November 25, 2013

Special Look at Roseanne Thanksgiving Episodes

I wanted to do something special for Thanksgiving, but wasn't sure what to talk about. But then I remembered this show, and I have a lot to say about these episodes. I decided that the only way to do it correctly is as a whole article. So today I am taking a look at all the Thanksgiving episodes of Roseanne. And be warned, some ranting is coming!

Roseanne was of course the classic 90's sitcom which portrayed an average blue collar family just trying to get by. It was funny but more importantly, it was real. Well as real as it got back then anyway. This show is more famous for its Halloween shows, but there were Thanksgiving episodes which ranged from personal favorites to gut wrenching awful. Let's take a look:

"We Gather Together"

The first and one of my favorite Thanksgiving episodes. It does what Roseanne did best, portray regular struggles of an average family. The show is filled with story lines competing for attention, and yet the show manages to find sufficient time for them all. We have Dan's mother with a new boyfriend while his father flirts with Crystal, Jackie stressed out from her mother and announcing she is becoming a cop, and Roseanne trying to find the best way to tell her parents she has booked a nice hotel room for them. All the characters feel real (this was an early episode, before Bev became a cartoon character) and the situations entirely familiar. It feels like we are peeking in on some family's Thanksgiving dinner, and I love it.

November 24, 2013

A Look at The Dark Side of "TGIF"

Much like NBC and their Must See TV, ABC had a fantastic block of programs under the brand TGIF. These family friendly shows aired on Friday nights and were perfect. The concept lasted ten years before being dropped, and then brought back, and dropped again.

There were some great shows on TGIF including Perfect Strangers, Family Matters, Step By Step, Hangin' with Mr Cooper, and Boy Meets World. But the truth is, there were some less than stellar shows that came and went to. So let's talk a look at the dark side of "TGIF"

Going Places

Not all the Miller/Boyett shows were big hits. Meet one of the exceptions. I never watched it either, but the truth is the show didn't look all bad. It was about a group of comedy writers who lived together in a beach house. It featured some big names such as Alan Ruck, Hallie Todd, Staci Keanen before appearing in Step By Step, and Heather Locklear. For whatever reason it just didn't find the audience the other Miller/Boyett shows did and quietly disappeared. I think the problem with this show was there wasn't enough kid appeal. Every show on TGIF has kids in the cast somewhere. Also the four were successful so there was nothing to make the characters interesting. It was almost a rip off of Friends except that came out years later. They did shake up the premise by adding a kid and giving the group more interesting job, but to little to late. There is a reason The Hogan Family never aired on Friday's, it was stronger on Monday nights which is not so kid heavy and if ABC had put this show on a different night it may have had a chance.

November 22, 2013

Look at Sitcom Cliches-Next Top 5 Most Annoying Cliches

At the start of the year I listed five cliches which always appear in sitcoms, and always drive me nuts. Here are five more!

#5.The Gay Gag

Not sure if this is still around but man was it around back in the 90's! The gag is simple, someone things one of the characters is gay. Frasier had one of its best episodes around that when a co-worker thinks Frasier is gay. Seinfeld did it in "The Outing", not that there's anything wrong with that. Chandler was believed to be gay more than once on Friends. On Just Shoot Me Finch had to convince his own father he wasn't gay. It didn't start in the 90's, back on an episode of WKRP a man thinks Les Nessman is gay which sends Les into a crisis!  

#4.The Kids Trash the House

You'd think parents on sitcoms would no not to go away and leave the kids alone in the house. I guess it wouldn't be a family show if they didn't portray this rite of passage. Theo threw a wild party that got his house trashed on The Cosby Show. Mike did the same thing on Growing Pains. On Home Improvement Brad threw a wild Halloween party which got broken up before any serious damage could be done.

November 19, 2013

Sitcom Story Arcs I Hated

Sitcoms often don't get attention for their ongoing story arc's. Usually when you think of story lines you think soap operas of dramatic series. But sitcoms do story arc's also, and sometimes they are really good. And sometimes not so much. The story lines are either not interesting or just plain ruin the show!

Here are five sitcom story arc's which I never liked.

Murphy Brown-Eldin is rich, so what?

This is a small one. In the third season there was an episode which ended with Eldin the house painter selling a painting and getting rich. The rest of the season every time we see Eldin we are reminded he has the money and informed he of the trouble it is causing. Problem is these scenes were always short and we never really got invested. In the final episode of the season we are told Eldin got rid of the money, and the whole thing is forgotten fast.

Fresh Prince of Bel Air-Will gets engaged and the show jumps the shark

I guess this wasn't so bad, but for me it was the point where the series jumped the shark and I stopped watching. Will gets a girlfriend named Lisa, and through the course of the season they get engaged. In the final episode of the season, Will and Lisa realize that maybe they are going to fast. So, not only did this ruin the show (who wants a mature Will?) but it is totally forgotten the next year.

Seinfeld-Kramer's jacket......

This one was just plain dumb. In "The Parking Garage", Kramer mentions he got a jacket he is wearing at his mothers house. In "The Cafe", we find out the original owner of the jacket wants the jacket back. In the end he gets it back. In "The Nose Job" we discover the owner is in prison, so Kramer asks Elaine for her help to require the jacket. Here is the question-WHO CARES ABOUT THIS STUPID JACKET! Not sure what the thinking was, but the story of the jacket sucked. In "The Cheever Letters" Kramer ends up giving it away to get some Cuban cigars, so what was the point???

Friends-Joey and Rachel,  WHY????

Yeah, this again. I had no problem with Joey falling for Rachel. It made a little sense and was played out just right. But the creators apparently ran out of ideas, so they went back to the well. Our of nowhere Rachel decides she has feelings for Joey. But that is interrupted when Joey falls for Charlie, a woman Ross was interested in. After going back and forth it all comes out in Barbados. Joey and Rachel kiss, and no one cares. I did like the episode where Ross is fine, and I do admit that this whole waste of time ended very nicely when Joey and Rachel realize they don't want a physical relationship after all. But still, why even go there? Rachel falling for Joey made NO sense and just felt like the creators were getting desperate.

Night Court-Season 7 & 8!!!!!!!!!!

Ok, I have been waiting to go on this rant for a long time. Night Court was a fun little slapstick show. I fell in love with the re-runs and became a real fan. But somewhere around the 6th or 7th season, the show started to lose focus. Suddenly the show became more about the people and less about the courtroom. For some reason, the show got serious. Harry fell in love with a woman who causes him to stop being silly and fun. He becomes boring and she ends up breaking his heart when she leaves him to enter the witness protection program. Later he gets stuck teaching a night class which was boring and made no sense. Christine gets pregnant after a one night stand with a guy she barely knows. When the guy goes off on assignment she goes through the year worrying about how she will be a single mother and it's boring. Christine tries to marry Tony but ends up divorcing him  and raising the child alone while going through a depression. Meanwhile, Dan goes through a HORRIBLE arc after another character named Phil gets killed. Dan becomes a happy person, totally unlikable by the way, and after he gets taken advantage of he ends up a bum on the street.

This is a little hard to summarize, I realize. Thankfully, the next and last season brought the show back to form. For the most part. It was funny again, and these dramatic stories were done away with. Mostly. Dan was returned to his lecherous ways in a hilarious scene. A woman slaps him, and suddenly his old self emerges. If I could find a clip I would share it because it is a fantastic moment! To bad the show was basically DOA by that point.

Yes sitcom story arc's do work. Seinfeld had two, and Friends had several. But very often they are boring and drag the show down. When that happens the show usually never fully recovers.

November 17, 2013

Five Shocking Supehero Deaths in Comic Books

Death is a part of comics, ever since the day Gwen Stacy met her tragic end in the pages of Spider-Man we have seen major characters get killed off in shocking moments which are often of triumph for them and in stories which affected our heroes for a long while after that. Today I want to talk about five character deaths which were very sudden, and in many ways changed everything for the characters who survived.

These are character deaths which I was affected by. As always, I read comics in the 80's so most of these are from that era. I know most of these have been retconned away by now, but that doesn't make the initial impact any less. And of course, they are all DC.

Star Spangled Kid

This one was a total surprise, and has been kind of forgotten over the years. Star Spangled Kid was a hero in All Star Squadron who went off to for his one team called Infinity Inc. It was a decent book I read off an on. I like Skyman, as he later called himself. Then in one of the last issues, he was suddenly killed off. During a fight with Solomon Grundy, Grundy makes Mr.Bones touch Skyman. Now Mr.Bones had a cyanide body which killed you instantly if you touched him or if he touched you. And that's what happened. The death basically tore the team apart, they disbanded soon after.

November 14, 2013

Five "WTF??" Ridiculous TV Taboos

TV Taboo's are something which you never see on TV because the networks are afraid of offending and/or losing viewers. Talking about AIDS was one, which shows like A Different World help abolish. But while some of these taboos make sense, a lot of them were just plain silly. Would you believe when Murphy Brown was pregnant there was an uproar about an unmarried single mother? I mean, there are single parents in the world Dan Quayle! Here are five taboo's which were so silly that they have not been considered taboo in years.

#5.Can't Have a Gay Character be a Lead Character

Gay characters were around in the 70's and 80's but the usually were minor characters in trhe show. Take Billy Crystal in Soap who whose character was very gay but a  minor role. Or they pretended to be gay but they were sure to show how non gay they were like Jack Tripper in Three's Company. Of course this made no sense, what difference did it make if the lead character was gay? Ellen Degerneres shattered this one which led to shows such Will & Grace and Modern Family.

#4.Interracial Kissing is OUT!

Star Trek's awful episode "Plato's Stepchildren" will always have a place in history. Why? Because it featured the first interracial kiss, between Kirk and Uhura. I suppose in the racially sensitive era of the 60's this sort of makes sense, but I am sure glad this little episode came along and shattered that barrier. It's just dumb, if two people are in love color shouldn't matter. In real life, or in a TV program! 

November 10, 2013

A Look at Time Travel in Star Trek

Today I wanted to talk about something I used to absolutely adore. That would be time travel. There is just something about the idea, being able to go back in time and correct a wrong. Or going ahead to see where things would go. I wrote many stories as a kid using time travel as a plot device. Most of them ripped of Back to the Future, but it was still fun.BTTF  is near perfect in my opinion, and just works on almost every level. But that being said, the time travel stuff is hard to swallow. I mean, how could you possibly set a time machine for a specific day and time, right down to the minute? They do make a good case for how the Delorean is how to do this but it still makes no sense. Plus, if Marty's actions changed his family in the present then shouldn't he be changed also? This griping doesn't take away from the movie of course, which I have loved for nearly 30 years!

I guess that's one of the fun things about time travel, it can lead to many questions and "paradoxes". I decided the best way to look at all the different types of time travel is by checking out all the episodes of Star Trek that used it. And there are a few my friends.

Before I begin since there are so many episode and I don't want to be here all day, I am not going to give an in depth plot breakdown or analysis. Just a very simple overview and my opinion on the time travel used. I will also skip over some where the time travel element just is not large enough to warrant a mention.

Tomorrow is Yesterday (TOS)

This is a classic episode, written by the great D.C. Fontana. The Enterprise is thrown into the 60's where they accidentally bring aboard an air force captain. Nice episode but the more I watch it, the more I realize the ending makes no sense. How does the Enterprise sling shotting around the sun cancel out their first arrival? And if it does, then why do they have to transport Captain Christopher back? If he never went to the Enterprise, shouldn't he just vanish? They have to beam the other version back? Either it happened or it didn't! The time travel stuff makes no sense but it's still a nice little episode. Maybe they are operating under the rule that two versions of yourself can't exit in the same place twice, something DC Comics loved to use in the old days and was utterly ridiculous.

November 7, 2013

Five Underrated Cartoons I LOVED as a Kid

We all remember the great cartoons of our youth. From He-Man to G.I.Joe to Ducktails to Batman:The Animated Series. Today I wanted to talk about five cartoon shows which I loved growing up that haven't quite survived the test of time. But I remember them fondly. By the way, I know I am playing with adjectives again so please forgive me if these are not "underrated".

Shirt Tales

This was such a silly and cute show. So what if it made no sense at all. And so what if it was so sugary it gave me a cavity. I still loved it! Based on a series of greeting cards which animals wearing T Shirts that carried a message. The series followed the adventures of Tyg the Tiger, Pammy Panda, Digger Mole, Rick Raccoon, and Bogey Orangutan. Later they were joined by a little rabbit named Kip. They live in Oak Tree Park and tease the park ranger Mr.Dinkle (who I think may have been Ranger Smith's lame cousin). They basically helped people who got into trouble, and I loved watching it.

November 4, 2013

Top 5 Favorite Episodes of "Scrubs"

When Scrubs first came around in 2002, I had no interest in it. The way the show was promoted by NBC made it look a little to weird and so I did not watch until the final episode of the first season. But I realized that the show was actually really good, and before long was a serious fan watching right through season 8. 'To be honest, I had stopped watching in Season 8 after the show left NBC but did see the final episode which was fantastic. And if you're wondering why I am not talking about that awful season 9, well I have decided that never happened!

I think this show worked the same way MASH worked in my opinion. Ok, Sacred Heart wasn't the Korean War but working as a doctor can be depressing anywhere, and this show was about how these characters cope every day and in the end come together as a family in the face of tragedy.

The show has a lot going for it, including the silly slapstick style of humor. But if you get past that you find a well written show which knew how to be serious, and gave us some very memorable characters. There was as much drama as laughs, and the way they incorporated music into each episode was fantastic. The main character is J.D. who narrates every episode, and is usually the center of the odd daydreams littered through every episode. Sarah Chalke was great in this making people forget she was ever on Roseanne, and what can you say about John McGinley and his character of Dr.Cox? His rants were hilarious and really made that character.

But rather than talk about the characters, especially since I did so in depth in a sitcom face off with Night Court, I decided to discuss my five favorite episodes of this series. One notable episode missing is the classic Season 2 episode, "My Screw Up" featuring Brendan Frasier since I talked about it in depth in a different article. Let's call that an honorary sixth spot. Here are five more episode I loved.

#5."My Butterfly" (Season 3)

Yeah this episode is a little gimmicky, but hey it still really works. It's basically a take on the Butterfly Effect. When a butterfly lands on a woman we see the events of the episode that unfold afterward. After the halfway point, the episode literally rewinds back to the start. This time the butterfly lands on someone else, which creates a totally different series of events. This is a clever idea which really works, especially in the end when we find out even with the change the tragic outcome was inevitable.

November 2, 2013

Favorite Faces of Mickey Mouse

Mickey Mouse is one of the most iconic characters ever, going strong since his debut in 1928. I love him! Have for as long as I can remember. As the years have gone by we have seen several different versions of the lovable mouse, but no matter what changes they may make to the lovable guy it's always Mickey! Today I wanted to take a look at some of my favorite versions.

Before I begin let me stress that I am by no means an expert in animation or graphic arts. This isn't intended to be a comprehensive analysis, I am just a fan.

So let's start with the live version. Actually, Mickey's look has changed a lot over the years since Walt Disney World first opened. They keep modifying the look and making it more sleek. A few years ago they gave the characters an articulated head which made it possible for all the characters mouths to move and eyes to blink when they talk! Nice change from having the voice mysteriously come out of the character while they just stare at you. In fact  the evolution of his look at Disney is amazing, the costumes being just plain scary in the old days! There are video's out there which showcase the changes so check them out.

Of course it's the animation side which has seen the most change. Sure, the look is basically the same but as time goes by it is inevitable that the character will look different. Here are some examples :

So here is how he looked when he first appeared in "Steamboat Willie" back in 1939! And he kind of looked different. Black eyes, kind of scrawny, a tail, and he also didn't speak, preferring to squeak. The animation had a way to go but it's still Mickey.