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Little Bill (1999)
Well-done, sensible, engaging family-life show
My son and I just discovered "Little Bill" awhile back on the Noggin network, and we both love it. It has wonderful elements designed to engage the audience - believable characters, sensible situations, great tempo-setting music and plausible story lines. A careful watcher will discern the elements of Mr. Cosby's social ethos in this show - families which come in all shapes and sizes; social situations where we learn tolerance, dignity and proper expression; and my favorite, people who actually do something about a situation, instead of just complaining about the government or social pressure (race, ethnicity, status, etc).
The solid portrayals of family members and middle-class workers also help to dispel the media-blitz myth of African-Americans as either poor people on welfare, or rich criminals, sports stars or rappers, another hallmark of Mr. Cosby's quest for recognition and dignity in the black middle-class. Altogether, a very fine show with values galore that most families with kids will enjoy.
Yo Gabba Gabba! (2007)
Say The Magic Words - BEEEEEE QUIIIIIEEEEEET!!
Sorry to be the wet blanket covering up the previous positive comments, but this show absolutely makes me psychotic. It is far too loud, too in-your-face, too garish, too ridiculously stupid to be believed. Disclosure: I tend to a bit of grumpiness concerning vapid children's shows, so to validate my response I had several parent friends watch some episodes and let me know their thoughts. Unanimous opinion was that it is not worth the videotape it's made on. One friend commented that to both him and his wife the show looked like "the winner of a film-school or college pretend-contest to create the most bizarre, ridiculous children's show ever attempted." Our kids don't like it either, quickly losing interest or requesting other things. Sorry again to be the drudge but Nick really laid an egg with this one.
David Hyde Pierce is terrific in this episode !
This is probably the "Frasier" episode that made me realize what an outstanding comedic talent David Hyde Pierce is. He virtually steals the scene during the "morning after" set when Niles visits Frasier, and is horrified to find his nemesis Bebe the agent on the premises. His slow burn double-take is the funniest thing I've seen on TV practically since Lucille Ball. Many of the sequences involving Niles and Frasier had, in my opinion, a quite operatic quality to them, and this one is no exception as Niles valiantly tries to "save" his errant brother from the clutches of the evil one. One might imagine that a talent like Frasier Crane could afford someone much more polished than Bebe, but he seems almost pathetically inclined to retain her services. This is a marvelous episode with the brothers squaring off with Bebe in the middle - enjoy !
The Mob (1951)
Good quality cops vs. mob picture
Consistent with its simplistic title, "The Mob" is a straightforward cops vs. mob story starring the reliably tough Broderick Crawford. He goes undercover among the longshoremen after being 'suspended' from his police-detective job. He's trying to find the big cheese controlling extortion and payoffs on the docks, and meets up with several shady (or actually criminal) characters along the way. Crawford is his usual no-nonsense self, working his way into the scene with an abrasive coating over a good-cop personality. Neville Brand and Ernest Borgnine have a few scenes as mobsters, and Crawford's dockside pal is played by Richard Kiley. The only confusing part for me was that the TCM description stated that Crawford's character goes "from California to New Orleans" to discover the mob crime, but as far as I can tell, he leaves "town" (wherever that is) briefly, then returns by ship in his undercover mode to the place where he started. Overall, a good-quality crime-fighter movie, worth watching on Saturday night for a B/W movie fan.
Interesting Synopsis of Director's Work
Just watched this entry in conjunction with the Randolph Scott / Budd Boetticher films shown on TCM. A very interesting synopsis of work and commentary from the director and some guests. I learned much about Boetticher's views and techniques from both his and the guests' commentaries (excepting only that ultra goober, Quentin Tarantino, who consistently strikes me as the kind of high-school dweeb who came in 3rd in the class-president election).
Boetticher's films have a definite style, to me quite spare and unencumbered, but nonetheless complete stories and characters. He seems to have a knack for enveloping the viewer into the story. I especially appreciate his Randolph Scott film "The Tall T", during which one feels that, with Scott as the star, he's sure to come out all right - but in the situation he finds himself, it's very hard to imagine how he will manage it.
All in all a quite enjoyable examination of one of the old-line directors who pursued his vision and technique to his own, rather than corporate, satisfaction.
M*A*S*H: A Night at Rosie's (1979)
Unscheduled Day Out at M*A*S*H 4077
A very funny episode where the staff gravitate to Rosie's, starting with Hawkeye looking for breakfast. He's soon joined by an AWOL sergeant and eventually nearly everyone ends up there. Several sub-plots make this episode worth paying attention to - Idignant "Chaaals" looking for Hawkeye to relieve him as Officer of the Day, Klinger getting into the back-room craps game (with a hilarious set of dealers, played by Keye Luke and Richard Lee-Sung), a lost (and coma-drunk) Army officer no one knows the identity of, and the creation of "Rosieland", the new sovereign nation from which they are never leaving. A great vision of an overworked, stressed-out group of people letting off some steam and finding a few hours of normality in an insane place.
The Kansas City Massacre (1975)
Interesting Book to Read about the Story
I have not seen this production, but I have recently finished a book which details the events surrounding the "massacre", which took place at Kansas City's Union Station railroad depot. The book is called "The Union Station Massacre" by UMKC journalism professor Robert Unger. The book is a fascinating read of how the FBI, which prior to this incident was an unarmed and ineffective detective bureau, transformed into a nation-wide powerhouse of crime fighting. Any history buffs who want to learn more about the events would be well-served by this volume. It isn't generally available in many public libraries, but academic collections will probably have it, and it is usually available by loan.
Stanley's Dinosaur Round-Up (2006)
Cowboy Stanley rides again, to help save Great Uncle Stew's dude ranch. As with all the Stanley productions, this show has great values and dialogue that kids and adults can understand and appreciate. Stanley appears with the usual cast of friends and family as they journey to the dude ranch Stanley's dad remembers well. Disappointed at first with the run-down ranch, the gang soon finds themselves involved in an adventure to hunt dinosaur bones and save the ranch from the clutches of "Rockin' Rory", the local theme-park owner (not listed in the credits, but gleefully and greasily portrayed by Randy Quaid, playing much the same character as Yancy O'Del/Alameda Slim in "Home on the Range"). Hard work and persistence pay off.. Stanley saves the day!
Jack's Big Music Show (2005)
Lots of musical fun
Jack's Big Music Show just started on Noggin. It is a lot of musical fun for the kids. The characters have a very Muppet-style feeling, the kind that seem a bit smarter than average 'toons or puppets, enjoyable for both kids and grownups. Jack, his friend Mary and Jack's dog Mel get together in their musical clubhouse and play instruments and sing together. The show is apparently going to have guest musicians, and each show has a music video from the Laurie Berkner group. My 6 year old was looking forward to the show after seeing the preview spots on Noggin, and was happy with it. I think it should be a good fun-type family show that helps kids explore music and learn about different instruments and styles.
Fireman Sam (1987)
Nice little show for the kids (and parents)
This is a fun little show we discovered on our Comcast "On Demand" feature. It concerns the adventures of a team of firefighters in a small town in Wales. Fireman Sam is the main character, with several other folks in town contributing. One thing we appreciate about it is that it is not "diluted" for US audiences - the dialog contains several UK/Welsh specific phrases and terms, which my 6 year old son has had fun hearing, while learning how another culture expresses itself. The characterizations are standard but well-drawn; the firefighters are not superheroes, just brave and steady. There is the naughty boy who gets in scrapes and the average town folk who sometimes require the fire service. A good show for youngsters to view with characters they can understand, and very family-friendly without being sappy.
A good show for young minds
With due respect to "mc-kiernan" this is a fine show for young minds. My 5 (now 6) year old has learned several basic math concepts by watching this show, and I suspect it is actually geared towards slightly older viewers. Being an HR manager by trade I have absolutely no idea what "isomorphisms" are or, in fact, what was the point of the previous review, but in my humble parental opinion this is a great show that gently teaches concepts of math, and shows how the tenacity of the kids is rewarded. The "Hacker" character is, I believe, not intended to represent "criminal" activity but is simply posited as the "bad guy" of the show - in other words the message for the kids is don't act like him (greedy and manipulative). The additional "Cyberchase For Real" segment with live actors also helps with basic concepts like counting, measuring, etc. Overall I believe this show is good basic material for young minds, in that it is an entertaining show which also educates.
No Time for Sergeants (1958)
Country Boy takes on USAF
In rebuttal to "Helpless Dancer" of Oklahoma, I would gently point out that the movie IS SUPPOSED to be about a country bumpkin, a very unworldly person who makes his way through the "modern" technically-oriented Air Force. Yes, he does have the comprehension of a barnyard rooster - that's the main gag of the character!! It isn't supposed to represent the president of the high school rocket club.. This movie was a good vehicle for Andy Griffith playing up his "professional country boy" persona. The standout performance for me, however, was Myron McCormick as the Sergeant - what a masterly performance of the exasperated professional Air Force versus the seemingly unbeatable reverse logic of Andy Griffith. McCormick really pulled the movie together for me, taking the role way above a typical sergeant-private adversarial relationship. No, it's not Citizen Kane, nor is it meant to be. It's a fun movie with lots of great characters. Just enjoy it for what it's supposed to be.
The Doodlebops (2004)
Very Unworthy of Disney
The Doodlebops show is the shallow end of the creative pool, as far as I am concerned. I am very disappointed that this show was deemed by someone at Disney as being a worthwhile addition to the PHD lineup. My 5 year old has watched a few times, probably because it was new and unfamiliar. But if I change to Noggin or our local PBS affiliate before it comes on he never misses it. I think this show is just a terrible amalgamation of rehashed set-up jokes and fake concert footage. The actors remind me of college drama sophomores who are putting on a kid's camp (or possibly doing community service). It is quite unworthy of the typically fine programming either created by or broadcast by Disney and I hope they soon decide to replace it with something (almost anything) better.