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Johnny LaRue's Crane Shot
Tuesday, November 1, 2005
Is USAA General Ripping Me Off?
This business with the insurance company is really beginning to stress me out. Last Thursday, I told you how I had called USAA to ask for an update on their investigation, and the girl I spoke to, Heather, informed me that they had not yet had a conversation with the young woman, Jackie, who hit me. Well, tonight after work--five days later--I called Heather again, and discovered that she is not one step closer than she was before. She has still not spoken with Jackie, and continued to give me a song and dance about playing phone tag blah blah blah. Heather claims that the best time to get ahold of Jackie is after 5pm. I said, "Well, it's after 5pm right now, why don't you call her?" She said she would, but I don't know if she did. The idea of calling Jackie after 5pm when she gets off work is bogus, because I know for a fact she has a cell phone, and I suspect the number is the one on the police report. Which I don't even know if USAA has yet.

Adding to the misery was a call from Enterprise Car Rental about 45 minutes later. They're getting antsy about getting their rental back. I had to reserve the rental on my credit card, which has run up charges of over $400 and the limit is $500. They told me I have by Friday to A) return the car, B) authorize them to go over $500 or C) have the insurance company admit liability and take over the charge. It appears unlikely they'll do anything in the next three days, so I don't know what to do. Probably return the rental and be more inconvenienced than I already am, and then hope I don't get stuck with a massive car rental bill. I've considered calling Jackie myself and asking her to please get off her ass and help me out and get USAA on the phone stat. Whether that poses a legal problem for me, I don't know. I do think I'm going to call USAA tomorrow every hour or so and be a pain in the ass until something gets done.

What bothers me more than anything else in this world--and a big reason I despise the current administration--is someone who refuses to take responsibility and do the decent thing. Just do what's right, USAA General. Your client hit me with her car. It's her fault, which makes it your responsibility. And because of your client's negligence, my life is in financial turmoil and has been highly inconvenienced. Yes, it could be worse, I could have been injured. All I'm asking is for them to step up, do the right thing, do the moral thing, and take care of the problem. Cut me a check that fairly compensates me for my totalled automobile, take care of my medical expenses and my car rental, take care of the cost of totalling my car, which is still sitting at a body shop, probably stacking up rental charges.

Okay, to be fair, USAA doesn't really know what happened, and they can't take my word that the accident was their client's fault. Fine. Just make a concerted effort to find out the truth. It's pretty obvious that the guy who called you the morning after the accident is the victim, and the client who has been ducking your phone calls for nearly two weeks is to blame...even Scooby-Doo could solve that fucking mystery. Do what's right. Do what's moral. That isn't too much to ask.

Posted by Marty at 8:01 PM CST
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Sunday, October 30, 2005
Ringo The Rapist
Now Playing: BLINDMAN
BLINDMAN is one of the stranger "spaghetti westerns" I've seen. Basically an Italian swipe of the long-running series of Japanese films about the blind swordsman Zatoichi (still being made with Takeshi Kitano in the role), BLINDMAN is an Italian-made, American-financed western filmed in Spain that stars U.S. actor Tony Anthony as a blind gunfighter and British rock star Ringo Starr as a Mexican bandito. Some melting pot.

Anthony was born in West Virginia, but wrote, produced and starred in several Italian westerns during the '60s and '70s. As "Blindman", he's contracted to escort fifty mail-order brides to some miners in Texas, but his partners waylay him and sell the women to a nasty Mexican named Domingo (Lloyd Battista, another American actor who's still active in films and TV). After blowing up the bastardos, Blindman heads to Mexico to find Domingo and get his women back by kidnapping the bandit's brother Candy (Starr), a vicious rapist with a liking for a prostitute named Pilar (Agneta Eckemyr, a Swede), and holding him for ransom.

As directed by Ferdinando Baldi, BLINDMAN features several doublecrosses, a ton of beatings and explosions, plenty of gunfire, and a heapin' helping of brutality and misogyny. Anthony, also a co-producer and co-writer, seems to be going for a comic vibe, but with the mass slaughter and gangraping, it's hard to see what's so funny. Even the hero gets into the act, stripping Domingo's sister naked and tying her to a stake in the desert. Most of the women appear naked, and a mass shower scene looks like something from a women-in-prison flick. That said, I liked the film. It certainly isn't dull, tackling the violence and masochism with a lot of energy.

Released around the world beginning in 1971 and hitting U.S. theaters in 1972, BLINDMAN reportedly did quite well at the box office internationally, presumably due to the grungy subject matter and the presence of Beatle Starr (who mumbles his way through an unconvincing Mexican accent, but otherwise is quite credible). It was produced by ABKCO Films, which was owned by Allen Klein, the notorious manager of the Beatles after Brian Epstein's death and a figure instrumental in the group's 1970 breakup.

Anthony was still making spaghetti westerns over a decade later, when COMIN' AT YA! kicked off the short-lived 3D craze of the early 1980's, which included films like JAWS 3-D, AMITYVILLE 3-D and SPACEHUNTER: ADVENTURES IN THE FORBIDDEN ZONE. Like BLINDMAN, it was directed by Ferdinando Baldi and seemed too grim, featuring scenes of torture and violence uncomfortably interspersed with campy shots that take obvious advantage of the 3D format. Most of them involve various objects thrust into our faces, including rats, flaming arrows, yo-yos, beans, snakes, gold coins and bats. But not Ringo Starr, who had moved on to great works of art like CAVEMAN and GIVE MY REGARDS TO BROAD STREET.

Posted by Marty at 11:17 PM CST
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Edge Of Your Seat

I haven’t consciously been setting out to document NBC’s woeful late-1970’s prime-time schedule; it has just coincidentally worked out that way. As I wrote in my reviews of A MAN CALLED SLOANE, QUARK and DAVID CASSIDY--MAN UNDERCOVER, Fred Silverman’s lineup was really struggling in those days. To be somewhat fair, at least he was trying different ideas, and even if it was unsuccessful, NBC’s slate was much more diverse and unusual than today’s glut of cop, doctor and lawyer shows. I recall WHODUNNIT?, a mystery game show hosted by Ed McMahon where the contestants watched a murder and had to guess, “whodunnit?”; TURNABOUT, a sitcom where the personalities of married couple John Schuck and Sharon Gless were magically switched into each other’s bodies (a la FREAKY FRIDAY); MRS. COLUMBO, a bad idea for a mystery show starring Kate Mulgrew (STAR TREK: VOYAGER) as the way-too-young-and-normal formerly-unseen wife of Peter Falk’s classic Columbo character; and one of TV’s most famous “bad shows”, HELLO, LARRY, a sitcom with McLean Stevenson as a radio talk show host and single father of two teen daughters.

CLIFF HANGERS, on the surface, sounded like a decent idea. Kenneth Johnson, the then-hot producer of THE SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN and THE BIONIC WOMAN and executive producer of THE INCREDIBLE HULK, had an idea to re-create the juvenile fun and excitement of the old Republic serials that were most popular during the 1930’s and ‘40s. If you’ve never seen one, you owe it to yourself to try it, because the best serials packed more action and thrills into one segment than many contemporary films can in two hours. In a nutshell, serials were short films that played in theaters on a weekly basis in the form of chapters (serials are also called “chapterplays”). They usually ran anywhere between twelve and fifteen chapters, each being about fifteen minutes long, and each ending with on a cliffhanger--the hero’s car plunging over a cliff or the female lead trapped in a locked room with the walls closing in. And every week, you would have to go back to the theater to discover how the good guy got out of the death trap. Republic Pictures made the best serials, since it really seemed to care about its product, and hired the best special effects artists and stuntmen in the business. Chases, fights, high falls, gunplay--Republic really packed it into its serials, although Columbia, which made serials using Batman and Superman, and Universal (its FLASH GORDON may be the most famous of all chapterplays) made some good ones too.

Johnson’s concept was to make three serials for television and air all of them in a 60-minute timeslot. End each one on a cliffhanger, guaranteeing the viewers would return next week to see how the hero survived. A good idea on paper. The problem was that, by 1979, when CLIFF HANGERS premiered, hardly anyone under the age of forty remembered the good old days of weekly chapterplays (they mostly died out by the late ‘40s, although Republic still churned out a few cheapies into the early 1950s). More importantly, CLIFF HANGERS forgot that serials were all about action, action, action. The plots and actors were just instruments to get us from one exciting action sequence to the next. In CLIFF HANGERS, and maybe budgetary restrictions played a part in this, the actors did more chatting than running and jumping. Each of the series’ three segments ran about fifteen minutes, yet only a couple were set aside for the action.

THE CURSE OF DRACULA was perhaps the most popular segment of CLIFF HANGERS. It was the only one to finish its storyline before the series’ abrupt cancellation, but it was also the one least representative of the classic serials and the dullest. Count Dracula (Michael Nouri, soon to move on to FLASHDANCE) is alive and teaching history at a junior college near San Francisco, where he has compiled a small army of sexy young co-eds who have been seduced and vampirized by his bite. On his trail are Kurt von Helsing (Steven Johnson), whose ancestors have been chasing Dracula for centuries, and his fianc? Mary (Carol Baxter), who witnessed her mother’s death at the hands of the count when she was a teenager. One of Johnson’s gimmicks with the show is that each segment was joined already in progress, so Kurt and Mary have already set about destroying Dracula’s coffins (he can only sleep in a coffin lined with Transylvania soil, and he has several of them hidden all over the city, in case he’s still out and about at sunrise). Over the course of the series, Mary discovered that her mother (Louise Sorel), Dracula’s former lover, was still alive, and that she was herself attracted to the debonair count, who tried unsuccessfully to transform her into a vampire (it takes three separate bites to do it). The problem is that Gothic horror and edge-of-your-seat action do not mix, and audiences had little patience for the soap operatics and tame cliffhangers of THE CURSE OF DRACULA. Nouri is a pretty good Dracula, but Johnson and Baxter are very drippy romantic leads, never believable as lovers or as dedicated vampire hunters. CURSE ended in CLIFF HANGERS’ final episode in spectacular fashion, as Kurt shot Dracula in the heart with a crossbow bolt as the count’s lair erupted in flames.

THE SECRET EMPIRE is loosely based on THE PHANTOM EMPIRE, a 1936 serial starring Gene Autry as a singing cowboy who discovers a futuristic society underground that plans to conquer the Earth’s surface. A great idea, so Johnson cast handsome Geoffrey Scott as Marshal Jim Donner, who accidentally stumbles across the underground city of Chimera buried deep below Wyoming. Ruled by the evil Thorval (Mark Lenard), the Chimeran government uses a Compliatron to brainwash its citizens into total obedience. When it amasses enough gold to power the machine, Thorval and his council, including his beautiful daughter Princess Tara (Diana Markoff), plan to use it on the surface dwellers and control the entire planet. Donner hooks up with a handful of freedom fighters (one of whom is portrayed by future PRESS YOUR LUCK host Peter Tomarken!) in adventures that take place both in Chimera (represented by not-very-futuristic sets on the Universal lot and what appears to be a power plant) and in the desert (mainly Vasquez Rocks). THE SECRET EMPIRE screams out for more action, but all it produces are a few tepid laser shootouts in nondescript hallways, although one neat cliffhanger finds Donner trapped in a room with a slowly disappearing floor, under which lies a bottomless pit. Another cliffhanger featuring a giant spider is laughable even by ‘70s standards. THE SECRET EMPIRE has the best supporting cast of the series, including David Opatoshu, Sean Garrison, Carlene Watkins and a marvelously hammy Peter Breck as a greedy rancher who joins Thorval’s team. Also of interest is future HUNTER babe Stepfanie Kramer, who replaced Markoff in mid-series as Princess Tara. THE SECRET EMPIRE is the best of CLIFF HANGERS’ three segments, although it also appears to have been its least popular.

STOP SUSAN WILLIAMS is the only CLIFF HANGERS segment with no fantasy elements. Susan Anton, who had a very brief TV career as a musical variety star in the series MEL & SUSAN TOGETHER (yes, somebody had the bright idea to team up the leggy Anton and stuttering country singer Mel Tillis!) and PRESENTING SUSAN ANTON, stars as Susan Williams, a spunky newspaper photographer for a New York City paper who refuses to accept that her brother Alan’s death was an accident and goes poking around the mysterious circumstances. Jetting all over the country to Morocco, Rio de Janeiro, Kenya and Maryland, Susan teams up with a rugged soldier of fortune, Jack Schoengarth (Michael Swan), and discovers an international conspiracy plotted by Anthony Korf (Albert Paulsen) to explode a bomb in a mine shaft running beneath Camp David, the site of a conference involving a dozen world leaders. Susan finds herself trapped naked in a bathtub by a cobra, tossed into a lion pit, pushed out a window, and even trapped in a cave-in (filmed in Los Angeles’ Bronson Canyon, recognizable as Adam West’s Batcave). No question that the six-foot blonde Anton is an arresting sight, but Swan’s obnoxious hero, sporting an awful hairstyle and constantly spouting a series of putrid one-liners and nicknames, is a major turn-off. Despite the international settings, everything looks like Southern California, and even if you’re not a veteran serial watcher like I am, you’ll probably guess the twist early on. Ray Walston, Marj Dusay and John Hancock are also in the cast, and look for brief appearances by Fred Ward as a Central American bad guy.

Like THE SECRET EMPIRE, STOP SUSAN WILLIAMS was still in progress when NBC cancelled CLIFF HANGERS after ten episodes in May 1979. Universal edited together a movie for syndication called THE GIRL WHO SAVED THE WORLD, which used footage from all eleven chapters of SUSAN. CLIFF HANGERS ended with two chapters left in THE SECRET EMPIRE’s run, but one additional episode was compiled, I assume for syndication, which included the last chapter of SUSAN and the last two of EMPIRE. I’m not exactly certain where the final episode aired, certainly not on NBC, but it definitely exists.

Even though CLIFF HANGERS was a bomb (that didn’t hurt Johnson’s career; he went on to make V and ALIEN NATION), the idea is still good, and it seems as though it certainly could fly with today’s attention-span-challenged audiences. I’d certainly like to see somebody take a shot at it, even though it could be argued that 24 and PRISON BREAK are doing the same thing, but sixty minutes at a time.

Posted by Marty at 11:27 AM CDT
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Thursday, October 27, 2005
Nine-Fingered Man
With the baseball season over with, I can now get back to watching some crappy movies. Tonight I finished up MGM's new SABATA TRILOGY box set, which I'll be reviewing for The Hub in a couple of weeks. SABATA; ADIOS, SABATA; and RETURN OF SABATA are Italian-produced westerns made around 1969-1971 that have just been released in a nicely designed package on DVD.

SABATA is a fun movie starring western legend Lee Van Cleef (the "Bad" of THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE UGLY) as Sabata, an expert gunfighter with a sense of humor who nabs the thieves who pulled off a nicely choreographed gold robbery in the town of Daugherty. This actually pisses off the town leaders, since they were the ones who actually organized the robbery. Sabata finds out and blackmails them, including Stengel, the arrogant boss man who resembles a gay Michael Caine and sends a succession of assassins to (unsuccessfully) silence Sabata permanently. What makes SABATA stand out is its gimmicky attitude, unusual for a western, like Sabata's ragtag team of assistants, who include a mute Indian acrobat and a conman with a rifle concealed in his banjo, his trick firearms, and his penchant for flipping coins with deadly accuracy.

ADIOS, SABATA finds Yul Brynner (THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN) playing the title role. Or is he? Common wisdom is that Brynner shot a film called INDIO BLACK, which also was the name of his character, but when the English soundtrack was dubbed, it became a Sabata movie. However, the actors' lips appear to be saying "Sabata", so I think the INDIO BLACK story may be an urban legend (although, admittedly, the film was titled INDIO BLACK in some overseas markets). Considering ADIOS, SABATA was made by the same director, Gianfranco Parolini (credited as "Frank Kramer"), using the same supporting cast and a similar storyline, it figures that it would have always been intended as a Sabata movie. That said, it's also pretty fun and adds a few more gimmicks, including a mute named Septembre whose deadly weapons are his feet, which he uses to toss ball bearings.

Van Cleef returns in, well, RETURN OF SABATA, which is not as good as the first two, despite its nutty theme song ("Sa-baaa-taaaaaaaaa!") and a very loose performance by its star. Once again, Sabata is involved with a gold theft, a colorful assortment of accessories (two acrobats this time), a snide villain, and several doublecrosses. This one, again directed by Parolini, has less action and mostly takes place in town or inside buildings, as opposed to the vast open spaces normally associated with Italian westerns.

All three are presented in their original 2.35:1 aspect ratios with their original English soundtracks. If you're into "spaghetti westerns", you need to pick this box up.

My car saga is dragging longer than I hoped. I received a phone message from the insurance company today saying they had not yet had a conversation with their client, the girl who hit me, and that they have not yet "accepted liability." I finally managed to get the USAA General agent on the phone, so I could ask her what has taken them so long to contact the girl. She said that she and the client had been playing phone tag, but she did not have a correct telephone number for the girl, who had been calling in and leaving messages, but somehow the agency was not getting her number. They should have asked me--I have her number right here on the police report. Hopefully they will talk tomorrow so we can get the ball rolling. The agent, who sounded like a young woman, sounded defensive and not terribly professional when I talked to her, even calling her colleagues "irresponsible" in regards to their not getting a correct telephone number for their client. I wasn't rude to her, so she had no call to act defensive, but I don't believe that people in the insurance business are the most pleasant anyway. The first time I called USAA General to inform them of the accident last Friday morning, I spoke to an older woman, who also got sharp with me and even scolded me about what I should do with my car and where I should take it before they would send an appraiser to look at it. Here I was going out of my way to help them out and give them a heads-up, and she's acting in a condescending manner. I suppose if she was a nice person, she would probably also be honest, in which case she wouldn't be working for an insurance company's claims department anyway.

Posted by Marty at 11:02 PM CDT
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Wednesday, October 26, 2005
No Mo' Beisbol
Now Playing: Sox 1, Astros 0
Waaah. Baseball season is over. The White Sox swept Houston to win their first World Series since 1917. Imagine how emasculated Cub fans feel tonight. Even more than usual. And Fox was back at its usual abysmal standards. It's pretty common during clinching games for TV networks to stick a camera in one of the clinching team's hometown bars. Fox did it in Chicago tonight, and managed to somehow find the only bar on the South Side with not a single black person in it.

I suppose my life can get back to normal now, i.e. watching crappy movies instead of baseball games. I just got another big box of crapola in the mail, so I need to hunker down and bury myself in Al Adamson and Andy Milligan movies (deeeeeep hurting...).

I still haven't heard jack from the insurance company. I tried to do them a favor and called them today. I left a message, along with my home and work numbers. Someone did call me back a little after 5 and left a message. She said she'd be in 'til 7:30, but I called back and left another message at about 5:25, and she never got back to me. My neck and back are feeling better now; I think I'm going to be okay, although I'm not 100% yet.

Posted by Marty at 11:55 PM CDT
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Good Morning
Now Playing: Sox 7, Astros 5
Just finished watching the longest World Series game in history, more than five hours. Kudos to Chicken, Darcy and the Smoker Hodgsons for going the distance. A terrific game all around, at least as far as suspense goes. Some of it was sloppy; nearly any 14-inning game is.

Most ironic moment of the night: during a pregame minute of silence for the late Rosa Parks, Fox cut to former First Lady Barbara Bush sitting in the stands. If it was any network but the one owned by Rupert Murdoch, I'd think the director was playing a snarky joke.

Posted by Marty at 1:35 AM CDT
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Tuesday, October 25, 2005
I Am Waiting
Just waiting for Game 3 of the World Series to start soon. I wanted to post the latest in my car saga, not that there's much to post. An assessor from the insurance company checked out my car yesterday and left a message informing me that it was a "total loss." Not an unexpected finding, but one that still sucks. It was a decent car, got decent gas mileage, was not going to fall apart for a long time, had plenty of room for passengers and cargo, and was basically paid for. Now I have to figure out whether to buy an inexpensive used car or buy something newer, which will be harder for me to afford. It all depends, I suppose, on how much I can get from the insurance company, which means I have to depend on them to be honorable. We'll see. Meanwhile, I still feel okay. I have a lingering discomfort in my neck and shoulder area and in the back, but nothing serious. It feels like I slept wrong or something like that, just a nagging thing.

Posted by Marty at 6:36 PM CDT
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Sunday, October 23, 2005
Fall Classic
Now Playing: Sox 7, Astros 6
Great game. That's what the World Series is all about. Since I don't really care who wins the Series, it frees me to sit back and just enjoy well-played baseball. I'm just rooting for five more games just like tonight's.

I bet that'll be a long flight back to Houston for Brad Lidge. Or as he's now known in Texas, Fucking Brad Lidge. As in, "Fucking Brad Lidge, what the hell?"

Posted by Marty at 11:17 PM CDT
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Saturday, October 22, 2005
Shut Up, Tim McCarver
Now Playing: Sox 5, Astros 3
Why does Fox hate baseball so much? I can't imagine why a network would spend so much money and effort broadcasting a sport it so obviously despises. From the inanities constantly spouted by its announcing team to its annoying habit of punctuating every graphic with a ridiculous sound effect, Fox shows its contempt with every inning it telecasts.

For instance, the pregame show featured an old man talking about the 1919 "Black Sox", the White Sox team that threw the World Series in the employ of gamblers, and the White Sox "curse", which never existed in anyone's mind until just now. The old man was an actor babbling about the old days, and then there was a reenactment of a little kid saying "Say it isn't so, Joe," to Shoeless Joe Jackson. Good grief. Then "Joe" told the camera about how the players "had" to do it (yes, Fox is making heroes out of the corrupt Black Sox). Then, another actor playing legendary Sox owner Bill Veeck portrayed the likable, intelligent man as a fat, motormouthed, greasy used car salesman. Doesn't anyone who works on Fox's telecasts actually, you know, know something about the sport?

It then took Jeanne Zelasko about ten minutes to talk about how Roger Clemens' dead mom predicted that her son would be pitching in the World Series. Good grief. During the game itself, Fox missed Joe Crede's home run because they were boring the shit out of us with a taped interview with Houston's pitching coach. In-game interviews are dull and worthless. Nobody wants to hear them, and we certainly don't while a Crede homer is going over the outfield wall and the outfielder is making a valiant attempt at a miracle catch.

Tim McCarver was his usual idiot self, saying things like "Bobby Jenks certainly wasn't tonight" (wasn't what?) and "In the World Series, the world is watching this play". He also constantly calls pitches as being fastballs when they're actually breaking balls.

Throw in Fox's repetitive marketing of its prime-time lineup, which includes about 1000 viewings of the same HOUSE and PRISON BREAK promos (notice ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT, maybe the best show Fox has, never gets mentioned, but the anemic THAT '70S SHOW pops up about ten times). Even worse, during the game, Fox throws up one of those annoying corner promos, complete with a loud police siren while the announcers are speaking!

To quote Casey Kasem: ponderous, man. Fuckin' ponderous.

Posted by Marty at 11:24 PM CDT
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Sly & The Family Stone Kicks Ass
I spent much of the afternoon watching MPI Home Video's DVD of THE MUSIC SCENE. THE MUSIC SCENE was a risky experiment for ABC in the fall of 1969: a rare 45-minute weekly series that was followed by another 45-minute series, an Aaron Spelling production called THE NEW PEOPLE (which ABC ripped off last year as its hit series LOST).

Both shows were designed to appeal to the young audience, as they featured large casts of young hipsters. In contrast to the drama on THE NEW PEOPLE (a show I've never seen, but would like to), THE MUSIC SCENE was a musical variety show produced in association with BILLBOARD and dedicated to current trends in popular music. Although it's obvious there was a major attempt to be tropical and hip (David Steinberg was the main host and writer), the show was also committed to featuring then-current hit records, which were often anything but hip. For instance, The Archies' smash SUGAR, SUGAR is lambasted week after week, which must have come as a disappointment to audience members who liked that song, treacly as it may be.

So while you had electrifying rock acts as Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Janis Joplin tearing up the stage, the show's format also provided a venue for square acts like Merle Haggard's "Okie from Muskogee" (guest host Tommy Smothers rips Merle during his introduction and mimes toking up) and Roger Miller, whose attempt at making "King of the Road" cool is an embarrassing failure.

Not that the creative team's liberal bent doesn't come in for lambasting, as is clear when watching guest host Michael Cole of THE MOD SQUAD dramatically reciting Rod McKuen poems. As bad as television can be, it rarely gets as jawdroppingly insane as that.

Steinberg's repertory company includes a cute Lily Tomlin, Larry Hankin (still a familiar character actor who played "Kramer" in the pilot-within-the-show on SEINFELD), Chris Bokeno, Christopher Ross (who passed away in 1970, just a few months after the show left the air; since Ross missed a couple of episodes due to an illness that the cast talks about, I wonder if that had anything to do with his death soon thereafter) and Paul Reid Roman.

Now that you can fast-forward through the duller acts (can you sit through a leather-jacket-and-ascot-wearing Steve Lawrence crooning "The Drifter" on a cheap barnyard set?), MPI's THE MUSIC SCENE, VOLUME 1 is a fascinating glance at popular music as it was in 1969 (the show was cancelled, along with THE NEW PEOPLE, in January 1970 after 16 weeks). Sly & the Family Stone are incredible, doing four sizzling songs, including "Don't Call Me Nigger, Whitey". There's also The Rascals, Three Dog Night, The Temptations, James Brown and Jerry Lee Lewis for the cool crowd, and Bobby Sherman, Oliver, Buck Owens and Tom Jones for everybody else.

Stan Harris, director of THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS COMEDY HOUR, probably the hippest variety show on television at the time (LAUGH-IN be damned), directed and co-produced the show, and Carl Gottlieb and Richard Schaal, both of whom appeared as extras, were on the writing staff.

My back feels a little better today, although I still have a bit of discomfort in my neck. I figure on taking it easy today. I'm staying in tonight anyway to watch Game 1 of the World Series, which should be a good one. Two teams with outstanding starting pitching, decent defenses, average offenses. The Astros have a better bullpen, but the White Sox's relievers won't be much of a factor if the starters continue pitching nine innings.

I went to bed early last night. Slept eleven hours. Haven't done that in a long time.

Posted by Marty at 3:35 PM CDT
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