All posts filed under: Television

Muppet Family Christmas, Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol, Star Wars Holiday Special: All worthy of reconsideration.

The top 5 almost-forgotten holiday TV specials

With “A Charlie Brown Christmas” having already made its first appearance of the season, and ABC Family’s “25 Days of Christmas” well underway, we’re into TV holiday special territory once again. But what specials of yesteryear (specifically my own childhood) seem to have gotten lost amid the onslaught? Here are five worthy of re-consideration. 5) ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (1974): This stands out as one of the only Rankin/Bass Christmas specials to be traditionally animated, rather than made by posing little plastic dolls, a meticulous process that no doubt led to insanity and this scene from “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” You’ll recall the story involved a family of mice, and a clock, and a little nerdy mouse who almost destroys Christmas, and the voice of George Gobel. It was sweet and old-fashioned, which is probably why nobody watches it anymore. The good news is, apparently nobody watched the Grumpy Cat Christmas movie either, so there’s hope for humanity. 4) Mr. Magoo’s Christmas Carol (1962): Hard to say if you could really classify …


JUST WONDERING: 10 comic book TV questions

I have to admit that I’ve kind of given up lately on brainy, morally ambiguous cable and Netflix shows like “House of Cards,” “Mad Men” and “Boardwalk Empire,” in favor of a genre that is less taxing on my overworked cranium: comic book shows, and Lord knows there’s no shortage this year. But just because I enjoy these hours of action-packed escapism doesn’t mean they don’t leave a few nagging questions in their wake. I’m still a season behind on “Arrow,” so I’ll refrain from sharing my queries on that one in case they’ve since been answered. (Things like, “Oliver Queen’s a billionaire, shouldn’t he own more shirts?”) But maybe the more comic-book-literate can help me answer these: AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. 1) When Phil Coulson runs into people he used to know, say from high school or the S.H.I.E.L.D. academy, how does he explain being alive? And has anyone told Captain America yet? 2) Since S.H.I.E.L.D. is officially disbanded and operating as a shadow organization, who’s paying their electric and jet fuel and mercenary bills, …


TV on DVD Review: My Little Pony – The Complete Series

This may surprise you, but as a boy child growing up in the 1980s, I did not see a lot of My Little Pony. This was the heyday of Clearly Defined Gender Roles, and as was decreed there were Boy Shows (and Toys) and Girl Shows (and Toys). Most of the shows were Boy Shows—Transformers, GoBots, G.I. Joe, Masters of the Universe, Thundercats (Cheetarah was female, yes, but served only to attract the prepubescent male gaze). There were precious few shows that seemed directed at girls, or, at the very least, not to very broad societal archetypes of gender. As such, as said, I did not see a lot of My Little Pony because I was too busy getting indoctrinated into the propaganda of war cartoons. I agreed to take on this assignment because I knew my wife would enjoy revisiting a cartoon she watched when she was a kid, or, as it turns out, seeing the cartoon version of one of her best-loved childhood toy lines, only to discover that she had never seen …


Holy YouTube! Fifteen Videos Inspired by the Batman TV Show

Legions of Bat-fans can now rejoice because, after years of wrangling between studios, individuals, and estates of individuals, the seemingly impossible has happened: the 1966 Batman television show will finally be available on DVD, Blu-Ray, and digital download. If you don’t believe me, check out this promo and see for yourself. There’s going to be a big announcement at San Diego Comic-Con today with more details as to what to expect from these sets and what extras will be included. But until then, here are a few videos to help get you in the mood.


The Three Strike Rule: “The Bridge: The Complete First Season” and “Prisoners of War: Season One”

One of the most gripping mystery series of last summer FX’s The Bridge, now available in DVD and Blu-ray. Set on the U.S./Mexico border of El Paso and Juarez, the series begins with the discovery of a dead woman’s body on the bridge that connects the two countries. Compounding the lack of clues in the homicide is the fact that the body is half on the U.S. portion of the bridge and half on the Mexican side. The detectives who arrive to investigate are Sonya Cross (Diane Kruger), a smart, intense woman living with Asperger syndrome, and Marco Ruiz (Demian Bichir), one of the few honest cops working for Policía Estatal (the State Police) of the Mexican state of Chihuahua. Cross and Ruiz butt immediately heads, especially when he allows an ambulance carrying a wealthy Texan to cross through the crime scene so that the man can get to a hospital. Besides threatening to write up Ruiz, Cross demands the case belongs to her. In a surprising move, Ruiz lets her have it. “We have …

Eden Sher as Sue Heck.

A belated love letter to Sue Heck

I have a sister-in-law who shall remain nameless who has unironically embraced a new life philosophy, which she has dubbed “WWSHD” – “What Would Sue Heck Do?” Several days into this endeavor she sat down at our kitchen table and declared, “It’s not easy being Sue Heck.” Kermit the Frog couldn’t have said it better. For the uninformed out there (whomever you are) Sue Heck is the daughter on the ABC sitcom “The Middle,” known for her unflappable cheerfulness and optimism in the face of adversity — things like none of her classmates knowing her name despite having gone to school with her for 10 years, or getting sunburn during a hand-touching-car endurance competition because her mother bought sunscreen at a garage sale. “The Middle” can be a downbeat show for such an over-the-top family sitcom — mom Frankie’s desperation in her attempts to create a happy familial atmosphere, played beautifully by Patricia Heaton, is ultimately pathetic and familiar at the same time, right up through when she invariably loses it and declares “This family …

This Thomas Land is at Drayton Manor Theme Park in the U.K., and it's coming to America next year, whether we want it to or not.

Thomas Land is coming! You’ve been warned

Yes, there were times as a toddler when my son Tim, now 12, would have fits in the supermarket, or demand to be carried for hours on end, or point at things and grunt and expect immediate service, like some rich mute person making demands of his butler. (Actually he still kind of does that last one, but I don’t hop to it like I used to. At least not as fast.) But one thing I still thank him for was his taste in children’s television. My daughter went through a Barney phase that I’m convinced left pockets of saccharine in my brain that exist there to this day — that show was a prime example of what happens when you let PhDs design a television show. (Spoiler alert: Nothing good.) But Timmy had good taste right from the start, almost immediately developing an affinity for Sesame Street and, even more so, the Henson Co.-produced “Bear in the Blue House.” Getting to watch those shows almost made it worth being his butler. Here’s a whole episode …


The Three Strike Rule: “True Detective” on Blu-ray

The haunting and beautiful music of The Handsome Family’s song, “Far From Any Road,” serves as the theme song for True Detective, HBO’s much lauded TV series now available on Blu-ray. Coupled with the stunning imagery of the show’s title sequence, which features shots of flames, crosses, strippers and the tortured faces of the shows stars, Woody Harrelson, Matthew McConaughey and Michelle Monaghan, the mood of True Detective is established before a word is spoken by a single character. When they do begin speaking, though, you’re in for one of the most thought provoking and disturbing eight hours of your life. Told through multiple flashbacks and police interviews in the present day, True Detective takes place over a twelve year span, beginning in 1995. Harrelson is Marty Hart, who worked as a detective in the Louisiana State CID. Balding and packing some extra weight, Marty has been called upon to recall his partnership with Detective Rust Cohle (McConaughey), a tightly wound investigator nicknamed the “Taxman” thanks to the leather bound ledgers he keeps to write …

Hugh Jackman is the one in the middle.

The Tonys rock (and not just because of Neil Patrick Harris)

Thanks to my budding thespian daughter, I wound up watching the entire Tony Awards last night. Given that I can’t recall the last time I watched an entire anything, this is a big achievement. And when it ended I was left thinking that every awards show should do it exactly like this, even if it means having Broadway actors come in and play the movie actors during the Oscars ceremony. (Except for Jennifer Lawrence, so the world wouldn’t have to be denied her adorable-ness.) Five observations in support of that theory: 1) It’s almost shocking to see presenters and recipients who can actually, you know, speak, unlike some others I could mention. They’re all natural and funny, as if they’re used to being up in front of an audience or something. The only one who had any trouble was Clint Eastwood, who has an excuse because he’s old and he’s Clint Eastwood. Plus when we saw there wasn’t an empty chair next to him the entire country breathed a collective sigh of relief. 2) They …

If anyone knows talent, it's this bunch.

We come in praise of ‘America’s Got Talent’

I’ll say right off that I am not a fan of talent competition shows, with their rosy-cheeked overachieving would-be Mariahs and dysfunctional judges panels. But that’s not to say there haven’t been exceptions — one would be “The Sing Off,” because I’m a sucker for cheesy a capella groups covering classic pop hits, and I like hearing Ben Folds talk about music — it sounds like another language to me, but a soothing one, like Norwegian. And the other would be “America’s Got Talent,” because it gives the weirdos somewhere to go, other than armed into America’s shopping malls. In just the first two episodes of this latest season, I’ve already come across: 1) A small child who turns playing cards into deadly weapons, like Bullseye in the old Daredevil comics; 2) Two nerdy white guys pretending to do martial arts, one wearing what looks like a Mexican wrestler’s mask; 3) A 90-plus-year-old man who could pull a car — filled with his elderly friends! — with his teeth; 4) Motorcycles that I’m convinced must …