Category Archives: pushing daisies
And so began the opening of one of the more innovative series ever to grace Saturday mornings. Created by Sid and Marty Krofft, notorious for Saturday morning kids fare that seemed to be acid-induced like “H.R. Pufnstuf,” “Lidsville” and “Sigmund and the Sea Monsters,” “Land of the Lost” was different.
The series, in the first two seasons at least (we will not speak of the Uncle Jack episodes), featured a solid science fiction premise, which is no wonder with folks like David Gerrold, Larry Niven, Ben Bova, D.C. Fontana, Norman Spinrad, Theodore Sturgeon and Walter Koenig involved in its production.
The premise involved a family on a camping vacation dropped into a place outside of time and space, structured by dimensional portals that controlled every aspect of the world, which was populated by dinosaurs, cave people called Pakuni (the writers even created a 200-word language for them) and hissing lizard-like inhabitants called Sleestak. The world had a very precise internal continuity and logic, and the well-written stories (despite the drinking game that can be had every time someone yells the kids’ names or Dad touches one of them) more than made up for the sometimes less-than-adequate special effects. This was the 1970s after all.
The show is held in high regard by many, including comedian Will Ferrell, who coincidentally played a character named Federal Wildlife Marshal Willenholly in Kevin Smith’s Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back. Now, in this 2009 feature film version of “Land of the Lost,” he gets to play the real thing.
Now, I’ve never been a fan of Ferrell’s comedy, either on “Saturday Night Live” or in film (although I did like his semi-serious turns in Winter Passing and Stranger than Fiction), so I was a bit distressed when I heard he would be starring in this obviously comedic take on the classic scifi series. It should also be noted, and not forgotten, he also had a hand in another TV remake for the big screen – the better-off-forgotten Bewitched.
The preview was at the dreaded Cherry Hill AMC Loews, where it was sponsored by at least four media outlets. WXPN (the only terrestrial radio station in town worth listening to any more) gave us the passes but they weren’t there. Glenn Kalina, now doing mornings for 97.5 Now, has looked better, and seemed so thrilled doing the pre-show trivia and giveaways. Maybe a bit more caffeine, Glenn.
Vittoria from the ‘CW Crew’ had considerably more energy, as did the nameless dude from WMMR. And props to him too for telling people to turn their damned cellphones off. I also had issue with one of his trivia questions. He asked what MMR stood for and took the answer ‘Means More Rock’ – but really, isn’t the answer ‘Metro Media Radio’?
The film begins (and ends) with the Matt Lauer bit that we’ve all seen in the previews, and thus starts the pattern of every other typical Will Ferrell slob comedy. All my hopes from seeing interviews from Sid and Marty Krofft that this was “a respectable, serious take” on their property are dashed pretty quickly on. When pee-pee and poo-poo jokes are given more screen time than the actual plot or character development, the truth is pretty much splashed on the wall.
There are a couple funny bits, I’ll admit it. Chaka is a hoot, and a far cry from the innocent ape-child of the TV series. And Leonard Nimoy doing his best George Takei impersonation while voicing the Zarn is hilarious. What hurts most is that this could have been a serious adaptation. The effects are here, and so are all the elements. It’s all here. Fans of the show can see all the trademarks of the show – Pylons, Sleestak, the Library of Skulls, the Pakuni language, Grumpy, Alice, the Altrusian moths, even Holly’s Dopey speech. It’s all here.
Anna Friel, of “Pushing Daisies,” using her real accent for once is fun, as is Danny McBride of HBO’s “Eastbound & Down.” And I really liked the revamping of the Sleestak, nice updated design. This film is similar to “Smallville” when compared to its source material, the old Superboy comic books. Some of the names and situations are the same – but it’s completely different.
This was an okay movie for free, and funny and fun occasionally. Will Ferrell fans will love it, unfortunately I’m not one of them.
“Human Target” will be opening for “Dollhouse” Fridays nights next season on Fox. It’s loosely based on the DC Comics character Christopher Chance, the Human Target. This isn’t the first TV shot for the character, Rick Springfield tried it for seven episodes back in 1992. And yes, that is Chi McBride from “Pushing Daisies” and Jackie Earle Haley from Watchmen.
ABC plans to broadcast the final three episodes on May 30th, June 6th and June 13th before pulling the plug on it for good.
Creator Bryan Fuller has dropped hints here and there that the saga may continue on in comic books, but time will tell. Hopefully most of our questions will be answered in these episodes.
Yep, it’s that time of year again, time for everyone and their mother to pick what they thought was the best of the past year. I’m no different, so yes, I’m going to make you suffer through my thoughts. This time, it’s television.
For me the top ten TV series of 2008 were:
“Pushing Daisies” – While canceled, and unlikely to return as anything but reruns or DVD, this was a bright spot for me on the TV schedule. It was thoughtful, innovative and brilliant, and that’s not even going into the unique cinematic or storytelling techniques it used.
“Eli Stone” – Another unique show and cancellation victim. ABC canned both of them after giving them a second chance this season. I guess ABC has not only a bone to pick with fantasy, but also television that makes you think.
“True Blood” – Unique marketing set this HBO series apart from any other vampire series before it even hit the air with the “BloodCopy” viral marketing ploy. This TV adaptation of Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse series is the surprise hit of the year.
“Dexter” – In its third season this Showtime series about a serial killer who hunts other serial killers continues to amaze. Even when it’s weak, it is better than 90% of everything else out ther on the tube.
“ER” – This old favorite, now in its supposedly final season, has bounced back and become its best season in years with guest stars galore and maintaining its balance of believable characters and intense situations. I don’t want it to go.
“The Wire” – And I didn’t want this one to go either, but what’s done is done. I came late to the party here and caught up on DVD, but I have to say that “The Wire” is probably one of the best series that has beeen made for television, period.
“Parking Wars” – This reality series from A&E follows the employees of the dreaded Philadelphia Parking Authority around during their workday. It’s the only reality show of its type that even comes close to the entertainment value of “Cops.”
The bottom five of my top ten are rounded out by Cartoon Network’s “Brave and the Bold” and “Venture Bros.,” the BBC’s fourth season of “Doctor Who,” the still refreshing “Chuck,” and FX’s much-missed and unfortunately canceled “Dirt.”
In the honorable mentions and etcetera department would be “Smallville” and “South Park” as most improved series, and BET’s “Black Panther” and the CW’s “Reaper” as the most looked forward to series in 2009.
On the bad side, boos and hisses for “Heroes” and Everybody Hates Chris” for dying a slow death in 2008, and the worst show I’ve seen this year would, of course, be the American version of “Kath and Kim.”