Posts Tagged ‘tv


A Salute to Anthology TV of the Eighties

Being a kid in the Eighties my TV watching consisted of Transformers, He-Man, and G.I, Joe in the afternoon, Knight Rider and maybe Alf in the evening, and then there were the scary shows, the ones I had to sneak away and watch, telling myself that my parents didn’t know I was watching them (when they probably did). Since my childhood was skewed toward sci-fi/ horror genre, so is the following:


“Hammer House of Horror” – Running for only one season (13 episodes) in 1980, the British Horror production company Hammer Film Productions released this foray into ghosts, demons, and the supernatural.


“Tales From the Darkside” – Produced by George Romero (with Stephen King writing at least 2 episodes), “Darkside” ran from 1984-1990. Each episode was 30 minutes in length and began with a normal situation that would get crazy quickly and end with a twist. Then again, there were a lot of series like this. What set “Darkside” apart from the rest was its dark sense of humor. This show has recently been released on DVD and I’m having a blast watching it. My favorite so far is the one which starred the guy from the Dunkin’ Donuts commercials from the Eighties. He has back problems and goes to see a doctor, who tells him that in order to get rid of the back pains he has to get rid of the stress in his life, which means that his wife has to be killed. After his will is killed in a car “accident” he’s summoned to the doctor to find he now has to kill someone to “pay” for his back pain “cure.”


“Amazing Stories” – Steven Spielberg decided to take his childhood watching of “The Twilight Zone” and reading “Amazing Stories” and helped create this series. While “middle of the road” to critics, it wasn’t bad for what it was: a family version of “The Twilight Zone,” so to speak. I remember watching the very first episode, “Ghost Train,” about an old man who, as a kid, placed a penny on a railroad track, derailing the train. The train returns to claim him as he nears death. Also, there was the episode about the cartoonist trapped in a gun turret of a Word War II Bomber, Santa being jailed, and a kid who becomes magnetic after a piece of meteorite falls in his back yard. It ran for two seasons: 1985-1987.


“The New Twilight Zone” – This ran on CBS from 1985-1989. CBS had what they thought was a good idea: resurrect “The Twilight Zone.” Problem was that this retreading tanked and was cancelled after two seasons. Unfortunately they had pre-sold the series into syndication and had to continue making episodes to honor the contract. Hindsight is 20/20… Trivia note: J Michael Straczynski, creator of “Babylon 5,” wrote 12 episodes for the series. I remember watching the episode where two children were taken to an amusement park and led to a tunnel with rooms, and each room had a different set of parents interested in adopting the kids. Also, the episode where the couple was caught “in between” time and blue men ran about town changing everything for the next upcoming minute.



“Freddy’s Nightmares” – Based on the “Nightmare on Elm Street” franchise, this one had Freddy himself, Robert Englund, hosting tales of evil and death occurring on Elm Street. Remind me not to live there… The series 1988-1990.



“Monsters” – As “Tales from the Darkside” was neared its end, several of the directors and writers worked on “Monsters.” “Monsters” was similar to “Darkside,” but the main difference was that each episode of the series literally dealt with a different monster. It ran from 1988-1991.



“Friday the 13th” – Unlike “The New Twilight Zone,” this show shares little with the actual movie franchise except the title. The show was about two cousins, Ryan Dallion and Micki Foster, who inherit their uncle’s antique shop. Unbeknownst to them the relics are cursed and they must retrieve them from the buyers before too much damage and harm is caused. The series ran from 1987-1990.



“Tales from the Crypt” – Finishing out the Eighties was another personal favorite, “Tales from the Crypt.” Each episode began with The Cryptkeeper, a skeleton narrator who provided kitsch humor to the episode about to be unfolded. It had great theme music and was fun to watch. The episode I remember was when the old millionaire man had a young wife. Finding a younger bodybuilder, he pays to exchange body parts piece-by-piece. At the end he has the body of the bodybuilder, but no money. Meanwhile, the bodybuilder now has the money, and the wife, of the former millionaire. The Cryptkeeper dominated HBO and syndication from 1989 until 1996.


“The Ray Bradbury Theater” – Hosted by scifi author and based on several of his short stories, this series ran from 1985-1986 and 1988-1992. The subjects ran from science to supernatural, from childhood memories and fears to being grown up. One of my favorite episodes was called “The Town Where No One Got Off.” In it a writer (Jeff Goldblum) exits the train at a town where the train only stops to drop off supplies. He’s followed around by a retired sheriff (Ed McNamara) who traps and confronts him about what he’s doing there. Trivia note: Larry Wilcox (Officer Jon Baker on “CHiPs”) was an executive producer on the series.


Some of these are available on DVD, and some are still on video.


Don’t stay up too late…




In Passing… James Whitmore (1921-2009)

j_whitmoreTelevision and film actor James Whitmore passed away on February 6 from lung cancer. Whitmore began his career on Broadway and earned many accolades before going Hollywood. In the movies his first role was that of George Pappas in “The Undercover Man” (1948). He continued on with such films as “The Next Voice You Hear…” “The Asphalt Jungle,” “Kiss Me Kate,” and “Them!” the movie about giant radioactive ants. Switching over to television he had roles on “Studio One” and several other “theatre” shows before starring as Abraham Lincoln Jones in “The Law and Mr. Jones,” which lasted for two seasons. He would continue alternating between the two, showing up in such TV shows as “The Twilight Zone,” “The Virginian,” “Gunsmoke,” “The Ray Bradbury Theater,” and “CSI.” His other movies include “Planet of the Apes,” “Madigan,” “Tora! Tora! Tora!” and “The Shawshank Redemption.” And, he was a longtime spokesperson for Miracle-Gro fertilizer. Whitemore was 87 years of age.

Thoughts and prayers to his family and friends

For more information, check out his IMDB page at:


In Passing… Pat Hingle (1924-2009)




Veteran TV and film actor Pat Hingle passed away of leukemia on Saturday, Januaryb3. Hingle began his acting career with an uncredited role in “On the Waterfront” (1954). He then starred in TV series such as “Suspense,” “Studio One,” “Alfred Hitchcock Presents,” “The Twilight Zone,” “M*A*S*H,” “Magnum, PI.,” and others. During his film career he worked twice with Clint Eastwood (“Hang ‘Em High,” “Sudden Impact”) and he played the role of Gotham City’s Police Commissioner Gordon in the 1989-1997 “Batman” movies. He was 84.


Thoughts and prayers for his family and friends.


For more information, check out his IMDB page at:


In Passing… Eartha Kitt (1927-2008)




Singer, dancer, and actress Eartha Kitt passed away yesterday from colon cancer. Born to a half Cherokee/ half African-American mother and a German/ Dutch father in South Carolina she was raised by Anna Mae Riley, whom she believed to be her mother. After Riley’s death she was sent to New York to live with her biological mother, Mamie Kitt. By the age of 20 she was performing with the Katherine Dunham Company and made her film debut with them in “Casbah” (1948). In 1950 Orson Welles gave her the role of Helen of Troy in “Faustus.” They would have a love affair with Welles’ calling her, “the most exciting woman in the world.” Her sexiness would amp-up with her recording of “Santa Baby” in 1953. She would continue on with TV and film roles, notably subbing in for Julie Newmar on the last season of “Batman.” In the late Sixties she made anti-war statements which led to professional exile. A return to Broadway in 1978 in the show “Timbuktu!” earned her a Tony nomination for Best Actress in a Musical. Since then she has alternated between TV, film, and the stage. She was 81 years of age.

Thoughts and prayers to her family and friends.

For more information, check out her IMDB page at:


In Passing… Robert Mulligan (1925-2008)





Film director Robert Mulligan passed away on Dec. 20 from heart disease. Mulligan began a career in TV in 1951, directing an episode of “Goodyear Television Playhouse.” He would go on to direct other shows such as “Suspense,” “The Philco Television Playhouse,” and “Playhouse 90” before turning to cinema with the film, “The Rat Race” (1960). His crowning directorial achievement came with 1962’s “To Kill a Mockingbird,” an adaptation of the Harper Lee book starring Gregory Peck. Mulligan was 83.


Thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.


For more information, check out his IMDB page at:


In Passing… Majel Barrett Roddenberry (1932-2008)





Actress and wife of the late Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry passed away from leukemia. She was 76 years old. Majel Lee Hudac’s career began with a TV show called “Whirlybirds,” and she had parts on other various shows and films until 1966 when she played the role of Nurse Chapel on “Star Trek;” she also voiced the Enterprise Computer. After the series ended, Gene Roddenberry married her in Japan. Since then she has primarily stuck with “Star Trek,” playing voicing the ship’s computer in every incarnation of the series, as well as playing Lwaxana Troi in “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” and doing multiple voices for “Star Trek: The Animated Series.”


Thoughts and prayers for her family and friends.


For more information check out her IMDB page at:


TV Update: The Prisoner

“I will not be pushed, filed, stamped, indexed, briefed, debriefed or numbered. My life is my own.” – Number Six, Patrick McGoohan, from “The Prisoner”


patrickWith these words Number Six (Patrick McGoohan) sets out to escape his confinement: The Village. Number Six was formerly a secret agent; now he was being housed in a village where people only had numbers, not names, and he was constantly being questioned as to why he retired. Each week Number Six matched wits against Number Two (a character that changed from actor to actress), who looked out for the interests of Number One. Whether it was brainwashing, an art competition, or being voted in as Mayor of the Village, Number Six could never truly escape. Adding to his problems was Rover, a giant white ball that would be released from the ocean to capture a captive, usually by suffocation.


Currently AMC is remaking the series. Jim Cavieziel plays Number Six, while Ian McKellen plays the head of the Village, Number Two. The filming is said to finish shortly, putting the series on the air sometime in 2009.


3dvd_Dangerman.epsThe original series came about because of its main benefactor, Patrick McGoohan. McGoohan was in a series called “Danger Man”/ “Secret Agent Man” from 1960-1962, then 1964-1966. In it he played John Drake, at first an agent for NATO assigned to cases in (and outside) NATO jurisdiction. During the second season he was retconned and became a British agent, working for MI9 (as opposed to MI6). Rumor has it that during a dinner party McGoohan said that he was quitting the series which prompted one guest to ask, “What does a ‘Secret Agent’ do after they retire?” In the case of “The Prisoner,” one puts in their resignation, packs up at their home, then is gassed. When they wake up their in a carbon-copy domicile, except they’re in a place called The Village, and everyone wants to know why they left.


I became a fan of “The Prisoner” while in college in the early 2000’s. The series had just been released on DVD, and from the time I watched the first episode (“Arrival”) to the last (“Fall Out”), I was impressed by the writing and acting in the series. McGoohan’s character was “Everyman”; a thinking person putting individuality over conformity. Without using guns he had to outwit his captors, who unfortunately saved their best card for last. Another interesting twist in the series was the revolving of “Number Two.” Number Two would report to the unseen Number One and if he was one-up’d by Number Six, he or she would be replaced. I count Leo McKern as my favorite of the Number Twos.


tv_prisoner1“The Prisoner” would go on to influence the spectrum of film, tv, and music. The TV show “MacGuyver,” with Richard Dean Anderson playing the titular role, was based on Number Six. Afraid of using guns, MacGuyver had to find his way out of situations, employing his pocketknife, bubble gum, duct tape, the moon’s gravitational pull on the Earth, what-have-you. Heavy metal group Iron Maiden made two songs in homage to “The Prisoner”: “The Prisoner” and “Back in the Village.” There have also been numerous books, comics, and video games that directly, or indirectly, reference “The Prisoner.” An upcoming film is also slated to be directed by Christopher Nolan (“The Dark Knight,” “Memento”).


For more information on the “Prisoner” remake, check out AMC’s site at:


For more information on the original series, check out Six of One, the Official Prisoner Appreciation Society. They’re site is:




Be seeing you.


In Passing… Paul Newman (1925-2008)



Actor, director, and humanitarian Paul Newman died Friday of complications in regards top lung cancer. He was 83. Born in Cleveland, OH, and growing up, had an affinity for theater. He began studying it before going into World War II, operating as a radioman/gunner. Upon returning to the States he finished his degree at Kenyon College and would later study acting at Yale and the Actor’s Studio in New York City. He entered Broadway and did original plays which included “Sweet Bird of Youth,” which he would later be in the film version as well. His first role was as Basil in “The Silver Chalice.” He would later go on to star in such movies as “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” “Torn Curtain,” “Cool Hand Luke,” “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” “The Sting,” “Slapshot,” “The Color of Money,” and “Road to Perdition.”


Newman’s humanitarian efforts stem from Newman’s Own, his signature salad dressing, popcorn, lemonade, salsa, etc. which brings in $200 million a year after taxes, all of which is donated to charity. The Hole in the Wall Gang Camp is a residential summer camp for seriously ill children, which he set up. And as of 2007 he started a $10 million scholarship at Kenyon College.


For more information, check out his IMDB page at:


Thoughts and prayers go to his family and friends.


“In a world…”

“In a world…” “In a time…” “Only one man…” “In a place…” Any and everyone who has grown up watching movies undoubtedly heard “The Voice”: Don LaFontaine. LaFontaine’s signature phrases and renown has occurred more within the past ten years through TV ads, the most recognized being the infamous Geico ad. In honor to the late LaFontaine, and in respect to the career of the voice-over artist, here are a few others you should know about:


Al Chalk – Voice-over artist for such movie trailers as, “Kings of Comedy,” “Underworld,” “The Fugitive,” “Independence Day,” and “Madagascar.”


Joe Cipriano – Cipriano does the spots for CBS and FOX TV shows. Next time you hear a promo for “The Simpsons,” or “Family Guy,” it’s from this guy.


Hal Douglas – Often mistaken for Don LaFontaine (especially when he says, “In a world…”) Douglas does the other half of the majority of movie trailer voice-overs, as well as promos for A&E and The History Channel.


Mark Elliot – Any time you pop in a Disney DVD or VHS, or hear the words: “And now, our Feature Presentation,” it’s this guy.


John Leader – From the “Indiana Jones” series to “Back to the Future,” and all movies in-between, John Leader has provided his voice to hundreds of trailer, commercials, and promos since 1984. He retired as of September 1, 2008.


Nick Tate – From the land down under comes Nick Tate who lucked into the VO world with the trailer for “Jurassic Park.” Originally a stage, TV, and film actor, Tate has also voiced-over the trailers for “Braveheart,” “GoldenEye,” “Tomorrow Never Dies,” “The Edge,” “Deep Impact,” and “The World Is Not Enough.”


Rodney Saulsberry – Performing on “Soul Train,” and “Dance Fever.” Videos on VH1 and BET. Doing books-on-tape. Saulsberry has also provided his voice to such trailers as “How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” “Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” “Friday After Next,” “Drumline,” “Undercover Brother,” “The Best Man,” and “Clockers.”



For more information on voice-over actors, check out this link on Wiki:


In Passing… Jerry Reed (1937-2008)

Singer, actor, and songwriter Jerry Reed passed away yesterday from complications with emphysema. He was 71 years of age. Reed was known for such hits as “When You’re Hot, You’re Hot,” and “Eastbound and Down,” the theme to “Smokey and the Bandit” in which Reed played sidekick to Burt Reynolds. He spent time acting on TV shows and other movies, and even directed a film called, “What Comes Around.” He will be missed.


For more information, check out the following link:


Thoughts and prayers go to his family and friends.