Tuesday, August 23, 2016

American Sitcom Discussion

American Sitcoms Discussion

The Great Mitch Hadley from It's About TV, Stephen Winzenburg (who teaches what sounds like the greatest college course ever) and myself discuss the history of American TV sitcoms. From the origins in radio to Lucy to Get Smart to Mary Tyler Moore to the future of the sitcom...

It's a great discussion. We cover a lot of ground in 2 1/2 hours. Please, listen and enjoy

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

BJ and the Bear S2 E7: The Eyes of Texas

Originally aired on November 10, 1979
Directed by Bruce Bilson
Written by Glen A. Larson

Two things:
1) This is a gamy patch for episode quality. There are screenshots here but they're not always the best. They turned out kind of smudgy.
2) Follow this link to the episode on YouTube!

Carolyn and Heather, Private Detectives!

Two detectives are looking to get their Big Case, their big break. The agency they work for has assigned them to find a philanderer who may be smuggling jewels (if I'm remembering correctly -- I'll explain later). The two ladies hook up with B.J. McKay, who doesn't know what they're up to...  and chicanery ensues. Including one of the women falling off a balcony into a pool, a fight by another pool, a scene with a whole lot of bikers and a speedboat chase. Oh, and B.J. really isn't in it all that much. It's mainly about Carolyn (Lorrie Mahaffey) and Heather (Rebecca Reynolds). Carolyn is the Hot one. Heather is the one with the odd haircut who acts frumpy. (And, yes, Carolyn did go out with Potsie Weber in another life.)

Getting their next case

I know what you're thinking. "Dan, you SOB, where's my review of Run For The Money Part 3? You're a liar and a blackguard." To that, I respond, "Please stay calm and allow me to explain." Then, it gets nasty...  We're going in chronological order. Parts 2 and 3 of Run For The Money aired as Lobo episodes. So, that means there is an episode of BJ and the Bear in-between...  and it's this one.

 Hey. B.J.!

This guy...  Let's say he's a smuggler.
That works for me.

Brion! Always good to see you

Written by Glen A. Larson, oddly enough. Larson was known for shepherding his shows along and then going on to new ones after a time. So, if he's here, than this episode is important to him in some way. And, yes, it is a charmer. (Although lighter than a feather...  notes must be taken during this episode to remember any of it but an appearance by Brion James and Carolyn dancing on a diving board.) But, it also feels like a "soft backdoor pilot" for a series about Carolyn and Heather. Now, I just made up that term so I may have to explain...(I know you're still mad at me.)  A "soft backdoor pilot" is when supporting characters almost overwhelm the main character but don't quite. The episode "Lobo" from Season 1 is a "hard backdoor pilot." We will encounter another "hard one" when the character Heather returns later in the season with Heather Thomas (instead of Mahaffey) to solve another crime. Glen was up to something that involved a show about two female detectives. Sadly, he has passed so we can't ask him what his plans were.

Hangin' With Heather!

The episode is screaming out for a laugh track. There's a constant series of wacky adventures going on with our gals. From the opening in a diner where bikers harass everyone to the final fight around the pool, this is Larson ratcheting up the Wacky. There's even a scene where soaking wet Carolyn takes off her clothes at the laundromat to dry them. And...  there's a guy nearby who assists her...  right as his estranged wife walks in to make up with him. (His wife does the best of all possible faces when she sees what is going on.)

Greatest Face Ever?

As always, the Wacky is never terribly funny...  the best episodes of Our Favorite Show are mostly drama with moments of comedy. Season 2 has been liberally applying the comedy, possibly to match it up closer with Lobo. But, it's not what B.J. and Bear do best. They do light drama/ action with a bit of comedy. The season will calm down and return to its roots as it goes along. As we get away from Country Comfort, basically. But, the ratings will have begun to dip heavily by that point so few would care.

 Eating dinner with B.J...
not thinking about Potsie
In the T.V. biz, this is called the "Hot Lean"

Is this a good episode? Sure. Why not? It's a charming 48-50 minutes worth of television. It does have a few laughs. It has a semi-exciting powerboat chase with way too much rear-screen projection. The ladies are lovely. The guys (well, B.J.) look good. Bear gets involved in the minimal amount of chimp-related chicanery allowed by law. This could almost be an episode of anything. But, it has just enough of the Larson/ Bilson know-how to keep you hooked...  for the time it's playing. And, as I mentioned, two female detectives will be appearing later in the season.

Top photo: Carolyn is mixed into all that water
Bottom photo: Awesome Rear Screen Projection makes chases more exciting!

But, first...  some unfinished business...

I actually meant episode 3 of Run For The Money, rather than Carolyn dancing by the pool...  The screenshot gods make me their pawn.

Freeze Frame!

...and one more for good luck...

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Eventually Supertrain Episode #3!

Can you believe it? This must be what bliss feels like.

Here's Episode #3!

With links to iTunes, Stitcher and Soundcloud.

Give yourself a better Sunday. Make it a brighter week. Listen to Eventually Supertrain.

(I'm still working on that tagline. I'll get it. Don't worry.)

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo S1 E6: Run For The Money Part 2

Originally aired on November 6, 1979
Directed by Bruce Bilson
Written by Everybody (See entry for Part 1)

Note: Again, my copy of this episode is a wavy, washed-out mess. Unfortunately, I could not find this episode online. I promise you that Part Three looks better and will have screenshots. I decided not to litter this review with images that you won't be able to make out without very descriptive captions. Instead, Pictures of Lobo and the Gang!

The giant crossover continues with the first episode of The Misadventures of Sheriff Lobo that I've watched since around 1981. Now, because the same batch of people wrote and directed this episode and Part 1, there's no real distinction between Part 1 and Part 2. This doesn't feel any different than the B.J. and the Bear episode it's linked to. The whole thing is one giant free-for-all in and around the casinos of Las Vegas. We still have Lobo and his contingent, Wiley & The Fox, Cain and his sidekick, plus B.J. McKay and his best friend Bear. Along for the ride is Deborah Shelton as an F.B.I. agent. Plus, Glen Campbell!

As you can see, this episode has it all. And, oddly enough for having so many writers involved, everyone gets something to do...  and the plot moves along at a decent pace...  and everyone gets something to do within the reference points of their characters.

B.J. gets arrested for supposedly pulling the big heist in the casino involving nerve gas and casino ladies and a jerk. (Again, see Part 1.) He is let out on bail by Glen Campbell. (Yeah, I know.) He immediately begins tracking down the hitchhiker/ dealer from Part 1.

Lobo completely believes that B.J. did it. So, he and Perkins spend the episode following B.J. around.

Wiley saw the crooks stash the money in a suitcase in the Unclaimed Luggage room, which is locked. He wants to return the money and get a big reward. But, The Fox says "Let's just take all the money." So, they spend the episode trying to get into the room.

Cain does the smartest thing and studies the surveillance footage. That means that by the midway point in the episode he knows the two women were involved. (Although, the episode reveals this and then forgets it until the end. Hey, nobody's perfect.)

Because there are so many different threads roaming at once, things never slow down. Which is good because apart from the theft at the start and the twist at the end...  it is all about delaying the next portion of the story. All the running around and chicanery doesn't really come to all that much. But, that's OK. The point of the episode is not an airtight plot about a heist. It's about all these wacky characters getting out there and doing their thing.

Does that thing involve Perkins winning a giant Wile E. Coyote stuffed animal? Yes. Does he have trouble getting into taxis with it? Yes...  Is there a shootout in the desert where said stuffed animal becomes involved? You got it. Mills Watson gives it his all, again. And, it isn't the funniest stuff around, again. However, this is a Lobo episode so they can goof on their home turf as much as they want.

Run For The Money Part 2 shows off a very confident show. Willing to throw in a ton of characters and willing to risk (occasionally) almost losing the plot. For example, one of the thief women (the hang glider, not the hitchhiker) switches the money from one bag to another late in the episode. Doing that causes the end of the episode, with a big close-up on Wiley's face and a "TO BE CONTINUED" as he discovers that the bag that once contained the money now contains towels. But, for the life of me, I couldn't remember why she moved the money around, especially when you see the next part. But, regardless, this isn't at an A Man Called Smart-level of 3-part television but it is a lot of fun. What joys and pleasures and desert roads will Part 3 bring? Only the next episode of Lobo will tell us that.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Christmas in July!

Hooray! Head on over to Christmas TV History (The Great & Awesome Joanna Wilson's blog) and read my Christmas in July 2016 column.

Christmas In July