Category: TV


On Halloween night the Great Pumpkin rises out of his pumpkin patch and flies through the air with his bag of toys for all the children. 

Sally was Lucy.  Kathy was Sally.  Chris was Charlie.  Peter was Linus.  And Bill was Snoopy.

For fifty years Charles M. Schulz’s Linus Van Pelt has been trying to convince us all to believe in The Great Pumpkin in The Peanuts holiday special It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!  Following on the success of the Peanuts Christmas special, Schulz was tapped to pick a holiday and subject and went with Halloween over Thanksgiving and the Great Pumpkin was destined for the small screen in October 1966.

It’s the one time Charlie Brown wasn’t the only ostracized kid in the neighborhood (although he’s the one who gets rocks every year and we never learn why).  Remember when all the little kids dressed up in the same costumes?  Here the costumes of choice were ghosts and witches.  And a World War I flying ace–Snoopy took his first flight on the screen in his Sopwith Camel in The Great Pumpkin.  

Chris Shea voiced Linus, Kathy Steinberg voiced Sally, Peter Robbins was Charlie Brown, and Lucy was voiced by Sally Dryer.  And Bill Melendez was the voice of Snoopy.


Who knew Sally was such a little lawyer?  You don’t remember that?  Watch it again and see.  And who saves the day?  Big sister Lucy.

If you missed the annual television viewing of It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!, don’t fret, you can watch the entire show here:

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Tomorrow night Public Television stations will broadcast Sunday’s Kennedy Center ceremony honoring Bill Murray for his unique blend of comedy and social commentary.  The Mark Twain Prize, first given to Richard Pryor in 1998, is the nation’s top honor for comedians.  Everything’s coming up roses for Murray this week as his favorite team the Chicago Cubs gained their first win of this year’s World Series, and Murray was a trending topic for a photo he took in Scotland in 2012 wailing with a toddler–a photo mistaken for Tom Hanks by many.

The 2016 awards event features Steve Martin, Sigourney Weaver, and David Letterman, among several other celebrities mildly roasting the actor/comedian/golfer/celebrity and saluting his work.  In the show Murray gives his own salute to one of his five brothers, the well-known character actor Brian Doyle-Murray.  Two other brothers, Joel and John, are also actors.

So what’s Murray’s best work?  Is it his classic comedy skits or Weekend Update work on Saturday Night Live?  Or his assistant groundskeeper from Caddyshack?  What about his Dr. Peter Venkman from Ghostbusters?  You can’t forget his Army soldier John Winger in Stripes.  Or how about his weatherman in Groundhog Day?


Murray is known for continuing to surprise us.  Like when he earned an Academy Award nomination for his drama Lost in Translation, when he played Dustin Hoffman’s friend in the Oscar winning Tootsie, and when he gave us his own take on Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol in Scrooged, portraying FDR in Hyde Park on Hudson, and a war hero in Monuments Men.

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It’s that time of year again.  The 2016 World Series is now in full swing with the first game a sweep by the Cleveland Indians.  How will the Chicago Cubs fare in Game 2 tonight?  If you’re not in the baseball frame of mind yet, we have five of the all-time best baseball movies you can stream right now for free or for less than four dollars on Amazon Prime’s streaming service.  Most of these can also be rented on Netflix.  And let’s face it–everyone should own our fifth movie on the list.

Have you seen them already?  Then you know these great films can be watched over and over again.

Let’s start with a classic:  Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig in Pride of the Yankees from 1942.  The movie recounts the then-recent personal triumph and tragedy of what baseball as an American pastime has created over and over for more than a century: baseball players as American icons.  Pride of the Yankees shows the personal side of being a famous baseball player, and features real-life legends Babe Ruth, Bob Meusel, Mark Koenig, and Bill Dickey, all playing themselves on-screen.  Academy Award winners Teresa Wright and Walter Brennan co-star.  If you want to see classic baseball from a contemporary view, this is your movie.  Although the story is certainly bittersweet and a tear-jerker, it reflects baseball as more than just a game.


The most recent movie on our list is Moneyball, from 2011, a modern classic we’ve already watched over and over.  Moneyball reveals the game as a modern business.  The conflict between playing the game as classically envisioned and the game as seen from an analytical angle is wrestled with from the real life mostly true story of the Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane as he turned the team around in its 2002 season.
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Showtime released two teasers this month for next year’s Twin Peaks sequel, hoped for by fans of the show for 25 years.  The first shows several actors, including series star Kyle MacLachlan looking like he hasn’t changed a bit, including a behind the scenes image sporting his FBI suit with director David Lynch.  The second teaser shows composer Angelo Badalamenti back again working on the new score for the series.

Coming back for the series is Kyle MacLachlan (FBI Agent Dale Cooper), Sheryl Lee (Laura Palmer/Maddie Ferguson), Sherilyn Fenn (Audrey Horne), Mädchen Amick (Shelley Johnson), David Duchovny (Dennis/Denise Bryson), Michael Horse (Deputy Hawk Hill), Dana Ashbrook (Bobby Briggs), Miguel Ferrer (Albert Rosenfield), Ray Wise (Leland Palmer), Grace Zabriskie (Sarah Palmer), Alicia Witt (Gersten Hayward), Kimmy Robertson (Lucy Moran), Peggy Lipton (Norma Jennings), Catherine Coulson (The Log Lady), Everett McGill (Ed Hurley), Phoebe Augustine (Ronette Pulaski), Harry Goaz (Deputy Andy Brennan), Julee Cruise (Roadhouse Singer and soundtrack singer), Warren Frost (Doctor Hayward), Jan D’Arcy (Sylvia Horne), and Gary Hershberger (Mike Nelson).

Also returning is Andrea Hayes (Heidi), David Patrick Kelley (Jerry Horne), Bellina Logan (Louie), Walter Olkewicz (Jacques Renault), Richard Beymer (Ben Horne), Carel Struyken (the giant), Wendy Robie (Nadine Hurley), Al Strobel (one-armed man), Charlotte Stewart (Betty Briggs), Marv Rosand (diner cook), Jerry Marshall (James Hurley), Russ Tamblyn (Dr. Jacoby), Carlton Russell (jumping man), Harry Dean Stanton (Carl), and David Lynch (Gordon Cole).

Cooper and Audrey Twin Peaks

So no Michael Ontkean, Lara Flynn Boyle, Joan Chen, Piper Laurie, Heather Graham, Billy Zane, Brenda Strong, Michael J. Anderson, or David Warner. Key players Jack Nance and Don S. Davis have passed away since the original series aired as has most recently Catherine Coulson, who was able to film some scenes for the series.

Check out the new Showtime teasers plus everything you want to know from past updates on the series, after the break:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

It will take fans of the earlier editions of The Star Trek Encyclopedia: A Reference Guide to the Future, Revised and Expanded Edition less than a dozen pages of browsing to realize the enormity of the material–and the effort–required to update the previous 1999 edition for this 50th anniversary boxed, hardcover, two-volume reference published this week.  Enterprise–the series that has been virtually ignored in Star Trek reference publications, finally gets its due, as does the later seasons of Voyager, the last season of Deep Space Nine, and the films Star Trek Nemesis, Star Trek (2009), and Star Trek Into Darkness. 

An invaluable reference until the creation of the online fan-run Memory Alpha, the original three editions of the The Star Trek Encyclopedia were the only place for fans to get quick Star Trek data with the last update in 1999.  The advent of the Internet seemed to have spelled certain doom for any hope of a revised and updated edition.  Memory Alpha has more than 40,000 pages of detailed Star Trek reference data.  How could a 1,056 page two-volume edition compete?  For one, long-time fans of all or many of the Star Trek series likely appreciate the ability to pull a reference book off the shelf.  Memory Alpha’s recent updates make the website difficult to navigate and website TrekCore’s value is very much in its screen captures.  Star Trek reference works have been very sporadically released in the past 20 years, so fans are always clamoring for a new book.  The Star Trek Encyclopedia is very much an encyclopedia, and many may not remember the days of pulling a volume of an encyclopedia off the shelf and reading it through for entertainment.  This is a great set of books to do just that.  And the detailed content is what fans want.

Excluding this summer’s release Star Trek Beyond, original edition creators (and former Star Trek art department creative gurus) Michael Okuda and Denise Okuda craftily and seamlessly weaved the J.J. Abrams’s movies–called the Kelvin timeline now– into this work as explained in their foreword (only Star Trek (2009)’s villain Nero’s entry, for example, bridges both the Prime timeline and the Kelvin timeline in The Star Trek Encyclopedia).  The Star Trek Encyclopedia is also the first publication that thoroughly addresses the nuts and bolts of Star Trek Into Darkness. 


I came up with a list of my favorite items: references, characters, objects, and places that did not turn up in the past editions, to see if they all were now included.  They were, except for entries and images of certain key alien weapons, uniforms, and artifacts from the Kelvin timeline (like John Eaves’ beautifully designed Klingon weapons, Romulan disruptors and rifles, or the new Klingon uniforms and helmets).  These types of updates are present across the board for Enterprise, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager.  Artist Ian Fullwood updates Doug Drexler’s artwork quite well, adding to his work updates with the same look and feel as Drexler’s original creations.  Don’t expect past entries to be updated other than some have updated photographs–the research and preparation was clearly all about the new series and movies, also what the fans want and expect.

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If you have someone who is awesome enough to make Adam Baldwin’s famous, cunning, Jayne Cobb knitted hat from Firefly (as we did back in 2013 here at then you may have a chance to go back to that special person another time to get your Doctor Who fix and add some convention-appropriate garb to your stash for future events.  With the Jayne hat, it’s double the fun to have your mother (or other relative or friend) hand-knit the hat, since it was Jayne’s mother who created the hat for him as part of the TV episode.

This time, it’s the Fourth Doctor, Tom Baker, and his famous knitted scarf, worn by every fourth fan at every respectable Comic Con you’ve ever attended.  And Petronella Osgood in “The Day of the Doctor.”

Baker, who appeared on BBC’s 50+ year, sci-fi classic Doctor Who from 1974 to 1981 as the Fourth Doctor, is currently crossing franchise streams, voicing the large, wise creature called the Bendu on the DisneyXD animated series Star Wars Rebels.


Wil Wheaton at a Con in his own copy of the Fourth Doctor’s scarf.

But Baker has become synonymous with that scarf.  Unlike the pattern that has become the accepted duplicate of Jayne’s hat throughout the land of knitters (the original wasn’t production-made so no original instructions exist although an accepted version is easily available on the Web), the BBC actually handed out the pattern instructions to knit your own Tom Baker scarf back in the 1980s.  Thanks to an article from Tor and two bloggers posting their memories over the past several years, below you can download the instructions that the BBC gave out to what must have been a routine inquiry from fans over the years.

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In comic books featuring decades old characters, years of monthly stories stack up, build up to allow characters to get fleshed out, defining plots ironed out and redone until they are synonymous with the characters, and those stories sculpt characters and worlds that fans feel they know very well.  Well enough to defend the characters if a modern adaptation doesn’t get it quite right.  Although Marvel Studios adaptations have done well at the movies, its television shows haven’t measured up so well.  Until now.  The Netflix series Marvel’s Luke Cage is full of so many elements that make it a quality series you can expect it to be a contender at next year’s Emmy Awards.  And the successful 13-episode Season One of the famous Power Man of Marvel Comics’ past is readying us for the next Marvel series, featuring Luke Cage’s martial arts partner Iron Fist.  We’re previewing the first trailer for Marvel’s Iron Fist here at below.

Marvel’s Luke Cage succeeds in two unique ways.  First, Luke Cage is completely loyal to its 1970s origin.  Carl Lucas, played by Mike Colter (reprising the role he began in Marvel’s Jessica Jones), is a man from Harlem, imprisoned for a crime he didn’t commit.  A very Stan Lee-style, comic book experiment gone bad much like that found in the origins of The Incredible Hulk, Spider-man, and Deadpool results in Carl gaining incredible physical strength, cellular changes in organs that allow his skin to deflect bullets, and rapid body repairing, all thanks to a mad scientist named Dr. Noah Burstein (played in the series by Michael Kostroff).  Lucas escapes and changes his name to Luke Cage.  Key characters from the comic books fill in the blanks of his life, including Dr. Claire Temple (a role reprised from the other Netflix Marvel series by Rosario Dawson), Reva Connors (Parisa Fitz-Henley), Misty Knight (played brilliantly by Simone Missick), nemesis Stryker (Erik LaRay Harvey), and a mobster named Shades (played by Theo Rossi).  The story hails from the Blaxploitation era, with Cage similar in cool toughness to Richard Roundtree’s John Shaft, and female characters that could all have been portrayed by Pam Grier if this were a contemporary adaptation.


The other indicator of success for this adaptation is the ability to update the story to today, for today’s viewers, and to make the story timely.  Set in a New York City neighborhood with a gritty tale like Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing (with Harlem swapped for Bedford Stuyvesant), the rough-and-tumble Harlem of the series encounters the same class warfare, the same friction between police and minorities, and the same political corruption that is, as once professed by the original Law and Order series, “ripped from the headlines.”  Luke Cage is a mix of plenty of good genre moments we’ve seen before, yet, thanks to the likeable and believable series star Mike Colter, it succeeds on its own merits.  It is at once a mix of the M. Night Shyamalan hooded superhero played by Bruce Willis in Unbreakable, and yet its first season follows a modern mobster-based story much like that of Fox’s current DC Comics-inspired television series Gotham.  And it all starts with that local barber shop we see in so many inner-city-based stories-unlike the typical superhero story the hero is not trying to save the world, he’s trying to save his neighborhood.


Luke Cage is dark, darker than other Marvel properties, just as it was when the comic book first appeared.  This New York City is not a sparkly comic book Metropolis or even a Batman-grim Gotham City.  It was rough like real life is rough.  And where this adaptation could otherwise land in the PG-13 realm since it lacks the volley of F-bombs from most pay channel series, because of some nudity, Deadpool-level violence, and prevalence of the N-word in street talk, this is one for the adult audience.  That doesn’t mean there isn’t some great fun here, to be found in the viewers’ empathy for this anti-hero/vigilante as he takes his lumps and their subsequent cheers as he “gains justice” from those who wrong both him and those he cares about.  The throwbacks to the original are also quite fun, throwbacks like those used in the G.I. Joe movies, like Cage’s tagline profanity replacement “Sweet Christmas,” a phrase Colter gets exactly right and somehow makes work completely in 2016, plus references to his “Power Man” comic book title as well as his “hero for hire” tagline, and in one scene he disparages his outfit when he finds himself in one of his comic book era outfits.  Woven into the series are Easter eggs to listen for, including many indirect cross-references to Netflix’s previous Marvel series Daredevil and Jessica Jones that are relevant to this story.  This adaptation of a 1970s comic book series reveals the producers can stick to the original elements and still make this story relevant in 2016.

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Where DC Entertainment has been limping along in its efforts to bring superheroes to the big screen in recent years, it has ruled the airwaves on network television thanks to the CW Network and the creative team of Greg Berlanti, Marc Guggenheim, and Andrew Kreisberg.  What Zack Snyder and Christopher Nolan have failed to capture–the same interesting, exciting, rich stories, character development, action, and fun of comic books–these guys have delivered, tapping into what fanboys and fangirls want most.

Are their shows perfect?  Definitely not.  The budget for television series doesn’t allow the freedom of big budget movies.  The stories adapted to the small screen have also changed many things from the comics and when the characters themselves have fans of multiple versions of each character… well, you can’t be all things to all people.  Yet, DC on TV has fared better than on film.  We’d all rather see the relationships build between superheroes, even if they are the B-team superheroes, than costly explosion-filled disaster movies posing as superhero stories.  Yes, we’re talking about you, Man of Steel, Batman v Superman, and The Dark Knight Rises.

The CW Network has cornered the market on the best of DC on TV.  And this Fall with the addition of Supergirl from ABC, we now will have a superhero series every night from DC and Warner Bros.  If DC really had its act together it would see that Fox’s Gotham switched from Monday nights to Fridays, for a full weekday schedule, but that doesn’t look like it will happen.


This past week, to preview the new season and what characters we can look forward to, including–at last–Martian Manhunter (the last remaining key Justice League character to make it to the modern live-action DC Universe) the CW released a follow-up to last year’s Superhero Fight Club video.  Check it out:

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Time travel.  It’s a fun sub-genre of science fiction when it’s done right.  NBC and the CW have dueling sci-fi series entering the Primetime line-up beginning this month.  On Mondays, NBC airs Timeless, a story about a historian, a computer expert and a soldier acting as timecops as they try to correct changes in history via a time machine in pursuit of another–stolen–time machine.  On Wednesdays the CW airs Frequency, based on the 2000 sci-fi sleeper and cult movie starring Dennis Quaid.  Both are from the creative minds of Supernatural showrunners, and both series began this week with powerful openers.  We think both are worth adding to your weekly watch list.  The challenge will be maintaining their respective concepts for a full season.

Timeless hails from Supernatural creator Eric Kripke and The Shield creator Shawn Ryan. Abigail Spencer leads the cast as a historian much like you’d find in a Connie Willis novel, pulled into a secret time travel project.  Someone (Goran Visnjic) kidnapped a scientist played by genre favorite Matt Frewer, and Homeland Security, including a smartly cast agent played by Sakina Jaffrey (Sleepy Hollow, Mr. Robot), enlists Spencer’s character, an insider IT guy (Malcolm Barrett) and soldier/protector (Matt Lanter) to find them–in the past.  Compared to Star Trek and Doctor Who this show is Time Travel Lite–no complex knowledge or thought required.  The time travel prime directive seems to be that the timecops cannot travel into a time in which they previously existed.  So no do-overs.


You can’t beat a nicely done re-creation of the Hindenburg disaster.  Even better, a re-imagining revealing the disaster never occurred.  Timeless didn’t waste any time, starting off with a single episode story focused on a historic event and it appears that will be the draw of each episode.  We saw elements of TimeCop, Timeline, Continuum, Quantum Leap, Doctor Who, Terminator, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow in the first episode alone.  It works and it’s fun.  There’s something adventuresome about Timeless in a Young Indiana Jones vein. Timeless did miss one opportunity here:  Why not begin with the Hindenburg crashing on a false historic date and then land on the real date of the disaster for the ending?  That would have been a heck of a trick, but it shows much more can be threaded into this series.  We know from Star Trek and Doctor Who that time travel is twisty and full of possibilities. Timeless needs to embrace what its savvy audience already knows–and keep the focus on the fun.

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Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra.

Twenty-five years ago one of the finest episodes of television aired on your local channel carrying syndicated programming.  Arguably the best episode in the history of the Star Trek franchise, frequently found atop “best of Star Trek” lists, and among the best of all science fiction stories, it was Darmok, the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode featuring guest star Paul Winfield as the noble Tamarian Captain Dathon.  Darmok first aired September 30, 1991, the first standalone episode of the excellent fifth season, which featured memorable episodes including Ensign Ro, Unification, Cause and Effect, The Perfect Mate, I, Borg, The Next Phase, and another highly rated standalone episode that bookended the season, The Inner Light.  Written by Joe Menosky and Philip LaZebnik, and directed by Winrich Kolbe, Darmok broke new ground for Star Trek first and foremost by removing the universal translator from the equation and allowing one of the 20th (and 21st) century’s key challenges–communication between cultures–to be the focus of an episode.  Like the transporter beam and the holodeck, the translator was a story device–a crutch of sorts–that allowed writers to skip beyond basic problems and move along to more complex conflicts.  Darmok took Star Trek back to the basics.

The Federation and the Tamarians–also called the “Children of Tama”–historically failed to break the language barrier, and therefore never could open up diplomatic relations, until 2368.  The Tamarians were an intelligent and strong alien race–their ship easily overpowered the Enterprise-D.  Piglike in appearance thanks to the make-up work of Michael Westmore, they wore warrior clothing (designed by Robert Blackman) that was reptilian in design, with a vest of multi-colored grommets, and a bandolier of leather, copper, and brass that supported a sheath with a dagger that was both practical and ceremonial.  The vest featured totems, crystals wrapped in shaved metal, used for personal spiritual ceremonies.  The captain kept a log book at his belt, chronicling his journey in the strange written language of the Tamarian people.


Shaka.  When the walls fell.

The Tamarians reached out to the Federation first, resulting in Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) confronting Dathon via bridge-to-bridge visual communication in orbit of the planet El-Adrel IV.  Frustrated by the continued dissonance, Dathon beamed himself, and Picard, to the surface of the planet.  Dathon’s goal: To use the metaphor of “Darmok and Jalad at Tanagra”–a Tamarian story where two warriors joined together by facing a common foe–to bring himself and Picard–and thereby both cultures–together, one way or another.  What took Picard and the viewing audience the course of the episode to learn, that one could begin to understand the Tamarians once you realized they communicated in metaphors, came too late for Dathon.  The enemy of the metaphor–the planet’s beast in the reality they faced on the surface of El-Adrel IV–attacked both him and Picard, but not before Picard understood.

Sokath. His eyes uncovered! 

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