Category Archives: Television

Flashback Friday-Odd Girl Out (2005)

Bullying in school has unfortunately been a part of many people’s educational experience for quite a few generations. The question is, can the young person being bullied rise above it or will the bullies win?

In the 2005 television movie, Odd Girl Out, (based on the book of the same name by Rachel Simmons) Vanessa (Alexa PenaVega) is part of the popular crowd. She is best friends with Stacey (Leah Pipes), the queen bee of the school. When Stacey finds out that they both have a crush on the same guy, Vanessa is not only kicked out of the popular crowd, but is also mercilessly bullied by her former friends. Can Vanessa regain her sense of self or will her bullies win?

The thing that strikes me about this television movie is that unlike other television movies about the high school experience, this movie felt real, raw and frankly quite painful. It is a reminder that bullying, especially in the school setting hurts and can potentially have life long negative consequences.

I recommend it.

 

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Filed under Books, Flashback Friday, Television, TV Review

Throwback Thursday-No One Would Tell (1996)

The statistics about spousal/partner abuse can only be defined as scary. 1 out of every three women and one out of every four men have been physically abused by their spouse or romantic partner.

In the 1996 television movie, No One Would Tell, Stacy Collins (Candace Cameron Bure) is a shy teenage girl who somehow attracts the attention of Bobby Tennison (Fred Savage), one of the most popular boys in her high school. What starts out as a fairy tale high school fantasy come true turns into a nightmare. Bobby becomes possessive of Stacy and starts physically abusing her. Can Stacy walk away from Bobby before it’s too late?

While there are some “message” movies that get on their soapbox instead of using the narrative to get their message to the audience, this television movie does not fall into that category. Spousal and partner abuse is an epidemic that has existed for most of human history. The message in the movie reaches the audience in a way that hits home without said soapbox.

I recommend it.

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Two Podcasts You Should Be Listening To If You Aren’t Already: Can I Just Say & Unorthodox

These days, everyone and their mother has their own podcast.

But for me, there are two podcasts that I count myself as a fan of: Unorthodox and Can I Just Say.

Unorthodox

There is an old inside joke about Jews: For every two Jews, there are three opinions. From my perspective. is the backbone of Unorthodox. Created by Tablet Magazine,  the podcast is hosted by Mark Oppenheimer, Stephanie Butnick and Liel Leibovitz. Every week they talk about news relating to the Jewish world and have two guests: one Jewish and one not Jewish. What I appreciate about this podcast is that Mark, Liel and Stephanie not only mesh well together, but their unique world views allow all three to stand out in their own way. I’ve been listening for a couple of years; it’s a pleasure to wake up on Thursday morning knowing that the week’s episode is waiting for me.

Can I Just Say

Pop culture podcasts can sometimes get a little dull. Either they can veer too much into the fan boy or fan girl lane or they are just a tad too intellectual.

Thankfully, Can I Just Say is the perfect pop culture podcast. Hosted by Daphne Olive and Elizabeth Stevens, the ladies have unique and stimulating conversations about everything from Star Wars (their newest podcast about The Last Jedi was very interesting) to novels and their various adaptations (their comments about Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility got me thinking) to a hand-picked selection of Baz Lurhmann films opened my eyes to his abilities as a filmmaker. They also host a podcast entitled Fathoms Deep: A Black Sails Podcast, an equally interesting podcast about the television series Black Sails.

I recommend both.

 

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Filed under Books, Jane Austen, Jane Eyre, Movies, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, Star Wars, Television

Flashback Friday-Rock Of Love (2007-2009) & Flavor Of Love (2006-2008)

Among the more popular sub-genre that lies within the reality television genre, the celebrity dating show is an interesting one.

For a few years in the mid to late 2000’s, VH1 dominated this sub-genre. Two of their more popular shows were Rock Of Love (2007-2009) and Flavor Of Love (2006-2008).

The concept was like any reality show dating contest, with the difference being that the man at the center of the show was a famous musician. In Rock Of Love, the musician was Poison front man Bret Michaels. In Flavor Of Love, the musician was Public Enemy hype man Flavor Flav. Both men had around twenty to twenty five women vying for their affection. As the season wore on, one woman would be eliminated at the end of every episode until one was chosen as the winner.

If nothing else, these shows were mindless entertainment. Brain cells were not needed to watch the train wrecks that Rock Of Love and Flavor Of Love.

Do I recommend them? Not really.

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Filed under Flashback Friday, Music, Television, TV Review

Throwback Thursday-High School Reunion (2003-2005)

Going to one’s high school reunion, for some, is like a blast from the past. For others, it is a night to dread.

For two years, between 2003 and 2005, the WB aired High School Reunion.  The concept of this reality was basically a one night high school reunion that lasts longer than any standard high school reunion. And, like any high school reunion/reality show, the archetypes play a role in the storytelling: the outsiders, the jocks, the popular kids, the band geeks, the goof balls, etc.

In terms of reality television, I appreciated the novel concept. I also appreciated that like any high school reunion, it gave the participants a chance to reveal who they are as adults outside of their high school personas. But, at the end of the day, it was just another reality show.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

 

 

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Flashback Friday-Orphan Black (2013-2017)

Science and the ability to play with nature has always fascinated humanity. But there is dark side to science that sometimes creates more problems that solutions.

In the television series Orphan Black (2013-2017),  Sarah Manning (Tatiana Maslany) is a street hustler who finds herself at a train station the moment another woman takes her life by jumping in front of an incoming train. Eager to make a quick buck by pretending to be the dead woman, Sarah notices that she and the woman are mirror images of one another. What starts out as a quick con job reveals that she and the woman are not long-lost twins, but clones. As Sarah discovers the truth about the many clones, she also discovers that someone is making a concerted effort to kill these women.

Can Sarah find out the truth or will the secret forever remain a secret?

This show was one of the most entertaining, intelligent and provocative science fiction dramas of the past few years. It also helped immensely that star Tatiana Maslany played all of the clones in their various incarnations.

I absolutely recommend it.

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Flashback Friday-Merlin (2008-2012)

The hero or heroine’s journey is a common narrative. For some, that journey is the rocky road from youth to maturity.

The television series Merlin (2008-2012) told the story of the young man who would become one of the greatest wizards in mythology. Starring Colin Morgan as the titular character and Bradley James as the future King Arthur, Merlin is initially a servant in King Uther’s (Anthony Stewart Head) Camelot. As time goes on and Merlin grows up, he will become a friend, a companion and a trusted adviser to the man who will be known as King Arthur.

I wasn’t a huge fan of this series, but the fact that it lasted four years says something about the quality of the program.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

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Robin Book Review

Robin Williams was one of the most remarkable performers of our time. When he took his life in 2014, his passing created a hole in our culture that will never be filled.

Earlier this year, Dave Itzkoff published Robin, a biography of the late star.

Robin Williams was a walking contradiction. He was a performer who could make audiences laugh and cry at the same time. He played iconic characters in Mork and Mindy, Aladdin, Good Morning Vietnam and Mrs. Doubtfire. But not even those remarkable performances could mask years of dealing with the triple demons of addiction, self-esteem and mental illness.

I really enjoyed this book. I enjoyed because when put Hollywood celebrities on a pedestal, we forget that they are still human beings who deal with the same issues that all human beings deal with.

I absolutely recommend it.

 

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Mental Health, Movies, Television

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Movie Review

Generations of American children were raised on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, this writer included. Fred Rogers, the unlikely titular star of the show, taught his young audience not just their ABC’s. They also learned self-esteem, how to react when dealing with extreme emotions and how to deal with the crap that life can throw at you.

The new documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, follows not only the life and career of Fred Rogers, but also tells the story of his television show was the basis of the emotional and academic education for millions of American children. He proved that children’s television, then and now, does not need to bop its audience over the head or use a cartoon to sell toys and other merchandise. It can speak to its audience on a personal level and teaches them without the child being aware that they are learning.

 

If there was ever a reason to go to the movie theater, this movie is it. When we grow up, many of us can become cynical, angry or just go about our day-to-day life without feeling anything. Mister Rogers allowed his young audience to feel, to ask questions and to understand that sometimes life is hard. I think when we grow up, we forget that. Seeing this movie reminded me that it’s ok to feel, it’s ok to ask questions and it’s ok to understand life can be difficult.

I absolutely recommend it.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor is presently in theaters. 

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Early Throwback Thursday-Double Dare (1986-1993)

Game shows have been part of the television landscape since the early days of television.

From 1986-1993 Double Dare was a regular on Nickelodeon’s schedule. Hosted by Marc Summers, the competition contained both trivia questions and physical stunts that could only be described as messy.

I remember watching this show back in the day and thinking that it was so much fun to watch. Looking back, what made it so much fun was the fact that it was neither a strictly academic or strictly physical competition. The physical component of the game was also a little gross, but gross in a good way.

I recommend it.

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