Friday, October 20, 2017

Streaming Video Power Rankings Week #83

1) Hulu: This one just seems to be trying more lately. It started a Huluween category, it continued the new Sarah Silverman show, and it continued to buy reruns, with Futurama the latest big add. I've been watching Gotham here, and I am looking forward to Too Funny to Fail, a new documentary about The Dana Carvey Show.

2) Pluto TV: Yes, in a huge upset, Pluto comes outta nowhere like an RKO and shoots up to the number two spot, not because of its live programming (which is slowly improving--and it's free!) but because it received a reported $8 million + in new funding this week. Let's hope they use it to get some more licensed content. Pluto is slowly becoming a player.

3) Shudder: I have never subscribed to this horror-on-demand SVOD, but I always try to give credit to outlets that acquire the old stuff, and Shudder is delivering in October, streaming a handful of the most iconic Universal pictures--Dracula, The Mummy, The Wolf Man, The Invisible Man, Frankenstein, and The Bride of Frankenstein.

4) Netflix: I am wary of Netflix's plan to debut 80 movies next year and to mak 50% of its catalog be Originals. Most of the movies will probably stink, and they will get to 50% by continuing to let existing library deals expire.

However, the new movie The Day I Met El Chapo has pissed off Sean Penn, so Netflix must be doing something right. There's also a new Smurfs movie, a new Stephen King flick (1922), and a movie called Wheelman (I really want to like a movie called "Wheelman"), but mainly pissing off Sean Penn is how Netflix earns its stripes this week.

5) Pub-D-Hub: The Batman serial is, as I remembered, a riot, and ain interesting little addition this past week as an episode of quasi-religious anthology show Crossroads with Brian Donlevy as a pastor turned judge.

6) The CW: I have to admit, now that the superheroes are back, I am spending a lot of my streaming time watching CW, but so far, I'm not inspired by the way they're going. Supergirl, you need to get over Mon-El. He wasn't that interesting.

7) YouTube: My kids just want to watch mindless YouTube videos when they are watching "TV." I kind of miss the days when they just wanted to watch mindless cartoon shows.

As for me, I was in the mood to watch the original 1940s Superman cartoons, and they are easy to find, being public domain, but YouTube is the place to find 10 different versions of them at once!

8) Amazon Prime: Red Oak is back, and I;m adding to my list of shows I want to bunch-a-shows-watch (remember, we try to avoid "binge" at this site) when I next get a month of Prime Video.

9) Warner Archive Instant: This week I enjoyed Pillow to Post, one of about 900 movies Hollywood made about WWII-era housing shortages. Ida Lupino was a lot of fun in a role that let her be funny and just generally less...intense.

10) TuneIn: One notable thing about Deep Oldies Radio is the high number of novelty songs it spins. Those are certainly forgotten oldies these days. I don't really need to hear The Detergents' "Leader of the Laundromat" again anytime this soon, but it was amusing the other day.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

BOTNS returns!

Season 3 of Battle of the Network Shows premieres today! Head on over and download this episode, in which Mike and I discuss the season two finale of Eight Is Enough!

You'll laugh! You'll cry! You'll see yet another failed attempt at replicating the "Who's on First?" routine!

And you can see what THIS is all about: is the place, and stick around each Thursday for new episodes of chat about TV of the 1970s and 1980s!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

This Sunday night in 1982 brings us intrigue, mystery...and Rick Dees!

Yes, the megastar DJ and composer/performer of Disco Duck used to do a lot of the voice-over work for CBS. That;s him telling us what's ahead on the Eye. I gotta tell you, I want to see more, so I think this promo has done its job:

The questions I have:

1) Who is Stephanie's would-be suitor? Who could be so vile as to make Archie tear a bag. Or is it just that no suitor is good enough for Stephanie?

2) Why the hell is Alex starting a fire on One Day at a Time?

3) Just what in the name of Mel's chili did Henry do to make Vera shove his face into that bowl?

4) Is Tom giving new meaning to the word "cuck" by offering to pay for a hotel room for Helen and her paramour?

5) Can Gonzo and Trapper keep his reunion from turning into tragedy? (I know that Rick Dees asks the exact same question, but that one is pretty straightforward, so I have nothing to add)

(Special thanks to Chuck D's All-New Classic TV Clubhouse for posting the clip)

Monday, October 16, 2017

'Mooners Monday #30: Breaking news of more 'Mooners on DVD

Friends, let's take a break from looking at Head of the House to consider the news. As first reported by buddy Ivan of Thrilling Days of Yesteryear (well, first reported to me, and isn't that what matters?), Time Life has released a giant DVD collection of The Jackie Gleason Show culled from the 1966-1970 CBS run.

Follow the link for details and for some clips, and maybe look out for an infomercial. This is the first time I can remember scanning the TV listings hoping to find a half-hour ad, but I would like to see how the company is marketing this and to check out some footage while I'm at it. Here are the basics: 10 discs, 27 episodes, 20 hours, 7 "new" Honeymooners sketches. This set will bring the remaining number of surviving never-before-released 'Mooners segments to--well, to something very, very low. I'm no expert, but it appears that most everything except for some odds and ends and a 1970 Ed Norton sketch/pilot w/o Gleason (but WITH Al Lewis and Phil Leeds!) is now out there. MPI previously released multiple The Color Honeymooners volumes compiling the show-length installments of the 1960s; this set contains shorter sketches that had not been seen in years, let alone released.

Here's what we don't know yet: Are these unedited, full-length Jackie Gleason Show episodes? The website doesn't say so, and the running time indicates some if not many are edited. Time Life is known for several things: excellent quality, staggering prices, and impressive musical clearances. I am going to go ahead and say we can expect the first. We know the second is true, as this 10-disc set is 100 bucks. Did some of that money go to clearing the music on this variety show? We'll have to wait and see.

I realize the color years aren't for everyone. However, some people turn their noses at the Lost Episodes, and I think those are great. You have to be a pretty well-heeled Honeymooners completist to get this whole set for the new 'Mooners stuff, but Gleason is Gleason. He was more than just Ralph Kramden, and the variety show also featured characters like Reginald Van Gleason III. In addition to The Great One, Time Life touts a number of high-profile guest stars appearing in the collection.

So that's what we know this set IS. Here's what it ISN'T: A collection of the original black-and-white 1950s Jackie Gleason Show. While Time Life trumpets the fact that this material is IN COLOR, I personally have dreamed of uncut full-length episodes of the original home of the Lost Episodes, back when Gleason was in his prime. Don't get me wrong, Miami Beach audiences are the greatest in the world, as the Great One tells us, but I'm more interested in the original New York stuff.

Second on my wish list is American Scene Magazine, the 1962-1966 incarnation of Gleason's variety show before he went to Miami in full living color. I remember WOR in New York showed a half-hour syndicated version of that series, and as a little kid I was fascinated by this alternate view of the man who was Ralph Kramden. There was scuttlebutt years ago that this series was being shopped for potential DVD release. If anyone could do it, it would be Time Life. I bet the company figured the color years with the big guest stars were more marketable.

MPI had the license to this material for years and did increasingly little with it. A deluxe version of this set has the old Lost Episodes, the same material MPI put out a few years ago in a complete set. Does this mean MPI is done with the world of Jackie Gleason? If so, I hope Time Life someday decides to take a shot at the older stuff. For me, the black and white years, even the American Scene episodes, would be a must buy. As it is, I'd loooove to have this set, but it might take a while for me to come up with 100 bucks for it.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Streaming Video Power Rankings Week #82

I thought by becoming a cordcutter, I would have a lot more time to watch these streaming video services. Then I decided I wanted to watch the MLB playoffs, and I got PlayStation Vue. So far, I am impressed, but the DVR is funky, and anything I "save" has to be watched in 28 days, even if I keep the service for another month. So now I feel I have to watch a ton of PlayStation Vue.

All of this is a long way of saying--oh, let me just get to this week's chart so I can get back to the My Little Margie I recorded.

1) YouTube: YT does a lot of annoying things, but my kids put on a kid-friendly (and kid-centric) fail video that actually cracked me up. See, a kid was goofing around trying to be a frontman/rock star, he fell, and the kid playing drums did a rimshot with perfect timing. You had to see it.

Plus there is still lots of great 80s wrestling and old TV promos on there. That alone is well worth the $0 a month I pay for the Roku version, and YT gets the #1 spot in a week when the other big ones are still on double-not-secret probation.

2) Hulu: The more I use the new interface on Roku...the more I resent it. It makes it too hard to find new content, and it's another example of the odious trend of telling viewers what they want to watch instead of just letting them access what they really want to watch (see #5 on this list).

That said, the new Sarah Silverman show wasn't really my thing, but it was something different. Plus Hulu keeps adding content, and, best of all, it lowered its base price for new subscribers. Everything is going in the right direction with two caveats: 1) The redesign sucks 2) Where the hell is all that classic Fox TV like MASH  and St. Elsewhere that was announced months ago?

3) TubiTV: Big ups to this one for having the complete run of a series that just might be featured on a podcast that returns with new episodes this coming week...

4) Pub-D-Hub:  The thumbnail for the Batman serial, showing the Caped Crusader in a hilarious mundane pose, makes me want to watch it again, and the Hub is adding several chapters each week. I would also have ranked it high for the Roger Maris Post Cereal baseball cards commercial it added last week, but it also added a Chesterfield Sound Off Time hosted by Fred Allen.

5) Netflix: Still on punishment for the price hike, though the new David Fincher series Mindhunter is getting strong reviews. The latest Noah Baumback film has an outstanding cast and is said to have "the best performance of Adam Sandler's career." Yes, I chuckled when I read that AND when I just wrote it.

6) NBC: I was worried when the Throwback section of the site had September 2017 expiration dates for many of its series, but they now show as September 2018, indicating they are essentially meaningless. You can still enjoy shows like the original Galactica, Knight Rider, and Miami Vice free and with fairly unobnoxious commercial intrusion.

7) Watch ESPN: It's great the PlayStation Vue service lets you authenticate with many individual network apps. In some ways it's a better experience watching ESPN on here than it is on cable. There is a lot on Watch ESPN that is not otherwise available. It's a great resource for catching up on some of those 30 for 30 episodes that have not surfaced anywhere else after leaving Netflix earlier this year.

8) Tune In: You could be having a bad week, a tough day, a hectic moment, or all of those, and then you hear Deep Oldies play Eddie Holman's This Can't Be True, and all is right with the world.

9) Dailymotion: I just discovered all the [REDACTED] cartoons are on here, so I have to watch 'em before the leave. I will say again that DM is a poor, poor, poor man's YouTube, and the Roku version is an afterthought, but it's often a great plan B when something is not on the "mothership."

10) Amazon Prime: I try to add Prime each time it debuts a series which makes me think, "you know, I wish I could see that series," and the new Lore (a reenactment show based on the paranormal/folklore podcast of the same name) intrigues me. What a terrible week it was for Amazon, though, with the current scandals bleeding into the Prime Video world and making people question if the creep running it made big picture decisions based on the creepy things he was doing.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Half-Assed Gourmet: Red Lobster Endless Shrimp

Watch a football game on the weekend, and there's a good chance you'll see an ad for Endless Shrimp, the annual event designed by Red Lobster to honor and celebrate gluttony all across this great nation of ours. After an unfortunate miss last year, I made my triumphant return to the festivities this year, indulging at a local RL which I hadn't patronized in years.

The shrimp was not great this year, but it was very good. More importantly, it was endless--or at least, ending it was my call, not theirs. One disappointing thing this year was the lack of "off-menu" selections. In years past, I could request coconut shrimp, for example--basically just fried shrimp with a different sauce, but hey, it felt like another option.

This year's roster:

Shrimp alfredo: I passed; I didn't need NOODLES filling me up while I was trying to consume a Costanza-esque amount of seafood.

Shrimp scampi: Assuming "scampi" means "drowned in garlic butter," this is always a great option, and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I was tempted to order some side dishes off the menu so I could dip them in the scampi dish. Heck, before I left, I almost "accidentally" dropped a napkin in there so I could see what it tasted like scampi-style.

Hand-breaded shrimp: Oh, did I say FRIED a minute ago? Please excuse me. The preferred term on the menu is hand-breaded, which I guess sounds classier and...less heart-attacky. Mind you, when I asked my server for hand-breaded shrimp, she said, "Oh, the fried shrimp? Sure."

Nashville shrimp: YEE-HAW! Basically fried shrimp with some kind of spicy powder all over it, which sounds awful but tastes pretty good.

Mediterranean shrimp: Ah, go from the earthy charms of Nashville to the exotic glamour of the Mediterranean with this selection of shrimp seasoned with, uh, stuff. I think lemon? The distinctive thing about this item is the bed of long-grain rice and the skewers. It was delicious. Not the skewers--I didn't eat those, and I even resisted dipping them in the scampi--but the rice.

So that's 5 choices, which feels paltry, especially when one of them doesn't even interest me. I got my money's worth, though, and I enjoyed the shrimp enough to make me think, "Lord, I regret eating like that...but I will do it again next year."

This Red Lobster let me down in some other ways, though. I sat in a weird quasi-lounge section in the bar with a cushy chair that may or may not have been designed to make me forget how much I was punishing my body. The setting was fine, but the service was not. I think I might have received better service in the main dining area.

My side dish was wrong (I know, I know, but if they are gonna offer a side dish with the Endless Shrimp, I'm gonna take it), my drink refills were sparse, I had to ask for more napkins, etc. Perhaps the biggest flaw was the failure to remove dishes from my table.

Look, I am making it abundantly clear in this post that I know what overkill this whole experience is. Yet I don't need to be reminded of such during my meal by having to stare at my used plates the whole time. It's not like I need a tally to keep score of a competition--it's been years since I did that--so, please, folks, out with the old and in with the new. I mean, you can let the scampi dish linger a bit, but other than that, get that stuff out of there!

Overall, Endless Shrimp remains a winner for one reason: It gives me the opportunity to stuff myself silly. The price has remained constant the last few years. However, I hope to see better service next year and maybe a few additional choices.