Posted tagged ‘retro tv’

What Retro TV has Taught Me

April 29, 2010

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Bus drivers were paid shit.
Look at that dump Ralph Kramden lived in.    That musta been in pre-union days.

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People didnt’ know how to relax back then.
Dads wore their suits and ties after work, all through dinner until bed time.    Sheesh..unbutton your collar, at least.

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If women played their cards right, they didn’t have to do jack-squat.
Look at Carol Brady.   WTF did she DO?   Her kids were mostly grown up.   She didn’t have a job.  She didn’t volunteer.   And she had a housekeeper who did all the cooking and cleaning, for Chrissakes!

Boy, she sure won the lottery, marrying Mike Brady.  Either that, or she was really good in bed.

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The 1970’s were a BAD decade.
Bad hair.  Bad music.   Bad clothes.  Bad furniture.  Bad politics.   And really BAD sitcoms.

I just pray to God that perms don’t come back.  That’ all I ask.

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Dads used to be smart.
Ward Cleaver.   Mike Brady.   Ozzie Nelson.  Father Knows Best.    Respected authority figures, adored by the whole family.

Unlike today’s fat, bumbling idiots, where “Daddy” is on the bottom of the family pecking order.  Right after the dog and the living room drapes.

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We guys missed out on a good thing.
Unlike the Carol Bradys, many TV-housewives back then cooked 5 course meals, did all chores, and never asked hubby to help out around the house.  All while keeping fit and trim and looking great.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to have a wife like that.   Maybe it wouldn’t be all that great.   But part of me thinks it would be awesome.

But in today’s liberated society, I’ll never get to find out, will I?

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The Superfriends weren’t too bright, they always had to explain things to themselves.
I swear, every 5th sentence on that show was someone who said they’ve “got to” do something.

“I’ve got to stop Lex Luthor before the village explodes”.   “We’ve got to find a way out of this cave”.  “Batman, you’ve got to keep your hands off Robin…”

I suppose the narration helps you follow the story…If you’re a moron, that is.

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People back then would have a stroke if they heard today’s music.
In early 60’s shows (like the Beverly Hillbillies or the Munsters) there would often be episodes where Hippies would show up.  They’d say “Groovy Man” and dance to cheesy Rock’n Roll Music.  And the older crowd would be utterly SHOCKED, while the canned laughted yokked it up.

I can just imagine what these same folks would say, if they  heard contemporary Gangsta Hip-Hop screaming about ho’s.  Or saw a Death-Metal Rock concert with staged human sacrifices and crucifixions.

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It’s not safe to go South of the Mason-Dixon Line.
Because I have images of a corrupt stupid sheriff stopping me for speeding, smashing my tail-light, and saying that will get me 30 days on the “county farm”, resulting in  car chase(s) and me ending up in jail with a backwoods Southuhn Lawyer to defend me.

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High School Students were all 25 and over.
Look at the actors in Welcome Back Cotter or Happy Days.    Hell, their kids would have been old enough to be in High School.

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We were much stupider back then.
I don’t understand how those old shows were funny.  Good Times, One Day at a Time, Alice, Happy Days (after Ron Howard left).  Nostalgia aside…if you watch those show now…Gawd, they’re so LAME.

Is THIS what people found genuinely funny?  Were people THAT stupid?

And I don’t buy the excuse that it was a simpler time back then, and people had different values.

Because comedy from the 30’s (like the Marx Brothers) still stands the test of time today.   Unlike the Retro TV crap that makes you want to gouge your eyes out.

I dunno..maybe people WERE that stupid.

Great Moments in Bad Retro-TV

May 31, 2008

Marlin Perkins Doing Sweet Dick-All

Years before the Crocodile Hunter, we had Jim Fowler on Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.  This dude was one tough bastard.   He did all the dirty work on the show, like wrestling crocodiles or counting canine teeth on enraged lions.  

Meanwhile, Marlin (who was old enough to have traveled with Lewis and Clark) would narrate the show from the safe comfort of his wood-paneled TV-studio office.  

The only wildlife he ever came in contact with was the baby chimp he’d sometimes hold while telling the story.

Thanks for coming out, Marlin. )

 

The Wonder Twins’ Ridiculous Transformations.

Anyone between the ages of 35-45 has probably watched the Superfriends cartoon on Saturday mornings at least once.  

Remember the Wonder Twins Zan and Jayna?  (With the identical bad Spock haircuts and Spock ears?)  

Whenever there was trouble, they’d  touch knuckles and yell out “Wonder Twin Powers ACTIVATE!“.  Then one would transform into water and the other, into an animal, and they’d try to save the day.

The lamest episode I saw involved Jayna taking the form of (I shit you not ) a  giant lobster while  Jan took the shape of in “Ice Reflector”.  

This was so the 50-foot lobster could use icy satellite-dish to deflect the evil alien rock music that was coming from coming from a guitar-shaped spaceship that was terrorizing the city.  

If you think I’m making this up, I’m not.   This was an actual episode.  

Excellent cartoon storyboard writing, there, Hanna-Barbera.   Just what were you smokin’ at the time?  )

 

Dated Sit-coms that make you Cringe.

Take Welcome Back Cotter, for example.   I had almost completely forgotten about this show until I caught a re-run flipping through channels.   And only now do I realize how much this show SUCKED.       

Every episode was just so God-Damned predictable.    Cotter told a lame joke (and you just wanted to pummel him!)   Horshack laughed.  Washington said “Hi There“.  Vinnie Barbarino said  “What….where….who?“.   Epstein had a note from home.   Cotter ended the show with another joke.   The studio audience would break up into hysterical laughter.  Yok! yok!  yok!

This same tired schtick took most of the show, leaving maybe 2 minutes for original plot and character development.

I could understand liking this show back in 1975.   But that’s because I was only 10 years old at the time.   

But Cotter was also popular with adults…GROWN ADULTS!  

…what was THEIR excuse?

(Or back in the 70’s, were people just stupid?)

 

Cheesy Production of Pre-MTV Music Videos

Remember when the Monkees sang “Valerie”?   And there was a really complicated guitar riff in the middle of the song?  

Notice this is when the camera conveniently panned  to a close-up of just the fingers playing on the guitar neck. 

But that was really Mike Nesmith playing…wasn’t it?…WASN’T IT?  

(Yes.  Of course it was.)    

I also laughed at the Partridge Family.  Nothing like seeing a 12-year-old Danny Bonnaduce and the two other maggot-children lip-synch and sound like they’re 25.  

One of the worst examples was an episode on Petticoat Junction.   “Guest singer”  Jack (I’m just a Bill) Sheldon sat at the piano and sang “Talk to the Animals”  (Why, in Gods name, we’ll never know).  Meanwhile, Chesty Jo and Boobie Jo sat next to him and made goo-goo eyes at him while he played.

Never mind that his hand movement didn’t even remotely match the keyboard sounds. 

Come on…we all know you’re lip synching and not playing…but can you at least TRY TO PRETEND that you’re not?

 

The Evil Twin Plot Twist…ad Nauseum

Seems in the 1960’s, you couldn’t shake a stick without bumping into an identical twin.  Sit-coms had ’em everywhere.  Bewitched had Elizabeth Montgomery play two different roles:  Samantha, and Serana.   But at least these were two different characters.

But on Gilligan’s Island, a “guest castaway” was in identical double for Ginger.   I Dream of Jeanie had an evil twin.   Captain Kirk had a doppelganger on Star Trek…twice. 

Get Smart gets the prize.   Maxwell Smart, Ninety-Nine, and The Chief each had an identical twin, on three separate episodes.  

Oboy, a hat trick. 

I guess the show’s producers were really keen to show off their new “split-screen technology”.  

Either that, or the fall-out from the atom-bomb tests of the 1950’s created all these mutant-twins. 

 

Cheesy Rock’n Roll Stock Music

Take any TV show or teenage movie, circa 1961-1965, you’re bound to see the following scene:

Somewhere there is a live band playing “rock and roll” music.   Groovy teenagers dance, while the parents/chaperones look on, puzzled. 

For added cuteness, maybe an adult “square” will attempt to clumsily dance to this “crazy new music”,  while the kids encourage them.  And everybody is happy.

(Gagggg…I’m feeling nauseous here). 

I’ve always been puzzled by the music, though.   Notice none it includes any actual top 40 hits you’d have heard on the radio at the time.   There is never any mention of the Beatles or the Stones or any other contemporary groups.  

It’s just this cheesy generic plinky electric guitar and drums (and optional horn accompaniment, regardless of whether the band had horns or not).    And the only place you ever hear this music played was on 1960’s sitcoms or movies. 

I’m just curious…did any such records albums actually exist back then?  Or is this another Great Conspiracy Theory?

 

Thoughtful Applause

This was a major phenomenon of the 70’s, when many shows were taped in front of a “Live Studio Audience”.

How many times have you seen this?:

A main character (Mrs. Garrison,  Mr. Drummond, Maude, etc.) might say something poignant about racism, or child abuse, or woman’s rights…whatever.  

This would be followed by a dramatic pause, after which the studio audience would approvingly burst into thunderous applause.  Then pause, and fade out to commercial as the applause continues.

Once again (gaggg!) my gorge rises whenever  I see this self-righteous preaching.  I hated it back then, and I hate it today.  Even when I saw these shows as a kid,  I recognized this as sensationalist manipulative tripe.

Look, if want to learn about values and ethics,  I’ll take a philosophy course, or talk to a parent, clergyman or any other role model/mentor…

…but I refuse to take moral guidance from the same IDIOT BOX that gave us “B.J. and the Bear” and “What-choo talkin’ about Willis?”.   

 

Guest Celebrities you’re Supposed to worship 

Another big phenomenon in the 60’s and 70s’ was that guest celebrities would play themselves on the show.   And the plot typically involved the main characters getting star-struck and acting like blabbering idiots when the celebrity showed up.   Apparently we’re supposed to think this is funny. 

For example, in one episode of Chico and the Man,  Freddy Prinze giggles and pretty much wets his pants like a little school girl when Sammy Davis Jr. walks into Ed’s garage.    

Oh, yeah..RIGHT.   A big tough Latino dude from East L.A. is going to act like this when he sees a Vegas lounge singer.      

Man, it was embarrassing to watch (even though you knew Freddie was just following a script).

It’s also downright insulting (because TV is telling us that THIS is how WE would act if we met a movie star…!). 

Sorry, I don’t think so.

 

Questionable Deputies’ Names on the Dukes of Hazard

Remember Sheriff Roscoe’s deputy, Enos?   WTF kind of name is that?  

I mean, aside from the Old Testament, name ONE OTHER PERSON you know called Enos!

And do you remember when Enos left the show, what his replacement was called?

….Cletus!

Enos and Cletus.  (Snicker).     Seriously.

Come on…(be honest!).  Don’t those two names resemble other words that describe…um…certain parts of the human anatomy? 

As a kid, I thought those names were hilarious and I constantly made fun of them in the schoolyard.  Even my Mom caught onto the joke.

 Tell me the writers didn’t do that on purpose!  )

Top Ten Reaons why I Love Rocket Robin Hood

March 31, 2008

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 1.  The Theme Song

“Band of brothers marching together, heads held high in all kinds of weather.  With fiery blasts our roaring rockets rise…beyond the earth.   Beyond the skies! ….”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6MfisiGqtEM

When I heard this as a kid, it sent shivers down my spine.   What a kick-ass song!   It just made me want to join Robin and blast off into space with him to blow up monsters and bad guys. (If the army today played something similar, I’m sure they’d have no problems getting recruits.)

What’s amazing is the high production quality (considering how cheesy the rest of the cartoon is).   I suspect that the producers blew most of their budget on the orchestra, choir and recording studio for the opening theme song, which didnt’ leave much left over for animation, storyboards and writing.

 2.  They actually beat up the bad guys

Back in the 60’s, there was none of this PC crap on TV.  Cartoons would routinely show the good guys actually beating up the bad guys.  And the animators on Rocket Robin Hood were only too glad to show this to the kids.   (If you dont’ believe me,  just watch the opening credits of the show).

There was plenty of direct fist-to-fist combat in Rocket Robin Hood.  The best scene I like is in one of those cartoon “interludes” they showed every show, when the narrator describes Rocket Robin to us: “He’s fun….he’s FANTASTIC”.    This is followed by scene in which Robin smiles at the camera, and his fist flies towards us and fills the entire TV screen.   We get a first hand view of what the bad guys might see…BAM!  

I’d like to see the Bernstein Bears or Caillou try that.

Man, they’d never dare make a cartoon like that today.

3. Little John shows Good-Hearted Kindness Towards all Living Creatures.

Like all the other “commercials” in the cartoon, they showed the same “Little John” clip every damned show.  The bad guys are trying to shoot him down with lasers, which he deflects with his “electro-quarterstaff” as he flies out of the sky, right into the bad guys, and clobbers the living shit out of them.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x7pcqYtKwJs 

Then a squirrel comes along, and lands on Little John’s quarterstaff.  This is when we are shown Little John’s softer side…he laughs.  But the animation is so bad, there are mabye two frames of him laughing, played in an endless loop.  

In one of the frames, they must have forgotten to draw in his collar bone.   So it looked like one of his clavicles kept disappearing and re-appearing as he laughed.    

Even at six years old, I recognized this was bad animation.

 4.  Robins’ Skunk Hair

In this 10 second film clip, they’d sing about Robin Hood, and then his entire head would fill the TV screen.   He’s drawn with a white streak running down the middle of his hair. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ksz2sdGXoFs

I suppose this was meant to look like slicked down jet-black hair.   But it looked like a skunk.   As kids, we’d all delightely point out to each other. “Skunk hair…skunk hair!”  

For some reason, we’d never get tired of this joke.

5. Really, Really Bad Science. 

Okay, I know its a cartoon, but come on!  There are limits!

 Geez, where do I even start?   The fact that Little John can walk around outer space wearing nothing but shorts, a tank top and a goldfish bowl on his head.   

How about Sherwood Asteroid flying through what appears to be a sunny partly cloudy sky (Ummm…where does the atmosphere come from?)  

I also like whenever a ship flies through space, the soundtrack plays these cheesy synthesizer sounds to let you know you’re in outer space.  

I guess the cartoon is so old (it pre-dates the moon landing) that back then, people still didnt’ have a clue what space was like..only that it must have sounded very…er… “space-like”. 

The best is that STUPID ARROW that Robin fires into Prince John’s money bag.   The arrow lands into the bag, comes to a dead stop, then accelerates away (with the bag attached) as Prince John looks on, perplexed.  

I never saw anything wrong with that, until one of the older kids in the neighbourhood told me this was physically impossible.

Lucky for  me, I forgot all the bad science from the show by the time I got my engineering degree.

6.  Blinking Eyes

This is one of the trademarks of the show.  To save on animation costs, the animators would show a close-up of someones’ face (just the eyes).    You’d hear the dialogue, but they’d just show the eyes.  Then the eyes would blink, and then you’d have a few more seconds of the eyes.

The whole interval would last about three seconds, but this probably saved quite a few animation cels.  (Especially when the blinking eyes were repeated several times in any given episode).

Say what you want, but this was “pioneering” animation work that even Disney never came up with. (Can you name any cartoon show that has done anything similar, before or since?)

7. The fact that the show is still on the air

According to Wikipedia, the cartoon was made from 1966-1969.   I remember seeing for the first time, in the late 60’s when I was 5.   I remember the re-runs starting in the early 70’s.    It’s always been on TV in one form or another.   It’s still on today on the Retro Cartoon Channel.  How awesome is THAT?  

How many other cartoons can you name that are still on the air after 40 years?   (Sure, there’s Bugs Bugs Bunny, the Flintstones, Woody Woodpecker, etc.)  But those were created in world-class high-budget animation studios.  How many other cheesy low-budget Canadian shows fall into the same category?

8.  The Astro-Poor

This refers to when the narrator tells us “Robin robs from the cosmic rich, and gives to the astro-poor”.  And then they show these motionless people trying to catch poorly animated stop-action coins from the sky that Robin dropped.

Astro-poor.  Heh heh.   You gotta love it.  It’s in the future, so they can’t just be poor.  They have to be “astro” poor.  

The astro-poor probably have to live in solar slums, and have to pay the celestial-rent to the inter-planetary landlord. 

9.   Ahhh….the Animation!

In case I haven’t emphasized this enough, the animation is bad.  I mean, really really BAD.   I don’t know what’s more hilarious…. how bad the animation is, or the fact that the creators of the show had the balls to produce something as low budget as this and try to get away with it.     

It’s a well known fact that the human brain needs to see a minimum of 24 picture a second, in order to perceive continuous motion.   I’d say Rocket Robin Hood, on a good day, might have 6 frames a second.  Or maybe even less.  

Aside from the blinking eyes, the animators used other tricks to save money.  For example, repeating the same scenes over and over (similar to Spider Man or the Mighty Hercules).

In some cases, they didn’t even bother with this.  (How about zero frames per second?).  Seriously, there are often scenes where nothing moves, for seconds at a time (for example, a character might be shocked, or freezing in terror).   At this point, it stops becoming a cartoon, and it becomes a slide show.

When they did try animate, it wasn’t consistent.   Certain things would disappear and suddenly reappear (body parts, lines on a face, etc).   

Or the characters wouldn’t even look the same.  (For example, Friar Tuck could look like two completely different people within the same 2 minute segment.)  Geezus Christ, it’s like they had completely different groups of artists, who didnt’ even work together in the same studio, and had no idea what the other person was drawing. 

It’s almost like the show’s creators stopped caring.   Yet they still made the cartoons anyway for four years.

 10.  The Friar

I’ve saved the best till last.   I love Friar Tuck (He’s partly the reason why I’m called the “Friar”) Some of the lads at work gave me the nickname and it stuck. 

The best scene is when the Wicked Sheriff of N.O.T.T. (who thinks the Friar is fat, foolish)  sends two guards to go capture him.  But the Friar shows THEM…he shoves out his belly, and knocks them flying! 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ebsSyfHaIRY

Then the Friar sits down at his table, to start some serious eatin’.   As the dramatic music plays in the back ground, he gleefully grabs an apple, takes one bite, and throws it over his shoulder, and then a sausage, takes one bite, throws it over his shoulder, then grapes, then a chicken leg, then an apple, etc.

I must have seen that film clip 1000 times.  But I never get tired of it.

Sure, he’s a glutton when he eats like this.  But he can get away with this, because he’s The Friar, and he just clobbered two bad guys.

I was tempted to try that at our company picnic….I could just picture myself eating food and throwing it over my shoulder….It would have gotten a good laugh from the boys, but the boss probably wouldn’t have appreciated it.