Retro Television Reviews: City Guys 3.11 “El-Train In The Sky With Geena” and 3.12 “Miracle 134th Street and Lexington Avenue”


Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Thursdays, I will be reviewing City Guys, which ran on NBC from 1997 to 2001.  The entire show is currently streaming on Tubi!

Are the neat guys still smart and streetwise?  Were they ever?  Let’s find out!

Episode 3.11 “El-Train In The Sky With Geena”

(dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on November 27th, 1999)

Jamal is still dating Ashley (Trina McGee), the manipulative girl with the thick Southern accent.  However, Jamal is concerned when her ex-boyfriend Roger comes to visit “from the South.”  After lying to Roger about Ashley having to serve detention, Jamal and Chris take Roger on a tour of New York City, one that is meant to make him hate the city so much that he’ll never want to return.  At one point, they take him to — cringe! — the Twin Towers and make him walk all the way to the top, via the stairs.  They tell him to think of World Trade Center as being a “Stairmaster with a gift shop on the top floor.”  UGH!

Now, in all fairness, the creative team behind City Guys had no idea what would happen 20 months in the future.  At the time this episode aired, the World Trade Center was a popular New York tourist attraction and it made sense that Jamal and Chris would take a visitor to see it.  Still, watching this scene today is all sorts of cringey.  “Why do we have to take the stairs?” Roger asks.  “Because the elevators are broken,” is the reply.

Seriously, let’s just move on to the A-plot of this episode.

The students have raised $200 to buy Ms. Nobel a gift.  (What is the deal with these people and their pathological obsession with their principal?)  They give the money to L-Train, the class president.  Unfortunately, L-Train has a new girlfriend named Geena and Geena is hooked on …. MARIJUANA!  She’s so addicted that she even lights up at the movies.  She’s so addicted that, when she finds out L-Train has $200 in his locker, she steals it so that she can buy more weed.  She promises to pay L-Train back but the next time that L-Train sees her, she’s staring at her hand and talking about how she can’t feel her face.  What exactly has she been smoking?

Anyway, L-Train is forced to buy a cheap chair for Ms. Nobel’s gift.  Ms. Nobel is disappointed in him.  JUST BE GRATEFUL YOUR KISS-ASS STUDENTS GOT YOU A GIFT!  Anyway, Ms. Nobel encourages L-Train to give Geena a second chance and to get her in drug rehab.

Anyway, this was a dumb episode.  It turns out that Roger and Ashley only dated in the 2nd grade and Geena agrees to get help.  And I guess Ms. Nobel eventually gets a better chair.  Steven Daniel gave a typically empathetic performance but everyone else was definitely an autopilot.

Let’s move on!

Episode 3.12 “Miraclce on 134th Street and Lexington Avenue)

(dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on November 27th, 1999)

It’s a Christmas episode!

The gang is still working at the New York Toy Company, where Al and Jamal try to make extra money and from which Chris and Dawn are regularly delivering toys to the local community center.  After discovering that Allison, one of the kids at the center, wants to meet her father for the first time, Chris and Dawn track him down and reunite the family.  Ms. Nobel praised everyone for doing a good job.  No one mentions anything about the fact that Chris, Jamal, Dawn, Cassidy, Al, and L-Train would rather spend their holidays with Ms. Nobel instead of their own families.  Seriously, high school only lasts four years.  How are these people going to survive adulthood without having Ms. Nobel around 24/7?

Usually, I like Christmas episodes but this one didn’t really work for me.  I hate to say this but the performers playing Allison, her mother, and her father weren’t particularly believable in their roles.  Plus, it didn’t seem to occur to anyone that maybe there was a good reason why Allison’s father no longer had any contact with his family.  Instead, Dawn and Chris just took it upon themselves to tell him where Allison and her mother could be found.  I mean, they could have at least done a background check.

The neat guys did not impress me this week.  Hopefully, next week will be a bit better.

Retro Television Reviews: The Love Boat 1.23 “Musical Cabins”


Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Wednesdays, I will be reviewing the original Love Boat, which aired on ABC from 1977 to 1986!  The series can be streamed on Paramount Plus!

Let’s hear it for life’s sweetest reward!

Episode 1.23 “Musical Cabins”

(Dir by Allen Baron, originally aired on May 6th, 1978)

This week’s episode of The Love Boat opened with …. a commercial!

Actually, if you’re watching the show on Paramount Plus like me, every episode opens with a commercial and occasionally the commercial freezes and you have to start all over again.  This week, though, was significant because it was a new commercial from Pfizer.  The commercial opened with P!nk holding a rubber germ.

“If I was holding COVID-19,” P!nk says, “I would be in trouble …. because I have asthma.”

Plus, she would be in trouble because that’s the biggest goddamn germ I’ve ever seen.  Don’t get me wrong.  I have asthma too and I am more than aware of the dangers of getting an aggressive respiratory illness.  But I’m just not sure that having a bunch of celebrities passing around a big rubber germ is the best way to advertise the vaccine.  As soon as P!nk threw the germ at Michael Phelps and ?uestlove, the commercial started to lose me.  It felt cheap, like one of those ICDC commercials that Master P forced Romeo Miller to do.  Don’t throw germs at your friends.

Speaking of which, this week’s episode of The Love Boat is all about friendships and relationships.  Ms. O’Roarke (Marica Wallace) is a gossip reporter who has heard that the Pacific Princess is a notorious hotbed of lust and hedonism on the high seas.  She books a ticket and then sneaks around the boat with her notepad, watching as people go in and out of different cabins.  She thinks that she’s uncovering evidence of an orgy on the high seas but actually, she’s just witnessing a bunch of misunderstandings.

For instance, Didi (Barbara Rhoades) is so disgusted by Curt (Dick Gautier), her chauvinistic boyfriend, that she refuses to stay in their cabin.  When Gopher informs her that the cruise is sold out and there are no other cabins available, Doc immediately volunteers his cabin.  Judging from the look on Gopher’s face, he’s just about had it with Doc hitting on every single passenger on the boat.  An HR report is about to be filed.

Doc, for his part, assumes that Didi is looking for more than just a place to sleep.  Being the swinger that he is, Doc slips into his pajamas and offers to help Didi unwind.

Didi is scandalized and kicks Doc out of his own cabin.  Doc ends up asking Julie if he can crash in her cabin.  Julie agrees but then wonders why Doc has never tried to hit on her.  Doc replies that he thinks of Julie as being a “kid sister.”

Wrong answer, Doc!

Fortunately, Julie is soon approached by Nelson Hoag (Paul Williams), who has been asking every woman on the cruise if she’ll consider marrying him.  Everyone turns Nelson down but what they don’t know is that Nelson is going to inherit a good deal of money but only if he gets married before his next birthday!

Julie and Nelson spend the night talking and Julie is actually charmed by Nelson.  However, just as she learns in to kiss him, Gopher shows up and puts the kibosh on it.  Gopher is going to have a lot of HR reports to write.

Since Doc is sleeping in her cabin, Julie ends up staying in Nelson’s cabin.  Meanwhile, Nelson meets Irene (Michele Lee), a widow who is pretending to be an heiress.  Irene allows Nelson to stay in her cabin and then she spends some time with an entirely smitten Captain Stubing.  Is anyone on the boat actually doing their job?

Eventually, as O’Roarke hides behind the corner and takes notes, everyone meets in one cabin to work out their feelings.  Curt wants Didi back but Didi actually prefers the company of the gentle Nelson.  For her part, Irene likes men who take what they want and say whatever pops into their mind and that certainly describes Curt.  By the end of the cruise, Julie and Doc are friends again, Didi is married to Nelson, and Irene is dating Curt.  And O’Roarke realizes that she doesn’t have a story so she tears up all of her notes.

Usually, I can’t stand shows (or movies) where the plot hinges on a series of misunderstandings that could all easily be cleared up by people just not being stupid but I actually found this episode of The Love Boat to be rather charming, as the show made good use of the cast’s natural chemistry and the guest stars actually brought some much needed emotional depth to characters who were otherwise rather thinly written.  Yes, Nelson was a little weirdo but, oddly, he and Didi made for a really sweet couple.  Add to that Michele Lee brought a sense of genuine sadness to her role as the lonely widow.  Watching the show, I found myself hoping that things would work out for her and they did!

Yay!

I hope next week is this good!

Here Are The 2022 Eddie Nominations!


The American Cinema Editors have announced their nominations for the Eddie Awards, which will celebrate the best in film editing for 2022. The winners will be announced March 5th, 2023.

I’m not really sure why any organization would wait until after the Oscar nominations to announce their own nominations but whatever.  There’s no need to be judgey, right?  Here are the nominees!

BEST EDITED FEATURE FILM (Drama, Theatrical)
All Quiet on the Western Front – Sven Budelmann, BFS
Elvis – Matt Villa, ACE ASE & Jonathan Redmond
Tár – Monika Willi
Top Gun: Maverick – Eddie Hamilton, ACE
The Woman King – Terilyn A. Shropshire, ACE

BEST EDITED FEATURE FILM (Comedy, Theatrical)
The Banshees of Inisherin – Mikkel E.G. Nielsen, ACE
Everything Everywhere All at Once – Paul Rogers
Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery – Bob Ducsay, ACE
The Menu – Christopher Tellefsen, ACE
Triangle of Sadness – Ruben Östlund & Mikel Cee Karlsson

BEST EDITED ANIMATED FEATURE FILM (Theatrical or Non-Theatrical)
The Bad Guys – John Venzon, ACE
Guillermo del Toro’s Pinocchio – Ken Schretzmann, ACE & Holly Klein
Marcel the Shell with Shoes On – Dean Fleischer-Camp & Nick Paley
Puss in Boots: The Last Wish – James Ryan, ACE
Turning Red – Nicholas C. Smith, ACE

BEST EDITED DOCUMENTARY (Theatrical)
All the Beauty and the Bloodshed – Amy Foote, Joe Bini & Brian A. Kates, ACE
Fire of Love – Erin Casper & Jocelyne Chaput
Good Night Oppy – Helen Kearns, ACE & Rejh Cabrera
Moonage Daydream – Brett Morgen
Navalny – Langdon Page & Maya Hawke

BEST EDITED DOCUMENTARY (Non-Theatrical)
The Andy Warhol Diaries: “Collab: Andy & Basquiat” – Steve Ross
George Carlin’s American Dream – Joe Beshenkovsky, ACE
The Last Movie Stars: “Luck is an Art” – Barry Poltermann
Lucy and Desi – Robert A. Martinez
Pelosi in the House – Geof Bartz, ACE

BEST EDITED MULTI-CAMERA COMEDY SERIES
The Conners: “Of Missing Minds and Missing Fries” – Brian Schnuckel, ACE
How I Met Your Father: “Timing Is Everything” – Susan Federman, ACE
The Neighborhood: “Welcome to the Art of Negotiation” – Chris Poulos

BEST EDITED SINGLE CAMERA COMEDY SERIES
Atlanta: “Andrew Wyeth. Alfred’s World.” – Kyle Reiter, ACE & Isaac Hagy, ACE
Barry: “710N” – Franky Guttman
Barry: “Starting Now” – Ali Greer
The Bear: “System” – Joanna Naugle
Only Murders in the Building: “I Know Who Did It” – Shelly Westerman, ACE & Payton Koch

BEST EDITED DRAMA SERIES
Andor: “One Way Out” – Simon Smith
Euphoria: “Stand Still Like the Hummingbird” – Aaron I. Butler, ACE & Julio Perez IV, ACE
Euphoria: “The Theater and Its Double” – Laura Zempel, Julio Perez IV, ACE & Nikola Boyanov
Severance: “In Perpetuity” – Geoffrey Richman, ACE & Erica Freed Marker, ACE
Severance: “The We We Are” – Geoffrey Richman, ACE

BEST EDITED FEATURE FILM (NON-THEATRICAL)
Fire Island – Brian A. Kates, ACE
Hocus Pocus 2 – Julia Wong, ACE
A Jazzman’s Blues – Maysie Hoy, ACE
Prey – Angela M. Catanzaro, ACE & Claudia Castello
Weird: The Al Yankovic Story – Jamie Kennedy

BEST EDITED LIMITED SERIES
Gaslit: “Year of the Rat” – Joe Leonard, ACE
Obi-Wan Kenobi: “Part VI” – Kelley Dixon, ACE & Josh Earl, ACE
Station Eleven: “Unbroken Circle” – Anna Hauger, ACE, David Eisenberg, Yoni Reiss & Anthony McAfee
The White Lotus: “Abduction” – Heather Persons, ACE
The White Lotus: “Arrivederci” – John M. Valerio ACE

BEST EDITED NON-SCRIPTED SERIES
Deadliest Catch: “Sailor’s Delight” – Isaiah Camp, ACE, Joe Mikan, ACE & Alexander Rubinow, ACE
Formula 1: Drive to Survive: “Hard Racing” – Cassie Bennitt, Matt Rudge, Duncan Moir, Nic Zimmermann, Jack Foxton & Neil Clarkson
Vice: “Killing for Success & Marcos Returns” – Paula Salhany, Brandon Kieffer, Andrew Pattison. Catherine Lee & Victoria Lesiw

BEST EDITED VARIETY TALK/SKETCH SHOW OR SPECIAL
A Black Lady Sketch Show: “Save My Edges, I’m A Donor!” – Stephanie Filo, ACE, Bradinn French, Taylor Mason & S. Robyn Wilson
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: “Police Interrogations” – Anthony Miale, ACE & Ryan Barger
My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman: “Volodymyr Zelenskyy Special” – Cori Wapnowska & Jon Higgins

BEST EDITED ANIMATED SERIES
Big Mouth: “Dadda Dia!” – Felipe Salazar
Bob’s Burgers: “Some Like It Bot Part 1: Eighth Grade Runner” – Jeremy Reuben, ACE
Love, Death & Robots: “Bad Travelling” – Kirk Baxter, ACE

ANNE V. COATES AWARD FOR STUDENT EDITING
Adriana Guevara – New York University
Jazmin Jamias – American Film Institute
Tianze Sun – American Film Institute

 

Retro Television Reviews: Fantasy Island 2.7 “Let the Good Times Roll/Nightmare/The Tiger”


Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Tuesdays, I will be reviewing the original Fantasy Island, which ran on ABC from 1977 to 1986.  The entire show is currently streaming on Tubi!

This week, we’ve got a special, 90-minute episode of Fantasy Island!

Episode 2.7 “Let the Good Times Roll/Nightmare/The Tiger”

(Dir by George McCowan, originally aired on November 4th, 1978)

This week’s supersized episode of Fantasy Island begins with Tattoo revealing that he’s come up with a new way to annoy Mr. Roarke.

Mr, Roarke rolls his eyes and dramatically sighs, especially when Tattoo makes the mistake of assuming that Roarke is a Pisces.  (“I am a Sagittarius!” Roarke snaps.)  For once, Mr. Roarke is right to be annoyed.  There’s no time for this foolishness this week!  We’ve got three fantasies to deal with!

For instance, Duke Manducci (Paul Sand) and Ernie “Smooth” Kowalski (Peter Isacksen) want to go back to the 1960s and relive their youth.  Duke was once known as the King of the Strip because he could outrace anyone.  Now, years later, Duke is just a guy working in a garage.  Roarke leads them to an exact recreation of the Strip.  The Strip is so perfectly recreated that even Donny Bonaduce shows up to make trouble.

Uh-oh, it turns out that Mr. Roarke has also invited all of Duke’s old friends to come take part in Duke’s fantasy.  Except, of course, none of them know that Duke is still working at the same gas station that he worked at as a teenager.  Duke ends up telling a lot of lies in order to convince them that he’s made a success of himself.   But when he falls for Sheila Crane (Mary Ann Mobley), he realizes that it’s time to be honest.  And when Bonaduce challenges him to a race, Duke eventually realizes that his racing days are over and it’s time for him to be a grown-up.  Duke not only learns an important lesson but he’s also offered a job working on a NASCAR pit crew.  Yay!

Meanwhile, Janine Sanford (Pamela Franklin) is haunted by a recurring nightmare.  She always has the dream at midnight and she’s never made it to the end of the dream without waking up.  She travels to Fantasy Island with her husband (Brett Halsey, who later starred in Fulci’s Touch of Death) and her father (Ray Milland).  Her fantasy is see how her nightmare ends.  Mr. Roarke takes her to what he calls the Nightmare House.

And, oh my God, this nightmare is seriously freaky!  We see it twice.  It involves Janine watching as all of her childhood toys catch on fire.  There’s even a clown that comes to life and go crazy at one point.

Janine’s father is convinced that the dream is linked to some sort of past trauma and he fears that Janine will be hurt if she relives it. 

It turns out the joke’s on him!  Janine’s nightmare is not about the past but the future.  It turns out that it was warning her that her father was going to be trapped in a fire.  When her father is indeed trapped in a fire, Janine is able to rescue him.  Yay!  What a great fantasy and I love a happy ending.  This fantasy is handled so well that it takes a while to realize that the show just kind of dropped the whole idea of Janine suffering from past trauma, despite the fact that her father seemed really worried about what she might end up remembering.  

Finally, for our third fantasy, Victor Duncan (Darren McGavin) is a Hemingwayesque writer who wants to go to India so he can hunt a legendary tiger.  How do you think that works out for him?

Yep, the tiger kills him.

Fear not, though!  Mr. Roarke explains to Tattoo that Victor was actually terminally ill and his fantasy was to die on Fantasy Island.  So, I guess that’s a happy ending.

I actually liked this episode, if just because it was throwback to season one when all of the fantasies were linked by a common theme.  Here the link is aging and growing up.  Duke and Victor both have to deal with the fact that they’re no longer young men.  Janine manages to put her nightmare behind her and move on.  These three fantasies all seemed to belong together, so there were none of the strange tonal shifts that I’ve noticed in some of the other episodes.  All in all, this was a good trip to Fantasy Island.

Retro Television Reviews: Hang Time 3.15 “Teen Mom” and 3.16 “Midnight Basketball”


Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Mondays, I will be reviewing Hang Time, which ran on NBC from 1995 to 2000.  The entire show is currently streaming on YouTube!

The saga of Indiana’s greatest basketball team continues.  I’ll always remember me and my friends at Hang Time….

Episode 3.15 “Teen Mom”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on November 1st, 1997)

Danny’s latest girlfriend, Sarah, is a teen mom!  Danny decides that, since he loves Sarah and he loves her son Max, he wants to marry her.  Sarah turns him down and Danny says that if she ever needs a babysitter, she knows who to call.  Then he leaves her house, alone.

Wow, what a depressing episode!  Give some credit to Chad Gabriel, who gives a good performance and who proves that he deserved to headline more episodes of this series than he did but still, this was definitely not a cheery episode.

Fortunately, there is a comedic B-plot, in which Kristy gets addicted to playing a video game called Killer Klown.  It  causes her to miss a photo shoot but … oh well!  KILLER KLOWN!

Episode 3.16 “Midnight Basketball”

(Directed by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on November 1st, 1997)

In a storyline that was used in not just one but three different episodes of Saved By The Bell, the school starts a teen line!

Coach Fuller takes charge of the teen line and, of course, the operators are the members of the basketball team.  Despite the fact that they went out on a date just two episodes ago, Michael is not sure that Julie likes him and Julie isn’t sure that Michael likes her.  They each call the teen line for advice.  Mary Beth tells Julie to throw herself at Michael.  Danny tells Michael to ignore Julie and “play hard to get.”  It’s terrible advice and it leads to a lot of confusion.  Eventually, Julie figures out why Michael has been ignoring her and they end up kissing while the audience goes wild.  Doesn’t anyone remember how badly all of Julie’s relationships tend to end?

Meanwhile, Teddy befriends a caller named Eric.  Eric keeps getting into fights because there’s nothing for him and his friends to do at night.  Breaking the rules of Teen Line (much as Zach Morris once did), Teddy meets with Eric.  Taking sympathy on Eric, Teddy arranges for a midnight basketball game at Deering High.  Eric and his friends are defeated and thoroughly humiliated by the Tornadoes.  Needless to say, Eric is not happy about that and he trashes the team’s locker room.  To be honest, I don’t blame Eric.  How are you going to invite people to your gym and then humiliate them in the middle of the night?

That said, after a heart-to-heart with Teddy, Eric returns to Deering to help clean up the locker room.  Teddy promises to mentor Eric.  We will probably never see Eric again.

I have to say that, even on a show like Hang Time, Anthony Anderson was already a good actor.  There’s a lot of heart and sincerity in his performance here and it makes the episode work even when it shouldn’t.

Rest In Peace to Lisa Loring, the original Wednesday Addams


Rest in peace to Lisa Loring, the original Wednesday Addams.  She passed away as the result of a stroke yesterday.  She was 64 years old.

Here she is, as Wednesday, teaching Lurch how not to be a square.

Lisa Marie’s Week In Television: 1/22/23 — 1/28/23


Here are some thoughts on what I watched this week!

(I’ve got a headache coming on so excuse the bland intro.)

Accused (Tuesday Night, FOX)

The latest new legal show is Accused.  Based on a BBC series, Accused is an anthology series in which, each week, a different person is accused of a crime and, through the use of flashbacks, we see how they came to be accused.  Anthology series tend to be rather uneven and I have a feeling that’s going to be the case with Accused.

The first episode featured Michael Chiklis as a wimpy Dad who went from plotting to kill his son to giving his son a lot of money so his son could go on a trip to Iceland.  Of course, it turned out that his son was lying and he instead used that money to buy a bunch of guns and shoot up his school.  Chiklis was found to be irresponsible but not legally liable.  It was a bit of a bland episode but, reportedly, it set a record for the number of people who watched.  (Of course, it also aired right after the Cowboys/49ers game.)  Michael Chiklis was miscast as a father who was too meek to stand up to his obviously unstable son.  And even if the role had been perfectly cast, the father was still too much of wimp to generate much sympathy.

The second episode was directed by actress Marlee Matlin and it was a little bit on improvement over the first episode.  It dealt with a couple who discovered that their newborn was deaf and their surrogate, who was also deaf and felt that she had to intervene to keep the parents from subjecting the child to a surgical procedure.  Matlin’s direction elevated the episode, especially the opening scene in which Matlin showed the viewer what it was like to live in a world without sound.  That said, the anthology format still left me feeling as if the episode was a bit inconsistent.  Basically, an entire season’s worth of information was crammed into 45 minutes.  I didn’t quite buy the episode’s ending, either.

As far as the show as a whole is concerned, we’ll see.  I’ll probably watch the next few episodes, just to see if I’m correct in my assumptions.  Hopefully, the season will shape up to be better than I’m currently expecting.

American Auto (Tuesday Night, NBC)

I think that Tuesday night was the first time that I’ve ever watched American Auto and I hate to say it but I was so busy cleaning the house that I mostly just used it for background noise.  So, I really don’t have any thoughts on this show beyond the fact that Ana Gasteyer is funny.

The Bachelor (Monday Night, ABC)

Zach is the new bachelor and oh my God is he bland.  Zach met the women vying to become his wife and he also got some advice from former bachelor Sean Lowe.  The show is always happy to bring back Sean because, after 26 seasons, he is the sole Bachelor success story.  Anyway, Zach assured us that he is on the show for the right reasons and hopefully, he will find his future wife amongst the bachelorettes.

The Brady Bunch Hour (YouTube)

I wrote about the 2nd episode of the Brady Bunch Hour here!

Customer Wars (Wednesday Morning, A&E)

This show features footage of customers getting into fights with other customers and yelling at the employees of the stores where they shop.  Ugh.  A&E did a mini-marathon on Wednesday morning and I watched a few episodes because I was waiting for the new episode of Accused to drop on Hulu.  It was hella depressing.  There’s a lot of trashy people out there.

Personally, I’d rather see a show called Costumer Wars.

Football Game: Cowboys vs 49ers (Sunday Night, FOX)

I watched this game with Erin.  The Cowboys lost so I guess winter is going to last for another six months or something.  In the past, whenever the Cowboys lost, everyone in Dallas would be depressed for weeks afterwards but this year, no one seems to really care.  I guess everyone’s used to it.

Hell’s Kitchen (Thursday Night, FOX)

The first Black Jacket dinner service turned out to be an utter disaster as the Fab Five totally fell apart in the kitchen.  When Chef Ramsay kicks everyone out of the kitchen, does that mean all of the diners just have to go home without getting any food?  I’ve always wondered this.

Law & Order (Thursday Night, FOX)

I didn’t pay much attention to Law & Order this week.  I mostly just had it in for background noise while I was doing some stuff around the house.  I noticed that it was a murder trial and the accused was a teenager so I’m guessing the internet was to blame.  I also noticed that the judge really got into banging down that gavel.  Seriously, I jumped every time that I heard it.

The Most Comfortable Bra You Will Ever Own (Monday Night, Infomercial)

I’m pretty sure that I already have the most comfortable bra that I will ever own.

Neighborhood Wars (Tuesday Night, A&E)

This is a show about feuding neighbors.  Like most of A&E’s other true crime shows, it makes heavy use of footage taken from drones, cell phones, and home security cameras.  The episode that I saw was a look at the “ten most memorable moments of Neighborhood Wars.”  To be honest, it was kind of a depressing show to watch.  All of the people featured were trashy, stupid, ugly, and inarticulate.  “Get your fucking bitch ass out here!” one pregnant woman yelled at her neighbor.  Ugh.

Night Court (Tuesday Night, NBC)

Eh.  Is it really necessary for Abbi to be a recovering alcoholic?  Do people watch sitcoms to be depressed?

Parking Wars (Weekday Morning, A&E)

I watched two episodes on Tuesday morning while I was waiting for the Oscar nominations to be announced and, not surprisingly, Parking Wars was just as obnoxious as I remembered.  I know the show is over ten years old now and I hope that means that the Philadelphia Parking Authority finally did something about the ugly décor of the majority of their buildings.  If you don’t want people to think they’re living in an authoritarian nightmare, try not to work out of offices decorated in the mid-50s communist style.

Survivor: Redemption Island (Hulu)

This old season of Survivor, featuring Boston Rob and Russell Hantz and introducing the concept of Redemption Island, is now on Hulu.  I watched the first episode and it was kind of nice to be reminded of how much fun Survivor was before its post-COVID facelift.

Retro Television Reviews: California Dreams 3.12 “Harley and the Marlboro Man” and 3.13 “Rebel Without A Nerve”


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, it’s all about Jake trying to retain his cool.

Episode 3.12 “Harley and the Marlboro Man”

(Dir by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on December 3rd, 1994)

“You can’t hide your smoking behind tic tacs and old spice!”

Yes, it’s time for another TNBC anti-smoking episode.  In California Dreams, Jake Summers starts to smoke after he see his super cool Uncle Frank lighting a cigarette.  Soon, Jake is totally addicted.  He can’t stop!  It doesn’t matter how many times the members of the band make him look at a picture of a cancerous lung.  It doesn’t matter that Lorena won’t kiss him.  It doesn’t matter that no one wants to be a friend with a smoker.  After smoking for one week, Jake Summers is hopelessly addicted.  He’s got the nicotine monkey on his back!  But then Frank shows up and says, “I’m dying Jake.”

Good Lord, this was heavy-handed.  This is actually the second time that I’ve watched and written about this episode and my reaction to episode pretty much remains the same.  I simply cannot believe that Jake Summers, an aspiring rocker who has spent his entire life hanging out with motorcyclists, never smoked a cigarette until he saw his Uncle Frank light up.  The Dreams themselves acted as if smoking a cigarette was the most scandalous thing in the world.  So, I guess no one smoked weed in 1990s California?  No one did cocaine in 1990s California?  None of the other bands at the Battle of the Bands ducked behind Sharkey’s to have a cigarette?  Seriously, there’s a difference between not liking cigarettes and being unbelievably naïve.  At one point, Tiffani says that nicotine is more addictive than crack cocaine.  I’ve seen several David Simon-produced shows and I just don’t believe that.

Anyway, the Dreams deal with this problem in the same way that they deal with everything.  They throw a benefit concert at Sharkey’s.

Episode 3.13 “Rebel Without A Nerve”

(Dir by Patrick Maloney, originally aired on December 10th, 1994)

Jake Summers is afraid he’s losing his cool!

Not only is there a new kid at school who is talking about Jake behind his back but Jake has twice crashed his motorcycle!  With his confidence shaken, Jake decides that it would be safer to accept Principal Blumford’s offer to join the school safety patrol!  Just as he was in Budget Cuts, Blumford is played Earl Boen.  In this episode, there’s yet another shoutout to Boen’s role in the Terminator films when Boen tells a photographer that some people have mistaken him for Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Anyway, Jake eventually realizes how dorky he looks wearing the safety monitor sash so he decides to challenge the new kid to racing the infamous “Coolman’s Curve,” which is apparently the most dangerous road in California.  The new kid backs down and Jake is once again proclaimed the coolest student at Pacific Coast High.  Yay!

This episode was incredibly silly but, in its way, it worked.  Jake continually crashing his bike made me laugh a little more than it should have.  What made the joke work was that all of the accidents were due to an inconvenient speed dump that had been put in the parking lot by the safety patrol.  Safety Week turned out to be the most dangerous week in California.

The important thing is that Jake did not lose his cool and, as a result, was allowed to continue living his California dream.

Retro Television Reviews: The Brady Bunch Hour 1.2


Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a new feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Fridays, I will be reviewing The Brady Bunch Hour, which ran on ABC from 1976 to 1977.  All nine episodes can be found on YouTube!

Following the rating success of the pilot for the Brady Bunch Variety Hour, ABC decided to bite the bullet and the Bradys returned to the airwaves!

*Deep sigh*

Okay, let’s do this….

Episode 1.2 

(Originally aired on January 23, 1977, Dir by Jack Regas)

I’ve discovered that the dancers who performed on each episode of The Brady Bunch Hour were known as the Kroftettes.  (The show as produced by Sid and Marty Kroft and there is definitely nothing creepy about naming your performers after yourself.)  The second episode of the Brady Bunch Hour opened with the Kroftettes dressed in red, white, and blue and carrying small drums.  It would be a perfect look for the 4th of July but this episode aired in January.

The dancers eventually move off stage and the audience goes crazy as the announcer informs them that tonight’s episode not only stars the Bradys but also Lee Majors, Farrah Fawcett-Majors, Rip Taylor, Ann B. Davis, and …. Kaptian Kool and the Kong!  Well, who wouldn’t be excited by the Kong?  The Kong was apparently a musical group.  With a name like that, you would hope they would at least have the decency to dress up like gorillas but instead, they appear to have just been a typical 70s prog rock outfit.

The Bradys come out on stage and start awkwardly singing a rock version of Yankee Doodle Dandy.  The YouTube screenshot below isn’t the best but I think it gives you some idea of what this performance is like:

“Yankee Doodle …. Keep it up!” the family chants as the Kroftettes splash about in the pool.  The audience loves it.

With the song completed, the Brady Bunch introduce themselves.  Greg spends too long talking about himself and is sharply reprimanded by Carol.  Cindy explains that it is now 1977.  Thanks, Cindy!  Fake Jan smiles and tries not to cry as she jokes around with her new family.  Mike Brady explains that the Bunch has a new house.  “We have a terrific new show!” Mike says.  Sure you do, Mike.  Carol explains that the show will only be airing once a month.  “We’re only a few minutes in and we’ve already been canceled!?” Mike says.

After a reprise of Yankee Doodle Dandy, the show mercifully breaks for commercial.  When the show returns, the Bradys are stepping into their new home and discovering that they have no furniture!  The movers ran off with it!  Luckily, Alice the Maid randomly shows up with a bunch of sleeping bags.

“Well, Mike,” Carol says, “what do we do now?”

“The only thing we can do,” Mike replies, “is hit the sack.”

Every member of the Bunch hits their sleeping bag.  9 minutes in and this show is already giving me a migraine.

Fortunately, the moving man shows up.  Unfortunately, the moving man is played by a very 70s comedian named Rip Taylor.

Rip Taylor is playing Mr, Merrill.  Merrill refuses to take any blame for being late with the furniture.  Carol suggests that Mr. Merrill come back tomorrow.  Do they want their furniture or not?  Well, it really doesn’t matter because it turns out that Mr. Merrill has some other family’s furniture in his truck and the Brady furniture is still missing.  Mr. Merrill promises to have their furniture tomorrow.  “Let’s hit the sack,” Mike says and everyone hits their sleep bag and ….. ARRRRRRRGHHHHH!

Where was I?

Anyway, the Bradys then sing Razzle Dazzle from Chicago, with all the skill of a small town community theater chorus.

Back at the Brady House, Alice scolds Marcia for hoarding all of her dolls.  Alice tells her that everyone is having to give things up.  Uhmmm …. they’re just dolls, Alice.  And really, why is Alice giving Marcia orders?  Marcia imagines Alice as the Wicked Witch of the West and then imagines herself as Dorothy and performing Car Wash with her brothers and Rip Taylor …. wait, what?  Just watch for yourself.

Hey, who doesn’t love cocaine?

Fake Jan and Peter appear and explain that the Bradys eventually got their furniture.  “Look at what happened!” Peter says.  We cut to the family watching Mike hang an ugly painting over the fireplace.  Mike orders everyone to go to bed at 8 pm.  Greg objects and Mike threatens to kill him.

Alice explains that Mike wants the kids to go to bed so that he and Carol can make love in the living room.  No sooner have the children (and the maid) left than Rip Taylor shows up again and explains that he’s also the Bunch’s landlord.  He says that a lovely couple is going to be staying with the Bradys over the weekend.  Enter Lee Majors and Farrah Fawcett!  Lee is not amused to discover that Rip Taylor has double-booked the house. “Don’t hit me, you bionic bully!” Rip Taylor shouts.  When Lee explains that his other house is being fumigated, Carol says that Lee and Farrah are “welcome to stay here with us.”  RUN, LEE AND FARRAH!  RUN!

After a commercial break, Carol welcomes the audience back to the second half of the show.  Oh my God, there’s another 30 minutes of this?  “I like that we can show you the way we really are at home,” Carol says.

Back at home, the Brady kids are getting their breakfast and are stunned to discover Lee Majors and Farrah Fawcett asleep on the living room couches.  (Yes, they have separate couches.)  When Farrah and Lee wake up, Greg awkwardly asks for an autograph.  “I don’t carry a pen in my pajamas,” Lee explains.  Alice comes in and is struck speechless.

Cut to Marcia, explaining that “one of the great things about having our own show is that we get to showcase the individual talents of our family.”  Marcia introduced Fake Jan, who performs Your Song.  It’s the highlight of the episode because Geri Reischl, not being an original Brady, can actually sing.

Fake Jan is followed by Carol who sings Send In The Clowns, which is the type of song that is perfectly designed to bring out the worst tendencies in even the most talented of singers.  That certainly happens to Florence Henderson, who has a great voice but who also totally overdoes the bathos in her performance.

Greg catches Peter flirting with a Kroftette.  Greg shoves Peter in the pool.  Kaptain Kool and the Kong come out and perform a song called Names.  It’s not a bad song but I have to admit that I’m more worried about the possibility of Peter breaking his neck the next time his older brother throws him in the pool without warning.

It’s time for the finale and Mike asks Carol why the stage is decorated with hearts.  “It’s not Valentine’s Day,” Mike says, as if he and his family didn’t open this show by celebrating Independence Day in January.  Carol explains that the theme of the finale is “Young and Old.”  “Young and Old hearts?” Mike asks.  DAMMIT, MIKE, JUST SHUT UP AND SING!

Anyway, much as with the Wizard of Oz/Car Wash thing, this is one of those things that can’t really be described.  But it can be watched:

And then, thank God, it ends!

A huge flaw with this show is that the Bradys keep telling us how much they love being a family but we know they’re not a family.  We know this because they brought in a substitute Jan.  As such, the sentimental moments fall flat.  “We’re so proud of our sister,” the kids say before Jan comes out to sing but seriously, we know that’s not Jan.  I would much rather listen to Geri Reischl sing than any other member of the Bunch but it doesn’t change the fact that we know that’s not their sister.

Another flaw is that there’s not really any point to the show, other than the Bradys have somehow managed to get their own variety show.  The whole thing with Lee Majors and Farrah Fawcett is perfect example of this show’s approach to storytelling.  Lee and Farrah show up at the house unannounced but it’s fine because the Bradys live in a world with zero conflict.  Lee and Farrah show up.  The kids are shocked.  Alice is shocked.  And …. well, that’s it!  So much for that plotline.

Oh well.  Only 7 episodes left!

Retro Television Reviews: City Guys 3.17 “Angels of Harlem” and 3.18 “Rollin’ With The Homies”


Welcome to Retro Television Reviews, a feature where we review some of our favorite and least favorite shows of the past!  On Thursdays, I will be reviewing City Guys, which ran on NBC from 1997 to 2001.  The entire show is currently streaming on Tubi!

Roll with the city guys!

Episode 3.17 “Angels of Harlem”

(dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on November 20th, 1999)

Ms. Nobel’s church is celebrating its 100th birthday so, of course, her students are roped into helping to decorate because who cares about keeping the church out of school and all that other stuff.  It turns out that the church is going to be torn down by a real estate developer and that developer is …. CHRIS’S FATHER!

Chris and Dawn chain themselves to the church and …. well, look, this was a dumb episode and it featured way too much church stuff for my tastes.  Let’s move on.

Actually, before I move on, I guess I should mention that Jamal starts dating Ashley in this episode and, unlike Jamal’s other girlfriends, it appears that Angela is actually going to be featured in multiple episodes.  Ashely is played by Trina McGee, who also played Angela on Boy Meets World.  Oddly enough, Trina was already two years into Boy Meets World when she did City GuysBoy Meets World was also an ABC show whereas City Guys was an NBC show.  It’s just a bit odd to see her pop up on this show.

Episode 3.18 “Rollin’ With The Homies”

(dir by Frank Bonner, originally aired on November 20th, 1999)

“Alright, alright, alright!” Jamal announces as he shows up at Manny High for another day of learning, “Only a few days to Christmas break!  A brother can’t wait for Christmas vacation!”  

Anyway, it’s time for the Winterfest Dance, which Cassidy explains is a dance on the roof in the middle of winter.  And since this is an episode of City Guys, it’s also time for Ms. Nobel to show up and tell everyone to get a Christmas job working at a toy store.  Did Ms. Nobel not have any other students to whom she could give these assignments?

The owner of the toy store informs Jamal, Chris, and L-Train that they’ll be working as delivery boys.  The first delivery is a bunch of video games to the owner’s house.  He explains that his son is home from boarding school and that the games are for him.  “Are you interested in adopting a young black child?” Jamal asks.

Al, Dawn, and Cassidy are assigned to be salespeople.  They get into a competition to see who can win the sales contest.  Yawn.  At least this episode acknowledges that Dawn and Al are now a couple.

Jamal, Chris, and L-Train make friends with the boss’s son, Tommy.  Tommy is in a wheelchair and his father is superprotective.  At first, Tommy is upset to discover that Jamal, Chris, and L-Train are getting paid extra to hang out with him but then Jamal makes it up to him by taking him out of the house without his Dad’s permission.  When Tommy’s Dad finds out, he fires Jamal, Chris, and L-Train.  Meanwhile, Tommy gets mad at everyone for treating him like he can’t take care of himself.

The next day, in school, Ms. Nobel decides to get involved because she doesn’t have a life outside of church and school.  She tells Jamal to treat Tommy like he would treat anyone.  Apparently, treating Tommy like everyone means throwing the Winterfest Dance in Tommy’s house.  Tommy gets a date with Cassidy.  Tommy’s father is a bit upset about the dance being moved to his house but Ms. Nobel talks him out of it.  Because Ms. Nobel can do anything.

I’m just being snarky.  By City Guys standards, this was actually a pretty good episode.  Al and Dawn are a cute couple and I’m glad Tommy had a good Christmas.