Posts Tagged ‘television’
John Cleese playing an arrogant newsreader being beastly about a French trade union leader on screen. Unrelated Victorian erotica in the background and a booming voice-over self-importantly announcing the name of the show. It’s pure Monty Python — except it isn’t. This surreal scenario, in which the “French” Marty Feldman comes out of the screen to interact with a now surreally masked Cleese, is from the final episode of At Last the 1948 Show. Brits loved this satirical half-hour of sketches that preceded Monty Python’s Flying Circus by a year, and were largely written by the legendary duo — Cleese and his college mate Graham Chapman — who would go on to be one of the principal writing partnerships behind the Pythons.
What’s special about this last-ever episode is that, like the very first, it’s been lost for nearly 40 years…
Read the whole of this happy tale– and see both of the newly-recovered episodes– at “The Early Days of Monty Python.”
* Eric Idle, in the third Monty Python’s Flying Circus episode, “How to Recognise Different Types of Trees From Quite a Long Way Away”
As we agree that “it’s funny, isn’t it? How your best friend can just blow up like that?”, we might send birthday greetings to two Tommys– Tommy Kirk and Tommy Rettig– whose young lives were spent with dogs; both were born on this date in 1941.
Having appeared as one of the Hardy Boys in a serial that ran on the (original) Mickey Mouse Club, Tommy Kirk got his big break when he was cast in the juvenile lead in Old Yellar. He went on to star in a number of successful Disney pictures (e,g,, The Shaggy Dog and The Misadventures of Merlin Jones), and then in a number of “beach party” flicks. By the mid-70s, Kirk had developed, then beaten a drug problem, and dropped out of acting. While he occasionally appears on screen (Attack of the 60 Foot Centerfold. 2006), he has primarily been engaged in building and running a carpet-cleaning business in the San Fernando Valley.
Though he had previously appeared in 18 films (including your correspondent’s beloved The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T, written by Dr. Seuss), Tommy Rettig is surely best remembered as “Jeff Miller”– Lassie‘s boy. Rettig too had a brush with drugs, but pulled out of it to become a very successful software engineer/database programmer (he was an early employee of Ashton-Tate).
The powers that be in Hollywood have been working overtime and turning the crank on the sequel machine for decades. Sometimes it’s hard not to be cynical about a part two when many movie follow-ups are made simply for the money. But what about a sequel that fans actually want? Enter iam8bit’s latest exhibition, Sequel — part tribute to the cult movies we love, part commentary on Hollywood’s obsession with sequels…
The West Coast gallery invited more than 40 artists to imagine movie sequels that never were. If you’ve had your fingers crossed for another Goonies, Blade Runner, or Labyrinth, then this is your happy place…
The show is open in Los Angeles now, and prints of the one-sheets are available. More at “Exciting Posters for Cult Movie Sequels That Never Happened.”
* Bruce Campbell
As we meet at the multiplex, we might recall that it was on this date in 1988 that Frank Drebin (first) foiled an attempt to assassinate Queen Elizabeth II: The Naked Gun premiered. The father of two sequels, the film was itself a sequel– its full title was The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!– a feature-length riff on writer-directors Zucker, Abrahams, and Zucker’s earlier– and (too-)short-lived– television series.
YouTube user Omni Verse has put together ten minute packages of your favorite cult TV shows in an intense “videoggedon,” where all the episodes are played at the same time!
From Star Trek and The Twilight Zone, to Kolchak—The Night Stalker, Planet of the Apes and Doctor Who. This is like a ten-minute sugar rush of cult TV heaven!
Find them all at the always-illuminating Dangerous Minds.
As we lean back, we might recall that on this date in 1989 ABC broadcast the last episode of Ryan’s Hope. Born in 1975, the show’s creators had taken the unusual step (for a soap opera) of setting the series in a real community, the Washington Heights neighborhood of Northern Manhattan. That, and the their forthright treatment of then-edgy issues– extramarital and premarital affairs, the attendant children out of wedlock, careerist women, the assertion of abortion rights, and the clash of generational values in the Ryan clan– quickly won it a loyal following. But as society caught up with Ryan’s Hope, the show’s edge dulled, ratings dropped, and it was brought to a close.
Last Friday in Norway, 1.3 million people watched strangers knit on television. For four hours they tuned in as people talked about knitting, and then they stuck around for eight and a half extra hours of actual knitting. I’m serious.
National Knitting Evening is not the first program belonging to a genre called “Slow TV”: Norway’s public TV company, NRK, is responsible for several. Its predecessors include behemoth-size studies on a train trip from Bergen to Oslo (the station’s first, in 2009, clocking in at seven hours), a cruise ship (a record-breaking five days), salmon swimming (18 hours) and a fire burning (12 hours, and very reminiscent of our nation’s own Christmas Yule Log broadcast). Norway’s population is just more than 5 million people, and more than half of them watched a cruise ship’s voyage for the better part of a week…
Read more at the always great Grantland in “Wait For It: Norway’s Slow TV Revolution.”
* Shakespeare, Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 3
As we take our time, we might recall that it was on this date in 1936 (though some records hold that it was this date inverted– November 21) that the BBC broadcast the first televised gardening program, a special based on a radio staple: In Your Garden, hosted by C. H. Middleton– known throughout the British Isles simply as Mr. Middleton. The son of a head gardener in Northamptonshire and a gardening columnist for the Daily Mail, Mr. M, Britain’s first celebrity gardener, introduced and championed the “Dig For Victory” campaign in 1939. His Sunday afternoon program reached 3.5 million listeners, over a third of the available (licensed) audience in the U.K.
As we shift into overdrive, we might send receptive birthday greetings to Marvin P. Middlemark; he was born on this date in 1919. A prolific inventor, Middlemark created such consumer appliances as the water-powered potato peeler; but he is surely best remembered for having developed the dipole television antenna– AKA, “rabbit ears.” Obviating the need for roof-top receivers, rabbit ears made TV available to the mass market, and are considered by many to be the single most important force behind the 1950s-60s boom in television in the U.S.
There’s a near-embarrassment of good television these days; we are, it seems, in a golden age. But it’s worth remembering that there has been extraordinary writing and production available right along. Indeed, the series that’s arguably the consistently best-written show on TV has been running since 1989.
We can be grateful to Adrien Noterdaem for witty reminders to this effect– for his series of drawings depicting the chief characters in today’s best productions in the style of the long-running champ:
See many more at Simpsonized.
As we program our DVRs, we might send calculatedly campy birthday greetings to Paul Reubens; he was born on this date in 1952. An actor, writer, film producer, game show host, and comedian, he is of course best known for his character Pee-Wee Herman.
The mind plays tricks on you. You play tricks back! It’s like you’re unraveling a big cable-knit sweater that someone keeps knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting…
- Pee-Wee Herman
As we play with our cotton candy, we might recall that it was on this date in 1939 that another essential summer rite was first telecast: the first major league baseball game was broadcast on New York television station W2XBS (now WNBC-TV). The double-header, between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Cincinnatti Reds was at from Ebbets Field in Brooklyn; the announcer was the now-legendary Red Barber.
W2XBS was something of a pioneer in television sports: it had produced the very first televised baseball game (a college match up between Columbia and Princeton) four months earlier; later that year it televised the first football game; and the following year added basketball and hockey.