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The Interns (1970)
Great if forgettable series
In this ensemble cast drama which predated ER and Grey's Anatomy, I got my first glimpse of what goes on in a hospital. Usually, doctors are just supporting bits or extras in the typical TV drama, but here we have young, winsome doctors trying to make it in a medical setting dealing with various diseases as well as personal problems. No bloody scenes but lots of melodrama. It didn't last long, and I can only remember a few episodes (like the patient whose hand was caught in the elevator door and a street clown who broke a lot of bones in her ankle after a perilous somersault). Nevertheless, it was the first time I saw Mike Farrell before he went to MASH and the last I've seen of Broderick Crawford. Good to great, too bad it didn't last long.
Viva Valdez (1976)
Yet another comedy based on ethnicity
In the 1970s, TV capitalized on ethnic comedies such as Good Times and The Jeffersons (thanks to the rippling effect of the first all-American Bunker family). As a result, comedies were created based on how an ethnic family copes with then modern-day America. Most of these mutations were duds, such as Mr. T & Tina, That's My Mama and sadly, Viva Valdez. Think about The Flower Drum Song but replace the Asians with Mexicans. You have a father who's overprotective of his family, a mother who's heavily into needless histrionics and teens/young adults living the modern life with clearer accents. Add to that, Jorge Cervera Jr., who gets special billing, as a newly-arrived cousin who's catchphrase is "Hello, everybody!". Why Cervera Jr. got a special billing I don't know and his acting abilities here make me wonder even more why he's even in the cast. Slight laughs but nothing groundbreaking here. Should not have been made at all.
May be the next best thing Baker has ever done
Eischied is a continuation of the character Baker portrayed in the TV miniseries, "To Kill a Cop", which I believe is his best. Then again, that doesn't say much. The JDB movies are almost always awful, with the possible exception of Walking Tall and some appearances in James Bond. And television during these times was in pursuit of toned-down bestsellers. In To Kill a Cop, he plays the hero who's not above to doing amoral (and perhaps, immoral) things to keep his job. Yet, he redeems himself with the successful capture of the bad guys. In the TV series, however, they toned down (almost eradicated) the moral ambiguity of his character. So, now he's a "good" cop after the bad guys. It's of average quality which could have been redeemed if they only made Eischied the morally questionable cop he really was.
The Wrong Coast (2004)
A stop-action animation series meant to spoof entertainment shows like Access Hollywood and Entertainment Tonight. Features sycophantic movie reporters, camera-hungry moderators and cross-bred films.
A sup-plot involves the in-fighting between the show's co-hosts, each wanting to be the top banana. Sometimes funny, sometimes reaching, the humor is perfect for this type of satire. Surprisingly, this show premiered on a movie channel even though it does not contain foul language or explicit nudity. Although sometimes, between this and the real infotainment shows, I can't tell which is more annoying. I recommend taping the show and watching it within a two-week gap between episodes.
Typical Canadian sitcom
Canadian TV comedies are funny if they're made up as a series of sketches like Air Farce, Wayne & Shuster or even Red Green (I've never seen any Ken Finkleman show so I can't judge his work). If they try for a full situation comedy (like the supposedly successful King of Kensington) it comes out draggingly slow and selectively funny. Don Ferguson of Air Farce and Kathy Greenwood (one of many familiar faces from Whose Line is it Anyway?) headline this show about an ex Prime Minister who doesn't get any respect. They play it safe and familiar; no outrageous moment, no unforgettable scene, just barely recommendable. The cast should just stick to improv.
The New Perry Mason (1973)
miscast and stiff actors
This is the first Perry Mason series I've seen (since I wasn't even born when the original Raymond Burr starrer appeared) and saw it in its entirety (at least what the local station showed). Monte Markham may be a great stage actor, but he never found success on TV and this is why. He and the rest of the cast act like robots, mouthing lines with nary a trace of believability. Mason is supposed to be a criminal lawyer not a corporate one (I guess Markham forgot that). The best evidence of a live character there would be Harry Guardino's Ham(ilton) Burger. He's the only actor who looks the least uncomfortable with the role. The mysteries posed are good, almost Murder-She-Wrote-like quality. But the pace is too fast (though not by today's standards), the courtroom scenes (where the highest point of the drama is expected) are much too brief. If only they made them movies-of-the-month like Columbo or McCloud, there may have been a chance for this show to find its audience.
Hey Joel (2003)
Been screening IMDB for any info on this series, but I had to wait until the show was over to get something! Hey Joel is about a VH1 talk show host, but I'm not really sure if it ever was released in the US. The animation was ok, not ground-breaking; got introduced to Fountains of Wayne music, somewhat, and some of the jokes worked. I wish there would be more information on who did the voices for the guest musicians (J-Lo, Jewel, Lenny Kravitz, Bono, etc.) and if there are plans for a new season (note: Jon Cryer is now in Two and a Half Men with Charlie Sheen, and may not have time to do voice-overs for a new season, which was no rating smasher either). Lastly, it wouldn't hurt to have late night re-runs as filler on the Canadian Bravo channel.
Slow-paced but good enough
Like Columbo, this series moves slowly, with Jimmy Stewart as the Matlock of the 70's. Okay, not as successful as Matlock, but the mysteries and their solutions show a progressive tread towards mature plots. The pace drags, unfortunately, and will probably be not much of an attraction in a cable revival. Nonetheless, Hawkins the lawyer is much better a detective than Matlock and the stories (each one is about 2 hours each) contain intricate mysteries well worth the watch for detective story connoisseur.
To Die For (1995)
Not necessarily a true story
The movie showcases Nicole Kidman's maturity as an actress. She's not just a pretty face anymore. I agree with most reviewers; some parts are boring. But this is not to say the movie isn't worth it. It's a good movie; it's just that the latter part of it failed to sway me. It's not a film that gave me chills or laughs every minute. It's not supposed to; and I was looking for that kind of movie! One correction though: the movie was based on a novel by Joyce Maynard, who was a crime reporter. If the basis for the plot is fact, we can't know for sure. The film is based on fiction (that was no bestseller) and fiction it should be considered. So if the story fails to excite viewers, blame the book!
Just a faded memory
Remembered watching a couple of episodes of this short-lived series. President's daughter falls in love with Mr. Regular Guy, who has a regular job and regular kibitzing kin. Nancy and boyfriend carry their affair under the watchful eyes of several Secret Service agents. I don't remember a laugh track but it was supposed to be a comedy. I couldn't find it funny, just cutesy. the only episode that stuck in my mind was when the couple moved into a house with some raw food but no working stove. So, the uncle (who was doing some handyman's work) pulled out his torch and "cooked" the chicken. Tasted like gasoline, he remarked.
No other episode comes to mind. Don't even remember how the cast looked like!