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Neil

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Neil last won the day on December 14

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  1. I see they're going to do another All in the Family. There's no denying the greatness of "AitF" and Norman Lear's contribution. But to me, the lasting appeal is in the performance of Carroll O'Connor. Beyond Family, I'm not much of a Norman Lear's 70s "relevant comedies". They're too broadly played, very "presentational", WAY too LOUD with everybody YELLING; and not all that funny. Their social themes are hammered with the subtlety as that garlic sandwich. Plus they ushered in that era of videotape instead of film. Thankfully the MTM crowd stuck with film. Positive note on the Lear shows: I liked their theme songs. I have to give them chutzpah credit for attempting to recreate episodes from the original scripts. I saw the last one. I can't say they really succeeded, but it's always fun to see something LIVE. So "All in the Family": fine, but "Good Times"? Really?? Maybe I never saw a good episode. Personally I'd rather see a cast recreate "Lucy is NG as RN"!
  2. I appreciate some of Garry Marshall's movie work (particularly "Nothing in Common" which should have earned Jackie Gleason a supporting actor nomination). I acknowledge the greatness of The Dick Van Dyke Show and a lot of "The Odd Couple". I'm not sure whether Garry was THE driving force behind either. His other TV work in the 70s: "meh". What offended me in his auto-biography was his implication (if I remember correctly) that writing for The Lucy Show was somehow slumming. Though I gave him an "A" for effort for "Good Skate", did the great roller skating scene require much writing or "black stuff"? It's great to watch Lucy on skates but as I recall, that's all she does. Brilliantly. But it's all HER; and not in the writing. I also give him kudos for using two B&M bits: entering all disheveled ;and for the line "Viv, you haven't live until you've....." (whatever the finish was). Plus they tried to do the build-up to the big scene with as much logic as possible----again "A" for effort; but "C" for execution. "Your feet are going to swell up like balloons. You'll NEVER get them into shoes in time for the dance", says Viv. Really? With a dress so long, she could have worn comfortable shoes and no one would have known. Wasn't the dance the NEXT night? Meaning Lucy would have to sleep and shower in the skates! Sneaking out of the sports store wearing moose heads is a funny sight gag, but a bit of a cheap one......hardly a way to leave without drawing attention to themselves. Marshall, like the bulk of the 1964-moving-forward writers, didn't respect the skill it took to write a great Lucy Show. And didn't have it.
  3. In all the interviews Lucy did for "Mame", I don't ever remember her mentioning Robert Preston. Has anyone heard they did not get along? His presence adds a lot to the movie. The "Loving You" montage is certainly the most beautifully filmed segment in the movie, lushly orchestrated and the best Theodora did costuming Lucy. So many gorgeous outfits seen in such short bursts, I can forgive her for that Macys/Christmas Quaker-like thing she designed for her. (It must have looked better as a sketch). And "Loving You" contains the one completely in-focus close up---and Lucy looks stunningly beautiful in it.
  4. And while I'm on a roll nit-picking poor "Lucy and Tennessee Ernie", it bugs me that during the "Barndance Saturday Night" song, every time Ernie sings "the fiddler will be there", the fiddler-guy takes two steps forward and back. (I admit I'm nit-picking!) By the time of the bank dance sequence, any attempt at comedy is discarded. Lucy's square dance calling is cute but if they had indeed remember this is a comedy, Lucy could have LIED to Ernie again and said she was a caller from way back. Then when Ernie puts her to the test, Lucy ad libs non-sensical calls, causing chaos for the square dancers who try to follow her calls and run into each other. Robert Eastman seems to have had a career playing mentally-challenged yokels. This one "Iffie" is practically identical to his running part he had on some latter Burns and Allen shows. "The named him Iffie because 'if he' was a girl they were going to name him Effie" : the one witty line (and a very QUALIFIED "witty") in the show. But must it be uttered TWICE? In fact, Eastman had studied with the prestigious Sanford Meisner group in LA, along with Carole Cook and husband Tom Troupe. Didn't Eastman later play the same part in "Wreckless Wheelchair Driver" HL singing "Down by the Lazy River" with Kim? (as opposed to ROberta Sherwood's "UP a Lazy River") Carole's great in the handful of 1st season Thelma Green episodes but I can't use those clips because they're b/w. Thelma's only in one or two 2nd season color shows. Then in a few 3rd season bits, she's now "Mrs. Valance" for no particular reason, her Thelma abandoned along with all the other recurring characters (did Milt ever WATCH a TLS episode?) Then Carole was off to Australia for an amazing TWO-YEAR Hello Dolly tour. Carole Cook was and IS a huge talent.
  5. I'm looking through Carole's TLS and HL appearances for a project I'm doing. They have to be in color so most of Thelma Green is out. Carole had the unfortunate fortune to appear in the most insipid episodes of TLS and HL respectively. TLS's 5th season "Tennessee Ernie" and HL's 3rd season "Ma Parker". Ever the pro, she gives it her all (as does Lucy) but those scripts.....My GAAWWD! There's nothing to say about "Parker" except I wonder if writers Rhine & Derman had the nerve to show up at the Monday morning table read. "Ernie" is more frustrating because the 5th season started out with some pretty good episodes through the last great one #14 of the seasons 22 episodes: "Substitute Secretary" (I know there are those that can't get past the fact that Lucy looks and sounds nothing like "Mrs. Winkler" but the comedy is so good, I can forgive; and that winners streak was interrupted by "Phil Silvers" "Mooney the Monkey" and the last half of "Pat Collins"), but from episode 15 on, it's all downhill (with one or two exceptions, those being Jody Gilbert & Iris Adrian). "Tennessee Ernie" (and Mainstreet 2, I guess) were the first of a Lucy show trend to rely on extended musical sequences that just go on WAY too long with expert but mirthless choreography done by professional dancers (bank employees?). Just when you've had more than enough, in through the bank doors pops that acrobatic dancer for his turn, more weird than entertaining (the slide whistle accompanying his painful-to-watch splits doesn't help). I guess there's no point in analyzing the Ernie plot such at it is, but I can't resist pointing out that the usually morally upstanding Lucy Carmichael is LYING to Ernie Higgins just to get his money. If her plan had worked, how would they have continued this charade? And speaking of performers saddled with the worst, Tennessee Ernie, after scoring big in 3 ILLs, hits rock bottom with this and his "Fun Farm" HL appearance, another "unwatchable" that is just a lazy writing excuse for one musical number after another, none of them entertaining in any way; and none that have any place in what we want from a Lucy episode. Though Carole as Cynthia Duncan has no dialogue in "Lucy Meets Lucy", it's my favorite 'Carole on a Lucy show', 2nd only to her fireman's pole debut entrance 11 years previous. Lucy Carter gets the prize and Kim gets the car, but the sequel (my project) has Miss Ball taking pity on poor Duncan and offering her the job as her stand-in for the new musical film she's doing. (There must have been SOME reason why the title MAME is never uttered in the episode, but I LOVE that they refer to it as "Miss Ball's new musical film".)
  6. BEWARE of anything written by Darwin Porter. He makes Boze Hadleigh look like Edward R Morrow----which is like saving Doris Ziffel makes Mother Burnside look like Mamie Van Doren.
  7. Very interesting compilation of a bunch of intros for other failed comedies of the 80s. I recognized a few established stars (Brian Dennehy) and a few that went on to great work (Bryan Cranston). But for the most part, these actors were never heard from again. Imagine toiling in show business and getting your BIG BREAK, featuring prominently enough in a new network show that your name is in the opening credits....writing all your friends back home (and you know how friends back home can be)....and then a year later, your agent is not returning your calls. A heart-breaking business: show.
  8. "this is the first time I Love Lucy episode has been recreated for TV!" Didn't Kate and Allie do one? Seems to me there was another too.
  9. Of all the story arcs on I Love Lucy --Baby, Europe, Florida, Move to Country--, this is the best. Imagine seeing these Hollywood shows first run! And having to wait a full week to find out what was to happen next. The third season was great but they admitted they were running out of ideas for self-contained episodes. The 4th season is my favorite. The episodes just got better and better. One wonders why they returned to New York at all because they were then whisked off to Europe. The greatness of this arc and Europe always stirs up the bile in my craw because of the lack of them in The Lucy Show or Here's Lucy, the most glaring missed opportunity was the parting of Lucy and Viv, Viv's wedding and Lucy's decision to move to LA. They could have done at least a half season and Viv's Wedding might have been the TV event of the year. Other than the few 2-parters, The Lucy Show and HL are maddening in their lack of any continuity.
  10. They may have been contractually bound to follow the original storyline, but it's not like it's based on historic events. My NEW Mame post-Beau plot thread: It’s SURE-FIRE! (…says I) After Beau's death, Mame gets a visit from Dwight Babcock brimming with enthusiasm for Patrick's involvement with the daughter of his good friends, the upstanding Upsons. Babcock needs a date for an upcoming banquet benefitting the cause the Upsons are spearheading: KMRA (“Keep Mountebank Restricted Again") and reluctantly asks Mame. Mame senses what the Upsons are all about and says she can't make it but has the perfect date for him: Romanian royalty Princess Lucretia Carmucci. Then, with Vera's help, goes to work transforming Agnes into Babcock’s date. (This gives some motivation for the Gooch makeover. AND as a better set-up for the comeuppance scene for both Babcock and the Upsons). Here Mame lays out her plan to Agnes in song. Mame’s visit to “Upson Downs” follows the movie version (though clips along a bit faster) and confirms her suspicions about Claude, Dorie and Gloria’s crowd. When Gooch does not return from her date, Mame confronts Babcock who claims ignorance. But Mame suspects he knows more than he's telling when Babcock makes a passing reference to East Strousberg’s notorious Shangri-La. When Agnes returns with “Junior Babcock” in the womb, her memory is clouded by having had too many Dr. Peppers. (here: a revised “Gooch’s Song”) Naturally Mame takes her in. Her Babcock suspicions are confirmed when she finds a motel receipt Agnes saved, paid for by the Knickerbocker Bank. Before the Beekman Place Upson party (also attended by Babcock as in the Roz movie), we see Mame and Vera putting their heads together hatching up a plan (but we don’t know what it is yet). This is where they do a less-catty version of Bosom Buddies as they reminisce of their past escapades. Mame stages pregnant Gooch's entrance to the party for maximum effect. Agnes screams with joy when her memory suddenly returns and she recognizes Babcock as the father of her child. Babcock now realizes he was duped by Mame, and at first sputters his lame excuses to the Upsons. But after his own short reprise of “What Do I Do Now?” (yes Babcock gets a song) he melts---as the sight of Agnes rekindles the memory of their romantic fling. Tweaking Claude’s nose, he now embraces the “Mame” way, proposes to Agnes and announces his plans to outbid Claude for the property next to the Upsons so he and Agnes can live at and operate “The Beauregard Jackson Burnside Memorial Home for Unwed Mothers”. (For reasons of good taste, they leave “Peckerwood” out of the name). Now the party really gets rocking as Mame, Gooch and Vera backed by The Fallen Angels Singers & Dancers launch into an up-tempo production number in the spirit of "That's How Young How I Feel" with as yet not-completed, different lyrics. Meanwhile, Patrick sees his old devoted nanny being snubbed by the snooty family he was going to marry into, he realizes his loyalty to Agnes, the spirit his Auntie Mame taught him and what sort of people the Upsons are, so is only too glad when the Upsons stomp off in mid-number (see* below) as he and Babcock join in the song-festivities! Dissolve to scene 10 year later as portrayed in the movie with Mame taking Peter under her wing. With one exception: in this version, Pegeen was one of the “fallen angels” whom Patrick paired up with during the tap-dance section of the party’s song-and-dance number, married her and raised the child she had as his own. (Doesn't young Peter look a little like Ito?) THE END. *CUT FOR TIME: as if things couldn’t have gotten any worse for the Upsons, when a very distraught Gloria left Mame’s party, she was consoled in the arms of Ito. Then……later when Gloria starts to 'show', she confesses the ethnicity of the father to Claude and Dorie, who banish their daughter to the other side of their wishing well. Cut for time #2: the follow-up scene when Gloria’s son gets his teeth and she refuses to nurse him. Aftermath of this post: "ESTATE of PAUL ZINDEL vs. BORED and TALENTED WEBMASTER" who is after all legally responsible for all posts.
  11. #1. You could be right, but I have trouble picturing it. Did Angela ever do glamor in the movies? But even Angela could not have overcome THAT script with THAT direction. I don't know that anyone could have. One reviewer, while fairly positive about the movie, noted that "this Mame comes to the screen with considerable stuffing knocked out it" and "your enjoyment depends heavily on your memories of the original". When you do a musical of a play, you've got to eliminate roughly 45 minutes of plot to make room for the songs. Broadway: getting rid of the O'Banyon character also eliminates the absurd, hilarious comedy of him dating and MARRYING Agnes Gooch (falling for Mame's story that she is a wealthy heiress), but they had to ditch SOMETHING. The movie goes too far. Eliminating the plot thread of Mame's autobiography--a huge mistake. Because after Beau dies, there's a big hole where nothing much happens until we get to the Upsons. Yes, I suppose they had to follow the basic story line. But was there really any need to kill Beau off to make the rest of the plot work? The movie also eliminates the Babcock-Upson connection which was an even bigger mistake. But I've got the PERFECT solution! (later) #2. Though Mame depicts the years 1928-1948, it has a much more contemporary feel than Dolly. Other than the stock market crash, there are no historic references I can think of that make it a period piece. Both movies look like they were set in the year of their release. The colossal failure of the 1983 revival is baffling. And OF COURSE, there was some who blamed Lucy for tarnishing the reputation of the property.
  12. I'm always up for a "Mame" discussion! Nanny Nora Muldoon and Gooch were combined into one character in the Broadway musical version--which still contained the plot thread of Mame writing her autobiography, Gooch having been sent to secretarial school "Speedo" to take dictation. Until "FritzyBoy2" brought it up, I hadn't considered the notion that Jane's Gooch was too old to be pregnant. My problem (as stated MANY time) is that Gooch is such a subordinate character in the movie, we don't care enough about her to give her her own song. And besides, there's very little interaction between Mame and Gooch directly so Mame did not really give her the "live live live" lessons. (And BTW does "live live live" really translate into tramping it up in an East Flousberg* Pennsylvania motel room with God-knows-what sort of lowlife?) I don't know if, in the Broadway musical version, Patrick was such an a-hole to his old nanny Gooch, but it really bothers me in the movie. Specifically Agnes greeting him with a cheery "HI, Patrick!"....which goes unacknowledged and followed by "What is AGNES doing here???" to Mame as if Agnes wasn't even there. I'd be interested in how you, Harry, feel "That's How Young" is the weakest lyrically. I hadn't thought about it along those lines. I love the song. I'm not sure where else in the movie it could have been placed, but the film really needed a post-"Mame" LucyMame kicking-up-her-heels musical number--not that the goings-on afforded the opportunity for one. (Maybe Mame, Vera and Gooch doing "Ukulele Talk"?) Re: the Upson Downs scene. One prominent national critic praised it because "we get to see Lucille Ball, the actress". Right. Lucy is very low-key but true to the character. This scene in the movie certainly plays differently than the recording I have of the Broadway show (from the 1968 LA stop on the tour). The audience is laughing throughout. However, you can get away with cartoon-ing it up with broad performances on stage. I have mixed feelings about the decision to play it more realistically and much more sedate in the movie, which is a musical COMEDY after all. I'm not knocking Angela, because by all accounts she wowed them onstage, but if she had recreated that same performance in the film it just wouldn't have worked. The casting of Angela as Broadway's Mame up against so many higher-caliber women considered (Lucy included) and her subsequent triumph after years as a supporting player is the sort of show-biz success story people love. Established icon Lucy taking on a role (meant for Angela, after all and STOLEN) that was not necessarily her forte is the sort of show-biz story people love-----to HATE. *Is this REALLY a Pennsylvania city?
  13. What an insightful perspective. I knew if I lived long enough Mame would eventually be seen as entertaining (I don't know about "masterpiece" ....). Some of your points: agree thoroughly about It's Today's "botch orchestration" (well put). Evidently "Gooch's Song" was a killer on stage. I've never even liked the song. I don't find it particularly tuneful or the lyrics clever. ("Although I was leery, I thrived on your theory that life could be a WOW"---yes, there are only so many rhymes to "now" but this one is real stretch). Without examining them all, I think this may be the worst song in any Jerry Herman musical. The problem with "That's How Young..." is that its placement is completely incidental to the plot. They loved it on stage because for one thing it's a great song, but that 2nd act needed a kick-up-your-heels production number. Perhaps they could have included it somewhere else in the movie. Lucy's portrayal is very well-acted (with one of two exceptions) but this Mame lacks the madcap quality Roz's had. This is the fault of the director and writer, not Lucy. In the clash scene between Mame and Patrick, he says "I was afraid you'd come up here dressed like a farmhand or the Queen of Sheba"...No she wouldn't. Not this Mame. There's nothing we've seen of her that would indicate she would do that. Her relationship with young Patrick is covered in the "Open a New Window" montage. Other than that, we don't see the bond between the two. I only wish they had added whatever soft-focus tricks they used, generating them in post-production, as they probably would today, instead of using filters--or whatever--as the film was being shot, thereby committing them to the film's negative. If they had used the former technique (assuming it was possible in 1974), these shots could have been corrected for the DVD or maybe even before the release of the movie in '74. . The point I've tried to make is that besides being excessive, they were not necessary---at least to the degree they were used. An unforeseen backlash is that those shots gave fuel to the critic-mob chant that Lucy was "too old" for the part.
  14. With Monday Night Football on ABC starting at 9 eastern time, the ABC 8:00 (eastern) show was at a severe disadvantage. Football was played live across the country so we on Pacific time got it at 6:00. The official schedule had the game running until 9 Pacific. But it (followed by all that post-game BLATHER) ended whenever it ended. I think the 8:00 series shown in the east was either scheduled for 9:00 (or 10:00?) on the west coast or started whenever the pundits finished analyzing the game and many times they didn't seem to be in ANY rush. Or later if God forbid, the game went into overtime. There were many times the football game ran 3-hours-plus so the last part aired opposite Here's Lucy on the west coast. You can imagine the resistance I faced trying to commandeer the set at 9:00 especially if that was part of a nail-biting overtime conclusion. Monday Night Football/Here's Lucy: not exactly the same fan base.
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