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Category Archives: Cathode Rays

57 Channels and Something On

Here’s a something about the TV we’ve been watching lately. It didn’t dawn on me until now just how gay these shows are. We’re talking wrapped in a rainbow flag, tottering around in pink platform heels GAY. My viewing habits aren’t really that gay. I watch a lot of PBS, too — and not just In the Life. Anyway, here goes:

  • Kathy Griffin: Strong Black Woman (Bravo) Premiering last night, Griffin’s latest stand-up special premiered is being repeated often this week. Hilarious as usual, even though she tells a dog story that goes on too long and there’s not enough of her trademark no-holds-barred celebrity dish during this go ’round. C’mon, you just know she could fill a few hours alone on that bitch Star Jones.
  • Will & Grace (new episodes on NBC and repeats on Lifetime Television for Womenâ„¢) Full disclosure: I never got into W&G until the last year or so. It always seemed too unbelievably stupid to me, a bunch of gay people prancing around and talking about their own gayness. But then I impulsively TiVo-ed the episodes with hunky guest star Bobby Cannavale and started realizing how good the scripts are. Now we’re doing double duty, cramming on two repeats a night while viewing the new shows every Thursday. I have to admit that the show really did hit a serious slump in 2002-04 from which it never fully recovered. The new episodes remind me of the later years of Friends in that it’s morphed into more of a soap opera with laughs than a true sitcom. Will that keep me from catching the series finale on the 18th? No way.
  • How It’s Made (Discovery) and Back to the Blueprint (The History Channel) Two great programs that delve into how things are made and built. How It’s Made is a solid French Canadian import that demonstrates just what the title says on various common household items, with unobtrusive narration and a no-frills style. I love seeing the multitude of steps that go into the manufacturing process, and those automated robot arms are always fascinating to watch. Blueprint follows host Marty Dunham as he renovates and shares neat background info on various historic home and building styles. The combo of history and how-to might be more appropriate for the HGTV channel, which is probably why the History Channel slots the show into an unforgivably bad Saturday morning time slot. New episodes have popped up in the last few weeks — catch ’em while you can.
  • Bette Davis Month (Turner Classic Movies) Bette Davis is probably my favorite actress, and TCM is giving me plenty of opportunity to savor her more obscure films. Bette’s tasty Pre-Code era has already been broadcast, but there’s plenty left later this month. I highly recommend the enjoyable new documentary on her life and career — Stardust: The Bette Davis Story — which will be repeated on May 18th and 25th. The doc deals in familiar territory, but before this I never realized the full extent of hatred daughter B.D. Hyman had for her famous mom. What a sour-faced, unpleasant woman.

Logos, Logos, Logos

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88 retro logos on YouTube. Remember these from the ends of certain TV shows? They’re all here: Screen Gems S From Hell, Lorimar Line Of Doom, and the notorious Paramount ID with “Closet Killer” music. The latter would pop up after being lulled into submission with a Brady Bunch episode, and then it was all AAAAAAAHH!!!! SCARY PARAMOUNT!!!! Gee, thanks for traumatizing me.

Smile and a Ribbon

Keen! Check out this unique animated commercial for the British Lottery which uses Patience & Prudence’s 1950s hit “A Smile and a Ribbon” to excellent effect. (via the Sound Scavengers list)

Humans Are Funny Animals

This news could be good or bad: CBS is ordering an American version of the animated Brit import Creature Comforts to air midway through the 2006-07 season. ‘Round here we are still enjoying the UK Season One DVD, hoping that Season Two will get an American release. Don’t let us down, Sony!

Late to the Party

What to say on the Oscars, this late? Jon Stewart did a good job hosting, and I wasn’t too bummed that Crash won Best Picture. It was a fantastic movie, beautifully directed and acted despite its somewhat heavy-handed script. Other things to mention:

  • If they have to present all those interminable montages (although Stewart’s reaction was priceless), why can’t they use better quality film clips? They’re always all blurry and muddy looking.
  • Enough already with the “seeing films in a theatre is so much better” propaganda. Yeah, paying through the nose, sitting through too many commercials, and putting up with gabbing teenagers and cellphones is that much better than staying home with a DVD.
  • Fashion-wise it was an okay year with no real surprises. Even Charlize Theron’s much maligned huge bow looked classy to me. I’m glad the women are trending away from the tan/beige/gold look. The best gown belonged to Ziyi Zhang, followed by Michelle Williams’ macaroni and cheese-colored dress (at least it was different).
  • Loved that Wallace and Gromit won. Terrific movie. Also loved Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin together (they should do a stage act called Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin Together!). And George Clooney delivered a heartfelt speech that thankfully wasn’t the usual laundry list of names.
  • Animated short winner John Canemaker thanking his life partner in his speech was another highlight for me. That happens often at the Tonys, not so much at the Oscars.
  • Blowsy blonde lady who looks like a heavyset Priscilla Presley was in the audience again, seen briefly a couple of times. Who is that lady? She must be the wife of some Academy higher-up or something. Every time we see her, we’re like “Look, it’s not-Priscilla-Presley!”

We’re Soaking In It

After a couple of weeks of patient waiting, my review of Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room has been posted at Mindjack Film. Interesting movie. I hope it bucks the odds and wins the Oscar, even if that scenario might result in a mob of angry penguins.

Speaking of home entertainment options, Christopher and myself had a buying binge at Best Buy over the weekend. Some of the results of that binge are listed in the “Recommended” section on the front page (down on the right side). I got the Simpsons Complete Season 7 set. This is likely the final Simpsons season set I’ll buy. The show slid into an amusing but undemanding formula right around this period. I’d even say that Bart Sells His Soul was the last truly brilliant episode they did, with Moe’s Family Feedbag storyline (“Daddy, this place smells like tinkle”) counting among the series’ best subplots ever. We also bought Creature Comforts, containing all 13 episode of the Aardman-produced programme on one disc (at 15 minutes apiece, they don’t take up too much room) and some great extras. Funny stuff, and in anamorphic widescreen to boot!