Archive for the ‘TV’ Category

I, for one, welcome our New World Order overlords.

Tuesday, August 1st, 2017

See, I knew the NWO was good for something.

“We were chanting, ‘Death to the New World Order’ about 10 years ago after watching all of your documentaries, and then about a week later, we were no longer on television and haven’t had a consistent TV gig since then,” Pratt said. “So if the New World Order is watching, you know, we still will not accept chips, but, you know, we will take a gig in the established media because we have a baby and we have some bills to pay so, you know, New World Order, we’re available.”

Obit watch: July 27, 2017.

Thursday, July 27th, 2017

June Foray, one of the greatest voice talents ever. (Edited to add 7/28: NYT obit.)

I’ll quote at length the A/V Club obit just to give you some idea of the scope of her work:

…it would probably be easier to list the beloved animated series she didn’t appear on: Her versatile voice showed up in The Flintstones, Peter Pan, Mister Magoo, dozens of Looney Tunes shorts—with director Chuck Jones supposedly once noting that “June Foray is not the female Mel Blanc, Mel Blanc was the male June Foray”—The Twilight Zone (where she voiced murderous doll Talky Tina), Woody Woodpecker, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, Get Smart, Curious George, Spider-Man And His Amazing Friends, Alvin & The Chipmunks, The Smurfs, DuckTales, The Real Ghostbusters, Tiny Toon Adventures, Gummi Bears, Garfield And Friends, Rugrats, Felix The Cat, Mulan, Family Guy, The Powerpuff Girls, and, of course, Rocky And His Friends (and its 2000 film version).

She was 99. What a life.

This isn’t quite an obit, but I want to put it up anyway:

The baby is Angelina Liu. She’s the daughter of Sanny Liu and Officer Wenjian Liu of the NYPD.

Officer Liu and his partner, Rafael Ramos, were ambushed and killed in their patrol car on December 20, 2014. The suspect later committed suicide. The Liu’s had been married for three months: Mrs. Liu asked the doctors to harvest and preserve her husband’s sperm so that she could have his child.

Awful lot of dust in the air, you know? F’ing allergies or something.

Programming note.

Friday, July 21st, 2017

By way of Lee Goldberg, I have just now learned that “Coronet Blue” is out on DVD.

This is usually the point at which my younger readers look at me like I have three heads, I say something snarky about getting off my lawn, and then I provide a (sometimes condescending) explanation. But since I’ve only heard about “Coronet Blue”, have never seen it, it ran in the summer for one season when I was two years old, and only 11 out of 13 episodes actually aired…

There’s a TV show template that sees a certain amount of use. Premise: person wakes up having been mysteriously left in the middle of nowhere. Person has no idea who they are, or any memory of their past: basically total amnesia. Person, however, has some sort of skill set (like instant recall of obscure facts) that makes them useful to “the authorities”. Person spends the rest of the series assisting “the authorities” in their inquires, while trying to recover their memory and identity. Generally, there’s some sort of massive conspiracy involved, too.

Examples of this template:

  • John Doe“, which I never watched an episode of because it sounded stupid, and Wikipedia confirms my bias. (“A by-product of transcending his body during a near-death experience, traveling to a spiritual plane where all the universe’s questions are answered.” Said questions apparently including “How many dimples are on a golf ball?”)
  • Kyle XY“, which played a little with the idea by making the protagonist a teen (though one with “enhanced physicality, senses and intellect”).
  • Blindspot“, still on as of this writing, even though to me it sounds every bit as dumb as “John Doe”. (I do like me some Marianne Jean-Baptiste, though: she was great in “Without a Trace”. And for the record, “Blindspot” also varies the premise a little, in that the (female) amnesiac was left in a bag in the middle of Times Square.)

Anyway, my point (and I do have one) is that “Coronet Blue” was patient zero for this television archetype. I’ve been wanting to see it, but never actually expected that it would show up on DVD. After all, it was a one-season show. (Turns out it was actually successful enough that CBS wanted more episodes: the problem was the series had been shot two years previously, for various reasons CBS delayed running it, and by the time it aired and was moderately successful, Frank Converse had a starring role in another show. Wikipedia entry.)

So, yeah, I’m delighted. And I’m also interested in “Decoy“: as everyone knows, I’m a sucker for cop shows. Plus: Beverly Garland!

And now that we’re wrapping up season one of “Elementary”, I figure I’ve got a better chance of talking Lawrence and RoadRich into watching these two series than I do of persuading them to sit through “Cop Rock“.

Obit watch: July 17, 2017.

Monday, July 17th, 2017

It seems unfair to reduce Martin Landau to one thing. After all, he was great in “Ed Wood”. And he was excellent in a lot of other stuff:

Well, maybe not that.

But by 1981 the good parts had grown hard to find for both Mr. Landau and Ms. Bain; that year, in what he later acknowledged was a low point, they appeared in the TV movie “The Harlem Globetrotters on Gilligan’s Island.”

Well, maybe not that, either. But there’s one thing that stands out for me. Childhood nostalgia or whatever, let’s run that tape again.

I need to find that episode in my stack of “M:I” DVDs, if for no other reason than to figure out what the deal is with the cat. Plus: Darren McGavin!

I really wish I had more to say about George Romero, but I don’t. I’ve seen “Night of the Living Dead” and “Dawn of the Dead” and was just pretty much “meh” about both of them.

Obit watch: July 20, 2017.

Tuesday, June 20th, 2017

Bill Dana. Or perhaps I should say “the other Bill Dana”? (Previously.)

In this case, we’re not talking about the legendary NASA test pilot (who passed away in 2014) but the legendary television comedian, perhaps most famous for his portrayal of José Jiménez.

The character became an immediate hit, and over the next decade Mr. Dana invented a variety of preposterous professions for José, including deep-sea diver, wild animal trainer and, most famously, astronaut. He recorded several hit comedy albums as José (often rendered without accents) and appeared as his alternative self on “The Ed Sullivan Show,” “The Tonight Show,” “The Jackie Gleason Show,” “The Andy Williams Show,” “The Hollywood Palace” and even, in a cameo role, “Batman.” A series of his own, “The Bill Dana Show,” on which he played José as a hotel bellhop, aired on NBC from 1963 to 1965.

By 1970, Mr. Dana had stopped performing as José — he even read the character’s obituary at an event in Los Angeles sponsored by the Congress of Mexican-American Unity — though he insisted that he made that decision not because of mounting anger about the character but because some people were misinterpreting his intentions.
He decided to drop the character, he said in an interview with The Los Angeles Times, because of people “who would tell me, ‘Boy I shore love it when you play that dumb Mexican.’’’

After retiring Jose, he continued to work, but more as a writer than performer: among his writing credits was the Sammy Davis Jr. episode of “All In the Family”.

We extend our condolences to Mr. Dana’s family and friends, and to great and good friend of the blog guffaw.

Obit watch: June 6, 2017.

Tuesday, June 6th, 2017

Peter Sallis, knock-around British actor, has passed away at 96. (Edited to add 6/7: NYT obit.)

He was in a whole bunch of stuff, including a role on “Doctor Who” and voice work in the animated “The Wind in the Willows” TV series. In England, he may have been most famous for his role in the long running TV series, “Last Of the Summer Wine”: he played Norman Clegg from the start of the series in 1973 until it ended in 2010.

In the US, he may be better known as the original voice of Wallace in the Aardman Animations “Wallace & Gromit” films.

Tribute from Nick Park here.

Roger Smith, “Jeff Spencer” on “77 Sunset Strip”. He was also married to Ann-Margret and was her manager for many years. (edited to add: NYT obit.)

There’s a great story (recounted in Joe Bob Briggs’ Profoundly Erotic among other places): after Ann-Margaret fell in Lake Tahoe, Smith “commandeered” (some sources say “stole”) a small private plane and flew from Burbank to Lake Tahoe and back again, in some accounts through a thunderstorm, with his seriously injured wife, so she could get treatment and reconstructive surgery at UCLA instead of in Lake Tahoe. (As you know, Bob, she made a full recovery. My recollection is that the reconstructive surgery that UCLA did was actually cutting edge work for 1972.)

Obit watch: May 15, 2017.

Monday, May 15th, 2017

Powers Boothe, noted knock-around actor.

He attended Southwest Texas State University — he said he was the first one in his family to go to college — and then received a master’s degree in drama from Southern Methodist University.

(Apologies for not posting this earlier, but it took a while for the NYT to post their obit, and none of the other sites that had obits posted were ones I wanted to link to.)

Obit watch: April 24, 2017.

Monday, April 24th, 2017

Erin Moran, for the historical record. I’m not linking to the AV Club obit because it’s ugly and below their usual standards.

Albert Freedman died a few weeks ago, though the NYT didn’t report his death until Saturday.

Mr. Freedman was a television producer in the 1950s. He specialized in televised game shows: the most famous of the shows he produced was “Twenty-One”.

And now you see where I was going with this, don’t you? Yes: Mr. Freedman was the person who recruited Charles Van Doren and fed him answers so he could defeat Herbert Stempel, leading to the “Quiz Show” scandal.

(I kind of knew in the back of my mind that Charles Van Doren was still alive: I remember when that New Yorker essay was published, though I don’t think I read all of it. What I didn’t know until I looked it up: according to Wikipedia, Herbert Stempel is also still alive.)

Kate O’Beirne, National Review writer and editor. Lawrence sent this to me: I’m not a regular NR reader, but their obit makes her sound like someone I’d enjoy having a holiday dinner with if I didn’t have anywhere else to go.

Obit watch: April 13, 2017.

Thursday, April 13th, 2017

J. Geils, of J. Geils Band fame. Remember “Centerfold”? I used to have that on a 45 somewhere.

(Kids, ask your parents about records.)

My brother mentioned Charlie Murphy‘s death yesterday, and I’m embarrassed to admit: it rang no bells with me until I read the obit and realized, “Oh, yeah, the ‘True Hollywood Stories’ guy from ‘Chappelle’s Show’.” (I didn’t watch the show first run, but Lawrence has some DVDs that we’ve been watching from time to time.)

And I think this is worth noting for news value:

Sheila Abdus-Salaam, an associate judge on New York State’s highest court and the first African-American woman to serve on that bench, was found dead on Wednesday in the Hudson River, the authorities said.

I don’t want to speculate, but it doesn’t seem like the authorities suspect foul play at the moment.

Obit watch: April 12, 2017.

Wednesday, April 12th, 2017

Dorothy Mengering, David Letterman’s mother and sometime “Late Show” correspondent.

“He kidded me in Norway,” she told the St. Petersburg Times, explaining that he asked her whether she’d seen any fjords lately. “‘I was supposed to say ‘No, but I’ve seen some Chevys.’ I didn’t get it until after we were off the air. I saw the tape of the show, and then it dawned on me.”

Obit watch: April 7, 2017.

Friday, April 7th, 2017

Don Rickles: NYT. LAT. AV Club.

Joe Harris passed away on March 26th, though the NYT didn’t get around to reporting it until a week later. Mr. Harris was a commercial illustrator who is credited with creating the original Trix rabbit. Later on, he joined Total TeleVison, a company that produced Saturday morning cartoons. There he created Underdog.

Yeah, the animation may not have been great, but it did have one of the best cartoon theme songs ever.

Question for the huddled, wretched masses yearning to breathe free: what are some of the other great cartoon theme songs? Off the top of my head, I love the themes for “SuperChicken” and “George of the Jungle” (I have been known to quote the “SuperChicken” theme at work.) Oddly enough, I also have fond memories of the “Hong Kong Phooey” theme (and when are we going to get a live action “Hong Kong Phooey” movie?). Am I just a sucker for good theme songs wrapped around bad animation?

Obit watch: April 6, 2017.

Thursday, April 6th, 2017

I’m seeing reports from reliable sources (and CNN) that Don Rickles has passed away, though I’m not seeing anything link-worthy.

If I get a chance, I’ll update later today: otherwise, it may be tomorrow before I’m able to throw up a good round-up.