Sunday, September 17, 2017

Streaming Video Power Rankings Week 77: Special "Gonna stop doing the Special... deal next week"

1) Hulu: I just redeemed a gift code, so I have 3 months of free Hulu ahead of me, baby! It makes it a lot easier to love Hulu, I will say that.

2) Netflix: Any other week, Netflix would be a runaway #1, and I am sure it will be next week after my kids discover the droppage of a new season of Project Mc2. American Vandal is generating some buzz, Pocahontas returned (insert standard comment about why the Disney movies have to leave in the first place), the epic George Harrison documentary that originally aired on HBO is here, and a well-regarded Angelina Jolie film premiered.

I didn't have access to my DVDs this week, and it was nice to remember that, hey, I can watch The Dick Van Dyke Show here. That said, I was a bit underwhelmed by the finale of Stranger Things (Hey, I said I'd get there eventually).

3) MLB.TV: The arrival of NFL Season reminds us how great baseball is. Yes, the local blackout restrictions stink, but other than that, you can watch every out-of-market game when you want on multiple devices. Sounds simple, but the NFL doesn't want us to do that. it was cool checking out the Indians' winning streak on MLB.

4) Shout! Factory TV: So this old Starcade is an incredible watch: A game show with people playing video games, and the prizes are video games, the questions are about video games, and host Geoff Edwards keeps making comments about how he loves to play Burger Time.

5) YouTube: My pod co-host got me on a David letterman kick. Current phase: watching old clips of Letterman guesting on old game shows.

6) Warner Archive Instant: I said it before, and I will say it again: I want to throw my shoe at the TV when Harry Nilsson starts singing in the middle of a Courtship of Eddie's Father episode. And often my shoes are all the way on the other side of the room!

7) Pluto TV: It's adding more channels, like the new Stadium TV, and if you're in the mood to just kind of browse a bunch of random live channels, this is a decent option. I find it amusing that 6 or so of the channels are now devoted to the Big Sky Conference and its member schools.

8) Tubi TV: I think I'm in the middle of a mini-John Hughes phase, and it was nice to see She's Having a Baby for the first time through Tubi, but, oh, that sinking feeling you get when it goes to a commercial break and you see "Ad 1 of 5" at the top of the screen...

9) HBO Now: Pretty much putting this here in anticipation of it winning a ton of Emmys this week. Plus Amazon Prime is saying it wants a Game of Thrones. Netflix is the streaming leader, but HBO continues to be a programming influencer and leader. Plus it's premiering La La Land!

10) Pub-D-Hub: No update this week due to the hurricane, and I would say that's a pretty good "excuse." Stay safe, Pub-D-Hubbers!

Friday, September 15, 2017

Today we consider another great Ernie Anderson ABC promo, but there is something about this one that overshadows even the great EA. Let's check out the fine programming waiting for us on Tuesday, January 26, 1982:

OK, I know you're all thinking, "What the hell is Fonzie doing 'doubling for Frankie Avalon'? I don't remember that episode, it looks terrible, and of course I want to watch it.

Over on Laverne & Shirley, sorry, Carmine, but I'm not too excited about watching you "get to play Rocky." The little fall he does after getting clocked does look pretty good, though.

How about the quick shot that implies everyone is at the Regal Beagle watching the State of the Union address over a pint or two. Incredibly, not even that is my favorite aspect of this promo, but I now long for a Three's Company in which the gang hangs out and talks about Reganomics...and Mr. Furley overhears out of context and thinks they're talking about sex.

Instead we settle for "Jack loses his sex appeal," with an odd shot of Jack and Larry panicking together.

The best thing about this is the lineup. After L&S, President Reagan gives his speech to an anxious nation. However, the obligatory opposition response does not come right afterwards. There isn't even "news and analysis" from the likes of David Brinkley. No, the president yields to the good brother from Santa Monica, Jack Tripper, for an entire episode of the show before the Democrats get their say.

I love this. It's like Three's Company is far too important to be interrupted by something as frivolous and farcical as politics. America, on Tuesday night, enjoy some long-running comedies, watch the big speech, but don't worry: Three's Company  will indeed be seen tonight, and you won't have to sit through Ted Kennedy or Tip O'Neill to enjoy it.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Eight Is Enough: A Photo Essay

"Photo essay" is so much classier than "bunch of screencaps," isn't it? Let's take a look at some shots from the Season2 episode of Eight Is Enough titled "Mortgage Burnin' Blues."

This one has it all--bar brawls, guest stars, and most importantly, Grant Goodeve and Willie Ames singing.

The episode begins with the Bradfords throwing a party to celebrate the paying off of the mortgage on the house. And what would a party be without David and Tommy singing? No party at all, that's what.

Their chemistry inspires Tommy to book the brothers at a local bar's amateur night, and he even creates some stage patter for the occasion.

Unfortunately, not everyone feels the Bradford boys' charms the way I do. Case in point: obnoxious heckler Gerald McRaney. I wonder what McRaney's  ratio of obnoxious to decent characters is?

Long story short, Gerald instigates a skirimish involving the Bradford daughters, a brawl breaks out, and--hey, it's that big guy from the weird Sanford continuation NBC tried in 1980:

You can see this episode on Warner Archive Instant, where the whole series streams. Not all episodes have as much action as this one, though!

Monday, September 11, 2017

'Mooners Monday #26: Streaming the 'Mooners

In case you missed this week's Streaming Video Power Rankings, I broke the news that someone else broke the news to me that an assortment of Honeymooners Lost Episodes had been available on Amazon Prime Video since mid August. According to my unofficial (and pretty much unexistent) research, this is the first time The Honeymooners, in any incarnation, has streamed on a paid service. It's less than half of the collection, and it seems to consist of the shorter sketches and not the longer episodes, but it's something.

Now, many of the episodes have been uploaded, shall we say, outside official channels, and on some prominent video sites. We don't want subpar copies of our favorite show, though, right? We want to be able to see it on demand, commercial free and uncut, and in good quality. Of course, that's why we buy the DVDs, but stay with me.

The Honeymooners deserves to be on a prominent streaming site, and while MPI apparently controls streaming as well as home video rights for the Lost Episodes, what about the Classic 39? They show up on outlets like ME-TV, but CBS isn't doing anything in the SVOD realm with the classic. Is it because there are only 39 episodes? That shouldn't make a difference. Hulu streams many classic CBS-controlled properties and offers dozens of episodes of them in many cases, not the entire run. Presumably, given the Blu-Ray release and the fact the show is mastered in high-def,  it wouldn't take much work to get nice materials ready for a streaming channel.

Netflix would be the best destination among the pay sites. Everyone has it, and it doesn't show commercials. Hulu is the next best fit. It does pepper us with ads, but at least it runs uncut episodes, and Ralph and Alice and Ed and Trixie would fit in well alongside other classic TV characters like Lucy, Rod, and Mister Ed. Amazon Prime is third because it is so disorganized and because I don't have it. Actually, that's not a big deal to me since I have the discs, and Amazon already streams a bunch of old CBS/Paramount shows, so Honeymooners would look good there, too.

Then there's a fourth option: Remember that pay streaming gimmick CBS unveiled a while ago? Yeah, CBS All Access still exists. Oh, we hear plenty about the forthcoming Star Trek series and Young Sheldon (shudder), but I don't know if CBS has added anything to the "Classics" section since its launch.

Why can't CBS put the 'Mooners up on its own streaming service? At this point, it's not cannibalizing video sales to put it up somewhere. There are only 39 episodes, and they should be ready to go with minimal effort. In this case, I suspect it has little to do with the series and more to do with CBS' cavalier approach to catalog content on All Access.

So we wait for the 'Mooners to show up on streaming, but at least we have the videos. It puzzles me, though, that unlike The Andy Griffith Show, I Love Lucy, The Twilight Zone, and other classic CBS programs--some of which have been on all 3 major SVOD services--The Honeymooners never turns up anywhere

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Streaming Video Power Rankings: Week 76 (Special Spirit of '76 Edition)

1) Amazon Prime: I just found out that they added half of the Honeymooners Lost Episodes last month.  This is the problem with Amazon Prime: For all we know, cool stuff shows up all the time, but it's too hard to keep track of it.

This is cool stuff, though, and in a weak week for its competitors, Amazon not only re-enters the list but shoots all the way to the top! It is kind of weird, though, how it suddenly changed its mind by canceling Z after announcing its renewal.

2) Shout! Factory TV: The recent addition of Soul! merits more attention. The first episode alone, hosted by Jerry Butler, features all kinds of music plus a remarkable interview with Muhammad Ali, whose case against the government for dodging resisting the draft was still in the courts. He "cuts a promo," to use wrestling lingo, on the draft. This show is a lot of fun.

3) YouTube: Lots of great stuff on here this week, and I am happy to discover that so many episodes of [REDACTED] are available. And YT has that spiffy new logo!

4) Netflix: Yeah, Bojack Horseman has a new season, and there is some other new stuff, like a Marc Maron special and seasons of Blacklist and The Walking Dead, but...Disney head mouse Bob Iger confirmed that his company is pulling the Star Wars and Marvel movies, too, from Netflix. That's what we figured would happen, and it's a bummer.

5) Brown Sugar: I can't drop it too far this week, even though I don't have it anymore, because it is still adding new titles, like 1974's The Zebra Killer. It'll probably say bye-bye next week, though. Actually, I hope it says, bye-bye, SUCKA!

6) Warner Archive Instant: Maybe they'll add something new by Columbus Day. I can't be too snarky, though, in a week in which I skip ahead in Eight Is Enough and am rewarded with an episode guest-starring Ken Berry and Jack Riley.

7) MLB.TV: The Pirates are still playing games. There's also a lot of playoff-contention baseball out there. Sometimes these things intersect.

8) Hulu: Things will pick up soon, and people are excited about new episodes of Difficult People, but where are all those MTM episodes?

8) TuneIn: This week's, "Hey, they played that song on Deep Oldies" pick: Jefferson, Baby, Take Me in Your Arms, AND The Bee Gees, If I Only Had My Mind on Something Else.

9) Boomerang: There is a new version of Wacky Races, and the first 10 minutes are free. It doesn't look at all appealing, but I appreciate the free sample, plus the free Jetsons episode.

10) WWE Network: Getting some buzz for the Mae Young Classic tournament, but it's bad form to leave everyone hanging by not putting up the first dozen or so episodes of World Class Championship Wrestling.

Friday, September 8, 2017

At the fresco...with Harry Potter

A few months ago, I attended a ~special event~ at Wolf Trap Center for Performing Arts in Northern Virginia. My, how time flies--almost like a young wizard with a wand that, uh...makes him fly and stuff.

You see, I am not a Harry Potter expert by any means, just a civilian who has seen most of the movies but read none of the books, which means I am pretty close but can't put "expert" on my business cards. I went to an outdoor screening of the first Potter motion picture accompanied by a live performance of the score by the National Symphony Orchestra. The movie was accompanied, that is; I was accompanied by the country music my girlfriend was playing on the radio. Anyway, the whole event experience is a great reminder that there is no substitute for the sensation of seeing a movie with a group of borderline obsessives.

I certainly felt like a muggle (am I getting the hang of this?) amongst all the diehard fans, young and old alike, who seemed to know the dialogue by heart. The enthusiasm was infectious, though, and it enhanced the movie. It's a lot of fun viewing a beloved movie with a crowd that cheers along and just seems invested. Some of my most memorable moviegoing experiences are of classics like The Wizard of Oz, Casablanca, and Grease (Hey, it was a classic to ME growing up and catching it on ABC each year) because of the shared, palpable joy of the collective response. Of course, the shared, palpable hatred an audience can have for a film is also memorable, but that's a story for when I go see a special anniversary presentation of Battlefield Earth.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is no classic, but I think it's been maligned just because Chris Columbus, the guy who gave us Mrs. Doubtfire, directed it instead of an auteur like Alfonso Cuaron. I am not the charter member of the Columbus Fan Club--I never even paid dues--but I find it amusing that the perception is that the later movies are better because "serious" filmmakers did them.

I found the movies increasingly muddled and impenetrable as they went on, with those of us who did not read the books having to ask those who did to fill in the blanks in the storytelling and explain some of the stuff that didn't make sense. The first movie is cheesy in places, but it does an admirable job of creating its own unique world, which is a solid beginning for a franchise. You care about the characters, are interested in learning more about the environment, and you get a sense of fulfillment even though you realize there are umpteen sequels on the way.

The live orchestra only added to the fun, though I confess that after a while I kind of didn't notice it all that much. If you get there on the late side and have to scrounge for a spot on the hill, it's hard to immerse yourself in the movie, but you get more of the surrounding moviegoers, the musicians allll the way up on the stage, and the people who keep getting up to go to the restroom (It's not perfect).

The food was better (I blame all my tense changing on a dark arts spell--OK, I'm trying too hard now, I realize) than the standard movie theater fare, too, with all kinds of fancy options and cheeses and spreads. So naturally I got...standard movie theater fare like chicken tenders and French fries, only I got buffalo sauce all over the tenders--you know, to add some real class!

The fact is Wolf Trap is an outstanding venue with a fantastic general ambience, but it's even better when you get a bunch of nuts--OK, that's a little harsh considering half of them were under 14--dressed up in costumes and joining in the festivities. This kind of event is fun and participatory without being obnoxious. I recommend you go see something like this if you get a chance in your town, and I also recommend you give Chris Columbus and his first Potter film another movie someday.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

ASPIRE--the network of class and positivity...most of the time

I have had the opportunity to check out Aspire lately, and I liked what I saw. The network launched by Magic Johnson for an African-American, older-skewing audience has aimed for an upscale, classier image than [names of other outlets deleted], and it has a nice intro mission statement on Twitter:

Aspire is the only TV network that celebrates, reflects and shares black culture and urban lifestyle.

It is also the only TV network that has a daytime rerun block consisting of Room 222, Julia, and The Mod Squad. The former is one of my all-time favorite series, the second is a gentle if not hilarious sitcom, and the third--well, it had Sammy Davis Jr. in several episodes. The first two, especially, are examples of classy rerun programming. They fit with what I see as the generally aspirational nature of the network.

And then there's In Living Color.

Call me unaspirational, but it seems odd to add a sketch show with characters like The Dickmans (kind of like the Coneheads, but, uh...well, look it up), Handiman, and Men on Film. Oh, I thought the show was a riot back in the day, and I bet a lot of it holds up, but, wow, this is not the kind of classy rerun I associate with Aspire. I don't mean to sound like a snob, but the show sticks out on a schedule that includes Soul Food, The Hughleys, and...Man, there aren't a lot of shows on their schedule. Maybe they just need programs, period. But why not add something like Frank's Place?

Is this a big deal? Maybe Aspire just wants to get those funny little numbers called ratings. But I wonder if someone there is thinking, OK, time to go a little more lowbrow. That is a slippery road once it gets going. I don't have much skin in the game here, but I DO hope they leave the Room 222 reruns alone.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Streaming Showcase: Brown Sugar

I give bonus points to any streaming video on demand service that 1) calls itself "Like Netflix, only blacker, and 2) sends me a welcome email when I sign up that begins, 'Right on!" Brown Sugar is a new-to-Roku movie (mostly) and TV streaming channel geared at African-Americans. It has some technical issues and usability issues to work out, but its library is well worth a look at $3.99 a month.

 It markets itself mostly on the strength of Blaxploitation classics. Brown Sugar launched in Fall 2016 with advertising featuring the likes of Pam Grier. It offers some modern movies and some original programming courtesy of corporate parent Bounce TV, but what I was looking for when I took the 7-day trial was the old stuff--late 1960s, 1970s, maybe some early 1980s. On this count, Brown Sugar delivers. If you dig 1970s soul cinema, you will love the channel.

Let's be clear: A lot of this content is or has been floating around other streaming services, including, yes, Netflix. MGM was the king of Blaxploitation in the 1970s, and the most popular titles circulate all over the place. However, Brown Sugar also licenses content from other studios. It was a nice surprise to see titles from Warner Brothers, which has its own streaming service, available. Perhaps the best aspect of the programming, though, is the lesser-known material like The Candy Tangerine Man, about a family man who is secretly a pimp, and Black Eye, a nourish private detective flick with Fred Williamson. This is the kind of stuff I "Favorited" when checking out the selections, but stuff like Shaft, Foxy Brown, and Superfly is available.

I couldn't think of too many movies that were missing, really, though Trouble Man is one I thought of offhand. I'm pretty sure Isaac Hayes' Truck Turner wasn't there when I first looked but was later. Here's one of the big problems I have with Brown Sugar: You can't tell what's on there until you sign up. At least, I can't figure out how to just browse the site--neither on Roku nor on the web.

Also, the web version didn't seem to retain changes I made on the Roku version, which is a pain if you are compiling a watchlist (You can't really, but you can mark "Favorites." The Recently Watched/History section was inconsistent during my trial, and I couldn't see a way to view ALL titles--there were some categories, but no VIEW ALL row--unless I went to search and entered one symbol or a black space. I could see everything on the web, but not on the Roku.

Also, make no mistake: These are not restored, shiny, sparkling versions of the films. I didn't watch the more famous titles, but the ones I did looked like beat-up prints. Some looked like VHS dubs. They were uncut and unencumbered by ads, though. Besides, some of this stuff probably plays just as well, if not better, with a big vertical red line on the right side of the screen much of the film.

I hope they work on some of this stuff to make it a much better viewing experience. Yet the movies alone make it worthwhile. There is all kinds of great stuff here. I have way more streaming than I can handle now, but I will sign up for at least another month when I can.

What I would like to see is more vintage TV. There is an assortment of episodes of Get Christie Love, and that's a nice and relatively rare get, but how about some old sitcoms like Baby, I'm Back or That's My Mama? The good news is Brown Sugar adds new stuff each month; the bad news is I can't see it (apparently) unless I renew. I may not need a browse option, though, to renew someday. Brown Sugar is as badass as it promises and can only improve from here.

Monday, September 4, 2017

'Mooners Monday #25: PIX Archives with a look at the the past...sort of

In 1986, someone at Independent Network News had the bright idea to visit the real-life address of the Kramdens, 328 Chauncey Street, and harass the residents by asking them if they had ever seen the Kramdens and Nortons. The result is as goofy as it sounds, but since it's related to The Honeymooners, I am glad it exists and glad that WPIX recently posted it on its Facebook archives page (The Roku version cuts off, unfortunately).

The reporter notes that the address is actually  in Bushwick, not Bensonhurst as the show had it, but it's cool that there is a real-life address. It's harmless to have a guy with a mic poke his head in a sewer and ask for a microphone. I would like to see more of this brand of investigative journalism--like a trip to the real-life Mockingbird Lane or the Shady Rest Hotel in Hooterville.

Speaking of hoots, the comments on that post are a hoot, and one person even posts the Alice Kramden grinning pic that so terrified me all these years. Check it out (I don't think I can embed here), and let's hope for more 'Mooners content on the PIX Archives page.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Streaming Video Power Rankings Week #75: Special "It's the number 75, so I guess that means it's 75th anniversary" Edition

Labor Day weekend brings more time to watch streaming, and September 1 brings more stuff to watch as many of the channels reload. Let's get right into it.

1) Brown Sugar: Yes, that's right! From outta nowhere, the "Like Netflix, only blacker" service enters the top 10 with a bullet--preferably one fired at some SUCKA who represents THE MAN. I enjoyed a brief free trial of Brown Sugar recently, and the selection is impressive. I'll do a review soon, but for now, just know that this has a few areas for improvement but is worth 4 bucks a month from what I saw.

2) Netflix: It was heading for a drop this week--I hadn't had time to watch much, plus the September adds were disappointing--but I took another look. The Jaws movies = not bad. More importantly, a Matt Berry Britcom I had never heard of premieres.

Also new: a new season of Narcos, and there was an announcement the director of La La Land is bringing an original series to Netflix. Then again, who isn't? Good to see Hercules and Mulan return, but they shouldn't have left in the first place.

3) YouTube: My highlight this week was a classic MTV combo staring with "The Week in Rock" (Kurt Loder, Jellyfish, Nigel from Spinal tap, coverage of a concert in Chile featuring Sinead O'Connor, Peter Gabriel, Sting, and--of course--New Kids on the Block). And MTV being MTV, it spent a segment hyping a Madonna Rock the Vote ad that it would "premiere" later that weekend.

After that, Remote Control, and though it wasn't one of the Kari episodes, it was a lot of fun. No other game show featured Colin Queen giving noogies to a contestant who had an errant spin on the "Wheel of Torture."

4) Hulu: It has quietly been adding a lot of Nat Geo shows lately, but I was surprised to see the entire run of How I Met Your Mother show up the other day. My Brooklyn Nine-Nine catch-up continues, and this past season was an improvement on the previous if the first whatever episodes provides an indication.

5) Shout! Factory TV: Some exciting surprises this month, including a collection of the 1980s video game game show Starcade, Melissa Leo in Streetwalkin' (not StreetwalkinG, mind you), and the late sixties/early seventies public TV series Soul! the addition of which *almost* makes up for them removing Black Omnibus and not putting it back.

6) Tubi TV: I did my own little Jay Thomas tribute this week by watching the first Annie Potts episode of 90s sitcom Love and War.

7) HBO: Millions of people watched and talked about Game of Thrones. Some of them even paid to watch it on actual HBO!

8) Crackle: Some interesting movies in September, including Saving Private Ryan, The Fugitive, and Whiplash, but I know you're more excited about the first two seasons of Walker, Texas Ranger.

9) MLB.TV: Had a nice sale--10 bucks for the rest of the season--and would be higher if watching the Pirates didn't make me kind of ill lately.

10) Acorn TV: Props for adding The Governor, the Alan Davies sitcom Whites, plus some kind of "sneak peek" DocMartin special. Doc Martin rules.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

And Now...a Word from THEIR Sponsor

Courtesy of my main man Sean Mc, check out this commercial starring Roy Clark, who is shilling for Pringles potato chips:

It's not just regular Pringles. By cracky, it's COUNTRY STYLE Pringles.

"Hey, Roy, can I have your autograph?"
"Sure! Have some Country Style Pringles!"
", that's OK. Just the autograph would be cool. Thanks."

Despite Roy's jaunty little jingle, I can't figure out what makes Country Style Pringles country style other than the "denim" can (which I do love, by the way). Are they fried in possum fat and beat with an ol' switch right after they're dumped out of the pan?

In an attempt to figure this out, I checked out a longer spot for the same product. This one ups the ante on country metaphors ("I'm hungrier than a moth on a nylon sweater!") but doesn't add a lot of detail beyond it's a NEW kind of Pringles. I'm not sure "a peck of hearty flavor" really explains it for me. But then again, I'm a city dweller, so maybe I just don't get it.

Oh, and the denim blue can. Can't forget the denim blue can.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

ClassicFlix (home of TV Time) is back!

Public service announcement: ClassicFlix, which is now earning raves for its work as a label in addition to its retail bidness, has launched its new website, and the reviews and columns are now available for everyone again.

This includes TV Time, written each month by your ever-lovin' blue-eyed blogger boy. The most recent edition, Before They Were Legends, looks at early TV spots from the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Paul Newman.

Also accessible on the main page as I write this is my examination of classic TV doctors. Which one would I choose to be my personal doc?

Dig a little deeper in the archives, and you will find my look at wrestling-themed episodes, including Bonanza and Abbott and Costello.

And Scooby, Penelope Pitstop, and more go to the circus as I look at cartoons that go to the big top.

It isn't just shameless self-promotion, though, because there are all kinds of interesting pieces up right now, plus much more in the archives. Also, check out what is coming out on DVD and Blu-Ray from them while you check out TV Time. Tell 'em Cultureshark sent ya. Don't you dare miss it!

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Brooks on Books: Bloom County: Episode XI A New Hope

Back in the 1980s, I loved the Bloom County newspaper comic strip by Berke Breathed. I like to think of myself as being a fairly attentive youth, but even if I hadn't known who the likes of Jeanne Kirkpatrick were, I would have found them out so I could understand the political references. Those strips are of their time, for sure, but they hold up better than, say, Outland or the Opus strip that Breathed did in later years.

Well, somehow, I forgot all about the Bloom County revival Breathed started on Facebook (well, maybe I ignored it because it was on Facebook) until I saw this collection at the local liberry. Much to my delight, this new incarnation FEELS like Bloom County. It makes some tweaks and adjustments to the characters and the setting, but it doesn't feel forced like earlier attempts to bring it all back did.

It's tempting to make a parallel between the current political climate and events of the 1980s, but I think it's more than that. Breathed alludes to being more comfortable revisiting this world now in his intro, and I think it shows. The result is a lively, funny, relevant collection that recaptures the spirit of the original strip but places it firmly in modern times.

Opus is front and center, but so is Binkley and his anxiety closet.  Steve Dallas is more or less the same, as is Bill the Cat. Milo and Oliver return along with Cutter John. It's not just  nostalgia that makes the book so enjoyable, though.  These comics are funny.

The one thing I dislike about this book is the oddly self-congratulatory tone of it. I am sure Breathed means well by touting his friendship with Harper Lee as one of the reasons he brought back the strip, but it feels kind of weird. Also, many pages feature comments from Facebook originally posted by Bloom County fans.  I think maybe a section in the back of the book would have sufficed, but seeing these with some of the actual comics gives an unfortunate "patting ourselves on the back vibe."

I do think Breathed deserves a pat on the back, though, and this collection really surprises me. I thought Bloom was a relic of the 1980s, if a fondly remembered one, and I hadn't been eager to see a revival. Yet it's here, and it belongs.

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Streaming Video Power Rankings: Week #74

1) Hulu: Now that I eradicated several rare tropical diseases and eradicated crime in my surrounding environs, I am ready to move on to my next summer project: catching up on Brooklyn Nine-Nine on Hulu.

2) Netflix:  Another week, another barrage of announcements. Netflix sure is good at making announcements and spending money. Perhaps even more important for this week, the new Chuck Lorre sitcom disjointed, the new adaptation of Death Note (I really don't know the story with it, but I know it's a big deal to a lot of people), The Good Place, and...yeah, it doesn't seem like a big week now that I look at it. Even the announcements--a Def Jam Comedy special, a Lady Gaga documentary--don't thrill me. Time to  put Hulu on top again.

3) Warner Archive Instant: Is anyone home there? The WAI Twitter feed has been active and entertaining lately, but the people who actually add stuff to the service seem to be on extended summer break. Fortunately, there is still all that Eight Is Enough, like the emotional marriage of Tom and Abbey I watched this week.

4) Tubi TV: As Tubi Tweeted out this week, it has the original Death Note for those interested in checking it out. Also, it added the classic Britcom The I.T. Crowd and a host of interesting films, such as the original Stagecoach, I Married a Witch, Quadrophenia, and Kenny Rogers as the Gambler (one of the best movie titles in all of cinematic history).

5) YouTube: When I get obsessed with a song I hear on TuneIn, I come here to listen to it 10 times in a row.

6) Pub-D-Hub: Strong update last week, including tons of old commercial blocks, episodes of As the World Turns and Howdy Doody, and more, plus I enjoyed an episode of I Led Three Lives.

7) Showtime: This network is getting lots of attention for the big fight Saturday and has been milking it with all kinds of commerc--uh, documentary programming devoted to it. It will have replay rights, too, and maybe it will use this platform to unveil something cool.

8) MLB.TV: The Pirates continue to sink, but I did get to see the awesome finish when Josh Harrison's walkoff HR ended a no-hitter by Dodgers pitcher Rich Hill.

9) Amazon Prime: I'm torn between thinking another The Tick, which premieres this weekend, is cool and thinking, "Haven't there already been like 10 different versions?"

10) Nosey: Gets credit for adding a bunch of episodes of Sally (Wow, I never, ever thought I would write that), but LOSES credit for none of them being "troubled teens" episodes (Now, that, I can see writing).

Friday, August 25, 2017

Half-Assed Gourmet: Fast Food Adventures

Let me present some observations based on recent excursions to various cheap eats joints, or fast food establishments, if you will.

*Burger King is always an odd experience--less crowded than any given McDonald's and somehow less vibrant and appealing no matter the location. It does have some advantages over the Golden Arches, though. I like its willingness to experiment with menu variety.

I tried the returning chicken parmesan sandwich on a recent visit, but my taste buds may have been affected my overall mood. See, I was grabbing lunch while waiting for repair work on my car. I'll say one thing about that situation: Spending hundreds of dollars on something else makes it easy to ignore how much more you pay for that BK menu variety.

In this case, the chicken parmesan sammich was hot and tasted fresh, but it was a little bland. You know what would have made it better? A little more "parmesan" to go with the "chicken" and "sandwich" portions of the entrée. A dollop of marinara sauce ain't enough. A king should be more generous to his faithful subjects...or even to the ones who just blog about him every now and then.

The best thing about BK right now is the newfangled drink machine that offers hundreds of choices and lets you mix stuff together if you want to be a weirdo about it. It's a particular pleasure for me to get not only multiple iced tea choices, but multiple low-calorie iced tea choices. There are also a host of other "diet" (I am not going to call them healthy) options, the likes of which most fast food chains don't bother to offer. I don't know if all BKs have switched to this, but I love it, and it's a big plus.

*I went to Popeye's Louisiana Kitchen for the first time in--well, the last time I went to one, I don't think it was called a "Louisiana Kitchen." The surf and turf combo of popcorn shrimp and chicken tenders was fried beyond belief, likely generic and loaded with sodium...and it was delicious.

Unfortunately, the front counter was disorganized and chaotic, and worst of all, this place exemplifies the odious trend of withholding essential supplies from the patrons and making them beg for them. I get 3 measly thin napkins for an entire greasy meal, and when I grab a table, I discover  there aren't napkins nor condiments anywhere.

No, I have to go back to the counter (did I mention it was disorganized) and ask for not only the "dipping sauces," but also ketchup. I can understand keeping the sauces away from the rubes, but A) not ketchup and B) I should have been offered them when I got my food.

*Chik-Fil A remains the gold standard. Yes, it could be cheaper, but it works both ways in some respects. I love that when I ask for no tomato on the spicy deluxe sammich, they deduct 10 cents or whatever. I recently discovered that you can exchange an unwanted kids meal toy for a dessert. Unfortunately, you can't get the sauces in the open dining area, but they always ask if you want any, and if you need something simple like ketchup, you CAN grab that yourself, and in those cool little Heinz peelable containers, too.

Besides, the employees are friendly and helpful. They actually act like they care if you have a good meal. They sometimes go around and offer you drink refills at your table. If it's all a façade, it's an effective one.

Most importantly, the food is always excellent. I think Chik-Fil-A could up its breakfast game and maybe offer some more salads, but, the basics are great here. I see only 3 reasons to avoid it: 1) You hold a grudge for the political stances the owners took years ago 2) You hate chicken 3) It's Sunday.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Brooks on Books: Comic Book Fever by George Khoury

Is it hyperbole to claim this is the greatest book ever published?

Perhaps it is overpraise, but this is a fun, fun book. It's another knockout package from the fine folks at TwoMorrows Publishing, a company dedicated to making  periodicals and books about pop culture, with an emphasis on comic books. In Comic Book Fever, George Khoury examines an era right in my wheelhouse. The subtitle is: "A Celebration of Comics 1976 to 1986."

This 239-page softcover celebration consists of  scores of short, punchy chapters focusing on different topics or individuals. A section might look at a specific comic title like Marvel Team-Up, an iconic creator like Neal Adams, or a memorable part of culture like the ubiquitous Hostess Fruit Pie ads. Khoury conducts interviews with connected individuals and tells the stories of all of these cool things that people like me loved so much growing up.

The writing is compelling if a bit breathless at times. Khoury comes at this with pure nostalgic love for just about everything in here, and he ends many chapters with declarations of how much better our lives were due to the presence of, say, DC's Dollar Comics line. You know what, though? He's not wrong.

It's all supplemented with typical eye-catching TwoMorrows design. Vintage comic pages, ads, original art, and photographs fill Comic Book Fever. The pages pop with color, and frequent sidebars flesh out the chapters and give the sense that the whole thing is packed and a good value.

I admit I questioned some of the space allocations. For example. Love and Rockets and Elfquest get a lot more pages than many of the one- and two-pagers that interested me more. However, Khoury has a great eye for interesting facets of comic culture. I loved reading about the origins of the Marvel series about the Human Fly or the Spalding ads. It's great to learn about Dynamite magazine, ICEE superhero cups, and so much more.

Ever wonder what the deal was with those ads for the original Heroes World stores with all that sweet merchandise? Or the "Sell GRIT" ads? I did, and Comic Book Fever explains all.

There is also some hardcore comic book history here, like the beginnings of The New Teen Titans, Neal Adams' efforts for creator rights, and even indies like Nexus. The variety of material covered is impressive. For example, you read about famous icons like Alan Moore and John Byrne (conspicuous by his absence since so many other living "Icons" apparently spoke with Khoury) but also important but less famous figures like Jose Garcia-Lopez.

In short, Comic Book Fever does justice to the awesome era it explores, and if you grew up loving any of this stuff, you will love this book. I give it my strongest recommendation.

(NOTE: This post was edited slightly after the comment below by the author, who graciously noted that Alan Moore did indeed participate in an interview for the book)

Monday, August 21, 2017

'Mooners Monday #24: Celebrity Testimonials

I just finished critic David Bianculli's enjoyable The Platinum Age of Television, and many of the TV creators and performers interviewed for the book demonstrate their good taste by praising The Honeymooners. For example, David Simon proves his bona fides as not just a grade-A rabble rouser, but a judge of quality reruns:

I fell in love with The Honeymooners and stayed in love with The Honeymooners. To this day, I can't walk out on a Honeymooners episode.If I walk through the room, and I'm going somewhere and The Honeymooners is on,  I've got to sit down.

Other people who cite the show: James L. Brooks, Vince Gilligan, David Milch, Louis C.K., and David Chase.

We don't need big-shot showrunners to tell us The Honeymooners is great. It's nice to read it, though!

Bianculli doesn't give the series its own little subheading as he does so many other programs he highlights as key points in the evolution of good TV, but he writes about it at the beginning of his "Family Sitcoms" chapter, and his appreciation is clear:

...the development of The Honeymooners, from brief sketch to season-long domestic sitcom, is a perfect illustration of the evolution of quality TV at its best.

He goes on to talk about its expansion from recurring sketch to dedicated half-hour program. However, he then turns to praising I Love Lucy, which has its adherents but is no Honeymooners. And this is not I Love Luc-day, so that's all I got for this week.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Streaming Video Power Rankings #73 (Special "73-0 is still the single most famous game score in NFL history" edition)

1) Netflix: A new Mission Control documentary is getting raves, and tons of Marvel-ness finally leads to The Defenders. Excuse me, Marvel's The Defenders (not to be confused with Jim Belushi's The Defenders). A Brad Paisely comedy special is a thing (he is hosting, not doing an hourlong set),

The news was a lot better for Netflix this week after the Disney brouhaha. Getting Shonda Rimes away from ABC is the kind of move that excites entertainment journalists. It's also the kind of move that distresses someone who pays each month for stuff besides the kind of stuff Shonda Rimes perpetrates at ABC. I'm trying to be somewhat objective, though. The Chuck Lorre announcement (new show with Alan Arkin and Michael Douglas) is interesting, too. And Ozark got a renewal.

2) MLB.TV: I hate to say it, but I'm kind of glad I was watching Red Sox games this week and not seeing the Pirates put the nail in the coffin of the season. Why, in the same game, I got to see a triple play, plus a batter hitting himself in the junk with a foul ball!

3)  Hulu: Better Things joins the service just ahead of its season 2 premiere on FX. Now can we get Atlanta, Legion, and season 3 of Fargo...and, like, now, and not before their next seasons?

Hulu is also going forward with an intriguing pilot for Locke & Key, and it generated some buzz with casting news for upcoming series Runaways, Castle Rock, and Crash and Burn.

4) YouTube: Notice that when some entity like Rolling Stone posts a video of Eddie Vedder singing "Better Man" in 1989, it's embedding a YT video. Every day offers a reminder of what a great resource YT is.

5) Pub-D-Hub: Solid update last weekend, with new episodes of programs like Richard Diamond.

6) TuneIn: There are other stations on here besides Deep Oldies, but if Deep Oldies is around, I'm not sure I really need them. This week's "hadn't heard it, now can't get it out of my head" song = "Nothing Succeeds Like Success" by Bill Deal and the Rhondels.

7) Nosey: Likely to drop out of the top 10 next week unless I can find more "troubled teens" episodes of Sally.

8) Shout! Factory TV: I checked out Rifftrax's Hillbillies in a Haunted House this week, and it wasn't their best work, but it was free and made me smile. I like that Shout! has all this Rifftrax material now, but it's kind of funny that it just lumps it all in with the MST3K section.

9) PIX 11: Makes a return to the list on the strength of its Son of Sam featurette, but the "digital documentary" is all too short at 7 minutes and should have been supplemented with more vintage news clips from the era.

10) HBO: Terrible circumstances, but the Vice News documentary on Charlottesville got a lot of praise, and kudos to HBO and Vice for streaming it for free. Also, and there's no smooth segue, if I had HBO, I would totally want to see the debuting Nocturnal Animals. Sucks that it got hacked, but I don't think it has done anything to diminish anticipation for new Curb or for Game of Thrones.

Friday, August 18, 2017

This new movie fills my heart with my joy

To paraphrase the late Robert Palmer, it fills my heart with joy; it ma-akes my day.

Netflix added a new feature film this week, but not just any feature film. It's a sequel, but not just any sequel. Yes, it's the extension of  franchise, but not just any extension of a franchise.


"A world-weary detective is forced to team up with a 12-year-old who thinks she's a cop in order to solve a case that's baffled police."

One kid's fantasy.
One cop's nightmare.

Oh, I could dig for some info on this, but why? Why spoil the movie I am constructing in my head? I feel that the summary, the tagline, and the poster art below are enough.

Actually, its existence should be enough. Someone decided there was enough "equity" in the Cop and a Half franchise to "reboot" it.


Image result for cop and a half new recruit

Monday, August 14, 2017

'Mooners Monday #23: Pardon My Glove

It's time for another installment of 'Mooners Monday, and I have to confess, readers, I don't have a lot to say about "Pardon My Glove." It's great in the way all Honeymooners Classic 39s are, but it's unexceptional. Ralph gets jealous and makes a fool of himself--no big revelation here.

Two things stand out after a rewatch: 1) The guy who plays would-be interior decorator of the Kramden residence, Andre (love that his name is Andre, by the way), sounds like a real hoot. Check out the indispensable Official Honeymooners Treasury for his take on how to deck out the place. Alexander Clark told a RALPH (Royal Association for the Longevity and Preservation of the Honeymooners) convention quips like, "I figured I wouldn't bother about getting curtains for the bathroom because if the neighbors saw Ralph taking a shower, they'd buy the curtains." Clark later returned to play Herbert Whiteside in "On Stage."

The other thing is that this episode does have some classic examples of 'Mooners physical comedy. A great example is the take Ralph does when he bursts into the apartment expecting a surprise party and finds...nothing:

This is really best appreciated by watching it play out in real time

Another great piece of business is Ralph bumping himself on the always-balky kitchen window right in the middle of the glorious AHA he gives Andre and Alice:

Nothing like a classic "pain bit"

And let's show some love for Art Carney because his depiction of Norton showing Ralph how to act surprised is one for the ages:

This cracks me up all over again

These are little touches that help make the series so great and even one of the less memorable episodes stand out.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Public Service Announcement: Hazel Season 4 now showing on FETV

Family Entertainment TV, which joined DirectTv at channel 323 just a month or so ago, runs Hazel every weekday at 11:00 and 11:00 A.M. in chronological order. If the comments on this blog are any indication, the final, non-George-and-Dorothy season of the series is not only divisive, but quite provocative.

FETV just started season 5 on Friday, so if you want to get a look at Ray Fulmer and Lynn Borden as the replacements (who wouldn't want to get at least a look at Lynn Borden, really), check out this channel. I can't fully endorse this, though, because I believe the episodes are stretched to fit a full screen, edited, and possibly time-compressed.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Streaming Video Power Rankings: Week #72 (Special "Wow" edition)

This was a huge week for streaming video news, so let's get to it:

1) Netflix: The company made some big announcements lately, like it is determined to tell everyone, "Stick it! So were $20 billion in debt. We can still throw money at everyone we want." But what happens when the recipient doesn't want the money?

Despite Netflix announcing new projects coming with David Letterman (sounds great), Carol Burnett (bless her, but that particular idea sounds terrible), and the Coen Brothers (sure) and the acquisition of comic publisher Millarworld (interesting move that doesn't move me much one way or the other at the moment), all the buzz is about content it is losing, as Disney announced it is starting its own OTT service in 2019 and putting new Disney movies on it.

Still unanswered: What about Marvel? Star Wars? What about the 99% of the Disney catalog that never even made it to Netflix? I think a lot of people don't understand that Netflix never showed most of the Disney catalog, it already lost some of it (movies like Mulan), nor that Hulu has some of that content now.

However, the fact is, this week proves Netflix is the standard. When someone asked me about the possible cost of a Disney streaming service, I said part of it probably depended on what Netflix would do and if it raised rates by 2019 (it will; the question is how much). Everyone is reacting to the industry leader.

This really isn't good news for Netflx, though.

2) Amazon Prime: The new series Comrade Detective sounds interesting, and Amazon has been on a roll snapping up cheap catalog TV series lately, getting a bunch of shows from MPI (like the public domain Beverly Hillbillies episodes) and from FilmRise (Carsey Werner programs like Third Rock from the Sun). I don't really care for much of it, but it's more than Netflix has done lately.

3) YouTube: Let's talk about the decision by many "copyright holders" to allow material on YouTube but to monetize it. Good and bad, right? Good that it means more stuff stays up there, but bad because you're listening to an album or something, and an ad comes in right in the middle of a song.

4) TubiTV: Added a lot of movies lately, and not just the usual blend of recent-ish movies that cycle through all the services, but genuine classics like Wuthering Heights and The Magnificent Seven.

5) Warner Archive Instant: I am not even gonna make a snide reference to WAI not adding movies in several months. Grant Goodeve dueting with Willie Aames is worth dozens of classic un-added films.

6) Hulu: I think Difficult People is terrible, but a new season is here. I'm getting super annoyed at Hulu promoting the new season of Ray Donovan to me. I don't get Showtime. Quit acting like I can watch this series without paying more money.

7) Pub-D-Hub: An intriguing add last weekend was an episode of The Big Record with Patti Page.

8: TuneIn: Have I mentioned that Deep Oldies, the Phoenix-based radio station that rules the world, is virtually free of commercials?

9) HBO: Respect for the premiere of Hard Knocks.

10) PureFlix: A family-friendly outfit that strives to be the Christian Netflix. I looked at some of the offerings this week, and there isn't a lot there, but I give them credit for trying. I give them credit for brass, too. Their monthly plan is 10.99/month, which makes them by far one of the priciest services out there, all for "safe" viewing. Yet they are spending money on original programming, so let's give them a spot this week.

Friday, August 11, 2017

The most ANNOYED man in classic TV: Wildcat Wendell Corey

There's nothing like strapping yourself in and enduring the high-octane thrill ride that is Harbor Command. OK, maybe it's not the most exciting crime drama in the annals of television history, but it's a reasonably entertaining 30 minutes, and coming from ZIV, you know it's going to be reasonably well produced.

Even when the show itself is not a huge winner, I get a warm feeling. Harbor Command is not a world beater, but it has its charms.

Looks impressive, don't it? But this isn't just any old sea/land hybrid entertainment. ZIV reminds us each time out that Harbor Command enjoys the cooperation of the local authorities:

I also like the propers given to the true-life Harbor Commanders.

The best part about the series, though, is Wildcat Wendell Corey, who manages to look annoyed in any situation. Pursuing a thief? Annoyed. Tracking the carrier of a deadly infectious disease? Annoyed. Getting vital information from a fellow civil servant? Annoyed.

Telling the audience about his real-life counterparts? Annoyed.

Thanking us for watching? Annoyed.

Wildcat Wendell Corey: The most annoyed man in classic TV.

Monday, August 7, 2017

'Mooners Monday #22: The low point for Ralph Kramden?

You may have noticed this feature was absent last week. I think on some level I was avoiding writing this one. I normally love to defend my boy Ralph Kramden, even when it seems he is doing something indefensible. But in my current rewatch of the Classic 39, I have hit something I cannot defend.

Ralph Kramden did a lot of dumb, inconsiderate, and, yea, even downright cruel things on The Honeymooners, but I think Please Leave the Premises represents his low point. Yes, landlord Johnson is a real jerk about raising the rent. He just seems too giddy about the opportunity to stick it to the tenants. Oh, how I wish I could back Ralph in this fight against DA MAN.

Look at that rent-eating grin!

How dare you point your finger at a hard-working, upstanding member of the Gotham Bus Company?

However, he takes it too far, and most importantly, he drags Alice down with him--literally down the stairs, out the door, and onto the streets. His refusal to pay the rent first forces them to hole up inside the apartment without heat, water, or electricity--well, the last one isn't a hardship considering they don't have any appliances, but you get the gist.

Ralph, we know you're a man of principle, but...

He's actually trapped Alice in the apartment.

Well, it can't get any worse.

Strike that.

I don't have much else to say about this episode except that I love the title. For some inexplicable reason, I always enjoy it when one of the characters refers to "leaving the premises," and to see that formal-sounding bit of speech embedded in the title pleases me. Be a better man next time, though, Ralphie boy!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Streaming Video Power Rankings Week #71 (Special "Ah, '71 was a good year--the Pirates won it all" edition)

1) Netflix: I wasn't impressed with the August 1 catalog dump--it's nice to have The Matrix trilogy, but not much else is exciting--and I am not into Wet Hot American Summer. However, I AM interested in Michael Keaton in The Founder, and Netflix has to at least chuckle that for a change, HBO and not it was hacked.

2) Hulu: I detect real long-term momentum building for Hulu. More people are becoming aware of its movie library and appreciating recent announcements of catalog acquisitions. It looks like losing the Criterion Collection barely hurt the service. In September, once Fall TV starts, Hulu will look even more valuable.

3) YouTube: My main man Sean Mc has been on a tear lately, giving us plenty of those great 1970s and 1980s ads and promos! Plus I discovered a new (to me) channel with tons of old TV movies. Yes, I have my beef with YT every now and then, including some of the inane channels my kids watch on there, but overall, it delivers tons of free entertainment each week.

4) Nosey: I'm a little disturbed that Sally is nowhere to be seen in the "Most Popular Videos" category on here. Is it possible a whole generation of viewers is going through life unaware of the greatness of Sally's troubled teen episodes?

5) Tubi TV: Hey, since when did Tubi have the Steed/Peel Avengers episodes? Well, they do now!

6) Watch ESPN: This one really came through for me when I realized my off-satellite recordings of 30 for 30: Best of Enemies were screwy. I wish the Roku version had all the 30 for 30 shorts that are on the web version, though.

7) Shout! Factory TV: August doesn't look particularly interesting, with just a few MST3K episodes added, but I did enjoy seeing Richard Lewis guest on an old Dr. Ruth show.

8) Warner Archive Instant: Time for some more content, WAI. Not everyone is as crazy about Eight Is Enough and Dr. Kildare as I am.

9) Crackle: Almost a pity ranking, but it did add a lot of stuff in August. The classic TV section can really use a boost, though, and it's been a very quiet summer for Crackle.

10) Brown Sugar: This relatively new (less than a year old) app gets a spot for finally getting on Roku. I think it's a great idea--emphasis on African-American movies, with a marketing emphasis on classic Blaxploitation, with a 3.99/month price tag. It gets a giant demerit, though, for apparently preventing you from browsing its library without signing up.

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

One of the worst kind of posts/articles there is

I write a lot of short, meaningless pieces. This is probably gonna be one of them. But I do not indulge in clickbait, nor do I like to waste my readers' time.

One of the most aggravating type of articles I see on the web is the shallow list. I'm not even talking about the listicle phenomenon or the slideshow. Look at the slew of posts that pop up around the end of the month with titles like, "Here are all the Netflix Originals coming in ___." OK, that's useful info.

However, you read the piece, and all the details are about the shows you already know about. We know what Wet Hot American Summer is by now, and we don't need two paragraphs of Marvel propaganda about The Defenders But what the hell is Disjointed? Does it star Will Arnett like 3 out of 4 Netflix series? What is True and the Rainbow Kingdom? I see a bunch of names that look like standup comedians. How about a little info on them?

And Brad Paisley's Comedy Radio is probably exactly what it sounds like, but a few details would be nice. Instead, you'll see an article about Netflix additions in August that talks about how cool it is The Matrix movies are arriving.

Do better, streaming video news sites!

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Streaming Video Power Rankings Week #70 (Special "70th anniversary, and by that I mean the 70th one" edition)

1) Hulu: It was Golden Girls and Mary Tyler Moore for me this week. Uh, and also, uh, Rambo and Ninjas and guns and stuff.

But Hulu also announced some interesting things at the TCA tour, including the acquisition of 5 long-running ABC TGIF sitcoms. I loathe all of those shows, but again, Hulu continues to grab catalog content when Netflix has given up on it.

2) Netflix: The Incredible Jessica James is well regarded as an enjoyable romantic comedy movie, but I still feel like people  are sleeping on The Adventures of Puss in Boots. I include myself in that category. A new season just dropped, people! I will make it a point to catch up on it, along with the dozen other Netflix originals upon which I am catching (?).

It's a slow week for Netflix, but I actually enjoyed watching several things on there, and ultimately, these rankings are not only about what's new, but what is ON and what I am--I mean what we are all enjoying. Hulu is surging, though, Netflix, and it's gonna take a little more effort to regain that stranglehold on the top spot.

3) YouTube: PRO Classic TV continues uploading stuff like Cisco Kid and Rifleman, and I continue to be amazed at the amount of old NFL game footage on here. I really, really miss the great channel that had tons of complete vintage MLB games, though.

I also give YT credit for being (apparently) the only channel of any kind anywhere that my kids want to watch. I can't even sell them on Puss in Boots.

4) WWE Network: I always like to give credit where it's due, and uploading dozens of episodes of World Class Championship Wrestling deserves kudos. It's getting to the point where I am tempted to re-up once they fill in the gaps in shows like that.

5) Nosey: Uh-oh. I am really getting into this channel and have now watched several old episodes of Sally. I may have a problem here.

Strike that. I have a problem. The question is whether I can claw my way out of this before I start hitting the old episodes of Geraldo.

6) Days of Dumont: After listening to Jamie Farr on Gilbert Gottfried's podcast tell stories Ralph Bellamy told him about working on Man Against Crime, I turned it to Days of Dumont for some vintage episodes. What's not to love about that sentence?

7) Warner Archive Instant: I am docking WAI for the lack of updates this month, but I just can't stay mad at a service that gives me Don Johnson on Eight Is Enough.

8) MLB.TV: Losing to the Giants and the Padres? Really, Pittsburgh? I may have to adopt a random AL West team or something and start rooting for them so I have something to look forward to each night after the Buccos lose.

9) Pub-D-Hub: I am enjoying the Great Alaskan Mystery serial on here, though I still think it can use more Edgar Kennedy. Granted, I think that about most things made in the 1930s and 1940s...

10) Amazon Prime: That The Last Tycoon series looks kind of cool. Of course, most of the reviews say it isn't that great, so I am not going to get Prime for it or anything, but it looks cool and earns Amazon a 10-spot.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

YOU Make the Call: Eight Is Enough (Part 2)

Yesterday we took a brief look at the legendary star of Just Legal and Blood and Oil and asked if you would let him date your daughter. Today we have another suitor for the Bradford daughters on Eight Is Enough. Only, Don Johnson was dating Mary and was in a committed relationship--so committed that they tried living together.

This guy, though, has the nerve to try to date Susan and Joanie at the same time while being sneaky about it:

He LOOKS like a nice guy--sort of--and he even seems nice to Mary. He's David's roommate and co-worker on a construction site, so he can't be all bad, right?

 But look closely. Do you recognize this man who, years later would go on to terrorize Metropolis? That's right, it's LEX LUTHOR! Stay away, Susan and Joanie!

Fortunately, the Bradford girls figure out themselves what a creep he is, and they give him his comeuppance by...well, it's kind of goofy. They try to make him think that all 5 of them want him, which I guess is cruel when he figures out they're putting him on:

Knowing all this, YOU make the call: Would you let your daughter date this man?

Actually, the better question might be, would you let your daughter date THIS man? Yes, folks, it's time once again for the Grant Goodeve Gun Show:

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

YOU Make the Call: Eight is Enough (Part 1)

Folks, Mary Bradford, eldest daughter of harried but generally decent father of 8 and newspaper columnist Tom, is dating a new guy, and things are getting pretty serious. They want to live together.

I ask you, would YOU let your daughter DATE this guy, let alone shack up with him?

I mean, sure, this doctor in training is helpful at the beginning when Tommy breaks his leg in a football game...

but I don't like the attitude he is giving Tom here:

Still, to his credit, he does make nice with Tom at the end--and, yes, Tom concedes the Bradfords can be stubborn--and seems to be treating Mary right again.

I leave it up to you, readers: Does this man, who may or may not be the iconic star of a future iconic TV series (Nash Bridges, of course) look like someone you would want to date your daughter?

Monday, July 24, 2017

'Mooners Monday #21: The most terrifying moment on the show

Some Honeymooners moments really creeped me out when I was a little kid watching a rerun at 11:30 on a summer night--that moment when Ralph pulls back the curtain in the Xmas episode and breaks character always startled me, and there are all sorts of weird shots in the Lost Episodes--but no single scene in the show's history was scarier than the one that closes "Please Leave the Premises."

In this episode, Ralph sees a guy to get over the problem he's having with his nerves. Driving a bus is making him an angry wreck. Well, that's what HE says. I suspect he wasn't exactly Barney the Dinosaur before he got his spot at the Gotham Bus Co.

Anyway, he comes home all smiles and shares with Ed and Alice the method he has to deal with stress. The idea is to recite a simple saying each time he feels he is losing it. The characters say this a little differently at various points in the episode, but the gist is:

"Pins and needles, needles and pins. It's a happy man that grins." Then you smile, ask yourself what you were mad about, and, voila, troubles vanish.

Needless to say, things don't work out for Ralph, and I'll get into that in a future post, but for now let's focus on Alice's version. She does the rhyme in anger several times in this episode, and each time, it'''s chilling.

(I'm not sure what to make of Norton there, come to think of it)

That one is bad enough, but the episode's final shot is worse. We get a "good" look at Alice, and Audrey Meadows, a beautiful and classy woman, shows us how she can transform into an emissary of Satan himself:

(Warning: This image may be unsuitable for younger viewers)

Is this The Honeymooners or Mommie Dearest? [SHUDDER]

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Streaming Video Power Rankings: Week #69 (Special "No comment" edition)

1) Hulu: It earns the top spot this week with its recent library deal with Fox. In addition to series like Bob's Burgers and Bones, Hulu is adding the full runs of series like MASH and NYPD Blue. And finally--finally--that "first 3 seasons" nonsense of the MTM shows like Hill Street Blues, The Bob Newhart Show, and The Mary Tyler Moore is ending as Hulu will have all the episodes. St. Elsewhere  is another complete one coming, and that has only been the first season.

Bravo to Hulu for spending some money on pre-2000 TV series. Competition is good, and I'm glad that Hulu is willing to pick up the slack in an area Netflix has abandoned.

2) Netflix: Rogue One is a big add and a reminder of the value of that Disney deal. Maybe Jason Bateman and Laura Linney in Ozark will turn out to be a big success. However, I have seen a lot of negative reviews for their recent high-profile originals like Friends from College. Yeah, it's exciting to see a new series each weekend, but if it's not any good...

3) YouTube: Oh, I've seen some great stuff on here lately, like a 20-minute block of HBO promos and an old episode of WWF's syndicated "A" show. One of the best channels, Gilmore Box, uploaded a ton of great (and by great I mean terrible) opening sequences to forgotten 1990s sitcoms.

Also, speaking of old TV, big ups to PRO Classic TV. Peter Rodgers Organization apparently abandoned its standalone Roku channel and said, "Hell with it; let's just use YouTube," and is putting tons of old stuff up in decent quality for free. We're talking Rifleman, I Spy, My Favorite Martian, and more PRO programs.

4) MLB.TV: As of press time (I love writing that), the Pirates have won 12 of 14 and 6 in a row. It's fun to have MLB when your team actually wins games!

5) Warner Archive Instant: Stay tuned this week for my special look at the continued sketchy dating of the Bradford daughters on Eight Is Enough. Really, though, a movie-centric update for WAI is looooong overdue.

6) Pub-D-Hub: I think I am going to settle down and start watching The Great Alaskan Mystery, the latest addition to the serials category, tonight. Ralph Morgan, Milburn Stone, Marjorie Weaver, and best of all, Edgar Kennedy!

6) Nosey: The world didn't really need a free Roku channel dedicated to episodes of trash TV like daytime talk shows and courtroom shows, but here it is, and--this is going to be a credibility killer, I know--I actually enjoyed it recently. I looked for a "troubled teens" episode of Sally, and lo and behold, I found one right away!

7) Britbox: Added The Young Ones. 'Nuff said. But it also adds the first 7 seasons of iconic Britcom Only Fools and Horses. Will it please add Drop the Dead Donkey so I can throw some money at it?

8) TuneIn: Once again I heard Dave Mason's "We Just Disagree" on Deep Oldies on TuneIn, and it is by no means a deep oldie, but why would anyone complain about hearing it?

9) HBO Now: I probably shouldn't rate them just because DirectTV is running a free preview this weekend, but, hey, so be it. Hacksaw Ridge premieres this weekend. Remember that was actually nominated for Best Picture? I kind of forgot, too.

10) Shout! Factory TV: This week I saw Jerry Seinfeld guest on the old Dr. Ruth Lifetime show, and much to my delight, he was just as much a wise ass as I hoped he would be.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Hazel: The Early Years: Episode 5, "Dorothy's New Client"

Conspicuous by his absence in this season 1 episode is Don Defore, AKA Mr. B. We see precious little of him, though Dorothy's desire to pay for the fancy chair she has ordered for him is an important plot point. Can Hazel the show work without Hazel the domestic engineer butting heads (in an amiable, well-meaning way, of course) with her nominal boss? Of course, but the Dorothy-centric episodes are missing something. Well, they are missing Defore, but you know what I mean.

"Dorothy's New Client" is significant for establishing Missy's career as an interior decorator...and that she apparently isn't all that successful at it. She's hurting for clients but doesn't want to be aggressive about hustling for them, nor does she want to mark up cheap items and push them as luxury accessories for would-be clientele. This is admirable but not so good when you need money for a new chair for your hubby, so Hazel butts in as only she can.

Check out the snooty designer who wants Dorothy to work for her. She has no qualms about doing what it takes to get clients:

Hazel's "poker face" at some of her business ideas leaves a bit to be desired:

From a Hazel Burke standpoint, this episode is notable because she actually gets busted in her meddling, proving that she is not the superhuman, infallible force she resembles at times throughout the series. Yes, even Hazel is kind of slow sometimes. She cooks up a scheme n which she cozies up to the new neighbors' domestic and convincing her to give a spiel designed to get her boss to hire a decorator.

The transparent ruse is not one of Hazel's best. Missy figures it out quickly, and Hazel has to haul a-double-crooked-letter back to her place to avoid being caught there in the new place playing puppet master.

It's refreshing to see that rare sign of fallibility, but make no mistake, Hazel is still the queen of the 'hood. When she recruits the new maid for the Sunshine Girls, she makes the group of domestic engineers sound like a bit more than a social group, explaining that they do meetings, lectures (by Hazel herself, natch), minor armed insurrections...OK, I made up the last part of that, but the Sunshine Girls don't mess around, and they prove it by the end of the episode.

See, the Sunshine Girls do a welcome wagon kind of deal in which they do a housecleaning and furniture arranging, and wouldn't you know it? They just happen to illustrate the many ways in which one crucial interior decorating decision can wreck a household.

 I look forward to seeing more of the Sunshine Girls. They are like Hazel's own Special Forces, ready to be deployed on short notice in any crisis.

But back to the boss, and I don't mean Mrs. B. So Dorothy gets her new client after all. Once again, game, set, match: Hazel.

I look forward to seeing more of the Sunshine Girls. They are like Hazel's own Special Forces, ready to be deployed on short notice in any crisis.