All In The Family / Archie Bunker

A couple of years ago I was at Pam’s (All Things Thriller) site and read her character profiles on The Soprano’s characters…I liked it so much that when I thought about covering All In The Family…I asked Pam if she would consider covering Archie, Edith, Gloria, and Mike in the same way.

She not only agreed, but she has given me permission to post her writing on my site.

All In The Family changed the landscape of television and pop culture in the 70s.  Some have said All In The Family was essentially a mirror held up to America at the time. It ran from 1971 – 1979 on CBS. The show was based on Til Death Us Do Part, a British sitcom about a conservative father and his liberal son-in-law. All In The Family may have been the most important television show in the 20th century.

The series spent five consecutive years at number one in the Nielsen ratings.

We will do these in installments on a Saturday. Today will be featuring Archie Bunker. The next will be following in the coming weeks. Hope you enjoy.

Flourish Line Border - Free vector graphic on PixabayAll Things Thriller

Remember Archie Bunker? If you’re around my age–mid forties to mid fifties–or older you do. And if you didn’t know him personally, you knew someone like him.

Your uncle…Your grandfather…The neighbor across the street.

The country was full of men like him back in the day.

Archie was a grumpy old man, except he really wasn’t that old. He was a middle aged guy stuck in a time warp of sameness…prematurely gray, paunchy, always in work pants, he looked the same when he was fifty as he did when he was thirty and vice versa

He enjoyed his paper, his beer…boxing and baseball on television….fat cigars and his chair. Especially his chair. Nobody could sit in that chair but Archie. Nobody.

And it wasn’t even that great of a chair…at least it was better than his wife’s. Edith. Her chair looked flat out uncomfortable.

Edith was a nice lady. And Archie loved her. He really did…Oh, he talked badly to her. Abusively… He was so domineering. And controlling.

I’m not saying that he cursed her, or, God forbid, raised his hand to her. He didn’t…He would have never done that, but the way he would tell her to stifle herself when she said something he didn’t like or if she was just getting on his nerves..

That kind of stuff wouldn’t fly today. And it shouldn’t.

Should have never flown then. Sadly, those attitudes weren’t that unusual in the 70s. There was a lot of backlash to the civil rights movement in the suburbs then…to women’s lib…to the intelligentsia…There were a lot more blue collar middle class people in the suburbs then.

The Bunkers lived in Queens, in a two bedroom, one bath, row house. They were probably about two rungs, on the plus side, from being lower middle-class. But they weren’t and that’s what counted.

Archie worked hard as a dock foreman to provide for his family. He really did. And he took good care of them.

It wasn’t easy for him either. He had to drop out of high school so he could work and take care of his mother when his dad died. From there he served in the Army Air Corps during WWII where he received the purple heart for being shot in the butt…

Yeah, that’s right. Archie got shot in the butt, but here’s the deal…he was on some cushy gig where he didn’t have to see combat, only he did see it. And when he saw it, he defended his country. And his friends. And himself.

He was a good father to Gloria, too. Of course, he wanted a boy, but from the moment she was born she had him wrapped around her finger.

Oh, he groused at her, too. A lot. But when Gloria miscarried her first baby–Archie’s grandson that he was so excited about–all he really cared about was her.

The way he sat on the side of her bed…and for the first time in his life, probably, he was speechless…the way he looked at her, so worried, just wanting her to be okay, said it all.

He was like that with Edith too. Very loyal to her.

And sometimes, ever so rarely, Edith would let him have it. She’d put her foot down and put him in his place. Those times were priceless.

But in the same way that Archie was misogynistic–because, make no mistake, he was–he was racist, too. He was unapologetically racist, though he would tell you that he wasn’t.

The fact is, Archie Bunker was so racist–it came so naturally to him–that he didn’t know the difference. To him, the Ku Klux Klan was racist, yes, but he was completely numb to the reality that they–the Ku Klux Klan–espoused 90% of his own political views…

That he was an equal opportunity insulter…he ribbed his son-in-law Mike, mercilessly about being Polish…he upbraided Catholics for being Catholic and Puerto Ricans for being Puerto Rican…that he believed there should be no violence and that there were some good people who were minorities was enough to keep him humane, but just barely.

Racism. Misogyny. Inexcusable then and inexcusable now.

Should it matter that he was a hard working, faithful husband and father that was wounded while serving his country during wartime? Are those enough attributes, enough mitigating factors to push Archie over the Mason/Dixon Line and onto the good side?…

That’s right, fellow Southerners, I said the good side. The South–during the Civil War–were the bad guys. Get over it..

I say yes.

Then again, I’m a middle aged white woman. I would say yes.

H.R. Pufnstuf

H.R. Pufnstuf
Who’s your friend when things get rough?
H.R. Pufnstuf
Can’t do a little ’cause he can’t do enough

I wasn’t old enough to catch the first run of this but I caught the show reruns in the mid-seventies. It was so colorful and intriguing. I always loved this show. Jack Wild did a great job as Jimmy who sails his ship to this God forsaken island. Talking trees, flute, mushrooms, and Witchiepoo always trying to nab Jimmy’s gold talking flute. The mayor of the island was H.R. Pufnstuf…a dragon type creature I think.

TV Time - H.R. Pufnstuf S01E04 - The Mechanical Boy (TVShow Time)

The character HR Pufnstuf was created for the 1968 World’s Fairin San Antonio, Texas. The show lasted one season…1969-1970. They made 17 episodes and replayed them over and over. The show was an immediate hit, so NBC renewed it for a second season, but it had become such an overwhelming money pit for the producers that they declined and the network was forced to air reruns.

It’s long been rumored that the Krofft brothers were deeply influenced by marijuana and LSD when they were making H.R. Pufnstuf…uh…”Hand Rolled Puffin’ Stuff.” Despite these obvious parallels, the brothers deny using drugs – at least during work hours.

Pin on Memories TV - Sid & Marty Croft

Marty Krofft: “We screwed with every kid’s mind,”such as H.R. Pufnstuf, Lidsville and Land of the Lost — that he created with brother Sid in the early 1970s. “There’s an edge. Disney doesn’t have an edge.”

Marty Krofft: “No drugs involved. You can’t do drugs when you’re making shows. Maybe after, but not during. We’re bizarre, that’s all.”

On a side note… The Kroffts sued McDonalds for copyright infringement because Mayor McCheese and Big Mac bore a strong resemblance to H. R. Pufnstuf. They also noted similarities between the living trees and apple pie trees…McDonalds clearly did borrow from H.R. Pufnstuff.

H.R. Pufnstuf

H.R. Pufnstuf
Who’s your friend when things get rough?
H.R. Pufnstuf
Can’t do a little ’cause he can’t do enough

Once upon a summertime
Just a dream from yesterday
A boy and his magic golden flute
Heard a boat from off the bay
“Come and play with me, Jimmy
Come and play with me
And I will take you on a trip
Far across the sea”

But the boat belonged to a kooky old witch
Who had in mind the flute to snitch
From her broom-broom in the sky
She watched her plans materialize
She waved her wand
The beautiful boat was gone
The skies grew dark, the sea grew rough
And the boat sailed on and on and on and on and on and on

H.R. Pufnstuf
Who’s your friend when things get rough?
H.R. Pufnstuf
Can’t do a little ’cause he can’t do enough

But Pufnstuf was watching, too
And knew exactly what to do
He saw the witch’s boat attack
And as the boy was fighting back
He called his rescue racer crew
As often they’d rehearsed
And off to save the boy they flew
But who would get there first?

H.R. Pufnstuf
Who’s your friend when things get rough?
H.R. Pufnstuf
Can’t do a little ’cause he can’t do enough

But now the boy had washed ashore
Puf arrived to save the day
Which made the witch so mad and sore
She shook her fist and screamed away

H.R. Pufnstuf
Who’s your friend when things get rough?
H.R. Pufnstuf
Can’t do a little ’cause he can’t do enough

The Banana Splits Show

I remember in the mid 70s staying at my grandmothers house and I would watch the Banana Splits reruns. I saw this the other day and had to pass this delightful theme on to other ears…warning it will be there ALL day. 

This was a Hanna-Barbera show that ran from 1968-1970. They set out to do something really different to stand out from the pack, choosing to make characters similar to their in-house style except, instead of being animated, they’d be live-action costumed characters with real people in the suits. The costumes and sets were designed by Sid and Marty Krofft.

They consisted of guitarist Feegle the Beagle (voiced by Paul Winchell), drummer Bingo the Ape (Daws Butler), Drooper the Lion (Allan Melvin) on bass, and Snorky the Elephant (who only spoke in honks) on keyboards.

Sid and Marty Krofft would later make this type of show popular with their own shows H.R. Pufnstuf, Lidsville, and The Bugaloos with an added psychedelic edge to it. 

The theme song “The Tra La La Song (One Banana, Two Banana)” was written by Kellogg’s jingle writer N.B. Winkless Jr., who also wrote the “Snap, Crackle, Pop” jingle for Rice Krispies cereal. 

The song peaked at #96 in the Billboard 100. A punk band named The Dickies covered the song and took it to #7 in the UK in 1979.

The Banana Splits Theme

Tra la la tra la la la
Tra la la tra la la la
Tra la la tra la la la
Tra la la tra la la la

One banana two banana three banana four
All bananas make a split so do many more
Over hill and highway the banana buggies go
Come along to bring you the banana splits show

Four banana three banana two banana one
All bananas playing in the bright warm sun
Flipping like a pancake popping like a cork
Fleagle bingo drooper and snork

Making up a mess of fun
Making up a mess of fun
Making up a mess of fun
Lots of fun for everyone

Four banana three banana two banana one
All bananas playing in the bright warm sun
Flipping like a pancake popping like a cork
Fleagle bingo drooper and snork

Home Improvement

Tim Taylor (Tim Allen), Jill Taylor (Patricia Richardson), Al Borland (Richard Karn), Wilson W. Wilson (Earl Hindman), Randy Taylor (Jonathan Taylor Thomas), Mark Taylor (Taran Noah Smith), Brad Taylor (Zachery Ty Bryan), and Heidi Keppert (Debbe Dunning), and Lisa (Pamela Anderson)

This show is not deep nor did it change television like All In The Family or Seinfeld…but it was fun. A lot of fun with Tim, Jill, Al, Wilson, and the kids. Before I started working in IT I had different jobs. When this show was on I was a supervisor in a woodworking shop. Needless to say this was very popular with everyone there. The show ran from 1991 – 1999 with 204 episodes. To my surprise Home Improvement beat Seinfeld in ratings for a few years.

The shows followed a formula…someone, usually Tim, would do something stupid or say the wrong thing. An argument would ensue and then they would go to their neighbor Wilson and he would give them a quote or a story that would go over Tim’s head. The problem would more or less be solved after that.

The formula was an open secret and the writers would often poke fun at it and themselves.

Tim is what some people would call a modern Neanderthal but he had a heart and learned…but not always too well. More power, more power and Tim would blow something up. He was the host of “Tool Time” a fictional cable show about home improvement and tools. Tim would then get into trouble by adding power to the simplest thing (lawn mower which ran at 60 mph, dish washer with a motor that cranked, a vacuum cleaner that sucked up the drapes) and ended up electrocuting himself, gluing himself to a board, falling through a port a potty, and etc.

Home Improvement': Behind-the-Scenes Facts Not Even Superfans Know ...

If Tool Time would have been a real show…I would have watched just to see what trouble Tim would get into next.

Jill was the typical “straight man” character to her goofy husband. She often gave advice to her boys about girls that exemplified how gentlemen should act. She had a sophistication that was totally opposite of her husband. The more she pushed theater and ballet the more Tim would push a Monster truck rally. She was my favorite 90s sitcom mom hands down. She grounded the show and to me was the most important member. She kept it real and believable.

Home Improvement — See the Cast Then and Now

Tim’s ever suffering Tool Time partner was Al Borland who actually had knowledge and knew what he was doing. A bonafide unhip square but a lovable one, who only wanted the best for everyone. He had a much softer side than Tim and talked about his feelings which horrified Tim. He always wore flannel and Tim always made jokes about that and Al’s very large mother. Al was extremely popular with the fictional viewers of Tool Time.

Home Improvement - Albert E. "Al" Borland is a master plumber and ...

Wilson was a peculiar neighbor with very odd habits but was a wise one. The poor guy couldn’t go outside without solving the Taylor’s problems…even the kids came to him for advice. The show played on the gimmick of only showing Wilson from his nose up…or they covered his face entirely if he wasn’t in front of the fence.

The Savage Brothers: 5 Deceivingly Wholesome Sitcom Characters

There were two tool time girls… Heidi and Lisa

Heidi, the lovely assistant from Tool Time on Home Improvement ...Lisa | Home Improvement Wiki | Fandom

All in all I still enjoy watching the show. It still makes me laugh and the show highlighted the problems most couples have…it was Disney so you will not see them face too many serious topics …just everyday problems that we all have…minus some guy blowing things up.

1970’s TV Catch Phrases

In 2018 I did a Slang from the Seventies post but on this one, I wanted to concentrate on TV Catch Phrases. It’s funny that some people would tune into shows just to hear them…waiting for JJ to say Dy-no-mite in Good Times.

Lookin’ Good! – Chico and the Man

Stifle Yourself – All In The Family

Dy-no-mite Good Times

Who Loves Ya Baby? – Kojak

Don’t make me angry. You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry – The Incredible Hulk

Good night, John Boy – The Waltons

Kiss my grits! – Alice

Book ’em Danno – Hawaii Five-0

Jane, you ignorant slut – Saturday Night Live

God wll get you for that – Maude

 

 

 

 

Bewitched

“Oh My Stars”          1964-1972

I binged watched Bewitched during the lockdown and some afterward. The first five seasons were probably the best. Having the lovely Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery) as a wife who could twitch her nose and whip up anything you desired…doesn’t sound half bad…therefore… I never understood Darrin…either Darrin.

Bewitched was full of funny characters. Mr and Mrs Kravitz next door. Uncle Arthur (the great Paul Lynne), Aunt Clara, Maurice, Endora, and a cast of witches and warlocks. The show stuck the characters with the same actors/actresses for the most part. The continuity was pretty good in this show with one big exception…the two Darrins. More on that in a few.

The show was about a mortal (Darrin Stevens) that married a witch (Samantha Stevens) and Darrin does not like Samantha to use her powers. Endora the mother-in-law was a witch that played the stereotypical mother-in-law but one that could Darrin into a horse if she so pleased.

One of my favorites was Aunt Clara played perfectly by Marion Lorne. The character Aunt Clara collected doorknobs. The writers did that because Marion Lorne actually collected doorknobs from everywhere… The producers of the show would ask to borrow one if they wanted one for a different look for the show. 

Aunt Clara | Of Mice and Men Wiki | Fandom

A funny story about Marion Lorne is that she once called Elizabeth Montgomery and said, with her trademark stammer, to come to her hotel residence right away as she seemed to have actual magical powers like her character. Every time she clapped her hands, her TV set would change the channel. What Marion didn’t know was that the bracelets on each of her arms made contact when she clapped her hands, and the sound was the same as a remote control, which operated as tuning forks in those days. Montgomery never told her this.

The two Darrins. The first Darrin was Dick York. The second Darrin was Dick Sargent.

Pin on Hollywood Portraits: Male

Dick York had severe back problems and a pain pill addiction. He was on for almost 5 full seasons. He came down with a fever during the last part of the 5th season and collapsed on an episode. He entered the hospital and never came back to the show. His career essentially ended then.

The next season Dick Sargent took over with no explanation to the audience. Sargent was never as popular with the audience and the ratings soon dropped. The show lasted 8 total seasons before ending in 1972.

On December 6 Agnes Moorehead was born… | Today In PopAgnes Moorehead | American actress | Britannica

It’s a fun show to watch and it had some great actors and actress that would show up. Agnes Moorehead who played Endora was part of the Mercury Theatre with Orson Welles.

Bewitched had some really good effects for the time. I grew up on this show in syndication.

 

 

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0057733/

 

Happy Days influence on Pop Culture

I remember the phrases that were on the show and phrases that the show spawned after it went off the air…like “Jump The Shark” and the “Chuck Cunningham Syndrome” (more below on them)

I watched Happy Days as a kid and even got the theme as a single. The show first aired in 1974 and finally came to a halt in 1984. Ever since then it’s gone into syndication.

Happy Days was centered around Ritchie Cunningham (Ron Howard) and his friends and family but the Fonz (Henry Winkler) character soon eclipsed Ritchie. The show portrayed 1950s life as a teenager but it did mirror the problems all teenagers encounter.

Fonz was everywhere in the seventies. Kids at school would do the hair in the mirror thing. If I only had a nickel every time I heard “heeeeyyyy” I would be a rich man. T-Shirts, lunch boxes, notebooks, and anything “Happy Days” could be printed on was… Phrases included Sit On It, Exactamundo, Bucko, and more became popular…Yowsah Yowsah Yowsah!

Two more phrases came because of the show. Jump the Shark and the Chuck Cunningham Syndrome but more in them in a minute.

Richie had some understanding parents… Howard and Marion Cunningham were always there with a solution and he had a sometimes bratty but typical little sister Joanie. His best friends were Potsy and Ralph Malph who would mostly get Richie in trouble.

Happy Days also spawned a number of spin-offs, including the hit shows Laverne & Shirley and Mork & Mindy. We won’t discuss Joanie Loves Chachi…no that didn’t happen.

In the Seventies, a 50s revival was happening at the time and this show certainly added to it. Movies like Grease, American Graffiti, and The Last Picture Show were hits also.

Now some fun stuff.

Jump the Shark – A definition… “(of a television series or movie) reach a point at which far-fetched events are included merely for the sake of novelty, indicative of a decline in quality”

This originated from Happy Days. It was the episode where Fonzie jumps over a shark while on water-skis. This was way outside the original storyline of the show. If you want to know which one…Season 5 Episode 3 of a three-part episode storyline.

The Chuck Cunningham Syndrome – One of the definitions I found…  occurs when a character in a television mysteriously vanishes from the show. No write-off, no death, not even a passing explanation of what happened to the character.

This originated from Happy Days. Poor Chuck was Ritchie’s brother and he is in a total of 11 episodes in the first two seasons. After that, we never see nor hear anything from Chuck again. Did aliens abduct him? Was he in the Witness Protection program? Was he a spy? Was he a figment of the family’s imagination? Did he grow up to be Alice Cooper?

This is where “Jump The Shark” was born…Yea, a guy from Milwaukee is going to water ski and jump a shark…with a leather jacket on.

Ken Osmond (Eddie Haskell) 1943-2020

Ken Osmond who portrayed Eddie Haskell on “Leave It To Beaver” has passed away at age 76. I grew up watching this show after school in syndication in the late 70s.

After watching it again as an adult…I see that it was a well-written show from a child’s point of view. Ken Osmond played Eddie Haskell…who was the pot-stirrer on the show and he was needed. He kept it from becoming too sweet…plus we all know an Eddie Haskell or two.

RIP Ken Osmond.

https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/ken-osmond-dead-mischievous-eddie-haskell-leave-it-beaver-was-76-1246683

 

 

 

Dire Straits – Sultans Of Swing

A masterpiece. I was 12 when this was released and it sounded timeless even then. It was a great song in 1979 and will be great in 2079. Not only are the words inventive but this was most people’s introduction to Mark Knopfler. I wasn’t a guitar player when I was 12 but I knew he was something special.

I’ve heard this one at what seems like a thousand times but I’ll always turn it up when it comes on the radio.

Sultans of Swing peaked at #4 in the Billboard 100, #4 in Canada, #8 in the UK, and #12 in New Zealand in 1979.

Mark Knopfler was inspired by watching a lousy club band perform. Knopfler was in England on a rainy night. He ducked into a bar where a mediocre band was closing out the night to an audience that was maybe four or five drunks unaware of their surroundings. The hapless jazz combo ended their set with the lead singer announcing, “Goodnight, and thank you. We are the sultans of swing.”

Mark Knopfler: “When the guys said ‘Thank you very much, We are the Sultans of Swing,’ there was something really funny about it to me because Sultans, they absolutely weren’t. You know they were rather tired little blokes in pullovers.”

 

From Songfacts

This song is about guys who go to a club after work, listen to music and have a good time. They are there for the music, and not for the image presented by the band. The song was a marked change from the waning disco style and the nascent punk movement. 

Knopfler got a lot of songwriting ideas from observing everyday people, something that got harder to do when he became famous. 

This was Dire Straits’ first single. It was one of five songs on a demo tape they used to get their record deal. The tape got played on London radio and started a bidding war for the band.

Despite the title, the song is not played with a swing rhythm. 

A singer-songwriter from Indiana named Bill Wilson, who died in 1993, claimed that he wrote the lyrics to this song. He would often tell the story in concert, which was recorded for a 24-track CD that was released by a production company which recorded various artists between 1989-1995. One of the tracks is Wilson (identified only as “B. Wilson”) performing “Sultans Of Swing.”

There is an asterisk after his name and on the CD it says that this was from a live show performed at The Warehouse in Indianapolis, Indiana. Before Wilson plays the song he says the following: “I do this thing I co-wrote about, I guess, it’s been about 12 years ago I wrote the lyrics and a friend of mine used to work a lot of sessions for my old producer, Bob Johnston, and worked a session with this fellow from England by the name of Mark Knopfler. Has his own group over there called Dire Straits. He had this little melody. It sounded like ‘Walk, Don’t Run.’ And he had this little story concerning a band that nobody wanted to listen to. Only a few people show up to hear. So we got together one night after the session and tossed these lyrics around on a napkin and I guess I wound up writing most of the lyrics to the tune. Made enough money to buy a new Blazer that year I remember, so… didn’t do too bad. It goes like this…”

Then he starts playing an acoustic guitar, strumming Spanish style and singing “Sultans.” The lyrics are pretty close to what Mark Knopfler recorded but are slightly different. In 2009, this was posted to YouTube.

It is unlikely that Wilson’s account is true. Knopfler has never made mention of him, and Wilson is not credited for any contribution to the song. Also, the timeline doesn’t sync: Mark Knopfler didn’t come to America until after the album was released. The session work he did in Memphis was in the late ’80s and early ’90s when he was on a break from Dire Straits.

Sultans of Swing

You get a shiver in the dark
It’s a raining in the park but meantime-
South of the river you stop and you hold everything
A band is blowing Dixie, double four time
You feel alright when you hear the music ring

Well now you step inside but you don’t see too many faces
Coming in out of the rain they hear the jazz go down
Competition in other places
Uh but the horns they blowin’ that sound
Way on down south
Way on down south
London town

You check out guitar George, he knows-all the chords
Mind, it’s strictly rhythm he doesn’t want to make it cry or sing
They said an old guitar is all, he can afford
When he gets up under the lights to play his thing

And Harry doesn’t mind, if he doesn’t, make the scene
He’s got a daytime job, he’s doing alright
He can play the Honky Tonk like anything
Savin’ it up, for Friday night
With the Sultans
We’re the Sultans of Swing

Then a crowd a young boys they’re a foolin’ around in the corner
Drunk and dressed in their best brown baggies and their platform soles
They don’t give a damn about any trumpet playin’ band
It ain’t what they call Rock and Roll
And the Sultans
Yeah, the Sultans, they play Creole
Creole

And then the man he steps right up to the microphone
And says at last just as the time bell rings
“Goodnight, now it’s time to go home”
Then he makes it fast with one more thing

“We are the Sultans
We are the Sultans of Swing”

My Favorite TV Characters

Since we have had plenty of time in this lockdown we are living in…I’ve revisited a lot of characters that I remembered from some great shows. Many times my favorite characters are not the stars of the shows…but a supporting character with a few exceptions…anyway…here they are and I hope you enjoy them. They are in no order.

 

Hank Kimball (Alvy Moore) – Green Acres – If I met Hank Kimball in real life… I would want to choke him but he is funny. I have never seen a character like him…he is the definition of short term memory loss.

Reverend Jim Ignatowski (Christopher Lloyd) – Taxi – His scenes are the scenes I look forward to in every episode of Taxi. A heart of gold but a history of being stoned and using his own unique logic.

Arthur Dietrich (Steve Landesberg) – Barney Miller – Arthur Dietrich was like a walking encyclopedia. He knew something it seemed about every subject…and a very dry sense of humor. He might be the least known on my list but again…a truly original character.

Spock (Leonard Nimoy) – Star Trek – What a character Spock was…like a few others on this list…totally original. He is the reason I started to like Star Trek in the first place. 

Columbo (Peter Falk) – Columbo – I went over Colombo yesterday. An untidy guy who appears to be a bumbling detective but will find the killer every time.

Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister) – Life On Mars – American readers may not know this character but he is the most politically incorrect character that you could possibly have on a show. A 1973 Detective Chief Inspector that loves his city and don’t get in his way of trying to defend it. He is much like a movie sheriff in the old west. 

Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) – The Sopranos – Modern mobster… He is a murderer and a thief who preys on society and exploits the system…while having a family that he loves. You could teach a college class by studying his character traits. One of the truly great characters.

Gomez Addams (John Astin) – Addams Family – John Astin played him so well. Very irrelevant to whatever was going on around him…and he LOVED train crashes.

Homer Simpson – Simpsons – Role model? NO Smart? NO NO Father of the Year? NO NO NO but funny and he does love his family…and doughnuts.

Doctor Who – (Tom Baker, David Tennant, and Matt Smith) – Doctor Who is really a superhero in a lot of ways. Unlike Superman or other heros…he uses his brains more than anything to save someone or to save earth from destruction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Columbo

I remember Columbo well when I was a kid but I never watched it much…until the lockdown that we all are going through. Now I know why this show was popular. A detective show that shows you “who done it” before you are into it for 10 minutes. You get enjoyment out of seeing how Columbo can find the killer. Back in the early seventies…Columbo was one of the most popular characters on television.

Peter Falk played Columbo for 35 years and in five different decades (1968-2003) counting the pilots. He looked like a walking unmade bed but was brilliant at solving cases. He would pester his suspect to death…very polite with “I’m sorry” and the main phrase as he was walking away…”There’s just one more thing.” that is followed by “There’s something that bothers me” and so on.

The killer would end up confessing or probably wanting to beg for jail simply to escape him.

The show lasted for 69 episodes. Each episode was over an hour long. It was part of The NBC Mystery Movie program that worked on a rotating basis – one per month from each of its shows. The shows were McMillian and Wife, McCloud, Hec Ramsey, and Columbo. Columbo was taken off the air in the late seventies but came back on the air in the eighties.

Falk had to wear a glass eye because his eye was taken out because of a tumor when he was 3 years old. That made Columbo’s trademark squint. He wore his raincoat and later on had a basset hound. Stories of his wife were always at hand all the while studying his suspect to see if they would slip.

Falk really made that role. If you get a chance to see it…try it. The stories are interesting and you will see some stars you might have forgotten about.

Falk died on June 23, 2011, aged 83.

 

Where is…The Starship Enterprise Model Now?

Star Trek was a great part of my childhood. The Starship Enterprise or USS Enterprise was as big of a character as Spock or Captain James T. Kirk.

The USS Enterprise was designed by the original TV show’s Art Director Walter M. Jefferies, with input from series creator Gene Roddenberry. The ship’s registration number, NCC-1701, was inspired by Jefferies’ own 1935 Waco YOC airplane – which had the registration number NC-17740.

Two models of the Enterprise from the original series are still known to exist. The main model measures about 11 feet long, 32 inches high, and weighs about 200 pounds. That is a huge model.

It was made mostly of wood and formed plastic. The two engine pods were made using sheet metal tubes.

A second model, measuring about 18 inches long, was also used for some special effects shots in the series. It was made and fitted with blinking lights.

In 1974, the large Enterprise model was donated by Paramount Pictures to the Smithsonian Institute. It has been on display at their Air and Space Museum.

Walter’s brother John Jefferies owned the smaller model until December of 2001… it was then sold to a private collector.

So if you want to see the large USS Enterprise you will have to go to the Smithsonian. It is the one that appeared in every episode.

Restoring the original model at the Smithsonian. If you want to read about it…cool article here… https://www.popularmechanics.com/culture/tv/news/g2454/the-restoration-of-the-original-star-trek-enterprise-is-underway/

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37 Years Ago Today

Where were you on February 28, 1983? It’s very possible you were watching the final M*A*S*H episode. I was one of the 106 million that tuned in.

Goodbye, Farewell and Amen – The last episode of Mash. The show was so strongly anticipated that commercial blocks were sold higher than for the Superbowl that year… from Wiki…  It still stands as the most-watched finale of any television series, as well as the most scripted watched TV show.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2018/02/28/106-million-people-watched-mash-finale-35-years-ago-no-scripted-show-has-come-close-since/

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Where is…The Robot from Lost In Space?

Maybe I should clarify the original Lost In Space. Not the movie or the Netflix series…but the original sixties show.

Much to my surprise, this was not Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet…Robby does appear in a couple of episodes of Lost In Space though. No, the Robot we are looking for was called the B9 Environmental Control Robot, also referred to as the Robot or just Robot, it was a Class M-3 General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Robot (G.U.N.T.E.R.) “designed and computerized as a mechanized electronic aid for Earth voyagers engaged in astral expeditions.

There were two robots used in Lost In Space. One for the main robot and the other as a stunt robot. the Robot was designed by Robert Kinoshita, who also designed Forbidden Planet‘s Robby the Robot. Robby appears in Lost in Space episode #20 “War of the Robots” and in episode #60 “Condemned of Space.”

Both the main robot and stunt robot fell into disrepair after the show went off the air. They were both found and restored to their sixties glory.

The main robot is privately owned by TV and film producer Kevin Burns. The “stunt robot” is in storage at the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame (MoPoP) in Seattle, Washington. Like Robby the Robot, the B-9 Robot prop costume was re-used on at least one other show. On the Saturday morning children’s show Mystery Island, it was modified to create the primary character P.O.P.S. It had different domes, a different color scheme, and an added rectangular skirt of gold-colored tubes covering the rubber bellows legs and base.

I want to thank Lisa from Tao Talk for suggesting this topic for the “Where is?” feature this week. Thanks Lisa!

Robert Kinoshita and his creation…and Robby the Robot

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There is a small industry on replicas of this great robot.

 

 

The Simpsons

I could write pages on this show but I’ll keep it short.

I’ve covered a lot of cartoons but this one is special. This Simpsons is probably my favorite of all time. It has influenced countless TV shows. This show appealed to young and older audiences alike.

The Simpsons was created by Matt Groening, who thought of the idea for the Simpsons in the lobby of James L. Brooks’s office. He named the characters after his own family members, substituting “Bart” for his own name. The family debuted as shorts on The Tracey Ullman Show on April 19, 1987. In 1989, the shorts were spun off into the series The Simpsons which debuted on December 17, 1989.

The family members’ animated bodies have changed shape a bit since, but they have not aged much, aside from shows that looked into characters’ futures. In fact, most people would agree that Matt Groening’s goofy humor hasn’t gotten old either.

The town of Springfield has a cast of characters that really made the show. You get to know them weekly from Mr. Burns, Ned Flanders, Disco Stu, Barney Gumble, Krusty the Clown, Moe Szyslak, Marge, Lisa, and the list goes on.

Other shows such as Family Guy, American Dad, and South Park were influenced by The Simpsons but they are cruder and use more shock value. Nothing wrong with that but I always thought the Simpsons was more clever. The two cartoons that I have really liked since the Simpsons started are King of the Hill and Futurama, the later also created by Groening.

In the early stages, the show revolved around the young Bart Simpson’s trouble-causing antics, making it appeal to a younger crowd. Over the years, however, the writers, which have included Conan O’Brien, found viewers responded more to the father figure Homer Simpson, and he became the show’s main character.

In 2007, the family finally made its way to theaters in the Simpsons Movie.

The Simpsons have ran for 31 seasons and nearly 700 episodes (676 as of this writing). The show is the longest-running scripted series in TV history.

A few of the Catchphrases that have worked into our everyday life.

Don’t Have a Cow, Man

Eat My Shorts

Mmm, donuts

Release The Hounds

Hidely Ho…Okily Dokily

D’oh!

Woo Hoo!

Eeeeeeexcellent