Category Archives: television

Goodbye, Adam West

(September 19, 1928 – June 10, 2017)

Adam West Batman

He didn’t have to go around telling everyone he was Batman. Everyone knew. The star of the 1960s television show that made the Caped Crusader a household name, Adam West has died at the age of 88 after a short battle with leukemia.

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How He-Man Mastered the Universe by Brian C. Baer (2017)

HeMan Masters of the Universe

How He-Man Mastered the Universe
by Brian C. Baer
McFarland, 2017

The story of He-Man is well-known to children of the eighties, but author Brian C. Baer is able to dig even deeper into the beloved franchise in his recent book, How He-Man Mastered the Universe. Baer examines every aspect of the Masters of the Universe, from the toys to the cartoon to the movie to the reboots and more recent collectible action figure releases. The author looks at the groundwork laid for the success of He-Man by the marketing behind Star Wars, and the influence He-Man had on many subsequent pop culture franchises such as Transformers, G.I. Joe, and the modern Marvel Cinematic Universe.

What impressed me most about Baer’s book is the attention paid to the big screen adaption of the Eternian hero in 1987. The toys and original cartoon have been widely covered over the years, with little more than a passing mention to the live-action film. A good bulk of Baer’s book, however, is devoted to how He-Man was brought to life by Dolph Lundgren. He breaks down the movie with an in-depth review, discusses the financial woes that hamstrung the ending, and even includes conceptual drawings for He-Man, Man-at-Arms, Teela, Skeletor, and She-Ra, who unfortunately was written out of the script.

Baer also discusses the New Adventures of He-Man cartoon that aired in the early 1990s, the 21st century reboot by Mike Young Productions, and the new line of toys that came with that. Baer wraps up How He-Man Mastered the Universe with a look at what many of the film’s actors are doing today, as well as others who were involved with He-Man through the years.

How He-Man Mastered the Universe is a highly enjoyable book; children of the eighties and He-Fans in particular will love it.

Learn more about McFarland.

Purchase How He-Man Mastered the Universe by Brian C. Baer on Amazon or directly from the publisher at www.mcfarlandpub.com or via the order line at 800-253-2187.

Goodbye, Erin Moran

(October 18, 1960 – April 22, 2017)

Erin Moran Joanie Cunningham Happy Days

Erin Moran, who played Richie Cunningham’s little sister Joanie on Happy Days, was found dead today in Indiana. She was 56 years old. Happy Days was one of my favorite television shows growing up. Her TV brother and the Fonz have both posted brief thoughts on Twitter:

No word yet how Chachi is handling the news.

Everything I Need to Know I Learned in the Twilight Zone by Mark Dawidziak (2016)

Twilight Zone

Everything I Need to Know I Learned in the Twilight Zone
by Mark Dawidziak
Thomas Dunne Books, 2017

There are a handful of television programs I keep in my Netflix queue, even after I have watched every episode, because I can go back and watch them again and see something different. Many shows are disposable, but then there are series like The Twilight Zone that endure despite repeated viewings. The reason is quite simple: there are lessons that can be learned, and in many cases must be learned. Rod Serling was a masterful storyteller, and his work on The Twilight Zone will be revered as long as the series is available for new generations. Author Mark Dawidziak writes, “The Twilight Zone not only was a series with a strong social conscience, it was television that believed there was intelligent life on the other side of the television screen.”

Dawidziak offers up fifty lessons gleaned from The Twilight Zone in Everything I Need to Know I Learned in the Twilight Zone, including simplistic yet important lessons like “follow your passion” and “nobody said life was fair,” to it’s-better-to-learn-from-others-mistakes lessons such as “read every contract…carefully” and “the grass is always greener…or so you think.” Dawidziak writes, “Lurking in almost every episode of The Twilight Zone is at least one guiding rule, one life lessons, one stirring reminder of a basic right or wrong taught to us as children. There are lessons for individuals. There are lessons for our society. There are lessons for our planet.”

It would be impossible to pick out the best lessons presented by Dawidziak, just as it is a daunting task to rank episodes of The Twilight Zone itself. But consider, if you will, lesson twenty: “If life gives you another chance, make the most of it,” utilizing the episodes, “Third from the Sun” and “The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank.” A new venture may be just what you need to turn your rut of a life into a joyous existence.

In addition to Dawidziak’s fifty lessons, which are gleaned from about one hundred episodes, the author also concedes the page to guest lessons. These guest lessons come from such esteemed individuals as Jack Klugman and James Best, who both appeared in multiple episodes of The Twilight Zone, Mel Brooks, Robert Redford, Mick Garris, Carol Burnett, and Dick Van Dyke.

Everything I Need to Know I Learned in the Twilight Zone is a fun way to revisit the timeless works of Serling and other Twilight Zone writers, highly recommended for fans of the iconic television series.

Learn more about Thomas Dunne Books.

Purchase Everything I Need to Know I Learned in the Twilight Zone by Mark Dawidziak.

Goodbye, John Hurt

(January 22, 1940 – January 27, 2017)

johnhurt1

Veteran actor John Hurt succumbed cancer at age 77. His career dates back to the 1960s; his notable recent roles included the War Doctor in the Doctor Who television series and Ollivander in the Harry Potter films.

johnhurt2

Fun Cards: 1982 Topps Joe Dunning, Ted What’s-His-Name, and The Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk premiered in 1978 starring Bill Bixby as David Bruce Banner and Lou Ferrigno as The Incredible Hulk. The program is currently available to stream on Netflix, but I received a notification that it would be removed on January 1. The show only lasted five seasons, and the fifth season was a mere seven episodes.

Joe Dunning 1982 Topps Incredible Hulk

The first episode of the fifth season was called “The Phenom,” guest starring Brett Cullen as pitching prospect Joe Dunning, who was trying to make the Roosters’ squad out of spring training. I decided to take a crack at some “fun cards” from this episode, but there were very few names used and IMDB does not identify very many of the guest stars, including “Ted What’s-His-Name” below. Nor is he named in the end credits of the episode. The actor looks vaguely familiar…but I have no idea who it is.

Ted 1982 Topps Incredible Hulk

There was one other identifiable “player.” Near the end of the episode, David and Joe are attacked by a sleazy agent’s henchmen. David is thrown behind a car where he transforms into the green creature known as the Incredible Hulk. He saves Joe, carries him into the stadium, and another player throws a baseball bat at him. The Hulk catches it and proceeds to slug a baseball that is thrown at him.

Hulk 1982 Topps

The Hulk is not on the Roosters’ roster, so I decided to change the team name. I started to go with Marvel, but instead changed it to “The Lonely Man” as a tribute to Joe Harnell, the composer of the show’s theme music.

Another interesting tidbit about the series, which I did not know until looking through the IMDB information: the narrator is Ted Cassidy, who is best known for his role as Lurch on The Addams Family.

Goodbye, Doris Roberts

(November 4, 1925 – April 17, 2016)

Doris Roberts

Perhaps best known for her role on Everybody Loves Raymond, Doris Roberts will by remembered by me as Mildred Krebs on Remington Steele. She passed away on Sunday at the age of 90.

Who wants a free year of MLB.TV Premium?

Tmobile offering free mlbtv to subscribers

Wouldn’t it be cool to watch or listen all the out-of-market games you wanted? Wouldn’t it be cooler to do it for free? Thanks to T-Mobile, you can! T-Mobile customers get a free 1-yr subscription to @MLBTV Premium by clicking this link through April 10. I watched a few minutes of the Rays/Jays game last night, and even switched between the Tampa and Toronto broadcasts a few times. I’m hoping to watch some of the White Sox game later tonight and see Todd Frazier play his first American League game. I think I might watch a few Marlins games this year too and see what Giancarlo Stanton and Ichiro Suzuki are up to. I’ve never had such unlimited access to Major League Baseball before, so I’m pretty excited. There are, of course, blackout restrictions on local market games, so I won’t get to watch my Reds play unless they’re on the road (if I understand the restrictions properly, which I probably don’t)…but I might watch the opponent’s feed in those cases just so I don’t have to hear the homerism of the Cincinnati announcers. Jeff Brantley is especially horrible. In any case, it’s very cool promotion from T-Mobile and MLB.TV and I can’t wait to be immersed in non-Reds baseball every day, since the Reds will be so awful this year!

Goodbye, Garry Shandling

(November 29, 1949 – March 24, 2016)

Comedian and actor Garry Shandling passed away yesterday at the age of 66 from a heart attack. In the 1970s, he wrote for classic television sitcoms such as Sanford and Son and Welcome Back, Kotter. Recently, Shandling was seen in Iron Man 2 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier as Senator Stern.

Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man by William Shatner with David Fisher (2016)

Leonard Nimoy William Shatner book

Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man
by William Shatner with David Fisher
Thomas Dunne Books, 2016
288 pages

The entertainment industry lost an icon in 2015 when Leonard Nimoy passed away, but his impact and work will be forever remembered. His close friend and co-star on many Star Trek projects, William Shatner, delivers a touching memoir in Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man. Shatner shares several stories that will bring a smile to the reader’s face, whether he is a “Trekkie” or not.

While the majority of the book deals with the time Nimoy and Shatner spent together on Star Trek, as well as an examination of the Spock character, the actor was so much more. He was a fighter for the benefits of his fellow actors, standing up to Filmation when they attempted to create a Star Trek cartoon without George Takei and Nichelle Nichols. Filmation relented, because, as Shatner writes, “They company had no choice; without Leonard or me, there was no Star Trek.” Shatner also recalls Nimoy’s time as director of a couple of the Star Trek films and Three Men and a Baby. Mention is made of the Golden Throats recordings, and the emergence of Star Trek conventions is given a fair amount of ink. Shatner also touches on Nimoy’s alcoholism and the negative effects that it had on his life.

Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man is a story of true friendship, ups and downs, good and bad. There is nothing scintillating or derogatory, nor does it seem to be a cash-grab designed to capitalize on the late actor’s relatively recent passing. It is an honest, heartfelt remembrance of a man that touched the lives of many through his work in film and television.

Learn more about Thomas Dunne Books.

Purchase Leonard: My Fifty-Year Friendship with a Remarkable Man by William Shatner.

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