Category Archives: television

Turner Classic Movies Is My New Best Friend

As a child I used to love to read movie monster magazines, especially Famous Monsters of Filmland. I used to look at the pictures of all the old horror movies and think how much I’d love to see them. Every Saturday night Chiller theater would play two or three old horror movies, and while I was always hoping for a classic, it seemed more often than not I got The Monolith Monsters.

One of the movies I really wanted to see was a black and white film called The Island of Lost Souls. It was an adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The Island of Dr. Moreau. In 1977 Dr. Moreau was remade with Burt Lancaster and Michael York. I got to see that one when it hit HBO and even got to read the Marvel comics adaptation, but The Island of Lost Souls was still just a dream for me. It was even at one point considered a lost film due to the censorship it had faced back when the Hayes Code was in effect for movies.

Another string of films I really wanted to see, but that continuously avoided my viewing pleasure, were the silent film classics of Lon Chaney Sr. I got lucky enough to catch The Phantom of the Opera on PBS one time back in the days of their Matinee At The Bijou program, but never any of the other films that earned him the name “man of a thousand faces”.

About two years ago I started doing a podcast, Cinema Toast Crunch, ( http://www.cinematoastcrunch.libsyn.com )where I would get together with family and friends to watch a movie and immediately review it. It was a lot of fun even if our number of listeners never climbed all that high. After a bit I decided that I would like to try and do a second podcast on movies. This one would concentrate on the Oscar nominated best pictures from each year. As luck would have it, Turner Classic Movies was playing a lot of Oscar nominees and I was able to catch rarities like The Racket and The Crowd that had been nominated at the first Oscars. I also wanted to catch some of the films from this time period that had not gotten nominations just to see what the competition had been like. This required constantly checking the listings for TCM to see if any of these gems were playing.

One night as I was scanning through the upcoming films, a title jumped out and grabbed me. Turner was playing The Island of Lost Souls. The “lost” film from my childhood was going to be playing on my TV after a nearly 50 year wait. I sat my DVR with sweet anticipation and then also found that The Most Dangerous Game was also playing. It joined the list as well.

When I finally had the chance to sit back and watch the movies I was captivated by them. They were everything I had hoped for even if The Most Dangerous Game had never been as huge of a draw for my attention. I was so happy to have finally caught The Island of Lost Souls and scratched it off my movie bucket list. Then Turner decided to help me knock off a few more films by playing a Lon Chaney marathon. Here was my chance to finally see The Penalty, The Unholy Three, Laugh Clown Laugh, and several others.

As much as I love DVDs, and trust me, I love them a lot, Turner Classic Movies has become my new best friend. Many of the films they have offered are not available on DVD, and even many of the ones that are aren’t readily and easily available. The only problem is I don’t have as much time to watch movies now as I did in my youth, and sadly I have a harder time staying up and watching them without falling asleep. If only TCM and DVRs had been around when I truly had free weekends and a 3 months long break every summer. I might never have left my house at all.

If Only Rev. Phelps Had A Beard

A&E networks has now shown us that if Rev. Phelps had a beard, the Westboro Baptist Church could have their own tv show right after Storage Wars as well. A while back Phil Robertson of A&E’s Duck Dynasty did an interview and decided to explain his thoughts on homosexuality. Like Rick Santorum before him, he decided to equate homosexuality with bestiality. He claimed his reason for doing so was because of his deeply held religious beliefs and love of God. We all know what God thinks of homosexuals, just ask Rev. Phelps and his crew. Of course it amazes me that if God hates gays so deeply why He hasn’t figured out a way to stop making them yet. If we went to a restaurant that screwed up our order that often, we’d be on social media screaming about it, but we wouldn’t be blaming the food.

Initially A&E suspended Phil from the show. That’s when those champions of free speech, the Conservatives, stepped up and started protesting. These are the same people who forced ABC to pull Bill Maher off the air after 9-11 for a remark he made. At the time White House press secretary Ari Fleischer even warned people need to watch what they say. And we also need to remember how committed these people were to free speech when Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks spoke out against George W. Bush for invading Iraq during a concert in England. Where was their outrage when Alec Baldwin was suspended for possibly using a gay slur during a private altercation that happened to be caught on video. No, conservatives are only interested in protecting free speech when it’s speech they agree with coming from someone who shares their political views. The rest of the Robertson clan decided that they couldn’t imagine going on without Phil and so A&E, not wanting to lose their cash cow of a show, quickly reversed course and brought Phil back.

Personally, I am all for freedom of speech and don’t believe Phil should have been suspended for making his homophobic and racist comments and blaming them on God. I just think we need to find out if he is a hypocrite or not. He claims he makes these statements because of his staunch belief in the word of God (you know, kind of like the 9-11 terrorists and their belief in Allah and jihad which made killing all those people a-okay and religiously justified), so let’s see if he believes in everything the Bible says. The Bible mentions feeding the poor a whole bunch, so how about opening a string of Duck Commander homeless shelters and food pantries all across the country. The Bible says to love thy neighbor, so let’s see an episode where these Southern boys have a group of Muslims over for a duck hunt. How about some inner-city youths being brought in to share their home for the summer? And I think I know what would make the perfect Easter special. Since the Bible demands stoning for a multitude of sins from homosexual behavior, to blaspheming the name of the Lord, to being a “stubborn and rebellious” child, how about an all-star stoning special? They could probably wipe out the casts of half of Bravo’s shows in what would surely be a ratings bonanza. Of course the Bible also says that “thou shalt not kill”, and “let he who is without sin cast the first stone” and a whole bunch of other contradictory things that tend to indicate that maybe God doesn’t want His children killing each other even if it’s justified by the word of God.

But that’s the tricky thing about the Bible. Most people like to believe that it was written word for word by God Himself when in fact it was written by men. Men, who although divinely inspired, are human and thus flawed. Books have been left out of the Bible. The meaning of some words have changed over time. Some words or ideas may not translate well, and most of today’s translations were taken from previous translations which could also have errors. It’s also worth noting that some powerful men were not above using the Bible to force their desires upon the people. Since raw pork could make a person deathly sick, God said don’t eat pigs. Some genetic lines have shellfish allergies, so God said stay away from the shrimp as well. And since civilizations needed their citizens to produce offspring so that they would have more citizens to build things and fight wars, well is it so hard to believe that they would want to steer their people away from non-reproductive sex acts like homosexuality? Let’s face it, a law can tell people not to do something and they will ignore it and hope they don’t get caught. But have the church tell them that God said it was a no-no and thousands of years later people will still be trying to enforce it.

The Oscars Was My Childhood’s Super Bowl

I was a very unathletic child with asthma and coordination issues. There was no male role model in the house to drill the love of sports and loyalty to a sports team into my DNA. What I grew up with was a love of reading and of watching movies. I discovered the Oscars during the ceremony that saw Jaws nominated for best picture and lose. I didn’t actually stay up to watch the whole ceremony, but I flipped over and saw Jaws win a technical award and was pleased. I had probably caught a few minutes of some earlier broadcasts now that I think of it because I remember wondering why Million Dollar Duck wasn’t nominated or some of the other animated films I had seen that year. But I remember the Jaws ceremony as much more important to me. I was shocked that it didn’t win best picture.

It was a couple of years later that I became hooked on the Oscars. Star Wars had been nominated for best picture. I was certain it had to win. I had never seen a film that made me as happy as Star Wars did the first time I saw it. It was up against Julia, The Turning Point, Annie Hall, and The Goodbye Girl. Before the ceremony aired, I got to see The Goodbye Girl and Annie Hall. Annie Hall just didn’t connect to the 14-year-old boy living in Spring Hill, West Virginia. It had some funny moments, but I would need another year before I learned to appreciate Annie Hall, although I did develop a fondness for Woody Allen’s other films. The Goodbye Girl was a different story. I saw it at the old Saint Albans Twin Cinemas and immediately fell in love with it. If Star Wars didn’t win, I wanted The Goodbye Girl to take home the gold. I also wanted Star Wars to completely destroy Close Encounters of the Third Kind which at my young age I had decided was the most boring film in the history of the world. I reviewed it for my school’s newspaper and still remember the headline, “Close Encounters of the Boring Kind”. I really didn’t like it.

April 3, 1978 I stayed up late and watched until the final award of the evening was handed out. There were several things that made a huge impact on me that night. The first was Vanessa Redgrave’s acceptance speech for Best Supporting Actress. The next was Paddy Chayefsky’s rebuttal to her speech. This was also the night Bob Hope made a joke about the Oscars being referred to in his house as Passover that for some reason has stuck with me for all these years. By the end of the night Star Wars had pretty much beaten CE3K, but it still managed to lose to Annie Hall. At least Richard Dreyfuss won for The Goodbye Girl. One other memorable moment was watching favored nominee Richard Burton start to stand up to accept the award after only hearing the “Richard” part of it.

Ever since that night I have watched every single Oscar telecast live except for two. One year our cable was out and I had a friend and a family member both tape it for me so that I could watch it later. I followed the ceremony on the Internet using my AOL dial-up account. Another year I was just too tired to watch anything. I taped it and watched it later as well.

For several years Oscar night was met with plates of snacks and a festive atmosphere. The wife and I would each write down our picks and see who did a better job at picking the winners. It was usually me. Many times she would choose with her heart or a gut feeling while I would study all the factors like a gambler at the horse track. Never the less, she still managed to pick several that I missed. This year we pretty much let the whole thing drop. I had just gotten over a bad bout with the flu. There was no talk of making snacks. I guess she was worried about what my stomach would be able to handle, and she was tired from dealing with a sick hubby for several days. She sat down with me for the red carpet pre-show, but before the first award was handed out, she had settled in under the covers in the bedroom with the lights out.

One other thing that was different this year was that my daughter decided for the first time to actually sit down and watch the entire ceremony with me. Both of my kids have made attempts at trying to feign interest in their dad’s yearly big night, but these normally end within a couple of technical awards when they remember that there was something they needed to check on in their room. That’s kid-speak for “I’m bored and going to go play video games”. I was happy to have my daughter there this year, but I missed not having the wife beside me. Hopefully next year things will work out better. As for my picks… this was my worst year ever. I had absolutely no idea in so many categories. I had only seen one theatrical film in the last year (The Avengers) and hadn’t managed to pick up any of the available nominees on Blu-ray. Maybe next year.

What Was I Thinking?

I’m sure that when a lot of you read that title you expected a post describing some new crisis I was dealing with caused by a bad decision on my part in the first place. Nope. I was being reflective a few days ago about my childhood and started wondering about what I was really thinking at certain points in my life. Watching my granddaughter as she discovers new things and seeing her eyes grow wide and a smile form on her face or a giggle escape her mouth, I wonder what she is really thinking. How is her brain processing that toy that makes a rattling sound when you shake it or that sweet taste that she gets from Gerber apples? Then I got to wondering what I thought about certain firsts in my life.

I remember my mom, my aunt, and my cousin telling me about this time when I was a toddler and they took me to Shoneys with them and I demolished the Shoney burger my mom had gotten to eat. I think it was a Shoney burger. It might have been a Big Boy or a Slim Jim (two other sandwiches from that time). My memory isn’t as good as it used to be. But as much problem as I have now trying to remember the style of the burger, I have an even great er problem trying to remember the actual incident in question. I was so young that my memories of the incident are all second-hand even though I was the person they involved. I remember hearing of it happening, but I don’t actually have a single memory of the event that is my own.

Even going further on to things I do have a very basic memory of happening, I don’t truly have some of the all important memories of what I was thinking because I wasn’t really thinking for myself. I was parroting what I had heard or I was saying what I thought I was supposed to say and what the other person wanted to hear. I remember a conversation I had with my mom that somehow got on to the topic of nudity in movies at the time. Keep in mind that this was when I was in grade school. I hadn’t seen any nudity in movies or much of anywhere else, but it was a topic that had been on the news and there were forces crying about the new permissiveness. If you missed those reports, wait a few months they still pop up all the time, and I’ll let you in on a secret; they’re still B.S. More on that later. Anyway, we’re having this conversation because of some report on the news and I in my wisdom as a pre-teen stated that they don’t even call it what it really is. They call it making art. At this point my entire knowledge of making art involved finger painting and glueing macaroni to construction paper. So why did I say that? Obviously I had heard someone on television make this argument and I also figured that my mom would be anti-nudity since she always insisted that I wear clothes. I have no idea what I really thought about the subject, but I had perfectly parroted what I had heard and said what I thought my mom would want to hear.

Before I move on with the original point, let me clear up what I stated about the “new permissiveness” being B.S. If you study the past you will find tons of nudity and sexuality in Greek and Roman times. The British had things like The Pearl and a serialized story called My Secret Life. The French had nudie postcards. Yes, you say, but America is going down the tubes in regards to our movies. There’s so much more filth in them today. So who’s familiar with Can’t Stop The Music? It’s a 1980 film about The Village People and it features a dance number in a men’s shower with a shot of full frontal male nudity and some bare female breasts. It’s rated PG. Logan’s Run has a naked Jenny Agutter and is rated PG. These days a film gets a PG-13 for French kissing. I used to go to the drive in a lot with my mom, my sister, and her family. It was nothing for a trailer for an upcoming film to feature nudity and be played in between two family films like Golden Voyage of Sinbad and Big Jake. Movies today are if anything more conservative than in the past unless you go back to the height of the Hayes Code. We now continue with our regularly scheduled remembrance.

So I look back on my life and I wonder which emotions were real, which thoughts were my own? How much of what I know about my childhood is really how someone else remembers my childhood and their interpretation has become canon? There is one childhood memory that just happens to tie into both the subject of movies and nudity that I truly do recall what I was thinking. In 1974 a movie came out called Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry.

Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry

Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry


...not to be confused with Dirty Sally

…not to be confused with Dirty Sally


There was also a television series around that time called Dirty Sally which was a spin-off from Gunsmoke and concerned an old woman and a stubborn mule. I think it was on Fridays on CBS. My mom and I loved it. When we saw the ads for Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry we figured it had to be similar to Dirty Sally. Even though the ads for Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry had nothing to do with the old West and featured Peter Fonda driving fast cars and running from the cops, it had to be something close to Dirty Sally. It had the word Dirty in its title… twice. Further proof to this theory was that I had one time seen an ad for a movie called Dirty Dingus McGee and it appeared to be a western. So with dirty in the title twice, Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry had to be some sort of modern western comedy. I just didn’t know why they weren’t advertising the crazy old mule which was the funniest part of Dirty Sally. Mom and I were all set to go see the movie when my older sister intervened. She explained to my mom that the film contained some female nudity and she probably didn’t need to be taking me to it. My mother always took my sister’s advice (or so it seemed to me) and so my hopes of seeing Dirty Mary, Crazy Larry were shot down by a meddling older sister. To this day I still remember the anger I felt at my sister and the betrayal I felt when Mom told me that we weren’t going. Had she taken me, I would have seen a film that had absolutely nothing to do with an old woman and her mule. I would have been disappointed, however, I also would have at least had some basis for my next opinion on nudity in movies.

They Don’t Make Movies Like That Any More

When I was a kid movies were a big part of my life. Mom took me to a lot of movies, I saw a lot of advertisements in the morning paper, and I caught tons of trailers on TV or in front of the movies we went to see. I don’t go to as many movies these days partly due to high prices and partly because I work 6 days a week. Newspapers don’t have the big ads any longer. Most of the ads, if there are any ads, either only list the movies by title or they list the theater’s web site. The only thing that has remained constant is that they still run trailers on TV and in front of the movies. Of course these days they also run trailers on the front of DVDs and on the Internet.

As much as the advertising of movies has changed, the types of movies they make have changed as well. When I was a kid there were several types of movies that were very popular that have almost all but disappeared these days.

1. The Car Chase Movie
The drive-ins and theaters were filled with these for several years. The classic formula was evident in films like The Gumball Rally, The Cannonball Run, Eat My Dust, and Vanishing Point. Some car chase movies tried to add a little more in the way of plot elements and took out some of the cars. This led to films like Smokey and the Bandit, Death Race 2000, and Race with the Devil.

There have been a few recent car chase movies, but they don’t have the heart that these movies had. The Fast & The Furious is more about showing off the cars rather than any actual sustained chase. The Death Race remake was more a Nascar version of a car chase movie.

2. Nature Documentaries
It seemed like every month there was a new nature documentary when I was a kid. Most of them were extremely low-budget and produced by some small independent company. Many of them were “four wall” pictures where the distributer would rent the theater (all four walls) for two or three weeks and keep all the ticket receipts while the exhibitor kept all the concession sales. These films were always advertised as being in town for “One Week Only!” until the week was over and then it was “Held Over For One More Week!”. Keep in mind the distributer and the exhibitor already knew that the theater had been rented out for that second week before the first day the picture opened. Films like this included Cougar Country, North Country, The Outdoorsman, and The Ra Expedition. The only recent examples that I can recall are March of the Penguins and a couple of Disney films. Of course Disney made plenty of these films back then as well. They called them True-Life Adventures and had titles like The Living Desert, The Vanishing Prairie, and The African Lion.

3. Sexploitation Films
These were a staple of the drive-ins of my youth. There were movies about stewardesses, cheerleaders, teachers, and in a subgenre all to themselves, women in prison. There was a wonderful book written about these films a few years back and Something Weird Video has rescued many of these films from obscurity and released them on DVD. I watched the Harry Novak classic The Pig Keeper’s Daughter on one of their double feature DVDs a few years ago. These movies weren’t much on plot or acting. There was the flimsiest of plots to keep the story moving, but there was always lots and lots of full frontal female nudity. The closest thing we have these days are made for cable or direct to video stinkers where the women are as plastic as the Mego action figures I grew up with. At least in the days of the drive-in they used real natural women.

We Had Two Things As Kids

My son grew up in a world with 24/7 cartoons and video games. My daughter was able to add the Internet to her childhood toolkit. When I was a kid we only had cartoons on Saturday morning and perhaps an hour or so early on other mornings and an hour or so with Mister Cartoon after school. Video games, home systems that is, wouldn’t come along until High School. As for the Internet, we were years away from even bulletin boards, much less full-blown websites. We basically had two things as kids: books and our imaginations.

Now don’t get me wrong, we had toys. We had G.I. Joe, Mego, Shogun Warriors, Micronauts, Aurora model kits, and all sorts of other playthings. The difference is that our toys didn’t do anything unless you used your imagination. We could make Biotron fly and Mazinga battle Godzilla, but only through the art of pretending. For those of you too young to understand what this means, we would hold our little Micronaut up in the air and make flying noises with our mouths as we did loops or went running out in a playground with the toy held out and held high. We would take our figures, one in each hand, and have them do battle with one another by beating the two pieces of plastic against each other. One hand would hold the attacking toy while the other hand-held the toy that about to get hit. After a thunderous blow, the other toy would be lifted up and retaliate. Sometimes both hands would move the two toys at each other simultaneously causing both of them to go flying backwards. All sound effects were created by us, and the outcome of the battle was whatever storyline we wanted to tell. Unless one of the toys broke. Then we improvised. “Oh no, Johnny West hit G.I. Joe so hard that his arms both flew off.”

Model kits also required us to use our imaginations, but they did have instruction sheets. I loved figure kits. One of my friends loved car models. Another friend had tons of dinosaur models. You would get a cardboard box with a gorgeous painting of what the kit should look like on the front. Sometimes the sides had actual pictures of professionally assembled and painted kits. When you opened the box there were plastic trees with little numbered parts on them. Usually they were all molded in a single color, normally the dominant color of the figure. The Wolfman would be in brown. Godzilla would be in dark green. Some kits had additional glow in the dark parts or they had clear or chromed parts, especially for cars.

I kept my Aurora kits on my dresser or on a shelf in my closet. In the closet, the glow in the dark parts would light up when I shut the closet door. My friend with all of the Aurora Prehistoric Scenes kits had a special wooden platform in his basement. His dad had made it for him so he could connect their bases and set them up on display like a prehistoric train set. He used to pretend that at bedtime he could talk to them on a toy walkie-talkie that he had. I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen and swore that one day, I would fix up something like that for myself.

The other thing we had, as I stated, was books. We had comic books, paperbacks, and magazines. Back then everybody seemed to sell comic books. You could buy them at the drug store, the newsstand, bus stations, grocery stores, convenience stores, department stores, and other places as well. I had lots of comics, but it wasn’t until I picked up Kamandi #9 while on vacation at King’s Island that I became a true collector. The front cover showed these people in a hot air balloon fighting giant bats. It looked so amazing that I had to buy it. I bought it, read it, and decided that I would have to find the next issue when it came out. Since I had never seen this book before, I assumed that I was holding the first issue. When I got home, I was shocked to find issue #8 at my local 7-11 (which was literally open from 7 AM until 11 PM at the time). When I realized that I had actually missed the first seven issues, I was shocked and devastated, but I kept looking for them. Eventually I ordered the missing issues from an ad I found for back issues comics by mail. I still have every issue of Kamandi to this day.

We also had paperback books and magazines to entertain us. I’ve mentioned all the monster magazines that I used to buy, but there were other mags as well. Car Toons and Surf Toons featured cartoons about cars and surfing. Marvel and Warren publishing both had black and white comic magazines and there were numerous humor magazines as well. Mad is still around, but there was also Sick, Cracked, Crazy, and the National Lampoon. The Lampoon was a bit more adult, but I still managed to get almost every issue from around #96 up and a local newsagent even sold me a huge collection of back issues which included the very first issue.

Paperbacks also entertained us as kids, and at a fairly bargain rate. I picked up all of the Planet of the Apes books for between 50 and 95 cents each. I also had a bunch of superhero books, Star Trek fotonovels, and other titles. Two of my prized possessions at the time were a pair of oversized hardcovers dedicated to talking solely about horror movies. I always wanted a copy of the Ray Harryhausen Scrapbook, but it was too expensive at the time. I finally picked up a copy years later at a used bookstore and I replaced my copies of the two horror movie books (as well as a third one I picked up later) off eBay. I don’t know why I had gotten rid of my copies in the first place, but I was glad to have them back.

The Greatest Day Of The Week

From the time I was a little kid until my teen years Saturday was the greatest day of the week. As a kid there were Saturday morning cartoons to start the day and Chiller theater to close it out. Later on Saturday evenings gave way to Monty Python’s Flying Circus and Saturday Night Live. There were other fun things sandwiched between the cartoons and late night tv, but the shows were the items that sat the tone for my day.

If I got up early enough on Saturday the stations had old episodes of Lassie, Skippy, and Daktari. If I got up too early there was the farm report or a test pattern. Neither of those interested me, but I loved the old Ivan Tors animal shows and Lassie was okay as well. A little later in the day the Saturday morning cartoons would start. Most of these were just that; cartoons. Live action Saturday morning fare was much less common. The big and possibly only exception to this rule was Sid and Marty Krofft… oh and the Hudson Brothers.

Recently I picked up season one and three of Land of the Lost on eBay for about $3 each. I already had the second season, so this completed the original series from my childhood. There was a reboot of the series in 1991 which my son watched, although he swears he only remembers watching the show on Nickelodeon. I never really warmed up to the reboot, and the theme song was nowhere near as catchy, but I loved the original 1974 version. It was one of the shows I hated to miss. The show I practically refused to miss was Return to the Planet of the Apes. I remember Mom had made a doctor’s appointment for me one week during the time Return to the Planet of the Apes was airing and I was extremely vocal about my disappointment in missing it. To Mom’s credit she didn’t smack my ass and tell me deal with it, she tried to reassure me that I could catch it on a repeat. Sadly it was cancelled and that episode never was repeated. I now have the whole series on DVD, but after 37 years I’ve forgotten what the storyline even was in the episode I missed. One day I just need to sit down and watch the whole series from start to finish. It only ran for 13 episodes, so that should be about 6 hours or less.

There were a plethora of fun shows on Saturday mornings during those years, but Chiller theater became more important to me toward the end of grade school. I was a huge fan and regular reader of Famous Monsters of Filmland, Castle of Frankenstein and The Monster Times. My fondest wish was to try and see all the classic monster movies. Every once in a while I would get lucky and find one of the Mummy movies or the Wolf Man, but usually it was B grade fare like Monster on Campus, The Monolith Monsters or The Indestructible Man. I still watched them, but I yearned for Frankenstein, The Creature from the Black Lagoon, or Godzilla.

As I entered fourth grade, I discovered Monty Python and British comedies. I would stay up until 11 PM waiting for the new Python episode. Python had a completely different sense of humor and I loved it. It also had occasional nudity which was another plus. The first episode I remember watching featured the skit Blackmail, where a game show host played video footage, showed pictures, or read partial lists of information about an illicit tryst in order to blackmail the guilty parties into paying him money.

Saturdays changed forever once our local NBC affiliate finally picked up Saturday Night Live. They didn’t carry it during the first season or two, opting instead for episodes of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. My nephews had been watching it from the first episode and I got to see one episode when we were visiting them (for the record it was the one hosted by Hugh Hefner). I watched SNL up until the early part of the sixth season. I caught a few sporadic episodes over the next five years, but didn’t really start watching again until the 11th season which was probably one of the worst seasons in the show’s history. I gave up on it again until season 14 and then watched it religiously for several years.

These days Saturday mornings don’t even play that many cartoons. Most of the ones they do play are not exclusive to Saturday mornings either. And of course unlike in those days of yore, Saturday morning is not the only place you can find cartoons on tv. There is Cartoon Network, Toon Disney, Boomerang, and many other channels carrying nothing but animated programming. Chiller theater is long gone, but the classic monster movies are almost all available on Blu-ray or DVD. The only thing missing is a DVD of our syndicated horror host, Seymour. The entire series of Monty Python’s Flying Circus is available as are the first five seasons of SNL. I still wish the other seasons of SNL were available, and I would also love a region 1 release of The Goodies which I also watched on PBS during that same time period.

The other big change is that now I don’t get up early enough to watch whatever the stations are showing, and I’m at work usually when SNL is on. I set my DVR for it if for no other reason than to catch Weekend Updates or the occasional on air flub (thank you, Jenny Slate).

DVD review: Tosh.0 Deep V’s

Tosh.0 Deep V’s is a 2 disc Blu-ray containing 16 episodes from season two of Tosh.0. I have trouble finding time to watch a lot of tv and when I do have time, my legs usually end up cramping on me and I have to give up. That’s why I split watching this Blu-ray into 4 sessions. I watched the first six episodes one night. Several days later I picked up and watched the next four episodes, finishing out the first disc. A few nights later I popped in disc 2 and watched the last 6 episodes. Finally I sat down and polished off the bonus features.

Tosh.0 is a series that airs on Comedy Central and stars stand up comic Daniel Tosh. Daniel shows videos from the Internet and makes jokes about them. The format is usually to open with about six different clips. One of them he usually has a filmed skit to go along with (usually a “re-enactment” of one of the videos. One clip he will have them put 20 seconds on the clock and see how many funny comments he can make. The last clip will usually be given the “video breakdown” where he analyzes it, pausing it several times along the way. Then it’s time for a commercial break so he gives us a teaser and then shows one more quick clip. After the break, he shows another video. This one he will bring the “star” of the clip out to Hollywood for a “Web Redemption”. In the early episodes, the clips were usually of someone screwing something up, so he would recreate the event and give them the chance to get it right. Later ones may only consist of him interviewing the person and doing some sort of skit around the premise of the video. This disc had several of both. After the redemption it’s time for another commercial break which he prefaces by saying, “We’ll be right back with more…” and then naming a cancelled Comedy Central series. Coming back from the break he will usually do something related to his audience, a previous show, a challenge, or something that he has discovered on the web. One episode had him doing “Things you should never run into a room and yell”. A few episodes later he showed videos his viewers had made using the same idea. Another segment is the viewer video of the week. This is supposed to be a video uploaded to his blog by his fans. Some of them are funny. Some of them are cute. Some of them are pure crap. Usually he will have a few comments which will often make the crappy videos tolerable. A prime example of this is a video of an older asian lady doing what looks like martial arts warm up exercises.

Deep V’s contains the last 16 episodes of season two. This is where the show really started to find its voice. I have watched all three of the DVD sets and there is definitely a more relaxed feeling in the season two episodes. The early episodes had a more rigid feel to them and they also had the usually horrible celebrity videos. The one with Dave Attell was amusing but still a little too long, but the one with Fred Willard was just a bad joke stretched past the point where any humor could be milked out of it. Side note; when is someone going to release full season sets of Insomniac? I have the two “Best Of” collections, but I want them all! Comedy Central could make this happen, but if they won’t Shout Factory needs to jump in for us.

The bonus features are all just extended bits from usually the Web Redemption segments. I find these to be interesting, and the expanded panel with the “world’s worst stand up comic” managed to be both funny and informative. An additional bonus feature was the Spoiler Alert segment on Human Centipede. Spoiler Alert has only appeared twice in these episodes. It is not a regular feature. This particular spoiler alert was the full 23 minute retelling of The Human Centipede. If you haven’t seen The Human Centipede, let me just say that it is not as disgusting as I expected it to be, a feeling Daniel seems to share. If you have seen it and enjoyed it even a smidgen, then you have to go online and watch Human Centipede The Musical. A comedy troupe took the Centipede story and performed on stage a musical comedy version of it. It is wonderful.

Tosh.0 Deep V’s is definitely entertaining if you like the show. I wish they had released the episodes in order, but unfortunately the 16 episodes between Hoodies and Deep V’s are on volume 3 Cardigans Plus Casual Jackets which is a Wal-Mart exclusive available only on DVD. I would also loved to have had some more behind the scenes bonus footage and a commentary track or two would have been nice. I’d also like it if they offered non-pixelated versions of the clips. The language has been uncensored for the DVD release, but nudity is still blurred out. Give us the uncensored nudity as a bonus feature.

Wasted Days & Wasted Nights

It amazes me when I get a day off and don’t feel like I manage to accomplish a thing. Don’t get me wrong, I did get some things done, just not the laundry list of things I wanted to get done. The wife and I went through and shredded old receipts from 1989 through the early 2000’s today. Now while this was something that needed to be done, it just doesn’t feel like anything either. I had planned to move over another shelf full of magazines and a desk full of books to help finish out most of the center of the old house’s library. Instead we turned 15 years worth of phone bills into confetti.

I thought perhaps I would try and catch up on some comic reading. I got through the first three issues of All New X-Men and fell asleep in the middle of issue 4. Remember how I said in my last post that I need those 8 hours of sleep? Well I only got 6 last night and my body has been reminding me about it every waking moment. I think my DVR viewing is up to date with the exception of the new season of Workaholics. I have two episodes sitting on the DVR waiting to be watched, but no burning desire to jump in and start watching.

Workaholics is one of those shows that I enjoy, but I find myself dreading to watch. I have similar reactions to Wilfred and It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. I’ve also had issues getting into Dexter for the last three seasons. I watched the first episode after Rita was killed and found it so depressing that I didn’t want to go back for the next episode. Then the next season started and I didn’t want to watch until I caught up on the other season. Finally the most recent season began and I found myself two season’s behind. I decided to just knuckle down and watch the first episode, totally ruining the previous season’s twist ending shocker. I still enjoyed the show, but never managed to go back and watch anything beyond that season opener.

One show that recently started back up and that I definitely don’t let sit on the DVR for too long is Archer. I absolutely loved the season premiere this year with an amnesiac Archer thinking his name is Bob and working at a burger joint named Bob’s Burgers with his wife, Linda, and their three children. The fact that H. Jon Benjamin voices both Archer and Bob in the two respective shows made this the greatest series mash up since Bob Newhart woke up in bed with Suzanne Pleshette. It was easily my favorite thirty minutes of television this year, although the scene of Jessica Lange singing “The Name Game” in the middle of Briarcliff Insane Asylum on American Horror Story: Asylum three weeks ago is definitely a close second. To go from such a dark depressing environment to the bright shiny and very colorful song and dance number still has me floored. Jessica Lange has come a long way from Dwan in King Kong and deserves another round of awards for this season.

So, how will I cap off the night? I think I’m going to try and finish off the first disc if my Tosh.0 Deep V’s Blu-ray. Tosh.0 was one of those shows I hated initially. I thought the celebrity videos were horrible and wasn’t a fan of much else on those early episodes either. I watched two episodes and I was done. Somewhere in the middle of the third season I started watching it again. I don’t know why. I think I just had the TV turned to Comedy Central and there wasn’t anything else on screaming for my attention. The next thing I knew, I had saved the show to my DVR and couldn’t wait until the new episode hit.

When Comedy Central started releasing the episodes on DVD and Blu-ray last year, I was thrilled. They made the decision not to release full season sets, but instead to release the show based on Daniel’s wardrobe. For those not familiar with the show, Daniel wears one type of clothing for each block of episodes of which there are usually two to three blocks per season. The first season consisted of hoodies and cardigans. Season two contained casual jackets and deep v’s. So the first Blu-ray consisted of all the Hoodies episodes. I bought it and watched it the night before my big job change in June 2012. It helped keep me up and entertained so I would be ready to take on going from day shift to evening shift. At Christmas time they released volume 2 on DVD and Blu-ray, but it was Deep V’s, the last 15 or so episodes of season 2. The last episodes of season 1 and the first episodes of season 2 were released on DVD only as a Wal-Mart exclusive and numbered as volume 3. Can somebody please tell Comedy Central that some of us out here actually care about about things like proper release order and numbering? I’m still pissed at the Simpsons for releasing season 20 after season 12 or 13.

I’m also pissed that no one has made a deal to release the later seasons of SNL. Don’t get me wrong. The first five seasons are THE classic years for the show, but I also want to see the train wreck that was season 6 and season 11. I want to watch the episodes with Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscipo that I ignored while I was in my senior year of high school. I want to catch the classic late 80s episodes with Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz, Dennis Miller, and Dana Carvey. I also want to see the early Will Ferrell episodes and watch Tina Fey and Amy Poehler’s early days before 30 Rock and Parks and Rec. If Universal doesn’t want to release them, they should license the rights to Shout Factory who does an amazing job with shows like this.