Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Classic Shows That Should Be Streaming: 5 for CBS All Access

We continue our look at old TV shows that make good fits for the major streaming video services with a look at the paid offshoot of the Tiffany Network, CBS. We discussed NBC a few weeks ago, but its competitor takes a different approach. NBC offers tons of content for free. CBS adds tons of content plus some original series for...not free.

CBS All Access offers some intriguing original series, but it has a long way to go to convince me it's worth paying for, and beefing up that back catalog is a great start. I am not talking about all the series that inexplicably are incomplete on here, like The Odd Couple and Taxi, but rather shows that have never been available here in any form.

1) The Honeymooners: Putting aside the fact that it's my favorite show of all time--wait, no, let's not put that aside. I was lucky enough to get the Classic 39 on Blu-Ray a while back at a fantastic price. The fact that we can get it so cheap proves CBS has milked all it can out of the 'Mooners on home video. Why has this never circulated on a Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon, unlike other company stalwarts like Star Trek, I Love Lucy, and The Andy Griffith Show? I don't know, but the neglect means that CBS now has something special to add for fans of classics. The Honyemooners' streaming debut is something worth touting.

2) The Fugitive: You want to talk "binge-watching"? How about when I had chicken pox and got hooked on the show in reruns on A&E? I'm not even going to get into the many times CBS/Paramount screwed this up on DVD, but suffice to say the disastrous moves (and, to its credit, the willingness to make good) ensure that this will never be profitable in that medium.

So why not make this landmark drama available on All Access? It's too good a series not to be available, and we know it's not totally toxic because Me-TV has rerun it. Oh, and this should go without saying, but we want it streaming uncut and not timesped and with the original music, please.

This pic is, uh, not from the official DVDs. Hopefully All Access would have much better quality.

3) Mannix: Bear with me while I make some massive, reductive generalizations here: Old people love old things. Old people love detective shows. Mannix is an old detective show. Old people love CBS. CBS loves old people. Old detectives love shows. Love CBS's Mike Connors--wait, I got lost there.

The point is Mannix, all 8 seasons and 194 episodes of it, is fine old-school comfort food that has not been rerun to death. TV Land in its infancy, Me-TV, Heroes & Icons...Other than that, it hasn't been a fixture in syndication. The first season, with its radically different format (Intertect, anyone?) hasn't been syndicated, and I can understand why. It doesn't match the rest of the series. In streaming, though, when you can pick any episode or watch stuff at random, it doesn't matter. Put it all up there! I think this would be a surprise success for CBS All Access.

4) The Streets of San Francisco: Similar to #3 but police detective-y instead of private investigator-y, less episodes, and even less syndication exposure. OK, maybe it's not that similar.

I can't believe a successful Quinn Martin cop show with location shooting, Karl Malden, and Michael freaking Douglas can't get more play in rerun-land/ At least the whole thing is out on DVD. It ain't going anywhere otherwise, so, hey, CBS, stream it for the masses. Call it The STREAMS of San Francisco! Eh? Eh?

OK, maybe not, but Quinn Martin's name alone means this should be more widely available. So we get this, The Fugitive, Barnaby Jones (speaking of old people), and The Invaders for starters. All complete on DVD, all not tied up as far as I know in big licensing deals, all great fits for All Access.

5) Gunsmoke: Bear with me here. Yes, it seems this one, unlike Mannix, HAS been rerun to death. At any given moment, TV Land, Me-TV or Starz Westerns (or whatever it calls itself these days) is probably running an episode.

AN episode.

Maybe it's showing a few episodes in a row. Well, that's OK. There are over 630 of them.

Gunsmoke is such a massive thing that CBS splits it into several syndication packages, and it's not always as easy as the half-hour episodes and the hour episodes. It has to split those packages into different packages. So there's plenty of Gunsmoke to go around. CBS could upload a few seasons' worth and still offer its All Access subscribers a nice dose of classic Western.

Incidentally, Westerns are still way underrepresented in streaming. Hulu has some stuff, and it's not hard to find public-domain episodes (it's easy to find a lot of Bonanza), but apart from Starz, a lot of the old TV oaters are MIA. Starz is just replicating what it is showing on its cable networks, too. CBS All Access may turn its nose up at the likes of Gunsmoke and Have Gun Will Travel as it pushes The Good Fight, but where's the harm in saving some episodes for streaming? It's not like Gunsmoke is gonna just disappear from the likes of TV Land.

If it does, hey, I bet a lot of cable TV watchers will be overjoyed.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Streaming Video Power Rankings #115

A shocking fall is the big story of this week's rankings, but before we get to that, happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. Sit on your dad butt and watch some dad stuff, and do it without shame!

Oh, yeah, spend some time with your families, too, of course.

1) Prime Video: Amazon gave me a great Father's Day gift by adding the two Adam West/But Ward modern animated Batman features. I saw and enjoyed Return of the Caped Crusaders already but I have been waiting for the rental price of the sequel, with William Shatner as Two-Face, to drop. Well, now, I can stream it as a Prime member. MWAH HA HA HA!

(Really, I'm a law-abiding citizen. I regret the maniacal laugh.)

Also new this week: Yellow Submarine, and while many Beatlemaniacs have it on DVD or even Blu-Ray, I say...so what? It's still the Beatles. I love seeing the Fab Four and Apple getting involved with streaming the catalog, and who knows, maybe they can unveil some unreleased material in this format someday.

Amazon gives us the 3 great B's from the sixties this week: Batman, Beatles, and...Billy Bob! Yes, Billy Bob Thornton (who was actually born in 1955)  returns in Goliath, season two, and maybe soon I will check out season 1.  (In case you're wondering, Prime Video already streams many of the James Bond flicks.)

2) HBO: Seriously, folks, I ask again, does Silicon Valley just totally start to stink at some point? I ask because I finished buzzing through season 2 this week and thought it was as funny as anything on TV in recent years. This and a few movies made it a big HBO week for me.

3) WWE Network: The least exciting thing to me is the Money in the Bank special event airing tonight. There's also an NXT Takeover and a nice Hidden Gems drop on Thursday. What better way to celebrate Father's Day than to sit around with your kids and watch a 1980s match pitting the Road Warriors against the father/son combination of Curt and Larry Hennig? Answer: There is no better way.

4) MLB.TV: The red-hot Pittsburgh Pirates come roaring into this great baseball-ish holiday. MLB has been giving big discounts on this service in honor of the occasion--the holiday, not the Pirates beating the Reds a few times--so take note if you aren't on board.

5) YouTube: Oh, there is some great stuff on here. My favorite this week was finding an old "Reading Is Fundamental" PSA with Ed Asner while I was putting together the YouTube playlist for our Lou Grant episode of Battle the Network Shows. Oh, did I plug the podcast again? Shame on me! But a lot of you clearly enjoyed my linking to the Tom Snyder movie monsters episode (thanks again, Fuzzy Memories TV) earlier this week, and well you should: It was a great hour of retro fun.

6) Hulu: It reportedly lost $436 MILLION in the first quarter of this year. See, Hulu, I told you to put up the rest of The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

7) Pub-D-Hub: I've been enjoying some old variety TV on here, like Dinah Shore and Coke Time with Eddie Fisher, which is surpassed only by Shootin' Up with Sal Mineo.

8) Boomerang: Credit to Boomerang for putting together a curated collection of cartoon dads, though it should have added all the Auggie Doggie episodes or, say. Wait Till Your Father Gets Home.

9) DirectTV Now: This service has been buggy and sluggish since adding the DVR feature for Roku, but it did let me see some World Cup action this week without any problems.

10) Netflix: I can't drop it out of the ratings, as I did enjoy some stuff on it this week, but I have to dock it for rolling out a big Barbara--excuse me, BARBRA Streisand collection. Oh, I'm sure fans will love it. I'm not a fan. If Netflix is gonna spend bucks for this kind of stuff, why can't it do something like this with Carol Burnett? And remember when it added all those Albert Brooks movies, had him record a promo clip, and then dropped most of them months later? I guess I shouldn't be complaining about this, but...I am.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Today on Battle of the Network Shows!

I like to think Lou Grant would never listen to a podcast, but Mike and I return to the character (after last week's  discussion of The Mary Tyler Moore show) as we tackle Lou Grant the series!

Politics, the press, Smuckers...it's all here on the Battle of the Network Shows podcast! Click here to go to our website. Don't ya dare miss it!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Behind the Rankings: A gem on YouTube

YouTube is at #2 on the weekly power rankings in no small part because of this gem posted by the great folks behind FuzzyMemoriesTV, now known as The Museum of Classic Chicago Television:

This is an original airing of a rebroadcast (got that?) of Tomorrow with Tom Snyder. This airing is June 18, 1976, and Snyder provides new intros and outros. The theme is "Monsters in the Movies," and Tom chats with Peter Cushing, Forrest Ackerman, and professor/horror historian Leonard Wolf.


This broadcast has all the original commercials. The clip gets off to a good start with this (the ad is cut off, but we see enough to get the gist, I think):

Then look who shows up in an ad for a Chicago job-finding dealy: William H. Macy!

The whole hour is a treat, and Snyder is a fine moderator. The panel talks about the major movie monsters and their histories and enduring appeal. They get into some weird territory at one point, discussing the possibility of an x-rated horror film, and stick around to the end for Snyder's rundown of what is coming up next week on the program!

My favorite moment is a stone-cold-serious Snyder asking, "Were there vampires? People who would suck the blood out of other people?"

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Classic Shows That Should Be Streaming: 5 for DC Universe

Wait, we don't even know exactly when the new DC Comics streaming service will be, so isn't this a bit early? Well, perhaps, but given the reports last week that DC is prepping its back catalog for this service, I am bumping this post up in my ongoing series of Classic Shows That Should Be Streaming.

We also know it is coming "late August" and that some kind of digital comic book/other branding component will be part of this. Several original series are in production now. I am focusing on the old shows, though. Here are 5 that I think DC Universe should carry right from the get-go:

NOTE: I already suggested Batman (1966) for Netflix and Wonder Woman (1977) for Amazon. Wouldn't it be fantastic if DC, which is reportedly "securing rights" to old shows and movies, is going to announce each will be on DCU instead? I may even shell out for this thing if it gets both of those.

1) The Adventures of Superman: From a modern perspective, the first season is great. The rest of the show, especially the later the show went on...not so much. It's Superman, though! It's an iconic TV classic that I think would linger in the public consciousness even without the sordid demise of star George Reeves.

The sad fact is, Warners has never really treated this series like a crown jewel. The DVD releases included some extras, but it didn't seem like there was a desire to invest a lot of money in restoration and supplemental material. A Blu-Ray release looks unlikely at this point. I want to see the new DCU platform step up and make the entire series available and make a big deal out of it. Warner Archive Instant streamed the series for a while, so this one is a definite possibility.

2) Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman: Largely forgotten since it aired, and maybe its serialized nature doesn't lend itself to reruns. It certainly had its highs and lows. Yet it mattered for a while, and I watched it and would like to see it again. It's a part of the legacy of DC's flagship character, and considering it (apparently) has little prospects elsewhere, it should be a part of the new DCU service.

3) The Flash: This 1990s precursor to the current CW staple may have too few episodes (22) to draw huge $ in syndication or streaming, so why not throw the whole run on DC's own joint? Star John Wesley Shipp is a regular presence on the new program (co-star Amanda Pays appears as well), and I would like to see some more credit given to this underrated cult hit.

4) Filmation DC cartoons: I think it's a lock that these will be on DCU. Warner Archive Instant streamed the old Superman with the snazzy theme song, Aquaman, and The New Adventures of Batman (the 1977 series with Adam West and Burt Ward...and Batmite). Throw ALL these on the new streamer, DC, and also the Superboy, Teen Titans, and Atom shorts. I really want to see the late-1960s Batman cartoons, too. Why not? No one else is running this. Here is the chance to do something with them.

5) Justice League/Justice League Unlimited: A lot of people would argue Batman: The Animated Series (streaming...for now....on Amazon) is the crown jewel of the Timmverse of DC animated properties, but the JL cartoons were among my favorite TV shows, period, when they aired. They were on Netflix for years but are now in limbo even though many of the feature films of the modern DC animation area are on Hulu. The show is just too good to not be available anywhere. Its inclusion on DC Universe would give the service a solid fan favorite exclusive.

This is a decent start, right? Take these 5 and the live-action Batman and Wonder Woman series, and you really have something. While we're at it, the 1980s Superboy series is collecting dust, and it would be great to put all the endless variations of Super Friends in one convenient location for our streaming pleasure. Throw all this together, and even someone like me who already watches too much streaming video will have to consider signing up.

Monday, June 11, 2018

'Mooners Monday: More on The Safety Award

Before we go any further, does anyone else think the Gotham Bus Company exterior looks snazzy as all get out? Is that a little bit of Art Deco influence on those doors?

Note Gleason repertory player Frank Marth on the left as the reporter who is covering Ralph Kramden's city safety award honor. This reporter seems to be all over the place! It seems like only yesterday he was asking "men on the street" about their lives at home:

I give him credit for pounding that old shoe leather and working a beat, even if it seems to be about two blocks or so by the Gotham Bus Company.

I give him credit for pounding that old shoe leather and working a beat, even if it seems to be about two blocks or so by the Gotham Bus Company.
Those last two grabs are from Head of the House, but back to The Safety Award. Also in the opening scene: Eddie Hanley, who appears in multiple 'Mooners episodes, maybe most memorably as the "playboy from the roaring twenties" Pete Woodruff in The Man From Space's costume contest. Here is the photographer getting those glamour shots of Ralphie Boy for the article. Slow news day/week/month in Gotham, I take it.
What IS this reporter's responsibility? Is he a traffic reporter? He has too narrow a focus for the general features guy he purports to be. I like to think that he just covers public transportation in New York City or maybe just in Brooklyn...or even better, maybe just the buses.
Of course, it's possible that he just sticks to a narrow beat because he is so often busy with his other duties as a beat cop: