Artwork of the Day: To Kill A House (by George Ziel)


by George Ziel

The 70s were a big decade for paperback about women fleeing from castles and mansions. This one came out in 1973. Usually, the women on covers like this were drawn to either look like they were scared or confused. I like that Marra looks like she’s defiant, as if no one is going to run her out of her castle.

This cover was done by one of my favorite cover artists, George Ziel.

Music Video of the Day: Armegeddon It by Def Leppard (1988, directed by Wayne Isham)


The theme of this video seems to be that Def Leppard is the band that has fun onstage and off!

This footage for this video was shot over the course of two shows at McNichols Arena in Denver, Colorado. Originally, the footage was going to be used for a future concert film but, when Armageddon It was released as a single, the band’s record label said that they needed a music video to accompany it and they needed it immediately. Since the band didn’t want to do another “concept video” (and really didn’t have time to come up with a concept in the first place), the Denver footage was hastily edited together.

The end result was that Armageddon It went on to the become the band’s fourth top ten hit in the United States.

Enjoy!

Lisa’s Week In Television: 4/4/21 — 4/10/21


Another busy week so, once again, I’m running behind on watching some things that I really want to watch. Hopefully, I’ll get caught up with shows like The Walking Dead, Falcon and the Snowman, and The Serpent during this upcoming week!

American Justice (CIN, Monday Morning)

I watched two episodes of this old true crime series on the Crime and Investigation Network. One episode was about teacher Pamela Smart convincing her students to murder her husband. The other was about a crazed Texas deputy who murdered a woman with whom he was obsessed. The most memorable thing about the episodes was the very precise and dramatic narration of Bill Kurtis. Kurtis sounded like a such a stereotypical anchorman that he became oddly fascinating to listen to. Discovering that there were journalists who actually sounded like a comedian doing an imitation of a journalist felt a bit like stumbling across Bigfoot after watching a movie about the Abominable Snowman.

America’s Most Wanted (Fox, Monday night)

The revival of America’s Most Wanted is entertaining in its tabloid-like way and it might even lead to the capture of some bad people. That said, it’s hard for me not to worry about the idea of the show eventually being used to track down people who have criticized the government or who have been accused of thought crimes. As dramatic as that might sound, that is the way our culture seems to be heading.

Until then, though, I really hope that this week’s episode leads to the capture of grotesque bodybuilder Raymond McLeod, who apparently murdered his girlfriend five years ago.

Baywatch (H&I, weekday evenings)

On Sunday’s episode, Billy Warlock got hit on the head and ended up fantasizing that he was starring in an episode of Gilligan’s Island. That was seriously the entire episode and you know what? It was actually kind of cute. It was an episode in which Baywatch acknowledged that it was silly show and not meant to be taken seriously. It fit into my thesis that Baywatch was meant to be a satirical. Of course, that episode was immediately followed by an episode in which David Hasselhoff was trapped underneath an old shipwreck. That episode took itself very seriously and was full of flashbacks to previous episodes, forcing me to consider that the Gilligan episode might have just been an outlier.

Monday’s episodes did little to settle the question as to whether or not Baywatch was meant to be taken seriously. The first episode featured Shauni (Erika Eleniak) freaking out after thinking that one of her friends had been eaten by a shark. It was all very dramatic and it too featured flashbacks to previous episodes and it ended up with a very important message about not pressuring your daughter to the extent that she ends faking her own death while swimming around Shark’s Cove. (That’s a rather ominous name for any part of the beach.) That would seem to suggest that Baywatch took itself seriously. The second of Monday’s episodes featured a beach bum/poet who discovered a stolen jewelry box on the beach. The poet was such a silly character that it was hard to believe that anyone involved could have taken that episode’s script seriously. In other words, when it comes to the Is Baywatch Serious Or Not debate, Monday’s episodes constituted yet another draw.

Tuesday’s episodes led to another draw. The first episode featured Hasselhoff breaking into the headquarters of a multinational corporation to track down evidence that they were polluting the bay. It also featured a character who was a lifeguard-turned-environmental activist and it took itself very seriously. The 2nd episode, however, featured an illegal poker game and a B-plot in which Billy Warlock stood up to his girlfriend’s snobby family. It also featured Erika Eleniak dramatically announcing, “He’s a lifeguard!” when someone tried to stop Billy Warlock from giving CPR to a woman who had drowned. The 2nd episode, again, seemed to suggest that the show was in on the joke.

Wednesday’s episodes broke the tie, with both episodes being ludicrous enough that it was hard not to believe that the show had to be at least a little bit aware of how silly it was. The first episode featured a gypsy fortune teller. The second featured David Charvet battling evil surfers. At the same time, the 2nd episode also featured Alexandra Paul as Stephanie, a woman from Mitch’s past, and Hasselhoff acted the Hell out of being shocked to see her. Based on Wednesday’s episodes, it would seem Baywatch did not take itself as seriously as David Hasselhoff did.

Thursday’s episodes — well, who knows? You had a two parter that started with Mitch getting all weepy over a dead uncle but you also had a subplot about the search for a lost gold mine. And, to top it all off, you had Pamela Anderson, Nichole Eggert, and David Charvet all showing up for the first time. (Though all three were in Wednesday’s episode, it appears that H&I showed the episodes out-of-order.) Who knows what to make of all that?

Friday’s episodes both dealt with Nicole Eggert and David Charvet struggling to make it through rookie school and they were both silly enough to make me think that Baywatch was in on the joke. Saturday, however, featured not only a native American activist with magical powers but it also ended with a PSA about the dangers of huffing inhalants. It seemed to be taking itself pretty seriously, even if no one else was.

In the end, all I can surmise is that Baywatch took place in a strange dream world where everyone was in on the joke but they still took the joke literally.

Court Cam (Wednesday Night, A&E)

With the cancellation of Live P.D., Court Cam is A&E’s newest way to 1) exploit people during the worst moments of their lives and 2) justify keeping Dan Abrams under contract. This show is made up of courtroom footage, all breathlessly narrated by Abrams. A typical episode will feature several stories. There’s usually one story that ends in a brawl. There’s at least one sarcastic judge story. There’s at least one story where the defendant begs for mercy. It’s all pretty exploitive and, of course, it’s also fully on the side of the system as opposed to the people living under it.

“But Lisa, if you hate the show so much, why do you watch it?”

Each episode is only 30 minutes long and it passes the time. Plus, occasionally, they’ll show footage from DFW and I’ll spot someone I know.

The District (Weekday Nights, H&I)

Last week, I said that the main appeal of this old show was watching Craig T. Nelson somehow find a way to overact in every single scene in which he appeared. It turns out that’s appeal is actually kind of limited. On Tuesday morning, as I watched Nelson’s Jack Mannion violate the Constitutional rights of suspects and browbeat everyone who works for him, I realized that the act was no longer particularly amusing so I think I’m done with The District for now.

The Drew Barrymore Show (Weekdays, Syndication)

I caught an episode on Tuesday. I was depressed for hours afterwards. Drew used to be so cool and now she’s hosting a talk show for people find Ellen DeGeneres to be too challenging.

Kung Fu (Wednesday Night, The CW)

I wrote about Kung Fu and my mixed reaction to pilot over at SyFyDesigns.

The Old Guys (Sunday Night, PBS)

This is a British sitcom that aired in the UK in 2009 and 2010. In America, it just recently started airing on PBS. It’s about two …. well, old guys. Tom (Roger Lloyd-Pack) and Roy (Clive Swift) are old and they are housemates and they’re both in love with Sally (Jane Asher). This Sunday’s episode was called “the triple date” and it found the two men competing to see who could go on a date with Sally, who apparently didn’t realize she was on a date with either of them. It was amusing, largely due to the performance of Jane Asher and the two men. Sadly, both Lloyd-Pack and Swift have since passed away.

Open All Hours (Sunday Night, PBS)

This is an incredibly depressing British sitcom about two men and a grocer’s shop. Arkwright, the older of the two, is always trying to cheat people out of their money. His nephew, Granville, always appears to be on the verge of walking into the middle of traffic. The show originally aired in the 70s and 80s and, in America, it’s pretty much a PBS mainstay. I have to admit that I don’t usually pay much attention to the show when it’s on. I usually just watch it because it’s the lead-in to Yes, Minister and there’s not really much else on at 11:30 on Sunday night. That said, the few times I have really paid attention to it, I’ve found it to be well-acted if a bit grim. The bits where Arkwright has to deal with the customers are occasionally amusing.

Don’t even ask me what happened during this Sunday’s episode. I think Granville was in love but he knew it would never work out because he was stuck in a go-nowhere life. By the end of the episode, he appeared to be borderline catatonic due to the overwhelming misery of his existence. It was hard not to feel bad for him.

The Rookies (Sunday Morning, H&I)

I’m still setting the DVR to record this old 70s cop show. Though the storylines are predictable cop stuff (albeit from the point of view of idealistic rookies as opposed to cynical veterans), it’s still pretty interesting if you’re just looking for a show with some early 70s flavor.

This week’s episode featured special guest star Lou Gossett, Jr. as a criminal-turned-preacher. The older cops suspected that he was just running a scam. The Rookies — Georg Stanford Brown and Michael Ontkean — felt that he was sincere in his desire to reach people and atone for his past. In the end, the show left it somewhat ambiguous as to just how sincere Gossett was. Gossett gave an excellent performance as the preacher and the show actually treated his congregation of hippies with a bit more respect than you might expect from an early 70s cop show.

The SAG Awards (Sunday Night, TBS)

This year, the televised SAG Awards were handed out in an hour and there weren’t any awkward attempts at either comedy or political pontification. To be honest, it was probably the best awards show that I’ve seen so far this year. Here’s hoping the Oscars pay attention to how SAG did it.

Shipping Wars (Vice, Sunday afternoon)

I wrote about Shipping Wars a few years ago. I watched two episodes on Sunday, though I mostly just had them on for background noise. The people involved in the show are always too angry and their customers are always too unlikeable for me to really spend too much time really paying attention to Shipping Wars.

The first episode featured Jen delivering bottled water to hurricane victims in Louisiana while Roy delivered a boat and acted like a jackass. It was typical Roy behavior, which made him entertaining to watch even though you wouldn’t want to actually have a conversation with him. When Roy suddenly died in 2014, Shipping Wars brought on a handful of people to try to replace him but none of them could. Certainly not Dusty! Don’t even get me started on freaking Dusty.

The second episode featured more of Roy being a jackass, this time as he transported a Cadillac to a 50s diner. It also featured Robbie and Chris transporting a deactivated nuclear missile. It would have been more fun if it had been an active missile but still, just the strangeness of that situation explains why Shipping Wars was briefly a popular show.

Storage Wars (A&E, Tuesday Night)

I watched four episodes. None of the storage lockers had any cursed amulets and dead bodies inside of them. I was disappointed.

Tough As Nails (CBS, Wednesday Night)

This reality competition show doesn’t really make a lot of sense to me. Two teams, made up of blue collar, salt-of-the-Earth workers, compete to see which team can be the first to complete various blue collar tasks, like cleaning windows on an office building or installing drywall. It seems like the show would be more interesting if it was like middle-management types and low-level executives having to do the hard work while being instructed and judged by construction works and plumbers.

Still, I watch almost every week, just because the show is hosted by The Amazing Race’s Phil Keoghan. Love ya, Phil!

Wipeout (TBS, Sunday Night)

So apparently, this is a thing again. Wipeout is a game show where teams make money if they can manage to cross an obstacle course without falling or dying. It used to be on ABC, where every episode ended with John Henson saying, “Big balls,” with a creepy smile on his face. Now, it’s on TNT and it’s hosted by John Cena, who just can’t quite match Henson when it comes to being creepy.

Anyway, on Sunday night, they reaired the first episode of the reboot. It aired after the SAG Awards. I have to admit that I mostly just had it on for background noise. Every time I looked up at the TV, people were either jumping on top of or falling off of big rubber balls. I imagine the reboot will probably run until 2060 and I’ll never watch another episode.

Yes Minister (Monday Morning, PBS)

Well, sadly enough, this week’s episode of Yes, Minister is the last one that’s going to be aired on my local PBS station for a while. Next week, Yes, Minister is being replaced by …. ugh …. Are You Being Served? Imagine, going from one showing one of the wittiest and most intellectually engaging sitcoms of all time to showing a hundred episodes of Are You Being Served?

Fortunately, this week’s episode was a great one. It featured both Paul Eddington’s Jim Hacker and Nigel Hawthorne’s Sir Humphrey testifying at a committee meeting about cutting government waste. For once, Hacker actually got the better of Sir Humphrey. Both Eddington and Hawthorne, both of whom are sadly no longer with us, gave brilliant comedic performances. It was a joy to watch.

(UPDATE: I wrote the above on Monday afternoon. When I checked on Tuesday morning, the guide had been changed and apparently, Yes, Minister is going to continue to air on PBS! So, I guess the listing for Are You Being Served was an error. I also checked with KERA.org and found no plans to replace Yes, Minister with Are You Being Served so, hopefully, all that frustration was for nothing! I’ll find out for sure on Monday at midnight, I suppose.)

Watched But Not Reviewed:

  1. American Idol (Sunday and Monday Nights on ABC)
  2. ‘Allo ‘Allo (Sunday Night on PBS)
  3. Hell’s Kitchen (Thursday Night on Fox)
  4. Hill Street Blues (Weekday mornings on H&I)
  5. House Hunters (Tuesday Night, HGTV)
  6. House Hunters International (Tuesday Night, HGTV)
  7. Law & Order: Organized Crime (Thursday Night, NBC)
  8. Law & Order: SVU (Thursday Night, NBC)
  9. The Masked Singer (Wednesday Night, FOX)
  10. Temptation Island (Tuesday Night, USA)
  11. Upstart Crow (Sunday Night on PBS)
  12. The Voice (Monday Night on NBC)

The Previous Week In Television

The Directors Guild Honors Nomadland


The Directors Guild has announced their winners for 2020 and there’s really no surprises to be found below.  Chloe Zhao won for Nomadland.  Darius Marder won for Sound of Metal.  Documentary went to the directors of The Truffle Hunters.  I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot from them in the future.

Here are the film nominees and winners.  (They also honored some TV folks but who cares about them?)

NARRATIVE FEATURE FILM
Lee Isaac Chung – Minari
Emerald Fennell – Promising Young Woman
David Fincher – Mank
Aaron Sorkin – The Trial of the Chicago 7
Chloe Zhao – Nomadland

FIRST TIME NARRATIVE FEATURE FILM
Radha Blank – The Forty-Year-Old Version
Fernando Frías de la Parra – I’m No Longer Here
Regina King – One Night in Miami
Darius Marder – Sound of Metal
Florian Zeller – The Father

DOCUMENTARY
Michael Dweck & Gregory Kershaw – The Truffle Hunters
Pippa Ehrlich & James Reed – My Octopus Teacher
David France – Welcome to Chechnya
Amanda Mcbaine & Jessie Moss – Boys State
Benjamin Ree – The Painter and the Thief

The Visual Effects Society Honors Mank, Soul, and The Midnight Sky


About three days ago (yes, I’m late in sharing this), the Visual Effects Society announced their picks for the best visual effects of 2020!  And here they are:

Outstanding Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature
JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY
PROJECT POWER
TENET
THE MIDNIGHT SKY
THE WITCHES

Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature
DA 5 BLOODS
EXTRACTION
MANK
NEWS OF THE WORLD
WELCOME TO CHECHNYA

Outstanding Visual Effects in an Animated Feature
ONWARD
OVER THE MOON
SOUL
THE CROODS: A NEW AGE
TROLLS WORLD TOUR

Outstanding Animated Character in a Photoreal Feature
DIE KÄNGURU-CHRONIKEN; Kangaroo
JINGLE JANGLE: A CHRISTMAS JOURNEY; Don Juan Diego
THE ONE AND ONLY IVAN; Ivan
THE WITCHES; Daisy

Outstanding Animated Character in an Animated Feature
ONWARD; Dad Pants
OVER THE MOON; Chang’e
SOUL; Terry
THE SPONGEBOB MOVIE: SPONGE ON THE RUN; SpongeBob

Outstanding Created Environment in a Photoreal Feature
BLOODSHOT: Neuralspace
MULAN; Imperial City
THE EIGHT HUNDRED; 1937 Shanghai Downtown
THE EIGHT HUNDRED; Shanghai Warehouse District

Outstanding Created Environment in an Animated Feature
ONWARD; Swamp Gas
SOUL; You Seminar
TROLLS WORLD TOUR; Techno Reef
TROLLS WORLD TOUR; Volcano Rock City

Outstanding Virtual Cinematography in a CG Project
GHOST OF TSUSHIMA; A Storm is Coming
SOUL
THE MANDALORIAN; The Believer
THE MANDALORIAN; The Siege

Outstanding Model in a Photoreal or Animated Project
THE MANDALORIAN; Boba Fett’s Ship
THE MANDALORIAN; The Rescue; Light Cruiser
THE MIDNIGHT SKY; Aether
THE WITCHES; Rollercoaster

Outstanding Effects Simulations in a Photoreal Feature
BLOODSHOT
GREYHOUND
MONSTER HUNTER
MULAN
PROJECT POWER

Outstanding Effects Simulations in an Animated Feature
ONWARD
OVER THE MOON
SOUL
TROLLS WORLD TOUR
THE WILLOUGHBYS

Outstanding Compositing in a Feature
GREYHOUND
MULAN
PROJECT POWER
UNDERWATER

VES Lifetime Achievement Award
PETER JACKSON

VES Award for Creative Excellence
ROB LEGATO, ASC

Artwork of the Day: Love Cult (by Bernard Safran)


by Bernard Safran

The book is from 1953 but the theme of polygamous love cults is timeless. He’s probably the most clean-cut cult leader that I’ve ever seen. I guess his other wife is just standing outside the barn, waiting for him to get done whatever he’s going to do. William Vaneer was a pseudonym for Harry Wittington. This book was later republished, in 1964, under Wittington’s name.

This cover was done by Bernard Safran, who did several paperback covers but who is best known for his many paintings and photographs of life in New York.

Music Video of the Day: Cambodia by Kim Wilde (1981, directed by Brian Grant)


Kim Wilde having Vietnam War flashbacks is not something you necessarily expect but that’s the concept behind the video for Cambodia and it worked well enough for the video to become an early success on MTV. It’s hard for me to watch this video without thinking about Martin Sheen tearing up his hotel room at the start of Apocalypse Now.

This video was directed by Brian Grant and it feels like a prequel to the video that he would direct, a year later, for Duran Duran’s Hungry Like The Wolf.

Enjoy!

Film Review: Operation Varsity Blues: The College Admissions Scandal (dir by Chris Smith)


In Operation Varsity Blues, Matthew Modine plays Rick Singer, the real-life “college admissions consultant” who was one of the many people involved in the 2019 College Admissions scandal.

Singer was the former basketball coach who helped the rich and famous get their children into the right Ivy League schools. As the film shows (and as you probably already know), he did this by faking test scores, faking athletic activities, and often arranging for money to exchange hands. The film not only features Modine and others actors acting out the actual conversations that Singer was taped as having with his wealthy clients, it also features interviews with a few of Singer’s acquaintances and with the various journalists who covered the scandal. It’s a documentary with dramatic recreations.

And that’s fine. Modine does a good enough job portraying Rick Singer, playing him as essentially being a sleazy salesman who knew exactly what to say to the parents who were desperate to get their child into a prestigious university. (The film reveals that Singer would often lie to his clients, brainwashing them into believing that there was no way their children would be able to get into USC or Harvard without his help.) Unfortunately, with his gray hair and, his nervous smile, Matthew Modine as Rick Singer bares an odd but definite resemblance to the great Eric Roberts and, as I watched Operation Varsity Blues, I found myself thinking about how great it would be to see a film in which Eric Roberts did play Rick Singer. (I mean, seriously, Singer just seems like a perfect Eric Roberts role.) That may sound like a petty complaint but it does get at a bigger issue. Operation Varsity Blues is 100 minutes long but, despite its slightly different narrative format, it still doesn’t tell us anything that we couldn’t have learned from all of the other documentaries and dramatic adaptations based on the college admissions scandal. Even with the reenactments and the chance to hear Singer’s own words, Operation Varsity Blues still doesn’t tell us anything new about the scandal or why it happened. If nothing else, Eric Roberts and his neurotic screen presence would have put a new spin on a now-familiar story,

To be honest, the hybrid, docudrama format actually works against the film. On the one hand, you’ve got the real people telling their story in talking head interviews. But every time you start to get into their stories, the film cuts away to a reenactment and the film goes from being a documentary to being a low-budget Matthew Modine film. The film would have worked better if it had chosen to be either a documentary or a drama. By trying to be both, the end result is a movie that often seems disjointed and leaves you still feeling as if you haven’t actually gotten the entire story.

Finally, Lori Loughlin and her husband are featured in the documentary, though only in news footage. At one point, it’s revealed that after their daughter was accepted to USC, her high school guidance counselor called the college to tell them that Olivia Jade was never on her school’s rowing team, regardless of what her application said. Apparently, Lori and her husband got very angry about the counselor doing this and you know what? They had every right to be pissed off. Why is a guidance counselor trying to keep one of his students from getting into a good college? I mean, how was it really any of his business to begin with? That’s something that I would have liked to have seen explored in a bit more detail. Instead, the film just hurries along to another reenactment of Rick Singer explaining how to cheat on the ACT. (I’m still amazed that people spent that much money to do something as easy as cheat on a standardized test. I mean, it’s not that difficult.)

Unfortunately, the entire film is like that. It raises some interesting points but it ultimately leaves you frustrated by its refusal to do anything more than scratch the surface.