Posts

Happy Days Season One Episode One All The Way

Image
Happy Days is one of those shows that has just become ingrained in our popular culture in ways that many people may not even realize. When a show has turned a corner where it has been around too long and as a result the episodes become more and more ridiculous, we say it has jumped the shark. This is a direct reference to an infamous Happy Days episode. And the show did become a mill for catchphrases and ridiculous setups. Many people don't realize that Robin Williams' character Mork from Ork was introduced in Happy Days (in an episode that turned out to have been a dream, or was it?). Given how very schlocky the show became, one might be surprised by the early episodes. The show actually began as an unsold pilot, that was recycled as a standalone episode in the anthology show Love, American Style. This episode was seen by a little known indie director by the name of George Lucas (that's not sarcasm, this was way before Star Wars) who was casting his next movie American Gra

Star Trek #1

Image
The first issue of DC Comics' Star Trek came out in 1984, a few months before Star Trek III came out. The decided to put the book in the continuity of the movies, but obviously had no idea what the movies were going to be doing. At the beginning of the book Kirk asks to be assigned to the Enterprise and his request is granted. The odd part is he is demoted to Captain from Admiral, and this is somehow presented as being a good thing for him. All the main players of course sign up to serve under him, including Lt. Saavik from Star Trek II. There are also a couple of ensigns, whose fathers were both on a ship that was destroyed by Klingons at the beginning of the book. This is the cause of a fight between them, which is broken up by Kirk. Kirk takes his crew to investigate how the Klingons are ambushing Federation ships without being detected. The Enterprise is attacked and Kirk figures out their very rudimentary strategy and uses it against them. The Klingons are somehow baffled that

The Night of the Ripper by Robert Bloch

Image
Published in 1984, and written by the author of Psycho, The Night of the Ripper is a sort of Jack the Ripper fan fic. Most of the Ripper theories are given voice and considered, before settling on a conclusion that involves both one of the usual suspects but also an all new twist. It's not as lurid as From Hell, and sadly never got a movie adaptation. I think that may be in part due to the pacing. It is more methodical in pace and had it come out in the 70's I think it might have been made into a reasonably successful film. By the 80's though, movie plots were already becoming a never ending escalation of set pieces and action scenes with little time allowed for setting up plot devices before they were sprung on us.  The book tells the story from a few different points of view, but mostly sticks with Mark Robinson, an American doctor studying in London in hopes of becoming a psychiatrist. There is actually an interesting foreshadowing that is done regarding the pov of the f

The Rifleman Season One Episode One

Image
The first episode of The Rifleman was not made as the first episode of The Rifleman. It was actually made as an episode of Zane Grey Theater titled The Sharpshooter. The episode was written by Sam Peckinpah, whose name will be well known to fans of westerns. Zane Grey Theater wasn't even the original show that the episode was written for. It was meant to be an episode of Gunsmoke. Luckily for Chuck Connors, they turned it down. It was directed by Arnold Laven, which is a name you probably don't know. He was a producer and director who would direct episodes of classic shows like Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Wagon Train, Planet of the Apes, Shazam!, The Secrets of Isis, The Six Million Dollar Man, CHiPs, Hill Street Blues, The Greatest American Hero, and the A-Team among many, many more. He also directed a movie titled The Monster That Challenged The World that went on my to watch list based on the name alone. The story is about Lucas McCain and his son Mark coming into the town of

.38 Special Wild Eyed Southern Boys

Image
Wild Eyed Southern Boys was released in January 1981. The band was fronted by the brother of Lynyrd Skynyrd singer Ronnie Van Zandt, and the southern rock roots show through a little on the album. Mostly though, it sounds like typical 80's radio rock. It's mostly unspectacular except for a few gems that continue to heard daily on classic rock radio. Hold On Loosely is the best song the band ever recorded. It kicks off with a great guitar riff, has the catchiest chorus, and has the biggest impact. There's a reason this is the one that ended up on all the compilation albums. First Time Around is dull by comparison and suffers by following directly after it on the record. The title track is okay, a little corny but not bad. It's catchy. Back Alley Sally is forgettable and doesn't impress much either way. Fantasy Girl is another classic rock radio staple. It's a good song, though not as good as a lot of songs that have been forgotten by radio programmers over the ye

Muppet Mondo

Image
If you are a fan of the Muppets chances are good you are a fan of the song Mah Na Mah Na. If you didn't watch The Muppet Show and have never heard the song you should look it up on Youtube. It's a fun nonsense song that Henson had the character who he named after it sing in several appearances. The song did not originate with the Muppets though. It actually has a much seedier origin. Mondo movies were popular in the 60's and 70's. They were made mostly in Italy and were basically exploitation documentaries, covering topics meant to shock and titillate in order to compel people to see them. They would show graphic sex acts and murders and even surgical procedures.  Sweden: Heaven and Hell was released in 1968, and documented lesbian clubs, porno movies, and the swingers scene in that country. It also featured the debut of the future Muppet hit.

Dark Shadows #1

Image
Dark Shadows was a popular tv show that ran in the late 60's and early 70's. It was a gothic soap opera that had lots of horror elements, including vampires, ghosts, and even some Lovecraftian themes. This post is not about the show, though. It is about the comic book series that spun off from the show. It was from Gold Key. The book assumes you are familiar with the setting and characters of the show. They don't do much to introduce characters or explain the different relationships. If you haven't seen the show you can probably pick up the gist of what's happening, but it will be a little more confusing than it would be for a fan of the show. The story of the first issue is two boys who come to Collinsport to research the fate of an ancestor of one of them. The man had disappeared while travelling in his capacity as a witch hunter. What they don't know is that Barnabas, a vampire who tends to be the main character of the show after his introduction in episode 2