Author: The Retro Rambler

I'm the Retro Rambler, and this is my online home where I relive all the stuff that made my childhood cool. I've never really grown up, and don't really want to either. Enjoy your stay here, and come back often to see the latest memories we're posting. Drop me a comment when something strikes you and we'll chat about it. Retro Ramblings....your childhood lives here.

Do You Remember the Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo?

Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo

Boasting both big-rig trucks and a chimpanzee co-star, B.J. and the Bear was an immediate hit on NBC’s late 70’s lineup, also making a star out of its charming-but-corrupt villain, Sheriff Elroy P. Lobo. NBC capitalized on this character’s popularity by almost immediately spinning him off into his own one-hour comedy/adventure series in the fall of 1979.

In The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo, the title character was placed in the unique position of becoming an unintentional hero. He would conspire to make money in some illicit fashion and inevitably end up stumbling onto some serious criminal activity in the process. Since the nature of his job was to uphold the law, he’d find himself forced to bring the criminals to justice, thus missing out on his chance at ill-gotten gains.

Lobo’s two deputies, the dim-witted Perkins and smarter-but-still-naïve Birdie, were just thick enough to believe that the sheriff was strictly on the up-and-up. The show also introduced a sister for Lobo in Rose, who also was married to Perkins. Rounding out the original cast of characters were Sarah, a motel owner who dated Birdie, and Margaret Ellen, a waitress with a penchant for skimpy outfits. The tone of the series was light, emphasizing three things that boys of all ages could agree on: slapstick humor, car-chase action, and plenty of sexy women.

Continue reading “Do You Remember the Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo?”

Looking Back at B.J. and the Bear

Every Which Way But Loose and Any Which Way You Can were big hits for star Clint Eastwood in 1978 and 1979. Both films focused on the adventures of a man and his simian companion as they traveled through rural areas. It was a very television-friendly concept and was cleverly appropriated in 1979 for a one-hour NBC show entitled B.J. and the Bear.

The show focused on B.J., a trucker who roamed down the highways and byways in his red-and-white rig with his companion Bear, who happened to be a chimp. B.J.’s arch nemesis was initially Lobo, a corrupt sheriff. Lobo became popular enough to get his own spin-off series (The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo) and was replaced with additional corrupt-lawmen characters in the form of Sergeant Beauregard Wiley and his two sheriffs, Masters and Cain.

When he wasn’t busy locking horns with local lawmen, B.J. frequently spent his spare time at the Country Comfort Truck Stop, owned by Bullets. Other characters B. J. interacted with included Wilhemina “The Fox” Johnson, a state cop sent out to keep an eye on Sergeant Wiley, and Tommy, one of B.J.’s fellow truckers. Continue reading “Looking Back at B.J. and the Bear”

Remembering Hill Street Blues

Hill Street Blues

Before Hill Street Blues, conventional cop show wisdom dictated that there should just a handful of core characters, one or two plotlines, and everything in the way of crisis and crime should be wrapped up neatly at the close of each episode. But Hill Street Blues changed all that, and the hour-long dramas that came after it—even if they had nothing to do with men in blue—were inspired by this notorious breaker of old TV rules.

It was early 80’s president of NBC Fred Silverman who brought up the idea of a different cop show, a show that focused on the cops’ lives a bit more than the cops’ work. For the task, the network hired producers Michael Kozoll and Steven Bochco and gave them total creative control. Producer Bochco had written for several Columbo television movies, and had clear ideas about what he wanted for his new venture.

The station house would be noisy and some of its inhabitants uncouth. There wouldn’t be any typical all-perfect, all-the-time characters either—each would have his or her flaws. And though there would of course be crimes to solve, the show’s focus would be those characters. Investigations and cop goings-on were often worked out over the course of several episodes, instead of self-contained in just one episode, and sometimes, just like in real life, the cases would never be solved at all and bad guys would get off scott-free.

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J.R. Ewing wasn’t known to mince a lot of words. Or stay faithful to his wife, exercise even an ounce of morality in his business endeavors, or protect his “loved” ones from harm. With his ten-gallon hat/business suit combo, J.R. was one bad modern-day cowboy, but millions, make that bejillions, of viewers ate it right up.

In the late 1960’s, Peyton Place was a nighttime serial drama success—a novelty at the time. But since then, no p.m. show had caught the soap opera crowd’s attention…until Dallas. The show first went on the air for a five week run in early 1978, and then fell into a Saturday nighttime slot later that year. Ratings were fair, but they were nothing compared to when the show moved to Friday nights, when the ratings well didn’t run dry for a long, long time.

Creator David Jacobs had worked on Family and had always been intrigued by Ingmar Bergman’s Scenes From a Marriage—a Swedish show with drama that was a bit too real and upfront for Americans. But when you take the family dynamics that show portrayed and souse it with some homegrown American outrageousness, you’ve got potential. CBS executives suggested Jacobs take his family drama ideas and put them in a big money context, and in the late 70’s and 80’s, big money was synonymous with the Lone Star state’s oil trade. And so the saga began… Continue reading “Dallas”