Tagged: ABC

REVIEW: The Ghost and Mrs. Muir

Ghost & Mrs. MuirGrowing up, Saturday nights were usually spent with the NBC peacock. Their sitcom lineup during the 1960s included Flipper, Get Smart, Adam-12, Please Don’t Eat the Daisies, and The Ghost and Mrs. Muir. The latter lasted just a season on the network, moving to ABC for its second and final season. It was the first time I recall learning that the series was based on a film, one I never got to see.

Thankfully, 20th Century Home Entertainment remedied that this holiday season with the release of the 1947 film, starring Gene Tierney and Rex Harrison, on Blu-ray.

While the sitcom played it for family friendly yucks, with an over-the-top performance by Charles Nelson Reilly as the ghost’s descendant, the film, written by Philip Dunne, is something far different. It is a story of love and loss, missed opportunities and evokes reminders of the overlooked romance Somewhere in Time. Captain Daniel Gregg (Harrison) is long dead but his spirit remains attached to Gull Cottage, the seaside house where he once resided. Along comes the comely widow Lucy Muir (Tierney), who has defied her in-law’s (Isobel Elsom and Victoria Horne) expectations that she come stay with them after their son has died. She charts her own course, a strong statement for a female lead at a time when women were still seen as subservient to the male’s expectations, and by extension those of his family.

Defying the locals who tell her the cottage is haunted, she takes up residence, much to the spirit’s ire. He then “:haunts” the place to chase her out but she surprises him by demanding he appear before her, which he does and so begins a most unusual relationship. He’s a gruff sea captain, used to women acting in 1947 as they did in his day but she continues to defy expectations and he gradually comes to admire her inner spirit. In turn, he begins to open up to her, dictating his memoirs which Muir has published and it becomes a surprise best seller.

Enter Miles Fairley (George Sanders), a fellow author, with designs on Mrs. Muir, who wants to have a relationship with her but is less than he initially seems. In the end, it leaves you longing for the elusive happy ending and reaching for the tissue box. It’s a shame the film didn’t net the cast any award nominations although the effective photography did get Charles Lang a nod. Bernard Hermann’s score is superb and a real gem. Director Joseph L. Mankiewicz does a superb job with a premise that could have fallen flat.

The film holds up to high definition with a good transfer aided by solid sound. This new edition comes with a commentary by Greg Kimble and Christopher Husted, a duo demonstrating a solid understanding of soundtracks and film effects so we learn a few interesting things. There’s a second commentary by Jeanine Basinger, a film professor and critic, and Kenneth Geist, who has written about Mankiewicz. Rounding out the offering is the Theatrical Trailer.

REVIEW: Superboy: The Complete Fourth Season

superboy-season-4-dvd_500The Adventures of Superboy found its groove with the third season and a sense of stability was most welcome as the tone was consistent and the stories got stronger thanks to Stan Berkowitz and the increasing influence of DC editors Mike Carlin and Andy Helfer. Gerard Christopher as the title character had truly grown as a performer with time and Stacy Haiduk’s Lana Lang was every bit his match. As a result, things looked promising as production on the fourth season got underway in the summer of 1991.

However, the success of Batman in 1989 and that summer’s sequel, Batman Returns, meant there was fresh demand for super-heroes. DC Comics’ parent, Warner Bros., had already had limited success with The Flash on CBS and was looking to build. They needed Superman but that meant, in a bizarre twist, they filed suit against Alexander and Ilya Salkind to regain control of all elements stemming from the hero. ABC was interested in an adult Superman tale and didn’t want competition from a low-budget first-run syndicated series. So, as production continued, its death warrant was also being composed.

The final season is now available from Warner Archive and you can see what might have been had Lois & Clark not been on the drawing board. There are returning foes, longer stories with more two-parters than before and a sense that the boy was on the verge of becoming a man. Still assigned to the Bureau for Extra-Normal Matters, Clark and Lana are well positioned to stay atop of the bizarre happenings around the world – and beyond.

Berkowitz, accompanied by J.M. DeMatteis, write a hefty percentage of the season and are joined by Christopher himself, penning two episodes. One of them, “Cat and Mouse” gives Clark a promotion but nicely threatens his alter ego when he undergoes a psychiatric evaluation at the hands of perceptive guest star Erin Gray.

Bizarro (Barry Meyers)and Lex Luthor make repeated appearances this season, and Lex even partners with Metallo in “Threesome”, putting all of Smallville at risk. Bill Mumy’s Puck also appears twice in a nice turn but the most entertaining guest stars were found in “Paranoia” as Noel Neill and Jack Larson briefly return to the mythos. Carlin and Helfer wrote a few tales including one introducing the television incarnation of the Kryptonite Kid (David Carr). Fittingly, they also wrote the final two episodes, “Rites of Passage” that tie together several threads from the mythology and set the stage for an unrealized future.

Episodes 74-90 offer up some of the strongest material in this oft-forgotten series, and they’re worth a second look.

REVIEW: Space Stars

SpaceStars_CompleteBy the 1980s, the cartoon creations of the 1960s must have looked pretty tempting given the failure of so many properties from the decade in between to latch on to the hearts and minds of the young television viewers. After Scooby-Doo’s triumphant arrival, so many series came and went, aping the premise or adapting films and television series with little to show for the effort. It must have made sense, then, to dust off the last round of interesting space age series, produce a few new episodes, and cram them together for a potpourri hour-long romp. And so was born Space Stars, which lasted all of a season on NBC. An opportunity for new Space Ghost tales and a new adventure with the Herculoids can’t be beat. To freshen the batch, though, Hanna-Barbera decided to offer up Teen Force, inspired by ABC’s The Mod Squad, and a Jetsons spinoff featuring Astro and the Space Mutts. The Teen Force each had a power (of course) and the requisite Astromites for pets/sidekicks. Meantime, Astro somehow left George behind to begin working with the heroic Space Ace (unrelated to Don Bluth’s not-yet-released arcade game), alongside newcomers Cosmo and Dipper.

The stories are mediocre and the animation as limited as usual but there is a charm to these heroes that still speaks to my 8 year old’s heart. Better yet, the continuity buff in me liked that all the characters cameoed in each other’s stories, setting up an early H-B shared universe. It’s also cool to see the Space Star Finale where Space Ghost, the Herculoids, and Teen Force take on one extremely disappointing bad guy.

The three-disc set from Warner Archive comes complete with the previously unseen since broadcast Space Science interstitials, created to appease worried parents. For me, this is a welcome package of cool stuff and well worth a look.

Addendum: Daniel Ferrante at Warner Bros. reached out and corrected some information: “the Space Science interstitials were never aired at all – we found the footage at the end of the reels and reconstructed where they were meant to be placed, so all the educational segments are seen for the first time anywhere on the DVD. The show was originally scheduled for the previous season and was supposed to run 90 minutes with an additional Herculoids segment and a Jetsons. When the show was cut down to 60 minutes (delay and cut caused by the previous year’s strike) the Space Science segments were cut out ( but thankfully retained, so we could put them back in 30 years later). As a side note for comic folk,  all the educational segments were written by Don Glut.”

Thanks, Daniel, for the intel!

The Point Radio: The Reasons They Remade OLD BOY


The minute cinema fans heard that the classic film, OLD BOY, was about to be remade, the controversy began. Now, two stars, two directors and one writer later, the film is headed to theaters. Writer Mark Protosevich talks about the burden of getting it right, and star Michael Imperioli explains why Spike Lee is really the only man for the the directing job. Plus comedy’s angry man, Lewis Black, reveals how he first got excited and ABC’s SHIELD tries a new direction.

THE POINT covers it 24/7! Take us ANYWHERE! The Point Radio App is now in the iTunes App store – and it’s FREE! Just search under “pop culture The Point”. The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any other  mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

The Point Radio: Secrets In The World Of ONCE UPON A TIME


The universe of ABC’s ONCE UPON A TIME is a busy place. With season three in full gear plus the new WONDERLAND spin-off, there is a lot to consider. We talked with creators Ed Kitsis and Adam Horowitz about the perils of spreading too thin, what is in store for each show and if we can look for any crossovers. Plus ONCE’s Jennifer Morrison (Emma) talks about how her character has changed this year. Meanwhile, The Netflix/Marvel projects are moving ahead and The Fantastic Four gets (another) reboot in comics.

THE POINT covers it 24/7! Take us ANYWHERE! The Point Radio App is now in the iTunes App store – and it’s FREE! Just search under “pop culture The Point”. The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any other  mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

Tweeks: “Once Upon A Time In Wonderland”

This week the Tweeks give us their take on the show they’ve been looking forward to this fall, as they fall down the rabbit hole and discuss Once Upon A Time In Wonderland, ABC’s new spin-off of the hit show (and Tweeks fave) Once Upon A Time.


Update: the little tech problem we had has been dealt with, and those who have screwed up have had their heads lopped off by the Red Queen. She’s tough that way.

The Point Radio: Why TV Loves Mary McCormack


Actress Mary McCormack loves TV and has proven it with great performances on shows like MURDER ONE, THE WEST WING, IN PLAIN SIGHT and now the new ABC sitcom, WELCOME TO THE FAMILY. Mary talks about her new role and the fun of being part of an ensemble. Plus the new TV season chalks up it’s first casualty and Marvel brings AGENTS OF SHIELD back into comics, sort of.

houseaddNYCCNew York ComicCon starts in just a few days and we will be back here 24 hours early – on Thursday – with our special preview of the show!

THE POINT covers it 24/7! Take us ANYWHERE! The Point Radio App is now in the iTunes App store – and it’s FREE! Just search under “pop culture The Point”. The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any other  mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

REVIEW: Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels – The Complete Series

Captain Caveman DVDIn the 1960s, super-heroics were such the rage that ever era seemed to inspire a masked champion for Saturday morning fare. We had the Mighty Mightor who could been seen as an ancestor to his comedic counterpart, Captain Caveman, which also reflects the shift from dramatic fun to slapstick comedy (also showing how parents boxed in the animators).

Captain Caveman and the Teen Angels was created for Hanna-Barbera, shortly before they split to form their own outfit. It ran from 1977 through 1980 in ABC and the complete 40 episode series is now available on a three-disc set from Warner Archive. The series started off sandwiched as a part of Scooby’s All-Star Laff-A-Lympics and Scooby’s All-Stars before gaining their own thirty minute slot. Brenda, Dee Dee and Taffy, the erstwhile angels, found a caveman frozen in a block of ice and thawed him back to life. Now, Cavey and the girls went around solving mysteries and getting in and out of trouble. Nothing new here except you’re mixing in the detectives from Scooby-Doo with super-heroics, all played for comedy. While a trinity is a common element in such shows, the girls and name in particular owe a lot to Charlie’s Angels, which had taken the nation by storm not long before.

Much as Mightor shouted his name to invoke his powers, so too does the Neanderthal crimefighter. In addition to the standard-issue powers, his ancient fur clothing contains an unending amount of gadgets for convenient use. Not only does the show feel familiar it sounds familiar with the hero voiced by the legendary Mel Blanc and narration from Gary Owens. The girls were voiced by the lesser known Marilyn Scheffler, Laura Page and Vernee Watson.

As was far too common at the time, the mysteries were never terribly challenging and the characters were allowed one personality trait each as if they were being rationed because of a budget shortfall. The antics are not terribly inspiring such as Cavey’s flying powers proving erratic only when he truly needed them. And while he eventually revealed to the audience his crush on Taffy, not that she ever knew it. He’s also saddled with stereotypical caveman speak which can prove grating after a few minutes.

Mildly entertaining, it’s disposable and forgettable stuff.

REVIEW: Wonder Woman (1974)

D500When even Joss Whedon can’t nail a character, you know there’s a problem. For decades now, film and television has been struggling to take Wonder Woman from the comics and bring her to a wider audience. So far, they’ve managed the Super Friends and the delightfully awful television series with picture-perfect Lynda Carter. However, there are scores of failed attempts beginning with the truly awful William Dozier-produced try out footage through last year’s cringe-worthy attempt from David E. Kelly.

Perhaps the most maligned of the attempts is the ABC Movie of the Week, Wonder Woman, which aired once in March 1974 and did well enough in the ratings for a series to be considered but was seriously retooled into the Carter vehicle. Thanks to Warner Archive, that 73 minute effort is now available for completists everywhere.

Yes, she’s Diana, princess of the Amazons and sent to man’s world. Somehow the unnamed Queen mother has decided the time has come for men everywhere to learn that women are of equal value so sends Diana to teach them. The very next scene has her playing the not very liberated role of secretary to Steve Trevor, who heads some federal agency. Absurdly, ten books with the names of 39 strategic agents around the world have been stolen by international mystery man Abner Smith. With seventy-two hours before they are exposed, the United States has to recover the books or pay millions in ransom. While a bunch of suits are given an hour to ponder the dilemma; Steve, with a wink and a nod, let’s Diana to take time off to see her “dentist”.

Wonder Woman MontalbanSo much is left unexplained starting with how the Amazons have learned about the outside world and how Diana has acclimated to life in America. Her exact powers are never outlined nor is her bizarre not-very-secret identity. As written by executive producer John D.F. Black, we are expected to accept things on face value and go with it which is odd considering his extensive credits in dramatic television, including an influential role in the first half season of Star Trek.

Wonder Woman tracks down Smith, based in a nicely appointed hideout deep within the north face of the Grand Canyon. There’s some fighting, some deering-do and the odd arrival of fellow Amazon Angela, who has jealously followed Diana to the outside world to seek the wealth it offers.

Wonder Woman and GeorgeThe story makes no sense nor does this serve well as any sort of a pilot. What is interesting, though, is the banter between Diana and Smith or Diana and Smith’s flunky George. Here, Black demonstrates some nicely handled character, letting the bad guys be a bit more multidimensional than the star. It helps that Smith is played by Ricardo Montalban, decked out all in white long before he set up shop on Fantasy Island. He nicely chews the scenery and has nice chemistry with the Amazon Princess, woodenly played by tennis pro turned actress Cathy Lee Crosby. In civilian garb or an Olympic outfit masquerading as her costume, she lacks the imposing physique of an Amazon and her action sequences are not very athletic-looking.

George is played with some relish by Andrew Prine who makes the most of his sidekick role. The rest of the cast is there to advance the story, nothing more, so Kaz Garas as Trevor or the fine character actor Richard X. Slattery have absolutely nothing to work with. Director Vincent McEveety, another Trek alum, does a by-the-numbers job with the story, making it look generic.

I recall watching this as a teen and was appalled, stunned to learn that ABC actually thought enough of it to go to a series of TV movies a year later. Thankfully, by then, they jettisoned Crosby for Carter and in November 1975, we got our first glimpse of what would be an icon of the decade.

Dennis O’Neil: Old Bats Never Die

O'Neil Art 130502ZAP! BAM! POW!

I’ve written a lot about comics these – holy septuagenarian! – past 47 or so years, but I’ve never before used the faux sound effects lead that appears above. So. okay, why now?

I’ve always assumed and will continue to assume until the universe corrects me, that the aforementioned lead, perpetrated by a legion of journalists ever since comics have come to the attention of the multitudes, was inspired by the Batman television show that was aired on ABC from 1966 to 1968. Clever, y’know. Catchy. The video folk, in turn, got the faux onomatopoeia from old comic books; the stunt was, they superimposed these sound effects, lettered in garish display fonts, over fight scenes. The overarching agenda was to spoof Batman comics, particularly the Batman comics of the previous decade, by juggling contexts and emphasizing the goofy.

Batman as self-satirizing comedian? Okay by me.

But this form of comedy was much of a particular time and place, a brief, shimmering few years when the nation was in an experimental and iconoclastic mood. The mood changed – don’t they always, darn ‘em! – and after three seasons, Batman-the-television-star left the airwaves, and Batman-the-comedian joined the ranks of the unresurrected.

I’ll testify that comedian Batman deserves a place in the Batman pantheon and I’m sure that the show has its partisans, maybe fierce partisans. But is the world clamoring for a return of this odd form of humor? As I suggested a paragraph ago, it was unique to time/place Or so I’ve been believing.

People at DC Comics apparently believe I’m wrong. Our friends at the Comic Book Resources website inform us that “DC Comics will expand its digital-first comics line this summer with the debut of Batman 66, a series based on the classic television series.”

A number of ways this could go. Try to recreate the spoofy sensibility of the original. Do the comic as a period piece. Play Batman as a comedian using contemporary humor. Structure the stories as the old tv episodes were structured, with a cliff hanger half way through the story. Or do self-contained stories, the kind that were a staple of the old comics. Or do open-ended serials. Preserve the cast of the original. Recast with Batman’s current supporting characters. Mix and match all the preceding or – astonish and delight me with something I haven’t thought of.

I can’t help wondering how this project originated. From whence came the idea – editorial department or marketing department? Or some department in California? Not that it makes a lot of difference; there’s no mandated origin site for good stuff. But if there’s a reason to be skeptical, it might be that folk who can get projects going remember the joy that got from some entertainment when they were children and believe that the entertainment was supplying the job and not their own curiosity and innocence and, further, that they can recreate what they liked and, further still, that today’s audience will respond to the same kind of entertainment.

Let’s open our minds and see what happens.

Note: Thanks to Darren Vincenzo for alerting me to this column’s subject.

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman