The X-Files is coming back

Fox (Broadcasting Company, not Mulder) announced that ten new episodes of the X-Files will air in 2017 and 2018. Last year's excellent six-episode mini-series was a fantastic teaser of what's to come. Trust no one.

Read the rest

Mystery Science Theater 3000 does Stranger Things

Here we go, "into the grayish brownish world of the early 80s..."

Read the rest

St. Elsewhere and the snow globe ending

An all-star cast, brave writers, and a catchy theme made St. Eleswhere a phenomenal medical drama. In the final moments of the series finale, however, a twist was introduced wherein a minor character, the autistic son of one of the lead doctors, imagined the events of the entire series.

Starting with a cross-over on Homicide, it turns out Tommy Westphall likely imagined vast amounts of our television landscape. As of August 2016 there were 49 shows airing with connections to St. Elsewhere.

The folks at Tommy Westphall Universe track it all. Read the rest

Shark Tank tonight: Ingenious pop-up shelter invented by Pesco's brother

Under The Weather is a single-person pop-up shelter to sit inside that my big brother Rick came up with a while back. (He was sick of getting soaked at his kids' soccer games and was inspired by a portable toilet he saw by the field.) Under The Weather is designed for spectator sports, fishing, and other outdoor events where it's raining, windy, or cold, but you are either obligated to watch or having so much fun you don't want to leave.

Tonight, Rick and his wife/partner Kelly present the product on Shark Tank! No matter what happens, I can guarantee it will be very entertaining. I'm so proud of them!

And if you want one, don't be fooled by crappy knock-offs. Please buy directly from Rick and Kelly here: Under the Weather

Read the rest

Tribute to Mary Ann from Gilligan's Island

No, she's not dead. But over at Neatorama, actor Eddie Deezen wrote a delightful tribute to Dawn Wells who from 1964 to 1967 famously played Mary Ann, one of seven stranded castaways there on Gilligan's Island. Of course during the first season of the show, she (and the professor) weren't even named in the theme song, having been unfairly lumped in under "and the rest." But for the many young people who didn't dig the movie star, Mary Ann was the down-to-earth object of their affection. From Neatorama:

In 1964, Dawn auditioned for a new show on the CBS schedule called Gilligan's Island. She met with the show's creator, Sherwood Schwartz, where the two chatted about the character she was up for- Mary Ann Summers, a farm girl from Kansas (based on Judy Garland's "Dorothy" character in The Wizard of Oz.) Before officially testing for the role, her agent/husband Larry called and asked how Sherwood liked her. He was told, "She's too smart to play Mary Ann," to which he replied, "She can play dumb."

When Dawn heard of this conversation, she quickly disagreed. "Mary Ann's not dumb," she declared, "She's not very experienced, she's kind of naive, but she's not dumb." It was as if she already fully understood the character she was to make immortal, before she even had the role.

Trivia: Another young, beautiful actress named Raquel Welch was also up for for the Mary Ann role....

And here's Wells on a couple of her castmates:

Jim Backus (Mr.

Read the rest

Why Breaking Bad grabbed you at the first episode

This episode of "Lessons from the Screenplay" analyzes how the Breaking Bad pilot set up the show to be so, er, addictive.

Read the rest

Burt Ward's "Boy Wonder" song, a collaboration with Frank Zappa

In 1966, Burt "Robin" Ward recorded with the Mothers of Invention under the direction of Frank Zappa. The result is really something.

From Burt Ward's autobiography Boy Wonder: My Life in Tights:

The image of the Boy Wonder is all American and apple pie, while the image of the Mothers of Invention was so revolutionary that they made the Hell’s Angels look like the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. Even I had to laugh seeing a photo of myself with those animals.

Their fearless leader and king of grubbiness was the late Frank Zappa. (The full name of the band was Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.) After recording with me, Frank became an internationally recognized cult superstar, which was understandable; after working with me, the only place Frank could go was up.

Although he looked like the others, Frank had an intelligence and education that elevated him beyond brilliance to sheer genius. I spent a considerable amount of time talking with him, and his rough, abrupt exterior concealed an intellectual, creative and sensitive interior...

In an attempt at self-preservation, the record company had me just talk on the second two sides I recorded. That I could do very well! The material for the song was a group of fan letters that had been sent to me. Frank and I edited them together to make one letter, which became the lyrics for the recording. Frank wrote a melody and an arrangement, and we titled the song, “Boy Wonder, I Love You!”

Among the lyrics was an invitation for me to come and visit an adoring pubescent fan and stay with her for the entire summer.

Read the rest

Sesame Street has been trolling Trump for three decades

Trump's distaste for publicly-funded children's programming may or may not be connected to Sesame Street's character Ronald Grump, a grouch who finagles Oscar into relocating from his trash can to Grump Tower. Read the rest

Julia, the muppet with autism, joins Sesame Street's TV show

Julia, the muppet with autism, will join the Sesame Street TV show in April. She appeared last night on 60 minutes during an interview segment with Sesame Street writer Christine Ferraro. From NPR:

"The character Julia, she has wonderful drawing skills. She's like a little budding artist," said Rose Jochum, director of internal initiatives at the Autism Society of America, which characterizes itself as the nation's oldest advocacy group for people with the disorder. "You know — autism — it brings wonderful gifts..."

"It's not like there is a typical example of an autistic child, but we do believe that [with] Julia, we worked so carefully to make sure that she had certain characteristics that would allow children to identify with her," (Sesame Workshop executive vice president Sherrie) Westin said. "It's what Sesame does best, you know: Reaching children, looking at these things through their lens and building a greater sort of sense of commonality."

Here's the 60 Minutes segment script.

And more about puppet designer Rollie Krewson.

Read the rest

Animated interview with Alfred Hitchcock

"We all have fear in us and we like to enjoy a vicarious, shall we say, toe in the water of fear," said Alfred Hitchcock in 1957. (Blank on Blank)

Read the rest

New Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote is a big improvement over the previous model

We have Apple TV, Roku, and TiVo but I haven't used them in months. We use our Fire TV Stick for everything, because it just seems to work more smoothly (the Apple TV is the worst of the bunch), also we are Amazon Prime subscribers, so we get a lot of free shows (like the excellent Z, about Zelda Fitzgerald, starring Christina Ricci).

Recently Amazon introduced the new Fire TV Stick, which is better in many ways than the old version. It has Alexa voice control built into the remote, so you can just ask it to play or search for a show. The new processor makes it run faster that the old version. It also has better WiFi.

I'm going to bring the old one with me when I travel. Read the rest

Stranger Things: watch the teaser for the next season

Who you gonna call?

Read the rest

The (Oval) Office, a new TV comedy

If I don't laugh, I'll cry. (Brandon Smith)

Read the rest

Hüsker Dü cover the theme from The Mary Tyler Moore Show

In memory of the late Mary Tyler Moore, I present to you Minneapolis punk pioneers Hüsker Dü's killer 1985 cover of "Love Is All Around," Sonny Curtis's theme song to The Mary Tyler Moore Show. The Hüskers' rendition was the flipside to their "Makes No Sense At All" single.

Read the rest

"Urban Myths" episode with white Michael Jackson won't air

Cable network Sky will not air the episode of the comedy series Urban Myths featuring Joseph Fiennes, who is white, portraying Michael Jackson. The decision came in response to intense criticism from the likes of Jackson's daughter Paris Jackson who tweeted that the trailer (above) "honestly makes me want to vomit."

“We have taken the decision not to broadcast Elizabeth, Michael and Marlon, a half hour episode from the Sky Arts Urban Myths series, in light of the concerns expressed by Michael Jackson’s immediate family," said a Sky spokesperson. "We set out to take a light-hearted look at reportedly true events and never intended to cause any offence. Joseph Fiennes fully supports our decision.”

(NPR)

Read the rest

This 1958 TV western predicted Trump with a character named... Trump

A 1958 episode of the television western Trackdown features a con artist named Trump who wants to build a wall to protect a town from destruction. From the Classic TV Archive:

Walter Trump, a confidence man, puts on a long robe and holds a tent meeting in the town of Talpa. He tells the townspeople that a cosmic explosion will rain fire on the town and that he is the only one that can save them from death. Ranger Hoby Gilman attempts to prove Trump is a fraud.

And a bit of dialog from the episode:

Narrator: Hoby had checked the town. The people were ready to believe. Like sheep they ran to the slaughterhouse. And waiting for them was the high priest of fraud.

Trump: I am the only one. Trust me. I can build a wall around your homes that nothing can penetrate.

Townperson: What do we do? How can we save ourselves?

Trump: You ask how do you build that wall. You ask, and I'm here to tell you.

"Trackdown Shakedown" (Snopes, thanks David Steinberg!)

Read the rest

Watch George Michael and Morrissey discuss breakdancing and Joy Division

In May 1984, George Michael and Morrissey, promoting respectively “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" and The Smiths' "Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now," appeared on the BBC program Eight Days A Week. They discuss such urgent matters as the film Breakin' (released as Breakdance outside the US) and Mark Johnson's book An Ideal for Living: A History of Joy Division.

(via Dangerous Minds)

Read the rest

More posts