Category Archives: brady bunch

RIP Lou Scheimer

Lou Scheimer, the father of Filmation, and the king of American television animation for many of our childhoods, has passed away at the age of 84.

Filmation was a small animation studio, one of the few still doing animation in the United States, rather than shipping it overseas. Founded by Scheimer, Hal Sutherland, and Norm Prescott in 1962, they did some little known cartoons like “Rod Rocket.” They really caught fire when they licensed the DC Comics characters in 1966.

Beginning with “The New Adventures of Superman,” they began to expand to shorts that featured other characters like Superboy, Aquaman, Batman and Robin, and later the Justice League of America and the Teen Titans, as well as those groups’ individual members. These cartoons were, along with the 1966 “Batman” TV series on ABC, my gateway drug into comic books. My love of Aquaman, Superboy, and others sprang from early viewings.

The DC deal brought another comics company to Filmation’s offices, and Archie came to Saturday morning animation for years under their guidance. Later in the 1970s, Filmation became a major player in the animation game, producing cartoons of “The Brady Kids,” “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids,” and “Star Trek: The Animated Series” among many others.

Filmation delved into live-action with shows like “Isis,” “Space Academy” and Shazam.” While the studio began to get a reputation for repeating backgrounds, limited animation, recycling designs, rapid jump cuts, and using the same music over again, they had also produced some real quality programming as well.

In the 1980s Filmation produced some of its most well known shows like “He-Man and the Masters of the Universe,” which featured, like many of the previous shows, a lesson at the end of every episode. Before closing up shop in 1989, Filmation also produced over the years some very cool versions of Flash Gordon, Tarzan, and the Lone Ranger, using then fairly new rotoscoping techniques.

With the loss of Lou Scheimer on Friday, we have lost one the legends of animation, and for me, a big chunk of my childhood. He’ll be missed.

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Sharknado!

Sharknado ~ It’s a tornado. Made of sharks. Sometimes when I hear the concept of a movie, I can’t help but think what the pitch for it was like. I see a boardroom sometimes, filled with executives in suits. And in this case, one stands up, clears his throat, and says… “It’s a tornado, made of sharks.”

The Syfy Channel has made The Asylum’s movies famous. Whereas the company used to make its money making rip-offs of major blockbusters, now they are chiefly known for their giant reptile epics starring washed up 1980s and 90s stars. Syfy Saturday nights have made things like Dinocroc, Supergator, and Megashark the stuff of legend. Sharknado, on a Thursday night, is an epic landmark.

If you were paying attention to the Twitter and the Facebook the night it was airing, you would think the entire world had divided up between folks who were watching it, and folks who were refusing to watch it – but everyone was aware of it. I had to watch it. How could I resist what very well be the worst film ever made?

Did I mention it’s a tornado? Made. Of. Sharks. Might as well be made of awesome. If you didn’t see it, you surely missed something.

Tara Reid was supposed to be in this but I couldn’t find her, or maybe I just couldn’t recognize her after all that plastic surgery. But yes, yes, that is cousin Oliver himself, Robbie Rist, as the heroic bus driver. No, Ray, it was not me.

Did they really steal the Ferris wheel scene from 1941? And a bit of the drive-in scene from Twister? And even a twisted hybrid of Phoebe Cates from Gremlins and Robert Shaw from Jaws… wow. Cool bit with the Hollywood sign though. I gotta say though, the shot continuity (day to night, sunny to rainy to overcast, all randomly) was driving me a bit nutty.

Okay, reality check, there is a plot. A freak hurricane has brought sharks in droves up onto the now flooded land. There are sharks in the streets, sharks in the sewers, and yes, it’s even raining sharks.

An hour into this flick, The Bride commented, “They must have spent five, ten minutes, working on this script…” That genius screenwriter is Thunder Levin, who was also responsible for the Battleship clone, American Warships, and some flick called… sigh… Atlantic Rim.
Yes, folks, it’s true, global warming causes sharknadoes. And you can stop a tornado with a bomb. Riiiight.

Evolve or Die, A Star Trek Rant

Those Star Trek people infuriate me. You know the ones I mean. Whether they call themselves Trekkers or Trekkies (and yes, I do know the difference), it makes no difference when it comes to the 2009 reboot of the franchise, and its upcoming sequel in just a few weeks.

Let’s be serious now – if Gene Roddenberry had actually gotten his “Star Trek: Phase II” on the air when he wanted to, would we be still talking about Trek now or would the proposed series just be an embarrassing footnote like “Rescue from Gilligan’s Island” or “The Brady Bunch Hour”? Let’s all be thankful that Star Wars was so successful, and Paramount made Roddenberry move it to the big screen.

And while we’re being thankful, let’s be thankful for J.J. Abrams for finding a way to both be faithful to continuity, and to free himself of it. He paid respect to the fans, and opened up the field for a new generation of fans. It works in the story, and you have the old continuity and the new continuity existing side by side. And come on, it’s not like time paradoxes and parallel universes are foreign territory for the franchise. It’s almost the norm if you look at the original series.

Let’s talk about TOS, as “The Original Series” is called. It may as well stand for The Old Series, because it’s dated. Worse than that, “Next Gen” is even more painful when it comes to looking dated. Special effects and hairstyles weigh down TOS, but man oh man, ST:TNG just screams eighties. It’s so bad, it’s almost embarrassing. And for most of these Trek people, TNG is the gospel canon.

I lost interest in Trek television, when “Deep Space Nine” came along, and once the Captains met in the movies, I was out of there too. “Enterprise” brought me back. The Trek people hate “Enterprise.” I think it was great, it not only brought me back to Trek, it brought The Bride as well. The Trek folks whined about how the Vulcan protagonist behaved, behavior that was rationalized in the context of the series by the way.

These are the same people that don’t have a problem with Klingons not having ridges in TOS, faulty physics, jumbled histories and timelines, and of course the fantasy of a cashless society. But a Vulcan enacting free will, that’s wrong. It’s okay for Spock, but nobody else.

Seems to me that the Trek folks have a problem with the mainstream taking their toys. It was okay when no one else liked Star Trek, but when there’s a blockbuster movie, they get defensive. And I throw the “Doctor Who” latecomers into the same garbage bin.

I loved Abrams’ Star Trek, and can not wait for the sequel. All y’all old Trekkies and Trekkers, feel free to stay home and not see it, just shut up about it. You’re ruining it for the rest of us.

Davy Jones Dead at 66

It’s always harder to write these things when it’s someone you like, and this is a rough one, compounded by death at such a young age. This morning actor, singer, songwriter and musician, among other things, Davy Jones, passed away from a heart attack in Florida. He was 66.

His career began early, acting in the British soap “Coronation Street,” and even working as a jockey before landing the role of the Artful Dodger in “Oliver!” on the West End stage in London. The cast performed on the same “Ed Sullivan Show” that the Beatles made their first American appearance, and after seeing them, Jones knew what he wanted to do with his life. He moved from British TV to American TV and was eventually cast as one of the Monkees, both on television, in the recording studio, and on the concert stage.

The Monkees broke up in 1971, and Davy Jones made a legendary appearance on “The Brady Bunch,” one which he recreated for the movie that came decades later. The Monkees reunited for a series of reunion tours, starting in the mid-1980s. I had the opportunity to meet the man twice on these tours. He was always polite, funny, and pleasant and gracious to his fans, no matter what they did to him, wanted him to sign, or embarrassed him with. He was a good guy. We have lost a legend, and probably the king of the teen idols. He’ll be missed.

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Sherwood Schwartz 1916-2011

Writer/producer Sherwood Schwartz passed away in Los Angeles this morning after several surgeries. He was 94. Schwartz was best known for being the creator of two of the most memorable television series of the 1960s and 1970s – “The Brady Bunch” and “Gilligan’s Island.”

Both shows had a huge influence on the childhoods of of several generations, and could be said to have even formed what many people considered sitcom humor. As a child myself, I don’t remember a time when these two programs were not on the air in syndication, and also that they had both appeared on every UHF station in the Philadelphia area. I also remember vividly having to be home on Friday nights to see new episodes of “Brady Bunch” and coming home for lunch to see reruns as well.

Both series lived on for decades in syndication and in animation and reunions, and for the Bradys, in film as well – such is the legacy of Sherwood Schwartz.

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Ken Ober Dead at 52

Ken Ober, best known as the host of MTV’s game-changing gameshow “Remote Control,” has died at the age of 52. The show also featured early work by Adam Sandler, Kari Wuhrer, Denis Leary and Colin Quinn, as well as bringing the wonders of “Gilligan’s Island” and “The Brady Bunch” to a whole new generation. In recent years Ober had produced television series like “Mind of Mencia” and “The New Adventurers of Old Christine.”

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Osbournes Reloaded

Remember back in the 1970s when variety shows were all the rage? Carol Burnett, Flip Wilson, Sonny and Cher (both together and separately), the Captain and Tennille and even Donny and Marie were the kings of the genre.

The networks got so desperate for that type of entertainment, variety shows were given to just about anyone. Among the oddities were TV family the Brady Bunch, mimes Shields and Yarnell and one-hit wonders the Starland Vocal Band.

Well, Fox has got something coming that’s no ‘afternoon delight’ – “Osbournes Reloaded,” part variety show, part reality TV and part game show, this mutant blatantly sucks off the several years off the radar “The Osbournes” reality show from MTV.

Fox, where reality lives, not originality. That said, I will still be hand for this train wreck. Misery loves company.

Allan Melvin R.I.P.

Allan Melvin, classic character actor – who played Barney Hefner on “All in the Family,” Henshaw on “Sgt, Bilko” and Sam the Butcher on “Brady Bunch” as well as Magilla Gorilla and other popular cartoon voices, among many other parts in film and television – passed away this week. He’ll be missed.