Posts Tagged ‘TV’

Two TV Artifacts From My Misspent Youth

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

There are two forthcoming TV show DVD sets that hearken back to the days of my youth:

Recommended without qualification is the complete WKRP in Cincinnati with the original music restored. If it wasn’t the greatest sitcom of the late 1970s/early 1980s, it was certainly in the top 5.

A bit more qualified recommendation for the complete 1960s Batman. Every significant dark, gritty Batman of the last 30 years (from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight to the Christopher Nolan trilogy, and even the Tim Burton movie) has been largely in reaction to this show’s campy tone. The show is very much a product of its time, but retains a certain charm for just that reason. Plus the cast of villains (Burgess Meredith, Vincent Price, Julie Numar, Frank Gorshin, etc.) draws from some of the very best character actors of the time.

I’m sure either might make swell Christmas presents for someone you know…

RIP: SNL Announcer Don Pardo, 96

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Longtime Saturday Night Live announcer Don Pardo has died. I think he was the last person who worked on the inaugural season of SNL who stayed on with the show for it’s entire run. (Lorne Michaels went away for five years before coming back to the show.)

He was a great announcer, and he did a lot of work in radio and on TV game shows like Jeopardy.

Here he is on why script writers should use short words:

“But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci!”

Monday, August 11th, 2014

Robin Williams dead of an apparent suicide at age 63.

Williams, along with Richard Pryor, was one of the true authentic comic geniuses of my lifetime. As a stand-up comic, his mind was so quick and his work was so manically innovative that his basic appeal actually survived transition to the straitjacket confines of a prime-time sitcom. He was a solid dramatic supporting actor, but it’s a shame that (unlike Pryor) he never found a movie that served the true essence of his comic genius.

(Subject line hat tip.)

Reality TV Show Ideas: Daddy Was A Serial Killer Division

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

Someone needs to do a reality TV show featuring all the people claiming their father was the Zodiac killer living together in the same house. It would be like The Three Christs of Ypsilanti, except, you know, sleazy.

For the season finale they could battle the people who claim their fathers were the Black Dahlia killer in some sort of trash sports obstacle course…

Crap: Almost Human Cancelled

Wednesday, April 30th, 2014

Fox has evidently cancelled the science fiction police drama Almost Human. Which is a damned shame, since it was the first attempt to do a serious post-cyberpunk drama on American TV. (The true first was Japan’s animated Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex.) While it wasn’t a great show (it had too much 1970s cop dram patina to it, including the requisite Climatic Gunfight at the end of every episode), it was a pretty good one and had a lot of potential.

Well, so much for that. Unless another network picks it up, or the DVD sales convince Fox to pick it up again. I’m not holding my breath.

Almost Human

Library Additions: Two Books, One Signed by Gilda Radner

Thursday, April 17th, 2014

Every now and then you see an item outside your sphere of collecting interests at a good price and go “I want that!” This is one of those times.

  • Radner, Gilda and Alan Zweibel. Roseanne Roseannadanna’s Hey, Get Back to Work! Book. Long Shadow Books, 1983. First edition trade paperback original, a Near Fine copy with a few small sports to page block edges. Inscribed by Radner and Zweibel: “Thanks/a lot to/Tim/Gilda Radner” and “”To Tim-/You just brought back/a million great/memories when you/handed me this book./Al”

    Roseanne Roseannadanna's

    Radner Sig

  • Bought in a lot with:

  • Zweibel, Alan. Bunny Bunny: Gilda Radner: A Sort of Love Story. Villard Books, 1994. First edition hardback, a Near Fine copy with a clipped price. Early Saturday Night Live writer’s memoir of working with Radner.

    Among the areas I occasionally contemplate starting book collections in are the early history of Apple Computer and the original cast of Saturday Night Live. (Warning: Get off my lawn ahead.) I know that Saturday Night Live is about as edgy as a bowling ball these days, but the original SNL was groundbreaking, daring and funny as hell. So when I saw this in that 70% off sale I bought so many SF books in, I snapped it up. Bought for $40.49.

    Though Radner was the best female cast member in the original cast, the Roseanne Roseannadanna character was far from her best bit (see the Judy Miller Show, where she plays a hyperactive girl for that), but she died young enough that books signed by her are not particularly common.

    Two tidbits on Alan Zweibel:

  • On Weekend Update, the Roseanne Roseannadanna character would often read letters written by “a Richard Feder of Fort Lee, New Jersey” In fact, there is a real Richard Feder of Fort Lee, New Jersey, who was Zweibel’s brother-in-law.
  • Zweibel wrote the young adult novel North, upon which Rob Reiner’s famously horrible movie of the same name was based.
  • Mike Judge Has A New TV Show: Silicon Valley

    Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

    The creator of Office Space, Beavis and Butthead and King of the Hill has a new (live action) TV show on HBO called Silicon Valley.

    The first episode is up free:

    I’ve seen about half of it. It’s reasonably funny, but some of the geek characters are a bit too cliched…

    John Belushi on The Luck of the Irish

    Monday, March 17th, 2014

    Because a lot of people have been searching for this on St. Patrick’s day, and the old video appears to have died, here’s a new version.

    Watch more video from the Top Picks channel on Frequency

    The Complete Monty Python Reunion Press Conference

    Thursday, November 21st, 2013

    In case you hadn’t heard, Monty Python’s Flying Circus is reuniting for a live show at London’s 02 Arena next July 1st.

    Because I like Monty Python, and because I’m not above blatant click-bait, here’s a video of the entire press conference announcing the reunion.

    Random Notes:

    1. The sound seems screwed up after about 5 minutes, but you can still hear them.

    2. Love the wrong names.
    3. Love Gilliam’s Mr. Bill shirt.
    4. Carol Cleveland looks really, really good for her age.

    Quick Impressions: Almost Human Surprisingly Good

    Sunday, November 17th, 2013

    By accident I tuned into Fox just as Almost Human was premiering, expecting to watch The Simpsons, and actually got sucked in, almost against my will, since I had zero initial interest in a cop/robot buddy series.

    But what what the show is actually doing is broadcast American TV’s first serious attempt to rip-off Blade Runner and much of the entire cyberpunk canon for a cop show, and it actually does (considering the constraints of the form) a halfway decent job of it. The cop/robot interaction is (thus far) only a subplot to the main story of an injured cop returning to the force just as the powerful criminal syndicate that killed his partner and blew off his leg has returned to the scene. Surprisingly, none of the science fiction elements struck me as egregiously stupid, and they actually seem to have put some thought into the near-future setting of the show. Michael Ealy (Dorian the robot partner) hits the underplayed robot cop part very well, Mackenzie Crook brings brings some Whovian British Geek charm to the department’s robot specialist, and Karl Urban is pretty good as the lead; he needs to dial back his Gruff Stoic setting about 15%, but is otherwise fine. I could do without the “look, here’s a flying whatsit at the edge of the scene-bump just to say it’s SF” trope, but it’s not annoying.

    Actually, the most problematic bits are on the police procedural end rather than the SF end. The building they work in looks entirely too clean, sparse and modern to be a real police office (like everything else, Blade Runner did it better with a real lived-in look); it’s too clean even for the already too clean CSI look. Ditto the “look at my spacious, open city apartment on a cop’s salary.” And you can already tell which characters (“Hi there, I’m the love interest!”) are going to be doing which buddy cop cliches. You have bits of The Dark Knight and (I’m guessing) Saw in the “over-complicated villain plotting” device. And it has the “lots of shoot-outs” modern cop/action show trope going on, which may or may not be a problem, depending on the direction they take.

    I’m actually planning on watching this, which may be my first regular non-animated US broadcast series since, geeze, maybe Homicide: Life on the Streets. (I’m not much of a TV watcher, what with all the writing and book buying and Internetting and the Glavin!)

    But despite that, it blends the cyberpunk and police procedural bits pretty (plus obvious dollops of The Caves of Steel and Starsky & Hutch). It’s obviously got money behind the production, which goes pretty far in TV. J.J. Abrams is the executive producer, so it’s possible the characters will turn into idiots further down the line. And it’s not as a good a cyberpunk police procedural as Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. But for now I actually think it may be worth your attention.