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We Love Leonard Nimoy: Our Favorite Spock-centric "Star Trek" Episodes

Please accept our apologies for delaying so long in bringing you another Leonard Nimoy tribute.  The loss of him has really sunk in du...

Sunday, October 30, 2016

"The Man from U.N.C.L.E." Goes Batty -- Part of The Classic TV Blog Association Terror TV Blogathon

This post is part of the Terror TV Blogathon hosted by the Classic TV Blog Association.  Click here for the entire line-up!

Vampires are big business these days but who exactly are we kidding?  They've always been big business -- big SHOW business -- from the early days of silent cinema until this very minute.  In terms of TV fun, they've been pulled out to do spooky duty many a time, including tussling with the intrepid secret agents on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. back in 1966, though not as a Halloween episode; it aired on April 1 of that year on NBC, of course!

"The Bat Cave Affair" is a crazy mix featuring a psychic hillbilly gal, Illya bullfighting in Spain and ending up hostage to a diabolical mad scientist Thrush agent Count Zark who's cooked up a plan to use bats to throw the world's air traffic into a tailspin.  The precognitive Ozark lass is played by actress Joan Freeman, veteran of many TV shows and movies and who played the girlfriend of space-bound TV favorite Don Knotts (post-Barney Fife) in 1967's The Reluctant Astronaut comedy movie.  

Count Zark is played by the consummate actor Martin Landau, a perennial acting man of many faces who was a frequent guest on TV series and co-starring in movies. Later in that Fall season he would begin his star-making role as magician/secret agent Rollin Hand in TV's Mission: Impossible which he played for 3 years.  

Rather than recap the plot of "The Bat Cave Affair" again here I will refer you to several sites with terrific synopses of the episode, such as Benzadmiral's No Man is Free site with plot here, Morgan Richter's Preppies of the Apocalypse with a complete rundown here, and TV Maze with a detailed storyline recap here.  But really, the charm and continuing appeal of this episode is in the look of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and particularly the brilliantly flamboyant work of Martin Landau as Count Zark.  In addition to the fact that Landau has never given less than a standout performance in anything, he's got an incredibly expressive face just perfect for topping off the traditional vampire flowing black cape.

So, with great thanks to the wonderful Lisa's Video Frame Capture Library site -- check it out here -- let's feast on some moments from "The Bad Cave Affair"!

The Man from U.N.C.L.E. "The Bat Cave Affair" is worth checking out for its snazzy 1960s' vibe and the always entertaining performances of all the series regulars.  You can find and watch it online here.

Happy Halloween to all TV lovers everywhere, and be sure to check out the rest of the other wonderful entries in The Terror TV Blogathan hosted by the Classic TV Blog Association; visit the entire line-up by clicking here.  You'll really enjoy it!  

Monday, October 10, 2016

Lethal Weapon on Fox - To Watch or Not to Watch

The following is my opinion...

The original Lethal Weapon film was released 29 years ago and it was a monumental success for Warner Bros. The film series would have three additional installments over the course of eleven years and all four films would be gigantic moneymakers. What took them so long to launch a series?

Back in 1987 no one would have dreamt that three decades later a broadcast network would launch the title into a weekly episodic series, but here we are with a Lethal Weapon series sans the gun in the promo material and in the logo itself. The Lethal Weapon was always supposed to be the character of Martin Riggs, but can Martin Riggs maintain Lethal Weapon status week in - week out. Even the sheer brilliance of Mel Gibson couldn't do this outside of the eight hours of screen time that came with the filmed versions over an eleven year period of time. Having written that, Clayne Crawford (the current Martin Riggs) is a gifted actor (and a really nice guy to boot, so let's hope that never changes).

Now if you think I am about to be critical regarding a lack of creativity on the part of the television industry you would be incorrect. Choosing a highly recognizable brand and title doesn't prove a lack of creativity. Lethal Weapon was a prime project to have segued onto the small screen.

I have now watched seven episodes of this series and they have gone from an interesting pilot to a downright silly and wildly uneven series. Everything and I mean everything is over the top and absolutely ridiculous. Nothing is believable in this reboot of the classic film series. Having written that, the show is good, fun and mindless entertainment; and quite frankly, there is a need for that in the television landscape. Most everything else is dark and darker. Entertain us please.

The team crafted an entertaining and at times, beautifully touching pilot. Admittedly, no episode since the pilot has equaled the superb pilot, but sometimes they get it right and sometimes they don't. Some of the editing has failed us, particularly episode six, but again, this show is entertaining.

The pilot offered fully fleshed out characters, lots of quick and clever dialogue and a poignancy about life, death, family and friendship. The series has attempted this delivery and again there are times they deliver successfully.

For years, dating back to 1969's Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (which is referenced in an episode) the buddy film/series led to tremendous success, but for a reason I am unable to explain it has disappeared from our viewing inventory.  I recently sat through The Nice Guys starring Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling and I almost got depressed viewing it. Like the Lethal Weapon films from an earlier time, the film was written by Shane Black; and the darkness accompanied by nothing but unfunny dialogue may have proved why the buddy concept sank. No, actually it doesn't. Just because Shane Black is currently unable to write a digestible narrative doesn't explain the demise of the buddy project. I had hoped this Lethal Weapon would prove so successful it will bring it all back. Having written that, I doubt it. No television series will ever become the overall water cooler project the way television and film impacted our society in prior generations. There is too much to watch and everything is now a niche.  Well, we do have The Walking Dead.

The writers of Lethal Weapon want to hammer the buddy concept into our head and there are a few references to other iconic buddy partners as well. Think Starsky and Hutch. We even get Crawford doing a hood jump and he's quite skilled at it. This series is male friendly and one would think men would want to see this series. Men have deserted television in recent years and maybe this series will bring them back.  I suspect nothing may bring them back, since even the NFL's ratings are beginning to run out the clock.

Damon Wayans (Roger Murtaugh) is a funny guy, but no one would accuse him of showing a great deal of range and/or depth as an actor. His family moments almost make the show worth the view, since there are some heartfelt family interludes that are touching and dignified in a true family fashion.

The achy heart and soul would have to go to one of the more gifted actors of the last decade and a half. Clayne Crawford has it all and it's stunning to think this is the first big break he has gotten after doing a large assortment of episodic guest spots, independent films and a lead role in the series Rectify. He's attractive without being Mel Gibson 1987 gorgeous and he is an outstanding actor capable of being likable and relatable. Crawford is a full body mass of charisma and  he possesses a great deal of talent. Watch Rectify on Sundance and see him play a character completely different than his Martin Riggs. Crawford is the show. Without Crawford, there literally is no show.

A couple of members of the supporting cast are top notch in largely undervalued roles. Kevin Rahm as their supervisor at LAPD headquarters is sharp and funny. Rahm has superb comic timing skills and should be utilized much more frequently.  Another standout is Johnathan Fernandez as the Medical Examiner named Scorcese (he's a wannabe film writer).

One problem I have with this series is somehow the powers that be seemingly think they are paying tribute to our men and women in the Armed Services. The episode featuring Michael Raymond James as a "troubled" former Navy Seal made me want to take a freight train down at the station and I don't care where it goes - to quote the famed classic rock song, Can't You See by the South Carolina men of The Marshall Tucker Band (coincidentally used in the pilot episode).  Riggs' issues have little to do with his time as a Navy Seal (how many Navy Seals are now featured in television?) and all to do with the death of his wife and child. By the way, let's see how fast they get Riggs dating. The love of his life and the missing of his girl will no doubt go away before the season is out. In episode seven, which aired tonight, there were three potential candidates for Riggs' future love life and we aren't even halfway through their 18 episode order. First, we had a woman offering a drink which was just a tipping point to let us know Riggs is attractive to women. Then we have Hilarie Burton as the DEA agent asking him out and of course, Dr. Cahill digs the Riggs. I assure you they don't get out of this season without Riggs forgetting his beloved wife.  Hijinks will surely follow. By the way, some consultant needs to inform the writers that Navy Seals aren't soldiers, but Riggs keeps calling himself a soldier. Let's get this right.

Lethal Weapon is a big, expensive series. The first four episodes played out like feature films and the cinematography is exceptionally beautiful. What an accomplishment in the technical arts. The series has paid tribute to multiple scenes from the feature films and that adds some high comfort. I look forward to more movie recognition moments.

Lethal Weapon airs on Fox on Wednesdays at 8/7c.

Copyright The Flaming Nose 2016

Thursday, August 11, 2016

More TV Happy Birthdays: 7/28 & 7/29

Continuing our Happy Birthday Catching Up --

7/28 TV Happy Birthdays:  RIP First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy, singer/actor Rudy VallĂ©e, politician Hugo Chavez, director Andrew McLaglen, runner/advocate Terry Fox.

Cartoonist Jim Davis-71, actress Linda Kelsey-70, actress Sally Struthers-69, actress Georgia Engel-68, actor/prod Michael Hitchcock-58, singer/actress/prod Rachel Sweet-54, actress Lori Loughlin-52, comedian/actor Jimmy Pardo-50, actress Elizabeth Berkley-44, actor Billy Brown-35, actor Spencer Boardman-24.

7/29 TV Happy Birthdays:  RIP actor William Powell, actor/lawyer Melvin Belli, director Budd Boetticher, writer Don Ingalls, actor Richard Egan, actor Lloyd Bochner, actor Robert Horton, actor/wrestling manager Lou Albano,  journalist Peter Jennings,

Comedian Professor Irwin Corey-102, actor Robert Fuller-83, actor David Warner-75, actress Leslie Easterbrook-67, actor Mike Starr-66, documentary producer Ken Burns-63, designer/host Tim Gunn-63, actress Alexandra Paul-53, actor/inventor Dean Haglund-51, actor Timothy Omundson-47, actor Wil Wheaton-44, actor Stephen Dorff-43, actor Josh Radnor-42, actress Allison Mack-34, host Lauren Brooke-34, actress Tania Gunadi-33, actor Munro Chambers-26, actor Matt Prokop-26.