You can tell when a good thing has just about run its course, and that was pretty obvious here in Battle 17. It was more of the same thing we'd seen before- the usual events, the TV stars you were thrilled to see be a part of the competition, the ones you were indifferent towards, and the ones you downright could not stand, and of course, the unforgettable Howard Cosell. His co-host this time was Shari Belafonte Harper. A very interesting twist was how this battle's commissioner, Bob Uecker, was so caught up in the competition. Bob was commenting on everything, and having a ball. He was more like an additional co-host. No previous commissioner had ever been this involved before. I found it quite humorous. The team captains were obviously back to prove points of there own. Bill Shatner, ABC captain, wanted another victory. CBS captain Bill Devane wanted to extend his winning streak, after having won Battle 16, while Mark Harmon wanted to make up for NBC's previous loss by taking matters into his own hands, and becoming captain. Back again as well on the ABC team was adorable, yet athletic, Heather Locklear. Charlene Tilton and Doug Sheehan were on the CBS team again, and in addition to Mark Harmon, both Michael J. Fox and Kim Fields returned for another shot at victory. I hate Lisa Whelchel wasn't back again. She was a bright spot throughout Battle 16. Watching this battle was entertaining, but unfortunately somewhat boring, and redundant. The competitions seemed to have reached a stalemate. By late 1984, which is when this was originally shown on ABC, they were in need of an overhaul, and something fresh. I guess those in charge noticed this as well, which is why for battle 18, shown in May of 1985, they moved the competition from Pepperdine in CA, to Mexico, and replaced Howard with Dick Van Dyke. Neither move was a smart one, but that's another story. ABC and NBC won all of the events, with poor CBS not winning in any. That surprised me, because with team members like Parker Stevenson, Timmy Reid (Howard's words), and the beautiful Deborah Shelton, they appeared to be a strong team. I felt the pain Jennifer O' Neill endured when she severely injured her knee during football. She cried out in such pain. After the kayak race, when Tony Danza's boat went into the CBS lane, Bill Devane angrily launched a protest, to no avail, since there was no contact. The biggest irritation to me personally was the presence of Tracy Scoggins on the ABC side. She seemed like a petty bully, with a chip on her shoulder, and this came out during football when she accused (falsely) Teri Copley of NBC of interference when she failed to catch some passes. There was interference on Copley's part once, but that was it. Scoggins looked like she was ready for a throw down, but Teri was not backing down. She wasn't intimidated by her bullish demeanor. Brenda Vaccaro from ABC was only seen at the beginning of the baseball dunk when NBC's Marc Singer chose her to be the dunkee. It took her the longest to get positioned on the swing, probably due to some sense of fear of the possibility of being dunked, which she was- twice. This was the only event she was a part of, possibly due to Bill Shatner, and how strategic he always was in placing certain people in certain events. Then again, maybe that's the way she wanted it. Tony Danza's gruff demand to Charlene Tilton to get on the swing was laughable, since he failed to dunk her one time. He did, however, hit the target once, and score one point for his team, which caused them to barely edge out NBC, 13 to 12. Each team had strong men, but the NBC team seemed to have an edge. In the running relay, when Heather Locklear was running anchor for ABC, as fast as she'd always been, she was no match for Marc Singer. NBC took the lead, just before the tug of war. Kim Fields came on strong too, passing Deborah Shelton in the running relay, and while Michael J. Fox is small, he's fast. Poor Constance McCashin from "Knots Landing" should have been exempt from the running relay. She was a very slow runner. In good natured fun, the entire CBS team emerged from an ambulance before the running relay, in fake arm casts and bandages, to show how they landed in last place. I think they stayed under the 300 mark throughout the competition. Bill Devane, who was removed from the ambulance last on a stretcher, would not return as CBS captain again for the two remaining battles. This could be the reason why. The tug of war did not last very long, with NBC coming up on top. I was wondering whether I watched this in 1984 or not, but when I saw James Skilling as anchor for NBC, I remembered having seen that before. Funny how just one thing can easily trigger your memory. In addition to Bill Devane, Bill Shatner would not return as ABC captain. Mark Harmon's time was up too, wanting to go out on top, no doubt. As Battle 17 came to an end, with the NBC team gathered around Howard, you could tell these fun, awesome battles would not last much longer. They had just about run their course.
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