Sunday, September 27, 2015

Hee Haw: 1969-1992, Part 21...

Hello's a complete episode of Hee Haw from May 7, 1988!! The guest co-host is Barbara Mandrell and along for the fun are The Gatlin Brothers, T. Graham Brown, and soap opera actor James DePaiva.

A lot of the established cast-members that survived the shake-up of 1986 generally appear in sketches together while the younger members of the program are paired off in similar fashion. In spite of the pairings of cast-members along similar age brackets the cast sing-a-longs are still intact.

Charlie McCoy and company deliver a rousing harmonica performance. There's the obscure sketch called "Pa's Roadside Stand". In this sketch, as Roy Clark plays straight man, Grandpa gets a chance to do his rhyming routine...which dated back to his famous "What's for Supper?" sketch that, for whatever reason, stopped appearing as frequently in this era but he's wearing the apron that displays the catchphrase.

The Supper sketch had appeared in nearly every episode from the early '70s until the mid '80s. In this 1988 sketch the rhymes are deliberately tongue twisting. 

Gordie Tapp and Roni Stoneman portray the forever nagging couple, The Naggers.

Gordie (as Laverne) and Roni (as Ida Lee) began appearing as this combative couple in the early 1970s and it remained a part of the series until 1991. Ida Lee's "mother", seen in this 1988 episode, appeared on a recurring basis. The mother is actually one of the members of The Nashville Edition, Wendy Suits. Longtime fans of the program should already know that The Nashville Edition appeared on every episode from 1969 until 1991 as the resident back-up group for the guest stars and the hosts.

Music contents: Roy Clark performs "Who's Sorry Now?"; Barbara Mandrell sings a bluesy and physically alluring "Just To Satisfy You" from her Sure Feels Good album (released in August of 1987) and she closes the program singing a medley of gospel songs; T. Graham Brown sings "R.F.D. 30529" and "The Last Resort" from his 1987 album, Brilliant Conversationalist; Charlie McCoy and others perform a rousing harmonica number; The Gatlin Brothers perform the gospel-tinged ballad "God Knows It Would Be You" and later they return and perform the uptempo "The One That Got Away"; The Gatlin Brothers, at the time of this fall 1987 taping, were performing songs from a future album release called Alive and Well: Livin' in the Land of Dreams. That album became available in December 1987.

Given that the air-date is May 7, 1988 the material that appeared on that installment originated during the fall 1987 taping sessions. Keep in mind that the cast and crew of the program reported to the studio for only 2 separate production periods each year.

In the summer the cast and guest stars taped material for 13 episodes (the editing staff and the producer compiled 13 individual episodes from the summer footage) and then in the fall of the same year the cast returned, in addition to other guest stars, to tape material for 13 more episodes (and once more the editing staff and the production staff assembled individual episodes from the fall footage).

The summer footage kicked off each other words the first 13 episodes in each season originated from the summer taping sessions (usually in May or June). The remaining 13 first-run episodes originated from the fall taping sessions (usually late September-early October). The 26 episodes then reran during the spring and summer months. 

Friday, September 11, 2015

Hee Haw: 1969-1992, Part Twenty...

In this 20th entry in my Hee Haw tribute posts I'm here to spread the word about a couple of Hee Haw related happenings that took place this month that the general public might not be aware of yet. On September 8th Time Life issued a new DVD project titled The Hee Haw Collection: 3 DVD Set. The project is highlighting the inclusion of episodes previously unavailable for commercial/retail purchase. It's only been available for 3 days and here's a PRESS RELEASE about the project and it also features a link to Amazon. There are 5 episodes total in that collection spanning the years 1969-1973.

A YouTube video/commercial appeared several weeks ago (August 4, 2015) for a similar collection being sold exclusively on Time Life's site. I never posted the video clip because I knew very little about the project and the fact that there's the other DVD project I felt it may create confusion...

If you visit Time Life's site it'll have a page advertising 2 separate Hee Haw DVD projects on the same page. There's a DVD package that consists of 11 episodes, 8 discs and there's a DVD package that consists of 23 episodes, 14 discs. Each package includes the Hee Haw Laffs collection of famed comedy sketches from the summer 1969 season and a disc of interviews of surviving cast members. You can visit the Time Life page by clicking this LINK. It's pretty self-explanatory on how to purchase the 2 items.

Here's the YouTube commercial advertising the 8-disc version...

The Hee Haw Laffs is something that's been circulating for close to 20 years. The compilation debuted on VHS in 1996 as a response to the popularity of the reruns on cable TV channel The Nashville Network and in addition to this Opryland had featured a live, stage-version of Hee Haw for several seasons during the mid 1990s consisting mostly of musical numbers, re-creations from the long running series, and it featured a newcomer named Jason Petty...billed as the newest Hee Haw Hunk (the term given to the male equivalent of the female Hee Haw Honey). This Opryland stage show that launched in the summer of 1994, titled Hee Haw Live, coincided with the reruns of the series on TNN. The cast of the Opryland series was very small and it had no official hosts although I'm sure either George Lindsay or Gunilla Hutton acted as emcees. Sam Lovullo, the producer of Hee Haw, released his memoir in 1996 titled Life in the Kornfield.

During the making of that book Hee Haw had become a major success story all over again thanks to TNN's airing of reruns. During it's run on TNN it aired, usually, at 7pm Eastern (6pm Central) Saturday evening. This is the same time slot it had held across most of the country throughout the '70s and '80s before local newscasts and syndicated game shows expanded from 5 to 6 days a week in the early '90s (causing Hee Haw to move from an early Saturday evening time slot to scattered weekend afternoon time-slots across much of the country in it's final 2 seasons). After about a year TNN moved the program from 7pm Eastern to 10pm Eastern following the hour long Statler Brothers television program on the Saturday night schedule. I don't remember the reason for the schedule shift from 7 to 10pm Eastern but it remained at 10pm for the remainder of it's time on TNN.

The Nashville Network, referred to as TNN, had been airing reruns of the program on it's Saturday evening line-up since October 1993. The half hour sketch compilation (Laffs) that appeared on VHS in 1996 has the distinction of being the first commercially available footage of Hee Haw and in the next decade Time Life began releasing DVDs of entire episodes of the program for the first time ever. It filled a demand from fans who had long expressed their desire to have complete episodes of the program available for purchase.

In the years before the DVDs came along, and after the reruns had stopped airing rather abruptly on CMT in 1997 (after a 3 and a half year run on TNN), Roy Clark often mentioned that his fans always asked why episodes of the program had never been made available for purchase or why hasn't reruns of the program surfaced on television again, etc. etc., but Time Life filled the desire with their release of numerous DVDs...and then, in 2008, RFD-TV rescued the series from an almost certain fate of limbo (as far as television airing is concerned) and reruns of the program started airing on the RFD channel and they've aired there ever since. Reruns of the series, by 2008, had never been aired on any television outlet since their final appearances on cable TV in the mid 1990s.

The on-going popularity/fascination with this series via it's exposure on RFD-TV and video clips on YouTube helped spawn a tribute program called Salute to the Kornfield which aired exclusively on RFD-TV in 2012. It's since been released on DVD. A Hee Haw exhibit was unveiled last year in Roy Clark's home state of Oklahoma during the 45th anniversary of the program's debut in 1969. Country Weekly magazine published a nice salute to the program's 45th anniversary celebration.

This year a musical surfaced titled Moonshine: That Hee Haw Musical. It's currently making the rounds of various theatrical venues.

Here's another site that promotes the 3-DVD Hee Haw's a bit longer and has some detail and some opinion but it provides a link to Amazon, too...


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Flintstones Comedy Show: 1980-1984...

Over the course of this year there have been several uploads on YouTube shining the spotlight on the half hour syndicated series, Flintstone Frolics. The title of this blog entry encompasses the years that The Flintstone Comedy Show happened to be on network television under a variety of titles.

The series debut on NBC on November 22, 1980. The reason for the late start-up date is because 1980 happened to be a strike year for television writers and the 1980-1981 season didn't get underway until November (instead of the usual month of September). This particular series expanded on the concept of several Flintstones programs that had aired in the years preceding the debut of this 90 minute, Saturday morning series. During the 1979-1980 season NBC aired a half hour cartoon series titled The New Fred and Barney Show. In one of the episodes, titled "Fred and Barney Meet the Frankenstones", the ghoulish family is introduced. This happened during a September 1979 air-date. Episodes of The New Fred and Barney Show aired from February to October 1979 on NBC's Saturday morning line-up.

The Flintstone Comedy Show consisted of six segments per episode. The main segment titled The Flintstone Family Adventures contained adventures/stories similar to the 1960's episodes of The Flintstones focusing on Fred, Wilma, Barney, and Betty. Bedrock Cops is a segment that features Fred and Barney as patrolmen on prehistoric motorbikes...perhaps a spoof of the live-action series, CHiPs. In the segment Fred and Barney are aided by Shmoo, a shape-shifting glob of alien species. Their boss is Sgt. Boulder. The Pebbles, Bamm-Bamm, and Dino segment revolved around Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm solving mysteries in which Dino acted as comic relief. The segment often come across like Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm's previous series of adventures in the early '70s on The Pebbles and Bamm-Bamm Show including appearances from Moonrock, Penny, and Wiggy.

A fourth segment, titled Captain Caveman, told the adventures of Captain Caveman's years in Bedrock before being frozen in ice and discovered millions of years later by Dee-Dee, Taffy, and Brenda in the Captain Caveman and Teen Angels series. In the 1980 series Captain Caveman is the alter-ego of Chester, a mild-mannered copy boy at The Daily Granite. Chester turns into his alter-ego, Captain Caveman, during times of crisis and danger...and is often cheered on by both Betty and Wilma (co-workers of Chester's at the paper) even though he's just as klutzy and clumsy as ever. Their boss is Lou Granite. In this series Chester's facial area is clean-shaven but after he transforms into Captain Caveman he looks as he should...covered completely in hair. This segment keeps with The Flintstones tradition of taking modern-day culture and events and placing them in a prehistoric setting. A fifth segment of the 90 minute series centered around The Frankenstones. In this segment Frank Frankenstone's been transformed from a lovable, easy-going monster into a devious and short-tempered agitator. In previous incarnations of the Frankenstone character the depictions had been more or less similar to Boris Karloff's legendary performance as The Frankenstein Monster in the Universal Studios horror movies. Ted Cassidy, and later, John Stephenson, voiced Frankenstone prior to this 1980 series. Charles Nelson Reilly became the new voice of the character and therefore the character's personality changed to match the vain, prissy, and easily annoyed characterization that Reilly was noted for. A sixth segment of the 1980 series centered on Dino...the segments having been called Dino and Cavemouse. In the segment (2 per episode) Dino and a character named Cavemouse battle one another in Tom and Jerry/Road Runner and Coyote-style adventures.

Syndicated internationally The Flintstone Comedy Show received a different title in the form of The Flintstone Frolics. Under this title the original 6 segments from the 90 minute version that were airing in America became repackaged in 30 minute installments. This meant that each half hour broadcast of the Frolics featured 2 segments chosen at random. One episode may feature The Frankenstones and Bedrock Cops, another may feature Bedrock Cops and The Flintstone Family Adventures, another may contain a Captain Caveman adventure along side a Flintstone Family Adventures segment, etc. etc. There happened to be 11 individual episodes produced for 5 of the 6 segments during the ninety minute 1980-1981 season. As mentioned previously the Dino and Cavemouse segments had 2 chase adventures per episode for a total of 22 installments. An additional 7 ninety minute episodes aired during the 1981-1982 season. In total 5 of the 6 segments added up to 18 episodes each. Dino and Cavemouse enjoyed a total of 44 segments during that same period. The Flintstone Comedy Show series, in America, left the NBC Saturday morning line-up on September 11, 1982 but the segments continued to air...

As international audiences seen the program as The Flintstone Frolics a different re-packaged, half hour series aired in America beginning on September 18, 1982 on NBC under the title of The Flintstone Funnies.

As you can see from the title card the series spotlighted the segments originally seen on the 90 minute series. Like the Frolics incarnation overseas, the domestic Flintstone Funnies randomly aired segments of the 90 minute series out of sequential order in a 30 minute time-slot on NBC. This meant that segments produced in 1980 and 1981 aired back-to-back in most half hour installments. This Saturday morning re-packaged series aired on NBC until September 8, 1984. It would be the last time The Flintstones and The Rubbles appeared on network television as adults...ABC aired The Flintstone Kids (1986-1988)...and that series marked the last time The Flintstones and it's related characters appeared on network television in a series (moving to reruns on cable-TV over the next 25+ years). The characters of Fred and Barney continued to air on network TV in the form of commercials for Pebbles cereal throughout much of the 1990s.

The voice cast for the original 90 minute series is rather large as you could imagine. Henry Corden starred as the voice of Fred Flintstone; Mel Blanc also starred as Barney Rubble, Dino, and Captain Caveman; Jean Vanderpyl starred as Wilma Flintstone; Gay Autterson starred as Betty Rubble and Wiggy; Russi Taylor voiced Pebbles Flintstone and Cavemouse; Michael Sheehan voiced Bamm-Bamm Rubble; John Stephenson voiced numerous characters but his main one happened to be Mr. Slate. Also in the cast...Don Messick as Bad Luck Schleprock. Frank Welker as Shmoo and Rockjaw. Lennie Weinrib as Moonrock and Sgt. Boulder. Charles Nelson Reilly as Frank Frankenstone, Ruta Lee as Hidea Frankenstone, Zelda Rubenstein as Atrocia Frankenstone, Paul Reubens as Freaky Frankenstone, Kenneth Mars as Lou Granite, and Mitzi McCall as Penny.

30 minute episodes of the repackaged 90 minute series are on YouTube at the moment. Unfortunately the person that uploaded the episodes has the wrong titles posted for whatever reason. For example there's an upload called "The Ghost Sitters Sands of Saharastone" (which isn't even a title of any of the segment episodes!) but the 2 segments that appear on that upload are "A Night on the Town" (a Frankenstones segment) and "Monster Madness" (a Pebbles, Bamm-Bamm, and Dino segment). You can see that episode HERE. Count Rockula, in that episode, is voiced by Don Messick. I uploaded that one because it's got the best audio, so far, of the other uploads available.