Category Archives: Flashback Friday

Flashback Friday: Chrisley Knows Best (2014-Present)

There is something curious about reality television. We know that the term “reality” is a misnomer. For all it claims of being true to life, it is just as scripted as any fictional program. But yet, we leave our skepticism at the door, expecting everything that occurs on screen to be released to the public as it was filmed.

Chrisley Knows Best has been on the air since 2014. The series follows wealthy businessman Todd Chrisley and his family as they go about their business. If his wife, his children, and his mother were to ask about his worse qualities, they would say that he is controlling, quick to get upset, and unwilling to see another’s perspective.

A play off of the 1950’s sitcom, Father Knows Best, this show is best described as a low rent version of The Osbournes. Within the parameters of “reality shows“, this program is the worst of the worst. It is brainless, foolish, and I personally find that there is nothing entertaining about this family. It has been on the air for quite a few years, so obviously, there is an audience for it. But I am not part of that audience.

Do I recommend it? No.

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Throwback Thursday: Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984)

The wonderful thing about the movies is the ability to take us away from our daily lives for a short time. The not so wonderful thing about movies is that stereotypes can easily be spread.

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was released in 1984. This chapter of the Indiana Jones narrative takes place in 1935 in India, which was then part of the British Empire. When a mystical stone is taken from a small village, Indy (Harrison Ford) teams up with Wilhelmina “Willie” Scott (Kate Capshaw) and Short Round (Ke Huy Quan) to find the rock. It has been taken by a secret cult who is driven by death and slavery.

I have mixed feelings about this movie. As an adventure film, it’s fine. Ford is at his finest as the title character. I understand that this is a heightened reality that would never exist in real life. The one thing that stands out to me how extremely annoying Capshaw’s character is. She is whiny, she is needy, and she contributes nothing to the story other than being the obligatory female. I don’t understand how Capshaw and co-screenwriter Gloria Katz could bring this 2D character, who is completely unlikable, to life. I was also struck by the portrayal of the Indian people. I wish this image had been a little close to the truth and less of a caricature. While I appreciate the inclusion of Short Round, it does little to improve my opinion.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Flashback Friday: Secrets of the Dead (2000-Present)

When someone dies, it may appear that everything they knew was lost when they passed. But if we look closely enough, what they left behind speaks to us as much as the person themselves.

Secrets of the Dead has been on the PBS schedule since 2000. In this documentary series, each episode examines one person or moment in history using the known facts and the objects that stand in for the subject. Part scientific/archeological study and part true-life story, this program is ideal combination of educational and entertaining.

I find this series to be fascinating. It balances the history and the drama to present as much as a complete story as possible. Bringing these people and these worlds back to life, the audience is treated to a compelling drama and a time in history in which they may not have not had all of the facts.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Flashback Friday: The Rachel Zoe Project (2008-2013)

The balance between one’s work life and one’s personal life is not always 50/50. Sometimes, there has to be a push and pull between the time we spend at the office and the time we spend at home.

The reality show, The Rachel Zoe Project, aired on Bravo from 2008-2013. The program followed celebrity stylist Rachel Zoe as she expanded her business while she maintained her marriage and her need to be a mother.

While it was on the air, it was reasonably compelling. There was enough narrative meat to keep the viewer engaged. But looking back, it has a “look at me” quality that I find to be presently unappealing. Like all reality television, the line between “reality” and amped up drama is not quite clear.

Do I recommend it recommend it? Not really.

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Flashback Friday: The Parent Trap II (1986)

Divorce is a hard thing on a kid. You want your parents to be happy, but their happiness is no longer dependent on one another.

The 1986 TV movie, The Parent Trap II, is the sequel to the 1961 movie, The Parent Trap. Nikki Ferris (Carrie Kei Heim) and Mary Grand (Bridgette Andersen) both have divorced parents. Being best friends, they plan on bringing Nikki’s mother Sharon Ferris (Hayley Mills) and Mary’s father Bill Grand (Tom Skerritt) together. Their goal is to prevent Sharon and Nikki from uprooting and moving to New York City. But the girls are not doing it alone. Sharon’s twin sister, Susan Carey (also Haley Mills) is more than eager to provide help in whatever ways she can.

I haven’t seen this movie in thirty plus years. I remember watching it countless times when I was young. Its a cute movie and overall, a nice extension to the narrative of the original film. With films like these, important thing is the balance between nostalgia and moving the story forward. Granted, I have only seen it it through a child’s eyes, but as sequels go, I have seen much worse.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Flashback Friday: American Greed (2007-Present)

The American Dream is a potent idea. We can be whatever we want to be. Unlike other nations, there are no specific class divisions that keep us from climbing the proverbial ladder as high as we want or are able to? But what happens when that drive crosses a legal and moral boundary?

American Greed has been part of the CNBC schedule since 2007. Hosted by Stacy Keach, the series follows real life cases of people who would do anything (and I mean anything) for financial gain. Pushing everything and everyone else aside, they lie, cheat, steal, or even kill for the almighty dollar.

Narrative wise, these stories are compelling. You hope that the perpetrators will be caught, but there is a sense of thrill as each episode reaches its crescendo. I can’t help but feel angry when I sit down to watch this show. There are millions of Americans (not to mentions millions more outside of this nation), who are barely making ends meet. And yet some are so concerned with their own bank accounts, that they cannot see beyond their own needs.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Flashback Friday: Celebracadabra (2008)

Within the world of television, thinking out of the box can be a good thing. But, like life, not every program is guaranteed multiple seasons with celebrated reviews and a dedicated fan base. As different as the program is, it is sometimes fated to only be on the air for a short amount of time.

In 2008, Celebracadabra aired on VH1.This reality competition show followed a group of B list celebrities as they learn to become magicians. One by one, each contestant is eliminated until the winner was crowned Greatest Celebrity Magician.

Within the reality show genre, this show both colored within the lines and dared to be different by adding the element of magic. But at the end of the day, it had just enough steam to last for one season. Anything more than that would have been too much.

Do I recommend it? Sort of.

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Flashback Friday: Hoarders (2009-Present)

We all have stuff in our homes. They speak to who we are, what we believe, and what our interests are. But there is a difference between just having stuff and letting it take over.

The A&E series Hoarders (2009-Present), follows the lives of real people who struggle with compulsive hoarding. Hoarding is defined as being unable to remove large amounts of unneeded goods from their property. In each episode, the subject works with professional cleaners and a psychiatrist or psychologist to get to the clean their home and get to the root of their distress.

Unlike other reality shows, this program does not mock the people it profiles or uses them to boot ratings. They are dealt with in a compassionate and realistic manner, offering support and help without demeaning them for their mental health issues. As a viewer, I want to reach through the television and hug them, letting that person know that everything will be alright.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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Flashback Friday: National Treasure (2004)

The idea that our ancestors hid treasure across the world has been a potent idea for generations, sending many on an adventure to find it before someone else does.

The 2004 movie, National Treasure, is based on this concept. Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicolas Cage) comes from a long line of historians and treasure hunters. As a boy, he was told about a treasure that has been hidden since the founding of the United States. According to the legend, there are clues scattered across the country. When his former associate Ian Howe (Sean Bean) betrays him, Ben turns to his partner Riley Poole (Justin Bartha) and a reluctant Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger). Their goal is to figure out what the clues mean and find whatever it is they are looking for before Ian does.

This is the kind of film that you watch because it is on, but it is merely background noise. I would describe as an almost second rate American version of Indiana Jones. While it is reasonably entertaining, I wouldn’t call it memorable.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Flashback Friday: Effie Gray (2014)

When we are young, we may dream of marriage and the life that follows. But like many dreams, reality does not match the fantasy.

In the 2014 film, Effie Gray, the title character whose full name is Euphemia Chalmers Gray (Dakota Fanning) is 19 when she marries the much older writer John Ruskin (Greg Wise). What starts out to be a good match goes south fast. John refuses to consummate their marriage. Needing the physical and emotional attention she should be getting from her husband, Effie turns to pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais (Tom Sturridge). Effie also has a friend in Lady Elizabeth Eastlake (Emma Thompson). After five years of marriage Effie has to make a choice. She could stay in her empty and loveless marriage. Or, she could defy the strict standards of the Victorian era and find the happiness she deserves.

I truly enjoyed this movie. Written by Thompson, it has the usual beats of BPD (British Period Drama), but it is more than what the viewer expects. It is a story of female empowerment in an era in which women had no power. Based on Gray’s life, it is powerful, emotional, and a reminder that us females not only have a voice, we have the right to use it.

Do I recommend it? Yes.

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