Friday, November 16, 2018

Pensamientos Acerca de Televisión

Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries: "Unnatural Habits"

You could tell this was an Australian show and not a British one because when the lead characters were considering a raid on a group of nogoodniks, the characters showed no hesitation in bringing out the firearms.

That said, this show is to be commended for doing a good job of balancing modern and not so modern sensibilities in a believable manner. If a woman like Essie Davis's Phryne Fisher character did not really exist in the Australia of the late 1920s, the stories in this show make a strong case that she should have. Actress Ashleigh Cummings also stars in this series, playing Ms. Fisher's loyal companion Dorothy Williams, a former maid who plays a Catholic Watson to Ms. Fisher's self-described lady detective. And of course, I should not forget to mention actor Nathan Page, who plays Ms. Fisher's would-be love interest Detective Inspector John "Jack" Robinson.

There are other characters, of course, whom I'll probably mention in future reviews but for now, the one regret I have about the episodes of this show that I've watched thus far is that I have not yet managed to find time to read the Kerry Greenwood novels that inspired them. Mea culpa. Mea maxima culpa.

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Pensamientos Acerca de Televisión

The Wild Wild West: "The Night of the Steel Assassin"

The villain's last name in this episode would be Torres, wouldn't it? And yet when I first saw this episode as a teenager, I thought nothing of that fact. I was more impressed by the fact that he seemed to be somebody's nineteenth century version of the bionic man -- only he was created long before anyone had heard of bionic men. Then again, The Wild Wild West was dealing with steampunk-style stories long before anyone ever heard of steampunk so I should not have been surprised.

In any event, when I was a kid, I was fascinated by stories featuring characters that were far more stronger and tougher than myself. I suspect most kids are -- hence the popularity of such benign heroes as Superman, the Six Million Dollar Man and the various animated incarnations of Popeye and Hercules. Of course, I suspect the popularity of vampire movies like the 1972 made-for-TV movie The Night Stalker are also based on such fascination. And of course, it is no accident that popular action movies like the James Bond films regularly feature the hero triumphing over villains who are bigger and stronger than him.

Anyway, Torres was out to seek revenge against President U.S. Grant and agent James West had to stop him. Did he succeed? Well, the name of the show was obviously not The Wild Wild Torres so what do you think?

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Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Yankee Weather

We're officially experiencing winter weather here in Dallas this week and it's not even December. I was just getting used to wearing jackets again and now I have to get used to wearing coats. And caps. And gloves. Maybe even scarfs.

On the bright side, it has not snowed yet.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2018

R.I.P. Bernard Fox

Welsh actor Bernard Fox -- best known for playing Dr. Bombay on the 1960s TV show Bewitched as well as for an recurring role on the TV show Hogan's Heroes -- drank his last cup of tea on December 14, 2016, at age 89.

He will be missed.

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R.I.P. Florence Henderson

Actress Florence Henderson -- best known for playing matriarch Carol Brady on the TV sitcom The Brady Bunch -- walked off the set for the final time on November 24, 2016, at age 82.

She will be missed.

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R.I.P. Janet Reno

Former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno closed her last case on November 7, 2016, at age 78.

She will be missed.

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R.I.P. Leonard Cohen

Canadian singer and songwriter Leonard Cohen -- best known for such songs as "Everybody Knows" -- finished his last composition on November 7, 2016, at age 82.

He will be missed.

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Sunday, November 11, 2018

¡Feliz Día de los Veteranos!

In honor of all the people who have served in the American armed forces -- including two of my late uncles -- I hope you all have a pleasant Veteran's Day.

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Thursday, November 08, 2018

Show Tune of the Week: "Nicky Machiavelli"

I never expected A Bronx Tale to be made into a musical but it was. And this is very easily the most memorable song on the soundtrack. It's kinda scary how it makes me think of a certain politico every time I hear it.

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Movie Quote of the Week

It doesn't matter what I believe. It only matters what I can prove!
--Tom Cruise, A Few Good Men (1992)

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TV Quote of the Week

There is no middle anymore!
--Kaitlyn Dever and Molly McCook, Last Man Standing, "Welcome Baxter"

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Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Pensamientos Acerca de Televisión

Doctor Who (The Second Series): “Flatline”

Wow! How often do you see a TV show or movie nowadays in which the good guys win not by using guns or knives or fists or explosives but by using superior artistic ability?

Plus the show's writers have apparently discovered that the best way to make the Doctor seem likeable is to place him in the same episode as a character who is even more unlikable than he is. Too bad they can't do that every week.

However, I will give the show additional props for giving the Doctor a good speech towards the end.

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Pensamientos Acerca de Televisión

Doctor Who (The Second Series): “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship”

It's dinosaurs. On a spaceship.

Plus Rory's dad. (Wait. Rory has a dad?)

And yes, the Doctor did some stuff, too.

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Pensamientos Acerca de Televisión

Kolchak: the Night Stalker: "The Ripper"

The opening episode of Kolchak: the Night Stalker was all about investigative journalist Carl Kolchak's efforts to track down a modern-day serial killer who was slaying women in Chicago so naturally the first two murders in this episode took place in Wisconsin. Oh, well. Few people my age watched Kolchak for the plot logic and unfortunately, the TV show in its heyday never really caught on with people older than me.

While I find it a bit surreal to watch the show nowadays -- the older I get, the more I sympathize with the people Kolchak encounters and the less I sympathize with Kolchak himself -- I still had a bit of affection for the TV series -- and not just because it inspired producer Chris Carter to create The X-Files. It doesn't hurt to remember that when Kolchak was created, investigative journalists were still seen as heroes thanks to their role in exposing the Watergate scandal.

In any event, as I noted above the show started off in Wisconsin inside one of those 70s-era topless bars in which all the dancers seemed to have Godiva hair and never faced toward the camera unless they were being filmed above the shoulders. The dancer went back to her dressing room for a brief break, only to encounter an unexpected male visitor with a sword cane. Not long afterwards, another woman was killed by the same gentleman and then the scene shifted to Chicago.

Kolchak was doing his damnedest to get out of an unwelcome newspaper assignment when news of the Ripper killings occurred and then suddenly he was doing his damnedest to track down the killer in hopes of getting a big story. Before long, he realized that the villain in question was no ordinary murderer but the original Jack the Ripper -- a ripper that oddly enough acted much like the vampiric killer Kolchak pursued in the 1972 made-for-TV movie The Night Stalker which first introduced Kolchak to American audiences -- only without all the blood-sucking. Like the vampire, the ripper displayed superhuman strength, an invulnerability to bullets that even Clark Kent would envy and the ability to get out of a locked jail cell as easily as other people walk through a spider web. Kolchak kept insisting that all this proved his theory about the Ripper but for some reason, the Chicago police -- who did not have the best of reputations in the 1970s, thanks to the tactics they used during the 1968 Democratic National Convention -- chose not to believe him.

In any event, his pursuit of the story was hampered by his having to avoid his perpetually frustrated editor and boss Tony Vicenzo -- played by the late Simon Oakland -- as well as his having to outmaneuver his rival co-worker Ron Updyke (played by Jack Grinnage), a financial reporter whose journalistic skills would seem to be in much demand nowadays but on the show were constantly dissed for not being more suited to covering murders. Nor did it help that Kolchak kept crossing paths with various members of the Chicago police department, few of whom seemed particularly happy to see him.

Eventually Kolchak tracked down the Ripper to his lair thanks to the aid he got from a rival reporter (played by Beatrice Colen) and an elderly woman (played by Ruth McDevitt -- who would later join the show's cast as a full-time character). Unfortunately, his confrontation with the Ripper went less well than expected and, well, to say more would be telling.

Suffice to say that Carl Kolchak survived to live another day but lost the chance to file his big story due to lack of proof. Which, considering everything that could have happened in this episode, wasn't the worst thing that could have happened to him.

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Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Quote of the Week

The thing about a secular holiday is that religious Jewish kids could get excited about it. Christmas spirit left us cold, and Passover meant nothing to the world at large, but for the month of October we could get excited about the same thing the rest of the children were excited about. It sounds like a little thing, but it wasn’t- and still isn’t for me, to this day. And if someone wasn’t into Halloween, that was also culturally acceptable. You don’t see any big heartwarming family movies about forcing one family in the neighborhood who doesn’t like Halloween to get into the spirit of things, after all.
--Mira, "Judaism and Halloween," For the Gothic Heroine, October 31, 2015

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