Saturday, November 21, 2015

Funkadelic 'One Nation Under A Groove'

We continue on with my retooled and revamped list of all-time favorite shows. It has been a long time since I’ve revisited my list. And like a countdown show, some of my faves have fallen down the chart. There’s also some new blood on my list…

Like number seven!

‘The Walking Dead’ blasts up the charts with a bullet!

Isn’t it hard to believe that NBC passed on this series? Don’t you think some executive somewhere is blaming themselves for missing this juggernaut?

AMC picked it up and ‘The Walking Dead’ with the “Romero” type of zombie gets ratings that are close to what the NFL gets in primetime. The series has become the new “water cooler” show and in these days of DVR convenience along with thousands of other viewing choices, that’s a rare thing.

I’ve found out the hard way that if I don’t watch every week during the actual broadcast, shortly after, or the next morning… It’s going to get spoiled someway or somehow. I’ll see a spoiler somewhere on social media or from one of the many trade tweets. It’s just inescapable for me to go a day or two without spoilers of some kind.

As I write this, the world is still debating if the character of Glenn Rhee is still alive.

With only a few more episodes before the mid-season break, I’m sure they’re going to string along viewers until the return.

Personally, I wish his wife Maggie was the one they may have killed off. When the actress, Lauran Cohan, actually uses a southern accent it’s atrocious. I just don’t understand why actors make southern accents sound so dumb.

But anyway, the series is great on many levels.

Sure, there’s zombie carnage and that’s always fun. But the series is so much deeper. It’s about humanity and the fragility of how humane humans can and cannot be when there’s no law or order. ‘The Walking Dead’ is a character study of humanity. It’s Darwinism in action. It’s also anarchy where consequences are few and far between.

I often up end shaking my head at some of the posts that I read on social media about ‘The Walking Dead’. It’s a shame that some people only get off on the carnage when there’s so much happening and bubbling under the surface. For example, social media was buzzing about the episode where we find out what happened to Morgan and why he no longer kills another human being even when his life is threatened. The buzzing was about the lack of carnage and how boring the episode was to them.

I can’t help feeling that these people are missing out. Perhaps all the carnage is the only thing that holds their interest. The television snob in me pities them for a moment because they’re missing the deep character development that adds to the storyline.

They’re the same types of people that bitched and complained about the spinoff series ‘Fear The Walking Dead’. AMC fetched BIG numbers when the series premiered. But week after week the series saw a decline in ratings even though they were still in the bona fide hit series range.

Three things that interest me about ‘Fear The Walking Dead’…

1. It is interesting to see the outbreak from the beginning.
2. It is fascinating to see how Travis will transform from a gun disapproving man to a kill or be killed kind of guy.
3. And it’s great to see the writers breakaway from the blue collar types in the original to a man with means. Victor has money. Victor had his own set of rules from the start. He is a man of action that isn’t used to hearing the word “no”.

But the carnage just isn’t up to the sheeple standard yet. They simply cannot abide character development without it. And that’s a shame. Really. There are so many layers to both series and it kind of hurts that some folks just aren’t getting the full effect.

But oh well… I love it for everything that it is. And I love it for everything that it isn’t for a good portion of the masses.

It’s their loss.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Doug Davis & The Solid Citizens 'When The Lilies Bloom'

Continuing my revamped and updated list of all-time favorite television shows we come to a series that has dropped out of the top three. It has even dropped out of the top five. And it’s one of the shows that shaped my young mind that became an older, twisted mind.

Sixth on my list…

‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ still manages to produce tears of laughter and irritate me within the same episode. The comedy comes from the fish-out-of-water mold, but the cutesy animal scenes with Ellie Mae Clampett drive me up a wall. It was completely unnecessary and over-the-top drivel. The only thing I despise more is when Lester Flatt’s “wife” Gladys comes for a visit and sings. Sure, Ellie and Gladys are stacked in all the right places, but a lot of their scenes were merely filler. I’m guessing that Joi Lansing (Gladys) had records to sell and maybe that’s why she’s married up with a talented rube like Lester Flatt, but it’s wasted space.

Before the term “jumped the shark” existed, there was a small fellow named Shorty Kellems. And Shorty’s appearance is when ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ jumped the shark. You know, just for the record.

The family went back home and visited Silver Dollar City. Shorty ran the hotel and he had an eye for pretty maidens. Blah, blah, blah… That’s when the show turned to sucksville.

Again, CBS wanted edgier and more urban series. ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ suffered with shows about ecology, women’s liberation, and racial equality. It was horrible and it was time to put down ol’ Duke and the rest of the Hillbillies.

The real comedy centered on half-wit cousin Jethro Bodean. The time Jethro invents a musical instrument to become a folk singing star. Jethro fights the war of the roses in England at Uncle Jed’s castle. Jethro becomes Robin Hood of Griffith Park and turns hippies on to “smoking crawdads”. The double-naught spy. The wild one. Jethro becomes a beatnik. Jethro becomes an International Playboy. And so on and so on.

But my favorite is when Jethro gets a stack of comics featuring the Moon Maidens.

He believed what he read in the comic book and uses his family’s money to purchase a rocket. He thinks that the moon is made of cheese and populated by gorgeous Moon Maidens. So in Jethro’s mind, he’ll be dining on cheese with no other male challengers on the Moon.

He loads up the rocket with Granny’s moonshine, straps on a parachute, and a knapsack with his lunch consisting of a whole roasted chicken. Ellie graciously ignites the rocket and Jethro goes shooting across the sky for the core cast members to see in different settings apart from each other.

Everyone gathers around the family’s television set to see the Coast Guard rescue the mysterious man that shot across the southern California skies on a rocket from the Pacific Ocean. Once Jethro is pulled inside the helicopter, someone shoves a microphone in his face and he says… “HEY! Where are all the Moon Maidens?”

You see, he originally planned to splash down in the Sea of Tranquility. So in Jethro’s mind, he was on the moon.

Jethro asking about the Moon Maidens kills me every time.

But Granny has some great episodes too. As a matter of fact, “Granny And The Giant Jack Rabbit” is still the all-time ratings winner for a half-hour show. In this day and age of multiple networks and platforms, that record will stand for maybe ever.

And ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ is still on a television, tablet, computer screen, or smart phone right this second somewhere in the world. In some respects, it has stood the test of time. But I believe that the shelf life of the series will eventually expire when people in the late 1970’s die off. Some of the technological advances have made a lot of this series obsolete.

For example… Jethro puts a car phone on the old truck. The computer dating episode along with all special appearances of Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, and Pat Boone.

There are a few episodes that slipped into the public domain, but I really do need to acquire whatever I can of ‘The Beverly Hillbillies’ on DVD. Why this series isn’t streaming is beyond me.

Why ANY old series isn’t streaming puzzles me.

And there you have it. A series that seemed to be forever locked in my top three has fallen down the charts.

I’m good with that.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

The Beatles 'Yellow Submarine'

And we’re back to my revamped, retooled, and improved list of all-time favorites.

These just aren’t my favorites. They’re shining examples of what I think quality television is and can be. I’m sure your list would and could be vastly different.

So let’s move on…

Fourth on my list- 'Seinfeld'

‘Seinfeld’ changed just about everything for situation comedies. BUT! It’s a show about everything a great sitcom should be. There are running gags with or without characters “in the know”. There are deep subplots that often intertwine with other subplots and the main plot. ‘Seinfeld’ offended a whole country and their people with a burning flag. It has people still talking about “Festivus” during the holidays.

It was a show that had everything, but claimed to be about nothing.

The ONLY thing about ‘Seinfeld’ that everyone can agree on… The ending sucked.

I challenge you the next time you talk with a group of friends or coworkers to ask about a favorite episode. You’ll probably get a butt load of different episodes. And that’s a sign of a fantastic series.

Fifth on my list- 'Supernatural'

‘Supernatural’ is the first hour long television show on my list. I know, I know… It’s only about 44 minutes without the commercials.

The show will enter its eleventh season this fall and it’s still going strong. There are weak links in the chain here and there, but isn’t that true with just about any show?

And besides, sometimes you have to break up the season or series story arc with a one off story. We need a little something to clean the palate and fire up the taste buds for the next chapter of the story arc.

There are episodes that not only break down the fourth wall, but smash it to bits. There are episodes within episodes. There are great things in this series that I really want to tell you about, but I don’t want to spoil the first time experience for those that may give ‘Supernatural’ a try because of my list.

One thing I can tell you to look for that won’t spoil a thing… Jared Padalecki was a cast member on ‘Gilmore Girls’. During the episode of ‘Supernatural’ titled “Hollywood Babylon”, Sam (Padalecki) and Dean Winchester are taking a studio tour. During the tour, the guide tells everyone that they’re passing the fictional town of Stars Hollow from the series ‘Gilmore Girls’ while Sam (Padalecki) gives a slightly uncomfortable look.

I admit that I missed that moment since I got on the ‘Gilmore Girls’ train a little late.

There are “Easter Eggs” everywhere within ‘Supernatural’. There’s even a website dedicated to all the different Easter Eggs and alias references used by Sam and Dean (I’m Father Frehley and this is Father Simmons). I found a bottle of schnapps during an episode in the tenth season that was named after a crew member complete with a portrait of that individual. And yes, I snapped a pic.

One of my favorite things about the writing of this series… It frequently makes fun of itself and the viewers are able to go right along with the joke.

I got Jamie onboard with this series, but the going is slow with her life and kids taking up most of her time. Her youngest is nearly caught up to the upcoming season.

I’m so proud of him that I could bust!

Finally! There’s someone in the house that I can watch the shows with in real broadcast time.

Sunday, October 04, 2015

Berlin 'Count Three And Pray'

I’ve been feeling like my list of all-time favorite television shows needed a facelift. I know that it’s all about my age showing, but some of my all-time faves will be timeless. At least, that’s the thought that I’m clinging to.

First up – ‘Green Acres’

Still holds up as a fish-out-of-water series about a New York City lawyer giving up his big city job and ways to get back to the simple life of farming. He wants to be another vertebra in the “backbone of America”. But he doesn’t find the simple life in Hooterville. He finds out that his neighbors are just as whacked out as the kooks in the big city and that life in Hooterville is just as aggravating as the rat race in the city.

Sure, it seems out of place in this cell phone/Internet world to see Oliver Douglas climb up a pole to use the telephone. But would he have cell service in Hooterville?

The show twisted my humor at an early age. I remember watching it when it aired on television during primetime. And still to this very day, I manage to work in a Green Acre-ism gag into every day joking around.

The show is often seen as corny, but the comedy is so twisted that it’s actually beyond corny. At times, the comedy is quite surreal.

And I’m still waiting on seasons four through six to arrive on DVD even though the final season was a dismal attempt at trying to reflect the times and the changing attitude of the CBS Network. They wanted less rural shows with more gritty tones.

Second – ‘Newhart’

Like ‘Green Acres’, this is another fish-out-of-water series. A big city how-to book author buys an Inn to run while writing his books. His wife more or less runs the Inn and they find out that the town is loaded with kooks and the eccentrics. The entire first season has the show finding its legs, but it really picks up in season two and it’s full steam ahead zany. It has the same comedic qualities that ‘Green Acres’ has. And the series finale is still considered one of the all-time great finales in television history. And the Bob Newhart still works in his favorite gag… Having a conversation on the telephone. It was a staple in his comedy stand-up routine.

I’m also still waiting on the final four seasons to make their way onto DVD.

Third – ‘Malcolm In The Middle’

Are you sensing a pattern here?

Yeah, I like the half hour comedies the most. I like to laugh and if it’s good comedy that lacks the typical one-liner fare that the wildly popular series builds shows upon, I’m all in. I want creative comedy. Comedy that keeps giving long after the show is over or gone. ‘Malcolm In The Middle’ is just that. The show comes off fairly surreal at times because it’s more or less a recollection from the title character. He breaks down the fourth wall and narrates at times.

I’ve recently started watching this series all over again on Netflix. I own the first and only season on DVD. And I would JUMP at the chance to own the rest on DVD.

For seven seasons, ‘Malcolm In The Middle’ brought it. At times, it left you in tears from laughing. And the beauty is that every family member is a genius at something even if you cannot see it at first.

The series also showed me that I’m happy that I never had brothers. Yes, the family bond is strong but dealing with a brother on a daily basis seems to involve pain and competition. So I’m pleased that I was the only boy with two sisters.

‘Malcolm In The Middle’ is an example of a perfect series. It was strong for seven seasons. The series finale was not only great, but it had series closure in the artistic sense. And since I’m not into spoilers, I will leave it at that.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The Beach Boys 'Live: The 50th Anniversary Tour'

I achieved a “first” over the weekend. It’s really not that exciting of a first since EVERYONE does it… I ordered lunch out of a food truck.

It was merely out of necessity. I didn’t pack a lunch since I didn’t think of it until I had to leave the house early Saturday morning. My peanut butter sandwich would have been a lot cheaper than my close to ten dollars experience, but it wasn’t all that bad.

Food trucks seem to be the thing these days. I’m sure if the Man/Boy Love Association had a food truck rodeo, people would lose their minds. But not in the right way, like protesting such an event. No. I do believe people would show up in droves just for the privilege of eating food prepared in a truck.

I’ve known people to go to these things and wait 45 minutes just to place their order. And that’s a STANDING wait!

Is that not crazy??

I saw no rhyme or reason to the process. There just seemed to be a pool of people standing around like herd animals in an invisible pen. I found a place that looked like the end of some line and a hipster couple was determined to get in front of me.

She said, “I believe that I was here before you.”

“You know,” I said trying to give her a face that put across an idea of caring less, “I’m sure that will speed up the process. Ordering a minute before I do will make all the difference in the world. So please, be my guest.”

The guy behind me whispered to me, “She’s a bitch. All she’s done is put down her husband.”

So yeah… With no apparent line, the food truck bully comes shining through. Stanchions would have been nice. I mean, if you’re gonna herd people at these food truck rodeos you may as well guide them to keep the masses from fighting and scraping about their places in line.

And once I placed the order, I just stood around listening to hipsters pontificate on things like books, vinyl records, beer, and food trucks. I wanted to wash that hipster stink from body, but Calgon never took me away.

One hipster girl had a t-shirt with Vladimir Lenin and a bottle of Heinz 57 ketchup. The image was red on white. And yes, that got her a few chuckles from her hipster buds that were cool enough to “get” the t-shirt.

I felt slightly out of place with my WVU polo and Samsung Galaxy III-S.

Eventually, my order came up. I had a “Breakfast Burger” that had cheese, a fried egg, and to top it off the choice of bacon or sausage. I went with bacon because sausage just seemed bigger and saltier.

It was good, but I would have rather had a Thickburger from Hardee’s where the wait is a lot shorter… Believe it or not. I could feel the gray hair pushing through my scalp during the wait.

I had limited choices at this event over the weekend. There was some kind of pita truck where nothing on the menu looked pleasing to me. Then there was this silver truck (more like a trailer) with “monster” decals on it and the menu was too pricey. The other one was just right. It had stuff that I would eat and the prices were right there with a sit-down restaurant.

Over all… My expectations of the food coming from that particular food truck didn’t live up to the hype that was given to me by friends. Yes, yes I’m sure that if I got the one with peanut butter and spicy jelly everything would have been rosier. When ten bucks is on the line with something I’ve never tasted, I’m not going there. I’m just not. I prefer to be risky with my drinking and sex.

I didn’t get the clouds parting with angels singing like a choir when I took that first bite from food truck grub. Cherubs didn’t rush in to tickle my neck as the food was being swallowed. Jesus wasn’t there to pat my back so that I could burp. I saw nor tasted anything that made me want to attend a food truck festival… I believe “rodeo” would be the correct term since it attracts so many sheeple.

But hey, some people like the novelty. I’ve seen food trucks my whole life, but never ate from one unless you count the Airliners that are in a permanent spot. I have eaten from my fair share of those roadside stands.

And that’s all I think it is… Novelty. It’s new to some people and for some others, it seems to be a way of proving one’s “foodieness”.

I’ll pass unless it’s out of necessity.