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One of the best comedies of its kind
18 February 2010
Even if I didn't like these kinds of comedies already, how can you not like one with Jack Kruschen as a comical mad scientist? One of the best parts is the sort of self-parody Doris Day does in the strip club scene and afterwards - "Will you please put that away?" And one of the more surprising ones is Rock Hudson's very innocent line about being slipped a "funny" cigarette with "no printing on the paper." It isn't an unheard-of subject in early ' 60s comedies, but you don't exactly expect it in one of THESE - Doris Day and a marijuana joke?! I only have one real problem with it. I don't always like those comedies (or dramas) with characters whose job it is to TELL the audience something, sometimes right to the camera in a "Greek Chorus" way and sometimes not, and sometimes things the audience can see perfectly well for themselves! Nothing against Jack Albertson, but I never see the point of those two tourists who keep popping up to comment on the Jerry character's wild personal life. I mean, you already have Doris Day doing that in one way, and Tony Randall doing it in ANOTHER way, so do you really need these extra characters doing the same thing?
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Completely "out there" Turkish adventure film
27 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Partial spoiler. Evidently Kilink grew out of those Italian photo novels, which I've never seen more than excerpts of, and I never saw this film till about ten days ago. Like the characters in those books (which are now being remade, evidently), he was evidently a colorful ruthless villain in the "Fantomas" tradition, but this film made him more of a ruthless colorful hero, so to speak. He comes between two rival gangs (both involved in spy plots too), and in between killing the men, he beds all of their female hangers-on, and doesn't hesitate to kill them too, usually in the same scene! Apart from being on FILM, it's really no more shocking than what you get from the hero in the "Destroyer" book series. The readers of that series always defend its originality, and I'm sure they're usually right, but now I wonder if its two writers ever saw this movie, with its tongue-in-cheek hero killing off mobsters and hot villainesses right and left. They might have gotten just a few pointers for the "Remo" character.
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Very good "countercultural" comedy (though that's too much of a label for THIS film)
2 March 2008
It's hard to describe this film without just making a list of all the things that (I think) work. The cop in the confessional, the Elaine Giftos character taking over her own rape, Ben Vereen and Bud Cort as would-be spaghetti western-type cowboys, Cindy Williams falling in love with the jukebox, the doctor who gets mad at her for refusing to have the baby, the Hell's Angels guarding a golf course, and turning it into a Vietnam allegory, the Indians taking back America, and sarcastically offering souvenirs for free, the leader of the commune, who was funny but without being YET ANOTHER stereotyped hippie, God and Jesus having a comical father-son talk.

I don't know Robert Corff from anything else (that I can name), but he was very good in his role. Tally Coppola (Talia Shire) had less to do than the others, but she was fine too. Like at least one poster here, I just don't see how it's "dated" (of course, I almost never listen to "dates well" and "dates badly" when it comes to entertainment).
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Very good Poe adaptation
2 November 2007
Like a few of you, I found this on an inconspicuous DVD along with "Chiller," and I just saw it a few hours ago. This film is as good at "stretching out" a short Poe story as the AIP movies (and I'm VERY attached to those). I'm not familiar with Lawrence Payne, but he was great in the part, as were the Dermot Walsh and Adrienne Corri. But I didn't realize Frank Thornton was the barman till I read it here - I'll have to watch for him next time. As for the ending - which I won't give away here - some people might see it as a "cop-out" ending, but I think it works perfectly well. As some of you say, the "risque" side of this film was slightly surprising for a film of 1960 - I kept thinking I was seeing a Hammer film (minus the cleavage!).
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Stanley (1972)
Willard meets Billy Jack, but WITHOUT it being a rip-off
21 October 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Partial spoilers. I just saw it again yesterday, even though I've known it on and off for a long while. Even though I've only ever read one or two reviews of it, I've always been able to hear "Willard rip-off!" as the usual song about this movie. There's probably no way to convince anyone who thinks so, but it ISN'T. (Even though I'm sure Willard was responsible for Stanley being made in the first place, but that isn't the same thing.) And even though the endings are similar - you can probably see that from a mile away - this one handles the idea in its own pretty clever way. Chris Robinson - long before he uttered the famous and infamous words, "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV," though he was already well-known - manages to be really believable as the likable main character, who's slowly coming apart, but believable in a completely different way from Bruce Davison as Willard. And of course, "Stanley" - whether you love or hate them - is a genuine "animals strike back" story, which Willard wasn't trying to be in most ways, of course. Except that, like that character, Tim is also killing a lot of PERSONAL enemies, but it's still a case of him vs. the poachers, until the end, of course. And Alex Rocco as a loudmouthed semi-comical villain (think Moe Greene in The Godfather) is something most people either LOVE or HATE, and for me, it's always the former.
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Very entertaining Euro horror film
28 September 2007
I agree with several of the posters here. I'm hugely attached to European horror films (especially Italian ones, which this isn't, though I always thought it was), but even considering that, I think it's really enjoyable. It's a shame (as one poster says) that Cameron Mitchell didn't do his own character's voice, but that's about the only hitch. One accidentally comical thing is that "Mrs. Callahan" (who's played by an actress with a Spanish name) has dubbing that makes her sound for all the world like a comical "yenta" character! This film also has one line that isn't hurt AT ALL by the dubbing. After the baron kills "Professor Demarest," he calls in his servant to get rid of him. Then he says, "Use discretion. He was a nice man." To me, this is one of the great "ironic" lines used by a horror movie villain!
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Pretty original "Peplum" movie
20 September 2007
Warning: Spoilers
I just saw this one yesterday (on one of those big, cheap DVD sets from "Mill Creek" - thank heaven for that company), and I have nearly the opposite opinion of Bryce David (though maybe for pretty flimsy reasons). One thing about this one is that it broke a few "Peplum" clichés. First (unless I missed something), the "sidekick" character (think Ulysses in "Hercules Unchained") had a much smaller role in this one, which is fine with me, since I don't always care much for that stock character. Also, it was just a little surprising to see the Hercules character riding off with the heroine at the end (having the opposite thing happen seems like almost as much of a Peplum tradition as a tradition of earlier westerns). And, I think the actress Liuba Bodina (an actress I know from nothing else, at least by name) knew how to play the "evil queen" role just right. One unusual thing about Kirk Morris is that he always seems to have a "sensitive" look about him, which almost clashes with the general idea of these films. What's more odd about that is that, judging by this one and "Conqueror of Atlantis," his Peplum characters are some of the more ruthless ones, even breaking a (sort of) rule in these films, by having the hero get rid of the femme fatale character pretty directly (usually that happens some other way).
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Pretty entertaining dark comedy
24 August 2007
I don't go for all that many dark comedies, and I don;t know his one terribly well, but I remember liking it. Donald Pleasance practically made a career out of playing either completely mild-mannered characters, or "Jekyll and Hyde" types, so this part of a henpecked husband who makes himself over as a swinger was just right for him. Plus, I'm almost incapable of hating a film with Terry-Thomas in it. Or any of those "Swinging London" ones (though most people either dislike them, or like them for being "quaint," and my reason is neither of the two!). This one also had a pretty funny "Columbo" type police detective, with one of the best lines in the film : "I see you've had the murder weapon repaired." (You'd have to see the story for that to make sense.)
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Very entertaining Euro spy film
9 August 2007
As the previous poster says, if this is a "Bond rip-off," it's a completely entertaining one. Like the other installments in this series, it has Kendall as the frivolous spy and Harris as his (almost) humorless partner. The running joke is that Kendall keeps getting brushed off - often with physical violence - by the women he tries something with. Could this have helped inspire "Johhny Bravo"? Also, this installment has - and to me there's no better thing in a spy movie - a criminal genius with a female army. (My only complaint with him is that the actor looks a little too much like Billy Sands from McHale's Navy for a spy movie villain!) And of course none of this film takes itself too seriously. I only have one complaint - it has not one but TWO "Pussy Galore"-type characters ; in other words, female helpers of the villain who turn on him and help the heroes. Having two of those is kind of redundant. In fact, the whole female army turns against him too. It should have had one genuine villainess!
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Very entertaining Peplum-horror "hybrid"
28 July 2007
This is probably the first "Peplum" movie I ever saw, so I'm pretty biased about it, but even considering that, it's very entertaining. As one reviewer on another site points out, it's a revenge story (an unusual thing for this category of film), and one that's surprisingly violent at the beginning. And also that the requisite little kid sidekick isn't squeezed edgewise into scenes, but used in a pretty clever way. Along with that, it has plenty of good "formula" things - the harem girls, a pretty good supernatural monster, a "villainess" (albeit the kind who changes sides - I prefer the "unrepentant" kind), and (as many posters have pointed out) the "Blue Man Group." Gordon Scott always fit so easily into these movies (I might be the only one on earth who thinks that "Danger : Deathray" is okay, thanks largely to him), as did the Italian actors in this one.
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Pretty entertaining "heist" comedy
30 June 2007
I don't go for that many "heist" comedies, and I might not care for this one if it weren't for the actors, when it was made, and when I FIRST SAW it (just a few years later). It's almost too similar to "The Happening" (even though it's obviously a much less serious comedy than that one) - Mafia figure takes over his own kidnapping, or rather, turns it in a different direction altogether. Of course, Raquel Welch didn't play the kind of sharp character Faye Dunaway did in The Happening, but that doesn't make it a sexist film either - she was practically playing a stock character, almost HER version of a "moll"! But, I'm completely biased - it's among the first films I ever saw with her, and at the time I saw it, you couldn't turn around without seeing a poster of her (luckily). I think Robert Wagner was really just right as the neither thoroughly likable nor dis-likable leader of the group, as were Edward G. Robinson (naturally) and Vittoria De Sica. And Godfrey Cambridge, an actor who always managed to be funny.
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Very entertaining supernatural film
13 June 2007
It wasn't till quite some time after seeing this movie that I read any of Wellman's stories, but this movie is pretty faithful to them, at least the ones I know (though I don't know if any of the Silver John stories have "Mr. Marduk" or not). I don't know if I know Hedges Capers or the leading actress from anything else, but they were fine in it, and along with them, it's full of great character actors (though I don't think that's the right term for Susan Strasberg) - Denver Pyle, R. G. Armstrong, Severn Darden, Harris Yulin (who, apart from Darden, might have had the best part, and who really seemed to enjoy playing it). Even the political stuff, like the very end (which I won't give away) doesn't seem too forced. That ending could apply to ANY time (certainly including right now), and it would be a shame for people to think of it ENTIRELY as some NIXON JOKE (though I suppose it probably IS thought of as only that). In spite of the listing, I'm certain this movie is from 1972-73.
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The movie that gave the whole series its name
27 May 2007
I've hesitated to make any comments about this one of the beach movies. It's like commenting on Citizen Kane or 2001 - too daunting. First of all, along with the COMPLETELY regular cast, it's one of the ones with Don Rickles. People have said that he just doesn't come across well in anything that's SCRIPTED for him, but that's far from completely true. Just watch for the little moment with him, after Frankie does his skydiving - it's a "classic" Don Rickles moment. And Paul Lynde could always be funny, with or without a script (most recently, fans of Roger the alien on "American Dad" are interested in him). One of his best lines is when Earl Wilson - who looks like the most straight-laced person in the world - wants to visit the surfers' hangout a second time. Lynde says, "Which girl is it, Earl?" And then there are Jody MacCrea (sp.) and Marta Kristen in the "Lorelei" subplot. Anyone who's seen brooding movies like "Night Tide" might like this mainly COMICAL mermaid story (not that it's the first or last one, of course). And of course, Timothy Carey as South Dakota Slim, who steals Sugar Kane from Erich Von Zipper, after Von Zipper went to the trouble of kidnapping her himself! Anyway, these are just SOME of the things going for it. The only thing missing from this beach movie is the cameo - I've always wondered why that is.
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Pretty good entry in the series
27 May 2007
Like Jackie19, it's nearly my least favorite of the beach movies, but luckily, that isn't much of an insult. Along with all the regular actors, there are the great guest actors. Buster Keaton's witch doctor (along with Bobbi Shaw's native girl) may not be the most enlightened image of a Polynesian, but he manages to be very funny in the part. (I'm sure plenty of people see these movies as a big, embarrassing step down for people like him, but I see no good reason why.) And of course, Irene Tsu as the girl who tries to tempt Frankie. Then, there's Len Lesser, who's just about as great a comical villain in this one as Timothy Carey is in Beach Blanket Bingo. And of course, Mickey Rooney. Someone mentioned the "touching her boob" bit that he gets away with, but one of his scenes also has a fairly funny gay joke. Rooney asks one of the surfers (someone in that scene alone) if he's seen the exciting girl that so much of the film is about, the one that all the boys are crazy about, and the character says in a lisping voice, "Certainly not!"
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Very good light comedy
5 May 2007
No offense to some of you, but I very seldom agree with that whole "It was a simpler time" thinking, because EVERY decade is full of people saying that about every PREVIOUS decade! (And they're probably always partly right and partly wrong.) And in a way, this movie is evidence of that - it's full of characters analyzing (and over-analyzing) subjects (like why the men want to fool around - which of course COULD BE because they just WANT TO). And of course, it's full of the whole "Men from Mars, Women from Venus" subject, and of course, "Kinsey"-type sex surveys. So as one person on the message boards (partially) says, it's a case of "The more things change...." Luckily, this movie makes light of all these things. There's a line toward the end where Jessie Royce Landis makes a reference to "the Kennedys getting elected." This always reminds me of the difference between a movie MADE in the early ' 60s and any given one SET in the early ' 60s - the latter OFTEN has Kennedy references (and many OTHER topical ones) squeezed in EDGEWISE, instead of A FEW, worked in CASUALLY, the way it's done here. Of the supporting actors, I think William Bendix had the best part, as the bartender with the friendly advice for James Garner.
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The Picture of Dorian Gray (1973 TV Movie)
Very good adaptation
19 April 2007
I first saw this one when it was first shown, so I'm not too objective about it. It really managed to scare me, partly because it was so late at night, but partly because of that whole feeling from a videotaped suspense story (the same thing that helped Dark Shadows itself). And the casting was so right. I hardly know Shane Briant from anything else, so it might not be so right to call HIM "well-cast," but to me, he IS Dorian Gray. And as far as the other male actors, the one who fit his part so well was Nigel Davenport (who's so good at "larger than life" characters) as Sir Henry. And John Karlen, a sort of Dan Curtis "repertory player" at the time, because of Dark Shadows. As one poster points out, this version manages to include the involvements with men, in a fairly subtle way. The scene where Dorian recites a list of men's names to John Karlen's character, as a way of blackmailing him, and the look on Karlen's face, were very well-done. (If that scene were done now, it would probably be done in a TOO OBVIOUS way, and be bad by comparison.) I saw it when "Dorian Gray" was barely a name to me, let alone more, so even more than the famous 1945 version (which is rightly famous), this is THE version to me.
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Very good and faithful version
9 April 2007
I first saw this movie when it was first shown on TV, months before the other TV version from ' 73, the famous James Mason / Michael Sarrazin one. So to me, it's always the "early" one, and I'm partial to it, partly because I'm that way about all those Dan Curtis TVMs (and of course, Dark Shadows itself). As good as everyone in it is, Robert Foxworth and Bo Svenson were really great as Victor and the Creature. I really agree with Michael Morrison - Bo Svenson has to be the most underrated actor ever to play that part. Just about everything he did was so believable, including the "De Lacey" scenes - this might be the only version that shows that whole family from the book (though, strangely, it made the daughter the blind character in place of the father), and it might be the only one that shows the Creature spying on them at any real length, which makes the next thing that happens that much sadder.
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One of the best "service" comedies
1 March 2007
This has to be one of the best military comedies ever, and (even though I seldom hear it mentioned) the inspiration for Gomer Pyle. (Of course, non-fans of Gomer think of it as a POOR version of this story, but I've always liked both.) I've always noticed partly the same thing as "theowinthrop" - that, unlike a lot of stories about naive, innocent characters, it doesn't really try to point to a lesson. In fact, the characters never really "grow." And in fact, it ends up very much the way it starts - all of which is just fine, really. This movie has about all you could ask for in its cast. Along with the main actors, it has people like James Milhollin playing one of his great uptight characters and Howard Smith playing one of his comical authority figures. Griffith, Adams and McCormick were great in their roles, you get to see Griffith and Don Knotts together long before their show, and you get to see Jamie Farr in a military comedy long before MASH. And then there's Murray Hamilton. To me, THIS was that actor's best part (never mind Jaws and The Graduate!). It took me a long while to realize how much of a stock character "Irving" is in army comedies - the overly "cool" member of the group, often a southerner (especially in ' 50s and early ' 60s ones). But Hamilton made the part just right.
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Family Guy (1998– )
Hit and miss, but mainly very funny
22 February 2007
I've said much of this on "Jump The Shark," but Family Guy is definitely a show full of hills and valleys, but for some of us, the hills are more than worth the valleys. For a "low-brow" comedy, it often seems to go out of its way to AVOID a low-brow joke, especially a really well-worn one. For instance, it often has little old ladies and "trailer park" type women, without those lame, lame "hirsute woman" jokes. (I'd like to see more than a tiny number of "Patty and Selma" scenes on The Simpsons do without those!) and there was the episode where Brian makes friends with the elderly woman. Instead of a lot of worn-out geriatric jokes, they made it a sort of comedy-drama! And in the "Asiantown" episode (which was kind of hit and miss), there were a lot of jokes of Asian food, without one of those cat and dog ones (you know the ones I mean), in spite of the fact that a MAIN CHARACTER is a dog! I know these are irritating things that Family Guy DOESN'T do, but there are so many funny things it DOES do. The religious jokes (not SO much in the current version as the first one) can be genuinely clever. Where else can you see Jesus looking embarrassed because he got credit for a miracle performed by an Indian god standing next to him? (The jokes about religion on countless other comedies - yes, including The Simpsons - get so "preachy" in THEIR OWN right, instead of being "nonsensicle" like that.) And then there are the movie and TV parodies, like "Homicide : Life On Sesame Street." And most recently, the "Brokeback Mountain" one. The current version, unfortunately, has too many unfunny medical jokes (regardless of whether they're in bad taste), and too many gross-out jokes (in spite of what I mentioned earlier), but the good moments still easily outweigh those, for me at least. I could go on and on.
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Ski Party (1965)
Very entertaining beach movie off-shoot
20 February 2007
Like so many "beach movies," and variations of them, I first saw this one when it was pretty CLOSE to new. It's easy to jump on it for being a "Some Like It Hot" rip-off, forgetting that the men-disguised-as-women joke has probably been going on FOREVER. Even though it's considered the masterpiece, SLIH didn't INVENT the idea. (And, this movie even acknowledges that one in one little line.) This one has some genuinely clever moments (though I wouldn't care that much if it DIDN'T). There's the carefully set-up joke that ends in front of the gas station with the line " 17 cents worth of regular" (you have to see the whole thing for yourself). And the moment where Dwayne Hickman "breaks the fourth wall" in a pretty original way - "Look, nothing's going to happen for a few minutes. Why don't you go get a coke or something?" And of course the cameos (which you usually expect from these movies) - Annette Funicello herself as Frankie and Dwayne's professor (!), and Dick Miller.
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Very unusual "gangster" biography
13 February 2007
I'm posting this quite some time after the other two people, but I've always been attached to this one, and saw it again last night. As with so many gangster / bank robber biopics, I couldn't really care less how much of this film is the truth. I do care about whether it's entertaining, and it is. I have to agree with "Helen" about several things, especially that remark, "Any more attitude and it would have become camp." Because it DOES know when to stop. Many times, it has an "arty" look, almost like (at the risk of labeling things) an early ' 70s film instead of one from ' 87. There's the mannequin scene, the house of prostitution scene, with Al Capone looking sadly at all the women in their costumes, the carnival scenes, all very strange ones. And the comical scenes, like Ralph Capone (I can't think of the actor's name) "pantsing" the man who came directly from Herbert Hoover! I know nothing about him in real life, but he seemed almost modeled on Fredo Corleone, because he's the older brother who gets the younger brother upset. I think Scott Glenn, Andrew Robinson and all the other actors, and the story, came together very well.
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The UFO Incident (1975 TV Movie)
Works on "several levels."
18 January 2007
First of all, even though I'm a "UFO buff" (depending on how you use that term), I'm tired of many sides of the whole subject, because it's been such a huge, huge pop culture subject for such a long while, and between the believers and the disbelievers (especially the latter, really), you can't get away from it. But, you don't have to like the subject A BIT (either as a believer or a disbeliever) to like this movie. You can watch it as a "docu-drama" (one that came along before the whole docu-drama craze), about how this couple dealt with the whole situation (regardless of what you believe that was). Or you can watch it as a regular "scary story" (it works entirely well as that). And of course, you CAN watch it for the UFO subject itself, especially since it's one of the most famous stories. One of the great things about the Betty and Barney story is that it sticks a pin in the whole "abducted hillbilly" idea (which, even if it weren't such a huge generalization, is such really, really overworked joke). Here's a "mixed marriage," in New England, both people intellectuals. And of course it has three very great actors (one a little less well-known by name than the other two). Estelle Parsons and James Earl Jones draw you completely into the whole thing, especially during the "regressions." And Barnard Hughes as the doctor (he'd played a few doctors already by then), was just right also.
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Reel Wild Cinema (1995– )
Partly tongue-in-cheek, partly genuine tribute to "bad" movies
16 November 2006
This show was really one of a kind, because it did something the other "cheap movie" shows didn't - it walked a line between making fun of the movies and being a genuine tribute to them. Even the guest stars, who were often people FROM those movies, weren't a guarantee of that, because it could've easily been full of the actors saying, "God, I can't believe I was IN THAT!" ad nauseum. But instead, it had them and Sandra Bernhardt really discussing the UP side of the things (with jokes mixed in, of course). I'm sure it was no coincidence that it came out right after the movie "Ed Wood," which had that same approach. As far as the show "analyzed" the movies, it told you one important thing, and that's that maybe, just maybe, instead of the makers of these movies fooling themselves by thinking that they were doing something very serious, they THEMSELVES had an easy-going attitude toward them. In fact, one (partial) slogan for the show went, "What's the difference between these movies and the big ones today? - millions of dollars and a sense of humor." In other words, it's the CHEAP ones that HAD a sense of humor about themselves (regardless of what people might think), and weren't ALWAYS "unintentionally funny". As hugely attached as I am to MST3K, this show was a real "antidote" to that whole OVERWORKED "insult" approach to the same subject. Anyway, this "theme" of the show, and the show in general, and Bernhardt's part in it (which always seemed full of enthusiasm) made the whole thing work.
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American Gladiators (1989–1997)
Very entertaining show (My ONLY sports show)
5 October 2006
One thing that always makes me roll my eyes is hearing about "real sports" versus "dumb sports" - the difference is such a matter of OPINION that it makes me side with the "dumb" ones. So, I might've watched American Gladiators for THAT reason, if no other, since it was DEVOTED to "dumb" sports, including - indirectly - bodybuilding, since so many of them came from that sport. But it was very entertaining in general. But, there was one bigger reason for me - it was full of FBBs (female bodybuilders), and I had just become a thorough-going fan of them, a short time before the show started. So, there was actually a weekly "FBB" SHOW (apart from a very good magazine show on ESPN), even though "Gladiators" wasn't actually promoted that way, of course. It should've been impossible to have a favorite female Gladiator, if it weren't for Lori "Ice" Fetrick. But they were all great.
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On the Rocks (1975–1976)
Genuinely underrated sitcom
4 October 2006
It's true that I've never seen "Porridge," but I think this show was genuinely underrated. As far as I know, about the only attention it got was negative - it was called too light a comedy (considering the subject), and was also accused of being full of ethnic stereotypes, which it really wasn't. And it was full of very good comedy actors, some of whom I've hardly seen since, like Jose Perez as Fuentes, the leader of the group. And Melvin Stewart, one of the most underrated character actors of all (even his great "All In The Family" character seldom gets mentioned when people write about that show), as the nasty guard (at least, by LIGHT COMEDY standards), always trying to get something on the main characters, especially Fuentes. And Tom Poston as the nice, put-upon guard (again, I've never seen Porridge, so I don't know the similar character on that show, but Poston was very good). And Rick Hurst, who's made a career out of playing likable oafish characters.
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