Garry Marshall

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My first crush was Fonzie on Happy Days.  I was five, and he was the coolest.  It was one of my favorite shows, right up until it was cancelled in 1984, long after it had literally jumped the shark.  (For those of you who’ve been living under a rock, Happy Days introduced the phrase “jump the shark” for a TV show that had kind of outlived itself when they had an episode where Fonzie waterskiied over a shark tank.  I think that was one of the episodes set in Hollywood.)

My child’s heart, and my adult heart for that matter, mourns the death of Happy Days creator Garry Marshall.  His vision of the world may have been hopelessly anachronistic and unrealistic.  (No, millionaires do not fall in love with and marry the hookers they solicit.)  But it was a sweet, good-hearted vision.  He liked to portray the fairy tale happy ending.  While my version of the fairy tale might be a little different, I think the world needs a few more happy endings.  Thanks for all the happy days, Garry.

Repost: The Best Cartoon You’re Probably Not Watching

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I’m reposting this one (with a couple of edits) because I noticed the original video I attached was “no longer available.”  That happens a lot, but I really want people to notice Steven Universe if they haven’t already.  So I found the clip I like again, and here it is.  Steven Universe isn’t currently in Cartoon Network’s lineup, but it should be back soon.

I want to share one of the television shows I’ve been using to avoid thinking lately. Steven Universe was created by Rebecca Sugar, a former writer for the wonderfully surreal Adventure Time. The show is about the adventures of the sweetly naive and optimistic title boy as he navigates the world and tries to figure out how to use his powers as a crystal gem. The other crystal gems are aliens who came to earth thousands of years before, and decided to stay and protect the planet from others of their kind. I thought it looked kind of silly from the commercials, but then I saw a couple episodes and got hooked.

For a cartoon, this is pretty sophisticated and adult stuff. There’s romance and conflict and struggles with difficult emotions like guilt and obsession. It’s even kind of sexy. The gems can fuse together to create new gems; one of the main characters, Garnet, is actually a fusion of two other gems who are, quite clearly, in love (you’ll see it in the clip). Fusion becomes a metaphor for relationships, both good and bad, as well as sex between the characters.

What’s any of this got to do with music? Plenty, because Steven Universe is full of pretty catchy tunes. Steven’s mother, a crystal gem named Rose Quartz, fell in love with his father, a wannabe rock star named Greg Universe. But all the characters sing on occasion; music is usually used as a way to quickly express some of the more complicated emotions the characters experience, or sum up plot points or action. This clip is one of my favorite musical moments as Garnet comes back together after Steven and the rest of the gems were captured by evil invading gems.

It really is a fun show. Longtime followers know I’m a big fan of cartoons, but this one definitely isn’t just for kids.

The Best Cartoon You’re Probably Not Watching

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Mom’s doing somewhat better.  She had a small stroke a couple of weeks ago, and we’re dealing with the recovery from that.  Physical therapy, new ways of doing things, and general worry have been keeping us both busy.  It’s been easier to lose myself in TV or games than to think, but I’m going to try to get back into the swing of things.

Appropriately enough, I want to share one of the television shows I’ve been using to avoid thinking lately.  Steven Universe was created by Rebecca Sugar, a former writer for the wonderfully surreal Adventure Time.  The show is about the adventures of the sweetly naive and optimistic title boy as he navigates the world and tries to figure out how to use his powers as a crystal gem.  The other crystal gems are aliens who came to earth thousands of years before, and decided to stay and protect the planet from others of their kind.  I thought it looked kind of silly from the commercials, but then I saw a couple episodes and got hooked.

For a cartoon, this is pretty sophisticated and adult stuff.  There’s romance and conflict and struggles with difficult emotions like guilt and obsession.  It’s even kind of sexy.  The gems can fuse together to create new gems; one of the main characters, Garnet, is actually a fusion of two other gems who are, quite clearly, in love (you’ll see it in the clip).  Fusion becomes a metaphor for relationships, both good and bad, as well as sex between the characters.

What’s any of this got to do with music?  Plenty, because Steven Universe is full of pretty catchy tunes.  Steven’s mother, a crystal gem named Rose Quartz, fell in love with his father, a wannabe rock star named Greg Universe.  But all the characters sing on occasion; music is usually used as a way to quickly express some of the more complicated emotions the characters experience, or sum up plot points or action.  This clip is one of my favorite musical moments as Garnet comes back together after Steven and the rest of the gems were captured by evil invading gems.

It really is a fun show.  Longtime followers know I’m a big fan of cartoons, but this one definitely isn’t just for kids.

 

David Letterman’s Last Show

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Tonight is David Letterman’s final Late Night show.  Over the years, I’ve found him to be funny, exasperating, insightful, annoying, angry, caustic, generous, and very very entertaining.  The early years, when he was still on NBC, are some of the most creative television ever.  The main reason Letterman doesn’t make headlines the way he used to is because just about every other late night talk show is patterned after his.  (They all realized long ago that no one was ever going to come close to Johnny Carson’s greatness.  And Letterman was always edgier anyway.)

I loved the Top Ten lists.  I loved the wonderfully cantankerous give and take he had with his regular guests, many of them also his friends.  Dave wasn’t the best interviewer, but he would give his guests the room to fly or fail (both were equally entertaining).  His running bits and video remotes and all the other stuff will go down, rightfully, as one of the biggest influences on the late night comedy genre.  But one of my favorite parts of the show was also one of the least original.

Everybody on late night has a band (Craig Ferguson was the only exception I know of).  They introduce the star, lead into and out of commercial breaks, and serve as back-up for some of the musical guests.  There isn’t anything special about having a band, or that they’re a good group of musicians.  But Paul Shaffer and the World’s Most Dangerous Band were special.  Please note that I didn’t call them the CBS Orchestra, because that name never really suited them; they were dangerous.  Not because there was any sense that they would suddenly go off the rails, but because they were the smartest, tightest, most versatile group of musicians ever to grace the small screen.  They could play anything with anyone, and they were Dave’s not-so-secret weapon.  Even if everything else on the show fell flat, you could count on Paul and the band to turn in a wicked good performance.  Monday night’s performance with the great Eddie Vedder should be proof enough of how terrific this group is.  I know they can all probably retire and live comfortably, but I hope they keep playing–preferably together.

“My Country”

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I’ve been watching quite a bit of television lately, but in my defense, I think most of it was time well spent.  The premieres of Gotham and Sleepy Hollow were pretty darn cool (but I’m pretty sure Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D has lost me).  And PBS has given me some lovely time with antiques and Richard III.  Okay, there was a bunch of time with football and poker, which will be repeated this weekend.  But a special deal with Time Warner and a local channel meant I got to hear the dulcet tones of Vin Scully while I was jotting some notes the other night.  (I don’t particularly like baseball, but Vin is one of the warm voices from my childhood.)

I’ve been writing a bit, too.  An idea came to me in a dream the other day, and I’ve been trying to flesh it out.  I sent my notes to Mr. BFF because he is my go-to guy for Science Fiction, and this idea falls under that umbrella.  I’m trying to write more regularly again.  Not just the blog (which clearly, I’ve fallen down on a bit lately), but possible stories and novels.  And poetry.  I beginning to miss writing poetry.  Maybe after the relative peace of my 30s and early 40s I’m ready to get back into angst.  Who knows.

But TV has been a thing for me.  And it will be for the next little while.  I’ve got several hours worth of The Roosevelts by Ken Burns to catch up on.  Mom said it was pretty good, so I’m very much looking forward to firing up the DVR.  But not tonight.  Tonight, it’s an episode of 20/20 about those creepy little girls who tried to murder their friend so they could meet the Slenderman.  Hey, I only watch PBS part of the time.

As Seen on TV: Craig Ferguson

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A couple of days ago, I posted about going to a comedy club with the family for a birthday celebration.  I used a clip of the very funny Craig Ferguson to illustrate my hopes and dreams for a wonderful, laugh filled night.  (Sadly, those hopes and dreams were dashed because the headliner was rude to the audience and not all that funny.  The opening guy was okay.)  Imagine my surprise and sadness when it came out yesterday that Craig has decided to leave The Late Late Show when his contract expires in December.

Now anyone who’s been with me from the beginning knows I’m a fan of TV theme songs.  When Psych finished its run a couple of weeks ago, I mourned the end of one of the few really great themes left on TV.  We are now faced with losing what might actually be the last great TV theme song.

When he took over the show in 2005, Ferguson co-wrote and recorded a new theme.  It helped that he had a background as a musician (he played drums for any number of Punk/Rock bands in Scotland and England).  This is one of those bouncy, catchy numbers that used to precede virtually everything.  It’s also kind of sly and sarcastic, which I really appreciate.

I’m not really worried about what Ferguson will do with himself.  He’s just signed on to host a syndicated game show, and he’s got his own production company to keep him busy, in addition to still doing stand-up gigs on a regular basis.  Not to mention the multi-million dollar bonus he got for not being chosen to succeed David Letterman  (it’s called a “Prince of Wales” clause).  And now that his old bandmate Peter Capaldi will be playing the Doctor, might there be a future guest shot on a certain iconic British sci-fi show?  No, Craig will be fine.  I just hate losing the theme.

Classic TV Characters, RIP

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We lost two of the 60s/70s best television characters today: Russell Johnson and Dave Madden, known to millions as The Professor and Reuben Kincaid respectively.  I loved Gilligan’s Island as a kid, although I could take or leave The Partridge Family (I was always a Brady Bunch kind of girl).  While the deaths of these men aren’t exactly unexpected (89 and 82), there’s still that little part of me that mourns losing yet another part of my childhood.

Although those memories will always be there.  My childhood continues to exist in my mind, as if encased in amber, filled with afternoons in front of the TV singing along to all the sitcom theme songs.

 

Videos may or may not work.  I was having technical difficulties when I posted, so if they don’t play, report back and I’ll fix it if I can.