Been & Going

[California Seething] Shark-noir-do

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SPOILER ALERT: This post may contain details and information that could spoil the experience of watching Sharknado 3. Then again, it would be hard to imagine I could possibly spoil the experience of watching Sharknado 3 Cal Seething- 081115- handsawany more than the bozos who made the movie already have. And therein lies the biggest mystery of Sharknado 3. No- it’s not whether Tara Reid lives or dies at the end- I guess they’ve just left that up to Twitter to decide- so do yourself and America a favor and hashtag “#AprilDies” on everything you Tweet – because the most believable part of her performance is her prosthetic chainsaw attachment which is the most human thing about her. But, anyhow, the biggest mystery about Sharknado 3 is – how did they manage to ruin something that was already so terrible to begin with? Look at it this way, any chef can screw up beef bourguignon- but it takes a special kind of incompetence to fuck up Ramen- and that’s exactly what the geniuses who made Sharnknado 3 did. How the hell did they manage that? All they had to do was take a cheap, pre-packaged shark movie, boil it in shlock til it was dumb enough to be funny but not so long that it was reduced to a brainless mush, and add in a shiny flavor packet of Gen-XCal Seething- 081115- ramen in-jokes (Ian Ziering is cinematic MSG) and voila- a Sharknado 3 that doesn’t suck. Just a tasty little movie with no nutritional value that’s even more delicious when you’re wasted. They followed this recipe and produced two perfectly good (or, let’s keep it real, perfectly bad) Sharknado movies- but they messed it up badly with the third one.

First of all, they overcooked it- going well past the “brainless mush” stage until nothing was left but a gelatinous glob of gore and idiocy. Then they emptied an industrial sized canister of celebrity cameos into the glob (David Hasselhoff is cinematic Cheez Whiz), deep fried the whole thing in product placement and served it with a side of cynical self-awareness- like oh oh oh- we know it’s dumb so that makes everything ok. Well, I’ve got news for you guys- it doesn’t. Dog shit with parsley is still just dog shit- and yes, I realize I just pulled off the extremely rare “metaphor inside a metaphor”- the blogging equivalent of the flashback inside a flashback. And, yes, I realize that was actually a metaphor FOR a metaphor- which is even more rare- as rare as a unicorn or a Lincoln Chafee supporter or a transgendered Republican reality TV star. Come to think of it- why isn’t Caitlyn running for president? I mean – Olympic champion, successful businessman, conservative Christian,Cal-Seething--081115--voltr pop culture icon and now a WOMAN??? That’s something for everyone! She’s a one woman Fox News debate! She’s five candidates in one- she’s GOPTron! Hell, she’s even got a black son in law (or, ex-step-son-in-law- close enough). Now if she can just get Khloe to marry Pitbull she’ll be UNSTOPPABLE.

Which gets me back to my original point- how did the producers manage to screw up Shaknado 3 so badly? The movie starts with a tornado full of sharks hitting Washington DC and destroying the White House- could there be any better metaphor for the election??? I mean, come on – 10,000 sharks hit DC and not a single one has Trump hair- how did the producers miss that? It’s like striking out at kickball. Sure, there was a tiny nod to political satire with Cal Seething- 081115- cubancoulterPresident Mark Cuban and Vice President Anne Coulter (easily the scariest part of the movie) but they could have done so much more. For instance: Obama orders Congress to evacuate- the Republicans refuse and are eaten by sharks. Trump says the sharks are murderers and drug dealers that are attracted by Megyn Kelly’s blood. Bernie Sanders has some great ideas but #SharkLivesMatter shouts him down at a rally which the mainstream media won’t cover. Jeb Bush claims he’s half shark, Fox News claims the science is still out on sharknados, Jimmy Fallon says the sharks can eat more than Chris Christie, Marco Rubio compares the sharknado to an abortion, and a shark eats some lion no one’s ever heard of in Zimbabwe and Facebook loses it’s GODDAMN MIND. Meanwhile Hilary hangs back and doesn’t say a damn thing cause she knows sooner or later the sharks are all gonna Cal Seething- 081115- hilaryeat each other and, when the storm clears, she’ll be the only one standing. Yup- that’s Hilary- President of a ruined nation, its institutions of government destroyed, standing knee deep in shark guts- but- hey- at least she got to be what she always wanted to be when she grew up- so the American Dream is still working for somebody. Slow clap for Madame President. Credits. And THAT’S how you make a Sharknado movie in Washington.

Sadly, though, that’s not what the producers of Sharknado 3 did. Instead, they expected us to believe that Mark Cuban is leader of the free world, an action hero and a passable actor- in ascending order of implausibility. Seriously, Cuban hasn’t been this unconvincing since he met with DeAndre Jordan. And then, after Cal Seething- 081115- iwojimaour heroes raise the American flag Iwo-Jima style in order to impale a flying shark, the worst thing to happen to Veterans in this country since the VA, the movie leaves DC for Universal Orlando- a perfect example of cynical corporate interests ruining something that pretty much sucked to begin with. Hey- come to think of it- you could say the same thing about the Republican party- so maybe this movie is a sly political satire after all!

Anyhow, back in Universal Orlando, Tara Reid is about to give birth to Ian Ziering’s baby (the Cal-Seething--081115--bodersecond scariest thing about this movie) and is hanging out with her mom, Bo Derek, who, in the movie’s only pleasant surprise, looks refreshingly human for an actress her age. Things just get dumber and bloodier from there and the whole thing ends up in outer space with Ian Ziering, David Hasselhoff – who turns out is a former astronaut (one of the less plausible things about the movie) and also Ian Ziering’s dad (one of the most!) and Tara Reid, who was fortunate enough to find a petite maternity space suit at the very last minute. Actually, that’s not really so surprising – what’s surprising is that they take the opportunity to do product placement “Finn- I don’t care if I am pregnant. If you’re going into space to save the world I’m going with you. And besides, I found the cutest little space suit at Pea in the Pod, and I’m just dying to try it out!”

Anyhow, they are launched into space by NASA on a secret space shuttle with the intention of creating a huge explosion which will somehow end the sharknado, which is TOTALLY PREPOSTEROUS. I mean, everyone knows if you want to blow something up in space you hire Space X. But anyhow, the explosion thing doesn’t work and they have to use the old SDI (“Star Wars”) satellites from the 80’s instead to fire a laser pulse into the heart of the giant storm. Well, before the ghost of Ronald Reagan can say “I told you so- wait- what were we talking about again?”, Hasselhoff leaves the shuttle to float out to theCal-Seething--081115--hoff satellite and hit Ctrl-Alt-Delete on it so that it can fire the laser- even though he knows it means he will die in space because the shuttle doesn’t have enough fuel to come back and pick him up. Which I guess is supposed to be heroic, and I guess we’re supposed to be inspired by his courage when one of the movie’s final shots shows him standing on the surface of the moon- but I have to wonder – if he could float 240,000 miles to the moon how come he couldn’t float 50 feet back to the space shuttle? But then again, I suppose I too would rather suffocate in the infinite blackness of space then spend ONE MORE FUCKING MINUTE ALIVE with Tara Reid #AprilDies.

Anyhow, sharks in space, something something something, space shuttle destroyed, Tara Reid gets swallowed by a shark, Ian Ziering goes in after her and she gives birth to her baby while plummeting to earth in the belly of an enormous flaming shark, ultimately slicing it open from the inside with the buzzsaw attachment on her hand (man, that thing can act!) and handing the mewling infant to Ian Ziering before slicing her way out of the carcass of the beast. And it’s perfect cause this is exactly what she wrote in the birth plan she gave her doula except for the Enya and aromatherapy candles.

Oh yeah, sharks also eat the cast of the Today show but spare Kathy Lee and Hoda because they’re in recoveryCal Seething- 081115- aprildies and at the very end of the movie, a giant hunk of space debris falls out of the sky on Tara Reid and, we, the viewers get to vote on Twitter if she lives or dies – and FOR THE LOVE OF GOD AMERICA, I’m begging you once more to tweet #AprilDies. An America that doesn’t want to kill Tara Reid just isn’t an America I want to live in.

Alright, so, yeah, Sharknado 3. Total crap. The worst movie of the summer not featuring Planned Parenthood. I’ve already written 1500 more words than that fucking movie deserved. And maybe the reason I’m being so critical of it is that I’ve been obsessed all month with the TCM’s Summer of Darkness- DVR’ing 24 hours worth of film noir classics every Friday in June & July and slowly working my way through them. Now, some of you may not be aware of what film noir is or have any knowledge of classic cinema- and that’s OK. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with being a culturally illiterate philistine wallowing in the excrement of your cinematic ignorance who thinks that being a sophisticated movie goer means spending $15 to see Pixels at the Arclight in Sherman Oaks. You know, per se. Hey, it’s your money (Mazal Tov, BTW, to the fast food workers of New York State for their recent minimum wage increase. They’ll be earning no less than $15/hour state-wide by 2021, which is perfect as it gives McDonalds exactly enough time to perfect the robo-cashier. Just hand over your money to the animatronic clown, kiddies, then never stop screaming in your sleep.) If you want to spendCal-Seething--081115--pixel your hard earned cash watching Adam Sandler, Kevin James and Josh Gad (add Jack Black and you’ve got the Mount Rushmore of Ugh) fight classic video game characters in a movie that’s been hacked to pieces so that it be sold to the Chinese (I suppose it’s only fitting. First we ruin Chinese food to make it palatable to Americans now we ruin American movies to make them palatable to the Chinese), that’s your terrible choice to make. Who am I to judge? (GUILTY!) Hey, we all have our taste in crap- I liked the first two Sharknado movies and I’m a sucker for the Fast & Furious franchise. But, sometimes it’s good to know that there’s something better out there and that’s when I turn to TCM. Because like Monterey Park hot-pot in a world of Panda Express- TCM has the real thing.

So what is this film noir thing anyhow? First of all- it’s important to know how to pronounce it- it’s not “Film New-ahh” with a silent “r” like it’s en francais or something – it’s “Film Newarrr” with the “r” pronounced American style. Cause while the name may be French, the film movement is as American as French Fries or French Dressing, although to be fair- the stories are actually told through the international language (film- what were you thinking?) Anyhow, there are a million ways to define Film Noir (or “freedom flicks” as Lindsay Graham called them in the mid 2000’s) but I like to start with this quote from Walter Neff, protagonist of Double Indemnity, the best film noir of all Cal Seething- 081115- nefftime:

“Yes, I killed him. I killed him for money – and a woman – and I didn’t get the money and I didn’t get the woman. Pretty, isn’t it?”

And, weirdly, enough, it is pretty. Cause that’s what film noir is all about- making bad choices while looking good. And while I realize that could also be the logline for Models, Inc, it’s nevertheless true of film noir. Now, some of these choices can seem innocuous at first- pick up the wrong hitchhiker, notarize the wrong document, go home with the wrong guy and, boom, just like that your life can be changed forever. In these movies, fate can seem arbitrary and cruel- like a pop-quiz from the universe designed to test your character.

But in most film noir, the choices are not so innocent. Take our friend Walter Neff. Now, Walter has things pretty good. He’s a charming, handsome bachelor with a good job that allows enough flexibility to go bowling in the afternoon (my lifelong dream) and an apartment in Hollywood with underground parking- which in and of itself is something worth killing for (“I killed him for off-street parking- and an open-plan kitchen- and I didn’t get the parking and I didn’t get the kitchen”- House Hunters Noir!)

But he is dissatisfied. He’s restless. We’ve all felt it. This country was founded on restlessness and dissatisfaction- it’s at the root of the American Dream. But it’s dangerous. Hell, there’s nothing more dangerous than restless, dissatisfied white people- just ask anyone we haven’t killed yet. Now for the first 150 years or so of this country’s existence the answer to restlessness and dissatisfaction was always “go west, young man”. But Walter Neff finds himself in sunny Los Angeles- as far west as he can go. I mean, technically, I suppose technically he could move to Santa Monica but then he’d have to give up his underground parking spot and THERE ARE LIMITS. So, what does he do? He goes slightly north-east instead to the home of Mr and Mrs Cal Seething- 081115- walterandphyllis.Dietrichson somewhere in the hills. He is hoping to renew Mr Dietrichson’s car insurance but ends up concocting a much deadlier plan when he meets Mrs Phyllis Dietrichson, a very sexy woman with a really unsexy name.

In fact Walter and Phyllis sound less like a couple of sex crazed killers and more like my grandparent’s friends from Congregation Beth Emeth. Sure, Phyllis hosted a killer Hadassah luncheon and Walter was a hoot at the Brotherhood breakfasts, but my grandparents had to cut them off when they caught Walter cheating at canasta. He couldn’t help himself. He’s no good. He’s rotten. That’s the reason why most noir heroes and heroines make the terrible choices they do in response to their dissatisfaction. They’re rotten. And it’s the only reason we viewers need- we don’t need to know about their terrible childhoods, we don’t need to hear about how they are victims of society, how they suffer from FFS (Femme Fatale Syndrome.) Everything we need to know about their backstory is wrapped up in this quote from The Hollow Triumph – “It’s a bitter little world.”

The men and women of noir have been kicked around their whole lives and so they are shitty people with poor impulse control who are likeable because they are so damn cool. It’s a blast to watch them try and get away with stuff the rest of us barely dare to think about and cathartic as hell when they fall on their chiseled faces with success just tantalizingly out of reach- tripping over their shoelaces at the finish line of the marathon. Or- better yet, they cross the finish line and feel warm and safe all wrapped in the shinyCal Seething- 081115- marathon insulated blanket of success only to fall into an open trench reaching for someone to hug.

And in the best noir flicks, what trips our heroes up is not their wickedness but their inconvenient humanity- the shot they can’t take, the heart they can’t break, the home they shouldn’t try to go back to but can’t help themselves, the lover they can’t leave behind, the betrayal they never see coming. And sometimes, it’s just the fact that they can’t live one more day with their horrible, rotten selves and so they jump in to that open trench with a crooked smile on their face and leave the rotten world behind.

As for Walter Neff- I won’t tell you exactly what happens to him. Suffice it to say he makes some bad choices and they don’t turn out well. He doesn’t get the money. He doesn’t get the woman. And he’s probably gonna lose his parking spot. A bitter little world indeed.

There’s a lot more I can say about film noir and, in fact, I’m going to say it! In my next post, though because I’ve already wasted your whole fucking lunch hour (sorry). Why not? What am I supposed to do instead of wallowing in the great films of the past- deal with reality? Seriously??? Have you seen that place? There’s random violence, Cal Seething- 081115- debatesanctioned brutality and a perfect storm of right wing lunatics gathering in the skies above Washington threatening to strike the White House in 2016 (GOPnado). And since Shitnado 3 was such a major disappointment and I refuse to gorge myself on the globs of orange chicken being vomited out in 3D from IMAX screens, I turn to noir for distraction instead- a cool, dark cafe away from the blazing sun. And you know what, it’s nice in here. I think I’ll stay awhile. I mean, just look at what’s waiting for me in the outside world- armed white supremacists marching around Ferguson,  Trump gaining in the polls, the Jets punching each other in the face- why not live in the past??? The present blows! But the sad truth is that sooner or later I’m gonna run out of noir flicks on my DVR and I’m going to have to return to the present- and in anticipation of that terrible day- allow me to just say one thing- #AprilDies. It’s the least I can do to make the world a little less bitter.

[Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] Jersey Joe’s Top 100 TV Themes (61-70)

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I hope you’re enjoying counting down my top 100 TV themes!  For the past three weeks, we’ve been having a blast!  Now, it’s time to continue our summer countdown with numbers 61 – 70!


#70 MR. ED

Airdates: 1961 (Syndication) 1961-1966 (CBS)



A talking horse?  That was the premise for this 60’s sitcom that was later be re-run over and over on Nick at Nite in the 80’s, giving a whole new generation a look at a real talking horse.


The show was first tried out on local stations for 8 months, before being picked up by CBS.


Ed was taken care of by clumsy architect Wilbur and would only speak to him.  That added to the comedy as Wilbur would often be seen as psycho for talking to his horse.  What’s wrong with that?  I used to talk to my cat all the time and she’d usually meow to answer…


There were a few different theories on how they made the horse talk, including having Ed lick peanut butter, but it was revealed by the never credited off screen voice of Ed, that the horse was trained to lip read when a trainer would touch his hoof.


An Ohio preacher once claimed that Mr. Ed’s theme contains Satanic messages if played backward.  Uh, huh…



Airdates: 1987-1997 (FOX)



You know you’re going to make a top 100 list, when Frank Sinatra sings your theme song!


The first sit-com that showed America the trashy side of life, this show was panned by critics for being too sleazy, but it put the FOX network on the map.


The opening credits changed a bit over the seasons, first because Ted McGinley joined the cast and secondly, because the kids grew up, so new shots were recorded each season.



The fun part of the intro is where Al Bundy give all his money away.  First to the kids, then to the wife, and what’s left goes to the dog!


Here’s a bonus, would you like to see what Married with Children looked like in Brazil? Here’s their intro… notice the similarities?




Airdates: 1993-1995 (FOX Kids)



Go! Go! Power Rangers!  Every kid in the 90’s was singing this.  The show was so bad, it was good!


It was a group of average teenagers, who had expert martial arts skills that transferred into a tight spandex costume to fought alien invaders.  That’s what happened when you were a teen, right?


The series was loved for its use of over the top alien model footage from some other Japanese kids show.


The three seasons were rerun over and over about a zillion times and spawned a number of spin-offs.  I just learned that several of the cast members walked off the set during season 2 and several episodes were completed using existing footage and stock shots.  After a few episodes, three new teens were brought into replace them.  This started the series tradition of introducing a new cast each season.


Here are the revamped credits from season 2:



Same song, but we get completely different cast shots for season 3.  This time, it looks like they simply wheeled the camera out to the parking lot.



After three seasons in the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers format, the show shifted gears to become Power Rangers Zeo.  This version of the credits only used a portion of the original theme.  And for some reason, the Rangers themselves changed colors.



Sadly, we lose the theme completely for Power Rangers Turbo.  The show shift gears and themes each and every season from this point.  Here’s a look at a few different openings and themes, none are as good as the original.














Airdates: 1978-1982 (CBS) 1991-1993 (Syndication)


Fast forward to 2:54 for the season 2 opening credits.



WKRP was the show that made being a radio DJ cool.  Back in the 70s, DJ’s made big bucks and you could call them up a make a request.  Now, most of the radio stations are automated, but this series gave you a glimpse into their rock star lives.


One cool note was that the lyrics on the closing credits are completely made up.  They were initially ad-libbed as a placeholder to be written later, but the producers loved the melody, so they went with it as is.  Meaning, the lyrics that make absolutely no sense were used through the entire series run.  Take a listen; see if you can figure out what’s being said.



This is one of the rare shows that were successfully brought back from the dead.  Almost a decade after being canceled by CBS, it was brought back into syndication with new episodes for local stations to air.  Many of the original cast returned, the theme was given an update and was known as The New WKRP in Cincinnati.



By the way, there is no real radio station known as WKRP.



Airdates: 1990 (CBS, pilot only) 1990-1992 (Syndicated) 1992-1994 (FOX Kids)



We’ve already talked a little about Tiny Toon Adventures as being a spin-off from the popular Looney Tunes cartoon shorts.  (see #85 Animaniacs).  The original pilot aired as a one time only special on CBS, before heading to syndication.  FOX Kids picked up the last two seasons for a total of 100 episodes.


This was another series that spawned a ton of spin-offs, but this was the first, and the best!  Another Warner Bros. series where many of the jokes were aimed more at adults.  FOX even aired several episodes and specials in prime time!


I really wish they would have never gone to the spin-offs and kept this series on the air.  It could have lasted as long as the original Looney Tunes.  There was a large cast of characters, so the story development was nearly endless.  WB should take another look and bring this series back.



Airdates: 1984-1989 (NBC)



Miami Vice was everybody’s must see TV – even on a Friday night!  It showed the cool side of being a tough detective in the hot streets of Miami.  Every week, the detectives took on drug traffickers and prostitutes. It also featured luxury cars, fast boats, and lots of gun fire!


This show started an 80’s fashion craze, where everyone was wearing sport coats and rolling up their sleeves.  And don’t you love that strategically placed bouncing boob shot in the first few seconds of the open?


The original working title of the series was Gold Coast.  I think they made the right choice!



Airdates: 1998-2007 (CBS)



Thanks Kevin James, but I’ve been stuck in traffic on the Queensboro Bridge (now Ed Koch Bridge) too!


This sit-com was freaking hilarious and I once read online that many of the zany plot points came from the writer’s room, who were absolutely stoned out of their mind on drugs and drunk on scotch.  That’s according to co-star Patton Oswalt.  Who knows if that’s true or not, but some of the more funnier moments is Doug beating up a fast food drive thru order box, his best friend falling in love with a giant ice cream cone mascot, and Doug’s father getting taken for walks by a dog walker on a daily basis.


I don’t know how Doug kept his sanity, to be honest.  If he wasn’t fighting with his wife, he was arguing with this father, or just ticking off his boss.  Doug made it funny to be a fat, blue collar worker that most of us can relate to.


The first and second versions of the credits, showed a shot of the original World Trade Center that was edited out with a shot of the elevated 7 train after 9-11.


Later seasons used a condensed version of the theme and some shows only had a quick 5 second title card open.


Here’s a fun bonus – a short version of the opening credits from Croatia!




Airdates: 1982-1988 (NBC)



It’s the show that brought Howie Mandel to television!  No, it’s not really known for that, but the series was one of the bigger medical dramas to ever air.  One of the more zany plots included a man that got pregnant!  There was no medical matter off limits!  It was basically, House for the 80’s… a decaying teaching hospital, where doctors always pull off some zany diagnosis in the closing minutes of the episode.  Each episode took on a serious subject and injected moments of dark comedy.


Howie Mandel is not the only big name you’ll recognize from the credits!



Airdates: 1960-1966 (ABC)



Let’s all sing along together, now!


It’s The King of Queens in the form of a 1960’s cartoon!  Each week, Fred and Barney would end up on another wacky adventure, whether it was battling the boss, looking for a get rich quick scheme, or just trying to escape the wives at The Loyal Order of Water Buffalos.


This show was only on the air 6 seasons, but the reruns are still on today.  It also spawned 2 live action movies and even a cereal and vitamin line for kids.  Everybody knows who Fred Flintstone is and he just had to make my list!


In the early days of the show, commercials were made with Fred and Barney selling Winston cigarettes.  No wonder everybody smoked back then…



…and beer!




Airdates: 1987-1995 (ABC)



When you think of a family sit-com, Full House is it!  You had everything, a widowed dad, his two best friends as room mates, and three girls that they’re helping him to raise.


Each week, we got a life lesson, a lot of laughs, and so many cutesy – cutesy moments.


As the series went on, the opening credits would get shorter and shorter, even though the cast would get larger.  By the time we got to season 8, Michelle was not the cute little girl anymore and only got in the way of the shows plots, so Uncle Jessie got married and had two more kids of his own, adding at least three more names to the intro.



In an earlier blog, I looked at the original pilot open without Bob Saget in his now legendary role.  Take a look… same song, same shots, different guy!



THE 411


What: TV Theme Songs


Use: themes used to open a TV series or cartoon


Purpose: introduce main cast and introduce audience to the theme of the series


Numbers reviewed: 61 – 70




Another great set of good old shows we got to review this week, but a few more recent series have now made it into the countdown.  I’m still shocked at how they used the Flintstones to sell cigarettes and alcohol.  Parents would throw a fit seeing SpongeBob selling those products!


Check back next week when we take a look at numbers 51-60.  Next week we’ve got cops, cops, and more cops!


I don’t own any of the rights to these, nor did I upload them to YouTube.  This blog is presented for educational and informational purposes.


Image credit – Adrian Patino