But don't you find this almost a bit disturbing? I half expect to see a little drool out the corner of this guy's mouth. He looks more like a character from Star Trek than an athlete. I wonder how much does this really tell us about the way in which football was perceived in 1979?
Speaking of which, Melvin Durslag, who was a longtime columnist for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner as well as TV Guide's resident sportswriter, sees Miami, Pittsburgh, Detroit and Dallas as the teams to beat in '79. He didn't see Tampa Bay coming, however, as the Bucs ended a nearly unprecedented streak of futility by winning the NFC Central before sucumbing to the Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Championship, 9-0. The Rams went on to lose to Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl, 31-19. Well, Melvin thought Pittsburgh would be tough, and he was right. Interestingly, the NFL season started on September 2, which is why the Super Bowl could be played in January. A few years later the league would make the decision not to start the season until after Labor Day, which they have continued to do ever since.
In the other kind of football, Jim McKay and Verne Lundquist are two of the recognizible names calling ABC's coverage of the North American Soccer League playoffs on Saturday morning. The teams were TBA, but I'm prepared to say it was probably Philadelphia vs. Tampa Bay, as these highlights would attest:
The original cast is still on Saturday Night Live, or as John Mariani calls it, "Saturday Night Moribund," in an article that describes "egos clashing, material running thin and its stars defecting." Mariani's portrayal is not complimentary, suggesting that the show's uncooperative stars have a much higher opinion of themselves than their talent might warrant. At the end of the article, he mentions that next year "all their contracts are up, and it'll be time to renegotiate. Or maybe just move to something new and fresh." It turned out to be the later, the first of several major cast overhauls. One can't help but think, however, that this might have been the best chance to kill this series for once and for all; now, it's probably too entrenched to ever go away.
The movies are mostly reruns this week, although there are two notable made-for-TV flicks: a rerun of To Kill a Cop, which was the pilot for Joe Don Baker's police series Eischied, and a pilot starring Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers called Hart to Hart, which as I recall hung around for a little while. Speaking of which, look at the other shows that were still in first-run: CHiPS, Mork & Mindy, Little House on the Prairie, Fantasy Island, The Facts of Life, Charlie's Angels, Lou Grant. Even Lawrence Welk, in syndication, was still pumping out shows. It really brings it all back, doesn't it? Just like acid reflux.
And believe it or not, there are also a couple of operas on tap for the week, both on PBS. First it's Aaron Copland's The Tender Land, with the composer himself conducting the Michigan Opera Theater. The next night it's part one of Mozart's masterpiece The Marriage of Figaro, with Karl Boehm conducting the Vienna Philharmonic and an all-star cast including Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau, Mirella Freni, Hermann Prey, Kiri Te Kanawa and Maria Ewing. Trust me, they were all big names. PBS showed it over two nights, but if you're so inclined you can see the whole broadcast right here.