I Saw That!

One woman's opinions about popular entertainment.

My Photo
Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

Amateur boxing coach, Christian (but not so heavenly-minded that I'm no earthly good) singer, writer, self-defense advocate, childfree. feminist www.smartwomenboxingtraining.org

Sunday, January 29, 2006

"Get Smart" (1965-1970) and "Get Smart Again!" (1995)

Mel Brooks (The Producers) and Buck Henry (The Graduate) are responsible for this, one of the funniest sitcoms in TV history. It was an action/comedy concerning the most inept secret agent ever, a guy named Maxwell Smart (Don Adams) who worked for an organization called CONTROL. His sidekick, a woman only known as Agent 99 (Barbara Feldon) was smarter than he was, but she often downplayed her brain power to build him up. Their boss was Thaddeus, better known as The Chief (Edward Platt), whom Max irritated repeatedly with his screw-ups.

CONTROL's enemies were the members of KAOS, another Washington, DC based spy organization, who were out to control the world. Max's main problem out of that bunch was Siegfried (Bernie Kopell), whose character amazingly appeared in less than 15 episodes of the series, but had a great impact.

Each week, Max and 99 found themselves in dangerous situations as they went about shutting down the forces of evil. They had various gadgets at their disposal including Max's phone, a type of cell phone, located in the sole of his shoe. There was also the Cone of Silence, used for having secret conversations. The device, located in the Chief's office, never worked, but Max always insisted on using it. There were also things like plastic lips (to ward off poison lipstick kisses), truth pills, invisible bulletproof walls, and guns hidden in telephone receivers.

Many of the jokes commented on things that were happening in the world at that time, both culturally and politically. Listen closely, and you'll find many other jokes that could easily apply to today's situations. Max explained to the daughter of a prominent scientist that a vicious, murderous group of people who wanted power at any cost was trying to kidnap her. He was referring to KAOS, but the woman remarked, "Oh, you mean the Republicans."

Other crazy characters on the show were Larambee (Robert Karvelas), an agent who was even dumber than Max; Hymie (Dick Gautier), a robot who once belonged to KAOS; Agents 13 (Dave Ketchum) and 44 (Victor French) who specialized in hiding in strange places; Admiral Hardgrave (William Schallert), a senior citizen who had been Chief of Control decades before; and Prof. Carlson (Stacy Keach, Sr.), one of several scientists who created the gadgets for CONTROL agents.

After dating on-and-off for a few seasons, Max and 99 got married during the 1968-69 season. However, NBC canceled the show in the spring. CBS picked it up for one more season. During that season, Max and 99 gave birth to twins, a boy and a girl. Twenty-five year later, the FOX Network revived the show. This time, the adventures focused on Zach Smart (Andy Dick), who was paired with Agent 66 (Elaine Hendrix), who happened to be smarter and cooler than Zach. Max had become Chief of Control, while Agent 99 had become a congresswoman. It was explained that the couple's daughter become upset when she found out her parents were spies, and had left home. It wasn't the same vibe as the original show, and the revival lasted less than a season.

The late Don Adams was a stand-up comedian. He also provided the voices for cartoon characters Tennessee Tuxedo and Inspector Gadget. Earlier, he was a regular on "The Bill Dana Show" (1963), playing a hotel detective. Dick Gautier was a regular on another Mel Brooks sitcom called "When Things Were Rotten" (1975). The late Victor French later appeared on "Carter Country" (1977-1979) and "Highway To Heaven" (1984-1989). The late Robert Karvelas was Adams' cousin. William Schallert was Patty Duke's dad on "The Patty Duke Show" (1963-1966).

Labels: , , , , , , , , ,

"Soul Man" (1997-1998)

Rev. Mike Weber (Dan Aykroyd) was a widowed Episcopal minister raising four kids: Kenny (Kevin Sheridan), age 14, Andy (Brendon Ryan Barrett), a slick 11 year old, Meredith, age 8, and Fred, the youngest. Mike had been a hell-raiser when he was younger, and was trying to be a role model for his kids. The opening credits showed the minister arriving for church on a motorcycle. Bishop Jerome (Dakin Matthews) was Mike's boss, who sometimes viewed him with skepticism, and Father Todd Tucker (Anthony Clark) was a goofy assistant minister who often made situations worse. Melinda (Bridgette Collins) and Nancy (Helen Cates) were possible love interests for Mike.

On the surface, this was a standard sitcom based around a family, with Aykroyd as the unlikely lead. This show was actually had a lot of funny moments, especially when provided by Barrett and Clark. There didn't seem to be enough of a push on ABC's part to promote the show, and it got lost in the schedule, lasting only a season.

Aykroyd is most famous for being one of the original Not Ready For Prime-Time Players, the first cast ever on the long running "Saturday Night Live" (1975-present). Clark's next sitcom was "Yes Dear" on CBS.  Mr. Matthews played Bree's pastor in a re-occurring role on "Desperate Housewives".


Thursday, January 12, 2006

Money Talks (1997)

Tepid buddy comedy finds a street hustler (Chris Tucker) and an ambitious TV reporter (Charlie Sheen) thrown together after Thomas gets caught up inadvertly with diamond thieves. Sheen has been disgraced at the TV station he works for, and needs Thomas to help him break the big story about a big heist the thieves did. Sheen is engaged to a rich Italian girl (Heather Locklear). The problems he and Thomas encounter threaten to disrupt his upcoming wedding.

No chemistry between Thomas and Sheen, as they recycle the tired uptight-white-guy-and-hip-black-guy plot. Numerous shootouts, explosions, and fist fights couldn't pump up this story. A particulary unfunny running joke had Thomas masquerading as "Vic Damone Jr".

Paul Sorvino, who appears as Locklear's dad, is the father of Oscar-winning actress Mira Sorvino. Paul Gleason, playing a cop here, has played tough guys in several films including Trading Places (1983).

Labels: ,