Category Archives: TV

L.A. 2017 — A Forecast about the Then-Distant Future, from 1971

In an age of online streaming and 1000-channel cable packages, even mediocre TV comedies can still attract an audience decades after their original broadcast. As you read this, someone, somewhere, is watching a 1953 episode of I Love Lucy. Probably quite a few people are, in fact. On the other hand, TV dramas more than few years old seem to have a very short shelf-life, unless they were created by someone named Roddenberry, Serling, or Hitchcock.

The Name of the Game was an innovative television series that ran from 1968-1971. It’s largely forgotten now, which is unfortunate. The show was centered on a Los Angeles magazine company called Howard Publications, and followed three of the people who worked there: Robert Stack, as the editor of Crime Magazine, Tony Franciosa, as the editor of People Magazine, and Gene Barry, who owned the company. The Name of the Game focused on a different lead actor each week, with continuity supplied by Susan St. James, who played an editorial assistant in all three story lines.

L.A. 2017 was a Gene Barry episode. While driving home from an environmental conference, his character is overcome by pollution and faints. When he’s revived, it’s 46 years later, and he’s in a very different Los Angeles.

The young director of this episode, btw, was 24-year-old Steven Spielberg.

Apologies for the video quality, which looks like a seventh generation copy of a videotape.
The Name of the Game has never been released on Blu-ray or DVD.


Spielberg may have gotten one or two minor details wrong, but his geriatric Rock ‘n Rollers are dead-on accurate.

Murder on the Orient Express — First Trailer

The trailer for the new film version of Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient Express was released yesterday, and it looks awesome!

Kenneth Branagh, who directed, also stars as Hercule Poirot. His revisionist interpretation of the famous Poirot mustache must be seen to be disbelieved.

Others in the (of course) all-star cast include  Judi Dench, Johnny Depp, Penelope Cruz, Michelle Pfeiffer, Willem Dafoe, Josh Gad, Derek Jacobi, Tom Bateman, and Olivia Colman.

I loved the big budget, all-star Christie movies of the 1970s, and was a bit shocked to realize that the Albert Finney version of Murder on the Orient Express was released 43 years ago. There have been at least two television adaptations since then. The David Suchet version, which ITV ran on Christmas Day, 2010, is currently available on  US Netflix, The less said about the 2001 version starring Alfred Molina, the better.

A large part of the probable target audience for Murder on the Orient Express will go into the theatre already knowing whodonit. We see Christie movies for the same reasons we watch new versions of A Christmas Carol or the Sherlock Holmes stories:  Not to see how they end, but to see a new interpretation of an old favourite.

The film will be released on 10 November 2017. If it’s reasonably successful, can Death on the Nile be far behind?


The 1974 adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express starred Albert Finney, Lauren Bacall, Martin Balsam, Ingrid Bergman, Jacqueline Bisset, Jean Pierre Cassel, Sean Connery, John Gielgud, Wendy Hiller, Anthony Perkins, Vanessa Redgrave, Rachel Roberts, Richard Widmark, Michael York, and my god, can you believe the talent in that cast?

Here’s the original 1974 trailer:

The first few times I saw this movie, I was uncomfortable with the scene in which Poirot gathers all the suspects together and reveals his solution to the mystery. It felt airless and claustrophobic, and seemed to go on forever.

It was only later that I realized how successful the director had been. He’d made me feel as if I were one of the suspects, itching to get out of there, and hoping it would all end soon.

Game of Thrones Season 7 — Official Trailer

And once again, I’m reduced to quivering fanboy status, unable to come up with anything more insightful than “Oooooh! Oooooh! Oooooh!” I feel the same way I did when Breaking Bad reached those final two seasons: I couldn’t wait to see the next episode, but at the same time, I dreaded the approach of the end of a masterpiece.

I’m not the only one feeling ambiguous about the completion of Game of Thrones. Word is that George R. R. Martin, always eager for an excuse to avoid finishing the Song of Ice and Fire book series on which the show is based, is working with HBO on four or five possible Game of Thrones spinoffs.

Better Call Littlefinger, anybody?

Brilliant trailer, btw, but of course it is.

The penultimate series of Game of Thrones will begin airing in the US on 16 July 2017, with a simultaneous screening in the UK, where it will be 2 AM on the 17th.

American Gods — First Reviews

The first reviews for American Gods are in, and they’re raves. Rotten Tomatoes has it at 94%. and this review from Deadline Hollywood is pretty typical:

The first eight episodes of American Gods will play on Starz, beginning on 30 April 2017.


With my 80s obsession, you don’t really think I’d pass up a chance to post the great 80s song that’s referenced in that review, do you?

As if.

Here’s “Under The Milky Way”, by The Church:

Suspect I might have posted the review simply as an excuse to boost a great 80s song?

Maybe.

American Gods — First Official Trailer

Finally!

Starz has released the first official trailer for the long-awaited series based on Neil Gaiman’s best-selling novel, American Gods. The book, which won the Hugo, Nebula, Bram Stoker, and Locus awards, is generally considered one of the best efforts by Gaiman, author of Stardust, Neverwhere, Coraline, The Graveyard Book, and dozens of other works in a variety of media.

The series starts on 30 April 2017.


Tragic Heroes Villains

For me, Bryan Cranston will always be Walter Hartwell White, Ian Richardson will always be Francis Urquhart, Margaret Hamilton will always be the Wicked Witch of the West, and Ian McShane will always be Al Swearengen.

After all these years. I’m still pissed off about the missing fourth season of the classic Deadwood.