Monday, September 24, 2007

The New Fall Season

When I was 11 years ago, NBC introduced a new television show called “Flipper” staring Luke Halpin and Tommy Norden as Sandy and Bud, the sons of Ranger Ricks, a Florida wildlife warden. The story revolved around a single-parent family who among other things, were the “keepers” of the highly talented dolphin, Flipper, who was actually the main star of the show and probably.

It was one of the most unique plots of the time and I became an instant fan as the two boys were about my age and the theme of the show involved being at the beach 24 hours a day and driving around in outboard boats all day long. Add to that Flipper and I was ready to pack my bags and join the Ricks family.

One of the interesting things NBC did that summer was publish a special viewer guide that had lots of great photos of the stars and detailed descriptions of the new shows. I remember sending away for the guide and cherished the slick, full-color mini-magazine when it arrived in its smooth manila envelope addressed to Master John Brandt. I had this fixation at that time in my life for catalogs and other mail order junk and was always sending away for all kinds of neat stuff.

This was the heyday of commercial television and the three networks (Fox who?) reigned supreme. Even Public Television was a blip on the screen (literally) and the networks worked feverishly to grab the largest audiences. The special viewer guide fixed me as an NBC fan for the next 20 years.

In the decades that have followed I have almost always taken an interest in what new shows were to appear in the new fall season. For many years I have made an effort to purchase the “Fall Premier Issue” of TV Guide eager to pore through and pick out what I viewed would be the “winners” of the upcoming season. I think the last time I actually picked a winner was 1999 when The West Wing hit the air. Seeing the “coming attractions” over that summer I predicted correctly that it would be my favorite show. After viewing the first episode, I had my doubts predicting the plot was too complicated and cerebral for the average American viewer. Happily I was wrong, at least that year, but in the years that have followed I have not found anything that garners my interest. I’ll admit to being a secret Heros fan last year, but by the end of the season I thought the show has lost its edge and was becoming too predictable.

So, this summer I was rather cynical when it came to the announcements of the upcoming fall season. There has been nothing in the summer promos that look remotely interesting and it appears all network TV executives now do is find the stupidest idea possible for a new show. I think they have really reached a new low, by my count only eleven new shows on the major networks – nearly all of them losers in my eye. Sorry that does not include Fox or any of the other fringe networks. I don’t even bother to look at those “networks.” So, I’m old fashioned – shoot me.

Last Saturday while at the local supermarket I looked high and low for a copy of TV Guide’s Fall Premier issue. It took quite a bit of doing since sometime in the past year TV Guide changed from its historic pocket sized template to a new larger, magazine size. Completely in full color – gone are the funky newsprint pages and special yellow sections. This is not your father’s TV Guide for sure.

What I was looking forward to was the opportunity of predicting which of the new shows would crash and burn in the first few weeks of the season. I love looking at the issue the following February and seeing if I can even remember the show.

In recent years my ability to guess the winners and losers has just about vanished. It seems that anything that looks remotely interesting to me is bound to be a failure and everything that looks like its design to appear to Neanderthals is a big winner.

So it should not come as a surprise to learn that the only thing I am looking forward to viewing in this new fall season is my old buddy Ken Burns’ new film The War on PBS.

Thank God for PBS.

Do you think a show about two boys and a dolphin might work?


Thursday, September 13, 2007

I Triple Dog-dare You

"You'll shoot your eye out, kid. "

Those who know me know I have been a Jean Shepherd coo-coo since I was a preadolescence. I've read all of his books and nearly all of his short stories. I even have autographed pictures and books; real collectors items.

So of course I am the ultimate fan of the now-famous "A Christmas Story" movie which was based on several of Shep's better short stories. Pick your favorite quote.

I've watched the movie a couple million times and have given copies away to many friends over the past 25 years since the movie was released. And although I do not have a leg lamp or my own "Red Ryder BB gun with a compass in the stock, and this thing which tells time," I do collect various junk from the movie and follow various happenings.

One of the things I discovered last year was a new museum devoted to the movie called the "A Christmas Story House." This indeed is the filming location in Cleveland, Ohio where much of the exterior scenes of the movie were shot. Lovingly developed by some eccentric fans, the museum is located across the street from "Ralphie's house" which has been restored to "its movie splendor." Anyway, I'm on their mailing list and they just wrote to tell me all about the special happenings this fall including the first "A Christmas Story Convention on November 23 and 24" and a "special Dinner with the Actors" on Friday, November 23 including Flick, Scut Farkus, Grover Dill, Randy, Miss Shields and the two evil elves. The "special dinner will of course be "a Chinese Turkey Dinner with all the trimmings."

So if you are close to Cleveland around Thanksgiving, why not stop by and enjoy the merriment including a Ralphie look-a-like contest, the official unveiling of the Parker Family Car that caused Ralphie’s “Oh Fudge” incident, and the unveiling of the original movie prop chalk board from Miss Shields Classroom by Tedde Moore who played Miss Shields! Here's all the details.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

The evil navbar

Well Google has not responded - yet - to my request for how to remove the "navbar." Others have posted some hacks to the blog template that allow you to "hide" the navebar from view. So, I have employed that for now.

It is not so much that I am concerns about people seeing things that are inappropriate (all you have to do is read your SPAM mail for that), but when the other blogs appeared to attack my browser and install malicious bots, I draw the line.

I've giving Blogger a little more time for an official response, but I have plenty of options for setting up a different blog elsewhere. After all, I now have four.

Hope you had a nice Labor Day. And, for those of you heading back to school - have a great year!


Saturday, September 01, 2007

Don't touch that "Next Blog>" button...

...if you know what's good for you.
I made the mistake of clicking that the other day to randomly check out other blogs for posting in the Blog Day event. Well where that button took me was pretty scary.

First there were all these porn sites which somehow was harvesting my IP address and including suggestions to where I could "find women" locally. For some reason when my IP is traced it shows me in any number of locations, none of which are my hometown. So, I figured the sexy women in Bowdoinham will have a long wait.

Next the button brought me to some bizzare site that literally started to attack my computer. First, the pop-up blocker alarm starting beeping like crazy and some pop-ups actually made it through and then my Norton Anti-Virus program beeped that it had prevented the someone "trying to take control" of my computer.

Needless to say, I have avoided the button and have contacted Blogger to find a way to remove it completely. We'll see. If they don't get back to me with a solution, I will be moving this blog elsewhere.