Monday, September 30, 2013

Top Ten "WHAT!" Full House Moments/Episodes

Greetings Pups,

A long time ago, I wrote a little something about how unrealistic a certain show was despite having been set in the real world. Apparently. When you think about it, I really could have been talking about a lot of different shows that could be and still can be described that way, but I was speaking of the show that miraculously ran for EIGHT seasons, Full House.

Okay, I can admit that, when I was younger, I was a consistent watcher of this show. I could blame it on the fact that I was, in fact, just a kid, and I didn't know any better, but I think it may have had more to do with the massive crush I had on John Stamos. It's a crush that may still be there, although, it has diminished greatly after the debacle of his appearance on Glee, of all shows. Yeah, John, way to wipe out all the stuff you did to try and separate yourself from the ridiculousness of Full House by taking part in something even more heinous. But I'm getting away from my point, which is that this show was pretty much insane when it came to certain situations. Now this could go on a lot longer than I'm going to write here, but I managed to choose ten episodes containing moments that make anyone with a concept of reality say "What!" Off we go.

#10. "Educating Jesse" (Season 6) - This is an episode where DJ is doing this stay in school campaign and wants her family to help. Everyone agrees except for Uncle Jesse. Why doesn't he want to help? Well, as it happens, he never graduated from high school. He, himself, is a dropout. Okay, I can maybe understand why the kids didn't know, but he never told his wife? It really never came up. And even if I could excuse that, what about Danny? His brother-in-law? Who has known him since he was a kid because he was married to Jesse's older sister? I'd think he would have noticed that they never went to Jesse's graduation. You'd think a family of 87 people who refuse to not live together despite chances to do so would be more close. More on that later.

#9. "Little Shop of Sweaters" (Season 2) - It's Valentine's Day and the three dads give the three girls presents. DJ gets a sweater she really wanted, but when she takes it to school, it gets destroyed. Long story. Anyway, she tries to buy a replacement but doesn't have enough money. Stephanie sees a sign that says "Buy Now, Pay Later", and you can see where this is going. And, no, not even this is the moment of which I speak. What is? Well...THEY BOUGHT A 12-YEAR-OLD AN $80 SWEATER! Perhaps, that is acceptable for a 16-year-old on her birthday, mostly because it's cheaper than a car. But a TWELVE-year old on VALENTINE'S DAY? They're called Conversation Hearts, boys. Look into them!

#8. "Half a Love Story" (Season 1) - Now, Danny works at a TV station, and he gets this new co-worker, Robin, on the same day that Jesse happened to show up with Baby Michelle. So Jesse decides to use the cute baby to try to pick up Robin, because she is gorgeous. Like super gorgeous. It was Kristian Alfonso from Days of Our Lives, for crying out loud. But, seriously, this makes no sense. This seems like a thing that not so attractive guys do to get girls to notice them. Right? And I understand that, at this point in time, Stamos still had his mullet, which always takes off about 5 to 10 points on any man's hotness meter, but he was still hot. Again, this makes no sense. Oh, and speaking of nonsensical things in Jesse's love life ...

#7. "Jesse's Girl" (Season 1) - In order to make some extra money, Jesse starts to give guitar lessons. One of his students is yet another gorgeous woman named Corrina, who kind of looked like a mid-nineties Nicole Kidman. They go out on a date, but then she falls for Joey, the ... "comedian". Come again? Look, I get that there are women who like a guy who's funny, or tries to be funny, and this is nothing against Dave Coulier. I think they just gave him some seriously inferior material. Which I now hope wasn't his own material. Moving on. Okay, she falls for Joey. But you've got John Stamos and you're going to go to some other guy? Who would do that? I know looks aren't everything, but is there a single woman on this planet who would give up John Stamos to hook up with some guy who often tries to be funny but tends to fall flat? Well, there is one woman I can think of.

#6. "The House Meets The Mouse" (Season 6) - In the nineties, ABC decided to make pretty much all of their family sitcoms go to Disney World. I think Full House started that trend. And nothing that happens on this vacation makes any sense. I mean, the older girls lose Michelle, and don't get in trouble for it. But, then again, she was being a spoiled brat and wandered off on her own, and she doesn't get in trouble for that either. Of course. The writers try to be meta by making DJ think the guy dresses up as Aladdin is her boyfriend, Steve. Steve, by the way, who was played by an actor who voiced Aladdin. Ha. Jesse's there because this world famous theme park hired his unknown band to play a huge show, and they did so because...okay? And it goes on and on, but let me point out something totally unbelievable. All of them, every single person in this family of - what did I say? - oh, yeah, 87, they all stayed at the Grand Floridian. The Grand Flippin' Floridian! That place is not cheap, and somehow, this family can afford to stay there for who knows how long. Nope, not buying it. Especially because this episode is the last episode of Season 6, and based on a few things I'll be telling you later, I CANNOT believe this family has any money left at all. Stay tuned.

#5. "Fuller House" (Season 4) - So Uncle Jesse gets married to Becky, and, after living in the Tanner house for four years, he does what any newly married man would do. He moves into his wife's house, so they can start building their lives together. How romantic! Wait! Stop, you two! You can't do that! Why? Because it makes the four-year-old sad! I kid you not. Michelle is so sad about Uncle Jesse moving out that, long story short, he and Becky give up their beautiful San Francisco house that no one in their twenties should be able to afford, and opt to live in the Tanner's attic. Yeah, no. Nobody would ever do that, because everybody knows that four-year-olds tend to get over things pretty quickly. And they made this decision, mind you, after one night away from the Tanner house. ONE NIGHT! I'm sorry, no. Okay, to be fair, if she was in deep depression after a few months, I'd say fine, move back in. But it was ONE NIGHT! What is even the heck? But, if you think it makes no sense for only two people to do this, you just wait.

#4. "A House Divided" (Season 7) - At the end of the seventh season, the Tanner family gets a knock on the door from a millionaire who used to live in their house and wants to buy it for twice its value. This makes everyone really excited because it means they can get a bigger house with more room, but not more room for all 87 of them, because Jesse and Becky and Joey all think it's a sign that it's their time to move out of the house. Because there were never any signs of that before, apparently. Oh, hold on. Did I say everyone was excited about this? Let me amend that statement by saying that everyone was excited except for - say it with me! - Michelle. She doesn't want to move, because this was the only house she ever lived in. Woo. Again, long story short, after some hijinks and memory sharing, they decide to not sell and stay. They ALL decide this. What is up with these people? Why does this little kid keep telling you what to do? Man up! Especially you, Danny Tanner. And that was only number four!

#3. "Please Don't Touch the Dinosaurs" (Season 6) - So Michelle's class is going on a field trip to the museum, and Danny and Jesse are going to be the chaperones. As we all know, Danny is quite anal-retentive, so he wants his group to be very, very well-behaved. Jesse just wants his kids to have fun, whatever the cost. Yeah, cost. I wonder. Anyway, as you may have guessed, Danny's group proceeds into the museum without incident, whilst Jesse's group runs wild. How wild? Well, Michelle and her friend, Denise, decide to play tag or something around this giant dinosaur skeleton. Yes, a dinosaur skeleton, because this was the same year as Jurassic Park, and ABC knows how to cash in. Well, surprise, surprise, the girls go passed the velvet ropes or whatever, and completely destroy the priceless artifact. Yeah, remember when I said I didn't know how they afforded that trip to Disney World because of reasons. Well, this one of the reasons. And not just the money factor, but I'd think the Disney trip would have been cancelled because one of the adults in charge would have been in jail. Or do they not do that kind of thing in this world? And this was a mere five episodes before that finale. No. Oh, and they were probably already on a budget because of my number two pick. Read on.

#2. "Come Fly With Me" (Season 6) - At the end of Season 5, DJ announces that she is going to Spain on a school sponsored trip. She's gone for the whole summer, and Stephanie and Michelle had such a boring summer that they are so excited to have her back. But, alas, DJ has returned with a new boyfriend, the aforementioned Steve, so she kind of ignores them. Now, what do Stephanie and Michelle do to break the monotony? They meet a kid who's in a traveling group of singing children, go on his departing plane just to say goodbye, and end up on their way to New Zealand. You know what? I'm not even going to blame the two girls for this one, necessarily. I mean, Stephanie did try to tell the flight attendant that they were not a part of the traveling singing children, and the woman was like, "Whatever, just sit down, on our way." Seriously. I know this was 1992, and things weren't as strict when it came to airport security as it is now, but how the heck could this happen? Really, flight attendant, you're not even going to check on this? And never mind her for a minute. What about the people in charge of this group of children? They don't seem all that attentive either. So Stephanie and Michelle had to go all the way to New Zealand, then get back on a plane and immediately had to come all the way back home. And guess who had to pay? Yeah, the parent. Although, I hope that idiot flight attendant got fired.

#1. "Honey, I Broke the House" (Season 3) - When people discuss the ridiculous goings on of the Full House world, there is, without a doubt, one episode that always immediately springs to mind. And this is it. At least, it is for me. Okay, Joey got this really nice, new, red car. He's very happy with it, even named it Rosie. Okay? He notices that there is a slight nick in the hood so he goes to the store to get a jar of touch up paint. He goes and leaves Stephanie alone with the car, with the keys in the ignition. You may think that's no big deal, since every kid over the age of five knows you don't play with cars. Or was that just me with my weird functioning brain thingy? But we're in their world now, where Joey has apparently forgotten all the insane, stupid things these children are capable of here. So Stephanie gets in the car and wants to listen to the radio. She turns the key, and the car starts. As they tend to do. She sees the letter "R" in front of the steering wheel and jovially says, "Must mean radio! Because no other words start with 'R'!" And she puts the car into reverse! Get it, because that's what the "R" stood for. Anyway, the car backs into the house. It literally crashes into the kitchen. Half of the car is in the house, half is out. This is a thing that happened. And if that wasn't enough, she then runs away, leaving her family to find out, one by one, what has happened. When she finally came home and fessed up, she was tortured with a mild scolding ... barely. I don't know how we got to this point, my friends. I don't. I don't know if I should blame the stupidity of a child who should, for real, know better, or the continually negligent parenting, or both. I just don't know. But seeing as this is probably the most infamous of all the "throw my hands up in the air and question the universe" moments of this show, this is my personal number one.

Okay, I know a lot of people who read this will probably think I forgot to mention a few other moments, and they would be right. This list is of a mere ten choices. I am fully aware that there are more. Look, I am happy to suspend my disbelief for television, but I'm happy to do it with things like Buffy or Smallville. Not a show that's supposed to be grounded in reality. And not this much. Still, if I can say one good thing about Full House, it would be that it was more of a family show than anything we're giving that label to today. I speak of content and such. Even with all of this...whatever that occurred on a weekly basis, they tried to be heartwarming and whatnot and show a family that really loved each other. That's not so bad, I guess. So, I just hope that someday someone can take only those good things about the show and give us a new one with other good things. Until then, I look back at these moments, and just say "What?"

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Thursday, September 26, 2013

James Dean - TV Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

I don't know why this is, but it seems like the more famous some people get, the less seriously we take them and their talent. Or we just more easily forget what they are capable of doing. That could be because, as time in fame goes on, one has the opportunity to make more questionable decisions, and they do so in the spotlight. And so we all have the opportunity to make our own decisions about them. Look, I'm talking about James Franco here.

Let me put all my cards on the table with this one. I think James Franco can be a really weird dude. But he's an artist, so I tend to let him get away with it. Especially since I am also an artist and kind of weird myself. It's better than why most people let him get away with it a.k.a. 'He's good looking, so he can do no wrong'. Yes, we have grown accustomed to the typical jabs at Mr. Franco, like he squints all the time, and he seems like he's high all the time, and since he is so good at playing characters who are high all the time, maybe he really is high all the time! Now THAT was a sentence. And, mind you, these are just the things I've heard other people say. But jokes aside, I think we can all agree that James Franco does have some legitimate talent as an actor. We were certainly reminded of that when he gave a stellar performance in 127 Hours a few years ago, and he was great in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Hail, Caesar, indeed! Yeah, I know that's not the part he played, but I just wanted to say it, okay. However, if we want to see James Franco in one of his finest performances, we must travel back in time to 2001 when he played the titular role in the TNT television movie, James Dean.

Like several biopics choose to do, we begin, not at the beginning, but at some important part in the life of main character/subject. Here, it starts on the set of East of Eden, showing how James Dean interacted with the director and fellow actors, but mostly, his intent to make Raymond Massey, the actor playing his father, hate him. Because, according to James, "He has to hate me". That, of course, lets us know that much of the story we are about to see will be centered around the strained relationship he had with own father. At this point, we go back to his childhood, where we see his loving mother, Mildred, and his father, Winton, played by Michael Moriarty, who did a fantastic job, as always. Right off the bat, we see how much he seems to dismiss James, almost as though he is an unnecessary nuisance in his life. We are eventually told why this is. When James's mother dies, his father sends him to live in Indiana with his aunt and uncle, so he ends up rarely seeing Winton as he grows up.

After high school, James decides to be an actor, much to the chagrin of his father, but he ends up getting into James Whitmore's acting class, as well as befriending fellow future legend, Martin Landau. I didn't know they were buddies. James also struck up a friendship around this time with actress, Christine White, best known for her role in the Twilight Zone episode, "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet". You know the one. Shatner, airplane wing, fluffy monster. How could you forget? Anyway, they all make it into the Actor's Studio, which leads to James to having theater success, which leads to his film career. And whilst this begins, we start to see how he relates to the people at Warner Bros., specifically the head of that studio, who has many problems with the lifestyle that James leads. We also witness his relationship with Pier Angeli, a young actress with an overbearing mother who completely disapproves of their being together. Of course, all of these events lead to his untimely death at the age of twenty-four.

Now I really don't know how much of this was accurate to what actually happened. Of course, there are certain indisputable facts that were included, but there's so much more needed to fill a biopic, like the personal stuff. Here, I feel like they truly had to dramatize the story to humanize the man. I mean, let's face it. There are certain people who have stopped being actual people in our minds and are nothing but their own legend. James Dean is one of them. There is just so much of an iconic label attached to him that it's almost like he wasn't a real person. What this movie did so well was show those tangible, vulnerable human qualities that he had. It wasn't afraid to go to those emotional depths. Like one scene shows James Dean sitting on the set of East of Eden with Julie Harris as the production comes to an end. He is just so sad, because he felt like all those people with whom he worked had become his family, and Julie just hugs him and comforts him, and it creates such a real, tender moment between two actors who had become very close friends. And, of course, their is the fantastic arc concerning his relationship with his father. I have to say, it is in these scenes where James Franco was beyond amazing. He really dug deep to show the hurt that James Dean felt, and how he had this aching need to be loved by his father. At one point that takes place after he has a lot of success, he is literally begging his father to be proud of him. And it's utterly heartbreaking. Again, I don't exactly know how much of this actually happened, but it wouldn't surprise me if they got a lot of things right.

So if you like a good biopic, I strongly suggest this one. I haven't seen it on TV for awhile, but you can rent it on DVD. If nothing else, see it for the great performances. Again, Michael Moriarty was incredible and won an Emmy for this, as a matter of a fact. And Franco got a Golden Globe for this, too. Speaking of which, I know I made fun of him a little here, since it is pretty easy to do so these days, but I can't deny the truth that this guy is a really good actor. He proves it here. He has proved it elsewhere. Let's just hope he makes wise acting decisions, so he can continue proving it.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Les Miserables in Concert, The 25th Anniversary - Play Review

Greetings Pups,

As you may recall, I did a review of the movie musical Les Miserables back in December. You may also recall that I did not think very highly of said movie. Now that may make people think that I am not a fan of the musical at all, but that's not exactly true. I mean, I can admit that it does have a few flaws, of course, but it's still pretty good. I think it's all about execution with things like this. You can have the best play in the world, but if you have people who can't bring it life properly, you're going to have a lot of problems. On the other hand, if you get together a great group of amazingly talented performers, then you're going to get something memorable and moving and just plain good. Such is the case with this, the 2010, 25th anniversary performance of Les Miserables. And I'm calling this a play review because I call anything like this performed on a stage a play. Plus, I rarely get to do any of these types of review. So there you go. Let's begin.

Now there is no reason to go into a ton of detail on the story of Les Miserables. For one thing, pretty much everyone knows it in some capacity and, second, it would take longer to explain than it did for the rebellion around which it is centered took to actually occur. No lie, it was like two days. A lot of what the different productions are about is the cast, so that is mostly what I will be discussing and focusing on. I'm also going to be bringing up a lot of comparisons to the movie, but this play shouldn't mind since I think it's much, much better.

Let's start at the top with Jean ValJean, here played by Alfie Boe. I gave Hugh Jackman as much praise as I could for his performance in the film, and I stick by that. But Boe seems much more comfortable in the role, like he's done it a million times. Maybe he has. Who knows? His voice is definitely better, and he is one of the best actors I've seen play this part, truly engulfing himself in the story. Then, we have the nemesis, Javert, played by Norm Lewis. He was phenomenal in this part. His voice is so amazing, and frankly, this is the voice we expect and deserve when it comes to the character of Javert. Lewis had this wonderfully commanding presence, but also managed to handle the few moments where he had to be softer. Blew me away, quite frankly.

We also get a great performance by Lea Salonga as Fantine. Again, with her acting and especially her beautiful voice, this is the Fantine we want and deserve. She can sing her songs as they should be sung, like on-key, and still portray emotion that makes whomever may be watching her feel deep sympathy for her character. And Lea Salonga is so likable that her arc in this story can break our hearts, not make us say "Good riddance" or "Finally!", when it reaches its end.

Okay, now let's get the boring part of the story out of the way, which is the whole love story aspect. Yes, I and some others probably found the teenage love triangle thing a lot less interesting in comparison to everything else going on. Anyway, let's start with the boy in the mix, Marius, played by Nick Jonas. Yep, Jonas Brother Nick Jonas. To be honest, of the three brothers, I always thought that Nick was the most musically skilled. Here, you can tell he's a little out of his comfort zone as far as the singing goes, but he did a decent job. He was, after all, in the presence of some seasoned stage performers. Still, I think he held his own. Then, we have Cosette played by Katie Hall. I don't know much about this girl, but she was perfectly cast in this. Her look and her voice were pure Cosette. Speaking of her voice, it was so good that it managed to breathe some life into this character which I always found the most uninteresting. But Miss Katie actually made me feel something there. So thumbs up. The final part of this triangle is Eponine played by Samantha Barks. She actually also played Eponine in the cinematic version, so you would think there is no need for comparisons. Well, I must say that, even though I called Samantha one of the best things about the film, I think she did a lot better here. Of course, due to the status of this cast, you can see how she would feel the need to do her all time best with this production. And despite the fact that this aspect of the show is my least favorite, I did enjoy watching these three.

Time to have some fun, and that means it's time to talk about the Thenardiers. What else? In this show, the lovely couple is portrayed by Matt Lucas and Jenny Galloway. And, my word, are they an absolute joy to behold! I hate to use the word "fun" again, but they were just so much fun. And they come across as being not as off putting as some other actors who have played these roles. For example, again, in the film, the Thenardiers were creepy and disturbing, and I cannot fathom as to why anyone would go near them. Here, it was different. I can see why people would be drawn to them. I won't go so far as to call them Santa and Mrs. Claus, but they were pretty jolly and inviting. And the performances were brilliant.

Now let's get to the part that I find the most intriguing. I know I spoke of how short this particular rebellion was and that, had it not been for Victor Hugo, it would have remained a very tiny blip in history. In this story, however, it is kind of interesting., and one of the things that makes it that way is the characters. Now I could write a lot about all the great performances given by all the actors portraying everyone involved, but that would take quite a while. Instead, I will condense myself. So we can't talk about this stuff in the story without talking about Enjolras played by Ramin Karimloo. Pretty much any theater fan these days knows exactly who this actor is, as well they should, because he is incredible. I saw him in this and as the Phantom, and he was unbelievable. So if you ever get a chance to see anything with his name attached, checking it out would be a great idea. Next, we have Gavroche played by Robert Madge. I love this little dude, and I mean the character and the actor. Again, this was one of the roles that I thought was done well in the film, and frankly, it's the only one where the two actors were just as entertaining as the other. So I got a great show from both of them. Finally, I want to give a shout out to a guy named Hadley Fraser who played a character named Grantiare. I think he could be considered second in command to Enjolras. So, he's like Spock. Okay, this is going too far. Anyway, this is one of the lesser known characters, but this guy really stood out for me. I mean, he has this gorgeous voice, and he's not bad too look at either. Never hurts. He's just yet another extremely talented person, which means he fits in well with the rest of the cast.

So one of my favorite parts about this production is actually what occurs when the initial show is over. Since this was the 25th anniversary concert, someone had a great idea to gather the original cast members to come on stage and do a few numbers. The highlight was when they sang "One Day More". It was overwhelming. All those beautiful voices together sounded unreal and so amazing. I thought it was the perfect way to draw everything to a close.

Now here are my thoughts about Les Miserables, the musical. I think that this is one that is meant to stay on the stage. Maybe I feel that way because I didn't like the movie, but maybe not. If anything, the movie made me realize kind of an odd thing. I don't even know how this is possible, but the stage productions I've seen all feel so much bigger than the film. How? I don't know, but that's my perception. Maybe it's because every stage production I've seen has a better cast than the film. Oh, there I go again. And I'm almost done.

Bottom line is this. If you want some Les Mis, do not go to the film, go to this production. In fact, let me say this. In my review of the movie, I pointed out that it seemed like nothing but a vanity project to stroke the egos of people in Hollywood. If it wasn't, if the people making it wanted it to truly be the best thing it could be, why didn't they just get all the people from THIS production to be in the film? It would have been about a hundred times better. I know that some of the problems the film had had nothing to do with the cast, but still, this is a good question to ask. Anyway, you can get this 25th anniversary concert on DVD, and it is so worth it. It is what Les Miserables the musical should be. You know, good.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Thursday, September 19, 2013

When He Said No Weapon, He Meant No Weapon

Greetings Pups,

I have a lot of favorite Bible verses. One of them is Isaiah 54:17. It says, "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper. and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgement thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord."

So that is what God said to me, and He doesn't lie. And right now, I've got some people trying to use their weapons against me. It's not the first time they've done it, but I am claiming that it will be the last. That's what I have to do. I have to know that through the Lord I am more powerful than they are, no matter what. It's almost sad the way that these people, who I have made great attempts at banning from my life, are still trying to hurt me. Well, they can try, but they cannot succeed.

All I know for sure is this. God does not break His promises to His faithful children. I work daily to be that kind of person, and I know He will not forsake me. Whatever I'm going through now, it is only there to make me even stronger.

So if anyone else is going through anything difficult right now, I hope what I said here was encouraging to you.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Monday, September 16, 2013

Top Ten TV Teachers

Greetings Pups,

It has been a while since I've had any kind of schooling, which means that it has been a while since I've had any teachers. Well, that isn't completely true. There are the teachers from the world of fiction that still linger one way or another, and they tend to linger on the television. So, I decided to make a list of my favorite television educators. That almost seems like an oxymoron.

Believe it or not, I didn't really put any restrictions on myself for this one. They just had to be a main or recurring educational character on any TV series. That, of course, means no one time appearances or subs, if you will. So, we can't have Roger Rees as Vic Raccine on My So-Called Life or Betty White as Professor Bauer in Community, though, I am happy to give them Honorable Mentions here. Anywho, here we go.

#10. Giles from Buffy the Vampire Slayer - Okay, Giles was not a teacher, per se, but I did say I would include educators of all sort. And I happen to consider a librarian in a high school to be an educator. Besides, could I really not include Giles? He was my favorite character on the show, and, personally, I would have loved to have a handsome, British man working at my school. Yes, handsome. I had a crush on Giles. Get over it. That aside, I must say that I truly loved what an appreciation he had for books. Obviously, as a writer, I would love that. But it seemed to go beyond his just liking books because he was a librarian. He was a man who had a deep love of books, even expressing in one episode exactly why he thought they were so special, particularly compared to more modern ways to get information. He spoke so eloquently and correctly on the subject, and that is why I love him. Despite how I may feel about who created him.

#9. Miss Simpson from Saved By the Bell - Yes, I have complained about Saved By the Bell on this blog before. I think I did it quite recently, as a matter of fact. But I can't deny my past and the truth that I was a fan of this show in my youth. We saw many teachers come and go at Bayside, but my favorite was always Miss Simpson aka the teacher who could barely hear anything. Maybe it was because I was a kid, but I always was very amused by her. The way that, no matter what the kids said, we never knew what she was going to hear and how she was going to respond, was actually one of the funniest things on the show. And, to be honest, I still kind of find it funny now.

#8. Mr. Meyers from Beverly Hills, 90210 - Easily, this is one that many of you may not remember, save the hardcore fans of Beverly Hills, 90210. Mr. Meyers showed up in the third season, the Senior Year season, as the new AP English teacher and Journalism adviser. He certainly stirred things up a bit, whether he wanted to do so or not. He even let the kids call him by his first name, Gil. Yes, there was a good looking guy on TV named 'Gil' long before Grissom. I can't put my finger on exactly why I liked him so much, but I really did. Actually, the best way I can put it is that he was everything that Glee's Mr. Schuester should be but most certainly isn't. And that's another list altogether.

#7. Mr. Kotter from Welcome Back, Kotter - There are a lot of things I like about the decade before I entered the world. One of things is certainly shows like Welcome Back, Kotter. I think anytime anyone thinks of TV teachers, Mr. Kotter will definitely come to mind. And why shouldn't he? He was a blast, and he could always hold his own against his crazy students. And I'm not even just talking about Travolta.

#6. Miss Crabtree from The Little Rascals - As I've mentioned in the past, I am not a kid person. So I give major props to people who preside over them on a daily basis. People like Miss Crabtree, who had to teach The Little Rascals. Could not have been easy. First of all, she was replacing the much loved, Miss MacGillicuddy, who I am not %100 sure wasn't Lucy before she married Ricky. And second, she was teaching 'rascals', which was the watered down, 1930's label we out on kids who we knew were going to go to jail one day. I doff my hat to you, Miss Crabtree.

#5. Miss Othmar from Peanuts - Yeah, I bet you didn't know that Charlie Brown's "wah-wah" teacher had a name. Well, I didn't know that either until I started working on this list. If you want to talk about this in its simplest form, you can just say that, after all these years, Miss Othmar is still fun to listen to. She has been homaged a million times and with good reason. If you want to go a bit deeper (just a bit), it does pretty accurrately show what a lot of kids hear when their teachers talk. Or when any adult talks, for that matter. I always thought that was a clever way to present the teacher. Except this one time when, I swear, they had her talking normally. With words! I beg your pardon. I don't even remember where or when that happened, but it better never happen again. Like ever!

#4. Miss Beadle from Little House on the Prairie - Oh, Little House on the Prairie. You gave us so many fantastic characters. Too many to even mention. Good thing we are only talking teachers today, which means we're talking about Miss Beadle. I just Miss Beadle. She was so kind and gentle, and she really seemed to care about her students. Of course, if you crossed her, she was always quick to shell out some discipline. I'm sure she sent Willie Olsen to the corner as many times as Laura Ingalls ran off in the middle of the school day in tears over her trivial crisis du jour. Anyway, Miss Beadle was great, as was the actress who played her, Charlotte Stewart, who was also in Tremors. And this fact makes her even greater.

#3. Dr. Foster from A Different World - Time to move on to college now. So, I love this show, and quite a few fictional educators have appeared on it. But none were greater than Dr. Foster. And not just because he was the English professor, who regularly became dismayed at the misuse of the English language, often perpetrated by those around him. Actually, he did not appear on a ton of episodes. I mean, according to IMDB, which is never wrong, he only appeared in about four. Who cares though? I love this character and no doubt, it had much to do with the portrayal of it by the wonderful Roscoe Lee Browne. That man was an absolute delight.

#2. Miss Grant from Fame - I don't know if I've personally ever paid for anything in sweat, but if Miss Grant said that I had to do that, then I guess I would certainly be doing that. Now, if my only reason for putting her on this list was because I absolutely love Debbie Allen, that would be plenty. I mean, Debbie Allen is amazing, and she played this character perfectly. But I loved Miss Grant because she was a motivator. If she was hard on you, if she pushed you, if she banged that cane on the floor while giving you that fiery eye of hers, it was because she knew you could do it. I love that in a teacher, whether fictional or real.

#1. Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World - I love a teacher who always does what is best for his or her students, despite how that might make the children view them at present time. Mr. Feeny was like that. He was tough a lot of the time, and he was pretty old school. And some of the students had issues with him. As they do. But things changed on that show as time went on and the kids got older. Speaking of which, something I loved about Mr. Feeny was the way he was almost a barometer for the maturity of the young people on that show, Cory, Shawn, Topanga and Eric. The older they got, the more they appreciated their teacher, the job he did, and the way he did it. Hind sight's 20/20 and all that. Yes, when they were very young they thought he was just another teacher giving them a hard time, but they soon came to see him as kind of a mentor, a friend and even a member of the family. This is what a good teacher does when he cares about his students. He gives them what they need as an educator no matter what, which leads to them realizing it was all for the best for what they needed to learn. They learn that he was someone who helped them go from being children to being adults. When it comes to the teachers of television, I'd say Mr. George Feeny did this best.

So there you have it. And let me say one more thing on a bit more of a serious note. Look, I know it is probably much easier to be a fictional educator on a TV show than it is to be one on real life. Therefore, may I use this opportunity to thank those who do an often thankless job. May God bless you and keep you safe.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Saved By the Bell: Wedding in Las Vegas - TV Movie Review

Greetings Pups,

Earlier this year I discussed the well-deserved, one season status of a show called Saved by the Bell: The College Years. In it, I mentioned that it officially ended with a TV movie where Zack and Kelly eloped to Las Vegas to get married, something I'm sure they did completely without untoward incidents. Right. Since I mentioned it in that post, some people have been asking me to review it. Well, what with the overwhelming amount of joy I got from reviewing the much requested magnum opus of Tommy Wiseau, The Room, I threw up my hands and thought, Why not? So here we go. And some spoilers ahead.

Look, if you want back story of how we got to the point of the start of this TV movie, go back and read the aforementioned Saved by the Bell post. I just cannot get into that again right now. Anyway, we start out with Zack back at home with his parents, who are none too pleased about his wanting to be married at the age of nineteen, especially his father. Yes, his father has the good sense to tell them to wait, so that means he's...the bad guy. Okay, maybe not totally bad, but he at least puts a bit of a damper on the nuptials. And may I take a moment to point out John Sanderford and Melody Rogers, who also played Zack's parents on the original show, though I think this may have been the first time they were seen together. I always liked them, so shout out. But despite his parents' objections, Zack is determined to take his $1200 wedding stash (HA! and plot point) and make his way to Vegas with Kelly to get married. And if you think they're going alone, you've obviously never seen an episode of the show. No, they bring along Slater, Screech and Lisa, just because. And where is Jessie you may be asking? Well, this is 1994, a year before Showgirls, which means she is probably somewhere selling off the last of her shame. Oh, and by the way, since 90% of this thing takes place in Las Vegas, don't think that will be my only joke about that. Still, I will try to control myself. No, but they're totally gonna meet her at the Cheetah. Dang it!

So, they set off on their road trip, guys in one car, girls in the other, and due to some ridiculous "boys vs girls" bet plot to pad the movie, both groups run into problems. The girls' car breaks down, and they are helped on the road by a guy named Kurt, who looks like some dirty, hippie, prompting spoiled, rich girl Lisa to not like him. Gee, I wonder if he's not really a dirty hippie and those two end up hooking up eventually. But even with all their delays, the girls still beat the boys to Vegas. Why? Because the boys get arrested by "stereotypical hick cop who likes to be arresting people from the big city" character. Of course, they went there. And so they lose all $1200 in order to get out and get to their destination, which is, I forgot to mention, the Stardust Resort and Casino.

Wait a minute! The same Stardust Resort and Casino that was prominently featured in Showgirls? Maybe? Oh...the...irony! Seriously, I wonder which one of these productions caused it to commit suicide by way of implosion. Moving on.

So, Zack loses the money that was going to be used to pay for his wedding, and does he do the mature thing and explain it all to Kelly so they can figure out what to do together? Well, he wouldn't be Zack Morris, and we wouldn't have a movie if he did. No, he proves his father right by using every juvenile scheme to try and earn back the money. Oh, sure, they try to get normal jobs at first, but it's Vegas and we're trying to be funny, so they eventually turn into male prostitutes. Well, G-rated, Saved by the Bell-style male prostitutes.

Now while all this is going on, Slater meets a girl (What!) named Carla, played by the always adorable Liz Vassey. Don't worry, Doll. Just ten years or so and you'll be on CSI. Anyway, she's got this ex-boyfriend named Freddy Silver, who is a mobster in town to steal a big diamond. So all of that gets woven into the plot to make it more interesting(?). Also, Screech gets chased around by a fat woman, because...yeah.

So hijinks ensue, and when they die down, Zack and Kelly nearly get married in a quickie Las Vegas chapel by Gilbert Gottfried of all people. But, alas, Zack's parents pull an Adrian Balboa, showing up to support them at the last minute. Oh, and to foot the bill for a big wedding. Because if there is one thing that Saved by the Bell has taught us, it's that teenagers are always smarter than adults, and the adults eventually come to realize this. Later, we see their proper wedding, complete with a clip montage and past cast member cameos, like Mr. Belding, and even Jessie got off the pole long enough to witness the nuptials. Okay, I'm done with that, for real.

And we end with the nineteen-year-old newlyweds riding off into the sunset and to an inevitable divorce after a few years. Really, do you think Zack will stay with her once she becomes the delightfully wicked Valerie Malone? I think not. Or they stay together forever, inevitably having a brood of children, one of whom will, no doubt, be named in honor of Becky the Duck.

So when I first saw this, I was young and still a fan of the show. As an adult? Yeah, this thing is about as good and profound as you'd expect, if you've ever seen Saved by the Bell. It's nothing more than a ninety minute episode of the show. Still, if you ever get nostalgic for a simpler time in your life, when high schoolers and college kids didn't even act as "edgy" and inappropriate as the thirteen-year-olds of today, I say give it a watch. It's probably still good for a laugh, though, I must warn all of those involved in the making of this film, it is now more of an "at you" laugh than a "with you" laugh. Sorry.

Love and full moons,
Becky the Writer

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Dark Knight Rises, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and How They Should Have Handled That

Greetings Pups,

So they recently announced that Ben Affleck will be Batman in the next Man of Steel movie. Whatever. That was one name I never heard thrown around, and, in my opinion, that may have been with good reason. But all of this got me thinking about something else. It has been over a year since The Dark Knight Rises, the final film in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, was released. I have heard and read a ton of reviews about it, good and bad, and I was actually planning to review it myself, along with the other two films. I have, though, decided against it, for a lot of reasons. Maybe someday. Still, there is one aspect of The Dark Knight Rises that I wanted to discuss.

If you want my personal opinion on this movie, it is quite similar to that of a lot of reviewers, which is that it was okay. Honestly, I think it just had a really tough act to follow in The Dark Knight. I think it had a lot of flaws, but it also had some good parts. However, there is one thing that a lot of us agree on and that is that the absolute best thing about this film was Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Yes, I am talking about him again. And here is the point where I feel I must warn you of two things. First, I will be referring to said actor as JGL, a common nickname for him as well as something that is easier to type, a lesson I learned the last time I posted about him. Second, I will be giving spoilers. So don't read this if you haven't seen the movie already. Go see it, then come back. I say this because I care. And because I like getting a lot of blog hits.

So JGL plays this character named John Blake, who is a police officer. He was also an orphan who lived in a home sponsored by Wayne Industries, where he once met Bruce Wayne and then figured out that he was Batman. Okay. He was intuitive, I guess. He has a pretty good story arc here, ending with his quitting the GCPD and making his way to the Batcave, therefore, causing a lot of people to speculate about the continuation of the story. But there is this one thing that happens at the end that pretty much everybody groaned/rolled their eyes at. He goes in to get this package and the clerk is all, "You should use your real first name." Which is - Robin! What?

Yeah, many, many people thought that this was a bit of a slap in the face, since he was obviously not the Robin we know of in the world of Batman. And if the filmmakers thought that this was some kind of fun shout out? No! Look, here are the facts. Dick Grayson is Robin. Jason Todd is Robin. Tim Drake is Robin. Also, I think there was a girl one time. There is no Robin named John Blake. I think this was a cheap attempt at fan service that failed miserably. Now, you have one of the worst things about the film attached to the best thing. What's done is done, but I can't help thinking there was a much better way to deal with this character. I may have come up with one, yet it may be only plausible for hardcore fans of the Batman universe. I will do my best to explain this.

Okay, first, we need a name change. He can keep the John, that's fine, but his last name should have been McGinnis. If you are, in fact, a hardcore fan, you will probably recognize that as the last name of the lead character on Batman Beyond, a show about Bruce Wayne training a protege. Now, this would have been considered merely a shout out of sorts to that show for a couple of reasons. First, Batman Beyond was about a teenage boy, Terry McGinnis, being trained as the new Batman by a seventy or eighty year old Bruce Wayne, not the case in the movie. Second, we knew this was the last in a trilogy, so we wouldn't think things would go passed this ending. See, but then, instead of this ridiculous 'Robin' thing, the clerk could have referred to his real name as being Terry, which would make the fans start thinking things, especially about the future of the story. And they really could have used this to their advantage, if they chose to do so.

As soon as The Dark Knight Rises began to be seen, a lot of people were speculating that, perhaps, JGL could play Batman in some other franchise, such as a Justice League film. And when we heard that Batman would be included in the next Man of Steel movie, his name came up quite a bit. Frankly, I think if they would have done the scenario that I just explained, they could have brought him into that Superman franchise, not as the Bruce Wayne Batman, but as the Terry McGinnis Batman Beyond version. Yeah, it might have seemed weird to some people, but I think it would have worked.

But what do I know, right? I am merely a person who likes to state my opinion, and my opinion is that all of this would have been a great idea. And, by the way, I am not claiming credit entirely for this idea, since other people may have thought the same thing. I don't know, though. Maybe I'm just hoping for a Batman Beyond live action film. Maybe I'm wishing that The Dark Knight Rises would have been a better end to the trilogy. But, whatever I may be feeling, I thought I'd just share my thoughts on this with you all, as we hope and pray that Ben Affleck doesn't screw anything up for us in the Batman world. Still, I will say to him - Just be better than Batman and Robin, and you're already in the plus column.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The One Seasoner's Club - Square Pegs

Greetings Pups,

I have never been crazy about the fact that much of the time I am supposed to consider nostalgic is the eighties. Never been a fan of that decade, as a whole. It had its good moments, don't get me wrong. It even had fantastic moments. I'm looking at you, ALF! But mostly, I have few fond memories. I even have not fond memories of things that occurred before I was aware that they were occurring. One of those things would be the series, Square Pegs.

Let's just get this out of the way right now. The only ONLY reason that anyone remembers this show is because it starred Sarah Jessica Parker, and that's not necessarily a good thing. It's subjective I guess, but maybe I'm being too harsh. It could be remembered because it was made in the most dated part of the eighties, the part that no one, not even the most enthusiastic nostalgics, ever wants to revive. Whatever, though. Let's just get started.

Square Pegs was a half-hour sitcom about eight students at Weemawee High School. Weemawee, I'm assuming is referring to a tribe of Native Americans that may or may not exist. Either way, back then, they probably just called them Indians. Taking offense as someone who is partially Native American. Moving on. We mainly follow two freshmen girls named Patty and Lauren, played by the aforementioned SJP and Amy Linker. They were outcasts, to say the least, and I can't imagine why with all of their witty banter. May I paraphrase one of the first "jokes" of the show when Lauren asked Patty why she was wearing her glasses, to which Patty replies, "Well, Lauren, you're wearing you braces!" That's what we're in for with this one, folks. No wonder they needed a laugh track. More on that later.

Anyway, that is basically what their high school flaws are. Patty has glasses; Lauren has braces. Oh, yeah, and Lauren is fat. But, you know, not really. I think I heard that they put padding in her clothes to make her look bigger, which took her up to about a size six, maybe an eight when she was on her period. Funny, I thought that anything above a two being considered plus size was a new trend. Maybe not. But joke's on them, because, at that size, she'll be the only one able to carry off the shoulder pad look that was on the horizon. Anyway, our starring girls were the unpopular/relatable characters. But these girls can't go through high school alone. No, we need every last stereotype you can think of to fill the halls. They may not all fall into the core cast of characters, but they do show up. So how about a look-see at that diverse group.

Now don't assume that Patty and Lauren had no friends besides each other. There were other geeks, after all. For example, there's Marshall, played by John Femia. He talks a lot and wants to be a comedian. This is not a good place to start, my friend. Then, there's Johnny aka Slash (no lie) played by Merritt Butrick. You may not know the name of that actor, but you may recognize him as Captain Kirk's son, David, from the second and third Star Trek movies. And I really liked him in those. I don't know where this job fell in proximity to those, but, I kid you not, someone did once make a Ricardo Montalban joke on this show. How dare they, am I right? Anyway, despite the fact that they said Slash didn't do drugs, I feel like they were desperately trying to make him a Spiccoli knockoff. No, Slash apparently doesn't need drugs to seem high. And he seems high a lot. He also looks about twenty-five years old. As per usual with high school shows. But who cares? Let's move on to the important people. You know, the popular crowd.

First, there is Jennifer played by Tracy Nelson. She is a blonde, Valley Girl, complete with the accent and everything. Sort of. Answer this question for me, friends. Is is possible to, while doing a particular accent, try too hard and not hard enough at the same time? Because that is exactly what she is doing. Sorry, Tracy Nelson. I liked you on that one episode of Family Ties, but, in the realm of the Valley Girl, you are no E.G. Daily. Then, there's a guy named Vinnie played by Jon Caliri. I have heard him being referred to as a "greaser hood". Sure, he is because his name is Vinnie, and all guys named Vinnie are that, apparently. And speaking of 80's stereotypes and whatnot, let's talk about our one minority character, LaDonna, played by Claudette Wells. Well, that's Hollywood for you. Preaching about acceptance and diversity and equality whilst expecting us to believe that there was only one minority in the whole school, or, at best, one per group of friends. Perhaps, they thought they were being progressive by putting her in with the popular kids. Look, I don't want to go into a whole speech about race, because, frankly, it's too important of a subject to discuss in this context. Seriously, though, why?

Okay, now for the good news. There was actually one character on this show that I did find quite entertaining. That would be Muffy. Yes, Muffy. She is your typical, high school, overachiever preppy, who is the head of every club and over-articulates every word she says. I must give credit where credit is due, though. Most of the awesomeness of this character is in existence thanks to the performance of Jami Gertz. Yeah, she's always pretty great, and she is fantastic at playing characters like this. This was one of her first acting roles, and she has been working ever since. Good for her and us.

So, what else can I say about this show? Oh, yeah, the laugh track thing. I know there were several shows around this time that had laugh tracks in lieu of a live audience. At least, here, they had a good excuse, since they filmed in an old high school, making a live audience an impossibility. But, for real, they had the most sporadic laugh track I have ever heard. It would pop up at the weirdest times, and then not pop up when it should have. I mean, I'm not saying I found any of the jokes very funny, but I could point out where they were trying to make them, and they were met with a lot of silence. Blame that on a tech guy, I guess? Anyway, what else? Well, they didn't shy away from doing every cliche episode that could. We got the prank playing one, the 'girls can do anything boys can do, so let's try out for the football team' one, and the school play one. The school play, in this case, is a musical, which leads the viewers to sit there and awkwardly try to decide whether or not Sarah Jessica Parker can carry a tune. I'll give her a 'maybe' for now, since I've been a little vicious in this post. Oh, and Martin Mull showed up one time, as well as Bill Murray for the obligatory substitute teacher who becomes everyone's favorite teacher episode. That's really the best I can give you. Okay, let's wrap this up already.

Did this show deserve a second season? No. Look, I can make jokes about this and everything, but, as a whole, it just wasn't very good. I suppose I can see how someone who went through high school during the time of this show might want to watch it, again, for reasons of nostalgia, but even that might be a little iffy. We have had much better shows about the lives of high schoolers, and we'll probably get a few more. So, unless you're a fan of one of these actors, or you are into making fun of stuff like this, I'd say it's pretty safe to skip it.

Love and full moons,

Becky the Writer