Turn-On Was a Turn-Off

Me and the Chimp

Well I’ll be a Monkey’s Uncle

The name of the show was Turn-On, released 2/5/69. I was 13 years old and had heard about this new show coming on that was, in my now dim recollection, created by a computer.  Well, I was all over that.  Anything to do with computers fascinated me, and being a true 60’s child, I was into anything new, exciting and different.

Supposedly this would be the evolutionary leap from Laugh-In. Not sure what happened, but something sure went wrong. I vaguely remember watching the first episode and just not getting it at all. Which makes sense that I wouldn’t because, according to what I just read in Wikipedia, nearly all the jokes were about sex, and I wasn’t quite 14 yet, so, yeah, I wouldn’t get it.

What attracted me to this show when I first heard about it was that it was that a computer created it. Now, I’m not sure what that means, exactly, as all the HAL’s back then were these room-sized mammoths with punch cards. All the music for the show came from a Moog synthesizer, so you can bet I had to see the first episode.

And only episode.

Yep, as Tim Conway (yes, the Tim Conway), the show’s one-and-only host said, the studio powers-that-were pulled the plug on it before the half-hour was up. Consisting of lots of stop-action and animation, the show’s format disturbed people so much that it went to an early grave. I’d like to find it out there somewhere just to see how strange it was.

But, you know, there have been plenty of other shows that barely made it out of the starting gate. And, there are a bunch still continued to writhe on our screens long after they should’ve been pulled. Here are just a few:

Heil Honey I’m Home! (9/30/90). This was a British concoction featuring lampooned versions of Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun who live next-door to a Jewish couple. Did no one ever say, “Uh… this might not be a good idea?”

South of Sunset (10/27/93). Yeah, we did this one. Glenn Frey of The Eagles as a private investigator. “Dammit, Jim, I’m a musician, not a detective!”

Now the next one is in a category all to itself. Not as weekly show, this was a one-shot holiday special, known as…
The Star Wars Holiday Special (11/17/78). This beast came out on network TV a year after the original Star Wars, airing around Thanksgiving. With a cast of Wookies, most of the original Star Wars cast, Bea Arthur, and Art Carney, everyone gathers to celebrate Life Day. I watched it when it came out, expecting something at least resembling Star Wars. Nope.

Then there are the shows that stayed on for several episodes, even occasionally a couple of seasons before, thankfully, they were axed. Take, for example, Homeboys in Outer Space (‘96-’97), which has the typical opposite buddy pairing of Tyberius Walker (James Tiberius Kirk, get it?) and Morris Clay tooling around space in the Space Hoopty. Somehow they even got James Doohan for a couple of episodes. This little winner lasted, someow, for 21 episodes.

And what about Me and the Chimp (1972), starring (?) Ted Bessell, about, aw, you guessed it, a family who adopt a chimp, with all the usual folderol and high-jinks. The show actually lasted 13 episodes. C’mon, couldn’t they have given Ted a better chance? That Girl wasn’t that bad.

Time for me to go. Honey Boo Boo is on soon and I don’t want to miss one single minute.

‘til next time… Adios.

Posted in Random Meditations, Television | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s a Sharkastrophe

statue-of-liberty-ruins16

The Statue of Liberty’s head is missing again.

Looks as though we’re getting ready for a shark attack soon. Next week, July 30th, Sharknado 2: The Second One, chomps its way into our homes, and SyFy Channel, for one, is ready. Our hero, Fin, sure is prepared. Looks like he’s got an even bigger chainsaw this time around. There’s one preview where ol’ Fin’s sporting that thing like he’s Luke Skywalker with a light saber. Go Fin!

Today, SyFy’s pulling out the stops with all the usual disastrous fare — just had Meteor Storm, now we have NYC: Tornado Terror. And, of course, no one believes the “… one person who knows how to stop these things”. Coming up we have Seattle Superstorm, where we have a whole batch of nasty weather happening all ‘cause we shot down a UFO. Man, I hate it when that happens.

What I love best about these films is you can walk right into the story at any point and fill in the blanks. “I don’t think we should get too comfortable in here,” one of the main characters says as the building got hit my a mega-lightning bolt and electricity is crackling everywhere, crispy-frying everyone.

And the commercials are a pretty good barometer of an impending shark infestation, or at least, disastrous movie attack. Just saw one where you can call a lawyer for free for all manner of accidents, including burn injuries, car accidents, accidents due to stupidity, but I didn’t see anything related to sharks, meteors, or tornadoes.

Well, have to close for now.

‘til next time… Adios.

Posted in Movie Reviews, Random Meditations, Television | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Don’t Trip Over Your Hoity or Your Toity

Highfalutin

Wendy and I had supper last night with some good friends of ours and we got into some wordplay.

Okay, actually, I got started with wordplay and drug everyone else along with me. We got into odd or unusual words, and, sadly, I did not write them down. I do remember one of them, though. Crepuscular. Now, you folks who’ve read my blog for some time know how much I love word play. I love to mold them like putty, distort them, and just generally abuse the heck out of ‘em. I love to give the Spellchecker (there’s one right there – is it Spellchecker or Spell-checker or Spell Checker? Probably not Spell Czecher…) fits, or even paroxysms.

I love words, especially little-known or really large words because they’re fun. I don’t use them to sound high-falutin’ or hoity-toity. They’re just fun words that we need to take off the shelf occasionally, dust them off, and toss them out there. And there are words like the ones I just used – high-falutin’ and hoity-toity that need not be forgotten. I see Spell-check didn’t like falutin’. So, let’s do a quick scan out there in ‘net world and see why.

It appears I misspelled high-falutin’. It should be highfalutin, all as one word, no hyphen or apostrophe, and it means ‘putting on airs’, so it appears I was getting all highfalutin when I thought highfalutin was high-falutin’.

Now, hoity-toity, Spellcheck has no trifle with. It does, however, take issue with Spellcheck but not Spell Check. So, let’s take a look at hoity-toity. Seems I spelled that one correctly and it means ‘snobbish’. So if you’re going to be highfalutin, drop the hyphen, if hoity-toity, keep it.

Now back to crepuscular, which means ‘of or relating to twilight’. All of us at supper thought it sounded like something you scrape off a boat, or something that one of the various (notice I didn’t use ‘myriad’ – yes, I’m being a tad bit hoity-toity, perhaps even highfalutin ) pharmaceuticals advertised these days on TV (can’t say ‘the tube’ anymore, ‘cause there ain’t no tube no more) is supposed to treat.

“Betty, I’ve been feeling mighty crepuscular these days.”
“Well, June, we’ve noticed you sparkling in the sun a bit more than usual. Have you tried taking Captiva?”
“Uh, Betty, Captiva is an island, not a medicine.”
“Huh? Oh, then I meant Aptiva. Have you tried it?”
“No, uh, Aptiva is an IBM personal computer that came out in 1994.”
“Oh. Well, maybe it’s Primavera? Or perhaps Activia?”
“Uh uh, still not it. Primavera’s an online high school in Arizona and Activia is a yogurt that helps digestion.”
“Ha! Shows what you know, June. Primavera is also a pasta recipe. Sparkling aside, you’ve been getting a little highfalutin and hoity-toity ever since you’ve been hanging out with pasty-faced vampire kid lately.”

So, we learned that crepuscular has to do with twilight, which worked out well as we all experienced the approaching crepuscularity as we supped in the waning daylight, and no one was particularly hoity-toity or highfalutin. A wee bit bombastic, perhaps, but certainly not highfalutin.

I’ll go away now.

‘til next time… Adios.

Posted in Random Meditations, writing | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Leave Your Name and Number and I’ll Get Back to You…

The_Rockford_Files_(title_screen)

James Garner. Jimmy. He’s gone now, heading for that Big Silver Screen in the Sky, at the age of 86. But, he went due to natural causes in his own home. Really gonna miss him.

Yeah, you know you could get in trouble with him if you hung out with him too long, but it’d be fun. He had that wisecracking, friendly, barely-outside-the-borders-of-the-law attitude that just made him a hoot. And, sure, he might con you or get you involved in a con, but hey, what a ride, huh?

Is this Jim Rockford or James Garner? And how do you tell the difference?

Well, James Garner could do so much more than just Rockfish, as Gandy, one of the recurring characters called him. He did drama every bit as well as comedy, although he could throw in his off-hand manner of speaking into a dramatic role.

Odd bit of trivia here. One of my guilty pleasures is a made-for-TV movie back in 1966 called Mister Buddwing. And, yeah, it’s one of those amnesia movies where our hero (in this case, James Garner as Mister Buddwing. I remember something about he gets his temporary name from seeing a Budweiser truck and the wing of an airplane. Something like that.) spends the movie figuring out who the heck he is. Cheesy, yes, but it was a fun dramatic performance by Mr. Garner. Had the standard bunch of TV/made-for-TV actors from that era as well – Suzanne Pleshette, Jack Gilford, Angela Lansbury, even Nichelle Nichols. I need to see if I can find that one somewhere. That must have been the characters-with-amnesia TV period as a summer replacement show came out in 1967 called Coronet Blue, with, once again, the main character not having a clue about who he is.

Then there’s a little-known post-Maverick/pre-Rockford TV series that ran for 24 episodes form ’71 to ’72 called Nichols. One of the modern-day westerns it was set in a small Arizona town in 1914. Garner’s character plays an ex-soldier who no longer wants to do soldiering and the town of Nichols con him into taking over the job of sheriff. I think the town is also named Nichols. Odd things like that stand out for me. James’s old buddy, Stuart Margolin (eventually Angel from The Rockford Files), appeared in all 24 episodes, too.

And let’s not forget his character in The Great Escape, Hendley, nicknamed ‘The Scrounger’ for his ability to come up with whatever they needed. That’s true-to-life, as Mr. Garner was a decorated war hero from the Korean War who was known as a scrounger.
So many other movies and shows I loved watching him in. The Rockford Files was perhaps my favorite. All the characters worked so well together. I watched it a lot when I was in engineering school because no matter how bad my day was I knew that Rockford would always have a worse one. Someone knocked the socks off him, seemed like, at least once per show. But he came out okay at the end. Most of the time. And his cons were a blast. He’d pull that little type-set printer out of his glove compartment and whip out a business card.

Space Cowboys, Murphy’s Romance, Maverick (the show and the movie), and the nearly-forgotten Tank where he’s a drill sergeant who owns his own WWII army tank. Oh, and don’t forget all those Polaroid commercials he did with Mariette Hartley back in the 70’s and 80’s.

If you still want to catch Jimmy, Turner Classic Movies will host a marathon on July 28th, next Monday, starting at 6 A.M.

Yeah, James Garner is gone now. I’m gonna go home and catch some Rockford later on.

‘til next time… Adios.

Posted in Random Meditations, Television | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

We Kitsch You a Merry Christmas

Six Million Christmas

It’s summer. Nearly smack-dab in the middle of summer. So, it’s time to see what movies we’ll be assaulted with as we head toward fall.

First off, I have some sort of twisted fascination with the approaching freight train lights of Christmas movies, especially the ones on the Hallmark Channel.

One quick aside first to get it out of my system. I see where they capitalize the ‘C’ on ‘Channel’ in Hallmark Channel. In this New Era of Strange Punctuation has Hallmark now copy-written (copyrighted?) the word ‘Channel’? Just wondering.

Anyway, I’ll be the first to admit I love Christmas movies. At nearly any time of year. But, and I admit, I’m a bit picky on which Christmas movies. Specifically, I mostly like to see the ones I grew up with — A Charlie Brown Christmas, How the Grinch Stole Christmas (the animated one), the Alastair Sim version of A Christmas Carol — Boomer Christmas shows. Yes, I admit, my stuff is sugary-sweet, too, but, as Lucy tells Charlie Brown in A Charlie Brown Christmas, “… Admitting you have a problem is… something about getting your meds adjusted…” or something like that. Pass the eggnog!

Okay, enough qualifying. On with the fun. Here are a few titles we have to look forward to:

Cowboy for Christmas. Yep, that’s the title. Really. Saturday, 11/15/2014 at 8 PM, this little gem heads our way. Holly Jensen (Get it? First name’s Holly? As in Deck the Halls, etc. Yeah, I know.) heads home to NYC for an uptown Christmas and she’s going to introduce the family to her big-time executive boyfriend/fiancee, but along comes a Kentucky Cowboy (yup, they actually capitalized the words) who makes her rethink everything. I know it sure is making me rethink everything. Like, I’ve lived in Kentucky most of my life and I’ve not yet seen any Kentucky Cowboys. That I know of.

Let’s see, what’s next. Oh, here’s a good one. Northpole, hitting our TV’s on November 22nd. A reporter, her son, and the boy’s teacher, get happy during the holidays. Oh, yeah, they save Christmas, too. No, that’s never been done before.

What else we got? Okay, this one’s not coming out ‘til next year (and hopefully never), but they (we know who ‘they’ are, don’t we?) plan a sequel to It’s a Wonderful Life, titled uncreatively enough, It’s a Wonderful Life: The Rest of the Story. Okay, here’s the deal. It’s a Wonderful Life is one of those movies that, sure, it’s all full of saccharin, but I love it. And now they want to do a sequel? It’s still in the talk-it-to-death stage, and they don’t have a director, but the idea is that they’re getting back the original actress who played Zuzu (actress Karolyn Grimes) in the original. Only this time she’s the angel and she has to show George Bailey’s grandson how much better the world would be if he hadn’t been born because, apparently, he’s a snot. Uhhh…. What? This sounds like a horrible Frankensteinian mish-mash of It’s a Wonderful Life, A Christmas Carol, and a dash of Groundhog Day. This is one I hope never gets past the yapping stage.

Oh, afore I go, here’s a Kitsch Report, in the totally-unrelated category. One thing I love on Saturday nights is watching the original Batman TV show, Wonder Woman, Star Trek, and Svengoolie. Or at least part of Sven ‘cause I can’t stay up that late anymore. At any rate, I watched one of the half-hour episodes of Bats last night and they had the Julie Newmar Catwoman (the best) and one of her hench-kitties was played by Lesley Gore as Pussycat. But the best, uber-kitsch part was when she sang California Nights to the three hench-cats. Yep, she actually sang. And, so, here ya go.

‘til next time… Adios.

Posted in Movie Reviews, Random Meditations, Television | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Commercials and the Long-Distance Writer

pencil pusher

Been a while since I’ve done a check out in the World of TV to see, not what’s on, but what’s paying the bills. Yup, commercials. So, today, as I’m taking a break from writing (well, not a full break as I’m writing this right now), but at least taking a break from my novel. Which I just completed. Last night.

Okay, sidebar time. Yup, the novel is done. 10 years into the project (actually, a little over 10 years) and I typed the words “The End” last night. This was a real labor of love, and thanks to my beautiful wife who kicked me in the butt when I needed it at times, I crossed the finish line about 7:40 PM yesterday.

During this project I’ve stopped working on it at times for nearly two years, nearly gave up on writing altogether. But I stayed with it. I’m bruised and battered (okay, I’m over-dramatizing a bit here, but you get the idea), but I limped to the end finally.

Okay, enough about me. Now, on to commercials currently on TV. Let’s have a look at what they’re selling us, shall we?

Here’s one for Zillow, an online real-estate site, showing a young family moving into a new home and there’s a complete tree-house in the yard for the boy. And I gotta tell you, the commercials are really short, so it’s hard to get a feel for them, let alone what they’re advertising sometimes. But are they telling us that if you get your home through Zillow you get get a tree-house?

Now here’s a bunch of inept Weed whacker-users who shouldn’t be using anything more complex than a butter knife. But with the battery-operated WORXGT2 weed cutter-downer, it magically feeds the line for you. I’m guessing it creates a line for you ‘cause it never seems to run out. Okay, this commercial’s too long. Moving on.

Here we go. Perfect for Sharknado 2 coming out this week, it’s the Shark Ultra-light Rocket vacuum cleaner that “…is so revolutionary it will change the way I clean the house”. How’s that gonna work? How am i going to clean the house any differently? I still have to push the vacuum cleaner around. Oh, but wait, it hangs up on a convenient wall mount. And it uses Rocket (trademarked) technology. Well, there ya go.

Oh, and there’s the insipid State Farm commercial where the guy says, “I’ve got blah blah insurance, so person come help…”. This one’s not as annoying as those Flo commercials but it’s darn close.

Okey doke, that’s about all the babbling I have time for this evening.

‘til next time… Adios.

Posted in Random Meditations, Television, writing | Tagged , , , | 3 Comments

Royale… Casino Royale…

casino-royale-1967-david-niven-06-1-g

Shaken and stirred

There’s James Bond and then there’s James Bond. Actually, there’re many faces to Mr. Bond, the various actors notwithstanding. There’s the written James Bond and the on-screen James Bond. And then it gets really confusing. Since getting into all the aspects of Bond… James Bond would be a huge whoppin’ article, I thought I’d take a brief look at the four Casino Royales.

Now I know you’re asking yourself, “What the heck’s he talking about with this four Casino Royales?” Well, we have the book. That came first, in 1953. Then, one year later, on American TV, appearing before I was even born, TV watchers saw a little-known made-for-TV version as an hour-long episode of a TV show called Climax! I own a VHS copy of that one. Watched it once years ago, and I remember it as really grainy. I decided to revisit it a while back, so I grabbed a couple of good friends and we popped it on. Barry Nelson played an American spy named James Bond, although occasionally people who knew him well called him Jimmy Bond. Despite being only one hour long, they did a fairly true rendering of the book. Peter Lorre played the bad guy, Le Chifre, and did a sufficiently creepy job.

What’s interesting in Fleming’s book is that Ian Fleming had his agent bordering on burnout, and not young and aggressive, wanting to save the world from communism. Two things. Bond in the book is more introspective than in the movies. He’s also way more serious, not cracking wise like Connery or Moore. And he’s a lot more subservient to the Service and to M. Most of the movie Bonds always had more than a touch of disdain for authority.

Also, the book Bond loves gambling. A lot. And smoking. He goes through three packs a day. Of course, there’s the drinking, too, but there was no “… shaken, not stirred line. The gambling thing still seems weird to me. I mean, yeah, Le Chifre loves to gamble, and owes the Russian Super Secret Bad Guys a ton of money, but I never thought there was enough reason to have Bond risking the Queen’s Dough on a game just to bring Le Chifre down. Just get a team together, go in, and take the money from Le Chifre. I don’t know, that may be the difference between 1950’s thinking and now.

Now we jump ahead to 1967. Bond and other Spy Guys are everywhere. By now even the most serious spies have touches of humor, dark and otherwise. In fact, you can’t throw a rock without hitting s spy. We’ve got Flint, Matt Helm, The Man from U.N.C.L.E, and… Casino Royale. In this whacked-out typical 60’s farce, the only things about this Casino and any of the other Casinos share are the title and James Bond. With David Niven as James Bond. Yep, he’s older now, he no longer does spy stuff, and he’s called out of retirement to bust bad guy Le Chifre, this time played by Orson Welles. This super-spoof had no fewer than five directors and a cast of irregulars such as Wally Cox, Peter Sellers, Peter O’Toole, and Woody Allen as the real bad guy. So, you have a fairly good idea of how this Casino played out.

Finally there’s the most recent Casino Royale (2006), with Daniel Craig. The Daniel Craig version follows the book fairly well, though they really cranked up the fight scenes and athleticism in the movie. They’ve got the Baccarat game, really showing it as a game of nerves. And then there’s the torture sequence, which was modified only slightly from the book. It’s a pretty rough sequence, and given the time period of 1950’s/60’s America, there was way too much Machismo in the air to portray that form of torture on Mr. Bond.
Well, that’s about all the time I have tonight. I’ll have more to say about Mr. Bond on down the road.

‘til next time… Adios.

Posted in Movie Reviews, Random Meditations, Television, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment