Today's News: Our Take


Lovable losers Homer Simpson and Al Bundy came through for Fox in a big way Sunday night. The Simpsons's much-hyped 300th episode (21.2 million viewers) combined with a Married... With Children reunion special (19.2 million) gave the network its biggest non-sports Sunday in three years. ABC's remake of Meredith Willson's Music Man suffered as a result: The movie delivered a troubling, with a capital "T," 13.1 million viewers. read more

Question: What was the name ...

Question: Question: What was the name of the St. Bernard on the show Topper? — Rich K., Glenside, Pa.


Answer: Televisionary: The ghostly dog with a taste for brandy was named Neil. And he was a TV invention — in Thorne Smith's written version, there was no canine pal to help shake up the life of the proper Cosmo Topper (Leo G. Carroll).

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Question: I would like to ...

Question: Question: I would like to know the name of the TV show with the theme music containing the words "where the soul of a man is easy to buy" and "some of us are going to try." — Mark M., London, England, U.K.

Answer: Televisionary: That was Tony Christie singing the theme to the British thriller The Protectors, 52 episodes of which were produced from 1972-74 by Lew Grade (The Saint) and Gerry Anderson (best know for puppet adventure shows such as Thunderbirds and Stingray as well as for the live-action Space 1999). Those of us here in the U.S. saw it in syndicated form around that time.

The series starred Robert Vaughn, read more

Question: The days of ...

Question: Question: The days of innocent cartoon watching on Saturday mornings are all but gone. I am a 33-year-old father who is looking forward to sharing with my 1-year-old daughter the cartoons I grew up with. Cartoons like Super Friends, The Banana Splits, Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines, The Perils of Penelope Pitstop and so on. They were great fun on those non-school mornings. Although the Cartoon Network has shown some of them, I would like to know if you have any insight into where I could find a collection of the cartoon greats. Also, is there any way you could get an archive listing of the Saturday morning lineup of the major networks so that I may recall and share my childhood with my daughter? — Hector H., Merritt Island, Fla.

Answer: Televisionary: Well, it sounds like you're already looking into my first suggestion, which would be to tune in to the Cartoon Network's Boomerang chann read more

Question: I've never taken ...

Question: Question: I've never taken the time to write a letter like this, but I just felt the need to write and tell you that your column sucks. It is completely dragging down the entire Ask the Experts section. The questions you usually choose to respond to are laughable. Most of them can be answered by anyone who takes two seconds to look on the Internet. I swear, if someone wrote in to ask you who played Jerry Seinfeld on Seinfeld you would probably waste column space answering that. Worse, you would probably answer the question in about 10 pages. Take this week, for example: Did the question "what was Danny Thomas's real name?" really warrant almost an entire page as an answer? You could have answered i read more

Question: While reading your ...

Question: Question: While reading your answer about spinoffs [Jan. 28's column, third answer], I got to thinking about Good Times. If I remember right, didn't Esther Rolle leave the show for a while? If so, why? Thank you and keep up the good work. I'm a big fan of the column. — Daphne M., Fort Walton Beach, Fla.

Answer: Televisionary: The late Ms. Rolle, who passed away in 1998 at the age of 78, was unhappy with the show for the same reason Good Times became a hit soon after its 1974 launch — the antics of Jimmie Walker's character, J.J. The character, whose "dy-no-mite!" became a popular catch-phrase during the show's mid- to late-'70s run, was uncomfortably close to the oldtime stereotypical depictions of black read more

Question: Who is the biggest ...

Question: Question: Who is the biggest movie star that started out in TV? My guess is either Bruce Willis or Tom Hanks. Are there others? — Pam H., Herndon, Va.

Answer: Televisionary: Y'know, Pam, I'm going to take the cowardly way out and drop the "est" part of the question because, frankly, in order to figure out who is the biggest of all time I'd have to not only add up the box-office takes of blockbusters starring Hanks or Willis, I'd also have to add up the totals of guys like Clint Eastwood, who got his first big break on Rawhide and has had a longer career. So allow me to talk in generalities, please.

Certainly, Hanks and Willis cl read more

Question: What is the name of ...

Question: Question: What is the name of this made-for-TV movie starring Nancy McKeon (The Facts of Life) where she was an abused wife and was stabbed quite a few times and the police just stood there and watched? — Dennis H., Oshawa, Ont., Canada


Answer: Televisionary: You're thinking of A Cry for Help: The Tracey Thurman Story, a 1989 NBC TV movie. As far as I know, however, it's not available on home video.

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Seven Silly Questions for... Mary Hart

Mary Hart. Are there any two words more synonymous with Hollywood glitz, glamour and shameless self-promotion? We think not. For 20 years, the gal with the million-dollar gams has presided over TV's iconic showbiz catch-all Entertainment Tonight, and dammit if we're not a better nation for it! This evening, Hart takes her cheery self to primetime as the host of The Stars First Time on ET (8 pm/ET on CBS), an hourlong special during which celebs recall their inaugural appearances on the well-oiled PR machine. We can only hope that 20 years from now Hart will remember the first time she was asked Seven Silly Questions.

TV Guide Online: What percentage of any episode of ET is dedicated to teasing future stories?
Mary Hart: Probably 80 percent.

TVGO: Who hits on you more often — George Clooney or Colin Farrell?
Neither one of th read more

Lovelorn Losers, It's Your Lucky Day!

Singletons, take heart. You know Sipowicz from NYPD Blue? Yeah, the detective who's more gruff than buff. He's now cohabitating with a graduate of the Supermodel Police Academy. And overly made-up Drew Carey scream queen Mimi? She's married. Married! To a transvestite the size of The Rock, but nonetheless. Same for Frasier priss Niles. (Minus the transvestite part.) Do you know what all this means? That's right, fellow spinsters — if losers like these can get on the scoreboard, there's hope for us all this Valentine's Day. And, to prove it, TV Guide Online has borrowed Cupid's bow and arrow to play matchmaker for a few of the tube's sorriest soloists. Ain't love grand!

Clark Kent, Smallville, and Buffy Summers, read more