Monday, July 2, 2018

The Flip Wilson Show

Thursday nights at 8:00 was ruled (briefly) by The Flip Wilson Show on NBC from September 17, 1970 until June 27, 1974. It was the rare variety show that had no returning supporting players; considering the high calibre talent he attracted none were needed.

Flip Wilson was one of the greatest storytellers of all time, his monologues were nothing short of hilarious week after week. Most of the action took place on a circular stage surrounded by audience members with only the barest scenery, giving the program an intimate feeling, placing the focus entirely on the talent.

Guest starts included John Wayne, Lucille Ball, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby, Bob Hope, Johnny Carson and almost every other major entertainer.

The Flip Wilson Show was the only primetime series showcasing musical guests like Issac Hayes, James Brown and The Temptations.

TVparty! has an extensive section on 1970s variety shows!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

I Watched Netflix's Lost in Space So You Don't Have To... But You Should!

I was, and still am, a huge fan of the 1966 series Lost in Space, perhaps because I was 9 years old when it debuted. I'd never seen anything so exciting as those first 5 episodes; they hold up well today, with a healthy suspension of disbelief at times.

Truthfully, there aren't more than maybe half a dozen episodes from seasons 2 and 3 that are worthwhile but there's something about the way the cast clicked so well and Irwin Allen's disaster prone sensibility that worked for me then, and now when I'm feeling nostalgic.

So it was with some trepidation that I approached Netflix's LIS reboot and I'm happy to say this is one terrific ride. The first 2 episodes are especially exciting before the series settles into a more leisurely pace, sometimes too much so.

I won't give anything away but similarities to the first series include: the planet has an unstable orbit, the robot runs amuck, there are allusions to 'My Friend Mr. Nobody' and 'Attack of the Monster Plants,' the robot and Will have a special bond, weather is volatile, fuel is gone, a monster afoot, one of the Robinsons goes up in a balloon, they have a chariot, and there's a Debby but it's no Bloop. In the very last shot of the first episode, note the color explosion looks just like the special effect of the Jupiter 2 going back in time (and other examples) during season 3.

Because of particular plot points, two episodes are credited as being adapted from 'No Place to Hide,' the 1966 pilot that was recut to add Dr. Smith then spread out over 4 episodes. If you haven't seen it you should.

Even the turbo-charged third season theme by John Williams is incorporated into the new series. They'd be crazy not to.

But in almost every other way the show is the exact opposite of the original series and that's what makes this reboot so clever.

Judy is biracial, she and Penny are smart and brave, Maureen is the head of the Robinson expedition, she and John Robinson are estranged, Major West and Dr. Smith (who's now a woman) were not on the Jupiter 2 when it crashes (that's no spoiler, it wouldn't BE Lost in Space without the ship crash landing), West is out for a buck in the way Dr. Smith was, the robot doesn't speak much more than "Danger Will Robinson,"

Like Guardians of the Galaxy there's a '70s soundtrack - I sorta feel sorry for folks in the future, apparently there will never be any memorable tunes created henceforth. Which is pretty much coming true already, if you think about it.

Some characters share original cast member's actual names - Maureen, Angela, June Harris for instance.

It's a bit like Lost in that there are other colonists who crash land on the planet, back stories are told in flashbacks, and there are numerous "Oh shit!" moments in these 10 episodes.

What a brilliant move making Dr. Smith a woman, as portrayed by Parker Posey she's insanely devious, murderous, in that way only a woman could get away with. Perhaps why Jonathan Harris played the character so fey, basing his portrayal, he said, on actress Tallulah Bankhead. He had to be silly or the audience would never accept that the Robinsons didn't just shove him out of the air lock and be done with his weekly attempts to sell them out or get everyone killed in order to enrich himself.

Maureen Robinson is played by one of my fave actors from Deadwood, Molly Parker. On that HBO western series she played a drug addicted society woman, her emotional range is amazing. I didn't recognize any other cast members, you may, but they mesh beautifully.

At the end of the first episode we meet Dr. Smith for the first time, check out who Billy Mumy, the original Will Robinson, portrays in that scene. Oh the pain! I hope we'll get to see other original cast members going forward.

Lost in Space is stellar. Well done Netflix!

TVparty! is Classic TV!

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

The official trailer for Netflix’s reboot of Lost in Space has just dropped!

The official trailer for Netflix’s reboot of Lost in Space has just dropped and it looks incredible! Debuts on April 13th.


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Psychic Punk Rocker Taylor Bays

Psychic Punk Rocker Taylor Bays

He's known around the Carolinas, and beyond, as a renowned punk rocker with a wall to wall performance style, the lead singer of Taylor Bays & The Laser Rays. If you've seen him live you'll agree, he's one of the most dynamic singer/songwriters in the country.

Here's an example from one of his CDs:

Taylor Bays is also well-known, in Greensboro, NC anyway, as the Psychic Punk Rocker who's found missing items, helped police nab a criminal, and even correctly predict where the body of a missing child would be found.

This "gift", as Bays calls it, can manifest itself in myriad ways. "Sometimes I get vibrations, like someone whispering not in my ear but in my brain. One time on the UNCG campus I got a message that a felon was lurking nearby. When I indicated this to an officers she checked it out just to humor me. Turns out it was someone she's been looking for."

"As soon as I heard about the disappearance of Mariah Woods," Bays told me as I was working on this story, before the youngster was even known to be dead or how she came to be that way. "I concentrated on her image and could 'see' her lifeless body beside a creek - but she was not murdered there. The perpetrator is romantically involved with the mother." Tragically, the body was discovered alongside a creek and had been moved there by the killer, the mother's boyfriend, just as he described.

Bays isn't grandstanding, far from it, "It's not something I talk about, hardly at all, so it's weird people actually know me as a Psychic Punk Rocker." To contact those who have passed on, Bays doesn't use a crystal ball but a crystal bowl as he explains, "This bowl is over 100 years old. It has the perfect harmonics needed to contact the spirit world." 

Naturally skeptical, I attended one of his seances recently and, indeed, Bays appears to be the genuine item. At one point in the seance, Bays indicated that my grandmother was coming through. 

Gazing intently into the crystal he told me, "She says 'peanuts' would mean something to you." Indeed it did. When I was 10 years old, my Mema gave me a hardcover collection of Peanuts comic strips that she signed the front page of. I bring it out every Christmas to remember her.

In another psychic reading during that session, a young lady was told by her deceased father where her mom's wedding ring could be located. When I followed up with her, she told me that treasured ring, one she'd thought lost forever, turned up exactly where Bays said it would be.

Is the so-called Psychic Punk Rocker always correct, "No, sometimes I can misinterpret messages and also, keep in mind, the future is subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances."

Mutual friend Jeff Losh is equally impressed with Bay's amazing cognitive powers, "My baby was terribly ill, the doctor's didn't know what was wrong. Taylor was able to diagnose the problem as a blockage that could be easily cleared up and he was right!" That child is healthy and happy.

"Even when we were little kids, Taylor was always finding lost things," Bays' brother Brian remembers. "Nothing stayed lost in our household. We'd just ask, 'Where is it Taylor' and he'd run right to that thing. Once he pointed to a house on our block and told me the man that owned it was dead. They found his body 2 weeks later when the smell got so bad. He'd been dead 2 weeks."

As for the future, "Donald Trump will leave office next year," Bays predicts. "This will trigger a great deal of civil unrest, unfortunately."

What Bays won't do is accept money for his gift, "I don't know, maybe the day will come, but right now I only do this for friends, family, and friends of friends."