Friday, March 28, 2014

R.I.P.-Lorenzo Semple, Jr.

He wrote some of the WORST movies of his day--THE PARALLAX VIEW, KING KONG--but also some of the very BEST!--THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR, NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN.

But most importantly, he was the writer who developed BATMAN for television, wrote the seminal early episodes and the feature film.  Rest in peace, sir. And thanks for everything.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

My First Anime

I remember Osama Tezuka's ASTRO BOY as being my mostest favorite series when I was about 4. 

By age 5, my tastes were more refined and MARINE BOY with his oxygen gum was my favorite, I remember the first time I saw those brilliant colors while visiting the home of a friend whose parents could afford a color TV!

By 1969, however, PRINCE PLANET came into rotation on a new UHF channel and I began wearing a pendant all the time. In fact, I still have it in the drawer directly in front of me!

But the best was probably SPEED RACER by 1970, colorful and creative with lots of action and likable characters. Many, many years later, I spoke on the phone with Corinne Orr who was not only the voice of both Speed's girlfriend AND his little brother but also the above-mentioned Marine Boy!

Honorable mention must be given to this guy, ALAKAZAM THE GREAT, a feature-length Japanese anime based on the Monkey King legend, dubbed into English with celebrity voices like Frankie Avalon and Jonathan Winters and frequently shown on television throughout my childhood. 

Saturday, March 15, 2014


I've already mentioned that McCLOUD was one of my absolute favorite TV series of the 1970s. After stealing scenes from Marshal Dillon in GUNSMOKE and a giant bear on GENTLE BEN, Dennis Weaver was finally the star of his own series.

McCLOUD was inspired by, if not entirely based on, a then-recent Clint Eastwood film entitled COOGAN'S BLUFF about a western lawman who becomes a fish out of water while in NYC on assignment. See the TV GUIDE description below. 

Originally a one hour part of NBC's anthology, THE MEN, in 1970, Marshal McCloud joined became one of the initial spokes of the "wheel" of the MYSTERY MOVIE, increasing the length of his episodes to 90 minutes or, occasionally, 2 hours!

And it was mostly Dennis, the clever writing, and solid directing that carried it as there was barely a  regular cast at all. J.D. Cannon was perfect as Chief Clifford, Sam McCloud's foil in every episode. Terry Carter was equally well-cast as Sam's easy-going, by the book partner. A parade of character actors and actresses reappeared in certain roles from time to time including Diana Muldaur as Sam's most regular girlfriend and Terri Garr and singer/actress Della Reese as officers working at headquarters.

McCloud regularly would end up using outlandish ways of police work as his brief assignment to study NYC police methods ended up stretching on from 1970 to 1977, even necessitating spinoffs such as the book series below.

THE RETURN OF SAM McCLOUD was a welcome 90 minutes or so with old friends a dozen years later but the magic was gone. The original series, however, still offers fun and intriguing mysteries that can be enjoyed over and over.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Sapphire and Steel

Last week, we took part of our tax return and ordered this: SAPPHIRE AND STEEL, THE COMPLETE SERIES. The show originally aired in the UK only back in the late 70s/early 80s, but enticed by favorite stars David (MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.) McCallum and Joanna (THE NEW AVENGERS) Lumley, my wife and I became fans via bootleg fan videos in the early 1990s. 

In retrospect, it wasn't a great show. It was a serialized cross between a gothic drama and a DOCTOR WHO style science-fiction story. The episodic nature of the series makes some of the episodes feel overly drawn out to put it mildly and the one note characterizations leave much to be desired. But it's the charismatic leads which carry SAPPHIRE AND STEEL and make it at least a memorable footnote  in the careers of its stars.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

True Detective

There are more TV shows than ever these days but very few good ones in my opinion. That said, when a good one turns up, it's often a GREAT one. Here's a great new one that apparently ends tonight! 

Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson--two actors I'm on record as not being major fans of--just changed my opinion here.