Daily Dirt: We’re gonna miss those folks on TV this fall, and I still miss Arnold Ziffel and the Hee Haw Honeys

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Daily Dirt for Sept. 18-19, 2021

We’re going to be missing familiar faces when the 2021-22 TV season unfolds. Here are the biggest losses. Welcome to Vol. 71 of the Daily Dirt.

1. It’s just not going to be the same in another month or so. When I sit back in my favorite recliner, a glass of Classic Coke (with ice, crushed) in one hand and the remote in the other, ready to enjoy three of my favorite prime-time programs returning from their summer hiatus. Here’s who will be missing:

  • A. Longtime followers of “NCIS” will be disappointed to find out Maria Bello and Emily Wickersham are no longer around. Bello played forensic psychologist Jack Sloane and Wickersham was special agent Ellie Bishop. Bishop is the biggest loss since all of those seasons waiting for her and fellow special agent Nick Torres (Wilmer Valderrama) to get together appeared to finally be coming to fruition.
  • B. Speaking of relationships finally materializing, just when characters Eric Beale (Barrett Foa) and Nell Jones (Renee Felice Smith) finally became a couple, they are both departing “NCIS Los Angeles”.
  • C. I have been a faithful viewer of “Bull” since day one. Particularly enjoyable was the character development of attorney Benny Colon (Freddy Rodriguez), who last season truly became an integral part of the series lineup. And now? Gone. 
Kanye West, left, and Kim Kardashian Wikimedia Commons

2. The IMDB.com entertainment site lists the following celebrities as the most hated of all time. “Some of these celebrities are likable, but they get so much hate from people,” IMDB says. Here’s the top 10 on that list: 

  • A. Justin Bieber. Shane Bieber is far more popular and has a better curveball.
  • B. Kanye West. I’m not even certain exactly what he’s famous for.
  • C. Kim Kardashian. Oh, wait … isn’t Kanye married to this Kardashian?
  • D. Shia LaBeouf. See “B” comment.
  • E. Simon Cowell. Come on, Simon is much kinder than his “American Idol” days.
  • F. Miley Cyrus. Not exactly the kind of girl you hope your son brings home to meet mom and dad.
  • G. Chris Brown. See “B” comment.
  • H. Kristen Stewart. Well, I liked her in those vampire movies.
  • I. Lindsay Lohan. There’s absolutely no way she ever resurrects whatever career she once had.
  • J. Kris Jenner. I think she falls under the “guilt by association” banner.
Ozzie Smith: The best player to ever wear No. 1 Wikimedia Commons

3. I came across an old (well, if you consider 2016 old …) sportingnews.com piece picking the greatest MLB players by their number. Here are the choices for Nos. 1-10:

1. Ozzie Smith. Honorable mentions: Lou Whitaker, Pee Wee Reese, Richie Ashburn.
2. Derek Jeter. Honorable mentions: Charlie Gehringer, Nellie Fox, Red Schoendienst.
3. Babe Ruth. Honorable mentions: Jimmie Foxx, Alex Rodriguez, Harmon Killebrew. (Some serious home run totals in this group.)
4. Lou Gehrig. Honorable mentions: Mel Ott, Paul Molitor, Duke Snider. (The is group is pretty impressive, too.)
5. George Brett. Honorable mentions:Joe DiMaggio, Johnny Bench, Albert Pujols, Brooks Robinson, Jeff Bagwell. (I’ve always been a big fan of Brett, but I think it might be time to move Pujols to the top of the list.)
6. Stan Musial. Honorable mentions: Al Kaline, Willie Wilson, Steve Garvey. (I was once told I looked like Steve Garvey. At the time, I had more hair and fewer pounds.)
7: Mickey Mantle. Honorable mentions: Ivan Rodriguez, Craig Biggio, Kenny Lofton. (Lofton is an interesting — and well-deserved — inclusion.)
8. Cal Ripken. Honorable mentions: Carl Yastrzemski, Yogi Berra, Willie Stargell, Joe Morgan.
9: Ted Williams. Honorable mentions: Minnie Minoso, Reggie Jackson, Bill Mazeroski. (Minnie Minoso???)
10: Lefty Grove. Honorable mentions: Chipper Jones, Ron Santo, Andre Dawson.

We’ll resume this conversation in the not-too-distant future.

Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor CBS Television

4. It was called the rural purge. Back in the mid-to-late 1960s and early 1970s, the nightly television we watched was filled with programming that had a “rural” theme, such as “Green Acres” and “Petticoat Junction.” As the 1970s rolled out, TV executives felt it necessary to offer a different type of programming, one that appealed to a more “sophisticated” urban type of audience.

In one memorable swoop, the majority of that rural-based programming was unceremoniously axed in favor of a more cosmopolitan — or “city” — type of feel on the TV screen. We welcomed “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” “All in the Family” and similar programs. Obviously, the new era proved successful, but it was still sad to bid farewell to programs that had been huge in the ratings simply for the sake of a philosophical change.

Dozens of programs were canceled over the course of a five-year period, despite (in most cases) some lofty positions in the ratings. Some of the shows taken away from American viewers were:

  • “Petticoat Junction”: The surprising cancellation of this show in 1970 started the steamroller.
  • “Green Acres”: America loved the dysfunctional farming life provided Eddie Albert and Eva Gabor and one of the strongest supporting casts in TV history. Yet at the end of the 1971 season, the pink slip(s) arrived. Before we leave “Green Acres,” who remembers Eb (Tim Lester), Mr. Haney (Pat Buttram), Hank Kimball (Alvy Moore), Sam Drucker (Frank Cady), Fred Ziffel (Hank Patterson), Arnold Ziffel (he was a pig who was treated as a son) and about a dozen others? I consider “Green Acres” one of the elite comedies in television history.
  • “The Beverly Hillbillies”: Despite averaging 57 million viewers a week, CBS continued the rural purge by cutting Jed, Granny, Jethro and Ellie May.
  • “Lassie”: Seventeen years and still popular did not matter. “Lassie” was too country for the early 1970s.
  • “Hee Haw”: I still miss the Hee Haw Honeys. For those who never watched, think Ed Sullivan with a “rural” flavor.
  • “Bonanza”: Hoss, Little Joe, Ben and the rest were as much a part of the American family as anyone, yet after a 14-year run on Sunday nights, they were told their services were no longer needed after the 1973 season.
  • “Gunsmoke”: The unexpected cancellation of “Gunsmoke” in 1975 provided the final punctuation concerning the purge. “Gunsmoke” regulars James Arness, Amanda Blake, Milburn Stone and others had no idea their 21st season would be their last, and as a result, there was never a final episode to tie up all the loose ends.

5. Here are some of the strangest recorded baby names so far this year:

  • Pandemica (Just call her — or him — “Covid” for short.)
  • Salad (I would never name a child after something I have never eaten.)
  • Crispy (I’m pretty sure the middle name is Creme.)
  • Motel (And the middle name? Has to be Six.)
  • Monster (And the middle name? Has to be Mash.)
  • Linoleum (I’m sure that he, or she, will be a well-grounded child.)
  • Famous (Middle name? Has to be Amos.)
  • Jelli-Anne (I think I would enjoy meeting the parents of this little girl.)
  • Honorable mentions: Milk, Truck.
Walter Payton Chicago Bears

3. Three quotes from football legends that can help anyone get from one day to the next:

  • “When you’re good at something, you’ll tell everyone. When you’re great at something, they’ll tell you.” — Walter Payton.
  • “The man who complains about the way the ball bounces is likely the one who dropped it.” — Lou Holtz.
  • “You fail all of the time, but you aren’t a failure until you start blaming someone else.” —Bum Phillips.

Steve Fact O’ The Day
I was once mistaken for Mel Gibson.

Another Steve Fact O’ The Day
The Cleveland Indians have always been my favorite baseball team, and my first favorite player on the club was Vic Davalillo.

If you believe Steve was ever mistaken for Mel Gibson, we have a bridge we would like to sell you.

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