Thursday, September 21, 2017

Musical Interlude: Teacher's Pet (2003)

I haven't seen the movie, "School of Rock", yet, but I have seen pieces of the Nickelodeon series inspired by the 2003 Jack Black film.

Strangely, this next cut wasn't included on the film's soundtrack. Dewey Finn (Black) dresses like a plus-size clone of AC/DC's Angus Young, and sings lead on "Teacher's Pet". Anyone who's heard Black's combo, Tenacious D, knows the man can rock out.

The poster didn't know the title of the song and assumed it was "Rock Got No Reason", but was corrected by a commentator on YouTube. The current School of Rock series, now in its 3rd season on Nick, is the 2nd series based on a Black movie (Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness is the other) on the schedule. Now, all they need is for Black to commit to a series of his own. Maybe.

On The Shelf: DC goes Looney. It doesn't work.

Over the summer, DC, following their 1-shot specials pairing DCU favorites with Hanna-Barbera characters, tried to do the same with some of the WB Looney Tunes gang. Coming nearly 20 years after Mark Evanier & Joe Staton's Superman-Bugs Bunny miniseries, which was reprinted as a 1-shot special for $8 as part of the promotion, these 1-shots were hit & miss.

One of DC's hottest writers, Tom King, decided to give Elmer Fudd a noirish makeover in pairing the hapless hunter with Batman. Lee Weeks' artwork helps the mood, influenced as it was by the late Gene Colan, who actually drew Batman back in the 80's for a time. Unfortunately, while there are human characters named Porky & Bugs, among others, and a present-day analogue for Yosemite Sam is present, King's plot nearly falls apart when it turns out that Elmer and Bruce Wayne are both in love with the same woman, and they're both being played.

The Looney back-up, also written by King, shows that humor isn't his strong suit, and this short, also featuring Bugs Bunny, riffs on the Bugs/Elmer/Daffy Duck trilogy of shorts, but it reads like King is auditioning to write for Teen Titans Go!. That drags the rating down.

Rating: B--.

Meanwhile, Sam Humphries and Tom Grummett send Bugs off to the 31st century to meet the Legion of Superheroes in a tale that parodies the Legion's legendary first meeting with Superboy back in the Silver Age. There are some familiar Legion tropes that fans will recognize, but Humphries tries cramming too much in, such that you get the feeling something is wrong. Then, Humphries doubles down with an alternate take on the same story, drawn by Juan Manuel Ortiz, one of the regular artists on the now-bi-monthly Looney Tunes book. At least he gets Bugs right.

Rating: B+. I expected better.

Speaking of the Legion, they also co-starred in a Batman '66 1-shot that sends the Dynamic Duo to the future, where it's purported that Universo, one of the Legion's legendary foes, is related to a made-for-TV Bat-enemy, Egghead. Nothing says jump the shark better than twisting DC canon inside out and failing. No new Batman '66 comics have been announced since, but this was not the way to go-go if this is the end.

Rating: C.
Comics on TV: With Riverdale beginning its 2nd season in 3 weeks on a new night (Wednesdays, trading nights and air times with Arrow), head writer-producer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has managed to option his oft-delayed Chilling Adventures of Sabrina into a TV series, ticketed for the 2018-9 season, ensuring that his deconstruction of the beloved Archie Comics characters continues unabated.

Considering what he's done already. Forget the eternal triangle of Archie, Betty, & Veronica. Archie & Veronica are a couple, and so are Betty and Jughead (!). No Big Ethel in sight. Also, Moose has been rebooted, as they tried teasing a relationship with Kevin Keller. A "Bughead"-centric story appeared in a recent issue of TV Guide as part of their annual Comic-Con issue in July. Early spoilers for the season opener suggest Archie & Veronica getting busy in the shower. Forget about chaste relationships in this universe, friends.

Once Sabrina launches, that would give Greg Berlanti 7 shows on the CW. What's next, letting him program the network?

Have to believe fans of Riverdale were holding their breath when word got out earlier that KJ Apa (Archie) was in a car accident in Vancouver, where the show is shot, along with most of the CW roster. Luckily, Apa was unhurt. However, word is that there is some unrest over unreasonable working conditions (i.e. the producers not supplying the cast with rental cars, etc.), which has to do with network policy. I get that they tape most of their shows in Canada, with some exceptions (i.e. Whose Line is it Anyway?) to save money, but going el-scrimpo on amenities for the cast? Please.
Coming Attractions/Distractions: Before Black Lightning debuts on CW, a new 6-part miniseries launches from DC in November, written by series creator and fellow blogger Tony Isabella. The 2nd trade paperback collection of classic Black Lightning stories, collected from World's Finest and elsewhere in the late 70's and early 80's, hits stores at the end of January. Strangely, it's more expensive than the first collection, and this new edition collects stories written by Denny O'Neil and others.

Archie will try to jumpstart the Dark Circle line again in December with the return of the Mighty Crusaders. Can't see this working with the R-rated language used in the other books. Call this Dark Circle's last chance.

While he's waiting for his next UFC fight, CM Punk (Phil Brooks) is scripting a Master of Kung Fu 1-off for Marvel in November. He's already demonstrated a master's touch as a writer at both DC & Marvel, so this should be good. Can't say I'm as enthused about the 1-shot return of Marvel's original superhero satire book, Not Brand Ecch, also in November. I think it's closing in on or reaching its 50th anniversary, which would be reason enough to bring it back, but I don't know if it'd work today. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Samuel L. Jackson sings! (2017)

I'm sure you've seen this commercial a zillion times over the last couple of weeks.

Samuel L. Jackson's no stranger to singing, actually. Did a couple of blues numbers in "Black Snake Moan" that we'll have up sometime down the line. That above snippet sounds like he took voice lessons from the late Isaac Hayes in covering Rev. Al Green, who had a huge hit with "Let's Stay Together" back in the 70's. Next, Samuel will ask, "What's in your CD wallet?".

Sports this 'n' that

The season can't end fast enough for the Mets.

Thought to be a contender for the NL East this season before injuries put a crimp in the club's plans, the Amazin's limp home from Miami after getting swept by the Marlins this afternoon. New York has lost 8 of 10, and it's only going to get worse with the division champion Washington Nationals coming in on Friday. Miami only reinforced the point as it relates to Matt Harvey on Monday night. The Mets would be fools to let Harvey remain in the rotation next year as he doesn't have the arm strength to get beyond 5 innings in a start. Better to move him into the bullpen in what would certainly be his walk year, and you know his parasitic agent, Scott Boras, will want to move him someplace else to fatten both of their portfolios. What Boras, blinded by greed as he is, fails to see is that Harvey is not a quality starting pitcher anymore. He's routinely gotten lit up, as was the case Monday, suggesting that the Mets rushed him back too soon, just as they did with Seth Lugo, who put in 5 tough innings Tuesday, but got a no decision to show for it, and Steven Matz, who is done for the year. Once Harvey realizes this himself, no amount of bull that Boras can spin will convince other teams that Harvey can still be a starter.
Has Troy High's boys' soccer team peaked too soon?

The Flying Horses have now dropped two straight after getting shut out, 5-0, by Shaker Tuesday afternoon. Luckily, their next game isn't until Saturday morning in a Brunch Special vs. Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake. In fact, four of their final seven games are at home, so there's time to put a couple more wins on the board before sectionals begin the week of October 16.

Meanwhile, the Troy girls are still looking for their first win this year, and host non-league opponent Broadalbin-Perth for the 2nd straight year tonight. The game was originally scheduled for tomorrow, but because of Jewish New Year, it's been moved a day ahead of schedule. This has been a trend in Section 2, and presumably elsewhere, the last few years, something that didn't happen when I was in school. A year ago, Troy snapped their season-opening winless streak at B-P's expense. Could lightning strike twice in the same place? We'll see.
What is with the defeatist attitude at the New York Daily News lately?

Convinced that the Jets won't win a game this season---they're currently 0-2---the tabloid went so far as to suggest the team "tank" this season so they can get the #1 draft pick next spring, as we've documented previously. Now, a week ago, columnist Frank Isola, also a contributor to ESPN's Around The Horn and a guest co-host last week on Pardon The Interruption, suggested that the Knicks do the same thing this upcoming NBA season.


The Knicks, as long as James Dolan mismanages them, will never sign LeBron James if he decides to become a free agent again. They'd have a better chance of hiring ESPN's resident idiot, Stephen A. Smith, to be a press flack for Dolan than James taking his talents to Manhattan. That's just reality. I honestly think the Jests will actually win a game or two this season, just to prove the nay-sayers wrong. Not that it'd save Todd Bowles' job, because he'll be the sacrificial lamb regardless, but no one in their right mind would tank for an entire season.
The Giants are also 0-2, soon to be 0-3 if they drop one to Philadelphia this weekend. Now, there are headlines suggesting that head coach Ben McAdoo's offense isn't all that great after all. Like, DUH! Recall that Big Blue got off to a similarly slow start a couple of years ago, when McAdoo was the offensive coordinator under Tom Coughlin. McAdoo is wilting under the pressure, and he likely will be out the door if they don't make the playoffs. Just sayin'.
We close with some sad news.

Boxer Jake LaMotta, whose life story was told in the movie, "Raging Bull", passed away at 94 or 95, depending on which sources you're reading. This is because there are conflicting accounts of when he was born, be it 1922 or 1923.

Closer to home, retired Albany Times-Union staffer Mike Jarboe, who spent the last 15 seasons handicapping racing at Saratoga, and being part of a comedy team with sportswriter Tim Wilkin, succumbed to cancer at 63, just 2 weeks after the conclusion of this year's Saratoga meet. Jarboe toughed it out this season, but few readers knew of his condition, despite hints being dropped in the Bankroll Beatdown column during the meet.

Rest in peace, gentlemen.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Musical Interlude: Shine A Little Love (1979)

I had a vision, never fulfilled insofar as I know, of the Electric Light Orchestra being backed by some dancers (don't ask me why) on 1979's "Shine a Little Love". This surreal video, though, is worth the trip.

Monday, September 18, 2017

What Might've Been: Our House (1986)

"Our House is a very, very fine house...."--Crosby, Stills, & Nash (italics mine).

Had NBC placed Our House on a night other than Sunday, maybe it goes past 2 seasons (1986-8). It was slotted at the top of the network's Sunday lineup, meaning it would often be delayed or pre-empted early on in the season due to football in much of the country.

Diedre Hall (Days of Our Lives) led the ensemble, which also included Shannen Doherty (ex-Little House on the Prairie) and Wilford Brimley ("Cocoon"). Hall left Days during season 2 of House after discovering that trying to juggle two series at once wasn't going to work a second time. A decade earlier, after joining Days, Hall, ah, moonlighted in the campy superhero series, Electra Woman & Dyna Girl as part of ABC's Krofft Supershow. While her segment lasted just the one season, Hall endured the longer primetime season with House, but the strain got to be such that she had to sacrifice her 10 year gig on Days, though she'd eventually return.

The basic concept was this. After his son passes on, Brimley's character takes in his daughter-in-law (Hall) and her two children (Doherty & Chad Allen).

My folks rediscovered the series on cable a few years later, and that's how I came to watch a few episodes. Let's take a look at a sample.

Post-House, Brimley spent several years pitching life insurance and oatmeal. You know what Shannen Doherty has done since (Beverly Hills 90210, Charmed, Scare Tactics), often fraught with off-screen drama.

Rating: B.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Raymond "Bobby" Heenan (1944-2017)

Tonight, the world of professional wrestling is mourning the passing of Raymond Louis "Bobby" Heenan, who passed away earlier today, just a couple of months shy of his 73rd birthday.

Although billed as hailing from Beverly Hills, Heenan was really from Chicago, and began his career working for Dick the Bruiser's promotion in Indianapolis, first as a wrestler, then as a manager. Early success led Heenan to move on to the AWA, a brief run in the Georgia territory for the NWA in 1979-80, then, of course to the World Wrestling Federation, where he was first a manager, then a color commentator, from 1984-93. His pairing with Gorilla Monsoon on Wrestling Challenge and Prime Time Wrestling turned "The Brain" into a cult favorite due the chemistry he shared with Monsoon. The short-lived Bobby Heenan Show suffered from being developed without enough time to actually promote the program and give it room to grow.

From 1994-2000, Heenan was a color analyst for WCW, and was later inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. It is believed that had his talk show not bombed, Heenan could've been looked at as a possible star in Hollywood, compared to Emmy winner Ted Knight.

From 1989, here's a montage of Prime Time segments with Monsoon & Heenan at a premiere party for Hulk Hogan's film, "No Holds Barred".

After a couple of brief returns to WWE, Heenan's career in wrestling ended due to throat cancer, which ultimately cost him his greatest attribute, his voice.

Rest in peace, Brain.