Tag Archives: forgotten television

GLEN OR GLENDA (1953): ON THE TEXAS 27 FILM VAULT

Glen or GlendaBefore MST3K there was … The Texas 27 Film Vault! In the middle 1980s, way down on Level 31 Randy Clower and Richard Malmos, machine-gun toting Film Vault Technicians First Class hosted this neglected cult show. Balladeer’s Blog continues its celebration of this overlooked Movie Host program. 

ORIGINAL BROADCAST DATE: Unknown but definitely before May of 1986. One of the old newspaper articles from early May of that year refers to Glen or Glenda as one of the movies having already been shown on The Texas 27 Film Vault. Anyone with more specific info feel free to contact me.

SERIAL: Unknown. Again, if you have info contact me.  

COMEDY SKETCHES: Unknown. We’ve exhausted the episodes where I DO know the date, serial and sketches. 

THE MOVIE: Continue reading

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THE NIGHT AMERICA TREMBLED (1957) – FORGOTTEN TELEVISION

Night America TrembledTHE NIGHT AMERICA TREMBLED (1957) – This is a reasonably enjoyable television movie sponsored by Westinghouse. The Night America Trembled presents what may be the very first dramatic production of the supposed panic caused by the 1938 Mercury Theater radio production of War of the Worlds. I’m always fascinated with accounts of this possibly overblown event, but the actual event – not so much.      

Yes, it all comes down to my love of mythology and the manner in which occurrences get embellished until even the wildest embellishments become accepted into a culture’s shared experience and shared assumptions. But I’m an incredibly boring guy.

Newsman Edward R Murrow hosts the dramatization and as usual looks like he’d love to climb out of the screen and kick the asses of news pussies like Chris Matthews and Chris Hayes. The most entertaining aspect of this production is catching the future stars in supporting roles. Ed Asner, Warren Beatty AND Warren Oates, plus James Coburn, Vincent Gardenia, John Astin and more.      Continue reading

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LARAINE NEWMAN’S CANNED FILM FESTIVAL (1986)

ritzTHE CANNED FILM FESTIVAL STARRING LARAINE NEWMAN (1986) – Halloween Month continues at Balladeer’s Blog with this look at a neglected Movie Host show, since Movie Hosts/ Horror Hosts are as associated with Halloween as are monsters and cosplay.

In this post I won’t be covering the entire history of movie hosting and the “So Bad They’re Good” film subculture. For that, there are my many other blog posts covering movie hosting from Vampira and her contemporaries, through Moona Lisa, then Son of Svengoolie, Elvira, and programs like Saturday Night Dead, The Texas 27 Film Vault and MST3K

canned film festival castTHE SHOW: The Canned Film Festival Starring Laraine Newman. From June 21st to September 13th of 1986 this 90 minute syndicated program sponsored largely by Dr Pepper aired on Saturday nights in various time slots around the United States. Elvira’s show Movie Macabre had run from 1981 to 1986 and was winding down. The Texas 27 Film Vault, which had debuted on February 9th, 1985 was still on the air and would run for roughly two and a half years in Texas and Oklahoma.

Along came The Canned Film Festival, which, with a nationally known name like Laraine Newman attached to it, may well have been the reason that one of the attempted syndication deals for T27FV fell through. Be that as it may, Laraine Newman’s show would – like The Texas 27 Film Vault – show more than just lame horror and sci-fi films and would cover the whole spectrum of bad and/ or campy cinema of the past.

laraine as the usheretteTHE HOSTESS: Laraine Newman may be best known for Saturday Night Live and for her character actress work, but she had been a member of The Groundlings improvisational comedy troupe … As had Cassandra Peterson aka Elvira. Newman was also known as an aficionado of horror and fringe cinema. Continue reading

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DUSTY’S TRAIL (1973-1974): FORGOTTEN TELEVISION

dusty's trailDUSTY’S TRAIL (1973-1974) – Just sit right back and you’ll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip … But not THAT one. Dusty’s Trail was an uninspired, unfunny attempt by Sherwood Schwartz to recapture the success of his famed sitcom Gilligan’s Island.

Demonstrating “Minimum Effort Puppy” levels of laziness, Schwartz shamelessly copied every single aspect of Gilligan’s Island and its memorable – if moronic – characters over to the Old West. With Dusty’s Trail, Schwartz managed to cadge everything but the laughs from his 1960s hit.

bob denverGilligan’s Island featured seven castaways trapped on a desert island because of the mind-numbing stupidity of their charter ship’s First Mate – Gilligan. Dusty’s Trail featured seven members of a wagon train hopelessly lost on their way to California because of the mind-numbing stupidity of their expedition’s Scout – Dusty.

On both shows the imbecile whose repeated blunders doomed his party’s efforts to save themselves over and over again was played by Bob Denver. In real life the other stranded people would have killed Gilligan or Dusty very early on, but these were just sitcoms, so both mentally impaired losers were permitted to live.  Continue reading

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BLACK SASH (2003): FORGOTTEN TELEVISION

black sashBLACK SASH (2003) – This program was basically a vehicle for Baguazhang-style martial artist Russell Wong and only produced 8 episodes, 2 of which were never aired. Wong starred as Tom Chang, an undercover narcotics agent who was framed and spent 5 years in a Hong Kong prison. 

Black Sash was widely bashed in its day but here in 2021 it seems a little bit like an unappreciated program with unfulfilled potential. Part of the problem with the show was its neither fish nor foul nature. Despite the above premise it was NOT an action drama about Chang kicking butts and busting heads to clear his name and return to the force.

black sash 2Instead it dealt with the main character moving to San Francisco and running a martial arts school while trying to reestablish a relationship with his 12 year old daughter and his remarried ex-wife. He also became a mentor and surrogate parent to his students. At least one fight scene against genuinely dangerous assailants featured in each episode, too, often having to do with Chang’s sideline as a bounty hunter.

But talk about hard to categorize! Think of Black Sash as Cobra Kai crossed with Dawson’s Creek. Or maybe an Asian-led variation of The Master, the old Lee Van Cleef series, with less action but with likable characters and more interesting dialogue. Or how about Michael Nouri’s show Downtown with troubled teens replacing the parolees who helped him fight crime? Continue reading

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EL MARIACHI: THE SERIES (2014) – FORGOTTEN TELEVISION

el mariachi tv seriesEL MARIACHI (2014) – This Mexican television series directed by Salvador Cartas was loosely based on the 1992 Robert Rodriguez movie of the same name and its sequels, Desperado (1995) and Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003). It’s no secret that Rodriguez himself is not fond of this series. According to some sources Sony allegedly made a tentative notification of their plans to the writer/ director and then ran with it without further input from him.

Regular readers of Balladeer’s Blog know how much I love and praise the original El Mariachi movies. The title character, who starts out the trilogy as a struggling mariachi guitar player who winds up having to go all Die Hard on Mexican drug cartels, was played by Carlos Gallardo in 1992 and then Antonio Banderas in 1995 and 2003.

martha h bladeThe series of movies certainly seemed to partially inspire the later Sicario films, but I much prefer Rodriguez’s flicks. The El Mariachi television program is, unfortunately, inferior to both franchises. That’s a shame because lead actor Ivan Arana certainly looks the part and Martha Higareda as the hero’s love interest Celeste is just the right mix of sultriness and butt-kicking badness. For some reason photos of Higareda don’t come close to capturing her full allure, but seen in motion she’s even more impressive.

Like in the Robert Rodriguez films, the up and coming mariachi player is mistaken for a Mexican criminal who is carrying a similar guitar case. From there he gets caught up in a battle with Mexico’s ever more powerful drug cartels.
Continue reading

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KUNG FAUX (2003) – FORGOTTEN TELEVISION

kung fauxKUNG FAUX (2003) – Created and crafted by Mic Neumann, this half-hour comedy series was basically a hip hop version of old movies and television shows that overdubbed non-comedies with comedic dialogue, music and sound effects. In Kung Faux‘s case it featured re-edited and highly stylized martial arts films from the 1970s overdubbed with contemporary music and a hip hop comedic sensibility.  

kung faux 2Though Kung Faux brands this treatment as “dubtitling” as a nod to dubbed and subtitled dialogue, the approach debuted on vintage television shows like Fractured Flickers (1963), in which celebrities would dub improvised comedic dialogue over old silent movies.

The theatrical release What’s Up, Tiger Lily? (1966), Woody Allen’s overdubbing of a Japanese spy movie to make it a battle over an egg salad recipe, is still the best known of these ventures. Not even serials were exempt from such treatment, with my favorite example being Firesign Theater’s production Hot Shorts (1984) featuring items like Sperm Bank Bandits in which the comedy team inserted comical dialogue over old serials like Canadian Mounties vs Atomic Invaders. Continue reading

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MOONBASE 3 (1973) – FORGOTTEN TELEVISION

moonbase 3MOONBASE 3 (1973) – This BBC attempt at realistic, “no aliens or monsters” science fiction is a mixed bag, but I think it deserves a much bigger audience. Among the elements in the show’s favor is the fact that only 6 fifty-minute episodes were made, so it makes viewers a little more willing to forgive the program’s faults.

Moonbase 3 is a sci-fi drama about the multinational European crew of the title lunar outpost. Other Moonbases are run by the United States, the Soviet Union, China and, oddly for the time, Brazil. The scientists, astronauts and administrative staff of the European Moonbase are fly-budgeted Davids up against superpower Goliaths.  

moonbase 3 starsCreated by Barry Letts and Terrance Dicks of Doctor Who fame, Moonbase 3 is sort of like Doomwatch crossed with The Sandbaggers. However, Moonbase 3 keeps its science even closer to reality than Doomwatch did, so it can be a bit dry. Well, okay, VERY dry, but that’s a nice antidote to non-stop explosions, ray-guns blasting and other Space Opera cliches.

moonbase 3 furtherAs for the show’s similarities to The Sandbaggers, there is bureaucratic in-fighting aplenty, unexpected deaths and an emphasis on dialogue over action. And, like both of those other programs, Moonbase 3‘s characters have to deal with perpetually tight budgets limiting the success of their missions. Continue reading

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TEN TELEVISION FLOPS

This time around in Balladeer’s Blog’s recurring feature Forgotten Television we’ll take a brief look at some dumb attempts at launching sitcoms.

mcgurkMCGURK (1979)

Stars: Barney Martin, Hamilton Camp, Sherry Lynn

Premise: Five actors dressed up as dogs hung out and joked about their human owners. The dogs’ owners, that is. Believe it or not the talented Peter Bonerz directed this unsold sitcom pilot and Brandon Tartikoff was executive producer. How either of them had the nerve to show their faces in public again is beyond me. (ORIGINALLY TITLED A DOG’S LIFE)

WHERE’S MOMMA? (1974)

Stars: Richard Mulligan, Michele Carey

Premise: Mulligan starred as a widowed real estate agent who was so ill-prepared to raise his twin children that his wife, played by Michele Carey, returned from the afterlife to help him out. Only Mulligan’s character could see the wife’s ghost, leading to the usual “comedy” set pieces.  Continue reading

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LIGHT SPEED ESPER (1967-1968)

light speed esper coverLIGHT SPEED ESPER (1967-1968) – This overlooked Japanese television show was titled Kousoku Esupâ in its nation of origin. If you enjoy live action programs like Ultraman or other shows from the tokusatsu subgenre of entertainment then Light Speed Esper will certainly appeal to you.

Hikaru Azuma (Kiyotaka Mitsugi) is a boy out enjoying a trip in a balloon with his parents. Tragedy strikes when their balloon collides with a spaceship piloted by aliens from the Andromeda Galaxy. As happens. You know how it is.

light speed esperHikaru’s parents are killed in this intergalactic accident, filling the extraterrestrials – called Alien Espers or Esper Seijin – with immense feelings of guilt. They possess and animate the dead bodies of Hikaru’s mother and father to make amends. Very morbid amends, I grant you, but amends nonetheless.

The plot thickens as the Alien Espers (lower left) share their knowledge about an impending invasion of Earth by the Giron Seijin (Feuding Aliens). Continue reading

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