March Positivity: This Is Our Time (dir by Lisa Arnold)

The 2013 film, This Is Our Time, opens with a college graduation and a voice-over from Ethan (Shawn Culin-Young), who explains that everyone goes through four stages when they go to college.  The first stage is being excited about getting away from home and being on you own.  The second and third stages are about settling down, choosing your major, and maybe meeting the person with whom you want to spend the rest of your life.  The fourth stage is all about looking forward to graduation and finally getting to enter the real world.

This Is Our Time follows the story of five friends as they discover what comes after the fourth stage.  For two of them, it’s making a living as corporate workers and being pressured to behave unethically.  For two others, it’s marriage and a new life working as missionaries in India, ministering to the needs of leprosy sufferers and their children.  For Ethan, it means giving up his dream of being a writer and working as a waiter at his father’s bar.  But, as Ethan warns us in his narration, one of the five is not going to be alive in a year.  The movie follows the friends as they deal with death and try to learn how to live.

Some of the acting is a bit stiff and the attempt to capture the feel of corporate America feels rather comical.  (Erik Estrada glowers his way through the role of a dishonest executive.)  But, at the same time, the film does end with a message from the founder of Embrace a Village, which actually does provide support for people dealing with Leprosy and the guy is so sincere that it kind of makes you feel guilty for all the snarky thoughts that you had while watching the movie.  Whatever else you might want to say about the film, the intentions are good and there’s something to be said for that.

Add to that, Eric Roberts is in the film.  Roberts plays Ethan’s father and he brings a lot of genuine emotion to the role.  The scene where he breaks down behind the bar in response to having gotten some bad news is well-done.  Roberts is kind of famous for accepting almost any role that’s offered to him and he’s said that he hasn’t actually watched the majority of the films in which he’s appeared.  Who knows if Roberts actually watched this film but, regardless, his performance was definitely the highlight.

Previous Eric Roberts Films That We Have Reviewed:

  1. Star 80 (1983)
  2. Blood Red (1989)
  3. The Ambulance (1990)
  4. The Lost Capone (1990)
  5. Love, Cheat, & Steal (1993)
  6. Love Is A Gun (1994)
  7. Sensation (1994)
  8. Doctor Who (1996)
  9. Most Wanted (1997)
  10. Mr. Brightside (2004)
  11. Six: The Mark Unleased (2004)
  12. Hey You (2006)
  13. In The Blink of an Eye (2009)
  14. The Expendables (2010) 
  15. Sharktopus (2010)
  16. Deadline (2012)
  17. Miss Atomic Bomb (2012)
  18. Lovelace (2013)
  19. Self-Storage (2013)
  20. Inherent Vice (2014)
  21. Road to the Open (2014)
  22. Rumors of War (2014)
  23. A Fatal Obsession (2015)
  24. Stalked By My Doctor (2015)
  25. Stalked By My Doctor: The Return (2016)
  26. The Wrong Roommate (2016)
  27. Stalked By My Doctor: Patient’s Revenge (2018)
  28. Monster Island (2019)
  29. Seven Deadly Sins (2019)
  30. Stalked By My Doctor: A Sleepwalker’s Nightmare (2019)
  31. The Wrong Mommy (2019)
  32. Her Deadly Groom (2020)
  33. Top Gunner (2020)
  34. Just What The Doctor Ordered (2021)
  35. Killer Advice (2021)
  36. The Poltergeist Diaries (2021)
  37. My Dinner With Eric (2022)

Lisa Marie’s Week In Television: 3/12/23 — 3/18/23

Abbott Elementary (Wednesday Night, ABC)

Eh.  This has been a strong season, with the exception of all the nonsense about the charter schools.  Unfortunately, this week’s episode was all about trying to keep Abbott from turning into a charter school and it was a rare heavy-handed misfire for what it is usually one of the smartest shows on television.  Ava still made me laugh, though.

Accused (Tuesday Night, FOX)

This week’s episode of Accused was a misfire.  It tried to deal with both gun control and misinformation and, in both cases, it just came across as being histrionic.  It was like the Reefer Madness of 21st Century anthology shows.

The Bachelor (Monday and Tuesday, ABC)

The thing with this season is that it’s impossible to get excited about Zach and it’s difficult to take anyone seriously when they say that they were falling in love with Zach.  Monday featured the hometown visits and a “shocking” departure.  (Don’t worry, Charity avoided marrying Zach and she gets to be the new bachelorette).  Tuesday featured the Women Tell All, which started out as interesting with lots of petty drama but then all the action stopped so Greer could go through a televised struggle session about her old social media posts.  Jesse Palmer announced that the Bachelor franchise will no longer shy away from addressing the actions of its contestants and I rolled my eyes so dramatically that I’m surprised I’m still able to see straight.  It’s one thing to address actions.  It’s another thing to spend half an hour patting yourself on the back for doing it, especially when it was obvious that both Jesse and Greer were just reciting what they had been told to say.

The Brady Bunch Hour (YouTube)

I finished the series this week.  Yay!  Seriously, it was kind of fun to experience something as strange as The Brady Bunch Hour but I think if it had lasted longer than nine episodes, I wouldn’t have made it.  That final hour nearly broke me.

Farmer Wants A Wife (Wednesday Night, FOX)

After suffering through The Bachelor, this show provided a nice and simple relief.  Life on the farm isn’t easy but at least all the farmers are interesting and everyone gets to wear cute country outfits!

Jail (Tuesday Afternoon, Reelz)

This was a Cops-style show that aired in early 2010s.  As the title suggests, a camera crew filmed the events in a county jail.  Sometimes, they were in Fort Worth.  Sometimes, they were in Las Vegas.  Whenever they went to Las Vegas, there was one annoying intake officer who always ended up getting attacked by an inmate.  Were the inmates attacking because they were violent criminals or because they were on camera?  My personal theory is that the intake officer, with his sandy hair and his glasses and his air of unearned authority, was kind of a jerk who just brought out the worst in people.

Anyway, I watched two episodes on Tuesday.  A lot of drunks were brought in for the night.  Most of the guards were not particularly bright, which made it a bit awkward whenever they tried to get philosophical about why people commit crimes.  “I guess until they get tired of us arresting them, we’re going to keep getting called out there.”  Okay, whatever you say, dude.

Night Court (Tuesday Night, NBC)

You know, I still like Melissa Rauch but I have to say that, as of this latest episode, I think Abbi is now officially the most annoying character on television.  Her fiancé, Rand, came to New York to help her train for a marathon.  Rand himself was a pretty annoying character but Abi was a hundred times worse for putting up with him and forcing him on her co-workers.

Night Flight (Night Flight Plus)

On Friday, I watched an episode about the 1984 Oscars.  A lot of good songs were nominated that year.

The Oscars (Sunday Night, ABC)

I wrote about the 2022 Oscars here!

The Scott & Gary Show (Night Flight Plus)

This was a public access show from the 80s.  Night Flight Plus has episodes of it and several other old public access shows.  I watched one episode on Saturday morning.  Gibby Haynes stopped by the set and talked about how he used to be an accountant.

Survivor (Wednesday Night, CBS)

I wrote about Survivor at the Reality TV Chat Blog.

Great Moments In Television History #30: The Greatest American Hero Premieres

43 years ago today, The Greatest American Hero premiered on ABC and America first heard the theme song that no one would ever forget.

The show only lasted for three seasons and it was never a huge success in the ratings.  The mix of comedy and super heroics was unusual for the time and audiences, critics, and network executives didn’t know what to make of it.  But even if the show struggled, people loved the theme song.  “Believe It or Not” was composed by Mike Post and Stephen Geyer.  Sung by Joey Scarbury, the song debuted in the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100 and reached number 2 on the charts.

A decade after The Greatest American Hero was canceled, audiences still got the joke as soon as they heard George Costanza’s answering machine message.

When The Greatest American Hero premiered, William Katt was playing a teacher named Ralph Hinkley.  After John W. Hinkley tried to assassinate President Reagan, Ralph’s last name suddenly become Hanley and remained that for the rest of the first season.  By the time the second season began, he was back to being Ralph Hinkley.

Even though the show wasn’t a ratings success when it first aired, it has since developed a strong cult following.  Some shows are just ahead of their time.

Previous Moments In Television History:

  1. Planet of the Apes The TV Series
  2. Lonely Water
  3. Ghostwatch Traumatizes The UK
  4. Frasier Meets The Candidate
  5. The Autons Terrify The UK
  6. Freedom’s Last Stand
  7. Bing Crosby and David Bowie Share A Duet
  8. Apaches Traumatizes the UK
  9. Doctor Who Begins Its 100th Serial
  10. First Night 2013 With Jamie Kennedy
  11. Elvis Sings With Sinatra
  12. NBC Airs Their First Football Game
  13. The A-Team Premieres
  14. The Birth of Dr. Johnny Fever
  15. The Second NFL Pro Bowl Is Broadcast
  16. Maude Flanders Gets Hit By A T-Shirt Cannon
  17. Charles Rocket Nearly Ends SNL
  18. Frank Sinatra Wins An Oscar
  19. CHiPs Skates With The Stars
  20. Eisenhower In Color
  21. The Origin of Spider-Man
  22. Steve Martin’s Saturday Night Live Holiday Wish List
  23. Barnabas Collins Is Freed From His Coffin
  24. Siskel and Ebert Recommend Horror Films
  25. Vincent Price Meets The Muppets
  26. Siskel and Ebert Discuss Horror
  27. The Final Scene of Dark Shadows
  28. The WKRP Turkey Drop
  29. Barney Pops On National TV

Blue Steel (1934, directed by Robert N. Bradbury)

On a stormy night, frontier Sheriff Jake Withers (George “Gabby” Hayes) and undercover U.S. Marshal Carruthers (John Wayne) both check into the same inn.  They are both searching for the infamous Polka Dot Bandit (Yakima Canutt), who has been burglarizing homes and businesses all over California.  They both figure that, on a rainy night like this, there’s no way that the Bandit is going to be out.  It turns out they are both wrong.  The Bandit breaks into the inn and robs the safe but also leaves behind one of his spurs.  The sheriff comes across Carruthers investigating the safe and mistakenly believes that Carruthers is the bandit.

Later, when Sheriff Winters goes out to Carruthers’s cabin, he’s planning on arresting Carruthers.  Before he can do so, they both hear gun shots.  Outside, another group of bandits is chasing Betty (Eleanor Hunt) and her father.  The Sherriff and Carruthers manage to save Betty but her father is killed.  The grieving Betty is taken in by a local rancher named Malgrove (Edward Peil, Jr.) but it turns out that Malgrove is the head of the Polka Dot Gang and he is planning on killing Betty in order to keep a shipment of supplies from coming to the town!  Carruthers and the sheriff have to work together to thwart Malgrove’s plan and bring the Polka Dot Bandit to justice.

This 54-minute programmer was one of the many B-westerns that John Wayne made for Monogram Pictures in the days before John Ford made him a star by casting him in Stagecoach.  Though Wayne was still learning how to act on camera, the screen presence that would make him a star can be seen in Blue Steel and he and Hayes make a good team.  The story is simple enough but there’s enough horse riding and fistfights to keep most B-western fans entertained.  It’s still hard not to imagine how much different the movie would have been if the sheriff had arrested Carruthers at the scene of the crime instead of letting him ride out to his cabin.  It’s a good thing these old programmers never had to make too much sense.

Retro Television Reviews: California Dreams 4.9 “Operation Tony” and 4.10 “Community Service”

Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Saturdays, I will be reviewing California Dreams, which ran on NBC from 1992 to 1996.  The entire show is currently streaming on YouTube!

This week, California Dreams is Saved By The Bell!

Episode 4.9 “Operation Tony”

(Dir by Don Barnhart, originally aired on November 18th, 1995)

Tony needs to have shoulder surgery and he’s so worried about dying that he not only practices laying very still but he also requires Sam to practice mourning.  The night before the operation, he has a dream where he sees his own funeral and, upon waking up, he tries to sneak out of the hospital and …. wait a minute.  This seems familiar.  The exact same thing happened to Zack Morris on Saved By The Bell!

Yes, this episode is pretty much a remake of Operation Zach.  The California Dreams version works a bit better than the SBTB version because Tony is a more sympathetic figure than Zach Morris and, unlike Zach, Tony didn’t have the power to stop time whenever he felt like it so Tony has no way to magically put off the operation.  Plus, this episode has a B-plot where Lorena volunteers as a candy striper in an attempt to catch the attention of a handsome doctor.  Unfortunately, the doctor explains that he doesn’t date people with whom he works.  (I would hope that he also doesn’t date teenagers.)  It was a predictable storyline but I still always like episodes that focus, even if just partially, on Lorena because Lorena is who I was always relate to whenever I watch this show.

Anyway, this was a good episode, even it was a familiar one.  Let’s move on.

Episode 4.10 “Community Service”

(Dir by Don Barnhart, originally aired on November 25th, 1995)

In this episode, the members of the California Dreams do community service!

Now, I know that I always complain whenever this happens on City Guys but that’s because City Guys usually features Ms. Noble ordering her students to do stuff during their free time.  On California Dreams, everyone actually volunteered of their own free will.  It is true that Tiffani guilted them into volunteering but still, there’s a big difference between Tiffani looking sad and Ms. Noble telling all of her students what they’re going to give up their weekend just because she says so.

Sam volunteers for the blood drive.  Jake volunteers for Meals on Wheels and eats all the food himself.  (In 1995, this was played for laughs.  You can only imagine how it would be portrayed today.)  Mark helps to clean the beach and ends up smelling like a toxic waste dump.  Lorena gives some things to the Goodwill.  And Tiffani and Sly end up working at the Teen Help Line.  Tiffani tries to sincerely help people while Sly orders pizza and hits on all the female counselors.

Uh-oh!  The school is cutting its budget and the Teen Line is going to be closed down!  Sly comes up with an idea!  Maybe the Dreams can play a benefit concert.  I mean, it worked on Saved By The Bell …. TWICE!  Sly organizes the concert and basks in everyone’s attention, even though Tiffani is upset that Sly is doing the right thing for the wrong reason.  (Calm down, Tiffani.)  Fortunately, during the concert, a teen calls in and says he wants to run away from home.  Because Sly is the only person in the office, he’s forced to help the caller and he discovers that joy of doing the right thing for the right reasons!  Yay!  Of course, I imagine this lesson will be forgotten by the next episode.  We’ll find out next week!

As a general rule, the best episodes of California Dreams are the ones in which Sly is let loose to be his sleazy but ultimately good-hearted self.  Though the story was familiar, Michael Cade did a good job playing the two sides of Sly.  Plus, the Dreams performed that “To the End” song, which has a really rocking guitar solo.

Next week, Tiffani tries to heal the bay!  Hopefully, she’ll have better luck at it than Mark did during this episode.

Film Review: Detective Knight: Rogue (dir by Edward Drake)

Once upon a time, Casey Rhodes (Beau Mirchoff) was a football star.  He was a quarterback.  Everyone expected great things from him.  He was going to be the next Tom Brady.  But then a knee injury took him out of the game and a subsequent drug addiction took him out of mainstream society.  Now, Casey makes his living pulling off robberies.  He may be a criminal but he’s not a bad-hearted one.  He may carry a gun but he tries not to shoot anyone who doesn’t shoot at him first.  Working with him are a former baseball player named Mike (Trevor Getzky) and Nikki (Keeya King), who is the smartest member of the crew.

Despite Casey’s attempts to do his job with as little violence as possible, a gunfight does break out during one robbery in Los Angeles.  When Detectives James Knight (Bruce Willis) and his partner, Eric Fitzgerald (Lochlyn Munro), interrupt the robbery, Fitzgerald ends up getting shot multiple times as Casey and his crew make their escape.  With Fitzgerald in the hospital, Knight decides to follow the crew to New York and take out both them and their boss, a former Internal Affairs officer named Winna (Michael Eklund).  It turns out that there’s a history between Knight and Winna.  Knight wants his revenge on Winna but, at the same time, Winna knows some dark secrets from Knight’s past.

Though it works as a stand-alone film, 2022’s Detective Knight: Rogue is actually the first part of a trilogy that follows the adventures of Detective Knight.  (Detective Knight: Redemption was released at the end of 2022 while Detective Knight: Independence came out last month.)  The Detective Knight films were among the last of the movies in which Bruce Willis appeared before announcing his retirement.  It can be strange to watch Willis’s final films, knowing what we know about what he was going through at the time that he made them.  Though he’s definitely the star of the film, Willis is used sparingly in Detective Knight: Rogue and there’s little of the cocky attitude that we tend to associate with Willis’s best roles.  Instead, he’s a grim avenger, determined to get justice for both his partner and himself.  Willis is convincing in the role, even if the film is edited in such a way that the viewer gets the feeling that a stand-in may have been used for some of the long-shots involving Detective Knight.  That said, Willis still looks convincing carrying a badge and a gun and it’s nice to see a Willis film where he’s again playing a hero instead of a villain.

As the football player-turned-thief, Beau Mirchoff gets more screentime than Willis but, fortunately, Casey is an interesting character and Mirchoff gives a strong performance as a criminal who would rather be a family man and who is desperately looking for a way to make up for the mistakes of his past.  Towards the end of the film, he does a flawless job delivering a surprisingly well-written monologue about how he went from being a football star to being a common thief.  Mirchoff’s strong performance adds a good deal of ambiguity to the film.  The criminals aren’t necessarily that bad at heart and, as we learn, the good guys haven’t always been angels in the past.  Detective Knight: Rogue becomes more than just another low-budget thriller.  It becomes a meditation of regret and redemption.

Detective Knight: Rogue took me by surprise.  As directed by Edward Drake (who was also responsible for another effective late Bruce Willis starrer, Gasoline Alley), it’s an intelligent thriller and it’s one that pays tribute to Bruce Willis as an action icon.  It’s proof that a good story can sometimes be found where you least expect it.

Artist Profile: Joseph Szokoli (1913 — 1981)

Born in New York City and educated at the Pratt Institute, Joseph Szokoli began his career as a commercial illustrator in 1934 and worked up until his death.  Szokoli’s work is distinguishable from the work of his contemporaries because he worked with an airbrush, giving his covers a unique look all their own.

Here is a small sampling of the work of Joseph Szokoli:

Live Tweet Alert: Watch Absentia with #ScarySocial

As some of our regular readers undoubtedly know, I am involved in a few weekly live tweets on twitter.  I host #FridayNightFlix every Friday, I co-host #ScarySocial on Saturday, and I am one of the five hosts of #MondayActionMovie!  Every week, we get together.  We watch a movie.  We tweet our way through it.

Tonight, for #ScarySocial, ArtAttackNYC will be hosting 2011’s Absentia!

If you want to join us on Saturday night, just hop onto twitter, start the film at 9 pm et, and use the #ScarySocial hashtag!  The film is available on Prime.  I’ll be there co-hosting and I imagine some other members of the TSL Crew will be there as well.  It’s a friendly group and welcoming of newcomers so don’t be shy.


Music Video of the Day: One Headlight by The Wallflowers (1997, dir by Ken Fox)

I’m actually a bit surprised to discover that I haven’t already shared this music video of the day.

We can drive it home with one headlight….

Some songs just get stuck in your head and I think this is definitely one of them.  This is also a song that always used to play in the background at one of my favorite used bookstores.  I associate One Headlight with searching through old books and learning about history.

The lead singer of The Wallflowers is, of course, Jakob Dylan.  Jakob is know for being Bob Dylan’s son and certainly, this song has a Bob Dylanesque feel to it.  That said, Jakob made it his own.  The music video certainly makes good use of Jakob’s perfect bone structure.