Thursday, January 31, 2008

“Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines”

OK, gang, truth be told, I don’t remember much about this one, except of course for the theme song, which I’ve gotten stuck in the void that is my head. (“Stop the pigeon … stop the pigeon …”).

Vague memories of the show, which originally ran in 1969, came back as I watched the clips. Of course, I remembered the sinister Dick Dastardly and his sidekick dog, the snickering Muttley.

According to what I found on, the cartoon was set in World War I, and focused on Dastardly, Muttley and their Vulture Squadron trying to seize Yankee Doodle Pigeon to stop him from bringing messages to the enemies.

Paul Winchell provided the voice of Dick Dastardly, as well as The General, and Don Messick provided the voices of Muttley, Klunk and Zilly.

You can check out the opening to “Dastardly & Muttley in Their Flying Machines” on

For more details, go to

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

“Match Game”

“Match Game” ran from 1973 to 1982. Hosted by Gene Rayburn, who sported an oversized microphone, the show featured two contestants who would try to match filling in phrases with a panel of six celebrities.

Among the regular celebrities were Charles Nelson Reilly, Brett Somers and Richard Dawson. Other celebrities included Fannie Flagg, Betty White, Patty Duke Astin, Nipsey Russell and Jack Klugman.

I loved when Rayburn would start off a phrase such as “Dumb Dora was so dumb …” and the audience would come back with, “How dumb was she?” (I know, I know, it takes so little to amuse me …)

An updated “Match Game” was revived for a season in 1998, this time hosted by Michael Burger.

Following are some “Match Game”-related clips from I laughed out loud at each of them. Hope you do, too.

Here’s a clip from “Match Game”

Check out a mini-“Match Game” reunion from 2002:

In this clip, the set of “Match Game” gets some special guests:

For more information on “Match Game” go to

Monday, January 28, 2008

"Designing Women"

Running from 1986 to 1993, “Designing Women” centered around four women who worked at a design firm in Atlanta. Original series characters were feminist Julia Sugarbaker (played by Dixie Carter), her sister, a former beauty queen (played by Delta Burke); Mary Jo, a divorced mother, portrayed by the wonderful Annie Potts; and country girl Charlene (Jean Smart).

Carter and Burke had previously worked together on the television comedy, “Filthy Rich.”

Meshach Taylor starred as Anthony, an ex-con who performed deliveries. Former “Bewitched” staple Alice Ghostley starred as Bernice Clifton.

Towards the end of the show’s first season, the series was canceled, but viewer demand revived “Designing Women.”

There would be cast changes in 1991, when both Delta Burke and Jean Smart left the series. Burke was fired after a much-publicized weight gain and strained relationships on the set. Julia Duffy (from “Newhart”) and Jan Hooks were brought on. Duffy left in 1992, and Judith Ivey was hired.

For more details on “Designing Women,” go to

And try

For more information on Delta Burke, go to

Here are the opening credits from from an early season of “Designing Women”:

Here’s a clip from featuring the original four actresses (and Meshach Taylor and Shavar Ross) from “Designing Women”:

Thursday, January 24, 2008

'Open Up Your Heart & Let the Sun Shine In"

It’s weird how “Totally TV” blog topics will just hit me like an anvil falling on Wile E. Coyote. For the past hour, as I was tending to some of my other duties here at the paper, I’d been mulling over what to write about next.

I had no sooner sat down at my desk when a song popped into my head: “Open Up Your Heart & Let the Sun Shine In,” from “The Flintstones.” Little Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm break out into song (and play musical instruments, too!) While I couldn’t find the original clip on, I DID find a montage of “Flintstones” footage, set to the song “Open Up Your Heart & Let the Sun Shine In,” performed by Frente!

You can check it out here:

Go ahead: open up your heart and let the sun shine in.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

"Sesame Street"

Wow, I was searching for a clip to go with this blog entry, and I found SIX that brought back such fond memories, I decided to include them all.

Geared towards the preschool set, viewers learned about numbers, letters and more on this show, which began in 1969.

One of my favorite books when I was little was “The Monster as the End of this Book.” It featured Grover from “Sesame Street,” who tries to stop the young readers from turning the page of the book. Because with each turn of the page, the monster at the end of the book got closer and closer. But, at the end, we find the monster was none other than the lovable Grover himself.

I used to love the falling baker, who’d stand at the top of the stairs, and announce things like, “7 chocolate cakes” and then proceed to tumble down the stairs, pastry flying everywhere.

My other all-time favorite, which I’ve already touched on in this blog, was “Mahna Mahna.”

Hope the following bring back some good memories for all of you:

Here’s the opening song:

See the Count meet Cookie Monster here:

Take a look at the falling baker:

Here’s Ernie singing about his rubbery duckie:

Big Bird sings about the alphabet:

And, finally, an encore presentation of “Mahna Mahna”:

For more details on “Sesame Street,” go to:

Monday, January 21, 2008

Farewell, Suzanne Pleshette

Actress Suzanne Pleshette, who starred as Emily Hartley in the 1970’s television show, “The Bob Newhart Show,” died this past Thursday.

In addition to "The Bob Newhart Show," her other acting credits included taking over Anne Bancroft’s role of Annie Sullivan in “The Miracle Worker” on Broadway, and starring in the 1963 Alfred Hitchcock smash movie, “The Birds,” playing Annie Hayworth.

She was married to Tom Poston, who starred in the 1980s show, “Newhart,” from 2001 until his death in 2007.

For more details on Pleshette, go to

See Pleshette and Newhart (and Poston, too) in this clip, introducing comedy legends of CBS:

Friday, January 18, 2008


It’s 10 p.m.-ish … do you know where your blog is?

Well, gang, at 2 p.m. today, I officially hit writer’s block. (Or would that be blogger’s block?)

So, I figured I’d postpone the blog until later. Well, now it’s later.

I’ve just woken up from my usual Friday night crash and burn, and I’ve just popped a “Moonlighting” DVD into he machine.

The show originally aired from 1985 to 1989. I haven’t watched these in quite a long time. I’m starting with the pilot. (Makes sense, doesn’t it?).

Madelyn “Maddie” Hayes (played by Cybill Shepherd), a former model (she was the Blue Moon Shampoo Girl), finds herself in financial dire straits. She winds up teaming up with David Addison Jr. (Bruce Willis), who is now running one of her businesses, which they rename the Blue Moon Detective Agency.

One of my favorite characters was the poetic secretary Ms. Agnes DiPesto (played by Allyce Bealey).

I’ll close this blog entry with the immortal words of Ms. DiPesto (from the show’s pilot episode): “Time has come to go, to pack our bags and blow, to hit the street, ‘till next we meet, until then it’s on with the show.”

For more details on “Moonlighting,” go to

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

“Gimme a Break!”

This comedy, starring Nell Carter and Dolph Sweet, ran from 1981 to 1987.

Carter played Nellie Ruth “Nell” Harper. Nell moves into the house of Carl Kanisky (played by Sweet_, a police chief whose wife had recently died. Nell, a friend of Carl’s wife, moves in to keep house and also help raise the Chief’s three girls: Katie (Kari Michaelson), Julie (Laurie Hendler), and Samantha, or “Sam” (Lara Jill Miller).

In later seasons, the Chief would also pass away (Sweet had died in real life), and Nell would care for a young boy named Joey Donovan (played by Joseph “Joey” Lawrence, who in later years would hit teen heartthrob status. Also joining the cast would be Jonathan Silverman as Julie Kinisky’s husband, Jonathan Maxwell. Telma Hopkins, once part of the group Tony Orlando & Dawn, would also make appearances on the show as Nell’s friend, Addy Wilson.

Here’s the “Gimme a Break” opening from Season 1, found on (I’m probably going to have the song in my head all day now …):

For more details on “Gimme a Break,” go to

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Get ready for another season of "American Idol"!

Fasten your seatbelts and get the earplugs ready, gang: Another season of "American Idol" is upon us!

I have to confess I wasn't a watcher of "American Idol" when it first started. I only started watching closely about two seasons ago.

My favorites from last season? Definitely Melinda Doolitte. And also Nadia Turner.

And, for a good month, I was sporting my own "Sanjayahawk." OK, I'm pulling your leg on that one. (I also sell bridges in my spare time).

And, of course, it's another season of Randy, Simon and Paula (For some reason, I always want to replace their names with the Chipmunks' names--Alvin, Simon and Theodore,)

I'm anxious to see how long it takes for the judges to get on my nerves. While I adore Paula (she's forever my girl), Randy Jackson just irritates me. I'm thinking about counting how many times he says, "Yo yo, dawg, check it out" or "Dude, it was a little pitchy for me. Real pitchy in spots." As for Simon, I'd like to see HIM get up there and perform. Just once.

I'll be commenting regularly on the Home News Tribune's "American Idol" forum, and occasionally cover for my colleague, Bill Canacci. (Notice how I used "cover for" instead "PITCH in," Randy.

I'm looking forward to reading what everybody's got to say about this season of "American Idol." I've created Idol Chatter as my name on the forum. So, don't let Bill and I do all the typing! Be sure to post and join in the discussion.

Tonight's show runs from 8 to 10 p.m. on FOX.

You can find the Home News Tribune's “American Idol 2008” forum by going to:

Monday, January 14, 2008

"Mad Monster Party"

One of the television specials from my childhood (“back in the dark ages,” as one of my elementary school teachers used to say), that stands out in my rapidly-deteriorating mind is “Mad Monster Party.”

Dr. Frankenstein decides to retire, so he assembles a cast of ghoulish characters to determine his successor. Among them: The Werewolf, Dracula, and The Mummy.

One of my favorite characters was The Monster’s Mate, voiced by the great Phyllis Diller.

“Mad Monster Party” was directed by Jules Bass. Among his credits is another one of my faves, which I’ve already blogged about: “The Year Without A Santa Claus” (featuring Snow Miser and Heat Miser. Gotta love those Miser brothers!)

Several years ago, I found “Mad Monster Party” on DVD. So, of course, you know I had to buy it.

For a Mad Monster Party trailer, go to:

Check out The Mummy from “Mad Monster Party” on here:

For more details on “Mad Monster Party,” go to

Saturday, January 12, 2008


A spin-off of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” Rhoda Morgenstern leaves Minneapolis and Mary behind and heads back to her roots in New York.

The series ran from 1974 to 1978 and starred Valerie Harper as Rhoda. We also meet her diminutive mother, Ida, played by Nancy Walker (also known as “Rosie” from the Bounty paper towel commercials); Rhoda’s dad, Martin (played by Harold Gould), and Rhoda’s younger sister, Brenda (played by Julie Kavner. Although viewers may not recognize Kavner’s face from the series, they might recognize the voice. Kavner would later go on to voice the character of Marge on “The Simpsons.”

During the show, Rhoda would marry and divorce Joe Gerard (played by David Groh).

One of the show’s enigmas was the identity of Carlton, the doorman, who was never seen on camera, just heard through the intercom speaker. Carlton was credited as “L. Music” (the “L” stood for “Lorenzo.”) I did find a photo of Music a while back and posted it in a previous blog.

Check out these links:

Rhoda trys the Mary Richards hat toss:

Rhoda’s Wedding Part 1

For more details, go to

Friday, January 11, 2008


“Oprah,” which premiered in 1986, is still going strong.

Oprah Winfrey, known best just as Oprah, hit the small screen during the reign of talk show host Phil Donahue.

Some talk show hosts—such as Tempestt Bledsoe, Carnie Wilson and Morton Downey Jr.—have come and gone, but Oprah continues to endure. In the past, her book club selections have catapulted authors into literary stardom.

And some of her protégées have gone on to do very well in their own rights. (Just ask Dr. Phil McGraw).

And who doesn’t want to be in Oprah’s audience when she does her “favorite things” segments, where she gives out her favorite products to the audience?

I think my all-time favorite shows were when Oprah went on the road with the Goddess of Rock and Roll, the one, the only, Tina Turner. (Oprah even got to perform with Tina during a concert, performing “Simply the Best.” And I loved when Felicity Huffman of “Desperate Housewives” got to be one of Tina’s backup singers during an episode of the show.

See Tom Cruise on “Oprah” (that poor couch!):

Check out Oprah being interviewed by David (“Uma … Oprah”) Letterman:

See Oprah, Tina, Felicity and Lisa Fischer just after performing:

Thursday, January 10, 2008

“Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”

“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day in this neighborhood…”

So sang Fred Rogers to his audience as he entered his television dwelling, changed from his work shoes into comfy ones and put on his trademark sweater.

Rogers taught children about everything from fears to disabilities. What I remember most is the trolley that came right into his living room, and then took the audience on a journey to a make believe land. My favorite make-believe character was Daniel Striped Tiger, who lived in a clock.

According to, the show ran from 1968 to 2001.
I remember Mr. Rogers also had a great big traffic light somewhere in his house. (Wonder if he got that on eBay ….)

There was also the bicycle-riding delivery man, Mr. McFeely, also known as Mr. Speedy Delivery. Years later, I had the opportunity to interview David Newell, the actor who played Mr. McFeeley, and the “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” memories came flooding back.

Pretty cool.

You can check out the opening to “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” on here:

You can read the article on “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” here:'_Neighborhood

Wednesday, January 9, 2008


Based on the movie, “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore,” “Alice” starred Linda Lavin as Alice Hyatt, a widowed mother starting over in Phoenix, Arizona with her young son, Tommy (played by Philip McKeon, brother of “The Facts of Life” star Nancy McKeon).

Alice lands a job as a waitress at Mel’s Diner, run by Mel Sharples (played by Vic Tayback), who served up the food, yelling out a gruff, “Pickup!” when the food was ready for the waitresses to serve.

When the show started in 1976, Alice’s co-workers were the big-haired, Southern Florence Jean “Flo” Castleberry (played by Polly Holliday), and “dingey” (as Mel referred to her) Vera Louise Gorman. Locking horns with Mel, Flo would shoot back, “Kiss my grits!” or when she thought something was impossible, she’d say, “When pigs fly!”

Holliday would eventually leave the show for her own spin-off, “Flo,” and was replaced by Diane Ladd as waitress Belle Dupree. Ladd, who appeared on the show from 1980 to 1981, would be replaced by Celia Weston, who played Jolene Hunnicutt. The show ended its run in 1985.

I always loved Vera’s loft bed. But, I wouldn’t want to fall out of it. (You can see it in the opening sequence of season four below. The bed, that is. Not me falling out of it.)

One of my favorite guest characters was Martha Raye, perfectly cast as Mel’s mother. Although I was quite surprised to see how tiny she was. Last time I had seen her was when she starred as Benita Bizarre on “The Bugaloos.” I guess a person seems taller when they’re cast against “bugs.”

For more info on “Alice,” go to

Check out the opening sequence of “Alice” here:

Here’s the opening to season four:

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

“Charlie’s Angels”

Once upon a time, there were three little girls who went to the police academy. And they were all assigned very hazardous duties.

But, Charlie took them away from all that, and they went to work for him as private detectives.

Each week, three female detectives, known collectively as the “Angels,” would be given a mystery to solve by their unseen boss, Charles “Charlie” Townsend (voiced by future “Dynasty” star John Forsythe.).

Running from 1976 to 1981, the cast of Angels would change more than Clark Kent in a telephone booth. When the show began, the Angels were: Kate Jackson, Jaclyn Smith and Farrah Fawcett-Majors.

Farrah, who played Jill Munroe, would leave after the first season (although she did make recurring guest appearances). Taking her place was Cheryl Ladd, who came aboard as Jill’s sister, Kris.

Then, the revolving door really got spinning. Kate Jackson, who played Sabrina Duncan, was fired, and replaced with Shelley Hack (Tiffany Welles). Hack would be replaced by Tanya Roberts as Angel Julie Rogers.

And, of course, we can’t forget the Angels’ trusty sidekick, John Bosley, better known simply as “Bosley” (played by David Doyle).

One of the episodes I remember most vividly is “Angels in Springtime.” Kris Monroe almost met her fate being smothered in a body wrap. Ouch. Nancy Parsons played the villainous Zora.

Here’s the show’s opening sequence from season 2, from

Here’s a clip from the high-rated episode, “Angels in Chains,” set to Thin Lizzy’s song, “Jailbreak”:

And, you know you’ve hit the big time when you’re turned into a doll. Here’s a commercial for the “Charlie’s Angels” dolls:

For more information on “Charlie’s Angels,” go to

For more details on the “Angels in Springtime” episode, go to here:

Monday, January 7, 2008

“I Love Lucy”—Lucy meets Harpo Marx

One of my favorite “I Love Lucy” episodes. The Ricardos and the Mertzes are in Hollywood, and their friend Carolyn Applebee comes from New York for a visit.

Carolyn, of course, wants to meet all the movie stars Lucy has talked about. After hiding Carolyn’s glasses, since she’s blind as a bat without them, Lucy ducks out and dresses up as various actors, such as Clark Gable and Gary Cooper.

But, unbeknownst to Lucy and Ethel, Ricky and Fred have asked the real Harpo Marx to go up to the Ricardo’s apartment to surprise the girls. But, the surprise is not only on the girls—but on Harpo Marx, who discovers Lucy dressed exactly like him.

Check out part of the episode on here:

For more details, go to

Saturday, January 5, 2008

“Electra Woman & Dyna Girl”

Part of the Krofft Supershow in 1976, “Electra Woman & Dyna Girl” were a female version of Batman and Robin.

The show starred Deidre Hall as Electra Woman, and Judy Strangis as Dyna Girl. It also starred Norman Alden as Frank Heflin, who designed and constructed the superheroes’ equipment.

What I remember most about this show was the opening song, the duo battling the Spider Lady, and, of course, the spandex costumes. (OK, the spandex sticks out most in my mind). According to, other villains included: Ali Baba and his cohort, the Genie; the Sorcerer; and the Empress of Evil.

You can watch the opening of “Electra Woman & Dyna Girl” on here:

For more info, go to

Friday, January 4, 2008


“Taxi,” which ran from 1978 to 1983, starred Judd Hirsch as taxi driver Alex Reiger, and mostly focused on the goings-on in the taxi garage. There was Marilu Henner as single mother Elaine O’Connor-Nardo, Tony Danza as boxer Tony Banta (ever notice that in both “Taxi” and “Who’s the Boss?” Danza plays a character named Tony? What’s up with that?), Jeff Conaway as Robert L. “Bobby” Wheeler, an aspiring actor; and Andy Kaufman as the foreign mechanic Latka Gravas. And, then there was Danny DeVito as the rabid dispatcher Louie De Palma. When the show first started, it also featured Randall Carver as Jeff Bennett.

I think my favorite regular character on the show was Kaufman’s Latka Gravas. Latka would eventually meet and marry Simka Dahblitz, played by the wonderfully funny Carol Kane. Among the guest stars was Rhea Perlman (who, according to, married DeVito in 1982, and would become a future "Cheers" star) as Zena Sherman, a love interest for Louie De Palma.

I remember the show being on during a 9:30 p.m. time slot. The show would end with someone walking out of a door and a woman saying, “Goodnight, Mr. Walters,” and he’d reply, “Uh-huh.” That was also my bedtime cue.

You can read more about “Taxi” at

Here’s the opening scene of Taxi, found on

Here’s a clip from the show:

Thursday, January 3, 2008

“Welcome Back, Kotter”

As I’m typing this, I have the “Welcome Back, Kotter” theme song in my head.

Running from 1975 to 1979, “Welcome Back, Kotter” starred Gabe Kaplan as Gabe Kotter, who returns to his alma mater high school, James Buchanan High in Brooklyn, N.Y., to teach a bunch of students collectively known as the “Sweathogs.” John Travolta—who would become a film star during the show’s run--starred as sweathog Vinnie Barbarino. (Everybody sing, “Ba…ba…ba…ba ba barino…”) The other three featured Sweathogs were Ron Palillo as Arnold Horshack (“Ooh…ooh…ooh, Mr. Kotter!”), Lawrence-Hilton Jacobs as Freddie “Boom Boom” Washington, and Robert Hegyes as Juan Luis Pedro Phillipo de Huevos Epstein (who consistently had a note from his mother excusing him from homework).

Constantly butting heads with Mr. Kotter and the Sweathogs was the assistant vice-principal Mr. Michael Woodman, played by John Sylvester White. And, there was Mr. Kotter’s wife, Julie, played by Marcia Strassman, who would patiently sit through Gabe’s joke about his family and endure unexpected visits from the Sweathogs.

Later in the series, Stephen Shortridge would join the cast as sweathog Beau De Labarre. John Travolta would make only guest starring appearances as he concentrated on his movie career. The Kotters became parents of twin girls, and Gabe Kotter was promoted to vice principal, while still doing some teaching.

One of the show’s most oft-used catch-phrases: “Up your nose with a rubber hose!”

If you’re looking for more info on “Welcome Back, Kotter,” check out these sites:

Here’s the series’ opening scene:

Take a look at John Travolta singing the “Barbarino” song

Wednesday, January 2, 2008


Comedienne Roseanne, then known as Roseanne Barr, got her own show, aptly titled, “Roseanne,” in 1988. She portrayed Roseanne Conner, matriarch of the Conner family, a working-class family who lived in Illinois.

The character of Roseanne was married to Dan Conner, played by John Goodman. They lived on Delaware Street with their three children—Becky (Alicia ‘Lecy’ Goranson, and later played by Sarah Chalke), Darlene (Sara Gilbert, sister of “Little House on the Prairie” star Melissa Gilbert), and D.J., which was short for David Jacob, not Dan Jr. (played by Michael Fishman).

I was a regular watcher of the show until the last season, when the Connors became millionaires and lived the high life, until it was found to be a story Roseanne Connor had written, kind of like the “it’s all been a dream” season of “Dallas.”

Early episodes also starred George Clooney as Roseanne’s boss, Booker. Clooney, of course, would launch into stardom with the series “ER” and the “Batman & Robin” movie.

My favorite episodes of this series were the Halloween episodes. Great costumes and lots of gags. My other all-time favorite episode was when her co-worker Bonnie belted out “You Really Got a Hold On Me.” The actress who played Bonnie was credited as Bonnie Sheridan, but is better known as Bonnie Bramlett, a former Ikette with Ike and Tina Turner, and half of the singing duo, Delaney & Bonnie.

I also loved the parody the show did of “The Patty Duke Show,” when Goranson returned and replaced Chalke, who had originally replaced Goranson. (Got that scorecard handy?) Yup, Beckys, identical Beckys all the way…

For more information on “Roseanne” go to:

Check out Sheridan/Bramlett belting out “You Really Got a Hold On Me” on I still get chills when I listen to this (maybe the building’s air conditioning is on too high..). Here’s the link: