Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Abby & Brittany are Coming to TLC Tonight!

Amazing human beings have always been a genuine fascination of mine, and clearly TLC Network is on the same wavelength, especially starting tonight.  Long ago abandoning their original "The Learning Channel" identity for something decidedly more ratings-friendly, TLC today skirts an interesting line between exploitation and emotion.  Probably the first show many of us watched on the network was Trading Spaces, the home decorating switcheroo series (adapted from the British version) that was a smash and ran for eight seasons.  TLC (and the now-OWN Discovery Health net)also hit gold with Jon & Kate Plus 8, the multi-season multiple-child reality series that eventually broke apart a marriage but was continued to gather headlines as Kate tried to parlay her childbearing fame into other venues (not particularly successfully, however).  Fashionista viewers get a kick out of the two style experts who tear apart the wardrobes of unsuspecting schlubs on What Not to Wear, and those who like cooking combined with histrionics can watch the overwrought shenanigans on shows like Cake Boss

Ex-Amish people, little people, gypsy people, people who talk to ghosts (the new-ish sensation Long Island Medium), extremely little people (the primordial dwarf brother and sister stars of Big Tiny), child beauty pagent people, bridalwear people (of the Say Yes to the Dress franchise which has spawned a couple of spin-offs), polygamist people, and many other examples of life's rich pageant are having their more than fifteen minutes of fame on TLC.  We don't want to forget about the super-fecund Duggar Family of 19 Kids and Counting which -- almost totally thanks to the completely charming, down-to-earth and extremely likeable Michelle Duggar -- is much more watchable than one would ever imagine.

But tonight TLC goes to an extra-special place.  Tonight at 10pm TLC premieres Abby & Brittany, a new reality series starring Abigail and Brittany Hensel, the dicephalic parapagus conjoined twins -- two heads on one body -- who have been mostly quietly living their lives in Minnesota and growing up into lovely 22-year-old young ladies. Quietly, that is, until now.  Abby and Brittany are truly extraordinary and amazing, not only simply in terms of how rare their unique medical situation is, but also because they are living in a time when thankfully they have choices they can make, and they have decided to open up their lives for us to learn from and appreciate.  These two young women, who surely know what it's like to be considered different, are helping us to see that they aren't really that different after all, and that's the essence of the appeal of Abby & Brittany

from April 1996
As we've seen in previous television documenaries about Abby and Brittany, these are two distinct individuals, probably no more the same than any two sisters, who just happen to share one body between them.  Somehow, with inexplicable coordination, concentration and communication, Abby and Brittany do everything that any other two women can, but they have to do it in concert and seamlessly.  Each of them controls one arm and one leg, for instance, and yet they knew how to make it work, "it" meaning everything they've had to do together since they were born. 

Maybe you'll just want to stare at them for a while in their new series.  That's just fine, because they are something special.  Over the years they've stated repeatedly that they don't like being stared at, but it seems like they must have come to terms with that in order to have their own reality show.  Reality shows are all about staring, but there's a great deal of understanding and knowledge that can come from such a base beginning point. 

I'm going to heartily recommend getting to know Abby & Brittany.  I think we should be honored to be able to look inside their lives, and I assume that TLC is making it well worth it for them.  These girls were handed a situation that is unimaginable, and yet, they thrive.  "We throw it out there, and let it go," says Abby.  Go for it, Abby & Brittany!

For more background information on Abby and Brittany, I'd suggest watching the incredible hour-long documentary from 2006, which you can find here on YouTube.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The AV Club cover "Monty Python's Flying Circus"

We thought you also might want to know that The Onion's The AV Club has just started their episode-by-episode coverage of Monty Python's Flying Circus!  Zack Handlen is doing the honors, and he's spot on!  If you're a Python-lover you'll also enjoy perusing the comment section, which will convince you that you're not alone in loving the show!  Hilarious!

The direct link to the Python coverage is here.


"Kirk Your Enthusiasm" on HiLoBrow!

In our never-ending quest to show that Star Trek is the most awesome series that television has ever produced, we direct your attention to the HiLoBrow website where they are in the midst of an terrific multi-part celebration of all things James T. Kirk. 

Kirk Your Enthusiasm began a couple of weeks ago, and will ultimately include 25 individual posts on the character of Captain Kirk, and it looks like it's all Shatner.  We can't think of anything better!

So go over there and start reading!

Nose-talgia! Toshiro Mifune in "Shogun"

Make a visit over to Turner Classic Movies' Movie Morlocks blog for a look back at Japanese film legend Toshiro Mifune's amazing turn as Toranaga in the groundbreaking 1980 miniseries Shogun!

We plan on celebrating the miniseries genre around here in the near future.  Many of us grew up watching these major viewing events, and there has been a nice comeback recently with, for example, A&E's very successful The Hatfields and the McCoys.  It's a TV format that deserves recognition for its ability to excite viewers, and we're all for that!

Saturday, August 4, 2012


We hope that you're anxiously -- excitedly -- awaiting the landing of NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover which will take place at 1:31am Eastern time this Monday morning, only about 40 hours away from now as of this very moment.  You should check out NASA's Curiosity website for all the latest information on this historic mission, which NASA so creatively and dramatically showcased in the incredibly popular video "7 Minutes of Terror".  Enjoy!

There are mass-viewing events scheduled around the world, including a big one in NYC's Times Square at 11:30pm on Sunday evening, and of course great TV coverage planned.  NASA TV will of course be providing continuous coverage, online and on their channel if you are lucky enough to have it on your system. 

How could we not also bring to you another terrific NASA video, this one narrated by our favorite starship captain William Shater, entitled "The Grand Entrance" and all about the history of this incredible exploratory mission to the Red Planet.  Enjoy this one, too!

The purpose of Curiosity is to try to determine if Mars ever harbored the building blocks of life as we know it.  As NASA explains, it's not just a geological rover, but a geochemical explorer looking for the chemical elements leading to microbial life.  Be sure to go to NASA's Curiosity Mission Page for a huge selection of fascinating videos and other information that will get you totally prepared for Sunday/Monday's incredible landing. 

Afterwards, Science Channel will be premiering their Mars Landing 2012 special on Monday evening at 10pm Eastern/Pacific time, with essentially same-day coverage of the mission, with no doubt their trademark high production quality.  We're big fans of Science Channel around here; so many great shows and that crazy little eggy logo!

This is the Universe, kids!  Enjoy it while you can!