Tag Archives: cult television

THE NEW MONKEES (1987): PETER TORK IS DEAD

Peter TorkMonkees member Peter Tork is dead. Not since the infamous Day The Music Died has the rock world suffered such a loss. I’m kidding! Still, though, here’s a Balladeer’s Blog goodbye to the one and only member of the Monkees whose name always puts me in mind of the measure of a force’s tendency to produce torsion equal to the product of the force vector and the radius vector from the axis of rotation to the point of application of the force.

I think you’ll agree.

Anyway, I considered reviewing the Monkees’ movie Head or maybe even the motorcycle flick Torque but instead I’m going with this look at the NEW Monkees show from 1987. 

New MonkeesThe New Monkees are remembered as the most pointless re-launch of a band in history AND as one of the worst television shows in history. I’ve never listened to their one and only album so I can’t say if they make it a Hat Trick with one of the worst albums in history, too. 

The premise sounds like a comedy sketch from the glory days of SCTV but unfortunately this thoroughly bizarre attempt to recapture the flukish charm of the original Monkees was 100% real.

Let’s look at the debut episode of The New Monkees‘ 13 episode run in 1987. Everything you’ve heard is true: We get Rocky Horror Picture Show lips voiced by a black lady, a weird sci-fi mansion home for the title foursome, a built-in diner and their annoying butler, Manford.

The laugh track does NOT go off during the few things that seemed funny, like a couple of apparently ad-libbed jokes by the New Monkees during their screen test footage, but instead goes off during lame, obvious jokes that not even small children would laugh at. Continue reading

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MAN FROM ATLANTIS (1977) ON BLU-RAY

Man from AtlantisYes, in a not-so-subtle attempt to exploit Aquaman‘s suprising success it’s a Warner Archives Blu-ray of the telefilm Man From Atlantis. Patrick Duffy stars as Marcarus, the (seemingly) last survivor of Atlantis with Victor “King Tut” Buono as his evil archenemy Mr. Schubert.

Belinda Montgomery and Alan Fudge co-star as marine scientists who ally themselves with Duffy and name him “Mark Harris.” I’m just weird enough to love the fact that when Duffy’s son joined him in the cast of Dallas years later the son’s character was also named Mark Harris. Cute.

This is the telefilm that led to the series which featured “undersea time portals” and bad model sub work and midgets called Moxie and giants named Thark.     Continue reading

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THE PRISONER: EPISODE LINKS

Prisoner 1Recently Balladeer’s Blog wrapped up an in-depth examination of all 17 episodes of Patrick McGoohan’s pioneering 1967 series The Prisoner. Before Lost, before The X-Files, before Twin Peaks, there was this innovative British series which was equal parts science fiction and existentialism.

PROLOGUE: My look at the themes and issues addressed in the series. CLICK HERE

ARRIVAL – After abruptly resigning from British Intelligence a man is abducted to a futuristic prison city called the Village. This inescapable dystopia is an Orwellian nightmare with bits of Kafka, Ionesco, Pirandello and more than a little bit of Alphaville tossed in for good measure. CLICK HERE 

DANCE OF THE DEAD – The Prisoner becomes more acquainted with the oppressive nature of the Village, including the seemingly mad Head Games to which the Villagekeepers subject the Villagers, their human guinea pigs. CLICK HERE    

THE CHIMES OF BIG BEN – After Number Six meets a female prisoner who knows where the Village is located he puts into motion an elaborate plan for escape. The Village’s Art Festival will serve as cover. NOTE: INCLUDES MY TAKE ON THE ALTERNATE VERSION OF THE CHIMES OF BIG BEN. CLICK HERE

CHECKMATE – A degrading game of chess using human beings as the pieces leads to the Prisoner meeting an Aristocrat fallen from power and now held captive in the Village. The pair gather co-conspirators around them in hopes of a mass escape. CLICK HERE Continue reading

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THE PRISONER: FALL OUT (SERIES FINALE)

BFall Outalladeer’s Blog CONCLUDES its  examination of the 1967 science fiction/ existential drama The Prisoner. For Part One, in which I examined the themes and concepts at play in the series click  HERE

Episode Title: FALL OUT

Madness and death reign supreme in the still-controversial series finale of The Prisoner.

We’ve arrived at the 17th and final episode of this innovative Patrick McGoohan series. Last time around, in Part One of the two-part conclusion, we at last learned why the Prisoner resigned from British Intelligence. The significance of the Penny-Farthing Bicycle symbolism was explored, too. (FOR MY REVIEW OF ONCE UPON A TIME CLICK HERE  )

Fall Out brings the entire saga to a close. Continue reading

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THE PRISONER: ONCE UPON A TIME

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the 1967 science fiction/ existential drama The Prisoner. For Part One, in which I examined the themes and concepts at play in the series click  HERE

Once Upon A TimeEpisode Title: ONCE UPON A TIME … This installment is PART ONE OF THE TWO-PART SERIES FINALE.

This time around we at last learn why the Prisoner resigned from British Intelligence, PLUS the significance of the Penny-Farthing Bicycle symbolism becomes clear.

NOTE: This episode is sometimes confused with The Girl Who Was Death because that episode began with a child’s story-book being opened and the title Once Upon A Time understandably puts some viewers in mind of that opening.

THE STORY:

pennyfarthing bicycle no wordsLeo McKern returns as the same Number Two he portrayed back in The Chimes of Big Ben. The Number Twos are the rotating series of executives who manage the prison-city called the Village. The midget Butler (Angelo Muscat), the only character besides Patrick McGoohan to appear in every episode of the series, serves McKern breakfast right there in Number Two’s office inside the Green Dome.

Number Two is too fidgety to eat and continues studying the viewscreen, with live surveillance footage of the Prisoner pacing like a caged tiger in his residence. At length McKern reacts to Number Six’s unflagging intensity and indefatigable sense of purpose by calling him on the cordless phone.

Prisoner behind bars“Why do you care?” he asks our protagonist when he answers. (I’d have preferred the more specific question “Why do you STILL care?”) McGoohan makes it clear he recognizes the voice and when Number Two asks the same question again he tauntingly replies “You’ll never know.”

Number Two settles back into controlled fuming as he continues watching our hero pacing. As I mentioned in another recent episode the advantage in the war of nerves between the Prisoner and the Villagekeepers has definitely shifted to Number Six at this late stage. Continue reading

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THE PRISONER: IT’S YOUR FUNERAL

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the 1967 science fiction/ existential drama The Prisoner. For Part One, in which I examined the themes and concepts at play in the series click  HERE

It's Your FuneralEpisode Title: IT’S YOUR FUNERAL … In the ongoing debate over the exact ordering of the 17 episodes of The Prisoner I place this one 3rd from the last. 

*** So after this review all we have left is the two-part series finale. ***  For those readers who have requested SPOILERS on who wins in a given episode our hero the Prisoner wins this round.

pennyfarthing bicycle no wordsIt’s Your Funeral centers around an assassination attempt in the Village and features how our main character’s rebellious nature has begun inspiring assorted other Villagers to commit their own subtle acts of defiance to the Villagekeepers.

I’ll also take a brief look at The Stranger/ Stranded in Space, a failed pilot movie for a Prisoneresque sci-fi series in 1973. Cameron Mitchell even delivers a speech straight out of The Prisoner at one point.

THE STORY: Continue reading

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THE PRISONER: HAMMER INTO ANVIL

Balladeer’s Blog continues its examination of the 1967 science fiction/ existential drama The Prisoner. For Part One, in which I examined the themes and concepts at play in the series click  HERE

Hammer into AnvilEpisode Title: HAMMER INTO ANVIL … In the ongoing debate over the exact numbering of the 17 episodes of The Prisoner I place this one 4th from the last.

NOTE: The title of this episode does indeed come from the famous Goethe quote and refers to the intensely personal duel of wills between the Prisoner and this episode’s Number Two (Patrick Cargill).  

Many readers have asked me to start SPOILING up-front if our hero or the Villagekeepers win the battle in the episode being reviewed. They said they’ve come to hate episodes where the malevolent Villagekeepers come out on top. That’s a great tribute to what effective villains they are and how the Prisoner has to overcome incredible odds for his scattered victories. Rest assured our protagonist unequivocally wins this round. 

pennyfarthing bicycleTHE STORY: Amid a dramatically convenient thunderstorm this episode’s Number Two, the rotating series of executives who manage the prison-city called the Village, interrogates a female prisoner called Number Seventy-Three. Her wrists are still bandaged from her recent suicide attempt, an action she tried in order to escape captivity in the Village. 

Number Two is sadistically enjoying his latest Head Game against the woman, who has been drugged to perceive him as a quasi-demonic figure. The villain seems close to breaking the woman to extract whatever information the Villagekeepers want from her. She begins screaming in terror. Continue reading

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