Superman found Dead! I missed the headline blazing across newspapers all over the country. I'm not surprised, I was less than four years old in June of 1959 when George Reeves, the actor who starred as both Superman and reporter Clark Kent, was found in his bedroom, dead, apparently of a self inflicted gunshot wound. At four I wasn't interested in such things as Superman. At six and seven that changed and I was hooked on the television series "The Adventures of Superman." At some point after that age I found out that George Reeves, Superman, was dead. What I didn't know until much later in my life was that there were in fact many questions about the death of actor George Reeves. Enough questions to make one wonder did the actor really kill himself or was he killed?
Recently I've begun watching a CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) series called The Murdoch Mysteries. The program set in 1890's Toronto Canada features a young detective by the name of William Murdoch. Like Sherlock Holmes Murdoch is ahead of his time. He applies not only skill, but also new discoveries in science to his investigations. The mysteries are as good as any that have come out of the BBC and the show doesn't take itself too seriously.
"I think we are in a, indeed in a golden age of television. I think TV today, pound for pound, storytelling-wise is more interesting, dare I say it, than Hollywood movies."
Vince Gilligan , Producer, Breaking Bad
I stumbled across part 4 of this PBS documentary when I saw that they were featuring a segment including one of my favorite television characters- Omar Little from The Wire. This was episode 4- The Crusaders and the entire hour was engaging. Other characters discussed in this episode include Hawkeye from MASH, Dr. Gregory House of House MD and Det. Frank Pembleton from Homicide: Life on the Street, all characters whom I have found interesting. This part of the documentary examined characters who live by their own moral code and how that affected their lives. It also discussed why these types of characters are popular in American culture.
America in Primetime is a documentary focusing on the most compelling current shows on television, while looking at their evolution through the history of tv. It is comprised of four one hour episodes, each focusing on a very specific character type in television: the Independent Woman, the Man of the House, the Misfit, and the Crusader. These archetypes are discussed by the actors who play the characters, as well as the writers, creators and producers of the various shows. Characters discussed range from Mary Richards (the Mary Tyler Moore Show) and Jackie Peyton (Nurse Jackie) to Gomez Addams (the Addams Family) and Walter White (Breaking Bad). It's fascinating to hear the actors' insight into the characters they play, as well as the love they have for the characters they have created. The documentary also provides a unique way to look at the history of American television- through the creation and development of beloved (and sometimes hated) characters.
It's 1961 and I'm six years old. I've rushed home from school to plant myself firmly in front of the TV to watch a puppet show. But not just any puppet show. This was Supercar; real science fiction. Never mind that the puppets, Marionettes really, were a little jerky and you could see the strings. I didn't really care about the story. I wanted to own Supercar and to fly it. Supercar was Gerry Anderson's first science fiction series filmed in Supermarionation; a fancy name for a show done with puppets. Supercar wasn't a car at all, but what we would today call a vertical landing and takeoff craft able to fly, go into space and undersea; there was not a single wheel on it. Supercar was a beauty to behold. Even today I still would love to own it. It's my dream car second only to the 1960's Batmobile.
This BBC program from last summer (it aired last September on BBC America) follows the lives of three people who work for an newly created television news program at the BBC in 1956. While I did find it to be a bit slow in parts for a 6 episode series, I enjoyed watching the whole of it - especially the ending (no spoilers here, though). 'The Hour' is the name of the news program created within the show that attempts to challenge the then BBC standard of merely promoting the government's official viewpoint on current events. The plot also revolves around the mysterious death of a friend of the young journalist played by Ben Whishaw. He is, as usual, amazingly good in this, as are the two other leads; Romola Garai, who plays the head producer of the program, and Dominic West, the not-quite-ready-for-prime-time head anchor. If you are at all familiar with BBC programming, many of these shorter series can be standalone pieces, usually with all the episodes written by the same author (This one is actually coming back for a second series sometime later in 2012). The show creator here, Abi Morgan, seems to be an up-and-coming writer for theater, television, and film. Much of the newsroom work on the program gives some insight into Suez Crisis of the period, which I found interesting. For those not necessarily keen on a fictionalized history lesson, there is both a romance angle between several of the characters and some post-WWII, early Cold War espionage spy stuff going on here too. If you enjoy more modern-set period dramas of the BBC, give this one a try.
It's 2011, there have been a series of deaths, they don't seem related to the police and this is what Scotland Yard is saying at their press conference. Suddenly there is the sound of cell phone after cell phone notifying each reporter and officer in the room they have received a text. It consists of one word only, "Wrong." No it is not an admission from a super criminal, it's Sherlock Holmes. The case is interesting and the game is afoot. Steven Moffat , the current producer of BBC's Doctor Who, has brought Sherlock into the 21 Century and he fits in very well indeed.
I'm in the middle of season one of Nurse Jackie. This is a television show about the day-to-day life of Jackie Peyton who is a nurse in New York's All Saints' Hospital. This television show is half drama and half comedy. I don't recognize any of the actors except for Eli Wallach (Wall Street) but they are very convincing in their roles. There's quite a bit of blood and visual depictions of traumatic incidents that may bother some viewers but if you can handle that then you'll enjoy it. What keeps me hooked on the show is trying to understand Peyton's character. She's a complex union of opposite characteristics. She's happily married but having an affair. She counsels on addiction but is addicted to codeine. She's nice and shows exemplary compassion towards her patients except for the ones she hates. She's definitely a complex person.
Based on the book by Stephen Ambrose, Band of Brothers is a 10 part mini-series focusing on Easy Company of the 101st Airborne division of the Army during WWII. This true story follows the young men who volunteered to join this division from basic training through the end of the war. Easy Company took part in some of the most intense battles of the war, including the D-Day invasion of Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge. The length of the mini-series allows focus on historical detail and procedures, as well as an in-depth look at the varied responses of the men to the horrors of war- running the gamut from fear and compassion to confusion and cruelty.
In the late 60's we were in the Vietnam War and the Cold War with Russia still seemed like a serious threat. Spy shows and movies like the James Bond series and the Man from U.N.C.L.E. were popular. Patrick McGoohan was an actor in one of the more popular ones known as Danger Man in Great Britain and Secret Agent Man in the U.S. and he asked himself a question; "What would happen if an agent with very sensitive knowledge should resign from the service without giving a clear reason for his doing so?"