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The Duck Factory

I can understand why "Simon and Simon" beat this out
I saw one of the episodes of this show recently on You Tube. When "The Duck Factory" was first broadcast on NBC in the summer of 1984, I was watching "Simon and Simon" on CBS, which was on against it.

Glad I stuck with "Simon and Simon" then (which blitzed "Duck Factory" in the ratings). Like "Paul Sand in 'Friends and Lovers'" and the two Newhart "comedies," this was yet another of MTM's exercises into the dumb and ultimately *soporific.* If Disney (which now owns 20th Television, who succeeded to the MTM shows when the latter company went out of business in 1998) was smart, they'd *burn* the film elements of this sorry "comedy" and then this dumb show would be *lost* forever.

At least Jim Carrey went on to *much* better things, beginning with "In Living Color." I liked his performances as the Riddler in "Batman Forever" and as Dick Harper in the remake of "Fun with Dick and Jane." Now *those* were funny.

The Dangerous Christmas of Red Riding Hood

An overlooked special with an infectious musical score
Being an avid record collector, I came across many copies of the cast album of this special at oldies record shops and record meets. Then around 1995 - when VHS tapes were still popular - I saw a videotape of "The Dangerous Christmas of Red Riding Hood" at a dollar store but decided not to buy it. About three years ago, I bought a (stereo) vinyl copy of the cast album and enjoyed the music; it had me longing to see the visual counterpart. Then what should I run across on You Tube shortly thereafter but the special itself. I have now made watching "Red Riding Hood" an annual holiday tradition since buying the DVD late last month.

Of course, Cyril Ritchard as the wolf was funny when he recounts how he attempted to make friends with Red but failed, especially when he puts his own spin on Shakespearean quotes. I also wasn't aware this was Liza Minnelli's TV debut, but she certainly makes quite an impression in the starring role. And of course the Animals were in great form when they sang their big number, "We're Gonna Howl Tonight." (Why didn't ABC Records, who released the cast album of "Red Riding Hood," or MGM Records, to which the Animals were then signed, put out a single of "We're Gonna Howl Tonight?" I'll bet it would have climbed up the charts.)

And, as I'm typing this I can't get some of those songs out of my head, especially "Red Riding Hood," "Snubbed," "Woodsman's Serenade," and "We're Gonna Howl Tonight." Those are guaranteed to stick to your brain until after the holiday season is over - but *I* liked them!

Now, to those readers who asked why there isn't a digitally remastered and color version of "Red Riding Hood," it's because - sadly - when the copyright on this program expired in 1993, ABC neglected to renew said copyright; therefore the show is in the public domain (any TV show or movie made before January 1, 1978 is subject to a renewal since the copyright only lasts for 28 years). Apparently ABC was too preoccupied with their upcoming merger with Disney, so they forgot to renew the copyright (perhaps ABC wasn't also aware they still had "Red Riding Hood" in their archives?). I was also astonished to discover "Red Riding Hood" was originally broadcast in color, but unless Disney/ABC wakes up and gets that copyright renewed, I guess we'll have to be grateful the black-and-white kinescope of "Red Riding Hood" exists on DVD. (If ABC had renewed the copyright, I'll bet they would indeed have been able to digitally remaster - and even *colorize* - "Red Riding Hood.")

Adding insult to injury regarding the cast album is that although Universal Music's Geffen Records label - who succeeded to and now owns ABC Records' catalog - still owns the rights to the album, there is *no* surviving master tape from which a digitally remastered recording (CD or streaming) could be made. This is because in the mid-1970's, when ABC Records was still in business, they threw out many of the mid-1950's to mid-1960's ABC Paramount masters - including this album - in order to conserve warehouse space (Ray Charles, Paul Anka, Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gorme, and Jim Croce escaped that fate, however, since they took possession of their ABC masters after they left the label). Therefore, if a rerelease of the "Red Riding Hood" album came out, it would most likely be sourced from a "needle drop" on vinyl. (Spoiler alert to any audiophiles who purchase the Substance DVD of "Red Riding Hood:" the cast album audio *is* included as a bonus, but it was taken from a *mono* copy on vinyl, and some scratches and pops will be heard. If you can overcome those handicaps, though, I'm sure you will enjoy listening to it.)

Despite the above defects, "The Dangerous Christmas of Red Riding Hood" was an enjoyable holiday special, and now I'm glad I have the DVD of the show. (I was only 3 years old when "Red Riding Hood" first aired in 1965; my father was not too much of a fan of the Gumm family's (i.e. Judy Garland, Liza Minnelli, etc.) work, and he seemed to do a fairly good job of keeping the show's airing a secret from me and my younger sister (lol). But, I'm glad the show was somehow preserved.) I'll give it an 8.

Zebra in the Kitchen

Very enjoyable
I saw this movie for the very first time on Vudu last night. In 1965, I was only 3 years old, and my folks didn't think my younger sister and I were ready to go to any movies yet.

I thought "Zebra in the Kitchen" was very enjoyable. Sure, the plot was rather simple, but there were some funny moments, such as when the ostrich swallowed the transistor radio and changed stations every time he hiccuped, the citizens of the city ran from the animals in fast motion, and when a young boy thanks his parents for the pony they bought him, which turns out to be the zebra in the kitchen (hence the film's title).

I also enjoyed this film because it took me back to a simpler time in my life, when all I had to worry about was missing cartoons on Saturday mornings, going to bed early, or punishment. And it seemed life in the mid-60's was also simpler (before all the riots that were to come, etc.). Sometimes I think my folks (may they rest in peace) had it good back then also. (I *do* remember when MGM rereleased "Zebra in the Kitchen" in 1971 as part of their "Children's Matinees" series. I had begged and pleaded with my mom to have her take me and my younger sister to see the film, but she couldn't, especially since we only had one car then and my dad was very skittish about my mom wanting to borrow the car for unimportant reasons.)

Also being an avid oldies buff, I sometimes see the 45 of the theme song by the Standells on Ebay or other record-related sites (I believe it *didn't* chart on Billboard's Hot 100). Sundazed Music rereleased the 45 of "Zebra in the Kitchen" as an item for Record Store Day in the mid-2010's. Now that I own a fully-restored Seeburg Sunstar jukebox, I'll eventually seek a copy of that 45. I think that would sound rather cool on the jukebox.

They certainly *don't* make films like this anymore. "Zebra in the Kitchen" is pure family escapism at its best. I'll give it an 8.

(And for the record, the very first movie I ever remember seeing in a theater was Walt Disney's "The Jungle Book." That was in late 1967 and I was only 5 then.)

Popeye the Sailor: Canine Caprice
Episode 49, Season 2

Was funny when I was a kid, but not so much now
I remember first watching this Popeye short when I was a kid living in Warren, Michigan in the late 60's - early 70's (I was 5 in 1967 when I first saw it). This and the other Popeye shorts were shown in the Detroit area as part of "Bozo the Clown" on CKLW-TV (now CBET), Channel 9, in Windsor, Ontario/Detroit. Then after my family and I moved to Lansing, Michigan in 1971, it was part of the "Looney Tunes" compilation running on WOOD-TV, Channel 8 in Grand Rapids weekday afternoons until September 1975.

It was somewhat funny when I first saw "Canine Caprice" as a youngster. Now, after having seen this short again on YouTube recently, at age 58 it seemed a little too *deep* for me to enjoy. There was some symbolism I sensed when Roger got kicked out and was in the street baying - I lost my father in 1992 to cancer, and then a little over 2 years ago my mother passed at age 90 because of pneumonia. So now all I have left in the way of my immediate family is my younger sister, who I still keep in touch with.

In short: Roger's getting kicked out onto the street was somewhat of a metaphor to me for being alone, especially (in my case) when your folks aren't around anymore. But I *don't* condemn anybody who does like this short; I'm sure others think it's funny and enjoyable. But it's hard for me to enjoy now for the above reason. Sorry.


Way too overdone
....especially in some of the musical numbers. For example: Connick plays his large white piano and a miniature drum set simultaneously in one segment (as if to prove he's a showoff), then toward the end of said segment Connick stands on top of his piano and conducts his band in a contrived, unconvincing manner.

And some of the other segments are just plain *stupid, goofy, and inane* (e.g. "Harry Tries....," "My Hidden Talent").

I was flabbergasted to read last March NBC Universal decided to give this waste of time a second season (hopefully it'll be its *last*). I wonder how much Connick bribed the NBC brass with to keep his sorry show alive?

Only for those who can stand this clown, his "square" music, and his over-the-top theatrics; otherwise not recommended. As dbborroughs said in his review of the Our Gang short "Doin' Their Bit" with regard to this program, "Take a pass."

Jack and the Beanstalk

Where is this special hiding?
I have vague recollections of seeing this special when it originally aired in 1965 (I was only 3 then). If I remember correctly, it was introduced by the Peanuts characters (Charlie Brown and Lucy also appear in a short bumper after the closing credits).

But please tell me if this is the version I'm thinking of:

What I distinctly remember is the Golden Goose's production number, "Oh, Them Golden Eggs;" one of the lines she sings is "I have golden feet" and as the chorus sings the refrain of the song the Goose is doing a "jazz square" and the camera then gives us a closeup of her "golden feet" (actually long, gold-sequined spats).

If this is indeed the version I'm thinking of, then: (1) The last time I saw this was around Thanksgiving 1971, when CBS aired it as a special that afternoon for the *very last* time (minus the Peanuts intro and outro), after which it faded into obscurity forever; and (2) I liked *this* version of "Jack and the Beanstalk" *much* better than that sorry, overblown Hanna-Barbera version with Gene Kelly from two years later.

So, CBS, is this version of "Jack and the Beanstalk" still in your vaults? I can only hope so (and also that the tape wasn't "wiped" after the final 1971 airing, as well as that the copyrights on this special were renewed), and that you might unearth it and put it on DVD (or if you don't want to yourselves, lease the rights out to Shout! Factory or another DVD label). It would sure bring back some nice, untapped childhood memories, and as I said before, this "Jack and the Beanstalk" was *much more* enjoyable. (Sad to say, Warner Home Video has already released that sorry Hanna-Barbera version of "Jack and the Beanstalk" on DVD as a "manufactured-on-demand" title - to be sure, I *won't* be wasting my money on that one.)

So *please,* CBS - say this version of "Jack and the Beanstalk" *isn't* "lost," and that hopefully you'll dig it out of your vaults for a DVD release! (Maybe you could also include the Peanuts opening and closing as extras on the disc?)


Guaranteed to drive you crazy
I had vague recollections of seeing this short on TV when I was just 4 years old in 1966 and living in Warren, Michigan; we could receive CKLW (now CBET)-TV, Channel 9 in Windsor, Ontario, very clearly (Windsor was right across the river from Detroit), and sometimes the CBC would air shorts like this one when time permitted. Sad to say, this film was a *waste* of time; having seen it again on You Tube recently, it also helped cement why math was *never* one of my favorite subjects.

The worst aspect of "Rhythmetic," however, had to be the soundtrack, which consisted of drum-like sounds and mouth noises a la Victor Borge's "Phonetic Punctuation" monologue; that, coupled with the lifeless and limited animation, becomes tantamount to Chinese water torture after 2 minutes. For anybody who has to endure sitting through this, might I suggest you synchronize it to some *music* of the same tempo and length; perhaps then it might be more tolerable (some ideas: Bob Dylan's "Rainy Day Women," Pink Floyd's "Money," or Amii Stewart's 1979 remake of "Knock on Wood," preferably the album or 12-inch single versions).

"Rythmetic" is thus *not* recommended, especially for anybody like myself who has bad memories of math classes in elementary and/or high school. But, replace the inane soundtrack with some *real* music of the same beat and it *might* turn out to be funny.

Split Second

Wish I could see the lost shows again, too
I remember "Split Second" very well.

When it premiered on ABC in 1972, I had just turned 10, but watched it when I was home during summer vacations or any days off I had from school. Moreover, I had a better appreciation for cars after watching that show; I never really noticed the makes and models of cars I saw on the road before "Split Second." Whenever I saw a Pontiac Grand Prix or Chevy Corvette, for example, I would say, "That's the car I saw on 'The Car Show' (my alternate title for "Split Second")!" And, I also remember for Christmas 1972 I received a model car kit (remember those?) of a 1973 Corvette, which my dad (may he rest in peace) helped me put together and paint. And, many times when I was 11, I remember telling my dad "I want a Pontiac Grand Prix when I grow up!" (Sadly, GM discontinued Pontiac in October 2010, and as of this posting I drive a 2008 Chrysler Sebring convertible - but that's *nothing* to sneeze at, and if that's about as close as I get to owning a sports/luxury car in my lifetime, I'm indeed *lucky.*)

To answer kayakkenn's question about the cars "Split Second" featured: They were only *General Motors* products, namely, Chevys one week and Pontiacs the next, although in early 1974 for one month instead of the Chevys they had *Buicks* on one week and Pontiacs the next. (It's too bad when "Split Second" featured the Buicks they didn't have the then-futuristic-looking Riviera among the lineup.)

And I remember some of the (now-lost) episodes very distinctly: In early 1973, a lady who called herself "Beaver" won a 1973 Chevy Monte Carlo after turning the key and the car started; on an earlier episode, a Kathleen Schmidtke won a 1973 Chevy Impala (I believe). And then on four 1974 episodes, a returning champion named Barry Coleman was wearing his family's "good luck pants" (some brown plaid trousers, but then, that was early 70's fashion) and tried to win a Pontiac Grand Safari wagon, but couldn't start the car and on the fifth day was defeated by somebody else.

I was also always hoping that whenever the Chevys were featured the contestants would go for the Corvette, Camaro, Chevelle (especially if it was the Super Sport model), or Monte Carlo, and when the Pontiacs were featured they would choose the Grand Prix or Firebird. I also began to suspect "random" meant "rigged" after a while (at the close of each show, Jack Clark was heard saying, "The car that started today and the cars that were blacked out were selected *entirely at random* just prior to the start of today's program"), because I noticed the cars that started - particularly the Pontiacs - began to follow a pattern; for example, the Ventura would start on Tuesdays, the Grand Safari wagon on Thursdays, and the Firebird on Fridays. Shades of the Quiz Show Scandals of the late 50's I heard about, maybe?

I, too, remember all the blurbs about "It's a Brand New Day on ABC!" and their adding two more soap operas right before the show got canceled in June 1975; I thought, "Well, it may be a brand new day for soap fans (especially the target audience), but it's a *sad* day for me (as well as other "Split Second" fans) now that 'The Car Show' is going off!" But, since I was 13 at that time, that gave me more time to spend outside on nice days during summer vacations, as well as more opportunities to do other things during fall and winter on other days off from school.

I also remember I often fought with my mom when I was home to see "Split Second," as she usually watched "Search for Tomorrow" on CBS, which was on against it (most of the time, she would let me see "Split Second;" you have to remember VCRs weren't around in the early 70's). But I *do* remember seeing that 1975 "Split Second" finale; I distinctly remember my dad was home on a week's vacation and he told my mom, "I don't want to listen to any soap operas." Thanks, dad!

I was sorry to hear recently ABC brainlessly "wiped" (erased) about 97% of all the "Split Second" episodes in 1976 to use the tapes for other programming (boo-hiss!). I was recently able to see those surviving six episodes on You Tube; one contestant chose a 1972 Grand Prix and won it after turning the key. And, I also saw the 1975 finale once again - what memories. (Besides the modification to the intro Richard Wagoner mentioned above, Jack Clark also changed the closing spiel on that last show: "'Split Second' *was* a Stefan Hatos/Monty Hall Production.")

I read at Wikipedia that the UCLA Film and Television Archives has about 15 other episodes of "Split Second" in their collection. I can only hope Monty Hall's production company can strike a deal with UCLA and put those other surviving "Split Seconds" out on DVD or You Tube. (For the record, I *never* had a chance to see the 1986 revival, which *is* still surviving; at that time - after just graduating from college - I was busy trying to get my career off the ground.)

In any event, "Split Second" was great fun. I'll give it a 9.

Masquerade Party

Would have been nice to see this when it first aired
I heard much about this revival of "Masquerade Party" when it first aired in the 70's via magazine and press reviews (I was then only 12), and now having read F. Gwynplane MacIntyre's review of it, made me wish I could have seen this revival of the show (I, too, never saw any episodes of the 1950's original via film or home video, and when that version originally aired I *wasn't* even around - I was born in April 1962!).

Why couldn't I see this version of "Masquerade Party?"

Because this show was *syndicated* (20th Television was the distributor), and having lived in Lansing, Michigan at that time, *no* receivable stations in that area (including Jackson, Flint, Battle Creek, Kalamazoo, and Grand Rapids) bothered purchasing and airing the show. Instead, we got crap like local outdoors shows, nationally syndicated nature shows, old movies, "That Nashville Music," and "Hee Haw" (yeecch!). I don't doubt this "Masquerade Party" revival *was* shown in major markets like New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago - lucky for them!

And, recently having read a trade ad for the show in a 1975 issue of Broadcasting Magazine online, that heightened my wanting to see this 70's revival of "Masquerade Party" even more.

(I remember one station in the area, WOTV - now WOOD-TV - Channel 8, in Grand Rapids aired some syndicated 20th Television programs during the 70's, including "Circus!" from 1972 and "That's Hollywood!" from 1976. Unfortunately, the brain trust who was then the program director at that station made the *big* mistake of electing not to buy this "Masquerade Party" revival from 20th, which I understand lasted *only one year.* Sad!)

I myself submitted this version of "Masquerade Party" to TV Shows on; as of today (December 9, 2015) it has been posted on that site. I *strongly* suggest for anybody who *was* lucky to see the show back in the 70's when it first aired, or for others like myself who are curious to see what this version was like, go to TV Shows on DVD's website and *vote* for the show. If it eventually amasses 100> votes, then maybe 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment (if they still own the rights) or Monty Hall's production company, who could maybe lease the rights out to Shout! Factory or a similar TV nostalgia DVD label, would release "Masquerade Party" on DVD. (Shortly before Monty Hall's passing, his production company was purchased by Fremantle Media; Fremantle produces the current revival of "Let's Make a Deal" starring Wayne Brady for CBS.)

*Then,* hopefully, I'll be able to see what these avant-garde (or, more appropriately, "below-grade") TV station programmers in Michigan blithely denied us of in September 1974, and I'll get a good

Dodo, the Kid from Outer Space

Would also like to see all the other shorts again
I *totally* forgot about "Dodo" until I saw a few clips of it again on You Tube recently (the one I saw was about where Professor Fingers threw a first anniversary party for Dodo, and he and Dodo recall how they met each other; unfortunately, the soundtrack was *out of sync* on that You Tube video). One short I remember in particular was the one in which Professor Fingers takes How, Why, and a group of kids to the ice-skating rink; Dodo just sat on the side wall and dangled his feet while everyone else was skating, and the Professor fell flat on the ice!

When "Dodo" premiered in 1965, I was only 3, but I don't recall seeing these shorts until 1967, when I was 5. At that time, they were shown daily as part of the "Bozo the Clown" show on CKLW-TV (now CBET), Channel 9, in Windsor, Ontario, Canada/Detroit; I would watch that every weekday afternoon after coming home from kindergarten.

Although I couldn't find any info on the voice cast, I'll probably bet Dodo was voiced by Lucille Bliss ("Crusader Rabbit" and Smurfette in "The Smurfs"), How and Why by June Foray, and Professor Fingers by Don Messick. As I said, this is only a *speculation,* so once I get more facts about who voiced whom, I'll start a thread on the bulletin board for this show.

I also wondered what that drawing was in the lower right corner of the Halas/Batchelor title card during the opening credits; I thought it was a smiling worm or possibly a representation of an alien from Dodo's home planet. It turned out to be a drawing of an artist's palette with a smiling paintbrush! I also thought the singers sang "lone pixie-dixie" in the theme's lyrics, but it was actually "science fiction pixie" (which I didn't find out until recently).

I believe "Dodo" is now in the public domain, since I discovered somewhere on the web a DVD was put out by one of those small-time video companies that made the disc compatible for all regions; I'll bet they *didn't* remaster the shorts and used scratchy, deteriorating film elements. I can only hope Shout! Factory or some other "TV classics" DVD company might contract with Halas and Batchelor's estates themselves (John Halas and Joy Batchelor were husband and wife; Halas died in 1995 and Batchelor died four years earlier) - perhaps they have archival copies of "Dodo" - and give the series a *proper* treatment for a DVD box set!

("Dodo" was first syndicated by Embassy Television, when Joseph E. Levine was President of the company; the company became Avco Embassy Television in 1968, and held onto the TV syndication rights until the early 1980's, although most stations were no longer airing "Dodo" by then. In 1982, Norman Lear purchased Embassy from Avco and renamed the company Embassy Pictures, then around 1985 Embassy was bought out by Coca-Cola and finally - in 1989, three years before "Dodo"'s copyrights expired - by Sony Pictures Entertainment, who promptly absorbed Embassy Television into Columbia Pictures Television. It is a *real* shame Sony wasn't even aware they had this series in their vast library and didn't even bother renewing the copyrights on it - sad for us baby-boomers!)

In the meantime, *please* be sure to vote for "Dodo" at TV Shows on; so far, it has amassed a puny *43* total votes. If the number of votes is 100 or more, then it just might get Shout! Factory's, or another DVD label's, attention. (You might also want to telephone or e-mail Shout! Factory about "Dodo;" their addresses and phone number are given at their website. That should also help influence them to get the DVD rights to "Dodo.")

Alias St. Nick

Surprised to see this again on You Tube
I remember first seeing "Alias St. Nick" in 1971 when I was in fourth grade at Lewton Elementary School (which I dubbed "Auschwitz I") in Lansing, Michigan. I remember our homeroom teachers (it was one of those "team-teaching" schools then) surprised us with a showing of this short on the Friday afternoon before Christmas break that year. I just ran across this short on You Tube, and was surprised to see it again after so long.

Although I am not really a fan of the MGM cartoons (I always liked the Warner Bros. Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies better), "Alias St. Nick" ranks as one of those rare exceptions. Especially amusing was the "train" sequence; I always remembered those tracks running across the far-back hallway of the mice's cave home.

(For some strange reason, the print of "Alias St. Nick" I saw in school was in black and white, or maybe the print began to deteriorate and the colors were fading; obviously, in 1971 there *wasn't* any such thing as "digital remastering." And, ironically, *Warner Bros.* now owns this short today; Time Warner, Inc. (now WarnerMedia, a division of AT&T (!)) bought out Turner Entertainment Company in 1998, which in turn had bought out the pre-June 1986 MGM library of films and TV shows in September 1986, including this short subject.)

I give "Alias St. Nick" a 7, especially for the (few good) childhood memories (at that time) it evokes. (To be sure, later Christmases became *much* better.)

El gran circo de TVE

*Please* vote for this show at TV Shows on
In June 1983, my family and I moved from the Chicago area to Saddle River, New Jersey, a New York City suburb (I was then 21, and about to begin my sophomore year at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Teaneck). One Saturday afternoon in July, after we had settled in, I was watching TV and perusing the channels when I came across "El Gran Circo" on WNJU-TV, Channel 47 in Linden/Newark.

Just for kicks, I checked this show out (I understand Spanish a little bit). It was rather funny to watch, and somehow it seemed to evoke fond memories of shows of this same genre my younger sister and I used to watch when we were youngsters living in Warren, Michigan in the 60's (e.g. "Bozo the Clown," "Oopsy"). And for some reason, I always thought the song heard over the opening credits was funny, especially while watching the kids in the audience rocking back and forth in their seats singing along!

One episode of "El Gran Circo" I remember watching on WNJU featured one of the clowns, Fofito, playing the song "People" (from the musical "Funny Girl") on his clavinet in one segment (a clavinet is an instrument that resembles a mini-keyboard; you blow into it, and it sounds a little like a harmonica). I don't remember the comedy sketches in that particular episode, however.

A few months ago, I checked You Tube to see if any episodes of "El Gran Circo" were posted. Sure enough, there *were* - but *not* the one I saw in New Jersey in the summer of 1983 (one of those You Tube videos of "El Gran Circo" featured a literal remake of a "Honeymooners" sketch, and another featured a medley of songs from "Mary Poppins," naturally sung in Spanish). Still, just seeing those few episodes again made me long for my college days.

I recently submitted this show to TV Shows on; to date, it received only *2* (!) paltry votes, one from myself and another from somebody else who also remembers this show.

I appeal to anyone else who remembers "El Gran Circo" and would like to see it rereleased on DVD - *please* - go to TV Shows on and vote for it. If it gets more than 100 votes, it might attract an American DVD label's attention, and maybe the original Spanish producers could arrange to have it issued here in the States. (And to said producers - do you think you could also include English subtitles? After all, it seems no less ridiculous when you consider many movies and TV shows on DVD are either dubbed into another language on a separate audio track or have subtitles in said language that can be selected from the DVD menu. Indeed, "El Gran Circo" can be enjoyed by *all* ages.)

So *don't* wait - vote for "El Gran Circo" at TV Shows on *now!*

Dance Fever

Well, again, as I said in my review of "Puttin' on the Hits," if you can't say anything nice....

But, here are three observations that should easily exceed the 10-line minimum:

(1) The only good part of this show was after the closing credits rolled, the copyright notice was shown at the top of the screen with the "Ownership of this program is protected by copyright and other applicable laws...." warning at the bottom with the IATSE union bug and the AMPTP (Association of Motion Picture and Television Producers, of which production company 20th Century Fox Television was - and *still is* - an active member) logo in between - superimposed over the crowd - then cutting to the pretty woman proclaiming "Dance Fever" was recorded live, then the animated Merv Griffin Enterprises "blinking eye griffin" logo and then - the *best* part of all - the "20th CTELEVISION FOX" (as it was sometimes humorously referred to) logo with the short version of the Alfred Newman fanfare. Fade to black;

(2) For those who wondered why this ultra-cutesy and insipid personality parade managed to survive six years after the disco craze ended in 1981 and despite poor ratings, former Chicago Tribune TV critic Gary Deeb - who rightly labeled "Dance Fever" as being "fatuous" - observed that Merv Griffin had "deep pockets, and as long as his bankroll holds out, the show will be around for a while." Mercifully, in the spring of 1987 Griffin and Fox finally saw the writing on the wall; and

(3) As with "Puttin' on the Hits," because of ultra-expensive music clearances - the majority of the music on this show was recorded - 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, glad to say, has *no* plans to release "Dance Fever" on DVD anytime soon, nor will they lease the rights out to other companies like Shout! Factory, who also complained of the same problem. One might remember when Fox decided to release the first season of "WKRP in Cincinnati" on DVD in 2007, they could not afford to include the original recordings featured in the episodes because of said high royalties and instead used "generic" music, causing an uproar among many fans. With regard to "Dance Fever," however, it appears Fox is acting *very* wisely in their decision to withhold any DVD releases.

(April 22, 2014. Update:

According to an article at listing all shows syndicated by 20th Television - the current syndication arm of 20th Century Fox - "Dance Fever" is *no longer* owned and syndicated by 20th but - along with all other Merv Griffin Enterprises properties - is now owned and syndicated by Sony Pictures Television. Still, although they inherited the original "Dance Fever," Sony is *also* very smart in *not* doing anything about putting the show on DVD at this time.)

*Touche! Au revoir!*

The Barkleys

Would very much like to see this show again
I remember "The Barkleys" very well. It, along with "The Roman Holidays" and the live-action kids' game show "Runaround," was one of my favorite shows on NBC's Saturday morning schedule of 1972-73 (I was then 10 years old).

Two episodes I especially enjoyed were "The Great Disc Jockey," in which Arnie becomes a DJ at a local radio station playing old-timey music after he got fed up hearing the music the kids liked, and became spurned by said kids even more (son Roger was a DJ at the opening of that episode as well), and "For the Love of Money," in which Arnie sets Roger up with a haughty, high-society girl named Elsie Schnauzer.

And if Arnie Barkley's voice sounded familiar, it was because Henry Corden - who voiced Arnie - went on to become the full-time voice of Fred Flintstone after Alan Reed, who originally voiced Flintstone, died in 1973. And Joan Gerber, who voiced wife Agnes, was also heard in a concurrent animated "All in the Family" derivative, "Wait Till Your Father Gets Home," as matron Irma Boyle (both Agnes and Irma sounded very much alike).

I understand Disney/ABC (!) now owns all the DePatie-Freleng Enterprises (aka DFE Films) shows (with the exception of "The Pink Panther," which is owned by MGM). Although select episodes of "The Barkleys" were on VHS tape in the late 80's and are now unavailable - long before Disney acquired DFE's backlog - the show has yet to make a DVD appearance. If Disney did renew the copyrights on "The Barkleys," then I can only hope someone like Shout! Factory or some other "video nostalgia" label will get the rights to all 13 episodes and put them on DVD; it would especially be nice to see the "Great Disc Jockey" episode again. It would be awful if "The Barkleys" was in the public domain because small-time video companies would snap it up, and they would very likely use poor-quality, unrestored film elements. (DFE Films, by the way, went out of business in 1981 and was ultimately absorbed into Marvel Comics Animation - which is now a division of Disney/ABC - thus explaining Disney's current ownership of "The Barkleys.")

As I've stated in other comments, all I can suggest is: (1) contact Disney, Shout! Factory, etc. and tell them you'd like to see all 13 episodes of "The Barkleys" on DVD; and (2) be sure to vote for it at TV Shows on If "The Barkleys" gets over 100 votes at that website, it might get Disney, etc.'s attention and they'll get it out of the vaults, renew the copyrights on the show if they haven't done so already, and get it on DVD (as of this posting, "The Barkleys" received only 38 paltry votes at TV Shows on

So for anybody else who remembers "The Barkleys" and would like to see the show again, don't delay - *take action now!*

(Postscript, May 9, 2020: "The Barkleys," in the same set with "The Houndcats," *was* finally released in 2015 on DVD by a small company, Film Chest Media Group. Apparently, Disney/ABC *didn't* renew the copyrights on either show since they are now in the public domain; two possible reasons why are because: (1) the picture "wavers" slightly back and forth on the second episode of "The Barkleys," and (2) the remastering quality on both series in the set was somewhat below par, both visually and aurally. (And, since NBC Universal blithely took the rights away from them for the Filmation shows around 2015, Retro TV has been repeating both series over and over again because of their public domain status, and they're about the only two "genuine" Saturday morning cartoons left that air on Saturday mornings on a broadcast network. Still, even though I saw both "The Barkleys" and "The Houndcats" on Retro TV for about four rerun increments each - and I now sleep in on Saturday mornings - I'm glad I now have the DVDs of each show since I now have the freedom to watch them again *anytime* I want and *whenever* I want, even if and Retro TV decides to stop running them and despite the somewhat less-than-optimal quality (it's better than nothing at this point). Another plus: The DVD of "The Barkleys" has the series' final episode, "The Great Talent Scout Caper," *intact,* despite the slight sub-par mastering. For some strange reason, Retro TV decided *not* to air that episode, but only the 12 that came before it.)

Puttin' on the Hits

Read my lips: *This show sucked!*
If you can't say anything nice....

Well, okay, maybe two minor observations (and I hope it will be more than 10 lines this time):

(1) The only good part of this program was two title cards following the closing credits, the first one showing the copyright notice at the top of the screen along with that "This program is protected under copyright laws of the United States...." warning at the bottom and a miniature MCA logo sandwiched in between, cutting to a static MCA/Universal Television logo title card 4 seconds later while that classic Universal Television/Revue Productions music jingle ("Daaaah, da-da-da-da, dit-diddle-it, dit-diddle-it, dit") - written by Electronic Pop music pioneer Esquivel along with Stanley Wilson - was heard during all that; the MCA/Universal title card "tumbled off" the screen once the music ended (this was the same Universal Television music jingle heard after the closing credits of "The Munsters," but a rare, longer version was used for this program); and

(2) Because of astronomical music royalties, this sorry time-waster should hopefully *never* see a DVD release.

Enough said!


dbborroughs is right
Yes, I agree with dbborroughs' comment 100%. This seems like the sort of thing that should have been shown at an elementary school assembly produced by AAA rather than in a cinema.

Especially when - according to Leonard Maltin and Richard Bann's 1992 "Little Rascals" book - you consider this was the 200th (!) film made in the "Our Gang" series, it *could have* been something funnier, such as the upcoming "Going to Press" or "Mighty Lak a Goat" (my all-time favorite "Our Gang" short).

About the only two scenes I thought were funny was when a girl was getting ready to cross the street and as she was looking both ways she seemed as if she was bouncing her head on her shoulders while she was counting aloud, and of course Froggy's closing speech he gave in a high voice so as not to ruin any more microphones.

For those reasons, I give "1-2-3 Go!" a 5.

Benjamin Franklin, Jr.

Not embarrassingly bad, just plain *boring*
No, this *isn't* the worst Our Gang short made ("The New Pupil" should take that honor) - it's the most *soporific.*

This film makes you think of the kind of junk that: (1) back in the day, you had to watch in high school during History class; or (2) if your own (personal) TV set was broken or your folks grounded you, this was the kind of boring pap they were watching on PBS and forced you to listen to, whether you were done with your homework or not (and then you wished either your own TV was working again and/or your grounding was rescinded so you could enjoy something *really* escapist *and* funny like "Happy Days," "Laverne and Shirley," or "Welcome Back, Kotter" - I guess you could tell I was a teenager in the late 70's!).

Not even one scene that came close to producing a chuckle, in which Janet Burston told the "mugs" in the audience to keep quiet and then made a face, could save this sleep-inducing exercise.

Since Warner Bros. - via Turner Entertainment Co. - now owns this Our Gang film, and since their Turner Classic Movies channel occasionally runs some of these MGM-produced Our Gangs as short subjects between features, then perhaps TCM should air "Benjamin Franklin, Jr." late at night as a public service to hardcore insomniacs.

Not recommended except for history geeks only. Avoid at all costs.

The Smith Family

Add my name to the list of those who'd like to see this show again
I found a pristine 45 RPM copy of Jerry Wallace's 1959 Challenge Records hit "Primrose Lane" at a record meet recently (I am getting a 1976 Seeburg jukebox restored and hope to put this oldie in it when it's fully functional later this year).

I vaguely remembered "Primrose Lane" was the theme of some TV show produced by Don Fedderson Productions, and could never think of the title until now. I do remember my folks had seen a few episodes of "The Smith Family" and it would bring back many untapped childhood memories if I could see this series again (I was only 9 years old in 1971 when "The Smith Family" premiered; we were living in the Detroit suburb of Warren, Michigan and were getting ready to move to Lansing, Michigan that summer. After we had settled into our new home in Lansing, I remember my folks had seen some of the last episodes in early 1972). It sounds as if "The Smith Family" was a show where the father was devoted to his duties as a police officer, yet also cared about his family - his character was treated with *respect,* not ridicule.

"The Smith Family" was also noteworthy in that it was one of the last original network television series produced by Don Fedderson Productions. After "The Smith Family" and "My Three Sons" were canceled in 1972, Fedderson's company didn't make any new series except for a few TV movies; by the mid-1970's until 1982 Don Fedderson Productions was reduced to syndicating (Gag! Choke!) "The Lawrence Welk Show." Then in the fall of 1982 when Welk's show ended Don Fedderson Productions became history.

Perhaps CBS DVD owns the DVD rights to this show? I do believe that, like "My Three Sons," the copyright notice in the closing credits credited the show's ownership to CBS (CBS Television Studios co-produced "The Smith Family" with Don Fedderson Productions; back then, it seemed rather unusual for one network's product to air on another network - in this case, ABC - whereas today it doesn't seem all that uncommon). Or, perhaps, as the other reader pointed out, Don Fedderson's estate might still own "The Smith Family?" Maybe Shout! Factory could get the DVD rights?

(At TV Shows on, "The Smith Family" has amassed 67 total votes as of this writing, 96% of which - including myself - have voted for the series in a full season set. If you haven't already done so, you might want to visit TV Shows on's website - it's free to become a member if you aren't one already - and vote for "The Smith Family" in a season set. If it gets 100 or more total votes, that might get the attention of CBS DVD, Shout! Factory, etc. - then perhaps they'll consider getting the DVD rights to "The Smith Family.")

In any event, I hope all ownership rights to "The Smith Family" get ironed out and that it may eventually find its way onto DVD. It sounds like a police drama done with much care and attention to *quality,* and as I said above, it'd also bring back some nice, forgotten childhood memories.

Mary's Incredible Dream

Glad I *didn't* see it in 1976
I remember my dad, mom, and younger sister were anticipating watching this special after seeing the promos for it, which I remember CBS aired practically non-stop. I, on the other hand, remember at the same time that evening I watched a syndicated rerun of a National Geographic special from 1967, "Holland Against the Sea" on the black-and-white TV set in my bedroom, which aired on another local station (I was watching that National Geographic as extra credit for a school assignment; I was 13 years old at that time).

Now, fast-forward to the present day, when I was able to see a few snippets of "Mary's Incredible Dream" on You Tube after reading some comments about the special here at IMDb and also at Shock Cinema

I can *confidently* say I *agree* with the other reviewers' comments - especially 4-Eyes' and 15231's - and *didn't* miss much.

"Mary's Incredible Dream" *definitely was* nothing more than a vanity vehicle for Ms. Moore. A good portion of the numbers were overdone, particularly that "Come On, Get Happy" one a few minutes into the special (yes, I knew Ms. Moore herself was a dancer; anybody who remembers those production numbers she did with Dick Van Dyke on his sitcom should know that) and the whole concept itself seemed rather excessive for a one-hour special.

But I had to see that "****-kicking portable washboard number" Shock Cinema described in their critique of this special (that song was "Mama's Got the Know-How," which Ms. Moore sang with country singer Doug Kershaw and the chorus) - *that* was rather funny (Ms. Moore was dressed up like a late-60's - early 70's hippie, wearing a headband), and it seemed the only somewhat restrained but good number in the whole show. (The still photo Shock Cinema used of Ben Vereen as Lucifer in the green outfit whispering something to Ms. Moore as she holds her hand to her mouth in dismay was also funny; she somehow reminded me of that British cartoon character Crystal Tipps in that pose, especially her hairstyle.)

The whole program itself was somewhat reminiscent of those Dora Hall musical specials in its production values - particularly in the "Come On, Get Happy" number - except unlike Ms. Hall, who often used that dated John Seely stock music for cues in her specials *in between* other songs that were performed, Ms. Moore went *all out* in the music for her special, especially in using Arthur Fiedler, the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, and the California Boys Choir. Ms. Moore spared no expense in the visual effects department, either, something Ms. Hall and her cohorts could probably never afford for her low-budget specials.

And also, what was the deal with the sound waves scrawling across the screen introducing each act? I felt as if I was about to read some technical info from the liner notes of one of those vinyl stereo percussion albums from the early 60's my folks had!

It was rather surprising to see "Mary's Incredible Dream" was nominated for three Emmys, mostly in the technical categories. Happily, this special *didn't* win any of them (but, just about *anything* MTM Enterprises churned out back then seemed to enamor the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences).

All told, I *didn't* regret seeing that rerun of the National Geographic special that night while my folks and my younger sister saw "Mary's Incredible Dream" on the big color console TV in the living room. My folks soon shared everyone else's opinion - "Mary's Incredible Dream" *wasn't* all that hot.

20th Century Fox Television now owns "Mary's Incredible Dream," in addition to most of the other MTM Enterprises properties. I'm *very* certain Fox *doesn't* have any plans at this time to resurrect this special on DVD; music royalties for some of those songs could also pose a problem in the special seeing a DVD release. And, since this special was made before January 1, 1978, when the current copyright laws took effect, it's uncertain whether or not Fox renewed the copyrights on "Mary's Incredible Dream."

One funny thought, though: If "Mary's Incredible Dream" was in the public domain, wouldn't it be great if, say, it were spoofed on "Mystery Science Theater 3000?" I can only imagine the funny comments the two robots and that one human with them would be slinging at the screen while watching this show.

The Legend of Lizzie Borden

Come on, CBS/Paramount, get this on DVD!
I agree with teeshirt51's comment. "The Legend of Lizzie Borden" *should* be put on DVD.

I remember when this first aired in February 1975, I was 12 years old, and I also remember all the controversy surrounding this made-for-TV film; my father watched it but my mother, sister, and I did not (I was worried I'd have nightmares back then, based on all the warnings I'd heard).

Now fast-forward to 1987, when the film was already in syndication and I was 24 years old.

*What was so bad about it?* It certainly was *tamer* than I expected, yet *accurate* in its portrayal of the incident (and, mercifully, "Friday the 13th" it *wasn't*).

But I have to admit, some of the dialogue was so *funny* - unintentionally, of course - I couldn't stop laughing for a while (e.g. when Lizzie says Abby could live off her own fat for six days after Abby said she won't be cast out in the street and - the best lines, I thought - when Abby called Lizzie "Princess Lizzie" and said she knows about how Lizzie would twist people's arms to get her own way. To which Lizzie shot back that if she weren't a lady, she would twist Mrs. Borden's arm "right out of its socket!").

Yes, I do agree with the other readers that this was definitely worthy of some Emmys; pity it didn't win any (what did Katharine Hepburn win the Emmy for that year?).

I had a friend record "The Legend of Lizzie Borden" for me on VHS tape in 1988 when it was on Cinemax; however, the tape has since been (inadvertently) destroyed. The last time I saw "Lizzie Borden" was when I was visiting another friend in New Jersey in October 1992, when it was rerun on WPIX, Channel 11 in New York City; little did I realize that would be the *last* time I'd see it for a while, period.

Paramount Television, who produced "Lizzie Borden," morphed into CBS Television Studios a few years ago (CBS Television Distribution now syndicates the film). Thus, CBS DVD - distributed by Paramount Home Entertainment - would hold the DVD rights.

So, CBS/Paramount, if you're reading this I hope you'll not delay any further and see about getting "Lizzie Borden" on DVD. Funny dialogue notwithstanding, it was a very well-done and suspenseful film!

You Are There

Where's the 1971 version?
I, too, remember seeing an episode of the original "You Are There" in elementary school in 1973 (I don't remember which episode, however). And since selected episodes of the original 1950's series are now on DVD, I hope to check out some of them.

But, having been born in April 1962 - and *this* is the one I *really* remember, having seen it on some Saturday afternoons when I was a kid - I'd like to know:

*What about the 1971-72 revival of "You Are There?"*

I recently saw just the opening and closing of one episode from the "You Are There" revival on YouTube; it was the one about the Alamo. According to the credits, Fred Gwynne of "The Munsters" had a brief role in this segment (for some strange reason, the poster of that video *didn't* include the body of that episode in his submission).

Also, I discovered some episodes of the 1971 "You Are There" were made available for school use; following the closing credits, a title card read: "Distributed by BFA Educational Media." I did some research on Google and found out BFA morphed into a company now called The Phoenix Learning Group, Inc.; when I went to PLG's website, I checked to see if any episodes of the 1971 "You Are There" were still available on DVD or VHS. Sadly, PLG is *no longer* printing any episodes of the 1971 "You Are There" on DVD or other formats, including the above-mentioned "Alamo" episode. (The 1971 revival of "You Are There" was recorded on videotape rather than film; perhaps that's another reason hampering a DVD release of this version? I can only hope not, since that "Alamo" episode was converted to film from videotape without any problem.)

So, CBS, if you and your sister company Paramount Home Entertainment don't want to release the 1971 version of "You Are There" on DVD yourselves, why don't you lease it out to Shout! Factory, Real Gone, or some other "Classic TV" DVD company? I'm sure there are others who remember the 1971 revival of the show and might enjoy seeing these episodes again, too (hopefully you still have the 1971 "You Are There" in your archives and didn't let the copyrights expire)!

In the meantime, I hope to purchase some of those original 50's "You Are There" episodes on DVD and watch them. After viewing the brief snippet of that one 1971 episode on YouTube, that made me want to see other episodes of the original series even more!

A Little Sex

Easy to see why this movie bombed
I saw this film on the Retroplex movie channel a little over a month ago; I was curious to see what Kate Capshaw's movie debut (before "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom") was like (I didn't see "A Little Sex" when it was in theaters in March 1982). Also, I had read various reviews about "A Little Sex" beforehand, which were mostly negative.

The critics were right: *This film sucked!*

A sampling:

One reviewer said this sorry flick was "(so) full of clichés it's pathetic." Us Magazine put it in their "Don't Bother" column and likened the film to "(a) sitcom which would have worked better on the small screen." Yet another reviewer called "A Little Sex" " (a) nearsighted sexual soap opera with a (snickering and) cynical view of relationships and fidelity." The Catholic News Service's movie rating system rightfully classified the film "morally offensive" (that rating system was administered at that time by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Office for Film and Broadcasting). And, I also remember (the late) Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave it only 2 stars, meaning barely tolerable.

In fact, this film was so bad - and, as they used to say on "Match Game," "How bad was it?" - it was so bad that the theater in Homewood, Illinois where it was playing (Cineplex Odeon's Diana 3, which I understand - along with the mall in which it was contained, Washington Square - was demolished in the early 2000's) yanked "A Little Sex" off after only one week and replaced it with the *much* better "Chariots of Fire," which won the Oscar for the Best Picture of 1981.

And as for the reader who was expecting to see "boobies" but was disappointed: Well, after all, this was an MTM Enterprises production, and apparently they were trying to transfer their "quality" aura from their TV productions onto the big screen. Still, that "quality" formula *didn't* work in this film, and it certainly couldn't help "A Little Sex" escape its well-deserved R rating. (MTM made only two more big-screen films after "A Little Sex," which were "Just Between Friends" in 1986, starring Mary Tyler Moore and Ted Danson and released by Orion Pictures - but now owned by MGM - and "Clara's Heart" in 1988, starring Whoopi Goldberg and Neil Patrick Harris and released - and still owned - by Warner Bros. Of the two, only "Just Between Friends" was successful, but not by very much.)

But, as the saying goes, "You have to start somewhere," and most of the actors and actresses *indeed* went on to better things. Kate Capshaw, of course, starred as Willie Scott in "Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom" two years later, and eventually became Mrs. Steven Spielberg, as well as the mother of actress Jessica Capshaw and part-owner of DreamWorks Pictures. John Glover starred in "My Dinner With Andre" shortly after this film, and had a co-starring role in "Gremlins 2: The New Batch" in 1990. And, (the late) Bruce Paltrow, who "directed" the film, later became the father of actress Gwyneth Paltrow; he directed Gwyneth and Huey Lewis in the somewhat-better "Duets" 18 years later. Tim Matheson, on the other hand, starred in another forgettable flop the following year, "Up the Creek," and had difficulty trying to land another big role in feature films. He did mostly TV movies after that, the best one being "The Littlest Victims" in 1989.

And, for those who weren't aware, MTM Enterprises is now *out of business;* in 1998 they were bought out by 21st Century Fox, Inc. (then doing business as NewsCorp) and absorbed into 20th Century Fox. However, "A Little Sex" was co-bankrolled and released by Universal Pictures (perhaps MTM chose Universal to distribute "A Little Sex" because Mary Tyler Moore herself began her big-screen career at Universal in the mid-60's; the most notable films in which she co-starred in for the studio were "Thoroughly Modern Millie" and "Change of Habit"), and Universal eventually wound up owning the film (it was most likely a 60/40 split, the 40% owned by MTM and the remainder by Universal). Universal Pictures Home Entertainment now distributes "A Little Sex" on DVD, and NBC Universal Television Distribution syndicates the film for regular broadcast television, cable and satellite.

But - on the bright side - "A Little Sex" is one less turkey 20th Century Fox has to worry about owning (and God knows Fox already has *plenty* in their long history; the notorious "Myra Breckinridge" quickly comes to mind in that department, but that's another story). Pity Universal!

Malibu U.

Vaguely remember the "Happenings" episode
I was only five years old in 1967 when "Malibu U." first aired; my family and I were then living in the Detroit suburb of Warren, Michigan, where we saw this show on then-ABC-owned WXYZ-TV, Channel 7.

My folks watched almost every episode of this summer show, but one episode I seem to remember was when the New Jersey pop singing group The Happenings performed their recent Top 10 smash version of "I Got Rhythm" (the part of the chorus where they sang, "dit-dit-rhy-thm, dit-dit-rhy-thm" stood out in my mind).

Does anybody else remember this episode? What were Bob Miranda and Company "lecturing" about before they performed their hit?

It's too bad that the Four Star Television shows, including this one, are now controlled by 20th Century Fox Television (explanation: Four Star officially ended in 1989 when it was purchased by New World Communications, and then seven years later New World itself was purchased by 21st Century Fox, Inc. - then doing business as NewsCorp - and absorbed into 20th Century Fox Television). So, Fox, if you even bothered to renew the copyrights on "Malibu U." - and I can only hope you *did* - would you *please* see about putting this show on DVD, or if you don't want to bother with it yourselves, then maybe loan out the DVD rights to Shout Factory or some other "classic TV" DVD label? It would not only be nice to see said Happenings episode again, but also the ones with Mrs. Miller and Tiny Tim since, judging by the other readers' reviews, they sound really funny!

In the meantime, however, I would strongly urge anyone who wants to see that happen to go to TV Shows on; as of this posting, "Malibu U." amassed only 42 votes. Let's make the total number of votes more than 100!

(I am having someone restore a Seeburg jukebox for me as of this posting. One of the records I located for when the juke is finished was the reissue of the Happenings' "I Got Rhythm," with their version of "Go Away, Little Girl" on the B-side. I have no doubt that, even though it's monaural, "I Got Rhythm" should sound great on the juke when it's ready!)

Farm Hands

Another funny "Our Gang," fueled by Leonard Maltin's "dissing"
This has to be one of my favorite later "Our Gangs," too.

To be sure, the funniest scenes are when: (1) the chickens swallow the jumping beans (how were they able to hop in the air like that?); (2) when Buckwheat thinks the cow can automatically put milk in the bottle and keeps waiting; (3) when Froggy rides the mule and thinks it's a horse (in fast motion) and then when the mule bucks Froggy off its back in slow motion; and (4) the hay-baler finale (I also thought it was funny when the mule saw each kid in a bale and the question mark was superimposed over its head).

Again, movie critics Leonard Maltin and Richard Bann's "dissing" of this short in their 1992 "Little Rascals" book only made watching "Farm Hands" even funnier; especially hilarious was when they claimed "(Director) Herbert Glazer (seemed to be) afraid of a little slapstick humor" and "(Glazer didn't want to) use the hay baler for an impossible but broadly funny kind of gag (but was) perfectly willing to use under-cranking to make the mule, and kids, run at double speed. This was MGM's idea of good clean comedy." Well, maybe it was, but in this case the comedy hit the bullseye!

The only debit, however, was when Mickey fell into the well. Indeed, that could've been made better by a splashing sound effect and water flying out of the well itself; that definitely *would* have added some comic punctuation.

One funny thought: When home computers were just starting to become popular in the mid-1990's, Apple, Dell, HP, or Gateway should have contracted with Ted Turner to use the last two scenes of "Farm Hands" for a commercial. When Mickey's uncle said, "Children! Come on back!," the last scene where the kids were running away in the hay bales could have been dubbed with them saying, "We'll send you an e-mail!," and maybe ending with a tag line saying "'s better and faster than writing." So why didn't you think of that, Madison Avenue?

I'm glad Warner Home Video finally got this and the other MGM-produced "Our Gangs" (including the bad ones, alas) on DVD in their "Warner Archive" collection. The first chance I have a spare $40, I hope to purchase a copy (that'd mean I'd have to jump over the bad ones anyway; I asked Warner if it was possible to delete three shorts but they claimed it couldn't be done because "the masters are from original copies" (meaning, all 52 shorts were spliced together on one giant-sized reel? *BULL!*). Still, it would be worth it to see only the *good* shorts like this one).

I give "Farm Hands" an 8. Enjoy!

Big John, Little John

Looking forward to if and when Virgil Films ever releases the full 13 episodes on DVD
I, too, distinctly remember "Big John, Little John." When NBC first aired the program in the fall of 1976, I was 14 years old and had just begun 9th grade at Lansing Catholic High School in Lansing, Michigan.

My two favorite episodes I remember are the ones where Big John/Little John performs in the school's talent show ("they" sing "The Man on the Flying Trapeze") and where Big John/Little John and the kids go to a haunted house owned by a Mr. Crabtree; in one scene, a skeleton pops out of a closet and says to Big John and the kids, "Happy Midnight, suckers!," then laughs wickedly. (Maybe one reason I enjoyed the latter episode even more is because when NBC reran said episode for the last time in August 1977, I was visiting my relatives in Derry, Pennsylvania, a small town on the outskirts of Pittsburgh, and I remember watching that episode while I was there. Now *that* would *really* bring back some great memories of my "wonder years!") One member of the cast who went on to stardom was Kristoff St. John, who played one of the kids in Big John's class; as an adult, St. John went on to play numerous roles in daytime dramas.

I read over at TV Shows on that the small, independent company Virgil Films and Entertainment was supposed to have released the entire 13-episode DVD box set of "Big John, Little John" on April 8th of this year after numerous delays, but unfortunately has delayed release of the box set *again,* with an official street date *still* to be announced. (According to the TV Shows on article, Virgil is still deciding the appropriate "channel" - most likely meaning "distribution venue" - to release the box set under. I can only hope Virgil gets whatever external "stops" that are keeping the box set of "Big John" from being released pulled out *very* soon). If and when Virgil ever does announce a formal release date, they will *certainly* have a customer in me!

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