100 Memorable Movie Characters – The Top 25

“A good film is when the price of the dinner, the theater admission, & the babysitter were worth it.”    –  Alfred Hitchcock

 

 

Y’all thought I’d forgotten, didn’t you?? Waaaayyyyy back at the end of November we presented Part 4 of this series, and then everything just kind of stopped. We didn’t produce as much content during the holidays as usual, and The Sammy Awards were…canceled (for one year only). Then…as y’all are surely aware…the world was thrown into chaos due to the global coronavirus pandemic. And just as we were slowly beginning to emerge from all of that yours truly ran into some old familiar health issues. After a month in the hospital I am currently residing in an even more depressing place. I can think of no better way to pull myself out of the abyss than to reconnect with The Manoverse. For the sake of readability I have decided to break down the Top 25 into two segments. I don’t believe there will be many surprises, but I would love to hear some feedback. Are there any characters I left out?? Who is ranked too high?? Too low?? Keep in mind that I am an 80’s kid, so if you are a decade older or a decade younger some of my choices may not make much sense, but all in all I would stack my list up against any others out on the info superhighway. If you need to catch up or just give yourself a refresher on what we’ve done previously just go here, here, here, & here. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

25     Mickey Mouse (various films)

When we counted down our favorite cartoons a few years ago Mickey placed 10th. However, I feel like he also needs to be included here because he starred in well over 100 short films from 1928-53, as well as about a dozen full length movies. Those films not only introduced a plethora of additional Disney characters to the world (Goofy, Minnie Mouse, Pluto), but they served to etch Mickey into the pop culture consciousness of the first generations of moviegoers. His popularity has endured, and though he is no longer Disney’s biggest star (especially since they’ve expanded their footprint beyond animated movies) Mickey Mouse is still the company’s symbol and the character most associated with it. Three decades would pass between the initial wave of short films and Mickey’s comeback, and since then he has popped up occasionally, although he seems to be more of a television star these days, with any movies he’s in going direct to video.

 

 

 

24     Lt. John McClane (The Die Hard Series)

McClane makes the cut on a technicality. I said at the beginning that we weren’t including Christmas characters like Santa Claus, Ebenezer Scrooge, or George Bailey in this project because we already focused on them a few years ago. Lt. McClane ranked 10th on that particular countdown, but let us not forget that he has been the star of five Die Hard movies, with only the first one being a certified Christmas classic. And while the films that have followed don’t measure up to the original I believe they are good enough (especially the third…1995’s Die Hard With A Vengeance) for John McClane to be included here. I’m not sure it’s fair to call him an underdog, but he does seem to have a knack for finding himself in situations where the odds are stacked against him, and while most normal human beings would fold like a cheap suit under such duress he shines. McClane isn’t a superhero with any kind of special powers…he’s just a regular guy with incredible tenacity and a refreshing wit.

 

Quotes

“Yippie ki yay, motherfucker.”

 

 

23     Kirk, Spock, & Bones (The Star Trek Series)

When we counted down our 100 Memorable TV Characters back in 2018 Captain James T. Kirk & Mister Spock tied for 4th, with Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy ranked 24th. However, not only am I a bit more familiar with the Star Trek movies (six were produced featuring the original crew from 1979-91), but I think the dynamics changed a bit. Bones McCoy is even more endearing as a cranky old man. Captain Kirk balances getting older with his ever present fiery passion and the demands of an evolving Starfleet. Spock is infused with a skosh more humanity. The respect & admiration between the three is palpable and works well in balancing out the action sequences. I have enjoyed JJ Abrams’ rebooted Star Trek films to a degree, but they feel like a poor imitation of the original.

 

Quotes

“I don’t like to lose. I don’t believe in the ‘No-Win’ scenario.” (Kirk)

“Are you out of your Vulcan mind? No human can tolerate the radiation that’s in there!” (Bones)

“I have been and ever shall be your friend.” (Spock)

“I haven’t faced death. I’ve cheated death. I’ve tricked my way out of death and patted myself on the back for my ingenuity. I know nothing.” (Kirk)

“It’s bad enough to be court-martialed and to have to spend the rest of our lives mining borite, but to have to go home in this Klingon flea trap!” (Bones)

“Live long and prosper.” (Spock)

“That’s simply the way they talk here. Nobody pays any attention to you unless you swear every other word. You’ll find it in all the literature of the period.” (Kirk)

“This is insane! You’re proposing that we go backwards in time, pick up two humpback whales, bring them forwards in time, drop ’em off and hope they tell this probe what to go do with itself!” (Bones)

“Concentration is vital. You must be one with the rock.” (Spock)

“Forgive you? I ought to knock you on your goddamned ass.” (Kirk)

“Please Captain…not in front of the Klingons.” (Spock)

“God, I liked him better before he died.” (Bones)

“Damn it Bones, you’re a doctor. You know that pain and guilt can’t be taken away with the wave of a magic wand. They’re the things we carry with us, the things that make us who we are. If we lose them, we lose ourselves. I don’t want my pain taken away! I need my pain!” (Kirk)

“The bureaucratic mentality is the only constant in the universe.” (Bones)

“If I were human I believe my response would be…go to Hell.” (Spock)

“This is the final cruise of the Starship Enterprise under my command. This ship and her history will shortly become the care of another crew. To them and their posterity will we commit our future. They will continue the voyages we have begun and journey to all the undiscovered countries, boldly going where no man has gone before.” (Kirk)

 

 

22     Sherlock Holmes (various films)

Sherlock Holmes has been portrayed on film more than any fictional character other than Dracula & Santa Claus, with the three of them trading the lead back & forth as more stories are produced. Going all the way back to silent films Holmes has starred in about four dozen movies, with the most famous probably being the 14 that were produced from 1939-46 with Basil Rathbone portraying the world’s foremost consulting detective. 1985’s Young Sherlock Holmes is a fun adaptation, while I am not keen on the more recent Guy Ritchie films starring Robert Downey Jr. as Holmes. I am a huge fan of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original short stories & novellas, and don’t believe modern filmmakers do that great of a job in capturing the ambiance & general vibe of the author’s creation. Occasionally they sort of travel in the opposite direction and go for parody. In the case of 1988’s Without a Clue starring Michael Caine it works, while Holmes & Watson with Will Ferrell from a couple of years ago is an abject failure. If Holmes had been consistently portrayed in better movies thru the years it is likely he’d be ranked much higher in this countdown because I adore the character, but it seems like he is far better off on television than on the big screen. Or you could just read the books.

 

Quotes

“No magic, Watson. Pure and simple deduction.”

“The game is afoot!”

“Murder is an insidious thing, Watson. Once a man has dipped his fingers in blood, sooner or later he’ll feel the urge to kill again.”

“A great detective relies on perception, intelligence, and imagination.”

“At the moment I suspect no one and everyone.”

“You’ve a magnificent brain, Moriarty. I admire it. I admire it so much I’d like to present it pickled in alcohol to the London Medical Society.”

“There’s no doubt about it in my mind. Or perhaps I should say, in my imagination. For that’s where crimes are conceived and where they’re solved… in the imagination.”

 

 

 

21     The Wicked Witch of the West (The Wizard of Oz)

I must admit that I have not read the 1995 novel Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West or seen the award winning musical based on that book. However, I grew up loving the 1939 classic, and also enjoyed a 2013 film called Oz the Great and Powerful, a prequel that explores the origin stories of The Wizard, Glenda the Good Witch, & The Wicked Witch. In the prequel the witches are presented as three sisters: Glinda, Evanora, & Theodora, all daughters of the late King of Oz. Evanora is already evil when we meet her…she is the Wicked Witch of the East. It is Evanora who manipulates Theodora into believing that Oscar Diggs…the eventual Wizard of Oz…has screwed her over. Theodora is heartbroken since she has fallen for Oscar, but once she has been convinced of his bad intentions she is easily persuaded by Evanora to eat a magic apple to cure her sadness. Instead the apple turns Theodora into a hideously green witch that completes her transformation, which is really well done thanks to modern special effects. I’m one of those people who rather enjoys a good backstory in a prequel/sequel as long as it is well-written & makes sense. For example, I hate how the newest reboot in the Halloween series dismisses the idea of Michael Myers being Laurie Strode’s brother (a concept presented in 1981’s Halloween II) because I think that relationship made a lot of sense and was a cool twist. Theodora’s conversion into The Wicked Witch of the West is the most interesting part of an otherwise average (at best) movie. But of course it’d be almost impossible to live up to the standard of the original film, when nasty, bike riding, dog hating Almira Gulch becomes The Wicked Witch of the West during a really vivid dream (maybe). In 2003 The Wicked Witch of the West was 4th on the American Film Institute’s list of 50 Greatest Villains, and nearly a century after the movie’s theatrical release the character is still frightening children of all ages.

 

Quotes

“I’ll get you, my pretty, and your little dog too!”

“I’m melting! Melting!”

 

 

20     Captain Quint (Jaws)

Every sequel that followed Spielberg’s 1975 original failed in one way or another. There are a ton of reasons for those disappointments, but maybe one explanation could be the absence of Robert Shaw as shark hunter Quint. Before co-starring in Jaws Shaw had already been nominated for a Best Supporting Actor Oscar in 1966, although her lost to Walter Matthau. Shaw had also found great fame & success after co-starring with Sean Connery in the second James Bond film From Russia with Love. He was reluctant to sign on for Jaws because he didn’t particularly care for Peter Benchley’s novel, but ultimately was persuaded to take the role and we’re all better off for that. Jaws is one of the few examples where the movie is exponentially better than the book, and Shaw’s performance is a key factor. Quint’s haunting speech about the 1945 sinking of the USS Indianapolis might be one of the greatest monologues on film, and his death scene is epic.

 

Quotes

“Here lies the body of Mary Lee, died at the age of 103. For fifteen years she kept her virginity. Not a bad record for this vicinity.”

“I’ll catch this bird for you, but it ain’t gonna be easy. Bad fish! Not like going down to the pond and chasing bluegills & tommycods. This shark, swallow ya whole. Little shakin’, little tenderizin’, down you go. And we gotta do it quick, that’ll bring back the tourists, that’ll put all your businesses on a payin’ basis. But it’s not gonna be pleasant! I value my neck a lot more than $3000, Chief. I’ll find him for three, but I’ll catch him, and kill him, for ten. But you’ve gotta make up your minds. If you want to stay alive, then ante up. If you want to play it cheap, be on welfare the whole winter. I don’t want no volunteers, I don’t want no mates, there’s too many captains on this island. $10,000 for me by myself. For that you get the head, the tail, the whole damn thing.”

“1100 men went into the water. Vessel went down in 12 minutes. Didn’t see the first shark for about half an hour. A tiger, 13 footer – you know how you know that when you’re in the water, Chief? You tell by lookin’ from the dorsal to the tail. What we didn’t know was our bomb mission had been so secret, no distress signal had been sent. They didn’t even list us overdue for a week. Very first light, Chief, sharks come cruisin’. So we formed ourselves into tight groups. And the idea was, the shark comes to the nearest man and he starts poundin’ & hollerin’ & screamin’. Sometimes the shark go away… sometimes he wouldn’t go away. Sometimes that shark, he looks right into your eyes. Y’know, the thing about a shark, he’s got lifeless eyes, black eyes, like a doll’s eyes. When he comes after ya, he doesn’t seem to be livin’ until he bites ya, and those black eyes roll over white, and then… aww, then you hear that terrible, high-pitched screamin’, the ocean turns red, and in spite of all the poundin’ and the hollerin’, they all come in and… rip ya to pieces. You know, by the end of that first dawn, we lost a hundred men. I don’t know how many sharks, maybe a thousand. I don’t know how many men. They averaged six an hour. Noon the fifth day, Mr. Hooper, a Lockheed Ventura saw us. He swung in low and he saw us. He was a young pilot, a lot younger than Mr. Hooper. Anyway, he saw us and he come in low and three hours later, a big fat PBY comes down and start to pick us up. You know, that was the time I was most frightened – waitin’ for my turn. I’ll never put on a life jacket again. So, 1100 men went in the water, 316 come out, and the sharks took the rest, June 29th, 1945. Anyway, we delivered the bomb.”

 

 

19     Lt. Col. Frank Slade (Scent of a Woman)

Al Pacino has been nominated for nine Academy Awards, but his only win came as a result of portraying blind, angry, & suicidal retired Army officer Frank Slade. While The Godfather, Glengarry Glen Ross, and others might be better films, there’s little doubt that Slade is Pacino’s best performance. He carries an otherwise pedestrian movie on his back, chewing enough scenery along the way to feed a small village.

 

Quotes

“Women! What could you say? Who made ’em? God must have been a genius. The hair…they say the hair is everything, you know. Have you ever buried your nose in a mountain of curls…just wanted to go to sleep forever? Or lips… and when they touched, yours were like…that first swallow of wine after you just crossed the desert.”

“You got integrity Charlie. I don’t know whether to shoot you or adopt you.”

“I’m just gettin’ warmed up! I don’t know who went to this place, William Howard Taft, William Jennings Bryan, William Tell, whoever. Their spirit is dead; if they ever had one, it’s gone. You’re building a rat ship here, a vessel for sea-going snitches. And if you think you’re preparing these minnows for manhood, you better think again. Because I say you are killing the very spirit this institution proclaims it instills! What a sham! What kind of show are you guys puttin’ on here today? I mean, the only class in this act is sittin’ next to me. And I’m here to tell you, this boy’s soul is intact. It’s non-negotiable. You don’t know what out of order is Mr. Trask. I’d show you, but I’m too old, I’m too tired, I’m too fuckin’ blind. If I were the man I was five years ago, I’d take a FLAMETHROWER to this place! Out of order?! Who the hell you think you’re talking to?! I’ve been around, you know? There was a time I could see! And I have seen…boys like these, younger than these, their arms torn out, their legs ripped off! But there is nothing like the sight of an amputated spirit. There is no prosthetic for that. You think you’re merely sending this splendid foot-soldier back home to Oregon with his tail between his legs, but I say you are executing his soul! And why? Because he’s not a “Baird man”. Baird men. You hurt this boy, you’re going to be Baird bums, the lot of ya.”

 

 

18     Inspector Clouseau (The Pink Panther Series)

When I was a kid The Pink Panther was an animated pitchman for insulation. It wasn’t until I was a little older that I discovered the film series starring Peter Sellers as a hopelessly inept French detective who obliviously wreaks havoc everywhere he goes. Sellers starred in a half dozen Panther movies, with Alan Arkin, Steve Martin, & Roger Moore taking on the role in other offerings that should be mostly ignored. By far the best of the lot is 1964’s A Shot in the Dark, which finds Clouseau investigating the murder of an elderly millionaire’s chauffeur. Sellers had a long & successful career that included multiple Academy Award nominations and Golden Globe wins, but his greatest legacy is Clouseau.

 

Quotes

“Facts! Nothing matters but the facts. Without them the science of criminal investigation is nothing more than a guessing game.”

I believe everything and I believe nothing. I suspect everyone and I suspect no one.”

“We must accelerate out training program. You must learn to attack me whenever and wherever I least expect it. And you, you must give no quarter.

“You fool! You have broken my pointing stick! I have nothing to point with now!”

 

 

17     Harry Potter (The Harry Potter Series)

Millennials are freaking out right now because they think I’ve ranked their beloved cinematic hero way too low. Well, okay…you are entitled to your opinion. However, let me clarify a couple of things. First of all, I am slightly older, so I didn’t experience Potter-mania during my formative youth. It took me a few years to jump on the bandwagon and I was about 30 years old. Secondly, I don’t think the movies even approach the brilliance of the books. Having said that, there is no denying that The Boy Who Lived and the world that was created around him have had a huge impact on pop culture in the past two decades. When author JK Rowling signed a movie deal in 1999 a seven month search to cast the title role ended when producers discovered 11 year old Daniel Radcliffe, and it turned out to be a brilliant choice. It cannot be an easy task to bring a literary icon to life, especially for such a young kid. That’s a heavy responsibility. Fortunately Radcliffe was up to the challenge and an entire generation couldn’t imagine anyone else as Harry. Thru eight films over the course of a decade we watch him grow from a scared & confused young lad to a confident & brave teenager who ultimately defeats Lord Voldemort and saves the entire wizarding world. Contrary to some religious folks who stay away from Harry Potter and its sorcery I see a lot of very spiritual themes in the story, not the least of which is good triumphing over evil.

 

Quotes

“He was their friend, and he betrayed them. HE WAS THEIR FRIEND! I hope he finds me cause when he does I’m gonna be ready! When he does, I’m gonna kill him!”

“I didn’t put my name in that cup. I don’t want eternal glory.”

“Working hard is important. But there is something that matters even more…believing in yourself. Think of it this way; every great wizard in history has started out as nothing more than what we are now: students. If they can do it, why not us?”

 

 

16     Ferris Bueller (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off)

Movies & TV shows set in high school are a tried & true entertainment staple, and frequently feature a character who is popular with everyone except the principal, is enviably cool & charming, thumbs their nose at authority, and gets away with all sorts of hijinks. However, I submit to you that every other character in that mold is a poor imitation of Chicago’s own Ferris Bueller, who takes his girlfriend Sloane & morose best pal Cameron on the ultimate Senior Skip Day, all while his clueless parents think he’s at home sick in bed. The only people who are onto the young scalawag are his cynical sister Jeannie and Ed Rooney, the hapless principal. Ferris Bueller, as embodied by young Matthew Broderick, isn’t particularly cool or sexy, like the stereotypical jock you see in too many movies. He isn’t the formulaic nerd. Neither his popularity with students nor the reasons for Rooney’s disdain are explored deeply because it doesn’t matter…we take those things at face value and just enjoy the kind of innocent adventure we all wish we could have had when we were that age.

 

Quotes

“Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”

 

 

 

15     Khan Noonien Singh (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan)

Khan first appeared on a Season 1 episode of TOS called “Space Seed”, during which The Enterprise stumbles upon a ship full of Earthlings in suspended animation. Khan is a genetically engineered superhuman with evil intentions, but his plan is foiled by Captain Kirk and he is exiled on a remote planet. Fifteen years later Khan & Kirk battled on the big screen in what most believe to be the best Trek film. In between actor Ricardo Montalban had moved on to his most famous role as Mr. Roarke on ABC’s Fantasy Island from 1980-85, but Trekkies everywhere are glad he revisited the role of Khan. The odd combination of Khan’s superior strength & warrior mentality and Montalban’s suave Mexican accent, as well as his fondness for quoting Moby Dick, serve to make the character that much more memorable,

 

Quotes

“Ceti Alpha VI exploded six months after we were left here. The shock shifted the orbit of this planet, and everything was laid waste. Admiral Kirk never bothered to check on our progress! It was only the fact of my genetically-engineered intellect that allowed us to survive.”

“I’ve done far worse than kill you. I’ve hurt you, and I wish to go on hurting you. I shall leave you as you left me, as you left her…marooned for all eternity in the center of a dead planet, buried alive.”

“He tasks me. He tasks me, and I shall have him. I’ll chase him round the Moons of Nibia and round the Antares Maelstrom and round Perdition’s flames before I give him up!”

 

 

14     Don Vito Corleone (The Godfather & The Godfather Part II)

One of the more interesting bits of Academy Awards trivia is that Don Corleone is one of only two characters that won awards for different actors. Marlon Brando won Best Actor in 1972 for the original Godfather, while Robert DeNiro won Best Supporting Actor for his turn as young Vito in the 1974 sequel (Heath Ledger &  Joaquin Phoenix.achieved similar acclaim portraying The Joker). Brando was the top choice of the novel’s author Mario Puzo to portray Don Corleone, although the film studio preferred Ernest Borgnine, George C. Scott, Orson Welles, or Anthony Quinn (thank God Puzo prevailed). Brando famously stuck cotton balls in his cheeks and put shoe polish in his hair to darken it, which is the kind of small quirk that helps a character stand out. The Godfather and The Godfather Part II are both nearly flawless films, with Brando & DeNiro’s interpretations of Vito Corleone a huge reason why

 

Quotes

“Why did you go to the police? Why didn’t you come to me first? We’ve known each other many years, but this is the first time you ever came to me for counsel or for help. I can’t remember the last time that you invited me to your house for a cup of coffee, even though my wife is godmother to your only child. But let’s be frank here. You never wanted my friendship and you were afraid to be in my debt. You found paradise in America, you had a good trade. You made a good living, the police protected you, and there were courts of law. You didn’t need a friend like me. But, now you come to me, and you say: “Don Corleone, give me justice.” But you don’t ask with respect. You don’t offer friendship. You don’t even think to call me Godfather. Instead, you come into my house on the day my daughter is to be married, and you ask me to do murder for money. What have I ever done to make you treat me so disrespectfully? If you’d come to me in friendship, then that scum that ruined your daughter would be suffering this very day. And if by chance an honest man like yourself should make enemies, then they would become my enemies. And then they would fear you.”

“Someday…and that day may never come…I’ll call upon you to do a service for me. But until that day, accept this justice as a gift on my daughter’s wedding day.”

“I want no inquiries made. I want no acts of vengeance. I want you to arrange a meeting with the heads of the Five Families. This war stops now.”

“I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.”

“I want you to use all your powers, and all your skills. I don’t want his mother to see him this way. Look how they massacred my boy.”

“I have a lot of friends in politics, but they wouldn’t be friendly very long if they knew my business was drugs instead of gambling, which they regard as a harmless vice. But drugs is a dirty business.”

“I spent my whole life trying not to be careless. Women & children can afford to be careless, but not men.”

“Tattaglia’s a pimp. He never could’ve outfought Santino, but I didn’t know until this day that it was Barzini all along.”

“I never wanted this for you. I worked my whole life…I don’t apologize…to take care of my family. And I refused to be a fool dancing on a string held by all of those big shots. I don’t apologize. That’s my life, but I thought that when it was your time, that you would be the one to hold the strings. Senator Corleone. Governor Corleone. Something. There wasn’t enough time, Michael. Wasn’t enough time.”

“I have a sentimental weakness for my children, and I spoil them, as you can see. They talk when they should listen.”

 

 

13     Dracula & Frankenstein (various films)

I don’t have children and don’t pay all that much attention to Halloween or trick-or-treat, but I know that trends in costumes vary annually based on who’s in the news and what pop culture is offering. However, I’m willing to bet that Dracula & Frankenstein still sell their fair share of costumes each year no matter what the most popular characters du jour happen to be. Both novels are fantastic, and if you are so inclined I always encourage people to read them. Mary Shelley published Frankenstein in 1818, while Bram Stoker wrote Dracula in 1897. Most probably have a general idea of what the stories are about so I’ll spare you a rehash. Dracula has appeared in atleast 200 movies since the 1920’s, everything from straightforward adaptations of the book to comedic parodies like 1979’s Love at First Bite to animated fare. My favorites are the 1931 Dracula starring Bela Lugosi, which is fairly mild in comparison to modern horror films, and Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein (they meet Dracula too), which is the kind of comedic scary entertainment I gravitate toward every October. Frankenstein has been featured in dozens of films since the Silent Era, with my favorites being the 1931 Frankenstein with Boris Karloff, the aforementioned Abbott & Costello spoof, and Mel Brooks’ 1974 hilarious classic Young Frankenstein.

 

Quotes

“Listen to them. Children of the night. What music they make.” (Dracula)

“You are too late. My blood now flows through her veins. She will live through the centuries to come, as I have lived.” (Dracula)

“To die, to be really dead, that must be glorious! There are far worse things awaiting man than death.” (Dracula)

“For as long as I can remember, people have hated me. They looked at my face and my body and they ran away in horror. In my loneliness I decided that if I could not inspire love, which was my deepest hope, I would instead cause fear. I live because this poor, half-crazed genius has given me life. He alone held an image of me as something beautiful. And then, when it would have been easy enough to stay out of danger, he used his own body as a guinea pig to give me a calmer brain and a somewhat more sophisticated way of expressing myself.” (Frankenstein)

 

 

12     Han Solo, Princess Leia, & Luke Skywalker (The Star Wars Trilogy)

I know, I know…it’s a cop-out to tie these three. Guilty as charged. Having said that, I don’t see any way around it. If the prequels & sequels taught us anything it’s that we needed this trio…all three of them…together. They each bring something a little different to the table, and it takes all of them to bring peace to a galaxy far far away. It’s a damn shame that the idiots at Disney squandered an opportunity to bring them together again, and now that chance is lost forever.

 

Quotes

“Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You’re my only hope.” (Princess Leia)

“It’s the ship that made the Kessel run in less than twelve parsecs.” (Han Solo)

“I’ll never turn to the dark side. You’ve failed, your highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me.” (Luke Skywalker)

“Somebody has to save our skins. Into the garbage chute, flyboy.” (Princess Leia)

“Never tell me the odds!” (Han Solo)

“I won’t fail you. I’m not afraid.” (Luke Skywalker)

“You know, sometimes I amaze even myself.” (Han Solo)

 

 

11     Willy Wonka (Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory)

Author Roald Dahl published Charlie & the Chocolate Factory in 1964, with the film adaptation arriving less than a decade later. Dahl helped write the screenplay but didn’t like the finished product for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons can be found in the title. The movie focuses much more on Wonka than it does the book’s main protagonist, 11 year old Charlie Bucket. One can only guess why such a change was made, but one factor may have been the casting of Gene Wilder, a known entity who had been nominated for an Oscar just a couple of years before. Wilder portrays Wonka in such a way that the viewer isn’t quite sure what to think. Is he crazy, or harmlessly eccentric?? Is he clueless, or does he know exactly what he’s doing?? We concede that he’s a bit odd, but we like him anyway, and that’s important. Characters like Willie Wonka are tricky, especially thru the prism of modern sensibilities when we’re taught to be somewhat wary of certain types of weirdos, but Wilder pulls it off. It’s a shame Dahl was so displeased with the film because it prevented the sequel…Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator…from being made, and it would’ve been cool to see Gene Wilder get a second opportunity to bring Willy Wonka to life.

 

Quotes

“If you want to view paradise, simply look around and view it. Anything you want to, do it. Want to change the world… there’s nothing to it.”

“A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.”

“We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams.”

 

 

 

Stay tuned for the Top 10…coming…soon-ish.

100 Memorable TV Characters…The Top 25

Television is an invention that permits you to be entertained in your living room by people you wouldn’t have in your home.  –  David Frost

 

 

 

I am easily distracted and have a short attention span. In years past I could easily finish a 500 page book within a week, and not that long ago I would have completed a fun & frivolous project like this in 3 or 4 days, but the older I get the less I seem to be able to focus and the more time it takes me to complete a task. Perhaps I’m just bored with life in general. I don’t know. Anyway, y’all didn’t stop by for me to lay on the couch and have you analyze my neuroses. If you need to get caught up with how we arrived at this point please click here. Today we reach the summit and discuss the Top 25 most memorable television characters of all time (in my humble opinion). I don’t think there are too many surprises in store, but I could be wrong. I still believe that there are writers out there creating great characters in all forms of entertainment, but sadly I think nowadays those writers and thus their characters frequently embrace a gloomier, more solemn & complex vibe. There’s nothing wrong with complexity, but for pete’s sake most of us are just trying to relax, laugh a little, and escape from the tedium of the daily grind, not join a crusade about serious worldly issues. Hollywood has become far too enamored with promoting various agendas and has forgotten how to chill out & have fun. That’s my viewpoint anyway. Your mileage may vary and that’s alright. For now though let’s recognize & give kudos to times when those left coasters got it right. Enjoy.

 

 

 

 

 

25     Alex P. Keaton (Family Ties)

Okay okay okay…I suppose Family Ties did have a quasi-political premise. It was the 80’s and Ronald Reagan had cast his spell on a huge portion of the country, which didn’t sit well with aging 60’s radicals. And so we got a sitcom about middle-aged former hippies raising a family in Columbus, OH, with their eldest son being a right leaning yuppie Republican. However, despite that general theme the show itself didn’t deviate much from standard nuclear family fare, except that it was funny and extremely well-written & performed. Alex Keaton isn’t your typical teenager. He wears a suit to school, carries a Richard Nixon lunchbox, reads the Wall Street Journal, and actually enjoys studying economics. While Alex is depicted as somewhat uptight and often disagrees with his parents’ opinions he is never shown to be a bad guy or antagonistic, and he’s actually rather comical. He loves his family and they love him. There is a reasonably fair-minded presentation of differing worldviews, which has become all too rare just a few decades later.

 

 

24     Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy (Star Trek)

Dammit Manoverse…he’s a doctor, not a writer!! Admittedly my love for Bones McCoy began with the half dozen Star Trek movies produced in the 1980’s because that was my first exposure to Trek, but rest assured that he’s the same cantankerous curmudgeon even in the original series…just a few decades younger. He’s the voice of reason that tempers the reactionary passion of his captain and injects humanity into the detached analysis of the ship’s science officer. He’s also really funny and has some of the best one liners.

 

 

23     Luke Spencer (General Hospital)

Lucas Lorenzo Spencer emerged as one of the more provocatively popular leading men in soap history a few decades ago, a real accomplishment for a character that was intended to disappear after a few months. Instead, Luke’s stay in Port Charles lasted…off & on…for nearly four decades. He famously falls for beautiful young Laura Webber and rapes her at a college disco, a deed that would normally brand a character as a villain. However, Laura loves him, so Luke is redeemed and becomes a good guy. Luke & Laura’s wedding in 1982 had 30 million television viewers, which still has to be some sort of record. Over the years Luke evolved into a beloved scoundrel, always ready for an escapade or hatching a scheme to proliferate his bank account. He is the quintessential soap hero, constantly engaged in battle with the dastardly Cassadine clan while exhibiting fierce loyalty to his family, especially son Lucky, Aunt Ruby, & sister Bobbie. Luke & Laura both die and return to life a couple of times as soap characters tend to do, and eventually end their marriage. Luke moves on with bitchy socialite Tracey Quartermaine, which is arguably a more enjoyable pairing. He is a restless soul and always finds himself in hot water, but somehow makes it thru. Alcoholism becomes an issue, as well as horrible childhood memories that had been repressed for decades, both of which add layers of complexity to Luke but weren’t well-received plot points by GH fans who prefer their fun-loving scalawag instead of a depressed, broken, suicidal old man. Luke left Port Charles a few years ago and is presumably living a life of adventure somewhere in Europe.

 

 

22     Shaggy Rogers (Scooby-Doo)

Actually his given first name is Norville. Of course he is Scooby’s owner/master (or whatever title you prefer), and the two are inseparable. Shaggy is the prototypical slacker, an animated homage to Bohemian beatnik Maynard G. Krebbs from the early 60’s sitcom The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. Unlike his friends, who bravely seek to solve mysteries they encounter, Shaggy is a chicken who runs at the first sign of trouble. He mostly prefers to hang out with his dog and take it easy. Oddly enough they both seem to always have the munchies, though I have no idea what that’s all about. Well-known radio personality Casey Kasem voiced Shaggy for four decades.

 

 

21     Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock Holmes)

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created the world’s foremost consulting detective in 1887, writing four novels & 56 short stories about Holmes and his trusty wingman Dr. Watson over the course of four decades. Since then Holmes has had a long life in films, television, radio, stage plays, & any other entertainment outlet imaginable. At one time Guinness had Holmes listed as the most portrayed fictional character in history, though I believe Santa Claus & Dracula are right there with him. At any rate, though (surprisingly) I have never seen Benedict Cumberbatch’s well-regarded interpretation of the treasured detective in BBC’s series Sherlock, I do fondly recall the late Jeremy Brett’s depiction in an 80’s series that ran here in America on PBS. There were 41 episodes of Sherlock Holmes, each rather faithfully adapting one of Conan Doyle’s stories. I’m sure that all 60 would have been produced had it not been for the untimely death of Brett at the age of 61. Most rankings & polls out there rate Brett’s version of Holmes as one of the 2 or 3 best, and I wholeheartedly concur.

 

 

20     Mork from Ork (Mork & Mindy)

Robin Williams was a force of nature (and cocaine)…a legendary comedian who evolved into one of the most significant actors of a generation. His acting career was launched on a 1978 episode of Happy Days in which he portrays a goofy alien from outer space who wants to take Richie Cunningham back to his home planet as a human specimen. Mork got his own spinoff in which he lands in Colorado and befriends the young & beautiful Mindy, even telling her the truth about his identity. Mork lives in Mindy’s basement for four seasons, with the two eventually falling in love, getting married, & having a “baby” (hilariously played by legendary comedian Jonathan Winters). The show itself was never great, but it was a showcase for Williams’ peerless talent and an indication of great things to come.

 

 

19     Les Nessman (WKRP in Cincinnati)

Persnickety newsman Les Nessman is probably the most overlooked part of WKRP’s greatness. Johnny Fever & Venus Flytrap are cooler, receptionist Jennifer Marlowe is sexier, & clueless boss Mr. Carlson gets a lot of laughs, but Les is the comedic gem of the ensemble. Unlike his laid-back colleagues Les is super serious about his job, approaching it as if he is an important journalist breaking momentous news on a major media outlet, whereas in reality he’s the newsman for a smallish radio station at which rock n’ roll pays the bills and news is not essential at all. Despite his erudite demeanor & professorial appearance Les is a total dufus and completely incompetent. His only area of expertise seems to be husbandry, for which he has won a Silver Sow Award and multiple Buckeye Newshawk Awards, accomplishments for which he is quite proud. He amusingly likes to imagine that his cubicle is an office, putting tape on the floor where walls would be and demanding that his co-workers knock on the imaginary door. Les Nessman’s shining moment is the 1978 Thanksgiving episode Turkeys Away, during which he gives dire news updates on a promotional gimmick initiated by Mr. Carlson that goes horribly yet hysterically awry.

 

 

18     Cliff Clavin (Cheers)

Actor John Ratzenberger originally auditioned for the role of Norm Peterson, but when he didn’t get the part he asked the producers if they had a bar know-it-all in the cast, and thus the part of blowhard mailman Cliff was created. Cliff is a middle-aged momma’s boy who is terrible with women, and like the rest of his cohorts he’s a loveable loser that would come across as sad & pathetic in reality, but somehow works as a sitcom character. The funny thing is that we’ve all known people like Cliff that are mostly full of bull and try our patience when we’re in their presence for any length of time, but despite their faults we kind of like having them around.

 

 

17     Chandler, Monica. Ross, Rachel, Joey, & Phoebe (Friends)

In retrospect Friends was better than most of us realized at the time. Oh sure it was popular, ranking as a Top 5 hit in nine of its ten seasons, and the cast became superstars, but if you watch it now in syndication almost fifteen years after the final episode aired what you realize is what a well-written & performed show it was. I can’t single out any one character from the ensemble because I feel like each was a vital part of the program’s success. Monica Geller is an OCD fussbudget, a chef by trade who acts as the de facto glue that holds the group together. Monica’s brother Ross is a neurotic paleontologist whose ex-wife became a lesbian. Ross’ best friend is Chandler Bing, a sarcastic business executive. Chandler lives across the hall from Monica with Joey Tribbiani, a dimwitted yet kindhearted struggling actor who is a bit of a ladies’ man. Monica’s childhood friend Rachel Green, a self-absorbed rich girl who left her fiancé at the altar, shows up and becomes Monica’s roommate in the inaugural episode. Rounding out the group is hippy dippy massage therapist & quirky songwriter Phoebe Buffay. They mostly assemble in Monica & Rachel’s apartment, Chandler & Joey’s place, or at the local Central Perk coffeehouse. Ross’ unrequited love for Rachel and their subsequent on again/off again relationship is a principal focus of the show thru the years, and in later seasons Chandler & Monica become involved & get married. I’m not sure it’s fair to say that any of them are accurate illustrations of real 20/30-somethings, but some of their issues do ring true and did so at a time in my life where I really appreciated that connection.

 

 

16         Fred Sanford (Sanford & Son)

For some reason Fred, an elderly black junk dealer from south central Los Angeles, always reminded me of my paternal grandfather, a retired Italian-American coal miner from West Virginia. Perhaps it is because my Papaw was a fan of the show. Fred is a widower who lives with his middle-aged son Lamont and runs his business out of his home. Fred is a feisty old dude, never hesitating to mix it up with sister-in-law Esther, next door neighbor Julio, or Lamont’s best buddy Rollo. Though he & Lamont appear to be close he is quick to belittle his son, often calling him a big dummy. Fred is oftentimes shown to be bigoted, which is played for laughs but probably wouldn’t fly with the modern day PC Police, and he is rather lazy as well as a bit of a manipulator. By far Fred’s most enduring legacy is when he would find himself in a tight spot or on the verge of having one of his harebrained schemes exposed, at which time he’d fake a heart attack and proclaim “This is the big one! You hear that, Elizabeth?? I’m coming to join you honey!!”.

 

 

15     Louie DePalma (Taxi)

Danny DeVito has had a moderately successful film career, appearing in movies like Romancing the Stone, Ruthless People, Throw Momma from the Train, Twins, Batman Returns, & Deck the Halls, but his first taste of fame came via 80’s sitcom Taxi. Louie is the dispatcher at the Sunshine Cab Company and acts as if he’s the boss, although in retrospect I’m not sure if he had any kind of authority or just likes to pretend that he does. He is a misogynistic & unscrupulous schemer who shows zero respect for any of his colleagues and is rarely at a loss for words, usually of the demeaning & insulting variety. His diminutive size coupled with an arrogant, abrasive attitude are indicative of a classic Napoleon complex. However, despite his faults Louie oftentimes does the right thing, and, in contrast to his coarse exterior, deep down there’s a big ol’ soft heart that makes an appearance on occasion.

 

 

14     Ari Gold (Entourage)

I have no idea if life in Hollywood is as…colorful…as it is depicted on Entourage, but if there really is an agent like Ari Gold I’m not sure if an actor should sign with him without hesitation or run away as fast as possible. He is ill-mannered, foul-mouthed, arrogant, belligerent, & somewhat deceitful, but is also shown to be really good at his job and truly concerned about his clients, especially rising star Vincent Chase. In contrast to Vince & his buddies, who enjoy basking in the party lifestyle like a bunch of wealthy & carefree delinquents, Ari is a faithful husband & father whose biggest fault just might be hardcore dedication to his career. Ari is one of those rare characters that demands attention, stealing every scene in which he appears.

 

 

13     Dr. Sheldon Cooper (The Big Bang Theory)

Far be it for me to fall into the “prisoner of the moment” trap, but after a decade on the air I don’t think it is an overreaction to consider Sheldon one of the best characters in television history. While TBBT writers have done a good job of remaining faithful to the ensemble dynamic of the show and still give a fair amount of screen time & storyline to everyone, it is undeniable that Sheldon is the breakout character, especially since the 9 year old version of him is already starring in a spinoff even as the original show remains one of the highest rated programs on television. I watched the first episode of Young Sheldon, but it just didn’t pique my interest. In TBBT thirtysomething Sheldon is a theoretical physicist, a genius with an eidetic memory and a total lack of social skills or emotional intelligence. He is egotistical, peculiar, somewhat irrational, & oftentimes childish. He & his pals are classic geeks who love comic books, technology, & sci-fi but know next to nothing about sports, pop culture, contemporary music, or current events. His mother is a devout Christian, and Sheldon’s devotion to science causes him to view her faith with derision, a foible that has troubled me a bit on occasion. Sheldon is an extremely well-written character whose physical comedy is an underrated portion of what has been an award winning performance.

 

 

12     Sheriff Rosco P. Coltrane (The Dukes of Hazzard)

Is he a bad guy?? Not really. Is he corrupt?? I suppose, but not in the traditional sense. It’s more accurate to say that Rosco is a weak-minded follower who is easily led astray by his greedy brother-in-law Boss Hogg. It is initially revealed that Rosco had served with integrity for 20 years, but got screwed out of his pension just as he was on the verge of retirement (Dukes was a show ahead of its time). He joins in Boss’ schemes in order to get back the money he lost. All traces of bitterness soon fade away though, as Rosco evolves into a simpleminded, inept, & comical lawman. His constant companion is a lethargic basset hound named Flash, and despite his own foolishness he consistently calls deputies Enos & Cletus dipsticks. He enjoys “hot pursuit”, but it usually doesn’t work out well as he oftentimes seems to “scuff his vehicle”. Rosco genuinely cares about Boss Hogg but is also intimidated & taken advantage of by him, rarely getting more than a small fraction of whatever windfall the duo earns from their deceitful plots. He doesn’t seem to have any genuine beef with the Dukes but is regularly ordered to chase them by Boss Hogg, though they rarely get caught & easily escape when they do end up in jail. Much like Hogg, Sheriff Rosco is portrayed as far more sinister in the 2005 big screen adaptation, which is another strike against that film.

 

 

11     Gomer Pyle (The Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle USMC)

Television viewers have a love/hate relationship with spinoffs. Sometimes they work, but oftentimes they fall way short of expectations. Gomer Pyle USMC lands somewhere in the middle, which isn’t intended to be negative…it’s just that it’s almost impossible to measure up to TAGS. Gomer appears in Seasons 3 & 4 of TAGS and was introduced because the actor who portrayed Floyd the Barber had a stroke and was off the show for awhile. Like most residents of Mayberry Gomer is an unsophisticated bumpkin with a friendly & gentle disposition. He works at Wally’s Filling Station and is alternately shown to know nothing about automobiles or to be an expert mechanic (TAGS had issues with continuity). He is always willing to help out when needed and is deputized by the police on several occasions, though he proves to be a totally incompetent lawman. On a few occasions Jim Nabors is able to show off his real life singing talent. Any episode of TAGS with Gomer is even more of a delight than usual, which is probably why he was given a spinoff. That show lasted for five seasons and features Gomer as he enlists in the Marine Corps and clashes with hard-nosed drill instructor Sergeant Carter. It’s a classic fish-out-of-water story, with a bit of an Odd Couple vibe thrown into the mix. I like the TAGS version of Gomer much more than I like him in the spinoff, but that probably has more to do with the overall quality of the two shows rather than the character. When Gomer leaves Mayberry the void is filled by his cousin Goober, but I’ve never enjoyed Goober as much as Gomer.

 

 

 

Television is like a library. There are a lot of library books in it, and you have to pick and choose what you take out of it.  –  David L. Wolper

 

 

 

10     Rev. Jim Ignatowski (Taxi)

The third member of the Taxi cast to make the cut is a spaced-out relic from the 60’s who might be the most entertaining dopehead not named Cheech or Chong. Iggy grew up wealthy, but his Mom died when he was very young and his father was a busy doctor, so he was mostly raised by servants. He was extremely intelligent and attended Harvard, but in a comical twist on the whole Adam & Eve/forbidden fruit concept is goaded by his girlfriend into eating a marijuana laced brownie, which leads to him permanently becoming an eccentric & absentminded burnout. Jim’s random tangents that have nothing to do with the topic of conversation are hysterical, especially when he completely forgets whatever point he thought he wanted to make. Occasional glimpses of his former intellect & deep thinking skills sneak thru the fog and he says something profound, which of course takes everyone by surprise. Iggy once opined “You know the really great thing about television? If something important happens, anywhere in the world, night or day… you can always change the channel”, which kind of sums up how I feel about TV nowadays. In an early Season 2 episode titled “Reverend Jim: A Space Odyssey” the cabbies get Jim a job, but first they must take him to the DMV so he can pass the driver’s test and get his license. It is quintessential Iggy, and quite possibly one of the best sitcom moments of all time.

 

 

9       George Costanza (Seinfeld)

For some reason I really identified with George. He is Jerry’s best friend since junior high school, and becomes pals with Jerry’s other quirky cohorts. Jerry opines that George could have been normal, but isn’t mostly because of his crazy parents. He is a self-described “short, stocky, bald man” who is alternately bombastic & self-loathing. He always looks for the easiest way to do something, or even avoids doing it altogether. He’s awkward, impulsive, insecure, narcissistic, high-strung, occasionally devious, & not good at all with women. He has several relationships throughout the series, but always manages to screw it up. I am reminded of the 1999 film Office Space, in which the main protagonist states that “it’s not that I’m lazy, it’s that I just don’t care”, except in George’s case he actually is lazy, though not necessarily stupid. Jerry Seinfeld made a brilliant choice when he decided to play straight man and let his co-stars be the wacky oddballs with most of the comedic moments.

 

 

8       Dr. Frasier Crane (Cheers and Frasier)

Frasier Crane has the distinction of being one of the two longest running live action characters in television history, appearing in nine seasons of Cheers and, of course, all eleven seasons of the eponymous spinoff Frasier, for a total of twenty years on the air. He’d probably deserve a spot on this list for that alone, but there is so much more to love. Dr. Crane first appears in the third season of Cheers as the new beau of waitress Diane Chambers. The two are kindred spirits…pretentious intellectuals that don’t really fit into the working class pub dynamic. Alas, Diane can’t fight her attraction to bar owner Sam Malone and eventually leaves Frasier at the altar. Even after Diane departs Cheers at the end of the fifth season Frasier sticks around and becomes a regular part of the group, eventually marrying then divorcing aloof fellow psychiatrist Lilith and fathering a son with her named Frederick. When Cheers concludes Frasier moves back to his hometown of Seattle to help his brother Niles care for their father Martin, a police officer forced to retire after being shot in the line of duty. In Seattle Frasier hosts a radio talk show, so there is interaction with eccentric callers & quirky work colleagues in addition to the familial relationships. Frasier is a bit more masculine than his brother, but is just as much of a pompous elitist. He is passionate about theater, fine art, literature, & gourmet food, but because of his time in Boston is considerate toward his blue collar father’s lifestyle & hobbies, though he by no means shares those proclivities. It almost seems as if he might be bipolar because he can transition from eloquently helping a caller on his radio show in a soothing & melodious tone into an indignant fit of rage just minutes later, something that happens in nearly every episode. Despite being an alleged expert in helping other people solve their issues Frasier does not understand his own complexities and doesn’t have a great track record with the ladies. In addition to the doomed engagement to Diane & divorce from Lilith he dates a plethora of women in Seattle, but nothing ever seems to work out.

 

 

7       The Dynamic Duo (Batman)

Nearly every incarnation of Batman stays true to his gloomy origins as an orphaned billionaire who becomes a crime fighting vigilante after his parents are murdered in the gritty, violent, & sinister milieu of Gotham City. Robin is originally a young boy in a family of acrobats who witnesses his parents die in an accident arranged by a mobster, and is afterwards taken in by Bruce Wayne who becomes his legal guardian. But all of that melancholy stuff is set aside in the 1966 action sitcom that aired for three seasons on ABC. Dick Grayson (aka Robin) is still the “youthful ward” (now a teenager) of billionaire Bruce Wayne (aka Batman), and the two team up to fight crime in Gotham City, but the atmosphere is bright, the dialogue is cleverly corny, the villains are hardly intimidating, & the end result is delightfully absurd. Adam West’s interpretation of Bruce Wayne/Batman is funny because the character takes every situation so seriously, delivering his lines in a solemn & melodramatic tone. This incarnation of Robin is enthusiastic & peppy, but not annoyingly so. The entire show is cheeky & whimsical, a definite departure from the norm and a risky choice that paid off. Joel Schumacher’s 1997 film Batman & Robin starring George Clooney as The Caped Crusader attempted to borrow the cheesy vibe, but it fell flat because…well, let’s face it…Clooney isn’t Adam West.

 

 

6       Archie & Edith Bunker (All in the Family)

Contrary to popular belief the idea of Hollywood idealists using their entertainment platform to promote an agenda and talk down to the masses about issues that common folks in flyover country are allegedly ignorant about isn’t a brand new concept conceived in the 21st century…it’s just that they used to be much better at it. Norman Lear did a lot of it in the 1970’s and did it quite well, creating shows like Sanford & Son, One Day at a Time, Maude, Good Times, & The Jeffersons. By far his greatest creation was All in the Family, centering on a working class family in Queens, NY. The head of the household is Archie Bunker, an ill-tempered, opinionated, & narrow-minded loading dock foreman. He is an equal opportunity contrarian who insults just about every minority, religion, & nationality. He is especially dismissive of his ultra-liberal son-in-law, who he calls Meathead. However, despite his gruff exterior, deep down Archie is a loving & decent man who cares about his family and friends, though he often becomes impatient with wife Edith, who he calls Dingbat. Edith is rather ditzy, but she’s usually quite jovial & compassionate, the sort of person who might get on one’s nerves but you just can’t help but like. She’s a bit of a throwback…a submissive & dedicated wife, mother, and grandmother that would be scoffed at by modern day feminists. The Bunkers are extreme caricatures certainly created to make a point. Archie is intended as a mean-spirited dig at conservative values, while Edith’s kindhearted yet naïve subservience is meant as negative commentary on the traditional but allegedly outdated idea of the stay-at-home housewife. But an odd & unexpected thing happened…the audience actually liked & identified with them. Fans understood that conservatives aren’t really evil racists and easily dismissed many of Archie’s more exaggerated traits while realizing that some of his views had merit. They were able to chuckle at Edith’s comical zaniness while recognizing that being a traditional housewife isn’t a horrible thing. People saw thru the self-righteous poppycock of Meathead and agreed with Archie’s assessment of him. Decades later folks who are now much more aware of media bias can clearly see how Lear attempted to manipulate the conversation…and how he failed miserably.

 

 

5       Arthur Fonzarelli (Happy Days)

Fonzie was never intended to be a significant part of the Happy Days cast. He is introduced as a local mechanic who Ritchie & Potsie occasionally bump into at Arnold’s Drive-In. He didn’t even wear a leather jacket at first because the powers-that-be were concerned about him looking too much like a hoodlum (which is old school slang for what we’d now call a gang member). But Fonzie is too awesome to be held down by The Man, and eventually became a central part of the show. He’s all about being cool and chillin’ with the ladies. He has the ability to make a jukebox work with the pounding of his fist, and women flock to him with the snap of a finger. Richie, Potsie, & Ralph Malph all look to Fonzie for advice about various issues, and the Cunninghams treat him like a member of the family. In the beginning he is a high school dropout, but eventually completes his education, and at various points owns a garage, is part owner of Arnold’s, & even becomes a high school teacher. Fonzie’s oddest contribution to pop culture is the 1977 fifth season opener in which, after helping a couple of Hollywood producers passing thru Milwaukee deal with mechanical issues, he finds himself in Tinseltown for a movie audition. While there he is challenged by an obnoxious jerk to a water skiing duel (a laughable idea at best). During the competition Fonzie literally leaps over a tiger shark in the water. Though Happy Days would continue for six more seasons that episode was cited by some as a moment indicative of a decline in quality, therefore popularizing the term “jumping the shark”. Fonzie became so popular that some wanted to rename the show Fonzie’s Happy Days, but actor Henry Winkler adamantly refused and insisted that Ron Howard continue to receive top billing. I believe that, even to this day, more than thirty years after Happy Days went off the air, one can still see Fonzie’s leather jacket on display at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC, which is a pretty cool legacy.

 

 

4       Captain Kirk & Mister Spock (Star Trek)

This may be the strangest variation on the Odd Couple formula ever seen on television. James Tiberius Kirk hails from Iowa and is Starfleet’s youngest & best yet most rebellious officer. While a student at Starfleet Academy he is the only person to ever overcome a training exercise called the Kobayashi Maru, a moral dilemma and no-win scenario that Kirk defeats by reprogramming the computer. Though his solution is what most would consider cheating he is actually commended for original thinking. That one story sets the stage for everything we see afterward from Captain Kirk. He is brash, passionate, bold, dedicated, & extremely smart. He thinks outside the box and doesn’t back down from a fight. The yin to Kirk’s yang is his science officer Mr. Spock, a half alien whose mother is human while his father is Vulcan. Spock exhibits many Vulcan traits, primarily the predisposition to rely on logic & reason and leave emotion out of their thought process. It is this ability that enables Spock to balance Kirk’s intensity and inclination to jump in with both feet. Spock can present all the options to Kirk along with every possible outcome. Conversely, since Spock is essentially a computer with legs it is Kirk that oftentimes explains concepts like feelings, humor, & emotions to him, helping him to make sense out of the foolish & illogical things that human beings tend to do. The two men don’t always understand each other, but have immense respect & admiration for one another and might have been television’s first bromance.

 

 

3       JR Ewing (Dallas)

Entertainment used to be very clear about the differences between heroes & villains. In old westerns the good guys would literally wear white cowboy hats, while the bad guys would wear black hats (an idea some would undoubtedly consider racist nowadays). However, somewhere along the line the concept of the anti-hero became prevalent, wherein a character might not necessarily be evil but certainly has dubious ethics & selfish motives. JR Ewing is the eldest son of a wealthy oil baron who eventually takes over the family business. He loves his family, but tends to love his money just a little bit more. Dallas originally intended to focus on the Romeo & Juliet-esque romance of JR’s younger brother Bobby and his new wife Pam, the daughter of patriarch Jock Ewing’s most bitter enemy, but JR’s penchant for screwing over everyone…business rivals, his family, his wife…with a sly grin on his face made him the character everyone loved to hate. It was always a treat to see who JR was going to cheat, shake down, intimidate, & defeat next. He is always a few steps ahead of everyone else, especially the honorable & benevolent Bobby, as well as Cliff Barnes, Bobby’s inept brother-in-law and JR’s spirited but overmatched nemesis. Dallas reached its pinnacle at the end of Season 3 when it popularized the concept of the cliffhanger after an unknown assailant tried to murder JR Ewing. During the entire summer of 1980 America was abuzz with the question “Who shot JR??”, a mystery that was solved that November in what remains the third most watched television episode in history, bested only by the series finales of MASH & Cheers. I was a kid when Dallas was on the air, and one of my most cherished memories is what a kick my Dad got out of it whenever JR was revealed to be the dastardly mastermind behind a scheme that had vanquished Cliff, Bobby & Pam, JR’s wife Sue Ellen, or one of Ewing Oil’s many adversaries. Dad was genuinely entertained by JR Ewing in a way that few people seem to be by anything on television these days.

 

 

2       Cosmo Kramer (Seinfeld)

Seinfeld has four of its characters on this list…two of them in the Top 10. Kramer lives in an apartment across the hall from Jerry and has been described as a “hipster dufus”, although I’m not exactly sure what that means. He has a unique fashion sense, as well as peculiar tastes in things like food, sports, cigars, & women. He is neurotic in a way unseen on television before or since, fearing clowns & mice and having seizures whenever he hears the voice of Entertainment Tonight host Mary Hart.  In nearly every episode Kramer busts into Jerry’s apartment with a combination smile & look of perpetual amazement. He doesn’t seem to have a job and supports himself with get rich quick schemes & wacky entrepreneurial ideas, sports betting, publishing a coffee table book about coffee tables, & a brief but lucrative gig as an underwear model. To call him quirky or eccentric would be an epic understatement. His philosophies & perspectives aren’t by any means normal, yet they oftentimes make sense in a way one would have never imagined to be possible. Kramer really isn’t comparable to any other character in any form of entertainment. He is a unique creation, with credit given to Seinfeld’s stellar writing as well as actor Michael Richards’ flawless physical comedy.

 

 

1       Deputy Barney Fife (The Andy Griffith Show)

TAGS can easily be separated into two eras…its first five seasons and then its final three. While it’s true that those two time periods are most easily distinguished by the fact that Seasons 1-5 were broadcast in black & while before switching to color in the latter three years, a more significant difference is the departure of Barney Fife at the end of the fifth season. Barney is the excitable & ham-fisted deputy in Mayberry. Early on we are told that he is Andy Taylor’s cousin, but that relationship was only alluded to a couple of times and from then on the two are merely lifelong best friends & co-workers. Barney reminds me a bit of WKRP’s Les Nessman in the sense that he takes his job very seriously and is hilariously overzealous. There are also shades of Cheers’ Cliff Claven, with Barney’s incompetent attempts to present himself as a know-it-all when the truth is that he has no clue what he’s doing or talking about. Barney’s bravado is poorly disguised window dressing for tremendous neuroses and low self-esteem, and Andy selflessly goes above & beyond to save his deputy’s fragile ego on multiple occasions. Everyone likes Barney but few respect him, and respect is what he craves. He tends to overreact, while Andy is laid-back & steady. Barney is emotional, anxious, & easily taken advantage of by others, but despite his numerous shortcomings he is the heart of TAGS, and his absence during the program’s latter three seasons left a hole that was never quite filled. In Season 6 Floyd the Barber’s nephew Warren Ferguson becomes Mayberry’s new deputy, but he only lasted 11 episodes before the character was never heard from or spoken of again. Immediately following actor Don Knotts’ exit TAGS played with the idea of making a character who’d been introduced as a banjo player at a carnival the new deputy, but actor Jerry Van Dyke declined the opportunity. In hindsight the plan might have actually worked out for the show, but obviously that didn’t occur. Gomer Pyle’s cousin Goober was given the primary role as Andy’s sidekick, but I never really warmed up to Goober. As I’ve stated previously the final three seasons of TAGS were just dandy and it is still terrific TV, but it just isn’t the same, and I can’t think of any better example of a character’s exodus so significantly altering the fabric of a show.

The 2016 Sammy Awards – Part 3

SammyAwardeagleBefore we get to the exciting conclusion of the 2016 Sammy Awards it must be noted that less than 24 hours after “journalist” Megyn Kelly was nominated & shared a victory for the DB Cooper Award it was announced that she is leaving Fox News and heading to NBC next summer. I’m not quite sure that qualifies as disappearing, but it’s not the promotion many might think it is. As always, if you haven’t caught up with Part 1 or Part 2 of the show please do so now. Trust me…you’ll be glad you did.

 

Alright, after a brief yet amusing anecdote from our host Steve Harvey, it is a sincere pleasure for The Sammys to welcome, sharveyvia satellite, the next First Lady of the United States. Please give a warm welcome to Melania Trump, who would like to say a few words.

 

melania2“Four score and seven years ago our fathers had a dream. An awesome dream. People in the park playing games in the dark. It was Saturday in the park. I think it was the Fourth of July. And today, my friends, I also have a dream. I have a dream that my children will one day live in a nation where they will be judged only by the content of their character. I have a dream that one day we will live in a nation where people ask not what the country can do for you, but instead ask what you can do for your country. I have a dream that one day we will take not just one small step for man, but one giant leap for mankind. Until that day comes, with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender. And when the end is near and we face the final curtain, we will be able to say that we did it our way. To be or not to be…that is the question. Good night, good night. Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow.”

 

 

crystal3Thank you Mrs. Trump. That was…interesting. And now, to present our next award, please welcome two of the biggest movie stars in the world. justin-timberlake-7592Well okay…we did contact some of the biggest movie stars in the world, but they all politely declined our invitation. So instead, please welcome two former hosts of this show…beloved actor & comedian Billy Crystal and talented singer & actor Justin Timberlake!! And the nominees are:

 

 

 

Favorite Movie

 

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

Dedicated fans of the 2002 original will undoubtedly appreciate the sequel. I feel the same about both…charming, entertaining, yet ultimately prosaic. Watch out for young Elena Kampouris…she’s got star potential.

 

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping

Andy Samberg takes his Sandler-esque sense of humor and applies it to a modern day Spinal Tap type of mockumentary. The story follows faux rapper Conner Friel’s rise as part of a boy band thru his evolution to solo artist Conner 4Real. He’s a big star after his debut album, but when a follow-up flops h-a-r-d his life hilariously implodes. There are a ton of cameos from folks like Simon Cowell, Emma Stone, Adam Levine, & Weird Al Yankovic, as well as supporting parts for a bunch of Samberg’s old SNL cronies. Appearances by Seal, Michael Bolton, & Martin Sheen are particularly amusing. The “songs” performed are predictably bad, and to be honest a bit too…colorful…for my taste, but I assume the target demographic will find them hysterically funny in the way that youngsters back in the day appreciated Spinal Tap classics like Sex Farm and Hell Hole. If you enjoy Samberg’s shtick and aren’t easily offended this is the movie for you.

 

Now You See Me 2

The 2013 original was a surprise hit. This sequel doesn’t quite measure up. Outlaw magicians The Four Horsemen return from exile to take down an evil tech guru, but the script is flipped on them as they are goaded into helping an allegedly deceased billionaire steal…something. I don’t know. The plot is too busy and the performances by a superb cast are overly cheeky. It’s entertaining until you pause for five seconds to ponder the implausibilities, and then the whole thing crumbles like a wet paper towel. I rather enjoyed the first film, and I hope the inevitable Part 3 is more crisply written & executed. As for this entry…let’s just be polite and call it acceptably entertaining.

 

Central Intelligence

I have stated repeatedly over the years that I don’t get the love for allegedly funny comedian Kevin Hart, but somehow I always seem to end up watching his movies, which have generally been…tolerable…fun. This is no exception. Hart stars as a former high school big man on campus that…two decades later…has settled into a humdrum middle class existence. The Rock plays the fat kid from high school that was bullied by all the jocks, with the exception of Hart, who befriended him. Nowadays Rock is a buff CIA agent. The juxtaposition is comical. At any rate, there’s something about secret codes, a rogue agent, an allegedly dead partner, etc. The details aren’t important. Our two leading men get caught up in the chaos and there is gunfire & explosions, the occasional lame joke, and a vague attempt at suspense. It’s the kind of film where the actors are engaging but someone should find the screenwriters and give them a stern scolding.

 

For the Love of Spock

Documentaries haven’t typically been nominated for these awards, but the older I get the more I enjoy a good documentary. This one concurrently explores the life of actor Leonard Nimoy and to a greater extent the history & influence of the beloved character he portrayed in the original Star Trek TV show and multiple feature films. It is directed by Nimoy’s son and features a plethora of interviews with Trek cast members old & new, family members, friends, & fans. It is sort of a love letter from a son to his father, but needs to be seen by anyone who considers themselves a Trekkie.

 

Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders

Adam West & Burt Ward, who starred in the infamously campy Batman TV show in the 60’s, return to voice The Caped Crusader & The Boy Wonder in this animated throwback. The Dynamic Duo are faced with a team of their old enemies…Joker, Riddler, Catwoman, & Penguin…who are after some kind of duplicating device that will help them rule the world…or something to that effect. Batman & Robin even follow the baddies to outer space, and somehow Catwoman slips Batman something that makes him start acting way out of character, like a real jerk. He insults Aunt Harriet, fires Alfred, kicks Robin out of Wayne Manor, & takes over as police commissioner as well as mayor. Robin talks Catwoman into giving our favorite superhero the antidote and all’s well that ends well. If you’re a fan of the old television show you’ll enjoy this harmlessly fun movie. If you’ve never seen the show you probably wouldn’t understand.

 

The Secret Life of Pets

You’ve probably seen Toy Story. This is like that, only with animals instead of toys. That isn’t necessarily deleterious, just derivative. Entertaining, but unremarkable.

 

Star Trek: Beyond

This is the third adventure featuring the “new” crew of the Enterprise but the first without JJ Abrams at the helm…and it makes a difference. The new director’s previous work consists mainly of films in the Fast & Furious franchise, which may be viewed as a positive by some…but I’m guessing not many. The story has the Enterprise being attacked by what looks like a crapload of space knives then crash landing, scattering the crew on a hostile planet where the movie’s villain is after some kind of trinket that turns out to be a bio-weapon. Beyond is the cinematic equivalent of nachos & cheese…it tastes good in the moment, but five minutes after you’ve consumed it you have forgotten it and a couple of hours later you’re hungry again. I’ll probably “get it” more after repeat viewings, but the problem is that I really don’t feel a yearning to watch it again. Thus far this new Trek movie series has been better than the TNG films but not nearly as memorable as the six films starring the original crew. My expectations are always high with Trek, and while Beyond could certainly be worse it also could’ve been way better.

 

Batman: The Killing Joke

2016 was a big year for The Caped Crusader and this may be the surprising best of what was offered. Based on a superb & highly regarded 1988 graphic novel that concurrently examines the origin story of The Joker and his plan to drive Commissioner Gordon insane by kidnapping both he & his daughter Barbara, aka Batgirl, there are some…additions…made to the story that weren’t a part of the novel, and while it upset some critics & hardcore Batfans I am not overly offended. The theme that “one bad day” is all that separates almost any of us from a completely different life is a weighty idea to ponder. I vaguely recall actor Kevin Conroy on defunct soap opera Search for Tomorrow in the 1980’s, but in the ensuing years he has voiced Batman in a plethora of animated films & TV shows. Right alongside him is Mark Hamill, who, of course, is better known as Luke Skywalker, but should probably be equally as appreciated for voicing The Joker in all of the same animated shows & movies. Just because this film is animated does not mean that it is for kids, but Batman aficionados will likely enjoy it.

 

Bad Moms

We’ve had Bad Santa, Bad Teacher, & Bad Grandpa. Now we have Bad Moms. The word “bad” in the title basically gives the main characters license to drink, curse, fornicate, & engage in other debauchery. The cast here, led by Mila Kunis & Kristen Bell, is charming and makes it work somehow. I have no children, but I was a kid once and didn’t realize the school PTA (controlled with an iron fist in this movie by super witchy Christina Applegate) could be so…authoritative. I had a difficult time buying into that concept being even remotely plausible. However I do get the prevailing theme that mothers bear a ton of pressure & responsibility, which is probably why I see so many women in their 30’s & 40’s on my Facebook feed posting about wine, ladies’ night, & the need to “get their drink on” like they’re back at the ol’ college sorority house. Look for a particularly humorous cameo from the normally detestable Martha Stewart.

 

Sully

On January 15, 2009 Captain Sully Sullenberger piloted a successful water landing of a US Airways passenger jet into New York’s Hudson River. 155 people were on board and all survived with only minor injuries. Captain Sullenberger became one of those temporary celebrities that dominates the water cooler conversation for a week or two and then fades away into the haze of history. The incomparable Tom Hanks portrays Sullenberger in this biopic, which examines the events surrounding the incident and the NTSB investigation that followed. It’s a solid film…not all that memorable or groundbreaking, but a story that needed to be told. What is successfully conveyed is the professionalism & skillful conduct under pressure of all involved…pilots, flight attendants, first responders, air traffic control, Coast Guard, etc. Hanks has the gravitas to make almost anything he is in better by his mere presence.

 

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story

Fans of the original Star Wars trilogy may recall that Luke Skywalker destroyed The Death Star in the first film, Episode IV: A New Hope. Rogue One tells the story of how the Rebel Alliance got their hands on the weapon’s blueprint and why it had a fatal flaw that would ultimately lead to its destruction. There are brief appearances by a few familiar faces, but the cast is mostly made up of new characters that we never met in the original films…with good reason. This is a worthy addition to the Star Wars canon, better than 2/3 of the sequel trilogy (I rather enjoyed Revenge of the Sith) and, in my humble opinion, superior to last year’s much anticipated The Force Awakens.

 

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

Batman thinks Superman is an out-of-control God-like figure who must be stopped. Superman thinks Batman is an out-of-control vigilante who must be stopped. They battle it out in a brawl that lasts longer than Ronda Rousey’s last two fights put together, but hey, both of their mothers are named Martha so they become pals. Lex Luthor is around to stir the pot and act like a neurotic sociopath who really needs to lay off the caffeine. Wonder Woman is present for no apparent reason other than to set up a Justice League movie. All the other usual suspects are involved as well…Lois Lane, Alfred Pennyworth, Perry White. It’s quite the obnoxious spectacle thanks to director Zach Snyder, whose style just doesn’t frost my cupcake. Having said that, as a longtime Batman fan I am all in on Ben Affleck’s performance as The Caped Crusader. It is my understanding that Snyder will not have his fingerprints on a future film focusing solely on Affleck’s version of The Dark Knight, and for that I am thankful. I am not a comic book film guy…I’ve not seen any of the recent Marvel “Universe” movies…so I didn’t have unrealistic expectations going into this thing. Those that are really into that whole deal probably either love or hate Dawn of Justice. I am somewhere in the middle…I don’t dislike it at all, but I don’t foresee many repeat viewings in my future unless it’s to figure out what the heck I saw the first time.

 

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

 

For the Love of Spock. I have become very difficult to please when it comes to movies. I continue to lean toward comedy, but those tend to be rather vulgar & spocksophomoric these days. Action films have seemingly become even louder & more cerebrally vacant than ever before. Hollywood caters to the lowest common denominator, serving up the cinematic equivalent of soda pop & potato chips…empty calories with no nutritional value. But even a broken clock is right twice a day, so occasionally they give us a gem. Trekkies NEED to watch this film. I actually became a bit misty toward the end, which was completely unexpected. Yes the target audience is comparatively small. And there’s really nothing groundbreaking about the stories told. But that’s okay. FtLoS knows what it is. It has a very specific focus. 7 out of 10 people may have zero interest in watching it, but the three people who do will absolutely love it. Trek has been a part of the pop culture landscape for a half century, and there’s a reason for that. Part of that reason can be found right here.

 

 

 

tomi-lahrenTo present our final award of the evening please welcome a rising star in the news business. At only 24 years old she has grabbed the attention of political observers on both sides of the aisle with her hard hitting commentaries presented thru viral videos. Please give a rousing ovation to Tomi Lahren!! And the nominees are:

 

 

 

Biggest News Story

 

U.S. Presidential Election

We began 2016 with a crowded field of candidates vying for the Republican nomination. Conversely, the Democratic nomination was never in question, as Hillary Clinton was always The Chosen One despite token yet spirited opposition from socialist Bernie Sanders. By the end of the summer it became clear that it would be Donald Trump vs. Mrs. Clinton, and voters of all persuasions began pondering if this is really the best America can do. Trump’s participation in the process, once thought to be an amusing distraction, evolved into a serious candidacy despite the man’s plethora of foibles. Both sides underestimated the anger & disenchantment of America’s Heartland with a decade of growing racial tension, fragile foreign policy, fading military power, decreasing moral fiber, & amplified political correctness. Trump hit all the right notes despite his penchant for sticking his foot in his mouth. His biggest weakness was also his biggest strength. Meanwhile, HRC was a terribly unappealing candidate to most everyone outside of radical left wing strongholds in urban metropolises like New York City, Los Angeles, & Chicago. His bull in a china shop bravado against her unethical behavior & vaguely creepy demeanor was a disturbing yet entertaining battle royal. In the aftermath of a Trump victory leftists in the media & Hollywood have been throwing an endless temper tantrum, which probably foreshadows a really interesting four years.

 

Aleppo

Aleppo is a city in Syria. As a matter of fact it is one of the oldest cities in the world and is inhabited by both Christians & Muslims. A civil war has be ongoing in Syria for several years, and the city itself has seen intense fighting. I won’t pretend to know all the facts of what has happened there or the foreign policy implications, but it has been a topic of conversation here in America.

 

Hurricane Matthew

The first Level 5 hurricane to hit the United States since 2007 began near the end of September and caused destruction & chaos in Haiti, The Bahamas, & Cuba before hitting the coasts of Florida & the Carolinas in the second week of October, causing power outages and significant flooding.

 

Scalia’s Death

The Supreme Court lost its most ardent conservative voice in February with the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia at the age of 79. Scalia had been a strong defender of The Constitution since his appointment to The Court three decades earlier. His loss is so significant that a replacement has yet to be vetted & confirmed, although I expect that to change in the next few months.

 

Zika Virus

Every year or two another killer virus pops up that no one seems to know how to obliterate. Zika isn’t exactly new, having been around since the 50’s. However, in 2016 the virus spread from Africa to Asia to North & South America. It seemed to especially be a problem in Brazil, causing significant concern since that is where the Summer Olympics were being held. To my knowledge the mass hysteria was overblown and no Olympic athletes or fans were infected.

 

Orlando Mass Shooting

On June 12, 2016 yet another Muslim sympathizer decided to go nuts, killing 49 people and wounding 53 others inside a gay nightclub in Florida. I’m not really sure what to think or say about the whole thing except that evil exists in the world and it is tragic when innocent lives are lost for no good reason.

 

Samsung Recall

Samsung’s Galaxy Note has been a successful product for several years. However, in 2016 they began randomly catching fire & exploding. Obviously the product was recalled. Seriously folks…just get an iPhone. You won’t regret it.

 

Brexit

In June voters in the United Kingdom (a united nation comprised of the countries of England, Scotland, Wales, & Northern Ireland) decided to leave the European Union. I am not familiar enough with European politics to understand all the hows & whys, and I have no idea whether or not this is a positive occurrence. As an American I do understand the value of freedom & independence, and I cannot imagine ever merging with Canada & Mexico to form some kind of supernation.

 

Tennessee Wildfires

In November the Smoky Mountain region of the United States battled wildfires that did significant damage to the cities of Gatlinburg & Pigeon Forge, home of the Dollywood amusement park. 14k people were forced to evacuate. 16k acres were affected. 14 people died and 134 people were injured. These were the deadliest wildfires in the eastern U.S. in nearly 70 years.

 

WV Floods

The southern half of my home state was hit hard by floods back in June. Ten inches of rain fell in less than 24 hours, resulting in atleast 23 deaths and the loss of hundreds of homes in four counties. 44 of our 55 counties were declared disaster areas.

 

Dallas Police Shootings

In early July five police officers were killed and nine others injured in Dallas, TX following a Black Lives Matter rally. To be fair it is said that the event itself was a peaceful protest. The officers present were tasked with keeping the crowd safe, and it is absolutely sickening that they lost their lives to a racist scumbag when they did nothing wrong.

 

 

 

And the Sammy goes to…..

 

 

The Election. Let’s face it…the 2016 election dominated the news. Nearly every other story was dwarfed by it, and the candidates were asked to weigh in on other election-dayprominent events, making them tangentially tied to just about everything that happened in 2016. Hillary Clinton & Donald Trump were on our TVs, computer screens, & newspapers constantly. There was no escape. Even in the aftermath of the election the battle has waged on thanks to a complicit left wing news media and mindless celebrities that won’t let it die. And now we move to the next phase, which is a Trump Presidency, whether one likes it or not. I am inclined to believe that it is not the end of civilization as we know it. Though I am sure President Trump will make decisions that I won’t agree with, I also think he will surprise many folks with some positive choices & favorable results. We’d probably all be better off just ignoring the “mainstream” press & inane ramblings from Hollywood, although I know that is difficult. Let’s just see what happens. I think everything will be okay.

 

 

 

 

 

 

2016

golf icon Arnold Palmer…astronaut & former U.S. Senator John Glenn…writer/director/actor/producer Garry Marshall (Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy, Pretty Woman)…legendary women’s basketball coach Pat Summitt…boxing legend Cassius Clay…authors Harper Lee (To Kill A Mockingbird), WP Kinsella (Shoeless Joe), Alvin Toffler (Future Shock), Tim LaHaye (Left Behind), Richard Adams (Watership Down), & Pat Conroy (The Prince of Tides, The Great Santini)…rock icons Glenn Frey, Prince, & David Bowie…Agnes Nixon (creator of soap operas All My Children, Loving, & One Life to Live)…former NFL head coach (Philadelphia Eagles) & defensive coordinator (Chicago Bears) Buddy Ryan…former First Lady Nancy Reagan…Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia…Pulitzer prize winning playwright Edward Albee…former MLB player & broadcaster Joe Garagiola…comedians Garry Shandling & Bob Elliot…sportscasters John Saunders & Craig Sager…actresses Carrie Fisher (the Star Wars series, The Blues Brothers, When Harry Met Sally), Debbie Reynolds (Singin’ in the Rain), Florence Henderson (The Brady Bunch), Patty Duke (The Miracle Worker), Doris Roberts (Everybody Loves Raymond, Remington Steele, Christmas Vacation), Gloria DeHaven, Ann Morgan Guilbert (Grumpier Old Men, The Nanny), Zsa Zsa Gabor, Margaret Whitton (Major League), & Ronnie Claire Edwards (The Waltons)…Ray Tomlinson (inventor of e-mail)…physician Henry Heimlich (inventor of the Heimlich Maneuver)…writer/producer Earl Hamner Jr. (The Waltons, Falcon Crest, The Twilight Zone)…retired pro wrestlers Hayabusa, Lord James Blears, Joanie Laurer (aka Chyna), Balls Mahoney, Lord Littlebrook, Frenchy Martin, Blackjack Mulligan, Mr. Fuji, & “Iron” Mike Sharpe…journalist Morley Safer (60 Minutes)…televangelist Jan Crouch (TBN)…former NFL players/coaches Ted Marchibroda & Marion Campbell…Richard Trentladge (jingle writer for Oscar Meyer)…actors Abe Vigoda (The Godfather, Barney Miller), Alan Rickman (Die Hard, the Harry Potter series), Gene Wilder (Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory, Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein), Alan Thicke (Growing Pains), Bernard Fox (Bewitched, The Andy Griffith Show, Titanic), Kevin Meaney (Uncle Buck TV show), Fyvush Finkel (Picket Fences), Pat Harrington Jr. (One Day at a Time), Alexis Arquette (The Wedding Singer), Dan Haggerty (Grizzly Adams), Richard Libertini (Fletch, Awakenings, Lethal Weapon 4), Burt Kwouk (the Pink Panther films), Alan Young (Mister Ed), Kenny Baker (R2-D2 in Star Wars), Steven Hill (Law & Order), George Gaynes (Punky Brewster, Police Academy, General Hospital), Ron Lester (Varsity Blues), William Christopher (Father Mulcahey on MASH), Jack Riley (The Bob Newhart Show), Ron Glass (Barney Miller), Tony Burton (Rocky), George Kennedy (The Dirty Dozen, The Naked Gun, Dallas), Barry Jenner, Anthony Addabbo (Guiding Light), Larry Drake (L.A. Law), Anton Yelchin (Star Trek), Ken Howard (The White Shadow), Bill Nunn (Spider-Man, Sister Act, Do the Right Thing), William Schallert (The Andy Griffith Show, The Patty Duke Show), James Noble (Benson), Hugh O’Brien (The Shootist, Wyatt Earp), Joseph Mascolo (Days of Our Lives), David Huddleston (The Big Lebowski, Santa Claus: The Movie), Robert Vaughn (The Man From UNCLE), George S. Irving (voice of Heat Miser in The Year Without a Santa Claus), & Larkin Malloy (Guiding Light, The Edge of Night, All My Children)…troubled former NFL RB Lawrence Phillips…”journalist” Gwen Ifill…baseball Hall-of-Famer Monte Irvin…soap opera producer Claire Labine (General Hospital)…songwriters/musicians Frank Sinatra Jr., Leonard Cohen, George Michael, Merle Haggard, Paul Kantner (Jefferson Starship), Bobby Vee, Matt Roberts (Three Doors Down), Holly Dunn, Steve Young (Seven Bridges Road), Pete Fountain, Jimmie Van Zant, Leon Russell, Jack Hammer (Great Balls of Fire), Christina Grimmie, Rikki Martin, Buckwheat Zydeco, & Maurice White (Earth, Wind, & Fire)…MMA fighter Kimbo Slice…former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno…voice actor Joe Alaskey (succeeded Mel Blanc in performing Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Sylvester, & Tweety)…retired MLB players Tony Phillips & Milt Pappas…Oscar winning director Curtis Hanson (L.A. Confidential, Wonder Boys)…wine maker Peter Mondavi…Cuban dictator Fidel Castro…New Orleans Saints DE Will Smith & NY Jets RB Joe McKnight…Sir George Martin (record producer for The Beatles)…former Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres…sports journalist & tennis commentator Bud Collins…Jim Kimsey (co-founder of AOL)…NASCAR team owner Carl Haas…Rob Ford (former crackhead Mayor of Toronto)…WV radio personalities “Cadillac” Jim Stallings & Lacy Neff…EWTN founder Mother Angelica…former Duke University AD Tom Butters…retired NBA players Dwayne “Pearl” Washington, Brooks Thompson, & Sean Rooks…former Governor & Senator from Ohio George Voinovich…hockey Hall-of-Famer Gordie Howe…former MLB pitcher Ralph Branca (pitcher who gave up The Shot Heard ‘Round the World)…TV host Bill “Chilly Billy” Cardille… Jim Delligatti (creator of the Big Mac)…retired NFL coach Dennis Green…television psychic Miss Cleo…retired boxers Bobby Chacon & Aaron Pryor…conservative icon Phyllis Schlafly…former NFL players Cary Blanchard, Dennis Byrd, Keion Carpenter, Quentin Groves, Rashaan Salaam, & Fulton Walker…political host/commentator John McLaughlin…MLB pitcher Jose Fernandez (Miami Marlins)…former NBC Chairman & CEO Grant Tinker…former Congressman & WV Secretary of State Ken Hechler…retired BYU football coach Lavell Edwards…Jeopardy champion Cindy Stowell

 

 

 

2015

2015

college basketball player Lauren Hill…musician/songwriter Gary Richrath (REO Speedwagon)…actors Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek’s Mr. Spock), James Best (Dukes of Hazzard, The Andy Griffith Show), Christopher Lee (the Lord of the Rings trilogy, the Star Wars prequels), Robert Loggia (Scarface, Big), Al Molinaro (Happy Days, Joanie Loves Chachi), Wayne Rogers (MASH), Taylor Negron (Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Punchline), Richard Dysart (L.A. Law), Windell Middlebrooks (Body of Proof, Miller High Life commercials), Martin Brooks (Dallas, The Six Million Dollar Man), Geoffrey Lewis (Every Which Way But Loose, Any Which Way You Can), Tony Longo, Patrick Macnee (The Avengers), Dean Jones (The Love Bug), David Canary (All My Children, Bonanza), Omar Sharif (Lawrence of Arabia), Alex Rocco (The Godfather, Facts of Life), Marty Ingles, Nathaniel Marston (One Life to Live), Dick Van Patten (Eight is Enough, Spaceballs), Roger Rees (Cheers, The West Wing)…legendary blues man BB King…Bobbi Kristina Brown (tragic daughter of Whitney Houston & Bobby Brown)…Oscar winning composer James Horner (Field of Dreams, Titanic, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Braveheart, Apollo 13, The Perfect Storm)…televangelist Rev. Robert Schuller…NFL Hall-of-Famers Chuck Bednarik, Frank Gifford, & Ken Stabler…Gary Dahl (inventor of the Pet Rock)…ESPN sportscaster Stuart Scott…actresses Donna Douglas (Ellie Mae on The Beverly Hillbillies), Yvonne Craig (Batman, Star Trek), Maureen O’Hara (Miracle on 34th Street), Ellen Dow (The Wedding Singer), Grace Lee Whitney (Petty Officer Rand on Star Trek), Patricia Elliott (One Life to Live), Suzanne Crough (Tracy on The Partridge Family), Mary Ellen Trainor (Die Hard, the Lethal Weapon series), Ann Meara (Archie Bunker’s Place), Betsy Palmer (Friday the 13th), & Amanda Peterson (Can’t Buy Me Love, A Year in the Life)…Betty Willis (designer of the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign)…former NBA coach Flip Saunders…horror writer & director Wes Craven (A Nightmare on Elm Street)…infamous stripper Blaze Starr…former publisher & NY Mets owner Nelson Doubleday Jr….retired basketball players Moses Malone, “Hot Rod” Hundley, Roy Tarpley, Jerome Kersey, Meadowlark Lemon & Marques Haynes (Harlem Globetrotters), Darryl Dawkins, “Hot Rod” Williams, & Anthony Mason…Huntington, WV weatherman & TV personality Jule Huffman (aka Mr. Cartoon)…MLB Hall-of-Famers Yogi Berra & Ernie Banks…entrepreneur Lillian Vernon…former Governors Arch Moore Jr. (WV) & Mario Cuomo (NY)…retired NFL player & coach Allie Sherman…singers Andrae Crouch, Ben E. King (Stand By Me), Lesley Gore (It’s My Party), Little Jimmy Dickens, Jack Ely (Louie Louie as part of The Kingsmen), Percy Sledge (When A Man Loves A Woman), Jim Ed Brown, …Las Vegas entrepreneur Kirk Kerkorian…legendary college basketball coaches Jerry Tarkanian (UNLV), Guy Lewis (Houston), & Dean Smith (North Carolina)…authors Jackie Collins, E.L. Doctorow, & Colleen McCullough (The Thorn Birds)…pro wrestling legends Verne Gagne, “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, Tommy Rogers, “The Nature Boy” Buddy Landell, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Nick Bockwinkel, & Larry Winters…journalist Bob Simon (60 Minutes)…Hall-of-Fame golfer Billy Casper…former U.S. Senator & actor Fred Thompson…screenwriter Melissa Matheson (E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial)…Bud Paxson (founder of Home Shopping Network)…producers Jerry Weintraub (Ocean’s Eleven, Diner, The Karate Kid), Samuel Goldwyn Jr., & Harve Bennett (Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan & four other Star Trek films, The MOD Squad, The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman)…former MLB players Minnie Minoso, Dave Henderson, & Darryl Hamilton…TV announcer Gary Owens (Laugh-In, Space Ghost)…Ed Sabol (founder of NFL Films)…Gene Gene the Dancing Machine (The Gong Show)…former Speaker of the U.S. House Jim Wright…NASCAR announcer Steve Byrnes…Nobel Prize winning mathematician John Forbes Nash Jr. (subject of A Beautiful Mind)…trailblazing golfer Calvin Peete…attorney & author (Helter Skelter) Vincent Bugliosi…former UNC basketball coach Bill Guthridge…retired NFL kicker Garo Yepremian…songstress Natalie Cole…former NASCAR driver & broadcaster Buddy Baker…retired NFL coach Lindy Infante (Green Bay Packers, Indianapolis Colts)…former National Security Advisor Sandy Berger…rock musicians Lemmy Kilmister (Motorhead) & Scott Weiland (Stone Temple Pilots & Velvet Revolver)

 

 

Points of Ponderation…Episode 8.16

A semi-regular attempt to address some of life’s minutiae that might otherwise be overlooked…..

 

Family, friends, & citizens of The Manoverse know that my relationship with the ol’ home state of West Virginia has been…ambivalent…at best. Not a day goes by that part of me doesn’t regret taking off for greener pastures while I was young & fearless, yet this is home and I am content to be near family, basking in a boring, uneventful, slow paced, Mayberry-esque way of life. Let me take this opportunity to say how proud I have been these past few weeks watching the people of WV rally around those affected by devastating floods. I have observed all kinds of businesses, churches, & other organizations collect donations wvand travel down to the flooded areas to distribute much needed food, clothing, & supplies. No one asked, and certainly no one forced these entities to put in the time & effort to help communities of strangers over 100 miles away, but they did it anyway because that’s how we roll here in The Mountain State. For the most part we’re not the wealthiest, most scholarly, thinnest, or sexiest population, but we understand what it is to be neighborly and take care of those less fortunate or facing tough times. Please continue to say an occasional prayer for the flood victims, and understand that their lives won’t magically be back to normal in a couple of weeks or months. Many people lost everything and don’t have a trust fund or hidden bank account in the Cayman Islands to buy new houses, clothes, automobiles, etc. I am sure there will be assistance available, but I’m also smart enough to know that it won’t be adequate. I can’t even fathom the devastation.

 

 

 

Unlike some I wasn’t the least bit surprised that the FBI decided not to indict Hillary Clinton. The outcome was expected, although I was a bit surprised by how foolish liberty_in_shamethe powers-that-be made themselves look in the process. I wish I could be more optimistic, but more & more it feels like the fix may be in as it pertains to the 2016 Presidential election. The media has done a wonderful job glossing over Mrs. Clinton’s “imperfections” while amplifying Donald Trump’s liabilities, to the point that otherwise intelligent people sincerely believe that she is a better choice than him. However, just because the result of the “investigation” was anticipated doesn’t make it any less sad & frustrating. I’ve watched this country continue to dive further into the abyss on a daily basis the past several years, yet it continues to be an incredible process to witness.

 

 

 

Okay kids, it’s review time. I know I have kvetched about this before, but please allow me to educate as well as entertain. A person’s wheelchair is a very, very, very important piece of equipment. It’s more than just an apparatus…it’s a lifeline. So please…please…unless you honestly know what you are doing don’t try to “help” an experienced wheelchair user. I’m not talking about someone who broke their leg and might be stuck with crutches and/or a chair for a few weeks. I am referring to a person (like myself) who has a disability and therefore deals with stuff & situations on a daily basis. Do I sometimes need help?? Yes. And I have had to learn to put my pride on the shelf and accept assistance on occasion. There are times that I truly appreciate the kindness of others. Having said that, if I need help I will usually ask, or if someone really wants to be polite & supportive I hope they atleast ask first. Do NOT just come up to me, say “Here let me help you” and grab my wheelchair. Would you just walk up and latch onto someone’s private area?? Would you randomly fondle a stranger’s breasts?? Grabbing a person’s wheelchair is similarly offensive. What frequently happens to me is that people want to lift my chair into the extended cab of my truck. The problem is that’s not how it is done. I end up arriving at my next destination with my wheelchair brakes locked and having to twist myself into a pretzel to unlock them before I can easily back the chair out of the truck. Recently as I was leaving work I received some “help” from a lovely young lady. It was 7am and I was tired. The woman was being nice and she was kind of cute. I didn’t argue. Unfortunately…and hilariously…she somehow placed my chair into my truck completely upside down. I honestly have never seen that before, and the whole way home I just kept thinking “How in the heck am I going to get it out of there??”. Luckily it wasn’t as difficult as I feared, but it could have been a complete disaster. I’m glad that there are caring, neighborly folks in the world. There are times when I am very thankful for a helping hand. But exercise caution…ask yourself if you are really being useful, or if maybe…just maybe…you may be getting in the way.

 

 

And that’s all I have to say about that.

le

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was so looking forward to the next Star Trek film, set to hit theaters in just a few weeks. But now I think I might just skip it. It has been made public that the character of Sulu will be an out-of-the-closet gay man in the movie, complete with child and male “partner”. It is obviously a nod to George Takei, who portrayed Sulu in the original Star Trek TV series and first six feature films and came out as gay several years ago. The issue is this…Sulu was never homosexual before. As a matter of fact he has been previously shown as having a wife & child. Now, it is true that the series was on television a half century ago, and it is also true that these new movies take place in an “alternate time line”. That’s all well & good…creative license & all that jazz. It is also said trek2that in this new film, called Star Trek: Beyond, Sulu being gay is shown as no big deal, which is fine. However, I’m just not a fan of this movement toward PC appeasement in pop culture. Ghostbusters was remade simply to have an all-female cast. There is currently a TV version of the classic film Uncle Buck that features a black cast. Annie was remade awhile back with a black cast, as was Steel Magnolias.  The same thing was done a few years ago with The Karate Kid. Harry Potter fans got their knickers twisted recently when a new stage play written by JK Rowling was cast and the adult version of Hermione Granger is now suddenly black. Rowling’s previous low class existence & mindset came roaring back when she whined that fans bothered by the casting choice must be racist. An Ocean’s Eleven reboot is in the works with an all female cast led by Sandra Bullock, although it might actually work because the lead character is allegedly the sister of George Clooney’s Danny Ocean, so atleast they are acknowledging the original (well okay…those films were remade from a 60’s Rat Pack film, but you get my drift). The revived Star Wars franchise seems to be back only so that Luke Skywalker…or a hero that is a close facsimile of him…can be a girl now. I’m not a comic book aficionado, but I am given to understand that Iron Man is now a teenage black girl, Spiderman is an hispanic dude, Thor is female, Ms. Marvel is Muslim, & Captain America is black. Such changes may be more organic in comic books though, especially if new characters take over the superhero role from someone who is now retired or dead. At any rate, people are already tired of Hollywood’s lack of originality, and it feels extra lazy to just recycle an idea with the big twist being that previously white/ heterosexual/male characters are now black, latino, gay, and/or female. Call me all the names you want…closeminded, bigoted, racist, misogynistic, homophobic…because that’s the playbook these days. Just know that I speak truth. I am sure that the powers-that-be pat themselves on the back for being inclusive and embracing diversity, but the fact is that instead of creating new stories with strong characters that are female, black, etc. they are simply putting a superficial façade on the treasured memories of the masses and giving insulting lip service to the issues they allegedly care so much about. Even George Takei thinks it’s stupid to make Sulu gay at this stage, fifty years into the character’s history…and of all people shouldn’t his opinion carry more than a little weight?? Anyway, I watch movies & TV and read books to escape from reality. Can’t we just enjoy a good story without being preached to and indoctrinated with ideology?? Is that too much to freaking ask?!?!?!??

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

25 Favorite TV Theme Songs…..Part 1

I feel sorry for today’s youth on a variety of levels. I just don’t think their childhoods are nearly as cool as mine was. Of course I am sure parents said the same thing about our generation. Anyway, one of the things that kids miss out on these days is memorable TV theme songs. The powers-that-be figured out a decade or two ago that they could add 30 seconds or a minute to a show (well…okay…let’s be honest…it’s all about additional commercial time which means more money) by trimming down or eliminating the theme song and having the opening credits run during a show’s first scene. And even if a program does still have a theme song I’m not sure how memorable it becomes since everyone is watching things online or recording stuff on their DVR and fast forwarding thru the show. Certainly tvmusiccommercials have lost their value, but that’s a topic for another day. We’re here to talk about TV theme songs…the ones that were attached to shows that have been off the air for decades but we can still hum the tune and remember the catchy lyrics. These songs set the mood and in many cases explained the entire concept for the show. They will sometimes creep into your mind for no apparent reason and stay there for days, like an eel from Ceti Alpha V. The tunes listed here are, more often than not, affiliated with an equally awesome show…but not always. There are cases where a theme song is way cooler than the television program itself ever was. As with any kind of subjective ranking like this the choices are obviously influenced by the era in which I grew up as well as my personal preferences. Readers who may have perused my 50 Favorite TV Shows a few years ago will…understandably…recognize a lot of crossover.

 

 

 
Honorable Mentions: Peter Gunn (I never saw the TV show, and associate the song more with the movie The Blues Brothers), MASH (hauntingly beautiful but kind of a downer…I mean come on…the song is called Suicide is Painless), Mission: Impossible (I’ve never seen the show or the Tom Cruise movies), Barney Miller (a cool, jazzy tune that just didn’t make the cut), American Bandstand (an infectious song for sure), The Munsters (I’m not sure why a show about monsters had a catchy surfer theme song), Taxi (simple, elegant, but not as memorable as many others)

 

 

 

25 Happy Days
Happy Days actually had two theme songs. For the first couple of seasons it was Bill Haley & The Comets’ classic 1954 anthem Rock Around the Clock. hdAfter that an original song was recorded that is close enough in vibe & style that the difference between it and Clock is almost imperceptible.

 

 

 

24 Three’s Company / Full House
3This is our first tie…but not the last. Both shows…as well as their theme songs…are guilty pleasures. Many won’t admit that they full_houseenjoyed them but we all know that enough people did that they were each on the air for 8 seasons.

 

 

 

 

23 Star Trek / Star Trek:TNG
TOS’s theme is a bit…spacey & operatic, as if you are in the midst of an acid trip while intoxicated on champagne (not that I have trekany kind of personal experience, atleast with acid). It was composed during the 60’s after all. TNG’s theme, on the other hand, is orchestral & bombastic. Both include the familiar voiceover about space being the final frontier and explaining the mission of the starship Enterprise. I hear TNG’s theme often, as it is the personal ringtone assigned to my friend The Owl when he calls.

 

 

 

22 Night Court / Growing Pains
Growing-Pains_610Whatever happened to BJ Thomas?? I really enjoyed his 1970’s songs Hooked on a Feeling and Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head (which won an ncAcademy Award). Anyway, he teamed up with duo queen Jennifer Warnes (Up Where We Belong from An Officer and a Gentleman with Joe Cocker and I’ve Had the Time of My Life from Dirty Dancing with Bill Medley were two other hits) to sing a slightly sappy, very 80’s-ish theme for Growing Pains. Night Court’s theme song is an upbeat jazz tune with a really cool bass line. It is vaguely similar to the Barney Miller theme only kicked up a few notches. This makes perfect sense when you know both were composed by the same guy.

 

 

 

21 Dallas / The Big Bang Theory
TV Nayyar 104902TBBT is still on the air and going strong, so I hesitate to include its ebullient theme song, but I will, a) because I think it’s cool, and b) the show has been on long enough for me to fairly assume that the tune will stand the test of time. It was composed and is performed by the fringe 90’s rock group Barenaked Ladies, who I think may have had a couple of semi-recognizable hits about 20 years ago. The lyrics are more about the actual Big Bang Theory that we all learned about in science class and don’t really tell us anything about the show, but it’s still a fun song. The Dallas theme is a funky orchestral-disco fusion thing. Unique and unforgettable. Fans of the show dallassurely have memories flood their brain when hearing it…Who Shot JR??, Pam’s dream season, The Oil Barons’ Ball, Ewing Oil, South Fork. Puts me in the mood for power, money, & BBQ.

 

 

 

20 Batman / Sanford & Son
batmanBatman has had multiple theme songs over the years, from animated TV shows to the superb score by award winning composersson (and former Oingo Boingo frontman) Danny Elfman for the Tim Burton films a couple of decades back. However, my favorite remains the simple yet catchy theme for the campy 60’s TV show starring Adam West as The Caped Crusader. Minimalism works. My late paternal grandfather loved Sanford & Son, a show that was cancelled before I started kindergarten. God bless syndicated reruns, right?? The theme song is entitled The Streetbeater and was composed by the legendary Quincy Jones.

 

 

 

19 The Golden Girls
Okay…a serious question. When did The Golden Girls become a cultural touchstone for homosexuality, and why?? Maybe I’ve missed something ggobvious, which is entirely possible since the show was originally on when I was a teenager. It’s no skin off my nose…I’m just curious. At any rate, the theme song belongs in any 80’s time capsule that one might conceive, alongside The Brat Pack, acid washed jeans, MTV, & big hair. It is all about friendship, and really, who could dislike a song like that??

 

 

 

18 The Greatest American Hero
I don’t think I ever watched a single episode of The Greatest American Hero. It only lasted for three seasons and during most of that time was on Friday gamnights at the same time as Dallas, and in my house we did not miss Dallas. If I had been a fan of the show there is a good chance the theme would have ranked much higher on this list because it is among the coolest & most unforgettable songs in television history. It was memorably lampooned on a classic 1997 episode of Seinfeld, which just adds to its credibility. Believe It or Not actually became a hit on the radio (which might explain its familiarity even to those of us who never watched the show) and peaked at #2 on the charts. One thing I do find interesting about the program itself: In 1981 a show was conceived about a high school schoolteacher who becomes a superhero. It got, at best, so-so ratings and was cancelled after three seasons. Almost 30 years later a show (Breaking Bad) was conceived about a high school teacher who becomes a meth dealer. It lasted 5 seasons and is often trumpeted by some as one of the best television programs of all time. That, ladies & gentlemen, is the living, breathing definition of going to Hell in a handbasket.

 

 

 

17 Saved by the Bell
I can’t recall exactly how I became a Saved by the Bell fan. That might be because it was on in the early 90’s and my memory of those years is a bit sbbfuzzy…for reasons I won’t go into. I certainly wasn’t the target demographic. I was a guy in college, not a junior high school girl. But for whatever reason I always liked the show, even though it was so cheesy it made the 60’s Batman show look like Shakespeare. The theme song is peppy and briefly encapsulates a lot of the angst of being in high school. Interesting trivia…the Saved by the Bell and Golden Girls themes were composed by the same person. That’s some impressive range.

 

 

 

16 The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
Is there a cooler 90’s theme song than The Fresh Prince?? It is still the best thing that Will Smith has ever done. I’m not into rap/hip-hop at all, but if I fresh-prince-outfits-9were 25 years younger and still into getting gooned on Jägermeister it wouldn’t be hard to persuade me to karaoke the heck out of this song. I’m surprised that never actually happened. The tune basically sets up the premise for the entire series and everything that followed for 6 seasons on television evolved from that.

 

 

 

 

That’s it. That’s all you get…for now. Please stay tuned for Part 2…coming soon!!

Superfluous 7 – Best & Worst TV Spinoffs

TVThe television landscape is littered with spinoffs/sequels/continuations/reboots both good & bad…mostly bad. Logically one can conclude that any series worthy of a spinoff must be pretty good itself, which right away means the new show has high standards that it must live up to, something that oftentimes proves to be difficult. The spinoff needs to provide viewers with a sense of comfort & familiarity while at the same time standing on its own as a fresh and different entity from the original. It’s tricky and usually doesn’t work. However, there have been a handful of notable spinoffs that have achieved a certain amount of success. Sometimes folks forget that a show is even a spinoff, and on rare occasions the spinoff equals or even outshines its parent show.


We are going to try something a bit different with this installment of Superfluous 7. For each slot I have listed a good & bad…a yin & yang…a hero & villain. It’s a TV2twofer, a BOGO, a double feature!! But first let me offer a few qualifiers. In all cases I am familiar…on some level…with both the parent series and its spinoff. Y’all know that I love, love, love The Andy Griffith Show, and I am well aware that it is a spinoff of The Danny Thomas Show (aka Make Room for Daddy). However, the only episode of the original show I’ve ever seen is the one that was a “backdoor pilot” for TAGS (you can find it on YouTube) so that particular spinoff doesn’t make this list. Ditto for Happy Days, which was a spinoff of Love American Style, a show I’ve never seen. I am also aware of the plethora of spinoffs of shows like CSI, Law & Order, & NCIS, but since I don’t watch those shows nor their “offspring” you won’t find them here. They just aren’t my cup o’ tea. Your mileage may vary and that’s okay. Something else you won’t see here…reality shows. I know that The Bachelorette is a spinoff of The Bachelor, but since I am of the opinion that such programs are contributing to the decay of society they aren’t worth the time & energy to even talk about. Also let me take this opportunity to say that narrowing this list down was harder than I expected. There are shows that I rather enjoy like Mama’s Family (a spinoff of The Carol Burnett Show), Trapper John M.D. (from MASH), Mork & Mindy (one of a few spinoffs from Happy Days), Benson (a spinoff of Soap), Family Matters (a spinoff of Perfect Strangers), and The Simpsons (spun off from something called The Tracey Ullman Show) that just didn’t make the cut. There are others, such as That 80’s Show (a follow-up to…of course…That 70’s Show), Just the Ten of Us (a spinoff of Growing Pains), Flo (a spinoff of Alice), and Living Dolls (a spinoff of Who’s the Boss? notable for kicking off the careers of Halle Berry & Leah Remini) so inconsequential that I’m surprised I remember them at all. At any rate, without further ado, The Manofesto ambitiously presents…..

 

 

 

from the home office in Mount Airy, NC…..

 

 

 

The Superfluous 7 Best & Worst TV Spinoffs:

 

 

 

7 Best – The Facts of Life      Worst – Three’s A Crowd
facts_of_lifeIn the middle of the second season of Diff’rent Strokes housekeeper Edna Garrett leaves the Drummonds to become the housemother at a private girls’ school in upstate New York. And so The Facts of Life was born. At first we were shown the lives of a large group of 3crowdstudents at Eastland Academy (including a very young Molly Ringwald), but eventually the show focused on just four: rich girl Blair, tough girl Jo, funny girl Natalie, & Tootie, who spent most of the first season on roller skates. Facts was one of those sitcoms that didn’t shy away from heavier topics & issues that a typical teenager might face. It was also a very adaptable show, going with the flow of cast changes and realistically putting the four girls in different settings as they grew up. The show was never a ratings juggernaut but quietly stuck around for 9 solid seasons. More than 25 years after it left the air I can still sing (badly) the theme song. On the flip side we have what was intended to be a continuation of Three’s Company. Crowd had Jack Tripper settling down with a lovely stewardess and their relationship being constantly meddled in by her father. Not even the comedic brilliance of John Ritter could save Three’s A Crowd though. It wasn’t all that funny and the cast just never seemed to gel in the way that its predecessor’s had. Three’s A Crowd lasted just one season.

 

 

6 Best – Knots Landing      Worst – Joanie Loves Chachi
knotsPrime time soap operas were a big thing in the 80’s & 90’s. Dallas and Dynasty were the kings of the genre and forerunners tochachi shows like Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place, & Desperate Housewives. During the third season of Dallas Jock & Miss Ellie’s middle son Gary Ewing & his estranged wife Val (parents of Lucy Ewing Cooper) reunite and move to a cul-de-sac in California. Friendships, rivalries, business deals, & love affairs amongst the various neighbors were the basis of Knots, which was more grounded & realistic than its parent show but just as soapy. It lasted an astonishing 14 years and survived a plethora of cast changes as well as all manner of ratings competition. Conversely, Joanie Loves Chachi did not last anywhere near as long. The idea was that the Happy Days lovebirds relocate to Chicago to pursue a music career. But without Ritchie, Fonzie, Potsie, and Mr. & Mrs. C the twosome just weren’t all that interesting. The show was cancelled after two years and Joanie & Chachi made their way back to Milwaukee for Happy Days’ final season.

 

 

5 Best – Gomer Pyle, USMC      Worst – The Golden Palace
gomerI was fortunate enough to grow up in the 70’s & 80’s when syndicated reruns of popular shows from the 60’s like The Beverly palaceHillbillies, Hogan’s Heroes, The Brady Bunch, Gilligan’s Island, The Munsters, Batman, The Addams Family, & Bewitched were shown on television a lot. Thank God I was provided the opportunity to appreciate such classic programs that had originally aired long before I was born. One of those shows was a fish-out-of-water spinoff of The Andy Griffith Show that saw dimwitted but good-natured mechanic Gomer Pyle leave Mayberry and enlist in the Marines. Gomer’s contentious relationship with drill instructor Sgt. Carter was hilarious and his penchant for inadvertently screwing up drove many of the plots. NBC’s The Golden Palace was, much like Three’s A Crowd, a failed money driven attempt at prolonging a show that had run its course. When Bea Arthur decided that she wanted to leave The Golden Girls after its seventh season the powers-that-be simply had Blanche, Sophia, & Rose buy a Miami hotel and build a show around their interactions with the establishment’s staff & guests. Not the worst idea in the world I suppose, but it’s hard to catch lightning in a bottle twice and the concept just didn’t work. The Golden Palace was cancelled after one season but is notable for being one of the early entries on the resume of actor Don Cheadle. The Golden Girls did launch a more successful spinoff called Empty Nest about a doctor and his two grown daughters.

 

 

4 Best – Laverne & Shirley     Worst – Saved by the Bell: The College Years
lsJoanie Loves Chachi may have been a bust, but Happy Days did have two successful spinoffs. I liked Mork & Mindy and became a huge Robin Williams fan, but it just doesn’t quite make the cut for our current purposes. However, Laverne & Shirley most Saved-Bell-College_400definitely deserves a spot. It retained the 1950’s Milwaukee setting of its parent show but otherwise stood out on its own merits. The supporting cast (Lenny & Squiggy, “The Big Ragu” Carmine Ragusa, Laverne’s father Phil & his gal pal Edna) was solid. Laverne & Shirley isn’t one of the greatest shows in the history of television and it kind of limped to a finish in its final two years (the entire cast inexplicably relocated to California together…as if that is realistic…and Cindy Williams, aka Shirley, isn’t even around during the last season), but amongst spinoffs it has to be considered a tremendous success. The prime time spinoff of Saturday morning staple Saved by the Bell, on the other hand, can’t be called successful by any metric one could possibly use. Now let’s be honest…the original show wasn’t a high water mark of artistry or excellence. But for what it was…a Saturday morning show meant to appeal to teenagers…it did the trick. The problem with shows set in high school (besides the fact that the powers-that-be always seem to cast 25 year olds to portray characters that are supposed to be a decade younger) is the fact that they should realistically only last 4 years. What to do with a successful (i.e. profitable) show after that?? Follow the kids to college of course!! It’s been done multiple times and almost always bombs. In this case only half the cast moved on to the spinoff and characters were added (most notably a dorm advisor played by former NFL player Bob Golic) that just didn’t pan out. The other issue was that for some odd reason The College Years aired in primetime instead of Saturday morning. Big mistake. The show only lasted one season. I should mention that I didn’t forget about Saved by the Bell: The New Class (although I wish I could) but chose to aim my scorn & derision at The College Years if only because the original cast should have known better.

 

 

3 Best – The Jeffersons      Worst – Mayberry RFD
jeffersons-castI am a little too young to remember the sociopolitical climate of the mid-1970’s, but I do remember that at the time black folks were still being portrayed in pop culture as poor, uneducated, & usually living in the ghetto. Shows like Good Times, Sanford & Son, & What’s Happening! all seemed to…unintentionally…perpetuate a stereotype that African-Americans (a term I don’t particularly rfdlike…we are all Americans) are doomed to a struggling blue collar existence in “the projects”. Diff’rent Strokes was about two orphaned boys that only make it out of Harlem because a rich white man adopts them. Even Saturday morning cartoon Fat Albert had the kids hanging out in an inner city junkyard. But George & Weezie Jefferson were different. George owned a chain of dry cleaning stores. They lived “in a deluxe apartment in the sky” (after they’d moved from Queens where they were neighbors of Archie Bunker and thusly spun off from All in the Family). They had a maid and a doorman. The Jeffersons showed that The American Dream is accessible to everyone. It is a formula that was later followed by shows like The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Family Matters, and especially The Cosby Show. On the other side of the coin we have Mayberry RFD, a show still set in Mayberry but missing key elements like Sheriff Andy, Barney Fife, and little Opie. To be fair many of the supporting characters from TAGS were a part of the spinoff. Aunt Bea, Goober, Howard Sprague, & Clara Edwards were all in the cast. However, Ken Berry (who would go on to play the hilariously dimwitted Vinton on Mama’s Family in the 80’s) as farmer & town councilman Sam Jones was a poor substitute for Andy Griffith. Mayberry RFD…in my opinion…didn’t differentiate itself enough from its parent show and instead was a watered down copycat. The show had solid ratings but was cancelled after three seasons as CBS tried to overhaul its image and distance themselves from rural themed shows like Green Acres, Petticoat Junction, & Hee Haw.

 

 

2 Best – Star Trek: The Next Generation     Worst – The Love Boat: The Next Wave
TNGOftentimes spinoffs have a “backdoor pilot” within the parent series and usually run either concurrently or immediately following the demise of the original. TNG is odd in that it premiered nearly two decades after the cancellation of TOS. What the two shows…set a century apart…have in common are the starship Enterprise and really cool tales of space exploration and adventure. TNG gets the formula exactly right. There is a certain amount of familiarity that makes the viewer feel as if we are revisiting an old friend, but the characters are not at all carbon copies of their predecessors. Captains Kirk and Picard couldn’t be more different. Doctors McCoy and Crusher are nothing alike. Engineers Scotty and Geordi LaForge?? No. Spock & Data?? Well…maybe just a little bit but not really. As a trifling Trekkie I must say that the TOS movie franchise was far superior to the tepid TNG films, but as far as the TV shows go the spinoff gives the original a real run for its money. I didn’t really follow any of the other Trek shows that came after, but I loved The Next Generation. Conversely, I, like the majority of the population, barely recall that The Love Boat had a spinoff. The Love Boat was a product of its time. It’s not going to rank anywhere near the best television shows, but as Saturday night comfort food in the 1980’s it boatworked well enough to last a decade. But the spinoff had a few issues that it couldn’t overcome. First off it debuted over a decade after the original bid us a fond bon voyage. That kind of delay may have worked for Star Trek: TNG but that is the exception to the rule. Secondly The Next Wave aired on UPN, a network that only lasted a decade (in comparison to CBS, ABC, & NBC that have all been around since the dawn of television), never offered a full prime time schedule, and only had mild hits including forgettable shows like Moesha and Veronica Mars. Now I’m not saying that The Next Wave would have been successful on a real network, but it never had a chance on UPN. And much like Mayberry RFD the spinoff tried too hard to be exactly like the original only with actors and characters that couldn’t hold a candle to their predecessors. The concept…perfectly acceptable in the 80’s…was far too trite for the edgier 1990’s. The Next Wave lasted two seasons only because UPN had no better options.

 

 

1 Best – Frasier     Worst – AfterMASH
frasierThere are many people that are of the opinion that Frasier actually outdid its parent show Cheers. That’s a fun little debate, but amongst spinoffs Frasier stands alone. Rather than try to replicate its predecessor the show took the titular character of Dr. Frasier Crane and transplanted him to a completely new setting and surrounded him with a whole new cast of supporting players that weren’t anything like the bar crowd on Cheers. Dr. Crane himself developed quite nicely as a character without undergoing any drastic changes from what we knew of him as a recurring bit player on the original show. About the only thing the two shows have in common is the superb writing that made me fall in love with both. Frasier is such a good show that it probably would have found an audience and been a ratings success on its own merits, but having a built-in audience of faithful Cheers viewers certainly helped it get off on the right foot though. However the tone of the two shows are so vastly different that I’d be willing to bet that there were a decent amount of Cheers fans that tuned out after realizing the spinoff wasn’t going to blindly follow the trail blazed by its forerunner. If that’s true then Frasier deserves even more kudos for building an audience and lasting 11 seasons…just as many as Cheers. Now when one considers the success of Frasier then it is fair ponder the question of why AfterMASH was such an epic failure (other than its stupid & uncreative title). Afterall, it tried the same thing…transplanting characters from one show and spinning them off into a show that had a totally different setting & tone. So what was the difference?? Well, for one ting AfterMASH took Col. Potter, Cpl. Klinger, & Father Mulcahy from The Korean War to working together at a aftermashhospital in Missouri. Whereas Frasier relocated one character in a totally logical way (he moved back to his hometown to be near his family) AfterMASH clunkily reunited three characters in a completely unbelievable manner. It just didn’t work. Otherwise there are a lot of possible explanations. If TV industry people knew why some shows failed and some were smash hits they’d run for political office and fix the nation’s more important problems. AfterMASH actually had decent ratings in its inaugural season (I am assuming due to curiosity from loyal MASH fans) but then crashed & burned in its second season in part due to brutal competition from The A-Team. But if that were the only issue they could have just put it in a new time slot. I think people were just over their MASH love and ready to move forward. The writing and storytelling obviously wasn’t compelling enough for folks to stick around, and when those things aren’t good no amount of nostalgia will keep a show alive. Not only is AfterMASH probably the worst spinoff of all time but it is largely remembered as one of the worst television shows in general.

Heroes & Heels…..January 2013

Back when I used to do a Person of the Month at the old site on MySpace I had…for some strange reason…a real issue with getting the darn thing published on time, which in a perfect world would be on the last day of the month. When I decided to revive the idea here in 2013 I promised myself I would do better, but I guess old habits die hard. The truth is that I have been in a little funk the past several days and got lazy. I believe that atleast part of it is weather induced as I do not like this cold, icy, snowy time of year and tend to go into a self-induced hibernation. At any rate I am doing my best to push thru which in part means fulfilling my own self-imposed promises here at The Manofesto.

Our new feature is called Heroes & Heels. These are the people & stories that either dominated the news or for some reason caught my eye during the past 30 days. They are presented in no particular order and I am sure my dear citizens of The Manoverse will be able to tell the bad guys from the good. Enjoy.

 

 

JJ Abrams

Yes yes yes…I am well aware that Abrams…currently helming the Star Trek revival…was chosenThumbs_up recently to direct a new Star Wars trilogy. I have already expressed my ambivalence about that. But Abrams deserves kudos for another reason. Early in January Abrams found out about a terminally ill New York man’s dying wish to see the new Trek film before he died. The director is notoriously secretive about his work, preferring to keep spoilers to a minimum. However, he made an exception in this case and sent a DVD of the unfinished film to the house of 41 year old Daniel Craft, who apparently watched it with his wife and some popcorn. A few days later Craft passed away. It may seem like a small thing in the grand scheme of life, but JJ Abrams’ gesture was classy & fundamentally decent…something we’re not used to seeing out of Hollywood types. Kudos Mr. Abrams.

 

Ronaiah Tuiasosopo

I am sure you’ve heard about this idiot recently. He’s the mental giant who perpetrated the hoax on Notre Dame football player Manti Te’o, making him believe that he was in a 2 year long phone/cyberfrowny-face “relationship” with a girl that never actually existed. I am not willing to absolve Te’o of all responsibility yet because it still isn’t clear exactly when he found out the truth and how long he continued to perpetuate the fraud for his own purposes, and at the very least he is an extremely naïve & gullible young man who could probably use a good dose of therapy. However, it has become clear that Tuiasosopo is the one who came up with the sick joke in the first place. I don’t watch Dr. Phil, who I consider to be only slightly less of a charlatan than Oprah, but from what I read Tuiasosopo is now saying that he was molested as a child and he may be gay & in love with Te’o. Isn’t that convenient?? There’s always an excuse.

 

Terry Lee & George Burnett

Terry Lee is the owner of a forensics firm in Cedar City, UT. George Burnett owns a juice bar in Salt Thumbs_upLake City. Both decided to handle the new costs of Obamacare in a unique…and perfectly legal…way. Lee had to trim the fat a bit so he decided to “downsize” two liberal employees who had openly supported Obama, saying that “They wanted the idiot in the White House, they reap the benefits.” Burnett’s actions were a little less dramatic and more…dare I say…democratic. He simply charges libs a dollar more for a smoothie. I am not sure how effective his honor system is, but it’s the thought that counts. Now I realize that some may think that these actions are wrong, but personally I find them absolutely hilarious. Your mileage may vary.

 

Bob Schieffer

I have a feeling media types will find themselves on the bad end of the deal a lot here. Schieffer’sfrowny-face particular brand of stupidity recently was equating the reinvigorated mission of liberals to crap all over our 2nd Amendment right to keep & bear arms to the hunt for Osama Bin Laden and the WWII effort to defeat Nazis. Yes friends…that is exactly what the publicity wing of the Democrat Party thinks of you, and they aren’t even making much of an effort to hide it any more.

 

Sheriff Denny Peyman

Sheriff Peyman of Kentucky is just one of several law enforcement types that have publicly stated their intention to not enforce any non-Constitutional gun laws that Congress & Obama may try to Thumbs_upram thru in the wake of recent tragedies in Connecticut & Colorado. Normally I am a law & order guy who believes in upholding the rule of law no matter what, so at first this story made me cringe a little bit. I expect the police to do their job. But upon further review Sheriff Peyman & others are clear that they will not enforce any new laws that violate our rights. That doesn’t mean that they will allow folks to go around waving guns willy nilly in their towns…it is just an indicator that if the time ever does come when the federal government takes things a bit too far they are likely to have a heck of a fight on their hands, which is kind of the point anyway.

 

Lance Armstrong

Do I really have to explain this one?? I will assume you haven’t been completely oblivious to the frowny-faceworld around you the past few weeks and know about recent events involving Armstrong. Needless to say he’s just not a very good person.

 

SMUG

Which stands for Sexual Minorities Uganda. I guess their reach extends far beyond frowny-facethe land of Kamala’s birth though, as they are suing a Massachusetts pastor. Rev. Scott Lively actually preached from The Bible (Gasp!! The horror!!) during a mission trip to Uganda in 2009, and The Bible clearly states that homosexuality is an abomination. Evidently this didn’t please everyone. Not surprisingly SMUG’s legal battle is being funded by liberal kingpin George Soros. This type of lawsuit is potentially very dangerous because if it is successful it essentially limits the Constitutional rights of Christians to freely worship how they choose & speak feely about their beliefs.

 

Red Robin

Red Robin is a Colorado based “gourmet burger” chain that is unfortunately not in my local area. Thumbs_upHowever, a franchise in North Carolina did a good deed recently that deserves recognition. A couple was dining at the restaurant with their two year old son. Mom was very pregnant. When the family got their bill the price of Mom’s meal had been deducted by the manager, with a simple note wishing her good luck. Evidently Red Robin employees nationwide are given the latitude to do such things at their discretion, which is awesome and makes me want to give them my business if I ever get the opportunity.

 

Professor James Tracy

You’ve heard of 9/11 “truthers”…the wackjobs that believe that the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks were a government conspiracy?? Well this moron is a communications professor at Florida frowny-faceAtlantic University in Boca Raton and is not only one of those but is also a Sandy Hook ‘truther”. He believes that the tragic events in Connecticut that led to the deaths of over two dozen people…many of them 6 & 7 year old children…may have been a drill involving actors. Really dude?? This guy is a college professor?? If I had a kid at Florida Atlantic University I’d seriously be making them transfer. Afterall, if this guy is employed there it is hard to tell just how many other insane nuts may be there indoctrinating students.

 

 

Points of Ponderation…..Episode 2.13

A semi-regular attempt to address some of life’s minutiae that might otherwise be overlooked…..

 

 

As a proud Trekkie and a huge fan of the Star Wars saga I am a bit…ambivalent…about JJ Abrams directing a new Star Wars film. It is my understanding that George Lucas had a 9 part series in his mind originally, so the idea of a new sequel trilogy is not inherently bothersome. However, we don’t have enough data. Is a sequel what is being planned?? If so, and the original stars…Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, & Harrison Ford…are involved in a passing of the torch then it could work. But if the plan is to do a remake or a reboot then I’m not sure I’d be all that interested. Abrams did a nice job trekrebooting Trek, but the way in which it was done was so brilliantly delicate that it simply cannot & should not be repeated. Then of course there is the matter of the Star Wars prequel trilogy that was done a decade ago. While the movies weren’t as bad (especially Episode III) as some cynics accuse them of being they also did not live up to all the hype. I suppose that may provide the benefit of lowered expectations for these sequels, which might not be such a horrible thing. And finally, I think some things should exist in their own space…separate but equal. Ketchup & mayo are both great…but different. Batman, Superman, & Spiderman all kick ass, but inswars different ways. I am not sure how I feel about the same director helming both Star Trek and Star Wars. It just seems odd. As much as I liked The Hobbit movie I still feel like it would have been better if Peter Jackson hadn’t been involved. The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are vastly different in tone, despite both being written by author JRR Tolkien, and I felt like the movies should reflect that. They do not. Star Trek and Star Wars are both legendary achievements in sci-fi, but they are different. Let’s hope Abrams is able to do both stories justice while keeping them at a proper distance from one another.

 

 

globe-young-driver-flat-cap--blackI am a hat guy. If I’m trying to be stylish I will occasionally wear a fedora, a GungaBWbkporky pie hat, or a flat cap (sometimes referred to as a bunnet). However, more often than not I prefer a good ol’ baseball cap. Even with a ball hat though I am a bit neurotic. I don’t like trucker hats, not only because of the negative redneck connotation but also because I think the mesh looks tacky. I also do not like snapback hats or adjustable hats with a Velcro closure. They look cheap & low class. I prefer a fitted hat whenever possible but because I have a huge head (my Dad says that’s a trait from Mom’s side of the family) oftentimes I have trouble finding the right size. So my second choice is an adjustable cap with a decent looking belted closure, which is far more tasteful than the snapback or Velcro.

 

 

Normally a story involving a sports star like golfer Phil Mickelson would be reserved for an installment of Winning & Musing, but the latest news involving Mickelson doesn’t have anything to do with sports. Recently he publicly lamented in an interview that between his state & federal taxes he’s shelling out about 63% of his income to Uncle Sam and hinted that he may have to move out of California (undoubtedly the worst run & most fiscally irresponsible state in the nation). And then it phil-mickelsonhappened…the drive-by media turned on Phil Mickelson like a viper. Uncle_Sam_Obama-1Because he is perceived as being “rich” it was deemed insensitive of him to complain about only getting to keep 37 cents out of each dollar he earns. My lackadaisical attempt at research tells me that he earned about $48 million in 2012, meaning that he gets to keep a little more than $17 million while paying about $30 million in taxes. Liberal logic would say that $17 million is more than enough for a man to live on, even if he is supporting a wife & three children. But let’s take it down to a level most of us can better wrap our heads around. The median household income in 2012 was about $50k. Imagine if you will that you worked hard and brought in $50,000 only to see $31,500 of it go back out in taxes…and that is before you’ve paid the mortgage & utilities, made any car payments, or eaten. You’d have to do those things on the $18,500 that’s left. Wouldn’t you be pissed?? But Mickelson, because he is “rich” (and has just about the coolest job imaginable) apparently has no right to complain and was shamed into making a public apology. That’s what we’ve come to in America…having to apologize for expressing an honest opinion and for wanting to keep more than 1/3 of our earned income. I find that very sad. Your mileage may vary.

 

Speaking of movies…

There are times when interesting films arrive in the theater right around Christmas and between holiday stuff, work commitments, family time, and bad weather I just don’t make it to see them before the end of the year, which makes them ineligible for a Sammy Award nomination (yes…there are rules). Two 2012 examples were the Billy Crystal/Bette Midler comedy Parental Guidance and Silver Linings Playbook, which is nominated for multiple Oscars including Best Picture, Best Actress, & Best Actor. Actually Playbook was released in November but just showed up in my town this month. That same weekend in November the final installment of that Twilight crapfest was released and we did get that here, but had to wait two months for a critically acclaimed award pgwinning film. The joys of small town life. But I digress. I’d give both movies thumbs up. Parental Guidance is a mildly amusing tale about grandparents, parents, culture clash, & the generation gap. Crystal & Midler gel nicely, and Marisa Tomei is always easy on the eyes. It’s a forgettable story, but there are worse ways to spend two hours. Silver Linings Playbook is about two people who are more than neurotic but less than insane. Actually they are just lonely & depressed and luckily find each other to lean on. Jennifer Silver-Linings-Playbook-1984905Lawrence is this generation’s Meryl Streep. She can do comedy, action, & drama, and can be tough, sexy, funny, & vulnerable…sometimes all in the same scene. That’s talent. And if you only know Bradley Cooper from the Hangover films then you’ll be surprised at how good of an actor he really is. Oh…did I mention that DeNiro is in this movie too?? I think he is actually nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor, although I am assuming that is based largely on his reputation as a living legend because this, while a fine performance, doesn’t measure up to his more memorable roles.

 

The following are the 157 guns that Senator Diane Feinstein…a lib from California…has made a proposal to ban:

RIFLES:                    All AK types, including the following: AK, AK47, AK47S, AK–74, AKM, AKS, ARM, MAK90, MISR, NHM90, NHM91, Rock River Arms LAR–47, SA85, SA93, Vector Arms AK–47, VEPR, WASR–10, and WUM, IZHMASH Saiga AK, MAADI AK47 and ARM, Norinco 56S, 56S2, 84S, and 86S, Poly Technologies AK47 and AKS. All AR types, including the following: AR–10, AR–15, Armalite M15 22LR Carbine, Armalite M15–T, Barrett REC7, Beretta AR–70, Bushmaster ACR, Bushmaster Carbon 15, Bushmaster MOE series, Bushmaster XM15, Colt Match Target Rifles, DoubleStar AR rifles, DPMS Tactical Rifles, Heckler & Koch MR556, Olympic Arms, Remington R–15 rifles, Rock River Arms LAR–15, Sig Sauer SIG516 rifles, Smith & Wesson M&P15 Rifles, Stag Arms AR rifles, Sturm, Ruger & Co. SR556 rifles; Barrett M107A1; Barrett M82A1; Beretta CX4 feinsteinStorm; Calico Liberty Series; CETME Sporter; Daewoo K–1, K–2, Max 1, Max 2, AR 100, and AR 110C; Fabrique Nationale/FN Herstal FAL, LAR, 22 FNC, 308 Match, L1A1 Sporter, PS90, SCAR, and FS2000; Feather Industries AT–9; Galil Model AR and Model ARM; Hi-Point Carbine; HK–91, HK–93, HK–94, HK–PSG–1 and HK USC; Kel-Tec Sub–2000, SU–16, and RFB; SIG AMT, SIG PE–57, Sig Sauer SG 550, and Sig Sauer SG 551; Springfield Armory SAR–48; Steyr AUG; Sturm, Ruger Mini-14 Tactical Rife M–14/20CF. All Thompson rifles, including the following: Thompson M1SB, Thompson T1100D, Thompson T150D, Thompson T1B, Thompson T1B100D, Thompson T1B50D, Thompson T1BSB, Thompson T1–C, Thompson T1D, Thompson T1SB, Thompson T5, Thompson T5100D, Thompson TM1, Thompson TM1C; UMAREX UZI Rifle; UZI Mini Carbine, UZI Model A Carbine, and UZI Model B Carbine; Valmet M62S, M71S, and M78; Vector Arms UZI Type; Weaver Arms Nighthawk; Wilkinson Arms Linda Carbine.

PISTOLS:  All AK–47 types, including the following: Centurion 39 AK pistol, Draco AK–47 pistol, GunsHCR AK–47 pistol, IO Inc. Hellpup AK–47 pistol, Krinkov pistol, Mini Draco AK–47 pistol, Yugo Krebs Krink pistol. All AR–15 types, including the following: American Spirit AR–15 pistol, Bushmaster Carbon 15 pistol, DoubleStar Corporation AR pistol, DPMS AR–15 pistol, Olympic Arms AR–15 pistol, Rock River Arms LAR 15 pistol; Calico Liberty pistols; DSA SA58 PKP FAL pistol; Encom MP–9 and MP–45; Heckler & Koch model SP-89 pistol; Intratec AB–10, TEC–22 Scorpion, TEC–9, and TEC–DC9; Kel-Tec PLR 16 pistol.The following MAC types: MAC–10, MAC–11; Masterpiece Arms MPA A930 Mini Pistol, MPA460 Pistol, MPA Tactical Pistol, and MPA Mini Tactical Pistol; Military Armament Corp. Ingram M–11, Velocity Arms VMAC; Sig Sauer P556 pistol; Sites Spectre. All Thompson types, including the following: Thompson TA510D, Thompson TA5. All UZI types, including: Micro-UZI.

SHOTGUNS:            Franchi LAW–12 and SPAS 12. All IZHMASH Saiga 12 types, including the following: IZHMASH Saiga 12, IZHMASH Saiga 12S, IZHMASH Saiga 12S EXP–01, IZHMASH Saiga 12K, IZHMASH Saiga 12K–030, IZHMASH Saiga 12K–040 Taktika; Streetsweeper; Striker 12.

BELT-FED FIREARMS:             All belt-fed semiautomatic firearms including TNW M2HB.

Now I am far from a firearms expert. As a matter of fact I do not currently own a gun although that may change in the near future. However, I am smart enough to recognize the terms pistol & shotgun and figure out (as if I didn’t already know) that the Democrats in Congress and the “gentleman” in the White House are willing & prepared to use the tragedy of Sandy Hook Elementary to spit all over The Constitution and take a major step toward a complete gun ban in America. I feel sorry for anyone who has been under the delusion that it can’t happen here. It can and it is. Don’t say I didn’t try to warn you.

 

I did not watch one single second of President Obama’s second immaculation, but apparently the big controversy is that alleged singer Beyonce lip synched the national anthem. Look, I’m not stupid…I know lip synching isn’t unusual these days. It is likely that a vast majority of what one sees at the average rock concert nowadays is phony. It’s not about the singing anymore it’s about the beyonce-sexy-1show…the lights, the pyro, the choreography. But I am kind of old-fashioned when it comes to the anthem. Being chosen to perform at a Presidential inauguration is an honor no matter what kind of jackass the person being inaugurated might be. It’s a ceremony full of tradition & class. Is it too much to ask that our national anthem be treated with some level of reverence & admiration?? For God’s sake Beyonce…you’re singing The Star Spangled Banner at the U.S. Capitol in front of the leader of the free world and a virtual who’s who of national statesmen, not performing Put A Ring On It at the MTV Awards. Have some respect.

 

 

 

50 Favorite TV Shows…..30-21

So, I’ve been thinking…

30 years from now another writer is going to do a list like this. If, like me, they are heavily influenced by the types of programming they grew up with, what will that list look like?? Will someone actually heap praise on crap like Family Guy, America’s Next Top Model, Wife Swap, or Glee?? I am well aware that there have been what most people would consider pretty decent shows produced in the past 10 or 15 years…stuff like Lost, 30 Rock, and The Sopranos…that for one reason or another simply never frosted my cupcake. But I maintain that the majority of what we see on television (and in movies for that matter) now isn’t nearly as good as what I grew up watching. Your mileage may vary. Anyway…on with the countdown!!

 

 

30     Wings

          NBC 1990-97

In the 90’s it seemed like NBC could do no wrong. They’d invented the idea of “Must See TV” in the 80’s and successfully made viewers buy into the concept for well over a decade. It didn’t hurt that the suits at 30 Rockefeller Plaza churned out a string of sitcoms ranging from exceptionally sublime to pretty darn good to better than average. I suppose there were a few clunkers in the mix (The Single Guy, Veronica’s Closet, Suddenly Susan, Just Shoot Me), but they were few & far between. One show that fell somewhere in the pretty good/above average area on the scale was this little tale of two brothers running a small independent airline on the Massachusetts island of Nantucket (you know…where that girl comes from). Wings was created by the same folks who brought us Cheers and Frasier (both of which will appear much higher in this countdown), so the elite pedigree is undeniable and the vibe was familiar. NBC kept moving its night & time slot throughout its 7 year run, so much like NewsRadio I think this is a show that never quite reached its full potential.

 

 

29     Entourage

          HBO 2004-11

Although I am fortunate to have made some good friendships in college that I maintain to this day, I don’t have any lifelong buddies that I’ve known since childhood, which are the types of relationships intertwined thru Entourage. The kicker is that one of the guys is a big time movie star who has transplanted his posse from Queens, NY to Hollywood. The language is a bit salty and these guys are clearly in a state of arrested development, but I guess young, rich, famous, good looking people can roll like that. There were some really well done cameos in Entourage’s 7 year run (Bob Saget, Mandy Moore, Gary Busey, and Mark Cuban immediately spring to mind), but the absolute best part of the show was manic, self-centered, foul-mouthed, politically incorrect uber agent Ari Gold. HBO is able to do its television seasons a bit different from the normal September-May/30 episodes thing that the broadcast networks have done for decades. Entourage usually aired in the summer for a dozen or so episodes, which atleast gave viewers something to look forward to apart from the reruns so prevalent on other channels. I just wish it was going to be on for a few more years…I wasn’t tired of it yet.

 

 

28     The Wonder Years

          ABC 1988-93

I’m a sucker for the whole wistful, nostalgic zeitgeist, and few TV shows have ever captured that as well as The Wonder Years. Narrated by the vastly underrated Daniel Stern (Home Alone, City Slickers), the show follows the teenage angst of young Kevin Arnold as he deals with his family, friends, and puppy love for the fetching Winnie Cooper in the late 60’s & early 70’s. The show not only represents an era well, but nails small town life, family dynamics, and the growing pains of a boy evolving into a young man…sometimes fun, sometimes sad, complex yet quaint.

 

 

27     Star Trek

          NBC 1966-69

Full disclosure: not only was I not yet born during the original Trek’s run, but I didn’t really become a Trekkie until college and that was mainly influenced by the film series and Star Trek: The Next Generation. However, it is my belief that love of the entire Trek universe must encompass a respectful appreciation of the series that birthed all that followed. The idea was spawned from the creative genius of Gene Roddenberry, a former pilot & LAPD cop turned writer who envisioned Star Trek as a spaghetti western set in space. Nearly 50 years later millions of people still fondly recall the adventures of Captain James Tiberius Kirk, Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy”, the half human/half Vulcan Spock, and the rest of the crew of the starship Enterprise, as well as the various alien races they battled like the Klingons & Romulans. It blows my mind that the show only lasted three seasons.

 

 

26     Jeopardy!

          Syndicated 1984-Present

My Grandma Pigott was a big fan of game shows. The Price is Right, Wheel of Fortune, Password, Press Your Luck, Family Feud, Tic-Tac-Dough, Card Sharks, The $10,000 Pyramid, Hollywood Squares, Match Game…I could go on. Has there ever been a cooler name on television than Wink Martindale?? In my opinion the best game show in history is Jeopardy. I’m a huge trivia buff, and I think it’s awesome when one can chill out watching TV for a half hour and still learn a few things. Too many things have contributed to the dumbing down of America, but I’m happy to say this show isn’t among them.

 

 

25     The Late Late Show with Tom Snyder

          CBS 1995-99

I’m a big fan of late night TV, partly because I’m a night owl and partly because I can vaguely recall a time when television stations actually ended their broadcast day at some point (usually with The Star Spangled Banner) and am still enamored with the fact that they don’t do that anymore. I am easily entertained. At any rate, most late night shows follow your typical funny host with a sidekick, live audience, & house band/monologue/comedy bit/interview with a celebrity guest plugging their latest project/end the show with a musical act formula, and that’s okay. However, I am a minimalist who finds it fascinating when two people can sit down and have a lengthy & interesting conversation. We don’t do enough of that in our real lives anymore, and we rarely see it on television. Tom Snyder hosted a late night show called Tomorrow on NBC in the 70’s when I was far too young to stay up that late. That show was cancelled in 1982 to make way for a new guy named David Letterman. A little more than a decade later Letterman restored balance to the universe by bringing Snyder back to host the 12:30am show immediately following his own. Snyder was such a unique host, with his hearty laugh, easygoing manner, and an ability to connect with the audience and his guests. Plus, even though he wasn’t a comedian like Leno or Letterman, he was hilarious. Who could ever forget his nightly appeal to “sit back & relax, fire up a colortini, and watch the moving pictures as they fly through the air”?? I don’t know whose idea it was to replace Tom Snyder with the sardonic Craig Kilborn in 1999, but I hope there is an especially warm place in Hell reserved for those responsible.

 

 

24     Growing Pains

          ABC 1985-92

Speaking of growing pains…whereas The Wonder Years took a distinctive, sentimental approach, this 80’s staple utilized the old fashioned, paint-by-numbers typical sitcom method, which was perfectly fine. It served as a launching pad for the career of Leonardo DiCaprio, and to a lesser degree Kirk Cameron. I say that because, even though Cameron was the centerpiece of the show throughout its run and DiCaprio was only on for 1 year, I think we can all agree that Leo’s superstar trajectory has reached a wee bit higher than Cameron’s (although to be fair Kirk Cameron has dedicated his life to serving our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ, which in the long run is more significant than being a movie star, even if one of those movies is Titanic).

 

 

23     Little House on the Prairie

          NBC 1974-83

I think this may have been the very first television show I ever loved. Based on the series of childrens’ books by author Laura Ingalls Wilder published in the 1930’s, it is a family drama set in the small town of Walnut Grove, Minnesota during the latter half of the 19th century. Surprisingly I’ve never read the books.

 

 

 

22     Who’s the Boss?

          ABC 1984-92

Hey-oh, oh-ay!! The story of a widowed single father from Brooklyn moving to Connecticut to provide a better life for his young daughter. The catch?? He has to take a job as a live-in housekeeper for a snobbish single mother and her young son.  Hilarity ensued. Much like Growing Pains this show didn’t color outside the lines of sitcom convention, but it did what it did quite well. I’ve always enjoyed Tony Danza’s relatable charm, and Alyssa Milano was amongst my first celebrity crushes.

 

 

 

21     WKRP in Cincinnati

          ABC 1978-82

I really feel like this is one of the most heinously underappreciated sitcoms in television history. Heck, I even feel like I am underrating it!! I suppose the latter statement is due to the fact that it went off the air when I was 10 years old. Fortunately for me it became a much bigger ratings hit in syndication during the 80’s than it was in its original run. Workplace comedies with a bunch of quirky misfits aren’t exactly rare…they are a tried & true TV tradition (Barney Miller, Taxi, The Office, The Mary Tyler Moore Show, Murphy Brown,  and so on…). However, when the workplace is a radio station and it is being produced at a time when some of the best rock n’ roll ever made is on the air then that is a winning combination. Who wouldn’t want to hang out with super cool DJ’s Dr. Johnny Fever and Venus Flytrap?? Or have a lovably clueless boss like Mr. Carlson and an understanding supervisor like Andy Travis?? And who wouldn’t absolutely love to see a gorgeous receptionist like Jennifer (Loni Anderson) as soon as you walk thru the door every day?? Sadly I have felt varying degrees of malice toward every place I’ve ever worked and have not found a job environment nearly as awesome as those we see on TV. I would be remiss if I did not mention and highly recommend an episode called “Turkeys Away”, originally aired on 10/30/78, in which Mr. Carlson comes up with “the greatest Thanksgiving promotion in radio history”. It can be found online if you look hard enough and it is well worth the effort.

100 Favorite Movies…..24 & 25

Sequels, though not uncommon throughout the history of film, really hit their stride in the 1970’s with the success of follow-ups to movies like The Godfather & Jaws and the insatiable urge to turn huge profits into even more money. These days it seems like a sequel is oftentimes inevitable, regardless of whether or not the quality of the original deems it obligatory. It is a hit or miss proposition, but Hollywood appears to be creatively bankrupt to the point that more often than not the powers-that-be prefer to squeeze a few more dollars out a known entity rather than roll the dice on a new idea. Anyway, there are three types of sequels. Sometimes only one additional movie is made to tie up any loose ends from the first, or maybe it is just that the second film bombs so badly that no sane person would green light a third. Examples would be 48 Hours and Another 48 Hours, Analyze This and Analyze That, Fletch and Fletch Lives, Grumpy/Grumpier Old Men, Kill Bill Volumes 1 & 2, Weekend at Bernies 1 & 2, & American Graffiti and More American Graffiti. A much more common modus operandi is the trilogy, which is of course three films. Everyone knows about trilogies. Star Wars/The Empire Strikes Back/Return of the Jedi, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Back to the Future 1,2,&3, The Santa Clause 1,2,&3, and The Austin Powers Trilogy (International Man of Mystery, The Spy Who Shagged Me, & Goldmember) are among the best in my humble opinion. And then there is the ultimate in avarice and indolence, the series, which I define as four or more films. At some point these usually become a complete joke, which in turn leads to even more movies in an effort to somehow right the ship and recover some semblance of dignity. The four Batman movies from the late 80’s early 90’s (Batman, Batman Returns, Batman Forever, and Batman & Robin) suffered from an ever changing lineup of directors and leading men. The original Die Hard and the third entry, Die Hard With A Vengeance, were excellent, while Die Hard 2 was subpar and Live Free or Die Hard (the fourth film) was fun but forgettable. The Harry Potter series has thus far been pretty decent, but the movies aren’t nearly as good as the books. The Halloween series should have never made it past Halloween II. Parts 3-6 were horrible, H20 and Resurrection too little too late. And of course Rocky and its sequel were legendarily awesome but someone somewhere actually thought the four films that followed were a good idea (they weren’t). I won’t even get into the absurdity of horror franchises like the eleven Friday the 13th films or the eight Nightmare on Elm Street flicks.

At any rate, I go into all that as an explanation regarding my process when looking at these types of films and how I choose to fit my favorites into this Top 100. In a perfect world I would treat each the same, applying a set of rules that applied to all. But I have found this to be very difficult. If there are two films, maybe I like one and not the other (Caddyshack is appropriately celebrated…Caddyshack 2 not so much). Maybe I like both (Father of the Bride 1&2). I tend to keep trilogies together, as they generally have a “big picture” that is hard to ignore, regardless of whether their individual parts may vary in quality (Star Wars, Back to the Future). But even this isn’t always the case (Oceans’ Eleven and 13 are great…Ocean’s Twelve isn’t). Series are almost the opposite of a trilogy in that, generally, one must look at each individual piece and it is next to impossible to like all the parts (Star Trek) to the point that they can be viewed as a whole…but sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of its parts (Lethal Weapon). I felt it necessary to clarify my thoughts on these matters because I am aware of the inconsistencies inherent in the choices I have made.

Since today’s intro is longer than usual, and in an effort to stay within the confines of the theme, we will only look at the next two entries instead of five, as they are what inspired me to write this detailed preface in the first place.

 

 

 


25 The Lethal Weapon Series

It is pure coincidence that I happen to be writing about Lethal Weapon right when Mel Gibson is going through his latest public embarrassment. I have learned to separate my personal opinions about the lives of Hollywood stars from my enjoyment of their work. This became necessary over the years, as I am a hardcore conservative and the vast majority of folks we see on our televisions and on the big screen are so out of touch with average America’s principles that if I let it interfere with my entertainment I’d never have any fun. So anyway…there are four films in the Lethal Weapon canon, released between 1987 and 1998. The concept is your typical odd couple story, with Danny Glover playing Murtaugh, a curmudgeonly family man on the verge of retirement from the police force, and Gibson playing his new partner Riggs, a younger, crazier cop who has LWnothing to lose after the tragic death of his wife. Throughout the series we see the relationship between the two men grow, from distrust and antagonism to being best friends and brothers-in-arms. Each film provides a different big case for the duo to solve with the requisite bad guy steering some sort of nefarious plot. I am typically not a big fan of guns, car chases, and explosions simply because there are too many movies with only those things and no plot or character development. Lethal Weapon is an exception. Not only do we cheer for Riggs & Murtaugh, but throughout the series we get to know Roger’s wife and three kids, some supporting characters at the police department, a reformed whistleblower turned private investigator played by the always enjoyable Joe Pesci (introduced in Lethal Weapon 2 and present in the two films after), and a lady cop played by the lovely Renee Russo who flirts with Riggs in Part 3 and is having his baby in Part 4. The details of each caper aren’t really important. I even get the details of the various plots mixed up sometimes, forgetting which event happened in which movie. But it’s all good. Lethal Weapon is the rare action flick that also allows us to get to know our heroes and their loved ones, which is what separates it from the pack. Admittedly the first film is the best (it is even…if one is willing to really stretch the definition…a Christmas movie) and there has been much debate as to whether the fourth was one too many, but I prefer to look at the series as a whole because even the declining quality of the last two does not mean they were bad. Fans have been clamoring for a fifth installment for several years, but both stars have said no. I think it is likely that the franchise will be rebooted at some point, either as a total remake or with younger actors playing new characters who have some sort of minimal interaction with Riggs & Murtaugh to justify using the Lethal Weapon name. If/when that day comes I suppose I will check it out, but I can’t imagine it getting any better than the original.


24  Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan

I have to give a shout out to my friend The Owl for turning me into a Trekkie. I was somewhat familiar with Trek, but when we were in college he really made me appreciate how cool the concept was. This was right in the midst of the popularity of Star Trek: The Next Generation in the early 1990’s. I became a fan of that show first and then went back and got into the original series and the movies. I suppose that is sort of an odd, backward way of becoming a Trekkie, but that was my experience. There were six films made starring the original crew of The Enterprise we first met in the 1960’s television show (Captain Kirk, Spock, Bones McCoy, Scotty, Chekov, Uhura, and Sulu). Three of those six appear in this list. The Wrath of Khan is almost unanimously the favorite amongst fans. 1979’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture had k2 khanreunited the cast and fans were ecstatic after a ten year absence following the abrupt cancellation of the TV show. But let’s face it…The Motion Picture was not that great of a movie. The second installment rights the ship to say the least. From opening with the infamous no-win Kobayashi Maru test to the heartbreaking death of Spock, Wrath of Khan is a total immersion experience for Trekkies. In between those bookend events we get the antics of very pissed off supervillain Khan Noonien Singh who was cryogenically frozen in the 20th century, reanimated by Kirk and friends in an episode of the TV show, and banished to a desolate planet after he tried to stage a coup of the Enterprise. Khan and Kirk engage in a battle with distinct Moby Dick overtones when Khan tries to steal the technology for The Genesis Project, a terraforming device able to create new and inhabitable planets. Genesis is the brainchild of Kirk’s former lover and what turns out to be his heretofore unknown son. Wrath of Khan is not your typical action flick. There is a story, there are grand themes about vengeance and death, and there is some real depth and a range of emotions from the characters. There is even some humor provided by the always sardonic Dr. McCoy. Because The Motion Picture bombed the studio stepped in, removing Trek creator Gene Roddenberry from the helm of this movie and restricting the budget significantly. I am sure those were hotly debated controversies at the time, but no one can argue with the results.

And let me take this opportunity to say that I have seen the 2009 reboot of the Star Trek franchise and enjoyed it very much. Because of its newness it will not be making an appearance on this list, but I anticipate that it will likely make the cut in 5 or so years when I do this all again.