Category Archives: television

Book Review: The Twilight Zone by Barry Keith Grant (TV Milestones Series)

The Twilight Zone Barry Keith Grant book review

The Twilight Zone (TV Milestones Series)
by Barry Keith Grant
Wayne State University Press, 2020

Television has been a fantastic medium for bringing entertainment into the homes of Americans for decades. Beyond that, television has been a teacher to many. Many programs have included some sort of “moral to the story,” though that trend seems to have shifted in this day of so-called reality TV. One of the most enduring television shows of all-time is Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone. Barry Keith Grant, professor emeritus of film and popular culture at Brock University in Ontario, examines The Twilight Zone on a more scholarly level than most in his latest book, a part of Wayne State University Press’ “TV Milestone Series.”

Grant recognizes the fact that many books have already been published examining the series from many angles. His aim in this volume is “primarily on the interrelated questions of authorship, genre, style and ideology in the context of The Twilight Zone.” He touches not only on the issues of having a singular perspective guiding the narrative, but also the society in which the show aired, such as fears concerning the Cold War. I found his examination of Serling’s battle with sponsors one of the most interesting aspects of Grant’s book.

The impact of Rod Serling’s original run of The Twilight Zone is undeniable. The reason for the impact is telling: “The Twilight Zone explored the fringes of the fantastic but remained fixed in the familiar, and…revealed the monstrous within the normal and explored how thin the veneer of civilization in fact is.” With all apologies to Jordan Peele, it is doubtful anyone will ever produce a program with as much influence as Serling’s original The Twilight Zone.

Purchase The Twilight Zone (TV Milestones Series) by Barry Keith Grant.

Christmas gift ideas for people who think Baby Yoda is adorbs (which is EVERYONE)

Baby Yoda the Mandalorian The Child Star Wars Disney Plus Christmas Gift Ideas

The Mandalorian is awesome, and Baby Yoda (or “The Child”) has stolen the hearts of everyone who has laid eyes on him. Of course, there is no shortage of Baby Yoda merch available or on the horizon.

Currently, it is mostly shirts (and a lot of those are pretty awesome), but there are a few other things floating around…

Baby Yoda Funko Pop The Child The Mandalorian Star Wars Disney Plus Christmas Gift Ideas

There are also several “Baby Yoda” items coming after Christmas (check the release dates before ordering!)

AT ST Raider Klatooinian Raider The Mandalorian Star Wars Disney Plus Christmas Gift Ideas

And if you like the other characters and accessories from The Mandalorian (again, check those release dates)…

Christmas gift ideas for the Whovian in your life

Doctor Who Funko Pop

Doctor Who is a global phenomenon. Both the classic and the current series are immensely popular, and as such there are tons of things you can purchase to give fans of the British sci-fi franchise.

Random Awesomeness (part 2019.15)

Random Awesomeness


Purchase the Nylon Metal II from Thomas Zwijsen!
 

Random Awesomeness (part 2019.12)

Random Awesomeness


Purchase Let’s Rock by the Black Keys!
 

Beyond Smallville

Smallville

One of my favorite television shows of all-time is Smallville, which follows a young Clark Kent in high school discovering his superhuman abilities. It aired for ten seasons on The WB/CW networks. The final episode aired in May 2011, but I still go back and watch episodes from time to time on DVD or Hulu.

Michael Rosenbaum recently wrapped up “Smallville Week” on his podcast, “Inside of You.” His guests during the four episodes were the creators Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, Kristin Kreuk, John Glover, and Tom Welling. While the language and subject matter gets a little saucy, it was fun to listen to these old friends reminisce about their days on the show and catch up with what is going on at this point in their lives.

I got to thinking about what the actors are involved with today. Rosenbaum seemed to take offense at this question, thinking that sites are just looking for clicks when asking these questions. And perhaps some of them are, especially when the articles mislead readers or give false information. However, I’m asking from a point of interest in that I might like to check into some of their current projects, and perhaps other Smallville fans would like to do the same. So if you will indulge me, let’s look at some of the leading actors and actresses from Smallville, what role they played on that program, and what they’re doing now.
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  1. TOM WELLING played Clark Kent on Smallville and was perfect in the role. Others who auditioned for the role include Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki of Supernatural fame. Welling has appeared in three movies since the end of Smallville: Parkland, Draft Day, and The Choice. Most recently he could be seen in the role of Marcus Pierce in the third season of Lucifer and is currently involved in a production called The Professionals as Vincent Corbo, starring opposite Brendan Fraser. Per , ten episodes of The Professionals are planned to air on Scandinavian outlet Viaplay.
  2. MICHAEL ROSENBAUM played a brilliant Lex Luthor. Others considered for the role were Zachary Levi and Anson Mount. As with Welling, I think the casting of Rosenbaum was genius and I can’t imagine anyone else in the role. He graduated from my alma mater Western Kentucky University about the time I started there. There is a very slim chance I met him as I spent about a week as a theatre major, although as a lowly freshman I doubt he would have paid me any mind. As already mentioned, Rosenbaum has a podcast called “Inside of You” in which he interviews other celebrities. Besides his Smallville mates, past guests include Kristen Bell, Colin Hanks, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Dax Shepard, Henry Winkler, Zachary Levi, and Jon Cryer. More than sixty episodes have aired so far, and the podcast shows no signs of slowing down. Other than his podcast, Rosenbaum has stayed busy since leaving Smallville in 2008. His most prominent role on the small screen was as the main character on TV Land’s Impastor. He also appeared in Breaking In and was the narrator for Hunted, and wrote and directed a movie called Back In The Day. He has voiced The Flash on a couple of video games, a role he started in Justice League in 2001. He also appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as Martinex, one of the Ravagers.
  3. KRISTIN KREUK played Lana Lang was the first main character cast for Smallville. Her role as Lana ended in 2009. In 2010, she appeared as Hannah in four episodes on the brilliant Chuck with Zachary Levi, and as Tirzah on the Ben-Hur miniseries that aired on CBC in Canada and ABC in the States. She then starred in The CW’s Beauty and the Beast for five years as Catherine Chandler, and can currently be seen on Burden of Truth as Joanna Hanley.
  4. ALLISON MACK was Clark’s best friend Chloe Sullivan, an inquisitive journalist and later “Watchtower” who ran the operations of the mini-Justice League. After Smallville, Mack starred in the Canadian film Marilyn, appeared in nine episodes of Wilfred and four episodes of American Odyssey. Her last credit was in 2015. She is currently facing legal trouble due to her association in Keith Raniere’s Nxivm cult.
  5. SAM JONES III played Clark’s other best friend, Pete Ross. Jones also faced some legal trouble following his departure in 2004, but did not let it derail his career. He appeared as Chaz Pratt in 16 episodes of ER, Craig Shilo in 13 episodes of Blue Mountain State in 2010 and the movie in 2016, and most recently Adam in All Light Will End, the 2018 horror film.
  6. JOHN SCHNEIDER was the reason I started watching Smallville. I was flipping through the channels and saw the actor who played Bo Duke on Dukes of Hazzard, and immediately stopped channel surfing. The pilot episode hooked me. On Smallville, Schneider played Clark’s adoptive dad, Jonathan Kent. He was the heart and soul of the show for several seasons until his character’s death, and his influence was felt even after he left. He has appeared in dozens of movies since leaving Smallville, and is a series regular on Tyler Perry‘s The Haves and the Have Nots on the Oprah Winfrey Network. IMDB also shows several other titles currently in post-production and pre-production. In addition to his acting career, Schneider is also a musician with several country albums to his name. In 2018, he released 52 brand new songs over five albums. They are called The Odyssey: Vagabond, The Odyssey: Awakening, The Odyssey: Crossroads, The Odyssey: Wanderlust, and The Odyssey: Beginnings. He also released a new collection of older material, Greatest Hits: Still, and a holiday album, Merry Christmas Baby. Dude was busy!
  7. ANNETTE O’TOOLE played Lana Lang on the big screen in Superman III back in 1983; on Smallville she appears as Martha Kent, Clark’s adoptive mother. Her role on the show became less regular the older Clark became, only appearing in a few episodes the last few seasons. In recent years, O’Toole can be seen on Halt and Catch Fire, The Punisher, The Incoherents, and Blow the Man Down.
  8. JOHN GLOVER was Lionel Luthor, Lex’s father. Though Lex left the show after the seventh season, Lionel kept popping up from time to time, and Glover is brilliant in the role. Since Smallville has ended, Glover has guest starred on several television programs, including The Blacklist and Agent Carter. Earlier this year he was on the big screen in Shazam!, and has been active on stage as well according to his recent interview on Rosenbaum’s podcast.
  9. ERICA DURANCE was introduced as Lois Lane at the beginning of season four of Smallville. It took a long time for me to warm up to her, mainly because I wanted Clark to end up with Lana, even though I knew that went against the comic’s storyline. After the show ended, Durance could be seen on the lead character on Saving Hope, Dr. Alex Reid from 2012-2017. Several other actors who appeared on Smallville appeared on Saving Hope, including Eric Johnson, Michael Shanks, and Benjamin Ayres. Durance returned to the DC Universe in the third season of The CW’s Supergirl in 2017 as Alura Zor-El.
  10. JUSTIN HARTLEY played Green Arrow on Smallville, and was one of the best side characters on the show. I have never watched The CW’s Arrow, partly because I simply can’t imagine anyone but Hartley in the role. He has appeared in several shows since Smallville, including Emily Owens M.D., Revenge, Mistresses, and The Young and the Restless. You most likely know him as the adult Kevin Pearson on This Is Us, one of NBC’s top-rated shows.
  11. I miss Smallville, but I’m glad most of these actors and actresses have found continuing success beyond the show.

    Smallville

30 Years Ago Today: The Crypt Keeper begins to tell his tales on HBO

Tales from teh CryptTales from the Crypt, the horror anthology television program, debuted on HBO on June 10, 1989. I did not have HBO growing up, so it was not until much later that I saw a few episodes. As a youth, I was more familiar with George A. Romero’s syndicated Tales from the Darkside.

Tales from the Crypt was based on a series of comics produced in the 1950s, and most of the storylines came from those books. The program lasted for seven years and resulted in many related projects, including feature films, a Saturday morning cartoon, a game show for kids, and three music compilations.

The first album is a soundtrack from the series, including music from Danny Elfman, Jan Hammer, and Ry Cooder. The second is Christmas-themed, called Have Yourself a Scary Little Christmas, with inspired music such as “Deck the Halls with Parts of Charlie” and “‘Twas the Fright Before Christmas.” The third—Monsters of Metal—featured a mix of hard rock favorites by bands such as Black Sabbath, Pantera, and Dio.

The television series is not currently included for free on any of the major streaming services, but you can buy the complete series from Amazon. If you prefer to read the comics that inspired the show, there are several anthologies available as well.

40 Years Ago Today: The Sweathogs leave the air

Welcome Back Kotter

I fondly remember watching reruns of Welcome Back Kotter during the summer when I was off school. I loved imitating Horshack’s “Oo-Oo-Oo” because I was knew I wasn’t cool enough to pull off Barbarino. Sadly, Mr. Kotter and the Sweathogs left the air after only four seasons, with the final episode, “The Breadwinners,” airing June 8, 1979.

Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs (“Boom Boom” Washington) and John Travolta (Vinnie Barbarino) are still active actors, while Gabe Kaplan (Mr. Kotter) became an accomplished professional poker player.

Two of the actors that portrayed Sweathogs are no longer with us. Both Robert Hegyes (Juan Epstein) and Ron Palillo (Arnold Horshack) passed away in 2012. Marcia Strassman, who played Mr. Kotter’s wife Julie, also passed in 2014.

The theme song, “Welcome Back,” was written and recorded by Lovin’ Spoonful frontman John Sebastian. It hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in May 1976.

Random Awesomeness (part 2019.9)

Random Awesomeness

What I’m Reading Right Now: Almost Yankees: The Summer of ’81 and the Greatest Baseball Team You’ve Never Heard Of by J. David Herman.
 


Purchase “Bullet Holes” (from John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum) by Bush!
 

Wacky Wednesday Cardboard

These cards definitely do not fit into my collection, but I was intrigued enough to plop down a couple bucks for them.

OJ and Howard Cosell

In 1994 the Interlink News Service produced a 50-card set called “In Pursuit of Justice” chronicling the O.J. Simpson case. There are cards from Simpson’s playing career, broadcasting career, and acting career, along with cards featuring some of the lawyers involved and news coverage. And a card of the Juice with Brian Bosworth.

Bosworth

It’s a really weird set.

OJ at NBC

There are also a couple of cards of the television coverage. I remember watching the chase in a friend’s basement on June 17, 1994, just a few weeks after my high school graduation. For the youngsters out there, television screens back in the mid-’90s were nothing like they are today. Taking a photograph of a television screen didn’t result in the clearest picture.

CNN Bronco chase

The backs of the cards are colorful, but not particularly interesting.

OJ case

You may be cynical like me and think these cards were merely to profit from the high-profile case, but the back indicates that Interlink intended to donate part of the money from these sets “to support the prevention of domestic violence and benefit shelters for abused women and children.” I had never seen these cards before, but I hope enough were sold to make a sizable donation to that cause.

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