Category Archives: television

The Creepy Anthropomorphic Drug ads for women trend


Has anyone been following the latest trend for women’s health product advertisements? It’s downright creepy. Admittedly my sample size is small but these ads play quite a bit on television in the US (East Coast). First of all, there’s “Mybetriq”, which is a drug that allegedly helps women control overactive bladder conditions. In these commercials, we are subjected to a cute little animated bladder creature. It’s not mean or anything, but very insistent, torturing a woman by interrupting her garden parties, her bowling games, and other relationships and activities.


No bowling for YOU!


Pssst.. we need to go.. NOW!


It’s not MY fault.. I don’t wanna be a MEAN lil’ bladder…

The creep factor is fairly high here.. she acknowledges the bladder beast as a being.. with rudimentary intelligence and needs, giving in to its demands with a suffering sigh. Even weirder, when she decides to “take charge” of her condition and consult a doctor (presumably a urologist), when he’s lecturing her, the bladder beast is in the room, sitting next to her, nodding along with the conversation. Like the bladder beast is included in the conversation. Ohhhh, creepy. Later, they are seen walking together, hand in hand, on the beach, looking at a beautiful sunset together. The implication is.. what? Happy Romance? Resignation? A new form of detente between bladder and human being? We don’t get the epilogue for this commercial.

My next sample is even weirder and more disturbing. This is a commercial for “Viberzi”, which is apparently a medication for women with frequently upset tummies. In THIS commercial, we don’t see an animation– instead the ailment is played by an actress in a nude colored body suit with intestines screen printed on the front. THIS ailment is a real bully. She cancels her victim’s plans FOR her, texting her regrets because she’s staying home with problem diarrhea. This Problem Diarrhea monster follows her around, doing things similar to the Bladder Beast from the Mybetriq commercial, ruining her plans, canceling things in advance, generally making her life miserable. Apparently she is doomed to living a lonely life. That is, until she, too, gets the courage to talk to HER doctor (presumably a gastroenterology expert).

Once again, the ailment monster is PRESENT, NODDING ALONG, during the medical consult.


In closing, ma’am, I have to ask, who’s your hot diarrhea friend? Is she single?


Going out? Nah, we’ll scotch that plan.. who’s in charge here? I am. Say it after me…

Once AGAIN, very similar ending here.. they walk on the beach, all happy now, but not holding hands (that might be too creepy). Later, as the victim is sparking with a young beau in a diner, Problem Diarrhea appears to approve of the man, as if giving her Problem Diarrhea blessing. Happy Ending, if you’ll excuse the obvious pun.

Aside from the very similar structure for both drug commercials, it’s the “intelligent ailment” thing that I find the creepiest. I can only speak for me, I NEVER have a conversation with my bladder or bowels. I know the ad companies here are probably shooting for something cute and socializing, but honestly, I don’t care for talking, thinking, anthropomorphic diseases. That’s a little too weird for my liking. But hey, I’m not a gal, who knows?

Right now, I’m giving these kind of commercials the creepy Burger King award.

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Discworld on Youtube


I’m an off again on again fan of Discworld by the late great Sir Terry Pratchett, who sadly left us last year. One of the problems with living on the right side of the Atlantic Ocean is that you sometimes aren’t in the know about what gets produced for British Television, although that is changing quickly with the advent of BBC America. So I am totally not hip about some cultural artifacts that our British cousins enjoy that we may never hear of. Just yesterday I heard of a few from the realm of Discworld, Terry Pratchett’s universe featuring a flat disc shaped world supported on the backs of four giant elephants on the back of a giant tortoise that sails through space. Do I need to explain this? Of course not. Anyway, apparently there are a few locations where one can find BBC (I expect) adaptions of Discworld novels, for internet viewing. I had no idea this existed, I’m not sure what the limitations are, and I kind of feel bad about sharing it, but shucks, I figure they’ll be shut down soon enough. Let’s party!

GOING POSTAL (TV mini series, 2010, based on the 33rd Discworld novel of the same name)

first of several links.

HOGFATHER the 20th novel in the Discworld series (another mini series, this time by Sky One, aired in 2006 at Christmas time, appropriately).

part 1 of 4.

THE COLOUR OF MAGIC, the first novel in the Discworld series of course! (Another special from Sky One, in 2008)
part 1 of unknown parts.

So, that is what I know of for now. I hear tell there are to animated films floating around in the aetherverse, but they have eluded me so far.

I know what I’ll be bingewatching shortly.

If the links are broken at some point, don’t kvetch. They come and go on Youtube, for obvious reasons.

The Man in the High Castle, Episode One


Cover, First Edition

THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE  (1962) is an alternative history novel by Phillip K. Dick, one of my favorite science fiction writers.   In this narrative, the Axis powers have emerged triumphant from World War II, Germany having conquered all of Europe and a good portion of Africa and the former Soviet Union.  Japan has conquered China, the pan Pacific islands and portions of East Asia.  Both powers invaded the North American continent, with Germany inhabiting the East Coast out to the Midwest and Japan inhabiting the West Coast out to the Rocky Mountains.  The year is 1962; an uneasy peace has existed between the two former Axis powers (now modern day Cold War Superpowers).  The Man in the High Castle is in many ways Phillip K. Dick’s most accessible work outside of his short stories and novellas, which I have always preferred to his longer form narratives.  An alternative history novel may not seem all that unique to modern SF Fans but it was quite the thing in 1962, compounded by Dick’s omnipresent themes of reality vs. unreality, and the boundaries of perception influencing the narrative for the POV narrator character.  All of of Dick’s narrators seem flawed to me; no exceptions here.

I had the opportunity to watch Episode 1 of THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE (streaming video on Demand, Amazon) the other night.  Amazon has started there own independent video on demand service some time ago (I am a fan of the web series BOSCH from the same provider, for instance).   From what I can see the plan is to break the book narrative down into several chapters on Video on Demand.

The plot of the series does not match the book except in the loosest possible terms– the general setting from the book is maintained and the same imminent danger of warfare between the two superpowers is indeed the crisis for both stories.

The visuals are quite stunning and iconographic.

Japanese trade ministers meet the Ambassador for the Reich, San Francisco embassy headquarters.

Time Square is greatly changed in this reality

Life in the Japanese Zone is less rigidly authoritarian, but just as dangerous as the German zone.

The landscape has become subtly different in the German zone.

My initial reqction was very positive.  I feel like the production company has labored long and hard to retain the core themes of THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE (the book) in the web show.   Some of the plot was changed inexplicably, especially making the Frinks single.  Very early on there is some evidence ( I won’t specify) that the characters are living in a world where something has gone wrong and history has been changed.

The Germans are more advanced in this universe and casually fly about in Rocket planes

Where it goes from here, I have no idea.  But I’ve liked what I’ve seen so far very much.  It has the same close set feel to it the book does, and they don’t overdo the special effects.

Watch AMERICAN SCARY on Snagfilms.. right now!


Do the names Vampira, Elvira, Count Gore De Vol, Joe Bob Briggs, Zacharly, Sir Graves Ghastly, and Ghoulardi mean something to you? What? They do? They you probably are part of that slice of Americana that grew up Horror Movie hosts playing on Friday nights on your local UHF channel. I know I did. My favorite was Washington DC’s own Count Gore De Vol, courtesy of local UHF channel 20. The good count (Dick Dyzel) is still active today, albeit on a web broadcast. These were the intrepid guides to the world of bad horror films– the Creature Features, the Midnight Movie shows, etc. that played on most local television stations in most major markets for most of the 70s and 80s on broadcast television. Subsequently, they were banished to the nether hells of basic cable, where they live, and mostly thrive, today.

What delighted me as a kid wasn’t the movies so much– they were all Grade Z and below stuff- safely in the public domain, and thus eligible for broadcast. What I liked was the antics of the host, who was usually someone from daytime who was dragooned into working the horror show gig for some extra cash. There was a nascent art form there, and many local hosts were great at it.

Arguably the first American Horror Show TV host was “Vampira”, aka Finnish actress Maila Nurmi. She was a hostess for a local Los Angeles station for a relatively short period of time (1954-1955) but her impact was enormous, and she spawned many imitators, including (as she maintains)
Elvira, Mistress of the dark.

Television was more fragile then, so a lot of the recordings associated with the early films have dissolved into ruin. There are still a few recordings out there, and SnagFilms just released a historical documentary on the subject, which you can view for free. Just click on Vampira’s face,below.

click to view American Scary

Click to view AMERICAN SCARY on SnagFilms.

Video

Hyperland


Back in 1990, there really wasn’t an internet per se. Computers were in their infancy and just starting to talk to each other in a really useful way. This would become the internet. However, there was a great background of work already done on the notion of information retrieval and non-linear sequencing of text, dating back to 1945. HYPERLAND was conceived of by Douglas Adams (of hitchhiker’s guide fame) and filmed by him for the BBC. Tom Baker, Doctor Who #4 and a previous collaborator of Adams in those days stars as a sort of intelligent software agent who is assuming the role of .. well, something between GOOGLE and WIKIPEDIA, only more charming. Hyperland takes the viewer (voiced by Douglas Adams himself) through their first steps of hypertext data retrieval and hyperlinking.. only the terms are slightly different. Remember, this was before most of us had computers in our homes.. and the internet was mostly just dial up BBSs at this stage. So Adams takes a very “oh gee whiz” bewildered tone for things you and I take for granted today. With all that said it’s an ingenious little movie, very clever and witty in its approach about the foundations of the modern browser-based internet. Worth a look!

Ancient Robot Commercials for The Sci-Fi Channel


No, I refuse to use the term “Syfi”, thank you very much.  I feel my intelligence draining whenever I see that term.

The following is a series of promos that the OLD Sci-Fi Channel used for “Robot Week” many years ago. Starring Robot from Lost in Space and Robby the Robot from Forbidden Planet.

Joe Bodolai


Joe Bodolai

Joe Bodolai, from his blog

Joe Bodolai was a writer, television producer and comedian. He wrote for SNL in the post-Jean Domanian years and actually saw the script that came back with her writing “Make it funnier” at the top. His SNL experience is nicely chronicled on BlogTalkRadio.  After SNL he went to Canada and produced THE KIDS IN THE HALL for Lorne Michaels. For a while, things went well for him. He moved to LA and he tried to represent Canadian comedians (successfully for the most part). Things stopped happening for him, and he spiraled downward into alcoholism and depression. He chronicled his life and his decision to kill himself on his own blog on WordPress.

If you have a moment, read this post.  It’s fairly breezily written and attempts to keep the subject light, but it is clear that Bodolai was in a lot of pain and just didn’t want to live any more.  It’s incredibly poignant to read the following bullet points under the heading “Things I Regret”:

  • My inability to conquer my alcoholism
  • The things I did because of it
  • Leaving Canada
  • Moving to Los Angeles
  • Not fighting harder or making a better deal to stay with The Comedy Network I helped create
  • Not being able to live up to the helping hand so many wonderful people offered me
  • The hurt I caused in my family, friends, and maybe even strangers.
  • That I am no longer able to withstand any more of life’s pain
  • Most of all, the pain I have caused and am now causing my sons and the love of my life, my ex-wife Bianca, my love and connection with her is infinite
  • The fact I will never get to repay the love and generosity you all deserve
  •  Lisa.

Seriously.  Take the time to read it.   I don’t normally dwell on the morbid on this blog, but there was something about the way that Bodolai chronicled the disappointments in his life that stuck with me after reading it.  Was it exhibitionism?  Was it ego?  Make up your own mind.  It’s a good read.

One week after his long, rambling and chatty blogging suicide note, Bodolai checked in to a hotel and prepared a lethal cocktail of Gatorade and Anti-Freeze.  That had to be a painful way to go.

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Terminix enlists the help of Lovecraftian Monsters for their television ads


No fooling!  It would appear that the venerable exterminator company has enlisted the assistance of the elder gods in preparing television commercials.

Observe:

For Facebook users, URLS follow:

http://vimeo.com/24876451
http://vimeo.com/24876509
http://vimeo.com/24876566
http://vimeo.com/24876542

Limited Time Run of selected MST3K episodes on HULU


Ohhh, giddy as a schoolgirl.  HULU.com, the growing archive of old TV series on the web, will be running selected episodes of the old Mystery Science Theater 3000 show.  MST3K is a favorite of mine– it beats buying the gazillion DVD boxed sets in my book.

MST3Klogo

Click to go to the MST3K HULU page

So far, they appear to be running:

The Starfighters
Season 6 : Ep. 12   (1:32:10)

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Secret Agent Super Dragon (season 5, episode 4)

Secret Agent Super Dragon

Season 5 : Ep. 4   (1:31:56)

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Monster A-Go-Go (season 4, episode 21)

Monster A-Go-Go

Season 4 : Ep. 21   (1:32:06)

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Rebel Set (season 4, episode 19)
The Rebel SetSeason 4 : Ep. 19   (1:32:04)

Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Giant Gila Monster (season 4, episode 2)

The Giant Gila Monster
Season 4 : Ep. 2   (1:31:56)

Click the MST3K logo to go to the HULU page.

New Prisoner Series on A&E


the Prisoner original logo

Prisoner, original show log

A nameless man wakes up, his face dirty from being in the sand.  He looks up to see a man in archaic clothing stumbling down a hill, clearly being chased by vague, dark figures.

And so the new version of AMC’s THE PRISONER begins.

I have waxed enthusiastic about the New Prisoner mini-series on A&E before in this journal, mostly because I was excited to see what changes would be wrought on the excellent, creepy premise of the original BBC show from the 1960s, featuring the signature performance of Mr. Patrick McGoohan.   The older series established the roadmap for the newer one, and I expected it to be loaded with allegory, surrealism, science fiction and a touch of the parent show’s dry wit.  The newer show boasts some excellent leads– James Caviezel as “Number 6” and Ian McKellen taking on the role of the oily “Number 2” for the entire run of the mini-series (different from the original, which had a new Number 2 each week).

I finally had opportunity to view “Arrival” last night and came away vaguely dissatisfied.  The two shows are quite dissimilar in many respects.  The Cold War backdrop of the original show has been largely discarded.  The new show’s underlying themes appear to be perceptions of privacy, the mutable nature of reality, and the role of the individual in a capitalistic society.  That’s at first blush.  I give credit where it is due– Nick Hurran’s version of the Village is more voyeuristic, more secretive and monolithic than the older series appears to be (from what I recall).  The Village (or more correctly, those that are in authority in the Village) appear to be unassailable in their power.  Side by side with this is the notion that what the main character is seeing may or may not be real at any given moment.   Mutable reality is displayed on several occasions– where Number 6 has flashbacks that might not be real, where a shared experience one day is not present the next, etc. Either the Village is so supremely powerful it can change reality as we know it, or Number 6’s perception of reality is ‘off’.

Running throughout the narrative is the personality of Number 6, a paranoid and defiant individual whose personality traits have not improved by finding himself in the Village.   Immediately, he finds himself at odds with Number Two, played with blithe confidence by Sir Ian McKellan.   The first episode runs its course, and we are subjected to flashback, flash forward, flashback, flash forward.. ad infinitum.  Clearly Nick Hurran has attended a few classes at the LOST school of warped reality filming.  This is where I started to grow dissatisfied with the show.. again and again we are pounded by a sequence of images.  Again, and again and again… as if the director is trying to shout at us: “Hey look!  It’s an anchor in the desert!  That can’t be real!  it HAS to mean something important, YES????”

I am only one episode in to this series, but I am already missing the whimsy, wit and style of the older incarnation, plus the supremely poised performance of Patrick McGoohan.  I liked Jim Caviezel in the Passion, but find him strangely less than compelling here.  There is nothing “there” to root for, to associate with, in this Number 6.  He is a cypher, a blank, an empty vessel.  I suspect his character would have been greatly improved by adding more and different flashback sequences that explain him more effectively, rather than one key element of his past playing again and again and again.

In short, I’m still going to watch but I’m holding out for improvement.  The older series holds a place in my psyche that this series will not supplant– and even that is based upon the rosy lenses of nostalgia.  When AMC offered up the old series for free on streaming vid, I took a look at it.  For the most part, it’s still quite good, but shorter than I recall (only 17 episodes total!), naive in parts and downright BAD in others.  So maybe I’m holding a phantom up to the mirror here.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will improve.

Holy Cow! It’s the Room Store Lady!


If you live around the DC/Baltimore area, you’re familiar with the prolific work of one Kristen Swanson, also known as “The Room Store Lady“. A friend of mine who ponders such things often did a little research on Ms. Swanson’s body of work, as he appears to, erm, fascinated by her antics pimping furniture. It turns out he has made a discovery.. a dark, dark discovery.. Apparently Miss Swanson has ventured out of her oh-so-sweet hapless persona as the Room Store’s furniture pimp for a little indie cinema.

Here she is in Tamed, a short Youtube film loosely based upon The Taming of the Shrew. In it, Miss Swanson prances around wearing about as much as one might expect on an average European beach in summer time (and a dog collar). The juxtaposition between sweet, goofy Miss Swanson from the Door Store commercials and this… erm.. level of sophistication is a real eye-opener. It’s a MATURE themed video, but doesn’t show overt nudity or sexual acts. Just adult talk. And thongs.

God bless the internetz.. nobody is safe. 😀

Related:

  • Part TWO of TAMED, where Miss Swanson sheds her outfit, but remains concealed through the use of clever camera angles and props placement.  That might be NSFW.

New Prisoner Series in November, Original Streaming on AMC site


I reported that the new Prisoner mini series will premiere in November a while back, and linked to a trailer for the show. This looks promising.

Logo from original Prisoner Series, now available on AMCtv.com website

Logo from original Prisoner Series, now available on AMC website

I just discovered that the ORIGINAL, classic PRISONER televison show, broadcast in the 1960s, is being shown in its entirety on the AMC Movie Classics website, via streaming video. To go to the main PRISONER viewing page, click on the old TV series logo above. Enjoy!

Virginia Creepers Mini-Documentary


Sean Kotz’s VIRGINIA CREEPERS: THE HORROR HOST TRADITION OF THE OLD DOMINION documentary is about ready to hit the market.

This is a promotional mini-documentary cut from the film Virginia Creepers. You can learn more about the film at http://www.virginiacreepersmovie.com, but in the meantime, enjoy this glimpse into an American art form.

Featuring:

Bowman Body
Count Gore De Vol
Dr. Madblood
Dr. Gruesome
Ronald the Ghoul
Shock Theater
Creature Feature
Horror Hosts
Karlos Borloff
Dr. Sarcofiguy

Virginia Creepers!


This is the first trailer for the documentary: “Virginia Creepers: The Horror Host Tradition of the Old Dominion.” It chronicles more than 50 years of horror hosting in the Commonwealth of Virginia, where I hail from.

Maybe there’s something good on TV


Listen… to the words of the master!