Working Stiffs

Do You Recall 1979’s Working Stiffs Starring Michael Keaton?!

Well, to be completely honest, Working Stiffs didn’t just star Michael Keaton. No, this CBS comedy series also co-starred Jim Belushi.
Working Stiffs

The two portrayed Mike and Ernie O’Rourke – two men who have yet to find their true purpose in life. So naturally they do what they can to make ends meet, becoming your typical Working Stiffs of course.

For the O’Rourke brothers it turns out they do have some aces up their sleeves. For one thing – the apartment where the two can hang their hat is situated above a cafe. In addition Mike and Ernie are able to become friends with the owner of the eatery, Mitch Hannigan as well as the cafe’s waitress, Nikki Evashevsky.

Hannigan by the way is played by M.A.S.H.‘s Allan Arbus with Nikki portrayed by Lorna Patterson. I bet some of you might recognize Patterson from her starring role in the early 80’s TV version of Private Benjamin.

[Via] Jamie Gee

The other bit of good fortune for our Working Stiffs is they are able to secure employment with a relative. Their rich Uncle Harry who owns the building reluctantly agrees to put them on the payroll. However not as the businessman as the duo hope but as janitors in fact.

While I can certainly say in all honesty that I hadn’t seen Working Stiffs before today. I have to say that the short video below – from the pilot episode showed a lot of promise.

[Via] Greg Stanina

When Working Stiffs debuted on CBS back in 1979 it rather unwisely decided to compete against NBC’s CHiPs. It was also attempting to compete against ABC’s Three’s Company spin-off The Ropers. The series itself was created by Bob Brunner, who had a hand in the popular TV series Happy Days as well as Laverne and Shirley. In addition, the pilot episode was directed by none other than Penny Marshall. As well as having a rather catchy theme song in my honest opinion.

Sadly Working Stiffs just couldn’t stand up to the likes of Ponch and Jon nor even Stanley and Helen Roper. After a mere four episodes the comedy series was cancelled. However, once both Keaton and Belushi found success in films, the show was released on VHS. Having said that though, friends, in total there were nine episodes filmed – but only six present on the VHS release. I found that the show has been seen here and there since 1979. I’ve read that it’s appeared on the likes of retro-themed TV channels such as TV Land, Comedy Central, and the A&E Network. Although I haven’t found an actual DVD release as of yet.

Like I mentioned up above, I wasn’t aware of this TV series until today. I have fellow Retroist author, Phillip Cary, to thank for the heads up. For my birthday earlier this week he brought me a 1979’s TV Guide. A Fall preview issue that had this to say about the then upcoming television series.

Now that you’ve learned a bit about Working Stiffs why not check a stand-up comedy routine by Michael Keaton?


I am pretty positive this is actually from the TV show An Evening at the Improv.

[Via] A Blast from the Past

The Black Hole

Retro Records: The Black Hole Book and Record (1979)

It’s turning out to be a Black Hole kind of weekend. I mean – just look at Earl Green’s excellent Cygnus model post from the other day. A fan made piece of art that blew us away to say the very least. And now in addition we have this offering. The book and record adaptation of The Black Hole from 1979!
The Black Hole

Thanks to this video upload by Old Disney Records we can thrill once again to the exploits of the crew from the U.S.S. Palomino. Crossing paths in the darkness of space with the crazed Dr. Hans Reinhardt and the dangerous Maximilian. Aboard the mysterious Cygnus and the very real threat of the ravenous Black Hole.

I have an incredible amount of fond memories concerning the Walt Disney Productions’ book and records. I still have many of those I grew up with including this record. TRON, Davy Crockett, Mary Poppins, and more. Granted not all of them are in as good a condition as the one you will hear in the video below.

While the book and records were well known in their adaptations of trimming the fat for a story. Of course I will remind you they only had a small amount of time on the 33 and 1/3 records. The fact is the total running time for The Black Hole is a little over 9 minutes. To help in this process the adaptation of the Black Hole cuts loose two crew members of the Palomino.

For example Ernest Borgnine’s role of Harry Booth, the engineer, has been excised.
The Black Hole

As well as Anthony Perkins’ part as Dr. Alex Durant.

Having said that it is still a solid package. Managing to keep the main gist of the story and exciting moments intact. They even use some of John Barry’s excellent soundtrack as well as sound effects from the film.

The most interesting aspect of it is how it tackles the ending of the movie. For those of you that haven’t yet had the pleasure of seeing The Black Hole the conclusion is…equal parts terrifying and subject to interpretation.

Now without further ado, joins us on Retro Records as we listen to 1979’s The Black Hole!

Alien - Board Game

Did You Play 1979’s Alien Board Game?

When it comes to merchandise for 1979’s masterpiece Alien. I feel the epitome of surprise comes from the fact that Kenner released an action figure. While Star Wars showed that kids loved science fiction toys – Alien was a horror film set in space. To say nothing that it was rated R, so it was kind of crazy that Kenner made an 18-inch figure in the first place.

[Via] Hitmon Tom

That is kind of a well known product. I certainly recall a bit of outrage from parent groups. As well as Siskel and Ebert showing off the figure – they too were dismayed and a little upset that Kenner made them. Of course now days those figures are highly sought after and demand a pretty penny from collectors.

As I’ve already said – I knew about the 18-inch action figure. What I didn’t know was just how far Kenner went with the marketing of the film. Releasing an Alien board game designed for children ages 7 and up?!
Alien - Board Game Objective

Players pick their favorite color, collecting three astronauts and one Xenomorph matching their color.

The Player of course is trying to lead their astronauts to the Nostromo’s escape shuttle – the Narcissus. Which is located in the center of the game board.

Fun fact. In the late great Dan O’Bannon’s original screenplay, the shuttle went by an entirely different name. It was simply called the Snark 2. The shuttle being christened Narcissus was thanks to the rewrite by David Giler and Walter Hill. Make sure to check out the really nicely painted images – scenes from Ridley Scott’s masterpiece.

Naturally a Player attempts to guide their Alien towards the opposing Player’s astronauts. Hunting them down one by one – obviously a Xenomorph can’t harm an astronaut of the same color. Thankfully there are some safe spots located on the board where one can hide from the intergalactic menace. Bear in mind the opposing Players are attempting the very same action.

Now that you’ve seen a bit of the Alien board game – why not check out this review by Think Bolt?


In addition you will get a close-up view of some of the fantastic artwork on the game board. Moreover I should add this looks in fact to be a pristine version of the game!

‘Struck By Lightning’ Struck By Failure

StruckByLightning

As a fan of Frankenstein I remember being excited for “Struck by Lightning.” It sounded like a fun take on the character. It’s kind of like “Newhart” with George played by Frankenstein’s monster. It starred Jack Elam as the monster and Jeffrey Kramer as Ted Stein, a descendent of the original Dr. Frankenstein. Ted inherits an old New England inn that comes with the monster who coincidentally needs a serum recreated to keep him alive.

Unfortunately, it didn’t make it past three episodes even though 11 were filmed. Jack Elam was perfect casting to play Frankenstein’s monster. And similar to “Young Frankenstein,” I like the idea of a descendent of the doctor having to deal with the monster.

StruckByLightning2

Debuting in September 1979, “Struck by Lightning” was slotted on Wednesday nights at 8:30 p.m. EST following “The Last Resort” and up against “Eight is Enough” on ABC and Real People on NBC. The latter two programs were ranked in the top 20 for that TV season. Wednesday night wasn’t CBS’s night.

Sitcoms with a fantasy element seem to be a hard sell. For the time only “Mork & Mindy” was successful. The TV sitcom ratings were dominated by M*A*S*H, Happy Days, Three’s Company, The Jeffersons and others. Still, it would be nice to see if the showed established itself with a style during those 11 episodes.

Godzilla 1979

Enjoy a 9-year-old’s take on Godzilla from 1979

Since Godzilla-mania is sweeping the land (once again), I thought I would post a little pic I drew in 1979!

Forget cities for Godzilla to destroy! He’s obviously leveled everything in his path leaving these brave commandos and a few Howitzers as our President narrowly escapes destruction in his helicopter!!!

Godzilla 1979

Okay, I forgot the horrible lizard’s tail. but who needs a tail when you have a hell bent appetite for pink painted aircraft!!!