Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Videos of Summer: Centerfield (1985)

Former Creedence Clearwater Revival frontman John Fogerty returned to the top 40 in 1985 in a big time way. The first single, the haunting "Old Man Down the Road", was just a warm-up. "Centerfield", the title track, has gotten quite a bit of use in some baseball-related movies or specials since its initial release. It's a great companion piece to Terry Cashman's "Talkin' Baseball (Willie, Mickey, & the Duke)", released around the same time.

Uploaded by Fogerty's VEVO channel to YouTube:



Something I don't understand about high school football......

Last year, Troy High School ran the table in Section II's Class AA, only to lose the state title game to Rush-Henrietta. Now, you'd think they'd stay in AA, play the same schedule, and, maybe, rinse & repeat, if you get my drift. Not so fast.

For some reason that I am unable to discern, the Section II committee reassigned Troy to Class A this year. My first reaction to this was, well......SAY WHAT?

Troy has fluctuated between classes A & AA over the last few years, which calls into question the issue of enrollment on a year by year basis. Does Troy have to have x number of students to qualify to Class AA on a consistent basis? Apparently. I am not privy to enrollment numbers, but one has to guess that this is the chief reason for the flip-flopping between classifications. In 2009, Troy reached the Class A Super Bowl, only to lose to Burnt Hills. Should the Flying Horses run the table again in their division, a rematch with the Spartans seems likely, provided, of course, that Burnt Hills keeps its end of the bargain.

Troy opens with their first two games on the road while they get the home field ready for its first-ever night game, the home opener vs. Averill Park on Sept. 16. Troy would like to be 2-0 going into that game, but the one thing to remember is that they are only returning 2 starters from last year's team. Long story short, it ain't gonna be easy early. I've never attended a Troy football game, but that changes this year, as I have plans to be at THS on Sept. 16 for that first night home game, just for kicks.

Can Troy run the table again? I think so, but we'll all find out together, starting on Friday.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Sounds of Praise: Flood (1996)

Jars of Clay are a Christian rock group who were pigeonholed into the Alternative genre in the mid-90's. Their first single, "Flood", earned widespread airplay in 1996, but is their only Top 40 single to date.

As weather forecasts up and down the Northeast have called for the possibility of severe flooding in the wake of Hurricane Irene, I thought it might be appropriate to select "Flood" for this occasion. This, however, is not the original video. Instead, this is a secondary clip the band produced around 2005, nearly 10 years after the song was originally recorded. Uploaded to YouTube through the band's VEVO channel.





Saturday, August 27, 2011

Classic TV?: A Day in Vietnam (1967)

I just ran across this on YouTube and thought I'd share, because this is something I didn't know existed.

"A Day in Vietnam" offers a chronicle of the "human side" of the conflict. The hook here is that this documentary is narrated by none other than Jack Webb (Dragnet), who'd relaunched his seminal crime drama the same year this was produced, 1967. Uploaded by WarStories:



If anyone knows anything about whether or not this was part of a deal between Webb & NBC in relation to the revival of Dragnet, please let me know? Thanks.

Friday, August 26, 2011

On DVD: Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome (1947)

Chester Gould's immortal comic strip sleuth, Dick Tracy, starred in a series of short feature films in the 40's, produced by RKO Radio Pictures. "Dick Tracy Meets Gruesome" sees Tracy (Ralph Byrd) match wits with the titular villain (Boris Karloff) and his aides. This was included as part of a 3-film DVD compilation. Before I say anything further, check out the film itself, uploaded by TheVideoCellar to YouTube. Bear in mind that the RKO logo is not included here.



One quibble I have is the use of Pat Patton as Dick's sidekick. By the time I started reading the strip in the 60's & 70's, Patton was the chief of police. Dick's regular partner, Sam Catchem, is MIA from this film, and Patton is used as comedy relief, which he certainly wasn't in the strip itself.

The other quibble is that the movie is too short, clocking in at just over an hour, which leaves little room for the plot to fully develop as it should. Karloff is excellent here, a perfect foe for Tracy, but it would've been even better if they were given more time.

Rating: C.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Videos of Summer: Tell Her About It (1983)

"Tell Her About It" was the first single and video from Billy Joel's 1983 album, "An Innocent Man". Billy takes us on a time trip back to the 60's, when Ed Sullivan ruled Sunday nights. Impressionist Will Jordan plays Sullivan, but how to explain the presence of Rodney Dangerfield? Simple. Billy recorded the title song to Rodney's movie, "Easy Money", co-starring Joe Pesci. "Easy" is the first track on the album, and Rodney appearing in the video was a way of repaying the favor. From Billy's VEVO channel:





Wednesday, August 24, 2011

On DVD: Crossroads (1955)

This is not to be confused with the CMT concert series of the same name.

Crossroads was a religious anthology drama produced in the mid-to-late 50's, a forerunner, if you will, to later, similarly formatted series such as Insight and This Is The Life, which predominantly aired on Sunday mornings when most of us were growing up. Crossroads, on the other hand, aired in primetime, at least in some markets, during its initial run. Sad to say, when I first discovered the other shows, Crossroads was no longer running anywhere.

Crossroads was also similar to the crime anthology, Gang Busters, in that the stories were based on real events, or so it would appear. Crossroads was able to attract some well known stars of the period, including Conrad Nagel, Richard Arlen, and even horror legend Vincent Price. One particular episode features Kent Taylor (Boston Blackie) as a mob-connected casino owner at loggerheads with an employee (Barbara Hale, Perry Mason) when he begins dating her naive younger sister. A young Richard Jaeckel is seen as a troubled paratrooper with a chip on his shoulder. Susan Oliver, who made the rounds of TV dramas well into the 60's & 70's, is a young wife who has to deal wtih a former partner in crime who wants her to do one more job or he'll turn her over to the police.

I wish I could find a video clip to post, but none are available on YouTube. Suffice to say, I wouldn't have known about Crossroads were it not available on sale through Radio Spirits. Alpha Video holds the rights to the show, and now I'm interested in finding Insight & This Is The Life on DVD, if they are available. I can't see why not.

Rating: A+.

Update, 3/6/15: I've added the episode, "Call For Help", which stars a young Michael Landon.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

On DVD: Dressed to Kill (1946)

"Dressed to Kill" was the last of 14 films starring Basil Rathbone as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's master detective, Sherlock Holmes, co-starring Nigel Bruce as Holmes' able, faithful assistant, Dr. John Watson.

Holmes & Watson must match wits with a femme fatale and her hired henchmen, who are killing the owners of some music boxes, whose creator is in prison. In terms of plot, it is similar to "The Lone Ranger & the Lost City of Gold", which was released 12 years later, and reviewed here recently. "Dressed" also has one of those rare features of a Holmes film, as far as I know, and that is Holmes in a death trap of a sort.

The film was uploaded by TheVideoCellar to YouTube, but isn't quite complete, as the initial frame with our stars is not included in this print (though it is on the Alpha Video print I have):



Robert Downey, Jr. & Jude Law return as Holmes & Watson this winter, but time will tell if they will actually measure up to the classics of yore.

Rating: A.

Stan Lee Media sues over the rights to "Conan the Barbarian": Fool's folly, by Crom!

According to an article I just read on Entertainment Weekly's website, Stan Lee Media, Inc., the company founded by comics legend Stan Lee, is filing suit over the rights to "Conan the Barbarian", claiming that a former lawyer for the company betrayed them and sold the rights, leading to the movie that opened last weekend, starring relative unknown Jason Momoa. "Conan", a remake of the 1982 film that starred Arnold Schwarzenegger in the title role, took in $10 million at the box office.

What I don't understand is why SLMI has an issue. If their rights to "Conan" had expired, wouldn't they have reverted back to the estate of the character's creator, Robert E. Howard? The comic book rights to "Conan" now belong to Dark Horse Comics, which also has reprint rights to the Marvel Comics series which launched all the way back in 1970, which paved the way for the original movie in the first place.

The 2011 "Conan" is considered a dud, along with another remake of an 80's film, "Fright Night", lagging far behind the top two movies of the week, "The Help" & "Rise of the Planet of the Apes". The lawsuit, which for all we know may have about as much merit as a con artist at a pet cemetery, sounds like a case of kicking the movie's producers when they're down. That would actually do more to damage Lee's reputation than the "Conan" franchise. If they're smart, SLMI will drop the suit before the week's out, once they get all the facts straight. Stay tuned.

Monday, August 22, 2011

On DVD: Man Against Crime, aka Follow That Man (1949)

One of  television's earliest crime dramas was Man Against Crime, which aired on NBC & DuMont from 1949-1954. Ralph Bellamy was cast as detective Mike Barnett. When the series went into syndication, it adopted the name, Follow That Man, due to the fact that the series' sponsor, R. J. Reynolds Tobacco, owned the rights to the original title, and were not willing to pay syndication rights. Now, go figure that one out.

I obtained a 3-episode DVD of the series a ways back, and replayed it last night. The sample below, uploaded by moondogsballroom, isn't one of them. Here's "The Fraternity of Five":




Today's generation is familiar with Bellamy from films like "Trading Places", in which he was part of an ensemble supporting Dan Aykroyd & Eddie Murphy. Oh, if they only knew about the earlier years of his career......

Rating: B+.

Musical Interlude: Adult Education (1983)

When Hall & Oates released "Adult Education" in 1983, it represented a change of pace for the duo, better known for soft, safe pop songs like "Sara Smile", "She's Gone", and "I Can't Go For That (No Can Do)". The video is set in a pagan temple, but I didn't quite understand the correlation between the video and the song, and even to this day, I still don't. I pictured something different, like maybe a high school setting, to go along with the song itself. I'm figuring this was intended for high school seniors at the very least, preparing to graduate. It's a little unsettling having a chorus of cheerleaders' voices coming out of John Oates' mouth, but that's just me.......


Saturday, August 20, 2011

On DVD: The Lone Ranger & the Lost City of Gold (1958)

Two years after his self-titled first feature film, the Lone Ranger (Clayton Moore) returned in "The Lone Ranger & the Lost City of Gold", this time released through United Artists. As with the first film, the movie was released on DVD through Golden Books Entrtainment (now Classic Media).

Fans of The Lone Ranger will recognize the theme song, "Hi-Yo Silver!", co-written by the film's musical director, Les Baxter, as it was used in a few episodes of the series for a quick summation of the Ranger's origin.

On to the story. A gang of hooded outlaws are killing Indians in possession of a set of medallions, which, when assembled form a map that would reveal the location of the titular lost city. One of the remaining holders is also a town doctor. One victim left behind an infant, which the Ranger & Tonto (Jay Silverheels) deliver to the local mission. By the end of the movie, the doctor and his girlfriend have adopted the baby. The Sheriff is no help, bigoted as he is toward Indians. The trail leads to a wealthy widow who intends to claim the treasure for herself. Gee, what a shock.

Now, let's scope the movie:



Regrettably, this would also be the last film in the series, coming as it did after the TV show had ended production, and the Ranger wouldn't return to the big screen until the ill-fated "Legend of the Lone Ranger" in 1981, when Hollywood began tinkering with a legend that didn't need tampering.

Rating: A.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

On DVD: The Lone Ranger (movie)(1956)

As the Lone Ranger television series was winding down, producer Jack Wrather, who took over the series a year or two prior, decided to bring the Ranger to the big screen, and arranged a deal with Warner Bros. for a full-length color feature, released in 1956, with Clayton Moore & Jay Silverheels as the Ranger & Tonto, respectively.

It is a standard series plot stretched out to nearly 90 minutes, or roughly, the equivalent of three episodes of the series. A greedy, ruthless rancher wants to control all the land in his area, and decides to start a war with the local Indian tribe. The Ranger & Tonto have to work to prevent the war from even starting. Aldenangriffe uploaded the trailer to YouTube:



Wrather's wife, former child actress Bonita Granville, plays the rancher's wife, and sharp-eyed viewers will recognize Frank DeKova, later of F-Troop, as Indian Chief Redhawk, a friend of the Ranger's whose control of the tribe is being usurped by an arrogant brave who's more than willing to let the war start. The above trailer is included on the DVD, which was released through Golden Books Entertainment (now Classic Media) in 2002. The film had to have done well enough at the box office to merit a sequel, "The Lone Ranger & the Lost City of Gold", which we'll review another time. For what it's worth, the narration at the start of the movie is exactly the same that was used in the short-lived 1966 CBS Lone Ranger cartoon. If you're a serious fan of the Ranger, I strongly recommend adding this to your collection, if you haven't done so already.

Rating: A+.

Weasel of the Week: Daryn Moran

After serving 9 years in the US Air Force, Daryn Moran was discharged earlier this week when he refused to report for duty. His excuse? He doesn't believe the validity of the President's birth certificate.

Yes, Moran has fallen in with the dreaded "birthers", the conspiracy nuts who just won't go away. Moran, and for that matter, his father, buys into the belief that President Obama was not born in this country, despite documentation that proves otherwise. He has also taken the even bolder step of calling for the arrest of the President. Oh, man! This guy is bucking for a Section 8 discharge, if you ask me, but if his demand for the President's arrest doesn't qualify as a treasonous statement, what does?

Making matters worse, Howard Moran, Daryn's father, is proud of his son for standing up for what he believes in. I hate to be the one to break it to you, Mr. Moran, but your son is standing up for a bunch of lies & fibs from a bunch of get-a-life losers who just don't get it. Daryn Moran says he's getting an honorable discharge. I don't think so. The Air Force hasn't stated exactly, only to say that Moran has been discharged, period. After serving his country for nearly a decade, Daryn Moran is letting his feelings be known about our Commander-In-Chief, which happens to be his boss, at the wrong time. If he really felt that President Obama wasn't legitimately an American citizen from birth, as the birther morons insist, defiant as ever, why didn't he ask for a discharge after Obama was elected in '08?

I've heard of falling in with the wrong crowd, but this gets the grand prize. In Moran's case, the grand prize is a set of weasel ears.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Musical Interlude: Keeping the Faith (1983)

"Keeping The Faith" was the final single released from Billy Joel's 1983 album, "An Innocent Man", and it's easy to see why it was kept in heavy rotation on MTV when the video premiered in 1984. Look for cameos by Dick Clark (American Bandstand), Richard Pryor, and Joe Piscopo (Saturday Night Live) in the video. Character actor Richard Shull plays the judge. From Joel's VEVO channel:



Let's see the cast of Glee try covering this song!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Musical Interlude: Cult of Personality (1988)

If you've been watching WWE Monday Night Raw of late, chances are you've been reintroduced to a groundbreaking metal classic from the late 80's.

Living Colour burst onto the scene in 1988 as the first African-American metal band, and zoomed up the charts with "Cult of Personality". After an 8 day hiatus from WWE following the Money in the Bank PPV, CM Punk decided to adopt "Cult" as his new theme song, which got the attention of singer Corey Glover, among others. Punk had been repackaged as a villainous cult leader over the last couple of years, so in a sense it fits, even though Punk now is being presented as WWE's latest attempt in reincarnating an anti-establishment anti-hero, which worked out so well for Stone Cold Steve Austin for most of his run.

Courtesy of Living Colour's VEVO channel:



Now, you should be ready for Summerslam.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Death comes for three

The worlds of sports and music are in mourning tonight.

It was just announced a short time ago that former baseball pitcher Ernie Johnson, Sr., who moved to the broadcast booth after retiring and called Braves games for nearly 40 years, passed away tonight at the age of 87. Johnson pitched for the Milwaukee Braves & Baltimore Orioles during a 10 year major league career. Tonight, as the Braves are retiring the uniform number of manager Bobby Cox, who retired at the end of the 2010 season, there was likely a moment of silence in honor of Johnson.

Scott LeDoux was a boxer who fought against the likes of Muhammad Ali, Leon Spinks, and Ken Norton during his career, then turned to professional wrestling, first as a referee for Verne Gagne's American Wrestling Association, then swapping the stripes for tights to feud with Larry Zybyzko at the end of the 80's. LeDoux later was named as the head of a combative fighting commission in Minnesota. LeDoux passed away Thursday at 62, and had been diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease).

Jani Lane was the lead singer of the pop-metal band, Warrant, who scored such hits as "Cherry Pie", "Down Boys", "Uncle Tom's Cabin", and "Heaven". Lane was found in a hotel room on Thursday, dead at the age of 47. Following is a live performance of "Heaven", from the 1990 American Music Awards:



While Lane had something different in mind when he wrote "Heaven", he's there now, along with Johnson & LeDoux. Rest in peace, gentlemen.

Weasel of the Week: Lair Scott

Lair Scott is the alleged genius who created an online petition earlier this week, calling for Bert & Ernie, two long running characters from PBS' Sesame Street, to be, well, united in more ways than one.

What Scott is implying is that with same-sex marriage now legal in New York, where Sesame Street is based, it's time to let go of the pretenses and have Sesame Workshop, the show's producers, acknowledge that the two beloved Muppets happen to be gay, or so Scott sees it, as do a number of others. Scott's reasoning is that it would enable gay & lesbian children to learn about tolerance.

Ah, but Sesame Workshop isn't buying Scott's logic. They say, rightfully, that Bert & Ernie are just friends, and always have been, and that there never has been a gay subtext. Now, I don't know if the subject of homosexuality has ever been addressed on Sesame Street over the course of its 42 years on the air, but it's a subject that, in this writer's opinion, may be too mature for the show's target audience, which is made up of mostly pre- & elementary school children. Bert & Ernie have always been perceived as being among the classic comedy teams, like Abbott & Costello, Laurel & Hardy, and Bugs Bunny and either Daffy Duck or Elmer Fudd. Scott is not doing this with children in general in mind, but if he wants to pursue his agenda, I'm sure that he'll find someone willing to accomodate him. In the meantime, though, he's better off leaving well enough alone on hallowed ground such as Sesame Street.

Long story short, Lair Scott, for you, this post is sponsored by the letter "W", for Weasel.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

When is a player not a player?

At 19, most boys are either in their freshman or sophmore seasons in college. Hobbton High School senior Brett Bowden is not most boys.

Brett is 19, and entering his senior season at the North Carolina school. He was on the varsity football team the last two seasons, but mostly leading cheers from the bench. He has one touchdown on his record, scored last year. For now, it's the only one he'll ever have, because at 19, according to state eligibility rules for high school sports, Brett is too old. That's not the only issue at hand here, though. You see, Brett has Down's Syndrome, which explains why he's still in high school at 19.

Brett is what is now called a "special needs" student due to Down's Syndrome. Despite the affliction, Brett tried out for and made the team, and, according to a Yahoo! article, is the most popular member of the team. The entire community is rallying around this young man, led by his sister, who has started a Facebook page with a petition to try to convince state officials to amend their rules to allow Brett, and other kids like him with Down's or other disabilities to be able to play past the age of 18 if they're still in high school. From that same Yahoo! article comes this quote from Davis Whitfield, commissioner of the North Carolina High School Athletic Association:

"I want to be clear that the student-athlete has not been 'kicked off the team'. Brett Bowden could still be a part of the team, lead his team on the field, wear his jersey and be with his teammates, including some of the post-game activities he has done in the past. The only thing that he cannot do now that he could do before is dress out in full uniform, since a student must be eligible to be dressed for a contest.  He is over the age limit based on the eligibility rules, and this State Board of Education policy is one we are not allowed to set aside."

Right now, that's about the closest thing to a compromise that the NCHSAA can offer, within the framework of state rules. Yahoo! headlined their article by implying that Brett had indeed been booted from the team, but that's stretching things just a wee bit. The least that the school can do for Brett is to appoint him as a team manager or something, so that he can be more of a contributor to the team, even if he can't be on the field. That seems to be the most likely scenario.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Videos of Summer: Come Back & Stay (1983)

I don't think a day went by during the summer of 1983 without Paul Young's "Come Back & Stay" blaring out of car radios. Late 60's-early 70's style pop-soul with a dash of 80's sensibilities. Young's last major hit was a cover of "What Becomes of the Broken Hearted", which was heard in the movie, "Fried Green Tomatoes" around 1991 or so. Anyway, the video below was in heavy rotation on MTV when it was first released. Uploaded by GeneralLee1956:



Monday, August 8, 2011

Hugh Carey (1919-2011)

Former Governor Hugh Carey, credited with rescuing New York from financial ruin in the mid-70's, passed away Sunday at 92.

Carey served two terms as Governor before passing the baton, if you will, to Mario Cuomo, father of the current Governor, in 1982. File photos appearing in today's newspapers will show Carey was still out and about well into retirement, including a visit to Saratoga Race Course a couple of years ago. I believe state flags are flying at half-mast today in memory of the former Governor.

Rest in peace.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Videos of Summer: I'm Still Standing (1983)

Following the release of his 1980 album, "21 at 33", Elton John left MCA Records for Geffen, but the parade of Top 40 hits continued unabated. Now, I'm not exactly sure where the video for "I'm Still Standing", from the album, "Too Low For Zero", was shot, but the beach scenes could've been done anywhere. Not so sure about the painted dancers, though......!

One of Elton's gimmicks back in the day was the collection of odd eyewear, as sampled in the video. Not sure if he had laser surgery done or wears contacts these days, though. The video comes from Elton's VEVO channel.

In Theatres: The Smurfs (2011)

30 years ago, Hanna-Barbera obtained a license to adapt a Belgian comic strip for American audiences. Smurfs would enjoy an 8 year run on NBC as the surprising centerpiece of the network's Saturday lineup. Until then, no one had heard of Peyo, the Belgian writer-artist who created the series.

In 2011, the little blue people are back, this time with Columbia holding the license for a feature film that will stir some fond memories of the original series, which still airs in repeats to this day on Boomerang.

The story begins with the Smurfs in their hidden village preparing for the Festival of the Blue Moon while Papa (Jonathan Winters) sees potential disaster in some mystic visions. Clumsy (Anton Yelchin, to be seen next in the remake of "Fright Night") is collecting some plant leaves when he runs afoul of the evil wizard, Gargamel (Hank Azaria, The Simpsons) and his familiar, Azrael (voiced by Frank Welker). Naturally, Gargamel & Azrael find their way into the village and nearly obliterate it completely. A portal opens that sends Papa, Clumsy, Smurfette, Brainy, Grouchy, & Gutsy (a new Smurf created for the movie, one of four new characters in all) to present-day New York. Gargamel & Azrael follow, with predictable results.

The Smurfs eventually find themselves in the apartment of Patrick Winslow (Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother) and his pregnant wife, Grace (Jayma Mays, Glee). After the expected culture shock and disorientation, the Winslows befriend their guests and help them become acquainted with the 21st century. Meanwhile, Gargamel finds that Azrael had bitten off some of Smurfette's hair, and uses it to create a temporary potion, which, once completed, would give Gargamel the ability to capture the entire Smurf community. He passes through a demonstration given by Patrick's boss (Sofia Vergara, Modern Family) and his potion restores youth & vitality to the woman's mother, whom Gargamel had unwittingly insulted moments before. That gives Gargamel some unexpected leverage in his quest, but, being Gargamel, any advantage he ever gets is ultimately squandered.

After obtaining a telescope from FAO Schwartz, the Smurfs still need to create a potion of their own, as well as a return spell. Patrick gives them a tip on a possible location for a spell book, which happens, ironically, to be a hardcover collection of their own Belgian comics. Gargamel tracks them to the shop and captures Papa while Clumsy stays at the Winslows' apartment. With his job on the line because of Clumsy's bungling, Patrick decides to lead a rescue effort. The resulting scene, with AC/DC's "Back in Black" in the background, is cool all by itself. As Smurfette (Katy Perry) rescues Papa, Brainy (Fred Armisen, Saturday Night Live & The Looney Tunes Show) recites the spell. That sets the stage for the final, climatic battle. Just when Gargamel thinks he's won, Brainy shows up with some reinforcements after having made a return trip home. Papa's vision, it turns out, is a little skewed, and everyone gets to go home. Well, everyone but Gargamel & Azrael, who remain in New York as the movie ends.

As any Smurf fan knows, Gargamel is not the master wizard he thinks he is, but rather a bumbling, delusional dreamer who never succeeds. Hank Azaria doesn't quite capture the menace that the late Paul Winchell brought in voicing Gargamel 30 years ago, but some of the pratfalls Gargamel has to endure come right out of the "Home Alone" playbook. Frank Welker & Jonathan Winters are the only two voice actors who actually worked on the 1981-89 series (as Hefty & Grandpa, respectively). Two series regulars, Jokey & Handy, are heard from briefly (voiced by Paul Reubens & Jeff Foxworthy, respectively), but just weren't given enough to do. Like Gutsy, Narrator Smurf was created for the movie, as he was not a series regular. Smurfette's origin is addressed briefly in a scene with Grace, and she also gets to lay the smack down on Azrael in a cute sequence.

Most critics were positive, the lone negative review I'd read belonging to Lou Lumenick of the New York Post, who gave the film 0 stars. What was this guy thinking?

Anyway, here's a trailer.



Well, as Smurfette coined the word, Smurfalish!

Rating: B+.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Videos of Summer: Rio (1982)

Duran Duran practically exploded onto the Hot 100 in the early 80's, thanks to MTV putting their videos in heavy rotation, and I do mean heavy. "Rio", the title track from their 1982 album, may as well have given viewers enough pause to consider vacation plans in the exotic locales where the band shot the video. Uploaded by EMI's channel to YouTube:

They're not "Jerry's Kids" anymore

The Muscular Dystrophy Association, according to reports, has decided to sever its ties to entertainer Jerry Lewis, who has been the national chairman of MDA for the last several years. After 45 years of hosting a Labor Day telethon to raise funds for MDA, Lewis will not be present for the 46th renewal of the event on September 4-5, but has planned a press conference following the telethon to discuss his future.

Lewis, 85, has been involved in some controversial incidents related to the telethon in recent years, most recently in 2007 when he stopped short of using a homophobic slur on the air. I've seen tabloids like The Globe with headlines claiming that some of the patients that MDA is helping supposedly were being neglected or mistreated, but, considering the source of those headlines, it's uncertain whether or not there was any truth to those stories.

It was originally announced in May that Lewis would host this year's event, trimmed from 21 1/2 hours down to 6, and then retire. Plans have since changed, but what isn't certain at press time is whether or not the telethon will return to the traditional two-day, 21 1/2 hour format after all. What led MDA to decide on August 3 that Lewis wouldn't be a part of this year's show isn't certain, either, and both Lewis & MDA reps are keeping mum on exactly what the circumstances are. With the telethon 4 1/2 weeks away, it's going to be hard to picture the event without Lewis being involved in some form or another.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Bubba Smith (1945-2011)

Word came over the wires yesterday of the passing of Charles Aaron "Bubba" Smith, who parlayed a successful career in football into an equally lucrative acting career, at 66 from natural causes.

Bubba Smith, a graduate of Michigan State, played pro ball with the Colts, Raiders, & Oilers before retiring in the mid-70's after 9 seasons, and appeared in two Super Bowls with the Colts. Following his NFL career, Smith transitioned into acting, and appeared in the "Police Academy" movie series as Officer Moses Hightower, and on the TV series, Blue Thunder, again playing a cop, this time alongside fellow NFL great Dick Butkus.

Smith was also a regular in a series of Miller Lite beer ads, and largely because of that, had a cameo appearance in Rodney Dangerfield's 1983 music video for "Rappin' Rodney". The gentle giant is seen as a prisoner as Rodney walks the "last mile".

Rest in peace, Bubba.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Videos of Summer: Rockin' at Midnight (1985)

The Honeydrippers was a short-lived supergroup that featured Robert Plant (ex-Led Zeppelin) on vocals, and a rotating lineup of guests that included talents as diverse as Jeff Beck and Paul Shaffer (Late Show With David Letterman). The 2nd single from the Honeydrippers CD was a cover of "Rockin' At Midnight". Plant is the only band member appearing in the clip, which is chock full of dance club footage dating back several years. More than 25 years later, it still kicks ass. Uploaded by Super Channel:



Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Videos of Summer: Cruel Summer (1984)

The British pop trio Bananarama made their first big splash in the US in 1984 with "Cruel Summer", which was heard in the original "Karate Kid", with Ralph Macchio & Pat Morita. Orion3590 uploaded the clip to YouTube:



Bananarama would only have a couple more major hits here in the US, including a cover of Shocking Blue's 1970 1-hit wonder, "Venus". In turn, the Swedish group Ace of Base covered "Cruel Summer" more than a decade later, but by then, they too were fading into memory......

On the Air: ThunderCats (2011)

Over in my other blog, Saturday Morning Archives, I recently reviewed the original ThunderCats, in preparation for Cartoon Network's revival of the popular 80's series. Now comes the review of the new version, but first, check out the trailer, uploaded by Mrsourdevil to YouTube:



Only one cast member from the original series returns. NYC radio personality Larry Kenney was the voice of Lion-O in the original series, but this time is Lion-O's dad, Claudus. Lion-O himself is this time voiced by Will Friedle (ex-Kim Possible, Batman Beyond), and indeed, Lion-O does sound a little like Terry McGinnis, the Batman of the future.

The remake puts a little more meat on the bones, if you will, and tweaks history just a tad, by suggesting that Panthro was killed off before this series even began. Not sure if they're sticking with that or if Panthro will actually appear after all. What we do know is that this time, there is a little bit of an attraction teased between Lion-O and Cheetara, who now has been reestablished as a cleric as well as being a super speedster. Not only that, but Tygra & Lion-O are now brothers. My memory is hazy about whether or not this was true in the original series (1985-90).

The series opener is a trial by fire for Lion-O, who has trouble winning his father's trust, and whose compassion may have, quite by accident, set the wheels in motion for the destruction of Thundera. Where it goes from there is anyone's guess. ThunderCats settles into a regular primetime berth this week, Fridays at 8:30 (ET), with reruns likely during the week following, but of course, it's also available On Demand. If you liked or loved the original, I'm sure you'll enjoy this new version, which, like the original, does have some anime influences in the artwork, a little more pronounced this time, and better than previous attempts at Americanized anime.

If there was any way CN could win back viewers that were disenfranchised by the controversy surrounding Scooby-Doo: Mystery Incorporated, this would be a good place to start.

Rating: A.