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Kid Power (1972)
Ground Breaking Cartoon Doesn't Last
Seven years after Morrie Turner became the first African-American cartoonist to launch a comic strip with Wee Pals, ABC debuted an animated version titled Kid Power.
The show was the first to featured a multi-racial group of children as they learned lessons and solved problems in daily life. Some of the characters included Jerry, Nipper Sybil and Ralph the bully. They were members of the Rainbow Club.
I also remember there was a song in each episode sung by The Curbstones. They also sang the theme song, accompanied by outstanding and colorful animation from Rankin-Bass, best known for the holiday classic Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer. But unfortunately, the show didn't have any ratings power and after one season, the network moved the show to Sunday morning and showed only reruns. I should also point out that one of the voices was the son of the actor who played Tonto on The Lone Ranger, Jay Silverheels Jr. Turner recently passed away but his memory will live on with a show that tried to break racial barriers in Kid Power.
The Millers (2013)
CBS has Another Sitcom Hit
After watching TV's top rated sitcom The Big Bang Theory, CBS has another sitcom hit it the new show The Millers. Greg Garcia, the man behind such shows as Yes Dear and My Name is Earl, not only created and produced The Millers, he also wrote the pilot.
The pilot turned out to be a very funny episode, though it resembled Everybody Loves Raymond with the bickering parents premise.
The casting is outstanding. Will Arnett, a sitcom veteran from Arrested Development and Up All Night is great as Nathan, recently divorced from his wife and trying to adjust to singlehood. But then, his mother Carol, played by Margo Martindale, moves in and brings a Doris Roberts with a southern accent touch to the show. It's Martindale's first sitcom and she handles the format well. She is also very funny, especially in the scene where she tries to eat ice cream with a spatula. She could be considered for an Emmy nomination if the show stays on the rest of the season. I hope it does.
Beau Bridges is also hilarious as the dad, who has trouble with the remotes in Nathan's sister's home. He also handles his first sitcom well. Also contributing to the hilarity are JB Smoove and Jayma Mays, who also plays Emma on Glee.
Big Bang Theory fans don't need to change the channel when the episode ends. Stick around for The Millers. It's going to be a hit.
Back in the Game (2013)
Back in the Game Hits a Home Run
As a long-time baseball fan, I have been watching Back in the Game since it debuted and to me, it has the makings of a hit. It's the first sitcom about little league baseball since The Bad News Bears struck out on CBS in 1980.
What makes this show better than the show based on the movie series are the solid performances of Maggie Lawson, who ends up coaching her son's little league team and in his first sitcom role as her alcoholic father, James Caan. Caan seems to handle the sitcom format really well.
Let's not forget the actor who plays Lawson's son and the other members of The Angles. The add a lot to the show.
Back in the Game also reminds me of a boon i read when i was a youngster, The Year Mom Won the Pennant by Matt Christopher. Could Lawon's character lead The angles to the pennant? Watch this show. It hits a home run.
A Fun Kids Game Show
In 1964, Merrill Heatter and Bob Quigley revived their first game show Video Village by changing the title to Shenanigans and putting the show in ABC's Saturday morning kids line up.
Sponsored by Milton Bradley, the show featured two kids playing the role of pieces on a game board as the played versions of the sponsor's games and collected shenanaganzas to be redeemed for prizes.
I saw the show for the very first time on youtube.com and i thought it was a fun kids game show. Stubby Kaye, best known for his roles in the musical comedies Guys and Dolls and L'il Abner, did an outstanding job in hosting what would turn out to be his only game show. He brought a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the proceeding and more important, he had very good rapport with the young contestants. He also sang the show's theme song. It's a shame that any game show producer never offered him another hosting job. He would have also done well hosting an adult game show.
It was also one of the few times veteran Heatter-Quigley announcer Kenny Williams appeared on camera. He portrayed "Kenny the Cop" and added a lot to the show.
If you never seen or heard the show, view it on youtube. You'll have a shenanaganza.
A Very Funny Game Show That Didn't Click
i remember The Match Game/Hollywood Squares Hour and to me it was a very funny game show that combined to classic comedy games into one format.
Fortunately, Gene Rayburn was brought back to host the Match Game segment. Even though he didn't have the trio of regulars in Brett Somers, Richard Dawson and Charles Nelson Reilly, he still handled the show he hosted in two previous incarnations very adeptly.
But wait, There's more. After Match Game ended, three more celebrities came on for Hollywood Squares, hosted by Jon Bauman. Even though I really enjoyed the original Peter Marshall version, this version was weaker than Rayburn's Match Game because Bauman, aka "Bowzer" in Sha Na Na, was not much of a straight man than Marshall and lacked experience hosting a game show. Also, Mark Goodson, who was never a fan of the show, didn't allow the stars to bluff, so all the questions were multiple choice.
After time expired in Hollywood Squares, the winning contestant played the Super Match for a chance to win up to $30,000. The Head to Head Match to me, was done the right way, minus the Star Wheel and each panelist had a card ranging from 10 times their winnings to 30.
Unfortunately, the show suffered from low affiliate clearances due to local or syndicated programming and competition from long-running soaps General Hospital and Guiding Light. After nine months the show was canceled. It just didn't click with viewers.
The Patchwork Family (1972)
One of the Last Memorable New York Kids Shows
In January 1972, WCBS-TV replaced their long-running Sunday morning kids show Around the Corner with a show that also aired on Saturdays titled The Patchwork Family. The show was hosted by Carol Corbett, who I remember from the mid 60s when she hosted a lunchtime show on Channel 11. She had a puppet sidekick named Rags, who was voiced and operated by Cary Antebi. He also handled the puppets Flap and Sherlock on another successful kids show The Magic Garden.
Getting to the show, it was a nice mix of entertainment and education. The were exercise and musical segments as well as a rebus puzzle. Unfortunately, I didn't see a lot of episodes because I moved that summer from New Jersey to Minnesota but I also remember an instrumental in one of the episodes that was also used on the Jack Barry game show Hollywood's Talking as well as in commercials.
The Patchwork Family was one of the last memorable New York kids shows before most of them left the airwaves in the late 70s and 80s. Interesting note, after both Patchwork Family and Magic Garden left TV, Antebi dropped out of show business and became a rabbi.
I'll always remember the theme song that ended with this line: "It's certified and stated, That everyone's related in The Patchwork Family."
The Bob Newhart Show (1972)
Bob Newhart's First Hit Sitcom
Two years after launching the groundbreaking Mary Tyler Moore Show, MTM Productions debuts The Bob Newhart Show. It becomes part of CBS' hit Saturday night lineup, thanks to Newhart's trademark double take, stammer and blank stare persona that was also part of a number of successful comedy records.
Newhart carries the show well but it's the core cast that also makes the show a hit. Suzanne Pleshette as Bob's wife Emily, Peter Bonerz as Jerry, Marcia Wallace as Carol, the receptionist and Bill Daily as divorced neighbor Howard. The ensemble remained together for the entire run. Nobody was spun off and there were no contract disputes and it led to one of the most stable sitcom casts of all-time.
Also in the mix was Bob's therapy group, including Jack Riley as neurotic Elliot Carlin, Florida Friebus as Mrs. Bakerman, John Fiedler as Mr. Peterson and Renee Lippin as Michelle Nardo.
I also remember several episodes with Tom Poston as Cliff (The Peeper) Murdock. He also brought hilarity to the show.
One thing I remember about The Bob Newhart Show that Bob and Emily were the first DINK (Double Income, No Kids)sitcom couple. Emily was not a housewife,she was a grade school teacher (and later vice principal).
Even though the show ran for six seasons before Newhart decided to go back to stand up comedy, it's still one of the best 70s sitcoms. It's well-written and well performed and it also gave Bonerz an opportunity to direct, which he still does today. If you have not seen this show, as Newhart's pet phrase from his records "Same to you fella!" Tune into an episode on ME-TV and see why Newhart is a 70s sitcom classic.
Excellent Blend of Entertainment and Education
I have seen very few episodes of Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids because i bowled in a league when the show aired but in the shows I saw, it was an excellent blend of entertainment and education. Bill Cosby was a true genius behind the show as creator, host and voice of several characters, including the main title character. Not only did the show have a long run on Saturday mornings, it also helped Cosby earn his doctorate in education. That's why viewers saw the credit on his next big hit The Cosby Show William H. Cosby Jr. Ed.d.
Another key to the show's success was that the characters were based on real-life friends and relatives of Cosby from his days growing up in Philadelphia. It showed a lot of realism and helped viewers learn about important subjects such as health, TV addiction and respect for authority. Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids was one of TV's best cartoons of all time. Hey hey hey!
Chico and the Man (1974)
A Hit Show Takes a Sudden Shark Jump
In 1974, NBC capitalized on the success of its Friday night sitcom Sanford and Son with the debut of Chico and the Man. Veteran actor Jack Albertson portrayed Ed Brown, the grouchy garage owner who drank heavily and constantly insulted people. Then along came Chico, played by then newcomer Freddie Prinze and he came in to try to turn around The Man's failing business and move into a van in the parking lot.
The show became a huge success due to the chemistry between Albertson and Prinze and featured a classic exchange that went like this:
Chico: I want my day in the sun. Ed: Then go to the beach.
Unfortunately, Prinze couldn't handle his new found fame and at 22, he shot himself. I felt the show should have ended right there because the rising star was a definitive key to the show's success. Instead, producer James Komack and NBC let the show continue and replaced Prinze with you Gabriel Melgar as Raul. He wasn't as good as Prinze but the show survived on the shoulder of Albertson and the supporting cast, including Scatman Crothers as Louis the Garbage man. His memorable line was "I'm the man who empties your can!" There was also Della Reese as Ed's landlady.
I remember episodes with guest stars such as Sammy Davis Jr. and Jose Feliciano, who wrote and sang the show's theme song.
I really enjoyed Chico and the Man. It was a very funny show but it took a sudden shark jump after Prinze took his life.
The $10,000 Pyramid (1973)
TV's Most Durable Word Game
Since Bob Stewart left Goodson-Todman in the mid 60s to form his own production company, he has had successes such as Eye Guess, Personality and Three on a Match. But in 1973, he had the biggest hit of his career with The $10,000 Pyramid.
Derived from Password, Stewart loosened up the main game by allowing a player descriptive clues to get their partner to guess the word without revealing part of the answer. The winning team goes to The Winner's Circle where the clue giver faces the giant pyramid and gives clues to their partner so they can identify six subjects in 60 seconds. This is what makes Pyramid one of TV's greatest game shows. It is the best bonus round of any game show ever invented because it's 60 seconds of drama and suspense, two important elements needed for a successful game show.
Another element that made Pyramid a hit was host Dick Clark. The American Bandstand host brought to the proceedings something no other host has done. If a contestant loses the big money, he would give clues that would have helped the contestant win. He was the type of host who cared about the players and wanted them to win. Also hosting the various versions were Bill Cullen, John Davidson, Donny Osmond and Mike Richards. They did a really good job as hosts.
Also, there were many celebrities who were outstanding at the game. Some of the best Pyramid players were Soupy Sales, Anita Gillette, Betty White, Nipsey Russell and Henry Polic II.
Since its debut in 1973, the top prize has risen to 25, 50 and 100 thousand and there was also a version simply titled Pyramid and also The Pyramid. It's TV's most durable word game and it will put you in The Winner's Circle.