Reality television has a way of worming itself into every niche of the television world that it can.
In 2007, it made it’s way to Broadway. Grease: You’re the One That I Want!aired for one season. The purpose of the program was to use the reality show format to cast another revival of Grease. Using the competition show as a backbone, the format was not unfamiliar: the contestants would perform every week. One by one they are eliminated until the winners are cast as Danny and Sandy.
At the time, it was good television. Looking back I can see that it was not that good. It was not completely lifeless, but it was one of the shows that was only destined to last one season.
History is an interesting thing. We might not be aware of it in the moment. But upon looking back, we are able to develop a clear picture of what has happened.
The six part miniseries The 80’s: The Decade That Made Us premiered on the National Geographic channel in 2013. Hosted and narrated by actor Rob Lowe, the program looks back at how the years of 1980-1990 changed America. Utilizing news clips, interviews, and other media, the audience is presented with a complete perspective of the decade.
I enjoyed this series. Encompassing every aspect of the era, it is an entertaining and captivating tale of how those ten years forever affected how we live today.
In the collective mind of humanity, we tend to believe that we are above Mother Nature. We forget that not only are we not above Mother Nature, but we are also still under her control.
The Plague was a documentary that premiered on the History Channel in 2005. It told the story of the Black Plague. Between the years of 1346 & 1353, millions were killed and Europe as it was back then was forever changed.
Watching this in 2020, it strikes me how relevant it is. Though Covid-19 does not have the same power over us that the Black Plague had in the 14th century, the repercussions have not changed. In spite of the science that has saved lives, human beings have not changed. There are still some among us who disbelieve the news and others who think that it is a punishment from the eternal parent upstairs.
This program is trash, there is no other way to put it. I will freely admit that I am completely uneducated on this segment of American society. However, regardless of how much knowledge the viewer has of Romani-Americans, it comes off as the typical brain drain over-dramatic reality program.
On the surface, the Star Wars movies appear to be your standard science fiction films. But fans know that these films are much more than they appear to be.
Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed premiered in 2007 on the History Channel. The documentary describes how George Lucas based the narrative on history, popular myths, and religion, among other things. It also explains why the films continue to be relevant decades after they originally premiered.
There are those who dismiss this series as kids films. Which, in truth, they are as Lucas himself has stated many times. But they are so much more than movies for young audiences. There are lessons to be learned about humanity, about the past, and more importantly, about the future.
If one were to do an overview of human history, they would note that for every three or four men who sat on the throne, there is one woman who sat on the throne.
The television series Reign (2013-2017) is a loose (and I mean very loose) retelling of the story of the life of Mary, Queen of Scots (Adelaide Kane). When she is a teenager, she is sent to the court of France to marry her betrothed, Francis de Valois (Toby Regbo). Along the way, she will encounter both sexual and political innuendo.
I wrote about this series back in 2014, defending its merits. Looking back, I can now see the major flaws in this program. It is nothing but a teenage soap opera set in the 16th century. In the beginning, the initial draw was Megan Follows (Catherine de’ Medici). Her portrayal of Anne Shirley in the Anne of Green Gables series from the 1980s and 1990s is still my favorite version of the character.
But even that was not enough to keep me watching to the very end.
History, both personal and political, have a way of forever changing how we see the world.
Dirty Dancing (1987) is out and out classic. It’s one of those movies will always appear on “best of” lists. It is not a stretch, therefore, that some movie exec came up with the idea of a sequel.
Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004) is somewhere between a sequel and prequel to it’s predecessor. In 1958, Katey Miller (Romola Garai) is an American teenager who moves to Havana for her father’s job. While living in a hotel, Katey meets Javier Suarez (Diego Luna). Javier is a local boy who works at the hotel.
When Javier is fired for being friendly with Katey, she takes it upon herself to help him financially. She hopes that entering and winning a dance contest will make up for the loss of the income. But as they rehearse and fall in love, the Cuban Revolution comes ever closer to their doorstep.
I have to admit that I have not sat through this movie completely. But, I saw enough to know while it gets an A for effort, it does not hold a candle to the original film. While I appreciate the injection of history and an interracial romance, I don’t get the same feeling that I have when I watch Dirty Dancing.
When it comes to BPD’s (British Period Dramas), the audience only sees the world from the perspective from the upper classes. The world is not seen from the point of the view of the servants or the average working folk.
In 2010, the reboot of the 1970’s series Upstairs Downstairs premiered. Both programs told the stories of an upper class aristocratic couple and their servants living in 1930’s England.
At the outset, the premise of the program sounded interesting. But it had two strikes against it. The first strike was that I tried watching Upstairs Downstairs, but it didn’t hook me as I hoped it would have. The second strike was that Downton Abbey premiered at the same time in the States and the rest is history.
From the perspective of an audience member, a magician performing on stage must truly have magical abilities. But like any performer, this magician has tricks of the trade that the audience is not privy to.
Breaking the Magician’s Code: Magic’s Biggest Secrets Finally Revealed aired three times of the last twenty or so years (1997-1998, 2002 and 2012). Starring the now unmasked Val Valentino, the premise of the show was as follows: a series of magic tricks would be presented as the viewer is used to seeing them. Once the trick is done, the magician and his assistants take the viewer through the step by step processing of creating the “magic trick”.
I have mixed feelings about this series.
I can perfectly understand why the rest of the magic community would not be pleased with this series. But, at the same time, I feel like it it challenges other magicians to up their game when it comes to their own performances.
Watching this program gave me a new appreciation for the female assistants. They are not just there to be cut in half or levitated. Their role is just as important as the magician’s is.
However, that being said, I hate the commentary with a passion. It is so completely sexist that it makes my skin crawl. I would have also preferred that the women who work with the magician wore a little more than tights and a version of a barely there swimsuit.
Stories of political intrigue have existed since the dawn of human history. The question is, is the story unique or done to death?
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time hit theaters in 2010. Based on the video game of the same name, the movie tells the story of Dastan (Jake Gyllenhaal), a prince who must save the world from the evil lord Nizam (Ben Kingsley). Assisting Dastan is Tamina, (Gemma Arterton), a princess in her own right. Together they must prevent Nizam from getting his hands on a dagger that will allow him to rule the world.
In an essence, this movie is a low rent Aladdin. It tries, but whatever elements Aladdin had that made it successful, this movie has none of it. In addition, this film reinforces the idea that only Caucasian actors can play ethnic roles. Among the three lead actors, the two actors playing the heroes are definitely not of Middle Eastern descent. Of course, the villain is a person of color, additionally reinforcing the idea about first and second class citizenship in this world.
The critics on Rotten Tomatoes gave this movie a 37% rating and frankly, I can’t disagree with that.