Monthly Archives: September 2007

The Original 3:10 to Yuma

I haven’t seen the new remake of 3:10 to Yuma with Christian Bale and Russell Crowe yet, even though folks I trust have told me it’s a very good flick.

I think part of the reason I haven’t yet seen it is that I can’t get it into my head why it had to be remade. And even more irritating is that when I expressed this question on my LiveJournal, I was hit by a comment that people don’t think older films are worth watching. I’m still dumbstruck by this notion. Wow.

Either way, I was delighted to catch the original Glenn Ford and Van Heflin version of 3:10 to Yuma on OnDemand last night. It’s been some time since I last seen and it was still as great as I remember. In glorious black and white. Ahem.

Glenn Ford plays bad guy Ben Wade as an almost likable villain, but not in a let’s-root-for-the-guy way but more in a charismatic way. But still, this is 1957 and the line between the white hats and the black hats is a thick and decisive one. just as we know how human he is, we also know how evil he is. It’s a dance I wish more modern movies would take. After all, who were the stars of the first four Batman movies of the last decades? Batman or the baddies? There should be a line, dammit.

Van Heflin walks the other side as farmer Dan Evans, a reluctant farmer hero forced into the position to oppose Ben Wade. Wade is captured and a waiting game ensues as a race between his men coming to save him and an oncoming train to prison tick the clock away. Dan must come to terms with what should be done and what he wants to do as Wade tempts him with much-needed money to let him go.

The Elmore Leonard story is more psychological drama than straight western even though all the necessary elements are there. As I said I see little reason for this to be remade as it’s an almost perfect film as it stands. Did it need to be in color? Did there need to be more bloodshed? I don’t get it, but suppose will find out when I see the new one.

In the meantime, if you get a chance to see this one, please do. Great story, and probably some of the better performances by Ford and Heflin – a winner all around in my book. See it.

How to Peel Potatoes the Easy Way

Heroes? Not So Much…

People who know I’m into comic books but aren’t into comics themselves will inevitably bring up the TV show “Heroes” to me. They all think I’ll like it, and I do.

Last season “Heroes” was the darling of the the new TV series hitting the air. The premiere jumped out and grabbed and held us tight in its grip for the entire season. This season? Not so much.

The beauty of “Heroes” has been how accessible it’s made the superhero concept to the mainstream. There’s no spandex, there is no mention of the word ‘superhero’ but it has all the things that make the comic book genre what they are today. Like I said, the key word is accessible. I would guess that if an average “Heroes” viewer not into comics could get over the idea of codenames and spandex, they would be addicted to comics.

The show is good, despite stealing many ideas from the best (and worst) comics of recent years, it has remained one of the best series of the past year. Monday’s season premiere was only just all right in my opinion. No big surprises, no big shocks, no real cliffhangers. It was just a continuation of what went before. Even “ER” starts with a bang after a decade on television. Why couldn’t Tim Kring and the folks behind “Heroes” give us just a bit of fireworks?

Oh well, maybe next week…

Apple French Fries and Candy Cigarettes

Chuck

McG comes to TV with surprising results in “Chuck” which debuts tomorrow night as a lead-in to the much-anticipated second season of “Heroes.” Definitely tune in early to check out “Chuck” because the way NBC is advertising it (or not advertising it), it’ll be gone shortly. And that’s a shame.

The series rests on an annoying and unbelievable premise that should best be accepted – that lead character Chuck has all the secret intel from two government organizations in his head. Just accept it and move on, then you can enjoy the show.

Other than that this is a great little show that reminded me quaintly of both “Spaced” and Free Enterprise. It’s geek chic, and it rocks. The segment of the population that will get all the jokes in this one will love it. Those that scratch their head and go “Wha?” – – well, who needs ’em? Those latter folks however might be what dooms this show before it gets a fair chance, so see it while you can!

Chuck, you had me at “Vicki Vale.” 😉

Journeyman

This show tries so hard to be “Quantum Leap” it’s just a shame. There’s no Al or Ziggy in “Journeyman” and furthermore, lead actor Kevin McKidd (rumored to be the new movie Thor) is no Scott Bakula, but it does try, it tries so hard. Thematically it is very similar to “Quantum” in that our hero travels back in time to help people, but without Al or any reasonable logic to this, this show may well be as doomed as last season’s closely themed “Traveler.”

There are brilliant moments hoever, and lots of pop culture references that will make you smile like you’re watching a ten-second version of VH-1’s “We Love the 80s/90s,” but I’m afraid the confusion of the plot may mask any good points this show might have. There is a lot we’re not told and have to guess. You might have to watch this twice to make it stick, but it might just be worth it. “Journeyman” premieres Monday, September 24th.

Brett Somers 1924-2007


From Wikipedia:

Personal life

Born Audrey Sommers in New Brunswick, Canada, Brett Somers grew up near Portland, Maine. She moved to New York City at age 18 to pursue a career in acting. She became a U.S. citizen, and at the time of her death resided in Westport, Connecticut.

After moving to New York City, Somers married and had a daughter, Leslie, before divorcing her first husband. In 1953, she married actor Jack Klugman; they had two sons: Adam and David. The couple separated in 1974, but never divorced.

In 2002, Somers reunited with Charles Nelson Reilly and Betty White for an interview on the CBS program The Early Show, to reminisce about Match Game. During the interview, she denied rumors that she had suffered from cancer. She would reiterate that point in future interviews. Somers had a naturally husky voice which may have caused the misperception that she suffered from a throat ailment. However, her son Adam says the ultimate cause of her death was cancer of the stomach and colon.

Career

Early career

Somers began her career in theater, and made many of her initial television appearances in theatrical programs like “Philco Playhouse”. “Kraft Theater Playhouse 90”, and “Robert Montgomery Presents”.

Her Broadway debut, in the play “Maybe Tuesday”, was a flop; the show closed after five performances. She also appeared in “Happy Ending”, “Seven Year Itch”, and “The Country Girl” with “Odd Couple” co-star and spouse Jack Klugman.

Somers amassed a number of film credits, including “Getting There”, “Bone”, “Bus Riley’s Back in Town”, and “The Great American Beauty Pageant”.

Television credits

Somers made a number of appearances on episodic primetime television, including Love, American Style, The Defenders, Have Gun Will Travel, Ben Casey, CHiPs, The Love Boat, Barney Miller, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and The Fugitive.

Somers had recurring roles as the ex-wife of Oscar Madison (played by real-life spouse Klugman) on the ABC sitcom television series The Odd Couple in the early 1970s, as well as the role of “Siress Belloby” on the science fiction series Battlestar Galactica in 1978. She played Perry Mason’s receptionist Gertie in the short-lived revival of the series in 1973 which featured Monte Markham as Perry Mason.

“Match Game”

Somers is perhaps best known for her appearances as a panelist on the 1970s CBS game show Match Game. She and the show became known for somewhat outlandish and risque dialogue; the show has been described as having the feel of being at a game at someone’s cocktail party. Somers was an iconic on-screen presence, wearing enormous eyeglasses, various wigs, and playing foil to Charles Nelson Reilly, Betty White, Richard Dawson, and Fannie Flagg, among others. Somers was often the subject of questions on Match Game, such as “You may or may not believe in reincarnation, but listen to this. In a previous life, Brett used to be a ________.”

Somers was not originally on the celebrity panel. When spouse Jack Klugman appeared on the first week of the program in 1973, he suggested that producers bring her aboard. Her wit and dry humor proved extremely successful, and she would remain a regular panelist for the remainder of the show’s nine year network and syndicated run. According to a Boston Globe article in the early 1980’s, Brett Somers was being paid $250,000 a year for her appearance on Match Game.

Later life

Somers maintained a fairly active career until her death. In 2002, she appeared alongside Charles Nelson Reilly and Betty White as part of a Match Game reunion on CBS’s The Early Show. She also appeared with Reilly on Hollywood Squares during that show’s “Game Show Week” in 2003. In 2006, she was a prominent interviewee in The Real Match Game Story: Behind the Blank on GSN, and hosted the Match Game DVD as well (by this time, Gene Rayburn was dead and Reilly had become mortally ill, leaving Somers as the only remaining regular from the show able and willing to do it).

Outside of Match Game-related work, Somers appeared in a cabaret show, An Evening with Brett Somers, from 2003 to 2004.

Death

Somers died on the morning of September 15, 2007, according to her website.

New Avengers #34 Reviewed

“We Live in Exciting Times… Again” – my comic book review of New Avengers #34 by Brian Michael Bendis and Leinil Yu is now online at Avengers Forever.

You can check it out here: http://www.avengersforever.org/reviews/default.asp?RID=529

Enjoy!

And if you’d like to make a donation to help keep the Avengers Forever website as mighty as ever, click here. Thanks!

The Other Side of the New Bionic Woman

I promised more on the new Bionic Woman, or more specifically on the crap going on behind the scenes. Here we go.

It’s not just a matter of a show that worked before but the new innovators choosing to ignore what made the original successful. Not that that helps. No matter how you slice it, the original series was very successful, some say better than “The Six Million Dollar Man” from which it spun off from. Not only did it outlast it but in my opinion had more memorable episodes. Remember the fembots? How about the Alex 7000? The show even won an Emmy, where her male counterpart never did. And of course it never had the controversy this new version has had.

Let’s start easy. There have been at least three pilots. One is good. Two is not bad, if the network has decided that changes in cast or plot should be made. But three? That’s a bit odd, especially considering rumor stated that this series which was developed for the SciFi Channel was so good it should be kicked upstairs to NBC. If it was sooo good, why change it?

Now let’s get deeper. The character of the Bionic Woman is iconic, especially in the gay community. It would seem, that along with fans of the original series this makes for a large starting fanbase, something needed if the series is indeed as different as it is. Why then, would you try to alienate that community?

Enter Isiah Washington:

http://timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=621886

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/07/AR2007090700719.html

http://nymag.com/daily/entertainment/2007/09/will_the_gays_love_bionic_woma.html

And that’s just the tip of that iceberg. Suffice it to say that all of these elements plus what I consider to be a crappy pilot that I saw add up to a big zero for this one. I might be proved wrong, but I won’t be watching.

The New Bionic Woman

This review will just be about the show, the pilot (whether it’s the final pilot or not remains to be seen as there have been three so far) specifically. I’ll save the nightmares that have plagued the production since early on for another time. It’s much too messy to open that putrid can of dead and hate-filled worms right now.

This new ‘re-imagining’ of “The Bionic Woman” comes from the folks who did the same type of hatchet job on “Battlestar Galactica.” Much of the cast is borrowed from there as well. Michelle Ryan, Zoe from the BBC’s “Eastenders” and late of the much-acclaimed “Jekyll,” is tapped to play Jamie (new spelling) Sommers. Rounding out the cast are Miguel Ferrer and Wil Yun Lee who are always a pleasure to see in action.

Unlike the original series with Lindsey Wagner that spun off of “The Six Million Dollar Man,” this show is not kid-friendly. And even worse, it is definitely not friendly to anyone who grew up watching the show, which is a mistake I think. When adapting a project that was successful, effort should be made to find out why it was successful at least. This new version seems to have shrugged off any charm that the original may have had.

This Bionic Woman is a bartender rather than a tennis pro, and she is preceded by an evil Bionic Woman, played by “Galactica”‘s Katee Sackoff who is stalking her. This Jamie has a bionic eye in addition to one arm, one ear and two legs. And the special effects that strike me as downright hysterical make her super super-vision look like a mistuned TV station and her super-hearing sound distorted. Aren’t they supposed to be better?

When the show finally veers away from conspiracy, bad acting, music video and fixing your perceptions of the old show – and turns to action, we get a predictable duel between the Bionic Women. It feels like a martial arts fight where only dodging and parrying are allowed. I’m dumbstruck as to why neither woman even tries to land a punch. Weird.

I really can’t recommend this show. I predict it’ll be moved over to SCiFi after three or four episodes before being eventually canceled. Unless they change their attitude, this Bionic Woman is destined for the same trashbin the Bionic Dog and Bionic Boy ended up in.