TV Draft Round 10 – Pick 7 – Lisa Selects – Yellowstone

Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Lisa at https://tao-talk.com/

TV Series Draft, Lisa’s Pick for Round 10 on Saturday, July 2, 2022: Yellowstone
(2018-2022) 4 seasons, 40 episodes, originally on Paramount channel

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The Dutton Family l.-r.: Lee, Kayce, John, Beth, and Jamie

Here we are, at the tenth and final round of sharing our favorite TV shows, across times and genres. We have compiled a fantastic go-to list when we are on the lookout for excellent TV viewing. Thank you, Max, and every blogger who has participated in it, for carrying on where Hans (and Kirk) left off.

And now I present to you my final choice for the draft, Yellowstone. Did I save the best for last? Perhaps. I loved watching Westerns as a kid, but it has been a struggle to find modern day TV shows that measure up to the old gold. Yellowstone not only measures up, but it takes the viewer far beyond the simplistic plots of the old shows. It looks at the past, present, and future of grazing cattle along vast swaths of land that used to be free and traveled by countless indigenous tribes who relied on the American bison for just about everything. It shows how an almost certainly more menacing threat than ranchers and their cattle is challenging the land: developers who want to build casinos, high end housing, and strip malls across the terrain and who know how to play just as dirty as the ranchers did when they took it from the tribes.

I’ve lived in Michigan all of my life and have traveled out west only a couple of times and then only by plane. I have no idea how accurate all of the positions being portrayed from all of the angles are in the series, but I do know that Taylor Sheridan, whose brainchild Yellowstone is, has a reputation for doing his research and also has lived experiences that lend authenticity to them.

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Taylor Sheridan

Director: 8 different directors, with Taylor Sheridan and Stephen Kay directing the most, with 11 each. Writing credits go mostly to Taylor Sheridan and John Linson who are credited on all 39 episodes; four others have credits on a few of the episodes.
Genres: Western, drama
Synopsis: The plot of Yellowstone (the name of the fictional ranch of the show) revolves around three major forces that are in varying states of conflict with each other. The central focus is upon the John Dutton Family who have a working cattle ranch with thousands (forgot exactly how many) of acres they own. They have a bunkhouse where the ranch hands live year-round as well as a separate cabin for the head ranch boss. John Dutton is the patriarch and has 4 children as the series opens. His wife died when the kids were young. Each of his children are employed in the business of keeping the ranch operating. The second major force is the Indigenous tribe that is working hard to find a way to get some of the Dutton property back in the hands of the tribe, or at minimum put a casino up. The third major force are various developers from here and there that see the area as a goldmine for developing houses for the wealthy, rich strip malls, and yes, casinos and an airport to bring the customers in and out.

Within each of these arenas are a cast of characters that come and go (especially with the developers.) How these groups strategize and work at various times for, against, and with each other is what keeps the plot ever-fresh and exciting. Also explored are the ways the groups strategize within themselves, particularly with the Dutton family.

The Dutton Family

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John Dutton

John Dutton (Kevin Costner) is the patriarch of the family and the owner of the Yellowstone Ranch. His wife died when the kids were younger and he’s never remarried. A closer statement might be to say he’s always been married to the ranch and always will be. John is a strong silent type but he speaks when he needs to. He is an expert at delegating power, but he always has the last say. He loves all of his children; some might say how well each serves the ranch determines how much he loves each.

Picture4Lee Dutton

Lee Dutton (Dave Annable) is the oldest Dutton son and is in line to take over for his dad when the time comes. He’s John’s right-hand man and the most like his father in his passion for Yellowstone and getting his hands calloused out on the range.

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Jamie Dutton

Jamie Dutton (Wes Bentley) is the family attorney and has political aspirations. Jamie wears nice suits and seems different than the rest of the family. He’s hard-working and an excellent protector of the family’s legal interests. His sister hates him and his dad seems to be perpetually disappointed in him, no matter what he does.

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Beth Dutton

Beth Dutton (Kelly Reilly) lives far away in a big city when the story opens. Her profession is corporate takeovers and acquisitions and she is very well-paid for it. She’s as close as a human piranha as it is possible to be without having scales. She does her homework and is a consummate strategist; when a company is in her sights, it’s a done deal. Beth also raises the bar for verbal viciousness; not anybody you’d want to get on the wrong side of in a conversation or a business deal. Beth eats men like most people eat popcorn. Beth has an abiding hatred for her brother, Jamie, and she has a soft spot for Ranch Boss, Rip.

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Kayce, Monica, and Tate

Kayce Dutton (Luke Grimes) is the baby of the family. Kayce saw active duty in Iraq and came back a changed man. Kayce fell in love with and married Monica (Kelsey Asbille) and they had a baby, Tate (Brecken Merrill,) who is about 8-10 years old when the story opens. Kayce wants nothing to do with his family, the ranch, and all of the trappings of success that brings. As the series begins, Kayce lives on the reservation with Monica and Tate with Monica’s grandfather (sorry, forgot his name.)

Yellowstone Ranch Cowboys

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Rip

Rip Wheeler (Cole Hauser) has worked at Yellowstone since he wandered in as an angry delinquent teenager. Yellowstone is his life. Rip is the boss of all of the cowboys (regardless of gender!) who live in the bunkhouse. He gets to live in his own plush cabin as a perk for the position. Rip has John’s unwavering trust. Rip also has the respect of his underlings as he never asks them to do anything he isn’t ready, willing, and able to do. Rip does not suffer fools lightly. Rip has a (mutual) soft spot for Beth.

Lloyd (Forrie J. Smith) is the top cowboy in the bunkhouse. Lloyd’s grizzled, seasoned, and often gets the responsibility of breaking the new guys in. Lloyd’s been all over the place as a cowboy but he’s been at Yellowstone for quite awhile.

Jimmy Hurdstrom (Jefferson White) comes to the ranch as a favor to Jimmy’s grandpa and has been living a rough and criminal lifestyle up until that point. Jimmy knows nothing about being a cowboy and doesn’t seem real interested in learning about how to become one, at least at first.

Colby (Denim Richards) and Ryan (Ian Bohen,) are two of the cowboys that are stable, good at what they do, and who keep the ranch rolling along. Others come and go and are more problematic in one way or another, such as Walker (Ryan Bingham) and Teeter (Jen Landon.)

Indigenous Tribe

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Chief Thomas Rainwater

Thomas Rainwater (Gil Birmingham) is the Chief of the Tribe. He’s a wonderful leader who genuinely has the good of the Tribal Members at heart. He is up against formidable forces, including the Dutton Clan who has deeds that aren’t easily gotten around to the land that was stolen from Tribal use back in John’s father’s time. Chief Rainwater also has to contend with the rolling cavalcade of slimy developers that sleaze in and try to wheedle deals with him that will only benefit the developers when all is said and done.

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Mo Brings Plenty

Mo Brings Plenty (Mo Brings Plenty) is Chief Rainwater’s right-hand man. Mo is both trained security but also one the Chief depends on to get things done that call for finesse.

Ben Waters (Atticus Todd) is the tribal law enforcement deputy that investigates crimes that happen on the reservation. We learn that many crimes are brought out to the “res” when they don’t want people looking too closely. Ben and his force are spread thin and there is a feeling it is intentional by unnamed institutions off of the reservation.

Felix Long (Rudy Ramos) was Chief before Thomas Rainwater became Chief. He’s still in the picture with the tribal decisions but his ways are different than the new Chief.

Developers
As I said before the developers come and go and they are always interesting; yet they all want the same thing: to take the land and exploit it for human use and to line their pockets.
Dan Jenkins (Danny Huston)
Roarke (Josh Holloway)
A.G. Steward (Timothy Carhart)
Bob Schwartz (Michael Nouri)
Malcolm Beck (Neal McDonough)
Teal Beck (Terry Serpico)
Torry (Wole Parks)
Caroline Warner (Jacki Weaver)
Willa Hayes (Karen Pittman)

Assorted Other Players – pawns on the chess board
Governor Perry (Wendy Moniz)
Sheriff Donnie Haskell (Hugh Dillon)
Travis (Taylor Sheridan)
Summer Higgins (Piper Perabo)

Impressions: I love the way this series is put together. It’s a show where a lot of different perspectives and philosophies about land use are presented, with arguments both for and against for pretty much all of them. The show leaves it to each individual viewer to decide for themselves how they feel about any of the topics. I am left with a feeling that I’ve been better educated about the situations regardless if my position has moved or not. The setting in such a vast wide open space with an endless sky above is probably the main character in this series. I love seeing it even if it’s only on a TV screen. It makes me want to protect its beauty. I like watch ranching up close. The cattle, the horses, and the camaraderie of the bunkhouse when the work day is done.

The characters in Yellowstone are larger than life and how they interact with each other draws me in. By the end of the 4th season, I have to admit I care about each one of them. I’m not sure if there will be a 5th season, but I do know if they build it, I will watch. Taylor Sheridan has my respect for bringing his vision to reality and so do each of the actors that make it jump off the screen.

Warnings: there are quite a few episodes where guns are used. There are scenes of cattle being branded and horses being broken that might upset some people. There are scenes of men and women fighting (fist fights not battering) and some pummeling by men on men for punishment. There are situations of implied violence. There are scenes of sexual interaction between men and women and brief nudity.

Grade: 10
Etc.: filmed in Montana and Utah. The Chief Joseph Ranch (https://www.chiefjosephranch.net/) serves as the John Dutton home.
Awards: 5 wins and 17 nominations

The first video is a tender-hearted highlights reel:

The next video has more action:

The last one is one of my favorite scenes:

Sources:
top image
Taylor Sheridan image
John Dutton image
Lee Dutton image
Jamie Dutton image
Beth Dutton image
Kayce, Monica, and Tate image
Chief Thomas Rainwater image
Mo Brings Plenty image

TV Draft Round 10 – Pick 5 – Keith Selects – The Untouchables

Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Keith at https://nostalgicitalian.com/

untouchables_artwork

We have reached the final round of the Hanspostcard TV Show Draft. I want to take a moment and thank Max from the Power Pop Blog for taking up the reigns and helping us continue this round in Hans’ absence. It truly has been a fun draft!

For my final pick, I have gone back to another classic – The Untouchables. The show ran from 1959 to 1963 and starred the great Robert Stack as Eliot Ness. It is hard to imagine anyone but Robert Stack in the role of Ness, but believe it or not, Desi Arnaz had originally offered the role to actor Van Johnson. Supposedly, he wanted double what they were offering to pay for the role, and it ultimately went to Stack.

When asked about the character some years later, Stack said, “Ness was a precursor of Dirty Harry. He was a hero, a vigilante in a time when breaking the law meant nothing because there was no law because Capone owned Chicago, he owned the police force.”

Robert_Stack_Eliot_Ness_1960

The show was based on the book of the same name written by Eliot Ness and Oscar Fraley. Brian De Palma would use the book as the basis for his 1987 film of the same name.

According to Wikipedia:

The series originally focused on the efforts of a real-life squad of Prohibition agents employed by the US Department of Justice and led by Eliot Ness (Stack) that helped bring down the bootleg empire of “Scarface” Al Capone, as described in Ness’s bestselling 1957 memoir. This squad was nicknamed “The Untouchables” because of its courage and honesty; squad members could not be bribed or intimidated by the mob. Eliot Ness himself had died suddenly in May 1957, shortly before his memoir and the subsequent TV adaptation were to bring him fame beyond any he experienced in his lifetime.

The pilot for the series, a two-part episode entitled “The Untouchables,” originally aired on CBS’s Westinghouse Desilu Placyhouse (and was introduced by Desi Arnaz) on April 20 and 27, 1959. Later re-titled “The Scarface Mob”, these episodes, which featured Neville Brand as Al Capone, were the only episodes in the series to be more-or-less directly based on Ness’s memoir, and ended with the conviction and imprisonment of Capone. CBS, which had broadcast most of Desilu’s television output since 1951 beginning with I Love Lucy, was offered the new series following the success of the pilot film. It was rejected it on the advice of network vice president Hubbell Robinson. ABC agreed to air the series, and The Untouchables premiered on October 15, 1959. In the pilot movie, the mobsters generally spoke with unrealistic pseudo-Italian accents, but this idiosyncratic pronunciation was dropped when the series debuted.

The weekly series first dramatized a power struggle to establish a new boss in Capone’s absence (for the purpose of the TV series, the new boss was Frank Nitti, although this was, as usual for the series, contrary to fact). As the series continued, there developed a highly fictionalized portrayal of Ness and his crew as all-purpose, multi-agency crime fighters who went up against an array of 1930s-era gangsters and villains, including Ma Barker, Dutch Schultz, Bugs Moran, Lucky Luciano, and in one episode, Nazi agents. On many occasions during the series run, Ness would blatantly violate suspects’ Fourth Amendment rights with no legal ramifications.

The terse narration by gossip columnist Walter Winchell, in his distinctive New York accent, was a stylistic hallmark of the series, along with its ominous theme music by Nelson Riddle and its shadowy black-and-white photography, which was influenced by film noir.

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The series produced 118 episodes which ran 50 minutes each. Though the book chronicled the experiences of Ness and his team against Capone, and in reality the Untouchables disbanded soon after Capone’s conviction. The series continued after the pilot and book ended, depicting the fictitious further exploits of the Untouchables against many, often real life, criminals over a span of time ranging from 1929 to 1935.

The show came with some controversy. Italian-American groups protested over what they felt was an unfair presentation of their people as Mafia-types. “We are plagued with lawsuits after certain shows” one of the show’s producers Josef Shaftel explained, noting that the series was “heavily insured against libel.” With good reason – the first lawsuit against the show was instigated by Al Capone’s angry widow. She didn’t like the way her deceased husband was made into a running villain on the show and wanted a million dollars for unfair use of his image. (She lost.)

The FBI and J. Edgar Hoover were ticked off too. They were the ones who collared the famous names that Ness was supposedly busting each week on TV and they rightfully wanted credit for it. The second episode of the series, for example, depicted Ness and his crew involved in the capture of the Ma Barker gang, an incident in which the real-life Ness played no part. The producers agreed to insert a spoken disclaimer on future broadcasts of the episode stating that the FBI had primary responsibility for the Barker case. Even the Bureau of Prisons took offense, complaining that the show made their treatment of Al Capone look soft.

The show itself was considered one of the most violent television shows of its time. Of course, by today’s standards it’s not that bad, but it was violent enough at the time to spark protests from parents who were worried about their children seeing this violence.

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My Thoughts

This is one of those shows that I just love! Robert Stack’s delivery of almost every line as Ness is perfect. He won an Emmy in 1960 for Best Actor in a Dramatic Series for his portrayal of Ness.

Despite the fact that many of the stories are fictionalized to work the Untouchables into them, they are great! The show really was a forerunner to shows like The FBI, Crime Story, and even Hawaii 5-0. I love the film noir feel of it. Every episode plays like a good 50 minute movie.

The Lebanon Pennsylvania Daily News said of The Untouchables: “Between the hard-nosed approach, sharp dialogue, and a commendably crisp pace (something rare in dramatic TV at the time), this series is one of the few that remains fresh and vibrant. Only the monochrome presentation betrays its age. The Untouchables is one of the few Golden Age TV shows that deserves being called a classic.” It really does hold up well.

As I have mentioned before, one of the things I love about these old shows is seeing big stars (who are not quite yet stars) show up. In regular roles throughout the series you could see Raymond Bailey (Mr. Drysdale on the Beverly Hillbillies), Barbara Stanwyck, Barbara Nichols, Ed Asner (Lou Grant), Harry Morgan (Col. Potter on MASH), and Henry Silva.

The list of guest star appearances is long and amazing. They include: Jack Elam, Paul Frees, Jim Backus, Sam Jaffe, Martin Balsam, John Dehner, William Bendix, Whitt Bissell, Charles Bronson, James Caan, James Coburn, Mike Conners, Robert Duvall, Peter Falk, Norman Fell, Alan Hale Jr., Brian Keith, Jack Klugman, Cloris Leachman, Jack Lord, Lee Marvin, Telly Savalas, Elizabeth Montgomery, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Redford, Ricardo Montalban, Rip Torn, Jack Warden, Dick York, Cliff Robertson and so many more!

"The Untouchables"Paul Picerni, Robert Stackcirca 1961

You know, they play reruns of Law and Order on TV all the time. Many of the shows I have seen numerous times. I know what’s going to happen, yet I still watch (a lot like my previous picks – Perry Mason and Columbo). The Untouchables is a show that could very easily be rerun like a Law and Order. It is that good.

I love Walter Winchell’s narration

And I love the theme song!

It has been so much fun writing on some of my favorite shows. It’s been just as fun to read about the shows picked by other members of the TV Show Draft. I hope you have enjoyed my picks…

Thanks for reading!

TV Draft Round 10 – Pick 3 – Mike Selects – The Time Tunnel

The Time Tunnel

For my final pick in these ten rounds of fave TV shows, I gave in to my childhood memories and selected The Time Tunnel, a show that had me spellbound as a ten-year old during the 30 episodes of its single season 1966-67 run. After seeing the 1960 film version of H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine on television, I became fascinated with the concept of time travel which made The Time Tunnel the perfect show for me.

The Time Tunnel was the product of the legendary Irwin Allen who had previously produced and directed two other highly acclaimed TV series: Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and Lost in Space. Allen, who would also go on to produce two film blockbusters with The Poseidon Adventure (1972) and The Towering Inferno (1974), cited The Time Tunnel as his favorite television production even though the previous two were deemed more successful.

The sci-fi storyline deals with the U.S. Government’s creation of the technology to allow a person to travel through time. The series follows two of the lead scientists, played by actors James Darren (then still a young handsome heartthrob) and Robert Colbert. After an unplanned initial time transport, the two are stuck travelling back and forth in time while the team at “Operation Tic Tok” are able to hear and view them through the scientific wonder of the Tunnel that sent them on their journey. The team struggles to bring them back, and instead, somehow manage to grab them at the end of each episode, sending them somewhere else in time, just in time, to thwart some kind of danger they got themselves into.

Many years later, I did a revisit to The Time Tunnel via DVD and was surprised how well it held up for a show produced in the late 60s. And, after a recent rewatch of the debut episode, I found the special effects rather impressive for those days, including the recurring graphic segment employed when they were spinning through time. However, I did feel that the show was full of some unnecessary exaggerated nonsense. Would it at all be logical that this project would be so massive to necessitate an underground desert complex that went 800 stories underground and employed a team of 12,000 with Fort Knox level security? 

Then there was the overuse of the Hollywood device of coincidence. How could it be that their uncontrolled random time travels would always land them at famous historical event at such precise locations and moments? For example, landing on the deck of the Titanic during its maiden voyage or inside a rocket being launched into space during its final countdown? Wouldn’t they have had as much of a chance to wind up in a bathroom in the Bronx?

Nonetheless, seeing them interact with history obviously made for great suspenseful plots although there was no respect for time travel’s cardinal rule of not altering history and thereby changing the timeline for the future. Allen also made for better television by economically embellishing the historical references with existing footage from feature films. Another interesting aside was that one of the technicians was played by actress Lee Meriwether, the winner of the 1955 Miss America Pageant.

As I young child, I was fascinated with The Time Tunnel and couldn’t wait to see where they would wind up going in next week’s episode. Unfortunately, the one place these two time travelers never made it to was back home since despite the show’s success, it’s future did not include a second season.

TV Draft Round 10 – Pick 2 – John Selects – The Avengers

The Avengers was a British TV series made by Associated British Corporation and ran for six seasons between 1961 and 1969. That came as a surprise to me, because I only remember the last two seasons. More on that later.

The one constant character in the series was John Steed, the bowler-hatted, Saville Row-suited, umbrella-carrying member of an unnamed British organization that simultaneously fights crime and deals in espionage and counter-espionage missions. Steed was played to perfection by Patrick Macnee.

Surprisingly, Steed was not the original lead character in The Avengers. That honor goes to David Keel, a physician whose fiancee was murdered. He was determined to find her killer when he crossed paths with Steed, who was after the same man for a different reason. By the end of the second episode, Keel and Steed had formed a partnership. Keel was played by Ian Hendry.

After the first season, Hendry left to go into movies (notably the Vincent Price classic Theater Of Blood) and the series was re-tooled with Steed as the lead character. His first partner was Venus Smith, a nightclub singer with no background in crime fighting or espionage. She was smitten with Steed, which was the only thing that kept them together. Venus was played by Julie Stevens.

His next companion was Mrs. Catherine Gale, an anthropologist who was an expert in judo and had a penchant for leather clothes. Cathy had been widowed in Kenya, and saw her work with Steed as service to her country. Some of the first Cathy episodes in Season 2 were originally written for Keel, and his lines (with modifications as needed) were simply given to Cathy. Cathy was played by the amazing Honor Blackman.

Cathy was unlike any other female character on British TV at the time. She was older (in her early-mid 30’s) and, because the scripts for her were originally written for Keel, was more mature and apt to argue with Steed. The attraction between the two of them became obvious, particularly in the third season, although it never got past the flirting and innuendo stage. At the end of the third season, Ms. Blackman was cast as Pussy Galore in the James Bond film Goldfinger, and left the cast.

At about the same time, the American Broadcasting Corporation in the US signed a deal with Associated British Corporation to co-produce the show, with ABC (US) airing all the new episodes. ABC (UK) agreed to shoot the new episodes on 35mm film rather than videotape, resulting in a clearer picture and better sound.

Honor Blackman’s replacement was Diana Rigg, as Mrs. Emma Peel.

The demeanor of the show changed with Mrs. Peel’s debut. Compare the theme music from the first three seasons, written by Johnny Dankworth:

with the theme music from seasons 4-6, written by Laurie Johnson:

The relationship between Steed and Mrs. Peel was more playful, the cases a little more absurd, the technology more advanced. Season 4 was shot in black and white, while seasons 5 and 6 were produced in color.

Diana Rigg left the series at the end of the fifth season. The story was that Mrs. Peel’s husband had been found in the Amazon jungle and he was brought back to England and reunited with his spouse, who then left Steed and rode off into the sunset with her husband. She was replaced almost immediately by Tara King, played by Linda Thorson. Here is that scene.

Unlike Cathy and Emma, Tara (nicknmed “ra-boom-de-ay” by Steed) was a trained (but inexperienced) agent of Steed’s organization. The flirtation between her and Steed was more pronounced, and the cases even more absurd.

I didn’t start watching the show until the fifth season, when ABC in the US ran it on Friday nights. I was twelve at the time, and while it’s unclear whether Diana Rigg in her leather catsuit brought on puberty in me, it certainly fanned the flames.

Our local religious broadcaster (who also shows reruns of Steamboat) has been running the episodes of Seasons 2 and 3 (plus the two or three episodes of Season 1 that still exist) pretty much nonstop for several years now. I seem to remember that Hollywood Video had a number of the videocassettes of those seasons on their shelves until they went out of business, and for some strange reason I believe that the station bought those VHS tapes and has been showing them nightly…

Now, for your listening pleasure, all the opens and closes for the series.

This is the last of my draft picks. I hope you’ve enjoyed them!

TV Draft UPDATE

Tomorrow morning we will kick off our last TV draft round! We have 8 more TV Shows coming…we all want to thank you… the readers who have made this possible and a fun experience. I also want to thank the bloggers who have reviewed all of these shows and we have covered every decade from the 1950s until now. Below are the picks that began in January and will end on July 3. Thank you… Paula, Lisa, Dave, John, Keith, Mike, Liam, Vic, Hanspostcard (who started it), and Kirk for all of the reviews below.
Round 1 TV Show Who Posted Home Site
1. Doctor Who Vic https://cosmic-observation.com/blog-posts/
2. The Sopranos Mike https://musiccitymike.net
3. Bozo’s Circus John https://thesoundofonehandtyping.com 
4. Barney Miller Max https://powerpop.blog
5. The Wire Kirk https://slicethelife.com/
6. Police Squad Keith https://nostalgicitalian.com/
7. Only Murders in the Building (OMITB) Paula http://paulalight.com
Round 2
1. The Odd Couple Mike https://musiccitymike.net
2. Cartoon Town John https://thesoundofonehandtyping.com 
3. Fawlty Towers Max https://powerpop.blog
4. Rockford Files Kirk https://slicethelife.com/
5. Mission Impossible Keith https://nostalgicitalian.com/
6. Firefly Vic https://cosmic-observation.com/blog-posts/
Round 3 TV Show Who Posted Home Site
1 Hogan’s Heroes John https://thesoundofonehandtyping.com 
2 Seinfeld Mike https://musiccitymike.net
3 Starsky & Hutch Vic https://cosmic-observation.com/blog-posts/
4 Perry Mason Keith https://nostalgicitalian.com/
5 Upload Paula http://paulalight.com
6 Lovecraft Country Lisa https://tao-talk.com/
7 King Of The Hill Dave https://soundday.wordpress.com/
8 Adam 12 Max https://powerpop.blog
Round 4 TV Show Who Posted Home Site
1 Breaking Bad Mike https://musiccitymike.net
2 The X-Files Vic https://cosmic-observation.com/blog-posts/
3 Columbo Keith https://nostalgicitalian.com/
4 Six Feet Under Paula http://paulalight.com
5 Shameless Lisa https://tao-talk.com/
6 Friends Dave https://soundday.wordpress.com/
7 Monkees Max https://powerpop.blog
8 JAG John https://thesoundofonehandtyping.com 
Round 5 TV Show Who Posted Home Site
1 Sisters Vic https://cosmic-observation.com/blog-posts/
2 30 Rock Keith https://nostalgicitalian.com/
3 One Day At A Time Paula http://paulalight.com
4 Ray Donovan Lisa https://tao-talk.com/
5 Emergency Dave https://soundday.wordpress.com/
6 The Andy Griffith Show Max https://powerpop.blog
7 CSI: Miami John https://thesoundofonehandtyping.com 
8 Mad Men Mike https://musiccitymike.net
Round 6 TV Show Who Posted Home Site
1 The Twilight Zone Max https://powerpop.blog
2 Tell Me Your Secrets Paula http://paulalight.com
3 My Name Is Earl Lisa https://tao-talk.com/
4 Ed Dave https://soundday.wordpress.com/
5 Get Smart Keith https://nostalgicitalian.com/
6 The Unicorn John https://thesoundofonehandtyping.com 
7 The West Wing Mike https://musiccitymike.net
8 The Gong Show Max https://powerpop.blog
Round 7 TV Show Who Posted Home Site
1 All In The Family Paula http://paulalight.com
2 Trailer Park Boys Lisa https://tao-talk.com/
3 Downton Abbey Dave https://soundday.wordpress.com/
4 Life On Mars Max https://powerpop.blog
5 Burn Notice John https://thesoundofonehandtyping.com 
6 Friday Night Lights Mike https://musiccitymike.net
7 The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show Liam https://othemts.wordpress.com/
8 The Honeymooners Keith https://nostalgicitalian.com/
Round 8 TV Show Who Posted Home Site
1 New Tricks Lisa https://tao-talk.com/
2 SCTV Dave https://soundday.wordpress.com/
3 WKRP In Cincinnati Max https://powerpop.blog
4 The Two Ronnies John https://thesoundofonehandtyping.com 
5 Star Trek: Voyager Mike https://musiccitymike.net
6 Siskel & Ebert Liam https://othemts.wordpress.com/
7 Sherlock Keith https://nostalgicitalian.com/
8 Curb Your Enthusiasm Paula http://paulalight.com
Round 9 TV Show Who Posted Home Site
1 Jeopardy Dave https://soundday.wordpress.com/
2 Saturday Night Live Max https://powerpop.blog
3 Riverboat John https://thesoundofonehandtyping.com
4 Suits Mike https://musiccitymike.net
5 The Kids In The Hall Liam https://othemts.wordpress.com/
6 Arrested Development Keith https://nostalgicitalian.com/
7 L.A. Law Paula http://paulalight.com
8 Resident Alien Lisa https://tao-talk.com/
Round 10 TV Show Who Posted Home Site
1 Max https://powerpop.blog
2 John https://thesoundofonehandtyping.com
3 Mike https://musiccitymike.net
4 Liam https://othemts.wordpress.com/
5 Keith https://nostalgicitalian.com/
6 Paula http://paulalight.com
7 Lisa https://tao-talk.com/
8 Dave https://soundday.wordpress.com/

TV Draft Round 9 – Pick 8 – Lisa Selects – Resident Alien

Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Lisa at https://tao-talk.com/

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Yes, I am being contrary by changing my mind yet again from the list I started out with. Instead of Showtime’s City on a Hill, which is an excellent series and recommended, I’m going with one that I just watched the first of two seasons of and plan on watching the other as soon as I can find it. The name of the series is Resident Alien and it airs on the SyFy Channel. It is based on a Dark Horse comic ( https://www.darkhorse.com/Comics/19-670/Resident-Alien-1) by Peter Hogan and Steven Parkhouse, and written for the screen by Chris Sheridan with 11 others getting screen writing credits. There have been 8 different directors for the 18 episodes made so far.

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Genre: comedy; drama

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Setting: The story is set in the fictitious town of Patience, Colorado, but it was filmed in and around Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. There are frequent drone shots of a small community nestled among snowy mountains (which I just learned at imdb: The expansive overhead shots that they often play at the beginning of new segments, which show most and sometimes all of the the town, set in the midst of the surrounding mountains, are pictures of Telluride, Colorado.) Watching TV shows set in small towns in the mountains is the next best thing to being there. Actually the setting brings back pleasant memories of another small town setting of one of my favorite shows of all time, Northern Exposure, set in Cicely, Alaska (but actually filmed in Roslyn, Washington.) While I’m thinking about it, the setting is just one similarity between the two shows.

Starring:
Alan Tudyk plays the main character, Harry Vanderspeigle. The real Harry is a doctor who has a wonderful cabin right on the shores of the lake of the town. When the alien’s ship crash lands in the snow of the mountains, the alien comes across Harry’s cabin, kills him, and assumes his form. The ET is on Earth for a mission, which is to arm and detonate a doomsday device; as the galaxy is sick and tired of humans and their terminally toxic foibles. The plan was to land, arm the device, and leave. Now that the spacecraft is damaged and pieces are strewn that need to be found in the mountain snow, not to mention the doomsday device is also lost, it will take ET some time to fulfill his mission.

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Asta Twelvetrees

Sara Tomko plays Asta Twelvetrees. Asta is a nurse at Dr. Hodges, the town doctor’s, practice. As the story opens, we learn that Dr. Hodges has been found dead in his office. Asta was very close to Dr. Hodges. When Harry is enlisted by the mayor to fill in for the deceased doctor until a replacement can be hired, Asta and Harry get acquainted with each other. Thankfully, Asta is a very open-minded and accepting person, as Harry is one hella odd duck. Asta’s dad runs the town’s restaurant. She has relationship and other family issues that are often plot lines.

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Deputy Liv and Sheriff Mike

Corey Reynolds plays Sheriff Mike Thompson, who has given himself the nickname, “Big Black,” which is both ironic and funny as hell. Sheriff Thompson is an egotistical but lovable person who, as one of the few black people in the town, has to make sure he is nobody’s fool because he’s representing. Sheriff Thompson’s sidekick, Deputy Liv Baker, played by Elizabeth Bowen, is just that to him, a sidekick. Deputy Baker is never taken seriously by him and is often verbally abused by the sheriff. All Deputy Liv wants is to be taken seriously as a law enforcement officer. She’s got real skills, but nobody seems to notice them.

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D’Arcy

Alice Wetterlund plays D’Arcy Bloom, who is a bartender who once was a contender for an Olympic medal in some winter sport until she got a terrible injury that brought her back to her hometown. She and Asta grew up together and are best besties. D’Arcy develops a terrible crush on Harry once he’s on the scene and is willing to take a lot of unwitting insensitivity on Harry’s part (or should I say the alien in Harry’s form, who knows nothing about social cues of humans.)

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Ben, Kate, and Max Hawthorne

Levi Fiehler plays Mayor Ben Hawthorne, who is benevolent, yet often out of his depth, especially when dead bodies start turning up here and there. He does act decisively in appointing Harry as the interim doc. How could he know that Harry is an ET in human clothing? Ben is married to Kate, played by Meredith Garretson, who is loving wife and mother with an inquisitive mind. Ben and Kate’s young son (I think he’s around 10 years old,) Max, is played by Judah Prehn. We learn that Judah is one of that rare percentage of humans who is able to see what the ET who is camoflaged as Harry really looks like. Of course he freaks out the first several times he sees him. He does his best to convince others in the town of what Harry really is, but everyone thinks it’s his overactive imagination. Much of the plot of the first season revolves around Max proving to others that Harry is an ET and Harry trying to kill Max (although not all that seriously. This is a comedy, after all.)

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Sheriff Mike and Dan Twelvetrees

Gary Farmer plays Dan Twelvetrees. Dan is Asta’s father and owner of the town’s cafe. Dan raised Asta as a single parent and did a good job of it. The cafe is a frequent meeting place for the main characters.

The rest of the cast are good also, but in describing them I might give away important plot points.

Synopsis: The show revolves around ET/Harry learning how to pass as a human until he can get his ship reassembled, find the doomsday device, and head back to his home planet. In the meantime he has to keep people from believing Max. As Harry integrates into his community there are ongoing funny situations and other events that arise that keep things entertaining.
Impressions: There is a lot to like about, “Resident Alien.” Foremost is Alan Tudyk as Harry/ET. He’s already got a sort of strange look, and his range of odd and goofy expressions are impressive. He knows just how to play this character to bring him to life. I truly adore the two female leads, Asha and D’Arcy. They are both strong women who have been through significant challenges, yet they came through and are there to be supportive community members in their little town. I also adore the interactions between Sheriff Mike and Deputy Liv, which make for a lot of funny scenes. I also think Mayor Ben is one of the better roles. Not only is there a lot of material for him as mayor but there are multiple family situations that show up over the season; most significant is how he and Kate deal with Max when he insists that Harry is an ET. Speaking of Max, he is simply wonderful as the sharp-minded kid who isn’t going to be outwitted by some old ET. I’ve already talked about the setting. The plots are slow-paced and creative. The humor is pervasive and often dark, yet there are some dramatic and poignant moments dispersed along the way.
Grade: 9
Awards: 1 win and 10 nominations

Sources:
top image
Dark Horse comics
imdb
Atlas of Wonders
image Asta
image Deputy Liv and Sheriff Mike
image of D’Arcy
image Hawthorne Family
image Sheriff Mike and Dan

TV Draft Round 9 – Pick 7 – Paula Selects – L.A. Law

Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Paula at http://paulalight.com

LA Law

LA Law

 Welcome back to Max’s Power Pop! Today I am discussing the legal drama series LA LAW, which ran for eight seasons – from September 1986 to May 1994 – and was based around a fictional Los Angeles law firm called McKenzie, Brackman, Chaney and Kuzak (later Becker was added to the name). Filming took place in downtown Los Angeles. Steven Bochco and Terry Louis Fisher created the popular show; it won 15 Emmy Awards, four of which were for Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series. Fisher was fired from the show during the second season and filed a lawsuit against Bochco and the studio, creating a legal drama within a legal drama.

“The show contains many of Bochco’s trademark features, including an ensemble cast, large number of parallel storylines, social drama, and off-the-wall humor. It reflects the social and cultural ideologies that were occurring when the show was produced in the 1980s and early 1990s, and many of the cases featured on the show dealt with hot-button issues such as capital punishment, abortion, racism, homophobia, sexual harassment, HIV/AIDS, and domestic violence. The series often also reflects social tensions between the wealthy senior lawyer protagonists and their less well–paid junior staff.” ~ Wikipedia

The eight main characters on the show pictured above were played by the following actors (first row, left to right): Jill Eikenberry as Ann Kelsey (associate/partner), Richard Dysart as Leland McKenzie (senior partner), Harry Hamlin as Michael Kuzak (partner), and Michele Greene as Abby Perkins (associate). On the second row, left to right, we have Michael Tucker as Stuart Markowitz (associate/partner and husband of Ann Kelsey), Alan Rachins as Douglas Brackman, Jr. (managing partner/interim senior partner), Corbin Bernsen as Arnie Becker (partner), and Jimmy Smits as Victor Sifuentes (associate).

Additionally, there were a number of recurring roles, such as Susan Ruttan as Roxanne Melman (secretary), Susan Dey as Grace Owens (deputy district attorney, etc.), and Blair Underwood as Jonathan Rollins, an associate who cross-examined a man to death (one of my favorite scenes!). The show also featured relatively unknown guest stars that went on to greater success, such as Jeffrey Tambor, Kathy Bates, David Schwimmer, Bryan Cranston, Kevin Spacey, William H. Macy, Christian Slater, Steve Buscemi, and Lucy Liu. There were also some famous faces who appeared as themselves in cameos, such as Buddy Hackett and Vanna White.

The show presented so many interesting and varied storylines about the law, business practices in general, romantic and other relationships, and family life. I particularly enjoyed the episodes where Roxanne had a significant role. Unfortunately, LA Law ended abruptly after the eighth season without any wrap-up or finale. Shows about lawyers remain a popular theme though, and there have been many other legal dramas since LA Law, including Suits, with our favorite duchess Meghan Markle, and Better Call Saul, the prequel sequel to Breaking Bad.

~*~

Paula Light is a poet, novelist, flash fiction fan, cupcake connoisseur, mom, grandma, cat mommy, etc. Her blog can be found at http://paulalight.com.

TV Draft Round 9 – Pick 6 – Keith Selects – Arrested Development

Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Keith at https://nostalgicitalian.com/

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My ninth pick in the Hanspostcard TV Show Draft is a show that consistently made me laugh out loud – Arrested Development. I know going into this blog that it was a show that not everyone “gets.” I recall going to work raving about the show and how much I laughed at it. I encouraged others to watch it. Some got it and most didn’t.

In almost everything you read about the show, it is referred to as “a cult classic.” To a degree, I guess that may be true. I remember how giddy I got when a couple people in my sleep program also were big fans of the show. We were constantly quoting it in class as many stared at us like we were freaks. Maybe we were.

Before continuing, let me say that I chose this show based on the 3 seasons that aired on Fox. I am aware that years later, two more seasons were produced by Netflix (where you can see the entire 5 seasons). As a fan of the show, I watched the two additional seasons, and while there were some funny moments, and while I loved seeing the return of the cast/characters, it lacked so much of what the first three seasons had. That being said, let’s move on …

Ask me the question, “Just why is Arrested Development so good?” or “What makes the show so funny?” and I cannot give you an answer. In preparing to write this, I did a Google search of those questions. There were many Reddit forums and fan sites that come up with personal opinions about it, but none of them really has a solid answer. After all, “comedy is subjective.”

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The Origins of the Show

In 2002, Actor/Director Ron Howard had the idea to create a TV comedy that would involve using handheld cameras and shoot sort of like reality TV. It was to have a look of a documentary, yet be a comedy. NBC’s The Office was shot this way and often referred to as a “mock-umentary.”

He met with some people at Imagine Entertainment to discuss the idea and Mitch Hurwitz mentioned the fact that there were a lot of corporate accounting scandals that were in the news (like Enron and Adelphia), and the story of a family that went from rags to riches might work. Howard liked the idea and had Hurwitz begin writing the series. After creating the story’s characters and plot line, he had a pilot script done in January of 2003 and the first episode was shot just two months later. Howard acted as the show’s narrator and in the opening credits welcomes viewers to the “story of a wealthy family who lost everything, and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together. It’s Arrested Development”.

The show is about a family – albeit a VERY dysfunctional family. I think that is what makes this whole show work. Watching each of these characters, with their own insecurities and idiosyncrasies, interacting with each other allows for comedy to flourish. (It also will cause you to see members of your own family as members of this one!) Add to brilliantly funny “cut-aways,” narrator comments, and strong comedy writing and you have a show that will make your sides hurt from laughing.

In a nutshell, the show follows the formally wealthy Bluth family as Micheal (Justin Bateman), the only responsible Bluth, tries to keep them and their company from going completely bust while desperately attempting to set a good example for his teenage son (Micheal Cera). The family includes imprisoned father George (Jeffrey Tambor), hypercritical matriarch Lucille (Jessica Walter), failed magician Gob (Will Arnett), spoiled sister Lindsay (Portia de Rossi), and man-child Buster (Tony Hale).

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Wikipedia describes the show this way:

The plot of Arrested Development revolves around the members of the Bluth family, a formerly wealthy family who continue to lead extravagant lifestyles despite their changed circumstances. At the center of the show is Michael Bluth, the show’s straight man, who strives to do the right thing and keep his family together, despite their materialism, selfishness, and manipulative natures. Michael is a widowed single father. His teenage son, George Michael, has the same qualities of decency but feels a constant pressure to live up to his father’s expectations and is often reluctant to follow his father’s plans. He battles with a crush he has on cousin Maeby, which developed from a kiss she gave him as part of a prank.

Michael’s father, George Bluth Sr., is the patriarch of the family and a corrupt real estate developer who is arrested in the first episode. George goes to considerable lengths to manipulate and control his family in spite of his imprisonment, and makes numerous efforts to evade justice. His wife, and Michael’s mother, Lucille Bluth, is ruthlessly manipulative, materialistic, and hypercritical of every member of her family, and constantly drinks alcohol. Her grip is tightest on her youngest son, Byron “Buster” Bluth, an over-educated (yet still under-educated) mama’s boy who has dependency issues and is prone to panic attacks.

Michael’s older brother is George Oscar Bluth II, known by the acronym “Gob” (pronounces like “Job” in the Bible).  An unsuccessful professional magician whose business and personal schemes usually fail or become tiresome and are quickly abandoned, Gob is competitive with Michael over women and bullies Buster. Michael’s twin sister Linday is spoiled and materialistic, continually seeking the center of attention and leaping on various social causes for the sake of vanity. She is married to Tobias Funke (David Cross), a discredited psychiatrist-turned-aspiring actor. Tobias is a self-diagnosed “never-nude” (a disorder comparable to gymnophobia) whose language and behavior have heavily homosexual overtones to which he seems oblivious and which are the center of much tongue-in-cheek comedy throughout the series. Their daughter is Mae “Maeby” Funke (Alia Shawkat), a rebellious teen with an opportunistic streak, who seeks to defy her parents for the sake of attention, and otherwise pursues boys and power, and furthers her complicated relationship with George Michael.

The supporting cast and characters are just as strong and developed as the main ones. Those include Jeffrey Tambor as George Sr.’ identical twin Oscar, Liza Minnelli as Lucille Austero (or Lucille 2), Carl Weathers appears as himself (and is hilarious), and Henry Winkler as the family’s attorney Barry Zuckerkorn. Other guest stars include Ed Begley Junior, Ben Stiller, Christine Taylor, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and Charlize Theron.

One Reddit user said:

I’ve never found another sitcom on TV that assumed its viewers had concentration spans and didn’t need to be spoon fed things. The producers were more than happy to let a brilliant joke sail past half the audience rather than overexpose it so everyone watching understood. They were not only happy to include subtle references to episodes that occurred a year or two before they were happy to throw in references to things that were going to happen later in the season. And all without a laugh track or excessive mugging to the camera to tell us when to laugh.

Of course being subtle and extremely clever on its own isn’t enough to make a good sitcom. Arrested Development also benefited from brilliant stories, very clever writing and perfect performances from the entire cast.

The countless in-jokes, references to other jokes and jokes that reference jokes that are referencing the in-jokes. The show is so layered that there are literally hundreds of clever idiosyncrasies within each episode. Like someone said earlier, the viewer feels rewarded when they get a joke that refers to an earlier episode.

One of the things I still love about the show is that it gets better with each viewing! I can watch an episode again and find jokes I had missed before. It is constantly offering a “pay off.” It is different from say Friends or Fraiser, in that every time you watch an episode again, you find a comedy “nugget.”

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There are many fantastic running gags on the show. Rolling Stone wrote a very nice article on them. You can find that here:

https://www.rollingstone.com/tv/tv-lists/arrested-development-the-funniest-running-jokes-48542/the-banana-stand-46247/

There is also a great Watch Mojo Top 10 list:

Visual gags and word play were often a source of laughs on the show. I remember one gag that really pushed the envelope and left me laughing and wondering how they got away with it at the same time:

One of the silliest gags on the show is the Bluth Family Chicken Dance, which is mentioned in the video above. It is not something they all do in unison, let me be clear on that. Each member of the Bluth family has their own – very unique way – of dancing like a chicken. This is often used when insinuating that another family member is chicken or scared of doing something. I’m including this video, because in the one above, some of the “set up” to the full family dance was omitted.

In the middle of the third season, it was clear that viewership was down and the show was probably going to be cancelled. As a matter of fact, Fox pulled the show from the November sweeps that year AND cut down the order for 22 episodes to just 13 (something which became a joke throughout that third season.)

In 2004, the show was nominated for 7 Emmy awards and won five of them.  It won for Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series, Outstanding Casting for a Comedy Series, Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing for a Comedy Series and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series. It was praised by critics for being one of the funniest shows on TV, but the ratings never really lived up to that hype.

I was excited to write about this show, but now that I am reaching the end, I feel that I have in no way, shape, or form done it justice. I just don’t know how to do that. It is a show that makes me laugh out loud, yet I cannot fully explain why. It is a show that you will either love or hate – based on what you find funny.

Remember at the beginning of this blog I asked: “Just why is Arrested Development so good?” or “What makes the show so funny?”

In an interview with The Guardian, Justin Bateman may have the answer! He explained the key to what makes Arrested Development so hilarious is how seriously the characters take their ridiculous lives. He states that the sitcom is actually more like a drama for its ensemble of characters. The comedy, he feels, comes from the fact that the Bluth family has no idea how funny they really are.

“This is not funny to anybody inside the show. This is a drama to them. Almost like an animal documentary, where you’re watching these freaks, and how they gather their food, and how they make their house. And let’s make sure we all whisper because we don’t want these folks to know how much we’re laughing at them.” – Justin Bateman

Thank you, Bluth Family, for all the laughs!

TV Draft Round 9 – Pick 5 – Liam Selects – The Kids In The Hall

Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Liam at https://othemts.wordpress.com/

The Kids in the Hall

CBC Television (1988-1995)

HBO (1988-1992)

CBS (1993-1995)

Amazon Prime Video (2022)

The Kids in the Hall are a sketch comedy troupe based out of Toronto, Canada.  You could say they are the Canadian Monty Python.  Or perhaps, the Canadian Saturday Night Live? Like Monty Python, they are an all-male group of 5 writer/performers (the Pythons had six) who create edgy sketch comedy often bordering on the absurdist, and frequently don wigs and dresses to portray female characters.  Like Saturday Night Live, their show was produced by Lorne Michaels and performed in front of a live audience (albeit, it was not broadcast live).  But at the heart of things, The Kids in the Hall are their own thing, creators of something outside the mainstream of comedy of the 1980s and 1990s and capturing the ethos of Generation X, paralleling the rise of alternative rock at the same time. A recently released documentary about the Kids calls them Comedy Punks.

Let’s meet the Kids!

Dave Foley (b. 1963) is the member of the troupe who feels most mainstream in his comedy approach, but that is on a relative scale.  His boyish good looks were often contrasted with antisocial behavior, such as a surgeon who kills all his patients or an axe murderer, both of whom get away with it because of their charm.  He was also considered the “hottest” of the Kids when dressed as woman. Not surprisingly, later in his career he starred in the American sitcom NewsRadio, and provided voices for the Pixar movies A Bug’s Life and Monsters University.

Bruce McCulloch (b. 1961) is probably the weirdest of the Kids in his comedy approach.  Inspired by art movies, his surreal monologues and filmed pieces evoked a mood of absurdity rather than just telling jokes.  Outside of the Kids in the Hall he has recorded music and directed several movies and tv shows.

Kevin McDonald (b. 1961) is probably a lovely person in real life, but has a talent for playing really annoying characters.  A lot of his self-deprecating humor contains a dark undercurrent of the volatility of his childhood growing up with an alcoholic father.  McDonald has provided his voice for the Disney movie Lilo & Stitch and its spinoffs and had a recurring role on That 70s Show.

Mark McKinney (b. 1959) specialized in creating characters and is probably the Kid most similar in comedy style to Saturday Night Live (and he did in fact join the cast of SNL from 1995 to 1997).  His most notable characters include Mr. Tyzik the Headcrusher and the Chicken Lady. Outside of his work with the Kids he’s appeared in numerous movies and tv shows, the strangest of which is Guy Maddin’s The Saddest Music in the World.

Scott Thompson (b. 1959) performs comedy informed by his gay identity with a definite emphasis on using comedy to advance LGBTQ equality, which was very bold in the 1980s and 1990s.  Most notably, he reclaimed the effeminate gay man stereotype through his character Buddy Cole who delivered hilarious monologues.  He also frequently portrayed Queen Elizabeth II, one of the rare celebrity impersonations on The Kids in the Hall.  His other work includes appearances in many movies and tv shows, including a regular role on The Larry Sanders Show.

Foley and McDonald met in the early 1980s in the Toronto comedy scene and became a writing and performing team.  Their partnership is the strongest among all the Kids and has remained so throughout the troupe’s history.  Meanwhile, McCulloch and McKinney met in Calgary where they performed with a group called The Audience.  Moving to Toronto to expand their opportunities, McCulloch and McKinney met Foley and McDonald and in 1984 they formed The Kids in the Hall.  The name came from an old Sid Caesar gag blaming bad jokes on the young writers who hung around the studio. Their shows in Toronto’s comedy clubs became a big attraction.  Thompson saw them perform and pretty much willed himself into a spot in the group. Early sketches like “Reg” showcased their humor style at its most sick and twisted.

Saturday Night Live producer Lorne Michaels saw the Kids perform in 1985 and hired McKinney and McCulloch to come to New York to be writers.  Eventually, Michaels determined that it would be better to keep the Kids together as a group and worked to get them their own show.  The pilot for The Kids in the Hall broadcast on CBC Television in Canada and on HBO in the United States in 1988, followed by a full series of 20 episodes in 1989-1990.  Enhancing the Gen X zeitgeist, the Toronto alternative rock band Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet provided the theme song, “Having an Average Weekend,” as well as the music to interstitials between sketches and performing live for the studio audience.  The band’s music is described as instrumental surf rock, however since the Shadowy Men recorded a track called “We’re Not a F*****g Surf Band,” so we’ll have discover a new genre for them.

The Kids and the Hall had several recurring characters, but carefully avoided the SNL habit of overexposing them to please the fans.  Characters appeared when they had a very good and very funny reason to be there.  A number of sketches revolved around the company A.T. & Love with characters ranging from an incompetent boss (Foley), hard-pressed businessman Danny Husk (Thompson), and the secretaries Kathie (McCulloch) and Cathy (Thompson). These characters had the versatility to appear in sketches together, on their own, or with a completely different group of characters. Another series of sketches focused on rebellious Gen X teen Bobby Terrance (McCulloh), his more conservative parents (McKinney and Foley), and his best friend, the stoner Bauer (Thompson).

While Thompson was the only gay member of the troupe, sketches with LGBTQ characters were common, including scenes of men kissing men when that was taboo on American TV (one of the many things that got edited between CBC and CBS transmissions).  The recurring sketch “Steps” featured three gay men discussing the issues of the day where the audience was laughing with them not at them. Despite the Kids being all men, they never saw dressing up in wigs and dresses as funny in of itself, unlike say Milton Berle. Instead they did their best to portray women as fully-formed characters and offer an honest female perspective.  Dave Foley even has a good attitude toward menstruation.

After five seasons and 101 episodes, the Kids were ready to pack it in, physically exhausted and drained of ideas. The final episode broadcast on April 15, 1995 showed them being buried alive in a shared grave.  The next step naturally appeared to be making movies, and in April 1996 they released Kids in the Hall: Brain Candy. The making of the film was a miserable experience for everyone involved and tensions ran high, especially toward Foley who everyone resented for signing a contract to star in NewsRadio while they were working on the film. The movie bombed although some fans consider it a cult classic (I am not one of them).  The Kids went their own ways for a few years but with reruns of the show in constant rotation on Comedy Central, the troupe’s fan base grew bigger than ever.

By 2000, tensions had eased enough to bring the Kids back together, this time returning to the stage for a North American Tour.  Performing in front of live audiences again energized the Kids creatively, and they were able to resume their close personal relationships as well.  The Kids went on the road for more tours, introducing new sketches.  In 2010, they returned to TV, stepping beyond sketch comedy for the first time in the darkly comic 8-part miniseries Death Comes to Town which aired on CBC.  I hadn’t heard of this series until recently so I haven’t watched it yet but I hear it’s good.  Just this May, seemingly out of nowhere, the Kids in the Hall TV series returned for season 6, with 8-episodes streaming on Amazon Prime.  While the Kids have physically aged, they haven’t lost a step and the new episodes are as funny as ever.  The final episode ends with the Kids getting buried again, but I think we’ll see the Kids in the Hall again soon! Until then, here’s one of my favorite sketches, “The Night of the Cow”

TV Draft Round 9 – Pick 4 – Mike Selects – Suits

Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Mike at https://musiccitymike.net

Suits

Yes, it’s that show that featured Prince Harry’s American wife, actress Meghan Markle, now the Duchess of Sussex if she’s not yet been sent to exile for being so gripey. Let me just get it out of the way and say that she handled her acting duties about as well as she has her time as a member of the British Royal family. Nuff said.

After that odd intro, I’ll further confuse everyone by adding that I am also selecting a series that I quit on after Season 7 of its nine seasons. While that had to do mainly with the exit of some of the show’s best lead characters, it also can be said that Suits was a show that was great when it was good and awful when it was bad.

Suits is a New York City-based legal drama that follows the pursuits of Harvey and Mike. The former, played by Gabriel Macht, is a handsome, uber-confident, high-powered corporate attorney.  The latter, played by Patrick Adams, is a young man with an eidetic memory who despite lacking the necessary credentials, works as an attorney alongside his boss Harvey. Keeping the truth about Mike hidden becomes as interesting to the story lines as do the cases and settlements that these two gents win together.

If reading this at all interests you in Suits, I highly recommend that you at least watch the fabulous debut episode whose storyline shows how Mike manages to get where he is working at a major NYC law firm without having a law degree or passing the Bar Exam on his resume.

Down the road however, the show’s writing had its ups and downs, likely due to the host USA Network’s inability to sport a steady team of writers. But great characters and strong acting really made this show what it was. Among the strong roles were Rick Hoffman as the eccentric but loveable attorney Louis, Sarah Rafferty as the drop-dead gorgeous and highly competent legal assistant Donna, and Gina Torres as the cunningly clever and insightful managing partner Jessica.

I guess Macht’s Harvey character is what I enjoyed most about Suits. He’s the kind of guy that’s easy to look up too. Highly driven and devotedly adept at his occupation, he doesn’t like to lose and usually doesn’t. And even though he works just about around the clock, he has this admirable wholeness to his personality. He’s the consummate New Yorker who knows the best hot dog cart and where to get a great cup of coffee. There are autographed Michael Jordan (presumably a one-time client) basketballs in his office along with a turntable and a huge collection of vinyl, Let’s just say that Harvey depicts “corporate cool” at its best.

Of the show’s flaws, it’s easy to spot that the Suits is not filmed in NYC (it’s Toronto) and it dove me crazy how in just two seconds flat someone is able to get the gist of a legal brief shoved in their face. These peeves aside, the legal squabbles are interesting as are their solutions. There are also interesting plot lines involving partnership in-fighting, Louis’s many neuroses, and Mike’s romance with Rachel (played by the future Duchess). However, every so often there was a script that was a dud, and after Mike left, the show lost its appeal.

So, while not a series I recommend watching from start to finish, there’s enough greatness in Suits to poke around a bit. I’m sure that my love for all things NYC and my once desire to be an attorney have something to do with my love for the show. Give it a try if you haven’t.

TV Draft Round 9 – Pick 3 – John Selects – Riverboat

We have a religious broadcaster in Atlanta that dedicates much of its evening entertainment on its primary subchannel to ancient black-and-white television shows, from the 1950’s and early 1960’s. Some were syndicated shows, while others ran briefly on network TV. One such show was Riverboat, which originally ran on NBC for two seasons, from 1959 to 1961 (31 episodes in the 1959-1960 season and 13 in the 1960-61 season).

The best description I have found for the show is “Wagon Train on a riverboat.” Like Wagon Train, it was an anthology series, this one based around the captain and crew of the riverboat Enterprise. NBC bought into the show as a competitor to ABC’s Maverick, which had lost James Garner, who was replaced by Roger Moore.

The captain of the Enterprise was Grey Holden, played by Darren McGavin. The initial pilot of the boat was Ben Frazer, played by a young Burt Reynolds, who had been cast in an attempt to lure the female viewers of the show. Reynolds left the show after 20 episodes, unable to get along with McGavin; the second season featured Noah Beery Jr. as pilot Bill Blake. Other regulars were, according to Wikipedia:

Dick Wessel, as chief stoker Carney Kohler, was cast in 41 episodes, Jack Lambert was cast in 23 episodes as first mate Joshua MacGregor (having played a different character, Tony Walchek, earlier in the series), John Mitchum co-starred in 10 episodes as Pickalong, the ship’s cook, Michael McGreevey was cast in 17 episodes as cabin boy Chip Kessler, and William D. Gordon played first mate Joe Travis in 13 episodes before his character’s death.

It was considered a Western, even though most of the show’s action took place on the Ohio, Mississippi, and Missouri Rivers. It took place during the antebellum period of the South; of some concern was the fact that there were no African American characters or actors, this despite the fact that historically the majority of dock laborers were Black or Creole. The network and sponsors of the show didn’t want to upset the viewers, particularly those in the South. The writers and McGavin felt this was stupid, but that was life during that period.

The remainder of the weekly casts were made up of guest stars, such as Mary Tyler Moore, Elizabeth Montgomery, Jeanne Crain, Mercedes McCambridge, Ricardo Montalban, Vincent Price, Eddie Albert, and in one show Sandy Kenyon as a pre-presidential Abraham Lincoln. A full list of the guest stars can be found here.

The shows were well-written with an eye towards the history of that period. There are Indian conflicts, con men, beautiful women, stowaways, dangerous cargo, and plenty of fisticuffs. As Mary would say, it was better than the average schlock. When it went off the air, it was replaced by The Americans, a show set during the Civil War.

If you get a chance, it’s worth your time to see it.

TV Draft Round 9 – Pick 1 – Dave Selects – Jeopardy

Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Dave at https://soundday.wordpress.com/

Today I’ll take “Great TV Shows” for $400. As you might have guessed the answer, and my next show to cover for this event, is Jeopardy!

Jeopardy! is a show so familiar it seems to hardly need any description. After all, it’s been around longer than many of its contestants, and longer than I (or many of the other columnists taking part here) have been. It’s been parodied on Saturday Night Live, sung about jokingly by Weird Al Yankovic and plays a part in the plot of Groundhog Day. Few and far between are those of us who’ve not at least seen part of an episode in passing somewhere along the line. Such an iconic part of the culture it’s become that even the opening theme with booming introduction – “this is JEOPARDY!” – is instantly identifiable by most. But that aside, let’s look at the show a little anyway.

Jeopardy! Is a long-running game show, in which three contestants play against each other trying to answer questions correctly to win. Or actually, answer “answers”…we’ll get to that. How long-running? It premiered in 1964, and has been running most of the time since, although in slightly different formats and shown on different providers. The current version has been running daily since 1984. Merv Griffin created it and also created the similarly-popular Wheel of Fortune which not coincidentally often runs right before or after Jeopardy! in many markets. Although he’s credited with creating it, and his name appears on the credits day after day, he credits his wife with being the one who had the basic idea.

Back around the end of 1963, he and his wife were sitting around, talking about his desire to create a game show for TV. She commented that quiz shows were popular and quite good, but there hadn’t been any since the 1958 “Game Show Scandal”, in which it was found certain contestants on the shows Dotto and Twenty-one had been given the answers so the producers could control who would win and come back, based on who they felt would be most popular with their viewers rather than their skill or even luck. The game idea was still good, but the concept had been tarnished. They wagered almost six years was enough time passed to give it another go. She then suggested the twist – why not give answers and have contestants guess the question. Merv recalled “she fired a couple of answers at me – ‘5280’ – and the question of course would be ‘how many feet in one mile?’” He liked it and quickly took the idea to NBC, who bought it sight unseen.

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NBC ran it, filming in New York, weekdays from 1964 through ’75, and added a nighttime weekly version which they syndicated in 1974. All the time, Art Fleming was the host who introduced the contestants and asked the, err “answers.” It had finally run its course by summer ’75, but they resurrected it again for the ’78-79 season, again with Fleming at the helm in the Big Apple. That lasted just one season, but it didn’t stay gone too long. In 1984, a new version began, running daily (five days a week), still produced by Griffin’s company, but this time shot in L.A. and sold for syndication. It wasn’t exclusive to one network, but most local stations in the U.S. had an hour of free time to program what they wanted between the evening news and “primetime shows”, so in the vast majority of cities, (as well as in Canada), one station or another ran Jeopardy!  The basic show was still the same, but this time there was a new host – big-haired, moustached Alex Trebek, a Canadian with limited experience as a game show host but a personality that fit.

In case you’ve not seen it, the game is broken into three parts, “Jeopardy”, “Double Jeopardy” and “Final Jeopardy.” The first two take up most of the show, and consist of contestants picking mystery questions (or “answers”) from a board, which is made up of a grid of 30 boxes. There are six categories, and five question/answers in each. Each one is worth a certain value, in the first round being $200, 400, 600, 800 and 1000 and in “double Jeopardy” , you guessed it, double that amount. (If you didn’t guess it, you might not quite be Jeopardy! material.) Players who buzzed in first and gave the correct response for each won that amount of money…but if they were wrong, the amount was subtracted from their score. So it paid to be quick on the buzzer…and sure of your knowledge of the category. “Final Jeopardy” consisted of one answer all three would be given and had to answer (with the question) in 30 seconds. They could wager any or all of the amount of money they’d accrued so far in the game, and like the earlier bits, they’d win it if they were right, but lose it if wrong. Put together a run of correct answers and a bit of moxie in “Final Jeopardy” and you can do very well – James Holzhauer won a record $131127 in a 2019 episode. The game winner went home with that money, and got invited back to play the next day, whereas the second and third place finishers got a small consolation prize – typically $1000 and $2000 , which some bitterly noted didn’t pay their costs to actually go to L.A. and pay for a hotel … the show doesn’t pay expenses.

The game demands quick reflexes and a good, wide-ranging knowledge of…well, the more the better. While Art Fleming has criticized the “new” version (new as in the past 38 years), for being “dumbed down” by Hollywood, and it is true there are often some questions about pop culture, there are also still more about things like ancient history or American geography. Esquire tabulated many years of shows and found the most frequently-used categories were “Before and After”, “Literature”, “Science” , “Word Origins” and “American History” while the most-used ones for Final Jeopardy are “American Presidents” and “Word Origins.”  Readers Digest compiled the ten that seemed to be hardest for contestants, and they included “Classical Music”,and “Canadian Cities” (sample : “Residents of this Saskatchewan city are called ‘Moose Javians’” , for question “What is Moose Jaw?”) . But it wasn’t only Canadian geography the mostly-American contestants had trouble with; so too did their own American because “States that Flow Together” also made the difficult list. That one had two states, with the last letter of one being the first of the next. Somehow no one could figure out “MissourI and Illinois” for the clue “one has St. Louis, the other has East St. Louis!”  Of course, sometimes they like to have a little fun too, and at times the categories seem a little loopy – “Superb Owl” (all about owls on , yes Super Bowl week); “Songs for Your Cat,” “Hertz so Good” (about electricity)…

The show seems to hit the sweet spot between being so esoteric it requires a phD and so simple or celebrity-based anyone who watches Entertainment Tonight could run the board. Similarly, Alex Trebek hit the perfect spot as the host (for over 8000 episodes from ’84 until his death late in 2020; the final one he made aired in January ’21; until the final days of his illness he missed just one show…an April 1 edition where he traded places with Wheel of Fortune‘s Pat Sajak as an April Fool’s joke); warm and fatherly enough, with just enough self-deprecating humor to balance his occasional raised eyebrow and seeming hint of condescension when dealing with less-than-swift contestants. He won seven Emmys for it and became a household name and beloved celebrity; so much so that just who was going to replace him became headline news for months.  So far, the answer appears to be Ken Jennings, who along with Big Bang Theory-alum Mayim Bialik have hosted the vast majority of post-Trebek shows. Jennings is an obvious choice, himself being the most famous, and by some accouts, most successful contestant ever on Jeopardy! Jennings won 74-straight shows in 2004, winning over $2.5 million and later won $1 million more on a “Greatest of All Time” tournament between past big winners. (From time to time, they have special tournaments, like ones for college students and “Celebrity Jeopardy!” where stars – mainly actors, but some athletes, writers, even politicians – try to win money for charity. Takeaway from those – no wonder Stephen King can cram so many details into his novels. The man seems to know everything!)  Jennings turned his run on Jeopardy! Into several books, online and magazine columns and a rare level of celebrity based on…just being pretty darn smart!

The hype, for lack of a better word, surrounding Trebek’s unfortunate demise (losing a long battle to cancer) and picking his replacement has only helped Jeopardy! Its ratings have risen of late, with some of Trebek’s final episodes being watched by over 14 million at time or airing and many more later on streaming services; Entertainment Weekly reported this year that it currently is the most-watched “regular” TV show based on viewers watching it live…an amazing feat for a game show which through syndication doesn’t even necessarily play in every market. Maybe it’s Trebek and Ken Jennings, or maybe I hold out hope, it’s something different. At a time when everything seems to be being dumbed down from our news to our movies to our elected officials, maybe some of us are appreciating a show where it actually pays to be smart… to know a little about the Nile River or European history or great American literature.

Jeopardy! is a show I’ve enjoyed now and then since I was a kid and Trebek was young and had a huge Afro. As I got older and Trebek’s facial hair shrank, I actually found myself watching more, playing along. It was also one of the few shows my parents were both fond of too; my Mom sometimes would phone me up and ask in exasperation “did you see Final Jeopardy? How did they not know Dickens was the answer!!” or the like; when I spent about half a year living with my Dad as he got on in years, it became nearly a nightly routine for us to go down to the basement after dinner and watch Jeopardy!, trying to shout out the answers fastest. He never did well if it was about Lady Gaga or baseball, but he could rock the history and current events categories. Needless to say, I miss both my parents, and also Alex Trebek but I’m pretty glad I can still try to fit  a bit of Jeopardy! in to the routine still and learn a little something with it. Memorable contestants, every topic under the sun, learning while playing… what is “great game show” Merv?

TV Draft Round 8 – Pick 8 – Paula Selects – Curb Your Enthusiasm

Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Paula at http://paulalight.com

Curb Your Enth

Curb Your Enthusiasm

 Omgosh I love this show! Larry David, the co-creator of Seinfeld, created the Curb concept and launched the show post-Seinfeld in October 2000. He stars in every episode as a fictionalized version of himself ~ a wealthy entertainment professional living a posh life in Los Angeles who doesn’t quite get the hang of social interaction and focuses on what he considers insults while committing many missteps himself. I guess fictionalized Larry might be “on the spectrum,” though that isn’t discussed. Cheryl Hines stars as his wife/ex-wife and Jeff Garlin is hilarious as his manager. Susie Essman plays Jeff’s wife and imo she is the funniest character with the best lines. Also very funny is J.B. Smoove, a hurricane refugee whom Larry and Cheryl shelter; he ends up as a regular, living in Larry’s guest quarters. The episodes where Smoove tries to find a “Mary Ferguson” to take the place of a Mary Ferguson who ditched him and their travel plans are absolutely side-splitting.

But I’m jumping ahead ~ the MF eps are in S11 (the latest one). Yep, Curb goes up to 11, and Larry has confirmed that there will be a Season 12. I’m so excited! If you don’t watch this show, but are a Seinfeld fan, I highly recommend catching up. Curb is also about the minutiae of daily life and the small misunderstandings that can morph into big dramas and ruin relationships. The show was developed from a one-hour comedy show that Larry did in 1999, which was shot as a “mockumentary.” Curb continues that style, with Larry outlining each ep and then relying on the actors to provide funny improvisational dialog, which is called retroscripting (all info is from Wikipedia). The show has been a huge success ~ nominated for 47 Emmy Awards and winning the 2002 Golden Globe for Best TV Series (music/comedy).

One of my favorite eps is S3e9 when Larry and Cheryl are still married and she has her family over for the Christmas holidays. Larry is Jewish, and he has no idea that the cookies Cheryl and fam have baked are for a special manger scene they’re going to set up. He eats the baby Jesus and everyone is mad at him. Season 4 starts out with several great eps, including such fab guest stars as Mel Brooks and Ben Stiller. This Season features a theme of Larry getting one “free pass” from Cheryl to be unfaithful during their marriage and he wants to cash it in, resulting in several hilarious attempts. Cheryl and Larry renew their wedding vows during this season and have a big argument over whether to love each other until death (Larry’s preference) or for all eternity (Cheryl’s). In S6 and beyond, Cheryl and Larry split up for good, and we get to see Larry going on dates, getting served with a fatwa, opening a spite store, and being forced to cast a terrible actress in his new show when her burglar uncle drowns in Larry’s unfenced pool. Larry ends up trapped in a relationship with an unattractive city council member (Tracey Ullman) in hopes of revoking the law about fencing pools, and Smoove says Larry is putting “bad miles” on his penis.

Can’t wait for S12!

~*~

Paula Light is a poet, novelist, flash fiction fan, cupcake connoisseur, mom, grandma, cat mommy, etc. Her blog can be found at http://paulalight.com.

TV Draft Round 8 – Pick 7 – Keith Selects – Sherlock

Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Keith at https://nostalgicitalian.com/

Sherlock

We have come to the eighth round of the Hanspostcard TV Show Draft. I have already picked Columbo and Perry Mason, and for this round I have another mystery show. I’ve noticed a few of the other participants have picked some great BBC shows, so I guess it is now my turn. For this round, I pick Sherlock.

The series ran from 2010 – 2017. Series 1 aired in 2010, Series 2 in 2012, a Christmas mini-episode ran in 2013, Series 3 ran in 2014, a special “period” show aired in 2016, and Series 4 aired in 2017. What I love about this show is the modern take on a classic character. Having Sherlock Holmes solving crimes in modern day was the draw for me and it did not disappoint.

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The Premise

The show features Sherlock Holmes, who is a “consulting detective”, along with his flatmate Dr. John Watson solving crimes in a modern-day London. He helps Detective Inspector Greg Lestrade, who at first is a bit suspicious of Sherlock. Over time, however, he realized Sherlock’s intelligence and ability to help solve various crimes and considers him an asset.

Dr. Watson documents their adventures on his personal blog and Sherlock becomes a sort of celebrity. This leads to a lot of press coverage and ordinary people and the British government seeking out Sherlock for help with cases.

The show features various crimes and villains, however, a recurring feature is the battle between Holmes and his archenemy, Jim Moriarty. Many of the stories in the series have been adapted from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes books.

Who’s Responsible?

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Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss were both writers for another BBC show – Dr. Who. They were both huge fans of Sherlock Holmes. They were both no stranger to taking Victorian stories and adapting it for television. The two men spent many hours during train rides discussing creating a new series featuring Sherlock Holmes. Moffat’s wife suggested that the two begin developing the show before someone else stole the idea.

The Cast

Sherlock Holmes – Benedict Cumberbatch

Sherlock

According to Moffat and Gattis, Benedict Cumberbatch was immediately the guy they wanted to play Holmes. They had seen him perform in Atonement and thought he was perfect. A producer said that he was the only one they actually saw for the role. According to one article: “The part is modelled as a charismatic secondary psychopath or “High functioning sociopath” as Sherlock self-describes, unlike Doyle’s rendering as a primary psychopath, thereby allowing more opportunity or ambiguity for traits of empathy.” Cumberbatch told the Guardian, “There’s a great charge you get from playing him, because of the volume of words in your head and the speed of thought—you really have to make your connections incredibly fast. He is one step ahead of the audience and of anyone around him with normal intellect. They can’t quite fathom where his leaps are taking him.”

Dr. John Watson – Martin Freeman

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Actor Matt Smith was originally the actor Moffat and Gattis had in mind to play Watson, but there was something about him, the chemistry with Cumberbatch, and the way he played the character that they didn’t like (They would eventually cast him in Dr. Who). Eventually, Martin Freeman won the role. Moffat says of Freeman, (he is) “the sort of opposite of Benedict in everything except the amount of talent… Martin finds a sort of poetry in the ordinary man. I love the fastidious realism of everything he does.” Freeman, when considering his character, says he is “a ‘moral compass’ for Sherlock, who does not always consider the morality and ethics of his actions.

Detective Inspector Lestrade – Rupert Graves

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According to Moffat and Gattis, many auditioned for the role, but they all seemed to have a comedic take on the role. The creators liked Graves’ approach to it and he was cast. There is some great interplay between Lestrade and Holmes throughout the series. He works for Scotland Yard.

Jim Moriarty – Andrew Scott

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Scott is fantastic as Moriarty! Moffat said, “We knew what we wanted to do with Moriarty from the very beginning. Moriarty is usually a rather dull, rather posh villain so we thought someone who was genuinely properly frightening. Someone who’s an absolute psycho.” They certainly achieved this. There were times I was genuinely freaked out by his performance! The creators never intended to have a “confrontation” scene between Holmes and Moriarty, but then they saw Scott’s audition and they knew that they HAD to!

Other Cast Members

Amanda Abbington – Mary (Morstan) Watson

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At the time of the series, Amanda Abbington was Martin Freeman’s real life partner. She was cast to play John Watson’s girlfriend/wife.

Mrs. HudsonUna Stubbs

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Mrs. Hudson is Holmes’ and Watson’s landlady. She brings a wonderful bit of comedic dialog to every interaction and scene. Interesting story – Una has known Benedict Cumberbatch since he was 4 years old and she has worked with his mother!

Molly HooperLouise Brealey

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Molly Hooper works at a morgue at a London hospital. She also has an apparent crush on Sherlock. Because of her work position and crush on him, Sherlock frequently exploits her to let him examine or perform experiments on victims’ bodies. In the first episode of the series she allows him to hit a corpse with a riding crop to see how it might bruise in post mortum.

Mycroft Holmes – Mark Gattis

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(SPOILER ALERT) When Mycroft first appears in the series, you really have no idea who he is. He is this mysterious man who tries to get Watson to spy on Sherlock for him. You only learn later on that he is Sherlock’s brother. Mycroft is even more skilled at deduction, correcting Sherlock on occasion and beating him in deduction exercises, as well as lacking enthusiasm for “legwork”. His intellect is borderline superhuman. The sibling rivalry between the two lead to some very good scenes.

Sally Donovan & Phillip Anderson – Vinette Robinson & Jonathan Aris

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Srgt. Sally Donovan often works with Lestrade on cases. She resents Sherlock’s presence at crime scenes and treats him with extreme disrespect and rudeness, cruelly calling him a “freak” to his face, and warns Watson that Sherlock is a psychopath who will one day get bored of catching killers and become one himself.

Phillip Anderson is originally a member of the Metropolitan Police’s Forensic Services. From the series opening, it is clear that Anderson and Sherlock have history of mutual dislike with Sherlock repeatedly humiliating Anderson and Anderson refusing to assist him at crime scenes.

Why I Picked It

Growing up, I had read a few of the Sherlock Holmes books. I has seen Basil Rathbone as Sherlock Holmes in movies, and certainly heard many old time radio shows featuring Holmes and Watson. I was intrigued to see just how Sherlock would play out in modern times.

I began to watch the first episode and all it took was the first meeting of Sherlock and Watson, and I was hooked. The way Sherlock is able to tick off things about Watson after just a couple minutes was awesome. Here is that scene:

Pardon me while I sort of digress for a moment.

One of the shows I considered picking in the draft was House, M.D. starring Hugh Laurie. I had heard it said that House was based on Sherlock Holmes. House would often make brilliant deductions about the his patients, and often was able to rattle off things about people because of his keen sense of observation – just like Sherlock Holmes. When I began to watch Sherlock, I immediately noticed just how much the two were alike.

The two characters are very similar. Check out the following links:

https://screenrant.com/house-ways-similar-sherlock-holmes/

https://screenrant.com/house-show-sherlock-holmes-comparison-similarities/

Now, back to why I picked it. I love a good mystery, obviously. I was fascinated by the way Sherlock worked and how he figured things out. Sherlock is a bit different that my earlier picks of Columbo and Perry Mason. I loved watching him sort through all the things that helped get him to the final conclusion.

I love good characters. This show is full of them. There are times I laugh out loud at some of the interactions. One of my favorite exchanges between Sherlock and Lestrade happens in the first episode. Sherlock, Watson and Lestrade are in a room and Sherlock yells, “Shut up!” Lestrade answers back, “I didn’t say anything.” Sherlock adds quickly, “You were thinking. It’s annoying!”

Holmes and Watson are the perfect team. They play well off each other. The same holds true for Cumberbatch and Freeman. Their chemistry is magical. I remember seeing the Sherlock Holmes movies with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law and thinking they had good chemistry, but Cumberbatch and Freeman’s chemistry is far superior.

In between Series 3 & 4, Sherlock aired a special on New Years Day of 2016. The Abominable Bride was set in Victorian London. Set in the time of the original books, it takes Sherlock out of the modern day and places him back where we all know him from. Moffat stated that “The special is its own thing. We wouldn’t have done the story we’re doing, and the way we’re doing it, if we didn’t have this special. It’s not part of the run of three episodes. So we had this to do it … It’s kind of in its own little bubble.”

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The special won an Emmy for Outstanding Television Movie at the 2016 Primetime Emmy Awards. If you only watch one episode – I’d suggest this one.

The final episode of Sherlock aired in 2017. Steven Moffat stated that He and Mark Gattis had fifth series plotted out, but weren’t ready to fully produce it. Whether or not a new series of shows will come to fruition is still up in the air.

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When Benedict Cumberbatch was asked about whether or not Sherlock would make more episodes, he said, “I’m the worst person to ask because my slate’s pretty, pretty full at the moment, as is Martin’s and all the other key players involved. So, who knows? Maybe one day, if the script’s right. And I say ‘the script,’ maybe it could be a film rather than the series. Who knows?” 

Sherlock is a multi award winning show full of mystery, adventure, comedy, and fun. If you have never seen it, I highly recommend it.

The game is on!!

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TV Draft Round 8 – Pick 6 – Liam Selects – Siskel & Ebert

Welcome to the Hanspostcard TV Draft. I hope you will enjoy it! Today’s post was written by Liam at https://othemts.wordpress.com/

  • Opening Soon at a Theater Near You (1975–1977) – WTTW, Chicago
  • Sneak Previews (1977–1982) – PBS
  • At the Movies (1982–1986) – Syndication
  • Siskel & Ebert & the Movies (1986–1999) – Syndication

In 1975, WTTW-TV (the local PBS outlet for Chicago) brought together two film critics, Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert for a movie review show called Opening Soon at a Theater Near You. Siskel wrote film reviews for the Chicago Tribune starting in 1969 while Ebert began his career as a film critic at the Chicago Sun-Times in 1967.  In 1975, Ebert became the first film critic to receive a Pulitzer Prize.  This was a time when there was a heated rivalry between the two Chicago newspapers, and members of the small field of film criticism, there was a professional rivalry between Siskel and Ebert as well, bordering on animosity.

The show started off roughly as each critic attempted to assert their personality and get one over on their opponent (not to mention that neither one had much experience in front of a camera).  Over time they gradually eased up and started having more of a conversation about the movies.   Working together proved to be more effective inspiring one another with insights.  Siskel and Ebert started to become friends in real life as well. Despite all of this, some of the best TV drama came when they disagreed and argued about a movie, but always with respect for their opponent as an individual.

After two seasons on WTTW, the show was retooled as Sneak Previews and broadcast nationally on PBS.  The pair left PBS in 1982 for a syndicated show produced by Tribune Entertainment called At the Movies.  In 1986, after a contract dispute, they created another syndicated show called Siskel & Ebert & the Movies (later shortened to Siskel & Ebert) produced by Walt Disney television. All the shows shared some common characteristics, reviewing a handful of new releases in each episode, with special episodes focusing on the Oscars, Siskel & Ebert’s best movies of the year, and a deep focus on the work of an individual artists.  The shows ended with a roundup of the movies discussed with Siskel & Ebert each giving a thumbs up or thumbs down for each movie.  “Two thumbs up” became a coveted phrase for movie promoters to include in their advertisements.

It’s unfortunate that the whole thumbs up/thumbs down thing became such a cultural touchstone, because Siskel & Ebert offered a much deeper appraisal of movies than that shorthand could ever offer.  I found a website called Siskel & Ebert Movie Reviews where full episodes of the show have been uploaded.  Watching some shows reminds me how deep they would go into their discussion of the films as well as sharing extended clips of the movies.  It seems a foreign concept today when everyone is so worried about “spoilers,” but I remember going to the movies back in the 1980s knowing a whole lot about what I was going to see thanks to Siskel & Ebert, and it helped me enjoy the movies more.

Siskel & Ebert essentially democratized film criticism.  When the show started in the 1970s, it was a time when foreign films were getting screened regularly in the U.S. for the first time, and older American movies were getting rereleased.  Siskel & Ebert loved “highbrow” art movies, and promoted them on their show but never in a snooty manner.  Instead they made these films more accessible to wider audiences.  In the 1980s, home video made even more movies more widely available and the always included home media releases in their shows as well.  The duo could also find great entertainment in “lowbrow” Hollywood movies and weren’t afraid to say what they liked and why they were still great movies.  Of course, they also didn’t hold back on bad movies, and covered them in features like “Dog of the Week” with Spot the Wonder Dog barking an introduction.

Gene Siskel died of a brain tumor in 1999.  A private man he did not share the extent of his illness outside his family so his sudden death took his partner Roger Ebert off guard.  Ebert continued the show with rotating guest hosts for a time before partnering up with Richard Roeper from 2000 to 2008.  Ebert was struck with cancer of the thyroid and salivary glands in 2002 and in 2006 had his lower jaw surgically removed.  Always contrary to Siskel, Ebert was open to sharing his health problems with the public, particularly in the intimate documentary movie Life Itself.  Unable to speak, Ebert continued to review movies in print, publishing them on his website RogerEbert.com until his death in 2013.