June 28, 2015

Special TV-Elmopalooza!


I loved Sesame Street as a kid. And I am thankful that I got to experience it when I did. Why? Because when I watched it, there was no Elmo! Yep, he hadn’t been invented yet. I’m not saying I hate Elmo, I just think he is a little overexposed. I mean does he need a fifteen minute segment in every episode? How is there time for the regular Sesame Street stuff? It’s probably crammed in now, and I do know they at least have the other characters walk on to “Elmo’s World”. And the stuff is there while I do not watch (being, well, 40) I do know they did a Game of Thrones parody as well as turning Super Grover into Iron Grover, But, what is it with all the Elmo stuff? Why not just do a spin-off show? It’s gotten so bad I’m surprised Sesame Street wasn’t renamed “Elmo’s Sesame Street”.

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I talked about Elmo’s Christmas Countdown awhile back, which is really awful and very disappointing. But almost ten year’s earlier, Elmo was the center of yet another special. It’s a a perfect example for how much Elmo was slowly taking over Sesame Street, airing February 20, 1998 on ABC. It was billed as an all-star celebration of 30 years of songs and laughs on Sesame Street, with Jon Stewart and many big celebrities. Guess who was the center of the special? The title makes it clear :


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I mean, why not “Sesame Street-Palooa” or something? But does that mean it was as bad as the Christmas Countdown, or was it at least decent anyway? Let’s talk about it.




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June 24, 2015

Top 10 Favorite Dual Roles (in TV and Movies)


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About a year ago I did an article on how much sitcoms love doing the dual role. You know, when an actor will play two characters in the same episode or movie. But that was really just a brief run down of every dual role I could think of.


Today I wanted to discuss my favorite dual roles, the one’s I just love. And expand the criteria outside sitcoms. I love these either because they were a surprise that I didn’t realize when I first saw the show or movie, or just because the actor did such an amazing job I am still amazed that it’s really them playing that second role.


I say that because very often you can tell, almost s if the actor is winking at the camera. For instance, in Full House they put a black wig in one of the Olsen’s and said it was Michelle’s cousin. Yeah. Or how about on Brady Bunch when Chris Knight wore glasses..and that was it. Or 3rd Rock when John Lithgow played Evil Dick, the only difference was he under acted instead of overacted. Yawn.


But when done right these can nearly fool an audience. Especially if you have the right actor who can make it seem like a totally different person enitrely! Heck, Lee Marvin won an Oscar for his dual role in Cat Balou. The only rule is that I had to have seen these, so as you can imagine lots of good example will be left off. Just let me know what I missed. Ranked in order of the one’s that weren’t a surprise but I just love to those that floored me when I realized it was the same actor!




#10.Casey Kasem as Robin and Shaggy from The New Scooby Doo Mysteries
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Ok maybe this one is a cheat and maybe it’s just me. Yeah it’s a voice over role but why shouldn’t that count? Think it’s easy to do two voices in the same cartoon? I didn’t talk much about him when he passed away, but I loved Casey Kasem growing up. I listened to the Top 40 because he was doing it! And I loved his cartoon characters. He did the voice of Shaggy on Scooby Doo and Robin on Superfriends. So what happens when Scooby Doo and the gang meet Batman and Robin? You get Kasem doing both voices in one cartoon….and the little kid inside me LOVES IT! By the way, when I read a comic that has Robin the voice in my head is still Kasem’s. He’s the one who made me like that character (unlike Bert Ward’s Robin who was a whiny pain in the ass).


June 21, 2015

Five Dumb TV & Movie Ideas That Never Happened

It happens all the time, a movie or TV show has been green lit and is going to be produced. But something happens and it never sees the lights of day. For instance, there was supposed to be a Spaceballs II. In fact, I still remember seeing the teaser poster for it in a movie theater once! Spaceballs III:The Search for 2! Brilliant! What happened? Well not sure but obviously it never existed.

But sometimes, this is a good thing. When a project or idea is so badly conceived and idiotic, thank goodness it is cancelled simply because it was stupid and would have been terrible!



Of course we could be here all day talking about all the cancelled movies and TV shows which were in production at some point only to be cancelled and mercifully forgotten about. But rather than keep this going on forever, I decided to single out five horrible ideas that never made the light of day. Some never got past the storyboard stage, and others did get press releases and even a filmed pilot before wiser heads prevailed. But they are all bad ideas that thankfully remained bad ideas.



Dumbo II
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So my wife and I were watching the anniversary VHS for Dumbo when at the end, we get the happy news. There’s going to a direct to DVD sequel! Yech. The story was just stupid, having something to do with Dumbo and his friend stuck in the city. Huh? But thankfully wiser heads prevailed and the whole thing disappeared into the same ether that took Pinocchio II, Aristocats II, and Hercules II. Oh and don’t look for Tron 3 anytime soon either.

June 18, 2015

Top 5 Favorite Lt.Uhura Moments

This one is loonng overdue my friends! Why? Because I loved Lt.Uhura. I guess I have avoided it because this is hardly a new idea, and the truth is there are no shocks on this list, if you’re as a big a Trek fan as I am anyway.  But last month Nichelle Nichols suffered a minor stroke (she’s doing fine) and it got me thinking it was high time to talk about my favorite character on here.

Uhura 

Nichols was a pioneer, being an African American woman to be a regular on a sci fi series. And since I know that someone will mention it if I don’t, she almost left the series too until she met Martin Luther King Jr who pointed out what and influence she had. Women were hardly shown to be in authority at that time, never mind African American Women. And while you could argue that Uhura was shafted here and there (how many time can you say “Hailing Frequencies open”?) when she kicked ass, she really kicked ass! In fact this isn’t just a “top 5″ list, it’s a tribute to one of my favorite actress/characters ever!!


It comes down to this, NONE of the women on Trek would be where they are without Uhura. Not Crusher, not Troi, and not Janeway. And more than that, Nichelle Nichols was just freaking awesome!! She was tough, sexy, and had a very pleasant soft side. She knew how enjoy herself and laugh at things but when she was serious, she didn’t fool around. I loved every scene she was in, even if she wasn’t doing much. People forget that she joined the landing parties, took the helm three times, and was always right in on the excitement. In “Who Mourns for Adonais?” she is seen doing complicated repairs on the communication system, and Spock even compliments her.  In “I, Mudd” she faked out the androids in the episode in a great moment when she claimed she wanted an android body, but it was a clever ruse. In “Bread and Circuses” she provided the last bit of exposition that Kirk, Spock, and McCoy had missed. Don’t believe me? Watch this:

Not on the list because I hate the episode (though as you’ll see that won’t stop me further down) but I wanted to include it anyway.




Heck even in a stupid moment like when she saw and cried over her aged self in “And the Children Shall Lead” or in “The Changeling” she had her memories wiped by Nomad and had to re-learn everything she was still really awesome!


But now here are my favorite of all her moments. And this list is all about Nichelle Nichols, so no examples from Uhura in the new Star Trek movies. Not saying Zoë Saldaña was bad, just not counting them.



#5.The Tholian Web

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This is a great episode from the 3rd season. Kirk is trapped in inter space (or whatever) and Tholians are building a giant web. Ok, there is a lot more than that but the best scene comes in a quiet moment. We see Uhura in her quarters, which is a cool moment for several reasons. We hardly ever saw her off duty and relaxing. Suddenly she sees Kirk in her quarters, and knows he’s alive! She is thrilled and runs to share the news. It’s a great moment and Nichelle Nichols herself has said this was one of her favorite scenes. No wonder why.

June 15, 2015

Top 5 Dumbest (Fake) Game Show Episodes

Just about two years ago (good god time does fly) I did a whole week long look at game shows I loved. One of those articles was discussing when a sitcom will base an episode on a real life game show, with some or all of the character literally appearing on the said game show. These episodes are usually cute and silly and I love them.


In that article I mentioned that sitcoms will often do made up game shows but did not get into that subject. Well, I guess now is as good a time as any. The problem I have with these episodes is very simple-THEY’RE AWFUL!! I don’t know what it is, but every time a sitcom episode is based around a fake game show the episode is a stinker in my opinion. I guess it’s because these episodes seem geared to make the characters stupid and/or huge losers. Want some examples? Well of course!


Here are my top 5 dumbest (fake) game show episodes!!
There are two rules here–it has to be pretending to be a real game show actually airing on TV. For instance, Family Ties did an episode involving a simple PBS quiz show which was made up. But it was harmless and so simple that it would never really air even on PBS. Besides it was a good episode which forever taught me what the acronym SCUBA stood for (and Alex getting cold feet on TV was kind of funny). Also the characters have to actually appear on the show, so for instance that episode of “Friends” with Joey spending an episode rehearsing for an audition to host “Bamboozled” doesn’t count.


Of course this is all just opinion if you love any of these shows more power to you. Oh and yes this concept is not specific to sitcoms, but by now do you really expect me to discuss drama’s? Anyway…..


#5.Night Court, “The Game Show”

This isn’t the worst one ever, but it’s not a great episode. One reason it’s not a great episode is because Judge Stone is mostly absent, replaced with Judge Wilber from “My Two Dads” (yeah, that’s another article altogether!). Long story short, Bull appears on “What am I?”, a game show where the host describes something and the contestant answers “I am a….”. Well you can guess the jokes. Bull is doing OK until he panics when they roll out the clock. It looks like he’s going to lose (he’s playing for a charity he helps with) but gets the answer in time. There is a another part of he story with Dan which would take to long to explain. It’s a weak episode but not the worst because the game show is played mostly straight and the characters are not hurt or made to look stupid. Well Dan kind of is but it’s his own fault, like usual. To bad the same can’t be said for the rest of these.


June 13, 2015

Sitcom Episode Face-Off:Brady Bunch vs Cosby Show

Hello my friends, welcome back as I take two episodes of different series with the same plot and see which did it better. So what happens when a sweet family shows tries to tackle a tough subject? Chances are it will be a bit lukewarm, but two episodes managed to do it well and remain memorable. Those episodes were from:


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I am comparing “Where There’s Smoke” from The Brady Bunch’s second season to “Theo and the Joint” from The Cosby Show’s first season. They both basically tackled the same issue, except that it wasn’t plain old cigarette’s Theo got caught with. But we’ll dicuss that as we go. So which show tackled this better?



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ROUND 1:BASIC PREMISE

On Brady, Greg gets caught smoking by Jan and Cindy. After promising he will never do it again, a pack of cigarettes falls out of his jacket pocket. On Cosby, Claire accidentally knocks over Theo’s book and a joint falls out. Is it really his?

WINNER-Peer pressure makes more sense than how Theo gets stuck with the joint (more on that coming). Brady Bunch wins makes more sense.

June 7, 2015

Top 5 Favorite Sitcom Directors

As hard as it for me to believe after so many blogs on sitcoms I love, I have neglected one area. The folks behind the scenes! After all were would all these wonderful shows be without directors, writers, and other creators? But except for a look at production companies it’s an area I’ve kind of neglected. So today I want to start what will hopefully not be the only article on that topic. First up, five TV directors!



When I was a young the directors didn’t mean anything to me. Kind the same with the writers of comic books. As I got older I learned how important these people are, and how good they can be. As we’ll see many of our hit shows owe them a serious debt of gratitude.


I wanted to focus on directors who are primarily know for their directing and have done more than one or two single episodes.  After all even the actors on the series can direct. I mean Robert Reed directed a couple of episodes of Brady Bunch, Craig T Nelson directed several episodes of Coach, David Schimmer directed episodes of Friends, Kelsey Grammar directed episodes of Frasier, John Ratzenberger directed a few episodes of Cheers, and Jason Alexander even directed an episode of Seinfeld. But I don’t think any of them would put “director” first on their resume.

And no showrunners or producers. Yes I know very often directors also work as creators, producers, writers, etc but the five on this list are being praised solely for their directing.



#5.Debbie Allen
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This list was turning into a bit of a sausage fest so I wanted to find one woman. But most of the women who work in TV are writers and executive producers, but very few seem to be actual directors. And yes I am sure there are many women directors none came to mind. But I finally found one, and i love her! It’s a bit of a cheat since she is known for other things, but Debbie Allen came in to the only so-so “A Different World” and turned it into a decent series! She has directed all sorts of shows from Fame to Family Ties to Fresh Prince to That’s So Raven to Grey’s Anatomy!


June 3, 2015

A Look at TV Shows Hurt By Their Time Slot(s)


The other day I talked about how in 1990 The Flash got screwed over when CBS made the foolish mistake of giving it a stupid time slot, opposite NBC Thursday and The Simpsons (well OK it was expensive to produce too but I digress). But that is not the only series to suffer like that. Sometimes networks hurt their own shows by either giving the show an awful time slot, or switching the time slot fifteen times so that viewers can’t find it


Some shows survive tough time slots. Family Ties was moved from its Thursday perch after Cosby to Sunday nights, and was just as popular. Facts of Life had numerous time slot changes but still lasted eight years. Seinfeld shuffled around many time slots before settling on Thursday nights. Frasier had a few time slots in its run but the show was always a monster hit. Survivor was put up against the monster that was Friends and both did well, alternating between being #1 the years they competed. Murphy Brown & Everybody Loves Raymond did just fine opposite the monster that was Monday Night Football. And some shows buck the trend entirely, Saturday’s were supposed to the worst night for sitcoms and yet The Golden Girls was a major hit and flourished there for seven years.


But some shows are not so lucky, and here is are a few examples of series which didn’t do as well as they should have because the network either didn’t know the best day or time to air it, or chose to mess with a good thing and moved it to an awful time slot which killed the show.


3rd Rock From The Sun
Here’s a great example of a network bouncing a show around all over the place. Would you like to know how many time slots this show had? 20!! No kidding, I looked it up! No wonder I always lost track of this show. It was on six or seven years, that’s crazy! However, despite the bouncing around the show managed to maintain a solid fan base. Not all shows are quite so lucky.


June 1, 2015

Underrated Trek:Scientific Method (VOY)

Welcome back to Underrated Trek, where I take a special look at Star Trek episodes that I love…which may not be the most popular or even liked most. It’s easy to love a great episode, and it’s easy to like a “so bad it’s good” episode. But what about a mediocre at best episode? That’s what I wanted to discuss today, and episode of Star Trek Voyager which is only ok…but also happens to be one of my favorite episodes of the series! I give you:











This episode has some real memorable moments that I love. But does that make a really good episode? Let’s discuss it






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