Sunday, January 31, 2021
OECA (Ontario Educational Communications Authority), now referred to as TV Ontario, ran adverts in the summer of 1976 announcing their Fall scheduling of a British programme from my childhood, Doctor Who -- which at that point had not yet stopped production, eventually wrapping in 1989; a twenty-six year run.
As a very young child living at RCAF Station Greenwood, Nova Scotia, I saw the first "Dalek" story; its affect on me was profound enough that I never forgot kneeling in front of the Admiral monochrome television set and being: scared!....by the BBC via the CBC. (Those panning eyestalk cameras lining the Dalek city's hallways gave me the creeps.)
Back to OECA.
Starting that September I was there in front of the tube every Saturday evening. That was my introduction to the third doctor, Jon Pertwee, and because of the network's two-year Who run featuring the time and space "dandy", he was, and remains, my favourite of all the actors to play and interpret "the Doctor". (In September of 1978, OECA switched to the Tom Baker Whos.)
Of special note is the classic theme tune composed by Ron Grainer; what must be noted is Dalia Derbyshire's "arrangement", an electronic transcription, really, from the composer's score paper. This theme burns into one's electronics.
While the original Doctor Who's production crews lacked today's wonderful technologies, they somehow managed to tell some terrifically entertaining stories.
Thursday, January 28, 2021
Wednesday, January 27, 2021
It was a matter of time -- four years -- but I finally had my first order of Jollibee. While the portion was small, it tasted mighty fine. I'm not a big eater-outer, but now I know why this company is so successful -- and now here in Toronto, Canada.
Monday, January 25, 2021
Sunday, January 24, 2021
September of 1976 revealed the Gemini Man television series. It was the second stab by NBC at the 'invisible man' concept, as the television season before, they broadcast The Invisible Man -- a series which barely made it to the half season mark.
I was one of those viewers who made a point to tune in week after week to catch the limited-time, in more ways than one, adventures of secret agent Gemini man Sam Casey (played by Ben Murphy). Casey could nip out of the visible light spectrum, but for only 15 minutes in total per day -- or he would perish.
Capping the amount of time the show's protagonist could cloak to invisibility definitely made plotting and jeopardy more interesting, but once the network realized Sam Casey wasn't making television ratings more visible, the series disappeared forever -- after just half a dozen episodes.
But I enjoyed it.
Saturday, January 23, 2021
Friday, January 22, 2021
Wednesday, January 20, 2021
Tuesday, January 19, 2021
The above 4cm-square card came, as I remember it, with a VHS tape I bought years ago of a single episode from the old and very bad television series Lost In Space (CBS). Before online video streaming services like YouTube materialized and provided sample clips, if not whole episodes, one had to sometimes buy old television programs on tape if one could not find a given show on the airwaves -- in my case, this was also just before DVD's came out. My excuse for buying LIS on VHS was I was designing a short film, and the script at times called for an "Irwin Allen Look". Look for: Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1964 - 1968); Lost In Space (1965 - 1968); The Time Tunnel (1966 - 1967); and Land of the Giants (1968 - 1970). Pick your poison, although Voyage is by far the best of the bunch.
With this being Donald J. Trump's last day in office, rumours are swirling about that the displaced U.S. president and his immediate family have volunteered to pilot the Jupiter 2 on a one-way flight to a planet orbiting the star Alpha Centauri. Of course, while the Trumps are frozen in acrylic tubes for the long trip, their frisbee-like ship will be knocked off course by a stowaway, an enemy agent. Who that person will be, we can only guess....
It sounds like a show with low ratings.
Monday, January 18, 2021
"This is a cheap man, a nickel-and-dime man, with a cheapness that goes past the suit and the shirt; a cheapness of mind, a cheapness of taste, a tawdry little shine on the seat of his conscience, and a dark-room squint at a world whose sunlight has never gotten through to him."
Sunday, January 17, 2021
"Look at you. You're a bunch of weirdos!"
So explained Dr Morton Shulman to his crowd of guests as he rocked back and forth in his comfy office chair. In that week's case his invited targets were into fetishes. One mustached guy in particular wore a half-face masquerade mask and expressed himself by answering the show host's questions with a simple question: "In what context?"
"Morty" was not afraid to stick it to his special guests, be they politicians, labour union leaders, or an assortment of the offbeat.
The embedded video clip above is from a show titled: "UFO's and Psychics. Fact or Fraud?"
When it premiered in 1977, I caught The Shulman File on a regular basis. It did not matter to me what any given week's theme was. After all, there was that great theme tune to get one in the mood for some television fireworks.
Then Toronto-based CITY-TV was a great station at one time. In its mix of creative programming sat a controversial presenter. Morton Shulman, politician, physician and coroner, stirred things up, but did so from an intellectual platform -- not sensationalism for the sake of sensationalism, and ratings (as in Bill O'Reilly).
It would be nice to see complete episodes; there are bits and pieces to enjoy on YouTube.
We need a show like The Shulman File today to grill our surfeit of "weirdos".
Saturday, January 16, 2021
Thursday, January 14, 2021
China, Communism, Socialism, China, Chinese, Socialism, Communist, China, China, China.
That, folks, just about sums up editorial content in the newest issue of The Epoch Times, a fresh copy of which showed up in my mailbox yesterday here in The Annex, Toronto. (My guess is they're trying to spread their right-wings.)
I'll put it to good use, even if Wilhelm insists I put a layer of litter between him and that rag.
Editorial: My cat's all about "Truth & Tradition".
Tuesday, January 12, 2021
Surprised? I'm not. The Toronto Sun will not publish anything that goes against their beliefs, and those of their most dedicated readers and believers.
Minutes ago, as part of my morning newspaper rounds, I went to Toronto's stellar rag and found absolutely no press on what's happening in Washington, DC: the push to push-out Donald Trump. This city's dedicated Trump believer in print will be plated on Inauguration Day, January 20th.
Here's a paper that those folks at and for the Sun would have no use for, unless they want to pick-up anything by "sympathetic" columnist J.J. McCullough: The Washington Post
They can give the impression there's credibility at the Rundown Sun: "J.J. McCullough, Washington Post"
Monday, January 11, 2021
Sunday, January 10, 2021
The greatest television series ever made, I say. It's certainly the greatest U.S. program of all TV time, to me. Archie Bunker was the "lovable bigot". Yes, he was misguided much of the time; a simple man who did not read (notice the set dressers provided no book case), which informed his ignorance and his not knowing much of anything. Providing a "Meathead", a son in law who was, in Archie's eyes at least, clearly misguided about most things from sports to social issues (a "pinko, commie, atheist"), allowed the script writers to explore and comment on a quickly changing America. Archie was afraid of change, which was the core idea behind the show: immigrants moving into his neighbourhood; an uneasy job market; general attitudes towards ideas that to Archie were immovable, but being moved before his eyes.
This character dynamic of 'conservative vs liberal' made the series work much better than if it had been a living room echo chamber.
It was a sitcom, but a very funny one.
A few years ago I reminisced about the series with a black friend of mine. We laughed. After we settled down, he said: "I'd have a beer with Archie."
Perhaps that's a mark of All in the Family's true brilliance.
An episode very early in the show's run had Archie say this, with passion and a finger wag: "You liberals are always trying to bring down dis here country."
That was from 1971.
Friday, January 8, 2021
Thursday, January 7, 2021
Wednesday, January 6, 2021
Monday, January 4, 2021
Sunday, January 3, 2021
What? You wanted to get into film but did not live in Ontario, Canada, or border States that received the magic television signal? You poor, wretched soul. TV Ontario's Saturday Night at the Movies was a film school for those of us lucky enough to have watched it on a regular basis.
Elwy Yost was a Film Professor of the Air. His course? "History of Film" among other classes. The genial host interviewed not just stars, but character actors, cameramen, art directors, editors, writers, directors....you get the idea.
SNATM premiered on then OECA (Ontario Educational Communications Authority) in 1974 and I was there. My dad had pretty eclectic tastes in movies, so much of what was programmed suited him, too. (Pity the poor, wretched "I wanna be a director" soul who limits himself or herself to a certain school.)
Through the video course I was introduced to director Fritz Lang's 1933 supernatural thriller The Testament of Dr. Mabuse, which ended up one of my favourite films. Thank you, Mr Yost!
In addition to the classic and semi-classic "old" films, in the earlier days of SNATM there were the Republic serials, which was, again, my introduction to the form.
In "tonight's episode", illustrated above, Elwy introduces a night of "flying". Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines was the big show that evening. (I first saw the flick at CFB Baden-Soellingen's movie theatre and I loved it.)
We miss Elwy, don't we?
And there's TVO's Magic Shadows....
Saturday, January 2, 2021
Toronto-based independent film journalist/scholar Greg Woods has again fired up his blog, ESR Film Journal. I have several copies of the now defunct print version and can assure the reassure the reader that one will not get the usual mainstream Hollywood pap available just about everywhere.
For instance, in Issue Number Three (Fall 2001) of The Eclectic Screening Room:
* Blood from The Mummy's Tomb
* The Films of Chantal Ackerman
* Jonas Mekas
* High School Confidential
* Early Kubrick
* Skip Tracer