governor of the whatever the name state they were in. The episode has them at odds and arguing, and finally the last scene is the two patching things up in the kitchen. Finally, the results are in and the winner is.....still have no idea. Argh! Why did the creators decide this was the way to end the show (and they knew full well it was the end)? Well I guess three endings were filmed. One where Benson won, the other where the Governor won, and the cliffhanger. Guess which they went with? No resolution so I made up my own ending.

By the way, Benson was spun off from Soap which also ended on an unresolved cliffhanger. Though they did sort of resolve it in an episode of Benson, but that's a long story.

June 16, 2014

Sitcom FaceOff-Mr.Belvedere vs ALF

Well folks, I think it's finally happened. I think I have finally snapped. Why else would I come up with the craziest sitcom face off ever :


 Well, they are a little alike. They are both shows about a boring family being shaken up by a stranger who appears out of nowhere. Not enough? I'm doing it anyway! Mr.Belvedere came along on ABC in 1985, Alf on NBC in 1986. They are two cheesy, corny, over the top 80's shows that were not critically acclaimed....but we loved them! But, which one was better?

June 13, 2014

A Look at Sitcoms That Overused Supporting Characters

We all know when a sitcom replaces a character or just throws a new character in to mix things up (usually a kid). But sometimes sitcoms will do something even more annoying. They will realize that a supporting character is very popular, and decide to milk it for all its worth. They will increase the character's role so that they appear constantly, even at the expense of the series regulars, and very often until the audience doesn't care about them anymore. In extreme cases, this even leads to an awful spin-off show where the character just isn't the same.

Now of course some shows do it right. The Golden Girls had Dorothy's ex Stan quite often but he was never overused. Full House made Kimmy Gibbler a regular but didn't overuse her, though she did get more annoying. Step By Step had Cody but he never overshadowed the family. Newhart had Larry,Daryl, and Daryl who were popular but never so much so that the show revolved around them. Friends would bring Gunther back often but not at times which made no sense. And of course Seinfeld practically wrote the book on how to use supporting characters. Showing them just enough that we wanted to see more. Even Newman who probably would have been made a regular on any other show stayed just a supporting character because Seinfeld knew that to much Newman would not work out.

Here are some examples of sitcoms which didn't get this and overused a popular supporting character, and some which managed to find a balance so that the character actually fit in.

Night Court

Starting with this one because it's the show that inspired this article. One of the many characters to appear on this show was John Astin as Harry's stepfather, Buddy. Buddy was a bit nuts and John Astin did a fantastic job on this character. So in the 7th season someone decided to make him more recurring, and buddy appeared in several episodes that year. By the end of the year the character lost what made him so much fun to see, and it must not have been just me to think that because after that season neither Buddy or John Astin ever appeared on the show again.

Mary Tyler Moore

Among the popular characters on this show were best friends Rhoda played by Valerie Harper and Phyllis played by Chloris Leachman. For whatever reason, both of these characters were deemed popular enough to earn spin-offs. Rhoda was decent, Phyllis not so much. These shows were OK but the characters still weren't teh same on the original show. The real problem was on Mary Tyler Moore, who was going to fill the void? Thank goodness for Betty White who saved the day with her character Sue Ann Nivens.

June 10, 2014

Sitcom Graveyard-One Joke Sitcoms

Sometimes a creator will come up with a brilliant idea for a sitcom. Not having any idea at all what to do with that idea. What we end up with is the same joke, over and over, which quickly causes the audience to be bored and leave. Here are some example of quickly canceled series which should have been thought out more.

Jennifer Slept here/Nearly Departed/Teen Angel

These shows were on in the 80's and 90's respectively and all had the same basic theme. The main focus of the series was dead. In the first two cases they were ghosts, in the latter he was an angel. Um yeah, focusing a series on dead people just doesn't work. There is a reason The Addams Family are living, if you had those charatcers as zombies the show would be less funny. Imagine if The Walking Dead was meant for laughs!

Joanie Loves Chachi

Yeah, not sure who thought this would work. This was more of a one premise show than a one joke show. I have mentioned this before but basically they took Joanie and Chachi off Happy Days and have them their own show. Yeah, watching just them stare into each others eyes for six weeks would have turned me off too. Though Fonz did appear in one episode. They were soon back on Happy Days.

The Brady Brides

Another stupid idea. Marcia and Jan Brady are married and have to live in the same house with their husbands, who are nothing alike. I sense whimsy! Yeah it was one thing when the girls were kids but as adults it just didn't work.

June 7, 2014

Top 5 Memorable Movie Character Deaths (That I Actually Saw)

Killing off a character has to be done right to leave the right impact. We have to first spend enough time with the character so we will feel for them. Then, the more sudden or shocking it is the better. And finally, if possible, this has to be the characters kick ass moment of the film. Some movies do this very well with villains. The end of Bonnie and Clyde was incredibly well done. But when it's a good guy getting killed that changes things a bit. The Amazing Spiderman recently showed us how this can be done and done well.

Here are five good guy character deaths which kind of shocked me when I first saw the movie. I think Les did a list like this recently, but I think I came up with five choices he didn't. If not I am sure my friend wont mind. A few rules : It has to be a death which was permanent (no reversing the sun to change it or anything), it has to be a good guy no villain redemption stuff (sorry Darth Vader), and finally it has to be from a movie I saw. There are dozens of examples from movies I never saw but I want this list to be about real experience.

#5.Jack Palance in City Slickers

This what I like to call "narrative death" because if this did not happen the movie would never be able to continue. But that doesn't make it any less sad. Billy Crystal, Bruno Kirby and Daniel Sterns play a couple middle aged guys at a dude rand (long story). Curly is the awesome trail boss, and he was fricking cool as hell. Palance had a fun as hell time in this role and it showed. So just when we start to really like Curly, he ends up suddenly dying. As I said the scene was necessary to move the plot along, but It was still sad to a lose a character we just as we learned to love him.

June 3, 2014

Look at Sitcom Cliches:The Operation

I thought I was done with these but I came across one I just had to talk about. In sitcoms, characters only gets sick when convenient. In the old days they never went to the bathroom either, but Seinfeld (among others) took care of that one. So very  often we get an episode where a character is ill with a cold or maybe even something more serious like a sprained ankle, kidney stone, chicken pox, or even the measles (all six kids at once? YIKES!!)

But I wanted to focus on something else. When a sitcom is waning on its last legs, very often they resort to a stunt to get veiwers to tune back in. The stunt involves one of the cast members needing a very serious operation. It's usually a two or three episode arc which of course when resolved is never spoken of again. Even though some of these surgeries require extensive recovery time.

Before I begin let me be crystal clear about one thing. I am NOT making light of these medical problems or surgeries. If someone has, or knows someone who has, gone through these serious experiences than my heart goes out to them. What I am making light of is the obvious ratings stunt that the series is using to keep viewers watching. They always have the same cliche's including the characters waiting going through "life changes", flashbacks or fantasy sequences to fill the show out, and the scare where we are supposed to believe the character is really going to not survive.

These episodes could fit several TV Tropes though not sick episode since those are just when a character is ill. As you will see many of these are "heart attack episodes" but not all. Before we begin, fare warning. I usually hate these. Here are some examples of surgeries on sitcoms except for child birth. That is another discussion my friends.

All in the Family

Archie had gallbladder surgery in one memorable episode. Of course being Archie he gets admitted by a Puerto Rican receptionist, treated by a Jewish physician, and is forced to accept a blood transfusion from a female West Indian doctor's assistant. Got to love that show. Gallbladder surgey was also required for Mona on Who's The Boss? in one of the best episodes of that series.

June 1, 2014

Random Thoughts-The OTHER Diff'rent Strokes Curse

I love sitcoms of the 80's, but you may notice that I hardly talk about a show that was on before 1984. Why is that? Because most of the shows on in the late 70's/early 80's were so bland! Everytime I look at a list of the greatest sitcoms there is always this gap from around 1978 to 1984. Today I decided to try to take a closer look at this, and figure out

Why Did So Many Early 80's Sitcoms SUCK?

Now let me be perfectly clear. I am not saying these shows were BAD, if you love them fine. But there was something about these shows which just made them, unique? We all know the story, the sitcom was considered dead. In 1982 only one sitcom was in the top 10, Three's Company. In 1983 only one once again, only this time it was Kate & Allie. Then in 1984 Bill Cosby came along with The Cosby Show, and single handedly saved the sitcom (not to mention NBC). But the question is, what happened? What made the sitcom go stale in the early 80's?

Was it because they weren't funny? Not with shows like MASH and Taxi. Is it because there were not big stars? Three's Company was huge not to mention a little show called Happy Days. Was there an onslaught of boring and fake reality TV which made people forget about good scripted shows? Nah that wouldn't happen until 2002.  Of course there were major hits of the time (Mash anyone?) but many of the sitcoms of that era just didn't make people want to watch.