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

Monday, March 20, 2017

Under the Sycamore Trees: End of Twin Peaks (1991) and Fire Walk With Me (1992)



As I mentioned previously, as a TV series, Twin Peaks managed to limp along for most of the second half of the second season.  You could feel the writers realizing they'd taken a bad turn and trying to right the ship in the final few episodes, but the good continues to be outweighed by the bad.

The drippy plotline of the Miss Twin Peaks pageant, and Robyn (Teen Witch) Lively doing her best with a dog of a plotline for her wildly inconsistent character, Lara Flynn Boyle being reduced to a background character, Audrey and Billy Zane going full in flagrante in a private jet right in front of Pete...  and the tired plotline of Lucy choosing the father of her kid - something so worn out even the show winked at how nobody cared anymore by the time she made a decision...

Lost in all this was Harry and his plotline with Josie.  And from what I can find online, Michael Ontkean who played Sheriff Harry Truman walked away from the show fairly bitter about the whole experience.  And I can hardly blame him.

That said - the final episode of the show, directed by David Lynch with writing by Mark Frost, Robert Engels and Harley Peyton, returns the show to form.  Doing such a good job and creating some of the most memorable moments of the entire series that it's easy to forget the meandering path we took to get there.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Robert Osborne Goes to that Movie House in the Great Beyond



Dang.

Turner Classic Movies host Robert Osborne has merged with The Infinite.

I was pretty much convinced that Robert Osborne was a robot.  It didn't matter what time of day or night I switched on Turner Classic Movies, if a movie wasn't playing, he was providing an intro or outro in a smooth, polished, knowledgeable manner, like the best film prof you never had.  In theory he was the prime-time host, but for several years in there, I literally remember no one else.

I mean, sure, it was just a few minutes per movie, but those need to be written, shot, etc... and it was clear he was pretty hands-on with all aspects.  Including the phenomenal interviews he wrangled with innumerable Hollywood icons, and later as he'd co-host series with  modern luminaries reflecting back on whatever run of movies they were about to show.  And he always got to the nut of what made the film special both writ large and what made fans (these modern film stars) so passionate about the movie.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

"Legion" on FX - Breaking out of the Superhero Box



You'll hear a lot about how 90's comic books were all about Chromium covers, Rob Liefeld and .  There's some truth to that.  But that's like saying 90's music was all Garth Brooks and Hootie and the Blowfish.  The 90's brought us Neil Gaiman, Grant Morrison, Garth Ennis, Warren Ellis, and a host of others who came to comics mostly via the guiding hand of Karen Berger and the Vertigo imprint.

Titles like Hellblazer, Kid Eternity and Invisibles kept me in comics when I was hitting that crucial point where I might have moved on.  And, totally honestly, had I not stumbled across the "Ramadan" issue of Sandman during the final months of my senior year of high school, I suspect me and comics were headed for a bitter break-up.

Part of that break-up was what was happening in the X-Men titles, which had lost the guiding hand of Chris Claremont,  whose writing I was ready to leave behind, I suspect, but who had created multi-dimensional characters in a way that, to this day, I cannot believe comics in general haven't learned from.

FX's new series, Legion, is going to confuse folks who head to the comic shop to find issues of the series, or a nice trade paperback.  The character, David Haller, appeared briefly in a few runs of various X-books dating back to the mid-1980's, including his first appearances in the surprisingly weird New Mutants title, giving Chris Claremont's writing and the artistry of Bill Sienkiewicz (Elektra: Assassin, Stray Toasters, numerous other projects) co-creator status.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Bill Paxton Merges With The Infinite



Like all of you, we were saddened to hear of the unexpected passing of actor Bill Paxton.

Paxton became a favorite back in the mid-80's when we first saw Aliens in which he played Private First Class Hudson, the resident smart-ass of the squad of Colonial Marines sent in to investigate the situation on Acheron (aka LV-426).  After that, we recognized him as Chet in Weird Science and the punk guy who maybe shouldn't have picked a fight with a naked Arnie in Terminator.

Paxton was always a welcome name to see show up in the credits of any film, and you always knew you were getting something memorable out of him.  He didn't have many blockbuster starring roles outside of Twister, but he continued to provide outstanding performances in supporting roles and found a lead role that worked well for him in HBO's polygamy drama, Big Love.

We'll miss Paxton.  To say he went too soon is a tremendous understatement, and I think all of us expected him to continue to appear on our screens for decades to come.

But let us never forget that he also directed and starred in the video for Barnes & Barnes classic "Fish Heads".



Saturday, February 25, 2017

Twin Peaks Rewatch: When you see me again, it won't be me



If you've never seen the original series of Twin Peaks, my recommendation is to watch Season 1 and then Season 2 up through Episode 10 or 11 and then quit.

Over the years I've heard a lot of conflicting stories about what happened in Season 2 as the series went along, but for those of us who remember television in the 1980's and 1990's, who couldn't believe Twin Peaks was ever on a major network to begin with, it seems plain that the networks did what they always did back then - refused to leave well enough alone.

Around Episode 10 of Season 2 (of 22), David Lynch and Mark Frost seem to have moved on from Twin Peaks, abandoning one of TV's most singular visions behind, one must assume, to the suits.  You still see Caleb Deschanel's name appear as a director, but Frost and Lynch's names are basically listed as "creators" by that point, and the series is handed off to folks whose names will mean nothing to you.  A quick Google search will tell you that the network insisted that Frost and Lynch wrap up the mystery of who killed Laura Palmer, and after completing their mission in Episode 9, they made haste to distance themselves from the show.

Of course, that doesn't mean the first half of Season 2 of Twin Peaks continued to deliver the same visionary television that the first eight-episode season provided that made the show a small cultural phenomenon.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Stuff I Didn't Watch All the Way Through This Week



It's been a long week at work and in the news.  I was bemoaning one of these projects on twitter, and when I told CanadianSimon I'd quit watching the movie and two other things this week, he did point out - hey, it's been a weird week for Planet Earth.

Still, my patience was a bit raw, and that meant I didn't make it very far into a few things I'd been meaning to check out.


The Amazing Spider-Man 2 



I didn't see this movie when it came out, mostly because I didn't really like much of anything about the first one.  Highlights included the casting of Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy and Stan Lee's cameo, but I didn't really get where Peter Parker as mouthy, non-nerdy teen-ager was coming from, and I was super-annoyed that they were trying to go down the 1990's path of exploring Peter's parents' death as integral to his history (dude got bit by a radioactive spider.  We don't need to heap 30 years of back story into it).  To top it off, their Spidey was never actually *funny* when quipping from inside the mask.  He came off a bit more like someone bragging while playing a video game against a hopelessly outclassed opponent.

Friday, January 27, 2017

That Gum You Like Is Going To Come Back In Style: A Twin Peaks Re-Watch



This spring, Showtime will bring back Twin Peaks, the short-lived, much beloved show that ran on TV circa 1990-1991 and had one feature film release, Fire Walk With Me in 1992.   Way, way back in the 1990's the show made headlines, and managed to capture the public imagination (sort of) during it's initial first season, which ran only 8 episodes.  But in the 1990's - as I am sure is true in some ways now - success meant the network and studio boys wanted to get a piece of the pie and get involved, and the second season started strong only to wobble under the weight of 22 hour-long episodes, as was the standard of the era for network shows.

The bizarre turns to quirk turns to a self-parody in pretty short order.  Time changes and a loss of the charm that marked the first dozen or so episodes plagued the show, and the show lost viewers.  At least it went out quickly.

It's hard to explain how utterly weird it was that Twin Peaks ever happened.  We were still basically in the era of three networks (with Fox just finding its footing) and a bunch of cable channels that were usually putting out original material of iffy quality.  Shows on the major networks were scientifically designed to appeal to as wide an audience as possible, and so we wound up with a lot of what still shows on the networks today.  Cops, lawyers, doctors, and family sitcoms.  Some evening soaps with implied sex that came on between 9 and 10 in the Central time zone.  Hell, ALF was quirky.*  If you wanted a flavor of anything oddball, you were in deep cable or finding video stores with a "cult" section.  I mean, David Lynch was hardly a household name in 1990.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Mary Tyler Moore Merges With The Infinite


Actor and producer Mary Tyler Moore has passed at the age of 80.

My first two memories of Mary Tyler Moore include realizing (a) that MTM tag at the end of shows was her production company and (b) thinking Rob Petrie married well the hell out of his league.  I mean, I was like 7 or 8 and didn't watch enough TV to quite get how this works, but I was pretty sure Laura had settled or Rob was rich or something.

Years later she broke new ground with the Mary Tyler Moore Show, showing a divorced woman making it in the city as a reporter.  The show was a hit and and Moore became a force in the entertainment world in her own right.

I'm not going to quite do her justice.  She will be missed.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Miguel Ferrer Merges With The Infinite



We all have actors we may not seek out, necessarily, but it's a huge bonus when they show up in anything.  Indeed, they make whatever they appear in at least five times better.

Since my mom dropped me off (way too young) to go see RoboCop, I've been a fan of actor Miguel Ferrer.  I didn't know his actual name until college, he was "that guy from RoboCop, yeah, Bob Morton", but in the years since, and since Jamie has been around since college, she's heard the phrase "oh, hell, yeah.  Miguel Ferrer" on innumerable occasions whenever I realize he is in a movie we're considering watching or his name pops up in the credits.

Fortunately for me, far as I know, Jamie shares my appreciation for Miguel Ferrer.

His mother and father (Rosemary Clooney and Jose Ferrer) were extraordinarily famous in their era, and not too many children of power couples manage to reach the levels of success Miguel Ferrer achieved.  Or, you know, the place in the hearts of cinephiles and genre-geeks.

I straight up think he's a terrific actor, and while he wasn't often the leading man, he was a force on screen.  I can only imagine what he was like in life.

Unfortunately, it seems Miguel Ferrer passed today after a battle with cancer.  I had no idea he was ill, and I'm deeply sorry for his friends and family.  He went far too soon.

Let's enjoy him as Bob Morton together, shall we?


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The 2016 Kryptos - Television

way more effort went into this graphic than I want to admit

2016.  It seems so far away now.  Heck, Christmas was, like, two years ago at this point.  But let us remember that all too vital part of all of our lives - TELEVISION.

Oh, you don't own a television?  You haven't had cable in ten years?  Well, la di dah, mister fancy pants.  Some of us stay in touch with the people.

Between cable, internet streaming options and sports, it was certainly a year in which I watched a metric ton of TV.  You couldn't not be told you had to watch this show or that show by your friends or co-workers.  And some of them you didn't try, some of them you watched and didn't like and just prayed they'd never ask about whether you'd tried it or not, and some of it was maybe not the best thing but you still tuned in.  And some of it you set your schedule around watching.

Here's a quick rundown of some of what we watched:

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Okay. Time to talk a bit about "Westworld" - A non-definitive discussion.



Note:  I'm going to talk about HBO's 2016 series, Westworld, as a whole.  If you're avoiding spoilers, this is not the place for you.  

There's a great deal to like about the 10 episodes of HBO's sci-fi series, Westworld.  It's been interesting to find out how many people haven't seen the original Westworld film by Michael Crichton - a name which is pobably just an echo to Millennials but which was a hosuehold name through the 1990's.  I'll cop to having not seen (or don't remember seeing) Futureworld (1976) or the TV series Beyond Westworld (1980).

I am sure the original 1973 film felt like futureshock at the time, or maybe sci-fi silliness to many.  The first time I watched it back before high school, which would have been the late 1980's, 70's hair-stylings aside, it seemed to work very well as a thriller, even if it didn't seem to run deep with the complexities of Blade Runner or other AI films.  Well into the 1980's, our relationship with technology and computers wasn't as everyday as it's become, and fiction treated computers a bit like the genie's lamp right up through the late 1990's.

What the movie does that still holds up is create an adult theme park that is both impossible, yet seems like something that people would be up for whether we want to admit it or not if the wild success of Las Vegas is any indication.  It's a world of sex and violence with only the most minor of repercussions as one fulfills fantasies and indulges whims in a familiar place, but one separated enough from our own day-to-day that you'd lose your bearings.  And steeped in the inherent violence of the filmic west, it's a world in which you'd be more likely to shoot first and question later.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Checking in on DCTV: Supergirl and The Flash



Season 2 of Supergirl moved to The CW network, which was already home to DC's Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and iZombie, and the move has been nothing but good for the series, so far as I can tell.  Whatever dictates Season 1 had upon it as a show on a major network, moving to the less-major CW Network has meant the show feels less like it's bucking TV formulas and now it's matching The Flash for melding DC lore with crafting it's own mythology and character arcs.

This season I've enjoyed the shake-up and escape from CatCo, especially if Cat Grant isn't even going to be around and the far more fulfilling role for Win.  And, hey, Kara isn't being defined by which boy she'll pick, which is kind of remarkable on TV.  While Alex's "coming out" storyline felt a bit rushed, crammed in there in-between cyborgs and fiery aliens, alien fight clubs and whatnot, it's interesting to see the show stake it's claim on big-tent "Supergirl is for everyone" and just move forward without turning the show into a melodrama we all have to slog through.

In fact, the CW shows are pretty remarkably good at not doing the things that TV has traditionally done that drove me crazy - namely: have have characters keep secrets from people they otherwise trust when keeping a secret makes literally no sense and drag it out over whole seasons of a show or until they just forget to resolve the storyline.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Happy Birthday, Jimmy Olsen!

November 29th is, it seems, the birthday of one James Bartholomew Olsen, Superman's Pal.



It's nearly impossible to capture all the different interpretations of Jimmy, especially as he first appeared as a major character not so much in the comics - where he was an unnamed copyboy - but in radio.  In the 1950's, Jack Larson played Jimmy on The Adventures of Superman, and the character really took off.  National Comics responded by launching a comics which would run for almost two full decades, Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen.

I couldn't tell you exactly why I'm a fan of the character, but there's no question he's a fascinating character across a wide field of media.  And, yes, his comics are absolutely mind-bending as National tried to figure out what to do with the character in issues after issue.  Never underestimate the creative power of an unwinnable situation.

Even more so than Superman, Jimmy can change and bend to meet the needs of a story, so long as he's the youngest and most naive guy in the room.  And as a lead protagonist, the reader feels two steps ahead of our hero.  A lot of actors have had a lot of takes on Jimmy, and I have my favorites, but they've all brought something unique to the character.

Happy birthday, Jimmy.  I hope someone got you a cake.

Jimmy in "The Adventures of Superman"

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Non-Essential Viewing: Rocky Horror Picture Show (2016)



I don't know how to categorize this.  It was a two-hour television "event" on Thursday night, in prime time.  It's a sort of "TV movie", but it's in the manner of one of the live musicals the networks have been doing.  Only, it wasn't live.

It also wasn't... very good.

Look, no one has remade this movie to date because the original is lightning in a bottle.  It was a movie that's still relevant, but a lot of what was taboo or edgy in that film has lost it's subversion as elements have become or are becoming more mainstreamed.  Putting a play/ movie about themes that were still considered unmentionable in the 1970's and turning it into fodder for channel flippers on a Thursday night was going to be difficult - but I almost felt like, Laverne Cox aside, most of the cast didn't really know how this was supposed to work.  And, frankly, it didn't feel like the director or producers knew how to do this, either.

To maybe throw some context on this:  the show/ movie was directed by Kenny Ortega, a name that's not exactly household for me, but he was the brains behind High School Musical.  And, boy howdy, does that explain a lot when you're watching the thing.

Really what struck me while watching this was:  Hot Topic.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

TL;DR: Wonder Woman at 75, at the United Nation and 'Wonder Woman v.2 #170'



Yesterday was, apparently, the official 75th birthday of Wonder Woman.  As part of that event, Wonder Woman was made a Special Ambassador of the United Nations, an icon for new efforts within the UN to speak on behalf of gender equality.

I don't know how much of Wonder Woman's origins most people know, or how hung up they are on some of the more salacious details of creator William Moulton Marston's personal life, or how that played out on the comics page.  But I do know that Marston was sincere in his interest to create a strong female superhero, not just with whom little girls could identify, but for little boys to understand that women could do all the things that men can do.  They can leap into the fray and they stand as equals (although I'd argue Marston may have had a bit more of an ideal of a matriarchy in mind even more than than just an egalitarian ideal).

"Wonder Woman" TV star Lynda Carter was in attendance

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Super Watch: Supergirl Season 2, Episodes 1 & 2



When I started watching Supergirl last season, I spent a lot of time rolling my eyes and letting my disappointment in the formulaic, color-by-numbers approach take me to a dark place.  But then, probably earlier on than I'd admit, the show started doing something different from what I expected.  Rather than setting up petty jealousies between characters, rather than turning Calista Flockhart's Cat Grant character into a caricature, rather than turning Kara into a hapless dope that everyone loves only because that's what the show insists must happen despite the fact the character is an idiot ruining everyone's lives...  someone stepped in and started turning the show into something I quite liked.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Marvel Watch: Luke Cage (Season 1, 2016)



I want to say that I loved Luke Cage.  Because for a full 6 episodes, I was ready to stand up and say "this is the best Marvel TV series to date, even better than Jessica Jones or Season 1 of Agent Carter".  But, man, the back half of this series feels rough.  It's still watchable, but as early as the beginning of the seventh episode, the wheels start coming off, and it's only in fits and spurts that the show reclaims the excellence of those first six episodes, seems to remember its mission statement, and doesn't feel like it's a throwback to 1990's-era superhero movies.  I have a few hypotheses as to what may have occurred, but that doesn't save the overall project anymore than headcannons or fan theories (neither of which this blogger recommends you indulge in).  What matters is what winds up on the screen.

What does retain it's consistency, as surely as the cells in Luke Cage's body bounce back from a bad day, is the strong character put forth in Luke Cage, the grounded, human force of a man trying every day to do right.  In Luke Cage we get that rarest of characters which are slowly climbing their way back from two decades of think-pieces to the contrary, the good guy who doesn't need to be called an anti-hero to work in a modern context.  For Marvel, and maybe for the mass audiences, up to this point we've relied on our sepia-toned notions and the uncomplicated moral battle of the Allied fight against the Axis to gain access to the point of view of our upright hero in Steve Rogers - AKA: Captain America.  But in Luke Cage we get a modern man who has known the compromise all his life and despite what's past, he's moving forward in a world that broils and churns with moral compromise as the "smart" move, the only way to get things done.  And we have a hero who isn't living in a hypothetical world of cops and robbers, but in a world that reflects a lot of our own, with Trayvon Martins and the Black Lives Matter movement.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Star Trek 50th Quick Post

Tiny Spock is judging you


This here above is the culmination of my Star Trek collection.  You'll notice it's a little Gorn-centric.  When Diamond put out all the gear I'd wanted since I was 11, I went ahead and did that.  I've only made room for a model of NCC-1701, but I'd sure like an NCC-1701-A and NCC-1701-D sometime (if I knew where they'd go).

Tonight I celebrated Trek with my brother by getting pizza and enjoying some official Star Trek 50th Anniversary beer.



We watched the original series episodes "Arena" and "The Enterprise Incident".  I hadn't seen "The Enterprise Incident" since I was a kid, and it was really pretty darn good.  Funny what happens when you get your head around, uh, "relations" more than you did at age 13.  That D.C. Fontana is a heck of a writer.

After I got home, Jamie was watching the beginning of Star Trek: Generations but had to go to bed.  So, we've agreed we're going to sprint through the Next Generation films, which I haven't seen in forever.  And, hey, I'm a big fan of those characters.

Now I'm watching "The Naked Time" on BBC America.  Good day, all and all.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

50 Years of Star Trek



Here's to 50 years of Star Trek, in television, movies and beyond.

September 8th, 1966 saw the premier of Star Trek on network television.  The episode was "The Man Trap" (the Salt Monster one).  The show lasted for three seasons and blazed trails before spinning off into weirdly wild success in syndication.  Of course, Star Trek: The Next Generation cut out the middleman and went straight into syndication.

I am not a real Trekker, and I'm okay with that.  I never really watched much Deep Space Nine, Voyager or Enterprise.  Not the way I watched original series or Next Generation.  I like all the movies with the original cast for one reason or another, even if I mostly enjoy Star Trek V as camp.  I even liked Star Trek Beyond quite a bit  (Karl Urban was fantastic).

Where Star Wars broke me circa 1999, ending it's drought in 2015 with The Force Awakens, there's always been enough Trek to keep me invested, willing to go to bat and try another movie, TV show, episode, what-have-you.  But I've never felt fan enough to attend a Star Trek convention or the like.  Which is weird.  I guess I've just always been aware that I'm a fan, but I've seen the real fans, if you know what I mean (I do not know a single word of Klingon, for example).

The original show sparked my imagination when I became a regular viewer of episodes at 5:00 PM on the local UHF channel when I was about 10.  The idea of moving through space, of not just constantly fighting some antagonist over and over, but exploring, of discovery - that got my interest.  Also, Lieutenant Uhura.  But flying around in a ship I still haven't gotten over, not necessarily shooting or punching to solve the problem of the week, of trying to find a better tomorrow out on the edge of known space...?  Sign me up.