November 30, 2015

Top 10 Favorite Animated Christmas Specials-#10

Last Year I did my favorite Christmas TV episodes, This year, I present my top 10 favorite animated Christmas specials. In the past I have done run downs of all the specials, and singled out a few that I hated, but these are the ten that are the cream of the crop. Ten specials that I just can’t imagine Christmas without. I wasn’t originally going to limit these to animation but the list kind of ended up that way. But it makes sense, from The Smurfs to Inspector Gadget to Pac-Man to The Flintstones the amount of animated Christmas specials is staggering. And yes I am including CGI and stop-motion animation. Sadly this does leave off The Muppets, maybe I will discuss them a in a separate article if I have the time.


So since these are pretty much familiar to everyone, all I will probably do is go over the special briefly and give my two cents worth on why I think it’s so great…and maybe a few gripes thrown in. I am spreading this out over the month of December, so let’s start with my #10 choice….




the-grinch-cartoon 


This may shock some, #10??? But it took me a looong time to get into this. I never really watched it a as kid and did not grow up with it like so many did. When I did finally see it…yeah it’s really really good. The message is so simple and sweet that it’s just impossible to not get drawn in.


The story is a simple one really, I think we’re all familiar with it. All the who’s in Whoville loved Christmas a lot. Except The Grinch, who did not! I am not really a Dr.Seuss fan. I am one of the few people in the world who can say I did not grow up with these stories when I was a child. But this one is really good and it’s no surprise that it has endured and last as long as it as. The Grinch is a fantastic character, one children will be enjoying for decades I imagine.

November 26, 2015

Six Great Commercials for Stupid Products

A few weeks ago I talked about memorable commercials, and one of them was for the Colgate Pump. I noted that it was a really good commercial…for a really stupid product. It doesn’t even exist anymore. For the record I had the Crest Pump and it was..Ok I guess.


Don’t remember it? Here is the ad:



But this product wasn’t the first time, or the last time, a great ad was made for a product that turned out to be a dud. Of course a new product needs heavy advertising but sometimes the great commercial is about the only good thing about the product, which vanishes never to be heard from again.


Here are five examples of what I mean:


November 22, 2015

Analytical Episode Review:Frasier, “A Lilith Thanksgiving”

Wow, I haven’t done one of these since my Super Bowl article. Yikes. It is hard to pick episodes that I hope people will be familiar with. Since it’s Thanksgiving I decided to single out a Thanksgiving episode. I covered all the Roseanne episodes two years ago and did a Cosby episode last year. Not to mention listing ten episodes I loved in a very early article. In fact it seems I’ve mostly talked about episodes I like. Are there Thanksgiving episodes that drive me crazy? Oh my yes, the one I wanted to discuss today comes from a little show called:



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There were two Thanksgiving episodes involving Lilith. One called “The Apparent Trap” was pretty good. This one….ugh. Let’s discuss it.




“A Lilith Thanksgiving”
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Aired Nov 26,1996

November 19, 2015

Ten Reasons I Love The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade

 
There are just some traditions that I have had my whole life, and probably always will. As I have hit the age of 40, a lot of things I grew up with are gone. Bob Hope Specials? Gone. New Year’s Rockin Eve with Dick Clark? Gone. Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon? Gone. But there is one that I am pretty sure isn’t going anywhere soon.




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Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade is an institution, and I could do a whole aricle on the history of this wonderful event. How it started and the issues it’s had, good and bad.  But that’s boring and can be found elsewhere. Instead, here are ten things I love about the parade which still airs every Thanksgiving Day on NBC.






10.The Broadway Shows
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This part probably bothers people, and I’ll be honest I can find it boring too, but in order to kill an hour before the parade can get to Herald Square NBC shows off some Broadway shows that are playing. And it’s cool seeing these since I don’t follow this stuff. I still remember Bebe Neuwrith singing “All That Jazz” long before I saw the movie Chicago. Nice. I also saw Kristen Chenowith perform a song from Wicked, which while I have not seen it is one I want to.


November 15, 2015

Reconsidering “Back to the Future:Part III”

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It’s funny how time can change your mind on things. When I first saw Back to the Future part III I did not like it. And one of my first articles was about the movie and the things I did not like. But looking back, I realize it wasn’t that bad. Part II was faster and more fun, but it also doesn’t have the heart that the first had. The third does, though with a slower pace.


Back over four years ago I did “five things I hated in Back to the Future Part III”. I decided to go back, now older and wiser,  and see if maybe I had changed my mind on any of them.


The parts in italics are the original entries, I am copying the earlier segments directly from the blog and keeping them exactly as a I wrote them.


#5. The opening. I still remember seeing this movie at the theaters and after the exciting re-cap of the ending of the 2nd movie, we get the action and thrill—of a rainstorm. I mean, I realize they wanted to change the tone of the movies a bit but that opening was such a letdown. We see the rain as Marty gets Doc back to his house. We are treated to a pan of the house while the dullest music ever plays. I know the first movie has kind of a quiet opening, but we don’t need to establish Doc’s character this time and for me this was just a disappointment.

Well, when you think about it they really need that tonal shift. The movies needed this break to pause and breathe, and while it was jarring when I saw it at first I get it now. Besides I love the beautifully recreated set for Doc’s old mansion (you’d never guess five years had passed!) and all the stuff in 1955 is really well done.


November 13, 2015

Ten Commercials I Can Never, Ever Forget

I talked awhile back about commercials with mascots which became so famous that they ae almost household names. (Don’t remember it? Here it is)


However, a good commercial doesn’t have to have a silly cartoon character to be remembered. A catchy jingle and/or catchphrase is enough to make people remember it. In some cases, you never forget it.


Here are ten ads that I never forgot, in no particular order.



10.Verizon
Give Verizon some credit, they took a small ad and made a catchphrase out of it. I still think of this ad when I am having trouble with a cell phone and asking the caller if they “Can hear me now”.





9.Old Navy
These commercials were so stupid, so inane, so nonsensical….that I loved them and still remember them. They are cheezy, goofy, and just fun.


November 5, 2015

TV Characters That Knew They Were On TV Shows

Every show will have a fourth wall gag once in awhile. Happy Days ended their run with Howard thanking the audience for watching, Cliff and Clair danced through the fourth wall at the end of The Cosby Show. One episode of Just Shoot Me ended with Brook Shields breaking character to question the ludicrous scene she was in. Even Seinfeld couldn’t resist a wink to the audience at the end of “The Race”. Hard as it is to believe Star Trek also did it once when McCoy flat out addressed the audience at the end of an episode. This goes back to Burns & Allen!





But occasional winks to the audience is one thing. But sometimes these go behind just gags, they’re a part of the show that the character or characters know they are on a TV series. And the gags about that are almost constant. Here are five examples:



Malcolm from Malcolm in the Middle
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I was never a fan of this show, but it came up in my research so I checked it out. And yeah, Malcolm was constantly breaking the fourth wall to address the audience. I tried to watch a whole episode…and couldn’t do it. Just not for me.


November 2, 2015

Ten Prime Time Cartoons Inspired by “The Simpsons”

One of the more annoying things in my opinion is when something new is a huge hit, and all the clones start to appear. These are obvious desperate attempts to cash in on a trend. The worst part of this trend is that these copy cats are almost always duds! They are so blatantly rushed and/or trying to copy the success of the first show that it’s just lame.


This happened with game shows when Who Wants to be a Millionaire spawned crap like Greed and Twenty-One. It happened when Survivor (and later American Idol) spawned reality TV junk like “The Apprentice” and to many others to name (I thank god this reality craze has died down a bit). And the success of Seinfeld and Friends spawned garbage like “These Friends of Mine” (later “Ellen”) and the very short lived “Coupling”. We could be here all day listing examples of this.



And then we have the prime time cartoon craze that began in the 90’s. When The Simpsons came around in 1989, it was the first successful prime time cartoon series since The Flintstones and The Jetsons. So of course what happens when a new idea is a big hit? We get the god awful copy cats!!!! Ok, some worked. Family Guy and King of the Hill and Futurama, were all good. Ok, The Critic wasn’t that bad either come to think of it. And Duckman was a huge success though I never watched it. And of course South Park, which I really can’t stand though I guess it can be funny.

familyguy_logo_281futurama-logo-with-charactersKing-of-the-Hill
The-Critic-Season-1-_Alt_ duckmanSouth_Park



But while those were hits, most were not so lucky and were here and gone in a flash. Here are ten other shows which did suck, at least in my opinion. Some were rushed to meet the Simpsons craze, some were trying to flat out copy the Simpsons, and some were just…stupid as all hell.



Capitol Critters
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This was an animates series about the lives of mice and roaches who reside in the basement and walls of The White House. Intrigued yet? Yeah this is a lame show and only lasted thirteen episodes. Neil Patrick Harris was in it, but to be fair this was long before “How I Married Your Mother” made him a celebrity again so I can forgive it. This show demonstrates a very important lesson that others did learn-it takes more than a cool setting to make the show gritty and adult! I watched it a little and it felt like a stupid Saturday Morning Cartoon, non and adult Prime Time Cartoon.