Sunday, May 11, 2014

TV Guide

We're still watching TV on Netflix every day, mostly with dinner - yes, we eat in front of the TV, what can we say, born in the 20th century.

We recently finished watching Leverage. I found out about this series because its creator, John Rogers, has a blog (now on hiatus), Kung Fu Monkey. I had to watch the series so I could read the blog! It's a story about a gang of Robin Hoods who steal back from corporate criminals. The mastermind is drunk Timothy Hutton (son of Jim Hutton, TV's Ellery Queen). His team includes a hitter (Christian Kane), a hacker (Aldis Hodge), a grifter (Gina Bellman) and a thief (Beth Riesgraf).
  • The hitter is a serious, deadly ladies man with long hair and outside skills as a chef and country music singer. Kane also choreographs a lot of the fights.
  • The hacker is a cocky, geeky black man with a love of orange soda. 
  • The grifter is a beautiful woman of mystery whose only weakness is on the stage. 
  • But our favorite is Parker, the thief. She is a beautiful athletic blonde with an on-the-spectrum affect and no interest in anything except stealing.
It was funny, fun, well-made and very engaging. The last season kind of fell apart, but up to then it just kept getting better, and the last episode, well, it was worth sticking around for.

We haven't made it to the last episode of Arrow yet, but I think we'll make it. The Green Arrow was actually one of my comicbook favorites, because I was in on the classic "Snowbirds Don't Fly" story in 1971, where his sidekick Speedy gets hooked on heroin. The TV series makes a nod to this by giving Oliver Queen a sister Speedy who dabbles in narcotics.

Overall, the show is full of twists, betrayals, romance, and hot action. My favorite part is the storytelling speed. I check the time and see that after 5 plot twists, 2 fight scenes and a character beat, we're only 9 minutes into the episode. They are always raising the stakes, throwing in one more twist, but can still take time out to pause and reflect on a character or two. Plus, Stephen Amell, as the green guy, is a total hunk who takes his shirt off a lot. You know, for the ladies.

But our current craze is The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis. Somehow, I remember this from my childhood, although I was only 7 when it went off the air. The show stars Dwayne Hickman as the love-struck teenager Dobie, with Frank Faylen and Florida Friebus (what a pair of euphonious appellations!) as his grocer father and doting mother. He chased a lot of girls in the series, but his number one target was the glamorous, money-hungry Thalia Menninger, played by Tuesday Weld (she kind of faded after the first year - got to big for the role). One of his biggest rivals was played by Warren Beatty, who likewise dropped out after a while. But everyone's favorite was Dobie's best friend, played by  Bob Denver, was the first beatnik on TV, Maynard G. Krebs.

The plots are pretty standard sit-com misunderstandings and crazy schemes, but there's a touch of oddness to them, like Yvonne Craig as a health-food nut acrobat from a family of free-thinkers, or Charley Wong's ice cream shop, with the wonton sundaes. Hickman makes an appealing hero as well, a thinker and a lover, as he explains to the camera in the park every episode, in front of a statue of the Thinker.

There are about 20 discs in the series and we're thinking of going to a 3-disc/week plan to get them all.

Another childhood favorite is It Takes a Thief (1968), starring Robert Wagner as super-thief Alexander "Sic Transit Gloria" Mundy. He is blackmailed by secret agent Malachi Throne to steal for the government and given a bevy of glamour girl assistants, including Susan St. James. The feel here is second-rate James Bond, with some nice 60s pop-art camera-work. But we didn't like it enough to keep getting the discs - even though Fred Astaire plays Alexander's father later on. I always prefered T.H.E Cat for late 60s superthief shows.

One last little bagatelle - we discovered that Leverage's John Rogers also produced and wrote some of the Jackie Chan Adventures cartoons, so we started watching them when we had 20-minute slot in our schedule. It's actually pretty good - simple but effective artwork with a touch of anime, cute stories, etc. And  Jackie himself answers a question from the audience at the end.

No comments: