November 30, 2011

Top 5 Christmas Songs I Turn the Radio Up For

ss music. The simple reason for that is because music has never been my thing. I have always been the last to know about the new artists and big hits. That’s not to say I don’t like music, I do, but I don’t follow it closely or put much thought into which songs are better than others. The one exception is Christmas music.
I love Christmas music, and can’t get enough of it. I wanted to talk today about the five songs I love more than others. I am going to use the word “songs” rather than “carols” because the songs I want to talk about today aren’t the kind of songs you sing to your neighbors. I always felt there were two different kinds of Christmas music. You have Christmas Carols like Jingle Bells, and Christmas Songs which you could almost play any time of the year (like I did with one of my choices).
These are really nice songs which not only do I enjoy year after year, but if they come on the radio I have to turn the volume up to listen to it.

All I Want For Christmas is You by Mariah Carey-I loved this song when it came out! The tune has such a peppy beat it’s impossible not to start tapping your feet during it. I have never been the biggest Mariah fan, but this song is a true classic. I don’t like “romantic” Christmas songs usually, but this one is nice and simple. All I want for Christmas is you….simple as that. By the way, her Christmas album is one of my absolute favorites. Every song is great, even the more timeless one’s she does.

Christmas Through Your Eyes by Gloria Estefan. Not the biggest Gloria Estefan fan in the world, but this is such a nice song. I know, not from personal experience, that when people have kids it changed how they see many things, including Christmas. Seeing the holiday through the eyes of a child puts it in a whole new perspective. For me, since I have no kids it is a reminder of how Christmas felt was when I was a kid, and as we get old and lose perspective we need to be reminded from time to time.

Where are you Christmas? By Faith Hill. Kind of the opposite of the previous song. Yes, that Jim Carrey version of the Grinch was hardly a classic. However, one good thing that came from that film was this nice little song by Faith Hill. I think everyone has had that feeling, for one reason or another that Christmas is somehow missing. Things change in our lives and Christmas is one of those things. It’s important to remember what we loved about Christmas, thinking of others and showing how much we care, which is what this song is about.

Christmas Wrapping by The Waitresses-Even though this song has been around for awhile, I only fairly recently discovered this little tune. I just love it, not only does it have one hell of beat but there’s also a cool story in the song. If you’re looking for a Christmas song that makes you feel good, look no further than this tune. (sorry about the video, ignore the silly animation)

Mary’s Boy Child by Bone M. The song has been around for awhile, what makes this version so great to listen to is the way Bone M recorded it. They didn’t just sing the song, they sing it in such a clever way that it is impossible not to like. The fact that this song is religious even by Christmas song standards makes the popularity of this little tune all the more remarkable. One of the first times I heard this song was in heavy traffic, and I love this song so much that for the four minutes or so the song was one, the traffic didn’t even bother me.

 Honorable Mention:
As Long As there’s Christmas –I am starting a crusade to get people to appreciate this tune. I know, the movie it comes from is lousy. Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas was not that great, I am not disputing that. I am just saying, forget the movie it’s from and just listen to the song. It’s a nice little tune about having hope, and I always liked it. It’s an honorable mention because it is a hard song to hear around the holidays, but I just had to add it. I thought about doing a separate Disney Christmas music list but Moviefan12 covered that so well already. Here it is, give it a chance.

November 29, 2011

Top 5 Favorite Santa's in Movies & TV (Non-Animation)

TOP 5 Favorite Santa'S in Movies & TV (Non-Animation)

It's safe to say Santa Claus has been portrayed several times. I think Dracula holds the record for most portryals, but Santa can't be to far on the list. Some people just put on a Santa costume and pretend, others actually play the real thing. I wanted to take a look at my personal favorite versions of Santa in movies and TV.

#5.Tom Hanks in Polar Express

Yes, this is cheating. It says right at the top this list is non-animation. However, Polar Express isn't really animation. Not in the traditional sense anyway, it's motion capture. Tom Hanks does a very good job as a kind of quiet Santa who isn't loud and annoying. There are so many stupid and annoying things in this movie, but Santa Claus was done just right.

#4.David Huddleston in Santa Claus:The Movie.
Yeah, I know I gave this movie a lot of crap and it deserves it. However, I have to be fair and say that this was a good Santa. In fact he was the only thing this movie did right. Santa here is a happy fellow but has a soul too. I neglected to mention before that the person who created this movie was Alexander Salkin, who did Superman. Boy, can you see the similarities. Sorry, Santa is not a superhero. Anyway, below is the one good scene in this movie. Enjoy.
#3.Peter Schrum in Family Ties.

What am I talking about? I will probably be bringing this episode up again, but the one I am referring to is the episode "Miracle in Columbus". This episode has Alex playing Santa in a mall where a lonely girl touches his heart, but that is not the Santa I am referring to. At one point Alex is visited by the "real" Santa, and for a TV show they did a great job. He is a fat, jolly old elf like he stepped out of that old poem. It's a short scene, but very well done. This is one of my favorite Christmas episodes ever (hint to where this show will appear again) and this portrayal of Santa has always been one of my absolute favorites.

#2.Tim Allen in The Santa Clause

When I first heard that Tim Allen was going to play Santa, I figured no way this would work. Then I saw a picture of him in full make-up, and couldn't believe it. However, it's not just the make-up that makes this performance work. Tim Allen does such a great and unappreciated acting job in this movie. He is warm, kind, and really cool. This is my favorite Christmas movie, because the portrayal of Santa and the Elves is so honest. It isn't corny or dark, it's happy and light. (sorry about the clip, it was the best I could do. The first movie is much better than the 2nd).

#1.Edmund Gwenn in Miracle on 34th St.
Could anyone else possibly play this role better? I have always loved this movie, and he was the reason. He is so convincing that you really do believe his story. His scenes with a very young Natalie Wood are very effective, and while one can pick the plot apart it doesn't take away from the fact that Gwenn was perfect Santa. The clip below was the best I could find.

There are a lot of others of course. I know people will say "What about Douglas Seale?" I never sat through Ernest Saves Christmas, though I did see the NC episode and he seemed fine. Edward Asner played the character in Elf, which I also never saw. Finally, the Santa in Muppet Letters to Santa was really good. If there were a #6 spot he may have made the list.

Random Thoughts - The Muppets (film)

Well, I finally went to see The Muppets today. When news of this movie came out was I was very worried, but then all the praise and critical acclaim started to pour in and I figured the movie would be fantastic. I was wrong.
Am I the only person in the world who didn’t think this movie was great? Now don’t get me wrong, it was good. Better than Muppets in Space, that’s for sure. However, for everything I liked about the movie there was something else I hated. So, I thought I would run through a list of those things. By the way, I wasn’t kidding about there being spoilers here. If you’ve seen the movie, or don’t care, keep on reading.
What I didn’t like:
The first ten minutes. First of all, the scenes at the start of Walter and Gary were just weird. I understand in this world Muppets are accepted along with humans, but how can a human person and a Muppet be brothers? I kept waiting for someone to say Walter was adopted. Their relationship was weird, even having two beds closer together than Bert and Ernie. If these were two humans it would be been odd, making one a Muppet didn’t help. Then, we get a wonderful music number which was great, if the movie was The Music Man. What was this scene doing here anyway?
The Romance Sub-Plot. Gotta say, I couldn’t have cared less if Gary and Mary hooked up. That song Mary has about being by herself, I mean who cares really? The worst thing was that they had to shoehorn that into the ending. It’s a MUPPET movie, who cares if these two hook up? They could have kept this story the exact same if they lost the romantic crap, and maybe given another Muppet something to do. I would have rather seen the whole Muppet gang singing together.
Where are the Muppets? Follow me on this. Yeah, I know Kermit and Piggy got a lot of screen time but where was everyone else? Gonzo practically disappeared by the end, Rizzo wasn’t even in it, even Pepe who I hate deserved more than the quick cameo he got. What about Robin?  We got teased with Muppet Show references, but none of them appeared. Why not a quick Pigs in Space moment, or a classic music number like the show had? The one they did was ruined because they had Jack Black kidnapped and tied up (what was the point of that? Would it have really spoiled the movie to have a celebrity host happy to be there?) They did let Gary and Mary blend into the background a lot, but not enough for me.
The Villain. Talk about a cartoon character. Someone else pointed out that we never get any motivation for why he hates the Muppets so much, which would have been nice. In the original movie Doc Hopper’s motivations are crystal clear. You also felt true dread from him, he wasn’t fooling around. Did anyone really care about the villain in this movie? And his song was SO ANNOYINGLY BAD! The evil Muppets were underdeveloped, and what is with that stupid bear that pops in every movie?
A few more notes. The 4th wall jokes were annoying, how can we take the movie seriously if they are not?  Jack Black was in it way too much and was annoying, the payoff with Animal was disappointing, and a lot of the songs didn’t work. I didn’t like how they used the montage to speed through reuniting the Muppets, I want to see that not Amy Adams dancing down the street!
Ok, let’s change the tune. Although I do have one more comment but I will save it for a moment.
Things I liked :
Walter. I hated Gary, but Walter was a very good character. Why did we need Gary and Mary? Oops, sorry. Walter’s story really struck a chord with me, I know what it feels like to have no idea who you are or where you belong. It was nice to see him to realize what he was, and find a family dynamic he could belong and be a part of. I was worried about this character, but he totally worked.
Kermit and Piggy. These are the only two Muppets who didn’t get shafted. I loved how they explored their relationship the way they did. Kermit is always shy about his feelings, and it was about time it came up in a movie. Why can’t Kermit tell Piggy how he really feels? Just very well done. And the scene where Piggy sees Kermit again after so many years brought a smile to my face.
The Nostalgia. The song Kermit sings in his house “Pictures in my Head” was so beautiful, it really was. It was a great scene. The old pictures, the mayhem band bus, and then later they recreate the opening to The Muppet Show. It was just great, and brought back some good memories. It was also nice of them to acknowledge that time has passed the Muppets have faded, unlike some reboots they didn’t ignore their history just to get a fresh start (like Star Trek and  DC Comics did).
The Rainbow Connection. What can I say? This was the best scene, ever. The song alone is enough to make one a little misty, but the way they did it here was so great. If I buy the DVD someday, it will be for this scene.
The celebrity cameos were ok. Jim Parson’s appearance was, odd, but it worked too. I didn’t care for that song when it started but it grew on me by the time it was finished. But because of Walter’s story, I didn’t care about Gary’s. I think they made a big mistake making the two characters brothers; friends would have been more believable.
Finally, if you watched Doug’s review you know he talked about the cop out ending. Without giving it a way, I have to say I totally agree with him. The reason I agree with him is because of how they did it, almost like an afterthought. Instead of having a big scene and a satisfying climax, it is squeezed into the closing credits. Oh, but they made sure to show that Gary and Mary got engaged. Thanks goodness, I was so interested in them!
Basically, the movie wasn’t bad but Jason Segal and Amy Adams kind of spoiled it for me. I want to see the Muppets, not them. I won't say I was disappointed because there were some great moments, but it sure wasn't perfect. I’m gonna say something which will shock some, but it’s true. Given a choice, I would rather see A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie. It has essentially the same plot, and it treats The Muppet Show with more respect I think.
One last thing, I enjoyed the Toy Story short even if the ending was a bit rushed. Still, it was cute. One last thing I really loved about this movie, it wasn’t in 3-D!! Thank heavens!

November 28, 2011

A Look at Rankin/Bass Christmas Specials

Rankin/Bass: A Tribute (?)
Is there anyone who has never heard of these guys?  Arthur Rankin Jr and Jules Bass created some of the most legendary animated holiday specials of all time. They did a ton of Christmas shows, but some people don’t realize they did other holidays too. There are specials for Thanksgiving, Halloween, and Easter which never air on TV anymore. I never saw the Halloween one in fact. Most of their specials used what was called “Animagic” which was a stop motion animation process. Others had the typical cartoon style cel animation. Many famous celebrities lent their voices to these specials, and I should really do an article one day on the amazing Paul Frees. He voiced dozens of characters in these shows, not to mention hundreds of other productions. He was a true talent.
 Today I wanted to talk about their Christmas specials. I will focus on their most famous ones, but we’ll get into the lesser known specials too. The reason for the question mark in the title is because this is going to be a little different than just a review. I think most everyone has seen these and knows the stories. However, some of these specials have twisted morals, and I want to do a little nitpicking. Why do we watch these every single year? Because there timeless classics, of course!
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer (1964)
Let’s start with the grandfather of all Christmas specials. You could fill a book on the behind the scenes story of this thing (in fact, there is a book out on it!). Billie Mae Richard as Rudolph and of course Burl Ives was the snowman narrator. We know the story, persecuted for being different Rudolph runs away.  It’s easy to pick on this special because of all the prejudice in it.  Donner is ashamed of his son instantly, and the way Santa and the others react is appalling. He’s different? No!!!! Hermie doesn’t get treated any better. This is one time when Santa’s workshop is portrayed more like a sweat shop. I hate to say that because it bothers me when others say it, but it’s true. Hermie has to work here whether he wants to or not. There is even a horn to indicate break times. I guess there is no freedom of movement here; you do what you’re told.
However, to be fair it has to remembered that this special had to be true to the song. The song is full of hate and at least this movie has an ending showing everyone apologizing for being such jerks. People have made fun of how they “use” Rudolph after Santa discovers a use for him. But they forget, he was asked not ordered. Also, what’s wrong with Rudolph using his gift for the benefit of others? Hundreds of children will be happy on Christmas morning, because of Rudolph. Was he supposed to be selfish and say “screw that Santa, I ain’t hauling your fat ass anywhere!”  Maybe I am being too easy on this film, but I think it does more right than it does wrong. One thing it totally does wrong is Santa Claus. Why he is such a grouch in this movie? In the scene where the elves are singing their song, Santa is clearly bored and then he just leaves rudely. Nice attitude!

This special will be around forever. The songs are all really good, and how could you not love Burl Ives as the snowman?

November 26, 2011

A Look at A Christmas Carol

Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol has always been one of my all time favorites. It is such a good story with a truly good lesson. It amazes me that the book was written in 1843, and yet it is a well known as anything written in the last hundred years. Of course once movies began, it was only a matter of time before Hollywood would attempt to adapt this timeless classic. I wanted to look back at the many versions of this wonderful work, and discuss which one’s worked. And which ones didn’t.
Of course, I would be here all day if I talked about every single adaptation. Instead I will focus on the more famous versions.
A Christmas Carol (1938)

There were many versions in the early days of cinema, and in 1938 was the first American version starring Reginald Own. A nice film but so many things are wrong with this move, and the fact that the film was made in 1938 doesn’t exactly help it. The creators added things to the movie Charles Dickens never meant for and other things were dropped from the film including Scrooge’s fiancée, the starving children “want” and “ignorance”, and the scene in the future of the thieves going through Scrooge’s belongings. It’s a fine film but as a faithful adaptation of the book it leaves a lot to be desired.

Scrooge (1951)

This is what some consider the definitive version. It starred Alastair Sim as Scrooge. I gotta be honest with you; this was never my favorite version. Mr.Sim was a fine Scrooge but like with the previous version they just changed too much. Scrooge has a housemaid in the book which we hardly see, and she gets an expanded role in this film. It has way to much of the past, giving Scrooge a much larger back story than had ever been intended. We see his sister and mother die, both of which are unnecessary. Finally, I always hated Tiny Tim in this version, he was way too old.

 Mister Magoo’s A Christmas Carol (1962)
Hard as it may be to believe, I never saw this one. However, it is so legendary that I feel like I have. Because it’s a one hour cartoon it takes many liberties with the book (most notably by putting the ghosts out of order, and ignoring Fred all together which isn’t unusual since that character always seems to be reduced or eliminated in the more kid oriented versions). However that doesn’t take away from what this movie does right, being very loyal to the source material. It is really a well made film and it’s no wonder this as famous as it is.
Scrooge (1970)
There wasn’t another American theatrical version until this, the first musical version starring Albert Finney. Now most people either hate this version or love it. I hated it. Not because A Christmas Carol couldn’t be a musical (we’ll see it can in a bit), but this one just annoyed me. The songs were annoying, Albert Finney was annoying, and the liberties they took with the book are, once again, too large to ignore. There is a whole sequence after the cemetery where Scrooge arrives in hell and runs into Jacob Marley again. He winds being wrapped in an enormous chain before waking in his bed. There was just no need for that scene at all, and is very often removed from TV airings. Then at the end Scrooge forgives everyone’s debts as he runs around all happy. Why would he do that exactly? Just because he isn’t a jerk doesn’t mean he should go out of business. This version just never sat well with me.

Mickey’s Christmas Carol (1983)
This was great; there are no other words for it. Scrooge McDuck becomes Ebenezer Scrooge while Mickey is Bob Cratchit. Goofy was a great Marley, and Jiminy Cricket as the first ghost was inspired. This was really cute, and I always loved the ghost of future scene where Black Pete reveals himself. Strange as it sounds, I always felt that it was one of the best graveyard scenes. My only problem with this film is why is it so short? It’s not as if Disney didn’t know how to create feature length movies. Why wasn’t it a bit longer? They could have expanded the story rather than speeding through it. The great thing is that even though it is short, that in no way reduced the emotional impact of it. That's how well made this is. All the characters are perfect, and if I had dollar for every time I’ve sat through this, well, you know.

A Christmas Carol (1984)
Starring George C. Scott. Now this is THE version. Not only because the script basically takes pages out of the book, but because George C.Scott was a fantastic Scrooge. He really conveyed the emotions called for in the story. I remember the first time I ever saw it almost 30 years ago and it is still the closest adaptation I have ever seen. True, it wasn’t a perfect adaptation they did change one or two things, but this is as close as you’re going to get. David Warner surprises me by playing a very humble Bob Cratchit, and the ghosts are so well done especially Christmas Present. The actor Edward Woodward did a fantastic job being all charming at first, and then terrifying by the end of the segment. They treated Fred like an actual character rather minimizing or even ignoring him. The scene in the cemetery was perfect, and even the ending was well done. Rather than prancing down the street like he was nuts, George C. Scott conveyed how happy Scrooge was very calmly but effectively, and when he confronts Cratchit he switches from bad to good flawlessly. Just loved this movie.

Scrooged (1988)
This contemporary remake starred Bill Murray has the head of an NBC-like TV network. He is planning a huge million dollar special on Charles Dickens Scrooge (I never understood why they called it that in this movie) to air on Christmas Eve. However, the ghosts of past, present, and future appear to make him see how he is not living his life. This movie is dark, but I always liked it. They were clever to show scenes from the classic story as framing for this contemporary version. Carol Kane still makes me laugh, and Bill Murray does a great job of going from grump to a happy lover of life. He really pulls it off. The only thing I never understood is why they make a big deal out of Christmas EVE in this film. Isn’t Christmas Day the holiday?

The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)
This is one of the last good Muppet features and is really fun to watch. Kermit as Cratchit and Gonzo as the narrator was brilliant. I don’t know if they figured the story needed a narrator for the kids or they just didn’t know what else to do with Gonzo, but it works so well. Michael Caine is Scrooge in this version, and does a decent enough job. My one complaint might be that he does not have the emotional range needed for the character. His performance is kind of flat, especially the graveyard scene where he is begging the spirit for mercy. However, this is still a great film and unlike the Albert Finney version the songs work and are totally enjoyable. My favorite song is probably the last one after Scrooge is saved, very upbeat little number. God Bless is All is very pretty song too. The thing that really amazes me in this film is the way it really stays close to the book. It is a real faithful version; the ghosts were done seriously rather than having the other Muppets play them for laughs. The Christmas future scenes are dark, even scary, and this movie even shows The Ghost of Christmas Present age, which no other version shows! What are the odds that the Muppet version would pick up on this often ignored detail? This is one of my favorite versions.
This was the last live action film version, after this we had several animated versions (one with Tim Curry, another in 2001 which featured Simon Callow and Kate Winslet which was, odd) leading up to and including......
Disney’s A Christmas Carol (2009)
 Well, I already made my feelings about this clear. Just a disappointment. The music was amazing and the animation pretty, but what they did to the story was unforgivable, especially that chase scene in the Future segment. Good lord, even the poster sucks. Is it A Christmas Carol or The Rocketeer?

Those are the most famous versions. Of course there are many others. Some TV versions worth mentioning: Flintstones and Jetsons did one. We had two Looney Tunes versions; the earliest was, to be honest, awful with Yosemite Sam as Scrooge. the better, and more recent, had Daffy Duck as a mean toy mogul. Anyone see the All Dogs Go to Heaven one? More recent versions include Barbie, and Dr. Who which came out last year (that I gotta see!).  
Patrick Stewart had a version which I hated (talk about taking liberties with the source material!). I couldn’t even sit through it. Kelsey Grammar starred in a musical version which I kind of liked. The songs were pretty good, and Grammar played a decent Scrooge. The interesting thing in this version was Scrooge meets all three ghosts in human form at the beginning.
Of course there have been other remakes which rather than just re-tell the story the movie tried to change certain aspects. Like having a female Scrooge (Susan Lucci) or a black female (Cicely Tyson) or a Western setting (Jack Palance) or setting the story in depression era America (featuring Henry Winkler no less). Some versions try to expand on the story, showing Scrooge years later for example. Finally, a Tom Arnold movie called "Chasing Christmas" which turns the Christmas Carol story into a basic time travel story in a horrible movie which defies description. However, no matter what they do or try to change, it’s still the story we all know and love.
Since my specialty is sitcoms it would be remiss of me to not mention some of the sitcom and drama episodes that have aired over the years which featured versions of this story. Bewitched (kind of), The Odd Couple, WKRP, Alice, Sanford and Son, Family Ties, A Different World, Six Million Dollar Man, Fame, Quantum Leap, Boy Meets World, The Golden Palace, and Young and the Restless have all done “Christmas Carol” episodes. (Young and the Restless? Really?) Roseanne did one which was Halloween themed, and The Simpsons had a clever Christmas episode which referenced this classic and poked a little fun at the over saturation it received on TV over the years.
Cartoons also have done homages. Rankin/Bass did a Christmas Carol special called "The Stingiest Man in Town" with Tom Bosley. The fact it is never on TV gives you an idea of how good it is. That awful Back to the Future cartoon did one, and I just saw an interesting episode of The Real Ghostbusters where the ghostbusters save Scrooge by capturing the three spirits, in the process destroying Christmas! They are forced to go back and set things right. Very interesting take, and it's on YouTube so if you haven't seen it I strongly suggest you check it out.
I also had to mention Rich Little’s “A Christmas Carol” was a special where every character was Rich Little doing yet another impression. Scrooge was W.C Fields, Paul Lynde was Cratchit, and so on and so on. This was just a silly special, the story was barely recognizable in a lot of ways, but some of the songs are good and it is kind of funny. Besides you have to admire the work Rich Little put into it. It couldn't be easy to pull off, especially in 1978.
Of course, even though I talked about a lot of versions I still didn’t mention all of them. This book has been brought to life countless times on radio and stage also. I have seen a few good productions. It has been done in comic books, like the issue below of the Outsiders for one, which I would kill to find another copy of!!!!!),

and it has even been an opera. Finally, I wanted to mention a direct to DVD atrocity called A Sesame Street Christmas Carol featuring Oscar the Grouch. Never heard of it? Keep it that way, this was so bad. It was basically just a clip show showing clips from previous Sesame Street Christmas specials and was a real insult to A Christmas Carol.
There is just something about this story which gets to people, and they enjoy it year after year. I wonder if Charles Dickens had any idea when he created his masterpiece that the story would be as cherished and well known as it was when it was first published, almost three hundred years later.

November 25, 2011

Top 5 Christmas Movies I Hate

I thought I would start what is sure to be a few articles over the next month regarding Christmas. There are so many movies, TV shows, specials, and songs that I can get into that I am sure I will not have time to cover everything. That's cool, gotta save some stuff for next year. Let's talk today about five Christmas movies I hated. Not saying that these are the worst, I am sure there are worst out there. Also there are probably people who love them and that's fine. I just hate them. I am limiting this to theatrical releases.

#5. A Christmas Story. Hey, stop throwing things at me! I know, this movie is a cult classic and has a very loyal following. It shows on Christmas Day for 24 hours straight, and I have never met anyone who had anything bad to say about it. Well, except my father maybe. I'm sorry, but I hated this movie. Some of the scenes are weird and being very anti-gun, I don't feel sorry because Ralph can't get his gun. I have seen it over the years and will admit it does have some charming stuff in it. But it is ruined by that stupid scene with Santa Claus in the mall, and will never be a favorite. However, to be fair I put it high on this list. I know what's going to happen, I'm going to probably get ten comments telling me to watch it again. Don't hate me.  ;)

November 23, 2011

Top 5 Ways Seinfeld Changed The World

 Seinfeld was one of the best shows in television history. Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David created a brilliant program which delved into the little annoyances of life that most other show's at that point ignored. So many phrases and concepts are so ingrained into our culture; people know it even if they
 never heard of the show. Here is my list of the top 5 ways that Seinfeld changed the world

#5.Bubble Boy. Prior to Seinfeld, "bubble boys" who lived in quarantine due to an immune deficiency were often played for sympathy, ignoring anything about the subject other than his medical condition. The bubble boy in this episode (played by Jon Hayman), however, is a rude, selfish leech who is impossible to sympathize with. He is never seen fully on-screen, except for a pair of gloves that he uses to reach through the barrier. It was refreshing to see this portrayal, and it changed the way we look at people with these kinds of disorders.

#4.Cathphrases. Yada, Yada, Yada. It took about five minutes for this expression to catch on. From the episode of the same name, this little phrase just took off. It makes sense; it's a cute way to brush over a topic you may not want to discuss. Other now common expressions include double dipping, a horrible problem this show brought into the light, shrinkage, re-gifter, and master of your domain. There's also the famous "Not that there's anything wrong with that", which I have said myself.

#3.Food. Ever see someone eat their candy with a fork and knife? It came from Seinfeld. You can purchase muffin top pans, which I have to believe are a direct result of the "Muffin Top" episode. For me personally, I had no interest in Junior Mints or O'Henry candy bars until the episodes about them got me fascinated. I now love Junior Mints. This show brought Bosco, Drake's Coffee Cake, and Ovaltine back into popular culture. I also wanted to try Kenny Rogers Roaster after the episode which featured it; alas I never got the chance.

#2.Bathrooms in Malls. This is my personal favorite. I remember when I was kid you could never find bathrooms in malls. Apparently that bothered Jerry Seinfeld also because part of the story in "The Parking Garage" has Jerry complaining about that very thing. Now every time I go into malls I see signs for the restroom, and they set aside space for them. I credit this episode for raising awareness of this problem.

#1.Festivus. This one just amazes me. I never in my wildest dreams would have thought this would catch on as it has. In the episode "The Strike" we learn about the holiday "Festivus" from Frank Costanza. It's basically a way to single people out aggravate you and tell them, or as Frank described you get your loved ones together and tell them all the ways they have disappointed you in the past year. There is a pole not a tree, and the holiday ends with the feats of strength. People actually celebrate this on the 23rd of December. There are companies that sell poles people can by, and there was even a Ben & Jerry ice cream flavor named for it.

It amazes me the way Seinfeld has influenced our society. I honestly think one of the reasons The Sponge was put back on the market was due to the whole episode about the fact it had been taken off. What other show can influence society like this?   (Well, there's Star Trek but that's another subject for another day.) These aren’t even all the example, I’m sure I missed a few. Where did I put my puffy shirt anyway?

November 22, 2011

Random Thoughts-Five Bad Lessons From Kids Movies and TV (and song)

I was just kicking around some thoughts, and decided to share them. Remember this all opinion, and if I am off base then let me know.

Five Bad Lessons From Kids Movies and TV (and song)

It’s interesting as one becomes an adult, the more they realize that things they believed as children aren’t true. Some are understandable. For example I never had a problem teaching kids about Santa Claus, as long as it’s done responsibly. What’s wrong with learning how to give from oneself, without anything expected in return? That is the message of Santa Claus.
However, some messages our society give kids are not so good. I wanted to go over some that always bugged.
#5.When you wish upon a star, your dreams will come true. Well, not quite. There is certainly not anything wrong with wishing for things and being positive, but you need more than that. Early Disney loved this lesson, it’s in Cinderella and Pinocchio among others. The truth is that some work and effort is required in order to get what you want, just sitting by the lake wishing or staring at star ain’t gonna do it. This also applies for relationships, I always remember Ariel from Little Mermaid who decided she was in love with someone she had never met. In the end she gets him, through no effort on her part. Yeah, wrong lesson there Disney.

November 21, 2011

Top 5 Thanksgiving Special’s I Watch Every Year

This is a two part article, the second being about my favorite Thanksgiving sitcom episodes. Here, I want to talk about specials. Unlike Christmas and Halloween, there really aren’t that many Thanksgiving specials around. I guess when you think about it, Thanksgiving isn’t that exciting a holiday. There are no costumes or scary decoration. There are no presents, no stress and aggravation trying to find the perfect gift. No legendary characters to make dozens of stories about. I mean, how many times can you tell the story of the 1st Thanksgiving? However, over the years there are a few specials which have made it onto TV and I wanted to share them with you. It would not be Thanksgiving without these shows.

#5. Planes, Trains, and Automobiles.

Top 10 Sitcom Thanksgiving Episodes

Thanksgiving is a great subject for sitcom episodes. When a show involves a family, or a close group of friends, then it seems only natural to do a show about the characters giving thanks. It’s an opportunity to get the cast together for one episode and have some fun. Over the years almost every sitcom has done at least one Thanksgiving themed show.

I wanted to talk about the sitcom episodes that did a Thanksgiving show the best. Not all of them do it well. I just watched the Happy Days episode, and it was so lame! Full House’s episode was so corny, and other shows will set an episode on Thanksgiving but the story has little to do with the holiday. Of course WKRP in Cincinnati had the most infamous episode, involving a supermarket being bombed by live turkeys. It doesn’t make this list because I never really saw it.
I was going to do a typical top 5, but there were just so much I wanted to cover it was impossible so I expanded to a top 10, the first one I ever did.

#10.Seinfeld, “The Mom and Pop Store”. I know what you’re thinking. After making a big deal about how sitcoms do great Thanksgiving episodes because it’s a chance for characters to come together and give thanks, the first show I put on here was the antithesis of all that. However, this show is a pretty cute episode. One subplot had Jerry wondering if he was invited to a party at Tim Whatley’s house which overlooked where the Balloon’s for Macy’s parade are blown up. Another subplot involved Mr.Pitt’s desire to hold the rope under Woody Woodpecker. This is by no means a traditional Thanksgiving show, but then again this is by no means a traditional sitcom.

November 20, 2011

Top 5 Favorite Muppet Moments

This was posted about a year ago and since then I have had a chance to rethink my choices. Here is an updated list, My Favorite Muppet Moments

I have grown up with the Muppets. Of course I was a Sesame Street fan so was exposed to Kermit at a very young age. I always remember when I was real young there was some show on that was going to be on way after my bedtime. However, we knew Kermit would be on it at some point. We begged our parents to wake us when he came on so we could see him. Of course, by the time they did we had fallen asleep and didn't care as much.'

I consider myself so lucky that I was just the right age when The Muppet Show was on. I adored this show growing up, and it’s really hard to remember one scene that stood out. Of course it’s hard becausethere are literally dozens of them. However, I had the DVD set awhile back andthe one sketch that made me laugh was that Veterinary Hospital sketch whereRowlf is a doctor and I think Janice is a nurse with Piggy. The one liners weregreat, in one Janice says the patient was there for a stomach ache so Rowlf says“ok then” and take a hammer and pounds him in the stomach. It made me laugh asI wrote this. Probably one of the memorable was the Star Wars episode, how cool was having C3PO and R2DR on a Pigs in Space sketch? The only regret I had is I didn't know who half the guest hosts were at the time, I guess it's good DVD's exist.

So of course when the movies started coming out I had to see them. However, many of the movies fall flat. Especially the later one's. "Muppets from Space" and "The Muppet Wizard of Oz" were awful. Never saw Muppet Treasure Island, and I actually liked A Very Merry Muppet Christmas Movie (may have to do a full review of that in a few months). Yes it was a little dark but still enjoyable. The Great Muppet Caper is forgettable, but "Happiness Hotal" almost made this list.
So what were my favorite Muppet moments from all of their films? Well, here is my list.

#5.Man or Muppet from "The Muppets"-Ok, time to be fair. I was not thrilled with the new movie. I hated the love story and the human actors annoyed me. However, there were some great moments. Pictures in my Head was a beautiful song, the Rainbow Connection scene was great, and then we have this scene. Walter was a very strong character, I really liked him and routed for him. In this scene he realizes that he is a muppet. The lesson is to be true to who you are, and the song and scene is just beautfiul. No wonder at all it won an oscar.

#4.Moving Right Along from The Muppet Movie-How much do I love this song? It’s on my IPod and when it comes on I have to turn the volume up. To be honest most of the songs the Muppet’s sang weren’t memorable.However, this is the exception. This little road song that Kermit and Fonziesing toward the start of the movie so full of energy you can’t help but tapyour feet to it. Of course you can't top The Rainbow Connection, the greatest song ever, but this comes a close a second.

#3. Thankful Heart from .Muppet Christmas Carol-This was a really good movie, a strong enough adaptation of Charles Dickens book with enough Muppet charm in it.Michael Cain was a decent scrooge, and Kermit as Cratchit The songs were great in this movie. Well, ok the love song in the middle is draggy but otherwise they are all great. The final song is my favorite, because it isn't to over the top. Scrogge is happy but not in a cartoonish way like Albert Finney was in his muscical vesion. But the best part  is a quick moment at the end of the song. When the now reformed Scrooge comes to Kermit's door, his wife, played by Piggy, decides to chew him out. She isabout to knock his block off until she realizes Scrooge's real intentions. It'ssuch a great Piggy moment, it always makes me laugh. Tis The Season is a very close second.

#2."I'm Gonna Always Love You"  from "Muppets Take Manhattan"-This was the Muppet movie I loved. The Muppet Movie was so-so, and The Muppet Caper was forgettable (I don't think I ever sat through it to this day). This one was great. From the sad goodbye song, to the search for Kermit later (ok, seeing Kermit hit by a taxi was a tad disturbing), to how Kermit gets his memory back (another great Piggy moment),  It's hard to pick just one scene, but if I had to it would the one where Kermit and Piggy are enjoying a ride through Central Park. Piggy commentson how great it would have been if they had known each other when they were very little and we cut to the cutest song ever with the baby Muppets. It's no wonder the Saturday morning cartoon came out later. If you've never seen it,check it out.There are plenty of other scenes in this movie, especially the wedding at the end, but this one is probably my favorite.

#1.The climax of "The Muppet Move"-This puts a smile on my face every single time I see. Actually I always thought the firstmovie was kind of; well, sad in a way. The idea of Kermit being hunted down and everything. The plot has Kermit trying to get to Hollywood, but Boss Hopper is chasing him because he can use Kermit for his ads whether the frog wants to ornot. Anyway, at the end of the movie Kermit decides to confront Boss Harper.They have a Western style showdown, and just when Harper orders his men to killKermit something amazing happens. One of Dr. Bunsen's inventions,"insta-grow" pills, temporarily turns Animal into a giant who is ableto permanently scare off Hopper and his men. The scene where Animal breaksthrough the roof and looks down at the men, who are terrified, is just one ofthe best moments ever. As they run off, the Muppets celebrate .By the way, The Rainbiw Connection is of course introduced here and while the scene is nothing remarkable, the song remains one of my absolute favorites.

Hope you like this little list; it can’t do justice to how much I love the Muppets. Kermit, Piggy, Rowlf, all of them.  Animal always makes me laugh, and I didn't even get into the other characters like the Sesame Street one's. They have been around my whole life, and will probably always will.

November 18, 2011

My Tribute - Regis

Today marked the final appearance of Regis Philbin on his daytime show, Live! which he has hosted for almost three decades. Hard as it may be to believe, Regis has been a part of my life for a long time now.

My first exposure to him was when he was on Hollywood Squares back in the 80's. At the time, I had no idea who he was. The show had some fun with him, he had a reputation as the king of Los Angeles, and he had a throne on the show. Point is, I thought he was a huge jerk. Of course, I didn't realize the show was just teasing him. It was a year or so later, I was home from school and flipping through the channels. I came across this interesting new program, a guy was sitting at a desk with a girl, just talking. For fifteen minutes, just talking about their lives and current events. Honest to god, I couldn't believe what I was watching. I kept wondering if they were going to do anything on this show. Then they had a guest, a child who had won a geography bee. I told my brother he had to watch this new show, it was strange and had a cute girl on it (we were young, don't judge). The show, of course, was Live! with Regis & Kathie Lee.

If you're younger, you need to understand the format this show used was not the norm at the time. Talk shows just didn't do this. Now a lot do, and they have this show to thank for starting this. My brother watched the show sometime later, and had the same reaction. We were hooked. If we were home from school, Live! was on at 9:00. No question about it, it was probably the one show we agreed on during the day. Initially we were more into Kathie Lee Gifford, but as time went I learned to appreciate Regis more. He had a way of telling a story which is just great, he makes it interesting and funny. When Regis and Kathie Lee got going you just loved it, their chemistry was just amazing. The show was not just about the host chat, they had great celebrities on there too. I loved how they would actually talk to the celebrities about their work unlike some shows where the celebrity comes on and talks about something we couldn’t care less about.

 When I went to college, Live was on if I didn't have classes. Being away from home for weeks, this was in a small way an anchor. After four years at college, I got married and started working. Of course I could no longer watch this show every day, but I still checked in with it. I also enjoyed the TV shows Regis popped up in. He appeared in Mad About You, Fresh Prince, and Seinfeld. Just to name three. He was the victim in a Perry Mason mystery, and appeared on David Letterman constantly among other programs. He was even once animated into an episode of Lilo & Stitch.

I even bought his Christmas album years ago (ok, that one is a little embarrassing and I resent that purchase to be honest). Then came an evening game show which took the world by storm. The show was Who Wants to be a Millionaire, and the star was Regis. He was perfect for the show, I don't think anyone could have hosted it better (yes, that includes Meredith Veria). I loved watching it, until ABC buried it and the show ended.

Of course because Regis & Kathie Lee shared everything, it felt like you knew them. It was only natural to want to check in once and while, like checking up with an old friend you may not talk to every day. When Kathie Lee left in 2000, I thought I was done with the show. However, along came Kelly Rippa and she was really fun. I always thought of it like Kathie Lee was the older sister and Kelly was the fun younger sister. Then in 2002, I went to a state fair and stood in line three hours, to see Regis live. Yes, really. I gotta tell you, it was a funny show. He told jokes and sang, and it was worth the sore feet I had the next day.

As the last ten years have passed, Regis was always in the background. If something significant happened, I would tune in to see what Regis had to say about it. How could I not get sentimental, in the time Regis has been on I have started and graduated from high school and college, gotten married and divorced, and no matter what was going on in the world or in my life, I could always turn on Regis and get a laugh and forget my problems for a little while. I wish Regis a happy retirement; I will miss him in the morning from now on.

November 17, 2011

Look at Sitcom Clichés : Brother Chuck Paradox

It's one thing for a show to try to add a character to a series. I can understand the need to spice things up and keep it fresh, even if it doesn't work most of the time. Sometimes a show will also lose characters for the same reason. Maybe the actor wants to leave, or maybe the character is just getting old so they get written out. Sometimes they get a nice goodbye episode, and sometimes they get written out with just a line of dialogue. However, there is another trend in sitcoms which is kind of disturbing. When a regular character just disappears, no reason given, and everyone forgets that he or she ever existed. This is what we call the "Brother Chuck" paradox.

Happy Days-Here is the show which originated the phrase. In the first two seasons, Richie had a brother named Chuck. Played by two different actors, this character was in college so didn't necessarily appear in every episode. However, when the creators realized they could have Fonzie be the big brother figure, they quietly made Chuck disappear. Totally forgotten. In fact in the final episode Howard makes a toast and talked about how "both their children are married now".
Now I can understand this happening in the old days because people didn't pay really care about these kind of things. What amazes me is that this still happens, and here are a few examples.

November 16, 2011

My Favorite Western Related TV Episodes (for BigBlackHatMan)

Happy anniversary BigBlackHatMan, as a tribute I am going to talk about western related TV shows.
Western's are great. There is something about that period of time when America was being pioneered which storyteller's love to explore. There have been great movies set in the Wild West as well as some great television shows such as Gunsmoke, which was on for 20 years! The stories are so popular and so well known, that TV shows which have nothing to do with the wild west will very often do homage’s to that period. That is what I wanted to discuss, those programs which did some sort of throwback episode as a tribute to the one period of American history which is so engrained into our culture that it's the closest thing this country has to a mythology (except for Star Trek, but that's a whole other discussion).
MY favorite Western related TV Episodes. This list is in no particular order.

#6.Lois & Clark, "Tempest Fugitive". This isn't the best example but I really wanted to mention it. H.G.Wells came from the past to get Superman's help because a villain he brought from the future was loose. The villain, named Tempest, wanted Wells to bring him back to when Superman was baby so he could kill him. In order to delay his plans to kill Superman, Wells sends them back to the days of the old west. In a saloon we meet Clark's great great grandparents, and run into Jesse James. This is only a small part of the episode, but the western stuff is really cool. Some of the jokes, like making fun of what Lois is wearing and Jesse James upset that Tempest had a bigger and better gun, are good.

Look at Sitcom Clichés : Cousin Oliver Syndrome

The Cousin Oliver Syndrome is when a sitcom in the middle of its run gets the inspired idea to add a new child cast member, out of the blue and for almost no reason, in an attempt to get the ratings to back up. This is different than replacing a character that has left the show, usually there is no reason and no need for this new character. They are simply there to smile at the camera and draw in new viewers.
Why do these shows keep doing this? I can understand the problem. When a show has been on for a long time and the kid actors who were once so cute start to become old and boring, what is a show to do? Wait, I know, we'll bring in a brand new character which no one has ever seen before to love and adore! Sometimes it’s a new child (age 5 or younger) and sometimes it’s a new teenage heartthrob. Why can't these creators figure out that we aren't going to want to watch this new kid, we want to see the characters we know and love.

In all fairness, there have been times when this has actually worked. Sometimes when it doesn't the creators realize and rectify the mistake. Of course, more often than not it not only fails but kills the show. Here is a look at some great examples of just what I am talking about.
I am excluding when the show has a child, since this isn't totally contrived (usually), also excluding when a program inexplicably ages a child. That is a another topic for another day 

November 13, 2011

Top 5 Movies Which Scared Me As a Kid

This is a companion to the blog I just posted about sitcoms that scared the crap out of me. I want to talk about movies that scared me. Some of these were supposed to be scary, others weren't really but I saw them at too young an age. Again, this is a personal list and just my opinion.
#5. Gremlins-This movie about little monsters just scared the crap out of me. It starts out fine; a guy buys a cute little gizmo and is told three simple rules. Don't feed them after midnight (when is it safe to feed them?), never get them wet, and avoid direct sunlight. Long story short, the kid doesn't listen and little Gizmo becomes a horrible green monster. Then he becomes several monsters who terrorize a town on Christmas Eve. I don't know what it was; maybe it was the sheer numbers of them. The microwave scene was certainly gross. This was one of the first movies I remember regretting seeing,

#4. RoboCop-Man, what a mistake this movie was. My brother and I had heard the ads, a superhuman cyborg that fights crime. This sounded awesome! We begged out father to take us, and while he knew we were too young he caved and took us. What unfolded before my eyes was a gore fest like I had never seen before. The topper was when one criminal played by Paul McCrane gets dumped by acid or whatever it was and mutates, or whatever happened to him I just know the movie unfolded like a nightmare. To be fair, it is a good movie and I loved the ending. That doesn’t change that fact I should have waited to see it. I think it's because of this movie to this day I research any movie I plan to see, to make sure there isn't anything in it I won't like.

#3. Poltergeist-Well, I had to have one legitimately scary movie on here. You know the story, family moves into a house built over a cemetery, and all sorts of fun stuff happens. This movie was intended to be scary, and it sure was. I was stuck watching it when my older cousin had it on during a birthday party. The only scene I clearly remember is the clown scene, but I know I saw more. Took me two weeks to get this movie out of my head, and is a large reason why I avoid horror movies today.

#2.Summer School-If you’re wondering what the heck movie this was I don't blame you. This Mark Harmon dud was about a summer school teacher and his uninterested class. Two students, who were Bill & Ted knock off's, were huge horror movie fans (Texas chainsaw to be specific) and loved to act out horrific scenarios like one scene they pretend rabbits were attacking them with blood and everything. Toward the end there is a big scene where they want to scare off the new teacher, long story, and they do it by pretending the whole class had been slaughtered. Everyone is bloody and sliced up, blood all over the place, and these two appear with chainsaws running. Can I just say, this scene scared me to death. I know, it was supposed to be funny but it wasn't. The fact the movie sucked didn’t help. Funny story, a few years later this was on cable and my brother and I, being older, decided to rewatch this scene from a more mature perspective. We told our younger sister to leave, which she of course didn't and the scene played out she started to get all freaked out. My father then yelled at us to turn the TV off and go outside. Terrible, terrible, terrible movie (this would be my vote for a nostalgia critic episode!)

#1.Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure. I made this movie #1 because of one very notable reason. This was the first, and only, movie I ever walked out on. I just couldn’t take the disturbing images I was seeing, and asked my father to get me the heck out of there. I like Paul Reuben’s character and even enjoyed the Saturday morning cartoon, but this movie just wasn’t for me. The movie was just weird and made no sense. However I think the worst scene that sealed the deal for me was the Large Marge scene. In the scene Pee-Wee is in a truck being driven by a strange old lady telling a strange story. Then at one point she looks at Pee-Wee, and makes the scary-ass face which comes right out of nowhere. Well, that was it for me. Now I know this movie is well liked, and maybe someday I will sit through it. I just know when I first saw I was way too young. I always wondered though, did Pee-Wee ever get that bike back?

That’s my list, hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into my childhood.

November 12, 2011

Top 5 Scary Sitcom Episodes

Recently we celebrated Halloween and I did a blog on sitcoms that do that very well. The episodes are usually creepy, even kind of scary. However, I can think of five sitcom episodes that had nothing to do with Halloween, but still scared the ever living crap out of me. These are shows I still remember how I felt when I first saw them, they stay with me to this day. I thought I would share them with you today. You will notice this list is very 80's specific, mostly because this is when I was a kid and as I got older it was not so easy to freak me out. In fact I look back at all these now and realize how silly they are. These choices are very personal and someone else may wonder why in the world I was freaked out by them, but I was a kid. Hey, we're all different.
Here are my top 5 scary sitcom episodes

#5.The Cosby Show,"Cliff's Nightmare". This episode is number five because it is a little bit of a stretch to say that it scared me. Creeped me out would be better I think. The plot is that Cliff stays up late eating a sausage sandwich. He then proceeds to have a bizarre nightmare which included the Muppets. In what has to have been intended as a tribute to Jim Henson, this strange dream just gets odder and odder. We get monsters, the cast gets to act all silly, and in the end we see Cliff strapped down to a table as he is being sawed! Thank goodness he wakes up, and everything is normal again. Except for the talking fruit in the refrigerator.

#4.Facts of Life, "Seven Little Indians". On a dark and stormy night, Tootie has a nightmare about a serial killer going after all of them. I only saw this episode once and never forgot it. Then a few years later my brother recorded it so I got to see it again. I still remember the syndication cuts. A Rod Serling knock off narrates the story as the girls are killed one by one. George is hung, Natalie is strangled, Blair is moussed to death, Beverly Ann is poisoned. After Jo is killed, Tootie is the last one, until from behind the counter comes Blair, in a scary as hell freight wig and heavy makeup. The music in this episode is perfect and really sells the over acting. How could anyone forget this episode?

#3.The Hogan Family, "Nightmare on Oak Street". On another dark and stormy night (aren't they all?) David, Mark and Willie stay up late watching a zombie movie. Then the power goes out, and they got to bed scared. The three each have nightmares. Mark's nightmare is about him losing his brain. David's is about him becoming a nerd. However, it was Willie's nightmare I always remembered. In his nightmare Mike, Sandy, and Dave all become zombies and start to attack him. This narrative does not do this scene justice; if you can find it go check it out.

#2.Punky Brewster, "Perils of Punky". If you watched Punky Brewster, then you remember this episode. Punky and her friends get lost while on a camping trip, and end up in some old cave. To pass the time they tell stories until they are interrupted by a princess who tells them they need to battle an evil spirit. The spirit taunts and teases Punky by making her friends disappear one at a time. Then he shows them to her, and they are deformed. Alan has weird teeth, Margot is a skeleton, Cheri has glowing eyes. And they are all screaming her name as if they are blaming her for this. The dog even becomes a skeleton. Freaked out? Yes! When I watch this now I can see right through the creepy effects, but at the time this was very scary (I realize that this episode did come out around Halloween, but it has nothing to do with it as far I am concerned). On a side note, a couple years later I was in NBC studios and saw the masks they used for this episode. Pretty cool.

#1. The Brady Bunch.  This one is going to take some explaining, so bear with me. This episode gave me a nightmare I remember to this day, I was so shaken up by it. No, I am not talking about the episode where the kids dress up as ghosts or the one where the play practical jokes on each other. I am not referring to the one where Greg almost drowns, or where Bobby has the dream about the aliens landing in their backyard. The one I am talking about it is the episode "Bobby's Hero". In this episode Bobby picks Jesse James as his hero, even though his family tries to explain how evil this guy was. To Bobby he was just cool. Then Bobby has a nightmare where the Brady's are on a train which is robbed by Jesse James. Bobby is excited to see his hero, until the outlaw starts shooting the Brady's one by one! Maybe it was because they made this scene kind of realistic, and Mike Lookinland's screaming while the family is killed really sells it. Call me a wimp, its fine, but this scene shook me up and I still remember the nightmare I had (I won't reveal that, let's just say my imagination gave this scene a happy ending).

Well, that's my list. Hope you liked it. As I said now that I am older and wiser I look back at these and laugh. At the time though, laughing wasn't my reaction. What episodes scared you growing up?

November 9, 2011

Look at Sitcom Clichés : The Bowling Show

I wanted to start a new series of articles regarding sitcom clichés. Every so often I will pick a cliché and talk about it, today's topic is the annoying bowling episode. It seems every single show has done at least one episode which is either directly, or indirectly, about bowling.

Everyone has bowled at least once in their lifetime. Some love it, others hate it. I don’t mind it, let’s leave it at that. I don’t think I need to explain how the game is played, it’s not terribly complicated. Hey, maybe that’s why so many sitcoms have episodes centered in a bowling alley. For some reason it almost seems a rule that every sitcom has to have at least one show centered on bowling. It always has the same set up, the camera is where the lanes would begin, and the ball rolls past the cameras and we get the sound effects (sometimes they cut to a clip of a series of pins being knocked down). Then the cast member reacts accordingly. The funny thing is, I hate the bowling episode. For some reason the episode’s almost always fail for me.

It’s ironic that very first episode of one of the very first sitcoms would be about bowling. However, you can’t condemn The Honeymooners because it wasn’t a cliché yet. Same for The Dick Van Dyke so. However, after awhile these episodes began popping up a little too frequently. Let’s talk about some bowling episodes. I know shows like The Odd Couple, Laverne & Shirley, and MASH (somehow) did these, but my area of focus as always is 80’s and 90’s so we will start there.

November 8, 2011

Top 5 Movies I Loved When They Came Out But Now I Hate

Top 5 Movies I loved when they came out but now I hate
Ever go to see a movie and have a great time, only to look back years later and wonder what in the world made you think you ever liked it? It probably happens to all of us, so I thought I would compile my list of the top five movies I loved when I saw them, but as time has gone by have realized that they may not have been that good after all.
#5.Batman Forever.

What I Loved in the 80's-Cartoons

What I loved in the 80's-Cartoons

I was a kid of the 80's, and we had the best freaking cartoons. You know, I never understood why people got so upset that cartoons were like little half hours commercials for toys. So??? I mean, I ran out to buy Star Wars action figures and I'm pretty sure George Lucas had more in mind than just selling toys. Seriously, what was the big deal? These toys weren't dangerous or anything they were, toys! News flash, kids play with toys and I loved them all. Some argue that kids should be watching educational programming. That’s fine, but what’s wrong with cartoons? The stories are good and the morals solid. I still remember some of the lessons G.I.Joe taught at the end of their cartoons, like not to stay in water during a storm or what to do if you get a nose bleed (keep your head down, not up!) So what was the problem?

Anyway, I didn't want to rant about that I wanted to talk about the cartoons I loved in the 80's.This is not a formal "top 5", there is no specific order.

#1. He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.
Alright, I'm gonna deal with the elephant in the room. First of all, I loved this show. He-Man was a superhero only his power came from his sword. Prince Adam was a regular guy and when he held up his sword and proclaimed "By the Power of Greyskull!" (an action I copied many times) he became He-Man, defender of Eternia. I can't let this go without talking about all the gay innuendo surrounding this show. Here's my take: WHO CARES!! Why do I always feel like I have to be ashamed to admit I liked this show? This issue infuriated me, it's like people who didn't grow up with this show have to trash it. It's just like how Star Trek fans are stereotyped to be pathetic nerds. As kids we didn't care about the homoerotic subtext, we just liked watching He-Man kick ass. This show was my childhood, and I didn’t giggle like a girl when He-Man “held aloft his sword”.
Okay, that's my last rant. I promise.