Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Dial M for Murder (1981) TV Movie

This second film version of Frederick Knott's suspense play stars Christopher Plummer as a wealthy Londoner, who works out a meticulous scheme to murder his wife (Angie Dickinson) and escape undetected. A serviceable made-for-TV job, the 1981 "Dial 'M' for Murder" suffers only when compared to Alfred Hitchcock's 1954 filmization of the same play. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Dial M for Murder (1981) TV Movie
Cast: Angie Dickinson, Michael Parks, Christopher Plummer, Ron Moody

Joysticks (1983)

When a top local businessman and his two bumbling nephews try to shut down the town's only video arcade, arcade employees and patrons fight back. This movie has Corinne Bohrer, my favorite actress of all time, film or TV. We love Corinne.

Joysticks (1983)
Cast: Joe Don Baker, Leif Green, Jim Greenleaf, Scott McGinnis, Jon Gries, Corinne Bohrer, John Diehl

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Ethnic Notions (1986)

This documentary traces the deep-rooted stereotypes which have fueled anti-black prejudice. Outstanding production packed with archival footage.

Ethnic Notions (1986)
Narrator: Esther Rolle

Ku Klux Klan, The: A Secret History (1998) (TV)

A documentary of the Ku Klux Klan in America. Not much is actually secret as this excellent presentation of a sensitive issue, (using first-hand accounts and archival pictures, film and newsreels) will show. Racism and prejudice have existed since the beginning of time and as ugly and counterproductive as they are, in my opinion they pale when compared to censorship and ANY attempt to prevent what should be "free" speech. Consider the new editions of contemporary classic literature, i.e. "The Call of the Wild", "Tom Sawyer", and others. Efforts to sanitize history by writing again what has passed and each time we lose a little. Here is an example; there was a time when drinking fountains were segregated. How do I know? From my travels in the deep south during this period? No. Because I saw photos from the time. If there was ever a time when those or similar documents from that time were altered or perhaps worse, deleted or destroyed, how would I or anyone ever know? Future generations deserve the reality and the truth, warts 'n all. This is a wonderful warts 'n all show.

The Ku Klux Klan: A Secret History (1998) (TV)
Cast: D. Paul Thomas, David Chalmers, William M. Banks, Julian Bond, Morris Dees, Bill Baxley, David Duke

Monday, March 28, 2011

Olympic Summer Games Closing Ceremony (2000) (TV)

From Sydney, Australia this is 3 hours of festivities celebrating the Olympic spirit and Australian heritage. Includes the traditional last day marathon. Great time EXCEPT the overexposed lead singer of a LAME Australian musical ensemble who shall remain nameless since they SUCK. Classic TV otherwise.

Olympic Summer Games Closing Ceremony (2000) (TV)
Host: Bob Costas

Going Home to Gospel with Patti LaBelle (1991) (TV)

From the south side of Chicago, this is absolutely fantastic, front to back. From the opening call to action by the Reverend P. David Saunders to the final close this is a testament to glory and the power of the gospel. God Bless Patti LaBelle.

Going Home to Gospel with Patti LaBelle (1991) (TV)
Cast: Patti LaBelle, Edwin Hawkins, The Barrett Sisters, Albertina Walker, The Mighty Clouds of Joy, Calvin Bridges, DeLeon Richards, Ricky Dillard and the New Generation Chorale, The Sue Conway Victory Singers and The Chicago Praise Chorale

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Jailbirds (1991) TV Movie

The made-for-TV "Jailbirds" is a distaff comedy variation on "The Defiant Ones". Phylicia Rashad plays an important LA business executive, while Dyan Cannon portrays a trailer-trash babe from Louisiana. Both Rashad and Cannon are thrown into a dank Southern jail for crimes they didn't commit. While manacled together, the ladies escape, driving each other cuckoo as they elude their captors. Apparently, CBS had so little faith in "Jailbirds" that the network hardly bothered to advertise the film when it premiered May 16, 1991. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Jailbirds (1991) TV Movie
Cast: Phylicia Rashad, Dyan Cannon, Ahmad Rashad, T.E. Russell, Clyde Kusatsu

Rascal Flatts: Nothing Like This (2011) (TV)

Honoring the guys on ten years of recording excellence. Some yakkin' but it's mostly live music.

Rascal Flatts: Nothing Like This (2011) (TV)
Cast: Jay DeMarcus, Gary LeVox, JoeDon Rooney, Natasha Bedingfield, Justin Bieber

Opening the Lost Tombs: Live from Egypt (1999) (TV)

Unfortunately compared to the failed Al Capone caper perpetrated by the notorious Geraldo Rivera, this is actually an incredible journey full of revelations and discovery. What we still don't know 12 years later is awesome, more for the volatility of this entire region. The Obama administration began aerial bombing of Libya within the last week, how much time is left to fully explore these and other tombs is unknown.

Opening the Lost Tombs: Live from Egypt (1999) (TV)
Host: Maury Povich

Hey, Hey, It's the Monkees (1997) (TV)

Not to be confused with the much less impressive "Hey, Hey We're the Monkees" from the same year, this is written and directed by uber-Monkee Michael Nesmith. With all four of the guys in place there is a hint of a story and a handful of musical numbers. Before you scoff, remember the Monkees were an illusion, underneath the obvious mockfest were noted songwriters and musicians writing great songs that became their original library. Some, not all but some, of the songs are actually pretty good! If you can ignore the way, way obvious fake drumming. Micky's calling it in, just like the old days. Obviously this is for the fans, I'm one and I loved it. Check out the song, "Circle Sky". Fourteen year old vintage pop music, these guys should live forever.

Hey, Hey, It's the Monkees (1997) (TV)
Cast: Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, Michael Nesmith, Peter Tork, John Brockman, Chuck Woolery

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

11th Annual American Comedy Awards (1997) (TV)

This is the usual star-studded affair to honor all things comedic. A huge room with a sea of faces, look for your favorites. A few of the obvious; David Alan Grier, Brooke Shields with Andre Agassi, John Cleese, Carol Burnett, Kathy Bates, Kelsey Grammer, Ellen Degeneres, Rosie O'Donnell, Lily Tomlin, Dennis Farina, Phil Hartman, Paul Reiser, Mel Brooks, Carl Reiner, Rob Reiner and it just goes on and on. The energy in the room is high and the production is well done except the lighting and color gel usage seem excessive. The entire ballroom is awash in over-saturated color making things look a little muddy, I prefer a sharper picture. Overall a real fun time. God bless Phil Hartman.

11th Annual American Comedy Awards (1997) (TV)
Host: Kelsey Grammer

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Late Night with David Letterman - 5th Anniversary Special (1987) (TV)

Another excellent anniversary show from the first iteration of Dave's late night enterprise. Not all is first-rate but that's part of the charm. A good example would be the dreadful 5 minutes from Jay Leno. That's right, in the days before their widely publicized personal feud, they used to be comrades. You'll also see a slightly better short stand-up routine from one of their mutual buds, Carol Leifer. This is lots of fun from a less jaded time.

Late Night with David Letterman - 5th Anniversary Special (1987) (TV)
Cast: David Letterman, Paul Shaffer, Andy Summers, Peter Frampton, Herbie Hancock, Joe Cocker, Jay Leno, Carol Leifer, Calvert DeForest, Chris Elliot

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Summertime Switch (1994) TV Movie

In this adventure, a poor street urchin and a poor-little-rich boy with the same name meet and decide to switch roles. ~ Sandra Brennan, Rovi

Summertime Switch (1994) TV Movie
Cast: Jason Weaver, Rider Strong, Richard Moll, Teresa Ganzel, Soleil Moon Frye, Barry Williams, Nicole Rochelle, Tighe Swanson, David Tom, Patrick Renna, Casey Sander

Stranger Within, The (1990) TV Movie

Rick Schroder has, before our eyes, grown into a skillful, intriguing actor. This former child star used his doughy baby face to portray a naive cowpoke in "Lonesome Dove", and, earlier this year, he was convincing as the brave oldest brother in a family of orphans in "Too Young the Hero". Now, in "The Stranger Within", Schroder uses his wide-eyed innocence to become a scary psycho. He plays a teenager who shows up on the doorstep of Kate Jackson ("Charlie's Angels, Baby Boom"), claiming to be her son. Sixteen years earlier, as we see in a flashback, Jackson's baby boy was snatched in a supermarket while her head was turned. Now she has to figure out whether Schroder is telling the truth. And pretty quickly, she hopes to heaven he isn't, because this kid is given to insanely jealous rages and worse: During one of Schroder's fits, Jackson's boyfriend (Chris Sarandon) meets his end in the grisliest ice-fishing scene you've ever seen.

Eventually, Schroder begins menacing Jackson as well, but by then the movie has become hokey and overwrought. Still, director Tom Holland proved with 1989's "Child's Play" that he knew how to make an unsettling horror film. With "The Stranger Within", he proves he can cut back on the gore and still make you jump. B
Reviewed by Ken Tucker | Nov 23, 1990

The Stranger Within (1990) TV Movie
Cast: Rick Schroder, Kate Jackson, Chris Sarandon, Clark Sandford, Peter Breitmayer

Original Batman Series Returns, The (1992) (TV)

This fantastic one hour retrospective from June of 1992 comes to us via the great minds at KTTV-11, the Los Angeles Fox affiliate. Hosting duties go to the affable Mark Thompson, one of our local heroes. This is a sincere fan document done well. Seldom seen (most likely only broadcast once) and very rare. In 1992 most of the older character actors from the original series were still alive but at this point in time it's a very nostalgic watch.

The Original Batman Series Returns (1992) (TV)
Host: Mark Thompson

Love Thy Neighbor (1984) TV Movie

See if you can predict the ending of this one. John Ritter and Cassie Yates are the next-door neighbors of Penny Marshall and Bert Convy. Ritter and Marshall can't stand each other. But Presto! Ritters' wife Yates runs off with Marshall's husband Convy. The two spurned spouses meet to bemoan their individual fates. "Love Thy Neighbor" is a TV-movie comedy with a TV-movie cast and a TV-movie denouement. The only surprise is the absence of a laugh track. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi 

Love Thy Neighbor (1984) TV Movie
Cast: John Ritter, Penny Marshall, Cassie Yates, Bert Convy, Constance McCashin, Lucas Haas, Robert Jayne, Jerry Supiran

Monday, March 14, 2011

Welcome Home, America! - A USO Salute to America's Sons and Daughters (1991) (TV)

A broadcast of a concert honoring the United States armed forces and fifty years of service by the USO. This is a great document featuring speeches by former presidents and their men combined with some wonderful musical performances. You'll see Dick Cheney and Colin Powell all smiles as they stand shoulder to shoulder waving to the black tie audience. Also, a standout gospel performance from Miss Sandi Patty, a definite high point. Tom Selleck, a great American, handles the hosting duties initially and Tony Danza brings it home with some enthusiastic tap dancing. Believe it.

Welcome Home, America! - A USO Salute (1991) (TV)
Cast: Dick Cheney, Colin Powell, Ronald Reagan, George and Barbara Bush, Frank Sinatra, Steve Martin, The Pointer Sisters, Tony Danza, Tony Orlando, Mark Russell, Gerald Ford, John Forsythe, Alan Thicke, Bob Hope, Debbie Allen, James Woods, Nell Carter, Tom Selleck

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Confirmation: The Hard Evidence of Aliens Among Us? (1999) (TV)

Real witnesses. Real encounters. Never before seen footage.

That was the tagline. I have to laugh since the only unseen footage would be their own shoddy re-creations. And how exactly would we have "seen" this footage? By standing over the shoulder of the working artists fabricating this nonsense? COME ON! If I'm to be intrigued by a claim of "never before seen" it better be closer to this; "Never before seen footage of an ACTUAL alien being" since anything less is just more of the same crapola. Some people saw some lights or heard a thing or whatever. Even the title is ambiguous. Words like "confirmation" and "evidence" with a question mark? Well, is it or isn't it? But that's just me.

Confirmation: The Hard Evidence of Aliens Among Us? (1999) (TV)
Host: Robert Davi

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Jay Leno's Family Comedy Hour (1987) (TV)

Reminiscent of a "Tonight Show" test-drive for Jay including JC himself. Corny opening scene with Johnny passive-aggressively putting Jay in his proper place. It's supposed to be funny lest we forget the power of Mr. Carson; nothing was light or frivolous. IMHO he was setting the groundwork or foundation of an enterprise that was inevitably passing from one hand to another. And whomever got Johnny's scraps was going to more than earn them. After the opening credits we're introduced to the lovely cast including the late Bea Arthur, whom only recently passed as did the legendary Barbara Billingsley. On the day Mrs. B. passed we had dinner at "Billingsley's", their family-owned restaurant here in Los Angeles. RIP to both of these great ladies and also to one of my personal favorites; John Hancock. He was large, he was black and he was usually in charge. A great character actor, RIP big guy.

If you can forgive a little corniness there are some funny skits, unlike the live chit chat. The writing for the live segments is a fail but the skits are genuinely funny. Some of them at least. Worthy viewing.

Jay Leno's Family Comedy Hour (1987) (TV)
Cast: Bea Arthur, Corbin Bernsen, Barbara Billingsley, Brian Bonsall, Chao Li Chi, Don DeFore, Richard Dysart, John Hancock, Florence Henderson, Jay Leno, Roger Nolan, Susan Ruttan

Friday, March 4, 2011

Elvis Files, The (1992) (TV)

Entertaining conspiracy theory based drivel regarding the death/non-death of the King. Hosted by the late, great Bill Bixby, whom we are told (by Bixby himself) was a close friend. Introduces much in the way of wacky, but I'm serious when I say I found it entertaining. Goofy good fun with nostalgic moments.

The Elvis Files (1992) (TV)
Host: Bill Bixby

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Adventures of Mark & Brian, The (TV Series) 1991–1992

Two Los Angeles disc jockeys adapt their radio antics and hi-jinx to a network television program with shocking results. Not really, but considering they're still on the radio 20 years later (same station, same city) and this show had to be cheap to produce, I guess what I'm trying to say is "Why isn't this show still on TV?" Did it get canceled for lack of viewers or did they get tired from the routine and schedule? If it was on today, I'd still be watching. Keep up the good work guys, LA loves ya'.

September 1991

September 1991

October 1991

The Adventures of Mark & Brian (TV Series) 1991–1992
Cast: Mark Thompson, Brian Phelps

Blame Game, The: Are We a Country of Victims? (1994) (TV)

Excellent production. Investigative reporting in the most transparent, confrontational manner. John Stossel asks insightful, direct questions of people involved in all forms of daily activity. Questions relevant to the economy, politics, and society in general and to these questions he gets nothing in return. Blank stares, indecipherable babble and apparent anger is his reward. Victims will be victims, as unrepentant as sex offenders. Consider this is from 1994, 17 years ago as of this writing. As when I watch Bill Cosby's show, "Kids Say the Darndest Things" and wonder about the current whereabouts of the youngsters involved; when I watch this show I wonder about the same thing regarding the losers involved. This should be mandatory viewing in high schools.

The Blame Game: Are We a Country of Victims? (1994) (TV)
Host: John Stossel

Carol Burnett Show, The: Let's Bump Up The Lights! (2004) (TV)

Carol and crew bring what appears to be a regular taping of her classic show to an unexpected halt and "bump up the lights" for an impromptu Q&A panel. Great fun for fans of the great lady.

The Carol Burnett Show: Let's Bump Up The Lights! (2004) (TV)
Cast: Carol Burnett, Tim Conway, Harvey Korman, Vicki Lawrence, Lyle Waggoner

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Don't Try This at Home! (1990) (TV)

A variety special hosted by the comedy-magic team of Penn & Teller. The duo reveal some of the secrets behind their illusions.

Don't Try This at Home! (1990) (TV)
Cast: Penn Jillette, Teller, Victoria Jackson, Jane Curtin, Carol Perkins

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

83rd Annual Academy Awards, The (2011) (TV)

Best Picture: The King's Speech

Actor in a Leading Role: Colin Firth


Actress in a Leading Role: Natalie Portman

Directing: Tom Hooper

The 83rd Annual Academy Awards (2011) (TV)
Hosts: James Franco, Anne Hathaway

Deep in My Heart (1999) TV Movie

A white woman who was raped by a black man gives the baby up for adoption. We follow the life of the child as she grows and has children of her own.

Deep in My Heart (1999) TV Movie
Cast: Anne Bancroft, Lynn Whitfield, Alice Krige, Cara Buono, Gloria Reuben, Jesse L. Martin, Kevin O'Rourke, Peter MacNeill