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Never Forget (1991)
Those that hate...
For those that hate, there were never enough minorities tortured, hung, gassed or stuffed into ovens to satisfy their aversion. By means of their denial that the holocaust existed, or their statements that events were "over-exaggerated", they aim to further insult and injure the survivors and descendants of those who suffered Hitlers "final solution".
There was a time after the war that we said "never again"! Never again would we allow genocide to occur anywhere on this planet. How soon we forget our pledge. Genocide and ethnic cleansing are still very much a reality, and just as it did in the early days of Hitlers Germany, it goes on mostly unfettered and continues today in places like Rwanda, and Malaysia. At the very least we need to send a message to those that hate and commit acts of wholesale murder.
Hitler still exists. His legacy resides in men like president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran, who called for the destruction of Israel, and who goes virtually unopposed by the world community. It is no surprise that Ahmadinejad is a holocaust denier himself, and has even called for conferences in an attempt to question the events in Nazi Germany. He has called for Jews and Christians to be forced to distinguish themselves by wearing colored badges. Very reminiscent to Nazi Germany's requiring the Jews to wear the Star of David. Mostly Ahmadinejad is a man of words rather than actions at present time. However, there once was a time when Hitler was confined to spewing his hate in the beer halls of Bavaria. Do we ever learn? I have found that hate doesn't have to have logic or reason, it just has to exist. No matter where hate exists, no matter what race or religion it is aimed at, it must not go unopposed. These men and their ideas must be stopped. Today they come for your neighbor, but perhaps tomorrow they will come for you.
Lilies of the Field (1963)
out of step with todays Hollywood...
At many levels Lillie's of the Field may find itself out of step with todays Hollywood, but certainly not with the viewing public. Built not on overly dramatic scenes, and instead disciplined in dialog and character development, I can assure you that this film will hold the viewers interest. The religious aspects of the film are well balanced and not meant to preach to the audience head on. Instead, it demonstrates the good works that religious faith encourages, and how it unites people together by putting themselves behind a higher power.
Homers dedication is mostly driven by ambition that is fueled by a need for self accomplishment. However, although Portier's character is in search of a paying job, he cannot steer himself away from the task at building something dwarfed in worldliness by a common strip mall, but on par with a modern skyscraper in its significance.
Quincy M.E. (1976)
Science, Dialog, and Drama...without vacuous and flashy imagery.
Quincy ME brought us the fascinating world of Forensic Pathology and yes, even crime scene investigation 30 years before we would be flooded with analogous programs. However, Jack Klugman seemed to be able to pull it off without lavish and superfluous special effects seen all too much in the modern era. Instead, Quincy was disciplined in the drama of the storyline, and the science that was involved. Perhaps the Television of today has doubts about their actual content and dialog, that vacuous imagery has been made a cornerstone, rather than window dressing.
Not to mention, Jack Klugman is just a terrific performer. Proving here, just as he has done his entire career that range is not a problem for the actor. We laughed out laud with him in the "Odd Couple", and here we piece together a victims death, along with Sam ,Lt. Monahan, and Astin. As always with Quincy, you are in for a good does of education too.
However, towards the later seasons, it seemed that the show became too preachy with its public service tone. I remember being a bit annoyed as certain episodes resembled after school specials, rather than the medical/ crime drama I became addicted too. It would have been a better choice for Quincy to stick with Pathology, and dish out the social commentary's in much smaller portions.
In any case, no matter what metric is used to measure Quincy with its crowded (how many CSI's do we need?) modern counterparts, I believe Dr Quincy emerges the most believable and cognitive of the group.
Dead Like Me (2003)
innovative Television rarely seen in the banal TV landscape
Another example of how ratings and popularity deem very little to a shows value, Dead Like Me demonstrated innovative Television rarely seen in the banal TV landscape of today. Far above a good deal of what is being pushed by the networks, it is a pity that this show only lasted 2 (cable) seasons.
It is easy to believe that the shows star Eleen Muth is a member of mensa, as her intellect certainly shines through in her cognitive acting ability's. She has an unique presence that demands attention from even the most casual of viewers.
For me, Mandy Patinkin was never better received in a Television series than in the role of the irascible, but brilliant Dr. Jeffrey Geiger on Chicago Hope. However, here his performance is a close second and causes us to be grateful that the actor does not limit his talent to the theater.
If you are just catching this show on the Sci-Fi Channel, you may be a bit perplexed by some of the shows risqué humor. Keep in mind however, that its original airing was on Showtime, where I guess a more graphic approach to language is mandatory. I know some well learned adults that are sent to the internets "urban dictionary", to seek an explanation to an elusive joke.
MisteRogers' Neighborhood (1968)
Children's TV at a Higher Level....
A pioneer in children's entertainment, Fred Rogers brought us cognitive and entertaining Television. The minister and puppeteer was not satisfied with the TV landscape of his day, especially when it concerned productions aimed at children, and he knew it could be so much more.
Mr Rogers Neighborhood was a place where being creative and using our imaginations was mandatory.Before the history channel, and shows like "Hands on History", Mr Rogers was bringing children into factory's and other guided tours that educated and entertained. Not only did his brand of Television attract children, but adults could appreciate his productions too.
He invited us into his home, taught us many lessons, and most important challenged our imaginations. We were introduced to a bevy of interesting, and unique characters, some of whom would become legends.
I fear that the current array of children's entertainment, discourages the aforementioned, as fast paced vacuous imagery and sound, are what is being primarily presented to the youth of today.
Fred Rogers expected more, and held the intellect of his audience in a higher regard. He, and his program will be missed, and the absence of this creative and entertaining production, will leave a void in the current Television landscape.
All in the Family (1971)
The Comical Bigot and the Meathead
A comical bigot was nothing new when Norman Lear was pitching All in The Family to the networks back in the late 60's. As many of Lears productions were, the show was actually modeled after a British sit-com, this time by the name of "To Death do us part" staring Alf Garnett. However, it seemed that American Television was not ready for such a radical new approach to comedy.
Although Lear's aim was to poke fun at our prejudices and do it in a humorous manner, the dialog that he had Archie Bunker utilize was just too harsh in the opinion of the networks and the sensors. So, the ABC network would pass on the offer.
Finally, CBS decided to give All in the Family a go as a mid season replacement in the winter of 71. At first it was just as the networks feared, and was deemed by many as just too "shocking" for Television and the main stream. However, the summer reruns would provide a second look for viewers, and soon the audience would come to appreciate this show for its remarkable writing and cast.
Not since Jackie Gleason's Ralph Kramden, did a lead character holler and bellow in the manner Archie Bunker would. This show of emotions by Archie and other cast members, gave All in the Family a base for character development, and added to the dramatic feel that was diluted by the shows comedy.
By comparison, todays sitcom's seem to be heavily diluted with stupidity more than anything else. Writers continually dismiss the intellect of their audience, and in situations that should call for a dramatic scene, they instead employ even more daft unpolished drollery. All in the Family knew how to present the poignant scenes, and keep with the shows comedic element at the same time.
The cast worked perfectly off each other. Carol O'connor and Jean Stapleton, just as Archie and Edith did, seemed a perfect match. Many would argue that their marriage was one sided with Archie "always" getting his way, but it is important to note that their marriage worked, and the two were together in a relationship that lasted. Archie and Edith shared many memorable and poignant moments in the shows nine year run, and demonstrated a veracious love for each other. Carol O'connor and Rob "meat-head" Reiner, actually made for a pretty good comedy team too, with Sally Struthers rounding out the cast as the meat-heads querulous young wife.
It is also important to note that it was Carol O'connor himself that was a driving force in the shows development, and the development of Archie Bunker. Lear wanted Archie to remain overly brutish and ignorant, just as we saw him in the first season, while O,conner felt that Archie needed to evolve and had to have an understanding with the audience. Although Archie was a bigot, O'connor felt that there was room for a certain likability to Archie, and many of the characters more vicious opinions would have to be softened, but still retain the overall tone of the shows plot. I feel, that O'connor did this portrayal flawlessly, and treated us to some of the best performances of any Television show of it's time, and for any time for that matter.
If you are to dismiss this program for Lears leftist propaganda, or on the count of Archie's bigoted verbiage, then you will have cheated yourself out of one of the most cognitive and humorous productions, in the history of Television.
Barney Miller (1974)
What Television once was...Funny, Classy, Mature
This show was one of the reasons why the ABC would dethrone the CBS, as the number one network in prime time in the latter 1970's.
Barney Miller depicted the day to day workings of a typical New York City detectives unit. Void of overly melodramatic urban drama, and the now all too over played "tough guy" act, Barney Miller was touted as being a fair portrayal of the life of a detective (with much more levity of-course).
Even though it was first and foremost a comedy series, the writers gave us a much needed balance by injecting a bit of drama into the plot and characters themselves. This dramatic element was so well done, that it added to character development, and provided for more laughter. Their witty dialog rarely left the viewer disappointed, or without a laugh, and with entertainment being the key factor of any Television production, the cast of Barney Miller delivered in episode after episode.
However, the show was produced during a time when crime in NY City was being managed with a overly diplomatic approach. An experiment that would prove it self to be disastrous, effectuated lectures by some of the shows characters, demonstrating an endorsement of this new more "liberal" approach to fighting crime.
There is not much out there today that even comes close to what we had in Barney Miller. It seems that todays Television lacks respect for their audience, as cheap sexual gags, and one liners dominate the sitcom landscape, and leave us with vacuous and cloddish jocularity.
Barney Miller will however, be an example of what Television once was. A time when mature, plot driven humor was demanded, and the crude and immature was rejected.
Strangers with Candy (1999)
The Old Comedy Central
Strangers with candy is best explained as a parody within a parody. Most important to us, the viewer is it's rare ability to actually make one laugh out laud. No laugh track is necessary, as you'll surely know where the giggles come in.
I watched this show with extreme caution at my first viewing. It was very risqué, almost pornographic in its humor. However, I could not help but be entertained, and amused by the characters and duologue. The story lines while containing some very adult humor, were non the less quite cognitive.
The characters of-course where more or less caricatures of people we find in after school specials. But, these guys were funny, and really played well together in providing much hilarity.
It is hard to understand why Comedy Central canceled Strangers With Candy. I guess it's just another directional change they were aiming for, just like when they booted the much loved MST3K. These directional changes gave us shows like "Reno 911" and who can forget..."Thats My Bush"? I would have to surmise they veered wrong in some instances.
The Carol Burnett Show (1967)
Never going with the ease of cheap gags, the writers and performers of the Carol Burnette show always demonstrated an effort in order to earn our laughter. Not every skit was a winner, as Carol would admit even herself. The actress actually came out of character, and apologized for a particular skit on one occasion . However, most of what we were treated to was, if not funny, at the very least intelligent and amusing entertainment.
Without any doubt, the show provided some very memorable moments and characters. One of the most noteworthy being "The Family", which the NBC's Mama's Family was developed from.
The star herself is one of the most classy and cognitive performers ever to grace the screen, and the show was certainly a reflection of this. I don't know of many performers who had as much respect and regard for their fans, and I can certainly attest that the feeling is mutual for this terrific lady and her show.
The Night Stalker (1972)
The Ground-work for Exploring the Preternatural
Before Scully and Mulder were chasing after UFO's, vampires, and other strange "unexplainable" anomalies, there was Darren McGavin as Carl Kolchak.
Each week Independent news service reporter Carl K Kolchak investigates the weird world of the supernatural. He is in a sense a hero to truth seekers, and those that "want to believe". In the pursuit of the bizarre facts, Kolchack will often find himself at odds with the authorities. Uncovering the mysteries of the preternatural are often dead locked by politicians and other bureaucrats, not so inclined to divvy up the truth. Although Kolchak is an excellent and credible journalist (the antithesis of Dan Rather to be precise), his outlandish explanations often cause him to be made the subject of fun and ridicule. He is often found to be the source of his editor's (Tony Vincenzo) upset stomach. This is due to the fact, and a testament to Kolchaks refusal to dismiss what can not be explained. Even if the answer is something along the lines of a vampire, Kolchak will not waver. Not to mention the comic possibility's of Vinceno bellowing because of Kochak's explanation, concerning his latest fantastical investigation.
The cognitive story lines of The Night Stalker Series, were based partly on science, the paranormal, and folklore. The casting was top notch, as well as the dialog. Inauspiciously though, the shows ratings did peter out, and after just one season the ABC canceled the series.
Although The Night Stalker ended it's run in the summer of 74, it is still missed these many years later. When the first Kolchak movie "The Night Stalker" scored the highest rating for a Television movie ever in 1972, at its inception, it was a clear notion that investigating the supernatural was a winner. The success of the X-Files, which premiered 20 years after Kolchak, and whose roots derived from Kolchak, is another testament to this series.