Monday, March 20, 2017

Newsday TV Books, February 1973.

February of 1973 kicked off with a mistake: The actress pictured on the cover from this production of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown is Ruby Persson, not Judy.
The Reese Witherspoonesque Persson was the wife of the show's producer, Gene Persson. Snoopy was played by Bill Hinnant, who was the older brother of the guy who played "Fargo North, Decoder" on The Electric Company. Bill drowned while on vacation five years after this show aired.
The TV Line offers info about Marty Brill, Karen Valentine (including the earliest reference to "lip-syncing" I can recall seeing) and Michael Landon's true age.
Tuesday night saw the first installment of the unique TV movie Divorce His; Divorce Hers with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor. Since that's really only mildly interesting, I've left in the rest of the listings with some enjoyable John Cashman reviews.
The next night, Gilbert Gottfried podcast guest (and Larry King crush) Jessica Walter appeared on Banacek with George Peppard. Don't care? Here's some more reviews. I particularly like the one for The Desperados.
It may not be one of Gary Viskupic's more inspired drawings, but the Bogie likeness is eye-catching in this close-up for a showing of The Caine Mutiny.
Onto the following week, with a cover feature on Here We Go Again, and its stars Larry Hagman, Diane Baker and Nita Talbot. Diane Baker is for me what Jessica Walter is for Larry King: Ring-a-ding-ding!
Here We Go Again also starred Dick Gautier and former Mineola resident/future Beverly Hills housewife Kim Richards. This story has lots of interest for Larry Hagman buffs. It takes longer to read than the show lasted.
Fans of James McEachin and Valerie Perrine (you know who you are) could spend Monday enjoying their pilots for Tenafly and Lady Luck, respectively. Tenafly became part of the NBC Mystery Movie; Lady Luck had none. (And here I thought she was a Perrine-ial favorite!)
The Great Man's Whiskers was a comedy with Dennis Weaver (almost unrecognizable here) as Abraham Lincoln. It had stiff TV movie competition that night, airing against The Great American Beauty Contest and Horror at 37,000 Feet.
WNET, New York City's PBS station, showed the Russian film Ivan the Terrible as part of its Film Odyssey series on Saturday night. Viskupic provided the art for the close-up.
I mainly knew (and crushed on) Judi Bowker as Andromeda in Clash of the Titans, but nine years earlier, at 18, she was the human lead in a syndicated version of Black Beauty. This atypical second feature story closes out the issue.

The next week brought Bobby Darin, going topless to portray Groucho on his variety show (which grew out of the previous summer's limited run-series, "The Bobby Darin Amusement Company"). This incarnation only lasted 'til April, and he died eight months after that--but managed to work a four-month marriage in between!
The TV Line dishes up all you'd ever want to know about Redd Foxx, Kami Cotler, and Maggie Litvin, plus the real von Trapp and some bad poetry.
An extra-large close-up of The Ten Commandments overtakes the Sunday evening sched.
Here's the real Groucho, guesting on Bill Cosby's show. Yes, in the accompanying listings I wrote "AL" to denote a review mentioning Alan Ladd's propensity for taking off his shirt. (It's called a hobby and I'm not gonna apologize for it!)
A Viskupic sketch for an Ed Sullivan comedy special. I say: no Lenny Schultz, no comedy special.
Another Viskupic, this one for... uh, a show about a guy who got jailed for printing flags, I guess. (No, I didn't read it. But you should definitely read the Cashman review for Swamp Fire at lower right.)
Thursday night, the fearsome Virginia Woolf, and more fun reviews (and a Cashman adjective for the sarcastically-recalled Norma Eberhardt).
In this Circle of Fear close-up, I suspect the Newsday writer might use "horror buff" interchangeably with "weird person with bad taste."
For no special reason, here's late Saturday.

There's one more week coming, just hang on!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Newsday TV Books, January 1973.

I'm back at the Newsday TV Books again, but this time I'm going double-retro on you--I'm gonna quickly go over the 1973 issues I've missed so far this year. True, it might seem like I'm giving them short shrift (which, as we all know, is easily the worst of all possible shrifts one can be given), but it's certainly better than nothing. I'm no scholar, but I'm sure Descartes would agree, especially given what a Hawaii Five-O fan he was.

We'll start with the first full week of January, the 7th through 13th, with this Jack Paar cover.
This week's TV Line covers the difference between Julie Sommars and Farrah Fawcett, the music of Kid Power and Love, American Style, and Meredith Baxter Birney's affiliation.
I'm skipping the cover story (spoiler: Paar's part-time comeback didn't take) but here's the Gary Viskupic drawing of Paar teed up alongside Dick Cavett, who would alternate certain weeks with him. Of course, it was really competitor Johnny Carson that thwacked him.
If you need more Paar, here's a close-up on that Monday night premiere. Forget the talk shows, Karloff and Horror Island are on!
Just because "Nosey Clown" makes me laugh, here's a Sag Harbor bank ad.
More Viskupic, with a drawing for Michelangelo Antonioni's Chung Kuo, a prime-time ABC look at modern-day China.
Finally, a close-up on a special that probably confused a lot of young Carol Burnett Show fans, tuning in for some broad sketch comedy and getting a throaty German broad instead.
On to the 14th--hope you're hungry for more Chinese!
Now it's NBC that has a special about China. Nixon's visit had been almost a whole year earlier--maybe the networks were just getting around to cashing in on the hype? I've posted the Viskupic image below on this blog before, but here's the full story to go with it.
TV Line this week drops a bombshell: Fred Sanford was dead all along! Did not see that twist coming!
 This week also brought a Jack Benny special, and here's the whole night to go with it, including some typically caustic John Cashman movie reviews.
Never thought you'd miss this guy so much, didja? Looks like Viskupic got some overtime this week with a sketch for Nixon's Saturday morning inauguration. If Tricky Dick had pre-empted the ABC Saturday Superstar Movie "Mad Mad Mad Monsters," described online as a sort-of prequel to Mad Monster Party, I'm pretty sure the enraged, four-year-old me could have successfully wished him into the cornfield.
 The week beginning with the 21st features a cover story with--I shit you not--Shirley Booth (Hazel) and J. Pat O'Malley (every kindly Irish ol' fella on American TV ever). They starred in A Touch of Grace. She was a widow. He was a gravedigger. It lasted three months.
Just one more thing from this ish, the TV Line. (It wasn't the best week of television.) Even this one is nothing special, although it's funny to read that Mark Spitz was considered to take after fellow Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller and step into the Tarzan loincloth. As far as I can tell, nothing came of this new Lord of the Apes "movie serial."
The month closes out with another unlikely network production, CBS' three-hour Much Ado About Nothing, as staged by Joseph Papp. I only recognize Barnard Hughes in the cover photo, but Sam Waterston starred.
The week's TV Line demonstrates that the list of mega-stars hitting the slopes at Hunter Mountain Ski Bowl was truly mind-blowing, and that V.M. of Selden was just a naturally suspicious person.
This Hirschfeld of Heifetz is not especially hard to find on the nets (in fact it's on an album cover), but I liked it enough to include here.
I'm not 100% sure the two pics in this double close-up are by Viskupic, but the one on the right definitely look like his. The minor theme of obscurant lines suggests they are by the same artist.
That's all I got! Covers coming up for February: the Charlie Brown musical, Bobby Darin as Groucho, and underrated hottie Diane Baker!

Friday, February 24, 2017

Our Boy, Patrick.

A little after two this morning, I was awakened by a couple of strange cries coming from the bathroom where our cat, Patrick, liked to sleep on a blanket laid out for him. He suffered a seizure about a year ago, and it seems he'd had another, or maybe a stroke. He died almost immediately, as far as I can tell. My wife and I rushed to revive him, but death, as you know, is quicker than the best intention and deaf to the most desperate prayer.

He was about two months shy of his eighteenth birthday, which somehow equates to about 88 in people years. Although he took a pill twice a day (kitty chemo, we called it) and had other health problems, we sat there with him for a while, stunned, petting him and saying his name. Our boy was gone.

We always called him our boy. Donna had him longer than she's had me. I had the two of them for almost fifteen years. She found him as a rain-soaked kitten in Myrtle Beach and took him in. She tried to give him away many times because they hated each other at first. Then they came to an understanding, and soon they loved each other. I guess it took him a while to tolerate me when they joined me in Oregon. He certainly seemed to like me just fine once I was doing things for him, such as giving him water upon request (he liked it warm from the tap, lately insisting it be poured into the bell of a watering can for him to lap at). "Spoy-YULD!" Donna would say, as if she wasn't constantly inclined to indulge him herself.
She knew the meaning of every purr, chirp and yowl. We wondered if, in his dotage, he was in any pain, but he seemed mostly okay. He had trouble getting around for the last ten years or so, since a fall from our deck nearly killed him. But he rallied and survived, even if he had less grace to show for it.

It hasn't been a full day yet but it feels like a week. If I'm upset, then Donna is devastated, inconsolable. I want him back, she cries.

I look around at the many artifacts in our now-quieter home that evince that he existed, and the thought occurs to me to be rid of them all now, to sweep them away like a tearful drunk clearing a tabletop of spent bottles with the swipe of an arm. Then I think I want to preserve them just as they are for ever (which would be odd), and then a moment later I'd like to collect them all together, right here in front of me, like a museum display or a shrine (which would be even odder).

I guess the watering can will go into the bathroom closet now. Should I push the blanketed ottoman away from the window, where he took his sun-bathed naps, and return it to the edge of the chair where it supposedly belongs? How do I change his litter liner--no, not change, remove, the last one, this last time--without blubbering like an idiot?

He was just a pet, right? Well, no. He took care of us. Not like we took care of him of course, but he cared. I can see his face now, close, as if inches from mine, like when he'd lay on my chest as I reclined on the couch. He'd look right in my eyes and I'd wonder what he was thinking. I suspect he looked at me and thought, Who are you? But I think he knew. I'd look at him and think, who are you? And I knew, too.

He was our boy, Patrick.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Newsday TV Book, February 6-12, 1983.

I hope everyone enjoyed the 1972 TV listings I had been displaying here, but I feel I've ignored other years long enough on this blog. Thus, here's a look at a Newsday TV Book from 1983. Not a great year for TV, as I recall. Flipping through this edition it seems I hardly watched anything in network prime-time. I mean, Dukes of Hazzard? Powers of Matthew Star? Little House: A New Beginning? Gimme a Break? Give ME a fuckin' break!

Okay, I watched Fall Guy and Newhart and Family Ties, and of course Hill Street Blues. None of which I've ever really felt compelled to revisit.  This particular week saw premieres of Condo with MacLean Stevenson and Luis Avalos from The Electric Company, and Amanda's with Bea Arthur. The latter was one of several American takes on Fawlty Towers. Read the Wiki here if you're interested in the story behind the show, and why wouldn't you be. Bea Arthur.

Alright, let's get to the thing. The Winds of War, an expensive and flavorless WWII mini-series courtesy of Dan Curtis, made its debut this week, and probably the best thing about it was this sick Viskupic cover.(Click pics to enlarge, you know.)
 In the TV Line, folks ask about cutie Kathleen Beller (later married to Thomas Dolby), LI's own Stray Cats, and whether Valerie Harper holed up on Shelter Island.
Harriet Van Horne, always entertainingly disdainful of innocuous pap, actually rather likes this week's made-for-TV offerings.
Here's the ad for that Gary Coleman movie she was disarmed by. As you can see, he played a two-foot-tall gynecologist employed by Our Lady of Mercy. (I thought the role was a stretch. Ka-BOING!) If the Steve Martin special is even funnier than its title, well, I just don't know if I'd be able to handle it.
Here's a Tuesday close-up for Caddyshack on network TV, which I doubt I watched since I'd seen it two-hundred times on HBO. WOR Channel 9 took over for WABC channel 7 when the latter shit-canned The 4:30 Movie, and on this day at that time aired Horror at 37,000 Feet, which was about being forced to watch Take This Job and Shove it on a flight to Columbus.
The Audio Video Update guide features yet another freaky Viskupic scene.
The Apple IIe was a tremendous upgrade from the old model, adding more memory, an RF modulator, a denaturizer, a sloppy disk drive, and, for the first time, a question mark to the keyboard. (That last one alone was a big improvement!)
Here's a double-page spread for The Video Connection. It almost convinces you that Coleco Vision may not suck. (We Intellivision owners know better. Yes, that's present tense.)
I'm going to be charitable with this noseless, Nutcracker-shaped glamor gal and assume the X's in the corner represent kisses.
Ba Ba Baldy! Cinemax tests the outer limits of your taste with both Diner and Norman... Is That You? in the same day.
I loved spending an eclipse at the South Bay Motel, especially once they added mirrors to the amenities.
"Off Camera" breaks the news that Mike Douglas is bailing, and touts the TV movie One Cooks, the Other Doesn't. I remember watching it and mocking the dweeby kid character, who early on claims to be into punk rock but later totally creams his corduroys over Toto tickets. Pbbpht, scoffed super-cool, prematurely jaded, 13-year-old me.
I guess that's it. There are many more interesting computer/video ads in the guide section, but really, don't we have other things to do? (See, there's that question mark--man that's convenient!)