Category Archives: cbs

The Big Brother Racists

I haven’t really talked about “Big Brother” this year, mostly because I’ve been bored by it. There was no one I liked, no one I wanted to root for. They even included Rachel’s sister in the cast this season. One would think, as a Rachel fan, I’d be excited, but no. Please take this the wrong way, but her sister, Elissa, is just Rachel with all the charisma and sexiness removed. And her personality consists of just her being Rachel’s sister. Yawn.

There is even a new twist with the eviction process, an added candidate, but none of it was really enough to catch my attention. It really comes down to cast. Cast someone I’ll want to like, not a bunch of bland rejects from “90120” auditions. No one here clicked for me.

Then something happened, something both exciting, and fully explaining why I didn’t like anyone. There wasn’t anyone to like, except for a couple racists, whom are just built for the audience to hate. Trouble is, we haven’t been privy to their hate until just recently. Now CBS has opened the doors to reveal these imbeciles to the world.

Houseguests Aaryn, and to a lesser extent, Ginamarie, have been showing their ‘true colors’ as they have made serious anti-Asian, anti-black, and anti-gay remarks about their fellow houseguests. Really? A twenty-two year old with views like this? I am shocked in this day and age. Are there really monsters like this still walking around in America? Thank the gods she has lost her job while in the house. At least someone is clear thinking.

Now I have a reason to watch “Big Brother” this season, and someone very specific to root against, boo, hiss, and wish misfortunes upon. Don’t cry, Aaryn, maybe the neo-Nazis are looking for a new cover girl…

I cannot wait for Aaryn’s exit interview …with Julie…

Advertisements

Arrow: Vertigo

Back in the day, let’s say the 1950s, back when Green Arrow was literally Batman with a bow, he had a serious rogues gallery. There were a multitude of bizarre criminals who menaced Star City on a regular basis. True, most of them spun on the unoriginal twist of using some sort of bow and arrow motif, but Green Arrow and Speedy had lots of enemies.

The 1970s came along, Speedy got hooked on heroin and left his mentor, Green Arrow, who had changed his costume and facial hair to a more modern look, and turned his aim on social issues rather than super-villains. By the end of the decade however, things had come full circle, and costumed criminals came back in vogue. The powers that be decided Green Arrow needed a rogues gallery, albeit a more believable one, without the mandatory bow and arrow.

Enter Count Vertigo. With a name like Werner Vertigo, what else could he become but a super-villain, right? The Count part comes from being the last member of the royal family of Vlatava, so he has the resources of a small eastern European nation behind him. Afflicted with a balance problem he had a device implanted in his head that prevented vertigo. After years of tinkering with it he found he could affect the balance of others, causing dizziness, and yes, I’ll say it, vertigo. He can also fly. No idea how he does that though.

Merlyn the Magician may the king of super-villains who use bows and arrows, and Green Arrow’s natural opposite number, but when most folks think of the emerald archer’s archenemy on the scale of a Joker or a Luthor, they think Count Vertigo.

But that’s the comics, on the “Arrow” TV series, things are a bit different. Vertigo is a new drug, one that got Oliver’s little sister in a car accident, and arrested in but one of last week‘s cliffhangers. And the drug lord pushing vertigo onto the streets is called The Count.

The hot button comics reference this episode is Thea’s middle name – Dearden. Not only is her nickname Speedy, but in the comics, Mia Dearden is the young girl who was the second person to take on the Speedy identity as Green Arrow’s sidekick. Is this homage or foreshadowing?

The Count, as played by Seth Gabel of “Fringe,” is very manic, theatrical, and dangerous in that mad villain unpredictable way. Brilliant casting, and great costuming, I kinda got a Captain John Hart vibe as well.

Nice to see the writers haven’t forgotten Oliver’s Russian Bratva connection, I just hope that they don’t forget to explain it. It’s also good to see The Count has not lost his Eastern European origins as well. I also like the explanation of his name. Nice touch. And the color of the drug itself? It’s green, like Count Vertigo’s color scheme in the comics.

Detective Quentin Lance’s outrageous grudge against Oliver is getting old, and kind of silly too. I do however like the cast addition of Janina Gavankar from “True Blood” as Detective McKenna Hall. With Laurel tied up with Tommy, Oliver needs a good potential romantic interest. Please don’t bring back the Huntress.

The Count is taken down, of course, but with the possibility of a return, and possibly more like the comics version next time. We’ll see. He reminded me a bit of Mark Hamill’s turn as the Trickster on the old “Flash” series on CBS. Maybe we will get powers and costumes next time.

In this week’s island flashback, we learn more about Yao Fei, Ed Fyers, Deathstroke and the terrorists there. We also see a slick trick make folks look dead. Don’t try this at home, kids. We also see, much too briefly, Emily Bett Rickards as Felicity Smoak with some bad news for Oliver. But I’m sure we’ll get more of that next week, and hopefully more Felicity as well.

How CBS Is Ruining Big Brother

Since the first season of “Big Brother” viewers in the United States have not really been watching the real “Big Brother.” American audiences were not receptive, read as low ratings, to the format that had been so successful everywhere else in the world, so US producers made up their own rules. It’s become a unique entity, and that’s not even getting into oddities like US censorship, editing, and limited viewing or prerecorded broadcasts. “Big Brother” US is its own thing, and it’s killing it.

I could get into how incestuous it’s become. The only excitement seems to come from having old houseguests return, or having them transplant from and to other CBS reality TV programs. New viewers tend to be turned off by all of this internal continuity faster than a newbie reading an X-Men comic.

There is also the censorship issue. If CBS doesn’t want you to see something, and it doesn’t happen in the seemingly regulated Showtime late night hours, or you’re not subscribed to the paid feed (and even then sometimes), you’re just not going to see it. Like the rumors of houseguest Chima threatening to take a dump on the bed – the real ratings-getters never make the grade.

The most infuriating way CBS is ruining “Big Brother” is with their Big Brother Network email subscription service. They apparently don’t understand the simply concepts of subject lines, and most importantly, spoilers. I tend to watch my television on DVR, hours, sometimes days later than the original broadcast. More times than I want to admit, I have gotten an email from the BBN with “So-And-So Evicted” in the subject heading. Wtf??

You better straighten up, CBS, I don’t know how much longer I’ll be hanging around the Big Brother House.

Futureworld

Futureworld ~ I was just talking about Peter Fonda and this flick on this blog recently so when I saw Futureworld was on Encore Action, so I DVRed it. It’s been at least a serious three decades or so since I’ve last seen it. It’s nowhere near as good as I remembered it, and despite being a feature film, looks barely above television quality, bad for even a Samuel Z. Arkoff production. it does still have its merits though.

Futureworld is the 1976 sequel to the popular 1973 scifi thriller Westworld, and was followed a few years later by the very short-lived CBS TV series “Beyond Westworld,” which was even worse, as demonstrated by it only lasting five episodes.

In Westworld, written and directed by Michael Crichton, the Delos Corporation has created three ‘amusement parks’ – WestWorld, MedievalWorld, and RomanWorld – populated by lifelike androids where guests can indulge in any fantasy they can imagine in each park genre, including having sex with and/or killing the androids. A malfunction affecting all the robots makes them suddenly attack and kill all the guests, highlighted by the Gunslinger, as played by Yul Brynner, and terror ensues. So ends WestWorld.

In Futureworld, Delos seems to have recovered from this PR nightmare and gone back into business. Fonda and Blythe Danner are newspaper and television reporters invited to see what the new Delos is all about and make sure it’s safe. They elect to visit FutureWorld, one of the new parks that have been added. There is some great dialogue between the two regarding newspapers being dead, nice call from 1976.

Most frightening about the film is how much the parks resemble Disney in design and visuals, but I suppose that’s on purpose. On the down side the acting is abysmal and the sexism is humiliating. That the technicians must be gay or robots if they don’t succumb to Danner’s charms is one of the more pitiful bits. There’s also a painful conspiracy subplot about Delos replacing world leaders with robot doubles.

Yul Brynner as The Gunslinger does appear in footage from the first movie and in Danner’s bizarre dream sequence. Too bad he couldn’t be in more. As a true scifi movie villain, perhaps he could have dragged this flick up a few notches from its bad telemovie level.

Mike Wallace Dead at 93

Over the weekend one of television’s pioneers passed away. Multiple award-winning journalist, TV host, and media personality Mike Wallace is dead at the age of 93 from natural causes.

While best known as a correspondent on the long-running news program “60 Minutes,” Mike Wallace has worn numerous and varied other hats such as narrator on the “Green Hornet” and “Sky King” radio series, game show host, actor (under the name name Myron Wallace, although he played himself in one of my favorite films, A Face in the Crowd), and he also hosted several other news shows before landing “60 Minutes.”

Wallace had semi-retired in 2006, but appeared throughout 2008. He garnered at least twenty Emmy Awards, had written two autobiographies, and was perhaps the last of the real television journalists (just my opinion). We have lost one of the greats.

Bookmark and Share

The Lorax

Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax ~ I learned to read very early, thanks to my big sister, starting with Dr. Seuss favorites like “Hop on Pop,” “One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish,” “Fox in Socks” and of course the classics like “The Cat in the Hat” and “Green Eggs and Ham.” And although I quickly graduated to comic books, and then real books, I never lost my love of the Doctor (in this case, Seuss, not the guy with the TARDIS).

Though I had never actually read the book I do distinctly remember my first encounter with “The Lorax.” The night the animated version premiered on CBS I was allowed to stay up later than usual to watch it. I was interested but not very because I thought that previous TV versions of Seuss’ work, excepting the Grinch, we’re inferior to the source material. Yes, even at seven, I was nurturing a critical mind.

I had not just a critic’s thought process, but I was also pretty hip to propaganda, even if it was positive propaganda. I had seen the Justice League fight pollution and promote ecology in the comics, and it had hit a sour note with me. It’s not that I don’t believe in the causes, I do, it’s just I’m very against being fed a message in lieu of a story or characterization. I saw that hand at work in “The Lorax.” The bottom line is I don’t mind being educated while I’m entertained – I just don’t want to be preached at.

Which brings all the way back to 2012 and the movie Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax. The Bride and I saw it in 3D, so we spent far far too much to get in. By my estimation, this would have been fine in just plain 2D. There’s still a message here in this expanded tale of the Lorax, but really not enough to annoy me. Trust me, it’s still there, but nothing like Lou Dobbs and other conservatives have exclaimed (and did I read right, did they call “The Lorax” a novel?). It is clear, not at all subtle, but not overbearing either.

Instead I got to enjoy the fun relationship between Ted (Zac Effron) and Audrey (Taylor Swift), watching Ted escape the city in interesting ways, and hearing the moral yet endearing story of The Once-ler (Ed Helms) and the appropriately annoying (here at least) Danny DeVito in the title role. There is also the predictable role for Betty White. No offense, honey, I love ya, but it’s getting old. There were a few pointless scenes, like the chase at the end with the seed. I almost wanted to yell at the screen, “Give it to Wall-E, he’ll keep it safe!”

All in all though, it was good, and non-offensive. Add a fun original soundtrack (no excuses for only two nominees in the Best Song category at next year’s Oscars) and you have yourself an entertaining hit movie. I don’t have a good record with Seuss properties turned into films (note the Grinch and Horton), but this one’s a winner.

Bookmark and Share

Andy Rooney Dead at 92

Some folks are their work. I can’t help but think about that today as I write about the passing of journalist and writer Andy Rooney. He passed away Friday night from major complications of an undisclosed surgery, just weeks after signing off for the last time on his regular closing slot on the long running “60 Minutes.” Even in his final piece, an interview for the program, he said he wouldn’t stop writing – he couldn’t stop writing.

Rooney was a journalist since the Second World War and had closed the CBS new program with his commentaries for over forty years. He was the curmudgeon’s curmudgeon, always questioning the most mundane and puzzling of the day’s mysteries. His voice was grating and his attitude confrontational and often sarcastic, but he was always entertaining, and if you weren’t careful, informative.

Andy Rooney wrote for television and news for decades, He won four Emmys while on “60 Minutes,” and many other broadcasting and journalism awards during his long career. We have lost a true legend and an epic voice in our times. He will be missed.

Bookmark and Share

Darna The Return

Darna Ang Pagbabalik ~ I’m a big fan of Mars Ravelo’s comics work and his sometimes brilliant pantheon of Filipino superheroes. I love me some Captain Barbell, Lastikman and Darna. But much like film versions of American superheroes, their Filipino cousins have hit and miss success. Sometimes they’re great and sometimes they’re not. Case in point – Darna Ang Pagbabalik, or as translated to English, “Darna The Return.”

For those not in the know, Darna is basically the Wonder Woman of the Phillipines, but not enough to create litigation. She was bestowed power from the gods, given a magic stone to transform into her super-identity, and has other powers like heat vision, telekinesis, and telepathy, that keep her out of court even though she also frequently plays ‘bullets and bracelets’ like a certain Amazon Princess. She’s been around since 1950 in comics, movies and television.

Darna Ang Pagbabalik is pretty traditional superhero fare, if a bit campy. Darna fights crime, loses her magic stone, and romances her leading man, while her snake-haired archenemy Valentina tries to take over the nation via evangelist television. The beautiful and athletic Anjanette Abayari is more than suitable in the title role and Pilita Corrales is very creepy doing “V” imitations with mice as the heavy. The special effects are pretty cheap for the mid-1990s but about on par with the CBS Marvel telemovies of the late 1970s.

If you don’t mind subtitles and some hokey special effects and dialogue, this isn’t a bad flick for superhero fanboys and girls. However I would recommend the 2000 versions of Captain Barbell and Lastikman if you’re looking for a proper introduction to these wonderful Mars Ravelo characters.

Bookmark and Share

Mike and Molly

The Bride and I watched quite a few of the new series that debuted these new Fall TV season. We watched episode after episode, unsure if we really liked what we saw or not, and asking each other, sometimes comically, after each one – “Did we like this?” and deciding sometimes hesitantly – “We’ll give it another episode.”

One of these shows was “Mike and Molly.” Being proud geeks and nerds with no shame, we both like Chuck Lorre’s “The Big Bang Theory” quite a bit and were saturated with promotion for “Mike and Molly” during that program. It seemed like worth a look, so we gave it a shot. The series follows a couple, both quite overweight, a cop, Mike, and a teacher, Molly, as their relationship slowly evolves from dating to serious. As far as a relationship show, it’s successful, but the humor often flows from their size and weight.

We were not fans of “The Big Bang Theory” at first. We eventually caught up with it after a few seasons. The reason we didn’t dig it at first was that most of the humor was based on nerdiness, and was more of the laughing-at-us type rather than the laughing-with-us stuff. We tired quickly of being made fun of. Now, the show is more edgy and in sync with the subculture, and for us, funnier.

“Mike and Molly” operates on much the same formula, only against bigger people instead of nerds. I might be making much of this as fat people have always been made fun of, but really, isn’t this just lazy writing? Taking the cheapest shot possible. Racial humor is only a step below. It’s all discrimination.

All that said, “Mike and Molly” has a lot going for it. Their romance is heartwarming and awkward and real. Other than fat jokes, a lot of the more recent humor has been sexual in nature, much of it coming from the comic genius of Swoosie Kurtz. And the wonderfully talented Nyambi Nyambi as the coffee shop owner is the highlight of every episode. We’ll stay with this a while, and hopefully it can mature past the fat jokes.

Bookmark and Share

Devil Dog

Devil Dog: The Hound of Hell ~ I’m seeing this telemovie for the first time since 1978, but I have vivid memories of the first time this movie of the week was on television.

I remember not the night it first aired so much as the next day at school. In English we were doing a creative writing exercise, and had been doing it for a few weeks, and it was finally due that morning. One kid, who shall remain nameless, but he knows who he is, and anyone reading this who was in the class remembers who he is, handed in his story and its name was “Evil Dog: Hound from Hades.” I wonder what he had been doing the last few weeks, but I sure do know what he had been doing the night before! Man, would I love to read his ‘story’ now!

The original movie, plagiarism lawsuits aside, starred such television luminaries as Richard Crenna, Yvette Mimieux, Ken Kercheval, Lou Frizzell, and those two Witch Mountain kids Kim Richards and Ike Eisenmann. The flick was written by mediocre television writers Elinor and Steven Karpf and directed by Curtis Harrington, who actually used to be an interesting director. But it doesn’t show here, the writing obviously overshadows the directing, and the performances, which are worse than the usual movie of the week.

The story is a fairly simple one. The devil mates with a dog (don’t laugh, yet) and a Satanic cult sends the litter of subsequent puppies out into the suburbs to raise havoc. Our feature family receives a German shepherd named Lucky who likes to play mind games with the family, killing a maid and basically effs with everybody.

There’s so much telekinetic stuff going on here I would have thought the Witch Mountain kids would have caught on right away, but no go, they quickly becomes Lucky’s slaves, and total brats. Father Richard Crenna seems to be the only one hip to the dog’s evil and faces off with the devil dog that has taken over his family. Great z-movie fun, this would have been prime real estate for “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”

Bookmark and Share