Saturday, August 26, 2023
Bob Barker - the man, the myth, the pal for millions of us having a sick day from school or work - has passed at the age of 99.
Not a soul in America living in the back quarter of the 20th Century hadn't seen Barker at one point or another, appearing daily on The Price is Right, possibly America's real favorite game show. Among a hundred different games on the program, and surrounded by "Barker's Beauties", Bob was our genial uncle, walking contestants through the motions and managing chaos with a light chuckle, a peculiarly thin microphone and a voice gifted by the gods.
Barker was a kind of gentlemen that no longer exists, a part of a different age. The Kids will have only known the modern, post-modern gameshow host, maybe minus the soon-to-retire Pat Sajack, the guy who can't believe he's hosting a gameshow and refuses to take it seriously. And while I don't think Barker had any illusions about what he was doing, he was never above it.
Anyway, never write off a sharp suit, a good haircut and an unflappable demeanor.
Have your pets spayed or neutered!
Sunday, August 6, 2023
Today marks the 112th birthday of one of the greatest talents of the 20th Century and a true pioneer, who had an immeasurable impact on the world that continues to be felt every day.
If you're my age, you know Lucille Ball from the one endless reruns of I Love Lucy, one the of the templates for television comedy we're still referencing and still trying to top. Prior to her show, she was a model and movie star - but wasn't aimed to be one of the greats. If you've seen any of her films, she seems like she's too big for what they're giving her whether it's a comedy or a drama (she appears in a couple of crime movies I've seen). But my guess is they didn't know what to do with her in a male-forward Hollywood of the time.
In musicals and comedies, it's weird to see her not given the lead. I grew up with Lucy as a huge star, so you're retroactively thinking "why can't they give her more screentime?"
She honed an act with husband Desi Arnaz, and it more or less created the basis for what would become the show they'd take to the networks. And much like Seinfeld, because it was her show and not one she was cast for, as it became a hit, she was able to build more and more of an empire, setting up Desilu Studios.
I was reminded that today was Lucille Ball's birthday by Star Trek social media, who has never forgotten that if it weren't for Lucy championing the show and everything it stands for as head of Desilu Productions, we either get no Star Trek or a very watered down show that wasn't what we think of as Star Trek. And they're still making that show.
But go back and watch some I Love Lucy. The show is so... good. Sure, it's a multi-camera show and it doesn't always fit with everything we expect out of a modern sitcom, but in addition to being a female-led show (and produced as Lucy was very involved in *everything*, more so than Desi) it's amazing to see how we're still working bits from the show now. It's a classic for a reason.
And, very indirectly, Ball is responsible for TCM. When the network was coming together and they recruited Robert Osbourne to be Robert Osbourne, it turns out that he was a friend of Ball's who had been given the opportunities in Hollywood he'd had because of her largesse paired with his know-how and encyclopedic knowledge of Hollywood history. And you do not get the TCM of today without Osbourne, pals.
Monday, July 31, 2023
Man, this is some sad news I did not expect at all.
Paul Reubens, better known as Pee-Wee Herman, has passed at the age of 70.
Reubens was a member of The Groundlings and became part of the class of breakout stars of his era, alongside Cassandra Peterson and others.
Reubens created the unique and beloved character of Pee-Wee Herman, a persona who wound up in TV specials, movies, and the excellent Pee-Wee's Playhouse - one of the best things ever on Saturday mornings. He's responsible for Tim Burton's early big screen success, and co-starred with everyone from Laurence Fishburne to Lynn-Marie Stewart and John Paragon on the Saturday morning show.
Pee-Wee's run was cut short in the 1990's, but he returned in the age of social media, releasing a final movie, Pee-Wee's Big Holiday, that was as funny as anything he'd done, and maybe freer?
What has surprised me most about Pee-Wee over the years has been that the movies, specials, etc.. get *funnier*. My first viewing of Pee-Wee Herman content was in elementary school, and every time I watch one of his movies or review clips of any of his work, it doesn't just hold up, it shines a little brighter.
Reubens also appeared in numerous other projects, playing a wide range of characters. He's great in Mystery Men, 1991's Blow, and he got the biggest laugh of the movie from me in the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
On social media, he was very plugged into the same sort of cheerful "look at this weirdo thing" stuff I tend to want to forward to Jamie, all of it in fun. Lots of retro, lots of outlandish goofiness. The kind of stuff that would look at home beside Mr. T cereal and pterodactyl puppets.
We'll miss Paul Reubens, and we'll miss Pee-Wee Herman. Taken way too soon.
Thursday, June 29, 2023
MRSHL, Maxwell and Ryan have heard the final whistle on Season 3 of everyone's favorite show about a very well adjusted soccer team. After two wildly popular seasons, this season drew a wide range of opinions. Join us as we line up for a set-piece and see if we can't get it in the goal.
Ted Lasso Main Theme - Marcus Mumford and Tom Howe
Fight Test - Flaming Lips
Friday, May 26, 2023
Let me start by throwing whatever weight I may have to sway your viewing habits (which I assume is zero) into checking out Mrs. Davis, the 8-part TV series currently available on Peacock.
I can provide a cursory description of the show, but it will be just the barest of bones of what the show actually is, as I don't want to spoil anything (yet) and I don't want to mislead anyone.
What I can tell you is that it's somewhat about a nun living in a parallel timeline where 10 years ago an AI came online that can speak directly to people. In the years since its arrival, it's started to end war, famine, poverty, etc... and helped people find personal fulfillment. Maybe.
It also sends people on quests, which, if they succeed means they earn "wings".
Our nun, sister Simone, joined a convent just as the AI was coming into being and hates the AI, which she believes was responsible for the death of her father - a stage magician. As her world is rocked by a rapid series of events, Simone is reunited with a childhood friend, and takes on a mission to take the AI down no matter the cost.
It's an action comedy.
And I love it.
It's also remarkably prescient, given this was filmed some time ago, and released just on the heels of the ChatGPT explosion and very real reconsideration of what AI may do to our cultural landscape, let alone one that speaks directly to an all too willing public. We've all seen sci-fi stuff that seems eerily near-future and predictive, and this is that (in some ways).
I only really know Betty Gilpin from Netflix's wrestling show GLOW where she was amazing and a stand-out even in a cast of stand-outs. But she's quietly one of the funniest actors I can name, effortlessly conveying internal conflicts and spontaneous reactions that are wildly authentic for someone who has been on two fairly over-the-top shows. She's the rock that makes you believe the insanity, all without being a exactly a straight-man to the antics. But definitely our POV of sanity in an insane world.
Or maybe not. In this case, she's just our anchor POV in a world that is clearly mad. She's found her peace living among her sisters, bottling and selling jam. She has a bit of a romantic relationship she keeps to herself.
But the AI needs her, and it doesn't want to be ignored. And when doing things for the AI is the biggest clout-generator on the planet? Man.
Anyway, I am just scratching the surface, but the tone, zig-zagging narrative, willing embrace of total chaos in storytelling - while telling an air-tight, somewhat moving story... man. That's hard to do. All while making me occasionally laugh like a loon (often just Gilpin's "what now...?" expressions get the biggest moments for me). If you told me this is where the show was going from the first episode to the last, I would have been deeply confused, but yet it does it all, seamlessly. And hilariously.
I'll do another spoileriffic post later, but as we enter the long weekend, I wanted to put an offering on the table.
Sunday, May 14, 2023
I will be accused of only watching Eurovision 2023 because this edition was co-hosted by actor/ singer/ performer Hannah Waddingham of Ted Lasso fame. First - how dare you. Second - she looked amazing.
We've all heard of Eurovision, but until recently, it didn't air here in the US that I'm aware of. In recent years we'd see twitter going bananas for it, but it was during daylight and work hours in the US, and it was very unclear what was occurring over there. But folks of all ages and walks of life seemed into it, so I think that piqued the curiosity of some of us.
Right at the start of COVID, I remember watching the Eurovision movie starring Will Ferrell, and it gave me *some* clue as to what was happening and how it worked, but, honestly, raised more questions than it answered.
Thursday, April 27, 2023
Not many talk-show hosts get a movie playing themselves doing their own talk show. Not many talk-show hosts inspire operas. Not many talk-show hosts wind up doing a talk-show after a major political scandal involving paying a hooker with a signed check and then *still* winding up as mayor of a major US city for a stint.
Jerry Springer was probably not a good man, but in 2011, I did meet him in the sportsbook at the Planet Hollywood hotel in Las Vegas where he was very nice to me and posed for drunken blurry pictures that have since been lost to bad asset management on the interwebs. He was there hosting the Vegas nightly show of America's Got Talent. He smoked a giant cigar and looked bored.
Like many talk-shows, Springer started off trying to do reasonable interviews that went in-depth on important issues, but when cancellation seemed imminent, he and his producers transformed his show into the chair-hurling, fist-tossing, hair-pulling bonanza it was. Which made Springer rich, ultimately ran for roughly 25 years and spun off a few other shows, including a behind-the-scenes that made no one look good. But when your set is designed to look like a sewer with a stripper pole, I guess no one cares?
Saturday, April 8, 2023
Futbol is underway
Austin FC is my local team and my point of view when it comes to soccer/ futbol. I am a fan. I'll be ride-or-die with this team and the fanbase. They are off to a very rough start.
Futbol is a weird sport in that, unlike pretty much every other US-based sport, they don't just play within their league. They also will play within a variety of Cups series, which adds extra games in the middle of the week. It's bananas. But, you can also get knocked out if you lose those games. Which AFC did.
It hasn't helped that my guy, Julio Cascante, went down with an injury about twenty minutes into the new season and one of our other strong defenders, Gabrielsen, returned to Norway for family reasons. Anyway, it's not been great, but it's a long season. And I'll be there! Verde! Listos!
In fact, we have tickets to see them play next week.
Apple and MLS
Apple+ is now the home for all of MLS, which is... fine. I don't think they're actually sending the folks calling games to the stadiums, and because they're treating it almost like NCAA football coverage, they're missing what Americans depend on in some ways during long sporting seasons - we need coverage by homers.
I don't know who the people are covering games. They don't show them, they don't explain who they are, and there's a real tendency in soccer coverage to do it in a "what I would have done here" way I expect out of football games at 11:00 AM on a Saturday by ESPN's third tier guys. It's not holistic coverage recognizing the audience, it's putting the person calling the game in the position of critic and a second adversary when you're watching. I love baseball coverage by my local folks because they're living and dying with the team, an extension of that team, and they know to be merciful to the audience listening while also being honest. It seems like an easy tweak for Apple to make, but I assume that placing teams in every city if very expensive versus having people sitting at a table in New York watching the games on a feed, which is what I suspect is happening.
I was also expecting the obvious to occur and a SportsCenter style show to arrive by Sunday morning after the Saturday matches, but instead it's basically just a dry highlight reel. This is, in fact, bad. It both keeps the audience at a distance from the game, players and staff, but it also suggests that there's nothing to see here or discuss, really. Which... I'm the first person to make fun of the endless coverage of sports on 5 Fox Sports channels, 10 ESPN channels, 4 NBC Channels, etc... and the parade of dum-dums who get paid to make stuff up about sports. But I don't think 30-60 minutes per week to cover an entire sports league that gets no coverage elsewhere is asking too much.
This weekend the US Women's National Team is playing in Austin, and I failed to secure tickets. I'm a little down about it, but I think they'll be back, maybe even this year as they head toward World Cup play this summer.
And do plan to watch this summer, USWNT looks great, but in addition to the usual other power houses, England's team seems to be on an incredible roll.
But let's see what Rose Lavelle and Crystal Dunn do this year for USWNT.
The baseball season is underway! Cubs are still gelling and look middle-of-the-road so far. I didn't watch much last year, but am giving it some time again, which means figuring out who some of these guys are, especially on pitching.
And, it's hard to know how good any of these guys will be over the length of the season. You see people come in hot at the start of a season and fizzle at the end of month one. Other people get hot for a while. Others - especially pitchers - can be all over the place during a season. I'm excited one of our pitchers seems to have found a good spot as a reliever (Alzolay). But I also want to see more out of defense, especially around third base.
And, I've been watching Pitching Ninja videos.
I never watched The Wire when it first aired. Until HBOmax, HBO was something I'd have sporadically, but didn't feel the need to watch whatever was the hot HBO show and the movie selection was usually pretty mediocre.
My brother had the series on DVD and loaned it to Jamie and me in 2007, but according to him we weren't "watching it fast enough" to demonstrate we truly appreciated it. And he took the DVD set away. It was hilarious, but I wound up just not watching the show at all.
But now I have the idiotically named HBOmax* and therefore access to The Wire, and I'm watching it with Laura and Marshall, one episode per week. Laura is documenting her journey through The Wire via this Tumblr.
I am sure my participation is frustrating for my pals as I tend not to say a lot about a TV show until the end of a season. I'm either enjoying it or I'm not, but I tend not to want to say much about a character's arc until the end of the season, because that's when you can say what worked or what didn't. Anything before is guess work.
As I mentioned in our chat, if you've worked for a large organization or one that's "political" (I suspect everyone's workplace with more than six people is political, literally or figuratively), it's a reminder of how people and their self-interest are their own worst enemies when it comes to solving the problems their paid to solve. Obviously the point of the show, but - it's kind of fascinating to also see it done in a way that isn't just a labor to watch. You can see the angles without feeling like you're watching Death of a Bureaucrat.
What Else Are We Watching?
Ted Lasso - I feel like this season is off to a good start, I'm glad it's back, etc... But, man, I hate that they added the fortune teller to predict the future for even one scene. I know you dum-dums decided astrology was real during COVID, but now we have to deal with fan speculation and, technically, wizards existing in the universe of a straightforward TV show. Other than that, it's been lovely, and they more or less seem to have found a workable and less awkward storyline for Rebecca this season.
Abbott Elementary - The only 1/2 hour network sitcom we watch. I'll be curious how long they can keep this up.
Mandalorian - I've seen nothing but the whining on twitter from people who get confused by any story more complicated than a side-scroller videogame, but pretty clearly Star Wars is expanding the timeline and storyline from a pretty narrow window to include the wider Star Wars universe, and that's... a good thing. I was not a BSG watcher, so this is my first real time spent with Katee Sackhoff, and y'all were right about her.
Superman and Lois - The weirdly undiscussed Superman show is still 2/3rds soap opera, 1/3rd Superman-ness, and that's... fine. I've settled in, and after 2 prior seasons, I know the last few episodes of each seasons are where they'll pull out the super-story and remind you how cool Superman stuff can be. In many ways, Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth "Bitsie" Tulloch are near-exact embodiments of how I think of Lois and Clark in the comics. It's honestly kind of weird how much they've got it down. There are things I wish they'd tweak or do differently, but I suspect the budget is a limiting factor for more time at the Fortress or doing Superman things. But it's a lot for a CW show, so I'm happy about just having a Superman and Lois I can completely buy.
Schmigadoon - Season 2 of the show I've not even heard my theater-pals discuss is underway and you can tell they're a lot more comfortable from jump. Rather than the Meredith Wilson style of musical, we're moving into Sondheim and Fosse, and while, yeah, maybe it helps to do your homework and this won't be for everyone, I'm *barely* a musicals guy, and this works for me. Plus, Cicely Strong and Keegan-Michael Key are endlessly funny just existing on screen as folks reacting to what is happening.
*to my dying day, I will believe this branding was the work of people who don't understand the holdings and possible reach of WB's vast library, but who really think Game of Thrones is neat
Tuesday, January 31, 2023
Cindy Williams, who played Shirley on the popular sitcom Laverne & Shirley, has passed.
It seems her passing must have been sudden as just last week I saw an ad for Williams' one-woman show, Me, Myself and Shirley, which was coming to Austin.
Williams was a staple of 70's and 80's television, and a star of George Lucas' breakthrough hit, American Graffiti. Williams appeared in the great Coppola film The Conversation, as well as countless movies and shows over the years.
Monday, January 30, 2023
Lisa Loring, who most famously played Wednesday Addams on The Addams Family from 1964-1966, has passed.
Like many child actors, Loring's post-Addams Family life was complex, dipping in and out of the spotlight from time to time, through tabloids and media appearances. And, like many celebrities of retro media, Loring had made a career out of the fan shows and convention circuit. She did act in TV and film, keeping mostly to guest starring roles and smaller films.
Remarkably, Loring really did grow up to somewhat resemble Carolyn Jones. So, whomever from casting picked her out in 1964, well done.
Loring is survived by her two daughters.
Here's to the original Wednesday cutting a rug.
Tuesday, January 24, 2023
Movies/ TV Watched:
- Addams Family (1991) 01/16/2023
- Addams Family Values (1993) 01/17/2023
- Addams Family (animated - 2019) 01/19/2023
- Wednesday (2022)
- The Addams Family (original series, 1964-1966)
- Addams Family/ Values/ Wednesday - Netflix
- Addams Family (animated film)/ original series - YouTube
- Addams Family/ Values - Unknown
- Addams Family (animated) - First
- Addams Family/ Values/ Wednesday - Barry Sonenfeld
- Addams Family (animated film) - Greg Tiernan/ Conrad Vernon
Join us as we get creepy and kooky, mysterious and spooky, and all together ooky, as Jamie and Ryan talk Addams Family comic strips, television, movies and more! We ponder questions of family values, romance, and what makes an ever-evolving franchise work when it passes through so many hands as new generations get involved. And what IS movie perfection, and why is it only seen in the two Addams Family films?
The Addams Family Theme - Vic Mizzy
Addams Groove - Hammer
What is Love? Playlist
Wednesday, January 4, 2023
Hoo-Boy. Did we watch a lot of TV in 2022.
This list is in no way comprehensive. I started a lot of series, watched 1-3 episodes and then bailed. Those aren't listed here. Watching an episode of Seinfeld on TBS, also not listed. So its basically series I watched the season from start-to-finish. What's shocking is how hard it is to remember what I watched when I have to surf across services to figure out what I watched. So, I probably left off a few shows.
It doesn't include one-hour specials, shark docs, and other time-fillers.
Look, I don't do a lot of Important Dramas. I don't do puzzle-box shows. I am sure you will find your favorite show missing. Tough noogies. That's how we roll. What are you gonna do, come over here and make me watch stuff? NO DICE.
Most Watched Thing
Saturday, December 17, 2022
Watched: A few weeks ago
Format: I don't remember, but I didn't pay for it
Director: Douglas Barr
This movie is a super-weird remnant from a different era of Hallmark film where they went in on special FX and name talent. Usually, like, 1 name talent per movie, and it's not Sandra Bullock. But it is Tiffani Theissen, who I think we can agree holds a special place in the hearts of us early-90's teens. (I mean, I think I've been very clear I was a Jessie Spano man, but that's a different post for a different day).
Theissen is a good actor! She could have been an interesting Lois Lane. And here she plays an investigative reporter, don't you know. But also a single mom dealing with the passing of her husband, and moved to a small-ish town. And she thinks her son is going crazy (my words, not hers) because her son is legit given a 2-way radio so he can communicate with a very real elf in the form of a spunky teen (Bailee Madison).
It's a lot of plot, as she tries to sort out what looks like corruption in town (it is not, and this plot point makes almost no sense and pitches sentiment over how things work in a functioning democracy, but whatevs). And her son is navigating trauma, the very real existence of Santa and Mrs. Claus and a whole civilization of eternal elves. And homework. There's so, so much going on. Oh, and Theissen kinda finds at least a make-out buddy in her son's teacher, which is probably going to cause the teacher HR issues.
But, like, this movie has a budget for Clementine the Elf to fly around in a sleigh, grab the kid, take him to The North Pole - which we see from an aerial view and it's pretty cool! - and then kinda elaborate sets that are the North Pole.
I'm not sure this could have been released to theaters, but for 2014, it's a big production for deep cable, and a reminder that Hallmark was not always just young actresses with bad hair and guys with two weeks of beard growth.
Tuesday, December 13, 2022
Saturday, December 10, 2022
Director: Michael Vejar
Danny returns! To talk the 1996 Holiday installment of a Super-favorite. Join us as we get merry in both the 5th and 3rd dimension, talk all-things Superman, where this show fits in to the expansive history of The Man of Steel and how this episode works as a Superman story. So what happens when Howie Mandel arrives and wants to conquer the world? Our man picked the wrong holiday to try that one.
Lois and Clark Main Title - Jay Gruska
Sunday, November 6, 2022
|your world champion Houston Astros!|
With Halloween over and the World Series now concluded (featuring the Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies), Longhorn football in late season, AND the Major League Soccer Cup match... we've been TV busy this weekend.
At League HQ, Halloween is a marathon as we queue up movies starting in summer - resulting in 9 episodes discussing at least 12 movies covered on Ye Olde PodCaste. You're welcome. On top of that, we also watch other Halloween movies during October, including hosting a few Friday Watch Parties.
There's also Halloween TV things to see, and increasingly YouTube videos, so much media has been consumed.
All of which is weird - because I'm actually not a huge horror nut. It's just how things seem to play out.
These days I generally don't post much about TV and sports here, but with Halloween on Monday - this week we watched new episodes of one of my favorite shows, Documentary Now!, and the surprising return of Sherman's Showcase, which I assumed was canceled as it had been a while since new episodes appeared.
One thing I checked off on Saturday was the MLS season. Major League Soccer is, of course, fairly new to me. Last week, Austin FC - my entry point to the league - lost to LA FC in the Western Conference Championship. While of course one hopes that that your team will win, Austin FC's second season went shockingly well, and I'm new to all this, so how upset can you be?
The MLS Cup, which was Saturday afternoon, is essentially the Superbowl for American soccer. And as it's soccer, I think I saw one ad for it? LAFC wound up beating Philadelphia in a penalty kick shoot-out. It was a great game, and it was nice to watch one where I wasn't pulling super hard for anyone. If you were looking to check out a game this year, it was a good one!
Anyway - I guess I'm into soccer now?
Wednesday, September 28, 2022
PodCast 208 D: "Inhumans" (2017) - Episodes 7 & 8 - A Superheroes Every Day PodCast w/ Danny and Ryan
Well. Against all sense or reason, we did it. Our final episode of intense coverage of Marvel's "Inhumans" comes to lengthy conclusion as we try to figure out what is happening and why and to whom and if anyone might care. We'll ponder Rubbermaid storage on the Moon, moonquakes, and trying to use the same hallway set over and over. Let's ponder a royal family you might just want to rise up against yourself.
Paint It Black - Valerie Broussard
Don't Fear the Reaper - Denmark & Winters
Superheroes Every Day Playlist
Saturday, September 24, 2022
PodCast 208 C: "Inhumans" (2017) - Episodes 5 & 6 - A Superheroes Every Day PodCast w/ Danny and Ryan
|this show contains a shocking amount of loitering in the woods|
Oh, the Inhumanity! We reach the plodding 5th and 6th episodes, which feel like a whole lot of filler and not a lot of thriller. Once you get past realizing Dave is one hell of a right-on dude, you're in for more casual disregard for the sanctity of life, slow working drug dealers, and trying to remember Sammy is on the show. Oh, and Maximus is very, very sensitive. Mostly, the show is filling space and killing time til we can get to the final two episodes.
Paint It Black - Valerie Broussard
Don't Fear the Reaper - Denmark & Winters
Superheroes Every Day Playlist!
Thursday, September 8, 2022
MRSHL and Ryan step into the dream-realm to talk Netflix's gigantic gamble - adapting a comic property that isn't based on superheroes, is written for older readers, has nuance and complexity, and doesn't talk down to the audience. It's the thing fans didn't believe could ever be adapted faithfully. Do we dare dream?
The Kingdom of Dreams - David Buckley
Mr. Sandman - The Chordettes
DC Comics Playlist
Monday, September 5, 2022
PodCast 208 B: "Inhumans" (2017) - Episodes 3 & 4 - A Superheroes Every Day PodCast w/ Danny and Ryan
|contrary to this image, this show is not about two women about to present at a conference|
Danny and Ryan discuss episodes 3 and 4 of the ongoing tale of a bunch of mutant moon men kicking around Hawaii - all part of a TV series which made Marvel decide network TV was probably a terrible idea. Let alone doing it on a budget. Join us as we recount the puzzling adventures of our "heroes".
Paint It Black - Valerie Broussard
Don't Fear the Reaper - Denmark & Winters
Superheroes Every Day Playlist