Saturday, December 29, 2012

Top Tensploitation: TV (2012 Edition)

A lot of TV critics' Top Ten lists seem to be very similar. BREAKING BAD, HOMELAND, MODERN FAMILY, WALKING DEAD, blah, blah, blah. Full of "edgy" and "daring" shows that I have no interest in watching. My list is just a bunch of shows that I enjoy week after week and as a part-time producer, ones that I wish I was involved with.
1) MAD MEN (AMC, Sundays) Back in top form after a hiatus. What can I say? This show is perfection. The most compelling cast and storytelling out there. While others have tried to imitate it's success (PLAYBOY CLUB, PAN AM, THE HOUR, MAGIC CITY and most recently VEGAS) - none were even able to come close. It's hard to pick the best episode or scene of the season because in my eyes it was all great. This is perhaps the best serialized TV drama of all time. There, I said it.
2) DOWNTON ABBEY (PBS, Sundays) Just having seen all of Season 3 (premiering in January on PBS) - this show keeps chugging along with all it's grand soapiness. Outshining and outliving the disappointing UPSTAIRS, DOWNSTAIRS revival - the Downton imitators are soon on their way. Julian Fellows' TITANIC miniseries was well-done in a very similar storytelling style, but ABC buried it over a summer weekend and it was barely noticed.
3) REVENGE (ABC, originally Wednesdays, now Sundays) I was late to the Revenge craze - watching all of Season 1 over one week in late summer in time for the Season 2 premiere. The first season was amazing - a rollicking rollercoaster ride of a mystery that kept me guessing all along the way. Unfortunately, Season 2 has been a huge disappointment - hopefully the show can get back on track.
4) SMASH (NBC, originally Mondays, now Tuesdays) The most entertaining pilot of 2012 led to the campiest bitchfest of a musical ever seen on TV. Great songs and over-the-top production numbers made this show watchable week after week and the backstage Broadway antics may have been unrealistic - but this "GLEE for grownups" made for perhaps the gayest hour of TV ever. I'm really looking forward to see what changes Season 2 brings in February.
5) HAPPY ENDINGS (ABC, originally Wednesdays, now Tuesdays) Funny, dirty, funny, sexy, funny, silly. I never fail to "laugh out loud" each week as these 6 "friends with issues" work with (or against) each other week after week to figure out life and love in the 2010s. Paired with the cartoony B IN APT. 23 for an hour of charming comedy.
6) EPISODES (Showtime) Season 2 of this behind-the-scenes sitcom was even funnier than the first. Great work by all. Looking forward to more.
7) DALLAS (TNT, originally Wednesdays, now Mondays). They said it couldn't be done. Off the top of my head, other than DEGRASSI, it's hard to recall any revival series that was successful. Okay, maybe 90210 - but does anybody even watch that? This revival picked up where the original left off and used the show's rich history to weave in new characters without neglecting the veterans. It will be interesting to see where Season 2 goes after Larry Hagman's death.
8) COMMUNITY (NBC, Thursdays) TV's most underrated and under-appreciated sitcom and the only NBC Thursday night show worth watching anymore continued to amuse, charm and tickle. What will happen now that creator Dan Harmon and co-star Chevy Chase are leaving?
9) PORTLANDIA (IFC) I'd describe this show as 'LITTLE BRITAIN meets TWIN PEAKS'. It's quirky and hipster-ish and while I've never lived in Portland, it somehow seems to get it all right. Clever and unique.
10) DAYS OF OUR LIVES (NBC, Weekdays) Salem continued to keep my attention this year despite some missteps (Alamania, Stefano's "murder", the new Celeste). Fun storylines like the "Daysaster" and Eileen Davidson's return as Kristin Blake have been balanced out by great dramatic turns like the Will/Sonny relationship and Caroline Brady's Alzheimer's plotline. We said goodbye to favorites Lexie Carver, Bo Brady, Carrie Brady and Jack Devereaux - but welcomed back some beloved characters as well (Eric Brady, Nurse Maxine, Nick Fallon, Doug and Julie). Behind-the-scenes drama led to a quick disposal of Madison James and Ian McAllister and a few others - but Dr. Marlena Evans finally took the spotlight in some well-written scenes with her gay grandson Will and her newly-returned nemesis Kristin. While ratings have been up & down - I feel the show is a solid contender and with the popularity of serial drama once again on the rise - DAYS may be around for a few more good years.

So, you may ask, what dropped out of my TOP 10 from last year? Well, let's take a look:

PARKS & RECREATION (NBC, Thursdays) Still a well-made show - but I've dropped it from my regular viewing because it just wasn't as funny as it used to be. Not sure why.

UPSTAIRS DOWNSTAIRS (PBS, Sundays) A disappointing second season was a poor exit for the revival of the TV classic. Be forewarned DALLAS.

LOUIE (FX, Thursdays) Some great episodes this season - but overall I found it too depressing to keep watching.

WILFRED (FX, Thursdays) The concept wore really thin, really fast for me.

and finally...

AMERICAN HORROR STORY (FX, Wednesdays) - Last year this show was my #1 pick. My favorite series of the entire year. This season, has become a weekly dose of "torture porn". It is so sad to see great actors like Jessica Lange, Sarah Paulson, James Cromwell, Clea DuVall, Chloe Sevigny and others demean themselves week after week in a series of violent, pointless and just plain dumb scenarios. Plus, it's not even scary anymore. I gave ASYLUM a fair chance and lastedabout 6 or 7 episodes when I decided I just couldn't take it anymore. To see this show still on some critics Top 10 lists sickens me. Never has a series gone from great to utter crap so quickly. Not sure if it will ever redeem itself.

That's how I see it. Feel free to discuss. Happy New Year!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Let's Play Christmas "Caption This"....

Hey readers! Post your most clever caption for this holiday photo.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Cards from Christmases Past - Part 4

Here's the last batch of vintage greeting cards for your enjoyment.
This die-cut number also features a sample of forced perspective. Pretty cool.
This IT'S A SMALL WORLD inspired design is just too cute for words - no matter what language you say it in!
This beautiful winter scene is one of my favorites. No red or green needed to convey the spirit of the season.
And finally - the oddest one in the collection. A pink and gold bell-shaped die-ct with an angel wearing a bird for a hat and carrying a poinsettia flower. Gotta love it. Gotta love the 1960s and all the wonderful holiday memories they evoke. Wishing you and yours a very Merry Christmas.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cards from Christmases Past - Part 3

I continue my look at some smashing greet card designs from a recently acquired 1964 catalog.
Here's a wonderful Santa face in a die-cut wreath. Love the embossed berries.
Here's a very jolly and glittery Santa, ready to welcome you into the Christmas spirit.
Here's another take on jolly St. Nick - probably from the same artist as the top card. Surrounded by lovely snowflakes.
And finally - the whole Claus family gets in on the act! Adorable. I hope to have some more designs to share tomorrow.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Cards from Christmases Past - Part 2

As promised, here's more more great vintage greeting card designs from 1964. Today I'll look at some humorous designs.
Here Santa and his eight reindeer have traded in their sleigh for a camper. Very cute, but not so eco-friendly.
Santa drops a giant maraschino cherry into a cocktail glass...CHEERS!
Santa shares some home movies in this die-cut design that includes a place for you to insert your own photo. How clever!
Oh those elves! They've wrapped the zebra in very gay apparel. 
And finally, Republicans and Democrats are dancing under the mistletoe. It was a much simpler time. More fun to come tomorrow!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Cards from Christmases Past - Part 1

Hey there readers. I know it's been a long time since I've posted anything new. My apologies - but life gets in the way of blogging sometimes. I just could not let the entire holiday season go by without checking in with you guys.
I was trying to come up with something fun to share with you all. As it turns out last year at this time I came across an amazing Christmas Card catalog from 1964 - and I finally got around to scanning some of my favorite card designs. Here is the first batch. The above SEASON'S GREETINGS image is perhaps my favorite. The hand-drawn typeface is gorgeous. The black background and the use of untraditional colors makes it even more special.
More beautiful type here - this one in a much more traditional MERRY CHRISTMAS design with classic golden flourishes.
This one is super-traditional, yet elegant way to say MERRY CHRISTMAS.
Here's a nice avocado and gold number. This SEASON'S GREETINGS reminds me of church posters from the 1970s.
And finally, here's a pretty blue and gold die-cut PEACE ON EARTH design. I just love how things didn't have to be all about red and green back then. Designers were willing to take a chance on other colors and it often worked out real well. I hope to have more cards to share with you tomorrow.  

Monday, December 3, 2012

Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

From last year: In 1897 a young girl named Virginia O'Hanlon wrote a letter to the editor of The New York Sun asking if Santa Claus really existed. The editor's response became the bookYes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus, which was published in 1972. Two years later in 1974 Peanuts animator Bill Melendez adapted it into a popular half-hour ABC special - complete with a theme song by Jimmy Osmond.
The show aired during the 70s on ABC, then on CBS, USA Network and The Family Channel throughout the 80s and 90s. The story was also adapted into a live-action TV-film in 1991 starring Richard Thomas, Ed Asner and Charles Bronson. A second animated adaptation premiered on CBS in 2009 and will be rebroadcast this season. The real Virginia O'Hanlon grew up to become a schoolteacher and died in 1971.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Monday, November 26, 2012

THE BIG EVENT: Christmas Around The World?

From last year....

NBC once had a weekly Sunday night "showcase" called THE BIG EVENT that featured movies, miniseries, and specials. While some shows were big events, others were just slot fillers. Not sure what to make of CHRISTMAS AROUND THE WORLD. You decide.
90 minutes of celebrations from 22 countries..that's BIG. Sponsored by McDonalds...that's BIGGER! Hosted by William Conrad? That's BIGGEST! Featuring Vikki ("It Must Be Him") Carr, MGM legend Gene Kelly, French mime Marcel Marceau, Fifth Dimension refugees Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr., acclaimed International actress Liv Ullman, TV legend Dick Van Dyke and comedy genius Jonathan Winters. That's pretty BIG. Introducing Scott Beach and Larry Finlayson. Yes - Scott Beach, the original voice of Garfield the cat! And Larry Finlayson - who went on to star, nothing. Looking up Misters Beach and Finlayson on IMBD, you will discover that Scott did much voiceover work and some on-screen acting before his death in 1995 - but Larry doesn't even have a listing. As a matter of fact, this entire show doesn't not have an IMDB entry! How can that be? It even had a TV Guide "close up"... oompah band and Maude Frickert??? And this is not on IMDB? Where's the justice people?
Now I'm beginning to wonder if this show ever even aired at all. It's not on Jonathan Winter's resume, there are no screen shots, just an illustrated TV Guide ad and a clip art nativity scene. I mean if Vikki Carr isn't still talking about it...maybe it was all a dream. Maybe Larry Finlayson didn't exist? Perhaps it was all a McDonald's junk food induced nightmare. But come on , how cool would it be to hear the Trinidad steel drum cover of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas"?

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Disturbing TOYS FOR TOTS ad...

Yes, I know that Love Is... was a popular and adorable comic strip back in the 1970s and I know that TOYS FOR TOTS is an important charity... but really did the two concepts need to meet?
What were they thinking? Naked children in a local Los Angeles TV GUIDE ad promoting a toy collection for Christmas? Somehow I don't think this would fly today...

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

WE WON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (Again)

So happy to be re-posting what I did four years ago. Not only am I thrilled for four more years of Obama, but all the other victories for women, for the LGBT community, for legalization of weed and other progressive ideals - and for the failure of the hateful racism of the Tea Party, the super PACs, religious fanatics, Ayn Randian politics, rape-obsessed old white men and lying, tax-evading billionaires. This is a wonderful day to be an American. Let's all move FORWARD!

Saturday, November 3, 2012


Here's a post from a while back...
Another ABC MOVIE OF THE WEEK gem from the Warner Archive Collection, BAD RONALD (1974, directed by Buzz Kulik, a veteran TV director, who would later helm over many epic miniseries including FROM HERE TO ETERNITY, RAGE OF ANGELS, GEORGE WASHINGTON and JACKIE COLLINS' LUCKY/CHANCES) is based on a novel by John Holbrook Vance.
BAD RONALD tells the tale of geeky Ronald Wilby (Scott Jacoby, later Dorothy's son Michael on GOLDEN GIRLS), who lives with his overbearing and obviously ill mom (PLANET OF THE APES star Kim Hunter) and has an over-active imagination.
Mom gives Ronald a new toolbox for his birthday, but things start to go bad for Ronald when he dresses to impress a popular girl at school, who snubs him when he shows up at her pool party.
On the way home, Ronald encounters the first of many Jan Brady lookalikes.
This bratty blond on a bicycle teases Ronald so much that he schmushes her face.

During the schmushing, the girl accidentally falls backwards and cracks open her head on a cinderblock.
What does our boy Ronald do? He buries her and goes home, where his mom is waiting. When he tells mother what he did, she comes up with a plan!
Mom decides to hide Ronald in the downstairs bathroom - and soon Ronald uses his new tools to put up a wall where the door should be - HGTV style!
 A small doorway in the kitchen pantry is Ronald's way into and out of his luxurious new studio apartment!
When the cops show up looking to question Ronald, Mrs. Wilby tells them he's run away.
It's not all bad for Ronald. He gets to skip school and eat chocolate all day.
He also gets to work out and write his epic fantasy novel.
And he gets to paint life-size murals featuring characters from his dreamworld Atranta, an added bonus is that since there's a toilet in this middle of his room - he gets to crap whenever he wants!
Things take an unfortunate turn for the worse when his mom has to go into the hospital for a simple gall bladder operation. Unfortunately, Mom never makes it back home.
That's when Mrs. Kravitz-like nosy neighbor Mrs. Schumacher becomes the bane of his existence.
Ronald uses his drill to forge holes throughout the house, and soon a new family, the Woods, with three Brady-like daughters moves into the house with dad Dabney Coleman (9 TO 5).
 Ronald watches the Woods and takes an interest in one of the Jans.
It's interesting how he is able to pan and zoom from his peephole.
While the Woods are out of the house, Ronald decides to drink their milk and see how they've redecorated.
Of course, Mrs. Schumacher catches a glimpse of him...and falls backwards to her death.
Luckily he knows how to bury people real good. So, now Ronald is responsible for two accidentally deaths. Bad Ronald! Bad!
It turns out that one of the Woods girls is dating the brother of the dead bicycle girl. So what happens when the Mr. and Mrs. Woods parents go away for the weekend?
I'm not gonna tell, but let's say it involves some light bondage involving the said boyfriend,
some of Ronald's life-size paintings and a screaming teen-age princess (who looks like Jan Brady).
All while I'm wishing that Ronald would have taken advantage in being trapped in a bathroom and cleaned up a bit.
 Check out BAD RONALD, an enjoyable and twisted 9 outta 10 old-school thriller.
Also, if you want to read the original novel, it is back in print - in hard cover from a publisher called Andreas Irle. You can purchase the book here and buy the exclusive dvd here.