September 27, 2015

Five Favorite Transitions & Bumpers From Kids Shows

We talk a lot about TV shows we love but sometimes one of my favorite things are  little things we often overlook. For instance the commercial bumpers. On most shows it’s just a person announcing that they would be right back after these messages over a shot of the title, and sometimes it can be extremely lazy as they will just Photoshop an image over the title announcing the ad break. You see this a lot in syndicated re-runs. But once in awhile they can be a little extra special. Like on Alf when he usually had a clever joke. Or on A Different World which would tease the second half of the episode rather than just say “We’ll Be Right Back”. Of course Linkara on AT4W came up with clever ways to announce those annoying midrolls.



I also like clever scene transitions. It’s one thing to change scenes, with adult shows it’s simple a dissolve followed by a new location shot. Oh, some shows do different things. Home Improvement used silly animations of the Home Improvement logo to break the scenes up, Roseanne shows pictures of various locations around Lanford, Big Bang Theory uses a shot of a molecule to transition between locations, Caroline in the City used to use cartoon drawings to establish new locations which was kind of different, and of course 3rd Rock From the Sun used those cool animations of the solar system as transitions and those were always clever and well done.



About two years ago I talked about famous network bumpers. For that article click HERE. But when kids show and cartoons do these kind of things they become, in their own way, as much a part of the show as anything else. It sounds silly but just hearing a silly scene transition is enough to make you smile. Here are five examples of scene transitions which I love!




He-Man
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He-Man’s transition image was a shot of the sword, and that was Ok. But I loved the bumpers, which had Orko announcing the commercial. My favorite one is when he breaks through the wall announcing the break, and when we return we see Orko taping up the damage as he announces it’s back to the show. By the way,  yes She-Ra did the same gimmick with Kowl or whatever his name was, but since that was the girl show I of course did not like it as much.



September 23, 2015

Random Thoughts-The Muppets

If you haven’t watched the new Muppets TV series yet, spoilers below. Be warned.



I was kind of hyped about The Muppets coming back to TV. The last series they did was Muppets Tonight which, while I was not a big fan, wasn’t the worst thing in the world either. Tonight’s show might be. I just watched and had some random thoughts I decided I had to share, mostly to see if anyone else watched and what they think. So, here we go.




I can live with The Muppets being darker. I love The Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie and there are darker elements in that movie. But the Muppet charm still shines through. This show….I don’t know what the thought process was.



Ok, fairness time. The idea is good. Piggy hosts her own night time talk show and we see the behind the scenes antics (ala 30 Rock). Fine, but why did they have to go on step further and include the personal lives of The Muppets? It’s like, as another critic noted, The Larry Sanders Show minus the swearing.


Here is the big question. Why are The Muppets so mean? Kermit is a negative whiner, Piggy is just a bitch not to mention a huge egomaniac, Fozzie is…the same but his story about dating a human girl is just icky. Even Scooter has an attitude! What the hell, Scooter is one of the easiest going Muppets ever! Did I mention the adult jokes (which no kid would understand to be fair, but seriously an AA joke?)? And before everyone screams there have always been adult jokes with The Muppets, yes that’s true but they were accompanied by funny bits and I didn’t see anything funny in this.


September 21, 2015

Six Blown Reveals From “Star Trek” Episodes

I spoke a few days ago about “The Lights of Zetar”. I commented that when the characters finally figure out what is happening, the reveal is not that interesting because the audience has already figured it out! But it’s dragged out anyway and gets dull. Though we dont know the backstory which we learn with teh characters, so good job there keeping that reveal a secret till it was time to be revealed. But this isn’t always the case. Star Trek, like any show, very often tries to surprise their audience with the cause of their troubles and/or the big solution that saves the day. And sometimes, it works. Another example is from “The Deadly Years”, where the answer to why Chekov didn’t age was held until the last five minutes, but it makes sense and I think it’s safe to say may not have been guessed yet when it is revealed. In TNG’s “The Survivors” they drag out the secret of the old couple for the whole episode, and while Picard is on to them the audience is left with an interesting mystery right until the end.



And yes it’s not uncommon to reveal the villain early on, but usually something is kept quiet until the characters figure it out. The motivation, how they did their deed, or some other surprise twist. However, some episodes blow the twist to early and it hurts the episode! It bores the audience and makes the characters look stupid. It’s almost as if the creators don’t realize how smart their audience is.



Here are six examples of what I mean from Classic Trek and Next Gen.


“Who Mourns for Adonais” (TOS)

Ok this one isn’t the worst, or even that big, but it’s really blatant how they dragged it out. As the crew discuss how Apollo could be able to channel the power to do his stunts, McCoy mentions that he discovered that Apollo has an extra organ in his body that he has no clue about. Kirk begins to ask the obvious question when he is cut off. It’s like twenty minutes later when Kirk finally finishes the qustion, asking McCoy if the extra organ is how Apollo channels the power he does. It’s not a big thing, but what was the point of holding that off? Did they really think we wouldn’t have figured it with Kirk? Just get it revealed and move on!


September 18, 2015

Underrated Trek:The Lights of Zetar (TOS)

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 by most. Ah, third season Classic Trek. We make fun of it but there were some good episodes to be found. “The Enterprise Incident” for instance. I already talked about third season episodes “Turnabout Intruder” and “And The Children Shall Lead” which are both hard for me to admit I like since they are each pretty cheesy. This one is different, I proudly like this episode even if I am in a minority. This is :


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Written by Jeremy Tarcher with his wife Shari Lewis (yes, THAT Shari Lewis. She loved the show and even wanted to play Lt.Romaine) we get an average but still decent episode. So, what makes it so good?



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September 15, 2015

Five Horribly Miscast Movie Roles (That I’ve Seen)

I’m not a huge movie fan. I don’t ask for much when I do see a movie, it takes a lot for something in a film to really bother me. Product placement? Whatever. Another thing that doesn’t usually bother me is casting. For a role to be so horribly miscast even I’ve noticed means someone somewhere really failed along the way. Once in awhile an odd casting choice pays off. Who would have imagined how great Michael Keaton would be as Batman? That was inconceivable when it was first announced! Who could have pictured Richard Gere in Chicago? Hey it worked, he was great! Chris Pine as Captain Kirk? Hey he pulled it off. Kevin Costner in Prince of Thieves? I must have to re-watch this because I remember him being good, it seems I am in the minority on that one.




But usually odd casting is just that, odd and doesn’t work. Rosie O’Donnell as Betty Rubble in The Flintstones? No! Ben Affleck in Daredevil? No! John Wayne as Genghis Khan? WTF???? But those casting choices were DOA in my opinion, sometimes you have hopes it may work….and it doesn’t.


Here are five more roles I had hopes for, but were so badly miscast even I couldn’t help but notice!



Pierce Brosnan in Mama Mia
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Ugh. Maybe it was because I saw the stage play (on Broadway!) that this really stood out for me. But was I the only one who could see how wrong Brosnan was for this? I know I wasn’t but if it was THAT obvious to me…I hope the casting person lost their job. Even if he could sing, he was still way out of place. And he couldn’t sing…at all! Actually nearly the whole cast was miscast. Christine Baransky is cool but was wrong for that character. The worst was Brosnan though, who couldn’t sing to save his life. Oh, and speaking of musicals you my wonder what I thought of Russell Crowe in Les Miserables. I’ve only seen pieces but it’s clear they hired him for the name appeal, and not because he could sing.


September 13, 2015

A Look at “The Best of Saturday Night Live”

Last February, SNL celebrated it’s 40th anniversary. This inspired me to go back and check out their “Best of” collections. Actually there were two. One was a large collection released in the 90’s. featuring every year and many of the hosts. I had a ton of these which I loved to watch…and sad to say I gave them away. That still pisses me off, but I can always get them back if I really wanted.




The other set was a big group release starting in 1999, distributed by Lionsgate Home Entertainment. This lasted until 2005 when NBC ended that deal. But there were still several of these released, and over the last six months I have seen most of them. I couldn’t find any to buy to I got them off Netflix. So I thought it would be fun to go over them, and let you know what I thought. These are only the one’s I saw, a few will be missing like Steve Martin, Gilda Radner, and John Belushi. I just don’t care about that real old stuff. Also Chris Rock and Tracy Morgan’s DVD’s I  have not seen yet and not sure I ever will. I also find it curious that nothing from the 1980-1985 made it, except Eddie Murphy who I also did not watch.




So enough about what I didn’t see, let’s discuss what I did see:




SNL: The Best of Adam Sandler
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If you ever thought this guy was overrated, this DVD will confirm it. I mean was this boring! It was mostly him singing his dopey songs. I think all of three whole sketches make it, one he was barely even in! I guess if you liked his singing you will love it but this DVD was a fail for me.


September 8, 2015

Top 10 Favorite Deep Space Nine Episodes


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You may have noticed that as much as I discuss Star Trek, DS9 does not get mentioned nearly enough. I was never a major fan, but did watch it and enjoyed several episodes. So since I haven’t given DS9 enough love, here are my favorite episodes. I will say up front, these are favorites and may not be literally the best episodes ever made. In fact at least one is a bottle show which wasn’t that remarkable, as you’ll see. And almost nothing from the war episodes are on here, not because they were bad it’s just those episodes were not my favorites. To me they’re like seeing a gritty war film while well done it’s not the kind of thing you pop in to watch over and over again. These are episodes I loved the first time and can watch over and over again.


And if you’re wondering why no least favorites list, it’s because I managed to avoid those episodes which sucked a lot. Except “Move Along Home” which felt more like a crappy season 2 TNG episode. And I talked about Q-Less already. Oh and that awful “Resurrection” episode which was boring but since the crew were coming off the war arc I can forgive it. And “Defiant” was a let down.



Ok, onto my favorites–




#10.”What You Leave Behind” (Season 7)
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Yeah I know weird to start with the final episode, but in some ways I liked Voyager’s more. Not to mention TNG’s. Why? As I said in the opening I was not a loyal DS9 fan and this episode was definitely aimed at loyal fans as a way of saying goodbye. So while it didn’t leave the biggest impact, it was still a damn good final episode and a very strong way to end the series. Credit where credit is due.



September 5, 2015

Five “WTF??” Awkward Moments From Live TV

Live TV is a lot of fun. They say that anything can happen, and sometimes that’s just what happens. Anything! Mistakes or accidents are inevitable when the show is live and there is no way to stop and re-do a take. Embarrassing moments are going to happen. There are tons of these from Geraldo Rivera finding nothing in Al Capone’s vault to Michael Jackson's curious 1993 Super Bowl Halftime show to his sister Janet Jackson’s memorable wardrobe malfunction in another Super Bowl.




I could go on and on, but today I wanted to discuss five live moments that did not go as planned which were not funny, they were just plain awkward. Leaving many people, including the people there, wondering WTF they just saw! And these are from entertainment broadcasts, no news moments since those kind of stories aren’t funny right now.



Tonight Show w Jay Leno (Cheers Show)
CHEERS -- "Final Show Party" Episode 25 -- Air Date 05/20/1993 -- Pictured: (l-r) George Wendt as Norm Peterson, Woody Harrelson as Woody Boyd, John Ratzenberger as Cliff Clavin, Kelsey Grammer as Dr. Frasier Crane, Rhea Perlman as Carla LeBec, Ted Danson as Sam Malone, Jay Leno as Himself (Photo by NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Man was this a bad idea. Love or hate Jay Leno, you had to feel bad for him here. The night that Cheers went off the air, Jay Leno hosted a live show at the real Bull and Finch Bar in Boston. This was a BAR. Can you see the mess up here? Yeah everyone was drunk, I mean really drunk, which caused Leno to scramble. Some sketches had to be scrapped and it was basically a very strange hour. Leno would call the show a “mistake” and he made sure that didn’t happen again. I read that Ted Danson apologized the next day with flowers, but knowing Leno he just shrugged the whole thing off as one of those mistakes we make in life.



September 1, 2015

Things I Just Love-TV Guide

TVGUIDE-logo 

This is something I have wanted to talk about for a long time. But how? Well let me start at the beginning. It may be hard to believe for those very young, but there was a time when TV Guide was the coolest magazine in the world. If you loved TV as much as I did anyway. It’s kind of hard to explain, and maybe it’s just me, but I adored this little book. When a new issue arrived every week it was exciting, I’d sit down and pour through it looking at all the awesome new shows that were coming the next week to look forward to. Then it was by my side as I watched TV through that week. At the end of the week, it had been so worn out that very often the cover had even fallen off.



Jerry Seinfeld himself summed it up in this clever bit you can see HERE



These go way back my friends, to the 50’s since Desi Arnaz Jr as a baby was the very first cover. These things were collectors items, and no just because they could be worth money, and why not? They’re like little time capsules for what was happening every week years ago. I know what you might think, it’s a program guide so what? It’s hard to explain but I guess the one thing to remember is that this was before the internet. We maybe had Entertainment Tonight and that was about it. There was no Entertainment Weekly or cable guides. There were no spoilers or previews. And the best alternative for TV guides were the lame program grids in newspapers which told us nothing. TV Guide was all we really had to wet our appetites and make us look forward to whatever was coming along that next week.


How did they do that? Well you had the simple descriptions which not only old you the show but a simple plot summary. As I said this was before spoilers so we literally had no clue what the next episode was until we read it. It also gave you the whole week, daytime and nighttime, along with previews for things even further away. Then there were the ad’s. The kick ass ad’s! The ad’s in TV Guide were awesome, not to mention powerful things. I watched the first episode of The Cosby Show based solely on the beautiful ad that appeared in TV Guide. The ad that ran when Bo and Luke returned to The Dukes of Hazard was just beautiful (couldn’t find a good pic). And I watched the 80’s TV movie Crash Course based solely on he ad that appeared that week, which got me excited about the movie.


Here are a couple ads I found online just so you can see what I’m talking about :












But the big thing most people remember from TV Guide were the awesome covers. Each one brings back memories, if not to a personal memory than at least to that time in TV history. These covers are awesome, and that’s what I want to focus on. Now as I said these go back to the 50’s and the covers were amazing even then. However since I’m not THAT old, I am only focusing on the 1980-2005, which is when they chucked the digest format that made them famous and turned the magazine into just another entertainment magazine. Boring.  Damn I miss these today. And yes I went through every cover on TVGUIDE.COM to pick my favorites, and there was a tear of nostalgia in my eye as I did.



So hear now are my 20 favorite covers (yes, 20! But that’s a drop in the bucket really).
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I picked three of these as examples, but let me tell you about the fall preview issues. I think Christmas Day was the only thing more exciting than when these came out. I would move hell and earth to get it, and read every stinking page. Not only did they tell you every new show coming out, good and bad, but the ads inside were always something awesome to see, bigger and better for all the season premier’s. Even for someone who loved TV Guide, these issues were extra special! The sad part is while I have saved a couple issues I didn’t save any of the Fall Preview issues. Damn it. These are especially fun to look back on and see what the editors thought would be hits…and how wrong they were!