Tag Archives: Entertainment

RIVALS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (1971-1973) FORGOTTEN TELEVISION

Rivals of Sherlock Holmes bestTHE RIVALS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES (1971-1973) – The Rivals of Sherlock Holmes was not just a collection of stories by mystery writers who were contemporaries of Arthur Conan Doyle but also a television series which adapted such mysteries. Just as Holmes’ tales were set during the Victorian and Edwardian Eras so, too, were the stories of these detectives. The series lasted two seasons of 13 episodes each and presented the best non-Holmes London-by-Gaslight Detectives. 

Doctor ThorndykeEpisode One: A MESSAGE FROM THE DEEP SEA

Detective: Doctor John Evelyn Thorndyke, created by R Austin Freeman. The first Thorndyke story was published in 1907.

Review: In my opinion this is the best episode of Season One. Thorndyke, like Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes, was miles ahead of the contemporary police in terms of Crime Scene Investigation. In both the Holmes AND Thorndyke mysteries there is a quasi-science fiction feel as those great fictional detectives use scientific methods disdained at the time but which are now commonplace in the solving of crimes.     

Thorndyke and JervisThe episode introduces us to Dr John Evelyn Thorndyke (John Neville), a forensic physician/ Police Surgeon of the era, as he is teaching a classroom of students. (Kind of a Quincy opening feel.) He is assisted by Dr Jervis (James Cossins), Thorndyke’s version of Dr Watson.

A former student of Thorndyke’s shows up requesting his former teacher’s help in his first big murder case as an Assistant Police Surgeon. Our star and his man Jervis accompany their former student to a brothel on Harrow Street, where a prostitute has been murdered in her bed by having her throat slashed. Continue reading

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THE AMERICAN GIRLS (1978): FORGOTTEN TELEVISION

American GirlsTHE AMERICAN GIRLS – If you’ve ever wondered what Charlie’s Angels might have been like if it had tried doing slightly (very slightly) more serious stories, The American Girls is your answer. Priscilla Barnes in her pre-Three’s Company days co-starred with Debra Clinger in her post-Clinger Sisters days in this series about two sexy female reporters for a television news program.

The American Girls lasted just 6 episodes, from September 23rd, 1978 to November 11th of that year, with 5 remaining episodes going unaired. The actual idea for the series wasn’t bad and I’m surprised the premise wasn’t recycled at some point in the 80s or 90s.

American Girls 2Barnes played Rebecca Tomkins and Clinger portrayed Amy Waddell, two field journalists for The American Report, a fictional 60 Minutes or 20/20 style television news magazine. They traveled the country in a van which served as a mobile studio with plenty of up to date equipment. David Spielberg played their producer Francis X Casey, making him a combination Charlie AND Bosley for the show.  Continue reading

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TOP MOVIES OF SHINYA TSUKAMOTO

tetsuo-bDirector Shinya Tsukamoto hails from Japan and is noted for his surreal, nightmarish excursions into the darker side of transformative  industrial technology … especially any technology that impacts the human anatomy.

Tsukamoto’s noteworthy films include:

 

tetsuoTetsuo: The Iron Man (1989) – From the early shots of a man removing one of his own bones and replacing it with a piece of metal viewers knew this was a work of true genius. Tetsuo becomes more and more relevant by the year, especially with the advent of nanotechnology and its potentially invasive effect on the human mind and body. Continue reading

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KID GLOVES (1951): FORGOTTEN TELEVISION

Kid GlovesKID GLOVES (1951) – This joyously tasteless program from the early years of television featured children AGE THREE TO TWELVE beating each other’s brains out in boxing matches. No, I’m not joking.

In a slight concession (NOT “concussion”) to the tender ages of the combatants the matches were limited to just three rounds of 30 seconds each. Still plenty of time for head and facial injuries plus the loss of teeth. Continue reading

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FOURTEEN MOVIES AND SHOWS TOO DARING FOR HOLLYWOOD

masc chair and bottleBalladeer’s Blog takes a look at several controversial pieces of entertainment too edgy for the mainstream.

… BUT NAMES WILL NEVER HURT ME (2016) – Is it real? If it is, is it MEANT to be as funny as it is? Left-wingers and right-wingers try to shame into silence the contestants on a game show. This is done by calling them “racists” if they are pro-freedom of expression and “baby-killers” if they are pro-choice on abortion.  Real or fake, this game show is sure to offend almost everybody. Continue reading

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SIX UNDESERVEDLY FORGOTTEN TELEVISION SHOWS

masc chair and bottleWith the flood of unimaginative new television programs, especially on various cable channels, I’m often surprised that some of the most entertaining shows in history don’t have their very own following of people who know waaaaay too much about them.

As always here at Balladeer’s Blog I like to shine the spotlight on everything that is unjustly overlooked. Feel free to start holding conventions devoted to, and launching flame wars about, these six criminally neglected television programs.

6. CAPTAIN Z-RO – (1951-1960) Over a full decade before Great Britain’s ultimate cult show, Doctor Who, hit the airwaves this American show featured the  titular Captain traveling in time and space with various sidekicks, including Jet, the young man pictured with Captain Z-Ro in the photo to the left.

In addition to adventures that saw the Captain dealing with a robot run amok in San Francisco and with a potentially fatal meteor collision, his “experiments in time and space” (the show’s oft-repeated tag line) found him helping out some of the exact same historical figures that Great Britain’s Time Lord from Gallifrey would go on to encounter, like Marco Polo, William the Conqueror and the Aztecs. As an added bonus Captain Z-Ro solved the mystery of the Great Pyramid itself! Continue reading

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QUICK TAKES ON MOVIES: SOLO, THE LAST JEDI AND OTHERS

masc graveyard newI have been getting a lot of readers asking me to review some of the more recent releases from major studios. Balladeer’s Blog regulars know that I tend to focus on incredibly obscure items or hilariously bad movies from decades ago.

Since a lot has already been written about the following several films I won’t bother with one of my in-depth looks. These will be more general takes on the movies.

SoloSOLO: A STAR WARS STORY – Thankfully someone FINALLY addressed the elephant in the room of the Star Wars universe: the origin of Han Solo’s last name.

That’s right, in a cinematic setting which features multiple characters sporting the unusual surname Skywalker, Disney decided that the world needed a back-story for the last name “Solo.” 

I sure as hell didn’t PAY to see this movie so you can insert your own joke about “not even getting my money’s worth” here. For the most part this was a waste of time because it made Han Solo a bit too goody-goody. Continue reading

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100 YEARS OF TIME TRAVEL IN MOVIES

Balladeer’s Blog once again presents a new infographic from Enlightened Digital. The previous one examined AI in movies. This time around it’s a look at 100 Years of Time Travel in Movies. Enjoy!Enlightened digital time travel

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THE FLYING DOCTORS (1986-1992): FORGOTTEN TELEVISION

Flying DoctorsTHE FLYING DOCTORS – Not to be confused with The Teleporting Accountants or The Swimming Chiropractors this was a terrific Australian television series about the Royal Flying Doctor Service. The show was based on the real-life Royal Flying Doctor Service of Australia, a brilliantly-conceived non-profit outfit that provided medical care – both emergency AND maintenance – for people who had no other access to doctors due to their locations in remote, lightly-populated portions of the Outback.  

With its winning blend of doctors, nurses, life-or-death drama and beautiful Australian scenery this series should have been a NATURAL for crossover success here in the United States. Unfortunately that old t.v. executive excuse always applied to this and other Aussie programming: the belief that the accents would be too heavy for stateside audiences to make out the dialogue. Continue reading

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ASK BALLADEER: DARK SHADOWS (1966-1971)

Dark ShadowsQUESTION: Recently you recapped the saga of Laura Collins the Phoenix from the old Gothic Soap Opera Dark Shadows (1966-1971). Do you plan to review any of the other story arcs from the show?

ANSWER: At this time I don’t but I would emphasize that the original series is always fun to watch for people who like horror, sci-fi and fantasy. Like early Doctor Who episodes, part of the charm comes from the unrefined, seat-of-their-pants, low budget nature of the 5 day a week Dark Shadows.

Even people who aren’t fans of the show seem aware that it featured a vampire, a witch, ghosts and a werewolf. There were also warlocks, a Dorian Gray figure, mad scientists, zombies, an artist whose works came to life because his canvases were made from enchanted wood, plus lots and lots of time travel.

In addition to the aforementioned Phoenix and other tales, Dark Shadows featured two other fun storylines which I’ll summarize briefly:

masc graveyard newThe Leviathan Cult: The supernatural Collins family clashed with what was basically an imitation Cult of Cthulhu. Dan Curtis (creator and guiding creative force behind Dark Shadows) made the undersea entity worshiped by the cult be Leviathan from the Bible. (“Try suing us NOW, Arkham House!” I’m kidding.) Other serpentine figures from world mythology were tied to the Leviathans, too, like Nagas. 

You know the drill: the Leviathans ruled the world long before the dawn of humanity and wanted to rule it again with the help of their human cultists. The thwarted Leviathans punished Barnabas Collins by returning the curse of the vampire upon him. (In a disastrous move that was up there with New Coke, the show’s creative team had actually had Barnabas cured for a while, but babes just didn’t go for the less-than-smoldering Jonathan Frid without his fangs.)

Even the witch Angelique had given up her evil pursuit of Barnabas for a time and had settled down with wealthy publisher Sky Rumson (Geoffrey Scott of First and Ten). When it turned out Sky was really one of the Leviathan worshipers, the heart-broken Angelique was once again free to stalk the re-fanged Barnabas. 

The second of the two storylines came by way of Mary Shelley – Continue reading

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