Ask 411 Movies for 06.18.12: The Negative Zone is for Phantom Cruiser Parking Only!
Posted by Leonard Hayhurst on 06.18.2012
Is Heroes the TV show that went downhill the quickest, or was it Batman? How popular was Space Ghost originally? Why is it called ‘shooting’ film? All this and more covered this week in Ask 411 Movies!
This coming weekend I'll be at the Monster Bash Classic Horror Film Convention in Butler, Pa. Friday at 1 a.m. I'll be hosting Gamera with David "The Rock" Nelson, the Ed Wood of the 21st Century. I'll be dressing up like a caveman with some top makeup work by Jesse Melchior and Reel Majik on Saturday. Our theme this year is prehistoric and we'll be showing such movies all weekend. On Sunday, I'll be hosting a question and answer session with Conrad Brooks of Plan 9 From Outer Space.
Celebrity guests this year include Martine Beswick from One Million Years B.C. and Thunderball, Ricou Browning who was the swimming creature in Creature from the Black Lagoon and Julie Adams from the same movie, Kenny Miller from I Was a Teenage Werewolf and Touch of Evil, Arch Hall Jr. and Richard Kiel from Eegah!, director Bert I. Gordon, Jimmy Hunt from Invaders From Mars, Tom Savini of From Dusk Til Dawn and Machete and many more.
YouTube Clip of the Week
In local television this week, we have some commercials and the opening to Chiller Theater on WPXI out of Pittsburgh in 1981. The host is Chilly Billy Cardille, who will also be at the Bash.
Leonard's Favorite Episode of Tales from the Crypt
Every week I highlight my favorite episode of a popular television series. I thought we should keep the horror theme going with Tales from the Crypt and the second season episode, "Cutting Cards." Kevin Tighe and the always great Lance Henriksen play rival gamblers looking to drive the other out of town. Their bets escalate against each other until body parts get involved and the finale is so macabre, you could only find it on Crypt. The episode was directed and co-written by Walter Hill of The Warriors, 48 Hrs., Wild Bill and Last Man Standing.
Mystery Actor/Actress of the Week
Every week I'll give clues to a mystery actor or actress. If you think you know who it is, post in the comments. You win nothing but a tip of the top hat from me, but isn't that enough?
Last week: I starred in a television series with last week's mystery actor, Roy Scheider, and my brother. My brother and I both appeared in a television movie with our parents and other brother. I recently had a cameo in the feature film version of an old TV series I was in. Toward the end of that show's run, I directed several episodes. Since then I have directed many episodes of various sci-fi TV shows. I often do guest spots on these program. Who am I?
The answer is Peter DeLuise. DeLuise was on Seaquest DSV with Roy Scheider and Peter's brother, Michael. They were both in Happy with their parents Dom DeLuise and Carol Arthur and other brother, David. Peter starred on 21 Jump Street and recently had a cameo in the feature film adaptation. He directed a few episodes of the series toward the end of its run and committed himself to directing after that, mostly sci-fi programs like Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, SGU: Stargate Universe, Kyle XY, Sanctuary and Andromeda. Information from IMDB.
This week: I starred opposite last week's mystery actor, Peter DeLuise, in a television horror movie. Like him, I've also done TV directing for sci-fi shows, including one I was a supporting character on. My parents on that show were in a television miniseries with me, with the dad playing my grandson and the mother playing my character's wife. My second feature film was the final movie for a screen icon. I have voiced a DC Comics and Marvel Comics character in animation. Who am I?
Actor Frank Cady, 96, died June 8 of undisclosed causes. He's best known as Sam Drucker, the general store owner, on Green Acres. Actress Yvette Wilson, 48, died June 14 of cancer. She's best remembered for playing Andell Wilkerson on Moesha and its spinoff The Parkers. Actress Ann Rutherford, 94 died June 11 of heart failure. She played opposite Mickey Rooney as his girlfriend in a series of Andy Hardy movies in the 1930s and 1940s and was also Scarlett's sister in Gone with the Wind. Her other films included Pride and Prejudice, Wyoming, Whistling in the Dark, Orchestra Wives, Whistling Dixie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and They Only Kill Their Masters.
Thanks to Costello for correcting me last week as I referred to Bryan Singer's film The Usual Suspects as The Unusual Suspects because of a typo. Guest 9381 also pointed out that I got my Brooks mixed up, stating Brooke Burke was the host of Dog Eat Dog, not Brook Burns. You ever think I make mistakes like that just to have something to talk about the next week.
Brooke Burns, 34, was born in Dallas, Texas. She studied to be a ballet dancer until tearing a ligament in her knee at 15 in a skiing accident. She then went into modeling and her family moved to Europe about a year later. She was married to Julian McMahon for about three years and they have two kids. She was engaged to Bruce Willis, but they broke up in 2004 after about 10 months together. She starred as Jessie Owens in the later seasons of Baywatch and its spinoff Baywatch: Hawaii. She's made numerous TV guest appearances, television movies and a few films, including the infamous Titanic II.
Brooke Burke, 40, was born in Hartford, Conn., as the oldest of nine children. She studied broadcast journalism and first rose to fame as the host of the E! Network's travel show Wild On!. She also hosted the reality competition shows Rock Star, to find lead singers for bands INXS and Supernova, and She's Got the Look, looking for models over 35. She won the seventh season of Dancing with the Stars and currently co-hosts the program as the backstage interviewer. She's got two children from her first husband, Garth Fisher, and two kids with her current husband, David Charvet.
Q: Why do they call it 'shooting film' or 'shooting video' how did the word 'shoot' get into this?
A: This is from a friend's Facebook page, his son asked him this. I'll take questions where I can get them.
Shot, according to Wikipedia, comes from original motion picture cameras being hand cranked. They were similar in set up and style to the hand cranked machine guns of the day. So, as you shoot a gun you also shoot a camera. As you take a shot with your gun, you take a shot with your camera. You take a shot, or the scene you're filming.
Q: I know with most TV Shows, the first season are not the best, characters are trying for find themselves, etc...but what shows do you think had excellent first seasons, but the rest were not as good? I am asking because I bought the Series box set of What's Happening (3 seasons) and the first is hysterical, but the rest just fell flat for the most part. I would also list Welcome Back Kotter, and more recently Heroes...I lOVED season 1 and I know the writers strike killed the show, but my god were the rest of the seasons horrible. What are your choices?
A: The first series that comes to mind for me is The John Larroquette Show. I was a big fan of his from Night Court and his own show was everything I wanted it to be in the first season. It was a little dark, a little quirky and was filled with smart writing and original characters. Larroquette's John Hemingway is a would-be writer and raging alcoholic who finally gets sober and becomes the night manager at a bus station.
The series got good critical reviews the first season, but was ranked 96th for the season in the Nielsen Ratings. In order to save the show, producers caved to network executive pressure to make the program more ‘audience friendly.' The bus station gang got switched from nights to days, which made the sets brighter, John moved into a nice, new apartment, he got a steady girlfriend, hooker Carly went straight and bought the bus station bar and even the homeless guy that hung out at the station cleaned up and became a shoeshine boy. The series was canceled out of the blue about a month into the fourth season in 1996.
The Batman television series was a huge hit its first season thanks to a delicate balance of camp humor and dramatic action, coupled with notable guest villains. That balance became off kilter in the second season as nonsensical humor dominated episodes. Critics also noted too much repetition in the use of villains and formulaic plots. New villains that were brought in were strictly second tier and didn't get over with fans, like second-tier Green Arrow villain the Clock King played by Walter Slezak and Liberace as criminal twins. Ratings went down and budgets were slashed in the third season. Episodes first aired on consecutive days, but the program was cutback to one episode a week. Yvonne Craig was a welcome addition as Batgirl, but failed to attract more viewers as hoped.
Good Times was created as one of those socially conscious Norman Lear shows of the 1970s. The idea was to give a realistic portrayal of a poor, working class black family trying to make it in Chicago. The parents were tough, but fair and loving and they deal with issues both humorous and serious as any family would do. The oldest son was J.J., played by Jimmie Walker. At the start of the series, J.J. was 17 and the idea was that he wasn't too bright, but he had a good heart and artistic talent. His catchphrase, "Dy-no-mite!," became popular as did his character's antics.
More focus was given to his character and stars John Amos and Esther Rolle spoke out about how they were against the character detracting from the value of the program and promoting traditional black stereotypes. So, to fix that, Amos' father character James was killed off in the fourth season. While this was originally a dramatic turning point for the series, eventually it just gave more screen time to J.J. and his antics. This led Rolle to leaving the show after the fourth season. It was stated that Florida uncharacteristically abandoned her children by moving to Arizona with her new boyfriend. The show continued for two more seasons.
Q: Hey Mr. H,
Great read as always. So, unfreaking believable but HBO Comedy actually ran The Gong Show Movie this weekend. I was a huge fan of the Unknown Comic to the point it was my Halloween costume. What was it, part scripted movie/part highlights from the real Gong Show? I find it hard to imagine two girls eating popsicles would actually make it to air in the late 70s or early 80s Who were the panelists for the most part outside Jamie Farr who apparently was on every game show of the time.
A: The Gong Show ran on NBC from 1976 to 1978 with a syndicated version going from 1976 to 1980. A revived version ran from 1988 to 1989. Chuck Barris, the show's creator, served as the host for the original version. It was a spoof of talent show competitions with acts sometimes being intentionally bad. Any of the three judges could ring the gong behind their table at any time to stop an act they deemed too terrible. Frequent judges were Jamie Farr, Jaye P. Morgan, Arte Johnson, Rip Taylor, Phyllis Diller, Anson Williams and Rex Reed. Acts that survived were graded on a scale of one to 10 by the judges. The winner got a trophy and cash prize of an unusual amount, originally $516.32 on the network version and $712.05 on the syndicated version. There were regular segments and performers as well, like the Unknown Comic played by Murray Langston and Gene Gene the Dancing Machine, played by NBC stagehand Gene Patton.
The Popsicle Twins, billed as "Have You Got a Nickle?," aired on a Sept. 1977 episode. Barris was known to slip in highly suggestive acts as bait to the censors so he could get less risqué acts on the air. The censors apparently didn't get the idea of two young women sensually licking popsicles being dirty and let them through. After airing in the Eastern Time Zone, NBC pulled the bit from the other time zones. However, it has been shown on reruns since then.
Another infamous incident was Morgan flashing her breasts during a bad singing act where the woman's idea of a strip tease was just taking off her belt.
Many actually talented acts did appear on the program such as The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo, which evolved into the cult band Oingo Boingo; Michael Winslow from the Police Academy series; Andrea McArdle, whose appearance on the program got her the title role in Broadway's Annie's; Cheryl Lynn, whose performance on the show got her a recording contract and the disco hit "Got to be Real;" future football coach Brian Billick; actress Mare Winningham; and Paul Reuben and John Paragon, known better as Pee-Wee Herman and Jambi the Genie.
After the series ended, Barris tried to see what more mileage he could get out of it with a feature film. The Gong Show Movie detailed a week in Barris' life as he tried to put an episode of the show together. It featured clips, many censored, from the show and new material, like Barris having a mental breakdown and running off to the desert. The film received scathing reviews and was a huge financial flop for Universal Studios. Due to this, it's never been officially released on any home format, but it has popped up on television every now and again.
Q: Hey, Leonard. I was thinking about cartoons recently, and remembered that, when we first got Cartoon Network in the early 90s, there was a block of programming around the time I got home from school that was a bunch of retro 60s/70s superheroes in I think 15-minute shorts, though it's possible that they were each their own 30-minute shows that randomly rotated. Space Ghost was one of these, but I'm blanking on many details for the others. I believe they were all Hanna-Barbera. Could you give any details on these? It seemed to me, even at the time, that this would have been a LOT of cartoon superhero programming for an era when there weren't that many channels, especially considering all the other, more famous cartoons from the same era. Were they all just short-lived series? For that matter, was Space Ghost itself even popular back when it originally aired?
A: Hanna-Barbera produced many short-lived cartoons throughout the 1960s and 1970s with most lasting only about two to four seasons. The idea was that with such shows you could rerun limited episodes over and over again and kids won't care. Many characters and programs also got tweaked and repackaged over time, just look at all of the different Scooby-Doo incarnations. Many of the programs you remember were 15-minutes or less episodes that were packaged together into half-hour or hour long shows.
For example, Space Ghost was first ran from 1966 to 1968 packaged with the unrelated Dino Boy in the Lost Valley. Space Ghost with teen sidekicks Jan and Jace and their monkey Blip fought a variety of odd space creatures. Dino Boy was a kid named Todd who parachuted out of a crashing airplane and landed in a South American jungle where dinosaurs, cavemen and other prehistoric creatures still lived. Todd was saved by Ugh the caveman from a saber-toothed tiger and they became friends.
Space Ghost returned to the air in 1981 with new episodes part of Space Stars. This series also reprised another 1960s cartoon, The Herculoids. The original show had 18 episodes, comprised of two 11-minute segments, produced in 1967 and reran until 1969 on CBS. The show dealt with a human family living on a primitive planet. They had pets/friends in some of the native creatures, such as a giant rock ape, a flying dragon, a rhino-triceratops hybrid and two protoplasmic blobs. Space Stars also featured "Astro and the Space Mutts" and "Teen Force." Sometimes the characters would cross over and work together.
Space Ghost was reasonably popular for the time period and the number of shows Hanna-Barbera had on the air. Because of the starring role his shows were given against other characters, he's often the most remembered and had a strong cult following. Cartoon Network found this out when they began showing old episodes of many Hanna-Barbera shows when they started out. Many of these can now be found on Boomerang. In 1994, Space Ghost was given a talk show in Space Ghost: Coast to Coast and an afternoon variety show called Cartoon Planet that aired on TBS featuring cartoons from the Turner animation library. While both were intended to be a little bit silly to appeal to children and adults who remembered how campy the original shows were, Coast to Coast eventually adapted a surreal, off kilter style of humor that helped to launch the popular Adult Swim lineup.
Another old hero who got the Space Ghost treatment was Birdman. Birdman made a couple guest spots on Coast to Coast before getting his own series as a lawyer representing other cartoon characters. The original show was 20 episodes and ran 1967 to 1969 on NBC. Birdman was endowed by the sun god Ra with the ability to shoot solar rays from his fists and project solar shields for protection. He can also fly with wings on his back. His sidekick was Avenger the falcon. Birdman was packaged with the Galaxy Trio. Vapor Man could transform all or part of his body into gaseous form. Meteor Man could decrease or increase all or any part of his body. Gravity Girl could control gravity, allowing her to fly and lift heavy objects.
Another similar show was Frankenstein Jr. and the Impossibles on CBS in 1966. Boy genius Buzz Conroy and his professor father fight bad guys with the help of a robot named Frankenstein Jr. Buzz built the robot and could control him with a ring. The Impossibles was more humorous and featured three superheroes whose cover was being a rock band. Multi-Man could create copies of himself, Fluid-Man could make himself into any liquid and Coil-Man could make his body into a super springy coil.
Another similar show was Moby Dick and Mighty Mightor. It ran on CBS from 1967 to 1969. A teen caveman and his pet dinosaur rescue an old man, who gives him a magic club. When he raises the club to the sky, the teen is changed to the super strong Mightor who can fire energy blasts out of the club. The dinosaur became a flying dragon. Hanna-Barbera was doing a Fantastic Four cartoon for Marvel and was also going to do a Thor show. However, Thor was pulled at the last minute, so Hanna-Barbera tweaked their concepts into Mightor. Moby Dick was the famed giant white whale, shown to be friendlier than in the novel. He saved two teens and they became friends exploring the ocean deep.
"I'll spank you smartly with my spank ray."