Post-Gazette TV writer Rob Owen answers reader questions online every Friday in Tuned In Journal blog at post-gazette.com/tv. Here’s a selection of recent queries.
Q: I enjoyed watching a recent “Hill Street Blues” marathon on the Decade Channel. It was a favorite program of mine back then. Could you tell me about the actors; where are they now and what they are doing? Also Steven Bochco.
— FLORENCE, PITTSBURGH
Rob: Showrunner Steven Bochco executive produces TNT’s “Murder in the First,” entering its third season this summer.
Daniel J. Travanti had a role on Starz’s “Boss” (2011-12); Michael Warren was on ABC Family’s “Lincoln Heights” (2007-09), Bruce Weitz most recently had a role on “General Hospital,” James Sikking and Charles Haid have been doing mostly guest roles; Joe Spano has a recurring role on “NCIS.” Barbara Bosson hasn’t acted since 1997, according to IMDB. And Betty Thomas transitioned to working as a director.
Q: Has the actor who played Steve Urkel been appearing in commercials lately? I thought I recognized the actor, but could not place the face, but I think it is him.
— TOM, PITTSBURGH
Rob: Tom is correct that actor Jaleel White did appear in a Scion commercial that debuted late last year. Here’s a link to the spot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yX-TZe8SeYk.
Q: Has KDKA moved or canceled “Lucky Dog” and “Dr. Chris Pet Vet”? They have not been shown this year.
— KATHY, SCOTT TOWNSHIP
Rob: According to KDKA, the shows have not been canceled but did move to a new time period on Sunday: “Lucky Dog” at 5 a.m. and “Dr. Chris” at 5:30 a.m.
Q: It’s clear that WQED is no longer carrying “This Old House Hour” since it hasn’t aired a single episode this season. However, this season’s episodes of “This Old House” and “Ask This Old House” can still be found on the WQED Create subchannel where they each broadcast multiple times. Unfortunately, none of them are marked “new” in Comcast’s online grid, so there’s no way to program my DVR to record them without recording all of them. Can WQED adjust their program feed to Comcast so the first airing of the episodes are marked “new”? (This question can apply to a lot of other PBS programs that they pre-empt and then air at a later date, like “Great Performances from the Met.”)
— MARK, SQUIRREL HILL
Rob: According to WQED spokesman George Hazimanolis, “’This Old House Hour’ was part of the PBS satellite feed that the station no longer uses for overnight, opting instead for fundraising programming between 1 and 5 a.m. to try to generate additional revenue for the station.
He said “This Old House” and “Ask This Old House” can be seen during WQED’s Saturday afternoon home improvement lineup at 3:30 and 4 p.m. on the WQED main channel, and rebroadcasts are available on WQED’s Create Channel.
“We do not have the ability to label the programs ‘new’ or ‘repeat,’” he said, “as that information is generated through the programming service.”
Ask TV questions by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, including your first name and location, or submitting the form at post-gazette.com/tv.
Ron Cook: Steelers are worse now than they were at season’s end
The Steelers never win the start of NFL free agency or free agency, period, for that matter. They also didn’t make the playoffs the past two seasons — four of the past eight years — and have won just three postseason games since 2010. All of that might not be a coincidence.
It’s understandable why the Steelers were quiet the past two days while many other NFL teams were throwing huge money at free agents or making blockbuster trades. Putting their franchise tag on Bud Dupree wasn’t just the right thing to do, but the only thing. Dupree, working in tandem with T.J. Watt, was a huge part of their stingy defense last season. They weren’t going to find a better outside linebacker in free agency or the draft.
But tagging Dupree left the Steelers in salary-cap hell. They had to release Mark Barron, Anthony Chickillo and Johnny Holton and restructure the contracts of Ben Roethlisberger, Joe Haden, Vance McDonald, Steven Nelson and Chris Boswell for some relief. They got more when Ramon Foster retired. Additional departures could be coming by Wednesday when all NFL clubs must be salary-cap compliant, especially after restricted free agents Matt Feiler and Mike Hilton got second-round tenders late Tuesday night.
Somehow, the Steelers managed to agree Tuesday on a three-year, $9.75 million contract with the Los Angeles Chargers’ Derek Watt, brother of T.J. and J.J. Watt. That seems high for a fullback/special teams ace, but it might turn out to be money well-spent. The team is going to have to do a big, new deal soon with T.J. Watt. Having his brother around might mean at least a bit of a discount.
Despite the Derek Watt signing, the Steelers weren’t able to jump into the free-agent market the way AFC North rivals Baltimore and Cleveland did. Who knows? Maybe that is a good thing. Of the Steelers’ top five free-agent signings from the past two years — Morgan Burnett, Jon Bostic, Donte Moncrief, Steven Nelson and Barron — only Nelson will play more than one season with the team.
That doesn’t change the bottom line:
The Steelers are a worse team today than they were at the end of last season. They are worse than Baltimore, for sure. They’re even worse than Cleveland, as impossible as that is to believe.
Of course, all that could change if Ben Roethlisberger comes back as good as new.
But the reality is that’s a mighty big if.
Losing Javon Hargrave, who signed a three-year, $39 million deal with Philadelphia, was expected but still hurts. He was a big part — literally and figuratively — of their defense, much more than just a run-clogging nose tackle. The return of Stephon Tuitt will help if Tuitt can stay healthy. Talk about another big if.
Losing Barron and, to a lesser degree, Chickillo, also stings. Barron played 69% of the snaps at inside linebacker last season and got better with each game. The Steelers don’t have much at the position after Devin Bush and Vince Williams. Chickillo provided depth behind Watt and Dupree. Are you comfortable with Ola Adeniyi and Tuzar Skipper as their backups?
Foster’s retirement was predictable. The Steelers had no spot for him and would have released him. But that doesn’t mean he won’t be missed. Maurkice Pouncey is the leader of the team — “The unquestioned leader,” Mike Tomlin has said — but Foster was highly respected. The outpouring of love for him from teammates on social media after his retirement announcement was overwhelming.
What the Steelers didn’t do this week was compounded by all that Baltimore and Cleveland did do.
The Ravens strengthened their one weakness — their defensive line — by trading for Jacksonville’s Calais Campbell and signing the Los Angeles Rams’ Michael Brockers as a free agent. They also franchised outside linebacker Matthew Judon, all the moves designed to improve their pass rush (only 37 sacks last season) and run defense (remember Derrick Henry’s 195 rushing yards in Tennessee’s playoff upset of the Ravens in January?).
It’s true, NFL MVP Lamar Jackson is going to have a hard time duplicating his 2019 season. He might not even be lucky enough to stay healthy considering how much he totes the ball. But the Ravens’ defense looks to be significantly improved. They also were able to trade spare tight end Hayden Hurst to Atlanta for second- and fifth-round draft choices. That might not frighten you too much until you consider the Steelers’ highest pick in the April draft will come at No. 49 in the second round, two picks after the Ravens make their second-round choice.
The Browns overpaid to get Atlanta Pro Bowl tight end Austin Hooper but had a couple of good reasons for doing it. Tight ends are huge in today’s NFL. Remember the Super Bowl last season and what Travis Kelce meant to Kansas City and George Kittle meant to San Francisco? Browns new coach Kevin Stefanski loves tight ends and used two or more on 56% of the snaps last season as Minnesota’s offensive coordinator. Now, he has a running mate for David Njoku.
The Browns made two other moves that are just as important. They signed Tennessee offensive tackle Jack Conklin to fortify their weak offensive line, which should be able to better protect Baker Mayfield. They also signed Washington quarterback Case Keenum as a backup to Mayfield. The Steelers would have loved to have had Keenum after Roethlisberger went down last season.
Let me guess what you are thinking:
The Browns are the Browns. Somehow, some way, they’ll self-destruct. They always do.
But I can’t shake a bad feeling:
One of these years, the Browns are going to get it right.
Ron Cook: email@example.com and Twitter@RonCookPG. Ron Cook can be heard on the “Cook and Joe” show weekdays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on 93.7 The Fan.