Sunday, September 30, 2007
I think part of the reason I haven't yet seen it is that I can't get it into my head why it had to be remade. And even more irritating is that when I expressed this question on my LiveJournal, I was hit by a comment that people don't think older films are worth watching. I'm still dumbstruck by this notion. Wow.
Either way, I was delighted to catch the original Glenn Ford and Van Heflin version of 3:10 to Yuma on OnDemand last night. It's been some time since I last seen and it was still as great as I remember. In glorious black and white. Ahem.
Glenn Ford plays bad guy Ben Wade as an almost likable villain, but not in a let's-root-for-the-guy way but more in a charismatic way. But still, this is 1957 and the line between the white hats and the black hats is a thick and decisive one. just as we know how human he is, we also know how evil he is. It's a dance I wish more modern movies would take. After all, who were the stars of the first four Batman movies of the last decades? Batman or the baddies? There should be a line, dammit.
Van Heflin walks the other side as farmer Dan Evans, a reluctant farmer hero forced into the position to oppose Ben Wade. Wade is captured and a waiting game ensues as a race between his men coming to save him and an oncoming train to prison tick the clock away. Dan must come to terms with what should be done and what he wants to do as Wade tempts him with much-needed money to let him go.
The Elmore Leonard story is more psychological drama than straight western even though all the necessary elements are there. As I said I see little reason for this to be remade as it's an almost perfect film as it stands. Did it need to be in color? Did there need to be more bloodshed? I don't get it, but suppose will find out when I see the new one.
In the meantime, if you get a chance to see this one, please do. Great story, and probably some of the better performances by Ford and Heflin - a winner all around in my book. See it.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Last season "Heroes" was the darling of the the new TV series hitting the air. The premiere jumped out and grabbed and held us tight in its grip for the entire season. This season? Not so much.
The beauty of "Heroes" has been how accessible it's made the superhero concept to the mainstream. There's no spandex, there is no mention of the word 'superhero' but it has all the things that make the comic book genre what they are today. Like I said, the key word is accessible. I would guess that if an average "Heroes" viewer not into comics could get over the idea of codenames and spandex, they would be addicted to comics.
The show is good, despite stealing many ideas from the best (and worst) comics of recent years, it has remained one of the best series of the past year. Monday's season premiere was only just all right in my opinion. No big surprises, no big shocks, no real cliffhangers. It was just a continuation of what went before. Even "ER" starts with a bang after a decade on television. Why couldn't Tim Kring and the folks behind "Heroes" give us just a bit of fireworks?
Oh well, maybe next week...
Sunday, September 23, 2007
The series rests on an annoying and unbelievable premise that should best be accepted - that lead character Chuck has all the secret intel from two government organizations in his head. Just accept it and move on, then you can enjoy the show.
Other than that this is a great little show that reminded me quaintly of both "Spaced" and Free Enterprise. It's geek chic, and it rocks. The segment of the population that will get all the jokes in this one will love it. Those that scratch their head and go "Wha?" - - well, who needs 'em? Those latter folks however might be what dooms this show before it gets a fair chance, so see it while you can!
Chuck, you had me at "Vicki Vale." ;-)
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
There are brilliant moments hoever, and lots of pop culture references that will make you smile like you're watching a ten-second version of VH-1's "We Love the 80s/90s," but I'm afraid the confusion of the plot may mask any good points this show might have. There is a lot we're not told and have to guess. You might have to watch this twice to make it stick, but it might just be worth it. "Journeyman" premieres Monday, September 24th.
Monday, September 17, 2007
Born Audrey Sommers in New Brunswick, Canada, Brett Somers grew up near Portland, Maine. She moved to New York City at age 18 to pursue a career in acting. She became a U.S. citizen, and at the time of her death resided in Westport, Connecticut.
After moving to New York City, Somers married and had a daughter, Leslie, before divorcing her first husband. In 1953, she married actor Jack Klugman; they had two sons: Adam and David. The couple separated in 1974, but never divorced.
In 2002, Somers reunited with Charles Nelson Reilly and Betty White for an interview on the CBS program The Early Show, to reminisce about Match Game. During the interview, she denied rumors that she had suffered from cancer. She would reiterate that point in future interviews. Somers had a naturally husky voice which may have caused the misperception that she suffered from a throat ailment. However, her son Adam says the ultimate cause of her death was cancer of the stomach and colon.
Somers began her career in theater, and made many of her initial television appearances in theatrical programs like "Philco Playhouse". "Kraft Theater Playhouse 90", and "Robert Montgomery Presents".
Her Broadway debut, in the play "Maybe Tuesday", was a flop; the show closed after five performances. She also appeared in "Happy Ending", "Seven Year Itch", and "The Country Girl" with "Odd Couple" co-star and spouse Jack Klugman.
Somers amassed a number of film credits, including "Getting There", "Bone", "Bus Riley's Back in Town", and "The Great American Beauty Pageant".
Somers made a number of appearances on episodic primetime television, including Love, American Style, The Defenders, Have Gun Will Travel, Ben Casey, CHiPs, The Love Boat, Barney Miller, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, and The Fugitive.
Somers had recurring roles as the ex-wife of Oscar Madison (played by real-life spouse Klugman) on the ABC sitcom television series The Odd Couple in the early 1970s, as well as the role of "Siress Belloby" on the science fiction series Battlestar Galactica in 1978. She played Perry Mason's receptionist Gertie in the short-lived revival of the series in 1973 which featured Monte Markham as Perry Mason.
Somers is perhaps best known for her appearances as a panelist on the 1970s CBS game show Match Game. She and the show became known for somewhat outlandish and risque dialogue; the show has been described as having the feel of being at a game at someone's cocktail party. Somers was an iconic on-screen presence, wearing enormous eyeglasses, various wigs, and playing foil to Charles Nelson Reilly, Betty White, Richard Dawson, and Fannie Flagg, among others. Somers was often the subject of questions on Match Game, such as "You may or may not believe in reincarnation, but listen to this. In a previous life, Brett used to be a ________."
Somers was not originally on the celebrity panel. When spouse Jack Klugman appeared on the first week of the program in 1973, he suggested that producers bring her aboard. Her wit and dry humor proved extremely successful, and she would remain a regular panelist for the remainder of the show's nine year network and syndicated run. According to a Boston Globe article in the early 1980's, Brett Somers was being paid $250,000 a year for her appearance on Match Game.
Somers maintained a fairly active career until her death. In 2002, she appeared alongside Charles Nelson Reilly and Betty White as part of a Match Game reunion on CBS's The Early Show. She also appeared with Reilly on Hollywood Squares during that show's "Game Show Week" in 2003. In 2006, she was a prominent interviewee in The Real Match Game Story: Behind the Blank on GSN, and hosted the Match Game DVD as well (by this time, Gene Rayburn was dead and Reilly had become mortally ill, leaving Somers as the only remaining regular from the show able and willing to do it).
Outside of Match Game-related work, Somers appeared in a cabaret show, An Evening with Brett Somers, from 2003 to 2004.
Somers died on the morning of September 15, 2007, according to her website.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
"We Live in Exciting Times... Again" - my comic book review of New Avengers #34 by Brian Michael Bendis and Leinil Yu is now online at Avengers Forever.
You can check it out here: http://www.avengersforever.org/reviews/default.asp?RID=529
And if you'd like to make a donation to help keep the Avengers Forever website as mighty as ever, click here. Thanks!
Saturday, September 15, 2007
It's not just a matter of a show that worked before but the new innovators choosing to ignore what made the original successful. Not that that helps. No matter how you slice it, the original series was very successful, some say better than "The Six Million Dollar Man" from which it spun off from. Not only did it outlast it but in my opinion had more memorable episodes. Remember the fembots? How about the Alex 7000? The show even won an Emmy, where her male counterpart never did. And of course it never had the controversy this new version has had.
Let's start easy. There have been at least three pilots. One is good. Two is not bad, if the network has decided that changes in cast or plot should be made. But three? That's a bit odd, especially considering rumor stated that this series which was developed for the SciFi Channel was so good it should be kicked upstairs to NBC. If it was sooo good, why change it?
Now let's get deeper. The character of the Bionic Woman is iconic, especially in the gay community. It would seem, that along with fans of the original series this makes for a large starting fanbase, something needed if the series is indeed as different as it is. Why then, would you try to alienate that community?
Enter Isiah Washington:
And that's just the tip of that iceberg. Suffice it to say that all of these elements plus what I consider to be a crappy pilot that I saw add up to a big zero for this one. I might be proved wrong, but I won't be watching.
This new 're-imagining' of "The Bionic Woman" comes from the folks who did the same type of hatchet job on "Battlestar Galactica." Much of the cast is borrowed from there as well. Michelle Ryan, Zoe from the BBC's "Eastenders" and late of the much-acclaimed "Jekyll," is tapped to play Jamie (new spelling) Sommers. Rounding out the cast are Miguel Ferrer and Wil Yun Lee who are always a pleasure to see in action.
Unlike the original series with Lindsey Wagner that spun off of "The Six Million Dollar Man," this show is not kid-friendly. And even worse, it is definitely not friendly to anyone who grew up watching the show, which is a mistake I think. When adapting a project that was successful, effort should be made to find out why it was successful at least. This new version seems to have shrugged off any charm that the original may have had.
This Bionic Woman is a bartender rather than a tennis pro, and she is preceded by an evil Bionic Woman, played by "Galactica"'s Katee Sackoff who is stalking her. This Jamie has a bionic eye in addition to one arm, one ear and two legs. And the special effects that strike me as downright hysterical make her super super-vision look like a mistuned TV station and her super-hearing sound distorted. Aren't they supposed to be better?
When the show finally veers away from conspiracy, bad acting, music video and fixing your perceptions of the old show - and turns to action, we get a predictable duel between the Bionic Women. It feels like a martial arts fight where only dodging and parrying are allowed. I'm dumbstruck as to why neither woman even tries to land a punch. Weird.
I really can't recommend this show. I predict it'll be moved over to SCiFi after three or four episodes before being eventually canceled. Unless they change their attitude, this Bionic Woman is destined for the same trashbin the Bionic Dog and Bionic Boy ended up in.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
An addendum, a correction and perhaps a not-so-polite request to get your head out of your ass to WYSP-FM.
Within WYSP's not-yet-two-hours old new format they have been running interesting bits between the songs.
For instance, the announcer says that on such-and-such a date WMMR played "Heart of Glass" by Blondie. They only play rock on YSP, blah blah blah, etc.
Nice ploy, considering that WMMR and WYSP have been bitter rivals and competitors in the Philadelphia radio market for well over three decades.
The problem with that promotion is that it is, of course, pure bullshit.
Yes, WMMR might very well have played "Heart of Glass" maybe half a dozen times in its history, but if they did, I guarantee it was because WYSP did it first. They did it to keep up.
Anyone who was around in the late seventies and early eighties can easily tell you how it was with WMMR and WYSP. MMR was the dinosaur, playing Grateful Dead, Traffic and Eric Clapton until the cows came home. YSP was the innovator, testing the edge and always at least trying to be progressive. MMR listeners sat in the sun and smoked pot while YSP listeners were out dancing and hitting clubs.
I have tapes made from the radio that prove as much. WYSP played Blondie, they played Adam and the Ants. Also Devo, Talking Heads, the Clash, Elvis Costello, even, ahem, Rick Springfield. I have tape proof, remember? I heard my first Sex Pistols song on WYSP. WYSP was always on the verge of the new.
It was only when WIFI 92 changed from top 40 to new wave in 1982 that WMMR decided it had better get in gear and pay attention because music had changed. But before then, it was all WYSP.
So, WYSP, do your homework and quit lying to the public. And maybe if you did start playing some of that music you used to play circa 1980, more folks would listen.
Cyndy Drue, where are you now that we need you?
The rock is back.
Just in time. 'Cause I just got XM Radio for my birthday.
At 5 PM today WYSP 94 FM in Philadelphia changed its format. Again. Now we're back to rock, progressive hard rock from all indications, and away from talk as it had been for a few months. Two hours into the the Kidd Chris Show, with guests Opie & Anthony in town for a special event, the format changed. The first three songs played were "Welcome to the Jungle" by Guns 'n' Roses, "Back in Black" by AC/DC and "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana as if to strengthen the point. Most notably, Kidd Chris did not come back to finish his show.
Now I'm a talk radio fan just as much as I'm a radio fan. I love music and I love radio.
I was the kid in high school who carried a boombox with me everywhere. I was the kid who knew all the new music, sometimes before the radio played it. I knew and listened to every station on the dial FM and AM. I bought everything and made mix-tapes on an almost daily basis. In college I embarked on dual careers in radio and in music journalism. I have several thousands of songs on my iTunes and reload my iPod almost daily. Nothing makes me happier than my music. So another decent music station in the normally dead zone of Philadelphia radio is a good thing, right?
As I said I'm also a talk radio fan. I've been one since the mid-1970s listening to Larry King and then WWDB-FM with their all-talk format. I know talk show hosts as well as I know music. I have as many fond memories of Irv Homer and Richard Hayes as I do of Kate Bush and David Bowie. Over the years, talk radio flourished and changed, mostly in part to the wildly successful efforts of Howard Stern, along with his imitators and innovators. Stern at WYSP soon led to Opie & Anthony coming there as well. My tastes soon followed, more in line with O&A than Stern.
When Stern left for Sirius satellite radio, some said that was the end of terrestrial radio. Having listened to David Lee Roth, who replaced Howard here in Philly, I would tend to agree. Fortunately O&A returned to replace Roth, and suddenly I didn't miss Stern all that much anymore, if at all.
The part that excited me was that along with the return of O&A, WYSP seemed to be making a stand as a talk station. The Barsky Show that followed O&A was certainly better than the immature tripe going on over at NJ 101.5 FM and had a fun quality to it, always enjoyable to have on. Even Matt & Huggy had an endearing quality. My real faves though had to be Loveline and John and Jeff shows that covered overnights.
I love Loveline, not just for the information given or the entertainment value of the hosts and guests, but for the callers. Callers to these types of shows are demented. The same appeal holds for me with both Drs. Joy and laura, neither host do I like, but their callers provide me with hours of entertainment. I'll also miss John and Jeff who were an intriguing second choice when Coast to Coast AM had an uninteresting topic that night.
Of course all of this is a shame. I highly doubt WYSP's new rock format will be enough to regain the ratings edge they may have lost, and no matter how good the music is, it won't anywhere near as interesting as any talk program could be. I wish them luck, because other than listening to an Eagles game in the car I probably won't be listening to WYSP again in the near future.
As I said, I recent got XM satellite radio. With that I can listen to Opie and Anthony (as well as full broadcasts of Coast to Coast - damn you 1210 AM) so I don't see much use any longer in WYSP. And besides, there's so much programming I'd rather listen to on the XM, I don't need many terrestrial stations that much anymore.
Shame. Good luck, WYSP.
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
In case you didn't know... there is a Yahoo! discussion group for this blog.
For discussion of pop culture of all types, times and genres.
Feel free to post your own reviews of what you've seen or critique the reviews on Glenn Walker's Welcome to Hell: Pop Culture Reviews weblog.
Glenn Walker is a writer with too much time on his hands, or depending on the day, not enough time on his hands. He loves, hates and lives pop culture. He knows too freaking much about pop culture. Given that, he has to vomit up his voluminous opinions on them here. Welcome to Hell. If you need to agree, disagree or make him shut up, please feel free to make your voice heard here.
This group will also serve as an announcement list for Glenn Walker's projects.
All comments invited.
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Click to join welcome_2_hell
Tuesday, September 11, 2007
Now of course I just think the performance speaks for itself, but I found something even better. A passionate fan defending the fallen pop star:
Thanks to Sara for hipping me to the links.
Monday, September 10, 2007
Actress Jane Wyman Dead
By Steve Gorman
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Jane Wyman, the Oscar-winning actress who was Ronald Reagan's first wife and starred in the popular 1980s television drama "Falcon Crest," died on Monday at age 90, her longtime manager said.
Wyman married fellow actor and future U.S. President Reagan in 1940 but divorced him in 1948. She died at her home in Palm Springs, California, having been in failing health for several years, business manager Michael Mesnick said in a statement.
Known as "one-take Wyman" for her professional work ethic, Wyman appeared in more than 80 films during a career spanning four decades. Her last movie was the 1969 musical comedy "How to Commit Marriage" with Bob Hope and Jackie Gleason.
Starting out as a radio singer, the Missouri-born Wyman broke into the movies in the 1930s as a Goldwyn Girl and signed with Warner Bros. studio in 1936. Her film acting debut came with a bit part in "Gold Diggers of 1937."
Initially typecast as a perky, sometimes flaky or tart-tongued blonde, Wyman toiled for a decade in mostly B-movie fare and supporting roles in bigger films. She gained notice in 1945 for her role as the girlfriend of a chronic alcoholic in Billy Wilder's drama "The Lost Weekend."
Generally appearing as a brunette after that film, Wyman went on to give a string of Oscar-nominated performances as a leading lady, beginning with "The Yearling" opposite Gregory Peck in 1946.
OSCAR TIME AND DIVORCE
She won the Oscar as best actress for her 1948 role -- played when she was 34 -- as a teenage deaf-mute raped in "Johnny Belinda." She and Reagan, once hailed by the Hollywood publicity machine as the ideal couple, saw their marriage collapse.
Wyman's two other Oscar nominations came for the 1951 drama "The Blue Veil," in which she played a self-sacrificing nursemaid, and the 1954 Douglas Sirk-directed romance "Magnificent Obsession," opposite Rock Hudson.
She sang in duet with Bing Crosby on the Oscar-winning song, "In the Cool Cool Cool of the Evening," from Frank Capra's 1951 musical comedy "Here Comes the Groom," and shared the screen with Marlene Dietrich in Alfred Hitchcock's 1950 thriller "Stage Fright."
Wyman began a television career in the 1950s, hosting the drama anthology series "The Jane Wyman Theater." She became best known to a later generation of viewers as the ruthless family matriarch Angela Channing in the CBS melodrama "Falcon Crest."
The show was a 1980s hit during the White House administration of her former second husband, Reagan, with whom Wyman had a daughter, Maureen, who died in 2001, and adopted a son, Michael, who became a conservative radio host.
By then Reagan, whom Wyman had met and began dating during their work together on the 1938 film "Brother Rat," had long been married to another of his onetime co-stars, Nancy Davis.
Despite concerns in Reagan's camp during his first White House bid about winning election as the first divorced president, Wyman remained scrupulously silent about her ex-husband, as she had during his time as California governor.
Michael Reagan wrote years later that his father "wouldn't have been president being married to Jane Wyman. He needed a Nancy, who was willing to give up her career to be there, by his side."
While her birthdate was widely cited as being in January 1914, her manager Mesnick said Wyman was actually born three years later, a fact she had long obscured for professional reasons because she had wanted to be seen as older.
She was herself married a total of four times to three different men, divorcing the last in 1965.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
This titanic team-up (no, we won't be fighting each other first) will highlight the Quantum Zone's over 11 years online, as well as the recent Reprint Quasar and Quasar Month campaigns that have grown out of the Quantum Zone Forum.
Meanwhile, after almost 9 years online, Avengers Forever remains the premiere Avengers site on the internet, with its exhaustive Avengers information, popular forum and excellent reviews.