Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

Obit watch: July 29, 2014.

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

James Shigeta passed away yesterday. I wasn’t sure if I was going to note this, but the A/V Club ran an excellent obit for him that I believe deserves attention.

He was the lead in the film version of “Flower Drum Song”. If you look at his IMDB page, he had bit parts in basically everything during the 1970′s: the original “Mission: Impossible”, “Rockford”, “SWAT”, “Kung Fu”, “Emergency”, “Ironside”, the original “Hawaii 5-0″, etc.

He was perhaps best known (at least to my brother) as Joseph Takagi in the first “Die Hard”.

Also, the NYT is reporting the passing of Theodore VanKirk, the last surviving crew member of the Enola Gay.

Obit watch: July 21, 2014.

Monday, July 21st, 2014

For the historical record: James Garner. NYT. LAT.

I don’t have much to add beyond what’s in the obits: I can’t find my favorite Garner moment online. But I will say he was a man who classed up everything he was in.

Travel day.

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Light blogging ahead. And just when it seems things are picking up, too.

The good news is, I’m going to get my yearly Smith and Wesson fix. I’ll report in as time permits.

In the meantime, the most recent “100 Episodes” column on the A/V Club site is devoted to “Mannix”, a series that is just at the fringes of my memory, and that I’d love to see again. (I’ve been watching for the DVDs to show up used, but haven’t had any luck yet.)

Mannix was too smooth, too ’70s to qualify as neo-noir, but more than anything else on television it did echo the flavor of its era’s most unsentimental crime novelists, authors like Ross Macdonald, John D. MacDonald, Richard Stark.

Beyond the shout out to three of my favorite crime novelists, this is a swell survey of what made “Mannix” interesting; I commend it to your attention.

Obit watch: May 3, 2014.

Saturday, May 3rd, 2014

Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Edited to add: NYT obit.)

I was five months old when it first aired, and nine years old when it went off the air, so the show is kind of at the fringes of my memory. But I remember thinking “The F.B.I.” was a swell show.

And, of course, it was a Quinn Martin production.

Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadian Navy.

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

I remember Guy Lombardo from when I was a wee lad. Every New Year’s Eve up until roughly 1976, there was Guy and his Royal Canadian Orchestra hosting their New Year’s Eve special. Sometimes I was able to stay up and watch at least part of it.

I associated Guy and the RCO with Lawrence Welk and Liberace and, for want of a better word, the kind of music my maternal grandmother and grandfather liked. But at the time, there were only three real television channels, I never really got into Dick Clark, and “Guy Lombardo and His Royal Canadian Orchestra” flowed trippingly off the tongue.

I hadn’t thought of Guy in years, until a few paragraphs in The Power Broker got me wondering about him. How did he end up hosting those specials? What else did he do, and where did he come from?

Wikipedia turned up one of those odd historical byways that I’m so fond of. In addition to being the leader of the Royal Canadians, Guy raced boats. Seriously raced boats. As in, he won the Gold Cup (which is the biggest prize in boat racing) in 1946.

From 1946 to 1949, he was the reigning US national champion. Before his retirement from the sport in the late 1950s, he had won every trophy in the field.

Before his retirement, he was planning to make a run at the world speed record on water. His retirement may have been prompted by the fact that the boat he was planning to use disintegrated during a test run.

(As a side note, that record isn’t for the timid. Wikipedia claims “an approximate fatality rate of 85% since 1940“, though it should also be noted that this statement is tagged “Citation needed.” No matter what the actual percentage is, looking over the history of attempts makes it very clear that this is an expensive way to kill yourself very fast if anything goes wrong.)

And what’s the relationship between Guy and Robert Moses that brought this up in the first place? Guy and his RCO were basically Robert Moses’ house band. Moses set them up at Jones Beach and gave them an incredibly sweet deal: Moses didn’t just pay Guy and RCO to play at the park, but also absorbed all the costs of running the venue, and allowed Guy and the RCO to keep most of the ticket money and advertising revenue. In return, not only did Guy and the RCO play at Jones Beach, but they also entertained at various other offical functions for Moses, and Moses used them to impress people he needed to impress. For example, if you had a small child and Moses needed your help with something…well, Guy entered the Jones Beach theater every night on one of his speedboats. Wouldn’t your kid love to ride along with Guy as he made his grand entrance in Tempo? Of course they would.

(There are a couple of good biographies that need to be written. I can’t find any evidence that there was ever one written of Guy and his brothers, and it sure seems there’s more to their story. I think you could also get a good book out of the story of Rosebud Yellow Robe.)

Obit watch: February 13, 2014.

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Your Sid Caeser round-up: NYT.

Mr. Caesar once dangled a terrified Mr. Brooks from an 18th-story window until colleagues restrained him. With one punch, he knocked out a horse that had thrown his wife off its back, a scene that Mr. Brooks replayed in his movie “Blazing Saddles.”

LAT. A/V Club.

TMQ Watch: January 21, 2014.

Friday, January 24th, 2014

It is official. It is now impossible for us to care any less about the Super Bowl (or, as some are calling it, “The Pot Bowl”) than we do now.

But we still have this week’s TMQ to get through after the jump…

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Obit watch: January 17, 2014.

Friday, January 17th, 2014

For the record: Russell Johnson. NYT. LAT. A/V Club.

(You know, I may not be terribly observant. But it never clicked with me that he was in “This Island Earth”, which I have seen (in the MST3K version)).

Dave Madden. NYT. LAT. A/V Club.

(“The Partridge Family were neither partridges, nor a family. Discuss.”)

And, though I have never been a big fan of The Wizard of Oz, I do want to link to the A/V Club’s obit for Ruth Robinson Duccini, the last surviving female Munchkin. Jerry Maren, according to reports, is the last surviving Munchkin.

TMQ Watch: January 7, 2014.

Wednesday, January 8th, 2014

Ah, the promise of the new year. Ah, the promise of Gregg Easterbrook’s first column of the year. Ah, the promise of the playoffs.

After the jump, this week’s TMQ

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TMQ watch: December 31, 2013.

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

More “we’re just not feeling the clever this week”. Might as well just open the box. After the jump, this week’s TMQ

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TMQ Watch: December 17, 2013.

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

You know that comment we made yesterday, about “Start writing or stop talking about it” being pretty good writing advice?

This week’s TMQ after the jump…

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Speak up, I can’t hear you.

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

If you must know, I was looking up the “Ding Fries Are Done” meme when I stumbled across this entry at KnowYourMeme: The Family Guy Effect.

The Family Guy Effect is a postulated phenomenon asserting that when Internet memes are showcased on the animated television show Family Guy, the meme will see a brief burst in popularity, followed by an immediate sharp decline. Prior to being associated with Internet meme overexposure, the Family Guy effect was used to describe how a joke becomes less funny when repeated over time.

You. Don’t. Say.