“Moonlighting” Update

I’m two episodes into my rewatching of “Moonlighting” on DVD and so far it’s slow going. Not exactly a slog, but not far from it.

The episodes originally aired in March 1985 and they feel like it. The dialogue is good and often as funny as I remember it, but one thing that’s noticeably different from today’s TV shows? The length of each scene. They seem to go on and on and on.

I wonder if that’s due to our current microscopic attention spans, or if the style of today’s TV is so different in every way than it was 36 years ago.

My rule is to give any show three episodes before deciding whether or not to commit to it. I’ll do that for “Moonlighting” and see if I’m up to investing time to watch four seasons.

Probably not.

Inside HGTV

For better or worse, HGTV is on at our house most days. I remember when we first watched the network, 20-plus years ago, and it looked nothing like it does today. (Does anything?)

I just finished* this article by Ian Parker in The New Yorker and enjoyed how he tells the story of a channel that “at first showed unadorned how-to shows” to one that’s now a top-five cable network.

There’s some good stuff in it about some of the shows’ hosts and how the network finds talent.

Spoiler:

The network premières twenty to thirty new series each year. High Noon, the production company, has a staff member whose sole job is to identify new talent, on social media and elsewhere.

*Truth be told, I listened to the article on The New Yorker’s website, exquistely read by Simon Vance. You might want to do the same.

The Search for “Moonlighting”

I don’t remember watching a lot of primetime TV as a kid. Lots of after-school reruns and Saturday morning cartoons for sure, and an occasional “Happy Days” * or “The Love Boat.”

One show I did get a chance to see, from time to time in high school and then every week in college, was “Moonlighting.”

I didn’t really know Cybill Shepherd and certainly didn’t know Bruce Willis (who did?) but that show was entertaining every week. If we’d had a VCR back then, I would’ve recorded it.

After doing the math, I discovered I ended up watching a fraction of the series and remember an even smaller fraction. But as luck would have it, this is the 21st century: I’ll just rewatch it all on Netflix or Amazon Prime … except I won’t, because it’s not available on streaming. Anywhere. Nor can I buy episodes to download. Anywhere.

How is this possible? Alas, it is.

BUT! In a last-ditch effort, I checked my local library to see if it’s available. Boom!

All five seasons are available on DVD and, ahem, none of them are checked out. So, I just requested Seasons 1 and 2. This is going to be great.

Rather, this is going to be great when I find a DVD player.

*I do remember watching the two-parter when Fonzie jumping over the cars in Arnold’s parking lot.

My 10 Favorite ‘Seinfeld’ Episodes

Generally, my Top 10 of anything isn’t a one-to-10 ranking, and for now I’ll stick to that approach for my favorite “Seinfeld” episodes.

I mean, if I had to pick my all-time favorite it would be “The Strike”, which is just excellent start to finish. But there are others close behind.

So, for now, here are my 10 favorites, with only “The Strike” in its current ranking.

1. The Strike

2. The Merv Griffin Show

3. The Bris

4. The Chicken Roaster

5. The Little Jerry

6. The Betrayal

7. The Fusilli Jerry

8. The Serenity Now

9. The Pen

10. The Reverse Peephole

Any one of numbers six through 10 could easily be a top-five on any given day. But for now, this will do.

Bowling for Dollars

My kids and I were playing ye olde Wii bowling the other night and I made the ultimate Dad Move™ by referring to “Bowling for Dollars.”

No one knew what I was talking about so I tried to explain the TV show that was a fixture on Channel 4 in Detroit when I was growing up.

Come to find out, the show was on in several markets in the U.S. then, from Baltimore to L.A., and it had some notable hosts along the way — Chick Hearn! Verne Lundquist!

The show was actually a franchise, created by Bert Claster of Claster Television, also the creator of Romper Room. Episodes of Bowling for Dollars were taped either in a local bowling alley, or on a pair of bowling lanes constructed right inside the TV studio.

In Detroit, the only host was Bob Allison, a fixture on the local airwaves.

As I tried to explain the show’s premise, I soon realized I had no memory of the scoring or prizes. Wikipedia to the rescue again:

Each contestant received $1 for each pin knocked down (e.g., a contestant who knocked down a total of eight pins won $8, though some versions may have had a $5 minimum for fewer than five pins). A strike or spare awarded $20. The real allure of the show was the Jackpot, which was awarded to any bowler who got two consecutive Strikes. The jackpot started at $200, $300, or $500 (depending on the version) and was increased by $20 each time it was not hit.

Some versions of Bowling for Dollars awarded prizes in addition to the money. In the Detroit edition of the show, a contestant who got a spare won a dinner for two at a local restaurant. If that spare was a split, they would also get two large pies from Buddy’s Pizza.

(The local restaurant was always The Roostertail, a mythical place on the Detroit River.)

One thing I’m still not sure of is how people were selected to be on the show.

I can’t find any Detroit episodes of the show on YouTube, but there are plenty of videos from other cities, like Baltimore and Minneapolis-St. Paul.

My next quest is to find the story behind “Beat the Champ.”