Category Archives: “Mad Men”

“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’?

 

Diverse Television Interests

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When I used to teach preschool, my coworkers encouraged me to

start watching the television show, “American Idol,” in 2002.

I have watched several shows for years, one that just ended

named, “How I Met Your Mother.” I stick with a show, through

‘thick and thin,’ even if they ‘jumped the shark,’ long ago.

Did you know that expression came about due to Fonzy jumping

a shark, on a “Happy Days” episode?

My best Delaware girlfriend and I started our friendship, by

calling each other after the show, “Northern Exposure,” was on.

It had quirky characters and we liked the radio announcer, along

with the different story lines. We were both single, sometimes

without a ‘guy’ in our lives. We have known each other since 1992.

We would talk until one of us admitted we were starting to close

our eyes. This was a comforting way for us to become close friends,

with no subject off limits. Once my children were asleep, I would

sometimes ‘miss’ the ex-husband or boyfriend at the time, and my

friend and I liked the companionship, like a ‘sleepover’ on the

telephone. We lived across town from each other and neither could

visit more than once a week, due to busy lives and schedules.

We now watch two shows on Fridays, during our lunches together,

at her house. She DVR’s “Elementary” and “Dallas.” We both agreed

upon these two shows. We weekly watch other shows, in our own homes,

separately. She and I discuss the character development and the way

the plots are going.

Since she and her husband like, “The Americans,” “Person of Interest,”

“Bones,” and “Rizzoli and Isles,” she watches them with him while I sit

at home, watching them on my own. It keeps us connected, when our lives

may appear to be ‘mundane,’ the shows are always active and engrossing!

My way of enjoying my independent freedom is to engage in ‘channel surfing,’

choosing my favorite to watch and my second favorite at the same time,

to watch while there are commercials.

I also would like to recommend some of my favorite comedies:

I still watch The Middle, Brooklyn 9-1-1, New Girl, The Mindy Project,

Neighbors, Meet the Millers and The Crazy Ones. I like all of these

for different reasons, but mainly they all have zany plots, several

different kinds of characters and make me laugh out loud!

They all remind me of some of my old favorite comedies, like “Cheers,”

“Barney Miller,” “Frasier,” “Seinfeld,” and “WKRP in Cincinnati.”

I have taken to watching some serious shows on Sundays, which include

PBS British shows, “Call the Midwife,” “Mr. Selfridge,” (with the man

from “Entourage,” Jeremy Pivens acting in the lead character’s role),

and when “Downton Abbey” is on, then I watch that one. The wardrobes

and the way the beautiful old style department store, in the show,

“Mr. Selfridge,” captures my interest and fantasies. I like the

“Holmes” show with a modern twist, too. I have also been watching,

the Revolutionary War show, “Turn.” It is very good, try it! I also,

due to being a real fan of Alfred Hitchcock, I watch the ‘prequel’

of “Psycho,” called, “Bates Motel.” In that same gruesome vein, I

watch, “Fargo,” with the excellent Billy Bob Thornton, and a great

supporting cast, too.

To ‘dish’ on American Idol, I will share that I voted this week, for

Alex, Caleb, Jessica and C.J. I am going to post about ‘slurred’

words, and how I am starting to dislike Gena, due to her different

way she approaches words. She did an excellent job of singing the

rock and roll anthem, “Barracuda” but would like her to enunciate

the words. This is just a ‘pet peeve’ of mine.

What shows are you watching?

What are your secret ‘guilty pleasure’ shows? Come on and share,

since I have admitted I still watch “Dallas,” and awhile back,

I mentioned on one of those Award nomination posts, that I like

“Revenge.” I am not shallow, hence my very intelligent shows on

Sundays.

“Designer with a Camera”

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I could not resist going to the library, after reading that an

innovative and self-taught photographer named Bert Stern

passed away last Tuesday, May 25, 2013. He was born on

October 3, 1929.

How will you know this famous, but not always recognized,

photographer? He started as a mail room clerk at “Look”

magazine, straight out of high school. Bert made his way up

from the mailroom, as the rags to riches story unfolded.

Once he left this position, he moved to “Mayfair” magazine

becoming the art director, and proceeded to fine tune his skills

in photography.

Bert Stern liked to say that he “didn’t know how to read a light

meter.” By the mid-1950’s, Stern became known for his memorable

and strikingly unique angles in advertising, including his advertising

for Smirnoff vodka martini.

Here are a few unusual artistic shots of “The driest of the dry” vodka

martinis. One was with men in dark business suits sitting in sand

dunes, holding martini glasses. Another captured a camel walking

down Fifth Avenue in NYC. An expensive but worthy photo shoot in

Egypt, presents a martini glass in the sand, with the Great Pyramid

of Giza behind it. Matt Schudel, Washington Post reporter, describes

this awesome angle as:

“The tip of the pyramid, suffused in pinkish-gold light, is refracted upside

down in the liquid inside the glass.”

The “creative revolution” in advertising in  the 50’s, depicted in Mad Men

television series, is attributed to Bert Stern. He also is famous for his

portrayal of Marilyn Monroe known as “The Last Sitting,” since it was held

in July, 1962. Marilyn died August 5, 1962 at age 36. These 2,571 images were

published a 1982 book, titled “Marilyn Monroe: The Complete Last Sitting.”

Originally, Vogue had been the one to send Bert to Hollywood to take these

photographs. Bert brought 3 bottles of Dom Perignon and without even her

drinking a sip, she was very easily relaxed. Later, he recounted in an Australian

interview,

” She was much more beautiful and easier to work with than I expected.”

Bert Stern’s other major accomplishment was a landmark jazz documentary

film, “Jazz on a Summer’s Day” filmed at the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival in

Rhode Island.

This film was made before his 30th birthday, including crowd and sailboat

images, along with footage of musicians who could fill the Hall of Fame for

Jazz! Here are just a few names to ‘drop’: Thelonious Monk, Chuck Berry,

Louis Armstrong, Gerry Mulligan and Anita O’Day.

He was later given the opportunity to take portrait photographs of major

movie stars,  such as Marlon Brando, Sophia Loren, Brigitte Bardot, Audrey

Hepburn and 1950’s model, Suzy Parker. In 1962, he made the movie poster

photograph of teen actress Sue Lyon with her heart shaped sunglasses for

“Lolita.”

A 2011 documentary was made by Laumeister, “Bert Stern: Original Mad Man.”

Renowned designer, George Lois, said of Stern’s advertising photography was

“breathtaking because they were ideas.”

In 2011, talking of himself, Stern said, “I don’t consider myself a photographer,

I’m a designer with a camera.”

The death of this outstanding photographer, Bert Stern, captured my heart

reading the tributes to him. Also, seeing and studying some examples of his

fine body of work.

This made me come “out of hiding” from my Mom’s apartment and I threw

aside my “recreation and relaxation” to go to the Westlake Public Library.

I regret to say I did not check out your interesting, both  funny and serious,

posts. Please just accept that I wanted to inform you of a loss of this man with

humble origins who made it to acclaim and fortune, through learning his

trade and gave us so much in return.