Spenser for Hire
I have no interest in watching MTV's 'Jersey Shore,' for approximately 75 reasons. But I think it can be boiled down into one sentence: why in God's name would I want to watch 'Jersey Shore?'
But here's the deal: they're making a Boston version. I live in the Boston area, born and raised, so of course I have to at least check out the first episode, right? It scares me a bit though. What are they going to get wrong? What are they going to get too right? Will the show make me want to hide the fact that I'm a Bostonian from people and start talking about how much I like the Lakers, making sure I pronounce my "r" in Lakers with more emphasis?
No details yet, but Parker died at his desk in his Cambridge, MA home. When you're a writer that's probably the way to go.
If you only know Spenser from the TV series that starred Robert Urich (which was great), you should pick up the novels, too. He's been writing them since the 70s and they're quite good, very engaging first person mystery stories set in Boston. He started a new series of book based around the Jesse Stone character (who happens to live my neck of the woods), and while I've never read those novels I have seen the TV movies featuring Tom Selleck as Stone and they are very good. There's a new Jesse Stone novel coming out in May. Not sure if Parker had finished a new Spenser novel or not (his latest is The Professional).
I think it's time for a Spenser: For Hire marathon.
It's easy to forget how good a show Spenser: For Hire was. It was on for only three seasons over 20 years ago, it's not on DVD, and I don't think that it's being shown on television right now. But oh, this show was so good.
Robert Urich was the perfect Spenser and Avery Brooks was the perfect Hawk (years later, reading the books, I could only see Urich and Brooks as the characters). And on-location filming in Boston truly added a nice, realistic touch to the show (unlike the later movies, which were filmed in Toronto or some similar place). This show had smart writing, too, and the first person narration? Robert Parker was wrong when he said it was bad.
But in TV land, the sisters were doin' it for themselves and finally getting respect as cops, war nurses and working moms; iconic shows like 'Hill Street Blues,' 'St. Elsewhere' and 'L.A. Law' would forever change (for the better) cop, medical and legal dramas; and no idea was too high concept to fill a primetime spot (time-travelling physicist? check; housewife-turned-CIA op? check; New York City beauty in love with a subterranean monster? check).
The bottom line: They all add up to 10 years of fine channel surfing -- and our awesome list of the 40 best series of the 1980s.
When I was preparing for my Nathan Fillion interview, I knew that I had a big responsibility: people love this guy. I mean love-- in a slightly disturbing way. So I reached out. I went on Facebook and Twitter and asked people what they wanted me to ask him, so I would get the fewest number of Firefly fans pissed off at me as possible. Luckily, the questions submitted were mostly along the lines of, "will he impregnate me?", so I wasn't too worried about not asking something someone was dying to know.
"Hey, I've got a quick question for you: How long do you think this 'internet' fad will really go?" But before I could ask a single question, that's how Nathan Fillion starts our interview. "Um, you know, I think it's on it's way out. I give it a month, maybe two at the most." I could understand where he was coming from. I was just one in a long line of reporters he was talking to today, so he has to keep himself interested somehow. Why not joke around with me about the fall of the internet?
We've talked a lot here about theme songs and how they just don't make them like they used to. The openings to shows used to be a lot longer, a real part of the show. Today we're lucky if we get a few bars of music and maybe a credit or two. Heck, one show, Lost, only plays one note and shows the logo.
The Popcorn Trick has a list of the Top 25 Opening Credits of '80s Action Shows, and you can't argue with most of the picks. Magnum P.I. is on the list, as is Riptide, Miami Vice, and The A Team. I would quibble a little bit with the choice of The Rockford Files. One of my favorites, but it was really more of a '70s show than '80s (it ended in 1980). I was 13 years old when Vegas premiered (in 1978 - it ran until 1981) and I wanted to be Dan Tanna and live in Vegas and have hot girlfriends and drive around with a lion in my sports car.
Cagney and Lacey shouldn't be on the list though. It should be replaced with one of several other shows from the '80s. After the jump, the five shows they missed.
I remember when I was a kid and I saw a bald man I always thought, "He must be old." As I've become an adult, I have been lucky enough to keep my thick head of hair but it's clear that baldness is no longer something to be embarrassed about. In fact, there are a number of bald men on television who are quite adept at getting things done. Here are my top ten toughest bald guys on television.
10. Chris Turk (Scrubs)
While Turk wouldn't be considered a tough guy by most standards, I think he deserved to be on this list for a couple of reasons. First, Turk chooses to be bald. Sure, his hair is thin but at some point he decided to shave his head and I applaud his choice. More importantly, Turk is a surgeon, a father and the husband of a very hot lady. If that isn't an example of how to get it done, I don't know what is.
It's not going to be Harvey Keitel or Geena Davis or Michael Keaton or even Rosie O'Donnell. The new person in charge on Criminal Minds is Joe Mantegna.
The CBS show hired Mantegna over the weekend, ending speculation over who would replace Mandy Patinkin, who has already left the show and will not be making anymore appearances. Besides classic movies such as House of Games and Bugsy, Mantegna costarred on the USA series The Starter Wife earlier this summer, was on the gone-but-not-forgotten drama Joan of Arcadia, does the voice of Fat Tony on The Simpsons, and made a poor substitute for Robert Urich when they made those Spenser movies on cable (nothing against Mantegna, he was quite good, it just wasn't Spenser, you know?).
No word yet on how they'll write out Patinkin or how Mantegna's character will join the team, though some episodes are already done and Patinkin's abscence will be explained in the season premiere.
Here are the new TV DVDs, in stores tomorrow.
- Benson - Season 1
- A Bit of Fry and Laurie - Seasons 3 and 4
- The Crow: Stairway to Heaven - Complete Series
- Harvey Birdman: Attorney At Law - Vol. 3
- Isis - Complete Series
- Land of the Giants - Giant Collection
- Philip Marlowe, Private Eye - Season 1
- The Pink Panther Show - Vol. 6
- The Real McCoys - Season 1
- Spenser: For Hire - A Savage Place and Judas Goat
- Star Trek - Captain's Log Fan Collective
- Stargate SG-1 - Season 10
- Suspense - Lost Episodes, Vol. 1
- Tales From The Crypt - Season 6
- Underdog - Vols. 1-3
- Weeds - Season 2
- Woody Woodpecker - Classic Cartoon Collection
- X-Games - Best Of
New TV DVDs, on sale tomorrow.
- Bozo's Circus - Bozo The World's Famous Clown
- Captain N and The Adventures of Super Mario Brothers - Complete Series
- Casper: Best of Vol. 1 and Vol. 2
- Gomer Pyle, USMC - Season 2
- Hannah Montana - Vol. 2
- Miami Vice - Season 5
- Monk - Season 5
- Mystery Science Theater 3000 - Collection: Vol. 11
- The New Adventures of Batman - Complete Series
- The New Adventures of Superman
- Psych - Season 1
- Reno 911 - Season 4
- Spenser: For Hire movies - Ceremony and Pale Kings
Long before he was turning into a werewolf on Buffy or creating puppets on Robot Chicken, Seth Green had a really bad haircut.
After the jump is a video of a 1992 commercial for a Nerf slingshot. It features Green and another kid going around a mall, trying to pick up chicks. They decide to use their Nerf slingshots to shoot the girls in the face, which I guess was the most effective flirting technique back in the day. In the process, they also kill a mime.
Judging from the hair and the clothing, the video looks like it's from the 80s, but it's not. The youngest I've ever seen Green was in a mid-80s episode of Spenser: For Hire. He had normal hair then.
Welcome to TV Squad Lists (formerly 'The Five'), a feature where each blogger has a chance to list his or her own rundown of things in television that stand out from the rest, both good and bad.
OK, so yesterday I gave my list of the Five Greatest Police Detectives, and several readers gave their lists. Today I thought I'd do the other end of the invesitgation spectrum, private eyes, amateur sleuths and other investigators. This list was even hard to do. So many great characters.
1. Spenser (Robert Urich): I picked this Boston-based private eye because he seemed to be a great mix of brain and brawn. The type of guy who could go to the ratty gym and knock around some boxer and then go off to a fancy Beacon Hill cafe and have coffee with his girlfriend and talk about politics or literature. He was smart, clever, caring, a wiseass, and ridiculously moral. What else do you want in a private eye?
One of the saddest changes in the television landscape has been the disappearance of the theme song. They're really not that important to the people who create TV shows now (or the networks who want to get more commercials in). Lost has just a single note as their theme song, ER has changed and shortened their theme song, Jericho has static, and Heroes doesn't have a theme song or credits either.
Luckily, the shows that still have theme songs also have opening credits. Shows like The Office and Dexter all have theme songs and opening credits. They're classic TV openings. Of course, it's nothing like years gone by, where almost all shows had theme song and opening credits. The Onion has picked 22 that they feel fit their shows perfectly. I don't know if that is the same as "best opening sequences," but the choices are interesting, quirky, a little maddening, and they left out a few, as I'm sure you'll agree.
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