THE MANIPULATORS (1970) – The words “gritty” and “streetwise” seem never to be used when describing vintage television programs from Canada but they certainly apply to The Manipulators (Originally the title was to be The Clients).
If you enjoyed underrated Canadian shows like The Beachcombers or Police Surgeon you might like The Manipulators, an hour-long dramatic series about parole officers and the men and women they were responsible for. Compared to 21st Century television, which seems infested with law enforcement procedural shows 24/7, this program would have seemed much less derivative for early 70s viewers. Continue reading
From the people who brought you The Titmouse on the Titanic
THANKSGIVING IS ALMOST HERE! ONE OF THE GREATEST HOLIDAYS OF THE YEAR!
THE MOUSE ON THE MAYFLOWER (1968) – Country western star Tennessee Ernie Ford narrates and supplies the voice of the title character – a Puritan mouse named Willum – who stows away on the Mayflower during its trip to America.
The little rodent also gets to participate in the very first Thanksgiving celebration with a Native American mouse. Continue reading
It’s been just over two weeks since the finale of the 18 episode run of new Twin Peaks chapters on cable. Like many other fans I’m still digesting some of those new episodes in light of the gloriously dark and nightmarish conclusion, so this particular blog post applies ONLY to the original Twin Peaks television series, the 1992 film Fire Walk With Me and its deleted scenes from The Missing Pieces.
Here at Balladeer’s Blog I’m often surprised at the way so many detractors still try to insist that the show and the movie made no sense. And bear in mind I am NOT referring to the various theories over particular symbolism or the lengthy debates to be had over the ethical and philosophical implications of the storyline.
No, I’m referring to the way some people dismiss the entire project as if it’s a bunch of weirdness with no discernible plot or storyline. There IS SO a (very) easily discernible plot and storyline. And I’ll say again I’m NOT talking about deeper meanings which no two people may ever agree upon, but the basic tale. Continue reading
Say what you will about Mondays, I don’t know how anyone can feel anything but great today after last night’s developments in Twin Peaks: The Return.
Cooper’s okay, Audrey danced in whatever odd purgatory/ coma/ lodge/ mauve zone she’s in and two of the right characters got killed. On top of that you had the Dougie Tulpa, the Diane Tulpa, Richard’s wild death scene, it was terrific!
I was one of the people who was actually okay last week with Philip Jeffries being reincarnated as a teapot-kinda-thingie because hey – David Bowie’s dead in real life. With that voice actor imitating Bowie pretty well maybe they’ll give us a brief scene of old Bowie footage with this guy dubbing in new dialogue for a Jeffries Tulpa.
Anyway, as all parties converge on the town of Twin Peaks the final two episodes will air back to back next week! Let’s hope there’s not another premature drop in the U.K. Insert your own coffee joke here and drink a toast to the only 2017 television series with a cast whose median age is about 68. (I’m kidding.)
THE NEW PEOPLE (1969) – It’s another Balladeer’s Blog look at a forgotten television program.
The New People was part of a brief and very odd experiment with television programs that ran just 45 minutes INCLUDING commercials.
These shows were always paired with a sister program that also ran 45 minutes total, thus the two back- to- back programs filled a total 90 minute block. In the case of The New People that sister show was The Music Scene.
The New People was sort of like “Lord of the Flies Meets the 60’s Counterculture”. An airplane crashes on a desert island in the Pacific. Only one adult survives the crash but even they eventually pass away. Continue reading
If you enjoyed Robert Shaw’s freebooting turn as the pirate Red Ned Lynch in the 1976 movie Swashbuckler you’ll love him as Captain Dan Tempest in this series from the 1950’s. Shaw was equal parts Errol Flynn and Jack Sparrow on the program, which featured him as the captain of the Sultana.
Tempest and his crew were former pirates pardoned and sent to sea as pirate hunters and as privateers against the Spanish, but they still found time to foil the sinister machinations of corrupt British authorities in the Bahamas, Jamaica and elsewhere. Fans of derring- d0 who are bored with the countless retellings of the Robin Hood story are sure to embrace the crew of the Sultana and their rousing adventures.
All 39 episodes of this series are available on DVD and offer a terrific mixture of storylines:
You want tales of our swashbucklers coming to the aid of the oppressed? The Buccaneers featured Captain Tempest and his crew raiding a slave ship then buying the slaves’ freedom with money from the slave ship’s own coffers.
You want semi- historical adventures featuring real- life Buccaneers? This show had episodes with figures like Blackbeard, Woodes Rogers and the famous female pirate Anne Bonney. Continue reading
(This blog post is dedicated to my sister Debbie, who first introduced me to the Sherlock Holmes stories, which led me to the Raffles tales. )
RAFFLES (1975-1977) – A. J. Raffles, the master thief and star Cricket player was created by E.W. Hornung – the brother-in- law of Arthur Conan Doyle. As all Raffles fans know, A.J. and his bumbling assistant Bunny Manders were intended as a tongue in cheek criminal answer to Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson.
The camaraderie was similar, the Victorian to Edwardian Age setting was similar, the use of the sidekick as a device to have the expert character explain things to the reader was similar and good GOD, was the unintended homo-eroticism similar.
Raffles was portrayed by a long line of suave, debonair actors, from John Barrymore in Silent Movies on up through David Niven and others in Talkies. In my opinion, this 1970s British television series served up the best rendition of the iconic character.
Anthony Valentine perfectly embodies the sly, charming bon vivant whose public fame as a first-rate Cricket player helps conceal his secret avocation as a master jewel thief. Christopher Strauli does the best that any actor can be expected to do with the thankless role of the baby-faced, naïve and often inept sidekick Bunny. Continue reading