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0 out of 1 people found the following review useful:
The Jack Benny Program : The original "Seinfeld", 20 December 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

If you think that Jerry Seinfeld was the first man ever to play a comedic,alter-ego version of himself on'd be wrong of course.

That slice of genius was originally served up to us by Mr. Jack Benny and cast. Not just on TV from 1950 to 1965 but on his radio show that ran for over 20 years,starting in 1932.

I noticed there had not been a review here since 2013,so I thought a new perspective was needed. I know most here are happy to see that Mr. Benny's show is on ME-TV and has been restored to almost a near perfection.

ME-TV is the kind of home this show deserves,a network that truly cares about classic television. This,coming after years of cable TV hogging our favorite programs to themselves. (An inconvenience to those of us who don't wish to have cable/satellite etc.)

But....Along with the re-runs,I also watched a few on a low-budget DVD set that had 4 discs w/ about 11 shows each. (Some are not this program but are a newsreel,a short subject & an episode of Bing Crosby's Show. If you come across this set,be forewarned,the films are straight off VHS tape and are of poor quality.

One thing's true here,the quality certainly didn't take away from the comedy. Jack,as we know,presents himself comically as a penny pincher,an egotist and a very demanding boss (to the point of almost being unreasonable.)

Of course,everyone's in on the joke and Rochester,Mary,Dennis Day and Don Wilson & guests play it to the hilt. Especially pot-shots taken at Jack's expense. You think you're tuning in to a typical variety show but it's only the first step into the comedy Twilight Zone of Jack Benny's fictional world.

Which for the 1950s,is something one could almost call "radical" & "unconventional". There's literally times when it seems all are trying to see how far they can push the envelope in the face of 1950s censors. The funniest 3 of all I've seen are :

#1. Jack's Maxwell Is Stolen - A crazy look into the Beverly Hills Police Dept. #2. Jack & Bob Hope in a manic "In the jungle & captured by cannibals" sketch. (With the 2 breaking up on live TV,through almost every moment of it. #3. Jack can't sleep and decides to play the violin in the middle of the night,waking up most of Beverly Hills & southern California to boot.

One thing that's also great is that yes,Rochester is Jack's butler but he's also his friend. While not stated out loud,it came through loud and clear to me in the 1961 New Year's Eve episode where (*Spoiler*) in the end,Rochester ends up staying home with him,so he wont be alone at midnight.

Given the racial feelings at the time,it's great to see Rochester living so freely,as if there's no such thing as racism. Benny & he mix words sometimes,but it's never about his color.

The only thing that's off putting, is the cigarette advertisements. Not just the separate ones but the one's that are slipped into the entertainment. This and jokes about Don Wilson's weight and a somewhat disturbing hillbilly sketch,where Jack's hill character points to a 9 year old girl and says,"This is my wife". (Commentary on the age girls from the hills,sometimes,wed then.)

But...don't let the politically incorrect things ruin your enjoyment of the show. That's what the times were 50 to 60 years ago.

That's my only reason for taking one point away,otherwise it would surely be ten stars all the way.

What do think Jack? - "WELL!" > (END)

The Good,The Bad & The Ropers, 30 September 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

In the 35 (+) years since this spin-off's debut,critics of all ages and viewers alike,have taken an almost 'delight' in saying how horrible this series was. Also calling it a mistake,a shambles and an insult to intelligent viewers everywhere.

Well,as one who did see the show on ABC, I can say that for a long time,I could only say "I guess they're right." I was 10 and 11 back in 1979-1980 and,as any young person would,I thought it was funny. Of course,kids also laugh at people when they fall down or make a silly face.

Now that the show is back on Antenna TV and I'm seeing it for the first time since 1980,I can offer a mature perspective. (Without commenting on the behind the scenes feud of Fell & Lindley vs. ABC.) I now can honestly say...the show really isn't the worst sitcom or even program I've ever seen.

Fell & Lindley made a great bickering pair on Three's Company and Fell made Stanley a great foil for Jack & the girls. Lindley,also great as Helen who knows how to put Stanley in his place. The Ropers were also there to be part of the crazy situations & misunderstandings that would arise. Usually because of something Stanley assumed.

...but,The Ropers were not lead characters and Fell & Lindley,not the lead actor types. They were great comic character actors and usually,putting this kind of an actor in a lead (even in comedy) leads to less than expected results.

The six episodes of Season 1,had the backing of Three's Company,to bring in viewers,which later helped it finish at #8 for the 1978-1979 season. So yes,it "was" a top 10 hit...that year.

I will give credit to Jeffery Tambor's comic timing as a big part of that. His reaction as Jefferey Brooks,to people like Stanley & Helen moving into the posh Palm Dale Hills Townhouses in Chevoit Hills,is priceless. Especially Stanley's air-polluting DeSoto. While Patricia McCormack & Evan Cohen as his wife & son,make for some cute to touching moments between him and The Ropers as well.

Another problem though,is once this is established and 'that' joke is made,the series has to move forward from there. Season 1 does have good comedy writing and timing on the part of it's 3 main leads (Fell,Lindley & Tambor).

The best of those 6 are,Ep. 1 "Moving On","Friends and Neighbors","Your Money Or Your Life" and "The Doris Letters" . "Opprtunity Knocks" is pretty good and an excuse to have Larry Dallas (Richard Kline) pop in.

The lesser players and guest actors,sometimes,come across as either new at comedy and not 100% into character. (Being a new show,they may not have had time to do so.) ..but there's even times when,with the main cast,where some things don't work that should have.

I'd say the weakest and worst in Season 1 is "The Family Planning" episode. A show that makes humor out of an elderly woman's failing memory & a family that seems too heartless to take her in,in her old age. Helen's sister Ethel is nothing short of an unlikable person. She acts like she hates her own mother.

Season 2 gave us 22 episodes but the unwarranted move to Saturday nights is what really killed this show. Because,given time,things like (as mentioned) writing,acting & timing can always be improved.

Like season 1,though,there's some really funny shows here,like "The Party" (with guests Jack,Janet & Chrissy),"Power Play" (great in watching Norman Fell getting laughs out of Stanley not paying the electric bill),"Two For The Road" and a few others.

"Mother's Wake"(the final show) is a real downer. Some laughs and i see where Helen's mother is coming from but.... like "Family Planning",the subject is really not the stuff of comedy. Not a good episode to go out on,to be sure.

The best of all these 28,for writing,acting & overall storyline is "Baby Talk". An almost serious look at the (then) realities for child adoption,for people over 50. Which says to me that,had their been more episodes like this,with good comedy added,they could have become a classic.

I'm clueless,though, to explain why anyone involved in the show, thought another character (that being young Jenny) was needed. Finding her sleeping in their storage room,seemed like a set up for another series. I guess she was supposed to bring in younger viewers or be the voice of reason. Or...just make the older people look stupid in comparison to her youthful outlook. She really added little here.

Anyhow,let me conclude by saying that while "The Ropers" is not "Televsion Hall Of Fame" material,it's also not such a bad show that it's 100% unwatchable.

I think had it been successful,it would have lasted 5 seasons. With over 30 years gone since its end,let's be fair. If you've never seen it,I'd hope you wouldn't judge it based only on what you've heard.

Tune into Antenna TV (or get it on DVD) and see it for yourselves. 5 stars from me,some good stuff but just as equally some not so great stuff. (END)

'Baby Talk' : The Best Of "The Ropers", 24 September 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Ealier this year (2014),Antenna TV started following episodes of "Three's Company" with "The Ropers",which made me happy,as I hadn't seen the show since 1980.

I know most have dismissed the series as a big mistake,even calling it worthless. In the case of "Baby Talk" though (10th episode overall and from Season 2),I can honestly state,it is the best written and acted show out of the entire series.

Helen Roper (Audra Lindley) babysits 7 year old David for her neighbors (and landlords) The Brooks. She adores the boy and it leads her and Ann Brooks to a discussion of why her and Stanley never had kids.

Helen starts to feel she & her husband have missed out on something special and decides to talk to him about adopting,as they're too old to have children of their own.

Stanley (Norman Fell) quite seriously tells Helen the pitfalls of adopting at their age. Just the same,he allows her to give it a try and she calls to set up an interview with an agency at home.

**Spoilers** The agent arrives and talks with Helen and Stanley. Still hopeful,Helen asks what their chances are and at first,the agent will not directly tell them what their chances are,in going to the next step.

Stanley's now getting angry and wont let the woman off the hook so easily. He demands she tell his wife the truth. When Helen looks at her and says "There's no chance is there?" She confesses that their age will most likely opt them out of any consideration. Lindley's look of rejection and overall sadness are very real.

Fell comes across as disappointed too & genuinely concerned for Helen as well. As a real husband should be. His loving gift to her at the end of the show demonstrates this.

It is a very touching ending to a well written,well acted episode,from the actors & all behind the scenes of a television series that certainly deserved a better chance than it was given.

Ten Stars for,"Baby Talk". If you watch The Ropers for any reason,this is overall the best one you could have. (END)

Grizzly Adams : When The Word Quality Meant Something, 10 September 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

"Deep inside the forest is a door into another land,here is our life and home...." "We are staying, here forever in the beauty of this place,all alone." "We keep on hoping..." "Maybe, there's a world where we won't have to run, and maybe, there's a time we'll call our own,living free in harmony and majesty." "Take me home...take me home."

** Now,almost a year ago,I had the good fortune to find Seasons 1 and 2 of the show on DVD,here at my local library. (I've been quite busy since.)

It was the mid 1980s when I'd last seen the show in reruns,so naturally I was very excited. The series existed on NBC until just 1 month & 3 weeks shy of 2 years and like most fans,was nothing short of shocked (and even angered) when the show was pulled (unannonuced) in Dec. of 1978.

The question on most viewers minds was "Why cancel a show with not only good ratings but good writing,acting and that the whole family can enjoy as well?" (Ever notice they didn't dare pull that with "Litle House On The Prarie" ?)

In a time filled with comedies of Norman Lear on CBS,the Gary Marshall sitcoms on ABC,violent police shows. As well as programs meant to show off women's "attributes" more than their acting.... "Grizzly Adams" was family TV at it's best. Adams,Ben The Grizzly Bear,Trapper Mad Jack and Indian friend Nakoma (and guests),were well played and thought out characters. Even Nakoma was not a "stereo-type".

The animals in the show seemed almost "charmed" by Charles Adams" as they seemed to understand everything he said and asked of them,when he needed their help. (Cynical people called this "cutesy" and "unrealistic".)

The best thing about the series,is it taught us about what was really important in living. To be glad for each new day that you're alive,to live for others as much as for yourself and to never give up on hope or even sometimes,one's dreams or aspirations.

To Haggerty's credit as an actor...The fact that Adams can win over great odds,without killing or any serious violence and still come across 100% convincing is amazing to watch.

He plays a man wanted for something he clearly didn't do and having to hide out from a society of laws that were more about vengeance than justice. ...and yet,Adams lives each day as he would any other. To just live life,should he be captured or not.

Denver Pyle's "Mad Jack" is great as well. While Pyle can make him as serious as can be,he also makes Jack a great comic relief,who is sometimes upstaged by the animals,especially his mule "Number 7" .

Don Shanks' "Nakoma" speaks no English (except in one show when conversing with another younger tribe member,so we know what they're saying). This allows us to pay even more attention to his character and his actions. Plus,it makes for a unique bond of friendship between the three.

I could go on but all I can say is in these times of Reality TV,R-Rated sitcoms and crime shows with double the violence of those from the 1970s... Give the 1974 film,this show and 1982's "The Capture Of Grizzly Adams" a look (in that order).

It's well worth it if you'd like to see something that's meaningful and again of good quality. Especially for that wonderful theme song,which I posted at the start,"Maybe" by Thom Pace.

I think that says it all. (END)

1 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Now Voyager .... Now And Again, 20 May 2014

I hadn't watched this in some years,since the last viewing but the other night I decided to give it a look on a newer DVD.

The last time,was from the library and the DVD was 'very much used",which lessened the ability to lose myself in the story.

..but,with a "new" unopened copy (sold for $5) I was once again able to get emotionally involved in this classic. There's not much else Icould say that others haven;t already.

Bette Davis,Paul Henreid and Claude Rains (plus their supporting cast,make this a film that despite it's age,is a timeless tale. There still are people even in this day and age who could be called either spinster's/old maid or (on the male side) "terminal bachelors" but not by choice.

Love and romance are even harder to come by today than when this film was made. Making it even harder for Davis' character is that there's no one in her corner at the start and she's not very well versed in things like that.

You can't help but be on her side and even hope that,despite the pifalls of her new romance,that it all works out for the best .

10 stars all around!

"Hazel" (1961)
I Said "Hello" to Hazel on DVD, 3 April 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Last fall I found it. Not on regular TV or any cable network but on DVD at my local library. I'd never seen it on TV...ever.

"Hazel",marks the very first time for me seeing a series,exclusively,on DVD. I completed watching in January (2014) just 2 weeks after Season 5 came out.

I will say,I was only a bit disappointed that the shows weren't "cleaned up" like newer shows are,to broadcast day perfection.

That said,it did not distract me from what a very good series is. The Oscar winning Shirley Booth (Come Back Little Sheba)came to TV and made this her signature role and career apex.

Her role is a woman with the mind to say exactly what she means, even if someone doesn't like it. She's honest without being insulting or (too) obnoxious about it. She always has the best in mind. If she feels something is wrong,she goes out of her way to correct it.

Shirley demonstrated a unique balance between comedy and (mild for) TV drama. The comedy at first comes from she and "Missy" sort of pulling the wool over George's eyes to make something happen when he is reluctant (always for a good reason or cause,not to make him look foolish.) Usually,when it comes to George's business dealings with Mr. Harvey Griffin.

On the serious,I point to the very first show with George's sister Deidre (Cathy Lewis). In "George's Niece" Hazel brings together Barb's daughter and her Nephew. Deidre,who grew up around the ideal that "the classes should not mix" & who has a bad habit of alienating her daughter,is very angry with Hazel.

The scene near the end between Booth & Lewis has a great tension and the very real problem of a mother who doesn't understand her teenage daughter's ways. Unusual for a show that's supposed to be a sitcom in 1961. In her own way,Hazel tells her that she needs to try to listen to o and understand her daughter.

Another shocker,in one episode,George gets fed up with her meddling and says (best recall) "Hazel Burke,you are an interfering,meddlesome busy body and I'm sick of it!" Which instantly hurts her feelings and makes everyone mad at him. They make up later of course.

A "novelty" episode is the only one shot in color that first year. In "What'll We Watch Tonight?" Both Hazel and later the Baxters,get the first color TV's on their block. The novelty is that it's shot in color. (There were color TV's but networks wouldn't broadcast in color,full time,until the fall of '66. Seasons 2 through 5 were all filmed in color.

The chemistry between the main players is just right. Missy and George are "lovey-dovey" (but not to the level of say Rob & Laura Petrie) and you have to love Hazel & little Harold's relationship. (Bobby Buntrock doesn;t seem to age much in 5 years.)

For 4 years,the show followed it's charted course in it's story lines,it kept the comedy on a smooth course and every now and then tugged at people's hearts.

Then in the final season,things got shook up. The show was cancelled by NBC but picked up by CBS. Don DaFoe & Whitney Blake were gone. Their characters,off on business for a year in the middle east. Leaving, Harold in the care of George's real-estate selling brother Steve & his wife Barbara )who have a cute little daughter. Hazel gets mixed up in their affairs as well but the shows don't seem as strong as the first 4 years.

Still,overall,I will rate this 10 stars because it really is a series worth watching. For a look at the kind of shows that could not possibly survive today and maybe just to watch a program that doesn't rely on lower standards of comedy or trumped up dramatics. Perfect picture or not,Hazel is a classic! (END)

Saiyûki (1960)
Alakazam the Great ; Monkey See,Monkey Do, 27 March 2014

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

The other night I was tuned into the network known as THIS.

I was looking at what was coming up later and saw that this animated feature was going to be on. I decided to give it a look,since I'd never heard of it.

Well,it started and the first thing I found interesting was that singers Frankie Avalon ("Venus") & Dodie Stevens ("Tan Shoes & Pink Shoelaces" and Jonathan Winters,were going to be featured in voice roles. Another good reason to stay tuned.

Well,the story started about said Monkey "Alakazam",who when we meet him,seems to be afraid of,well "everything". His only way of ridding himself of this fear,is to take a challenge of diving head first from a great height into water. He finds some kind of city under the water but it doesn't seem to have anything to do with the plot later.

Shortly after this,since he was the only one brave (or stupid) enough to win at this feat,the rest of the monkeys now want him as their king. He becomes that but isn't mature enough to handle it.

He turns into a self centered,mean little tyrant. Even treating his best friend,possible girlfriend DeeDee in a very unfriendly way. He feels he's "all powerful". I felt DeeDee wasn't much of a character but more of a "weak female" throwback of the era.

He leaves behind the throne to meet Merlin the Magician to learn magic,by threatening to run off with Merlin's book of secrets. Merlin relents and naturally,Alakazam abuses his powers.

At this point and after,it kind of becomes scenarios in films,that I've seen before. With Merlin I was reminded of Fantasia & Mickey Mosue as Socerer's Apprentice. He & DeeDee could be Simba & Nala.

There's a volcanic explosion that spreads a stream of lava & which starts a forest fire (ala Bambi) with similar animals scurrying away.)

Ala,a pig (voice of Jonathan Winters),a prince (who's more in the way than anything) & a villain turned good,for reasons I can't figure,make a journey of many miles. Bothered most of the time by an "Imp" wit ha little horn on his head. (A wanna be demon,who hangs out in "the underworld". (Lord Of The Rings sojourn anyone?)

Ah...2 of them have magic powers and can fly on clouds,why don't they use those powers? In fact,it really makes no sense that they don't utilize them in more amazing ways. Safe to assume that's why we watch in the first place.

The songs are not at all memorable,although the song about our lead character is somewhat catchy,music-wise. The lyrics are forgettable,as they are with other songs.

I will say some things here were quite imaginative and even ahead of their time for a 1961 movie. Otherwise,I expected a bit more out of it. More magic,more to do for Jonathan Winters or even Frankie & Dodie.

Again,similar things that happened in other animated films being present here,made it kind of a been there/done that experience for me. 1977's "The Magic Pony" was dubbed from Russian (and made in the 1940s) an"understandable" for American audieences just like this was. I can say however that that film came out quite a lot better than this did.

5 Stars out of 10. Five stars,for some good imagination and animation.... 5 off for a lack of suspense & excitement and of course MAGIC. (END)

The Daring Desert Duo of The Old West, 3 December 2013

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I just finished viewing all 11 DVD's of the "Alias Smith & Jones" Complete series set and! What a great show.

I was only 4 & 1/2 when the series ended and even though it was still in reruns in the early 80s,I had no interest then. (Typical teen). My local library got in 2 copies of this set and I just had to watch it.

Some Westerns take liberty & license with how things were and looked back then but the detail given to the 1ook of the 1880s period in the west is great! Right down to the money they used,the clothes, the music,as well as factual details about events that happened.

The pilot show is great,setting off the story of Hannibal Heyes and Kid Curry and how they decide to try and go straight and "get out of this business" of train robbing.

The shows are engaging,funny,clever and at times even dramatic & serious. You gotta love Kid Curry's unbelievable "fast draw".

Season 2 (aside from Pete Duel's untimely end) is just about as good. Loved the episode "The Bounty Hunter" with Louis Gosset Jr.

However a few shows get a little silly in some parts though. (Like that "boing!" sound effect used twice in 2 shows.)

The remaining shows after Duel's parting are a bit shaky. Ben still looks lost kind of lost without Pete but according to the interview on the special features disc. Not even 2 or 3 days after Pete's suicide did they recast his role!

Season 3? Awesome! The opener "The Long Chase" almost feels like a movie in a theater. Roger Davis does his best acting in that one too. Just wish there'd been more shows and a finale.

(Either "The Day The Amnesty Came Through" or "The Strange Fate of Conrad Meyer Zulick" would have made great endings to the series.

The only other thing I can say is (like others) I wish they could restore these shows somehow. 3 of the shows looked even older than they are.

Despite these little nagging things,I loved it. 9 Stars. (END)

Sail Into The "Shore",It's Worth The Trip., 13 March 2013

Bill Cosby stars in this very serious drama about a working class man,his wife and their young boy. Cosby's father character (nicknamed "Blue") is trying to get his family out of the ghetto & into a house.

The couple discover that their son has sickle-cell anemia, leaving Cosby's character with the difficult & harsh task of telling his son the truth about his chances & mortality.

This is a $1 DVD,the film is straight from a VHS copy,the sound is awful (turn up TV almost all the way) and almost all the color is gone.

It's so old looking,it almost looks like the old educational films I used to see in school in that decade. Still,if you pay attention,you can see the good in the movie's storyline.

Some of the dialog is a bit daunting and irrelevant but this and the fact that this should be cleaned up and put on a professional DVD,are my only complaints. Otherwise,it's a great look at an very realistic struggling African-American family in that era. (END)

"Big Wednesday" Is A Bigger Movie Than Critics Gave It Credit For, 12 March 2013

I saw the TV ad for this in May of '78 and it looked interesting but I was only 9 or 10,so I didn't get see it. The film was negatively reviewed and only made so much at the box office.

Happy to say since then,the film had been on VHS and was finally brought to DVD (which I now have. The film stars Jan-Michael Vincent (big star from that decade),William Katt (later "The Greatest American Hero) and Gary Busey (6 months before the release of "The Buddy Holly Story".)

If you ever doubted Busey's or Katt's acting abilities,watch them here,they're awesome. I'd put the film in the "wild" category,because it's a pretty "wild" look at surfing guys from the early 60s to the early 70s and how they grow and change as people in that time. Find this and give it look,you won't be sorry!

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