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Discussion in 'The Moving Picture' started by Lady Day, Sep 3, 2007.
Good examples, Lizzie. I loved Homicide Life on the Streets back in the day.
I got a late start watching the show, but it was very good. It took a lot for me to plan to be home to watch a show consistently in pre streaming days, but that was one I tried not to miss.
Still viewing Green Acres, season one, courtesy Amazon Prime.
I still grab a Yancey Derringer episode in the occasional spare moment.
A couple of episodes of The Witcher on Netflix. Although I did not expect it to be great, I did expect more. The acting is okay. The story is okay enough. The mood is lacking. The visuals are generic. It is closer to the lame Sword of Shannara than Game of Thrones. Despite all of this, we will probably continue to watch it until we find something better.
I can think of few first seasons of television more perfect than Green Acres Season One. The slow and steady descent of a sane man into the depths of his own desperate delusions. The true horror of Hooterville, Oliver Wendell Douglas, is that it lies within you.
As a great fan of "Green Acres", I have a less-negative view of Oliver's "situation": The problem doesn't lie *within* him, he's in an alternate-universe/parallel-dimension (Hooterville). There's nothing wrong with him, he's just out of place there.
From late night's episode: Arnold came over to visit the Douglas's and Lisa started a conversation with him as soon as he came in through the closet. A little girl who was visiting the Douglas's comes in the room and begins conversing with Arnold, also. Oliver, looking and sounding perplexed, says, "How come *I'm* the only one who can't understand him?"
It's Oliver through-the-looking-glass (or crossing the County line) into a different world. He's OK, they're OK, just not from the same universe - different realities apply.
Hooterville and Pixley and the populations thereof are more benign "Twilight Zone" residents than anything negative.
(Alice was a perfectly normal little Victorian girl who had conversations with a giant caterpillar.)
Just finished the Netflix documentary Don’t Fuck with Cats. Very disturbing & don’t recommend any animal lovers to watch it. It’s about the Canadian murderer Luka Magnotta. Afterwards, I found his LinkedIn profile...unbelievable.
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The Dead Sea Scrolls of 1940s American Television -- "The Hubert V. Chain Collection."
The audiovisual history of American television begins, for all intents and purposes, in the early months of 1948, shortly after the commerical introduction of the kinescope recording process developed by RCA, DuMont, and Eastman Kodak the previous year. No complete audiovisual recordings of any American television broadcasts are known to survive prior to January 1948 -- which makes this odd little collection of clips so fascinating. Hubert Chain was an advertising executive in New York who proposed to operate a video recording service for advertisers -- a video aircheck system that would make it possible for them to keep a positive record of what their programs sent out to viewers. Using 16mm film, a specially-timed camera photographed images off the screen of a high-intensity five-inch monitor receiving the program, and this film could be preserved, shipped, and stored almost easily as a phonograph record.
Chain began experimenting with this equipment as soon as he could get his hand on it -- using it to record short snatches of various programs telecast in New York, at a time when there were only a few thousand sets in operation in the entire city, and programming was severely limited. He used these clips, shot between June of 1947 and January of 1948, as a demo reel to sell his service to clients. And these clips make for the only surviving audiovisual record of pre-1948 American television -- capturing the medium at precisely the point where it was moving from an experimental curiosity to a commercially viable product.
A few of the clips are silent -- Chain apparently didn't have the sound recorder plugged in for these -- but most capture both video and audio. On some you can hear a technician calling off minute marks at various points in the program. None are longer than five minutes or so, but what does survive here is absolutely fascinating. There's a fragment of President Truman's first televised speech, a short soundless bit from "You Are An Artist," a program with roots in prewar TV featuring Jon Gnagy, the Bob Ross of the 1940s, a couple of early cuts from "Kraft Television Theatre," a few household-interest daytime shows, a couple of stagy costume dramas, bits of pro wrestling and a live rodeo, a tiny bit of an old movie that I don't recognize, and even a fragment of a teen-oriented show that's an antediluvian ancestor to "American Bandstand."
But the most fascinating bit here is about five minutes worth of a July 1947 telecast of "Borden Theatre," which was one of the earliest, if not *the* earliest sponsored dramatic anthology on television. You get the entire opening sequence -- featuring a marionette version of Elsie the Cow as co-host, and then on into an interesting bit of psychological drama that makes very effective use of special effects: when the lead character falls asleep and begins to dream, you don't get the shimmer effect familiar today -- instead a drawing of a brain on a big piece of sheet rubber is superimposed over the image as a couple of off-screen stagehands stretch and flex it to indicate the subconscious mind rising to the surface. This is a brilliant use of cheap, available materials to create an effect you'd never see anywhere but very early television -- long before filmed Hollywood-style TV hijacked the medium in the 1950s and put an end to this kind of clever improvisation.
These clips are only a small taste, a tiny crumb of what television was like when it was a novelty seen mostly in store windows and in New York bars -- but it's this seed from which all the rest of TV has grown. If you've got 43 minutes, it's worth taking a peek into this completely forgotten world.
His Dark Materials
Downton Abbey. final episode of season 1. I appreciate how often PBS replays Downton Abbey. They still haven't lost their luster.
Regarding Green Acres and OWD, Missus Shellhammer has commented that Oliver starts out optimistic, naive, and cheerful, but by about one third of the way in to the season, he's become angry, exasperated, and short-fused. Yet, everybody else operates in and accepts the flat-out weirdness of life and people in Hooterville. That's part of the series' big joke.
Yes, human-porcine conversations, but don't forget Lisa chatting with the chicken that lays eggs in a sauce pan (or whatever it was), or Lisa pronouncing "shoot" as "schoost" and then Eb walking in and saying it the exact same way. Or Mr. Haney driving up with his truck loaded with the very thing Oliver needs. The phone on the roof, endlessly malfunctioning tractor, Lisa's endless supply of gowns in which to cook pancakes, and Oliver's endless supply of lawyerly three-piece suits in which he farmed, all were part of a stream of "running gags" (see Jack Benny, Fred Allen, et al) that keep the day to day life off-kilter.
I have not listened to it, but the series was based on a radio show called Granby's Green Acres. The basic plot and even Eb was re-purposed into a tv show. Jay Sommers, who created the radio show, and Ray Chevillat wrote consistently laugh-out-loud scripts and plots.
Yeah.. puddin' and I just finished the series. It needed 10 episodes and a LOT more "world building" being unfamiliar with the game or the books I had a hard time telling who was who and where the hell anyone was. The time jumping story lines didn't help either. I was VERY loathe to watch any more Fantasy, though I feel Witcher is more Sword and Sorcery than straight fantasy, after the absolute debacle that was the last 2 season of GoT but I took a chance. We enjoyed it and can't wait fer more.
"Granby's" has the basic structure of the TV series -- but the approach is far more in line with Betty MacDonald's "The Egg And I," the book and movie that started a brief craze in the late forties for rural humor that eventually gave the world the Ma and Pa Kettle films. Eb in "Granby's" is played by Parley Baer -- specialist in rural folksy types who would later be Chester on "Gunsmoke" -- as a sort of lackadasical rube with none of the mania displayed by the television Eb. And Gale Gordon in the Eddie Albert role is just a stodgy know-it-all without the underlying note of delusional desperation that colors Albert's performance.
I think Sommers was genuinely going for a wholesome rural-type show in the radio show, but I think fifteen years later, he had a much edgier sense of humor. You can see all this coming to the surface in the second season of "Petticoat Junction," where Sommers served as what you'd call today a "showrunner," and directed that wholesome rural show down a very different track from its first season -- it's on the second season of PJ that you can see a lot of the approach he'd offer in "Green Acres" starting to take shape. Uncle Joe's schemes start getting broader, Sam Drucker starts to take on a distinctive personality, Fred Ziffel and Newt Kiley both show up, and so does Arnold Ziffel -- who isn't quite as outre as he'd become in GA, but who is definitely not just another barnyard swine.
Sommers had all this in place when he was ready to start GA, but the catalyst that really made the difference was Chevillat. Chevillat had a deeply absurdist sense of humor -- you can see it as far back as his radio work for Rudy Vallee in the early forties -- and after doing the Phil Harris-Alice Faye show with Ray Singer, there was no way he was going to write any kind of a conventional sitcom for television. Adding his taste for weird off-center humor to Sommers' evident desire to subvert the whole rural genre is what made "Green Acres" work. It could never have happened at any other time, in any other place, with any other people.
Gunn seemed a Shotokan trained karateka, which style was subsequently later followed by Bruce Lee's own
Jeet Kune Do on The Green Hornet. Pearls cast before all the clumsy fist fights and gunplay.
My wife and I are two episodes in. I like it more than she does so far, but she is giving it a chance. We like Henry Cavill, and it is a change from our recent viewing.
Danger Man, with Patrick McGoohan as NATO agent John Drake, although he appears to be an American, and the capitol dome figures in the opening sequence.
Dragnet, from season three, where a figurine of the Christ Child is missing from a church's creche. No spoilers here, but the ending is not what you might think. The solid Dragnet procedural with a lighter touch than usual.
One of the stranger comedies of a year full of strange comedies -- "International House," made by Paramount in 1933.
Of all possible leading ladies in Hollywood in 1933, the name of Peggy Hopkins Joyce does not spring immediately to mind when one thinks of an appropriate star for a weird little satire, but here she is -- a professional self-proclaimed gold digger with several marriages under her belt, appearing as, basically, herself in a bizarre cross between a parody of "Grand Hotel" and a revue film. Here, the hotel is a seedy establishment in Shanghai, where a mysterious Chinese scientist has convened a meeting of potential investors in his new television system -- an apparatus capable of tuning in images anywhere in the world. Among the investors are a sinister foreign agent -- and one of Miss Joyce's former lovers -- played at his most scenery-chewing by Bela Lugosi. Another bidder is a globetrotting charlatan played by W. C. Fields, who arrives in an autogyro and immediately commences romantic shenanigans with Miss Joyce. And the favorite sap of early-thirties comedy, Stuart Erwin is on hand as another of Peggy's hapless suitors.
The plot is agreeably senseless here -- ideas are tossed around and forgotten, with the story just an excuse for Fields to do his routines, for Joyce to smoulder, and for Lugosi to prove that he is well-aware of the ridiculousness of the whole farago, and that he is, as Ed Wood will one day learn, perfectly willing to do any stupid thing as long as the check clears. The result is an attitude of "don't give a damn" on the part of the cast that really makes the picture a hoot.
Meanwhile, the Chinese professor -- who is in no way Chinese -- demonstrates his apparatus by trying to tune in on the New York Six Day Bicycle Race. Instead, what he gets is an assortment of guest-star variety acts by various radio favorites of the. Colonel Stoopnagel and Budd, the most innovative radio comedy team of the decade, are poorly served by their bit, which seems to be clipped randomly from one of their short subjects, but Rudy Vallee is fun in a self-mocking song bit that proves that he was well aware of how fatuous he seemed on the screen. The best of the guest stars is Cab Calloway, who, with his full band, performs "Reefer Man," a song that earned the film the status of a campus favorite in the 1960s. Cab screams "HE MUST BE FULLA WEED!" as he moves into the song, indicating a string bass player who slaps manaically at his instrument with an expression of dazed intoxication on his face. No doubt he actually was.
This film makes no sense whatever, which is entirely intentional. THere are gibes at just about everybody from Will Hays himself on down, and the picture ends with one of the best pre-Code lines of the era: Upon discovering a litter of kittens romping in the autogyro as she and Fields make their escape, Peggy wonders aloud "What were their parents??" Says Fields, with a smirk, "Carleess."
So, I looked up Peggy Hopkins Joyce and here's the thing - and I bet a lot of us have similar stories - I see my grandmother's sense of style in her (she was about the same age as Joyce), just as I can see Ray Milland (or any other regular male star of the '40s) in my father's sense of style. Even though I, naturally, only knew my grandmother and father in the '60s/'70s when I was growing up, reflecting on how they looked then, I can see how they carried their initial sense of style throughout their entire lives (even if "updated" a bit for the times).
Please don't get me wrong, neither were "fashion" people in any sense of the word - they weren't fancy or rich - but they did, of course, dress and, for special events (weddings, church, etc.) dressed up a bit (as almost everyone used to up until a decade or two ago) and in all of that, you could see and feel the decade when they were forming their sense of style (their late teens/twenties).
Just got finished watching three seasons of Canadian Broadcast Company's production "Anne With an E," a recent retake on the "Anne of Green Gables" stories.
I've always enjoyed the Anne sagas, although there's a strong argument that they're a ripoff of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farms. This particular production is a lot darker than anything I've seen on the screen before (and certainly darker than the books), but it really emphasizes the brutality of the girl's life before she went to live with Matthew and Marilla. Life in the first decade of the 20th Century certainly isn't sugar coated here: racism, sexism, and a lot of other issues are addressed.
There's a somewhat anachronistic element to the scriptwriters' attempt to remake Anne Shirley into an embryonic 21st Century feminist that I found more entertaining than provocative: her adolescent chums engage in dialogue that at the time might have been more typical of Greenwich Village intellectuals. It certainly was a well produced affair: it captured the spirit- if not the detail- of the original work.
My understanding is that the series was killed after Season Three. Too bad: I would have liked to see this Anne deal with other issues in her world as she matured.