Saturday, December 31, 2016

Out with the Old...

What more can be said?

Best wishes for a spectacularly happy and productive 2017 to all who read this.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Many Faces of Mala

Mala Powers, born on this date in 1931, was never content to be just one woman, or even to have just one career. A protégé of pioneering female director Ida Lupino, she won acclaim for her performance as a rape victim in Lupino's Outrage, and enjoyed plum roles in Edge of Doom and Cyrano de Bergerac. 

As Mala explained to columnist Bill Dunn in 1971, "I always see what is different between the character and myself. I can't help the similarities. It's much more interesting to impose the opposite characteristics." That eagerness to transform herself made her versatile to cast. She was a favorite guest star on shows like Perry Mason (where she made five appearances), and had a recurring role as the slightly snobbish, petulant Mona Williams, best pal of Barbara Baxter, in the final season of Hazel. She also co-starred with Anthony Quinn in the 1971-72 series The Man and the City. 

When not in front of the cameras, she had a second career as an acting teacher, and became a published author whose books included Follow the Year: A Celebration of Family Holidays (1985). Powers died in 2007, busy and productive as ever until shortly before her passing.

She packed quite a bit of living into 75 years.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

When Book Reviewing Ain't for Sissies

If you've been following my book reviews on this blog, you may have noticed that they tend to accentuate the positive. Knowing from first-hand experience how much effort writing a book entails, not to mention how personally writers take our work, I can't find any pleasure in slamming anyone's writing. I'd rather spend my energy calling attention to the books I enjoy.

That's why I hesitated to offer my opinion of The Top 100 American Situation Comedies: An Objective Ranking. It was written by two authors whose credentials are impressive, and issued by a respected academic publisher. Unfortunately, as many readers will quickly notice, it is also rife with errors.

To name a few:

Buddy (The Dick Van Dyke Show) was played by Morey, not "Maury," Amsterdam.

Beth Howland's Alice character was Vera Gorman, not "Goodman."

Uncle Tonoose (The Danny Thomas Show) was played by Hans Conried, not "Conreid."

On The Big Bang Theory, Raj's full name is Rajesh, not "Rajeesh."

And Fred MacMurray was not the only actor to be a regular cast member of My Three Sons for all 12 seasons. He shares that distinction with Stanley Livingston.

Maybe there truly is enlightenment to be found in the unique sitcom scoring system the authors have devised (although you have to wonder about a ranking that drops the classic 1970s Bob Newhart Show to #88). As for me, I had to put the book down. The mistakes were making my head swim.

I spent only $3.99 for the Kindle version of this book. Had I purchased it at full price ($39.95), I would be seriously pissed. I just hope its factual mistakes aren't perpetuated in other sources.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

I'm Being Marked Down!

There's a great moment in the movie comedy "Ruthless People" when kidnapping victim Bette Midler, whose husband refuses to pay the ransom (causing her captors to lower their price), cries in indignation and dismay, "I'm being marked down?!"

Well, Lost Laughs of '50s and '60s Television and I have likewise been put on sale, at least temporarily. The Kindle edition of my book about 30 neglected and overlooked sitcoms of the classic era is currently yours for a meager $3.99. So why not make it a stocking stuffer, for yourself or the TV fan in your life?