Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Blogger’s Block – Summer 2009 Edition

Okay, this is downright embarrassing; I'm having so much trouble motivating myself to write that I'm having trouble writing about having writer's block. I'd rather be playing poker online – or just about anything else – than writing about TV right now. Right now I just don't have the fire or the desire to write. I can get stuff started but just don't seem to be able to finish it off. Nothing seems to be igniting the fire and desire. This will pass (hopefully) but right now the get up and go has got up and gone. So there'll only be sporadic posting for the present while I try to figure out how to get out of this funk.

Monday, June 22, 2009

(A Belated) Fathers Day 2009 – Bring Your Kid To Work Edition

I got caught up in some other stuff yesterday (that seems to be happening a lot – blame it on the summer I suppose, not to mentin that getting these pictures together ain't easy) so this is a belated Father's Day tribute. Then again, aren't most tributes to fathers a little late and a little less interesting than tributes to mothers?

As you may have noticed, men are not women. In most cases this doesn't matter for acting – you know, besides the peeing sitting down bit, and the nudity thing – but one of those is the fact that when a man is in the process of becoming a father there are no obvious signs. A man can go through an entire pregnancy without anyone noticing. Unlike a woman of course, which after all was the subject of my Mother's Day post this year. But what about after the baby comes and becomes a full-fledged human being. Even then we really don't have to know anything. Nothing is obvious after all. No one has to know that dear old dad is a dear old dad in real life (or for that matter on a drama – since most are set in a workplace you don't need to know much about their personal lives while for women it's often a major plot point; but that's a subject for next year's Father's Day post). But what fathers can do is appear in a show with their off-spring. And some of those children grow up to be actors in their own right.

Desi Arnaz – Desi Arnaz Jr. and Lucie Arnaz(?): This is a bit of a stretch but inevitably I go back to I Love Lucy for a first. In the last episode of the half-hour I Love Lucy (the show went to an hour length as the The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour for the last two seasons of its existence) there were two small children at the dedication of a statue in Westport Connecticut – a statue which Lucy has accidentally destroyed of course. At the statue dedication there are a couple of kids, a little boy and a little girl. Vivian Vance, as Ethel Mertz asks the little boy if he can see. The little boy is none other than Desi Arnaz Jr. while the little girl has long been thought to be his sister Lucie. However in its notes on the episode TV.com claims that "It has been said that the Arnazes' daughter Lucie appears in the episode. She doesn't show up in the episode, although Desi Arnaz, Jr. and Lucie's childhood playmate do." Lucie and Desi would later co-star on their mother's third series Here's Lucy. Subsequently both children went off to their own careers. Lucie had some success in film, TV and Broadway, notably in the 1980 remake of The Jazz Singer opposite Neil Diamond, and the Broadway musical They're Playing Our Song. She even had her own series - The Lucie Arnaz Show – which ran for six episodes. Desi Arnaz Jr. has a much more extensive IMDB resume with a lot of guest starring work in the 1970s. Improbably he appeared in his own series, Automan. Even more improbably it lasted thirteen episodes – seven more than his sister's show (which in my not so humble opinion was infinitely superior). Perhaps his most interesting movie role was his small part in the movie The Mambo Kings: he played Desi Arnaz Sr. – his father.

Lloyd Bridges – Beau Bridges and Jeff Bridges: Lloyd Bridges's first entry into Television was probably one of the iconic syndicated series of the late 1950s, Seahunt. On the show Bridges played former Navy frogman turned freelance diver Mike Nelson. Nelson – so far as we could tell at least – was a single man without children. In real life Lloyd Bridges was married with four kids. The two oldest children Beau and Jeff both made appearances on Seahunt on several occasions – twice each for Beau and Jeff Bridges. Subsequently Lloyd Bridges starred in the Aaron Spelling produced anthology series The Lloyd Bridges Show which ran from 1962-63. Not only did Jeff and Beau Bridges appear in episodes of the series, but so did Lloyd's daughter Cindy Bridges. Years later, in the 1993 series Harts Of The West starred Beau Bridges in the lead role and his father Lloyd Bridges in a supporting role.

James Daly – Tyne Daly and Tim Daly: James Daly did a number of TV shows over the course of his career, including the Star Trek episode Requiem for Methuselah, but he is probably best known for playing Dr. Paul Lochner in the 1969 series Medical Center. Actually these days he's probably best known as the father of actress Tyne Daly and her brother Tim Daly. Tyne Daly appeared four times on Medical Center with her father, playing different roles in each episode. This must have been confusing for Dr. Lochner because one of the roles that she played (in the episode "Moment of Decision") was Jennifer Lochner, Dr. Lochner's daughter. But Medical Center wasn't the first time that father and daughter had worked together; they did an episode of Ironside called "The People Against Judge McIntyre" together in 1970. And Tyne wasn't the first of his children that James Daly worked with. In 1966 he did an adaptation of Ibsen's An Enemy Of The People for National Educational Television (NET) with his then 10 year-old son Tim. It was the only time they ever worked together.

Martin Sheen – Renee Estevez and Emilio Estevez: Everyone knows that Renee Estevez appeared on The West Wing, appearing as Nancy, one of President Bartlett's numerous secretaries. Her role on the show was never a big one; a few words here, a "Mr. President" there. It wasn't a big part but she was a member of the regular cast. Emilio Estevez also made an appearance on The West Wing, although he didn't appear with his father. In the episode "25" there are some home movies of a young Jed Bartlett with his youngest daughter as a small child. The younger version of Bartlett was played by Emilio Estevez. Martin Sheen also appeared with his son Charlie Sheen in Charlie's series Two And A Half Men playing the father of Rose, Charlie's neighbour/stalker.

Ozzie Nelson – David Nelson and Rickie Nelson: If ever there was a case of taking your kids to work it was Ozzie Nelson. When The Adventures Of Ozzie And Harriet made the transition from radio to TV in 1952 he decided that the ideal actors to play his two sons David and Ricky were... his two sons David and Ricky! It's not really surprising – they'd been playing themselves on radio since 1949 but sometimes radio actors didn't make the transition very well. Later when his sons married Ozzie brought their wives June Blair and Kristin Harmon on as their wives. Ricky of course went on to be the big star of the family. Between 1957 and 1962 he had 30 Top Forty hits and appeared in several movies. As for David, he never became a huge star but did do some acting and a certain amount of work as a producer and director. In fact he even directed episodes of The Adventures Of Ozzie And Harriet.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Get Those Celebrities Off My TV

I have something better than a review of I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here – pelicans.

I shot this photo at the weir in Saskatoon. And let's face it Pelicans have made a greater contribution to art than the producers of this show have simply by being the inspiration for Dixon Lanire Merrith's poem (misattributed to Ogden Nash):

A wonderful bird is a pelican,
His bill will hold more than his belican.
He can take in his beak
Food enough for a week;
But I'm damned if I see how the helican.

What have the producers of I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here given us? A location, described by one of the participants on the show as "absolute torture," that any cub scout let alone anyone who ever appeared on Survivor – including Elizabeth Hasselebeck – would call the lap of luxury by comparison to what they had to deal with. A bunch of challenges that substitute the gross-out factor for any need for actual physical ability. A group of people, most of whom most viewers have never heard of, who have so little to do in the day that the only thing they are left with is annoying the crap out of each other. And us. These people, who are living proof of the saying that "hell is other people," are frequently self-centred, self-important and suffering from overinflated egos, who take offence at the least little thing. I'm not even going to mention Heidi and Spencer from The Hills except to say this – watching them on the first episode of this show not only gave me a headache but I'm pretty sure contributed to the nauseous feeling that came over me after the show.

The simple fact is that there have been reality shows that not only weren't renewed (like Treasure Hunt) but were pulled off the air before they completed their run (Pirate Master) that were better than this steaming pile of crap. I was struggling with what to write about this show all week before I finally came up with this, and I'm more than slightly concerned that I've wasted more electrons with this than the show deserves.

But at least it gave me a chance to post a picture of pelicans.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Upfronts 2009 – Video Previews

Still busy trying to chase that dream I mentioned in my last post, with limited success – finished third the other day in the first round tournament but needed to finish second to do anything. Oh well. Between that, an assortment of real world chores, that brand new time waster Twitter (I'm BrentMcKee there and of course can always use followers), and of course the general summer ennui, I haven't been writing much, and haven't really found the urgency to get this posted. Still I have wanted to get the clips for the season's new show posted on the blog.

The US networks haven't made it easy for the Blogger who just wants to publicize their shows. CBS, FOX and The CW all have YouTube sites but in the case of CBS, the clips aren't accessible to Canadians. NBC abandoned YouTube several years ago, and ABC has followed suit over the past year. Still there are sources available if you're willing to look for them. In fact some of these sources (notably the German Serien Network) provide clips that are longer than what the networks themselves posted. Naturally enough these clips are presented for promotional purposes only, and are the property of the networks and the production companies that made them.

First up we have ABC. I have structured the clips on this playlist (and all of the others) with the shows debuting in the Fall first and in some reasonable approximation of the order in which they'll air. These are then followed by the midseason replacement shows. For ABC the order is The Forgotten, Hank, The Middle, Modern Family, Cougar Town, Eastwick, Flash Forward, Happy Town, and finally The Deep End. Complete running time for this group of clips is about a half hour.

Next we have the CBS shows: Three Rivers, NCIS: Los Angeles, The Good Wife, The Bridge, and Miami Trauma. I was unable to find a clip for the Monday comedy Accidentally On Purpose that I was able to view. Running time is just under 15 minutes.

The FOX playlist includes The Cleveland Show, Brothers, Sons of Tuscon, Past Life and The Human Target. Running time is about 16 minutes.

The NBC clips run at a little over 20 minutes. They are Trauma, Parenthood, Community, 100 Questions, and Mercy.

Finally The CW has two clips from Melrose Place, a clip from The Beautiful Life, three clips from The Vampire Diaries and an extended clip from Parental Discretion Advised. Running time is about 15 minutes.


While it is impossible to determine the quality of a new series from this sort of brief clip – particularly when some of the roles have been recast (Julia Ormand is out at Three Rivers and Louise Lombard is gone from NCIS: Los Angeles), I would really like to comments in the realm of first impressions about the new shows. Do they look better than the shows that were dropped to make way for them? Worse? Which ones do you think you'd watch and which ones do you intend to tell your friends neighbours and perfect stranger to avoid like the plague? Where do you think there's potential and where do think that a show represents the total collapse of western civilization. Just remember, I don't control what networks do and don't put on the air. I wish I did – just like everyone who has ever written a review of a show either for a newspaper or a blog, and maybe things will be different come th eerevolution – but as it stands people who write in the comments section "...you are really considering dropping Without a Trace???" will get no satisfaction from me because I don't have the power to bring Without a Trace back.