I Saw That!

One woman's opinions about popular entertainment.

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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

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

"The Adventures of The Terrible Ten" (1960)

This show is really going back for me. The last time I saw any episodes of it I was about four years old. It is not on video, nor on DVD -- a forgotten kids' show from Australia.

From what I remember, it featured several kids who had numerous adventures. The show was serialized, which meant you had to watch the next day to see what the kids' fate would be. I remember one episode where the kids were on a tour of a military vessel. Some members of the crew were up to something. Fearing the kids were going to figure out what was up, they locked them in a room. The bad guy snapped, ". . .and stay in there!" I don't remember what happened in the next episode. Darn!

Another episode had the kids running a carnival, but some rivals came by and attempted to sabotage the event. Finally, one of the girls got the idea to put some candy in an empty tent to entice the bad kids. When the bad kids arrived to get the candy, some contraption was triggered, letting loose a bunch of bees. The bad kids were stung as they ran away in terror.

The kids were spying on a stout built man in yet another episode. Why, I don't remember. I do remember the man was eating sausages. When he got up to check on something, one of the kids reached through the window and took a sausage off of his plate. Of course, when the man returned, he was baffled as to where the extra meat went.

I have seen some sketchy accounts of this show stating there were musical numbers included as well, but I have no recollection of those. What I do know is that the show was entertaining, as I watched it every afternoon. The episodes were shown in the middle of one of those famous kids' shows that came out of Chicago ("Garfield Goose", "Ray Rayner", "Andy Starr", etc.).

"The Go-Go Gophers" (1968)

"Go, go gophers, watch 'em go, go, go" was a phrase from the theme song of this amusing late 1960's cartoon. The same folks who produced other 1960's cartoons such as "Tennessee Tuxedo and His Tales", "Underdog", and "King Leonard and His Short Subjects", were responsible for this one. The plot involved two canine soldiers in the U.S. Calvary attempting to stop a couple of gopher Native Americans, Chief Running Board and Ruffled Feathers, from creating mischief in and around their post. Colonel Kit, the commanding officer was always at his wit's end about dealing with the gophers, while Sgt. Loma (who sounded a lot like actor Robert Mitchum) was more cool-headed. Neither was successful in stopping the mayhem, however. Their adventures were shown in five-minute segments.

Also part of the show were the adventures of "Klondike Kat", a feline Canadian mountie who had his own problems against career criminal Savoir Fair ("Savoir Fair has stolen my dinner! Savoir Fair is everywhere!). This also ran in five-minute segments during the half-hour broadcast.

The plots were rather repetitious, and the animation limited (by today's standards), but the show was good for what it was. It only ran one season before disappearing from the airwaves. However, the episodes are sometime shown as part of "Underdog" or "Tennessee Tuxedo" reruns.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

The Notebook (2004)

An affiable senior citizen named Duke (James Garner) visits every day with a woman (Gena Rowlands) who's around his age. She resides in a nursing home, a victim of Alzheimers. He tells her a story about two young lovers that began before World War II. . . .

Noah (Ryan Gosling) spots Allie (Rachel McAdams) riding on a ferris wheel with another guy. He boldly climbs the ride as it is in motion, and tells her she has to go on a date with him. Otherwise, he's going to jump. Allie is shocked, but she agrees to go out. Their relationship progresses fast, and they fall deeply in love with each other. Unfortunately, Allie's upscale parents do not approve of her running around town with poor boy Noah. They scheme to break the couple up, and they succeed.

The war breaks out and Noah is drafted. When he comes back, he is still young, but no longer the boy he was. He starts a business, working with his hands. Allie is engaged to a more acceptable suitor in her parents' eyes (James Marsden). Noah and Allie's paths cross again, and the spark is re-ignited. . . .

In the present day, the older woman wants to know what happened with the young couple. Duke has the secret behind the story, which unlike the book this film is made from, is revealed a little too soon. The young leads are appealing, but I found the relationship between the older couple a lot more satisfying.

Mr. Garner is an extremely likeable actor who has had a long career, from TV show "Maverick" to Space Cowboys alongside Clint Eastwood. Gena Rowlands is a respected actress who appeared in several films of her late husband, John Cassavettes, including A Woman Under The Influence (1974). James Marsden was Cylops in The X-Men (2000). Ryan Gosling was in The Believer (2001), portraying a Jewish man who takes an anti-Semitic stance.

Boyz In The Hood (1991)

Absolutely the best of the "'hood" movies that were produced during the 1990's. Tre' (Cuba Gooding Jr.) is a teen who resides with his dad, Furious (Lawrence Fishburne) in rough South Central Los Angeles. His buddies are Doughboy (Ice Cube) and Ricky (Morris Chestnut), half-brothers who have somewhat of a rivalry going. Ricky is a high school sports star, while Doughboy has spent his time in and out of juvenile hall. In fact, as the movie opens, there is a party being thrown by the brothers' mom to welcome Doughboy home from another stint in jail.

It is explained that Tre' is living with his dad because his mom felt the boy was getting out of hand. Indeed, under his father's guidance, Tre' is a decent kid. However, he and his friends have to deal with the day-to-day trials of living in a neighborhood that lives under the cloud of gang warfare and street violence. Police helicopers patrol the area at night, shining bright lights on everyone. There is a scene where Tre's girlfriend, Brandi (Nia Long) is trying to do her homework as shots ring out on the street. Tre' is harassed by the cops in another harrowing scene, for apparently no reason other than he is an African-American young man.

Doughboy continues his gang association, and quickly starts a beef with a rival group. A war of words soon turns into a war of bullets, and tragedy follows the main characters.

This was director John Singleton's first major film. Cuba Gooding Jr. is the son of the lead singer of the R&B group The Main Ingredients. Gooding won a Best Supporting Oscar for his work in Jerry Maquire (1996). Nia Long appeared as Will Smith's girlfriend on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"(1990-1996). Ice Cube was a member of the infamous rap group Public Enemy, who were chastized by the FBI for their hit "Fuck The Police". He was also the lead in the comedy Barbershop (2002). Morris Chestnut was in The Inkwell (1994). Angela Bassett, who was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar for What's Love Got To Do With It?, appears as Gooding's mom.

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Love Letters (1984)

Well-done slice of life about a radio personality named Anna (Jamie Lee Curtis) who is shocked to discover a box of love letters among her mother's things after the older woman passes away. The letters detail a passionate, intense affair.

Anna meets Oliver (James Keach) who is a big wig who may help her grow her career. There is an attraction between them that Anna wants to avoid at first. Eventually, an affair does take place. Anna wants to emulate the affair her mother had, but does not recognize that Oliver, who's a married man, has a different agenda.

There is some tension between Anna and her widowed dad (Matt Clark). The audience is given the sense that their relationship is not close, but the script doesn't hit them over the head with that. There was a scene when Anna's dad wakes up in the middle of the night, and it appears that he might mean harm to her, but the moment passes.

Amy Madigan stars as the best friend of Ms. Curtis' character. She played Kevin Costner's wife in Field of Dreams (1989). Bud Cort (Harold and Maude, 1971) plays a tech geek at the radio station. Bonnie Barlett plays Curtis' late mom in flashbacks. Matt Clark is a veteran of many western films, including Pat Garrett & Billy The Kid (1973). James Keach is the brother of actor Stacy Keach; he was also in The Long Riders (1980).

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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

"Roc" (1991-1994)

Roc (Charles S. Dutton) was a garbageman in Baltimore. His sensible wife (Ella Joyce) was a nurse, and his father (Carl Gordon) lived with them. Popping in and out was Roc's neer'-do-well brother Joey (Rocky Carroll), a musician with misplaced priorities. Roc was always working towards the good life that he felt he and his wife should have. The man never had all the answers, as noted whenever he'd say, "I ain't worked that out yet", but he was decent and strong.

This was not your typical sitcom featuring African-American characters. There was no buffoonery displayed. The characters were working-class folks with real bills to pay. When hard subjects were brought up, the show hit them dead on, with little comic relief. An episode about police harrassment of people of color found Roc erroneously placed in jail. He had gone to an upscale apartment building to meet his brother, and the cops assumed he was trying to gain unlawful entry. Even after he was proven innocent, a cop had the nerve to tell him, "We're going to be watching you." Another episode had Roc shaming a drug dealer (Clifton Powell) into convincing a young man not to emulate his ways. The episodes moved like good short plays. In fact, there was an episode of the show that was aired live.

Charles S. Dutton is an ex-offender in real life. He had knifed a man during a disagreement. He discovered acting while in jail. He directed the Meg Ryan film Against The Ropes (2004), and appeared in many films including A Low Down Dirty Shame (1994). Ella Joyce was a suspicious cop in the film Set It Off (1996). Tone Loc and Heavy D, both rap musicians, had re-occurring roles on the show. Future Oscar winner Jamie Foxx played a memorable character named Crazy George in a few episodes. Members of the singing group En Vogue (who sang the theme song during the show's second season) were featured in some episodes. Legendary acapella group The Persuaders sang the theme song during the show's first season.

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"The Mod Squad" (1968-1973)

Before "21 Jump Street" came this youth-oriented cop show that was produced by comedian Danny Thomas and Aaron Spelling. The premise was that three troubled young folks were recruited to fight crime. Capt. Adam Greer (Tige Andrews) figured they would be able to infiltrate places where the regular cops could not. They could help stop criminals who preyed on young people. Pete (Michael Cole) was from a wealthy family; he had gotten in trouble for stealing. Linc (Clarence Williams III) had been arrested during the Watts riots in Los Angeles. Julie (Peggy Lipton) was a runaway, having had enough of her prostitute mother.

Despite the fact that Pete, Julie and Linc were on the side of the law, didn't mean they trusted "the establishment". They often butted heads with Capt. Greer over policies and procedures they were supposed to follow. The three also wondered sometimes if they were sellouts in helping "the man".

All of the principal actors still peform. Cole does a lot of TV appearances, and had a role on the ABC soap "General Hospital". Clarence Williams III was seen in Hoodlum (1997) and the made-for-cable movie "George Wallace" (1997). Peggy Lipton was married to music mogul Quincy Jones. She had a small roll in the film The Postman (1997).

Monday, October 02, 2006

Against The Ropes (2004)

Jackie Kallen (Meg Ryan) works for an unappreciative boss (Joe Cortese) who manages a Cleveland sports arena. The main perk of the job is that she gets to watch boxing matches for free. She's a big fan of the sport. She gets the goat of a underhanded, chauvinistic promoter named Sam LaRocca (Tony Shalhoub). Irritated because she dare speak up to him, he sells her the contract of Devon Green (Tony Kittles), a failed boxer of his for a dollar. Sam thinks Jackie will fall on her face as a manager.

Jackie and her co-worker Renee (Kerry Washington) go see Devon and find out he has a deep drug problem. Mistaken for drug dealers, the women find themselves in danger, until Luther Shaw (Omar Epps), kicks in the door. He's an enforcer for a drug dealer to whom Devon owes money. As Shaw beats down Devon and another thug, the women escape. Jackie, however, is impressed with how Shaw handled himself. Shaw is arrested for the assault, but she bails him out to give him an offer. She wants to be his manager. Shaw doesn't want any part of her, but she is persistent. Jackie gets a retired trainer named Felix (Charles S. Dutton) to work with him. Success comes quickly, but Jackie's star is bigger because she is a female boxing manager. This causes tension between her and Shaw, and continuing tension between her and Sam.

This story is "inspired" by the life of the real Jackie Kallen, who has a small role. Ms. Kallen has managed champions in six weight categories. Some of the details have been changed, like moving the story from Detroit to Cleveland for example. Ryan is good at bringing out Kallen's toughness and bulldog tenancity. However, some events seem to happen too quickly, like Shaw's rise, for example (the character is a mix of several boxers Ms. Kallen worked with). As far as a underdog-makes-good story, it serves its purpose.

Ms. Ryan appeared in a couple of memorable romantic comedies with Tom Hanks: Sleepless In Seattle (1993) and You've Got Mail (1998). She was also in When Harry Met Sally (1989) with Billy Crystal. Epps did all of his own boxing in this film. He was a backup dancer for rapper/actress Queen Latifah. He also appeared alongside the late rapper Tupac Shakur in the film Juice (1992). Tony Shalhoub is one of those actors who can play many ethnicities. Currently, he heads the TV series, "Monk". Kerry Washington was in the indie film Lift (2001), and played the wife of Ray Charles in Ray (2004). Charles S. Dutton also directed this film. He was the title character in the excellent Fox sitcom, "Roc" (1991-1994).