Why I’ve Almost Given Up On The Blacklist

My beautiful wife and I have been watching the James Spader television show The Blacklist since almost the beginning. We have been recording it from the beginning, but I think we started watching it after a whole season had elapsed as we don’t tend to watch 3.5 hours of television a day.

We’ve stuck through it even though its internal intrigues have often sounded like they were not planning any sort of arc across the seasons, but rather came up with something after each renewal. So we’ve had lots of crazy things going on, the story line turning on itself, mysteries resolving into new intrigues that, in total, won’t stand up to scrutiny.

We’ve stuck through it through poor police procedures, most notably how lackadaisical the police are at setting a perimeter when busting in on bad guys, often skipping any sort of perimeter if the bad guys need to escape or setting the perimeter appropriately at 46 minutes after the hour when they need to wrap the episode up. I’ve forgiven other television-driven decisions and tactics as well, not to mention the intrigues and characters who are important for a while and then are not.

But in the current season, I’m having a hard time with the absurd hard-left story lines and moralizing.

Spoilers below the fold.

Continue reading “Why I’ve Almost Given Up On The Blacklist

Fake Newsin’ Memes From 1983

Seen Powerline’s The Week in Pictures:

Come on. I mean, aside from the commas missing from the appositive phrase, Diana was not the “queen lizard.” Any fool knows she was not even in charge of the invasion force, being instead in charge of one of the ships and the chief science officer.

Although one of her superior officers (Pamela, a Supreme Commander) intimates that Diana had a relationship with the supreme leader of the the Visitors, her position was certainly not queen.

I mean, if you don’t remember this stuff off the top of your head, you can read about it on Wikipedia.

Man, the first miniseries came out when I was eleven, and it creeped me out a bit–aliens was something that tripped my willies even into my early 20s.

Although I have both V and V: The Final Battle on DVD, I haven’t watched them in a long time. And I have not seen the new one (well, 2009-new, which is actually newer than the new Battlestar Galactica) because Morena Baccarin cut off her hair for it. Also, because it’s the new one, and the old one is always better.

Today I Learned

Sledge Hammer was born in St. Louis.

(I learned this because Adaptive Curmudgeon had a post today capped with a clip from the 2008 film Burn After Reading that featured Sledge Hammer! and the Farmers Insurance pitchman, so I looked him up on IMDB and learned that he’s been in a lot of other television shows and films since the television comedy that I know him best for.)

Certainly the IMDB entry says he’s known for other things.

But come on. He’s Sledge Hammer!

Trust me, I know what I’m doing.

Know Your Frenches

Kids who grew up on syndicated television in the 1970s, before cable television, might have trouble with this, although they might not even know it: Confusing their Frenches.

Mr. French was a character on the television show Family Affair played by Sebastian Cabot.

Victor French was an actor who appeared most notably (for syndicated television viewers) in Little House on the Prairie and Highway to Heaven.

I’m throwing Merlin Olsen into the mix here because he also had facial hair and because he appeared in Little House on the Prairie as a replacement character when Victor French left the show. Also, he appeared in a Highway to Heaven episode and said to Victor French “All I could see was the flowers and the beard. I thought you were Merlin Olsen.”

Mr. French
Victor French
Merlin Olsen

I am sure this field guide has absolutely no meaning in the second decade of the twenty-first century, where I’m the only one thinking of these particular television programs, none of which I particularly liked but watched we only had five channels and because Sid Meier’s Civilization was still decades away.

Ross Thomas Makes It Big

Well, I’m pretty sure the author made it big enough during his lifetime.

But here in the 21st century, 25 years after his death, his 1984 book Briarpatch is getting a television treatment:

The explosive opening of USA’s “Briarpatch” promises that this new series, starring Rosario Dawson as a crusading investigator uncovering hometown corruption, will continue to offer bang for its buck.

That doesn’t quite happen, but “Briarpatch,” adapted from Ross Thomas’ 1984 crime fiction novel, does provide enough of a compelling storyline to keep viewers guessing where it will all eventually lead.

I’m kind of pleased.

It’s been five years since I’ve read a Ross Thomas paperback, but I have plenty scattered amongst the library, possibly including Briarpatch. So when I end up reading one of them in the near future, you’ll know why.

(Previously reported: The Porkchoppers, The Mordida Man, and Voodoo, Ltd..)

I Blame The Dharma Initiative

Polar bear spray-painted with ‘T-34’ baffles Russia wildlife experts:

Footage shared on social media in Russia of a polar bear with “T-34” spray-painted in black on its side has alarmed experts.

Experts warned the stunt could affect the animal’s ability to blend in with its surroundings and hunt for food.

An investigation is under way to determine exactly where in Arctic Russia the video was filmed.

I’ve seen this before.

Fifteen years later, I’m probably the only one still alluding to Lost.

UPDATE: It looks as though Ms. K. has also commented on the story.

$#*! My Dad Says: The Next Generation

Gen Z’s ‘OK, Boomer’ meme may become a TV show.

It’ll be as big as the television series based on a Twitter feed was ten years ago.

Which is to say, not very big at all. Even William Shatner could not save it.

Because old people watch television, and they don’t want to watch television mocking them nearly as much as kids want to make television shows that mock old people.

Besides, as you know, I’ve already got a favorite Boomer show.

Suddenly, “OK, Boomer”

So I’ve seen the rejoinder “OK Boomer” [sic] twice this week, and it’s only Tuesday. The first was on Facebook post by Bill Whittle and the second was on today’s Bleat by James Lileks. So I guess it’s a thing in Internet places where one contends with Millenials. I don’t, so I haven’t seen it, and I’m not a boomer anyway.

But I see “OK Boomer” and immediately I think of the Benji knock-off:

If you’re of a certain age, it probably triggers the theme song in your head.

Enjoy the flickering representation while it lasts, which will be until the automated copyright checking algorithms find it and I have to replace it in the post with the the German version.

An Ill-Conceived Quiz

So yesterday, I illustrated a repeated motif in the television series Airwolf, that the climactic air battles were always a bit touch-and-go, dramatically, until the Airwolf pilots did the loop. You see, Airwolf had jets and could actually do a loop unlike, you know, real helicopters. And at the end of the climactic air battles at the end of the show, Airwolf always won by doing the loop. So I did an extended rant about how they should maybe do the loop immediately and win decisively in the first minute of battle. But that would make for bad television. And perhaps it stressed the airframe and they tried to avoid it if possible.

So then I got to thinking about helicopters in television shows, and then maybe a quiz wherein you try to name the television program from the name of the helicopter in it.

You know, like Blue Thunder, which was spun off from the movie of the same name (and featured Dana Carvey in a dramatic role). Airwolf essentially ripped off the super copter schtick, but did it more successfully than the Blue Thunder television series did.

But the thoughts of a quiz evaporated quickly when I realized that the helicopters were the star of the shows, so the shows were named after the helicopters. What show was the helicopter “Airwolf” on? Not much of a quiz after all.

The only one I could think of off the top of my head was the Screaming Mimi, which was not the title of the show on which it appeared.

Do you happen to know the show I’m talking about?

Continue reading “An Ill-Conceived Quiz”

Country Stars in the Movies

I’ve talked about how old football players in movies, and as I was just thinking about Jerry Reed’s role in The Waterboy, and I thought about what country stars made pretty good names for themselves in films.

I mean, we do have Jerry Reed, of course, who played major characters in The Waterboy and the Smokey and the Bandit movies (all three), but his other roles seem smaller and on television. So if the threshold is five, Jerry Reed isn’t on the list.

Dwight Yoakum, in addition to singing songs that stick with one, was in a plethora of movies as a major character, including Sling Blade, Panic Room, and many more. So he would be on the list.

Kenny Rogers was in a number of television movies based on his songs, notably The Gambler (series) and Coward of the County. But does television movies count?

George Strait, stretching himself in playing a country singer in Pure Country is not.

Nor is Trace Adkins, known at Nogglestead mostly for An American Carol where he played a minor role, although he has an ouevre that is growing.

Johnny Cash was in a number of television roles, but they were bit parts.

Dolly Parton was in 9 to 5, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Rhinestone, and Steel Magnolias. And she’s been on television a bunch. Does that count? She’d certainly be above some of the others on the list.

Reba had a successful television show and appeared in a couple of films. Should we call her a television or movie star on the basis of her credits?

Of course, Kris Kristofferson is at the top of the list. He has been in A Star Is Born, Blade (the series), Payback, and so much more. He’s probably the patron saint of country stars who became movie stars.

So who am I missing? Who from country music has moved into movies and had success playing roles other than bit roles and other than himself/herself?

He’s No Jack Palance

Although every generation gets the Bruce Campbell hero it needs, he will have some big shoes to fill when he hosts Ripley’s Believe It Or Not!

Best known for the “Evil Dead” franchise and USA’s “Burn Notice” — not to mention his bestselling autobiography, “If Chins Could Kill: Confessions of a B-Movie Actor” — he is now hosting the latest installment of “Ripley’s” (Sundays at 9 p.m. on the Travel Channel).

“I thought ‘Ripley’s’ was a good fit for me because the people who follow what I do, they like stuff on the edge, and that’s what ‘Ripley’s’ is,” says Campbell, 60, on the phone from his home in the self-proclaimed “wilds of Oregon.”

. . . .

“They’ve been around for 100 years, so everyone’s heard of them,” says Campbell. “In my formative years, there was always some form of Ripley’s book or publication [in the house]. I still have the red, cloth-bound Ripley’s book that I had in my living room. It had all these crazy illustrations of people doing amazing things.”

I mean, I can still hear Jack Palance from the 1980s ABC version of the show saying, “Believe it…or not.” Where the “or not” sounded like a threat, and you’d better believe it if you know what’s good for you.

Lostification

Someone is unhappy with how Game of Thrones is turning out:

Where to begin with “The Bells,” an absolute disaster of an episode that exhibited every bad habit the series’ writers have ever had? They threw out their own rule book (suddenly the scorpions don’t work and Drogon can burn everything?) to pursue gross spectacle.

Character and substance were left by the wayside so that the plot could go where the writers wanted. The pace was rushed in the beginning, painfully lagging by the end. The script created plot devices and conflicts out of thin air (no really, when were the bells ever so important?), relished in violence and let a main character survive beyond any reasonable odds.

Yeah, kinda like they did with Lost. The show’s writers were making it all up as they went with no end in sight, and then when they had to wrap it up, they did so with a truncated season that didn’t answer most of the questions from the bulk of the series and instead created a new series of mysteries and questions in the last series, questions that viewers were not invested in, that they could wrap up.

Badly.

So you won’t have to wonder if I watch multi-season narratives like this. I don’t. Because they’ll botch it.

UPDATE: Ace agrees about Game of Thrones and also brings up Lost.

Every Generation Gets The Bruce Campbell Hero It Needs

To men (mostly) of a certain age, Ash from Evil Dead from the 1980s:

For slightly younger persons, there’s Brisco County, Jr., from 1993:

A younger generation gets Bubba Ho-Tep from 2002:

Today’s kids might get Sam Axe from Burn Notice:

My kids, of course, are getting things out of order as we watch The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. on DVD. My beautiful wife knows him from Burn Notice. I know him as Ash even though I’ve only seen The Evil Dead and relatively recently.

But I’m pretty sure most universities would be better with a Bruce Campbell Studies Department.

The Dirty Tricks of Pseudo-Bachelorhood

Me: “Hey, boys, Mom’s traveling for business. Want to watch Captain America?
Boys: “Yeah!”
Me:

That is, of course, the Captain America television movie from 1979. Which first aired thirty years ago tomorrow (January 19, 1979) as a matter of fact.

I probably saw this first on cable television late at night when it was still relatively fresh.

So the boys and I watched this collection of man driving/man riding on a motorcycle montages punctuated by stoic surfer dude reluctance to accept his father’s mantle. They think it could have used more guns and artillery, as always.

But I have ruined Captain America for them like I ruined James Bond. But they’ll probably be happy to watch the second film, Captain America 2: Death Too Soon sometime soon. Because, hey, it’s screen time after a fashion.

Reality Television Show Concept

So while tooling through IMDB yesterday, I came up with a reality television show concept: Celebrity Crush.

Basically, it would take actors and actresses, often from older movies and television shows, and have them call upon people who expressed having a crush on them back then.

The producers would scour social media and blog posts looking for harmless admissions that so-and-so liked that actor/actress from that movie from back in the day, would run a background check on the poster, and would then look to get that actor/actress to call upon the non-celebrity to–well, it would depend, I suppose. Go on a date? Get together and talk about the movies and the times in the old days?

Say, for example, someone remembers fondly Judie Aronson from Weird Science and American Ninja:

Then
Now

Producers could find someone who thought she was cute in those films and get them together to talk about where they were then, what they’re doing now, and whatnot. It would be a bit of a Where Are They Now? with the chance for the celebrity to promote new projects (new movies or gyms). The show could catch some of the non-celebrities by “surprise” when the celebrity crush just shows up. The producers could vary the format from “dates” to just discussions and reminisciences (which is not how the real word is spelled, but some of us have nostalgia down to a science, so it seems fitting). They could vary the ages/eras of the celebrity to keep it interesting. I’m telling you, it could work.

I’d watch it.

I’m exaggerating there. I don’t watch much television, especially not reality shows or celebrity news magazine types of things.

But I would happily accept a junior producer credit for writing this blog post.

Tonight, My Children Learn Life Lessons From 1980s Television

I just ordered the first season of Magnum, p.i. from Amazon on these little silver discs to watch with my children between James Bond films.

Why Magnum, p.i.? Three things recently:

  • I saw someone post on Facebook that there’s a reboot in the works or on television. Hey, it worked for Hawaii Five-O. The person on Facebook was less sanguine about this particular reboot, though.
  • On Sunday mornings, one of the local radio stations plays a repackaged version of the “American Top 40” radio programs from the 1980s with Casey Kasem. One recent Sunday, they played Mike Post’s theme song for this program, which charted in 1982.
  • I was in my children’s room collecting laundry, and on the wall I espied some framed tiger photos, one of which came from my Aunt Dale, who collected tiger pictures and items. She was fond of the mustachioed PIs of eighties television, including Tom Selleck as Magnum and Lee Horsley as Matt Houston, both of whom she would say curled her toes.

Clearly, the universe compelled me to get this show and watch it.

But I’m not sure I’m going to expose my children to the last season.

How Brian J. Ruined James Bond For His Children

You know how the first incarnation of the Doctor you see tends to be your favorite in Doctor Who? How the first album from an artist tends to be your favorite, no matter how long you listen to a singer or band or how many other albums he/she/they produce?

So it often is with James Bond.

Your favorite, if you’re of a certain age, is Sean Connery. If you’re a little younger, it’s Roger Moore. If you’re still a pup, it’s that Remington Steel guy. Generally, it tracks with the first James Bond you saw when it was fresh and new to you.

Well, my oldest picked up a James Bond encyclopedia and read everything in it, so he nows the characters and the stories as book knowledge backwards and forwards. Well, not book knowledge; as you might know, gentle reader, the movies are based on a series of books, some of which share the titles but not the plots of the movies.

On a recent excursion to the video store, my oldest tried to slip Dr. No into the mix of titles to rent, and I rejected it. After all, we have that DVD at home. But when it came time for their first James Bond on the screen experience, their father sabotaged them forever by presenting this guy as James Bond:

Sorry, that’s Jimmy Bond as portrayed by Barry Nelson. The first screen portrayal of the super spy was on a black and white television show called Climax!, but James Bond was turned into an American operative with help from his British intelligence counterpart Clarence Leiter. In a production of Casino Royale.

My children sat riveted as Jimmy Bond took on an aged Peter Lorre bad guy at Baccarat. The program ran only an hour, which meant it did not keep them up past their alloted bed time, and they went to bed knowing that they have seen a James Bond that none of their friends have.

And Barry Nelson just might be their favorite James Bond just as Dr. No is their favorite Doctor.

UPDATE: In a stunning turn of events, Dustbury talks about Barry Nelson as Jimmy Bond today as well.

Book Report: The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia by Steven Jay Rubin (2018)

Book coverI bought this book when I saw a conservative blog I read (I forget which, but I hope it’s not the hoity-toity Ace of Spades HQ Sunday Morning Book Thread since OregonMuse posts my books) mention it and say that it was anti-Trump or something. To be honest, it’s not particularly anti-Trump: It does not mention him by name, which is refreshing in a book you’ve been told is a sucker punch hit job. It does say that The Twilight Zone told uncomfortable truths/stories (which is kind of like the Resistance, amiwrong?), but you see that sort of thing in a lot of books touting shows, both current and historical. A couple of entries have phrases of dubious provenance but that are clearly meant to refer to These Dark Times, such as mentioning jackboots returning in the 21st century and whatnot. But overall, not something that Michael Moore or–what’s that guy that was a “comedian” and then “Senator” from the state that elected that wrestler who wore feathers as governor?–would have written.

But I got it because I remember a little of the show and thought it might be interesting.

I’ll be honest; at the outset of reading this book, I could only remember one episode of the show (“A Stop At Willoughby”, which I saw sometime in adulthood, I think). As I read it, I also remember seeing “The Shelter” at some point in my youth, probably in the 1980s when another Republican was in office, and the fear of nuclear war led to great art like The Day After and Testament (not the band) as well as a whole genre of post-apocalyptic movies.

But this book is a bit of nostalgia trip in taking me back to my youth, when this program was syndicated and available for watching (although apparently I didn’t watch or remember too much) along with a lot of other old black and white programs. The book itself is entries for individual actors, actresses, producers, directors, musical composers, and other people associated with the series along with the individual episodes, themes, lots, and other markers from the series. So when running through the actors who played in this program, it listed other things they appeared in, including series like Combat!, Black Sheep Squadron, and other things that hit syndication while I was coming of television watching age and beyond. Notable actors who played in epidodes of The Twilight Zone include William Shatner, Jack Klugman, Jack Warden, and others that I know mostly from other works. Still, it was a varied bunch, and their connections to old television shows that I sort of remember remind me of a time. You know.

Secondly, the list of programs that I don’t recognize humbles me a bit. I mean, many of the anthology series (Playhouse this and sponsor Theatre that) were done live, so recordings do not exist. Other shows, like Peter Gunn and so on, I recognize the names but don’t think I’ve seen. I didn’t see them on television in the day, and I’m not sure they’re easy to find on television (or other media) today. There was a whole world of television that came on before I was self aware and that I’ve never seen. Likewise, the movie credits indicate a wide world of films, including war films and detective movies, that I’ve never heard of and have never seen.

So the book rather inspired me to look for some of these things to view. And, of course, to watch the television program itself which I see is available on Blu-ray for less than $60. So I might think about that, too.

I’d say “I hope I can get some use out of this on trivia nights,” but trivia nights’ trivia tends to be more recent than this program these days.

But I enjoyed the book. And I paid full price for it and don’t regret it, which says something.

Portents of Van Peebles

Today, as I was leaving the YMCA, I looked down and saw a toddler’s spoon lying in the parking lot.

Then, I went to Sam’s Club, where I saw a plastic spoon lying in the parking lot as well.

Clearly, these are signs that I will binge watch Sonny Spoon sometime soon.

I must have been the only one who liked this show when it aired, since it lasted only fifteen episodes. But it’s the character I associate with Mario Van Peebles, not Kane from The Highlander III.

Modern Education Has Made History Full of Spoiler Alerts

The latest fad amongst the cool kids and the people who talk about the cool kids is a Netflix True Crime documentary series called Making a Murderer which not only has the cool kids in an uproar about an old murder case but

In a Washington Post piece designed to enflame the cool kids’ ire against Bad Man Scott Walker, we have this bit:

(CAUTION: Some mild spoilers ahead if you haven’t seen the show.)

Dudette. It’s a documentary. Can a documentary have spoilers?

Anything that really happened that you don’t know is a spoiler waiting to happen. The modern education system just ruins all the good surprises. Or it would if they taught history. Do they? I don’t know.

But it’s a documentary with a narrative.