March 6, 1946: Martin Kove Born

On this day in 1946, Martin Kove was born in Brooklyn, New York. The actor, best remembered for his role as the sadistic sensei in the first three “Karate Kid” movies, has been working non-stop in television and movies for more than 40 years.

Martin KoveOn this day in 1946, Martin Kove was born in Brooklyn, New York. The actor, best remembered for his role as the sadistic sensei in the first three “Karate Kid” movies, has been working non-stop in television and movies for more than 40 years.

Kove made his film debut in 1971, with “Little Murders,” and has not slowed down. While he received his greatest exposure in the 1980s, Kove has always brought color and energy to his work. Here are a few efforts worth checking out.

  • The Last House on the Left: In Wes Craven’s nightmarish story about parents getting revenge on the dregs that raped and murdered their daughter, Kove plays a deputy that you wouldn’t trust with an all-black coffee run. His boobish antics add a sense of great hopelessness to the plight of the rest of the movie’s characters.
  • Death Race 2000: In this cult classic road picture about a futuristic race where the drivers score points for hitting pedestrians, Kove gained attention as Nero the Hero. The fact that he did it pitted against memorable performances from David Carradine and Sylvester Stallone is even more impressive.
  • Cagney and Lacey: In this groundbreaking female buddy cop drama, Kove provided comic relief as honest cop Victor Isbecki. He also later referred to himself as the show’s T&A and judging by the show’s opening credits, his assessment was fair.
  • The Karate Kids 1-3: If you grew up in the 1980s, there was no bigger group of bastards than the Cobra Kai and Kove embodied a character that was just both rotten and insecure enough to lead them. A black belt in Kendo, Okinawa-te, and Tiger Kenpo, he steals every scene that he appears in for all three movies.
  • Rambo: First Blood Part II: His screen time was minimal, but Kove’s performance as an unapologetic mercenary offered more credibility to Rambo’s disillusionment with the Vietnam War and was memorable enough to be in the Nintendo game based on the movie.
  • King Cobra Beer Commercial: Kove has sworn off alcohol in recent years, but this commercial is still awesome.
  • New York Film Academy Interview: In this hour-long interview from 2010, Kove discusses 40 years in the business, his most famous roles and how to get enjoyment from his craft even when being typecast as a perennial heavy.

 

 

March 4, 1988: The Highwayman Premieres

On this day in 1988, “The Highwayman” premiered on NBC. The show, a cross between “Knight Rider” and “Mad Max,” only ran for nine episodes.

The HighwaymanOn this day in 1988, “The Highwayman” premiered on NBC. The show, a cross between “Knight Rider” and “Mad Max,” only ran for nine episodes.

The Highwayman” starred Sam Jones, best remembered for “Flash Gordon” and most recently featured in “Ted,” as a federal marshal assigned to enforce laws and haul special cargo in his special 18-wheeler,  “Stealth” (pictured left). When faced with a compromising situation, the truck’s cab could transform into a helicopter and leave its rig behind (I guess he’d just go back and pick it up later).

The series was a continuation of a successful TV movie starring Jones that aired in 1987, and featured William Conrad as the narrator and Jane Badler as Tania (“The Highwayman’s” answer to “Knight Rider’s” Bonnie). It brought back Conrad, and Badler but added Mark “Jacko” Jackson, the Australian muscle-bound actor best remembered for the 80s Energizer commercials, as Jetto, another marshal.  In addition, Tim Russ played a problem-solving field agent named D.C. Montana, one of the coolest names in television history.

As you can imagine, the show was laughingly absurd at times but wicked fun and it’s a shame that it only lasted nine episodes. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t “Firefly” but it does not deserve to be lost in television obscurity with every other short-lived series.

One can actually buy a bootlegged DVD of the series on eBay, but it would be nice to see it on commercial DVD or Netflix. If you agree, you can let Universal Studios know through the following link: http://www.universalstudios.com/contact_form.php?email_id=40

In the meantime, you can watch the series piecemeal on YouTube and here are a few choice clips that are available:

The Introduction

Promo for Series Premiere

Truck to Helicopter Transformation Sequence – This clip is from the first three minutes of the 1987 TV movie and features Jimmy Smits

Ugthepug’s Lego Tribute (the true testament to one’s love for a show)

January 22, 1947: First TV Station West of the Mississippi Launches

On this day in 1947, KTLA in Los Angeles officially launched, making it the first commercial television station west of the Mississippi River.

On this day in 1947, KTLA in Los Angeles officially launched, making it the first commercial television station west of the Mississippi River.

The first television station in the U.S. had started more than five years earlier when WNBT (now WNBC) began broadcasting in New York in 1941. With its launch in 1947, KTLA became the seventh station in the country, but its status as the only station west of the Mississippi would be short-lived, as KSD-TV in St. Louis would join the airwaves less than three weeks later.

January 12, 1997: King of the Hill Debuts on Fox

On this day in 1997, “King of the Hill” debuted on the Fox Network, beginning a 13-season run. The show, which centered around the antics of proud propane salesman and Texan Hank Hill, his wife Peggy, son Bobby, and his zany friends, would end up becoming the third-longest running prime time animated series. Only “The Simpsons” and “South Park” have lasted longer.

King of the Hill

On this day in 1997, “King of the Hill” debuted on the Fox Network, beginning a 13-season run. The show, which centered around the antics of proud propane salesman and Texan Hank Hill, his wife Peggy, son Bobby, and his zany friends, would end up becoming the third-longest running prime time animated series. Only “The Simpsons” and “South Park” have lasted longer.

Creator Mike Judge, best known at the time for “Beavis and Butthead” (which is much wittier than generally credited for), said in a “Making of” documentary that his original idea was to have Hank be as crazy and misguided as the rest of the characters. However, he found it made for a much better show having Hank be the most normal character and exacerbating all of the other characters’ eccentricities, i.e. Dale being a crazy right-winger, Peggy thinking she’s great at everything, etc.

That change resulted in a show that masterfully blended cartoonish humor, biting commentary and morality play, and what I believe is the modern-day “Andy Griffith Show.” Seriously, the idea is not as far as off as you think; moral southerner plays straight man as his family and friends get in crazy jams. That being said, Hank did not have the sense of humor or self-awareness of Andy Taylor.

There are 258 episodes of the “King of the Hill,” but if these ten don’t leave you with a smile on your face, then you need to stop taking yourself so seriously.

  1. The Order of the Straight Arrow (Season 1): Hank and the boys take their kids on a camping trip and reminisce over their youth, prompting the line “When I grow up, I want to sell propane and propane accessories, if my grades are good enough!”
  2. Junkie Business (Season 2): Hank accidentally hires an unapologetic drug addict at Strickland Propane and federal law prevents him from taking action until he comes up with an ingenious plan.
  3. Jon Vitti Presents: ‘Return to La Grunta’ (Season 3): In this episode about sexual harassment, Luanne goes to work at a country club where she finds herself ogled by the jackass golfers. Meanwhile, Hank has an unpleasant encounter with a dolphin.
  4. Love Hurts and So Does Art (Season 3): Liverwurst or being able to walk? That’s the decision Bobby is faced with when he becomes addicted to deli food and comes down with gout.
  5. A Fire-fighting We Will Go (Season 3): When one of them accidentally burns down the firehouse, Hank Bill, Dale and Boomhauer each tell their own version of what happened in this hilarious take on “Rashomon.”
  6. Ho Yeah (Season 5): Peggy unwittingly befriends a prostitute and before long, Hank becomes her unsuspecting pimp. Renee Zellweger guest stars.
  7. Returning Japanese (Season 6): In this two-part episode, Hank takes his World War II vet father, Cotton, back to Japan and learns some shocking news. David Carradine guest stars.
  8. Reborn to Be Wild (Season 8): Bobby joins a youth group and experiences a newfound excitement for Christianity, but Hank is skeptical. It’s hard to write an episode about being “on fire for the Lord,” with a message that everyone can appreciate, but this show manages to do it.
  9. A Rover Runs Through It (Season 9): The Hill family travels to Montana to visit Peggy’s family, Bobby doesn’t quite understand how to find all the answers in nature and Hank engages in a land war with Henry Winkler.
  10. To Sirloin with Love (Season 13): The show fittingly ends with Hank and Bobby finally being able to bond on… something.