Category Archives: Angela Lansbury

“Lassie” and Television’s Progress

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On Friday, September 12, 2014, 60 years of television had passed by, since “Lassie’s”

first debut episode. The show was simple, meaningful and encompassed all areas of

rural living, (1954 – 1973). When they list the ‘longest lasting television series,’ they

place this show close to top of the list.

 

The years I remember the show, “Lassie,” best had June Lockhart as portraying my

favorite mother of all time. The father was genuinely well-acted by Hugh Reilly and

my favorite little boy, “Timmy,” was played by Jon Provost.

 

Although the leading “human” roles changed over the years, there was always the

faithful dog, “Lassie.” (Many dogs played this role, of course, through the years.) I

enjoyed the various transitions of “Lassie,” having family values and including life

lessons.

 

Fast forward to September and October, 2014 for the New Fall, 2014 television

season.

It would be nearly impossible to picture most of the newest additions to our current

television programming to last ten years, let alone 19 years.

 

The “CSI” and “NCIS” shows are still going strong and on this Fall’s t.v. line-up.

I am going to miss having the original show, “CSI,” with its location of Las Vegas,

when it moves to its new Sunday evening slot. Sunday is my favorite ‘catch up’ night,

with PBS, Hallmark and I still am a big fan of “Once Upon A Time” and “Revenge.”

The new Fall line up is already getting over-crowded on my own Sunday night.

 

I was talking to a good friend who thinks some of the shows sound “silly” and was

pointing out a Columbus Dispatch critic thought Debra Messing would be hard to

imagine being a cop, in the new show called, “”Mysteries of Laura.”

Since I would first respond, I love the silly show, “Mike and Molly.” I may be quite

blasphemous to say that “Mike” would NEVER make it on a real police force, due

to his large size…

Criticism from someone who loves all kinds of wild SyFy shows like, “Haven” and

“Eureka,”  and on regular network t.v., “Under the Dome,” should be wondering

about their own ways they stretch their imagination! I am laughing with you; not

at you, my friend!

 

Can you suspend your sense of disbelief and let your imagination go?

I remember the funny ways we learned, as children to open our ‘escape hatches’

and step into the Lands of Wonderment.

 

I shall try all the shows with female-driven plot lines. They have had ‘good fortune’

in the past. Imagine “The Good Wife” not being on,  not receiving another round of

Emmy Award nominations. I think it is nice to see women in professional situations,

not wearing an ‘apron’ and carrying out the character of a ‘housewife and mother.’

This is not to say that I don’t enjoy programs that have women who have chosen to

stay at home to do

this very important job and having this be part of the plot line, too. Choices are what

makes this a different world from the Fifties and Sixties’ television programming.

 

“We’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!”

I like the characters in this sweet little show about a single mother with a son, you may

recognize him from big screen movies, I “About a Boy.” I am sadly not pleased with

where they tucked this show into a 9:30 time slot. It is ‘not cute’ but original and quirky.

We, if you are a viewer, are ‘rooting’ for the handsome neighbor man to become the single

mother’s date. Although it is about a boy, it is definitely about the mother, too. Having

raised 3 children on my own, I am particularly happy to watch this one. I also like the

upcoming role of Katherine Heigl getting another chance on television in “State of

Affairs.” While Katherine Heigl left “Grey’s Anatomy,” definitely getting better comedic

roles in movies, she is still sorely missed as the character of “Izzy,” on that show. I am

looking forward to seeing her as a CIA agent. She was funny in “One for the Money,” a

movie based on the hilarious antics of a bondswoman in more than 20 books by Janet

Evanovich.

 

If you liked Tea Leoni’s funny past roles you may have seen her show her acting chops

in serious dramas, too. We will see which direction she heads in, “Madame Secretary.”

She was one of the wackiest women on television for 2 years in a show called, “The Naked

Truth.”

 

I have read a decent review of “Red Band Society.” It is not a “Breakfast Club,” nor

is it one that will be all laughs, but will tackle diseases and illnesses with a touch of

humor and give it an uplifting spin. It is a group of young people who are ones who

have hospital experiences, who are dealing with personal challenges. I picture it more

like the movie, “Stand By Me,” in its tone and togetherness. It is about a ‘band

of young misfits.’

 

Critics are harsh when it comes to some and not so much with others. I remember

when I discovered, “How I Met Your Mother.” It was before the critics endorsed it,

awhile back. I am sad how they chose to end it, with the death of the mother but

happy the main gal, Robin, got her ‘man.’

 

The serious shows genre are tougher to predict. I would imagine Scott Backula will

knock the New Orleans’ version of “NCIS” out of the park. I happen to have liked his

‘goofy’ portrayal of character in “Quantum Leap.” I am not sure about, “Stalkers,” but

will support Dylan McDermott, since he is still okay after all these years since his role

as a non-supportive ‘husband’ for Julia Robert’s dying ‘wife’ role in “Steel Magnolias.”

 

Another serious plot line can be found in “Gracepoint.” (Not to be confused with the

CIA/FBI show about the safe house, “Graceland.”) David Tennant, from the British

show, “Broadchurch,”and Anna Gunn are two strong actors that will head up the

already critically-acclaimed and well-promoted television show. This show is set in a

fictional California coastal community.

 

I think that the “Forever” show that is listed on two consecutive days, for its kick-off

first two episodes sounds good.  Sadly, I lost “Journeyman” and also another traveling

through  time show just in the past two years. I will hope this one ‘sticks’ because I like

the concept. I used to enjoy “Time Tunnel” on television and “Back to the Future,” on

the movie screen.

 

I have been a fan of Josh Dushamel ever since the show, “Vegas.” I have enjoyed his

forte into romantic comedies, too. The actor, Dushamel will be on a new show called,

“Battle Creek,” This will be loosely based on likely crimes to be found in Battle Creek,

Michigan. His co-star/partner will be that of Dean Winters. You will recognize him,

but not necessarily ‘place’ him. I will check this one out simply because I love crime-

solving television series.

 

I will return to comedies. This is what a good friend in Lancaster, Ohio mentioned

when we turned 50: “Try to laugh more, watch comedies!”

I came up with a slogan, which I will hope no one else has coined:

“Humor is found in the ‘ear’ of the listener.”

(“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”)

So, if you liked “My Favorite Martian” did you ever try 2 seasons of “Neighbors?”

I think not, since it did not make it. This was clever, witty writing with four likable

adults, along with poking fun at Suburbia. I will miss this, unless it is on a later

schedule, it did not make the ‘cut.’

 

If you liked “Scrubs,” you probably followed the guy who was the janitor on over

into “The Middle,” who became the ever patient, sometimes ‘clueless’ Dad in this

sit-com. This also includes Patricia Heaton, who played the Mom/wife roles in

“Everyone Loves Raymond.”

 

If you liked “Taxi,” “Barney Miller” and “Psych,” you may have discovered last year’s

Emmy-awarding comedy, “Brooklyn 9-9.” Hilarious, quirky and goofy at times, but

watch out, you may laugh out loud anyway.

 

I am wishing that Nielson’s Rating chart were in my mailbox, because I had such a

lovely time about eight years ago, studying and analyzing the television Fall Season

Line-ups back then. The first time I had the full control of a remote control.  I wrote

some comprehensive and profuse notes for those receiving my multiple page Nielson

Ratings Report. I  am not a paid writer nor do I write for a newspaper. I was able to

honestly say this, it was all for the love of television and the future of programming

that I was inspired to carry out my ‘duties’ in this report.

 

My final thoughts on the Progress television has made since “Lassie” was on.

You are invited to ‘debate’ these comments, too. I love a good and lively discussion!

 

I personally feel current shows embrace more ethnicities, culture and show characters

with wider world views in our programming. They encompasses much more ‘diversity’

on television since my childhood days. This means the people who are represented

are not stereotyped as much, anymore.

 

I like that there are two children with special needs included in some popular shows.

I recommend, “Parenthood,” and if you have never seen this, start by watching the

first shows. It is cool to watch this fine young actor, “grow up” with two caring

‘parents’ who disagree about how to handle him, along with a supportive ‘family.’

I am not sure how they would ‘label’ the character, “Brick,” in the show “The Middle,”

but the family accepts him just as he is.

I feel the shows today give better examples of the way families really act, showing

varied relationships, how to handle or not able handle serious and controversial

subjects such as addictions, challenges and sexual orientations.

 

We have heroes and villains. The same as in the past, sometimes more graphically

(and honestly presented.)

 

World conflicts and images are horrifying.  We cannot ignore what is going on, bury

our head in the sand. Powerful, and yet maddening, events are daily depicted (some

consider, ‘bombarded’) on our television sets.

We are urged to ‘act’ and ‘choose’ which side of the dilemmas we will take, as a nation

and other countries must, too.

Along with this serious, somewhat negative impact of television’s immediacy to

situations, we have positives.

We have the opportunity to watch the Olympics, sporting events and international

specials, shown across the world. My coworkers and friends from the Philippines

were captivated by Pope Francis being chosen to be the Roman Catholic Pope.

Other friends were entranced by the wedding of Prince Charles to Diana. Then,

many followed the tragic ending to Lady Diana’s life. They were hopeful for the

more recent wedding of Prince William to Kate Middleton. The baby’s birth and

now, the next one on its way, are subjects that many feel are happy bits of news.

 

History, social studies, geography and science are subjects of programs, for

everyone to  learn about, grow to enjoy and get more educated. There are so

many fascinating shows to watch. Nature, musical and art works may never be viewed

or listened to, first hand. Other countries and animals, places that may not be within

everyone’s budget or ability to travel.

 

Some people are not necessarily able to buy or read the newspaper. They find out

information about the world they live in, from the television news shows.

Hurray For National Geographic, Travel Channel, PBS, Weather Channel and

other quality network programming!

 

We have real and make-believe images still, with our magic carpet rides taking off,

from our own homes.

 

There are subjects and shows I may never care to watch. I embrace and support

those who like QVC shopping, cooking shows, reality shows and true dramas,

because they are part of the wide community of television watchers.

 

Many of the shows I choose to watch, you may not want to watch. I got hooked on a

soap opera, during our second break at work. For the past six years, I am ‘guilty’ of

watching, “The Bold and the Beautiful.”

All the years I stayed home and babysat, I did not watch any soap operas. I did in

college, much to the chagrin of my parents, when I mentioned I was scheduling my

courses around a couple of soap operas!

 

I was listening, the first year of American Idol, to all the animated conversations in

the teachers’ break room. They were talking about the ‘bad’ try-outs and the odd

characters. It was in the very beginning of the national search for those who would

make it to “Hollywood.” This caught my attention and I am so glad that I started

watching it.  I can say, “I remember when I first heard Carrie Underwood’s fantastic

voice, was medium built and had frizzy hair!” Along with several well-known singers

who made it to the Top Ten or higher.

 

I am grateful that I don’t have to sit on a sofa and listen to radio to imagine the

great radio characters of the “Green Hornet,” “Gracie Allen and George Burns,”

or how the President of the United States looks like as he is speaking. I enjoy

hearing my Mom’s excitement when she heard about Amelia Earhart’s trans-

Atlantic plane trip and her memories of the “Fireside Chats,” with President

Roosevelt, though.

 

I liked how we  used to watch to find out if we had school on Snow Days. Later,

if our children or grandchildren have school cancelled. I enjoy watching to see

how ‘my’ candidates or ‘my’ issues are doing, as the voting polls report in their

results.

 

I am saddened that there are blind people who cannot see, but grateful for the

inventions of special devices and increased equipment due to new technology

allowing them ‘to see’ the shows. The descriptions of the setting, characters and

other visual ‘clues’ are given. I have read about these and think the inventors are

brilliant for creating and providing this service. There are new creations in hearing-

impaired equipment, too.

 

Many people cannot afford to go to the movies or take a vacation with their families.

They may not go to Broadway but on PBS, they can see a Broadway play or musical.

They get their main form of entertainment from television.

 

There are others, lying on their back sometimes, healing from surgery or permanent

disabilities. My Dad liked to watch the comedies, while getting his chemo treatments.

Laughing made him feel so much better on those days he was nauseous.

 

The elderly in the nursing home I worked at for 4 1/2 years, liked to watch the shows

on TV Land, old reruns of “Lawrence Welk” and  “Bonanza,” along with their church

programming on Sunday mornings. The beauty of fireworks in our country and

celebrations around the world, brought big smiles to their faces. They enjoyed, as

I still do, the lovely creations in the Tournament of Roses Parade.

 

We get a sense of conscience from our ‘small screens.’  The night I watched, “Stand

Up 2 Cancer” impacted me, along with millions of other people watching. It moved

us to donate to some form of Cancer (Society) fund-raising, including Hospice Care,

research and local hospitals.

 

Remember “One Small Step for Mankind?” We now look forward to continued

space travel, inventions and research. When we hear of satellites making it to

Mars or other planets this gives us information that we may use in the future.

 

A quote about freedom from H.L. Mencken, American author and journalist

(1880-1956):

“We must be willing to pay a price for freedom,

for no price that is ever  asked for it,

is half the cost of doing without it.”

 

My soap box, put away for now. . .

 

 

 

What do you watch?

Have you heard about any new t.v. show compelling you

to ‘set your DVR’?

 

The Main Event: The 86th Academy Awards Ceremony

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The 86th Oscar presentations began with the humor and

grace shown by host, Ellen DeGeneres. She has been a

host for the Oscars before and made a point that it had

been ‘awhile’ since she had been there.

In actuality, Ellen had been the host seven years ago.

She also made a joke about being the “most important

person,” because the show needs someone to name who the

next honoree will be. I liked that Ellen also reminded

the ones who have won or been nominated multiple times,

like Meryl Streep for 18 times. The way she plays off

this, making Meryl feel honored plus kidded at, shows

her comedic skills. Adding that being nominated and

having to buy expensive fancy dresses meant Meryl

‘could not afford any more nominations!’

Then she told Amy Adams that she was “selfish” for

her multiple nominations.

Most of the time, Ellen was humorous, making

playful jabs. Not sure how the one joke will be

received when she did say, that by not letting

certain movies “win” would prove the ones who

voted were “racists.” This is in reference to

“Mandela,” “12 Years a Slave,” and “The Butler.”

You probably have heard of the ‘selfie’ she took

with almost all the big names in the front rows

included, that it shut down Twitter by ‘going

viral!’

Another humorous part of Ellen’s playing the

host was she “ordered pizzas” for the front rows

and had the pizza delivery man help her serve

people. Ellen made sure to give the pregnant

women in the audience a piece of pizza. She later

got a hold of a hat that resembled Pharrell

Williams’ hat, (at the Grammy’s it looked like the

Smokey the Bear hat) and was passing it around to

collect money to pay for the pizzas. Plus, Ellen

was specifically calling on famous people for a tip

for the delivery man.

She also emphasized,

“Meryl, you gave enough!”

Jonah Hill must show some nudity in his movie

with Leonardo DiCaprio, “Wolf on Wall Street,”

since there were a couple of jokes about his

body. Ellen said, in an intentionally innuendoed

way, “I saw something of yours, I have not seen

for a very, very long time!”

Then, later after a commercial break, standing

looking down at Jonah, in his seat, she said,

“No, I don’t want to see it.”

Jonah replied, “What’s the big deal?”

Jared Leto was the first actor who was chosen for

Best Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture. This was

for his role in “Dallas Buyers Club.” Jared gave a

great, planned speech. It included an homage to the

other actors in this category, saying ‘thanks to

his fellow nominees’ for their terrific performances.

Then he said, “Thank you to my Mom and my brother.”

Thirdly, he said, “To all the dreamers out there,

those not in the Ukraine and Venezuela,…”

emphasizing recent current events, turmoils and

struggles, he wished others to keep on dreaming of

possibilities.

Jared did a final tribute in his speech to those victims

of AIDS who have passed on, those that are still in other

countries, needing medicine (for HIV positive), too.

Jim Carrey, as a presenter, said it ‘must be tough to

be nominated.’ He said, “I wouldn’t know how it feels

to be nominated.” (There was one serious movie that I

felt he deserved to be nominated for in “The Majestic.”

He did a meaningful and understated acting job in this

which showed his talent. I like his comedies but they

don’t always get nominated…)

Jim also did a joke about Bruce Dern’s facial appearance

and the way his character said things, in the movie,

“Nebraska.” He also said something I didn’t quite get

about LSD, “No I meant animation like penguins, beloved

movie heroes…” This led into a great series of animated

cartoon movies, including more than these:

“Brave,” “Snow White,” “Dumbo,” “Finding Nemo,” “Kung Fu

Panda.” I enjoyed this flashing back to humorous films

that children and adults alike enjoy.

Of course, Ellen plays “Dory,” in the “Finding Nemo”

movie, so she pointed out,

“Did you see I made sure they had more of ‘Finding

Nemo’ in the clips?”

Pharrell Williams came out and sang, with a lively

entourage of varied ages the song, “Happy.” This

was nominated for the “Best Song” category for the

movie, “Despicable Me 2” (which my grandsons loved!)

You may want to remember this man’s name, since he

has already been to the Golden Globes, Grammy’s,

and the “Fifty Years of the Beatles” tribute show,

singing with Stevie Wonder and the like. This young

man has captured the little M & M granddaughters’

hearts and interest with this “Happy” song. It is

very pleasant, if you have not heard it, put it

on Youtube, close your eyes, and picture that he

sounds familiar, like Frank Sinatra or another

‘crooner.’

I was happy to see that the early 2014 movie,

“The Great Gatsby,” got both “Best Costume”

and “Best Set Design.” That was one movie I think

I reviewed, after I saw it with my youngest

daughter, Felicia.

Even though the critics ‘panned’ the movie,

“The Lone Ranger,” I liked it. I was sorry it did

not get the “Best Makeup Award” or something like

this, although it did get nominated for this award.

Dallas Buyers Club won, for making those thin,

anorexic AID’s male actors believable, along with

Jared’s pitiful makeup job to look like a woman.

Harrison Ford, upon arrival, his entrance being

heralded with the great John Williams “Indiana

Jones” theme song music, got cheers from the

audience. He incorporated a quote from Marlon

Brando about a ‘lot of hustle.’ He was there

presenting about the movie, “American Hustle.”

Matthew McConaughey with Kim Novak came out,

both looking very comfortable together. Kim

still has a husky and sexy voice, was from

many movies, including Alfred Hitchcock’s

“Vertigo.” I remember her in a sexy romp

comedy role in, “The Apartment,” with Tony

Randall. She wore a black silky pant suit,

with vividly bright blue lapels on it. She

has one of those ‘frozen’ faces, that sadly

due to her age, she has allowed too much

plastic surgery and is nearly unrecognizable.

She is 81 years old and I cannot fault her

on this. If anyone wants to see an equally

sad and ‘bad’ job of cosmetic surgery, check

out Mary Tyler Moore. She would have looked

great, has she gone the way of Betty White,

her fellow comedian on her show. Allowing

herself to age gracefully and not trying to

hang on to her youth.

Matthew and Kim were there to present the

awards for the short animated films and the

longer full-length animated films. Kim told

the audience she was excited to be there after

so many years had passed and to be there on

stage with Matthew McConaughey was a special

treat, too. I took her to be nervous and felt

bad for some of the comments I heard at work

and on one of the morning shows while I had

my first work break. I was very happy that the

movie, “Frozen,” won best animated movie. I

know my grandsons’ recommended “Despicable

Me 2” but they haven’t seen “Frozen” yet.

I have a good friend at work, Tammy who has

gone with Mike twice to the winning movie.

The Best Actor award went to Matthew McConaughey

and he gave a fantastic speech, giving the three

directions that we all need to go: Look up to

God and Family, Look Forward to other roles and

Chase after something… He said he is planning

on chasing to a ‘better self.’ In the part about

family, I liked that he included personal details

about his Mom demanding that they respect others

and themselves (first) and his Dad loving gumbo,

lemon meringue pie and a cold beer. When he was

finished with his acceptance speech, he said his

enthusiastic, “All right” three times, he is

known for this in his Southern drawled voice.

The Best Actress went to Cate Blanchett who

said that females still have a ‘niche’ and

they still can ‘sell movies,’ and buy tickets

to go to movies. She was happy with her role

in “Blue Jasmine,” a Woody Allen movie.

Lupita Nyong’O won the Best Supporting Actress

in “12 Years a Slave.” She had a long speech

prepared, although she started with some fun

smiles, surprised looks and very excited

responses. She said Thank you for the incredible

award, saluted the spirit of her character,

(based on a real person) named, Patsy. She said

the past few months it has haunted her, realizing

that her joy in being recognized as an actress

is due to a person who suffered much anguish

as a slave. She reminded “every child, your dreams

are valid.” I liked that word, “valid.” We hear

people say, “Your dreams can come true,” so often

it gets ‘old.’

The Academy’s President came out and spoke. She

is the First Black Woman to be given this honor.

It was about preserving the past,

honoring the present

and shaping the future.

Sally Fields looked fabulous, in a short

sleeved black dress, the bodice having black

sheer fabric with hand-sewn sequins look. She

introduced, “Movies with Real Heroes.”

There was a montage of film clips that included

“Ben Hur” (Charleton Heston), “Milk” (Sean Penn),

“Jackie Robinson,” “Erin Brockovich” (Julia Roberts),

“Ali” (Will Smith), “Braveheart” (Mel Gibson), “All

the President’s Men” (Robert Redford and Dustin

Hoffman), “They Call Me MISTER Tibbs,” (Sidney Poitier)

and the movie that Sally Fields held up the infamous

sign, that said, “Union:” “Norma Rae.” I also suggest

anyone who likes Sally Fields to see the movie,

“Abraham Lincoln.” She does a very good job in her

role as Mary Todd Lincoln.

The Special Effects montage included “Iron Man 3,”

“The Hobbit,” “The Lone Ranger,” “Star Trek into

Darkness,” and “Gravity.”

A simple song that is very sweetly sung, although it

did not win, listen to “The Moon Song,” from the

movie with Joaquin Phoenix, “Her.” (I don’t recommend

the movie, though!)

A Special Honorary Oscar went to Angela Lansbury,

who amazingly at age 88 is going to be in a theater

production play on the London stage. She was unable

to come to accept this award. They definitely said

she has quite a wide range throughout her lifetime

in film and theater. She also, amusingly enough,

sings well, in one of my children’s favorite movies,

“Bedknobs and Broomsticks.”

There was a standing ovation for Darlene Love who is

in a documentary with other famous/close to famous

back-up singers. She belted out a song about a

sparrow that was rich, spiritual and religious. She

came up to accept the award for the 20 or more singers

featured in, “20 Feet From Stardom.” I would like to

see this movie! Bradley Cooper was her co-presenter.

Although I enjoyed “Ordinary Love,” along with Mandela’s

quotations flashing behind Bono with U2, I think that

the funniest line all night was when the song from

“Frozen” won! The married couple who wrote the song

said that they worked well as a team and we…

“Beat literally rock stars for this Award!”

Pink sang the song, “Somewhere Over the Rainbow,”

gently, not overdoing it, with spine tingling tone,

as a tribute to Judy Garland. Her children, including

Liza Minelli were present, asked to stand up and take

a bow. There was a montage of clips from the movie,

with both the black and white copies and the colorized

ones.

Whoopie Goldberg introduced it, showing us under her

black gown, she was wearing black and white striped

hose with red shiny shoes.

Ellen arrived at the end of the presentation, hurrying

on, once the stage was empty and all were gone, in

her huge fluffy pink Glinda the Good Witch costume!

Ellen only wore tuxes and once had a long white silk

scarf, another time a black tie. There were no big

wardrobe changes and this was her only grand finale

one!

Bette Midler had me crying a few tears, since she

sang after all the ones who had been in the film

industry and died in 2013, the eerily haunting

song, with her still radiant and strong voice,

“The Wind Beneath My Wings.” I love that line

in the song, “Did you ever know you were my

hero?”

This was not the end of the show but it

fits the end of my summary of the Oscars!

Tomorrow, I will post about the wild and

unique commercials shown during the Academy

Awards. It will be called, “Intermissions.”