Category Archives: TV

Tanya Roberts (1955-2021)

Wrote the below and then word came that… well, read on…

The shocking news that actor Tanya Roberts passed away at the very young age of 65 made the news yesterday (you can read about that here). She apparently walked her dogs and when she returned to her home collapsed and was rushed to the hospital, where she would pass away.

Most of the obituaries I’ve read concerning Ms. Roberts note she was Stacey Sutton, the “Bond girl” in Roger Moore’s final James Bond film, 1985’s A View To A Kill (Tanya Roberts first appears at the 1:33 mark of the below trailer)…

She was certainly an 80’s figure, with her other two big roles, in the 1982 film Beastmaster

…and in 1984 she would star as Sheena:

Later on she would make her mark in That 70’s Show as Midge Pinciotti…

I think its fair to say that her earlier works, now cult classics to some, nostalgia trips to others, weren’t all that good. It’s fair to say that A View To A Kill is the worst of the Roger Moore Bond films and among the worst of the Bond films, period. Few, too, would say Sheena is some lost classic while there are those who feel Beastmaster is a deserving Cult classic.

I say this not to put down Ms. Roberts, but quite the contrary. There’s something about the presence alone of Ms. Roberts in those films that make them memorable. One could point out the obvious: She is one beautiful woman, and the roles in both Sheena and Beastmaster in particular allowed her ample opportunity to show off that beauty.

In fact, when the news of her passing came, I instantly thought back to her roles in these films as well as The 70’s Show and my memories of her, frankly, were positive.

Yeah, maybe the 80’s material wasn’t always very strong and the film’s makers wanted a beautiful female in nearly no clothing running around, but there have been plenty of films like that made whose star isn’t quite as well remembered as Ms. Roberts, which suggests there was indeed more to her than just the proverbial pretty face.

As one gets older, the people in the arts one grows up with also grow older and, eventually, pass away.

Tanya Roberts’ passing at 65 is shocking as when I think about her my memories of her transport me back to that beautiful, athletic woman she was back in the 1980’s.

I hope she had a terrific life.

I may have to give A View To A Kill another whirl, for old time’s sake.


Now there’s news that… Tanya Roberts in not dead?!

This is according to TMZ:

Tanya Roberts still alive… Despite her Rep saying she’s dead

Very weird, but concerning for Ms. Roberts nonetheless. She’s been hospitalized for over a week. I hope she recovers… assuming this second story is accurate!


Now more news sources are confirming that Tanya Roberts is indeed alive, something which might explain my confused (and not totally sure!) original Postscript.

What a weird, weird story, though I have to admit I’m glad to hear that she’s not passed away. Still, what I said in that Postscript applies: Clearly she’s in some kind of major distress as she’s been hospitalized for over a week now.

Still, best wishes to her!


Sadly, now comes news (12/5/21) that Tanya Roberts has indeed passed away. This is coming from TMZ:

Tanya Roberts dead at 65 following premature passing announcement

Frankly, I feared this would be the case. If memory serves, something similar happened with musician Tom Petty who was rushed to the hospital and was declared dead only for the news agencies to retract the story as he was still alive but basically vegetative.

I recall my daughter wondering if he’d recover and I told her based on the initial reports, that sounded doubtful. Mr. Petty would pass away a day or two after the initial hospitalization.

As I said, I feared Ms. Roberts was not in great shape. To be hospitalized so suddenly and remain there for over a week sounded grim. I suspect the publicist who released the initial report of her death knew she was about to pass and knew there was little chance of her recovery.

That’s guessing on my part, I admit.

Regardless, what I wrote initially stands. Ms. Roberts may not have been in the very best films during her biggest period of time in Hollywood, but she had a screen presence and to this day is remembered when many similar actresses in similar roles today are not.

She was a part of my youth, a face that was familiar to me and a beauty in the classic Hollywood tradition.

Rest In Peace.

The Haunting Of Hill House (2018) A (Mildly) Belated Review

Released through Netflix a couple of years ago, The Haunting of Hill House is a 10 part mini-series based on the famous haunted house novel by Shirley Jackson which was made twice before into movies, the most famous of which was the Robert Wise directed version, called The Haunting, and released in 1963.

Here’s the thing, though: While the mini-series bears the same name as the novel and has a few of the artifacts which are present in it, including the look of Hill House (which is almost the very same) and several characters who have the same names, this mini-series is very much a reimagining of the story, to the point where it is hard to call it more than “inspired by” the original novel and -to a degree visually- the original movie.

Which is not to say this is a bad thing!

The fact of the matter is that The Haunting of Hill House is an incredibly ambitious and at times spectacular mini-series which sadly, IMHO, falls in its concluding moments.

But we’ll get to that in a moment.

The series expertly moves in time, from the past when a young Hugh Crain (in the past played by Henry Thomas and in the present by Timothy Hutton) and his wife Olivia (Carla Gugino) and their large family consisting of Steven, Shirley, Theodora, and young twins Luke and Nell arrive at Hill House to “flip” it. Through flashbacks and scenes set in the present, we learn that a great tragedy occurred at Hill House and, soon enough, realize Olivia died there and that all kinds of eerie, ghostly events occurred as well.

The events of the night of Olivia’s death are slowly hinted, and their repercussions in the present are shown in a shattered family, now consisting of grown ups, with all kinds of hang ups. The very youngest of the Crains, Nell (who we find was born only 90 some seconds after her twin brother Luke), tries to call her siblings but is unable to for various reasons.

Worse, her father -who the now grown kids all view as flaky, to say the least- are put off when he calls to say he spoke with Nell and is worried she’s about to do something bad.

As it turns out, she returns to Hill House and once there, appears to commit suicide.

This proves to the be the singular action that brings the remaining members of the Crain family together, and in the course of the show’s episodes, we come to learn what happened to each individual member of the family when they were young kids… and come to learn what they’ve become as adults and how they eventually deal with the horror they faced in Hill House.

At times, the mini-series is flat out brilliant. There is one episode in particular that features a very long “one take” (I’m sure they cheated a little here and there, but still!) at the funeral home where Nell’s body is on display. As a fan of movies, that sequence took my breath away.

Further, the movie gives you some genuinely creepy moments and well earned scares. We feel for these people, each and every one of them, and by the end I even let out a couple of tears…


It really pains me to say it but the movie’s final episode, actually the final half hour or so of the series, while very emotional and caused me to wipe a few tears away also subverts what came before it to such a degree that, when all was said and done, I felt more and more bothered by it.

It’s a tough thing to say, after some 8 and 1/2 hours of pretty damn brilliant work to feel let down by the last 1/2 hour or so, but I have to be honest: It bugged me.

I don’t want to get into SPOILERS so I’ll do so after presenting the mini-series’ trailer. Even then, I’m going to try to tread lightly because, frankly, even with the disappointment I felt after the fact, I still loved so much about this mini-series that I recommend it strongly regardless.

Perhaps others won’t be quite as bothered by the ending and I sincerely wish I could say the same.

Still, strongly recommended!

Just for the heck of it -and before we get into SPOILERS- here’s the trailer for the original version of the book, 1963’s The Haunting



Still there?

If you have any interest in seeing this mini-series, I strongly urge you NOT to proceed. As I said above, I will try not to spoil everything but nonetheless I’m going to be talking about what bothered me about the series’ ending and, by doing so, I will inevitably spoil quite a bit.

So, please, if you intend to see the series, do so before proceeding.

You’ll be happier.


OK, so here goes:

The Haunting of Hill House essentially has the various members of the Crain family come together -reluctantly in many of their cases- because of the death of the youngest member of the family, Nell, who returned to the dreaded Hill House, where their mother died, and apparently committed suicide there.

By being brought together, however, we revisit what they experienced in Hill House originally, and through the course of the mini-series we come to find that they saw many ghostly creatures and, understandably, came out of this not all that well.

Again, I don’t want to spoil everything, but the series’ climax has them returning to the house to try to save one of them, who has returned to the house to destroy it, not realizing that by doing so they may well be feeding its evil.

They arrive, mostly separately, and there they are placed in the “heart” of the house, the place where it wants them, to feed of them, to have their souls.

Here’s the thing, though: after spending some 8 and 1/2 hours or so being told how evil the house is, how it killed both their mother and youngest sister/daughter, the finale of the series shows them confronting the house and their fear and, despite the fact that the house still wants them dead, makes this very, very sharp turn where the spirit of their dead sister/daughter makes them realize they need each other and, I don’t know, where their love for each other makes them come together. All but one of them leave this place all happy and with their terrors resolved. Also, we’re given one more plot addition, another last minute victim of Hill House whose parents -preposterously- allow their child’s death to pass and agree to hide it. Years later these parents return to the house to, I don’t know, join the spirt of their daughter more fully as they pass away.

So this house that for 8 and 1/2 hours is presented as this black, evil thing, is suddenly this place where all these traumas are resolved for everyone and even come back to the house to seek peace!!!!

This makes no sense given all the horrors we see earlier on and the very clear indications that Hill House is evil.


Again, I really, really hate to go after such a magnificent series but the change in tone at the very end of the series proved simply too great for me. It was the equivalent of story telling whiplash.

I’ll say no more because, again, I don’t want to spoil everything. Suffice it to say, perhaps it won’t be as bothersome to others as it was to me.

Still, even with that ending, I still loved the mini-series. Next up is The Haunting of Bly Manor, released this year and featuring many of the same actors in a story of a different haunted house.

When I see it, I’ll give you my impressions!

30 Rock Reunion (2020) a (Almost On Time!) Review

I’m a fan of the 30 Rock TV show.

I feel the show, which ran from 2006 to 2013, was for the most part ingenious.  The humor was at times both razor sharp and extremely silly, off the wall and charming.

If you haven’t seen the show, and you’re into half-hour comedy shows, I can’t recommend you check it out highly enough.

But whatever you do, skip the one hour “return” of 30 Rock that aired last week Thursday, July 16th, and which is available to be streamed.

While ostensibly a “reunion” show, it was really an extended commercial for NBC’s Peacock service, another of the voluminous online services in which you can find old shows paired with some new ones (I imagine those you can see if you pay).

Thus the 30 Rock reunion featured plenty -too many!- commercials for the Peacock service, though at least we were treated by appearances by people who will be in some of those new shows (yeah, they were mostly shilling for their series).

While seeing some of the faces proved a surprise (If you’re going to waste your time seeing this turkey, I might as well not SPOIL some of the faces that show up), the reality is that they were all there, it became depressingly clear, to shill and make a buck.

So commercial/promotional heavy was the show that several NBC networks decided they wouldn’t air it. While we did get to see it here, my daughter, who lives in Texas and is a fan of the original show, found it wasn’t airing on her local NBC affiliate.

Curiously enough, we watched it with her via FaceTime (why the hell not?), which, because of Covid-19, is the way this episode, like the Parks and Recreation reunion episode which aired a few weeks back, were also made.

When all was said and done, my daughter, like us, was quite disappointed.

That’s not to say the whole thing was an unmitigated fiasco.

There were a few very funny bits sprinkled about here and there throughout the one hour runtime.  But, as the cast were filming from their homes and I suppose they didn’t want to bum out everyone because of the whole Coronavirus situation (let ’em be bummed out by the extreme commercials, amiright?!), the reunion episode’s conceit was that the various characters had moved away after finishing their show-within-a-show so Tina Fey’s Liz Lemon had to reach out to everyone as there was interest in reviving their old show. So Liz gets to talk to them all via some kind of Zoom-like service.

Thing is, you’d literally have one or two minutes of the cast you came to see talking to each other before they would transition into the damn Peacock commercials.  While sometimes it worked, when you’re talking about going on and on and on for one hour doing this you can’t help but feel like you’re being slammed over the head with the pitch versus enjoying a “reunion” episode of a beloved series.

Yes, the commercials became that freaking irritating.

Even Tina Fey seemed to know things were dangerously close to being too much and tried to make a -quite literal- “wink wink” joke in the end out of the too many commercials we’d sat through (plus, there was one mildly amusing joke where Kenny literally loses his soul when also pitching some Peacock nonsense).

Sadly, it was a little too little, a little too late.

Perhaps one day next year, when hopefully we return to a more normal world and Covid-19 is in the past, the cast of 30 Rock will come back once more to make a more appropriate reunion episode instead of a one hour commercial with a few jokes sprinkled within it.

Please guys: Don’t leave us with this sour taste in our mouths as the very last 30 Rock episode ever.

And Then There Were None (2015) A (Mildly) Belated Review

The late writer Agatha Christie is rightfully considered one of the premiere dames of the murder mystery. In her very long writing career, she created two classic detective characters, the Belgian sleuth Hercule Poirot and the fussy Miss Marple as well as a slew of fascinating novels, short stories, and plays.

But if you were to stand back and rank entire œuvrer, there are two novels in particular which it seems almost everyone knows: The Hercule Poirot mystery Murder on the Orient Express and the standalone 1939 novel And Then There Were None.

There are many, myself included, who would point to And Then There Were None as Agatha Christie’s best overall novel. The plot is simple yet incredibly intriguing: A group of 8 individuals are invited to Indian Island under different -and they soon realize false- pretenses. There they find two servants, a butler and cook, bringing the total number of people on this distant, wind-swept island to 10.

And that night, they are each accused of different murders.

And that night, the first of them dies.

Followed by another.

Then another.

The original novel when released had the absolutely terrible name Ten Little Niggers, after the minstrel song. This was very soon changed, both in the title and in the book proper, to Ten Little Indians (not all that much better an alternative!) and settling on And Then There Were None, but the novel retained the Indian motif, with the island the group was on was called Indian Island.

There have been many adaptations of this book, the first being made in 1945…

That movie, IMHO, was delightful but they did change the novel’s rather grim tone and ending to make a much more pleasant “Hollywood” ending.

There have been other adaptations of the novel over the years and in 2015 the BBC made a mini-series adaptation, which is the focus of this review. Here’s the mini-series’ trailer:

I picked this up a while back and, like so many things, had it filed away and ready to be seen when I had the time. Over the course of two nights, the family and I watched it, and it was a most curious experience.

First off, the mini-series wisely decided to get rid of the “Indian” motif. Indian Island becomes Soldier Island, and the “Ten Little Indians” poem/song which is the basis for the mystery is changed to “Ten Little Soldiers”, to further remove the original source material from its unfortunate racial overtones.

Watching the series, I was struck by how… dull… the opening was. In fact, it was so laid back that I wondered if it would be any good at all.

However, once the characters were on (ahem) Soldier Island and the murders started, things hummed along. I was totally entranced with the rest of the first part of the series (originally the series was released in 3 one hour parts, but the version I was two parts, each 1 and 1/2 hour long).

After finishing that first part, I was more than eager to watch the second/concluding chapter. I thought it was so damn good, perhaps the very best adaptation of the book I’d seen.


Yeah, the second part, IMHO, was something of a let down.

To be fair, it wasn’t a total disaster, but clearly the screenwriter decided to ventured into new and different areas. There was sex. There was a weird drug sequence. Neither was found in the original novel and, frankly, it didn’t fit in with the movie proper IMHO.

Worse, the ending, which I always felt was the strongest element of the novel (I’ll get to that soon, I’m re-reading the book right now and will offer a review of it presently), was botched in the mini-series.

So my ultimate review of this mini-series goes like this: Starts slow, turns really great, but then ends in a murky, not quite satisfying fashion, IMHO.

It is not the worst adaptation I’ve seen of a novel (in general), but considering how good the story was presented for a while, it hurts to see the screenplay side-roads taken which hurt the overall product.

Still, I’d offer a mild recommendation. The acting is good, the cinematography/scenario is excellent -I absolutely loved Soldier Island’s presentation- and the production in general is first rate.

If only they had stuck with the novel a little more closely and hadn’t gone off on more modernistic -and sadly silly- tangents.

Ah well, it is what it is.

Coronavirus Diaries 12… Storage Wars Canada…?

Sometimes you stumble upon something and it just… I don’t know. It makes you laugh.

Like so many others under quarantine, when dinner comes around the wife and kids and I search for stuff to watch.

Over on Netflix, we found this show called Storage Wars: Northern Treasure (alternate title is Storage Wars: Canada).

I enjoyed -but didn’t love– the U.S. version of Storage Wars. The concept goes like this: When people don’t pay for their storage unit lockers the storage company takes possession of them and, eventually, they run auctions to get rid of their content.

What’s inside these lockers could be pure gold or complete crap and the auctioneers get a chance to look (but not touch) the material from just outside the locker door before making their bids. The highest bid, of course, gets said lockers.

Storage Wars, the show(s), follow a regular group of auctioneers and its usually highly scripted as they check out each locker then bid against each other. The shows conclude with the revelations of what was found inside said lockers and if the buyers profited or lost.

Storage Wars: Northern Treasures (aka Storage Wars: Canada) appears to have lasted two seasons, 2013/2014 and 2015/2016.

We watched the second season via Netflix. It consisted of some 36 or so 30 minute long episodes and they were, IMHO, pretty freaking hilarious.

This season was clearly far more staged/scripted than the American version of Storage Wars but the cast (and I do feel these people should be labeled actors rather than legitimate auctioneers) are hilariously spiteful, petty, dumb, crafty, stuck up, insulting, and -did I mention this already?- hilarious.

Here’s a sampling:

Again: THIS STUFF IS CLEARLY SCRIPTED! It’s about as “real” as watching wrestling, but I have to say, at least in the second season they maintained a great sense of humor about what they were doing and the episodes were very funny… if (and its a BIG if) you’re willing to play along with the premise.

We’re now working our way through the first season on the show, which is available on Amazon Prime. I don’t know why Season 2 is available on Netflix and Season 1 on Amazon Prime but that’s the way it goes.

So far, the early episodes of Season 1 aren’t as funny as what came in Season 2 and those early episodes seem to more emulate the American version of Storage Wars, with the cast mostly being mean to each other.

I suspect things will pick up. A lot of the stuff in the above video was unfamiliar to me, so it may be from Season 1.

So there you have it, my recommendation for some pleasant, and funny, short dinner viewing.

Come at it with the right frame of mind and you should have some good fun.

Kirk Douglas and Robert Conrad

Over the past weekend news came that legendary actor Kirk Douglas had passed away at the age of (believe it or not) 103.

Image result for kirk douglas out of the past

One of his first great roles was that of Whit in the incredible and classic 1947 film noir Out of the Past. According to IMdb, the role was his third in a movie. The above photograph shows Douglas with the movie’s protagonist, Robert Mitchum (for whom this was also quite the star making role).

Kirk Douglas would go on to make a tremendous amount of really good -and some not so good, but them’s the breaks- films. Some of my favorites, and films I highly recommend you seek out if you haven’t already, include Ace in the Hole (1951) Detective Story (1951), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1954)…

Damn that film is great!

Lust for Life (1956), Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (1957), Paths of Glory (1957, probably the film that first made people take note of young director Stanley Kubrick), Spartacus (1960, the second and last Kubrick/Douglas team up), Lonely Are The Brave (1962, the film Douglas felt was his best work), Seven Days In May (1964, one of several features Douglas made with Burt Lancaster -which includes Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, and, IMHO, one of the best), The War Wagon (1967, a personal favorite, a mostly comedic “heist” film set in the wild west and featuring another star Douglas made a couple of films with, John Wayne), The Fury (1978, a fascinating if not quite great Brian DePalma directed film that recalls his previous Carrie adaptation), The Villain (1979, a comedy featuring… Arnold Schwarzenegger?!)…

Essentially, its a live action version of the Road Runner cartoons

Saturn 3 (1980, a not all together successful film yet the visuals are fascinating and the story quite gory for its time), and The Final Countdown (1980, a fascinating time travel story)…

These are just some of the many films Mr. Douglas was in that are worth your time, IMHO, and don’t include such works as One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which he bought the rights to and wanted to make a film version of (starring himself in the titular role). Eventually, Mr. Douglas would give the rights to his son Michael Douglas, who would make the film with Jack Nicholson and the rest is history.

So he’s made a ton of great works but there is some controversy regarding Mr. Douglas. There is the accusation -and its nothing more than that- that he had an inappropriate encounter (and that’s putting it very mildly) with an underage Natalie Wood. At this point in time it is an allegation and nothing more and should be treated as such.

However, in his first novel, The Ragman’s Son, Mr. Douglas isn’t terribly shy about writing about his sexual encounters with many, many, many women. While I don’t believe I’m a prude, the book struck me, especially as he recounted his sexual conquests, too boastful. And it occurred to me that some of the women he mentioned in the book maybe didn’t want this splattered for everyone to read. It left me with something of a bad taste in my mouth.

As the saying goes, love the art but not the artist and it was after reading that book that I realized maybe it was better to not know so much about an artist whose work I enjoyed so tremendously.

By the way, of the “golden age” big name actors out there, I believe there is only one left alive: Olivia De Havilland. Like Mr. Douglas, she too was born in 1916 which also makes her 103.

Soon after news of Mr. Douglas’ passing, we heard that actor Robert Conrad had also passed away.

Image result for robert conrad wild wild west

Mr. Conrad, perhaps best known for his role of Jim West in the terrific The Wild, Wild West (1965-69) TV show which was subsequently made into a disastrous feature film with Will Smith in the title role, was known primarily for his TV roles.

He first became well known for the TV series 77 Sunset Strip and Hawaiian Eye before The Wild, Wild West. In many ways his look back then reminded me of a far more buff version of James Dean. Robert Conrad was an exercise nut and his physique showed it…

Image result for robert conrad wild wild west
I swear, it’s like looking in a mirror (*cough*)

He would go on to play guest starring roles in plenty of TV shows afterwards, from Mission: Impossible to Columbo to Mannix before once again hitting upon a popular TV show in the form of Black Sheep Squadron (1976-78).

He was also quite good in the role of Pasquinel in one of the first big “mini-series” made for TV, Centennial.

Robert Conrad would return to playing Jim West in two made for TV movies, The Wild, Wild West Revisited (1979) and More Wild, Wild West (1980). Alas, both films IMHO weren’t all that good, going for camp and goofiness and squandering the opportunity to see some genuine heroic goodness…

What also hindered the movies, IMHO, was the fact that while only some 10 years had passed since the last episode of the original Wild, Wild West, both Robert Conrad and Ross Martin (who would pass away in 1981 and shortly after the second and last film was made) looked rather old to be doing the stunt work the show was so famous for in their prime.

Mr. Conrad would play in many other roles through 2002 and I found him quite funny parodying his “tough guy” image in battery commercials…

…as well as in the role of the gung-ho to go to war General Wombat in the Sean Connery film Wrong is Right (1982) and the super-no-nonsense police officer in the 1996 Arnold Schwarzenegger film Jingle All The Way.

Robert Conrad, like Kirk Douglas, appeared to have his quirks. His appearance as the Team Captain on the otherwise fluffy Battle of the Network Stars (1976) revealed his competitive nature in these silly games was… out there. Further, I recall seeing interviews conducted with him where he seemed incredibly, perhaps over-the-top intense.

Maybe they caught him on bad days?

Regardless, Mr. Conrad passed away at the ripe old age of 84 and lived, I imagine like Mr. Douglas, a very full and successful life.

While the passing of both of these actors, given their advance age, was expected, it is nonetheless a sad occasion.

At least their wonderful works will live forever.

Rest in Peace, big guys. You gave me plenty of pleasure throughout your lives.

Odd news…

For those who are roughly my age, you may know actor Ron Ely. Though his heyday was a little before my time, I caught his work here and there and enjoyed it.

He Is perhaps best known for playing Tarzan in a TV series of the same name which aired from 1966-68…

A little later, in 1975, he would play famous Pulp hero Doc Savage in the film of the same name…

In truth, while those two features are what Ron Ely is best known for he acted in many other movies and TV shows from 1958 to 2014.

Now 81 years old, this bit of news appeared on CNN and its a wild story…

Police fatally shot a homicide suspect at “Tarzan” actor Ron Ely’s home in California

The basic story is this (and pardon me for giving the information away): Someone stabbed an elderly woman to death at Ron Ely’s home. The woman’s husband, who has a speech impediment due to a medical condition, nonetheless was able to indicate the killer was a family member. The indicated family member was subsequently found on the property, confronted, and posed enough of a threat to the police that they took him down.

Yes, the alleged killer him/herself was killed.

That’s the extent of the report to this point and anything else is speculation…

Having said that, I can’t help but wonder if the woman’s husband may well be Mr. Ely (who is, obviously by this point, elderly himself). The speech impediment due to a medical condition, sadly, makes me wonder if the person suffered a stroke.

Was the killer the son/daughter of the elderly woman?

Again, its all speculation at this point yet a very sad set of circumstances, regardless of whether they more directly involved Mr. Ely or not.


Well, it now seems that the situation was as I speculated above. Ron Ely’s wife Valerie was stabbed to death by the couple’s son Cameron Ely. The police arrived on the scene and killed Cameron Ely.

This is all according to TMZ and the article can be found here.

A very, very sad set of circumstances.

Obviously I have no knowledge of the Ely family situation and clearly things went way overboard here for the son to murder his mother.

The weird thing is that apparently Cameron was the one that originally called the police and, again according to the TMZ article above, said it was his father -Ron Ely- that tried to attack his mother. Was Cameron trying to pin the blame of his mother’s murder on Ron Ely?

Regardless, the police arrived and somehow figured out Cameron was the one that killed his mother and then they killed him.

Wow. And damn.

Some days you just can’t believe the news you read.

Doctor Who Season 11, A (Mildly) belated review

I’m a Doctor Who fan. Been one since the early 1980’s when I first saw the show. At that time, the show featured the delightful Tom Baker in the titular role and he was incredibly charismatic, goofy, weird, and exciting. Here are some of the comedic highlights of his run…

Tom Baker’s Doctor Who proved so popular they even got John Cleese into the act. This is his cameo from City of the Dead

It is my belief that Tom Baker’s Doctor Who was so iconic it influenced many of the Doctors to come. Where before the Doctor was an older, usually more “serious” person, this lighthearted, youthful, and at times very odd personality would find its way into future Doctors. That series, which began all the way back in 1963, ended its run in 1989.

In 2005 a new version of Doctor Who began and, in my opinion, did quite well for itself through at least three Doctors, those played by (in order) Christopher Eccleston (a wonderful run yet sadly short lived as he played the Doctor only the first new season and apparently left the show because of friction between himself and the show’s runners), David Tennant (a great run and plenty of well written episodes plus the benefit, for much of the run, of having the delightful Billie Piper as his companion), and Matt Smith (who also had the benefit of acting opposite the equally delightful Karen Jillian as his companion for much of his run).

When Matt Smith departed the show, Peter Capaldi took over the role and his run, I hate to say it, wasn’t quite as good. Mr. Capaldi was fine in the role, I felt, though his Doctor seemed to draw more inspiration from the pre-Tom Baker Doctors (older and more stern) than those who came before him. Alas, the stories weren’t quite as memorable and, as has become clear, part of the magic of Doctor Who is the interaction the Doctor has with his companions. In the case of the Tom Baker years, he had wonderful companions he could “bounce off” of and, during the Eccleston/Tennant/Smith years we similarly had a string of strong, interesting companions, which I listed above.

The big news following the imminent departure of Mr. Capaldi was that Jodie Whittaker was taking on the role of the Doctor, making her the first female to take the lead role. Here is her first appearance as the Doctor, along with Peter Capaldi’s exit…

I was all for it!

I set the DVR and taped the entire 11th Season of the show plus the New Year’s Special and, over the summer and whenever I had a chance, watched all 11 episodes and…

…Ho boy.

To put it bluntly: As excited as I was with the prospect of a female Doctor, the 11th season of Doctor Who simply wasn’t that good.

As I mentioned above, having a strong actor play the lead role is important but so too are the Doctor’s companions. This time around, sadly, the three companions Ms. Whittaker’s Doctor flies around with are… well… they’re not terrible but they never really distinguish themselves all that much either.

For that matter, Ms. Whittaker’s Doctor, as written, is too much of a cypher, often daffy and never quite fearsome or as engaging as I hoped, often running around breathlessly and/or aimlessly.

Don’t get me wrong, the season wasn’t a complete disaster by any means. There were decent episodes and moments here and there but, overall, I’m not too surprised to see the ratings for this season hovering between the 5-6 stars out of 10 for viewers at IMdB with only two of the episodes rising to a little over 7 out of 10 (you can check the IMdB ratings for individual episodes here).

Though I just offered negative critiques of the actors, my feeling is they performed as well as they were asked. The show’s problems, as they often do, lie with the writers/scripts.

The episodes in Season 11 of Doctor Who, in my humble opinion, were mostly -beware, I’m about to use an incredibly complex literary critique here- blah.

The stories were never as exciting as one hoped they would be though some featured intriguing situations -the most intriguing of which was the Doctor meeting up with Rosa Parks in segregated America. Even sadder was the fact that this season featured some very established and relatively big name actors who were promptly wasted in mediocre episodes. I’m referring specifically to Chris Noth as a Trumpian fool in the mediocre Arachnids in the U.K. and Alan Cumming playing King James in the equally mediocre The Witchfinders.

Still and all, as I said the season wasn’t a total disaster. My hope is that the writers/producers/directors learn from their mistakes and give audiences better overall episodes.

I really like the idea of a female Doctor Who and feel Jodie Whittaker can do the role justice.

Please, just give her better stories!

Game Of Thrones… Finale

DISCLAIMER: I have yet to see a single full episode of the Game of Thrones TV series and I have not read any of the G. R. R. Martin books on which the series is based.

And yet… I’m fascinated by the HBO series. Have been almost from the beginning. As each episode has appeared, I’ve read the mostly positive reactions to the show and I know most of what’s gone on in it: The surprise/shock deaths and the evil machinations of the various characters.

I’m sure I’m missing quite a bit, having not seen show or read the novels, but I’m familiar enough with some of the main characters and know that many fans have found the final season and conclusion of the HBO show a bitter disappointment.

Going back in time, I recall people thinking/hoping the final two books in Mr. Martin’s series would be released just as the show reached its end. Soon these same fans realized it was very likely the second to the last novel might be released by the time the show ended, but it became increasingly doubtful the final novel would see the light of day before then. Then, more time passed and suddenly it was clear neither of the two last books would be released before the show ended.

And so it’s come to pass.

In fact, readers still don’t know when the last two books will be released, if ever, and they’re certain the decline in quality of the series and, especially what they witnessed in this last season, was due to the fact that the show’s runners no longer had Mr. Martin’s books to guide them.

In that, they’re likely quite right.

I’m sure you’ve been wondering: If I haven’t seen the damn series nor read any of the books, what in the world could I possibly add to the conversation regarding Game of Thrones and its TV end?

Welp, if you’ve been reading my posts, you know I have my own little series of novels which I’ve recently concluded. The series, titled Corrosive Knights, consisted of seven novels…

When I heard a few years back that it was likely Mr. Martin would have neither of the last two novels of the series done before the TV show finished, I knew the show might be in trouble and feared exactly what’s happened for many, that the show ended in disappointment.

Understand, I’m no psychic. I based this on the experiences I had writing my own novels.

You see, when I was knee deep in writing Ghost of the Argus, the fifth book in the Corrosive Knights series, I had absolutely no idea the series would go on for two more novels. At that point, believe it or not, I had absolutely no idea how the series would end, if ever. I was enjoying writing each novel and seeing where my imagination would take me.

Granted, I knew I had to eventually wrap the series up and create some kind of conclusion, but there was method to my madness. By focusing on each novel as I wrote it, I was determined to make each book stand out on its own and build upon what came before.

By the time I was on the last couple of drafts of Ghost of the Argus, I had this wild, sudden vision of where the next two books would go. Suddenly, I knew the next two books would offer a conclusion to the series and, just like that, I had a general framework for where I was going.

But it was only a framework.

What followed were four years of very hard work, of trial and error, of new/surprising directions. You see, while I had a general idea of where I was going, I still had to get there. I had to take this framework and build organs and musculature, flesh and blood, around it.

Had HBO been working on a Corrosive Knights TV adaptation of my works and were getting along on the series and wanted to know how I was going to end it, had they asked me before I had my vision I would have had no answer for them. After my vision, I could have provided them with the framework but that’s all they would have had. What I created in four years after was very much different from that initial set of ideas.

I can’t help but think that the Game of Throne showrunners were in a similar position, given general ideas from Mr. Martin. They were the ones who had to come up with all the organs, flesh, blood, and outer skin… and if we’re going by many of the negative reactions, they simply weren’t up to the task.

Frankly, I feel for them.

I’m certain they did the best they could but the fact is they aren’t Mr. Martin and they haven’t gone through the trial and error and actual writing that Mr. Martin has.

Maybe one day the books will finally appear and all those fans of the series will get their better ending.

Until then, they’ve got what they have.

News of the weird…

Growing up in the 1970’s and early 80’s was an odd experience. There was incredible intrigue around the notion of “unexplained” mysteries. You had popular books like…

Chariots Of The Gods.jpg

Which theorized aliens visited Earth in ancient times and built all kinds of things those primitive humans simply could not.

There were plenty of other mysteries out there to explore. How about…

Related image

…or perhaps UFOs? How about Bigfoot? Or the very mysterious fate of hijacker D.B. Cooper?

Image result for d.b. cooper

Yes indeed, a weird, entertaining time to be an armchair detective, sorting through the half-truths presented in various books/magazines and, yes, even TV shows hosted by… Leonard Nimoy?!

Yeah, a fun time to be around, even if many of these purported mysteries were likely far less mysterious than the presenters would have us know.

Welp, now and again certain “mysteries” bubble up. Some are relatively new (the chupacabra!).

With great amusement I found this article by Julia Hollingsworth and found on concerning…

“Yeti” footprints sighted claims Indian Army tweet

I can see the upcoming documentary now…