Friday, December 30, 2011

Top Tensploitation: TV (2011 Edition)

Because you can never get enough of people telling you what THEY like best, here's my second annual Top Ten TV Shows list. 
1) AMERICAN HORROR STORY (FX, Wednesdays 10PM) - An incredibly addictive pastiche of gothic soap, softcore porn and Grand Guignol horror that added up to an incredibly well-cast and well-acted concoction delivering some of the campiest over-the-top dialogue this (or any other) season. 
While the men (Dylan McDermott, Zachary Quinto, Evan Peters) were pretty to look at, it was the women (Connie Britton, Frances Conroy, Kate Mara, Jamie Brewer and the force of nature that is Jessica Lange) that made this exploration of urban legends and unsolved Hollywood mysteries must-see TV.
While the season finale was a bit disappointing, overall the show kept me guessing and laughing-out-loud all season long.
2) DOWNTON ABBEY (PBS, Sundays 9PM) - A touch of class, this British import showed us how great TV can be done. A sumptuous soap in the grand tradition of the original UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS and Robert Altman's GOSFORD PARK. A fine cast and a lush soundtrack made this MASTERPIECE an instant classic. Looking forward to season 2.
3) COMMUNITY (NBC, Thursdays 8PM) - The funniest, smartest, most original and lowest rated sitcom on NBC's Thursday night schedule. Season 3 is turning out to be even more brilliant than the previous two. The cast is more lovable than ever, (and who would have thought that I've ever say that about Chevy Chase?) The show is about to go on on hiatus…and I can't imagine how lonely Thursday nights will be without Jeff, Britta, Troy, Abed, Annie, Shirley, Dean Pelton, Señor Chang and yes Chevy Chase's Pierce. Hoping that there will be a season 4.
4) EPISODES (Showtime, Sundays 9:30PM) - Anyone who's ever taken a meeting with studio or network "suits" can relate to this hysterical and realistic look at how a great British series gets reworked into a dreadful Matt LeBlanc sitcom. Stephen Mangan and Tamsin Greig are painfully wonderful as Sean and Beverly Lincoln, whose "baby" (Lyman’s Boys) gets transformed into something called Pucks. Mircea Monroe is brilliant as network "yes woman" Morning Randolph and John Pankow is terrific as her slimy boss Merc Lapidus. Oh, yeah that guy playing Matt LeBlanc nails it.
5) HAPPY ENDINGS (ABC, Wednesdays 9:30PM) - Finally, a show that takes the FRIENDS concept to the next level and makes it work. Eliza Coupe is Jane, a control-freak and perfectionist. Jane is married to Brad (the super-sexy Damon Wayans, Jr.), her loyal husband. Brad's best friends are food truck operator Dave (Zachary Knighton ) - who used to be engaged to Jane's sister Alex - and Max (Adam Pally), the best, most realistic gay character EVER on TV. Max is sarcastic, unkempt and constantly unemployed. A far cry from cliched gay characters on shows like MODERN FAMILY and GLEE. Alex (Elisha Cuthbert) owns and operates a boutique called Xela ("Alex" backwards) and is roommates with desperate and single Penny (the awesome breakout Casey Wilson). A standout on ABC's otherwise dull line-up.
6) PARKS & RECREATION (NBC, Thursdays 8:30PM) - A show which gets better every time you watch it. At first a poor clone of THE OFFICE, the show has now evolved into something greater. Amy Poehler leads a great ensemble that includes standouts Aziz Ansari, Nick Offerman, Aubrey Plaza, Rashida Jones, Chris Pratt, Retta, Jim O'Heir and Adam Scott. Stunt-casting Rob Lowe during season 2 didn't really add anything to the show, but didn't detract either. Who would have thought that small city government would make an interesting and hysterical series? Not I.
7) UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS (PBS, Sundays 9PM) - The grandaddy of British class-war soaps was back with Jean Marsh recreating her role of Rose Buck, as a new family moves into 165 Eaton Place. Overshadowed by the much grander DOWNTON ABBEY, this three-part revival was a wonderful effort and long overdue. For more on the history of UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS go here.
8) LOUIE (FX, Thursdays 10PM) - Stand-up genius Louis CK writes, directs, edits and produces the saddest. most depressing sitcom ever. The storylines are dark, the situations awkward and you can't help but feel uncomfortable watching, but the show almost always manages to make me laugh out loud.
9) WILFRED (FX, Thursdays 10:30PM) - If my dogs could talk, they would be Wilfred. Based on an Australian series, Elijah Wood stars as Ryan, a suicidal mess who befriends his neighbor's mischievous mutt (Jason Gann, reprising his Aussie role). Wilfred smokes cigarettes and pot, drinks beer, eats human food, and is a bad influence on Ryan. The show is absurd, distasteful and wickedly funny.
10) DAYS OF OUR LIVES (NBC, Weekdays 1PM) - I know. I'm crazy. I grew up watching DOOL in the 70s and 80s. I watched it sporadically in the 90s and 2000s, and somehow found my way back to Salem in 2011. While GUIDING LIGHT, AS THE WORLD TURNS, ALL MY CHILDREN and soon ONE LIFE TO LIVE have all called it quits - DAYS has been revitalized by returning to its roots: bringing back beloved characters and actors and finally welcoming a gay storyline. While it may not be Shakespeare, this show has survived convoluted continuity, demonic possession and a dreadful year where every major character was "killed" and transported to another dimension. With only three other daytime soaps left (GENERAL HOSPITAL on ABC, YOUNG & THE RESTLESS and BOLD & THE BEAUTIFUL on CBS), DAYS' days may be numbered, but I'm hoping it pulls through.

Missing from 2011's group are MAD MEN (no new episodes), IT'S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA (a very uneven season), BETTER OFF TED (sadly, cancelled), NURSE JACKIE (a concept that has run it's course), WEEDS (why is this still on?), HOT IN CLEVELAND (novelty has worn thin), ARCHER (novelty has worn VERY thin) and clip shows (THE DISH and INFOMANIA are gone, TOSH.0 has become torture porn, CHELSEA LATELY, THE SOUP and FASHION POLICE are still good background while blogging). There are also shows that I had high hopes for (PLAYBOY CLUB, PAN AM) that never took off, some shows I missed the boat on (REVENGE, BOARDWALK EMPIRE, RAISING HOPE) and "good" shows that I have no interest in (HOMELAND, JUSTIFIED, BREAKING BAD, SONS OF ANARCHY). Then there are the overrated shows (MODERN FAMILY, GLEE) and "reality" tv (no comment). Once again, CBS is suspiciously absent. This is my list and I'm sticking to it!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Have a Happy...

Hello readers, it's been a super busy year between my "day job", working on PRETTY and just life in general. I intended to post many more wonderful holiday themed items over the past few week, but alas there is not enough time in the day. I do hope you all are having a great holiday no matter WHAT or HOW you celebrate and look forward to a big, bright New Year for us all. Peace, peeps.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Christmas From Our House To Yours

The Green Apple Co. released this wonderfully dreadful holiday craft book sometime during the late 70s or early 80s. Clearly they did not have the budget to hire a professional photographer to make these homemade design "suggestions" look like something that anyone would want to undertake.

Let's start with the eye chart, um I mean banner. The alphabet, followed by three rows of images: 1) wreaths 2) gingerbread men 3) stockings. Then "From our house to yours" and a quaint image of a snow-covered gingerbread house. Followed by a row of trees, the numbers 1 through 9 (WTF?), a row of candy canes and finally a row of gifts. Did I mention the MERRY CHRISTMAS border and the gingham loops at the top? Oy vey.
Next yp we have this lovely (?) wreath pillow. Well at least I THINK that's supposed to be a wreath.
Ah, Rebecca's Christmas stocking. More gingham and a cheerful snowman make this suitable for flinging into, er, I mean "hanging by" any fireplace!
In case little Billy forgets where he's supposed to sit at the dinner table, why not remind him with this stylish place setting? After all what's better at catching crumbs and gravy spills than a white swatch of fabric?
And finally - what's the holidays without a small box decorated with label with a clever "Christmas Recipe"? I sure hope someone toils away to make me one of these this year! So there you have it - horrible crafts to avoid at all costs, from the Green Apple Co.

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Murder of Santa Claus, 1973

I always thought this was a weird, but fun cover. As members of the JLA and JSA stand around with their hands on their hips, poor Santa lies face down in the snow. It's almost as if they killed him and are standing over his lifeless body with pride. Here Comes TV's Super-Friends, but you better not get in their way - I'm talking to you, Santa!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Naughty & Nice - Holiday Pin-Ups

From 2008 : Since a certain nameless blog listing service turned down Dougsploitation because it considered it "pornography" - I decided to put my money shots where their mouths are and share some slightly sexy photos from Santa's private collection.
First up, we have everybody's favorite Batgirl, Yvonne Craig showing some skin as she poses among some brightly wrapped packages spilling out of Old St. Nick's big sleigh.
Next up we have a classic James Bidgood photo of a hunky young man (circa 1966). Looks like somebody has already started unwrapping their present!

Yvonne's back, this time looking pert and stylish as she poses with a smiling snowman in front of a lovely decorated holiday window.

Meanwhile, a twinky blonde caroler has arrived with quite an assortment of gifts for some lucky recipient. This is another shot from a Bidgood collection called Holiday.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Wonder Book of Christmas

One of the last times I was back home, I packed a bunch of my childhood books into my suitcase including a few Christmas titles - THE WONDER BOOK OF CHRISTMAS was one of my favorites.
I just though I'd share this adorable opening spread with my readers. This is my WONDER BOOK...signed "Douglas". How cute is that?

I long for the days when the holidays were filled with Wonder. Maybe next life? In the mean time, I'll just enjoy them for what they are...

Monday, December 12, 2011

I'm Dreaming of a Bing Crosby...

When I think of Bing Crosby I think of 5 things.
1) White Christmas 
2) Bob Hope
3) Golf 
4) Minute Maid Orange Juice 
5) His duet with David Bowie
But I've recently come across two more things which I will now forever associate Bing Crosby with...
6) Friendship Trees! The grand tradition of taping Christmas Cards to your tree using cellophane tape–as Bing Crosby, star of Paramount's MR. MUSIC highly recommended. His co-star Nancy Olson agreed that it's a "wonderful idea". But how does one transform a boring old Christmas tree into one of friendship? Luckily we had this color advertisement to show us exactly how to how apply tape to greeting cards and then how to tape them to the tree. Wow - thanks Bing!!! Now, if there was only a frozen dessert I could eat after I exhaust myself from taping Christmas cards to my tree...
7) Bing Crosby Ice Cream. Long before Ben & Jerry's, Bing's giant head adorned the packaging of Valley Farm's vanilla frozen dessert. You may ask "why"? I could reply, "why not?". Let's just say, Bing was to ice cream like Paul Newman was to salad dressing and leave it at that. I once heard a story which I think can tie this all together. Someone once asked an elderly Bob Hope what Bing Crosby was really like. His response "you know, he really likes his marijuana."  Wow - Crosby a pot head? Who knew? Bob Hope knew - that's who! Bing Cherry Garcia might have been the flavor that never was. Well, now I have 8 things to associate Bing Crosby with.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Random Holiday Stuff

From 2009: Throughout the year whenever I come across some Christmas-themed images I file them away and hope that I remember to blog about them. Well this year I've been so busy that I almost forgot to share them with you, my loyal readers.

Lucy & Desi give the gift of lung cancer in special holiday-themed cigarette packaging from their friends at Philip Morris. Something wonderful happens when you give Philip Morris!

These ladies know what it's all about: getting gifts and sparkling like a living Christmas tree!

Don Holliday and Companion Books bring us the timeless Christmas classic, Holiday Gay featuring seasonal tales of half-naked Santas and dirty little elves engaging in a traditional holiday orgy. Ah, my people...

Gibson Cards has a wonderful thought for everyone this holiday season - even Molly, who's clearly a bit on the simple side.

This was seen at a local Big Lots store - Santa's bending over to warm his big fat butt just in time for Mr. Snowman to deliver him a stocking stuffer of a carrot!

And finally, something a bit sentimental. An Advent calendar given to me by my late Aunt Vicky when I was a mere child. This glittery bible-quote card has been with me every year for the past 40 years or so. I will treasure it always as much as my memories of the sweet, warm and funny lady who gave it to me. Merry Christmas!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Christmas is like magic

It sure is with this magical View-Master ad. (click on image to enlarge) I wonder if kids today would be excited to get a View-Master for Christmas? Probably not, and how very sad that is.

Santa's Village

Santa's Village were the first franchised theme parks in the world. Imagine a place where children could experience the fun of Christmas 365 days a year!Sadly, they are a thing of the past. For an exhaustive history of these incredible parks, go here.

The Fifth Day of Christmas

"It hadn't taken Julia long to fall in love with Ivo van den Werff – but she had better fall out of love equally quickly, she decided, when she met Marcia Jason and realized just how much stronger a claim the other girl had on Ivo's affection."
That's the description on the back cover of THE FIFTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS, a 1971 Harlequin Romance by Betty Neels. I'm not sure what this book has to do with Christmas, but it appears that Ivo's got a small package (5 Golden Rings, perhaps?) and he's all ready to share it with our heroine, nurse Julia - not to be confused with the other nurse JULIA. The author Betty Neels, a retired nurse, wrote an astounding 134 novels between 1970 and 2001 (when she was well into her 90s) - with about a half-dozen published posthumously. Some intriguing titles include AMAZON IN APRON (1970), VICTORY FOR VICTORIA (1972), COBWEB MORNING (1976) and HILLTOP TRYST (1990). Her work lives on in a new 2008 Harlequin holiday collection, CHRISTMAS DREAMS.
Some of Nurse Betty's other holiday romance titles include ROSES FOR CHRISTMAS (1976), WINTER WEDDING (1980),  A CHRISTMAS WISH (1995), MISTLETOE KISS (1997), MISTLETOE MAGIC (2000), A CHRISTMAS PROPOSAL (2001), A CHRISTMAS ROMANCE (2001) and CHRISTMAS WISHES (2003). Who knew that there was such a niche market for Christmas-specific romance novels? I guess the tradition lives on in the slew of cheesy ABC Family, Lifetime and Hallmark Channel movies that we are bombarded with each December.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Moon's Our Home

What an odd title for a Christmas-themed romance! This 1936 novel was one of author Faith Baldwin's 85 published works in a career that spanned over 50 years.

Is it the story of the first man/woman astronaut team who must celebrate their first Christmas together snowbound in a lunar base? It sure looks like it to me. Does anybody have any other guesses to what the plot line might possibly be?

Prisoner of Christmas Island

Sounds like a lovely place to be held prisoner to me!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Holiday Leftovers

Here's some holiday season leftovers from last year for your viewing pleasure...
In 1978, the SESAME STREET gang celebrated Christmas TWICE - Once at home on PBS...
and also on CBS with special guest stars ranging from Michael Jackson to Ethel Merman!!!
'TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS was a Rankin-Bass animated special that still airs annually on cable. I always found it charming except for it's odd depiction of Santa's red nose and cheeks. He looked freakish to me.
What do you think?

Meanwhile, back in the Stone Age, The Flintstones are celebrating the birth of Christ before it even happened.
In fact The Flintstones celebrate Christmas through time travel as seen here where they frolic with  anthropomorphic animals from the 1960s and the Jetsons, from the far future.
Even 'tweenage Peebles and Bamm-Bamm get in on the holiday fun.
Betty Rubble is absent from this gathering, she must be baby-sitting Boo-Boo Bear who is also not present.

Here Yogi Bear, sans Boo-Boo is taking a turn at playing Santa.
And here Yogi is "helping" Santa...or is he helping himself to Ranger Smith's new skis?
And finally here's Yogi and Boo-Boo decorating their tree with painted snowballs. Shouldn't they be hibernating?
Looks like Tom & Jerry have put all their feuding aside for the holidays - and Jerry's found himself a little gray mousefriend to celebrate with! Hope all my readers and friends have a wonderful holiday season whether they are spending it on Sesame Street, in Bedrock or in Jellystone Park. Peace on Earth and all that.