Monday, May 30, 2011

Red, White & Blue in 4-Color

Patriotic superheroes have been around for almost as long as comic books have. DC and Marvel have had their share of these red, white & blue clad characters over the years. Marvel, of course, has the granddaddy of World War II heroes, Captain America - soon to be seen again on the big screen. Marvel likes to forget the other CAPTAIN AMERICA movie (and TV-movies).Cap (Steve Rogers) "came back to life" in 2009 after being dead for about 2 years, causing a frenzy of non-comic book fans to crowd into comic shops in hopes of nabbing a copy of the "collectible" issue to sell on eBay for more money. Ugh.The DC Universe, on the other hand has had Wonder Woman, as well as a plethora of stars-and-stripes donning dudes and dames—both homegrown and adopted when the company absorbed Quality Comics, Fawcett Comics and Charlton Comics. These characters include Mr. America, Miss America (not to be confused with the Marvel heroine of the same name), Uncle Sam, Liberty Belle, Minute Man, Rusty Ryan, Stars-Spangled Kid and Stripesy and later additions like Americommando, Agent Liberty, Major Victory, General Glory, Steel, Commander Steel and Citizen Steel. I'm sure there are others that have come and gone.
In 2009, DC entered into a deal with Archie Comics to acquire the publishing rights to the MLJ/Red Circle characters. DC had already published these characters in the early 90s under the Impact! Comics banner.But now for the first time, these classic heroes were promised to be apart of the DC Universe proper— including the great grandaddy of patriotic heroes—The Shield!

The Shield first appeared in PEP Comics #1 (January 1940) - a full fourteen months before the more famous Captain America, who has an extremely similar origin. Hmmm...

The Shield was created by writer Harry Shorten and artist Irv Novick, with his secret
origin revealed in Shield-Wizard #1 (Summer 1940).
The Shield's secret identity was that of chemist Joe Higgins, the son of Lt. Tom Higgins who was slain by the Nazis, who were after his secret formula for super-strength. After his death, son Joe took on his father's research, concluding that he must apply chemicals to certain parts of his anatomy: Sacrum, Heart, Innervation, Eyes, Lungs, Derma, and then zap himself with x-rays—thereby giving him super strength, invulnerability and the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound!The Shield was born and became the star player in MLJ's lineup.
That is until a certain redheaded upstart named Archie Andrews appeared, relegating The Shield into becoming a supporting player, eventually being forcing him into an early retirement.
Other Archie/Mighty/Radio Comics versions of The Shield appeared over the years, notably Joe Simon & Jack Kirby's Lancelot Strong and Bill Higgins, son of the original.
The MLJ heroes returned briefly in the 1960s during the campy comic book craze, this time teamed up as The Mighty Crusaders.Archie Comics again brought them all back in the late 1980s to cash in on the independent comics explosion.
Then, in the 90s DC Comics bought the rights and started up the Impact! Comics line - hoping to introduce the characters to a new generation of comics fans.
This attempt failed miserably.
Just when we thought we saw the last of these characters, they resurfaced in a few issues of Archie's Weird Mysteries in the early 2000s, almost coming full circle.
And the in 2009, DC's Red Circle revival will gave The Shield and his super friends yet another chance at greatness, under the guidance of comics superstar J. Michael Straczynski.

It didn't quite work out that way. Now, two years later The Shield and his Red Circle companions join the plethora of DC Comics that are in limbo while fans await the news of a "blockbuster" announcement in June that promises to redefine DC Comics for the future. So on this Memorial Day, I salute The Shield - the Captain America that never made it big.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Douglas Michael Show with Wendi McLendon-Covey

Here's a little interview I did with acclaimed BRIDESMAIDS star Wendi McLendon-Covey back in 2009.
Doug: Wendi McLendon-Covey is one of the funniest and talented women working in Hollywood today. Her role on RENO:911 won her a legion of fans - and she continues to entertain and charm audiences with her comic timing and sex appeal in film and on TV. Hello Wendi, first of I all - thank you for being the first guest on THE DOUGLAS MICHAEL SHOW! 
Wendi: Thank you for having me! The pleasure is all mine.

D: Recently you've done guest appearances on comedies like THE OFFICE and KATH & KIM. If you could be in any other sitcom from TV history - which one would it be and who would you want to play?
W: When I was in elementary school, I wanted to play “Sonny” on the show BOSOM BUDDIES. She wasn’t necessarily funny, but she was gorgeous and she got to play the love interest of Tom Hanks! I had such a crush on him! And I also thought it would have been fun to play Lucy Ricardo, Gidget, and Louise Jefferson.
 D: I’d love to see you as Weezie! LOL! Most women comics site legends like Carol Burnett or Lily Tomlin as their main influence. Who influenced you?
W: Of course I love those two women, and I used to drive my family crazy with my “Edith Ann” impression after I saw Lily Tomlin play that character on SESAME STREET. But I was also heavily influenced by Bill Cosby, Steve Martin, and Flip Wilson. I used to listen to their comedy albums over and over until the records warped.
D: Believe or not, I had all those albums too. Great, classic stand-up. You've been a member of The Groundlings for a few years - it's amazing how many of my favorite comic performers have been a part of that troupe! I've always heard it was an intense process to make your way through the program. (It sounds like a religious cult). Any advice for the young comic who'd want to try out?
W: It’s very much like a religious cult in that we are made to shave our heads and wear robes. And yes, the process is intense because the goal is to teach you to improvise, and then to use your improvisational skills as a means to write sketch comedy. It can be frustrating in the same way that learning a foreign language can be frustrating, especially when you have a teacher that refuses to speak to you in English while you’re learning. In the end, you learn more from a teacher that doesn’t coddle you. And with improv you get a better result from LISTENING and responding accordingly rather than looking for places to insert punchlines. 

D: Speaking of cults: LOVESPRING INTERNATIONAL was a funny, funny show. I know so many people who loved it – it’s got quite a growing cult following. The cast was perfection and it was so giddily over the top - I don't think the people at Lifetime understood it. Was it as much fun to make as it was to watch? Have you heard anything about a dvd release of the series?
W: Thank you! That was one of the most rewarding professional experiences of my life because it was so collaborative. And we had a dream team of improvisors – Sam Pancake, Jane Lynch, Jack Plotnick, Jennifer Elise Cox – it was so much fun to go to work everyday. But you’re right: Lifetime loved it at first, then they lost confidence in it. I don’t know that it will ever be released on DVD, but I think you can still watch entire episodes on Hulu.

D: Is there a chance we'll see you again on Lifetime - maybe in a dramatic role as Judith Light's blind daughter or something?
W: From your lips to God’s ears, my darling! Then I’ll know I’ve made it. Judith Light is a force of nature. I bought Pro-Active after watching her in those infomercials! She moved me to tears with her sensitivity towards the acne afflicted. I’m not even kidding.
D: Judith is pretty awesome. I hope you do get to work with her! One of my favorite TV shows of all-time (as readers of my blog may know) was SUPERFRIENDS - I was delighted to find out that you were also a fan! Any memories you care to share?
W: I was always scared by the episodes that featured giant, room-sized computers, because I knew that one day I’d have to learn how to use one. It really vexed me. And I didn’t like the Wonder Twins; their eyes were the same color as their skin, their voices were irritating, and they didn’t seem to take things as seriously as the other Superfriends. I mean, they were defending THE WORLD!
D: I never thought about that eye thing. The curse of cheap Hanna-Barbera animation! Well, thank you so much for being my guest - and taking the time to answer my silly questions. I look forward to seeing much more of you in the years to come!
W: Thank YOU for wanting to hear my silly answers to your silly questions!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Random TV GUIDE Ad Week - Day 7

Remember when people watched soaps? This ad for NBC's DAY OF OUR LIVES was touting the expansion of the show to an hour, a trend started by the long-gone and much missed ANOTHER WORLD. Now 30 odd years later, with DAYS being the last soap on the Peacock network, CBS having ditched THE GUIDING LIGHT and AS THE WORLD TURNS and ABC recently canceling both ALL MY CHILDREN and ONE LIFE TO LIVE - it looks like the end of an era. The once unstoppable genre looks like it may become a thing of the past. With rumors of the ax falling for GENERAL HOSPITAL as well, the daytime soap may be extinct before we know it.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Random TV GUIDE Ad Week - Day 5

Who raised you, wolves?
Apparently the answer would be "yes" if you were Mowgli, the little naked star of MOWGLI'S BROTHERS, a half-hour animated special from the legendary Chuck Jones. Based on a tale from Rudyard Kipling's THE JUNGLE BOOK, this family program was aired by CBS numerous times throughout the 1970s. Why the advertising department chose to run an ad with "baby ass" in it is beyond me. I know that Mr. Jones' adaptation was intended to be more faithful than the Disney musical, but there is just something off-putting by the depiction of the mop-haired jungle boy looking like a cross between Joan Jett, Cindy Lou Who and a wrinkly Coppertone baby. Can't imagine a network using an ad like this today, the Parents Research Council would be crying "pornography" the minute it hit the newsstands. Times have changed.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Random TV GUIDE Ad Week - Day 3

Shades of the Danny Thomas special from Monday, this time the old timer was George Burns and look at who they saddled him with...a Duke of Hazzard, a Denver Carrington and Broadway's answer to Betty Boop. Thanks NBC.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Monday, May 16, 2011

Random TV GUIDE Ad Week - Day 1

Danny Thomas (born Amos Alphonsus Muzyad Yakhoob), star of MAKE ROOM FOR DADDY, MAKE ROOM FOR GRANDDADDY, THE PRACTICE and I'M A BIG GIRL NOW hosted a 1978 variety special for CBS. I need to see this!!! That is all.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Get Well Soon, Mary

Love this weird TV GUIDE ad from the syndicated run of MARY TYLER MOORE. Looks like someone pasted Mary's head on Juliet Prowse's body. and placed her in some thoroughly modern chair. Thinking of the great Ms. Moore as she recovers from brain surgery.

Celebrity Deaths Update

I've missed a bunch of celebrity deaths over the past month or so. After Liz Taylor, we lost a whole slew of talented folks including Loleatta Holloway (born 1946), Lanford Wilson (born 1937), Farley Granger (born 1925), Sidney Lumet (born 1924), Sol Saks (born 1910), Marie-France Pisier (born 1944), Phoebe Snow (born 1950), Yvette Vickers (born 1928), Poly Styrene (1957), Marian Mercer (born 1935), Jackie Cooper (born 1922), Arthur Laurents (born 1917), Dolores Fuller (born 1923), Norma Zimmer (born 1923) and Sada Thompson (born 1937).
I remember this gripping episode of FAMILY in which Sada's character awaits the results of a biopsy. A strange marketing decision by ABC shows an inappropriately whimsical logo for the series in an otherwise grim TV GUIDE ad. Notice the guest appearance by NANNY & THE PROFESSOR's Kim Richards.

Friday, May 13, 2011


As a Friday the 13th treat, here's a post I originally ran 4 years ago...when I had time to "review" movies...

From the title and poster one would assume that SUPERCHICK was either a WONDER WOMAN parody or a white FOXY BROWN knockoff. In reality, SUPERCHICK has a lot more in common with THE HAPPY HOOKER. A few minutes into the story, we quickly learn that the "joke" of this movie is that things aren't always as they first appear. For instance, at first we see a sexy brunette stewardess...but soon she disappears into a phone booth...and emerges as a sexy blonde in a Black Canary costume. 

Unfortunately the black fishnets do not cover her bruised legs. Ouch. Next we think we are seeing drinks being poured in an elegant restaurant, but the camera pulls back to reveal: it's a bathtub in a fancy suite owned by a brain surgeon who has Thomas Gainsboro "Blue Boy" hanging over his toilet. 

So here we learn that Superchick is sleeping with him in this yellow wallpaper and shag carpeting paradise. I think he asks her to marry him, but I'm not sure since my notes are kinda sloppy tonight. She tells the good doctor - "I feel like an Avon Lady in Sun City." Huh???
From there we see Tom Jones (really Tony Young from POLICEWOMEN as Johnny) in bed with a topless woman who looks like a big-titted Barbara Barrie in her BARNEY MILLER days (actually it's porn legend Candy Samples!). 
Soon Superchick aka Tara B. True arrives in Miami in her stewardess guise. Meanwhile, Johnny puts on a sexy stripe sweater and goes to meet with the Gay Mafia who dress in red and mustard.

They look like plastic condiment dispensers. Johnny gets pissed at them and as they drive away in their fancy car he yells "Fags!" Tara next turns up on Johnny's boat wearing only a fishing net with "floats" on her tits, vagina and ass. Then we think we see skidmarks on Johnny's tighty whities as he mounts her.

This is followed by an endless montage of them doing Miami type things like running on the beach, water skiing, playing tennis, dancing, gambling and drinking. When Johnny asks her to marry him she makes up some Shakespeare quote.

Then Johnny parks in "the white zone" at the airport - and Tara's back in her stewardess uniform (we learn she works for Crown International Airlines - a clever play on the company that distributed the film). 

On the plane, she offers a drink to a rude old man and then fucks a cute marine in the airplane restroom. She arrives at LAX and is greeted by another boyfriend - this one's a rock star who looks like he possibly has Down's Syndrome. Next she's kicking ass in karate class. Huh?

At this point one of my co-viewers declares "I've got no idea what is going on!!!" The rest of us are also confused, so we decide to recount everything that has happened so far...

1) A stewardess gets into a phonebooth and changes.
2) She's brunette, and then she's blonde.
3) She's eating dinner in a bathtub discussing fine art.
4) She flew to Miami.
5) She met the Tom Jones lookalike who was fucking a cow.
6) Tom loses money on dog races and hates fags.
7) He's either a drunk or just tired from the Miami montage
8) She flew to LA to meet the Down's Syndrome guy
9) Oh, she fucked a marine on the plane
10) Oh, she quotes Shakespeare, we think.
11) She met a Chinese guy played by a Hawaiian actor.

We conclude that there is a difference between "actual plot" and "things happening". I think we're all caught up now. But nothing explains this new guy who looks like Norm McDonald playing Burt Reynolds. Then somebody in the movie (I don't remember who) says "Holy shit!" to the camera. He ain't kidding!

At this point, I decide to Google our lead actress Joyce Jillson -pwho turns out to be Joyce Jillson - celebrity astrologer. Joyce was an author of a nationally syndicated astrology column which appeared in nearly 200 newspapers including the LA Times and the NY Daily News! She also was Ronald Reagan's official psychic!!! administration! She died in 2004. Wow...Who knew?

Back to the movie - and her big white stewardess bag. Soon a black guy pays special attention to her. Next we see a woman being whipped - but it's not what you think - it's the set of a porn movie! Tensions are high, especially when the porn actress calls her male lead a "fag". Tara then gets advice from the leading lady "to get into Show Business, you gotta SHOW your BUSINESS!"

Next Tara's at a wild hippy party which looks like it's at a disco - but the camera pulls back to reveal - it's somebody's house! Here she and the black dude, let's call him "Jimi Hendrix", finally hook up as he offers her a joint. (There's even a Hendrix poster on the wall behind them) So then they have a deep moment as she sips a Tab from a straw. 

Things get out of hand when the "heat freaks" (aka "cops") show up and bust everyone, but Tara changes back into her stewardess get-up and escapes. Then she gets "flashed". I think.

So, the rock star guy is playing the piano badly, then they fuck inside of it. NOT on top of it, but INSIDE of it, which must hurt. Downs guy wants to marry her too! EVERYBODY wants to marry Tara! Then she rants over Bolero type music and they fuck more.

Next we meet old John Carradine, who is dressed as a Russian Czar. 

There's fight that involves him and his stunt double, but we can't figure out what it's all about. Then the Gay mafia shows up again on a plane and there's a little boy who also possibly has Down's Syndrome just starring at the camera. What is going on here???

Okay, Tara gets off the plane and it's SO WINDY that her tits pop out of her uniform! Suddenly all three boyfriends are there and she tells them she can't marry them - because she loves them ALL! "Life is made up of people, not ONE person". Oh - so that's what this movie was about all I get it. Wow...I love Superchick too.

But why is she called SUPERCHICK? She doesn't have any powers or fight crime...she just fucks a lot of guys. Super.

9 outta 10 - mostly for the AMAZING soundtrack and fabulous outfits.