Reconnecting with The Muppets

When I heard that “The Muppet Show” from the 1970s would be added to the Disney+ lineup I was thrilled. Any opportunity to visit with Kermit and Company is never wasted. Way back before I actually owned a working television set, I owned a TV Radio that played the audio from television channels. I would listen to the syndicated show every night and imagine what was going on. You could say I’m a fan. 🙂

I still watch Sesame Street to see the other part of the Muppet Family. Also, time well spent. (Like I said, I’m a fan.)

There is something timeless and classic about all the Muppet characters. Each is its own individual personality and together they are unique.

Check out this great article in the Los Angeles Times: HERE.

One thing I continue to comment on is the breadth and depth of material available on Disney+. Pretty much any and everything you can imagine is there. And if it isn’t… it wasn’t for lack of trying.

Podcast Review: Mayim Bialik’s Breakdown

Podcasts are relatively new territory for me. Many years ago I was a regular listener to a quilting podcast, but for a long time there wasn’t anything that captured my interest enough to invest the time to listen. Something I’m hoping to rectify in the future.

I’ve been looking for interesting (to me) podcasts lately and came across this new venture from Mayim Bialik. You might recall her from “The Big Bang Theory”. Turns out Amy Farrah Fowler was played by someone with an actual PhD in Neuroscience. Who knew?

I did, but then… <shrug> 🙂

There has been a lot of talk about Mental Health lately. Unless you are someone with actual experience dealing with it for yourself or a family member, I think it can be a topic that is confusing and often a bit scary. Actually, I’m pretty sure that even if you are someone with experience dealing with it for yourself or a family member it can be confusing and scary.

While I’m still catching up with the episodes – as of this writing there are six – I have been impressed with the way the topics are presented, the effort to explain what might seem unexplainable, and, most importantly, the guests and their honest and real experiences. It says a lot about the trust in the room for this to be able to work the way it does.

There is a lot of material to cover and these podcasts are not short – the average is 90 minutes. Check out Mayim’s website: Bialik Breakdown. There you will find tons of information and resources and you have access to podcasts and YouTube videos as well.

Check out the trailer and see what you think:

I think you will find, as I did, that there is a lot of food for thought here.

Visiting With Old Friends: “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”

I was lucky enough to be around when some wonderful classic television shows were on their first run. Watching them gave me a great sense of what quality could be. Shows like

  • Star Trek
  • Perry Mason
  • Bonanza
  • The Bob Newhart Show
  • The Carol Burnett Show
  • The Waltons
  • Marcus Welby, M.D.
  • Love, American Style
  • The Odd Couple
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show
  • The Doris Day Show
  • I Love Lucy
  • Hollywood Palace
  • The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour

And these are but a few!

Back then there were only three networks: ABC, NBC, and CBS. PBS was a fledgling that showed up on UHF (if you were lucky). The rotations were predictable; what was the highest-rated show and genre? Copy that! And then there were the breakout shows that many thought wouldn’t survive but somehow did. Like Mary. Saturday nights with Mary Tyler Moore were a staple in my home.

A Breath of Fresh Air

When Mary Richards arrived in Minneapolis she was not only the new kid on the block, she was the new idea in the country. A thirty-year-old single woman (never married) who had left behind a bad relationship and was embarking on a new life. For those who thought Marlo Thomas’s “That Girl” was the epitome of single womanhood – who eventually married – Mary Richards was a totally different reality. Different decades will do that, you know.

Mary was a single woman who wasn’t afraid of being single. Not really. She also wasn’t afraid to be alone or try new things or figure out what she wanted for herself and not depend upon someone else to tell her what she wanted or how to live, etc. She was intelligent, well-read, thoughtful and a person who enjoyed her life. Mostly. 🙂

Mary had co-workers and friends who were just as ordinary and she was and they all had their quirks. Lou was the alcoholic newsman with a heart of gold. Murray was the frustrated author who wrote the news copy and needled the anchorman. Speaking of which, Ted Baxter was the nightmare of most professional journalists…who probably knew their fair share of Teds. I have to wonder if Walter Cronkite ever forgave Lou for introducing him to Ted.

Rhoda, who lived upstairs, was the other side of the coin that was Mary, but both were, in their way, very much alike. Phyllis was, well, Phyllis. Sue Ann Nivens was the archetype of the predatory female. Yikes!

For several years we got to spend time with these people. Suffer through bad times. Celebrate good times. Enjoy the camaraderie that comes with being around good people who are also good friends. We also got a chance to see life in a different way from what was on television and it changed attitudes, provided ideas, planted seeds of possibility and provided a touch of reality that was closer to real than many thought.

The show not only boasted an excellent cast but the behind the scenes folks were high caliber, too. Check out the list of awards the show won HERE.

I often look to find episodes of the show when and where I can. Oddly, I haven’t yet acquired the DVD sets but it is on My List. You can find the entire series on Hulu or purchase them on Amazon Prime. If you need a quick fix, however, go over to YouTube and see what comes up. Like this little gem:

Are you a fan of classic TV? I’d love to learn your favorites.

And, as always, if you like this post, please let me know by clicking the Like button below.

Another Saturday Night

When I was growing up way back in the 1970s there was one particular tradition in our home that was rarely missed: watching “The Lawrence Welk Show”. The show began back in the 1950s and was a network staple for decades.

Every week, no matter what, we all sat down to enjoy an hour of great music, exquisite costumes and sets, familiar faces with beautiful voices and a rather eclectic collection of genres.

My mother, in particular, was adamant about the weekly visit. She worked nights and often caught a late evening nap around the time the show was on. Saturdays, however, came with the explicit reminder that we make sure she was awake to watch and listen from her recliner in the living room. We did. (She often fell into a nap, but Mom being Mom she was also listening closely.)

Now, I get that some folks find the entire idea silly and feel like the music was hokey and way out of date. Accordions? Polkas? Orchestra music? Dancing?

I look back and recognize that for a time, I too, wasn’t aware of the treasure the show was. I have a decidedly eclectic taste in music that I can trace back to those shows.

Thanks to Oklahoma Public Television, the shows are once again available in my area. I may not catch it every week, but I do go out of my way at times to be sure to sit back and enjoy the show. Don’t forget to explore Amazon. I just told Alexa to play “Lawrence Welk Music” and the results are amazing, beautiful, wonderful. Mom would be pleased.

If you are curious about the show itself, here are some things to explore:

One thing I’ve always admired about Mr. Welk was his ability to listen to his audience and give them the music they wanted to hear. His shows were well crafted and beautifully choreographed, too. They were Appointment Television before there was such a thing.

Every week we were thanked for joining the party and reminded of something that Mr. Welk always said:

“Keep a song in your heart.”

Lawrence Welk

I don’t know about you, but I think this is an excellent idea.

A Change of Pace

Or, a shift in media can make a huge difference.

I’m one of those people who grew up listening to the radio. Which, when you consider where I lived at the time, was a feat in itself. Way back in the mid to late 1970s living in Northwest Arkansas, getting signals for TV or radio was an iffy proposition. And that was before all the build-up that would impede them even more than before, not to mention waaaaaay before that thing called ‘cable’.
I was lucky to be able to get the CBS radio affiliate out of Chicago, which meant that I was able to listen to the “CBS Radio Mystery Theater” when it began. Awesome!
It also meant that we had 3 – yes, three – TV stations: CBS, ABC, and NBC. PBS was on the UHF band and not so easily acquired.
Radio was an interesting collection of a variety of music genres, some occasionally off the wall commentary (think ‘Bob and Ray’) and the occasional treasure of Old Time Radio shows. I have a vivid memory of sitting down to a Sunday lunch while listening to an episode of “Fibber McGee and Molly” coupled with an episode of “Jack Benny” that was broadcast from somewhere in Kansas.
I still listen to the radio. Today, however, my tastes seem to run more toward vintage radio shows or quieter easy listening stations. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed American OTR, but when I discovered Pumpkin FM from the UK, I found a huge variety of material that I’d never heard of before combined with a few things that had come to our shores via PBS and the Britcoms they carried.
For example, I’ve recently come across the British version of what we know of as “Three’s Company” and “Sanford and Son”. Both series were developed from the UK shows.
I’m also dipping my toe back into the world of Podcasts. A few years back I listened to a great one that focused on quilting. Another favorite was a limited series that focused on the history of food via the spice trade. Fascinating!

What are you listening to?

Knives Out!

I finally sat down to catch up (!) with my Watchlist and saw “Knives Out!”.

Boy! Was that a good choice!

If you are looking for a well-paced mystery with lots of twists and turns, this is it. If you love a great cast with a solid script and some seriously good production values, this is it.

Nothing is quite what it seems and the finale is quite… Yeah! LOL!

Vintage Game Shows: What’s My Line?

What’s My Line?” is basically a version of Twenty Questions relating to occupations. The show ran from 1950 to 1967 on CBS in the United States and had a collection of panelists from a variety of entertainment and media fields who were very skilled at the game.

Over the years a wide variety of contestants visited the show, but the Mystery Guest, a celebrity, always added excitement and fun.

There is a YouTube channel dedicated to the show and Buzzr tends to run it on its schedule.

Check it out:

Vintage Game Shows: Just A Minute

I first heard “Just A Minute” on Pumpkin FM as part of their daily line up of vintage radio shows from the U.K. I was fascinated from the first listen!

The game is really simple. There are only three rules: The contestant must speak to a topic provided by the host for one minute without

  • Hesitation
  • Deviation
  • Repetition

If a challenge is submitted by other players, the challenge might be accepted. If so, the challenger takes on the topic for the remaining time.

Simple, right?

LOL!

This game is one that could be played by pretty much any age group as the variety of topics is endless.

Check It Out

Game Shows: A Few Thoughts

Or, I tried not to think very much about the passing of Alex Trebek and failed. Miserably.

There is an odd sense in our house lately. Alex Trebek, the faithful visitor every Monday through Friday when we watch Jeopardy!, passed away and while we can see the taped games, there is a touch of bittersweet where before there was none.

Oddly, I have the same sense when I watch the original Password on Buzzr. I grew up watching Allen Ludden host that show and, in later years, altered versions of the game.

Oddly, I don’t have quite the same response watching Gene Rayburn on Match Game. When I watch (rarely) one of those mid 1970’s shows, my initial reaction is “Gene, you need a haircut.” <shrug>

Ah, but Trebek and Ludden presided over shows that celebrated knowledge. Curiosity. Adventure. Fun. They encouraged us to actually think, not just observe.

One of the things that always surprises me is discovering that I know something I had no idea I know. Those connect the dots moments when the parts of the clue come together and – voila! – magic happens.

The day I learned that Ross Martin, one of our premier character actors, did the New York Times Crossword in ink, it blew my mind. In Ink! It takes courage to do that. Work the Times Crossword. In ink. Take your pick. 🙂

Both Trebek and Ludden shared a passion for their games and a joy working with contestants.

If you want to do a bit more time travel, visit What’s My Line with John Charles Daly at the helm. The panelists were often witty and urbane but the amazing Dorothy Kilgallen was awesome. She was the one to watch because she rarely missed anything.

Who would have thought that what was basically Twenty Questions to guess a person’s occupation could be such a lively and entertaining show? Even today.

I feel as if I’m avoiding facing the fact that these people I admire and enjoy are but memories.

I am grateful for the opportunity to watch their work and learn from their example. There can be great joy in games. There can be great joy is learning, even by accident.

Update: Pluto TV

I’ve had the Pluto TV channel loaded on my Roku box for ages. I got it because my over the air antenna, while good, occasionally has issues with low-frequency signals that float. Many of the ‘additional’ channels are low frequency and often evaporate when the weather changes.

Additional Channels – Those digital extras that are add-ons to regular network or independent channels. They are usually noted as ‘##.3’.

I initially added Pluto TV because it carried BUZZR which is a 24/7 collection of old game shows. I love many of the old game shows and was frustrated when I couldn’t access the over the air version. This was a win for me. Occasionally, I’d browse through the offerings to see what was new.

For those who don’t know, PlutoTV is a free channel/network that you can access on a variety of platforms. It carries no fees, no passwords, no access codes, no extra costs. It also carries hundreds of TV shows and movies in an easy to access and peruse format that includes sports, house and home, comedy, dramas, kids programming, and pretty much everything in between.

I have found myself using the channel/network more and more because they are carrying more of my favorite shows. Some even have their own channel.

I hope this will help give you some ideas on alternatives to cable or other pay-TV options. If it has, please click on the “like” button below. Questions or comments? Let me know!