Showing posts with label television. Show all posts
Showing posts with label television. Show all posts

Friday, June 7, 2013

Film Noir on Fridays in June on TCM

Noir maestro Eddie Muller is guest hosting every Friday in June on Turner Classic Movies.  The line-up is pretty nuts, and I highly recommend looking at the list and setting your DVR.

Here's a website up at TCM.

Check out the schedule starting this evening!

The Maltese Falcon
City Streets
After the Thin Man
The Glass Key (a must see)
Satan Met a Lady

well, we've all wanted to punch Peter Lorre at some point

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Superman: The Happiest Fella?

Just up here in space, smiling at nobody

There have been a lot of posts (hi, Max!) and articles by longtime Superman fans regarding the to-date seemingly somber tone of the new Superman film, Man of Steel.

Folks are worried about a "grim'n'gritty" Superman versus the cheerful fellow who takes delight in his powers that you've seen since Superman's first appearance in Action Comics #1.  That imagery has been a part of the "discovery" part of the story for Superman in one form or another in all sorts of representations, from Superboy comics, to the animated series, to Superman Returns and Superman: The Movie where we see a young Clark Kent running faster than a freight train and beating Brad and the gang back past the Kent homestead.  And, of course, the absolutely terrific "reveal" sequence when Superman saves Lois and then runs around Metropolis saving the day.

Probably the most joyful you're likely to see Superman is in Superman: The Movie after The Man of Steel first appears and then flies around Metropolis performing super good deeds.

In fact, I've gone on record as saying that the key to my understanding of Superman in many ways is the moment wherein he saves Lois, reminds her of the relative safety of air travel, and then turns around and lets loose with this huge grin before flying away:

"Man, I wish she'd fall out of a helicopter EVERY day!"

Monday, May 27, 2013

Supermarathon! 50th Anniversary TV Special

A bonus feature in some of the various Superman DVD and BluRay box sets, the Superman 50th Anniversary Special is kind of must-see Superman TV from an era when adults were all kind of patronizing jerks about Superman.  Except for Hal Holbrook.

I recall Superman's 50th Anniversary mostly thanks to the terrific Time Magazine cover on a week during which nothing else must have been happening in the world.

What's most amazing about the special is the amazing array of talent that was known at the time, and the talent that shows up in supporting roles.

The show is presented as a sort of retrospective on the career of Superman as if he were real and Dana Carvey is your celebrity host for the walkthrough of Superman's life.  There are man-on-the-street interviews cut in, which seem as if they really asked people questions about Superman and used what they said.  It's pretty good stuff.  Others are clearly actors, and there are some sort of mini-skits thrown in for good measure, along with footage from cartoons, serials, The Adventures of Superman and the Superman movies.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Supermarathon: Some 60's Cartoons and "Panic in the Sky"

Back in the 1960's, Filmation had just been formed, and they had a contract to develop some cartoons based upon DC Comics characters.

The New Adventures of Superman rolled out as one of these cartoons, short cartoons long enough to get packaged with other DC characters, so you got a full cartoon between each commercial.  The animation is of the "limited" animation variety.  Lots of Superman's mouth moving and nothing else.  A static Superman in flying position as the background scrolls by behind him.  Lots of stuff re-used.  All to contain cost to deliver just a whole ton of these things at a reasonable cost.

By modern TV cartoon standards, the animations doesn't look so hot, the voice acting is stiff and awkwardly paced (Filmation would go on to do He-Man in the 1980's, a show which - even then - I thought had some very strange voices), and the stories are nigh non-existent.  Still, it's pretty clear these cartoons were aimed at little kids, and as straightforward Superman adventures, they do the trick.  And, as its more likely kids will come to Superman via cartoons than comics, it's not a bad first exposure.  If the kids can make heads or tails of 1960's technology and fashion.*

And, I like the theme song. It's jazzy!

Here's the pilot cartoon in its entirety.

I also watched a few episodes of Season 2 of The Adventures of Superman (live action, black & white, Noel Neill as Lois), including the famous episode Panic in the Sky.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Some weekend catch-up - movies, TV and comics

If you follow me on social media that is not this blog, you might have heard I had a touch of the food poisoning over the weekend.  A bad salad or pizza, I think.  Worst greek salad I've ever eaten, but it seemed fresh, so what do I know?

Well, I know what it feels like to get kicked in the stomach from my karate days, and this felt sort of like that, going on and on for quite a while.  So, I want to thank Jamie for the 2:30 AM run to Walgreen's to grab me some OTC meds and being a great help to me over the course of the weekend.  For a dialysis patient, it seems like the last year she's been taking care of me more than me of her.

I was sidelined from a planned viewing of Star Trek: Into Darkness, but I did catch a few movies over the weekend on cable and DVD.

Manhattan Melodrama with Myrna Loy, Clark Gable and William Powell was actually very, very good.  Thanks to Paul, who handed me that DVD on Friday.  Some 30's-era moral-minded civics lessons wrapped up with gangsterism and Myrna Loy in some great hats and dresses.  The title is dated, so don't expect organ music and fainting.  It's a bit more of a personal drama sort of movie.

The Campaign with Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis was probably released at the wrong time, when we were in the middle of election season and everyone was so deadly serious about politics.  It's a lightweight movie in the Semi-Pro or Step Brothers model.  But it's pretty funny stuff, if pretty blue.  Speaking of, though it's two GOP candidates, I think you could have done this with any two candidates, aside from a few points.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Supermarathon! Adventures of Superman: Superman on Earth! and The Haunted Lighthouse!

Few shows change tonally over a few seasons so much as The Adventures of Superman.  And I kind of love all the takes.  Really, I can't think of anything I don't like about The Adventures of Superman.  

in the old days, Superman didn't need a scaly outfit and proudly wore his pants really high

Thursday, May 2, 2013

We Salute Mythbusters as they enter their 10th Season

I often forget to mention that I watch Mythbusters nigh religiously.

Yes, they blow things up real good in most episodes.  Yes, I am curious about what happens when you throw a car in a swimming pool, or jump at the last second in a falling elevator, or try to maximize gas mileage or park a car behind the exhaust of a 747, drop a car from a helicopter or blow up a cement truck, just 'cause...  The show raises questions I didn't know I had, then answers them pretty thoroughly.  Even if, in an early episode, they got that whole thing about sodas exploding in one's car wrong.*

Adam has aged, but Jamie is eternal
No doubt the mix of personalities keeps the show working, and the dichotomy of Jamie and Adam's approaches always an object lesson in how even two people who know each other well can have completely different ways of solving a problem.  And, of course, we all love the build team and you should really follow them on Twitter.  They're pretty amusing.

It may not be perfect science, but the progam aims to demystify science and engineering, and therefore, perhaps, demystifies the world through some of the steps of the experimentation (and less often, the scientific) method.  Evidence is reviewed.  Hypotheses and ideas are considered and explained (including why some options are cast aside), and small scale testing of components is shown.  As the full experiment is built to, math is shown, explanations of physics are all brought down to a consumer level.  And if the myth doesn't go off as planned, in recent years, Mythbusters has gone on to find what they think would be required to replicate the scenario described in the myth.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Supermarathon: Superman - The Animated Series! ("Last Son of Krypton" and "Blasts from the Past")

I started developing an interest for Superman in high school, and just after I'd picked up a couple of issues, DC launched the whole "Death of Superman" business, which I knew was a gimmick, of course, and so I didn't bother with it.   And this sounds perhaps a bit trite, but when Superman "returned" with a mullet and entered into what I consider to be one of the weakest eras of Superman writing and development, there wasn't much to grasp onto.*

In 1996, Warner Bros. responded to Fox Kids Network's complaints that Batman was too "dark" by trying their hand at a Superman series.  Superman was a lot spunkier, in theory.  Of course, it's a story that depends on killing an entire planet of people just to get started, but let's not split hairs.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Supermarathon! Pilot: Lois & Clark

I wasn't watching much TV when Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman debuted.  I was a freshman at UT and the only TV I really watched was:

  • Animaniacs
  • Batman
  • 90210 (it's a long story)
  • Melrose Place (an addendum to the long story)
  • X-Files
  • Brisco County Jr.

Of course, the only channels we had good reception for in the dorm were Fox and PBS.

As I recall, the show aired on Sundays, which was homework night.

the show more or less promised Lois and Clark would eventually "do it" from the first promo pic

I did watch the pilot with some buddies, no doubt our iffy reception riddled with static.  And it aired at the same time as the pilot of SeaQuest DSV, and we couldn't figure out which to watch.  In the end we decided to try to pass our courses (barely) and didn't watch either on an ongoing basis, really.

Stars Dean Cain (Superman/ Clark) and Teri Hatcher (Lois Lane) became household names immediately.  A nation embraced the phrase "Great Shades of Elvis!" from our erstwhile Perry White.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Planning The Super-Marathon - a list of things we'll be watching!

Leading up to the release of Warner Bros. Man of Steel, expect this blog to become all the more Super-Centric.

If I could watch all of the Harry Potter movies again before catching the final installment, and watch all the Avengers movies leading up to Whedon's Avengers, I think I owe it to myself, to you, and to the world to watch just a whole ton of Superman media leading up to the film's release.

I am going to go chronological, and if you want to play along at home, I'll try to keep you up to speed with what I'm watching.

Also, I am not averse to having screenings where folks can come over and join me if they're in the Austin area, but time is of the essence.  We can't really dilly-dally while you try to find a date that works for you.  We've got, like, 100 hours of media to watch before the movie kicks off.*

The Fleischer cartoons

I figure three or four ought to do it.  These cartoons are groundbreaking for the era and hold up remarkably well today.  Superman still can't fly in most of them, but he's a heck of a lot of fun as the squinty-eyed, devil-may-care action ace who is always two steps behind Lois's nose for news.

Superman (aka: The Mad Scientist)
The Mechanical Monsters
Terror on the Midway 
The Underground World

We'll see, I'll probably watch all of them peppered in with other items.

The Serials

Live action (except for flying scenes), these serials are good, clean fun with a very young Noel Neill and the affable Kirk Alyn playing a less lantern-jawed Superman.

At minimum, it seems necessary to catch the first two episodes
Superman Comes to Earth (in which his parents are Eben and Sarah, I believe)
Depths of the Earth

Monday, April 8, 2013

Annette Funicello Merges with The Infinite

It seems that original Mouseketeer, beach movie fixture and boomer icon, Annette Funicello, has passed.

 I knew Annette from her 80's-era TV appearances and also as the girl that, apparently, men of my Dad's generation all grew up having a crush on.  Annette Funicello was going through a sort of nostalgia-tour renaissance when I was a kid, in peanut butter commercials, guest appearances, etc.. at a time when we also happened to have the Disney Channel, which would rerun the old Mickey Mouse Club episodes (but not in order, because that would be nuts).  And I was just the kind of kid who was cool enough to think a good afternoon included Mr. Ed and Mickey Mouse Club re-runs.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

It's a Bird! It's a Plane! It's Superman: The Musical!

Holy cow.

I've known about It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman! for around 10-12 years, but I had never seen it in any form.  Originally produced as a campy Broadway spectacular  in 1966 (it debuted the same year as the Adam West TV show), the show ran for about four months before closing.  I think that, these days, the show has mostly been forgotten.

In 1975, because nobody was paying attention, ABC broadcast a version of the musical.  Reportedly the program aired a single time, fairly late at night and in a dead zone where networks were often trying to figure out how to fill the airwaves*.  To the best of my knowledge, there is no legally obtainable copy of the broadcast available.  For Superman fans, the musical is about as close to an intentionally obscure artifact as I can think of to that king of pop cultural ephemera, the Star Wars Holiday Special.  Superman fans have all seen clips or stills, but we haven't seen the actual full program.

Can you read my mind?

This week, I did obtain a copy.  We'll keep it a little shrouded in mystery, but my source knows who he is, and knows how awesome he or she is.  As the existence of this video may not be entirely on the up and up (and so offended am I that I have immediately burned the DVD so that NONE may find yourself tainted by the sheer audacity of it's illegality), I'm keeping the gifter's name out of it.

But, thanks, man.  That was SUPER of you!**

The video itself is a transfer from tape.  Tape from 1975.  So, it's got some rough edges and the sound is occasionally wobbly because: aging analog media.  It's not the drug-fueled nightmare that the Star Wars Holiday Special devolves into within minutes of the opening, and, frankly, the Star Wars Special had about 20 times the budget of this show.  It's also an oddball bit of nerd media, and would fit nicely on your shelf next to the shelved low-budget, very 90's Justice League pilot, the Legends of the Superheroes, the Captain America TV movies, etc... etc...   But the musical is pure hammy schmaltz, but intentionally so, and it's oddly charming, even if it's not much of a musical.

It's Like Seeing a Fever Dream Come True: Axe Cop TV Trailer

@#$% just got real.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Spy Shows, Melodrama, Planet of the Apes

The only TV I had time to watch this weekend was an episode of Archer and a week-and-a-half-old episode of The Americans.  I'm still liking the show well enough, but I kind of think they need to slow it the hell down.  I'm no master spy, but having a new mission every week while you're supposed to be undercover and a sort of sleeper agent feels like a lot of missions.  Perhaps it makes sense in the context of Archer, but I'm cool with long-game sorts of scenarios and letting the domestic issues the show writers seem to want to focus on (and I welcome) broil from episode to episode is fine.

But, really, I have no complaints.

Well, one.  Every episode now seems to end with our leads in their bedroom having a whispery and angry conversation, and it's a bad pattern to get stuck in.  Yes, we need to see these two together, but somehow it reminds me of how Smallville started going downhill when every episode started ending the A Plot with 10-15 minutes left, and spent 10 minutes with Lana and Clark in Clark's barn-loft with Lana making cow eyes at each other and being weepy teens.

If the killer Russian spies turn into Clana, I shall be disappointed.

I also picked up and read the second volume of  a trade of a Planet of the Apes comics series that has to be two or three years old now.  It's well written and fantastically drawn, and, like all POTA stuff, it's also headed somewhere incredibly nihilistic and depressing.  Just showing a world where humans still talk is the start of the end of a world where humans cease talking and become primitive and beast-like by their first appearance in the Cheston films.  And, of course, when you blow up the Earth in the second movie (spoiler?), there's just not really a "and things get better" to be had.*

All of this makes it hard to go seek out the third volume as... I kind of know how all this wraps up.  Hmmm...

Mostly, I worked on Saturday, and today I made a cake for Jamie's birthday.  And then we made dinner.  And now I'm sort of done.  And the weekend is over, and we're starting all over again.

*yes, there are three more films after they blow up Earth.  What of it?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I got nothin': Mad Men and creeping up on my blogging anniversary

We started our pre-Season 6 review of Season 5 of Mad Men this evening.  I firmly believe you kind of have to watch every season of this show twice, not just to get the quick, throw away lines you might have missed, but it's a show that writes in a literary mode.  Once you know the score, it's amazing to see the foreshadowing and symbols.  I've seen some critics complain that, basically, the show does this on TV and they feel it can be clunky, and, sometimes, yeah.  But for the occasional open elevator shaft, there's a throw-away line about "not being around by Christmas" that plays out with grim irony nobody but the writing staff could have anticipated.

As much as I live a good show like The Americans and the challenges of the show, they're all there on the surface.  It's a gripping drama that challenges the American hero perspective of the 1980's (or today), but that's the function of the show.  It weaves in home and life to characters we've only ever seen as drone-like killing machines or bed-mates for James Bond.  Again, I really like The Americans, but Mad Men is trying in a completely different way and isn't in danger of becoming a one-hit wonder.

Also, I watched this evening's episode of The New Girl.  I long ago moved on from just watching it for the Deschanel-ness and genuinely like what I suspect is about 50% made up on the spot from an outline.

In the next 10 days I need to finish the 10th Anniversary post for my blogging.

10 years, man.  10.  That's a lot of navel gazing.  And sometimes I feel bad that I only have 200+ posts on Superman on this blog, and then I think:  well, man, that's like 200 posts you did about Superman on this site alone.  That's actually a lot of thinking and writing about Superman that nobody paid you to do.  You're no Steve Younis, but that's nothing to shake a stick at.  Also, go out and get some sun or something.  All this sitting can't be good for you.

Anyway, if you have anything to contribute to the 10 year anniversay-palooza, we welcome you to send in your post-cards and comments.  You can do so via email at the contact link that is in the menu bar running horizontally at the top of the page.  We'll reprint whatever you want to send in.

One thing I learned from visiting with people I hadn't seen much or at all in 20 years last weekend is that their memories of you and  (what was to them) specific, very important moments can be something you don't really recall yourself until they bring it up.  I was just glad that the two things I had dropped on me were both really pretty positive.  But then modern-me looked like a jack-ass for not immediately remembering either event.*

So, yeah, I don't know what you people think of when you think of The League of Melbotis franchise of social media.  But if you want to help me out on this, it'd be appreciated.

*apparently I defended a young woman's honor in the cafeteria and was someone else's first kiss (as a stage kiss.  I had no idea.).

Monday, March 11, 2013


No, I've never watched The Wire and your references will be lost on me.*  Yes, I'll get to it.

I am headed for Baltimore from Tuesday til Thursday.  I haven't been there since a day trip from DC when I was a kid where I saw an 18th Century Man-o-War and the rest of my family got lost in the projects looking for Edgar Allen Poe's house.

In honor of the trip, here's a cut from the super-depressing Lyle Lovett album, Joshua Judges Ruth

I'm going for work, not pleasure.  But I hope to have fun working, which, you know, weirder things have happened.

*The only characters' names I know from The Wire are Omar and Bubbles and I know what happens to Omar because the internet is full of people who hate narrative payoff, I guess.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Let Us Break Out the Ketel One and Christian Bros. Brandy and Ponder an "Achewood" TV Show

No lie, one of my favorite things of recent western history has been the web comic/ experience, Achewood.

Achewood is almost impossible to explain, fits a specific comedy and writing niche that is most certainly not for everyone, and is the most quotable text of the 21st Century.

Of late, Achewood has been halted, out of print, or whatever you want to call it when a web comic ceases publication.

It was clear something went down with strip owner and operator Chris Onstead, and that's his issue or issues to share or keep to himself.  But, suddenly, after months of silence, Onstead appeared today announcing that he's trying to sell an animated version of Achewood in LA this week.

Frankly, I don't know how a writer's room and the sort of collaborative environment mixed with the needs of  TV networks can possibly bring the strip to life and retain the creative singular vision of a comic about cats named "Roast Beef" and "Ray".  But you never know.  Axe Cop is headed for television, so anything can happen these days, I guess.

Here's Onstead's announcement.

And here's the video demo of what a televised Achewood might look like.

Achewood Television Trailer One "Hello, world" from therussians on Vimeo.

I know, I'm sort of sweating, too.

Animated Teodor, y'all. Animated Teodor could happen.

Anyway, it's an outside shot, but I would love to see this happen and the name "Ray Smuckles" become a household word.