Wednesday, June 28, 2006

And The Ann Coulter Jerk of the Week Award Goes To...

Well we are back from vacation! Trophy Wife and I spent a few days in MD. and we also took a bus trip to Atlantic City... MD was fun.. I have a few cousins living there. and even better, it gave me a chance to see all 11 of my 1st cousins from my mother's side in a 2 wk period. As far as I can recall, the last time all 12 of us were at the same place at the same time was at my cousins wedding way back in the early 70s.. we came pretty close in the late 90s when all except 1 showed up at another wedding.. and 10 of the 12 of us were at my wedding in Sept. of '04.

MD was sweltering... so we didn’t do too much outside. We went to the Inner Harbor which coincided with the Baptist’s huge convention. This Week in Baseball also was in Baltimore last wk too… How about that? We even saw some Amish people on vacation! I have never ever ever gone somewhere and seen Amish people on vacation.. unless it was that Rumspringa or Ooshpritzin or whatever its called.. that time when they go through their wild phase and determine if Amish is a life for them. They didn’t seem to be shpritzing though since they were wearing their regular Jebediah Butter Churning Outfits.

We had lunch at the Cheesecake Factory.. at around the same time the Baptists had their break. I actually found a lost ID badge near the water and thought about sneaking into their afternoon session to see what was going on there... Some of the Baptists were germaphobes too. The people at the next table ordered a glass of steaming hot water... and proceeded to soak their silverware in it before they ate from them. Too bad we left before the food came.... who knows what they did to the plate before they ate from it??

AC was fun too... Trophy Wife and I took the bus from Edison for about 26 bucks.. then they give you back 20 bucks which is directly deposited in the Showboat buffet’s cash register!! Nothing beats that buffet... and after about an hour of gastronomic delights, and a little tummy ache, we meandered off to the rest of the casino.. Trophy Wife likes to play the slots... and I strolled along the boardwalk heading to the Big Dollar Store, but it started raining so instead I went to play video poker at the Taj Mahal. They have a 5 card draw game, that actually tells you in advance what the sixth card is going to be when you take extra cards!! Now I know what its like for Kreskin to play poker! Trophy Wife actually discovered the Match Game slot machine which has nothing to do with Match Game but they use slot characters for Gene Rayburn, Brett Somers and Charles Nelson Reilly and they occassionally have a gimmick where you can play the big money super match. Lame-o.

Right outside the door near the Match Game, the casino had a Family Feud show where they charge 25 bucks to get in. I’ve heard of the Price is Right road show.. but frankly who the heck would pay money to see a game show that you can watch for free on any given day featuring any of the 4 different hosts?? I’m a huge Match Game fan and frankly I wouldn’t pay to see a casino Match Game if Gene Rayburn came back from the dead and 70’s Elaine Joyce and 70’s JoAnne Pflug paraded nude around the studio while BLANK-ing Richard Dawson. (Please insert your Bob Crane wisecracks here!) I actually snuck in the back and watched some Family Feud for a little bit, but when I went to retrieve Trophy Wife to join me, she misunderstood the concept of “quietly sneaking in” and she went waltzing in like a model on the catwalk.. right past the "security" who promptly offered to show us the door unless we wanted to part with 50 bucks... But since we already had made a nice donation to the slots... we decided to find something else to do.

I also took some time to catch up with the news last week. A few items caught my attention which leads to today’s awarding of the Ann Coulter Jerk of the Week Award. Here are the nominees.

THE PERSON WHO LEAKED OUT THE RUSH LIMBAUGH VIAGRA STORY - Imagine that.. ol rush gets detained for 3 hours at palm beach airport after he gets caught by customs official with a bottle of prescription viagra written out to somebody else! Not the best thing for a recovering prescription drug addict to get caught with... Shame on those people at the airport for releasing that info that would embarrass ol' Rush... hee hee... actually its kind of funny... I can only imagine how he and his way too beautiful girlfriend Daryn Kagan discovered that little rush couldn’t stand at attention... What kind of tricks did she resort to before he gave up and decided to go for the little pill?? One can only imagine her sashaying around the house wearing her "I love Bush" thong to see if they could prevent Rush from sagging as poorly as Bush's popularity rating. By the way this info was only released because Rush is famous.. If he was still toiling away at the Kansas City Royals PR office writing press releases about Matt Stairs clutch game winning 2 run homer helping the Royals improve to an exciting 26-50, none of this would have ever received an iota of media attention.

PRESIDENT BUSH - A perennial contender... I read a review of an HBO Real Sports about a story involving a huge outbreak of asthma in Pittsburgh among youngsters living there. I’m starting to watch more of the network especially that Life with Louie show... Imagine.. a crazy Kramer-esque neighbor showers in Louie's apt and parades around flashing his shmeckle! That’s wackier than my Match Game casino show. What other network could show such craziness? Anyway, it turns out there is a coal burning plant in Pittsburgh that is belching out some dangerous chemicals, an apparent no no according to EPA requirements and a new law called New Source Review. Well.. the big shots at these aforementioned plants also donated some huge amounts of shekels to President Bush and the Republicans and therefore some of these environmental requirements were subsequently waived. Former NJ Governor Christie Whitman who was the EPA director during the early dark days of this horrific Bush administration admits that rules were changed around at the expense of these poor little kids. On the show she complains that when she tried to enforce New Source Review at these plants. Bush quickly had her oversight over power plants taken away from her. The story was reported by Jon Frankel who used to be the weekend sports reporter on Channel 4 in the pre Bruce Beck days.

THE RELATIVES WHO WANTED THE MAN DECLARED DEAD -- A man disappeared during a sailing trip last September when Hurricane Rita hit the Gulf of Mexico.. Some of his relatives wanted him declared dead even though traditionally in a case like this, you need to wait 5 years. The law was amended after the tragic events of 9-11 when it became painfully obvious that day that the ”missing” people in the towers who were unaccounted for had obviously died. The waiting period was waived so the widows (including those so scorned by Ann Coulter) could collect on their insurance premiums.

The relatives bastardized the intent of the 9-11 law by trying to get a declaration that he was dead. They realized that if they declared him dead.. the widow's marriage to him would not hit the magical 5 year mark. According to the pre-nup, if the marriage lasted less than 5 years,... the wife would get only about 125k from the hubby's multi million dollar estate... They actually went to court to declare him legally dead so they could toss her out on the street and enjoy his shekels... I thought the five year rule was for divorce... not for widows.. but the Supreme Court heard the challenge made by Anna Nicole Smith's octonogenerian's late husband's son after he died a year or so after he married her.. the son by the way just dropped dead last week.. Incidentally the judge shot down the relatives' request to declare him dead.. And the man who died in the water… made his millions by bottling water!

THE TITLE SCAMMER - This one takes the cake. Allow me to introduce you to Fermin Galvez who was just convicted in an outrageous scam this past Friday. Fermin decided to be a stud and hooked up with a married woman. Unfortunately, the woman got sick and lapsed into a coma. Ol’ Fermin the stud got another girlfriend to pose as the coma woman and the impostor signed the title over so it appeared that Fermin and the coma woman were now the owners.

He then proceeded to sell the home to an unwitting couple who by some bizarre stroke of good luck had no money to put down, and managed to take out a huge mortgage with no money down... (trust me,. the rate on the 2nd loan must have been astronomical!) Why were they lucky to put no money down? 3 weeks after the closing, the first time buyers show up to start moving their stuff into the new home... and not only was Fermin still living there.. but he refused to let them in. The cops were called and the seller showed them a 2nd forged title showing that he still owned the house!! Amazingly the cops told the buyers to leave the premises! Ultimately the rat was caught when the family of the woman in the coma showed the courts medical proof that the woman was comatose the day “she“ signed the title over to Fermin.

They’re still trying to sort this mess out.. But the “buyers” will probably be on the hook for their mortgage payments until this is straightened out.. And since this will take months to sort out.. once they are late on their mortgage payments, their credit will take a huge hit and adversely affect their chances to buy a house that they will be allowed to live in. And as for the coma woman’s husband, legally he will ultimately be awarded the home, since by law a spouse is always on the title. …(I’m surprised this wasn’t caught during the first forged title…) The big financial loser will be the mortgage company that ends up losing the money that Galvez stole from them… But… the biggest loser is Fermin Galvez.. this weeks winner of the Ann Coulter Jerk of the Week Award!

Friday, June 16, 2006

TV 2Q - Plus Some Well Deserved Coulter Bashing!

In the unlikely event that GOP bigshot Georgette Mosbacher happens to Google her way into this blog…. Well, Georgette, you may want to skip the sixth paragraph of today’s column! Since I am going on vacation next wk, I’ll write a little more than usual, so save it up till I come back to blogging land. Also word out to my homies Neil and Young Chuck for mentioning me in their blogs! I worked with Young Chuck back in the early 90s, and I called him that because he bore an uncanny resemblance to Chuck Scarborough. I haven’t seen him in at least 12 years and it was neat that he thought of me! He apparently isn’t aware that I wrote about his incredibly unforgettable appearance on Who Wants to be a Millionaire... I also had a heated debate in the comments section with "Belchie" about how far Chuck went on the show! Maybe I'll get "Belchie" and Young Chuck on a future podcast so we can finally settle this issue once and for all!

As we begin to prepare for next week’s vacation, its time for the NWOW (Nate's World of Words) Quarterly Television Report. It sounds more official when we call them "quarterly" reports. and this would be a good time to take a look back at the last 3 months... plus take a peek at what the new tv season will look like. We'll get into more details about the new season in the Fall…. probably after baseball season when I start noticing that the New Season has arrived.

The 05-06 season wrapped up just before Memorial Day… we already did a column on the season finale of Lost... Other shows wrapped up their seasons last month, but it seems that the season finales are like the last day of school... because the moment Chuck and Sue start delivering the 11 oclock news... I already have forgotten what I just watched. I got a kick the other day when they did a story about a prom that was ruined when several students were sent to a local hospital for blood tests after being falsely accused of drinking at the prom. Now NJ 101.5 will be sponsoring a do-over prom. What happens if somebody didn’t like their prom date? Do they still have to take the same person to Prom 2?

Once the warm weather rolls in, I pretty much stop watching the tube except for baseball and the news. Besides the 2 remaining episodes of Game Show Marathon I doubt Ill watch any of the summer shows except possibly The Contender on ESPN. I did watch Big Brother back when it first started.. and i also liked that goofy show a few years ago where new actors re-enacted scripts of old sitcoms such as What’s Happening?

While watching my old favorite Larry King the other night, I saw a debate about Ann Coulter and her absurd new book where she criticizes the 9-11 widows calling them the "Witches of East Brunswick" and says they are milking this tragedy for all its worth while they enjoy their millions. Before I even address this absurdity. I first want to apologize to Georgette Mosbacher because the next paragraph will absolutely positively offend her. Mosbacher who is incredibly pretty and much older than you think... was quite insulted on Monday night’s show when Charlie Rangel accurately noted that Ann Coulter always wears short skirts for her talk show appearances. Ms. Mosbacher thought that comment was offensive.

Coulter is one of those hot blonde right wing wacko spinsters who is jealous of the 9-11 women. I saw her on Leno the other night (while catching comedy genius George Carlin) and she over enunciates her evil words like the over the top acting by the villains from the old Batman TV show. Carlin wisely didn’t heckle her since it would have been like getting into a battle of wits with an unarmed opponent. Unlike that miserable wretch Coulter, the 9-11 widows were women who actually found husbands ..These women were loved and admired, and unlike Ann… were desired. Coulter despite her good looks, goes home alone each night and the only action she gets is from her battery operated apparatus. Nobody wants her. Nobody cares about her opinions. Bush is an incredibly incompetent dumb lousy president and Coulter just doesn’t want to admit it. She also takes issue with Cindy Sheehan whose poor son was a victim of this unnecessary war. This “Operation Restore Democracy” is a bunch of malarkey… Keep in mind that the Mets season took a turn for the better when they added 2 pitchers who defected from Cuba. Democracy Shmemocracy…. Maybe if there are more Communist countries for baseball players to defect from.. the Mets will get even better!

Wanna buy a book? Pick up the fine tomes written by Anderson Cooper or Tim Russert from Meet the Press. If you must read Coulter’s book... get it from the library... it's FREE, and it won't pad Coulter's pockets. Talk about irony…. She spends so much time talking about a Bush that can‘t get the job done… .

Ok can someone please call Georgette back to the blog?? Its ok to come back now…..

'05 - '06 RECAP

The season finales each year get more action packed as producers seem to think the season must end with a major twist... CSI had Grissom doing the ol' hoochie mcscoochie with his co-worker, CSI NY had a main character shooting her boyfriend in self defense, and CSI Miami had David Caruso's new wife shot dead.. Don’t his ears hurt every time he yanks his sunglasses off with that dramatic flair??

24 had Jack Bauer shipped off on a slow boat to China.. so maybe the new season will start in the middle of the sea as he spends the 1st 3 hours swimming for shore? I didn’t think the season was that great but Jean Smart was awesome as the First Lady! Grey’s Anatomy has McDreamy and McSlutty hooking up again... and killed off the heart transplant guy Denny causing his dr./paramour to bolt out of the hospital saying this was not the career for her.. (The actress has a movie career.. she won’t be out of work for too long) Desperate Housewives got rid of the Applewhites and gave Marcia Cross enough meaty scenes to get her a much deserved Emmy. And of course the gray haired guy won American Idol.. the most popular show in the world… yet I really lose interest after the Gong Showesque audition episodes at the beginning of the season.

I did add 2 new shows to my TV repertoire this past quarter. Now that we finally get HBO, I saw this season's episodes of The Sopranos. It seems to be ok... I didnt see the earlier years, and one day.,.. i might watch them on dvd... The show really does not glamorize the mob, and actually the better episodes were the ones where they acted like buffoons.. specifically the guy who mugged Lauren Bacall for her freebies and the fact that he later hooked up with Julianna Marguilies' recovering alcoholic character, and was such a great help to her recovery, promptly reintroduced her to a life of drugs and alcohol. It was troubling to see Vito killed because he is gay. Whatever happened to the ol' "He's gay - Not that there's anything wrong with it."

The other show is Rabbi Shmuley Boteach's Shalom in the Home. Each week he and his little trailer visit another family in crisis and Shmuley does his thing to bring some sanity into these dysfunctional homes. Its hard to tell how much these families gain from his feedback, but so far he has come up with some solid advice. I first met Shmuely at an appearance several yrs ago at Lincoln Square Synagogue that was also attended by one of his fellow Oxford scholars.. a gentleman by the name of Cory Booker - now Newark's Mayor!

SITH hit a high point a few weeks ago when his show did an episode with a lesbian family. Considering his ultra orthodox background, it was quite interesting to see how accepting he was... he even invited the couple and their daughter to his home! And then he dropped in an interesting factoid... his brother is gay! I did not know that. It’s interesting to see how an ultra orthodox Jew is more accepting of a homosexual than a Sopranos mobster!

'06 - '07 PREVIEW

Now the new season schedule has been announced, and at this early stage, none of the new shows look too spectacular. Usually I will notice who is doing well in the Nielsens in the early weeks of the season, and I will start catching those shows in November. The two that seem to be getting the most ink are the sitcom and drama about a Saturday Night Live type show.. Everyone seems to think SNL is becoming a big hit again. Actually, its not too entertaining, but it gets buzz because people download the pre-recorded bits from the internet. The live stuff? Fooey.. And now 2 shows are going to go behind the scenes of that type of show. How about a behind the scenes show about Fridays and the infamous night that Andy Kauffman cursed out the cast on live TV? That would be worth watching.

The networks announced their schedules in May, but then NBC asked for a mulligan and re-introduced a brand new schedule. Based on an early glimpse, Sunday looks to have some potential.. American Dad moves up an hour forming an 8 to 9;30 line-up of The Simpsons, AD and Family Guy. CBS meanwhile becomes the “Columbia Bruckheimer Sunday” network as the TV genius takes over the post 60 minutes lineup with The Amazing Race, Cold Case and Without a Trace. Thursday at 9 will also include a showdown between CSI on CBS and Grey’s Anatomy on ABC. And, Tuesdays from 9 to 11 will have a Law and Order twin bill with Criminal Intent and SVU.

A few other things to point out… The WB and UPN merge this fall and the new network.. CW basically will fill its schedule with shows that I have never seen and will probably never watch. Katie Couric will anchor the CBS Evening News, and Meredith Viera will replace her on Today… and Rosie O’Donnell will replace her on the View. Rosie O’Donnell will be replaced by… uh…. Hmmm, what exactly was Rosie doing??

And football will have a new spot in primetime.. ABC attacks the vast Saturday night wasteland by throwing on a weekly college football game that will probably get huge ratings in Michigan and Florida, but not here. And Monday Night Football is no longer on ABC… but Al Michaels and John Madden take their act to NBC for Sunday Night Football. MNF will continue on ESPN and more than likely will get better ratings than the ABC replacement programming.

The actual season will start in early Sept, right after all the annual ceremonies commemorating 9-11. By then hopefully Ann Coulter's absurd comments will be long forgotten, and construction will be underway on the new WTC. I almost hate to agree with Donald Trump but he has a point that all the parties involved should just put all the squabbles aside and rebuild the old Twin Towers.. I think we should capture Osama Bin Laden - alive.. bring him to the ground breaking ceremony, and hang him.... after allowing 9-11 survivors to hack at his testicles blindfolded as if he were a pinata. Then once he takes his last breath, let the groundbreaking celebrations begin. Sell the whole thing on pay per view and give the proceeds to the 9-11 widows.

In late October once Billy Wagner throws the last pitch, and Lastings Milledge makes the catch to help the Mets win the World Series, we will revisit the fall season to see which of these shows are here to stay. That will also coincide with the mid term elections which will show us once and for all how sick America is of George Bush,…but Anne Coulter no doubt will blame the 9-11 widows for that…. Or maybe by then she will start picking on Holocaust survivors… Elie Wiesel better watch out.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Game Show Marathon - Or Is It A Sprint?

A few months ago, I did a column here about the Top 14 game shows of all time.. and one of the rabid Price is Right fans who posted a comment.. Louis from Tampa… asked me what I thought were the worst game shows of all time. I have been mulling that over recently, and at some point, I will write a column about that very topic.. but for now I want to see a little more of Game Show Marathon to see where it would fit on that list. So far it looks like it won’t make the list, but I must admit that although it could have been executed better, it is a pretty interesting concept to have celebrities compete on a different game show each week.

I have always thought that reality shows were really fancy game shows. Originally reality shows were really documentaries.. But the producers decided to call them “reality shows” so the goofy kids watching would not think it was some kind of stuffy PBS documentary. Exhibit A would be “The Real World” on MTV, the original of the reality shows..

Along came Mark Burnett a few years ago and thought.. Hey lets make it a competition with a big money prize at the end of the reality rainbow. He created “Survivor” which took the real world to an exotic island and created a contest involving strategy and fitness both mentally and physically. After “Survivor”, almost all of the reality shows needed a finish line to have its participants thrive for. So with the exception of the freak show involving Paris Hilton, and Lionel Ritchie’s skeletal daughter… (Remember his 80s song to her….“Hello…. Is it food you’re looking for?”), most of the reality shows are now game shows.

Which brings us to GSM… The producers must have thought.. lets have a reality show where the contestants compete on a game show.. And now we have officially come full circle! I have reserved comment on it till now, since I was never really a big fan of the first 3 game shows that were featured in the competition, but now that we have seen Leslie Nielsen yelling out big bucks, no whammies on Press Your Luck and with old favorites Card Sharks, Family Feud, and Match Game looming in the coming weeks… I felt it was time to weigh in with my thoughts on this program.

The producers decided to remake CBS versions of some older classics… and rebuilt the sets and plunked today’s B-list stars right in the middle as if they traveled to the set in a Time Machine. . So far they have done 4 different games with one winner emerging from each game.. Those 4 semifinalists will advance to Card Sharks and Match Game.. And the champions will recruit their real families for Family Feud. I wonder how they will do the Feud… Richard Dawson did the ABC version, but the CBS version with a slightly different set and rules was the one hosted by Ray Combs.

The first episode featured “The Price is Right”.. The Bob Barker fans were not too thrilled to see Rikki Lake hosting it.. and I am not sure who drew the short straw to break the news to Bob that they would be doing his show without him. However, from a ratings standpoint, it was a good idea to do the show… since it is so incredibly popular.. It has run for more than 30 years on CBS Daytime and is the anchor of the consistently highly rated daytime lineup.

My idea that might have smoothed this over better.. Why not let Bob host TPIR and one or two of the other shows while rotating with Ricki Lake? They could have done Truth or Consequences with Barker.. Since that was the show he hosted for a ton of years before The Price is Right. Keep in mind that the GSM concept ran very successfully in England with 2 hosts named Ant and Dec. Ratings-wise, it made sense to premiere with TPIR… but I think that future editions of GSM should not include it as long as Bob Barker is around.. since it strikes me as being incredibly disrespectful having someone else hosting it while he is still alive and kicking.

The show really hit its stride with Thursday night’s episode of Press Your Luck. This was the type of show that employed strategy and had a sense of excitement. However I should point out that the celebrity contestants weren’t as familiar with the nuances of the game as regular contestants were back when the show originally ran. It also ranked 7th on my February 2006 list of the 14 Best Game Shows of All Time. Ricki did a decent job filling the late Peter Tomarken’s shoes and the episode was quite exciting, although it was not the smartest idea to kill the momentum by breaking for commercial with only 4 spins left in the game. The questions were also a bit too easy meaning there were more spins awarded to the players… (And why are they called spins since nothing is spun?) Nonetheless, it was very exciting and well done and might have been the high point for GSM since fans watching the later episodes of Match Game and Family Feud will inevitably start comparing Ricki to hosting legends Gene Rayburn and Richard Dawson.

As for the other two shows, I never really liked Lets Make a Deal.. And I only watched a few minutes of it on GSM. A lot of the bulletin boards say Deal or No Deal is really the new version of that show.. (although it does have elements of Press Your Luck since all the contestants do is Press Their Luck)… I am impressed that Howie Mandel always knows the names of the models. A recent gay contestant got so excited he would run up to each model after she opened his suitcase and give her a hug… This was on a day when they wore incredibly low cut dresses, and boobies were everywhere. How many heterosexual guys will go on next season acting gay just to get a nice little huggie with the hot models?

The other show was Beat the Clock.. That show originally aired way before my time… but I think GSM did a terrific job recreating it.. The showed clips from the 50s and then had the players re-create the very same stunts.

Two things stood out… the well polished floor was reflective and the model was wearing a skirt… Hmmm.. Did anyone else try to look up her skirt?? The other thing was every time they did a stunt that went awry… Ricki Lake would yell out ‘Shoot”… it was done often enough to start a drinking game! Hopefully she won’t slip and yell out something else like her former CBS colleague, Channel 2 reporter Arthur Chi’en. He was on the air live one day getting heckled by some Opie and Anthony fans, and cursed at them not realizing he was on the air live. (He claimed he thought he was taping a report) This is not to be confused with the Channel 2 sports report some 10 years ago with Bernie Smilovitz where he played a tape of Bobby Knight cursing up a storm.. WITHOUT the curses bleeped out… After the tape was done.. You could see Bernie and anchor Dana Tyler looking like deer caught in the headlights with Bernie thinking he better call his agent to start sending some resumes back to his hometown of Detroit, and Dana realizing that she would be one Roz Abrams contract signing from being relegated to weekend duty.

Chi’en by the way went to the NY Labor Board and filed a complaint and was actually awarded some money. And who ever heard of someone going to the Department of Labor and winning a case against an employer? Well your blog master just won a nice stack of shekels this past week after taking a former employer to Trenton. That same day in Trenton, a budget hearing with the Human Services Commissioner Kevin Ryan was interrupted when he got sick and had to be rushed to the hospital. His chief of staff told The Star Ledger she decided to send him to an out of town hospital because the CEO of that hospital is her former boss Former NJ Health Commissioner Dr. Clifton Lacy! Hey folks.. Lets impose the Ariel Sharon rule and go to the nearest hospital!!!!! Sharon had a stroke after passing the closest hospital to go to a second more distant facility! Ryan is ok by the way..

Speaking of former bosses, I was the last case to be heard.. In some cases the employer didn’t show up and the plaintiffs won by default… but in the cases where the employers showed up, those were won by the employers. Except mine.

I won’t bore you with the details… but after driving 2 hours in a rainstorm and realizing my former boss also had to shlep there from a farther distance.. I knew I could go home empty handed and still feel victorious. There were 2 parts to the case involving unpaid commissions.. I won the first one.. And in the 2nd one.. either the company didn’t have their facts straight.. or she lied under oath… But.. I got to cross examine my former boss… (How surreal! Isn‘t that the coolest thing?).. And I tried to do my best Felix Unger courtroom cross examination imitation. And even though I was not awarded money on the 2nd claim.. I still walked away feeling like a million bucks.

Speaking of Big Bucks…. If the upcoming 3 episodes are as exciting as Press Your Luck… the Game Show Marathon may become a regular television fixture. Next week is Card Sharks, followed by Match Game the following week.. And the final episode will be Family Feud. I get the feeling that some of these old favorites might be brought back at some point if GSM gets decent ratings.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Star Wars - Part 6 of 6 (Yippee!!)

Well for the first time since the 1st of the Star Wars movies came way back on Memorial Day Weekend 1977. I am finally all caught up!

This past weekend I plopped down on the couch, put on my Yoda watch, and tossed in the Return of the Jedi DVD. After giving out 4 bladders to Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back and liking the 2nd and 3rd movies from the first part of the trilogy (but not the first) I was eager to see how this was all going to end... considering I had started watching these epics back in November when I started this blog, and had already written 5 columns about movies I had never cared to see in the pre-blog days.

Return of the Jedi was released Memorial Day Weekend 1983... after having been filmed in the Fall of 1982. Ah.. the fall of 1982... if only Coach had put me in... we woulda been State Champs!.... Oh excuse me.. I just mind melded with Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite!

Return of the Jedi picks up where the Empire Strikes Back left off. Our pals, Luke, Leia, Chewie, r2 and c3 launch a rescue mission to extricate Han Solo from the clutches of Jabba the Hutt. Jabba.. who very much resembles a blind date I was set up on back in my single days.. had frozen Han solid in some carbonite... and it is time for his friends to rescue him! Princess Leia sneaks in to his fort disguised as a bounty hunter, but after de-freezing Han.. gets captured herself.

Ol' Jabba had other ideas however.. instead of freezing her solid... he forces her to strip down to a skimpy bikini and chains her to him. Not only does the movie have a sado-masochistic sub-text, but George Lucas was keenly aware that the little sci-fi fans who padded his pockets with millions of dollars in 1977 were now a bit older in '83 and were very interested in seeing some skin in their flicks. And boy does George deliver! Once this movie came out…the teenage boys ripped down their posters of Farrah Fawcett Majors and Cheryl Tiegs, and gallons of drool came from their braces-filled mouths as they spent a good half hour watching Leia chained to Jabba.. Ultimately, she turns the tables on him and wraps the chains around HIS neck.... giving the young teenage sci-fi fans something to act out once they hit their 20s and started going to Hellfire and other S and M clubs...

Incidentally, with all of these battles going on... none of the media in the Star Wars era felt it necessary to embed reporters on the warfront. Of course not.. it would have been too dangerous with asteroids zipping by, or armed clones shooting at you from every direction! Yet as I watched this on Memorial Day weekend, there was never ending coverage about the injuries sustained by Kimberly Dozier, and the deaths of her cameraman and soundman... and it makes you wonder why they just don't learn that we don’t need to embed the journalists on the warfront! Helloooo its too freakin dangerous out there! Didn’t they learn their lesson from Bob Woodruff? Four months after his injury, he is virtually out of the picture at ABC News as he recovers from injuries that are so severe he isn’t even well enough to record a podcast from his house!

Anyway... the theme of the final movie in this 6-pack is taking care of the the last piece of unfinished business.. Can the Emperor Palpatine convince Luke to join the Dark Side? Or will Luke resist the temptation and remain a Jedi? Ian McDiarmid’s acting in this movie is not quite as good as Star Wars III where he stole the movie in a remarkable performance. Keep in mind in Star Wars III,, he was playing the same character even though he was more than 20 years older but he was playing the same person… 20+ years younger!

Luke is the lone Jedi capable of toppling the evil empire. He lovingly refers to Darth as "Father" and flashes him those innocent little sweet puppy dog eyes as if he just spilled fruit punch on a white tablecloth and doesn’t want to get yelled at. Does he treat his father lovingly for any other reason besides the fact that playing nice with Darth will help bring down the Dark Side? Who would be nice to a father who tried to kill him? Would Joel Steinberg's adopted son who he beat so mercilessly be nice to him if he happened to run into him on the street? I would hope the son carries mace and a baseball bat just in case he happens to run into Steinberg so he can give Joel the can of whoop-ass he has had coming to him since the late 1980s.

But the battle for Luke to put aside his animosity towards Darth while being egged on by The Emperor becomes the focal point of this movie. The Emperor stands on the sidelines rooting on the Darth-Luke battle reminded me of Rowdy Roddy Piper and Mean Gene Okerlund egging on wrestling adversaries in the early 80s.

The film is filled with one adventure after another leading up to the ultimate battle. After the daring rescue and escape from Jabba the Hutt… our heroes continue on to meet up with the cute little Ewoks. The Ewoks communicate with each other by blowing shofars! I was half expecting them to deliver a Yom Kippur appeal and sell me some Israel bonds! While the gang lands at Ewok-land… Luke gets sidetracked bidding farewell to Yoda.. one of two major characters whose death totally surprised me… (The other was Darth Vader… I had no idea!!)

After the demise of Yoda.. Luke meets up with his pals at Endor… where at one point, Han professes his love to Leia.. who sharply replies “I Know”… exactly as Solo said to her when she told him she loved him in The Empire Strikes Back…

Simultaneously. an incredible Space attack gets underway.. Led by Lando Calrissian and some characters that look like goldfish. The pilots are divided up into teams based on color.. I wonder if they argued about their colors like the characters did in Reservoir Dogs. Its time once again for another 24esque 3 wars at once… this time a ground war with the Ewoks using their primitive weapons, a much more advanced brilliantly shot space war, and the war to end all wars.. The battle to convert Luke to move to the Dark Side… which ultimately will mean the end of either The Jedi or The Bad Guys!

By the way I noticed some Star Wars themes that were stolen by Lost… The scene where “The Others” appear from out of nowhere in the woods when Jack goes to confront them is right from Ewok-land,… the traps in the forest where they end up in a net in a tree.. And ultimately “the signal” our pals give each other when they look like they are in danger only to bail themselves out. Hmmm… didn’t Jack give Kate such a look in the season finale?

So what did I think?. Well I’m happy I’m done watching these movies!… I liked this film for the most part. But I didn’t like that they edited in Hayden Christensen in the finale where Luke sees the Ghosts of Jedi Past.… It immediately caught my attention, and I knew it had obviously been changed from the original…. (Hayden who has a fine planetarium was just a little pisher when this movie was made in the Fall of ‘82 while Uncle Rico was warming the bench). He just didn’t belong there.. and who got to break the news to Sebastian Shaw's family that he would NOT be in the DVD version.... That took as much guts as the CBS guy who had to tell Bob Barker that Rikki Lake would host The Price is Right for Game Show Marathon!

As usual the early 80s special effects were years ahead of its time.. And the musical score was outstanding. It was not quite as good as Star Wars 4 and 5….so therefore on a scale of 1 to 4 bladders meaning how less likely you would be to leave in the middle to go to the bathroom… Return of the Jedi gets 3 bladders.

So now that the Star Wars movies are finally done.. What is next? Well this summer we are moving on to our next anthology… another group of movies I have never seen….. The Godfather trilogy!! And if you have any suggestions for future anthologies for this blog, please leave them in the comments section.