Archive for TV

Nerd Lunch Episode 167: Drilldown on Infomercials

Posted in advertising, nostalgia, podcast, pop culture, TV, TV shows with tags , , , , , , on February 24, 2015 by Paxton

Nerd Lunch Podcast

This week we are joined by frequent guest Tim Lybarger from the Neighborhood Archive to talk all about infomercials.

Flowbee

We discuss some of our favorite products, some of our favorite pitchmen and then we spend a moment discussing some of the more ridiculous products we remember seeing info ads for. Also find out if any of us actually bought any of this crap. You’ll be surprised.

Download this episode from iTunes, Stitcher or listen to it on Feedburner.

Or listen to it online here.

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Remembering Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County

Posted in found footage, Genres, pop culture, TV shows with tags , , , , , , on July 23, 2014 by Paxton

I’m a fan of the found footage genre. The genre gets a lot of sh*t from people, but honestly, I think some of these movies are scarier than the “splatter” or “serial killer” movies that are currently released. Anyway, I’m prepping for an appearance on the awesome podcast, The Bloke Show, in which we are going to discuss found footage films so I was trying to think of the first examples of found footage movies I remember seeing. Obviously, Blair Witch Project popped in my head first, but that wasn’t it. I remember seeing something else first.  I have a vivid memory of it, especially the ending.  But I’ll get to that.

In January 1998, the UPN Network aired the special presentation; Alien Abduction: Incident in Lake County.

Alien_Abduction00 Alien_Abduction01

I don’t remember how or why I watched it, but I did. It was presented very similarly as the Alien Autopsy footage, ie it was promoted as being real.  I know we get things like this all the time now, but in 1998, this was, if not unheard of, it was not common.

One thing I want to say to put this in context.  This special is, for lack of a better word, “trope-y”.  It has all the hallmarks of found footage and cheesy horror movies.  However, many of the found footage tropes hadn’t really been established at this time.  This special aired over a year before The Blair Witch Project was released in theaters.  In actuality, the special was a remake of an independent movie called UFO Abduction from 1989.  So in a sense, it was creating a lot of these tropes we now find so prevalent.  And the special created a sort of sensation and controversy when it aired because many people didn’t get that it was fiction. There really was no context for something like this before.  So, just keep that in mind as we go through it.

So, I was recently able to watch this thing again and I simply have to talk about it.  The beginning of the special had several talking head “experts” discuss what you are about to see.

Alien_Abduction03 Alien_Abduction04

Experts like the uber cool, black shirted video EFX editor who, while sitting next to a powered down computer monitor, explains that the things you’ll see in the upcoming video couldn’t be done with the consumer video technology available (well of course not, UPN created the effects). And the “former government agent” who can’t be shown on camera because of the stuff he’s “seen”.  I love how they actually give him a fake name, “Al James”.  Why?

Alien_Abduction05 Alien_Abduction05b

UPN also brought in a nuclear physicist awesomely named Stanton Friedman to help explain “electromagnetic interference” for whenever the footage gets all static-y or to explain to us how this footage is the most important scientific discovery of the millennium (which hadn’t actually happened yet).  Or the “certified” hypnotherapist to explain what everyone is “feeling” during the video.  Lots of heavy hitters in this segment.  To balance out these experts who are clearly actors we have actual alien abductees discuss their experiences as well in sequences which are even more staged and less believable than the “experts”.

So, the footage is setup by these experts.  A young man named Tommy McPherson is filming Thanksgiving dinner with his new video camera.

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It starts off with normal family stuff. Lots of goofing off and bickering. Really boring as balls. I don’t want you to seek this out and waste your time watching it so I’m going to show you the good parts. The alien parts. And then the ending which for some reason had a big impact on me. So, to begin, the power goes out in the McPherson house. Some of “the men” go out to check the fuse box and see a giant explosion in the distance. Of course, they go check it out and find, in the distance, an alien ship. And a few aliens come out of the ship.  The guys keep far back from the action so Tommy has to zoom in on the aliens with his camera.

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The aliens spot the guys in the distance and shoot a “laser” towards them. I created an animated GIF for you to see that this incident looks just as ridiculous in the footage as it sounds when I describe it. Below is what it looked like in the “footage”.  The alien is blasting the cow on the ground with a laser, stops, looks up at the camera and shoots it WAY to the left of the camera.  And, of course, the footage is replete with static from “electromagnetism” (Thanks, Stanton).

Alien_Abduction_laser

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A Review of the 1973 TV Guide Fall Preview Issue

Posted in fall tv premier, nostalgia, pop culture, reviews, TV, TV shows with tags , , , , , on February 27, 2013 by Paxton

TV Guide Fall Preview reviews

Welcome to the second installment of my TV Guide Fall Preview reviews.  This is a feature that I sort of “borrowed” from my good friend Shawn Robare over at Branded in the 80s.  He covered mostly the issues from the 1980s, I’ll start taking a look at issues from the 70s as well as the 90s.

I previously reviewed the 1974 Fall Preview issue for my birthday last year. I love looking back at these old Fall Preview issues to see the debut of popular shows when they were brand new as well as see well known actors in TV shows that have long since been swallowed up by time.  These issues also provide great full page ads for some of the new shows as well as some great vintage ads for products that haven’t been seen in years.

So, let’s dive right into this installment with the Fall Preview issue from 1 year before the previous installment.  This article is going to run long.  There’s just so much information and ads to show you, so prepare for a ton of information to come your way.  Starting now:

Here is the cover to the 1973 TV Guide Fall Preview issue.

1973 TV Guide Fall Preview

There are several very popular shows that debuted this year.

Like last time, I’ll divide this article into three parts.  In the first part I’ll look at all the new shows that are debuting in 1973.  Following that I’ll look at full page ads for TV shows and movies and at the end I’ll show you some awesome vintage advertising from this issue.  It should be lots of fun.

So, let’s begin by taking a look at all the brand new shows for the 1973 TV season (which, technically, began in Sep 1972).

Bob Newhart The Waltons
The Bob Newhart Show (left) first debuted during the 1973 fall season.  This is a great show and one of my favorites. The Bob Newhart Show would become immensely popular following The Mary Tyler Moore Show for its first three seasons. The show would eventually last 6 seasons and air its final episode on April Fool’s Day, 1978.

Another very popular show, The Waltons (right), would debut this season as well.  Again, this show would become extremely popular and last for nine seasons before bowing out in 1981.  I remember this show but never really liked it.  I thought it was boring as balls.

MASH Anna and the King
The TV show M*A*S*H (left) was based on the 1970 Robert Altman movie.  M*A*S*H would become a ratings phenomenon and go on 8 seasons before airing its final episode in Feb 1983.  That final episode garnered the highest ratings of any single episode of a TV show then or since.

Yul Brenner was probably most closely associated with the role of the King of Siam from the stage and movie musical versions of The King and I than any other of his roles.  He toured in the traveling stage production until just before his death.  The non-musical television adaptation, Anna and the King (right), was an attempt to repeat that success.  It didn’t work and the show was cancelled after 13 episodes.

The Men NBC Wednesday Mystery Movie
The Men (left) was an umbrella title for three separate TV shows made by three different studios. It was a spinoff of the weekly NBC Mystery Movie.  Each installment of the anthology series would rotate and air every third week.  The first series in the rotation was called Assignment Vienna and starred Robert Conrad as Jake Webster, an American agent in Austria posing as a bar owner. He’s real job, though, was tracking down spies and criminals for the US government.  The second series was called Jigsaw and featured a Police Detective that disliked proper police procedure and protocol but was effective in “piecing together” crimes like a puzzle.  The final series was called The Delphi Bureau and starred Laurence Luckinbill (Sybok from Star Trek V).  Luckinbill starred as an American agent with a photographic memory who works for an obscure anti-espionage department in the US government.   That last one actually sounds like a show that would air today (See The Mentalist, White Collar, Suits, etc).

The NBC Wednesday Mystery Movie (right) began its life the previous season as just The NBC Mystery Movie. It’s where the TV show Columbo got its start. After its success, the group was moved to Sunday and The NBC Wednesday Mystery Movie was born with three more shows.  Those shows were Banacek, starring Hannibal Smith himself (George Peppard) as a Polish-American insurance investigator (?) in Boston.  Cool Million featured a security/retrieval expert whose fee was $1 million per job.  Madigan, the third show, featured Richard Widmark reprising his role from a 1968 movie he had made about an NYPD detective.  This particular incarnation of the NBC Mystery Movie would only last a season.  Both Madigan and Cool Million would be canceled by the end of the season to be replaced by three more detective shows.

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Nerd Lunch Episode 12: NerdHF

Posted in cartoons, Christmas, commercials, holiday, podcast, pop culture, Star Trek, TV, TV shows with tags , , , , , , on November 22, 2011 by Paxton

Nerd Lunch Podcast

Episode 12 of the Nerd Lunch podcast has come on the air. This week it is only us, the three musketeers; CT, Jeeg and me without the safety net of a more interesting guest. Yes, you get to listen to just the three of us discuss owning our own television station. Imagine 24 hours of non-stop cartoons, game shows and Buffy/Angel reruns.  My personal TV station is called CavalcadeTV. Jeeg suggested the mascot below. I came up with the slogan.

Cavalcade TV

Not surprisingly all of us at some point decide to broadcast at least one Star Trek episode during our broadcast day. Most of the time, on multiple days. And yes, the Teen Wolf cartoon makes it into my lineup.

Plus, this episode, we introduce a new closer for the show.  Say goodbye to the closing mono-blog, this week we start the “Nerd To-Do List”.

Download this episode from iTunes or listen to it on Feedburner. And yes, we are still on the Zune Marketplace.

A collection of vintage milk PSAs

Posted in 80s, commercials, nostalgia, pop culture, TV with tags , , , , on August 26, 2011 by Paxton


I loved milk commercials when I was growing up. There were tons of them and they were shown all the time.  And there were so many versions of the ads that it was endlessly interesting.

So on this Friday, I’m going to show you a bunch of my favorites.

Let’s start with one of the most iconic. The one directed by Michael Bay. The “Aaron Burr” commercial.

Next up are the “Milk it Does a Body Good” commercials. These are the ones I generally think of when I think of milk commercials. There were two versions of these. The first was a series of musical numbers featuring kids and random images of things flying all over the place. Things like animals (cows, penguins and kangaroos).

Check out the awesome 80s randomness of this ad featuring a lot of kangaroos. Seriously, kangaroos on pogo sticks and tap dancing kangaroos.

Here’s the “cow on the moon” musical PSA.

…and here’s the penguin version.

The other version of the “Milk it Does a Body Good” PSA involved kids talking to someone about the benefits of drinking milk. As they talk, they transform into an older, taller, better looking version of themselves. There were even two versions of this ad, one in which the kids were talking to someone else and one where the kids were looking in the mirror talking to their future selves. All of these commercials are filmed in front of a gray backdrop that looks like a crinkled up curtain.

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17 Things I’ve learned about life from watching movies and TV

Posted in hollywood life lessons, humor, movies, pop culture, TV shows with tags , , , , on March 4, 2010 by Paxton

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My wife and I watch a lot of movies and TV shows. We love the s**t out of them. We try to see a movie at least every weekend and we have multiple shows we watch during the week. It’s hectic keeping up with that.

However, having watched all of these movies and TV shows, we have come to take away many deep and thoughtful life lessons. Things you can’t learn by living life, but by watching hours and hours of Hollywood entertainment.

So here are 17 things we’ve learned while watching all of these TV and movies.

Davy Jones
You will always have need of a celebrity (for a charity performance or prom) at the exact time that celebrity is in town for a concert or filming a movie/TV appearance. If you need to get in to see them, it’s very easy to sneak past or distract their security people because they are always completely ineffective. The celebrity will never get pissed that their security people suck and everyone keeps sneaking in to their hotel room.

Monica's Apt
Large, studio apartments (with or without wacky roommate[s]) are affordable even for the most meager of budgets. As are furnishings from Potterybarn or Crate and Barrel. College kids and people right out of college have immaculate decorating sense.

Jolie Wanted
If you are being held at gunpoint, start running away just as the shooter starts shooting and tip over a table/couch/chair to hide behind. The bullets won’t be able to hit you. Odds are the shooter is a terrible shot anyway, and will hit EVERYTHING ELSE IN THE ROOM except for you. If you do get hit, don’t worry, bullet wounds apparently don’t hurt very much as no one cries out or whimpers with a bullet in them. You mainly shrug it off and wait for someone to bandage you up (heavy, stuttered breathing and sweating may be the only symptom that you have been shot). You may also have a sudden urge to tell your partner to “go on without you”, even with a non-fatal bullet to the shoulder.

Dirty_Harry
When you walk into a room and see the person you are trying to capture or shoot, call out their name or yell ‘Hey!’ or ‘Stop!’ first to give them a sporting chance to run. The element of surprise is overrated…and unfair.

Mr Miyagi
If you are being bullied at school, seek out the friendly, ethnic janitor or find your apartment building’s gardener or handyman. All of these eccentric, foreign, older men were actually master martial artists back in their homeland and gave up the fame and glory of being badass tournament fighters to live the dream of being a janitor/handyman here in America.

Defeat
You can defeat a master martial artist who has been studying for his entire life if you spend a few weeks/months learning to fight from the aforementioned janitor or handyman.

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Cola Wars: Awesome Vintage Coke commercials

Posted in 80s, Coca Cola, New Coke, pop culture, soda with tags , , , , , , on February 26, 2010 by Paxton

Sodapalooza

Yesterday I was reminiscing about the Coke/Pepsi “Cola Wars” back in the ’80s and ’90s. I took a look back at a bunch of Pepsi’s most famous commercials from that era. If you missed it, I urge you to check it out.

Now, let’s take a look at the other side of the coin, Coca-Cola. They have come up with some pretty famous commercials of their own. Let’s take a look back in time at some of Coke’s most famous TV ads.


Coke’s 1971 Teach the World to Sing commercial (video above) is undoubtedly their most famous advertisement.  It is so famous that it received two official sequels.  First, during the 1971 holiday season, Coke released a Christmas version of the commercial that ended in darkness with all the candles the people were holding in the shape of a Christmas tree. Then, in 2005, Coke inexplicably allowed singer/songwriter G Love to create a horrible douchebag hipster alternative rock version called Teach the World to Chill.  Might have been a worse idea than New Coke.


If the “hilltop” commercial above isn’t Coke’s most famous, then this 1979 Mean Joe Greene commercial is.  It’s still today a fantastic commercial.  Of course, in 2009, Coke filmed a sequel to the Mean Joe Greene commercial with Troy Polamalu.


The 11:30 Diet Coke break from 1996 is another popular Coke commercial.  I remember it airing what felt like every 5 minutes.  And, wait, I’m shocked to say this, but, in 2007 Coke filmed a sequel to the 11:30 commercial.  Talk about milking a concept dry.  I wonder if any of Coke’s commercials haven’t had a sequel.

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