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Burn 'Em Up Barnes (1934)
Great action, good script, action aplenty!
This serial recently screened on Sydney TV station SBS. The cast list included Frankie Darro, who would have been about 16 years of age at the time. I wasn't expecting a lot but I was surprised at thoroughly enjoying every episode.
The action is pretty much non-stop and young Frankie is nothing short of sensational as "Bobbie Riley". The stunts he does (did he do all of his stunts?) left this viewer breathless. Up and down fire escapes, into and out of automobiles, twisting and diving while being pursued by numerous villains; the list could go on and on.
There is also a serial within the serial, with a studio employing the hero, Jack Mulhall, as "Burn'em up Barnes", to do their stunts when he's not otherwise engaged. The greater part of the serial seems to have been filmed on location which is certainly an attraction for local history buffs. As others mention, another appealing aspect are the various autos, trucks, planes and motorcycles inhabiting the landscape.
The script I thought was well written and good direction kept the story moving along at lightning pace. In fact I'd find more enjoyment watching a repeat of this serial rather than viewing any of the current dreary lineup of so-called movie blockbusters.
Bring on "The Phantom Empire"!
This is a show we never miss; it provides both entertainment and a degree of enlightening knowledge.
Sure, there are irritating aspects in the annoying blue set and occasional robot-like host Jeremy Vine. Currently (January 2013) we are viewing 2009 episodes in Australia and Dermot Murnaghan is a far better host. He shows far more empathy for both the challengers and the Eggheads and seems not bound to a fixed script.
The Eggheads themselves are pretty much a cross section of humanity. Chris, down to earth, shooting straight from the shoulder; Daphne, always cheerful, but with a memory like a steel trap; CJ, playing a part totally unlike his real self; Barry, a bit of a mystery with what often appears to be a forced smile; Kevin, similar to but not as forceful as Chris and finally, Judith, who also has a mighty memory but seems off her game in these 2009 episodes.
Overall, this is a show worth watching and long may it continue to grace our screens.
Bargain Hunt (2000)
Have you all had a good time? Yes, Tim!
For those who've never seen BARGAIN HUNT, it consists of two teams, the "red" and the "blue", each of two people, each given an amount of cash, 200 pounds early on, later increased to 300 pounds, to spend at collectors' fairs, antique centres and similar markets on three items of choice, with a one-hour time limit. Each team is provided with an "expert" in the form of an antique dealer or auctioneer who can advise on possible purchases. Whether or not their advice is taken, is up to the teams. Later the items will be sold at auction and profits if any go to the teams. The two experts each buy an item, which will be offered to the two teams as "swaps", if they wish to swap. To simplify things, commissions and other auction fees aren't taken into account.
Reality shows come and go, but BARGAIN HUNT rolls on and on. This is due in no small part to the welcome presence of England's most amiable host, Tim Wonnacott.
The original host for BH was the effervescent David Dickinson who polarized viewers; they either loved or hated him. I found David both interesting and entertaining, despite what other people have written about him here and elsewhere. However, the arrival of Tim Wonnacott brought a more cheerful and learned presence. Tim's extensive knowledge of the "trade", endearing manner and ability to get along with almost everybody makes for an entertaining and informative 45 minutes. No two shows are quite the same, although the same background filler material may be apparent from multi-used locations. Several episodes will be filmed at one spot with purchased items going through the same auction.
This reviewer is currently watching 2006 episodes in Australia so the show's format may have changed in later series. Tim often visits stately homes or other interesting landmarks in the area. He introduces the viewer to choice items and talks of their history. For me, this is the highpoint of each show. Occasionally he reveals bargains he's picked up, or items he's spotted in the auction. You'll see the results of his "auction finds" when they are auctioned as well as the items from the two teams. Occasionally he puts items in the auction with any profit going to charity.
The show does well in gathering a cross section of society, with parent/child, co-workers and entire families making up the teams. Rarely do the teams consist of people with any genuine knowledge of collectables. So it may seem strange that it's not unusual for them to ignore the experts. Often they buy items without having the good manners to at least show their expert until the deed is done! This isn't to say the experts are right all the time. Often they aren't, far from it. This all goes to make each show good fun. You never know what to expect.
The experts are often more interesting and entertaining than the team contestants. With hundreds of episodes watched, these experts and auctioneers, together with Tim's expertise, have become my main reasons for watching. Originally it was to see the collectables but in reality, one tires of seeing contestants buying the same old things: blue and white plates, timber boxes, cut glass decanters, "aged" kitchenalia made last week and boxed sets of plated spoons which no one wants! It's not unusual to see experts and auctioneers playing dual roles. BARGAIN HUNT is like a real life version of MIDSOMER MURDERS on some levels. In one episode Philip Serrell or Elizabeth Talbot will be the auctioneer; five episodes later they'll pop up as an expert. Philip And Elizabeth are my favorites, both having distinctively interesting personalities.
All up, BARGAIN HUNT scores my vote as the best slice of English reality television.
Compulsive and sometimes scary
Although I've one seen one episode, "Patty and Bill", this show will have me watching from now on, if I don't buy the DVDs first. Reality shows aren't my thing usually, but the situations shown here seem real enough and I really felt for the participants and more so, for their families.
There's a lot compressed into "Patty and Bill", and the crew certainly put together something both engrossing and scary. The matter of fact way the team carried out the job to clean out the properties, with interruptions from Patty and Bill, must sure have taken a lot out of them. Of all those shown, I felt the most for Bill's daughter with her beautifully clean and tidy room amid what seemed like a builder's wreckers yard.
As someone who's helped to similarly clean out properties though not to such a necessary degree of size and in such a short time, I salute all concerned. What they achieved in three days seemed amazing, despite the final results not bringing satisfactory conclusions in either case.
All Star Golf (1957)
Trail-blazing sports series
"Top Pro Golf" aired on Australian television in the early 1960s, and introduced me to the wonderful world of golf.
From what I can remember, it was a highly polished series with excellent camera work and close interaction between the host and the players.
This was where I first saw the brilliant play of Gary Player and Arnold Palmer, as they blasted their way round a succession of US courses.
Somewhere, someone must have prints of episodes, so one day I hope to once again admire my golfing heroes in their early youth.
There were two other golf shows airing at around the same time, "Shell's Wonderful World of Golf" and "World Championship Golf", but this was for me the pick of the three.
Palmy Days (1931)
Dynamic, timeless entertainment
The other more knowledgeable reviewers have given comprehensive overviews of this movie so I'll stick to giving reasons for why I rate this as one of my favourite American musicals of all time.
Charlotte Greenwood, she of the L O N G legs and faultless timing. This is one of three movies in which Miss Greenwood, for me anyway, made those movies worth watching time and time again, the others being "Springtime in the Rockies" and "The Gang's All Here". Her appearances are a joy to behold; she never puts a foot (or leg) wrong, and delivers lines as only she can. Wow, what a gal!
The musical numbers. Yes, there are only three of 'em, but what great numbers. The best is "Bend Down, Sister", consisting of a magical song I've whistled my way through at least a couple of times every week for the past 40 years.
Eddie Cantor. A unique talent, along the lines of Al Jolson. I remember Eddie in the early days of television; he could always deliver a song which would keep me transfixed, unlike most of the other singers appearing on television at the time. When I finally caught up with his early musicals in the 1960s, it was a revelation.
Here's to you, Eddie, Charlotte and of course, The Master, Busby Berkeley!
Em & Me (2004)
Quirky feel-good entertainment
It's been decades since I last saw Alan Young; from "The Time Machine" and of course, Wilbur in "Mr Ed". I hope I'm as fit and healthy as he looks at 85 in this made for TV movie from 2004.
This can probably be described as a "road movie" or perhaps "coming of age" movie. If we live long enough, many of us will find ourselves in a similar situation to Ernie, who's one wish in life is to be reunited with his beloved Emily. So he sets off for her grave site, meeting people and changing lives for the better on the way.
It's been done before, of course. I thought the script was quirky and more in the European style. Instead of the tired old clichés, Ernie would often utter something completely unexpected.
I rate this a 9 for entertainment value. It's done on a shoestring budget but who cares? If a movie leaves you feeling better than when the opening credits rolled, it's done its job well. Recommended for the young at heart, but not the young and brain dead!
The Outer Limits: The Message (1995)
Profound and humbling episode
Two loners within a large medical facility, one a woman, Jennifer, with a then-revolutionary hearing implant, the other, Robert, a discredited astrophysicist working as a janitor, come together and carry out a lifesaving event no one in their time will ever hear of.
Jennifer's mundane and unimaginative husband thinks she has mental problems while Robert's downfall from his job was apparently due to others seeing him as mentally unbalanced.
It's a simple but moving story, a brilliant script, with a beautiful climax which probably brings many "Outer Limits" fans to their feet with a "Yeah, you did it!".
This is one of my favorite "Outer Limits" episodes from the more than 200 produced. It's right up there with "The Galaxy Being" from the original series.
The Lone Gunmen (2001)
Classic for future generations
Like a lot of other viewers no doubt, I've recently finished watching the series on DVD. And like those viewers, I found the XF 'Jump the Shark' episode less than satisfactory as a way of winding up the loose ends. Sure, it was better than no attempt at a resolution, but so far as I'm concerned, our three heroes are still 'out there' protecting the rest of us from the forces of evil! What I'd like to see is an attempt made at gathering all 'Lone Gunmen' footage from 'The X-Files' and working said footage into an extra special DVD release. I have to wonder if maybe someone 'out there' has already made the attempt.
What really bugged me about the final scene was the small turnout at the graveside. At least Scully put in an appearance. It's so long since I watched 'The X-Files' that I've forgotten what Mulder was up to at the time, and Reyes and Doggett just didn't cut it for me. Surely Mulder would have been at the graveside?
Cutting back to some general observations, I go along with the common view here that the show improved as it moved into the later episodes. The cast worked well together, and the 'Jimmy' character really added something to the mix as the scripts improved.
A fine series, for those with a genuine sense of the absurd. I love it!
A Fine Romance (1981)
Subtle, sweet, endearingly funny English comedy series
This is one of those TV series you remember fondly from earlier days, due to its two stars and the gentle humour which honestly reflects the actions of two awkward people, each looking for companionship and never expecting to find it. Mike and Laura are made for each other in the eyes of their friends; it really is that obvious, but not to themselves, of course.
Viewers of 'As Time Goes By' may find the show less fun. Perhaps that's due to the late 70s and early 80s being a strange period, especially for those of us who managed to survive it without any scars! I've seen ATGB from beginning to end a number of times and am sure it was partly done as Judi's tribute to Michael. He's one of my three favourite actors, right up there with James Bolam and Alun Armstrong.
Some people have commented on the shortness of the series, but it was and still is common practice in England to produce seasons of less than 10 episodes per year, in order to maintain quality control over the content.