Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Treat for Lost in Space Fans

This is simply stunning. I felt compelled to post it here. A re-imagining of the first automated test flight of the Jupiter 2 from the TV show "Lost in Space."

Taken from the creator Haselius00's youtube description:

"Set in the year 2097 at the Alpha Control Shipyards on Jupiter's moon, Callisto. The ship's systems are tested during a shakedown flight before the spacecraft is sent to Earth to pick up the Robinson Family a week later. The Jupiter 2 is the first in a series of ships designed to take families from Earth to the new colony planet in orbit around Alpha Centauri.

Part 1 shows the launch, attainment of escape velocity from Callisto, the deployment of the ship's sensors and engagement of the navigational systems. Part 2 will take a look at the ship's passenger compartment and feature the most famous crew member, Robot B9.

All models, animation, original texture mapping & editing by me. Sound FX are modified from the show. Royalty-free music from AudioMicro, since FOX hates any use of their own music, even if it's fair use.... All models created entirely with 3ds MAX. Compiled with AfterEffects & Audacity."

Recognition must be given to Art Creber and Robert Kinoshita, the original designers of the Jupiter 2 and the Robot, and many of the props in the show. A sincere thank you for giving us a means by which our imaginations can run free."

More great stuff on Haselius00's youtube channel

Sunday is Super TV and We're On Overdrive!

Sunday is it. Even with the departure of Mad Men and Rubicon several weeks ago, the superb drama pace hasn't let up, and now we're groaning (in delight, of course) again with the addition of another what should be amazing series.

At 9pm we've got HBO's Boardwalk Empire, now on Episode 7, still stylishly giving us a glimpse into the ever-coarsening world of Prohibition Era Atlantic City, NYC and Chicago gangsters. I will also comment here that they have obviously gathered up all the actresses who don't have fake boobs to appear in BE; last week's episode was nearly all topless women and they were all natural. This should be considered a welcome change from the siliconed sharpies usually in view, but even I was getting a little overwhelmed with so many titties last week. Maybe some of the ladies will keep their tops on this week, what do you say?

The other 9pm star is Dexter on Showtime -- also very good, if not great. Julia Stiles is effective as the damaged former victim who's out for her own revenge after being taken into Dexter's confidence, and the Dexter regulars are putting in terrific performances, as always. I usually DVR this for later viewing or catch it on the many Showtime encores throughout the week, but I definitely watch it as soon as possible. It's no Season 2, which was our favorite around here, but it's still plenty exciting and engrossing.

Also at 9pm, we also hope you've gotten turned on to PBS' astonishly delightful Masterpiece Mystery! presentation of Sherlock, a three episode run that started last week. This updated Sherlock Holmes envisioning is lightning fast, funny as hell, and completely intriguing. The performances are delightful, the writing crisp and witty, and I sincerely advise you to watch with the Closed Captions on so you don't miss a word of the dialogue. Sherlock is a wholly wonderful 90 minutes long, so settle in for a long entertaining hour and a half.

This week we've got a new drama hitting the schedule, AMC's much-touted and well-reviewed The Walking Dead, premiering tonight at 10pm. Based on a popular hard-hitting comic book series, The Walking Dead is a departure in subject matter for AMC, but if their previous record of quality TV production holds true, we are in for a treat. Even if you're not a horror aficionado, we recommend giving this one a try. It looks incredible! Learn more about the impressive creative provenance of the show here, and take a look at the exciting show trailer right now:

Ladies and Gentlemen, pop the popcorn, turn on the TV and set your DVRs! What a Sunday!

Halloween TV Countdown #7: "Gumby on the Moon"

Oh, yeah. That little green ball of clay could be plenty scary, especially in this eerie lunar misadventure from 1956 where Gumby finds himself all alone on the Moon. It's disorienting, for us and for Gumby. The short opens on a creepy Moon with a face, then we hear the odd electronic score. Poor Gumby wakes up on the Moon, and there are moon monsters there, too.

This is a completely odd Gumby short -- no wonder it makes an impression! Actually, the original version was twice as long and contains the whole long sequence, equally memorable and even more horrifying, of Gumby being put into an iron lung and revived. This one only has a glimpse of Gumby coming out of his freeze. I haven't been able to find the whole version in one piece, but there are many clips from the iron lung sequence in this excerpt (click to view) from an Art Clokey documentary. Completely scary!

But even the short version is plenty disorienting, especially during the rescue sequence where Gumby's father goes after him with a ladder. Unforgettable!

Boo! And Happy Halloween!

Halloween TV Countdown #6: "Leave it to Beaver"

We love Leave it to Beaver around here. It's one of the handful of babyboomer-beloved sitcoms that is truly a classic, an artistic classic. Beaver is incredibly clever, still hilarious, humane and still relevant as it finds its humor in everyday life and human interaction. Nothing flashy or over-the-top about this one, nor anything sanctimonious or preachy. Leave is to Beaver is pure gold.

Our Halloween choice here wasn't even a Halloween episode, but it fits the holiday perfectly. It's from LitB's 1958 - 1959 season, the show's second, and it's called "The Haunted House". Beaver (Jerry Mathers) is scared of an old house in the neighborhood, a decrepit abode where the kids think a witch lives. The woman isn't a witch at all, but just a older lady with a cute dog, but Beaver doesn't find that out until he's scared himself silly.

The dialogue is funny, with Ward (Hugh Beaumont) and June (Barbara Beaumont) making up excuses why Beaver thinks Mrs. Cooper is a witch, and Wally (Tony Dow) offering up some practical advice. One of my favorite lines is when Wally explains to Beaver that she's not a witch, because if she was, she'd "probably just cook up a monster to walk her dog." Leave it to Beaver frequently exhibits a tremendous sense of the absurd and it's a breezy delight to hear one of these great silly lines come out. Always a treat!

Of additional interest is veteran actress Lillian Bronson who plays Mrs. Cooper. Longtime Los Angeles residents and commuters would remember her beautiful haunting visage overlooking the Hollywood Freeway for many years in artist Kent Twitchell's giant "Freeway Lady" mural. (You can read more about Twitchell, Bronson and the mural here.) Lillian Bronson also played Fonzie's grandmother in a 1975 episode of Happy Days, and died at the age of 92 in 1995.

Leave it to Beaver "The Haunted House" is available on YouTube in three parts, starting here, so definitely take a look. You'll enjoy it!

Boo! And Bow Wow!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Jon Hamm on "Saturday Night Live" tonight -- Don't Forget!

Halloween TV Countdown #5: "Buffy The Vampire Slayer"

Oh, Buffy the Vampire Slayer! What a great seies, what a pre-Millenial delight that show was, equal parts excitement, romance, bonding, teenage angst, and wonderful humor! So shoot me, I never cared much for the romance parts -- my favorite Buffy boyfriend was Riley, not Angel -- but boy, did I love the show when it got funny.

There were three specific Halloween episodes on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the first two especially delightful. From Season 2, "Halloween" puts the gang into rented costumes -- rented from a evil shopkeeper -- which when bewitched turn the wearers into whatever person their costume is. Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) becomes a helpless Renaissance maiden, Willow (Alyson Hannigan) becomes a ghost, and Xander (Nicolas Brendon) morphs into a tough and buff soldier boy. It's a lot of fun and , in true Buffy-style, beaucoup exciting!

The next great Halloween outing is "Fear Itself" from Season 4. Buffy and the gang decide to attend a Halloween bash at a Frat house, but spooky things are in store when the college boys unwittingly unleash real demonic forces. Buffy is Little Red Riding Hood, Willow is a Knight, Xander is tuxedo boy, Anya famously dons her bunny suit, and Giles (Anthony Michael Head) goes south of the border. This episode is full of real thrills and chills, thanks to a haunted house with a whole lot of creepy going on!

We are SO in luck this time, because LOGO network, who currently airs Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is playing both these episodes, plus the third Buffy Halloween episode "All the Way", twice tomorrow, from 12 - 3pm, and then again from 7p - 10pm. (Incidentally, Buffy the Vampire Slayer will also be airing on the Chiller network starting the 2nd week of November.) Shows are also available on Hulu.

If you haven't watched Buffy in a while, it's highly recommended. Breezy and utterly entertaining, Buffy holds up magnificently and it's especially perfect Halloween viewing! Be sure to check out BuffyWorld, the website where the love never dies for Sunnydale's finest!

Boo! And Ole!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Halloween TV Countdown #4 -- "Little House on the Prairie"

You'll never hear me say a bad word about Michael Landon's charming Little House on the Prairie. It's one of the most humane, decent, life-affirming, adorable, moral series ever, and though that may sound boring, the show was anything but. Consistently excellent, Little House also holds up beautifully in repeats, Walnut Grove never aging but becoming ever more appealing to us, and Landon's genius evident in every scene. LHotP did several Halloween episodes, but my absolute favorite is the frequently hilarious and genuine nutty "The Monster of Walnut Grove" (which first aired on the day after Halloween in 1976).

We get to see Halloween at the Ingalls House, and things get cooking when the girls are out soaping windows and Laura spies into the Oleson's house and sees something she shouldn't. What's the gentle Nels Oleson doing brandishing a sword at his nagging wife Harriet? Things go from bad to worse to insane, scary and very funny as Laura misinterprets a decapitation and thinks Nels has killed his wife.

There's a huge dose of absurd humor in this one, not the least Laura's frequent statements about Nels cutting Mrs. Oleson's head off, always so matter-of-fact but very amusing. The episode has several short and imaginative dream sequences with Laura seeing all kinds of horrific things, and they're funny, too.

"The Monster of Walnut Grove" is a total delight, with all of LHotP's trademark warmth but ladled on this time with Michael Landon's light touch and sweetly wicked sense of humor. This is a must-see. The episode is on YouTube -- or was until today, when a whole lot of Little House vids were taken down, unfortunately. That's a really bad thing because The Hallmark Channel, current home of Little House on the Prairie, isn't running the Halloween episodes this holiday, which is a shame. They've got The Munsters and The Addams Family on the 31st, but not LHotP. Oh well, watch it on DVD, or read another paean to this great episode here on The Haunted Closet Blog, and you also might like this pretty funny and dead-on camp version from "Little Fairy on the Prairie" of one of Laura's nightmare's from this episode.

Sorry we couldn't bring you the treat with this Halloween delight!

Boo Humbug!!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

What's Orange and Black and Sort of Scary?'s not part 4 of Lisa's wonderful Halloween TV series. It's the WORLD SERIES, starring the fabulous quirky San Francisco Giants and underdog Texas Rangers on Fox Sports or your local Fox affiliates, starting tonight.

I know, what the heck am I doing writing a sports TV post when the only sports I've covered have been the Olympics and the occasional Kentucky Derby? Well, since this is my 1000th post on The Flaming must be love. For the SF Giants, that is. Disclaimer: Please note, I will hardly ever mention the opposing team (Texas Rangers). In fact this is all she's writing for T at the moment.

What makes this series so incredibly compelling from a TV perspective? The ragtag team from San Francisco makes for great television. These are more than just great ball players. They are colorful, wonderful, oddball characters. Here's a little back information to help you feel the love, if you're not already a fan:

What's torture baseball? That's a cliff hanger, just like in episodic TV dramas, where the Giants make you think they are going to lose all the way through the game, and then they win at the last minute. So far this plot device is mercifully not happening tonight, as it is 8-3 Giants in the 6th inning for Game One.

Who is Brian "Fear the Beard" Wilson? He's the closing pitcher for the Giants who dyes his beard black, is fierce as a pirate when he has to be and hopes someday to be the answer for a NY Times crossword puzzle!

Who is Tim Lincecum? He's the thin as a rail, long haired, hugely popular Giants pitcher (and 2 time Cy Young award winner) who was called Hippie Trash by the rude Philadelphia fans during the National League championship. He punished them by sending them to the scrap heap and the Giants to the World Series.

Who is Pablo "Panda Bear" Sandoval? He's the Giant's round shaped third baseman who has inspired San Francisco fans to come to AT&T park wearing stuffed panda toys on their heads. We're talking grown men here. And they are proud to wear those stufties!

Who is Buster "Baby Face" Posey? He's the Giant's amazing 23 year old rookie catcher who looks like a young Val Kilmer and plays like an old soul from The Field of Dreams.

These are just a few of the cast of characters, um...players, who have kept the SF Bay area captivated with their skill and originality. Baseball on TV has never been better!

I heard today that if Texas loses the series (oops, I guess I am mentioning them three times) they have to send our SF mayor Gavin some Texas BBQ. But if San Francisco loses (God Forbid), then Mayor Newsom has to send Texas some of our sour dough bread, Dungeness Crabs and Ghirardelli chocolate. If you ask me, the city by the bay has the better team AND the better food. And speaking of food, check out the Giants fever cupcakes that a co-worker brought to BlogHer today.

Can you feel the love now? Go Giants!

Adding a bit of post game (11-7 Giants win) post comments trivia:
---The Giants have been in 3 World Series since they were moved from NY to SF in 1953
---They did not win any of them
---Most teams that win Game One of the World Series, go on to win the whole thing.
---Looking very good for the Orange and Black at this point
---A late Wooo Hooo for Uribe (and a whole lot of happy) who made a homer earlier tonight that I missed when I was writing this post!

Halloween TV Countdown #3 -- Jon Hamm as James Mason on "Saturday Night Live"

More Halloween goodness from The Flaming Nose! Our third choice is a short skit from NBC's Saturday Night Live of October 25, 2008. It's one of Bill Hader's several ventures as horror actor Vincent Price in various holiday specials, and it's the best one. Most of the delight was Mad Men actor Jon Hamm being absolutely hilarious and dead on in his impersonation of a soused James Mason. They reference Lolita but actually that was a couple of years later than the 1959 time frame of this fake show, but using Lolita to introduce Mason on a kid's special is wonderful!

Hamm is amazing, completely in character and using his seldom seen (except here and in his great appearances on 30 Rock, and also his wonderful bits on the Emmy Awards) comic chops. Also starring in the sketch are Fred Armisen as a flamboyant Liberace, and Kristen Wiig as a melodramatic Gloria Swanson. All are terrific, but Hamm is the real surprise. Here is the whole segment -- it's less than 7 minutes so watch it right now and enjoy!

Even more goodness -- Jon Hamm is hosting this year's Halloween eve Saturday Night Live episode this weekend, so don't miss it! We're hoping for another hilarious outing with our favorite Mad Man.

Once again we say Boo! (But in the nicest way...)

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Gleefully Awaiting Rocky Horror Tonight

Just a little piggy back onto Lisa's marvelous Halloween TV updates to entice all 12 people in the USA who have not yet decided to watch tonight's Glee episode showcasing the Rocky Horror Picture Show. Tune in to your FOX affiliate tonight at 8pm.

If that picture of Kurt as "Riff Raff" doesn't do it for you...if the thought of doing the "Time Warp" again on your living room floor doesn't do it for you....then for heaven's sake, don't you at least want to see who they picked to play Frank-N-Furter?

Get those black leather bustiers and feather boas ready ladies and gents. Tonight's the night!

And if for some reason you miss the actual episode on TV, you can catch it again on the website.

The Halloween TV Countdown #2 -- "The Paul Lynde Halloween Special"

Yikes! This is one for the ages -- an hour-long Halloween-themed ABC-TV variety special from 1976 starring (barely) closeted funnyman Paul Lynde along with a bevy of guests including the rock group KISS, Florence Henderson, The Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard of Oz Margaret Hamilton, Tim Conway, Donny and Marie Osmond, Betty White, and Roz Kelly as Pinky Tuscadero (Fonzie's main squeeze at the time). Legendary for many years as a lost program and especially prized by fans of KISS, The Paul Lynde Halloween Special eventually turned up from fan recorded tapes on YouTube and received a genuine DVD release a couple of years ago.

You wonder why TV variety died a few decades ago, only to recently and initially reluctantly claw itself back to life courtesy of the dancing and singing competition shows? Specials like this are the answer. Awkward at best, unbearable at times, but also fascinating; TPLHS is from a different time when you could throw together a weird multigenerational list of guest stars, get the genuinely funny and beloved (even then and not just as a gay icon) Lynde to host, and fill an hour of primetime TV.

If you're way into Paul Lynde, then you should definitely buy or rent the DVD. Otherwise, a watch on YouTube should be plenty for you. We'll embed the first segment here but after that you're on your own! I only wish that my late great buddy James "Jimmy Jim" Torrence, who could do a better Paul Lynde than anybody, was around to watch this now!

This would also seem to be the perfect time to remind everybody to watch or record tonight's 8pm episode of Glee on Fox for their much-touted homage to the eternally-wonderful The Rocky Horror Picture Show. (FYI, Fox Movie Channel will be running a 24-hour TRHPS marathon starting at 6am eastern time on Sunday, 10/31!) Even those of us who aren't Gleeks -- and I'm one -- are going to be taking a look at what the show does to the most entertaining and imaginative rock musical out there and by now a complete classic of musical theater.

Here's the promo for the episode, and of course it's not two weeks away, it's about 3 hours away now!


Monday, October 25, 2010

The Halloween TV Countdown Begins -- "Star Trek"

As a television programmer it was always a little annoying to have holiday episodes in the run of a series. They inevitably end up being run at the wrong times, though I always tried to hold them until appropriate moments and play them as much in season as possible. Nowadays we don't have to worry about any of that -- we can enjoy them at the perfect time!

This year The Flaming Nose TV Blog is bringing you a variety of recommended Halloween TV viewing choices, starting today. Halloween is next Sunday, so we've got a nice array up our sleeves for you!

First on deck is original Star Trek and its second season episode "Catspaw" with guest stars Antoinette Bower and Theo Marcuse. This is the one where Kirk, Spock and McCoy end up in a spooky medieval castle complete with menacing black cat, three keening witches, a glamorous female sorceress, a diabolical wizard and a gloomy dungeon. The dialogue even references "Halloween" and "trick or treat" at one point, and the original airdate for the episode was October 27, 1967. You can't get much more perfect than that, but it plays well at any time, too.

It's a fun episode, with some good moments between the leads and a great performance from veteran Hollywood character actor Theo Marcuse. He often turned up on our favorite shows like The Wild Wild West, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Batman, The Time Tunnel, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea and so many other terrific movies and TV shows. Sadly, Marcuse died in a car accident just a month after this episode aired, at the far too young age of 47. His female accomplice in "Catspaw" was the lovely Antoinette Bower, also a mainstay of series television in programs like Mission: Impossible, Mannix, The Thorn Birds and so many others.

You can watch "Catspaw" on Hulu or on other sites, and it's also up on YouTube.

Boo! -- and join us tomorrow for another great Halloween TV viewing choice!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Don't Miss "Sherlock" Tonight on PBS Masterpiece Mystery!

The timing is terrific for tonight's PBS premiere of Sherlock, the much-touted new contemporary incarnation of A. Conan Doyle's ace detective Sherlock Holmes. In addition to everything else potentially great about this modern day imagining of Holmes, including a great writing team of Steven Moffatt (Doctor Who, Coupling) and Mark Gatiss (Doctor Who, The League of Gentlemen), and title star Benedict Cumberbatch (Atonement, The Other Boleyn Girl), we've got the immensely talented Martin Freeman as Dr. Watson. Watson, here a blogging battle-weary war veteran, couldn't be in better hands.

You probably know Freeman from Ricky Gervais' original British version of The Office -- he played the character done here by Jon Krascinski -- but you might also know him from his starring role in the movie version of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and the comedy Hot Fuzz. Of course he's been in so many movie and TV programs, including also the marriage comedy series The Robinsons which has been seen over here, at least. Most exciting for Martin Freeman fans is the recent announcement that he has been chosen by filmmaker Peter Jackson to star as Bilbo Baggins in the upcoming The Hobbit motion picture. He's the ideal choice for Baggins and for Watson.

Masterpiece Mystery!'s Sherlock is a three-episode treat, and we guarantee you're going to looking forward to the next two Sundays after watching tonight's episode "A Study in Pink". We don't want to forget to mention the equally talented Rupert Graves as Inspector Lestrade -- there isn't a thing missing in this clever new adaptation of an all-time favorite.

Sherlock on Masterpiece Mystery! begins tonight on your local PBS station, probably at 9pm (but check your local listings) and all three episodes are 90 minutes long.

Allan Pinkerton, Anyone? Okay, then how about Gerard Butler?

If you're an American history buff and/or a fan of dashing actor Gerard Butler, you will like this news from Starz -- they're developing a series with him! Check out the link below for all the details!

Starz Develops Allan Pinkerton Limited Series With Bob Cochran & Gerard Butler

This is great news for those of us who love historical TV focusing on the mid-19th Century, one of the most explosive times in America! As a Lincoln buff of course I love that Pinkerton cut his teeth working with the our greatest Prez. (That's Pinkerton on the left with Abe!)

Can you imagine Gerard Butler as Allan Pinkerton in those cool period clothes, if he stars in it? Oooo la la! And if he doesn't star in it, I don't think they should do it. You will need a star of his caliber and charisma to pull this off -- i.e. get viewers to watch -- and we sure hope that Starz can make this happen!

We were also pleased to hear earlier this month about a possible redo of The Wild Wild West, too. That's kind of like Allan Pinkerton meets Steampunk, so it's a must on several levels!

Starz must be reeling from the unfortunate situation with its very successful Spartacus series, whose star Andy Whitfield recently had to drop out of the show due to a return of his cancer. The network knows how to put together exciting TV -- and also unfortunately how to cancel spunky little comedies like Party On -- but let's hope this one comes together!

Friday, October 22, 2010

David Cross IS Todd Margaret, on IFC!

With the deluge of new programs coming at us for the past month, it's easy to overlook some interesting choices which are a little off the main track. I submit IFC's The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret to you in that spirit, starring the droll yet equally manic actor/comedian David Cross as an American duck out of water in Britain. The show, developed as a co-venture by IFC and the UK's Channel 4 (who showed the pilot there last year), features Cross as an American energy drink marketer charged with starting up the London office, a job he obtained under mistaken circumstances and for which he is completely unqualified. Not the first time a show's been built around a bumbling boss, but what makes this one different is Cross' talent and the lure of seeing something with a British comedy sensibility over here.

Those of you who already like and know British TV will recognize the name of Shaun Pye, Cross' collaborator on Todd Margaret, as Ricky Gervais' acting rival Greg Lindley Jones on Extras, but Pye's probably better known over there as a talented comedy writer. Frequent Cross collaborator Will Arnett is onboard for cameos as his U.S. boss, actress/writer Sharon Horgan starred in her own hit show Pulling over there, and co-star Blake Harrison starred in the series The Inbetweeners. You'll also see Cross' real-life girlfriend Amber Tamblyn show up, as well as other familiar faces.

Here's the official IFC promo for the series:

Will you like Todd Margaret? Do you like uncomfortable comedy? If so, you'll like it. If you're looking for a family sitcom or something with singing kids, then maybe not. While Cross' Margaret doesn't quite plumb the depths of comic despair exhibited by Ricky Gervais in The Office, say, he's on somewhat the same track. It's of course his indomitable American can-do confidence that stops his character from becoming either truly pathetic or really lovable in the end, but if you like Cross and you like the notion of an idiotic American abroad, you'll like this.

I quite like it, but then I love British comedy and was thrilled to see Felicity Montagu in Episode 3; she played Alan Partridge's secretary Lynn in Steve Coogan's several masterpiece series built on that character. The first Todd Margaret pilot for the UK was filmed with a different actor as Todd's second-in-command, and there were subtle differences from the first pilot and the second. For just a taste of Todd Margaret's over-the-top antics, take a look at this from the first pilot, where Todd ingests some of his own Thunder Muscle product and goes mental, as they'd say over there. Much profanity so be forewarned, but also very funny!

The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret airs Fridays at 10pm, with encores later that night and at other times. Check out IFC's Todd Margaret site for more details! If you missed earlier episodes, they are available on various commercial sites and others more mysterious and subterranean...