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The Tailor of Panama (2001)
Brosnan's Excellence is So Palpable, Don't Forget Rush
Of course, you may have seen the trailer for this movie, and Brosnan's portrayal of a British spy is already understood.
I mention this because there will be comparisons to his spy portrayal here and his spy portrayal in the "Bond" films. There is no comparison. In fact, if you are into Brosnan's work, you will find this character very interesting, extremely well-developed, very multidimensional.
This spy story has a complexity and maturity about it that does not exist in ANY of the James Bond films. The Bond films are about Bond being well-dressed; exotic locales; over the top gadgetry; the obligatory notion of "getting the woman/women"; and pure adventure of car chases, airplanes that explode in the air, etc.
This "Tailor" movie has realism. You are riveted by the characters, their struggles, etc. Even though there is breathtaking scenery in the city of Panama, that does not dominate the film. At times, matters take place in parts that are not so scenic.
When you see this movie and Brosnan's excellent performance, it makes his Bond performances seem wooden and one-dimensional. There are also other Brosnan movies in which he was a lot looser: Laws of Attraction, Thomas Crown Affair (1999), The Nephew. These movies with Brosnan stick out in my mind better than the Bond movies.
Also, Rush was good too.
An Insult to the Cast and Crew Behind Die Hard
I was so disgusted at the end of this egregious train wreck of a film, I write this review to accomplish two tasks: vent my frustration at the time & money I wasted; warn those of you who haven't seen it yet before you plunge into the pool with no water. I write this assuming you have seen "Die Hard".
First, apart from the gratuitous scenes of sex and nudity, the crew here attempted to duplicate every scene from "Die Hard". The way they were done was either absurd, ridiculous, or just stupid.
Second the acting! Much has been said about Smith's atrocious acting (if you could call it acting at all). However, all of the actors were lousy. Phony European accents. Male models trying to masquerade as terrorists. The alleged 'criminal mastermind' quoting Shakespeare, in a pathetic attempt to appear sophisticated. Poor delivery of lines. Plain unlikable characters in general. etc.
Third, the way this "takeover" was carried out seemed implausible. If you bother to watch this mess, consider how 'believable' it was in "Die Hard", and how 'unbelievable' it is in this junk. Shootouts Fourth, clichés so many clichés. If you bother to watch them, they will become extremely obvious. Especially the concept of the 'double cross'.
Fifth continuity. I guess with a movie with no budget, things like continuity will go by the waste side.
Finally the gratuitous sex and nudity. With a low-budget, direct-to-video piece of swine like this with Anna Nicole, this element had to exist, even though the scenes did not improve the so-called story. This had to be done obviously to captivate the men. It didn't work for me.
The cast and crew behind the original "Die Hard" should be appalled at this. I found this movie an utter insult to the cast and crew that made the original DH so great. This movie should have never been made. It should be burnt.
Licence to Kill (1989)
If You Appreciate the Literary Form of Bond, You Will Appreciate Dalton
Sure, there are the comparisons to Connery and Moore on the screen, but many people don't like to mention the actual literary creation of Ian Fleming. Perhaps this is because some in America don't like to read.
However, for those of us who read, Timothy Dalton is regarded as the best Bond as far as the books are concerned. The late great Desmond Llewelyn acknowledged that Dalton's portrayal of Bond resembles the Fleming character the best, and Llewelyn acted with all five actors (Connery, Lazenby, Moore, Dalton, Brosnan) before his death.
When reading the books, you look for the development of characters, and Bond was certainly developed: suave, ruthless, cunning, had instinct. Bond had flaws as well.
Dalton displayed these attributes well in this movie. While the movie was not spectacular in terms of visual beauty of the locales, that can be overlooked if you can appreciate the essence of the James Bond character, which Dalton displayed nicely.
It's too bad that the promotions for the movie were not better. Dalton deserves more recognition for his portrayal of Bond.
Kevin Hill (2004)
Intriguing, but Idea Isn't New
Someone wrote that the idea for "Kevin Hill" came from the movie "Baby Boom" with Diane Keaton.
This is true. To add to this, this idea was done on another TV series..."Family Affair" with Brian Keith. Remember that premise: a successful professional with a carefree bachelor life (with his butler French, of course), has his life changed forever when his long lost brother's three children arrive at his doorstep...orphaned when his brother dies in an accident.
"Kevin Hill", obviously, is not new. However, it will be interesting to see Taye Diggs, and how he handles this role, if the network will just give it a chance.
Three's Company (1976)
Suzanne Somers Screwed Up Everything!
During the first few years of the show, it was funny, clever, and just outstanding. I don't need to explain it any more than that, because just about the whole world knew this. We then come to Suzanne Somers.
Her greed, unprofessionalism, and petty shenanigans totally disrupted the show. This is what contributed to the downfall of the show. Due to the Chrissy Snow character being an important piece of the puzzle, her absence had the producers scrambling to make last-minute changes and actors John Ritter and Joyce DeWitt were very unhappy, to be very understandable.
Those tag scenes are simply pathetic, when you know why they were done.
Jenilee Harrison and Priscilla Barnes did the best they could do under the circumstances.
Three's Company was the funniest and most well-made comedy at the time, until Somers screwed everything up with her selfishness.
I'm surprised that she didn't get blacklisted after the debacle.
Ocean's Eleven (2001)
2001 vs. 1960, Modern Version is much better than Classic
It is perceived that Hollywood is running out of ideas. This allegedly explains why there are so many remakes of older, classic movies with a contemporary slant to them. At times, the remakes are not up to par, and destroy the legacy of the classics which preceded it. `Ocean's Eleven' destroys this perception.
If you are bothering to read this review, you know that the 2001 version of `Ocean's Eleven' is a remake of the 1960 version of `Ocean's Eleven' which included Frank Sinatra and the other Rat Packers. In both versions, the plot of the films was to rob a series of Las Vegas casinos.
In the new version, the movie follows a format which is technically sound:
assemble the Motley crew of individuals to help pull the job (this is important, because knowing what security is like in casinos anywhere, it will take a crew to pull off such a thing);
they meet to discuss the job,
every individual gets their assignments;
and they execute (problems will arise, of course. Problems must arise, or else it would not be much of a movie).
The first half hour of the movie was involved the assembly of the crew. The rest of the film involves explaining and pulling off the job, twists and turns included. The 2001 version is more believable and more enjoyable, because a casino heist will take some time and careful execution. In the 1960 version, the movie drags for an hour about nothing until the heist is brought up, and the job is done in 15 minutes in a very unbelievable way. Even in 1960, a casino heist could not be accomplished that fast. If you want technical accuracy, and more interesting twists, watch the 2001 version. In this respect, the 2001 version is far better that the 1960 version
The only positive to the 1960 version over the 2001 version is this: The 1960 version gives you more feeling into what Las Vegas is like than the 2001 version, due to the Rat Pack being as much of part of Las Vegas culture at that time like the Internet is a culture in this time. In the 2001 version, it feels like you could have pulled the job in Atlantic City, or Mississippi somewhere.
If you want real heist excitement, watch the 2001 version.
Once Again, Another Disgrace for a Remake
As a fan of the original `Press Your Luck', I was curious about this modernized version. What can I say about it
IT STINKS. How does it stink? Let's do a breakdown.
The Host- Peter Tomarken on `Press Your Luck' was terrific. He was natural, stern when he had to be, and kept the show moving very nicely. He never tried too hard, and he didn't have to. Todd Newton, on the other hand, is unnecessarily loud, his demeanor is very plastic and insincere. Tomarken applied for this job. My guess is, Newton got the job because he is younger. Youth wins in TV.
The Game Board- Both boards contain 18 screens. On the original, it was finely organized in the simple rectangular pattern with the rectangle in the middle for the camera shot of the contestants. The new board is confusing. The screens appear bunched together. They are awkward to look at, and the small circle showing the contestants is far too inadequate. There needs to be a larger area to show the contestant closeups while they are spinning, which worked so well on the original.
The Sound Effects- The theme music on the original show was cute. The new theme music is artificial hip-hop. The sounds of the game board in motion on the original series was terrific to listen to. It created the suspense that got your heart pounding, which is good TV. The sound effects of the board in motion in the new series, I don't think you can call them sound effects. I don't feel suspense at all.
The Whammys- On the original, the cheesy cartoons were cute, yet simple. Their simple charm alleviated any need for further complexity. On the new show, too much emphasis is place on the computer artwork done by their computer graphics experts. The charm of the original is simply not there.
The Question Round(s)- The original had two question rounds. Obviously, the second round had bigger stakes. In the new version, there was only one question round, which preceded the higher-stakes second round. I don't care for that.
In addition to all of this, there are other considerations:
The Double Whammy- It became stale after the first episode. Any more comments about this debacle don't need to be mentioned.
The Contestants- In the original series, the contestants were cheerful, sometimes fun and jolly. In the new version, as a result of changing social decorum, these contestants come across as a bunch of Generation X, college-aged, informally-dressed airheads. They look as if they want to go party at some frat house after the show's over.
When the Game Show Network initially aired the show, it was in primetime. For its new beginning, primetime is where the action is. However, as the viewing public realized what a joke this show is, it has been relegated to a meaningless afternoon time slot, when younger people are in school or at work, and are not at home to watch this tripe. The BIG BANK element added did not help. End this disgrace, and bring back the original `Press Your Luck' reruns.
One World (1998)
Stale Attempt at Ethnic Diversity
The main reason that teen-oriented sitcoms saturated the Saturday morning landscape is due to the unfortunate decline of creativity in cartoons. First, there was "Saved by the Bell"/ "Good Morning, Miss Bliss". Due to the success of this franchise, this led to so many others: "Saved by the Bell: The New Class", "City Guys", "Hang Time", "USA High", "California Dreams", "All About Us", etc. These shows share one important common bond: They dealt with teens as they interacted with each other in the high school setting. Of course, each show took place in a different city. These shows also tried to include "ethnic diversity" in the cast. Then we come around to "One World".
First, the show tried to be blatantly diverse in ethnicities: the Whites, the Asian, the Black, the Hispanic, the American Indian. (Did I leave anything out?) Given the forced diversity and the way they dressed, the show looked like an advertisement for the United Colors of Benetton. Second, the show centered around their lives at home, and getting along while they lived together. This was different from the other shows, which centered around how the teens got along while in school together.
The rest of the show can be called "predictable", because the plots, jokes, and morality messages have existed in the same forms on the rest of the teen sitcoms. However, this series clearly showed that the "teen sitcom" genre was getting extremely stale and overused. The show tried to be different due to the focus being at home rather than at school, but it was all the same. This oversaturation of this genre led to its demise. Because it was so stale, it was simply canceled. This was unlike "Saved.." or "Hang Time", when the final episodes gave a sense of closure to those series.
Because the characters of "One World" got along so well, this was an attempt to show teens that racism is dead, or something like that. Please
Excess, Waste, and Overconsumption vs. Poverty, Survival, and Uncertainty
In a time of abject poverty, job losses, a perception that the gap between the rich and poor continues to widen, homelessness, etc., this show represents, in the opinion of many, the epitome of fluff, prodigality, and a lack of concern for those who struggle to obtain the most basic of necessities needed for survival.
One of the show's premises was this: We see the plush lives of the rich and famous, whether they are athletes, entertainers, or big-business moguls. We see their lavish homes, big-screen TV's, overpriced yachts, private jets, and fancy office spaces. Here are a few other examples of the excess that we see while we are `admiring' their lives:
1. A fancy painting hung up on the wall of some socialite- The painting was done in the 1800's, and has a value of $5,000,000.00. There are inner-city communities in the U.S. that are so blighted, the entire neighborhood isn't worth that much. Think of how many hungry children can be fed with that kind of money. However, this `filthy-rich' person can blow that money on a painting.
2. Exquisite chandelier in the dining room- Sometimes, it costs more than what I paid for my car!
3. Gold bathroom fixtures- These fixtures cost more than the average working person makes in a year.
4. Fleet of automobiles- Some have more cars than some car-rental businesses. They have more cars than they can ever drive. This is in addition to their Rolls-Royces and Lamborghinis.
5. Fifty-room homes- Some have houses with 5 bathrooms and 10 bedrooms. Some of them have rooms in their homes than they don't use.
And so on, and so on.This show was the predecessor to shows like `The Crib' on MTV or `How I'm Livin' on BET.
In addition to this, we see more fatuousness. We see that `weasel', Robin Leach, suck up to these people, engaging in meaningless conversation while they sip champagne and eat imported cheese. However, this `conversation' is supposed to provide insight into how they became so rich. Watching Robin leach trying to conversate with these people was nauseating, as well as annoying.
For those who cannot afford this lifestyle, are they supposed to look at this `opulence' and be happy for them because they cannot live like this? Life should have more meaning than a swimming pool in your backyard, custom-made Porsche, or exotic vacations to places many have never heard of. There is nothing wrong with having money, and enjoying it. However, these people live to the point of ridiculous excess.
To those who have left-wing political views, this show represents the sad reality of what's going on around the world: extreme inequity in distribution of resources, and extreme overconsumption. To right-wingers who read this, they may view me as bitter or jealous, because I don't have `money to burn'.
However, the show was about more than profiling rich celebrities: it profiled many upscale entities around the world: high-end hotels, spas, and resorts; wealthy enclaves, suburbs, and other neighborhoods; five-star restaurants along with its exquisite cuisine. All this was to show how you can live when you have money. This segment provided information, when a family wants to plan a vacation and experience the good life, if only for a little while.
The show did have good points. Firstly, the opening theme music by Bill Conti was fantastic!! If you can get it on CD, it would be worth the buy. Bill Conti composed theme songs for other TV series such as: `Cagney and Lacey', `Falcon Crest', and `Dynasty', as well as overseeing musical scores for movies such as Rocky and the Karate Kid. The music was great. The other good point was the voiceover work of the late David Perry, when narrating the introductions and the profiling segments not involving the celebrities. His voice was cool and suave.
Nowadays, this kind of show would not be `politically correct' in a time of so much economic uncertainty. This show supports the philosophy that living a modest lifestyle is better than the lifestyle of extravagance.
Sanford and Son (1972)
Episodes Adapted from "Steptoe and Son" Are the Best!!
It's already known that `Sanford and Son' was the Americanized version of `Steptoe and Son' of England, created by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson. `Steptoe' was extremely funny and groundbreaking in England. When the show was brought over to the USA, it's initial transformation to `Sanford and Son' was excellent
in it's early years.
The original premise of `Steptoe' was the direct relationship between the father and son, as the son strives for a better life from the junk business, while his cantankerous father holds him back, due to fear of being alone in his twilight years. Many comedic situations resulted as a result of this conflict.
TVLand currently shows reruns of `Sanford and Son'. If you pay attention to the opening credits, and the writer(s) of the current episode is given, it is sometimes followed by Based on `The Piano' by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson. `The Piano' was an original `Steptoe and Son' episode. This meant that the upcoming `Sanford and Son' episode was merely a retooling of the respective `Steptoe' script for American audiences, now entitled `The Piano Movers'. There were 136 episodes of `Sanford and Son'. If you include all episodes, movies, and TV specials, there were 59 offerings of `Steptoe and Son'. Based on my research, of the 136 `Sanford' episodes, 16 episodes were direct adaptations of the `Steptoe' series. Those `Steptoe' copies were the funniest episodes of the `Sanford and Son' era, due to the exceptional scripts by Galton and Simpson. If you have the DVD, you are able to watch the uncut, unedited versions, which is not the case when watching the TVLand episodes. Other `Steptoe' episodes could not be duplicated because they were either far too oriented in British culture to be adapted for America, or they were considered too crude & vulgar to attempt to tone down for America, although I wish they tried.
Another strong point was the opening theme song by Quincy Jones, as well as the closing theme.
However, due to the extreme popularity of the show, Redd Foxx developed and ego, wanted more money than the producers, and disrupted production of the show to the point where Whitman Mayo (Grady) had to fill in on a temporary basis. This was one of the downsides to the show. Eventually, he came back, and the show labored on. Redd Foxx had marital problems during this time. Being distraught over that, he left the show in 1977, even though the show had more life left.
NBC tried to keep the flame lit by producing `Sanford Arms', which revolved around the Sanford Arm tenants which lived there when Fred and Lamont bought the Sanford Arms when their show was on-the-air. There was also `Sanford.', which did not have Lamont. The less said about these two shows, the better.
All in all, the `Sanford and Son' episodes adapted from the Galton and Simpson scripts from `Steptoe and Son' will always be the better episodes.
The Jerry Springer Show (1991)
Springer is Getting Too Old for This!!!
According to the IMDb file on Jerry Springer, his birthdate is February 13, 1944. This means that when February 13, 2004 rolls around, he will be SIXTY YEARS OLD.
I don't need to comment on the ridiculous topics or the human freaks that saturate his show night after night. However, I can comment that Springer is getting too old to act as the so-called "moderator" to this sewage!!
Nothing more needs to be said about this show.
The Real World (1992)
Locations Are Ridiculous!!!
Whenever I think about this show "Real World", I always think about the locations of the show: Boston, Chicago, Hawaii, Las Vegas, London, LA, Miami, New Orleans, NYC, Paris, San Francisco, Seattle. All of these cities are very exciting cities, but there is a problem here.
All of the mentioned places are regarded as high-profile cities, world class cities, international cities, EXPENSIVE cities. These are the cities which are shown in "bold print" on world maps. These are the cities where "nightlife" is booming. These are the cities where tourists flock for vacations. These are the cities that are shown on television all the time. These are the cities which are fast-paced. These are the cities where the "action" is. These are cities which will never be classified as "boring".
However, there is more to geography, and more to life, than that. If this show is supposed to be called the "Real World", give people just that. What about having the "Real World" take place in these types of places:
¨ Cheyenne, WY ¨ Binghamton, NY ¨ Savannah, GA ¨ Columbia, MO ¨ Dayton, OH
Or, if you want to take the international route, how about these places:
¨ Sussex, England ¨ Nice, France ¨ London, Ontario (as opposed to London, England) ¨ Cork, Ireland ¨ Perth, Australia
The idea here, is that all of these places are not regarded as the "world class" places like NYC or Paris. These places are slower-paced. These places don't have the "nightlife" that Chicago or Hawaii has. Tourists do not flock to these places like they do to San Francisco or Vegas. However, these "other" cities are special in their own way. They give you a look into what life is "really" like, without all the hussle and bussle.
Why has the "Real World" NOT taken place in lesser-profile places? It's on MTV. MTV appeals to Generation X'ers with short attention spans who want excitement and action-packed locales. They will not get action in Little Rock, Arkansas, nor will it keep their attention.
Also, how can early twenty-somethings who are just getting started in life afford to live like royalty in these high-priced places?
Perhaps I'm too critical. Perhaps I'm not. MTV is not exactly intelligent television like PBS or the Discovery Channel. The "Real World" is not going to appeal to people in their 30's and beyond. Even though others have discussed the other putrid aspects of this show, I felt that the location issue should have been addressed.
Columbo: By Dawn's Early Light (1974)
Excellent Acting! Excellent!! Excellent!! Excellent!!
This is one of the few Columbo's in which the acting quality is so outstanding, it makes the detective element that much better.
I did not know much about Patrick McGoohan as an actor before seeing him in this episode as Colonel Lyle C. Rumford. While I was watching this mystery, I found myself more in awe with his acting than with the actual detective element. Watching him made me look into his work more and more. As a matter of fact, I learned that McGoohan won an Emmy Award in 1974 for "Best Guest Star on a TV Series", for this episode.
If you want to see acting at its best, watch this episode the next time it shows up on the Bravo! Channel.
Some Detective Elements Copies Columbo
Andy Griffith has made a great career out of portraying "country" folk.
The character of 'Matlock': the country lawyer, who was cheap, expensive, set in his ways, had a razor sharp mind, adapted to modern standards when necessary to solve cases.
"Matlock" was 'Perry Mason meets Columbo'. "Matlock" had the courtroom savvy of Perry Mason; able to extract the courtroom confession, whether by the culprit's words or by the culprit's reaction on the stand. "Matlock had the persistence and awkward habits of Columbo: While Columbo wore the trademark raincoat, Matlock wore the same dreary suit. Both appeared to be bumbling. This did nothing more than hide their brilliance. Anyway the 'Matlock' character was fun to watch. This is why the show lasted.
However, the show was about mystery, about how the case was solved. While some of the episodes offered great detective clues which Matlock used to crack the case, many episodes featured detective clues and plot twists that were copied from 70's "Columbo". "Columbo" aficionados may know what I mean. Here are some examples for those who know Columbo:
* Columbo's fingerprints turn up on paintings when they should not have in an episode entitled 'Suitable for Framing'. This trapped the murderer. The fingerprint stunt was repeated in the Matlock episode 'The Dame'.
* In the classic 1973 "Columbo" episode entitled 'Double Shock', Martin Landau portrays two roles: a man and his twin. In this episode, it seems that one of the twins is guilty, but it turns out that the twins did it together. This entire concept was done again in the "Matlock" episode entitled 'The Brothers'.
* Several "Matlock" episodes were open mysteries (we see the killer committing the crime). This was trademark Columbo.
There are other examples. I just named a few.
Many episodes featured the same, sometimes mundane plotting. When the murderer is committed, there were always three suspects (THREE!). In many detective short stories, the crime always featured three suspects. Sometimes, it would be better to take up the art of reading people like Ellery Queen to improve your literacy skills.
In general, Columbo was a lot better. Here is the reason. During the Columbo runs on TV, there ranged between five and eight episodes per season, because it was part of the mystery wheel on NBC during the 70's. Since only a few episodes were done, each episode can be worked on longer to ensure quality of the scripts. Matlock had 22 to 24 episodes. Sometimes, the episodes could be poor while so many episodes in a short time.
In all, Matlock was an above-average show. However, Griffith will always be remembered as Andy Taylor as opposed to being remembered as Ben Matlock!!
The Arsenio Hall Show (1989)
Good Premise, Bad Results
Arsenio Hall's show contained a wide range of ups and downs during its five and a half-year history. There is much to comment, so LET'S GET BUSY!
Firstly, let's focus on the good.
1) This show had a Black person with his own late night talk show. 2) While Carson and Letterman appealed to Whites, Arsenio appealed to the urban sector. 3) Arsenio dressed really well. 4) Arsenio would have guests on his show that appealed to urban culture, but were not considered mainstream enough to appear on Carson or Letterman. 5) Arsenio had an ethnically diverse band. 6) There were several memorable moments in the guest category: · Muhammad Ali was on the show and Sugar Ray Leonard and Mike Tyson made a surprise visit. · Miles Davis' appearance. · Sammy Davis JR's appearance. · Louis Farrakhan's appearance (memorable only because of all the controversy it created). · His shows after the Rodney King acquittals, and riots. · The video collages commemorating highlights of the show. · Bill Clinton playing the saxophone. · Andrew Dice Clay weeping openly to the sympathetic public. · MC Hammer (or Hammer depending on your mindset) and his performances. There are other moments to recognize, but I have to stop here due to space constraints.
Now, let's focus on the bad, which led to its premature cancellation:
1) The constant ass kissing while giving interviews. No one liked that. 2) More often than not, he would have guests on the show that appeared so frequently that they became stale and boring to watch. One popular example was George Wallace. 3) The monologues were terrible. Naturally, some jokes don't work at times. When Arsenio delivered jokes that died, he would attempt to keep it going to make it funny. It didn't work. The material was poorly written, and poorly delivered. 4) The perpetuation of ethnic stereotypes associated with hip-hop culture. Many times, he overdid it to the point that it looked clownish. 5) The fact that he had to maintain his "high-top fade" to let people know that he was still "Black" appeared to be very plastic after awhile. 6) His filler guests. For a little while, there was a show which came on right after Arsenio called "The Party Machine", hosted by Nia Peeples. Why do you need to have Nia Peeples as a guest on Arsenio (at the end of the hour program, in fact), when she is hosting the next program? Filler! 7) The "Master Impressionist" routine. It got old after the first time! Some you could not figure out.
The program got so bad that his guest stars were of greater interest than he was. Towards the end of the series run, I would only watch the beginning of the telecast to see who his guests were and what he was wearing. I would then either turn the channel or turn the TV off.
His timing was very lacking. The audience hollering "WOOF WOOF WOOF" was going to get played out eventually. Though Johnny Carson's approach was conservative, it remained lively enough to last 30 years. Arsenio was not going to last a third of that. He did not keep up. He thought that the same antics were going to keep him on the air. It didn't.
Arsenio originally had a 6-year contract to do his show. That means that his 6 year anniversary would have come in December, 1994. However, his show ended in May, 1994. His show ended 6 months early. Why is that? It's because Paramount wanted to pull the plug. They probably bought out the last 6 months of his contract and ended it. Thank goodness. Thank goodness for Arsenio's sake.
Arsenio's style and format led to an attempt at shows that tried to duplicate his formula: "Vibe", "The Keenan Ivory Wayans Show". "The Chris Rock Show" on HBO was the best.
Arsenio was extremely overrated as a comedian, as a celebrity. There has to be more to him than being a former friend of Eddie Murphy to have a career. Too bad his career is gone. See you in 5,000 hours!
Welcome Back, Kotter (1975)
Great Early Years, Awful in Final Season
This show ranks highly among the other 1970's shows which we remember: "All in the Family", "Maude", "Sanford and Son", "One Day at a Time", and "The Jeffersons". These shows dealt with issues such as racism, divorce, abortion, and being poor. These shows had writing that was great, and characters that were even greater. The characters, which had flaws (Archie Bunker, Fred Sanford, and George Jefferson, etc.) which we all, whether we were conservative, or liberal, or moderate, could relate to.
"Welcome Back, Kotter" was about a dedicated teacher who wanted to return to his alma mater to try to deal with a bunch of remedial, misfit high school students in inner city NYC when no one else wanted to deal with them. These types of teenagers were not tackled on TV before. The casting was perfect for the NYC setting: from the nerd in Horshack, to the cool maverick in Barbarino, to the Latino in Epstein, to the Black male, of course, in Washington. There is also the Principal in Mr. Woodman. The writing was great. The timing was awesome. The theme song by John Sebastian is breathtaking. The show was purely magical in its first few seasons.
There were problems, as life deals us sometimes. One was Marcia Straussman. She was very unhappy that her involvement in storylines was limited. It was unfortunate because the show primarily dealt with life at the school. Because she played the wife of the teacher, and she was primarily at home, there was not room for her. The act of making her a character on the show was not a good one. The Mrs. Kotter character would have been more appropriate on recurring basis. Another problem was differences between Gabe Kaplan and the other producers and writers. This explains why we never saw him much during the later run of the series.
Gabe Kaplan's lack of involvement in the show's fourth and final season was just one of the many problems which doomed the show. The writing in that final season was sloppy, unrealistic, unfunny, and was so amateurish. As a teenager watching the show in reruns, I saw that something was amiss. The actors on the show complained that the scripts were trash. A storyline about Horshack getting married was about as bad as the writing could get, and it was that. The E! Channel's "E! True Hollywood Story" about this show talks about that dismal fourth season. Another major problem with that show in the fourth season was that the actors who played the Sweathogs. The problem with actors playing teenagers is that they were older than teenagers when they began portraying those characters. To prepare to portray teens, they had to learn how to be teenagers again. It worked in the early days.
However, by the time the fourth season had arrived, the actors had matured and developed as adults where they were getting too old to portray teenagers anymore. They also did not look like teenagers, either. Let's not forget John Travolta and his blossoming as a movie star. These factors led to the demise of the series.
The series was about a concept so fresh, people in this modern era can relate to it even more now than they could back in the 70's. This concept is about misfit children. This is why it was so popular for awhile in syndication. However, it fizzled in syndication because when those fourth season episodes began airing, the viewing felt that the whole show was crap and stopped watching. USA Network had it. TV Land had it. They both stopped showing it.
Even though things did not end on a good note, true fans of the show can ignore that fourth season and remember the greater moments. It was a great show in general.
Power of Attorney (2000)
Complete Nonsense of a Syndicated Court Show
This pitiful court show followed the same format as "Judge Judy", "Judge Mathis", "Judge Joe Brown", "The People's Court", "Judge Mills Lane", "Texas Justice", "Divorce Court", .Everyday people bring lawsuits in a small claims court. You have a plaintiff, who brings on the lawsuit against the defendant. The defendant, of course, defends itself against the claims brought on by the plaintiff. If appropriate, the defendant brings a countersuit against the plantiff. The judge hears the case, and the judge gives a decision based on the law.
This "Power of Attorney" crap followed this format with a difference as implied in its title: high-profile lawyers represent the litigants to make a pseudo-court case. I was highly annoyed at these lawyers' attempts at being "artificially theatrical" and "overly dramatic". They were purposely trying to put on a show before the camera in a real bad attempt at showing their alleged "skill" to the public. Perhaps it was done in an attempt to get ratings, or to entertain the audience, or to get shock value. They overdid it too much. None of it worked.
These lawyers are high-standard in whatever state from which they come. They are used to major cases. On this syndicated show, however, they handled low level crap compared to what they are accustomed to. To act overly dramatic on these petty cases was really ridiculous to watch.
I was not a regular watcher of this nonsense. I only watched it a few times when I had a day off from work. Those few times were a waste of my times.
I am probably the only person who will ever write a review on this mess.
That's because others who saw it may not think it is worth their time to write anything about this mess. I did it so that I could practice my typing.
Thank god the show is canceled, gone, and kaput!!
Politically Incorrect (1993)
Format Is Not Original, Better on PBS
The concept of having a round table of people with different backgrounds, different opinions, and different social classes coming together to discuss issues is not new. Several programs on PBS do this or have done this. The diverse backgrounds of the panelists are necessary to initiate debate, to cause chaos, to formulate new ideas and perspectives, and for the panelists to, hopefully, learn from each other. If everyone shared the same views, the discussions would not be interesting to either the panelists, the moderator, or the TV viewers. It would not be interesting television. On PBS, the panelists are extremely stimulating on an intellectual level. They are well-established and well-respected in their fields. Usually, they are not mainstream celebrities. Usually, one must have a decent intellectual disposition to enjoy these panel discussions on PBS.
Bill Maher brought this concept to Comedy Central, and he fueled a fire! He brought this concept to the less intellectual of America who would usually have never paid attention. It was funny, of course, a little looser in language and format, lightweight to appeal to younger viewers. It became successful to where it moved to the big time, NETWORK TV.
Though I did not watch it on a regular basis, I became tired of the oversaturation of well-groomed, well-dressed celebrities. A sparkling appearance does not make their opinions more insightful. However, because it was a major network concerned with advertising dollars, ABC had to continue with these celebrities, even if they didn't have much to say.
The show, as of the time I wrote this, has been canceled. This was, most likely, caused by Maher's comments after September 11, 2001 when he referred to the American Armed Forces as "cowards". It was probably taken out of context.
Anyway, the show was fun, while it lasted. However, just because his show is dead, does not mean that this discussion format is dead.
Your Big Break (1999)
Refreshing At First, But Became Stale Later
Being a syndicated show, it came on late night in the Detroit area. To a person, like myself, who doesn't go out partying very much, it was a refreshingly entertaining show for late night watching on the weekends. In fact, it was an "appointment" show for me.
The premise was simple: common folks want to live their fantasy, have their 15 minutes of fame, and perform as their favorite artist. They are made up, and costumed to simulate that artist, and they sing with THEIR OWN VOICES. The premise was nice. The hosts always mentioned at the top of each show that the show's concept originated in Europe. Therefore, the idea was not new. Dick Clark and his production company did not develop a new idea, but it was great to bring that idea to North America.
The wide range of artists that were imitated was impressive: Gladys Knight, Elton John, Aretha Franklin, Louis Armstrong, The Beatles, Cher, Lionel Ritchie, Janet Jackson, The Bangles, Kenny Rodgers, Tina Turner, Frankie Valli, etc. At times, performances were excellent. At other times, performances were not so good. One major strength of the show was the background singers, dancers, and instrument players. Naturally, they were professional entertainers, and "Your Big Break" was a job, but those people were talented. They, at times, made the performers appear to be better than they were.
I occasionally became upset that certain contestants lost when they should have won. The audience voted. I sometimes thought, "What were these people thinking?"
Then there were the hosts. The first season of the show was solid. Christopher "Kid" Reid was a very capable host. Alphonso Ribero was not as impressive in the second season.
Because "Your Big Break" was my "appointment" show, I saw many of the performances. In the first season, the performances were original. In the second season, the same performances began to be repeated. Cher, Frankie Valli, Gladys Knight, Louis Armstrong, Whitney Houston, James Brown, Neil Diamond, are the ones I remember. Not only the same performers, but the same songs as well. In these cases, the performances were much weaker than the same acts in the first season. In fact, all of the performances, in general, were weaker. The show became stale.
The producers, naturally, realized this, and decided to end the show. It was a decent 2 years. However, the people running the show did not do enough to keep the show fresh.
Quantum Leap (1989)
Excellent Blend of Science Fiction, Good Writing, and Acting.
One very wonderful attribute of the Internet Movie Database is that it allows everyday people to voice their opinions of any movie or television program they have seen. Someone in the entertainment community wisely sees that the people who view the movies and programs have an opinion and has given them the means to state their own reviews. Naturally, some reviews are good, and some are bad. Different people may have different opinions of the same product. However, the differing viewpoints are outstanding.
As of the day I submitted my upcoming opinions of "Quantum Leap", 34 opinions have been displayed. "Quantum Leap" had to be one special show for so many people to want to give their praise. I am number 35 to date.
This product called "Quantum Leap" was a terrific combination of great science fiction, fantastic acting, creative writing, and a innovative look into history.
Naturally, there were flaws, especially from the scientific end. For example, Al was a hologram. However, a hologram is a three-dimensional image taken from a beam of light. It does not cast a shadow. I've seen Stockwell's shadow on the ground a few times. Another problem was the image that Sam saw which was not his own. During the very first episode, Sam saw this strange image for the first time. He jumped at the image due to his shock. The image, though, did not jump at the same time. They were supposed to jump in unison. This emphasized that fancy camera work was used. For future episodes, when looking at his strange image through a mirror, Sam moved slowly so that the phenomenon can appear more convincing. There were other times when the details were right on point. One thing I remember was in an episode when Sam was watching a TV which was covered in glass, the image of the other person was reflected in that glass. This demonstrates that glass is a variation of a mirror, and it also reflects images.
Enough of the scientific details. The other elements of the show were so great, I cannot go into details here because I will exceed my 1,000-word limit. The dimwits who produce the junk for science fiction shows currently running in first-run syndication need to watch a few episodes of "Quantum Leap" to learn how science fiction should be delivered as a TV series. The premise of creating a time machine and getting trapped in it. Can any sci-fi premise be better? The show flowed wonderfully from that premise. Heck, even the theme music was excellent!
It was too bad that "Q.L." got canceled. I've read many other reviews here that say that it should be a movie. Seeing that Scott Bakula is now doing the sci-fi "Enterprise", he would be well-groomed for that transition. I wonder if D. Stockwell would be game. I'm sure he would.
By the number of reviews that have been submitted, and the addition of reviews that I'm sure will be added in the coming years, will certainly show that this show is missed, and will be enjoyed forever in their reruns.
Everyone understands the premise of the roasts: Take a famous celebrity, the focus of the evening, and subject that celebrity to a barrage of insults, put downs, and/or satirical impersonations. It was all meant to be off-beat, unrehearsed comedy that honored the guest of the evening. However, there was a problem.
The company of Gunther-Renky put together a series of infomericals offering the best of these roasts. These roasts featured the classic entertainers and personalities of the their time dressed in exquisite formal wear: Jack Benny, Frank Sinatra, Milton Berle, George Burns, Lucille Ball, Don Rickles, Jackie Gleason, Rich Little, Muhammed Ali, Rowan and Martin, Orson Welles, etc. These names are supposed to draw the public to purchase these cassettes or DVD's. The infomercials promote the roasts as being unrehearsed, spontaneous, and improvised. That is not true. These roasts were just as much scripted as a typical situation comedy. There was no randomness to it. However, the big name stars are supposed to make the public overlook that fact.
The secret came out in early 2001. This probably explains why the infomericals have not been on since. The company is guilty of false advertising.
A Different World (1987)
Became Overbearing and Ridiculous When Debbie Allen Became Director.
"A Different World" was supposed to bring a fresh new idea to TV: the experience of attending a historically Black college. It was also supposed to be the platform for Lisa Bonet. She was good in a supporting role on "The Cosby Show". However, Bonet was far below average in a starring role on "A.D.W.". Her off-camera problems and escapades contributed to her less-than-dashing performance. Also, the show could not adequately tackle the Black college experience due to most storylines being centered on her.
By the second season, Bonet was gone, and the show became something special. Kadeem, Jasmin, Charnele, Cree, Darryl, Sinbad, Dawnn, Glynn, even Jada and Ajai all began to shine. The scripts were solid, and believable. I enjoyed Dwayne working to improve himself academically. As we all know, his strong point was math and he sought out to be an engineer. However, the fictitous Hillman College was a liberal arts school. This was a place that attempted to develop you in other ways than just math and science. Dwayne tackled a class in poetry. He had problems in an anatomy class, which Kimberly helped him in because she was the future doctor. Whitley, with art as her major, had problems with math. A couple episodes dealt with that. This dealt with a real college experience. Ron Johnson was tricked by Whitley and Dwayen into doing a paper when he thought the paper he had to submit was already done by someone else. These ideas were wonderful. All this changed when Debbie Allen took over.
When she became director, I don't know what the show was supposed to be about. Firstly, it focused on too many intimate relationships. Many times, the show centered around ridiculous love triangles between Dwayne, Whitley, and whomever. The intimate relationship between Jaleesa and Colonel Taylor was probably the most horrible storyline ever put into that show. They tried to create the same effect that the Dwayne/Whitley storyline created. It failed miserably. When Ron was not chasing women all the time, he tried to have a relationship with Freddie, then with Kimberly, then back to Freddie, then back to Kimberly, and so on. It was as if the writers could not make up their minds on what to do. It was stupid.
The show became a showcase of the exploration of Black social issues. I am sure that real Black college students are not wrapped up in these things very much due to their attempts at trying to study. At times, it dealt with racial issues that made the headlines that month. The major example here was the Shoal Creek Country Club incident when it would not accept Black golfers. This became a storyline involving Colonel Taylor. I do not see how this is relevant to receiving an education at a Black college. They also dealt with other issues: interracial dating (This was extremely unrealistic on a Black college campus.), apartheid (The act of having college students protesting apartheid in South Africa on their campus does nothing to cure it.), L.A. riots (This was done to keep the racial issues boiling on the show.), Black stereotypes which Whites have, etc. I can keep going and going and going. It was not necessary to overload us with this stuff every single week.
Another thing, too many episodes involved African dance and dancing in general. This was most likely done for two reasons: to emphasize that the ancestors of Black people live in Africa; so that Debbie Allen can flaunt her dancing prowess. Also, the stereotype of the Black male in college with dreadlocks, wearing a dashiki, reciting bad poetry, always referring to a Black woman as "my Nubian queen", preaching that we all should revert back to our African roots, became stale and tiring.
The show, under Debbie Allen's tutelage, became a show not dealing with the college experience very much, but a Melrose Place for Black people. This show had bright spots, though. In the end, the final episode left many questions unanswered. This, and many other problems, are what led to the show's demise. It's still popular in syndication.
Star Trek (1966)
All The Ideas Started Here!!
When Star Trek fans and all around science fiction aficionados talk about the original compared to TNG, DS9, Voyager, and Enterprise, they begin by discussing the special effects. Naturally the effects are much better and more realistic than on the original. Many people can outline specific effects that were not done very well on the original, due to an incomplete and inaccurate depictions as well as financial constraints.
For example, analog counters existed in the 23rd centery on the original. Even in the 1980's, counters were digital. There were also scientific errors that scientists or science buffs would notice. Sound being produced in outer space by phasers, explosions, and tractor beams. This is ridiculous. Sound is produced by air molecules hitting one another. Since there are no air molecules in outer space, no sound can happen. Also, time dilation comes into play when you are traveling near the speed of light. Time in the moving reference frame of the Enterprise is slower than time in the reference frame of the planet(s) they are visiting. Three hours of time on the moving ship could mean thirty years on the planet. Yet, that was never dealt with properly. However, because the acting was good, no one ever paid attention to these issues.
On another note, similar quirks of the original was repeated on future series. Kirk referred to McCoy as "Bones". On TNG, Picard referred to Riker as "Number One". On DS9, Sisko referred to Odo as "Constable". The nickname idea was repeated. Also, the design of the bodies of the ships: the original Enterprise, TNG's Enterprise, and Voyager's Voyager, were similar. The scientific basis was explained on a Star Trek special in 1990. If the producers paid special attention to the correct science of the ships, why wasn't more attention paid to the other scientific aspects?
Anyway, with all the talk about science, it was a TV show, and how can you argue about the wonderful portrayals of Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Sulu, Uhura, and Chekov? I don't need to explain it here. The movie franchise says it all.
No matter how long Star Trek remains a concept, how many other new shows are produced, they will always be compared to the original!!
The Fugitive (1963)
What A Real Drama is Supposed to Be!!
I was not alive yet when the show was in its original run. When I became a teenager, I happened to be flipping through the channels one late night and I stumbled across a rerun of "The Fugitive". I was hooked immediately.
I idea behind watching any TV program or movie is to provoke raw emotion from the viewer. Whenever I watch "The Fugitive", my heart actually beats faster. I always felt nervous, merry due to Kimble triumphing, scared, etc. No other program I have ever watched has given me such great feelings.
The show had an excellent premise (we all know it). The character development is the best of the best. Kimble, we saw his weaknesses, did not deserve the injustice that was brought to him. His strengths always kept him one step ahead of Gerard. Gerard, he was the epitome of a man possessed. Great characters and a great story.
Granted, the show has some continuity problems. But those things were overshadowed by an excellent product.
Most other drama on TV today is sappy and weak compared to this.
"The Fugitive" is what a real dram is supposed to be!!
BET's Comicview (1992)
Good Comedy Which Has Become About Buffoonery and Sexual Anecdotes
When Comicview began, it was a wonderful showcase of up-and-coming Black comedians strutting their stuff. In the early years, they were clever, quick-witted, and tackled many different issues. It was also a competition. Celebrity judges voted for the winner and the winner had his own 1-hour special.
Nowadays, Comicview has become a display of buffoonery and sex talk in poor taste. I am sure that much of Black America is more diverse and sophisticated than this. In an article in a Black magazine, the show's co-host, Reynaldo Rey, admitted that the buffoonery even annoys him, at times. There are some Black people who wish to enjoy "intelligent" comedy. You don't get that on BET. That is because Comicview is primarily targeted for teenagers up to those in their late 20's. At this stage, the target audience welcomes talk of raunchy sex with a hip-hop appeal. That's all! I sometimes tune in hoping to get something other than the sex jokes, but that will be a topic by at least one of the comics during the hour-long program. Much of the comedy isn't funny. However, some of the audience laughs anyway, to relieve the tension of if being unfunny. Many of the comics have been on several times, probably because they are desperate for a gig to earn a buck.
Another thing I find obvious, is how the beautiful Black women are overemphasized. Granted, the Black women in the audience are beautiful. However, there is no need to always have the camera on them to draw the attention of your male viewers. A few of these beautiful women sit on benches and seats strategically placed onstage to further accentuate the appeal of the new set. They are there only to look cute. Some may call it exploiting the women in the same way they are exploited in the music videos on the same network.
One thing that is very stale is the audience. It is not necessary for the audience members to give a standing ovation to every comedian when he is introduced and another standing ovation after he completes his performance. They do this even though many of them are not familiar with the comics, and whether they were good or not. That is very tiring to have to see every time.
One bright thing about this season is the party theme music by Buckwheat Zydeco. That southern flavor is jammin'. Since this season being done in New Orleans, it is totally appropriate.
Even though buffoonery and modeling beautiful Black women are the norm, and this makes money for the network, it will continue.