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michael_mckenna

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11 reviews in total 
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"M*A*S*H" (1972)
1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Welcome to the 4077, 13 November 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Back in the 1970s, it was common practice to turn a block buster movie into a TV series. The results were often disastrous if not downright embarrassing! Such was not the case with MASH, which, say what you may, was actually better than the movie.

The idea of casting Alan Alda for the part made famous by the great Donald Sutherland and Wayne Rogers for the part made famous by Elliot Gould, was insane. It was also a brilliant move! Both Alan Alda and Wayne Rogers were perfect for their roles.

The funniest episode was "Yankee Doodle Doctors" when a propaganda team came to film the 4077. As the narrator described the work of "our brave men and women who volunteered to serve so proudly", Hawkeye muttered, "I volunteered under the porch, trying to puncture my ears with an icepick."

It was then that he decided to replace the film with a film of their own, in the tradition of the Marx Brothers, featuring Hawkeye as Groucho, Trapper John as Harpo and Radar O'Reilly as the patient.

No collection of MASH is complete without this must-have episode! Another classic was when Hawkeye and Trapper John had to somehow convince their nemesis, Maj. Burns, to cancel his request for a transfer. So they played on Maj. Burns' greed by dropping hints that they had discovered gold in the area.

When Frank Burns went out to start digging for gold, he heard on the PA, "Tonight's double feature, 'Greed' and 'The Major was a Miner', starring Frank There-goes-my-gold Burns."

Jamie Farr was hilarious as Klinger, who was forever trying unsuccessfully to get his coveted "Section 8" with his assortment of dresses.

Famous quotes: (when Klinger standing guard duty naked, told Hawkeye to halt and be recognized): "Awe Klinger, put on a dress!"

When Major Burns caught Radar O'Reilly in his tent with Hawkeye and Trapper John, he asked what he was doing in their tent. Radar O'Reilly replied "I'm just visiting the guys."

Major Burns yelled, "They aren't 'guys', they're OFFICERS!"

The series took a few turns for the worse, first in 1975 when Wayne Rogers was replaced by Mike Farrell (BJ Hunnicut) and McLean Stevenson was replaced by Harry Morgan (Col. Sherman Potter), then in 1977 when Larry Linville (Maj. Frank Burns) exited and was replaced by David Ogden Stiers (Maj. Winchester III) and in 1979 when Gary Burghodff (Radar O'Reilly) left and Klinger stopped wearing his dresses.

This is not to say that the show was no longer any good. It was! I just liked it better when Lt. Col. Henry Blake was trying to run the show as his company clerk was forever taking the words out of his mouth, knowing what he wanted before he had a chance to speak. And Klinger was always showing up with a new dress and another scheme to get his coveted "Section 8" while Hawkeye and Trapper John were forever making life miserable for Maj. Burns with their antics.

Still, it was a good show.

When it was decided to terminate the series in 1983, the series went with a bang! The final episode was played up to be a real spectacular event. And it was! It is anybody's guess how many bars and night clubs had "Farewell MASH" parties. The bar below the apartment I was living in, had a big "farewell MASH" party and it was an unforgettable event.

The final episode was truly a classic. Too bad the spin-off, AFTER MASH couldn't fare as well.

Clarissa has the answers to life!, 13 November 2005

Many years ago, on ALL IN THE FAMILY, Edith Bunker wondered who "Dear Abbey" and "Ann Landers" went when they needed advice. The answer became clear to me in 1991. They went to Clarissa Darling, who had all the answers all along! But seriously now, the show was really good entertainment. Since it was aimed at a teenage audience, the issues, plots and humor hit the mark the way it was meant to.

Much of the humor was light and the writers got their inspiration from other shows which is perfectly acceptable.

Sam, who always made his appearance through Clarissa's window, reminded me of "Wilson" from HOME IMPROVEMENT, who was always lurking behind the fence, ready to give Tim Taylor some advice or simply lend an ear when Tim had to get something off his chest.

Sam's appearance also reminded me of Harry Zarakardos, that weird fireman, who lived in that fire station located next to Dick & Paula's apartment on the 1967 sitcom, HE AND SHE, portrayed by the great Kenneth Mars. Harry used to drop in on Dick & Paula by popping his ladder between his window and theirs and simply showing up unannounced. The same persona was portrayed by Michael Richards, better known as SEINFELD's Cosmos Kramer.

Clarissa was very sharp without being "street smart" and she was forever getting into sticky situations like "boy problems", blind dates, a bratty kid brother, parents who either didn't understand her situation, or worse yet, understood her situation too well! It was a combination of "life as a teenager" and "life with a teenager".

OK, so the only fault Clarissa had was in her being quick to complain that her life was a "teenage hell" in spite of the fact that she was popular in school, had good grades, stylish clothes, parents who loved her and cared for her, and, in short, had it made. Isn't it normal for a teenage girl to find a reason to complain, gripe, mope and grope?

The beauty of this show was that the show was well written with no "hidden agendas" and no matter how bad Clarissa's situation got, everything somehow worked itself out and Clarissa always explained it all in a light hearted way.

9 out of 13 people found the following review useful:
Happy 30th birthday. You're dead!, 11 November 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Back in the 1970s, almost every good movie wound up as a TV series, often with less than satisfactory results. However, LOGAN'S RUN, like MASH, was not only better on TV, but aired by CBS as well. Too bad CBS didn't give LOGAN'S RUN a chance to become the hit series that it deserved to be.

Like the movie, our heroes managed to escape their Utopian city in pursuit of "sanctuary". As a movie, there is one chance before the credits roll. As a TV series, the potential to explore all kinds of strange civilians that evolved after the Holicaust which destroyed all civilization as we know it.

My favorite episode involved Logan and Jessica having discovered the remains of an advanced civilization that had been abandoned with no evidence of violence or sickness. It was as if everyone had simply packed up and gone away.

Puzzled by this, Logan and Jessica investigate and discover some archives and a time machine.

Seeing this as an opportunity to change history and prevent the holocaust from happening, Logan goes back into time to present day Washington DC, where he reads the newspapers about US/Soviet talks disintegrating and the threat of a nuclear war becoming more and more of a possibility.

So Logan, in his futuristic costume, barges into the US Senate, warning them to resume talks and search for a lasting peace, or else! The elected officials actually believe him and take his advice, thanking him for the warning and Logan is treated as a hero.

Patting himself on the back for a job well done, he goes back to his time, expecting to see a better world. But nothing has changed.

Puzzled, he asks Jessica why the world is unchanged. She directs him to the archives and he sees himself in the news.

Next, he sees that the Soviet Union demands that the US hand over its time machine.

The US replies that it has no time machine.

The Soviets accuse the US of lying and backs its demands with a nuclear strike.

The US denies having a time machine.

The Soviets react with a nuclear strike.

Jessica then tells Logan, "You caused the holocaust!"

The memory of this episode, after over 26 years, still gives me a chill.

Too bad this series doesn't see the light as a DVD release.

4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Hello, Mr. Wilson, 11 November 2005

One morning back in 1987, while I was home on leave (I was in the Navy stationed overseas and I was back stateside for some leave), I was up early one morning armed with the TV Guide and I saw "Dennis the Menace" listed.

Thinking it was the old TV series from the 1950s that I grew up watching, I decided to check it out, only to discover that it was a new cartoon series.

What I thought would be a disappointment turned out to be a pleasant surprise! The series was actually more true to Hank Ketcham's great comic strip than the old black & white series. Actually, the old black & white series was not true to the comic strip because the PTA, which was a pretty powerful force to deal with, managed to reduce "Dennis the Menace" to more of a "Dennis the good boy whose good intentions somehow went haywire".

The artwork of the cartoon series was true to Hank Ketcham's style. And the animation was very good, which was unusual for a TV cartoon of the time.

Being a cartoon, the writers had a lot more leeway and were free to allow Dennis to be as much of a menace as he was originally intended to be.

This series is not only entertaining for children of all ages, but is also entertaining for the child that still lurks in every grown up as well.

4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:
American Graffiti, Italian style, 9 November 2005
7/10

"American Graffiti, Italian style" pretty well describes this movie. Like "American Graffiti", this movie also takes place in the early 1960s and involves a gang of teenagers having fun in the summertime against a backdrop of oldies. There's mischief, mayhem, fun and falling in love. The movie actually has more in common with the beach movies of the early 1960s since it does take place around a beach resort.

The music is rock & roll, Italian style, with lots of original hits of the era from the Italian Hit Parade, which oddly, has a lot in common with good old American rock & roll. For anyone who enjoys early rock & roll and is adventurous enough to check out what the rock scene was like in Italy when Kennedy was in the White House, the soundtrack of this movie is a good place to start. It was available on LP and today, it may be available on CD.

I never knew this movie was ever marketed to American audiences. I wonder how the dubbing turned out. As for me, I saw the movie in its original Italian version, which was fine with me.

6 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
Where are you Deputy Dawg?, 8 November 2005

I haven't seen my oil' canine hero since 1971! Back in the early 1960s (around 1964) we used to watch it every afternoon on our Zenith portable black & white set around supper time. Sometimes we used to wheel the set in the kitchen and watch it as we ate supper. Ah, those were the days! Then, in 1971, I rediscovered the pure joy of watching our canine hero battle them nasty lil' varmints. At the ripe mature age of 17, I found that even though I had grown up a bit, I still enjoyed Deputy Dawg every bit as much as I did when I was growing up! It was such a wonderfully ridiculous cartoon that was so wonderfully "rural" with the drawl and the background hillbilly music! They sure don't make 'em like that anymore. Such a shame! I'll bet my retirement check that if I ever got my hands on a DVD or video of DEPUTY DAWG, I would discover that at the age of 51, I would have a riot watching the antics of Deputy Dawg and all them varmints giving him a run for the money!

14 out of 24 people found the following review useful:
The sting is on but I think it is the audience that is getting the sting!, 13 October 2005
5/10

THE STING was an absolute masterpiece! I loved that movie when it was in the theaters in 1974. I loved the movie when it was re-released and I got the movie on VHS and later on DVD.

THE STING II was, by comparison, a dismal disappointment. While watching THE STING II, I tried to imagine what the movie would've been like if we had Paul Newman and Robert Redford in the starring roles. With their acting skills, their unique chemistry (they just seem to complement each other), and their influence on refining their roles, the movie would had been much better. But it still would've fallen short of THE STING.

But on its own merit, it was really a pretty good movie. If you take a moment to forget about Paul Newman and Robert Redford (who together ignited a chemistry that made them so likable, even as "bad guys" as they did earlier in BUTCH CASSIDY & THE SUNDANCE KID), you have Mac Davis, who was a good actor, back on the silver screen after his previous movie which was quite successful. And you have Jackie Gleason, known as "the Great One", a name that was very well earned.

But in THE STING II, Jackie Gleason and Mac Davis were definitely cast in the wrong roles. No matter how great these actors were, they were not and could never had taken the place of Paul Newman & Robert Redford.

On the other hand, Paul Newman and Robert Redford could never take the place of Jackie Gleason and Mac Davis.

Try to imagine Paul Newman portraying Ralph Kramden on THE HONEYMOONERS or try to imagine Robert Redford trying to sing "Baby Don't Get Hooked on Me" and you'll see what I mean!

1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Toto' has just inherited a nice fortune. But to collect, he must be married!, 20 March 2005

Toto' a struggling artist, and confirmed bachelor, has just received word from his aunt in Australia, that he will come across a small fortune.

But in order to collect, he must be married. So Toto' must quickly tie the knot or lose the money. All this is easier said than done.

The first girl in his sight is very beautiful, but she is also very near-sighted, like every one else in her family. So Toto', to fit in, dons a pair of glasses and wreaks havoc as a result.

First, he bumps into the door. Then he pours himself a glass of wine, not knowing that the bottle is empty. Of course he notices that the wine is very dry.

India ink is mistaken for red wine (remember that the movie is in black and white) and all havoc really breaks lose.

(The scene, with everybody bumping into each other and doing everything wrong because of their visual handicap, would offend those who are "politically correct", but when this movie was released, in 1950, "political correctness" was non-existent. So sit back and enjoy. It is worth the price of the movie, alone!)

Later pursuits are just as disastrous!

His classified ad is erroneous printed, causing even more havoc.

When the mess is finally straightened out, the situation really gets out of hand because he must now face a crowd of eligible women, all ready to chase him to the church where each one hopes to become "La moglie di Toto'" (Toto's wife).

This movie is a "must see", even though it hasn't been (to my knowledge) ever translated into English.

Toto' was a comic genius whose brand of humor could be comparable to a blend of "Charlie Chaplin slapstick" "3 Stooges lunacy" mixed with the sharp wit of Groucho Marx. Yet he maintains his own unique brand of originality.

8 out of 9 people found the following review useful:
That First Family of Fright is back!, 12 December 2004

I have always been a mad fan of the Munsters. I loved the show when it was on prime time (CBS) from the first time I watched the show in 1964, right till the end when it was canceled in 1966.

I even sent a postcard to CBS in protest of the proposed cancellation. (At least I think I did. If I didn't, well, I wish I did. It's the thought that counts, right?)

When the Munsters hit the silver screen in 1966 with "Munster Go Home", I made it a point not to miss it when it came to a theater near me! I loved the movie!

In 1988, I saw "The Munsters Today". I hated it! The characters may had looked like the original Munsters. But the series was so dry, so bland and so un-funny that it was sheer torture to sit through it. I decided that there was only one "Herman" and only the one and only Fred Gwynne could tackle the role.

In 1995, with the memory of "The Munsters Today" still fresh on my mind, I was apprehensive about watching this TV-movie.

I was pleasantly surprised. It was really funny! The cast was good.

The scene with Herman's first (and last) day as a butler, was classic comedy at its best and alone, well worth the trouble in finding this movie! The surviving members of the original series, making a cameo appearance as "sympathetic customers who thought that Herman, as a waiter, was good", was the icing on the cake.

The cast of "Here Come the Munsters", not only succeeded in continuing where the original (1964-66) cast left off, but obviously won the seal of approval from the surviving cast members, whose cameo appearance was the icing on the cake.

Could you imagine Al Lewis & company making such an appearance on "The Munsters Today"? I can't. I rest my case!

0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
Yabba dabba doo!, 13 August 2002

This is it! Critics may have slammed this series as a cheap version of the HONEYMOONERS. Maybe it "borrowed" a thing or two from the Great One's classic TV show.

But I can guarantee you that the Great One never had a pet dinosaur. He never flew on a pterodactyl and the list goes on!

Alice never had a dishwasher like Wilma's, either.

With the contributions of late, great Mel Blanc, you know that The Flintstones has gotta be a winner.

Add the voice talents of the great June Foray (who has been incorrectly labeled as "the female Mel Blanc" when it would've been more correct to call Mel Blanc "the male version of June Foray").

It has been rumored that the series had ran out of ideas by the time the series was canceled in 1966. The series had merely gone through a dry spell. By the early 1970s, The Flintstones were back with enough new episodes to last a few more years, only this time, Pebbles and Bam Bam would be teenagers. But this is another story.

One burning question I have is why every episode has in its credits "1963" as the copyright date when many episodes were ade before.


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