Many of us associate our childhood memories with Jim Henson productions.
In the early 1980’s, he broke away from his well known characters, The Muppets, to create a new world and a new group of characters. Fraggle Rock was on the air from 1983-1987.
Fraggle Rock is about creatures who live in a wall behind the home of Doc and his dog, Sprocket called Fraggles. Living with the Fraggles are Doozers. They all go to the Trash Heap for guidance while one of the Fraggles is exploring the world of humans and writes back to his family.
This show is an integral part of my early years. It was educational without the young audience knowing it (which is the point of this type of programming). It was also fun to watch.
I recommend it.
From the perspective of someone watching the news at home on the television, it seems like everything is smooth sailing. But like everything in life once the curtain is pulled back, what appears to be smooth sailing is actually rough waters.
The Hour aired for two seasons on BBC America. Starring Romola Garai, Ben Whishaw and Dominic West, The Hour was a behind the scenes look at a 1950’s news program in Britain. Integrating the chaos of running a daily news program with the chaos of the character’s private lives, The Hour was a fascinating drama that captivated viewers. Unfortunately, like many shows who are not given the chance to last, The Hour was only on the air for two years. Led by show-runner Abi Morgan (whose film credits include Shame and Suffragette), The Hour had potential, but the network did not see it that way.
I really enjoyed this show. It had great writing, great acting and contained a cast of British actors that Austen fans and fans of British drama will easily recognize.
I recommend it.
For many comedians, the peak of their career is starring in their own television series.
Between 1993 and 1994, comedian Sinbad had his own sitcom, aptly named The Sinbad Show. David Bryan (Sinbad) is the foster-father to two precocious children: Zana and L.J. Beckley (Erin Davis and Ray J). While he tries to teach the children as much as he can while they are under his roof, David also learn a few things in the process.
Unfortunately, The Sinbad Show falls into the category of television shows that tried, but never quite made the connection with the audience that is needed to keep a show on the air.
Do I recommend it? Not really.
Being the child of famous actors is not easy, nor is it a golden key to success as a performer.
The television series, Movie Stars, aired for one season at the turn of the new millennium. Reese Hardin (Harry Hamlin) and Jacey Wyatt (Jennifer Grant, daughter of Cary Grant) both have successful careers in the entertainment industry. Reese and Jacey have two children of their own in addition to Jacey’s daughter from her previous marriage. Life is chaotic and busy, as it only can be when your part of a family of movie stars.
The problem with this show is that it was like a rocket without fuel. While the concept seems ok on paper, both the narrative and the character arcs were woefully underdeveloped.
Do I recommend it? No.
The end of the world happening through mysterious circumstances has been a standard narrative within science fiction for many years. It depends on the writer or writers to flesh out this very predictable narrative to make it feel alive, new and interesting.
In the 2008 movie, The Happening, Elliot and Alma Moore (Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel) are watching their world crumble around them. A mysterious plague has hit the world, causing those infected to commit suicide. Elliot, a science teacher is trying to use his knowledge to figure the cause of the plague and find a cure, but that might not be enough to save his life, his wife’s life and the life of Jess (Ashlyn Sanchez), the daughter of a friend who they are trying to protect.
On paper, this the premise of the film sounds interesting. Unfortunately, it’s one of those movies that only sounds good on paper.
Do I recommend it? Not really.
When a film is adapted from a comic book, it must two serve purposes and two masters. It must please the comic’s core fanbase while appealing to new fans. It must also, as best as the creative team can, full transplant the narrative and characters from the page to the screen.
In 2003, the film adaptation of the comic book The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen hit the big screen. In an AU (alternate universe) Victorian era, a group of heroes from famous novels must come together to save the world. The group includes Tom Sawyer (Shane West), from the classic Mark Twain novel, The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer, and Mina Harker (Peta Wilson) from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Led by Allan Quatermain (Sean Connery) from H. Rider Haggard’s King Solomon’s Mines, this band of adventurers and heroes must save the world from a villain known as the Fantom.
Bear in mind that I have never read the comic book and when I saw the movie, I was unaware that the source material comes from a comic book. As a standalone movie, it’s ok. It’s just the run of the mill film adaptation of a comic book that is top-heavy on special effects and light on both character and narrative.
Do I recommend it? Maybe.
Divorce is the last thing on many couple’s minds as they repeat their wedding vows. But sometimes divorce is for the best.
In the 1997 movie, That Old Feeling, Lilly (Bette Midler) and Dan (Dennis Farina) have been passionately divorced for years. Nothing makes their skin crawl more than to be around each other. Their daughter, Molly (Paula Marshall) is getting married and Lilly and Dan have to find a way at least pretend to be civil for their daughter’s sake. What once was hate turns back in lust between Dan and Lilly. Molly freaks out and hires a paparazzi (Danny Nucci) to find her parents.
This movie is interesting. The narrative goes beyond the standard romantic comedy. Still it is a little predictable, even for a genre built on predictability. Do I recommend it? Maybe.
The Vietnam War was one of the most brutal and controversial wars in recent memory.
In 1987’s Good Morning Vietnam, it is 1965. Adrian Cronauer (the late and sorely missed Robin Williams) is a Airman and a radio DJ sent to Vietnam to entertain the troops and bring some reminder of home. His unorthodox personality and on air persona does not go over well with some of the military higher-ups on the base. Though he is not on the front lines, he will experience the war in a very real and raw manner.
What strikes me about this movie is that while it is very funny at points, it is very dark and hard to watch at other points. The brutality and destruction that war brings is not lost on either the audience or Adrian.
I absolutely recommend it.
Sometimes, when we are lonely and desperate, it’s easier to create a vision of perfection instead of going out and fighting for what we want.
In the 1987 movie, Mannequin (which is basically a 1980’s reboot of Pygmalion and My Fair Lady), Jonathan Switcher (Andrew McCarthy) is an artist who seems to lose more jobs than he can get. He finally hits a career high when he creates the perfect mannequin, Emmy (Kim Cattrall) who only comes to life in his eyes. He also falls in love with her. Will this utopia last or is Jonathan just fooling himself?
What is interesting about this film is that it speaks to the question of what is reality and what is fantasy. It also speaks to the deep need for companionship and love when we feel that we have neither.
Do I recommend it? I am leaning toward yes.
Books are more than pages sewn and glued together with words printed on them. Books are magic. They can take the reader to another place and time and they can open the mind the reader. Many book worms (myself included) started their love of books early in life.
For several generations, a love of books was assisted by the PBS television program, Reading Rainbow (1983-2006). Hosted by Star Trek actor LeVar Burton, the genius of the show is that instead of speaking down to its young audience, it spoke to the audience. The children watching were encouraged not only to read, but to explore, imagine and to grow, using books as a means to explore, to imagine and to grow.
The show was cancelled in the 2006, but it has since been revitalized for the modern digital age.
I come from a literary family. My parents encouraged their children to read from a very early age. But not every child is so lucky. For many children, reading is an unappealing chore that has to be done or it is an activity pushed aside for something else. I have fond memories of watching this show and knowing that it’s ok to be a bookworm. Books can change the world.
I recommend it.