Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Elizabeth Montgomery on 'Password Plus'

The Game Show Network has been showing 'Password Plus' episodes from 1979 featuring a week of episodes with Elizabeth Montgomery. This is about seven years after 'Bewitched' left the air and she's promoting a TV movie with the unmemorable title of Jennifer: A Woman's Story.

What a smart, funny, classy and gorgeous lady she was. She's about 45 or 46 in these shows and looks fab. And she's an excellent Password player. She gives super clues and is great under pressure.

Her celebrity opponent, Bert Convey is likable and funny enough, but not much of a player. At one point, he gets confused about the rules and as Allen Luden starts to explain them to him, Liz says 'Will this take long?' Allen quickly moves things along after that.

Watching these episodes got me thinking about how 'Bewitched' and The Beatles were both such huge pop culture phenomenons during the 1960's. And they both started and ended at about the same time. The first episode of 'Bewitched' premiered about six months after The Beatles invaded America. And the last 'Bewitched' was filmed a year or so after The Beatles final album was released.

And just as The Beatles were never as good as solo performers, Liz was never as wonderful as she was as Samantha. Not that the solo Beatles or post-'Bewitched' Liz were bad, they were simply not as appealing.

To this day, I miss both. And as John Lennon sang, 'You don't know what you got until you lose it.'

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Remembering 'Ram'

When Ram was released in May 1971, I was thirteen years old. For some reason, I bought the cassette version. I suppose it was because cassettes were the new fangled thing and it seemed cool at the time. All I had to play it on was a crummy little player with one speaker.

Like most solo Beatles albums, I wondered why it didn't sound like The Beatles. And why my older brother, who was way into The Beatles, didn't seem the least interested? I guess it was because he thought, as did most people, that Paul's first solo record, that had been released about a year earlier, was lousy. And his single 'Another Day', which had come out a few months before, was pretty mediocre.

I gave Ram a listen and while I was disappointed, I immediately fell for 'Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey' and kept rewinding the tape and playing it and hoping my brother would notice and say, 'Hey, that one's pretty good'. But he never did.

The funny bit of the story is that Paul had decided not to pick a single from the album. Instead he waited for radio stations to decide which songs were the most popular, and three months later, 'Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey' came out as a 45. It was Paul's first #1. In retrospect, Paul could have just asked me which song to put out.

My other memory of the LP is that a buddy of mine had the actual album. We were listening to it one day and looking at the gatefold pics. There's a picture of Linda reclining on a couch, and she has a particular look on her face that I thought nothing about, but my buddy, he says, 'That's what a woman looks like after she's had good sex'. This was news to me. But I started to see Linda differently at that point.

I now consider Ram one of Paul's best. I've even given copies to people as a gift over the years, telling them 'This is a great album. You gotta have it!'. A new remastered version, with all kinds of extras and goodies is out today. I'm perfectly happy with my old CD and vinyl version, but I suppose I'll eventually break down and gobble up this special edition. And yes, I'll look at that picture of Linda and remember those innocent days when I was young and Ram was new.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

'Tomorrow Never Knows' on 'Mad Men'

A recent episode of 'Mad Men' featured the Beatles' recording of 'Tomorrow Never Knows'. A lot of is being made of this because it is really rare for an actual Beatles performance to be in a television show. It's rare for movies, too.

But apparently, I have a better memory than the head of Apple, Jeff Jones, who said it was the first time that a Beatle recording had been used in a TV show (other than appearances by the actual Beatles or their ABC cartoon show).

In 1968, 'The Prisoner' featured the Beatles' version of 'All You Need Is Love' in its final episode. There might be others that I can't remember...I'm guessing with the millions of hours of TV over the last 50 years, it is definitely possible.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

20 Years Later, I Still Don't Miss Johnny Carson

Johnny Carson retired 20 years ago but I was sick of him long before that.

I was too young to watch the really early 'Tonight Shows', but I remember when he was still in New York. My mom let me stay up to watch a New York episode when Paul McCartney and John Lennon were on (I was about eleven years old). When I watched it, I was disappointed that Johnny wasn't there. In his place was guest host Joe Garagiola (a famous ex-baseball player and sports announcer).

The interview (you can find a transcript in the Beatles Interview link on the right) was horrible. I'm not sure Carson would've been much better, but at least Carson wasn't a dumb jock. Can you imagine how great it would've been if Dick Cavett had been the host?

But my point here is Carson and how I don't miss him.  One of the main reasons is that like the night I saw the John and Paul interview, there was nothing to miss. He was never there! Carson was always on vacation. So much so, it was a running gag. And he eventually cut the show from 90-minutes to one hour and his five days a week to only four.
Also, every time his contract was up with NBC, there was some long drawn out very public negotiation with Carson threatening to quit or go to another network. It kinda took the fun out of the show.
Okay, so I know that Letterman only does four nights and only one hour. The point is, Carson started that. Before Carson, late night shows were 90-minutes and live five nights a week. He created that easy work schedule that the networks and hosts are now addicted to.
And besides, I can't help it if my main memory of Carson is that it was always a rerun or a guest host and he was never on.
Also, Johnny Carson wasn't that great. They talk about him like he was some super talent. He was average. He was a square. What was so good about him? The American public loves average like they love Ronald Reagan and McDonald's. ´╗┐It still amazes me when something that's good is ever super popular. Like The Beatles, for example.