Star Trek – The Naked Time

★★★★ September 29, 1966 Season 1 Episode 4

If you want to see where we are…and you missed a few…HERE is a list of the episodes in my index located at the top of my blog. 

This show was written by John D.F. Black and Gene Roddenberry

This episode is probably best known as the one with Sulu, stripped to the waist, running around the ship’s corridors with a sword. But, it’s this episode where we learn a lot of interesting things about the main characters. After visiting the surface of a planet where many people had died in odd ways, one by one the Enterprise Crew starts acting with no inhibitions. You learn some of the inner secrets of the crewman as they get sick which is much like them getting drunk. 

Spockchapel

Majel Barrett as Nurse Christine Chapel makes her first appearance in Star Trek since the pilot when she played Number One. She starts professing her love for Spock who is shaken because the disease is affecting him as well and he is losing control of his emotions. We also learn in this episode that Spock is half-human… his mom is human and his dad is Vulcan. 

Bruce Hyde who plays Riley is the comic relief in this one. He catches the disease and locks himself up and shuts the engines down while drunkenly serenading the Enterprise for a good part of the episode. They are in orbit and are about to crash unless they find a way to start the engines long before the 30 minutes required to do so. 

This is also the first episode Spock did the famous Vulcan Nerve Pinch. The main reason for the 4 stars is because of the way we get to know these characters. 

From IMDB

After the scene where Spock is weeping, Leonard Nimoy’s fan mail increased exponentially. Viewers were enthralled with the idea that Spock was secretly a reservoir of love and passion instead of an empty emotional void. This reaction inspired further scripts which explored Spock’s inner makeup.

The budget-strapped show often made good use of the creativity of its prop staff in coming up with low-cost solutions to otherwise pricey items. Here, the “thermal suits” worn by Spock and Tormolen on the planet’s surface were fashioned from 1960s art deco-style shower curtains.

This is the only TOS episode in which the three primary female crew members – Uhura, Chapel, and Rand – appeared together. The characters did not appear together again until Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979).

While under the influence of the virus, Nurse Chapel attempts to seduce Spock. This would be the first depiction of what many fans perceived as underlying romantic tensions between the characters, or at least Chapel’s unrequited romantic attraction to Spock.

Summary

When Lieutenant Junior Grade Tormolen brings aboard an infection that killed the science team on Psi 2000, the crew of the Enterprise soon find themselves unable to control their most predominant emotions. Soon the entire starship is in shambles and plummeting toward the self-destructing planet.

CAST

William Shatner … Captain James Tiberius ‘Jim’ Kirk
Leonard Nimoy … Mister Spock
Stewart Moss … Tormolen
Majel Barrett … Nurse Christine Chapel
Bruce Hyde … Riley
DeForest Kelley … Doctor Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy
Grace Lee Whitney … Yeoman Janice Rand
George Takei … Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu
James Doohan … Lieutenant Commander Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott
Nichelle Nichols … Lieutenant Nyota Uhura
William Frederick Knight … Amorous Crewman (as William Knight)
John Bellah … Laughing Crewman
Tom Anfinsen … Crewman (uncredited)
Bill Blackburn … Lieutenant Hadley (uncredited)
Frank da Vinci … Lt. Brent (uncredited)
Andrea Dromm … Yeoman Smith (uncredited)
Eddie Paskey … Lieutenant Ryan (uncredited)
Woody Talbert … Crewman #2 (uncredited)
Ron Veto Ron Veto … Crewman (uncredited)

Star Trek – Where No Man Has Gone Before

★★★★ September 22, 1966 Season 1 Episode 3

If you want to see where we are…and you missed a few…HERE is a list of the episodes in my index located at the top of my blog. 

This episode was written by Samuel A. Peeples and Gene Roddenberry

Absolute power corrupts. In an energy field Kirk’s friend Gary Mitchell is endowed with astonishing powers of ESP and telekinesis, Kirk and Spock grow alarmed as he starts to test his ability to take over the Enterprise. Spock urges Kirk to maroon Mitchell on Delta Vega, an uninhabited planet, or kill him. At first, Kirk is outraged at even the suggestion, but eventually accepts the cold logic of this solution as Spock warns him, “we’ll never reach another earth base with him on board.”

This episode probably should have been the debut of Star Trek…it was the second pilot filmed but this one was aired 3rd. It truly is bizarre that this story wasn’t used for the first broadcast episode on September 8, 1966, instead of The Man Trap. It worked out in the end but this would have been a stronger episode. 

It was the first one filmed with Captain Kirk. Spock looks close to what he looked like on the pilot which no one saw at the time. In the other episodes, he looks like the Spock we have come to know. This episode has a different doctor (Paul Fix) than DeForrest Kelley.

It’s a strong episode with a very good storyline and acting. My favorite interaction was this between Kirk and Spock about what to do with Gary Mitchell. After telling Kirk his friend needs to be marooned on a planet before he destroys them all…this short snippet took place.

Kirk: Doctor Dehner feels he isn’t that dangerous. What makes you right and a trained psychiatrist wrong?
Spock: Because she feels. I don’t. All I know is logic. In my opinion, we’ll be lucky if we can repair this ship and get away in time.

That sums up Spock rather nicely. 

Sally Kellerman Star Trek

Sally Kellerman was in this episode as Dr. Elizabeth Dehner. Kellerman would go on to star in M*A*S*H the movie. Also, Gary Lockwood who played Lt. Cmdr. Gary Mitchell would be in 2001: A Space Odyssey a few years later. 

From IMDB

The change in Gary and Elizabeth’s eyes was accomplished by Gary Lockwood and Sally Kellerman wearing sparkly contact lenses. They consisted of tinfoil sandwiched between two lenses that covered the entire eye. Wearing the lenses was difficult for Lockwood. He could only see through the lenses by looking down while pointing his head up. Lockwood was able to use this look to convey Mitchell’s arrogant attitude.

The phaser rifle that Kirk uses appears for the first and only time in the series. However, it can be seen on many pre-season 1 promotional photos.

Leonard Nimoy is the only actor to appear in both this, the second pilot, and the original pilot episode Star Trek: The Cage (1966). That being so, and the fact that he is in all the rest of the episodes, makes him the only actor to appear in all 79 episodes of the series (80 for those who count “The Cage”).

The gap in time between filming this and the rest of the series explains some of the apparent inconsistencies, notably some changes in the Enterprise architecture, the fact that most of the female crew members wear trousers and Mr Spock’s distinctive yellowish skin tone.

The reason this episode wasn’t broadcast first, despite being a pilot, is that the network felt it was “too expository”, and would not have made a good premiere episode for the series.

This was filmed more than one year before it was aired on TV.

Summary

When the Enterprise attempts to penetrate a space barrier, it is damaged and creates a potentially worse problem. Two crew members, including Kirk’s best friend, gain psionic powers that are growing exponentially. This leaves Captain Kirk with the difficult choice; either maroon them or killing before they get so powerful they lose their humanity and become truly dangerous.

CAST

William Shatner … Captain James Tiberius ‘Jim’ Kirk
Leonard Nimoy … Mister Spock
Sally Kellerman … Dr. Elizabeth Dehner
Gary Lockwood … Lt. Cmdr. Gary Mitchell
George Takei … Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu
James Doohan … Lieutenant Commander Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott
Lloyd Haynes … Alden
Andrea Dromm … Yeoman Smith
Paul Carr Paul Carr … Lt. Lee Kelso
Paul Fix  … Doctor Piper
Bill Blackburn … Lieutenant Hadley (uncredited)
Eddie Paskey … Lieutenant Leslie (uncredited)

Star Trek – Charlie X

★★★★ September 15, 1966 Season 1 Episode 2

If you want to see where we are…and you missed a few…HERE is a list of the episodes in my index located at the top of my blog. 

***Sorry to interrupt Star Trek but I guest hosted UK #1’s Blog today…he has an incredible blog of all the number 1 hits in the UK from the beginning. Check his blog out today if you can!***

This show was written by D.C. FontanaGene Roddenberry

There are parallels between Charlie X and the iconic Twilight Zone episode It’s a Good Life that aired 5 years before…when Billy Mumy’s character would wish people in the cornfield. 

Charles Evans had very little contact with human life before coming on board the Enterprise and has to live amongst a community of 428 people. He is 17 years old, a time when teenagers have to find their way in the world and somehow fit into adult communities. This episode does a good job of portraying how awkward and difficult life can be in these situations. What complicates it further is the infatuation he develops for Yeoman Janice Rand, not to mention the uncontrolled psychic power he possesses.

Star Trek charlie x and Yeoman

Charlie is a 17-year-old with the emotional maturity of a 5-year-old…but with massive powers that no one knows about. You feel bad for Charlie as he has never had the opportunity to develop and learn around real people. He asked Kirk if Yeoman Janice Rand is a girl. Kirk tries to be a father figure to Charlie throughout the episode which included explaining why he shouldn’t slap Rand in the butt. Charlie comes off as obnoxious and whiny…so yes…a teenager but they find out quickly he is very dangerous. 

The episode starts off humourous until Charlie is angered by the rejection of Rand and that is when the crew discovers his powers. Charlie is a character whom one could easily fear or hate, but in the end, one realizes that what he really needs is guidance. Imagine being 17 and having unlimited powers. Robert Walker Jr. who plays Charlie Evans did a great job of portraying Charlie. 

From IMDB

True to his training as a Method actor, Robert Walker Jr. chose to remain in his dressing room and not interact with any members of the cast as this would help his characterization of a strange, aloof person.

In the original outline, Gene Roddenberry’s working titles were “The Day Charlie Became God” or “Charlie Is God”. These would almost certainly have been problematic to the network censors, so the title was changed to Charlie’s Law, then settled on Charlie X, as X denotes the unknown. However, the title “Charlie’s Law” was retained in the book-form tie-in, novelized by James Blish.

During the lounge scene, where Uhura sings a song about Charlie, Spock is seen smiling as he accompanies her on a harp-like instrument. This is one of the few times in the series that Spock smiles, while not under the influence of a substance or someone’s mind-control powers.

This episode was originally scheduled to air further into the season, as all action took place aboard the Enterprise and it was basically a teenage melodrama set in the space age, both of which NBC disliked. However, as it required no new outer space special effects shots (actually all Enterprise shots are recycled from the two pilots), its post-production took less time than other episodes, and it was chosen to be the second episode to air out of necessity, as other episodes were not ready for the deadline. The Antares was originally to be shown on screen, however, when the early airdate was commissioned, this was eliminated.

Summary

Charlie Evans was the sole survivor of a crash and he has been alone on a deserted planet for fourteen years. Making Charlie’s return to society more difficult is his mysterious godlike abilities. The space vessel Antares rescues Charlie from the forbidding surface of the planet Thasus, and then hurriedly hands him off to the Enterprise. Soon, mysterious happenings dog the boy, who cannot seem to learn certain vital lessons of adulthood. Finally, the humiliated teen reveals prodigious psionic powers that could even threaten the survival of the Federation. Who is Charlie, really, and where did he get these abilities?

CAST

William Shatner … Captain James Tiberius ‘Jim’ Kirk
Leonard Nimoy … Mister Spock
Robert Walker Jr. … Charlie Evans (as Robert Walker)
DeForest Kelley … Doctor Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy
Grace Lee Whitney … Yeoman Janice Rand
Nichelle Nichols … Lieutenant Nyota Uhura
Charles Stewart … Captain Ramart (as Charles J. Stewart)
Dallas Mitchell … Tom Nellis
Don Eitner … Navigator
Pat McNulty … Tina Lawton (as Patricia McNulty)
John Bellah … Crewman I
Garland Thompson … Crewman II
Abraham Sofaer … The Thasian
Bill Blackburn … Lieutenant Hadley (uncredited)
Frank da Vinci … Brent / Security Guard (uncredited)
Bob Herron … Sam (uncredited)
John Lindesmith … Helmsman (uncredited)
Eddie Paskey … Lieutenant Leslie (uncredited)
Gene Roddenberry … Enterprise Chef (voice) (uncredited)
George Takei … Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu (voice) (uncredited)
Ron Veto … Security Guard (uncredited)
Laura Wood … Prematurely Aged Woman (uncredited)

Star Trek – The Man Trap

★★★1/2 September 8, 1966 Season 1 Episode 1

If you want to see where we are…and you missed a few…HERE is a list of the episodes in my index located at the top of my blog. 

This show was written by George Clayton Johnson

This was the first episode aired although it was the 6th one filmed. NBC thought this one had more action than the other 5 that were ready to go. The world got its first look at the crew of the Enterprise…and they didn’t fail to deliver here. It’s not one of the top episodes by any means but it is a good solid episode. 

In this episode, we get the first peek at an alien monster (Salt Vampire) and what a handsome man he is! He was a shapeshifting alien who is the only one left of his kind that needs salt to survive and loves the human variety of salt. 

The show does serve as a good introduction to the main characters. William Shatner as Captain James Tiberius ‘Jim’ Kirk, Leonard Nimoy as Mister Spock, DeForest Kelley as Doctor Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy, Grace Lee Whitney as Yeoman Janice Rand, George Takei as Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu, and the beautiful Nichelle Nichols as Lieutenant Nyota Uhura. The main thing that is missing is the close friendship between Spock and Jim…of course since this was the 6th one made but the first to air…it hadn’t built up yet. 

Dr. McCoy is the central character here for the most part, except when he’s being lectured by Captain Kirk for dropping the ball a few times. The characters are close to what they become but we will see growth from all of them coming up. 

It’s interesting how they touch on real life with species that are on the brink of being extinct. Determining the creature’s right to continue existing, drawing parallels between the salt vampire and the now-extinct wild buffalo. Like the Twilight Zone…they manage to get a social comment across through science fiction. There will be more of that to come in the episodes. 

As a debut, it is solid and good. I would say a little above average but they have better ones coming. 

From IMDB Trivia

It was Gene Roddenberry’s idea to have the creature, in its illusory form, speak Swahili to Uhura. Kathy Fitzgibbon supplied him with the translation. In English, the illusory crewman says “How are you, friend. I think of you, beautiful lady. You should never know loneliness.”

Dr. McCoy’s handheld “medical scanners” were actually modified salt and pepper shakers purchased originally for use in “The Man Trap”, in which a character was seen using a salt shaker. They were of Scandinavian design, and on-screen was not recognizable as salt shakers; so a few generic salt shakers were borrowed from the studio commissary, and the “futuristic” looking shakers became McCoy’s medical instruments.

Summary

In the series premiere, the Enterprise visits planet M-113 where scientists Dr. Crater and his wife Nancy, an old girlfriend of Dr. McCoy, are studying the remains of an ancient civilization. When Enterprise crewmen begin turning up dead under mysterious circumstances, Kirk and Spock must unravel the clues to discover how, why, and who is responsible.

CAST

William Shatner … Captain James Tiberius ‘Jim’ Kirk
Leonard Nimoy … Mister Spock
Jeanne Bal … Nancy Crater
Alfred Ryder … Prof. Robert Crater
DeForest Kelley … Doctor Leonard ‘Bones’ McCoy
Grace Lee Whitney … Yeoman Janice Rand
George Takei … Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu
Nichelle Nichols … Lieutenant Nyota Uhura
Bruce Watson … Green
Michael Zaslow … Darnell
Vince Howard … Crewman
Francine Pyne … Nancy III
Budd Albright … Barnhart (uncredited)
Tom Anfinsen … Crewman (uncredited)
John Arndt … Crewman Sturgeon (uncredited)
Bob Baker … … Beauregard (uncredited)
Bill Blackburn … Lieutenant Hadley (uncredited)
Frank da Vinci … Brent (uncredited)
James Doohan … Lieutenant Commander Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott
Sandra Lee Gimpel … M-113 Creature (uncredited)
Jeannie Malone … Yeoman (uncredited)
Eddie Paskey … Lieutenant Ryan (uncredited)
Anthony Larry Paul … Berkeley (uncredited)
Walter Soo Hoo … Crewman (uncredited)
Garrison True … Security Guard (uncredited)

 

Star Trek – The Cage

★★★★★ October 4, 1988 PILOT

If you want to see where we are…and you missed a few…HERE is a list of the episodes in my index located at the top of my blog. 

This episode was written by Gene Roddenberry

*** Before I start this review I want to tell everyone that I try not to give the ending away in any of these although they are over 50 years old…some people have not seen them. If you disagree with my stars (5 being excellent, 4 being very good, 3 being a good average show, 2 means below average, and 1 means downright bad)…please say something…change my mind. I usually get my summary from IMDB and add or subtract from them…there is no sense in reinventing the wheel***

I’m presenting Star Trek in order of air dates except for this one. It was only screened to NBC executives in 1965 and they are the last people to see it until October 4, 1988, when it was finally broadcast on television almost 20 years after Star Trek went off the air. 

I love this pilot episode of Star Trek. A different cast almost completely except for Spock. He looks and acts a little different (see the smile) but still is Spock. One more cast member was recast. Actress Majel Barrett who played Number One was recast as Nurse Chapel in the TV series. She would go on to marry the show’s creator Gene Roddenberry. They would reuse much of the footage of the pilot for an excellent two-part episode called The Menagerie later on in season one. 

Jeffrey Hunter was really good as Captain Pike but he didn’t want to commit to the series because he wanted to concentrate on movies. William Shatner has said in his book that the producers canned Hunter after his wife repeatedly stormed onto the set insisting on more flattering camera angles for her husband. 

The original Star Trek pilot was rejected by NBC for being “too cerebral”, “too intellectual”, “too slow”, and with “not enough action”, so they commissioned a new pilot, which later became Where No Man Has Gone Before, starring a completely different captain… the one and only Captain James T. Kirk played by William Shatner. 

What we learn from Captain Pike in this one is that he is questioning his life of being Captain of the Enterprise. He is tired of making life-and-death decisions for all of his crew. Of course, when he loses himself because of the  Talosians, he snaps back and realizes that a quiet life is not for him. The real star to me was Susan Oliver as Vina. She was obviously beautiful and she did a great job acting in this part. You felt so bad for her when you see her true state. 

This is an excellent show…NBC was wrong in its assessment of the show. I’m happy it turned out the way it did though because we would have never had the great original cast. 

Summary

This is the pilot to the series that would star William Shatner. Only in this version, there is a different Captain, Christopher Pike, and with the exception of Mr. Spock, an entirely different crew. Now it begins when the Enterprise receives what appears to be a distress message. But when they get to the planet where the message was sent from, they discover that the supposed survivors were nothing more than illusions created by the inhabitants of the planet, for the purpose of capturing a mate for the one genuine surviving human, and Captain Pike is the lucky winner. While Captain Pike tries to cope with the experiments and tests that the aliens are conducting on him, his crew tries to find a way to rescue him. But the aliens’ illusions are too powerful and deceptive (at first).

CAST

Jeffrey Hunter – Captain Christopher Pike
Leonard Nimoy – Mr. Spock
Majel Barrett – Number One
John Hoyt – Dr. Philip Boyce
Susan Oliver – Vina
Meg Wyllie – The Keeper
Peter Duryea – Lieutenant José Tyler
Laurel Goodwin – Yeoman J. M. Colt
Clegg Hoyt – Transporter Chief Pitcairn
Malachi Throne – The Keeper (voice)
Michael Dugan – The Kaylar
Georgia Schmidt – First Talosian
Robert C. Johnson – First Talosian (voice)
Serena Sande – Second Talosian
Jon Lormer – Dr. Theodore Haskins
Adam Roarke – C.P.O. Garrison
Leonard Mudie – Second Survivor
Anthony Jochim – Third Survivor
Ed Madden – Enterprise Geologist
Robert Phillips – Space Officer (Orion)
Joseph Mell – Earth Trader
Janos Prohaska – Anthropoid Ape / Humanoid Bird

 

Star Trek …coming soon

I’ve been a fan of Star Trek since I was 13 and I saw a 24-hour marathon of the original Star Trek. I did watch some of the Next Generation, the movies, and some of the newer ones but I’ve always liked the original the best. The cast was great and Spock has to be one of the best TV characters ever written.

I enjoyed covering The Twilight Zone so I want to do that again with a classic TV show. It’s hard to pick them out. It would be hard covering a sitcom episode by episode but The Twilight Zone and Star Trek are so different in every episode (especially TZ) that I thought I would give this one a shot.

The show was only on for 3 seasons… that is hard to believe since we know it so well. The show inspired many inventors at the time and after. Either Gene Roddenberry (the show’s creator) knew about inventions that were being developed or inventors took his cue to make things real…probably both. Here is a list of things that were made popular after Star Trek.

Tablet computers
Tractor beams
Tricorders (there’s also an X Prize for that)
Flip communicators (and wearable badge communicators)
Hyposprays
Replicators
Cloaking devices
Voice interface computers (hello Siri)
Transparent aluminum
Bluetooth headsets (Uhura had one first)
Google Glass
Portable memory (from floppy disks to USB sticks)
Focused ultrasound technology
Biometric data tracking for health and verifying identity
GPS
Automatic doors
Big screen displays
Real-time universal translators
Teleconferencing
VISOR bionic eyes for the blind
Diagnostic beds

Anyway, next week I hope to start posting Star Trek episodes. My target is Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. 79 episodes in all which should take around 26-27 weeks if there are no interruptions. I hope Star Trek fans will visit…if not I will still be posting music on most days as well.

Thank you as always.

How The Grinch Stole Christmas

You’re a mean one…Mr. Grinch. I first posted this in 2018…It’s not Christmas without the Grinch…

The cartoon was released in 1966 and has been shown every year since. This one along with Rudolph, Charlie Brown, and a few more were a part of Christmas. These specials would prime you for the big day.

One cool thing about the cartoon was that Boris Karloff was the narrator. Thurl Ravenscroft (voice of Tony the Tiger) sang the great song “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch. ”

The citizens of Whoville looked and acted like the others of Dr. Suess’s universe. They were all getting ready for Christmas while a certain someone…or thing looked down from Mt. Crumpit. The Grinch has hated Christmas for years and sees the Whovillians getting ready for Christmas and is determined once and for all to put an end to it.

He dresses up as Santa Clause and makes his poor dog Max act as a reindeer to swoop down and steal Christmas. The Grinch sleds down the hill almost killing Max and they soon reach Whoville. He is busted by one kid…Cindy Lou Who, who asks him questions as the Grinch took her family tree. He lies to her and sends her to bed.

In the morning after he has everything including “The Roast Beast,” he listens for the sorrow to begin.

You need to watch the rest or rewatch…

A live-action remake came out in 2000 but I still like this one the best. You cannot replicate Boris Karloff.

The Budget – Coming in at over $300,000, or $2.2 million in today’s dollars, the special’s budget was unheard of at the time for a 26-minute cartoon adaptation. For comparison’s sake, A Charlie Brown Christmas’s budget was reported as $96,000, or roughly $722,000 today (and this was after production had gone $20,000 over the original budget).

You’re a mean one Mr. Grinch The famous voice actor and singer, best known for providing the voice of Kellogg’s Tony the Tiger, wasn’t recognized for his work in How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Because of this, most viewers wrongly assumed that the narrator of the special, Boris Karloff, also sang the piece in question. Upset by this oversight, Geisel personally apologized to Ravenscroft and vowed to make amends. Geisel went on to pen a letter, urging all the major columnists that he knew to help him rectify the mistake by issuing a notice of correction in their publications.

Mr Grinch

You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch
You really are a heel
You’re as cuddly as a cactus
You’re as charming as an eel
Mr. Grinch
You’re a bad banana with a greasy black peel
You’re a monster, Mr. Grinch
Your heart’s an empty hole
Your brain is full of spiders
You’ve got garlic in your soul, Mr Grinch
I wouldn’t touch you with a
Thirty-nine and a half foot pole

You’re a vile one, Mr. Grinch
You have termites in your smile
You have all the tender sweetness of a seasick crocodile
Mr Grinch
Given the choice between the two of you
I’d take the seasick crocodile

You’re a foul one, Mr. Grinch
You’re a nasty wasty skunk
Your heart is full of unwashed socks
Your soul is full of gunk
Mr Grinch

The three best words that best describe you
Are as follows, and I quote”
Stink
Stank
Stunk

You’re a rotter Mr Grinch
You’re the king of sinful sots
Your heart’s a dead tomato splotched with moldy purple spots
Mr Grinch

Your soul is an appalling dump heap
Overflowing with the most disgraceful
Assortment of deplorable rubbish imaginable
Mangled up in tangled up knots

You nauseate me, Mr Grinch
With a nauseous super nos
You’re a crooked jerky jockey and
You drive a crooked horse
Mr Grinch

You’re a three-decker sauerkraut
And toadstool sandwich
With arsenic sauce

http://mentalfloss.com/article/72593/13-spirited-facts-about-how-grinch-stole-christmas

Frosty The Snowman

I apologize for so many posts today…this one I scheduled wrong…

Most of us had favorite Christmas specials we would watch as kids. Mine was Rudolph, A Charlie Brown Christmas, The Grinch, and this one…Frosty The Snowman. These four would get me primed and ready for Christmas…like I needed anything else.

“Frosty the Snowman,” debuted in 1969. It was by Rankin/Bass Productions, the same company that produced many holiday specials.

Narrated by the legend Jimmy Durante, the special involves a magic hat that transforms a snowman, Frosty, into a living being. The magician who owned the hat wants it back now that he knows it contained actual magic, so the kids had to get together and find a way to bring Frosty to the North Pole to keep him from melting. However, once there, Frosty sacrifices himself to warm up the little girl, Karen, who took him to the North Pole. He melts, but Santa Claus explains that Frosty is made out of special Christmas snow and thus can never truly melt. Frosty then comes back to life and everyone has a Merry Christmas.

The song was written in 1950 by Walter “Jack” Rollins and Steve Nelson. They wrote it for Gene Autry, especially, after Autry had such a huge hit with “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” the previous year. It was later recorded by Jimmy Durante as we hear in this wonderful cartoon.

This wasn’t the only animation of Frosty…

In 1954, United Productions of America (UPA) brought Frosty to life in a short cartoon that is little more than an animated music video for a jazzy version of the song. It introduced the characters mentioned in the lyrics visually, from Frosty himself to the traffic cop. The three-minute, black-and-white piece quickly became a holiday tradition in various markets, particularly in Chicago, where it’s been broadcast annually on WGN since 1955.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

I watched this last night…gearing up for Christmas…it’s not Christmas without The Peanuts and watching them all dance to “Linus and Lucy.”

The Peanuts were my favorite cartoon growing up and I would never miss their Thanksgiving, Halloween, and Christmas specials. Everyone can relate to Charlie Brown because we all lose more than we win in life. He doesn’t get to kick that football, his dog has more things than he does, and he is forever trying to get the elusive little redhead girl to notice him.

The Peanuts inhabit a kids world where grownups are felt but not heard. At least not in English. I’ve said this before but… Charlie Brown, one day when you grow up… I hope you end up with the little red head girl that you like so much and win just for once…for all of us.

Little Red-Haired Girl | Charlie brown characters, Charlie brown and  snoopy, Charlie brown cartoon

This 1965 special has everything good about them in one show.

The gang is skating and Charlie Brown is telling Linus that despite Christmas being a happy time he is depressed. Linus tells Charlie that is normal and Lucy pipes in with “Of all the Charlie Browns in the world, you’re the Charlie Browniest.” That sums it all up.

Charlie gets to direct the Christmas play and his main job was to get a spectacular Christmas tree under Lucy’s orders. …He picks the only real tree there…more like a branch but he is sure it will do the job. Most of the gang do not agree when he comes back with the tree but Charlie persists. Linus gets up and reads from the Bible and the inflection he lends to the reading is great.

After that, you will need to watch because it will be worth it.

Aluminum Christmas trees were marketed beginning in 1958 and enjoyed fairly strong sales by eliminating pesky needles and tree sap. But the annual airings of A Charlie Brown Christmas swayed public thinking: In the special, Charlie Brown refuses to get a fake tree. Viewers began to do the same, and the product was virtually phased out by 1969. The leftovers are now collector’s items.

Actors and Actresses The early Peanuts specials made use of both untrained kids and professional actors: Peter Robbins (Charlie Brown) and Christopher Shea (Linus) were working child performers, while the rest of the cast consisted of “regular” kids coached by Melendez in the studio. When Schulz told Melendez that Snoopy couldn’t have any lines in the show—he’s a dog, and Schulz’s dogs didn’t talk—the animator decided to bark and chuff into a microphone himself, then speed up the recording to give it a more emotive quality.

Love the Christmas Dance.

Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

Merry Christmas everyone! We will have some of the family over and we all celebrate. My nephew has three children and one is only 3 years old so we will have a good time. This year my son is at home…he traveled last year to Germany to see his girlfriend. This year Maria and Bailey will be here so I’m looking forward to it.

Watching Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer every year is the same as setting up the tree. Every year I would look forward to seeing this along with the others but what a fantastic durable show this has been. When I hear Burl Ives in anything…I think of him as the narrator Sam the Snowman of this program.

I’ve marked out some time to watch this tonight during our Christmas Eve party.

The characters are wonderful. Well except those other young reindeer who really come down on Rudolph when his nose lights up.

Hermey the elf who wants to be a dentist
Clarice – The reindeer who likes Rudolph just as he is red nose and all.
Yukon Cornelius the prospector who loves silver and gold and has a tongue that can find his silver and gold.
Abominable Snowman – The bad guy of the show who only needs a dentist to make him a good guy.
Head Elf – He leans on Hermey to get his elf self-act together and discourages him from being a dentist…I never liked him too much.

Throughout the special, Yukon Cornelius is seen throwing his pickaxe into the ground, taking it out, and licking it. It turns out that he is checking for neither gold nor silver; Yukon was actually searching for an elusive peppermint mine. In a scene right at the end of the special’s original broadcast, deleted the next year to make room for the Misfit Toys’ new scene, Cornelius pulled his pick from the ground, licked it, and said, “Peppermint! What I’ve been searching for all my life! I’ve struck it rich! I’ve got me a peppermint mine! Wahoo!” The scene was restored in 1998 and has been reinstated in all the subsequent home video release except for the 2004 DVD release. However, this scene is still cut from recent televised airings.

The Island of Misplaced Toys got to me when I was a kid. I really felt sorry for these lonely toys. King Moonracer was over the island and tried to convince Rudolph to tell Santa about them so he could pick them up and find kids who would play with them.

Related image

The original 1964 airing did not include the closing scene where Santa picks up the misfit toys. That scene was added in 1965, in response to complaints that Santa was not shown fulfilling his promise to include them in his annual delivery.

The stop animation in this works really well.

The songs are really good. Silver and Gold, Holly Jolly Christmas, Jingle Jingle Jingle, We Are Santa’s Elves, There’s Always Tomorrow, We’re a Couple of Misfits, and The Most Wonderful Day of the Year.

I must say…I like stop motion more than computer animation.

https://christmas-specials.fandom.com/wiki/Rudolph_the_Red-Nosed_Reindeer_(Rankin/Bass)

Bing Crosby & David Bowie – Peace On Earth / The Little Drummer Boy

I love unions like this…I will start to have some holiday posts mixed in on the way to Christmas as a second post like this one. In 1977 Bowie released his album Low at the beginning of the year and he toured as Iggy Pop’s keyboardist that year.

I know what I was doing on November 30, 1977. I was watching Merrie Olde Christmas special as a kid. I didn’t appreciate the weirdness of the combination of Bing Crosby and David Bowie at the time. Something that the seventies did well…was to intersect generations on variety shows. This one was a great combination.

This special had guest stars  Twiggy, David Bowie, Ron Moody, Stanley Baxter, and The Trinity Boys Choir. It was the duet with Bing Crosby and David Bowie that has been remembered. I remember watching this knowing that Bing Crosby had died the month earlier. The duet was taped on September 11, 1977, and Crosby died on October 14, 1977.

David Bowie’s mother was a huge Bing Crosby fan and Bing Crosby’s children were big David Bowie fans…so the two agreed to sing together. It was questionable at first if it would work out.

Mary Crosby: “The doors opened and David walked in with his wife, They were both wearing full-length mink coats, they have matching full makeup and their hair was bright red. We were thinking, ‘Oh my god.'” Nathaniel Crosby, Bing’s son, added: “It almost didn’t happen. I think the producers told him to take the lipstick off and take the earring out. It was just incredible to see the contrast.”

Another possible hitch happened with Bowie. He didn’t like The Little Drummer Boy and refused to sing it. The writers then wrote a revised version of the song that he liked. They wrote a counterpart section for Bowie to sing. Crosby liked the challenge of his part. The rest is history and one of the most unusual pairings you will ever see…

One funny part is Bowie’s idea of “older fellas” at the time is John Lennon and Harry Nilsson.

Here is the complete show if you want to give it a try

The Little Drummer Boy (Peace On Earth)

Come they told me pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
A newborn king to see pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
Our finest gifts we bring pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
Rum-pum-pum-pum, rum-pum-pum-pum

[Verse 2: Bowie and Crosby]
Peace on Earth can it be?
Come they told me pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
Years from now, perhaps we’ll see?
A newborn king to see pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
See the day of glory
Our finest gift we bring pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
See the day, when men of good will
To lay before the king pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
Live in peace, live in peace again
Rum-pum-pum-pum, Rum-pum-pum-pum
Peace on Earth
So to honour him pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
Can it be
When we come

[Bridge: Bowie and Crosby in unison]
Every child must be made aware
Every child must be made to care
Care enough for his fellow man
To give all the love that he can

[Verse 4: Bowie and Crosby]
I pray my wish will come true
Little baby pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
For my child and your child too
I stood beside him there pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
He’ll see the day of glory
I played my drum for him pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
See the day when men of good will
I played my best for him pa-rum-pum-pum-pum
Live in peace, live in peace again
Rum-pum-pum-pum, rum-pum-pum-pum
Peace on Earth
Me and my drum
Can it be

Can it be

Charles Monroe Schulz 

The Banner

On November 26, 1922…Charles Schulz was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He would have been 100 years old today. He would read the Sunday cartoon feature with his dad every week. Schulz had asthma and his mom would give him a pencil and paper in bed to draw and that started it all.

He created the Peanuts strip (originally entitled Li’l Folks) in 1950, introducing a group of characters based on semiautobiographical experiences.  That first year, the comic strip came in last place in the New York World Telegram’s reader survey of cartoons… however, a book of Peanuts reprints helped the strip gain a larger audience. Shulz encapsulated the kid’s point of view as good or better than anyone. The grownups didn’t talk; it was all about the kid’s world. When I was growing up I would not miss a Sunday Cartoon feature or holiday special…not to mention the movies that came out.

Schulz channeled the loneliness that he had experienced in his army days and the frustrations of everyday life into Charlie Brown. Charlie Brown was familiar because he was us. . Linus was named after a friend and fellow cartoonist Linus Maurer. Peppermint Patty was inspired by his cousin Patricia and Snoopy is based on Schulz’s intelligent childhood pet dog. Woodstock is just a miniature of Snoopy…he is drawn the same way.

Philip Van Pelt’s wife, Louanne, inspired Lucy Van Pelt, Linus’ sister. Schulz introduced the feisty…some say mean brunette, known for pulling away footballs just as Charlie Brown is about to kick them, to the cartoon strip in 1952.

The comic strip would explode and be a pop culture icon in the 50s until now. So Happy Birthday Charles Schulz!

When I was a kid I would occasionally get a Peanuts item…watch or something with them on it. My favorite characters were Schroeder and Pigpen since I stayed dirty much to my mom’s horror. No matter how much she tried…and she tried and tried to get me somewhere clean…it hardly ever happened. She got me ready for Church one morning and she had a brainstorm. She got me ready 15 minutes before we left. It was a cool spring day so she put a scrubbed-clean Max into the back seat of our car. When she came out she was horrified…I had dug around in the ashtray and was filthy…therefore Pigpen suited me fine.

In the late 1990s while my wife and I were dating…we would go to flea markets and antique shops and buy Peanuts memorabilia. We both had rediscovered The Peanuts in our 20s. Over 2-4 years we bought thousands of dollars of older collectibles. If being late on rent meant getting a rare Peanuts item…so be it! No, we were not the most responsible around at the time. It was a cool bonding activity between us and we still have all the things that we bought. At Christmas, we get a lot of it out and decorate the house. We slowed down when our son Bailey came along and we realized…hmmm better start saving money!

So the Peanuts were with me as a child and an adult and if we ever see a Peaunts item out and about…we usually get it.

If you get in the mood to watch The Peanuts… try A Boy Named Charlie Brown and Snoopy Come Home…their first two movies.

My role model Pigpen

 

 

Classic TV Episodes: WKRP In Cincinnati – Turkeys Away

Some tv episodes are classic and will live on. When you tell someone you like a certain show, there is always that certain episode that many people will bring up that represents that show. I’ll go through a few random shows in the next few weeks and pick the one that I remember the most. They will be in no particular order.

” Those can’t be skydivers. I can’t tell just yet what they are but… Oh my God! They’re turkeys! Oh no! Johnny can you get this?”

” The Pinedale Shopping Mall has just been bombed with live turkeys. Film at eleven”

“I really don’t know how to describe it. It was like the turkeys mounted a counter-attack. It was almost as if they were… organized!”

“As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly”

WKRP IN CINCINNATI – Turkeys Away

When I talk to people about this show. This episode always comes to mind. The Characters are Bailey Quarters, Les Nessman, Mr. Carlson, Venus Flytrap, Dr. Johnny Fever, Herb Tarlek, Jennifer Marlowe and Andy Travis

Les’s play by play of the promotion is great. The complete episode is great but when Mr. Carlson says the closing line it turns into a classic episode.

It starts off with the big guy Mr. Carlson trying to act busy driving everyone crazy trying to be useful and probing the office to see what everyone was up to. He decided he would plan a promotion. He told the salesman Herb to get 20 turkeys ready for a Thanksgiving radio promotion.

Les is at the shopping center and Mr Carlson and Herb are up in a helicopter. He then notices a dark object being dropped from the helicopter, then a second one. Believing them to be skydivers, his tone becomes increasingly cautious when he sees no parachutes are opening. After a few more moments he realizes in horror that the objects are live turkeys. Continuing his broadcast (which bears a strong resemblance to the Hindenberg disaster) he says that the turkeys are hitting the ground and that the crowd has begun running away in panic. One turkey hits a parked car. Les continues, saying the turkeys are hitting the ground like “sacks of wet cement”. He tries to retreat to the store behind him but realizes he can’t after annoying the owner.

At the studio, the gang are listening, horrified themselves, when the broadcast is suddenly cut off. Johnny calmly tries to re-establish contact with Les, but hears only silence. Johnny thanks Les, telling his listeners that the shopping mall was just “bombed by live turkeys” and ends the broadcast.

At the end, Mr. Carlson says the phrase that elevates the episode to a classic. “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly”

The play by play by Les.

As God As My Witness, I Thought Turkeys Could Fly

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0742671/plotsummary?ref_=tt_stry_pl

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone. This first premiered on November 20, 1973, on CBS and won an Emmy Award. Great Thanksgiving special as always with the earlier Peanuts.

The Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Peanuts specials I always looked forward to. The way their world was only for kids where grownups were heard but only as noise in the background.

It starts off with Lucy tempting Charlie Brown with that football. Just one time I wanted to see Charlie kick the football…or Lucy.

It’s Thanksgiving and Peppermint Patty invites herself and Marcie over to Charlie Brown’s house but Charlie and Sally are ready to go to their grandmothers. Charlie talks to Linus and he suggests having two Thanksgiving dinners.

The only thing Charlie can come up with is feeding his friends toast and cold cereal which does not make Peppermint Patty happy whatsoever. She lets Charlie have it really bad until Marcie reminds her that she invited herself over.

Not going to give it away for those who have not seen this wonderful holiday cartoon. The music by Vince Guaraldi is excellent and makes every Peanuts cartoon special.

It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

When I was growing up this was a must-watch in October. It’s The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown was first released in October 1966.

Great Pumpkin

Charlie Brown is invited to Violet’s Halloween party. Before the party, the Peanuts gang plan to go trick or treating, with Snoopy, who is dressed as the WWI flying ace, taking his Halloween disguise to an extreme. The one person who won’t be joining them for the trick or treating or the party is Linus, who will be waiting in his local pumpkin patch for the arrival of the Great Pumpkin to give toys and candy to all the girls and boys.

This year he talked Sally, Charlie Brown’s sister, into coming with him while the others went out. Linus and Sally stays at the pumpkin patch all night until Lucy gets up in the middle of the night to take Linus back home. The next day, Charlie Brown and Linus about the night’s events. Charlie Brown assures Linus that he’s done his share of stupid things too. This upsets Linus, who vows that the Great Pumpkin will appear next year.

Charlie Brown and Linus at the Wall

It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown was adapted from Schulz’s newspaper strip, which he had conceived as a metaphor for some of the hope and disappointment associated with Santa Clause. Schulz didn’t like the idea of kids getting their hopes up about a lot of presents when many families could only afford one or two gifts for the holidays. “The Great Pumpkin is really kind of a satire on Santa Claus, when he doesn’t come, Linus is crushed.”

Growing up, there was no other cartoon I looked forward to more than The Peanuts. Every holiday I was there watching the gang. I would also read the  Sunday paper to see the Peanuts strip.

Everything from Linus telling us the true meaning of Christmas, Sally and Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin, Lucy pulling that football from Charlie Brown, Snoopy being WWI flying ace, Lucy being a Psychiatrist, and Charlie Brown getting that sad-looking Christmas tree…we got to peek into that kids only world and listen to the wisdom that was going on while Linus and Charlie Brown discussed life.

Charlie Brown and Linus wall

The Peanuts taught us about life. We lose more than we win therefore everyone is Charlie Brown to an extent. Every person has failed at a big moment or many of the small ones. We felt for Charlie Brown because we could relate.