James Garner

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Maverick (the original TV show, not the movie).  Move Over, Darling.  The Great Escape.  Murphy’s Romance.  Victor/Victoria.  What do these things have in common?  The wonderful and talented James Garner.  (They’re also some of my favorite performances by him.)  Garner’s screen presence was such that you liked him the moment you laid eyes on him.  You trusted him.  You knew that even if he was pretending to be a bad guy, he’d do the right thing in the end, even if it meant he would lose.  The real James Garner, of course, didn’t lose; he had a long and successful career, and a happy personal life.  But his charisma, personality, and presence made him perfect for the role that will always define him in my eyes.

Jim Rockford never did seem to catch a lucky break, but he never let it get him down.  Not for long anyway.

James Garner died yesterday at 86.  It’s a celebrity death that hits me pretty hard.  Not just because I liked Garner, but because enjoying his work was something I had in common with my father.  It was a link between us.  I hope in whatever afterlife there is, Garner will have a drink and a laugh with my dad.  I know the real man was just as personable as he was on-screen, so I think they would like each other.

While the rest of us have lost a great talent and nice guy, I know his family and friends have lost so much more.  My heart goes out to all those who loved the man.

Scooby Dooby Doo!

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I have a confession to make.  I’ve been watching way too much Scooby Doo lately.  Boomerang, the channel where old Hanna-Barbera and Cartoon Network shows go to be endlessly rerun, has been playing the most recent weekly incarnation of the Mystery, Inc. gang, and I’ve gotten hooked.

The next thing I have to acknowledge is that Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated is actually pretty good.  The show ran on Cartoon Network from 2010 to 2013, and it managed to update the characters to current times without diminishing the innocent charm of the original.  There’s more realistic problems plaguing the gang in addition to the usual monsters and mysteries–things like romance and friendship and parents.  People who were kids when Scooby and company first burst onto the scene could watch with their kids, and everyone would have something to identify with (which I suspect was kind of the point).

One of the things that got me interested (besides the multi-faceted story arc that seems to run through the entire show) was the way they pay homage not just to the Scooby gang’s past, but to other kids-and-a-nonhuman sidekick mystery shows that sprung up in the wake of the success of Scooby Doo, Where Are You?  Classics like JabberjawSpeed Buggy, and Captain Caveman were worked into one episode.  The gang’s past mysteries were part of a Spook Museum that Velma’s mother ran.  But the shows writers also cleverly worked other pop culture phenomenon into the show (the Twin Peaks references were my personal favorites.  For a Scooby Doo cartoon, this was pretty highbrow stuff.

The only thing this version lacks is a catchy, top-notch theme song.  They got Pop maestro Matthew Sweet to compose the opening music, but it just didn’t have the same pop as other Scooby songs have had.  The show really did have a long history of incorporating music that wasn’t half bad.  Well, at least we still have the original theme (and it was even performed by Matthew Sweet for Saturday Morning Cartoons’ Greatest Hits).

The mystery will finally finish tomorrow afternoon, when the latest string of airings shows the last episode of Scooby Doo! Mystery Incorporated, and I’m looking forward to it.  If you’ve got cable (or if Netflix/Hulu/streaming service of your choice), I suggest you try this version out.  It’s a lot more fun than you might think.

As Seen on TV: “Josie and the Pussycats”

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I’ve been a little heavy lately, so I thought I’d lighten things up a bit.  I’ve also been kind of anti-social.  There’s several blogs I regularly read and comment on, but I haven’t been for several days.  (There’s one or two I’ve been keeping up with, but mostly I just haven’t wanted to engage.)  I know I’ll have a lot of catching up to do when I do come back.  Soon.

But right now, I just want to go back to Saturday mornings and tap my toes to some surprisingly good theme music.

Josie and the Pussycats began life as a spin-off from Archie comics.  The cartoon was apparently quite different from the comic book  (maybe I’ll look up some old issues just to see how different), more like another famous Hanna-Barbera show (ruh-roh!)  The cute all-girl band and their friends were constantly chasing various criminal elements bent on taking over the world.  The chase sequences were set to some pretty catchy tunes that a lot of bands in the 60s would’ve given their eye teeth for.  (Here’s a link to one I really enjoyed.)  Since the characters were in a band, the music made sense.  Too bad they didn’t put as much effort into the animation and other elements; the show might’ve been more successful.

It’s something of a cult classic now.  Boomerang was airing the show after midnight during the week until just recently, but I don’t think there were enough episodes to keep that up for very long.   A movie version came out in the early 2000’s, but everything I saw told me that the “updated” version just didn’t cut it.  Josie and the Pussycats was probably always going to be an also-ran, but I thought it was pretty keen when I was a kid.

As Seen on TV: Ann B. Davis

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Everyone’s favorite housekeeper has passed away at 88.  Alice was the heart of the Brady household, and Ann B. Davis played her with a lot more skill than most people give her credit for.  She had great comic timing and a knack for physical comedy.  My heart goes out to her family and friends.

Let’s all sing along, one more time for Alice.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In Honor of the Emmys . . .

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So someone (thunderwolf1985) went to the trouble to make a list of what s/he considered the 100 best TV theme songs.  It’s seems to be a pretty cool countdown, and I’ve only watched a few.

What makes this kind of fun is that it shows the entire opening credits.  I’m not sure I agree with a lot of the selections, but it’s kind of fun reliving television history this way.  If you want to spend a little time reminiscing about your favorite programs, or cursing this person for his/her asinine choices, then watch the countdown.  Here’s the links to the other parts: Two, Three, Four, and Five.  It’s kind of a hoot.

I’ve got nothing else.  My brain is sort of on hold right now.