Friday, August 19, 2016

The John Larroquette Show 1993-1996


I was reminded today of THE JOHN LARROQUETTE SHOW, a series from 24 years back that should be much better remembered than it is. After years of perfecting the obnoxious "Dan Fielding" on NIGHT COURT, it may be that no matter how good his performance was, the public simply wouldn't accept John as a nice guy. 

In spite of its title, this was an ensemble cast series with Larroquette the odd sane man out in an insane microcosm of a bus station. One unique aspect of his character was that he was an alcoholic, like Sam on CHEERS. Only here, he was constantly in danger of falling off the wagon and his struggles were not only written in but often highlighted whole episodes. Rock star David Crosby--himself a notorious addict--appeared from time to time as John's character's AA sponsor. 

Our hero is the new night manager at a bus station and it pretty much becomes his world, shared with the other citizens of the night who either work or hang out there.

Episodes were a mixture of well-performed comedy and well-acted drama and the show ran several acclaimed seasons but then seemed quickly and wrongly forgotten. 









Monday, July 4, 2016

R.I.P. Noel Neill

I don't know if I'd call it an early crush as much as just a strong, almost maternal, feeling from Noel Neill, the original and most well-known live action Lois Lane. After a modeling career and some B movies, she first turned up as the crusading reporter in Kirk Alyn's Superman serials. At first replaced in the George Reeves TV version, she returned to the role and won the hearts of youngsters and their future selves everywhere. She passed yesterday.

R.I.P. 














Monday, June 13, 2016

Get Smart-1965


Designed by committee--including Mel Brooks and Buck Henry-- as a spoof of James Bond and THE MAN FRON U.NC.L.E. by way of Inspector Clouseau and adapting Don Adams' pre-existing "Byron Glick" character from THE BILL DANA SHOW pretty much intact to fit the bill, TV's GET SMART--also co-starring purring commercial star Barbara Feldon--ran  5 seasons on 2 networks from 1965-1969 and has aged well. The zany comedy lead to two feature films, a TV movie, a revival series, a stage play, a series of tie-in book and comics, and at the time not just one but would you believe a half dozen catch phrases?

Here are a couple articles from just prior to the show first airing.





Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Selfie-2014



It's rare that a new series impacts me at all anymore, let alone one that was dropped from the network after only 7 episodes. SELFIE is one such series, though. On the surface, it's a silly idea: a modern updating of the PYGMALION/MY FAIR LADY concept where a more refined man attempts to make over a less refined woman. By "modern," I mean that it's purposely infatuated with current tech that will in the long run severely date the series! What were they thinking?


The series starred Karen Gillan. If you didn't know her, you'd get the distinct impression that she was indeed the vacuous, unashamedly slutty, American character she appears to be. If you DID, however, know her, it was undoubtedly from her multi-series run on DOCTOR WHO as the smart, funny, Scottish Amelia Pond, one of the best traveling companions that series has ever offered. 


In between DOCTOR WHO and SELFIE, the actress shaved her head completely for a featured role in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY so not only was her SELFIE accent not real but neither is her SELFIE hair. Well, it was real in a way. It was Karen's actual hair, made into a wig for her.


John Cho, best known as the new STAR TREK's Sulu and before that as Harold from the Harold and Kumar films takes on the Rex Harrison role in SELFIE, despite being about 15 years older than Karen.



And yet, after a rocky start where the premise is almost forced on the characters, by the script, it all works, and grows. Soon enough, the show reveals itself as a fearless ensemble comedy, with UK actor David Harewood as the boss--later so serious in THE NIGHT MANAGER and also now known as SUPERGIRL's Martian Manhunter--effortlessly stealing every scene in spite of superb competition from all involved. His willingness to be utterly ridiculous and yet maintain character integrity is a rare gift amongst today's thespians!


But it's the slowly evolving friendship between the often deadpan Cho and the ditzy Eliza that is the heart of the show, twisting it away from its seeming initial premise to show that there is no real right or wrong way to be for any of us.





While theirs would seem an unlikely romance, it never actually gets to that point, sabotaged by a final episode that was clearly anticipating a second season. 


After SELFIE's network cancellation, I opted to save the episodes that aired since they weren't likely to ever turn up again. It was only this week that I learned that the remaining 6 episodes of the series were later aired on Hulu. I was able to attain them and watched again from the beginning. It started slow but it got good and it was ALWAYS funny. Both Karen and John show a real feel for comedy and both bring to it perhaps more reality than was originally intended. Makes it all the harder to know their characters are gone now and these 13 episodes are all we'll ever get.



Sunday, May 22, 2016

Litte Orphan Raquel


The country's reigning sex symbol, Raquel Welch, spoofed comic strip characters including Brenda Starr and Little Orphan Annie (seen here with Archie Bunker himself, Carroll O'Conner, as Daddy Warbucks) in an early 1970s CBS TV special called THE FUNNY PAPERS. 


Monday, May 9, 2016

William Schallert R.I.P.


The very definition of "that guy," when I was growing up, my parents could never remember William Schallert's name. It was always, "Hey, it's Patty Duke's daddy." That's pretty much what so many obits are calling him today, too, but he was also Nancy Drew's father, Dobie Gillis's teacher, and if he missed appearing at least once on any classic sixties series, I don't know what it would have been. STAR TREK, THAT GIRL, BEWITCHED, MARCUS WELBY, MD. While his output slowed down as he approached the age of 90, he never stopped working, appearing memorably in TRUE BLOOD in the past decade and a classic, surprisingly blue, performance on STU'S SHOW!
R.I.P.