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The bush kangaroo
Really taken from the American series Flipper this Australian series is set in one
of their national parks. The ranger in residence is Ed Deveraux and his two sons
Ken James and Garry Pankhurst. There's an assistant ranger who flies a helicopter played by Tony Bonner.
Young Pankhurst has a pet who is our title character. Skippy is one smart roo and like Flipper was constantly rescuing the kids and occasionally the adults from one kind of predicament or another.
No doubt that Skippy was ripped off from Flipper but I think it was good that it was broadcast in the USA. We got a look at Australian wildlife and we could appreciate what they did to protect it. Puts America to shame.
Nice show for kids and adults.
After years making money for MGM in feature films Lassie the collie moved to the
small screen where she ran seemingly forever on Sunday night under various owners. Her viewers and fans were intergenerational.
She first shows up on a farm with widow Jan Clayton, her son Tommy Rettig, and father-in-law George Cleveland playing one of those lovable and irascible codgers. That was for the first few seasons. But with Tommy Rettig growing up and George Cleveland dying a whole new family was introduced. Jon Provost became the new kid and his parents were John Shepodd and Cloris Leachman. But then the actors playing the parents were replaced with Hugh Reilly and June Lockhart. This combination lasted for about a decade.
When the family relocated to Australia and couldn't take Lassie, the collie became the property of forest ranger Robert Bray. Finally a pair of rangers ended up with a dog that had more years on television than dogs usually have in a lifetime. Her final masters were rangers Jed Allan and Jack DeMave.
This was one of the wholesomest shows on television. Nobody ever tired of seeing the kids or the rangers get in trouble and Lassie go get help if not be the help.
Lassie was an indelible part of growing up in the 50s and 60s.
Mystery 101: Words Can Kill (2019)
Three mysteries for a group of mystery writers to solve
Big doings over at the college where Jill Wagner teaches, there's a College Book
Festival going on and a bunch of writers are coming. But the college's own Robin
Thomas is the real star of the show. He taught the class in mystery writing that
his daughter Wagner teaches now.
For all these professional sleuths three murders happen during the course of the event. A stalker, a publisher, and a rival of Thomas's in many things from the old days.
There are as usual no shortage of suspects. But one of these three does not fit with the other two. Once the team of Wagner and Kristoffer Polaha figure that one out, the solution for the other two takes a quantum leap forward.
A good one for this series.
The People's Enemy (1935)
Hair trigger mobster
I only got to see about 55 minutes of the 70 minutes running time of The People's
Enemy.. It was butchered for TV viewing. As it was an independent production
and most likely one of the first films acquired by TV for viewing I doubt we'll see
a director's cut.
What we did see is longtime racketeer sent up for a tax evasion rap who apparently is not all that bright and thinks with his trigger finger. Preston Foster is someone I could hardly believe rose to the top in his profession. Next to him is William Collier, Jr. who makes Foster look like a Greek philosopher.
Foster becomes convinced that his lawyer Melvyn Douglas sold him out. No, but he's easily convinced of the fact. Douglas is rethinking representing mob figures. It pays well, buy........
One place he is double crossing Foster is that he's taken up with his long estranged wife Lila Lee. That could and does cause problems.
Big mistake making Foster the lead character. The People's Enemy should have had Douglas as the lead. I think a major studio might have recognized that.
This had some potential, but butchered on the cutting room floor.
The Virginian: The Brothers (1965)
A Disagreeable manhunt
The focus is on Clu Gulagher in this season 4 opener on The Virginian. Deputy
Emmet Riker has a disagreeable manhunt to make. He's on the trail of Robert
Lansing, law abiding rancher and good friend of Riker who went and broke his
brother Andrew Prine out of the army stockade the night before he was scheduled
to be hung for desertion of guard duty when Ghost Dance observing Sioux broke
out. Only Lansing kills a guard.
A military patrol is also looking for the brothers who are taking Lansing's wife Jan Shepard and son Kurt Russell along that's headed by Sergeant Myron Healey who was good friends with the man killed by Lansing.
The story focuses on Lansing, a straight arrow type who feels he must stand by his brother no matter what. Prine is a lot less than truthful though.
In any event they all have to face up with those selfsame Ghost Riders.
Nice story with the action centering on Lansing and Prine.
The Virginian: We've Lost a Train (1965)
Those Texas Rangers
This Virginian story served as the pilot episode for Laredo. It begins when Trampas is sent to buy a bull for Shiloh ranch and has to go to Mexico. Which means passing through the rough border town of Laredo.
That's where Trampas runs into William Smith, Peter Brown, and Neville Brand and their patient captain Phillip Carey. How he meets them is straight out of the 3 Musketeers. But when they get a mission about stopping stolen guns to the Yaqui Indians, that's when Doug McClure proves invaluable.
Such folks as Fernando Lamas, Rhonda Fleming, and Ida Lupino giver the Laredo series an all star sendoff.
So our first meeting with the rollicking Rangers from Laredo.
Dad was a spy?
For reasons not really explained Gayle Hunnicutt decides to go to Europe on her
own, leaving husband and son somewhat at sea. But when Gene Hackman and
Matt Dillon get a call from the French Consulate that Hunnicutt has gone missing
from her tour group.
Hackman is a middle class conservative person who is rather staid and boring. Among those who see him that way is his son. But Dillon gets the shock of his young life when he finds out that Hackman was in the CIA and that he has been living like he was in witness protection program.
And Hackman hasn't slowed up a bit. He still has the moves and the instincts. But the puzzle is that they're seem to be two groups, one who has the wife and one who wants to kill him. A puzzlement.
Hackman, Hunnicutt, and Dillon cast as a good family unit. They are given good support by the rest of the cast. I think you will figure out early on who is the bad guy.
Nice location cinematography in France and Germany. Pace of the film is also good. You will like it.
Two Heads on a Pillow (1934)
Lawyers divorced and wed
After seeing Two Heads On A Pillow I'm certainly glad we have Tracy&Hepburn to
give us a much better film on the subject. This is hogs liver next to the filet
mignon of Adam's Rib.
Neil Hamilton and Miriam Jordan play a bickering couple who get divorced. One fine day lawyer Hamilton gets a big surprise. The ex-wife has gone back to school, passed the bar and she too is now a member of his profession. I think you can see where this is going.
Spence&Kate were sooooooooooooo much better.
The Virginian: Old Cowboy (1965)
Past his prime
For a guy who when he was a leading man in the 30s and 40s did most of his
work in evening attire, Franchot Tone scores very well as the grizzled old cowboy
past his prime. But he doesn't believe it and neither does grandson Billy Mumy.
The Virginian hires Tone somewhat reluctantly and it's proven over and again that the man is past his prime. In the meantime Mumy has befriended Trampas and that makes Tone only more jealous.
Loved this episode. Franchot Tone is remarkable in this part.
As another cowboy hero said, 'man's got to know his limitations'.
JB goes cold case
Jessica Fletcher is not all that crazy being part of a reunion show where an
unsolved murder of a guest star was committed in his dressing room. But agent
Jeff Yagher is most persuasive and she goes to the studio where the show is
The host was Donald O'Connor a Milton Berle like comedian and among others coming back is a sister act Anne Francis, Elaine Joyce, and Connie Stevens. They all have some interesting stories.
Some creepy things happen and soon enough there's fresh case of murder of director Gavin MacLeod. Of course it relates way back to the other murder.
I really enjoyed the performance of Sheldon Leonard as the retired detetive who had the original case that went cold. Michael Cole is the detective on the current case and he's not crazy about having Leonard around.
Leonard and Angela Lansbury are great together, reason enough to see this.
Harry and the Hendersons (1987)
The Henderson family camping trip
The Henderson family of Seattle and I say that because this film was shot in
Washington State are on a camping trip and heading home when John Lithgow
hits something. Turns out to be a sasquatch, a really big Big Foot. They do
What to do but the Hendersons bring him home quite unconscious. Since nobody has any history of dealing with them it takes awhile but Lithgow, Melinda Dillon, Margaret Langrick, and Joshua Rudoy;.all develop some rapport with Harry as they've taken to calling him.
Big as he is he's also not exactly house broken. The neighbors are bad enough, but the Hendersons also have to deal with a professional hunter in David Suchet. They get help from a retired scientist in Don Ameche.
Harry And The Hendersons is a nice if somewhat unbelievable fantasy. If Big Foot is out there I doubt he'll run into any of our species as nice as the Henderson family.
7'4" Kevin Peter Hall plays Harry and the makeup job they did on him earned an Oscar for the film. With all that makeup Hall gives a great performance with the camera catching differing expressions with his eyes. It's a great performance, better than the other players playing to an animated creation for instance.
Harry And The Hendersons is a nice fantasy and holds up well after 30 years.
The bulls and bears
With all the money that JB Fletcher makes with her novels it seems natural that
she would be investing. The place she is investing with is a firm headed by partners Jerome Calvin and Farley Granger.
Calvin is the son of the original partner of the firm and he is getting in over his head a lot. But he has a good secretary in Lela Ivey whom he keeps trying to make, but her heart is loyal to her blue collar boyfriend Joe Maruzzo.
But when Calvin's head gets bashed in one night, the cops in the person of Detective Kenneth Tighe zero in on Ivey and Maruzzo. Of course it's not and that's when Angela Lansbury goes to work.
Good ensemble performances, singling out Edd Byrnes who has risen from parking cars on Sunset Boulevard back in his salad days to a too smooth broker. He's got a few angles he's working all by himself.
The Virginian: Dangerous Road (1965)
Two Murders In Coulter Station
Trampas gets deputized and asked to bring Bob Coulter,Jr. back to Coulter Station
on a warrant for homicide. Coulter is played by Robert Pine and the town is named after his dad Simon Oakland who runs the local Ponderosa. Pine is accused of killing a girl while in a drunken stupor.
When Trampas gets to town with his prisoner he finds a very nervous deputy Tom Simcox holding down the fort as the sheriff has also been killed. There are a lot angry people in the town, friends of Oakland and friends of the family of the victim.
Forensic evidence wasn't a science then, but Doug McClure finds forensic evidence that identifies the real killer.
Nice performances by the ensemble cast.
Murder, She Wrote: Town Father (1989)
A dirty election in Cabot Cove
The gossip among the denizens of Cabot Cove's beauty parlor is got some juicy
items to discuss. Lee Purcell has arrived in town claiming that Mayor Richard
Paul is the father of her two kids out in Wyoming. This is when Basil Hoffman is
running against him for mayor. The issues are some zoning changes and some
outside folks are backing Hoffman. Julia Adams Cabot Cove's real estate broker
has also tossed her hat in the ring. Some want Angela Lansbury to run as she's
the most well known figure from town. Even William Windom was asked.
Then Purcell is murdered and the blackmail scheme against Paul falls apart.
It's rather obvious who is behind all this, but I think it was silly to have Ron Masak and Angela Lansbury spending a lot time tracking down beauty parlor gossip.
Not one of the better MSW episodes.
Cocoon: The Return (1988)
It was a round trip
The old folks who left earth with the Antareans in Cocoon have decided to return
with an Antarean mission to rescue another cocoon. The six couples from the
previous film have three days to do their visiting with old friends and family.
As for the Antareans Courtney Cox looks up Steve Guttenberg who was so helpful in the last film that she's sure he'll be willing again. For a redblooded male like Guttenberg, Cox could convince me. But they're too late the cocoon has been taken from the ocean floor and a scientific institute has it now and they are sawing it open to get the living thing they saw with x-ray.
The first Cocoon movie was a wonderful fantasy that worked on our imaginations. The second is entertaining, but sadly comes off as a routine science fiction. And you better have watched the first because you won't understand the sequel.
Best in this film is Jack Gilford who stayed behind when the rest of his 60+ something friends went. He's still the same whiner and complainer, but there's an endearing quality to him.
I think most will like Cocoon: The Return. But leftovers aren't as good as the first meal.
Prairie Law (1940)
Bad guys buy the law and order
In this RKO western George O'Brien stars as a cattleman bringing a herd home and when he gets there he finds a bunch of homesteaders on what was public
land. It's been sold to them by agent Paul Everton who's a real sharp sort.
This is an argument used in westerns like the Sea Of Grass and McLintock where land used for buffalo and cattle does not have the rich soil deep enough to support agricultural crops. Everton knows it, O'Brien knows it, and soon the suckers who bought the land will. And Everton's also the town judge.
In any event the herds are stalled ripe for a little nickel and dime rustling another of Everton's schemes. The steers are butchered and the meat sold to town butcher Cy Kendall who really operates with a low overhead and a wide profit margin.
When the sheriff J. Farrell MacDonald investigates he's killed by Kendall and that spurs George O'Brien into action as MacDonald was his uncle.
I have to say that Everton was a truly crafty villain. Takes a lot to bring him down.
Enough gunplay to satisfy any western fan.
Flame of the West (1945)
Fast shootin' doc
Johnny Mack Brown stars in this western for Monogram that has a bit more plot
than your average B film. He plays a newly arrived doctor in the town who has a
secret. His secret is that he's a fast gun with an accurate aim at what he shoots
This is one lawless town and saloon owner Harry Woods wants to keep it that way. The town brings in tamer Douglass Dumbrille and appoints him marshal with carte blanche. But to finish the job he will need Brown and those colts he carries in his doctor's bag.
Being a law and order marshal in a western is not a role I ever thought to see Dumbrille in. But he does carry it off.
Joan Woodbury has the role of Woods's partner in the saloon. She's in charge of the entertainment at the establishment and PeeWee King and his group who are in this film play at the saloon and work for her. She's also carrying a big secret which we don't learn until the end.
Enough gunplay to satisfy any western fan.
Defining comedy for the millenials
This was one interesting show, essentially it defined comedy for the millenial
Three men, three women typical of young people as they like to see themselves decide to room together in New York City, rents being what they are. The women were Lisa Kudrow, Jennifer Aniston,and Courtney Cox. The guys are David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry, and Matt LeBlanc.
With six characters from different backgrounds there was a chance to bring in girlfriends, boyfriends, relations of all kinds in a whole range of plot situations for episodes. One of the reasons the show clicked.
The bigger reasons was however the chemistry between the six. You can never tell, you just hope you make the right casting and the audience likes the ensemble. That's sheer luck at times.
I know my nieces of the younger generation really dug this show as they entered their teen years. I kind of liked it myself
That Was Then... This Is Now (1985)
What some kids carry around.
That Was Then, This Is Now is the story of two working class youths who look like
they are on a street to nowhere in their lives.
After his parents killed themselves, Emilio Estevez is taken in by his best friend Craig Sheffer and his mom Barbara Babcock. The two of them get in all kinds of trouble. But Sheffer is starting to think that may be if I grow up their just might be a future for him.
Estevez is carrying a lot around, many of us do and we react to it in different ways. Estevez is on the road to career criminality. He gets involved in deeper and deeper and threatens to bring Sheffer in with him if Sheffer does not heed the better angels of his nature.
The key scene is when we learn as Estevez confides to Scheffer just what it is he's carrying inside. Some of the best acting in both their careers.
Hollywood has done very well with S.E. Hinton novels. That Was Then This Is Now is right up there with Tex, Rumblefish. and The Outsiders. This one managed to get done without Matt Dillon.
I recommend it highly.
Bonanza: Lothario Larkin (1965)
Getting a Lothario wed
Not sure if Noah Beery's character of Lothario Larkin was born with that monniker or it is a nickname. But it sure fits him as he 's romanced every eligible
young female in the Virginia City area and has their father's out looking for him
Noah Beery, Jr. plays Larkin and he confesses that he was jilted once and now jilts the entire female species. So his good friend Dan Blocker seeks to remedy the situation and he discovers that the woman who did the jilting is working in a saloon. The only problem is that Dorothy Green is living without benefit of clergy with gambler Jim Davis. No legal complications but Davis is a rough customer.
Nice humorous episode with Hoss Cartwright as Cupid.
Quite an imagination
Dwight Schultz makes the first of several appearances as Lt.Reginald Barkley on
the Enterprise. Schultz got to reprise his character usually once a year for the
remainder of TNG's run.
Barkley or Broccoli as Wil Wheaton takes to calling him is the typical square peg in a round hole. He's one of those folks who just can't quite fit in. In all of the Barkley subsequent episodes like here things just seem to happen all around him.
In any event there are a number of systems failures that leave the Enterprise in great danger. It's LeVar Burton and Schultz who figure out what is happening.
Barkley has quite an imagination and is addicted to the hollowdeck programs he's created to blow off steam. Both Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis have differing reactions to them. As Geordi LaForge says Barkley could write a book on hollowdeck addiction.
Good story that introduces us to an enduring character in the Star Trek saga.
The Man Who Wouldn't Die (1942)
Shouldn't they stay dead?
Marjorie Weaver who is Paul Harvey's wild child comes home and announces she
has a husband. Her dad has troubles enough with a Senate Investigating Committee looking at him for God knows what. Harvey and a few others have
just buried a body, but a second look reveals an empty grave.
Weaver hires Michael Shayne, but in order to have him at the house she says Lloyd Nolan is her husband. Nolan's crackling wit does not near and endear to the rest, but he gets the job done.
All I'll say is that it wasn't quite what I expected.
The cast gives a good account of themselves and Nolan is as breezy as ever.
Sea Hunt (1958)
The craze for SCUBA diving
My cousin who was a great swimmer and like all kinds of water sports was a great
fan of Sea Hunt. He was 9 when Sea Hunt made its debut.
If this show and its star Lloyd Bridges did anything else it surely awakened a lot of people's interest in marine biology and life beneath ocean surface. The invention of the Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus allowed for better exploring of the seas. The navy used in World War 2 and the 50s saw an explosion in civilian popularity and use.
Bridges was former navy frogman Mike Nelson who still worked for our government on occasion, but also hired out to individual citizens if they needed questions answered from ocean depths. He worked alone, no wisecracking sidekicks. Bridges did have his sons Beau and Jeff on the show as child actors.
Ivan Tors produced this syndicated series and it was his first big success.
Lots of kids grew up with the adventures Mike Nelson had, kids just like my cousin.
Corrina, Corrina (1994)
"Where have you been so long?"
Ray Liotta a typical ad man from the Eisenhower 50s has just lost his wife and his
daughter Tina Majorino her mother. He's needing a housekeeper and babysitter
very badly. He starts interviewing a variety of candidates not all of them women.
But Whoopi Goldberg playing the title role sort of ingratiates herself with both
father and daughter.
Soon enough there's an attraction between the two of them, but this is not 2019 it is the 50s and before the Civil Rights Act. They get a lot of fisheyed stares and a racial crack or two. And that is both of them as Goldberg's own family says to stick to her own kind.
Whoopi's scenes with Tina are really special they're what drive the film. It also makes it a family film in every sense of the word.
Two movie oldtimers, K.T. Stevens and Don Ameche make their farewell appearances. Ameche has only a few scenes and you can see how the ravages of cancer are killing him slowly. A lot like Edward G. Robinson and Soylent Green.
There's also a nice performance by Erica Yohn as Liotta's mom and what a Yiddishe Mama she is. Ameche is his father.
This is a wonderful film and with interracial couples far more accepted now it's a look back on some brave people.
The King's Messengers (2017)
Will they be rescued
This is an 8 part mini-series with half hour segments that looks like it was shot with my father's old Bell&Howell home movie camera. A revolt has taken place
in some unnamed Balkan country and it is a real anti-clerical government that
has taken over.
Two young men, armed with only a laptop are broadcasting religious messages to the outside world and the outside world wants to get them out. But they have to keep on the move.
The two men are Christopher Veldhuizen a native of the country and Daniel Knudsen who is the son of the former British ambassador who was killed along with his wife and rest of the family.
It's a sincere effort, but not likely to be seen other than on TCT and church basements.