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

Happy Batman Day! Siskel And Ebert’s 1989 Review

You probably have already noticed from various online sources that today is in fact National Batman Day. So why not join us on the The Retroist as we dance with the Devil by the pale moonlight and see what the late great Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel felt about Tim Burton’s Batman?

[Via] 1989 Batman Movie

Was Ebert being fair in his criticism with Batman?

Yes and no. My takeaway is that Ebert didn’t hate the movie. He just couldn’t get past some of the story elements like Vicki Vale, played by Kim Basinger, not kind of freaking out more when she discovers that Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton) is Batman. Not enough at least to enjoy it as much as Gene Siskel did in this case.

Here though is why I respectfully disagree with Ebert’s argument:

  • Early on in the movie, Bruce demonstrates some rather odd behavior, right? After spending the night together Vicki wakes up to see Bruce “exercising” and looking very much like a hanging bat.
    batman-1989
  • Vicki also spots Bruce on the streets of Gotham visiting the spot where his parents were murdered in crime alley. Something that causes her to research what happened to him as a kid – to which even the character of Knox mentions that he thinks Bruce is messed up in the head.
  • Then of course there is Bruce’s confrontation with the Joker in Vicki’s apartment. Which results in Vicki losing a perfectly good vase and watching Bruce get gunned down by the jealous Joker. Then he ends up literally leaving the apartment without her seeing him…probably climb out the window.
    batman-1989-bruce-and-the-joker
  • Vicki is a reporter besides being a well known photographer – she is not stupid. It only makes sense that she would put all of those pieces together and come to the conclusion Bruce is also Batman.
    batman-1989-vicki-and-batman
  • Plus I bet there was a scene before Alfred escorts her down to the Batcave where she grills him about knowing Batman’s true identity. Probably a threat about revealing who Wayne really is if Alfred doesn’t let her see him.

So today why not take a moment and join in on the celebration of National Batman Day? Re-watch 1989’s Batman or one of the other films – or better yet pick up and spend some time reading some Batman comics?

Who knows…maybe you should keep an eye on the night sky?