Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Tuesday's Overlooked TV: Dear John

This Tuesday's Overlooked TV is the Judd Hirsch sitcom Dear John.

The John in question is John Lacey (Hirsch), a high school teacher who comes home one day to find his wife has left him without warning, leaving only a letter announcing her departure. Confused, lonely, and financially broke from the divorce settlement, he joins a support group, the One-2-One group, comprised of other lonely characters who have more than their share of quirks.

The humor revolves largely around the wackiness of the other stereotypical characters (the louse, the nerd, the strange old woman) and how straight man Hirsch reacts to their idiosyncrasies. There's also a "normal" female character who is obviously the one for Hirsch, yet their pain from the loss of their previous relationships stalls their progress toward each other.

The show, based on a British series of the same name, was bounced around several days and time slots throughout its four seasons and never had a chance to bond with audiences, despite initially good ratings. The show debuted in 1988 and ended in 1992.

Here is a full episode from the series. Thanks!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Summer Movie Preview 2013

"Summer's here, and the time is right..." for taking in the latest Hollywood blockbusters. Or at least what the studios hope will be blockbusters.

Although we're still experiencing occasional chilly temperatures here in the mid-Atlantic region, Hollywood likes to pretend the first weekend of May is the start of the summer season. Here's part one of a two-part look at some of the major motion pictures screening at your local multiplex.

Opening this Friday, Robert Downey Jr. once again dons the red and gold duds of Tony Stark, facing off against Ben Kingsley's Mandarin in Iron Man 3.

A new screen version of F. Scott Fitzgerald's acclaimed novel The Great Gatsby graces the silver screen this summer, courtesy of actors Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, and director Baz Luhrmann. The film's soundtrack is provided by...Jay-Z? Hmm.  Gatsby opens May 10th.

On May 17th, the long-awaited sequel to J.J. Abrams' rebooted Star Trek franchise finally arrives, Star Trek Into Darkness. It's rumored that the villain in the film is "KAAAAAAAAAHN!" We'll see!

On May 24th, the start of Memorial Day weekend, two films that are sequels to highly popular film series drop simultaneously, Fast and Furious 6 and The Hangover Part III. I haven't seen any installment in either of these series, so I'll leave it to their respective fans as to how hotly they're anticipated.

Fellow Philadelphian Will Smith and his son Jaden star together in the sci-fi film After Earth, directed by M. Night Shyamalan, opening May 31st.

On June 14th is the release of the highly anticipated Man of Steel, the reboot of the Superman film franchise. Produced by Christopher Nolan and directed by Zack Snyder, it will be very interesting to see how the film is received. With the exception of the underwhelming 2005 release Superman Returns, this is the first live-action big screen epic to feature Superman since the wrap-up of the Christopher Reeve series in 1987. As a fan of Supes, I have high hopes for it. Don't let me down, Hollywood!

This is just a sampling of the many movies to hit theaters this summer. Tune in for part 2 of my summer movie preview later this week!

Friday, April 26, 2013

List O' Links for Friday, April 26, 2013

It's Friday, it's the last day of the work week, and you've got a computer in front of you. Don't let it go to waste! Put that nasty work aside and check out some fun links!

The producers of the San Diego ComiCon have announced the 2013 Eisner Award Nominees for the prestigious comic book and graphic novel awards.

With our troops still stationed in Afghanistan, they have enough to worry about in regards to dangers from their surroundings. But what about the danger they put themselves in by making bad choices? Fortunately, they have a hero to watch over their own carelessness--Bagram Batman!

What happens when you wring out a wet washcloth in zero gravity space? This awesomeness!

Hollywood can't help but remake itself over and over again. Here are 13 unnecessary remakes of 80s movies currently in development.

DirecTV has announced a new 24-hour channel for dogs. No, not a channel about dogs, a channel with dogs as the intended audience. Draw your own conclusions.

Finally, two talented youngsters perform a sweet version of the Beatles' "Let It Be." Nice.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tuesday's Overlooked Film: Juan of the Dead

This week's Tuesday's Overlooked Film is the 2011 Spanish-language horror comedy Juan of the Dead.

Juan and Lazaro are two lifelong friends in Cuba who have meandered through their lives with no career or ambition, just the way they like it, doing whatever odd jobs they can to get by. When Cuba suddenly becomes overrun with zombies, they take advantage of the situation by hiring themselves out as zombie killers ("Juan of the Dead, we kill your loved ones, how can we help you today?"). In the midst of the violence, Juan tries to reconnect with his estranged daughter Camila while trying to squelch the budding relationship between her and Lazaro's son Vladi.

The film is a bit of a spiritual sister to the highly acclaimed Shaun of the Dead, but has enough of its own idiosyncrasies to avoid being a rip-off or carbon copy. There is some political context (the Cuban government claims the zombies are in fact "dissidents") and some uniquely clever scenes (such as Juan being forced to dance a tango with a zombie with whom he happens to be handcuffed).

The film is readily available on DVD in the usual outlets and is currently available for free viewing on Comcast video on demand.

Below is a teaser trailer for the film, which instead of using footage from the movie, is a fake commercial for Juan and Co.'s service. Enjoy!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Tuesday's Overlooked TV: Jonathan Winters, 1925-2013

I was originally going to showcase a very different project for this week's Tuesday's Overlooked, but in the wake of today's horrific events in Boston, I'll hold it for next week. Today I think we can use something lighter, something more in the way of comfort food.

This week, I feature the work of one of my all-time favorite comedians, Jonathan Winters, who, as you know by now, died last week at the age of 87. I first saw Winters, as I'm sure many of my generation did, as Mearth, the senior citizen son of Mork and Mindy. As crazy an idea as that was, I was amazed at Winters' ability to, well, to do what he does. But that was nothing. It was after the series aired that I saw what Winters could really do, and it almost defies description. His ability to create comedy from the slightest prop or thinnest of concepts is not matched by anyone.And as manic as he seemed, he was anything but. You have to have complete control to create the comedy Winters did. He didn't just make me laugh, I howled, rolled on the floor, became spastic at just about everything I ever saw him do. It's become cliche to say this about talented people, but here it applies: there will truly never be another person like Jonathan Winters.

Here I feature some wonderful clips that show just a hint of his genius. Winters was one of my comedy heroes, and I will always hold his work close to my heart. Thanks!

Friday, April 12, 2013

List O' Links for Friday, April 12th, 2013

It's raining here in Philadelphia, but it's always sunny in the Internet! Enjoy the cyber-sunshine with these fun and informative links!

Michael Nesmith is currently on a small US solo tour and will be stopping here in Philly this upcoming Tuesday for a sold out show at the World Cafe Live. Here he talks to Rolling Stone about the tour and his reputation as being the "difficult" Monkee.

An alien code may be hidden in our DNA. That would explain a lot.

This is a question I've wanted an answer to for awhile now, as I don't understand the ridiculous hate pelted at  an actress I like quite a bit. What is Anne Hathaway doing wrong?

Here are a couple of cool images of a vinyl record magnified 1000 x.

Today is National Grilled Cheese Day, and April is Grilled Cheese Month. Nobody loves a good grilled cheese sandwich more than I do--and I make an awesome one, if I do say so myself--but I think this version is a bit too excessive.

Finally, DC Comics makes a bit of history this week. Batgirl #19, out in retail outlets this week, discloses that a character introduced back in issue #1 of the series, Barbara Gordon's artist roommate Alysia Yeoh, is transgender. She is the first non-superhuman character in a mainstream superhero comic to be revealed as such.

Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Tuesday's Overlooked Film: Standing in the Shadows of Motown

This week's Overlooked Film is the 2002 documentary Standing in the Shadows of Motown.

The film documents the history and sound of the Funk Brothers, the backing band for all of the great hits of Motown records in the 60s and early 70s. Although uncredited on the records themselves, it was the Funk Brothers that gave Motown it's distinct sound, with production and direction of Motown's founder Berry Gordy. Through interviews, reenactments, and archival footage, we learn how the band worked to make that unique Motown sound, helping acts such as The Four Tops, The Temptations, Supremes, and every act signed to the label (and it's companion labels such as Gordy, Tamla, and others). Considering the great contribution they made to the record company and pop music in general, the recognition the band gets is long overdue.

Here is the band in action, along with just a few of the many great hits they made memorable. Thanks!

Friday, April 5, 2013

List O' Links for Friday April 5th, 2013

It's Friday, and there's a lot of fun to be had this first weekend of April. Let's not waste time and get to the links!

Twenty-one things you didn't know about the movie Gremlins.

This article is a bit too harsh than I think is necessary, but I agree that Pizza Hut has created some products that definitely represent thinking outside the (pizza) box. Here is a look at the crazy products the pizza chain has created over the years.

The Walking Dead TV series has generated its biggest ratings yet with its recently concluded third season. Here are ten other independently published comics that deserve series of their own (I vote for Chew!).

Getting back to restaurants, Generation Xers such as myself will remember a time long ago when McDonalds had large outdoor McDonaldland playsets featuring the classic characters such as Ronald McDonald and company. They literally had much more character than the indoor plastic playsets of today. Check out some photos of the old playsets and an industrial film about the making of these playsets here.

I'm not an atheist, so I don't have a horse in this race, but this Salon.com author notes five atheists who ruin it for everyone else.

Finally, many comic book critics have lamented the hyper-sexualized portrayal of women in comics, especially superheroines. One artist created his own designs to show what a fully dressed superheroine can look like.

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Random Images of Awesomeness--Cosplay Edition!

Every once in awhile I like to post some of the cool images I come across during my travails along the Internet. Today, I feature a special category--cosplay, the hobby of dressing like your favorite fictional characters. I use to think of cosplay as quaint, if a little weird, but I've come to appreciate and respect it much more lately. Here's a look at some of the best I've seen!

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you--Lil' Doctor Doom!

This is a fantastic cosplay of the Joker as he appeared in The Killing Joke. Very well done!

A great version of Spider-Man. I love the wide Todd McFarlane-style eyes and the prop of Peter Parker's camera.

"Mail this, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope!"

Here's a image I've featured before. Flame Princess from Adventure Time.

Also from Adventure Time, Marceline the Vampire Queen--with ax bass!

On Twitter and Facebook, I have profiles as the character Zombie Sophia, the young girl who was missing and found as a zombie on the TV series The Walking Dead. A fan sent me this great picture of her in character. I love it!

An amazing version of Starscream from the original Transformers cartoon!

Finally, with the release of the Evil Dead remake imminent, there's no better way to end this post than with this:


Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Tuesday's Overlooked TV: Space Angel

Welcome to April! This week, Tuesday's Overlooked TV is the early 60s cartoon series Space Angel.

Space Angel aired in syndication from 1962 to 1964 and was created by Cambria Productions, the same studio that produced Clutch Cargo. Like Clutch, Space Angel had very limited animation and movement; most movement was provided by human mouths superimposed over the illustrated faces. However limited the animation was, backgrounds were designed and drawn by legendary illustrator Alex Toth.

The character of Space Angel was Captain Scott McCloud, who along with the crew of his ship Starduster, would defend Earth from various galactic enemies, who often resembled Earthlings from ancient civilizations. Space Angel would often get help from larger astronaut organizations to fight their enemies.

Although the series on DVD a few years ago, the show is largely forgotten today. If you were around for its original TV run, perhaps the episode below will job your memory.