tv series

TV Tuesday: Half Nelson 1985

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Half Nelson Image One
Image Credit: imdb.com & amazon.com

Thirty-five years ago, today, the television series Half Nelson debuted on NBC with a two hour pilot TV movie. Created & written by Glen A. Larson and Lou Shaw, it starred Joe Pesci, Fred Williamson and Victoria Jackson with Dean Martin (as himself) in the movie pilot, adding Bubba Smith, Dick Butkus and Gary Grubbs as main cast in the series. Notable guest stars were Morgan Brittany, George Kennedy, Gary Lockwood, John Saxon and a dog listed as Spuds MacKenzie but, credited as Tony in the TV show. Curiously, the image reflects actors Tony Curtis and John Matuszak as guest stars but, they aren’t on IMDB and Television Obscurities states that Rod Taylor was in the pilot but, his name was also not listed on IMDB.

Movie Summary:

Rocky Nelson is a New York City cop who, after making a major bust and selling the rights of his story to Hollywood, decides to try his luck out as an actor. However, when he gets there, the directors think that he is too short to be an actor. He is, then, approached by someone who offers him a job at a Hollywood security agency because he would fit in there being an ex-cop and, while working there, he could come in contact with some Hollywood heavyweights who could give him the break he needs. [At] the same time, he gets to live in Dean Martin’s guest house.

Half Nelson Image Two
Image Credit: imdb.com & amazon.com

Series Summary:

Rocky Nelson is a former New York cop who is trying to make it as an actor in Hollywood. However, like most actor wannabees, he is still looking for his big break and his lack of stature doesn’t endear him to the directors. So, he is currently working for Beverly Hills Patrol, a private security agency that caters to the needs of the Hollywood elite and, who also try to keep things quiet for their clients. [Every] now and then, Rocky comes across a case which requires him to slip into his old mold of cop, which doesn’t make his boss or the police lieutenant that he encounters, happy.

Trivia Bits:
♦ This was Dean Martin’s final acting role.
♦ Martin, playing himself, is the owner of Beverly Hills Patrol and Joe Pesci’s Rocky provides him security.
♦ The series replaced the low rated V TV series.
♦ After the pilot movie, only six episodes aired before being cancelled and replaced with Misfits of Science in the new season.

Additional Reading:
Episode List (IMDB)
TV Obscurities (Website)

Opening & Rod Taylor’s Scenes

TV Tuesday: Harsh Realm 1999

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Harsh Realm Image One
Photo Credit: imdb.com

Twenty years ago, today, the science fiction series Harsh Realm debuted on Fox. Created and developed by Chris Carter (The X-Files & Millenium), it starred Scott Bairstow, D.B. Sweeney, Terry O’Quinn, Rachael Hayward, Max Martini, Samantha Mathis and Sarah-Jane Redmond with Cameron K. Smith as a Republican Guard Soldier (Smith had fourth billing but, much of his acting history is uncredited) and, Vinnie as Dexter the Dog (seventh billing in the cast list). Filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, it was loosely based on the Harsh Realm comic book by James Hudnall and Andrew Paquette.

Tagline: Are you ready to play?

From Wikipedia:

Harsh Realm is a virtual reality game created by the U.S. Army, programmed to minutely replicate the real world for training simulations. In the world of Harsh Realm, a small nuclear bomb is detonated in the program’s version of New York City, killing four million people and thrusting its participants into a post-apocalyptic disaster scenario. Lieutenant Tom Hobbes is unknowingly thrust into this world by his superiors with one mission: to kill “General” Omar Santiago. Along the way, he meets fellow soldiers sent into the game and alternate versions of people he knows in the real world (including Dexter, an alternate version of his real world dog). It is in this world that Hobbes must survive, defeat Santiago, save the real world and, somehow return to his real life and his fiancée, Sophie Green.

From IMDB:

Lt. Hobbes, a young idealistic Marine who’s about to get married, is sent into a [virtual reality] war game simulation where he is to terminate a renegade General who has taken control of the program. [He] also learns that he is actually trapped in the game, along with numerous other soldiers previously sent to kill Santiago. Meanwhile, Hobbes real life fiancee investigates his disappearance with the help of a mysterious female ally with an agenda of her own.

Harsh Realm Image Two
Photo Credit: imdb.com

Trivia Bits:
♦ Notable director for one episode: Kim Manners (Supernatural)
♦ Notable writer for one episode: Frank Spotnitz (The X-Files)
♦ Notable composer for the series: Mark Snow (The X-Files & Starsky & Hutch)
Gillian Anderson is the narrator of the Harsh Realm training video in the first episode.
Thomas Hobbes is named for the philosopher Thomas Hobbes, who believed in predestination and that people are inherently selfish and power-hungry.
♦ Hobbes’ dog, Dexter, is named after the protagonist from the Harsh Realm comic book series upon which the show is loosely based.
♦ Many [have] wrongly speculated that [the] widely-publicized lawsuit brought about the series’ sudden cancellation. It was actually a struggle between Carter and Fox that got the series cancelled (after nine episodes).
♦ The term “harsh realm” originates from the grunge speak hoax of 1992 […]
♦ The theme music contains samples of speeches given by Benito Mussolini.
♦ Music from artists Prodigy, White Zombie (Rob Zombie) and Moby are featured in some episodes.

The Lawsuit
Critical Reception
Nominations

Pilot Episode

Wayback Wednesday: Stage Show 1954

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Stage Show Image One
Image Credit: imdb.com

Sixty-five years ago, today, the CBS TV variety series Stage Show debuted. It was produced by Jackie Gleason Enterprises and hosted by Tommy and Jimmy Dorsey. Starting out as an hour-long, summertime replacement for The Jackie Gleason Show, it was returned in the Fall of 1955.

This is the show that introduced the world to Elvis Presley.

Dave Marsh, in his insightful musical biography Elvis, writes about the moment Elvis Presley burst upon the American scene via The Dorsey Brothers Stage Show on January 28, 1956. “In his first appearance on the Dorsey Brothers’ TV show, the young singer rocked the world”. Marsh described Elvis’ startling rendition of Heartbreak Hotel and concluded, “He owned the song and he owned the crowd”.

Elvis Presley Image Two
March 17, 1956
Photo Credit: elvispresleymusic.com.au

After 17 months of personal appearances all over the south […], Elvis […] made his first appearance […]. Those shows were broadcast, live, from the CBS Studios in New York City. Young Elvis The Pelvis’ first appearance […] was followed by 5 others throughout the next 2 months until the 24 of March, 1956.

[Source]

Introduced by Bill Randle, Elvis’ January stage set was Shake, Rattle & Roll, Flip, Flop & Fly and, I Got A Woman.

Bobby Darin also made his television debut on this show in March of 1956 singing Rock Island Line. The June Taylor Dancers were regular guests & performers and, Jack Carter became the permanent host in the show’s final season. Up against the The Perry Como Show on NBC, ratings began to decline. The final show was aired September 18, 1956, two months before the death of Tommy Dorsey. Jimmy passed in June of the following year.

Other Guests & Performers