Lisa Marie’s Week In Television: 1/9/22 — 1/15/22


Another week and I have yet to watch the latest season of Cobra Kai.  What can I tell you?  This was a busy week and  I was sick for a good deal of it.  No, not COVID sick.  Instead, I was just sick with the cold and the allergies that I get hit with every January.  You would think that would lead to me having a lot of extra time in which I would have nothing to do but watch all the latest shows but it didn’t quite work out that way.

Anyway, I’m feeling better now and David Lynch’s birthday is next Thursday so this upcoming week is going to be a good one.

Here’s my week in television.

Allo Allo (Sunday Night, PBS)

LeClerc was nearly executed in the town square by Herr Flick.  Apparently, it was because Flick is still searching for the stolen money.  (To be honest, it can be a bit difficult to keep up with everyone’s motivations on Allo Allo.)  Fortunately, the British bombers flew over the town just in time to provide a distraction.  “The bummers!” Office Crabtree announced, in his mangled French, “Just in the nock of tome!”  LeClerc escaped with his life but the British airmen are still stuck at Rene’s café.

The Amazing Race (Wednesday Night, CBS)

The Amazing Race went to Scotland this week, which made me feel very nostalgic for the last time that I was in Scotland.  Unfortunately, at the end of this leg of the race, Phil announced that shooting was being suspended due to the COVID lockdowns.  The action then picked up over a year later, with the remaining teams gathering in Switzerland to continue the race.  Unfortunately, not all of the teams could return, including my favorite, the team of Anthony and Spencer.  Boo hoo.  Anyway, I reviewed this week’s episode here!

The Bachelor (Monday Night, ABC)

This Monday, I watched the Bachelor while also watching a Steven Seagal film.  I’m still trying to decide which leading man had less charisma.  Seagal is pretty boring but Clayton is just like a piece of cement that can speak in barely legible sentences.

Bar Rescue (Weekday Morning, Paramount)

I had this on the TV for background noise on Thursday morning.  While Windows updated, I listened to Jon Taffer yell at an owner who forgot to call a cab for a drunk guy.  Usually, I think Taffer needs to calm down but, in this case, he did have a point.

The Brady Bunch (Sunday Morning, MeTV)

On Sunday, MeTV aired four episodes of The Brady Bunch and they all featured Alice being taken for granted.  In the first two episodes, her boyfriend took her for granted.  In the next two, the family took her for granted and even drove her to quit at one point.  The new maid wasn’t as nice as Alice so the family went down to Alice’s new waitressing job and basically got her fired.  What a bunch of jerks.  Why did Alice put with all that?  Was the money that good?

Dexter: New Blood (Sunday Night, Showtime)

I wrote about the series finale here!  For the record, I refuse to believe that Dexter’s dead.

Judge Steve Harvey (Monday and Tuesday Night, ABC)

I watched this new series on Monday.  It came on after The Bachelor and I was too busy (or maybe lazy) to change the channel.  I can’t really say I paid that much attention to it.  Why would you air a cheesy courtroom show in Primetime?  Why would you get Steve Harvey to be the judge?  Why, why, why?

By the way, since Steve Harvey is now an ABC employee, you know he’s going to end up hosting the Oscars right?  The Oscars are going to come back from commercial and Steve’s going to say, “If you ain’t thanking God in your speech, that Oscar’s not going to provide much comfort while you’re burning in Hell.”

King of the Hill (Weekdays, FXX)

I watched a few episodes of King of the Hill on Sunday afternoon.  My favorite of them was the two-part episode where Hank was briefly a murder suspect and he feared that, due to accidentally taking one hit off a joint, he might be guilty.  “My God, I’m hearing things.  That’s a side effect of the marijuana poisoning.”

The Larry Sanders Show (HBOMax)

This is a 90s sitcom that aired on HBO, about a neurotic talk show host (Garry Shandling), his sleazy sidekick (Jeffrey Tambor), his profane producer (Rip Torn), and the show’s staff.  Jeff loves this show so we watched two episodes on Sunday morning.  The first one we watched featured Larry freaking out over David Duchovny having a crush on him.  The second one featured Larry’s sidekick, Hank, freaking out because one of his sex tapes had been stolen.  In short, there were a lot of people freaking out.  Both episodes were pretty funny, though the whole thing was definitely a relic of a different era.  (The highlight of the second episode was a bizarre conversation between Norm McDonald and Henry Winkler.  Winkler thought Hank’s sex tape was an exercise video.  McDonald said, “Hank’s got a huge cock,” in that Canadian way of his.  Winkler replied, “Then why is he so upset?”  Trust me, it was funny.)  Rip Torn was hilarious as Larry’s producer.  That said, I don’t think I would have wanted to spend any time with any of the characters on The Larry Sanders Show.  They were all funny but kind of mean.  They probably would have made me cry.

The Love Boat (Sunday Evening, MeTV)

MeTV paid tribute to Betty White on Sunday by showing a 1984 episode of The Love Boat, in which she was a passenger.  Also on the Boat for that cruise: Carol Channing, Rue McClanahan, Michelle Phillips, Cesar Romero, Alan Thicke, Dick Van Patten, and Fred Willard.

Betty White and Carol Channing played showbiz veterans who were trying to convince Cesar Romero to publish White’s memoirs.  Thicke played a man who was trying to convince his ex-wife (Phillips) to marry Fred Willard so he wouldn’t have to pay any more alimony.  Meanwhile, in a totally serious subplot, Dick Van Patten played an abusive salesman married to McClanahan.  The serious subplot was kind of jarring when mixed in with scenes of White and Channing singing and Fred Willard doing his amiable goof routine.

The Mary Tyler Moore Show (Sunday Afternoon, MeTV)

MeTV showed four episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, all featuring Betty White in the role of Sue Anne Nivens.  Needless to say, they were all funny but it was hard to watch them without considering that the entire cast is now gone.

Mom (Weekday Afternoon, Paramount)

On Thursday, I forgot the change the channel before Paramount started their two-hour Mom bloc.  All four of the episodes dealt with the moms and their friends freaking out over people smoking weed.  The few time that I’ve seen Mom have made me happy that I don’t have an addictive personality because I don’t think I could handle being a Recovery person.

The Office (Weekday Evenings, Freeform)

I’m happy to say that The Office is now on FreeForm, so I can watch it without having to deal with Comedy Central’s weird, mental health commercials.  (“The past two years have been difficult for everyone….”  Yeah, no shit.  That’s why I’m watching your station, so I can escape for a few hours.)   I watched a few episodes from Season 4 on Wednesday and then a few from Season 5 on Friday.

Open All Hours (Sunday Night, PBS)

While Arkwright cheated his customers and sold them spoiled food, Granville swept the store in quiet misery.

Relatively Famous: Ranch Rules (Saturday Morning, E!)

The children of celebrities work at a ranch, that’s the plot of this show.  On the episode I saw, Billy Bob Thornton’s son was fascinated by a cow giving birth.  Then everyone went back to their cabin and talked about how difficult it was being only relatively famous.

Silk Stalkings (Tubi)

On Sunday morning, I decided to get back to binging Silk Stalkings, the 90s show about half-naked people committing crimes.  The first episode that I watched featured Chris and Rita investigating the murder of a hair dresser.  At first, they thought it was mob-related but then it turned out to be relationship related.  This was actually an episode that I had seen before but it was still enjoyable to rewatch.  The second one I watched featured Chris and Rita investigating the murder of a surgeon and again, this turned out to be one that I had seen before.  (Both episodes previously aired on ZLiving while I was dealing with that terrible sinus infection last year.)  Still, even if it was a rewatch, it was still enjoyable.  Silk Stalkings was delightfully trashy.

The first episode that I watched on Monday was another one that I saw last summer, while I was dealing with that sinus infection.  (Yuck.  I hate word sinus and I hate the word infection.)  A real estate tycoon was beaten to death by a baseball bat and all the suspicion fell on the baseball player that Rita happened to be dating.  This was followed by an episode in which an obnoxious radio talk show host bullied people into committing murder and suicide.  It was a well-done episode.  Rodger Bumpass (who is perhaps best-known for voicing Squidward Tentacles on Spongebob) was perfectly cast as the evil talk show host.  The third episode I watched involved Chris and Rita solving a homicide that was witnessed by a teenage runaway.  Rita encouraged the runaway to get back in school.  Good for Rita!  Finally, the fourth episode featured Rita investigating the murder of a friend’s nanny.  I didn’t really pay much attention to it but, from what I saw, everyone appeared to be having fun.

On Tuesday, I got things started with an episode that featured Chris and Rita investigating a murder at an exclusive casino.  Chris got to wear a tux while Rita went undercover as a dealer.  They were so cute together!  This was followed by an episode with Rita and Chris investigated the death of a drug dealer, despite the fact that the new DA wanted them to lay off the case because it might make the department look bad.  It was a bit of bland episode, to be honest.  The third episode was considerably better, as it featured Chris shooting a suspect and then the suspect’s sister trying to get revenge by seducing him.  It was trashy and fun.  Even more trashy and fun was the final episode that I watched on Tuesday, in which a prostitute witnessed a murder and Chris and Rita ended up investigating a judge.

I didn’t watch the show on Wednesday but I did return to it on Thursday.  The first episode I watched featured Chris, Rita, and their captain (played by Broadway legend Ben Vereen) going undercover to bust a bunch of drug dealer who were working out of a club.  Vereen seemed to be having a lot of fun and that made this otherwise pedestrian episode entertaining.  This was followed by an episode that found Chris and Rita going undercover yet again, this time on the set of a trashy film shoot.  It turned out that one of the actresses on the film was Chris’s mother!  It was a fun episode.

On Friday, the first episode that I watched featured the great Patrick Muldoon as a serial rapist who had just been released from prison.  Chris and Rita made sure that he didn’t go back to prison by sending him to the graveyard instead.  Muldoon, in his younger years, was always perfectly cast as a villain and this episode was effectively disturbing.  Rita and Chris’s fury felt real and cathartic.  At its best, Silk Stalkings was trash with a conscience.  That was followed by an episode where Chris and Rita went undercover as a married couple and were totally adorable as they solved the murder of a man who was found on the beach wearing a tuxedo.

I did not watch the show on Saturday but I look forward to returning to it over the course of the upcoming week!

WKRP In Cincinnati (DVD)

This 70s sitcom dealt with the daily life at a radio station in Cincinnati.  Jeff loves this show so we watched a few episodes on Sunday morning.  One dealt with a man in a pig costume painting the station’s lobby.  Another one featured the station manager running unsuccessfully for city council.  And the third one featured the station’s ad guy appearing on an early reality show called Real Families.  WKRP was a pretty funny show.  Like The Larry Sanders Show, it was very much a show of its time.  Unlike The Larry Sanders Show, the show’s characters were really likable and I would have probably enjoyed working with them.  No one would have made me cry.

Miniseries Review: Ford: The Man and The Machine (dir by Allan Eastman)


Henry Ford changed the world, for both the better and the worst.

Starting from his own small workshop in Dearborn, Michigan, Henry Ford designed the first mass-produced automobile.  He transformed cars from being a luxury item to being something that nearly every family owned.  He created the concept of the assembly line.  He argued that workers needed to be paid a livable wage and he also advocated for an 8-hour workday.  At a time when every facet of American life was heavily segregated, he encouraged his factories an auto dealerships to hire black employees.  He was a pacifist, who took part in a widely-ridiculed but apparently sincere effort to try to convince the leaders of the world to just stop fighting.

Unfortunately, Henry Ford was also something of an unhinged lunatic, a man whose skill at engineering and his empathy for his underpaid workers did not necessarily translate into a sophisticated understanding of anything else.  When the workers in his factories tried to unionize, Ford employed violent strike breakers and he felt that most of the population were like a children and therefore incapable of governing themselves.  He understood how to make car but he also fell for all sorts of quack science and was a believer in reincarnation.

Worst of all, he was a rabid anti-Semite, who blamed almost all of the world’s problems on “Jewish bankers” and who played a huge role in popularizing a scurrilous work called The Protocols of Elder Zion in America.  Claiming to lay out the details of a Jewish plot to secretly control the world, The Protocols were a ludicrous document but many people believed them because they were promoted by Henry Ford, who was as big a celebrity in the early 20th Century as all of the social media influencers are today.  All these years later, The Protocols are still cited by anti-Semites.  A series of anti-Semitic editorials (which Ford later claimed to have signed off on but not actually written) were published in Germany under the title The International Jew, the World’s Foremost Problem.  Hitler wrote of his admiration for Ford in Mein Kampf.  Ford, it should be noted, did keep his distance from Hitler, though whether that was due to a personal distaste or the threat of an economic boycott is not known.  (Jewish leaders had already organized one successful boycott of Ford in the 20s, which led to Ford closing down his newspaper and offering up an apology.)  At the Nuremberg Trials, many of the Nazis said that they had first been introduced to anti-Semitism through the writings of Henry Ford.  Reportedly, when Ford saw newsreel footage of the concentration camps, he was so overcome with emotion that he collapsed from a stroke.

(Two years ago, when Nick Cannon regurgitated the usual anti-Semitic conspiracy theories on a podcast, he was pretty much saying the exact same thing that Henry Ford said at the start of the 20th Century.  Later, under threat of economic boycott, both Ford and Cannon would off up half-hearted apologies for their statements.  Ford continued to make cars.  Cannon continues to host a handful of television shows.  How does that work?)

First broadcast over two nights in 1987, Ford: The Man and the Machine was a Canadian miniseries about the long and controversial life of Henry Ford.  Cliff Robertson played Henry Ford.  Hope Lange played his wife while Heather Thomas played his mistress.  R.H. Thomson played Ford’s son, the sensitive Edsel.  Michael Ironside played Harry Bennett, a sinister figure who was hired to break up union activity and who eventually became Ford’s right-hand man.  If I remember correctly, I believe Canadian law actually required that Michael Ironside appear in almost every Canadian film and television show made in the 80s and the 90s.  His glowering presence and menacing line delivery practically shouted out, “Don’t mess with Canada,” and he does bring a note of genuine danger to his performance here.

Ford: The Man and the Machine opens in the late 20s, with an aging Henry Ford already starting to lose control of his mental faculties.  A series of flashbacks then show how Ford built his first engine, his first car, and eventually his first factory.  We watch as Ford goes from being an enthusiastic, self-taught engineer to being one of the most powerful men in the world.  Along the way, Ford grows arrogant.  The same stubbornness that led to his early success also leads to his later problems.  For all of his ability, Ford’s ego and his refusal to reconsider his conclusions leaves him vulnerable to both flattery and manipulation, whether it’s coming from the White House of Woodrow Wilson, from his own executives, or from the authoritarians who rose to power in Europe following the first World War.  As portrayed in the movie, he’s a loving father who also flies into a rage when Edsel designs a car on his own.  He loves his wife but he keeps a mistress.  He loves his family but he’ll always prefer to spend time working on his cars than spending time with them.  Henry Ford changes the world but his own hubris makes it impossible for him to change with it.

The miniseries is built around Cliff Robertson’s performance as Ford and Robertson does an excellent job in the role, convincingly playing Ford as he goes from being an enthusiastic dreamer to a paranoid millionaire to a doddering old man, a Bidenesque figuredhead who is only nominally in charge of his own company.  Neither the film nor Robertson shy away from showing us Henry Ford’s flaws.  Instead, both the production and the actor offer up a portrait of a complex man who transformed the way that people lived but who couldn’t escape from his own prejudices and resentments.  Ford: The Man and The Machine is a history lesson but it’s a valuable one.  If you’re a student of history, you’ll find much to think about in this miniseires.

For the record, I do drive a Ford and it’s a good car.  However, I tell myself that it’s named after Gerald Ford.

TV Review: Dexter: New Blood 1.10 “Sins of the Father” (dir by Marcos Siega)


I’ve been thinking about the finale of Dexter: New Blood for about three days now.  I’m going to guess that if you’re a Dexter fan, you’ve already seen it so I’m going to just talk about what happened without posting any spoiler warnings.  I hate spoiler warnings anyways.

Harrison shot and apparently killed Dexter.  Now, I have to admit that, when Harrison first showed up during the first episode, my initial thought was that Harrison was going to end up killing Dexter for the same reason that Dexter had killed so many others.  And, as other have pointed out, the entire show was pretty much leading up to either Harrison killing Dexter or Dexter being forced to kill Harrison.  So, really, I guess I should be happy that the show followed its storyline to its only logical conclusion.  I can certainly respect the show for staying true to itself but respect and happiness don’t always go together.

To be honest, even though I knew that it should happen, I really thought there was no way that the show would actually do it.  I was so used to Dexter being able to get out of any situation that I just naturally assumed that he would be able to do it again.  And if Dexter had managed to escape from the jail without killing Logan in the process, I think Dexter probably could have pulled it off.  But, by killing Logan, Dexter broke Harry’s code.  Dexter revealed that the code was really just a part of his own sociapathic ritual.  It wasn’t something that he truly obeyed,  Instead, it was something that he used to justify his dark urges.

Harrison realized what Dexter had done and, as a result, Harrison shot him.  I didn’t necessarily buy the idea that Dexter would just stand there and encourage his son to kill him.  That was a bit convenient and it required Dexter to have a conscience, which is something that we all know he didn’t have.  Even Dexter’s comment that he had never felt love until the minute Harrison pulled the trigger felt like another case of Dexter what he knew the audience wanted to hear.

My main issue with the episode wasn’t so much Harrison shooting Dexter as it was what happened next.  Allowing Harrison to escape and agreeing to cover up what he did was totally out-of-character for Angela.  Angela, who has shown that she’s willing to arrest anyone in town regardless of how close she may be to them, had no problem wiping Harrison’s prints off the gun and tossing him some money for his journey.  It didn’t make any sense.  Angela barely knows Harrison.  How does she know that Harrison didn’t help Dexter with the murders?  Also, after Angela discovered that Dexter was a murderer, did it not occur to her that there might be something strange about the stabbing at the school?  Is Angela okay with Harrison driving off to freedom while the kid that Harrison tried to murder is destined to always be remembered as a potential school shooter?  I can accept Harrison shooting Dexter.  I can even respect it.  But I cannot accept that Angela would let him get away with it.

There were other loose ends that bothered me.  Why was Edward Olsen such an important character in the first few episodes?  Why did he mysteriously vanish?  Why did the show seem to building up to a twist about Audrey’s parentage, just to abandon the whole thing an episode later?  How did Kurt manage to capture Molly, who was more or less aware that Kurt was a killer and certainly wouldn’t go anywhere willingly with him.  Considering that this episode appeared to be the definitive end of Dexter’s story, those loose ends are frustrating.

That said, it was a well-directed episode.  Michael C. Hall was riveting and genuinely frightening in the scenes where he manipulated Angela and Logan.  The final montage of the faces of everyone innocent person who died as a result of Dexter’s actions was an emotional moment and I’m glad to see that Doakes was included with Deb, Rita, LaGuerta, Lundy, and all the rest.  Doakes always got a raw deal.

Dexter: New Blood was a success.  Even the fact that I have mixed feelings about how it ended is proof of how well executed this revival was.  (Trust me, I could have hardly cared less when Dexter sailed into that hurricane, so fed up was I with the show at the time.)  And, between you and me, I’m not convinced that Dexter’s dead.  Yes, he was shot.  Yes, he didn’t look good.  But Harrison drove away before the paramedics arrived.  Dexter’s survived a lot.

At the very least, Ghost Dex would be amusing….

Lisa Marie’s Week In Television 1/2/22 — 1/8/22


As the first week of 2022 comes to a close …. I have yet to watch the fourth season of Cobra Kai!  What’s up with that?  Oh well, I’ll watch it next week.  This week, I was busy.  Next week, I’ll ignore everything else I need to do and watch TV.  How is that not a good plan?

Anyway, here’s what I watched this week:

Allo Allo (Sunday Night, PBS)

After being gone for a month due to pledge programming, Allo Allo returned to the PBS line-up on January 2nd.  Having escaped from the hospital, Rene returned to the café and dealt with Michelle’s latest scheme to get the airmen out of France.  It involved hiding them in a hollow bomb that would be dropped over England.  The only problem is the Resistance needed a place to hide the bombs.  Michelle, of course, volunteered Rene’s cafe.

While I continue to laugh at Crabtree’s mangled French, I also find myself looking forward to the every scene involving LeClerc and his attempts to disguise himself.  “It is I, LeClerc.”

The Amazing Race 33 (Wendsenday Night, CBS)

I wrote about the premiere of The Amazing Race here!

The Bachelor (Monday Night, ABC)

Big goofy Clayton is the new Bachelor.  Big goofy Jesse Palmer is the new host.  Honestly, we need more of a break between installments of this franchise.  Anyway, Monday’s episode featured Clayton meeting the girls and, of course, sending one of them home on the first night because she wasn’t there for the right reasons (plus, she was like sloppy drunk).  It was such an obvious set up.

Dexter: New Blood (Sunday Night, Showtime)

I reviewed the latest episode of Dexter: New Blood here!

Joe Millionaire (Thursday Night, Fox)

On this dating reality show, a group of women are competing to end up with one of two men.  One of the men is a millionaire.  The other isn’t!  The twist is that the women don’t know which is which.  Unfortunately, the viewers do know and that takes a lot of the fun out of the show.  It would be a lot more enjoyable if we were guessing along with the women.  Instead, we know that the farmer is actually very wealthy and the dude who looks like a European prince is actually a construction worker.

(To be honest, this show seems more like a parody of a reality show than an actual show.)

The first episode of this new edition of Joe Millionaire aired on Thursday.  One of the women was sent home because she followed one of the men on social media.  The show handled this development as if it was the most serious thing ever.  I guess sending one random person home on the first day is going to be a new dating show ritual.  Anyway, Joe Millionaire was pretty stupid.  The men were boring.  The women were boring.  The host is also the butler at the mansion where everyone is staying.  There was a lot of nonsense over whether or not everyone was there for the right reason.  (What is the right reason when it comes to stuff like this?)  Who cares?

I’ll probably watch it, though.  I just won’t talk about it on twitter.  It’ll be our little secret, my dear readers.  Sound good?

The Love Boat (Sunday Evening, MeTV)

The Love Boat and its enthusiastic crew completed their cruise to Alaska.  Everyone learned an important lesson about being too competitive and the importance of following one’s heart.  Yay!  Needless to say, it was a pretty silly show but sometimes, it’s good to watch something silly.

And Love …. won’t hurt anymore….

The Office (All The Time, Comedy Central)

I watched a few episodes from the fourth season on Thursday.  Michael hanging out in New York with Ryan was good.  The dinner party remains a classic.  I had to change the channel once we got to the one where Jim was playing golf with the client and, for some stupid reason, he brought along Kevin and Andy.  It never felt right whenever the show featured Jim actually working.

Open All Hours (Sunday Night, PBS)

After being off the air for the month of December due to pledge programming, Open All Hours has returned to the PBS lineup.  On Sunday’s episode, Arkwright longed for Nurse Gladys Emmanuel while Granville continued to stew in resentment.  I don’t blame Granville.  It couldn’t have been easy being a 40 year-old stockboy.  I always find myself wondering what Granville did to get sold into indentured servitude in the first place.

Shipping Wars (Tuesday Morning, A&E)

A&E is now showing the old, original episodes of Shipping Wars in the morning and new episodes at night.  I have yet to watch any of the new episodes, mostly because the old episodes got so annoying after Roy died that I can’t imagine that the new episodes could be any better.

Anyway, on Tuesday, I mostly had the show on for background noise.  I did notice that one episode featured a bunch of people pointing guns at Roy.  It was presented as being a very dramatic situation but if Roy was really going to be shot, I kind of doubt that Shipping Wars film crew would be allowed to just hang out while it was happening.  Eventually, it all turned out to be an elaborate prank.

Another episode featured Jen basically destroying a butter sculpture that she had been hired to deliver.  Apparently, this was no prank.  On the original Shipping Wars, Jen ruined nearly every delivery she was supposed to make.  It’s kind of odd that people kept hiring her.

The Twilight Zone (Sunday, SyFy)

SyFy completed its Twilight Zone marathon on Sunday.  I caught two of the marathon’s final episodes, both of which were from the season when the show had an hour running time instead of 30-minute.  The hour-long Twilight Zones tend to be uneven.  The first episode I watched was about a ship that came across as possibly haunted submarine.  It would have been an enjoyably creepy 30-minute episode but, at an hour, there was just too much obvious padding.  The second episode featured a young Dennis Hopper as a Neo-Nazi loser who finds success after a mysterious benefactor takes him under his wing.  The identity of the benefactor was obvious from the start (it rhymed with Jitler) but Hopper’s odd and unhinged performance made this episode memorable.

U.S. Figure Skating Championships 2022 (Saturday afternoon, NBC)

USA!  USA!  USA!

TV Review: Dexter: New Blood 1.9 “The Family Business” (dir by Sanford Bookstaver)


We all knew that, at some point, Dexter would have to welcome Harrison into the family business.  It finally happened on this week’s episode of Dexter: New Blood.

Set on Christmas day (but, oddly enough, airing during the first week of January), the ninth episode of Dexter: New Blood found Dexter and Harrison finally bonding.  Dexter told Harrison the story of Wiggles the Clown though, at the insistence of Ghost Deb, Dexter said that he just told Wiggles to stop doing what he was doing.  Even when Dexter was telling the story, it was obvious that Harrison knew there was more to it than just Dexter giving a stern lecture.

Harrison also told Dexter that he had stabbed his friend and that he wasn’t the hero that everyone made him out to be.  Yeah, we all figured that out a while ago, Harrison!  Still, it was interesting to watch Harrison discover what the rest of us take for granted.  We’re so used to the idea of Dexter tracking down serial killers and murdering them that it’s easy to forget just how weird and traumatic it would be for someone to learn about it or witness it for the first time.  One of the big problems that I had with the final season of Dexter’s original run is that Deb never seemed to be truly shocked at the discovery that her brother was a serial killer.  Fortunately, the reboot did a better job with Harrison than the original did with Deb.

And yes, Harrison did learn the truth.  He and Dexter tracked down Kurt’s secret lair and saw Kurt’s “trophies.”  And when Harrison announced that Kurt needed to die, just the slightest smile came to Dexter’s lips.  Dexter managed to bring Harrison over to his side without actually having to confess to all of the people that he had killed.  Only after Harrison had announced that he was on board with the idea that some people deserved to die, did Dexter admit to killing Wiggles the Clown and Arthur Mitchell.

Kurt met his end in this episode.  Harrison watched as Dexter killed him and then, somewhat ominously, had a flashback to Rita’s murder.  Is Harrison going to realize that, for all of Dexter’s rationalizations, his father is a serial killer as well?  If Harrison truly buys into the code, then Dexter could be in some trouble.

Actually, Dexter might be in trouble regardless.  Angela appears to have figured out that Dexter killed the drug dealer.  And, at the end of this episode, she received a letter telling her that “Jim Lindsay Killed Matt Caldwell” and one of the titanium screws that was left behind after Dexter burned Matt’s body.  If Angela learns the truth, will she arrest Dexter or will she let him and Harrison go free?  Angela has sworn to uphold the law but Kurt also murdered Angela’s best friend.  And, as we learned on Sunday, Kurt also murdered Molly.  Angela might be tempted to let Dexter escape.  I guess we’ll find out next week.

It was an excellent episode, though I have to admit that I was really disappointed when Molly showed up as one of Kurt’s trophies.  When Molly first appeared, her character annoyed me but, as the season progressed, I came to appreciate both the character and Jamie Chung’s performance.  In many ways, she was the stand-in for the viewers.  It was hard not to feel that she deserved better than to be killed off-screen.  Indeed, considering that she knew that Kurt was probably a killer, you have to wonder how he managed to ever get to her in the first place.

Still, that aside, The Family Business was Dexter at its best.  The deliberate pace and the atmospheric direction all reminded of the classic early seasons of Dexter.  Michael C. Hall perfectly captured Dexter’s love of his work while Jack Alcott played Harrison with the right mix of fascination and fear.  Still, I have to wonder what the show’s end game is going to be.  Ghost Deb was pretty adamant about Dexter not bringing Harrison into the family business and Ghost Deb usually know what she’s talking about.

We’ll find out next week!

Miniseries Review: The Last Don II (dir by Graeme Clifford)


The Clericuzio saga continues and it’s sillier than ever!

The Clericuzios were the Mob family who were first introduced in a Mario Puzo novel called The Last Don.  In 1997, CBS turned The Last Don in a three-part miniseries.  The ratings were good enough that, in 1999, the network gave the world a two-episode sequel, The Last Don II.  The Last Don II was created without the input of Mario Puzo (who died shortly before the miniseries aired) but director Graeme Clifford returned, as did a few members of the cast.

For example, Danny Aiello briefly returns as the honorable but aging Don Domenico Clericuzio, talking about life in the old country and demanding to know why some of his children have yet to marry.  Under his leadership, the Clericuzios are almost totally legit and they’ve even become powerful in Hollywood.  Claudia De Lena (Michelle Burke) is in charge of the family’s film studio and has recently become engaged to a film star named Dirk Von Schelburg (Andrew Jackson, trying to do an Arnie impersonation but coming across more like Jean-Claude Van Damme).  Still, despite the fact that the Clericuzios are (slowly) abandoning organized crime, they haven’t completely cut their ties.  They still have enemies.  And when Don Clericuzio dies after dancing at his final birthday party, those enemies are set to strike.

Who can run the Clericuzio family?  Only one of the Don’s son was actively involved in the underworld aspect of the organization and he’s promptly (and, to be honest, hilariously) crushed when someone drops a shipping crate on him.  Another Clericuzio son is gunned down at his legitimate business, proving that someone is trying to take out the entire family, regardless of whether they’re a part of the family business or not.  Georgio Clericuzio (David Marciano) goes to Paris and tires to convince Claudia’s brother, Cross (Jason Gedrick), to return from exile to take things over.  Cross refuses because he’s happily married to the most famous actress in the world, the improbably named Athena Aquataine (Mo Kelso, replacing Daryl Hannah in the role).  However, Athena is subsequently blown up by a bomb that was meant for Cross and that’s all it takes to bring Cross back to America.

Now that Cross is in charge, he sets about to discover who, among the other Families, is targeting the Clericuzios.  Helping him out with this is Billy D’Angelo (James Wilder), who we are told is the the most important of the Clericuzios capos, despite the fact that he was neither seen nor mentioned in the previous Last Don.  It seems pretty obvious from the start that Billy is not to be trusted.  Everyone who has ever seen The Godfather will automatically look at Billy and say, “There’s your rat.”  But Cross is a remarkably naïve crime lord.  He’s apparently the only guy in the Mafia who has never seen a Mafia movie.

Of course, there’s more going on than just Cross trying to figure out who is targeting the Clericuzio family.  His unstable aunt, Rose Marie (Kirstie Alley), wants revenge for the murder of her son Dante but, fortunately, she’s distracted by an affair with the family’s priest (Jason Isaacs, of all people).  Disgraced former studio exec Bobby Bantz (Robert Wuhl) is plotting against Claudia.  And finally, Cross is falling in love with his stepdaughter’s nanny (Patsy Kensit) despite the fact that it’s kind of obvious that the nanny is actually an undercover FBI agent.  Remember what I said about Cross being impossibly naïve?

The Last Don was a fairly silly miniseries.  The Last Don 2 is even sillier but, for that every reason, it’s also a bit more entertaining.  If the first Last Don was held together by the rivalry between Cross and Dante, the sequel is held together by a nonstop flow of melodrama, overheated dialogue, and thoroughly unsubtle acting.  It’s as if the director looked at every over-the-top scene and said, “It’s okay but can we turn things up just a little bit more?”  As such, tt’s not enough for Danny Aiello to merely make a cameo before his character dies.  Instead, he has to deliver cryptic words of wisdom about family and and honor and he has to do one final, Zorbaesque dance of joy before his heart gives out.  Meanwhile, Kirstie Alley really throws herself into playing the insane Rose Marie and whether she’s seducing a priest or hoarsely yelling that she doesn’t know how to ice skate, her performance is always more than strange enough to be watchable.  Jason Isaacs, meanwhile, furrows his brow desperately as he tries to resist temptation.  Patsy Kensit is the world’s worst FBI agent while Kim Coates shows up as one of her colleagues.  Conrad Dunn returns as Lia, the Sicilian assassin with the world’s silliest mustache.  Even the presence of Robert Wuhl is less of a problem in the sequel.  With everyone chewing up every piece of scenery that they can get their hands on, it somehow makes sense that Robert Wuhl would show up and start yelling, “DON’T LAUGH AT ME!”  Somehow, it even seems appropriate that Joe Mantegna receives a “special appearance” credit, even though his character pretty much only appears in the archival footage used during the opening credits.  The Last Don II is just that type of miniseries.

Jason Gedrick and James Wilder are both good actors and they both do what they can with the roles of Cross and Billy.  Unfortunately, both of them were seriously miscast in The Last Don 2.  Neither one of them is the least bit Italian and Wilder was a bit too young to be convincing as the most feared capo in the family.  Compared to the classic gangster films that inspired them, both The Last Don and its sequel feels more like gangster cosplay than an actual portrait of life as a member of the Cosa Nostra.  Like the first Last Don, The Last Don II suffers from a lack of authenticity but it’s just ludicrous enough to be fun.

Resolution Help From Monty Python’s Flying Circus


As the first day of 2022 comes to a close, now is a good time to stop, take a look back over the past 24 hours, and determine how many of your resolutions have already been broken.  Have you broken one or two of them?  How about all of them?  Or did you forget to make a resolution all together?

Well, don’t worry!  Seriously, New Year’s resolutions are the worst!  Every new year, people resolve to make changes and it rarely happens.  Instead, people almost immediately break their resolutions and then they spend the next 12 months feeling like a failure.  The amount of pressure that people put on themselves to try to change their lives for the better, it’s not fair, to be honest.  If you’ve already broken your resolution, don’t feel bad about it.  As long as your resolution wasn’t to stop doing something terrible and illegal, I forgive you if you’ve already totally failed to keep your promise to yourself.  Take some comfort in that.

(My own resolution for 2022 was to be nicer to my friends and stop putting so much pressure on myself.  I think that was last year’s resolution as well and we all know how well that went.  I think my most successful resolution was from 2004.  That was when I resolved to survive any serious car accidents that I got involved with and to go to college and I managed to keep both of those resolutions.  BOOM!)

We always hear that change is good but sometimes it isn’t.  And here to illustrate that point are John Cleese and Michael Palin from Monty Python’s Flying Circus!  Below is one of my favorite sketches from that famous show.  Palin is a chartered accountant who wants to be a lion tamer.  He has no experience but he does have his own hat!  Cleese shows him the error of his ways, including revealing that Palin has long been mistaking anteaters for lions.  Who hasn’t made the same mistake?

(I have to admit that my favorite Monty Python moments often involved Palin somehow getting on Cleese’s nerves.  Palin’s eagerness to please and his way with a deceptively passive statement was always the perfect foil for Cleese’s slightly more aggressive style of comedy.  Perhaps not coincidentally, I’ve read on numerous occasions that Cleese’s main motivation for getting involved with what would become Monty Python was so he could work with Michael Palin.)

My favorite line from this particular vignette: “Yes, yes, yes, I do follow, Mr Anchovy, but you see the snag is… if I now call Mr Chipperfield and say to him, ‘look here, I’ve got a forty-five-year-old chartered accountant with me who wants to become a lion tamer’, his first question is not going to be ‘does he have his own hat?'”

Think of this whenever you fear that you’re not living up to your resolutions!  After all, sometimes there’s more to changing one’s life than merely having the right hat (though, I imagine it does help).

Lisa Marie’s Week In Television — 12/26/21 — 1/1/22


Happy 2022!  I spent most of this holiday week visiting my sister Megan and her family.  That’s been a bit of a Bowman holiday tradition since 2008.  We watched a lot of TV.  We both love Saved By The Bell and California Dreams so that shouldn’t be too much of surprise.  Anyway, there’s much to share this week so let’s get right into what I watched during the final week of 2021!

The Bold and the Beautiful (Weekday afternoons, CBS)

This used to be my show!  Of course, it’s been a while since I’ve regularly watched The Bold and the Beautiful but, on Wednesday, I decided to tune in just to see what was happening.  People were discussing their relationships and talking about fashion while getting ready for New Year’s.  Brooke is still on the show.  I might start setting the DVR in 2022.

The Brady Bunch (Sunday Morning, MeTV)

I watched two episodes.  First, Greg wanted to drop out of high school to pursue a career as a major league pitcher.  He was talked out of it.  Is there nothing that the Brady kids weren’t good at?  What an annoying family!  This was followed by an episode in which Marcia promised she could get Davy Jones to play her high school dance and somehow, she pulled it off because everything always worked out for Marcia.  Jan, on the other hand….

California Dreams (DVD)

Megan and I watched a few episodes of this classic 90s NBC sitcom on Friday morning.  It’s kind of our New Year’s tradition.  We both agreed that Lorena and I have a lot in common.  We also watched Tony perform that “Next big thing” song of his.  He’s so funky!

Dance Moms (Wednesday, LRW)

LRW did a Dance Moms marathon on Wednesday.  I watched a few episodes that morning and it made me realize how much I miss this show.  It also brought back a lot of memories for me personally, though my mom was never as crazy as the moms on this show.  I wonder if Maddie ever returns Abby’s calls.

Since the show aired on LRW, I got to see all those old “real women” commercials that Lifetime used to air, like the one with the woman talking about the time she scolded her mom for saying she needed a man to explain something to her.  “You know, that was her generation, ha ha ha.”  All I know is that you just made fun of your mother on national television.

Days of Our Lives (Weekday Afternoons, NBC)

It’s been a while since I’ve watched any of the daytime dramas but my sister Megan informed me that a character on Days of Our Lives had been possessed by the devil since September so, on Tuesday, I decided to watch to see what that was like.  From what I saw of it, it looked like a lot of fun.  With Marlena tied to her bed and speaking in a gravelly demon voice, everyone was getting ready for the exorcism.  “We’re not dealing with your mom,” one character explain, “We’re dealing with …. it.”  “You shut your mouth or you’re going to get a face full of holy water!” someone else declared.  A priest entered the bedroom and Marlena’s daughter said, “You’re a priest again?”  Meanwhile, Patch dressed up as Santa Claus, which was charming in its own weird way.  Fortunately, everything worked out in the end.  These are indeed the days of our lives.

Dexter: New Blood (Showtime, Sunday Night)

I wrote about the latest episode of Dexter here!

Football Game: Bills vs. Patriots (Sunday Afternoon, CBS)

I watched this on Sunday morning with my sisters.  I have to admit that I didn’t pay much attention but I do remember that everyone wanted the Bills to win so I felt obligated to cheer for the Patriots.  I don’t remember who actually won, though.  Football games are really, really long.

Football Game: Cowboys vs. Football Team (Sunday Night, NBC)

I watched this game with my sister Megan and her husband, John.  They got really excited whenever the Cowboys scored.  I felt bad for Football Team.  I figure that it has to suck to be a member of Football Team because everyone they meet is probably like, “Who do you play for?” and when the player says, “Football team,” everyone probably replies, “I know, but which one?”  What I’m saying here is that these guys need a real name if they’re going to succeed.  For example, the Cowboys pretty much destroyed Football Team on Sunday.  I thought the Cowboys were seriously going to score a 100 points before the game ended.  Poor generic Football Team.

General Hospital (Weekday Afternoons, ABC)

I watched an episode on Wednesday.  Too much talk, not enough hospital.

Hang Time (YouTube)

Hang Time was basically Saved By The Bell except it centered around a high school basketball team in Indiana.  It aired from 1995 to 2000 on NBC and it was never that good but it lives on because every episode has been uploaded to YouTube.  NBC is pretty aggressive about taking down unauthorized SBTB uploads but they don’t seem to care much about Hang Time.

Anyway, early Wednesday morning, I forced Megan to watch an episode because I wanted her to hear one line that always amused me.  The episode opened, as they often did, with a basketball game.  However, for this game, the main characters (including a very young Anthony Anderson) were forced to spend the entire game on the bench while the backup players hit the court and …. uhm, lost.  In fact, they lost bad.  It turned out the main characters were being punished for getting fake IDs and driving drunk.

About 15 minutes into the episode, one of the backup players is injured but when he limps over to the baseline or the sideline or whatever they call it in basketball, he yells at the coach that he wants to keep playing because, unlike some people, “I CARE ABOUT THE TEAM!”  And then coach sends him back into the game despite the fact that the he can barely walk!  For some reason, that’s always made me laugh.  The coach taught his players a lesson by forcing someone who did nothing wrong to play injured.  What a guy!

The Love Boat (Sunday Afternoon, MeTV)

The Love Boat and another ship traveled to Alaska, where the captains competed to see who was the best.  Apparently, it was a promotional gimmick but the competition turned personal when the son of the rival captain decided that he would rather work on the super mellow Love Boat as opposed to his father’s boat.  Anyway, it was silly but Alaska looked lovely.  Plus, Sonny Bono was on the episode as some sort of hyper corporate guy.

The Office (Weekdays, Comedy Central)

Comedy Central did an Office marathon this week.  On Monday, I watched a few episodes from season 2.  They kept me happy as I wrote 2,300 words on Monster, one of the most depressing movies ever made.  (Look for that review on Monday!)  Then, on Tuesday, I watched a few episodes from season 3 while I was writing another 2,000 words about the making of The Godfather Part III.  (Look for that post on Monday as well!)

By the time Wednesday rolled around, Comedy Central had started on season 5, which is when the show started to get uneven and, not coincidentally, Ed Helms’s role started to get larger.  However, there were still some classic episodes during season 5, like the Golden Ticket episode and The Michael Scott Paper Company arc.  Those also just happened to be the episodes that I watched.

By Thursday, we were into season six and …. eh.  Season six is when Jim and Pam started to get a bit insufferable in their smugness and there was that whole weird thing where Jim was briefly co-manager.  Megan and I watched the Gossip episode and The Meeting episode and we both agreed it was actually kind of rude of Jim to go behind Michael’s back with his whole co-manager idea.  We then did a little shopping.  When we came back, we caught my two favorite episodes of that season — Scott’s Tots and The Shareholder’s Meeting. 

Hey there, Mr. Scott, whatcha going to do?  Whatcha going to do?  Make our dreams come true!

Parking Wars (Weekday Mornings, A&E)

On Thursday morning, I forced Megan to watch an episode of Parking Wars with me, just so she could understand what I’m always complaining about.  For 30 minutes, as we watched the action in Detroit and Philadelphia, I said, “See?  This is totally how fascism comes to be accepted!”  Megan said she agreed with me, though I think she may have just been saying that …. which is fine!  Just as long everyone agrees.

Sabrina, The Teenage Witch (Fuse, Monday Morning)

Sabrina felt that all of her academic accomplishments were being taken for granted so she cast a spell which caused everyone to go crazy over every little thing she did.  Needless to say, an important lesson about humility was learned.

As far as I’m concerned, this is the only show about Sabrina, The Teenage Witch that matters.  Talking Salem for the win!

Saved By The Bell: The Junior High Years (a.k.a. Good Morning Miss Bliss) (Netflix)

At December 26th, at midnight, my sister Megan and I sat down and watched six episodes of Saved By The Bell.  Well, we didn’t actually just spend 2 and a half hours watching them.  We were talking and cleaning and laughing and doing other things.  But still, we had the show on and we did occasionally pause long enough in all of our other activities to see what was going on.

The episodes that we watched were from the infamous Junior High years.  That was when the show aired on the Disney Channel and it was set in Indiana and Slater, Kelly, and Jessie were not on the show.  Instead, the show centered around Miss Bliss (Hayley Mills), a British widow who somehow ended up teaching social studies at a junior high in Indiana.  At the time, the show was called Good Morning, Miss Bliss.  Good Morning, Miss Bliss was canceled after 13 episodes but was then relaunched on NBC, with Zack, Screech, Lisa, and Mr. Belding all somehow relocating to California.  The Miss Bliss episodes could probably be written off as non-canon, if not for the fact that many of them were re-aired as episodes of Saved By The Bell, with special introductions in which Zack would say, “This is from when we were in junior high.”  It didn’t make any sense but Saved By The Bell just didn’t care.

Anyway, the first episode of Good Morning, Miss Bliss featured Zack lying to a girl about the fact that he was only in the 8th Grade.  The girl was played by a very young Carla Gugino, who went on to do much better things with her career.  Anyway, Zack learned an important lesson about lying but apparently not important enough to inspire Zack to actually be honest in any future episodes.

The 2nd episode that we watched featured a love letter that kept getting read by the wrong people.  Mr. Belding thought Miss Bliss was in love with him.  Miss Bliss thought Belding loved her.  Lisa thought …. ugh, I’m getting a headache just thinking about it.  The most interesting thing about this episode is that the whole stupid plot was later reused in one of the Tori episodes of regular Saved By The Bell.

The third episode that we watched was one of my favorites of the Miss Bliss episodes.  Miss Bliss teaches her students about the stock market by investing some of her own money in a stock of their choosing.  However, Zack desperately needs money so he invests the money in potatoes.  Miss Bliss is furious when she finds out and yells at everyone, which was fun because Miss Bliss was always a bit too perfect to be believed so it was nice to see that, deep down, she was a neurotic mess.  Fortunately, she forgave everyone by the end of the episode.

Episode #4 features Zack’s friend Nikki refusing to dissect a frog.  Miss Bliss took Nikki’s side but was still upset when Nikki stole all of the frogs.  Meanwhile, Mr. Belding was panicking because he thought another school was trying to recruit Miss Bliss so he let Miss Bliss have anything that she wanted.  However, Mr. Belding soon realized he was mistaken and promptly took everything back.  TAKE THAT, MISS BLISS!

Episode #5 left Megan and I totally confused.  Zack was upset because Miss Bliss was dating his father.  The divorce of the Morrises had been hard on Zack and, as a result, Zack was totally acting out.  What’s weird is that Zack’s parents were NOT divorced in the high school episodes of Saved By The Bell.  It’s almost as if the writers just didn’t care.

Finally, Episode #6 featured Screech getting targeted by the school bully.  However, it turned out that the bully was just upset because he was illiterate.  That would have upset me too.  Having learned a valuable lesson about bullying, Megan and I decided we had watched enough Saved By The Bell for that morning.

On Monday morning, we watched the remaining 7 Miss Bliss episodes.  Again, we didn’t just watch.  We talked and laughed and made plans while the show played in the background.  To be honest, we probably paid even less attention on Monday than we did on Sunday.  By this point, we’ve both got every episode of this stupid show memorized so it’s not like we really had to focus to know what was going on.

Episode #7 was a school dance episode.  I guess, technically, it was the first ever SBTB dance episode.  Mr. Belding was worried about a fight breaking out at the dance.  A first actually did break out at the dance between Zack and his loser friend, Mickey.  Mickey liked a girl but she liked Zack.  Fortunately, Miss Bliss was there to save the day.

In Episode #8, Zack got out of taking a midterm by releasing Screech’s pet rats in the school.  Megan and I found the idea of a school closing down because of rats to be hilarious.  Seriously, I’ve seen rodents running around college campuses, ducking from classroom to classroom.  Anyway, due to Zack’s selfishness, it appeared that Miss Bliss would miss out on her chance to be named Teacher of the Year.  Fortunately, everyone teamed up to help her because, of course, the entire school revolved around keeping her happy.

In Episode #9, Zack and his other other loser friend, Nikki, teamed up for a class project but Zack expected her to do all the work.  (Boooo!)  It led to a rift in their friendship but Zack fixed it all by apologizing in front of the entire class.  Megan and I both agreed that was probably an awkward experience for all the other students who were forced to sit through it.

Episode #10 found the junior high in the midst of a prank war.  Who pranked Miss Bliss and ruined her ugly sweater!?  Everyone thought it was Screech and the class held a mock trial as opposed to just burning him at the stake.  Screech was acquitted and it turned out that he was actually framed by Miss Bliss, who wanted to teach the class about the jury system.  Neither Megan nor I cared much for this episode and we agreed that it was proof that Miss Bliss was a terrible teacher who didn’t really consider what being forced through a mock trial could do to a young student’s psyche.

Episode #11 was the silliest episode of all.  It turned out that Miss Bliss’s former student, Colleen Morton, was now a pop star named …. STEVIE!  Zack made a bet with everyone that he could get a kiss from Stevie.  He did get a kiss, but it was from Colleen.  It was only later that Zack figured out that Colleen and Stevie were one in the same!  Zack lost the bet, even though he was being honest about having been kissed by her.  So, I guess the lesson here is that Saved By The Bell took place in a post-truth world.

Episode #12 featured Zack pledging to some sort of weird ninth grade fraternity.  The frat demanded that Zack mistreat all of his friends and then, after Zack had lost everyone’s friendship, they revealed they were just playing a joke on him.  For some weird reason, Miss Bliss was the principal while Mr. Belding taught home room.  At first, everyone thought that Miss Bliss was both the perfect principal and the perfect teacher but then it turned out that Miss Bliss didn’t actually bother to get permission from the school board for any of the “good” things that she did and all of her solutions backfired.  TAKE THAT, MISS BLISS!

Finally, we ended things with the 13th and final episode of the Miss Bliss years.  Miss Bliss’s mentor showed up at the school and helped to teach her class.  His unorthodox methods were frowned upon by Mr. Belding.  Personally, I think Belding had a point but whatever.  The important thing is that Megan and I survived all 13 episodes.

Silk Stalkings (Tubi)

I decided to binge all 8 seasons of the stylish 90s crime show, Silk Stalkings.  This show also airs on one of the retro channels, ZLiving.  It was a stylish show about rich people doing bad things, often while undressed.  The first few seasons starred Rob Estes and Mitzi Kapture as Chris and Rita, two detectives who worked together to solve crimes and who generated endless amounts of sexual tension.

My sister Megan and I watched the pilot on Monday.  Chris and Rita investigated the murder of a model. Not surprisingly, the pilot was mostly about introducing Chris and Rita and establishing that they were attractive people who would be worth watching.  The pilot did a good job of just that.  Estes and Kapture had obvious chemistry from the start.  Even overly cutesy things — like calling each other “Sam” — were charming when they did it.  A good deal of time was devoted to Rita recovering from an aneurism, with gave the audiences a chance to see just how much Chris cared about his partner.  It was sweet, even if I have to agree with Rita that Chris was being a bit overprotective.  After the pilot, Megan and I watched two more episodes.  Chris and Rita investigate an old rich man who was shooting snuff films in his private sex dungeon and Rita came to terms with the tragic details of her father’s death.  And then, a rich car salesman was found floating in the ocean.  Fortunately, Chris and Rita were able to bring his very attractive killers to justice!

On Tuesday, we watched an episode in which Chris and Rita solved the murder of a wealthy (naturally) man who was killed on a golf course by an assailant who wielding a meat hook!  AGCK!  It was a grisly case but the important thing is that everyone involved was attractive.  Rita got shot towards the end of the episode.  She survived but Megan and I were still like, “Awwwwww!” when Chris got all worried about it.  This was followed by a fun episode in which Chris and Rita investigated the murder of a Congressman.  You might be surprised to learn that investigating the death of a politician involves talking to a lot of half-naked people. Chris and Rita (especially Chris) were up for the job!  This episode also featured a cute little subplot where Chris tried to help Rita deal with her insomnia.  Rita had a big poster that simply read, “ART!” in her bedroom.

The first episode that we watched on Wednesday featured Chris and Rita investigating the murder of a half-naked,rich woman.  This led to a scene in which they arrested a naked man who, standing in his hot tub, announced that “I heard you would need a semen sample.  I was just getting warmed up for you.”  Meanwhile, Chris reconnected with an ex-girlfriend who was now working as a stripper.  Reconnecting, in this case, meant spending a lot of time at the beach.  It was a fun episode.  The second episode found Chris and Rita investigating the murder of a sleazy tabloid publisher.  Of course, if this show had been made today, he would have just owned a clickbait factory and his death would have been live-streamed.  Chis was also upset that Rita had a date with a guy that she barely knew.  The date, of course, led to wild limo sex because seriously, what else are you going to do in a limo?

We got things started on Thursday with an episode about a decadent socialite who was drowned in her own pool.  Chris and Rita eventually discovered that the killer was a psycho named James who, ironically enough, also ended up dying in a pool.  Of course, James killed himself by jumping into the water while holding a sander.  We then watched an episode featuring Chris and Rita investigating a murder that had been committed by a bunch of frat boys.  Megan and I both agreed that frat boys were the worst!

The Steve Wilkos Show (Weekday Morning, Channel 33)

Hey, Steve Wilkos!  Giving lie detector tests and changing lives!  Good for you, Steve!  I watched your show on Wednesday morning because I was waking up and getting ready for my day and I was basically too busy to change the channel!  Get the Hell off my stage!

The Tribe (Pluto TV)

The Tribe is a British/New Zealand co-production that ran for five seasons in the last 90s and the early aughts.  It takes place in a future in which all of the adults have been killed by a mysterious virus, leaving behind only children and teenagers who have all formed “tribes,” and who are having to grow up in a world ruled by fear and anarchy.  A friend of mine has been recommending this show to me for a while.  One of my New Year’s resolutions was to finally check it out!

And that’s what I did.  On Saturday morning, around 2 a.m., I watched the first episode on Pluto.  It was pretty good.  It quickly set up the premise and introduced the characters.  Actually, it did quite a bit in just 25 minutes.  After meeting in an abandoned city, the main tribe took refuge in a mall.  Meanwhile, on the outside, a group of teenagers drove around in a cop car, the siren wailing ominously.  It was was an intriguing opening and, after watching the first episode, I decided that The Tribe would be one of the shows that I would binge over the course of 2022.

The Twilight Zone (Saturday and Sunday, SyFy)

I got a few episodes of SyFy’s annual Twilight Zone marathon.  On Saturday, I saw Burgess Meredith break his glasses.  I saw the one with the hitch-hiker who kept saying, “Going my way?”  And I saw one of my absolute favorite episodes, The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street.  On Sunday, the highlight included Twenty-Two (“Room for one more!”), Peter Falk playing Castro in The Mirror, The Hunt (in which a man realizes that only Hell would refuse to allow dogs), The Bard (in which Shakespeare met Burt Reynolds), and The Changing of the Guard with the great Donald Pleasence!

The Young and the Restless (Weekday mornings, CBS)

Because I had so much fun with Days of Our Lives on Tuesday, I decided to watch The Young and The Restless on Wednesday.  Unfortunately, the episode of Y&R that I saw was a bit dry, with a lot of scenes of people standing around and talking about a lawsuit.  It was kind of boring but at least everyone looked good!

Miniseries Review: Mario Puzo’s The Last Don (dir by Graeme Clifford)


First broadcast over three nights in 1997, The Last Don tells the story of a powerful and respected Mafia family. They control politicians across the country and they own casinos in Vegas and their power even extends all the way to Hollywood. Despite having many enemies, the family has thrived due to the leadership of a wise but ruthless Don.  This Don remembers the old ways and imparts lessons about honor to the members of his own family.  Never let anyone know what you’re thinking.  Never side against the family.  If someone like you were to make enemies, they would become the Don’s enemies and then they would fear you …. you know, stuff like that.

However, times are changing and America is changing with it.  The underworld is no longer run by men of honor.  On top that, the Don is aging and in ill-health. Who will succeed him? One possible successor is respected by all but he’s stayed out of the dirtier aspects of the family’s business and, in fact, he seems to have no desire to be a feared man.  Another possible successor is ruthless and has a terrible temper.  He sometimes speaks out of turn, because the Don has a sentimental weakness for his children.  This possible successor’s anger is feared but perhaps fear is the future of the organized crime in America.  The old ways are changing but one thing remains the same.  The Don believes in America and he believes in family and….

Wait.

Okay, is it just me or does this all sound just a little bit familiar?

If it does, that’s probably because The Last Don is based on a novel by The Godfather‘s Mario Puzo.  Though the family may be called The Clerichuzios and the action may have been moved fro the 40s and the 50s to the 60s, 70s, and 80, the story is still the same basic one that was told in The Godfather.  Don Clerichuzio (Danny Aiello) is an honorable man whose time is coming to an end.  His grandnephew, Cross (Jason Gedrick), is the possible successor who isn’t crazy.  His grandson, Dante (Rory Cochrane), is the possible successor who is violent and doesn’t know how to negotiate.  Don Clerichuzio’s dream is for the family to become completely legitimate but good luck with that when the film business and the political world are just as corrupt as the Mafia.  I supposed one could argue that The Last Don is narrated by Don Clerichuzio while The Godfather has no narration at all but, seriously, once you have to add a voice-over to explain what’s going on, you have pretty much already last the war.

And yes, I did mention the film business.  When Francis Ford Coppola first read The Godfather, he famously hated the Hollywood sections of the book and, with the exception of Tom Hagen’s visit to Jack Woltz (and Woltz’s subsequent discovery of a horse’s head in his bed the next morning), Coppola refused to include them in the movie.  The second half of The Last Don, however, goes full Hollywood and, more or less, proves Coppola’s point.  Cross’s sister, Claudia (Michelle Burke, who also co-starred with Cochrane in Dazed and Confused), gets a job as an agent and one of her clients is the world’s most famous actress, the ludicrously named Athena Aquataine (Daryl Hannah).  When Athena has trouble with her crazy ex-husband (Chris Meloni, bringing a spark of genuine danger to the production), Cross helps her out, falls in love, and gets involved in the production of her next film.  This brings him into conflict with a studio exec named Bobby Bantz (Robert Wuhl).  Unfortunately, all of the Hollywood stuff is pretty dull.  One gets the feeling that Puzo was perhaps settling some old scores with the character of Bobby but Robert Wuhl is one of those goofy actors who belongs nowhere near a Mafia drama.  And don’t even get me started on country singer k.d. lang, who is bizarrely cast as a film director.

(Add to that, how can anyone take a character named Athena Aquataine seriously?  I never miss an Athena Aquataine movie!))

The Hollywood stuff distracts from the Mafia stuff, which is unfortunate because the Mafia stuff is at least occasionally interesting and it’s certainly better-acted than the Hollywood scenes.  Joe Mantegna plays Pippi, who is Cross’s father and who, years earlier, killed Dante’s father.  (Mantegna’s always good but it’s a struggle to take any character named Pippi seriously.)  Kirstie Alley plays Rose Marie, who is Dante’s mentally unstable mother and the Don’s only daughter.  Aiello, Mantegna, and Alley all give good performances, as do Burt Young and Seymour Cassel in the roles of family associates.  As for the “younger generation” of Clerichuzios, Gedrick is a bit dull but then again, Cross isn’t a very interesting character.  The slightly-built Cochrane is miscast as Dante but ultimately, that miscasting kind of works in that it reminds us that, due to his father being the scion of a rival family, Dante is destined to always be viewed as being an outsider.

As I said earlier, The Last Don was originally broadcast over three nights.  I watched the whole thing — all five hours of it — in one sitting and, yes, it was a bit of an endurance test.  It’s not just that it’s long but also that it keeps getting bogged down in all of the Hollywood stuff.  You don’t watch a film like this because you want to spend five hours watching Robert Wuhl mug for the camera.  You watch a film like this for the Mafia action and, for a film called The Last Don, there really wasn’t enough Mafia action.  It has its moments but it never feels as authentic as The Godfather, Casino, Goodfellas, The Irishman, The Sopranos or any of the other classic films and shows about the Mafia..  The Last Don needed to be extremely Italian but instead, it was only slightly Italian.  Robert Evans famously said that Coppola was selected to direct The Godfather because Coppola would make audiences “smell the pasta.”  There’s very little pasta in The Last Don.

Guilty Pleasure No. 52: Saved By The Bell 3.21 “No Hope With Dope” (dir by Don Barnhart)


Saved By The Bell is the show that will not die.

Saved By The Bell started out in 1989, airing on NBC on Sunday mornings.  The show followed the adventures of Zack Morris, AC Slater, Screech, Jessie Spano, Kelly Kapowski, and Lisa (hey!) Turtle as they navigated their way through Bayside High.  It’s bit of an odd show, in that there was no real continuity and Zack was a designated hero who often came across as being a young sociopath.  Zack and his friends were rich and, with the notable exception of Jessie, apolitical.  The only time they all, as a group, cared about anything was when there was an oil spill near the duck pond that was just because Zack had befriended one of the ducks.  The humor was goofy but the acting was occasionally better than it had any right to be.  (Mario Lopez was the cast MVP.)

Saved By The Bell had a loyal audience when it originally aired but it owes it popularity to syndication.  When I was in high school and college, Saved By The Bell always seemed to be playing somewhere.  I have friends who scheduled their day around, though none of them will admit it now.  As I sit here writing this, Saved By The Bell can currently be viewed on about a dozen different streaming services and there’s currently a very self-aware reboot streaming on Peacock.  Reruns of this show will probably be outlive us all.  There’s no escaping the Bell.

Interestingly enough, for all of the show’s cultural cachet, there are really one three episodes of Saved By The Bell that are really “must-see.”  The first one, of course, was the infamous episode where Jessie got hooked on sugar pills and ended up shouting, “I’m so excited!” when Zack tried to get her to wake up.  The second one was the episode where Zack passed out in his garage and dreamt about the future of his band, Zack Attack.  (“Friends forever.  It’s an nice idea.”)  And finally, there’s the “No Hope With Dope” episode.

First airing in 1991 (on November 30th, to be exact), “No Hope With Dope” feels like a time capsule.  Big-time movie star Johnny Dakota (played by Eddie Garcia) comes to Bayside and, after Zack leads the students in an anti-drug rap song, Johnny decides to shoot his latest anti-drug PSA at the high school.  This not only gives Jessie a chance to once again tell everyone about her sugar pill addiction (which I’m sure everyone at the school was sick of hearing about) but it also gives Zack, Slater, and Screech the excuse to become amateur narcs.  When they discover a joint in a Bayside bathroom, they immediately accuse Scud, who is wearing a Slayer t-shirt and is therefore the number one suspect.  Scud reveals that he only smokes cigarettes because, when it comes to marijuana, “Not even I’m that dumb!”  Slater still destroys Scud’s cigarette because cigarettes can kill too.

However, at a big movie star party, Zack and Kelly are offered a joint by — OH MY GOD! — Johnny Dakota!  Though Johnny doesn’t actually try to force the death weed on the two of them after they initially refuse it, Zack and Kelly are so disgusted by Johnny’s actions that they leave the party.  The Bayside Gang announces that they cannot sanction Johnny’s buffoonery.  (“The reputation of Bayside was at stake!” Jessie says.)  Johnny gets mad and leaves.

Watching this episode today, most viewers will probably say, “BUT IT WAS JUST A JOINT!”  Seriously, it’s not like Johnny was snorting coke in Mr. Belding’s office or shooting heroin in the school’s locker room or anything similar to that.  Johnny was only doing something that, today, is legal in many states and probably will be legal in every state by the time 2030 rolls around.  And yet, everyone at Bayside acts so shocked to discover that someone who is apparently the biggest film star in the world occasionally smokes weed.  The way that Zack and the gang react to marijuana in 1991 in comparison to how most people react to it in 2022 is one of the things that makes this episode such a guilty pleasure.  It’s a time capsule with a laugh track.

(Of course, one reason why “No Hope With Dope” became such a popular episode is that much of the show’s later audience was probably high when they first saw it.)

Anyway, Johnny’s gone and Bayside is still eager to make an anti-drug PSA.  Fortunately, Mr. Belding has a friend at NBC!  It turns out that the then-president of the network went to school with Mr. Belding!  He agrees to come to Bayside and share with everyone his hit new idea for the fall season: Don’t.  Do. Drugs.  He also does the old, “Maybe I could produce a TV show about a bunch of rich high school kids …. nah, it would never work!” joke.  “Come back and visit any time,” Jessie tells him.  Yeah, Jessie, I’m sure that’ll happen….

The show ends with the Bayside “No Hope With Dope” PSA and these few minutes are what transforms this episode into a true cultural landmark.  Watch it below and be sure to note that, when Screech pops out of the locker, there’s a picture of John Lennon smoking a joint on the door.

Previous Guilty Pleasures

  1. Half-Baked
  2. Save The Last Dance
  3. Every Rose Has Its Thorns
  4. The Jeremy Kyle Show
  5. Invasion USA
  6. The Golden Child
  7. Final Destination 2
  8. Paparazzi
  9. The Principal
  10. The Substitute
  11. Terror In The Family
  12. Pandorum
  13. Lambada
  14. Fear
  15. Cocktail
  16. Keep Off The Grass
  17. Girls, Girls, Girls
  18. Class
  19. Tart
  20. King Kong vs. Godzilla
  21. Hawk the Slayer
  22. Battle Beyond the Stars
  23. Meridian
  24. Walk of Shame
  25. From Justin To Kelly
  26. Project Greenlight
  27. Sex Decoy: Love Stings
  28. Swimfan
  29. On the Line
  30. Wolfen
  31. Hail Caesar!
  32. It’s So Cold In The D
  33. In the Mix
  34. Healed By Grace
  35. Valley of the Dolls
  36. The Legend of Billie Jean
  37. Death Wish
  38. Shipping Wars
  39. Ghost Whisperer
  40. Parking Wars
  41. The Dead Are After Me
  42. Harper’s Island
  43. The Resurrection of Gavin Stone
  44. Paranormal State
  45. Utopia
  46. Bar Rescue
  47. The Powers of Matthew Star
  48. Spiker
  49. Heavenly Bodies
  50. Maid in Manhattan
  51. Rage and Honor