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The real reason why "Alice" was a hit (please don't laugh)
Yes, everyone, there is a real reason why "Alice" was on the air as long as it was. Anyone in their late twenties and older can probably remember that for many years, this show was broadcast either before or after "The Jeffersons," a "legitimate" hit. Both shows ironically had their best ratings when paired together. I think most of us remember them coming on back-to-back on Sunday nights for several years. "Alice," as a lead-in or follow-up show to "The Jeffersons," rode the ratings wave and the results were phenomenal.
Sure, the show was trashy, with elements of south[west]ern humor, but I actually thought it was genuinely funny with Polly Holliday onboard. To be truthful, if Holliday and Vic Tayback had done the show without Linda Lavin, I wouldn't have been upset. I have always believed Lavin was responsible for Holliday's departure. Was hasn't E! done a "True Hollywood Story" on a show that can rival "Three's Company" on cast changes? Surely if they have the budget to profile porn stars, a one hour "Alice" special can't hurt.
Diane Ladd was a good replacement as Belle on the show, however, she was terrific playing Flo in the movie "Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore," which the show is loosely (and I do mean "loosely") based on. When Celia Weston first appeared as Jolene in 1981, I changed the channel. It's amazing that the show went on for more four years before being cancelled in 1985. Not even pairing with "The Jeffersons" could have helped the show by the time Jolene came aboard. Somebody must have been lying to Nielsen.
The Cosby Show (1984)
Strong start, weak ending
I actually enjoyed `The Cosby Show' for the first half of the series, but as most people will agree, it should have ended a lot sooner than it actually did. Adding characters is always the kiss of death. Theo and Denise (played by Malcolm-Jamal Warner and Lisa Bonet, respectively) were the funniest of the kids as a whole, but when the show started adding characters to compensate for their adulthood, the writing was on the wall. I know Bill Cosby had said in interviews that he only wanted the show to last five years. Too bad that didn't happen. I think the NBC suits put him under pressure to keep it on (and make the content more `family-oriented') since it was a ratings war-horse at the time. So while the first five seasons were really good, seasons six through eight left much to be desired. Nevertheless, I'd much rather look at `The Cosby Show' on three networks than `Family Matters' on one.
Match Game PM (1975)
Loved this, too!
I loved this version of "The Match Game," too...especially since it came on after school! Yes, the rules were better, and the star wheel sucked, but it was still funny!
However, to beat all irony of ironies, in my hometown, "The Match Game PM" and "Family Feud" were aired back to back!
I'm sure Richard Dawson was thrilled...
Match Game 73 (1973)
HailMary is right...those WERE the days (sigh)...
I remember so clearly the morning TV schedule I shared with my mom during my preschool years (and summers from school later on): "Love of Life," "The Price Is Right," "The Young and the Restless," and of course, "The Match Game." Boy, did I love this show! Even "The Price Is Right" (which I am also quite fond of) couldn't outdo Charles Nelson Reilly and Brett Somers. Even as a little kid, I could appreciate their magical chemistry. They were hilarious, especially CNR!
I never understood the drama with Richard Dawson until years later, but that's okay. He was great when things were "normal." While I prefer his version of "Family Feud," "The Match Game" could not have continued without CNR and Brett.
The Game Show Network has brought back some fond nostalgia. HailMary is right...those WERE the days (sigh)...
Three's Company (1977)
Well, the kisses were actually hers and his and hers AND hers AND hers
Yes, I'll admit it...I liked `Three's Company,' especially as a kid. There were also several things I didn't like about it, too to the tune of `hers AND hers AND hers ' The E! True Hollywood Story on `Three's Company,' in my opinion, is one of the best produced, because most of the actors were willing to be interviewed. It cleared up a lot of unanswered questions for me outside of the Suzanne Somers drama which I'm old enough to have witnessed firsthand.
I'm probably the only one who thought the show was funniest in its first two seasons as a bedroom farce. Granted, the slapstick was funny too, but they `dumbed down' Somers' character so much before she left I couldn't stand it. I mean, how stupid can you get? Plus, every show based on a misunderstanding got old really quick. Then came the revolving blond story. As in the case of `Bewitched' (and to a lesser extent, `Alice'), when you need a `quick fix' for the replacement of a lead role (especially on a hit show), rationale sometimes goes out the window. True, Jenilee Harrison wasn't Somers or Priscilla Barnes, but at least she was willing to work in what was obviously a bad situation. I know most people thought she was bad, but I appreciated her for at least trying. I can only imagine what she went through. No acting experience on a hit TV show. Ouch! Plus, she was so young. Poor thing. I didn't like the Terri character at all. She was entirely too smart for the show. She didn't need to be as dumb as Chrissy, but in a way I felt she was too `straight,' and Janet had been clearly established as the show's straight woman by the talent of Joyce DeWitt.
Other than that, the show did have its plusses. John Ritter was terrific. Richard Kline was really funny. DeWitt was truly underrated as a straight woman I think most of her bitterness about the show comes from being overlooked. The late Norman Fell and Audra Lindley were hilarious. I hated when they left, but Don Knotts added a new and funny dimension to the show.
The funniest memory I have of this show, however, is how so many people denounced it for its immorality while it was on the air!
The Greatest American Hero (1981)
So much potential wasted with one of the greatest American theme songs EVER
`The Greatest American Hero' is a textbook case of a television show being a victim of `the powers that be.' I was in grade school during the time of its run, but I remember most of the behind the scenes drama. Though its initial debut was well received, it wasn't long before the show met an ill-fated course. First, it was an unfortunate victim of the 1981 Reagan assassination attempt, resulting in the horrific `Hinkley/Hanley' overdub. This event, followed by constant time changes, late season debuts, pre-empts, and the never-ending lawsuit with Warner Brothers and DC comics over its supposed `Superman-like' premise, kept it from reaching its full potential with viewers. Then, like those aliens in the desert, the show disappeared without a trace.
There are several theories as to why this show never reached its full potential. I personally think Warner Brothers and DC Comics made ABC executives nervous, hence the delays and time changes. While I can certainly understand their motives (the Superman movies were popular at the time) I considered each character to be a separate entity. I never thought William Katt was an exact clone of Christopher (or George, for that matter) Reeve's famous role. Superman (I thought) was a strong, supernatural hero from another planet who masqueraded as a human being. The Greatest American Hero was just an ordinary guy who stumbled upon good fortune and tried to utilize it in the best way he could to help mankind. It could have been anyone that night instead of Ralph Hinkley, for all we know (the lyrics of the theme song attempted to explain this). Katt simply provided a handsome, lovable example of the `imperfect hero.'
My mother and sister absolutely loved this show. I was the youngest, so I watched it mostly because they did! `The Greatest American Hero' did grow on me, though so I, too, have fond memories. I was in love with the theme song, however, from the debut! Even if you didn't like the show, you have to admit that the theme song, `Believe It Or Not,' sung by Joey Scarbury, is one of the greatest of all time. The earlier comments were correct. `Believe It Or Not' is awesome.
For Men Only (1952)
Okay, so maybe it wasn't `Now, Voyager,' but it's still a surprisingly good B movie.
I saw this movie a couple of months ago and for the most part, I concur with the earlier comments. I was very surprised to see the issue of fraternity hazing tackled in a fifties film, considering the fact that `social consciousness' wasn't politically correct until the seventies. To give fair warning, this film has rather anemic cinematography, but that's forgivable due to age. Sherman Rose, however, provided horrific editing -- even a `B' film deserves better treatment than the unforgivable butchering job he performed. Quite frankly, I could have done better with my pocketknife and cellophane tape.
Paul Henreid, however, should be commended for his directing ability because the quality of the acting is really good. Henreid proved he could spot talent by casting a young ensemble full of potential stars: Margaret `mother of Sally' Field, a beautiful Vera `Psycho' Miles, Kathleen `touch me and I'll scream' Hughes, Robert `the good scribe' Sherman, and of course, the most improbable villain for anyone born after the mid 1950s -- Russell `and the rest' Johnson. With the exception of maybe Field, I believe most of these actors got their big break with this film. I know Russell Johnson has said so.
The plot, which (of course) involves fraternity hazing to its extreme, pits Henreid (the good professor) against Johnson (the handsome, yet sadistic, frat leader). There are moments of both suspense and humor throughout. I, too, noticed Henreid's trademark of staring into the corner of the room with valor. You could almost see the halo over his head as easily as you could see the horns behind Johnson's. Add a good string arrangement and the symbolism is complete. Henreid's heavy accent is also quite humorous when you consider he was representing American suburbia. However, it was referenced in the film that Henreid was educated in Germany. Apparently Henreid knew that there definitely was a need for an explanation! I felt Field got a shortchanged a bit as Henreid's wife. Her role was significant, but I don't believe it was developed to its full potential. Hughes' performance as a rake was good -- both appalling and funny. Sherman and Miles played the young couple in love, and in a way I think Miles had more sense than anyone else did in the movie. There is also some truth to the sexual innuendo in the opening scenes with a barechested Sherman being hazed by his `brothers.' Johnson (who for once was introduced at the beginning of the credits), believe it or not, gave a strong performance and was very convincing as the villain (who was actually a big coward underneath). I believe Johnson was shipwrecked in more than one way on `Gilligan's Island.'
I don't think you'll find this movie at your local video store, but I do know it's currently available on videotape at moviesunlimited.com. It would be interesting to see this film remade for the twenty-first century. Recommended for Paul Henreid fans, `Gilligan's Island' fanatics, and film aficionados. Not recommended for members of PETA or the faint at heart.
Gilligan's Planet (1982)
TRULY for entertainment purposes only...
Not even the Professor can provide a believable explanation for this reincarnation of "Gilligan's Island." I was one of those people who never tried to make sense of the original live-action series (I realized it was an inside joke). This time, however, even I have to break down and ask the Professor the infamous question, "How can you build a spaceship but you can't fix a..." Okay, okay, I know we all know the end of THAT punch line.
I'm not sure, but I think the only reason so few episodes were made was because Filmation went out of business. Filmation also did those "new age Popeye" cartoons with what I'll call "PSAs" to kids about health and safety. Otherwise, there may have been another 2-3 year run of "Gilligan's Planet."
Nevertheless, I'm willing to admit that I found it entertaining as a kid simply from its sheer ridiculousness. Why not? I found "Rubik, the Amazing Cube" quite mesmerizing, too!
Gilligan's Island (1964)
Don't get too caught up.
The comments about `Gilligan's Island' have amused me more than any other show listing on IMDB. I am astounded that after nearly 40 years, people are still arguing over how ridiculous this show is and why it was broadcast in the first place. Aren't we getting a little caught up here? Yes, it was unrealistic, unbelievable, ridiculous, and downright stupid at times, but I may be part of a small minority who realized that was its intent in the first place. I never took it that seriously. After all, it WAS television (with means of escape via changing the channel) - classified as a fantasy (weren't most sixties' comedies based on a fantasy?) and a children's show at that - one should expect it to be farfetched. Granted, it is not my favorite show of all time, but it certainly provided me a lot of entertainment during my childhood (but then, I grew up during the BC (Before Cable) years). I still get a kick out of some of the episodes today as an adult - several shows were quite memorable. Trust me - I'm sure even Tina Louise has a few memorable moments. It deserves a place in television history.
Sherwood Schwartz must have done something right, for `Gilligan's Island' still has masses of fans and fanatics (in my opinion, however, the Seven Deadly Sins comparison represents being a little TOO caught up) four decades later, despite critical disdain. More noticeably, it reflected some of the best casting in the business. I respect all of the actors in the show, because I know it took a lot of teamwork to get the job done each week and some pretty tough skin to put up with all the criticism in the press and industry!
I dreamed of Samantha
`Bewitched' is one of my favorite shows of all time. `I Dream of Jeannie' did indeed have its moments, but I truly dreamed of Samantha! `Bewitched' offered lighthearted comedy while staying true to the `escapist' themes of the 1960s. Additionally, it was well written, and one of the few shows able to work seamlessly through numerous cast changes.
Elizabeth Montgomery WAS Samantha. No one will ever take her place. She was stunningly beautiful, creative, talented, and convincing in her role. Personally, I don't think she knew how great she really was as an actress. Likewise, Dick York WAS Darrin (yeah, I like 'em neurotic). The chemistry between York and Agnes Moorehead was one of a kind - and the chemistry between Montgomery and York was quite memorable, too. All three were at the top of their game in my two favorite episodes, `Double, Double, Toil and Trouble' and `If They Never Met.' Don't get me wrong, though - Dick Sargent deserves a lot of credit for coming in and taking over a role that had tough shoes to fill. In addition, Paul Lynde also offered some memorable moments - it would be a crime not to acknowledge his contribution to the show.
I have no doubt that I'll be `bewitched' for the rest of my life. We miss you, Liz!