Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Tuesday's Overlooked Films and/or Other A/V: the links and comment
Bill Crider: The High and the Mighty
Brian Arnold: FM (1978)
Chuck Esola: Trancers
Dan Stumpf: Mysterious Dr. Satan; The Drums of Fu Manchu
Eric Peterson: The Annihilators
George Kelley: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy
Iba Dawson: Gaslight (1940)
Ivan G. Shreve: Theodora Goes Wild
Jack Seabrook: "Madame Mystery" (Alfred Hitchcock Presents:): Robert Bloch on TV
James Reasoner: Albuquerque
Jerry House: Danger on the Air
John Charles: The Checkered Flag
Michael Shonk: The Sentimental Agent
Mike Tooney: "Over Fifty? Steal."; “Odd Man In” (Hawaii Five-0 1970, 1971)
Patti Abbott: He and She
Pearce Duncan: Dracula (1992)
Randy Johnson: Massacre (1934)
Ron Scheer: The Quick and the Dead (1987)
Scott Cupp: The Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow
Walter Albert: Taxi! (1932)
Yvette Banek: The Adam Dalgliesh Chronicles; The Man from Earth
Brent McKee: Last Man Standing (2011)
Enfantino & Scoleri: To the Batpoles! (the entire 1960s Greenway/Fox Batman series blog)
Kate Laity: Know-vember: What Films Make You Cry?
Todd Mason: some TV notes: Some of what you might be missing:
With television as atomized as it has ever been, you might not've caught the following (mostly fairly recent) items, and in some cases that's no great loss, but in others...
PBS has one of the rather disappointing ones, in America in Primetime, a series about television, and even more superficial and disappointing than their previous similar series, Pioneers of Television (despite hokey historical re-enactments in the second season, some of the episodes of Pioneers actually had some useful data to them, albeit the sf episode, where I knew the most about the territory they covered, most emphatically didn't; Primetime avoids the goofiness but instead rapidly edits in some of the most superficial interviews a mixed bag of television veterans could be expected to grant for a project such as this, with many of the people discussing sitcoms, for example, insisting that they are about workplace "families"...when, of course, the better ones are nothing of the sort, since workplaces are not familial groupings).
Borgen, which I praised previously here, remains an intelligent and engaging political and personal drama as it continues, and I think will amply reward the time of any viewers who are unafraid of subtitles. After being up for three weeks rather than the promised two, the posting of the first episode is now down, but there is a precis posted to help ease one into episodes two and three which are currently streaming from the Link TV site (Link is also feeding them on weekends in its cable/satcast clearances, and through such affiliate stations as KRCB in the San Francisco Bay area). I particularly enjoy that the fifth episode, still forthcoming on Link, is named in sardonic honor of the real title of the so-called The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo...the episode is called "Men Who Love Women."
We in Philadelphia have recently lost the clearance to MHz Worldview, due to a capricious decision of WYBE (please feel free to write them and ask for its return) to replace that feed with France24, a pleasant but repetitive newschannel, some of whose programming is viewable on Worldview...and RT, the Putinesque similar Russian channel (and they, too, get Worldview clearance for some of their news programs). Around the US, however, Worldview affiliates are continuing to feed the rather good assortment of Italian, German and Swedish crime-drama series as the International Mystery wheel on Sundays and Tuesdays, augmenting that with other film packages, the Italian Mafia series The Octopus (La Piovra), and such occasional specials as this just-announced item: Wallander’s World (26 November, 9pm ET/6pm PT): "Detective Kurt Wallander is one of the most popular figures in modern Scandinavian crime fiction. This program traces the character's development and appeal, through interviews with author Henning Mankell and actor Krister Henriksson, plus the producers who brought his adventures to TV audiences around the world. An MHz Networks original production. Broadcast in English."
And there are a raft of new cable series, many of them on the (extra-)pay or "premium" channels, such as Showtime, which has offered the well-mounted but rather flopping-about Homeland (and why is it that cable series are even more likely to be US remakes of foreign series, such as this one based on an Israeli series, than even the broadcast offerings?). Somewhat less trumpeted is Showtime's new humor series, Dave's Old Porn, in which comedian Dave Attell and guests from the comedy and pornography-production worlds briefly comment on examples of VHS-era (and slightly earlier) skin flicks; I'm fond of Attell's work, his old series Insomniac and his standup, and this series has been amusing (and comically censored enough to allow Showtime to not feel too threatened) so far.
The other pay channels, particularly longtime industry leader thus Cinemax, have had their own adventures in relatively explicit/smutty series go forward, such as (!)Richard Christian Matheson's not entirely witless (but not good) Chemistry, and of course the most popular of these, Starz's Spartacus franchise (from the same production folks who used to bring us Xena, Hercules, and The Legend of the Seeker). Even somewhat less perfervid programming with heavily sexual themes, such as HBO's Hung, can involve mildly surprising talent (in this case Alexander Payne, of such films as Election and Citizen Ruth).
Among the more "prestigious" product the pay stations are offering this year, Starz's Chicago political corruption serial Boss starts off fairly well, but I haven't seen past the pilot yet (and one suspects that a perception of its combination of the appeal of CBS's The Good Wife, still the best dramatic series on US tv, and HBO's Boardwalk Empire, which I'm told is improving, are responsible for this one going forward), and I've also yet to sit through more than a few minutes of the Cinemax espionage/war/explosion drama Strike Back.
I've also been recording, but haven't yet caught, American Horror Story on FX; I did catch the four broadcast episodes of the NBC US version of the BBC comedy Free Agents, the first sitcom fatality of the season; the first two episodes were genuinely amusing, but the mechanical contrivance had already begun to take over by the third, and its quick death probably wasn't too much a pity (far less a pity than the ridiculous censorship BBC America has been putting their run of the original series through, for cable clearance).
I have caught a couple of episodes of Ion's Canadian import Flashpoint, which had a brief run on CBS and is now the only original series on Ion's primetime schedule (otherwise all repeats from other networks or from cable stations); earnest and attempting to be evenhanded, and pleasant viewing, as far as it goes. Pity Ion didn't have the wherewithal to keep Men of a Certain Age, which they also briefly broadcast, in production. Meanwhile, the ridiculously overpraised espionage/soap Pan Am seems likely to be grounded soon, and the fantasy series Once Upon a Time (ABC) and Grimm (NBC) are just dull enough, in my experience of them so far, to be missable.
Far more disturbing real-life family drama comes in the form the short documentary The Marina Experiment, one of the most compelling of the offerings of the (US) Documentary Channel (Canada has a Documentary Channel, as well, with different ownership). And, far cheerier and less likely to be disappointing than the other PBS item mentioned above, Great Performances will for their 27 January episode feature the video made of the recording of Tony Bennett's Duets II album.
Thanks as always to all the contributors and to all you readers this and every week. Please feel free to leave comments at the various blogs...