I have been planning for months to write a blog about theme songs. I thought and thought, over and over, what would that entail? Then I realized it is a series, not just one blog.
Here's the thing--I love theme songs. As advertisements have encroached upon our viewing time, theme songs have gotten shorter (to help compensate for the lost minutes of the story). For that, I thank those that give us t.v. shows. However, I miss the theme song portion of the show.
When you wait all week for your favorite characters to come back, it is fun to sing along to one thing that connects you again.
So, to start the series, I want to share something I learned just last week. There was a show in the late 80s, early 90s called Out of This World. It starred Maureen Flannigan as a teenager who finds out on her 13th birthday that her father is an alien, and as a result, she has special powers. The coolest, most memorable, was that she could freeze time by touching together her two pointer fingers. Her mother was played by Donna Pescow, who amazingly played a mother to teenagers 10 years later on the Disney show Even Stevens. I say amazingly because she had not aged one bit! The alien father was never seen. He was simply a voice through a crystal pyramid. The voice? None other than Burt Reynolds!
Anyway, the lyrics to this theme song go: link to the song: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L2UkZzdyD0A
Would you like to swing on a star?
Carry moonbeams home in a jar?
And be better off than you are?
Or would you rather go to earth?
An earthling's a creature, as plain as can be
He's not as unique as you or me
His body comes in lots of different shapes
They say his relatives were chimps and apes
But if you take my advice, for what it's worth
You could be happy there on earth
So, recently I was running and one of the songs on my ipod is Gitarzan, by Ray Stevens. One line says something about carrying moonbeams home in a jar, so I decided I needed to google this line and find out what connection, if any, there was. And here is the cool story: According to Wikipedia, the songwriter Jimmy Van Heusen was at Bing Crosby's house for dinner one evening. Crosby's child was complaining about school, so Bing looked at him and said, "If you don't want to go to school, you might grow up to be a mule."
This prompted Van Heusen and partner Johnny Burke to later pen a song for a Bing Crosby movie, in which he is a priest talking to a group of boys also complaining. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iTUKHMlbYGA.
If you listen to the two links (and I hope they work), you will see that the theme song was directly taken from the original tune. I don't know who did the adaptation, but I'm betting Van Heusen and Burke got some sort of credit.
And there is your interesting story for the day.
March 06, 2012
I remember very clearly the fall of 1994. Specifically, I remember turning on NBC on a Thursday night for the premiere of a new show called Friends. I remember, again very clearly, only checking it out simply because there wasn't much else to watch and it looked good enough to watch at least once.
A few weeks later, I was still tuning in, but was reticent to predict that the show would last beyond the fall. Honestly, it was just okay and I came sort of close to making a big mistake and giving up on the ability of these actors to gel, find their characters, and make the magic that we would come to know as the Friends phenomenon.
Before I get into the meat of this post, that ought to really serve as an example to many network decision makers. Every show requires time to find its magic. The actors haven't yet discovered what makes their characters tick. They haven't yet become a solid family. The writers are still introducing us to the show and to the characters. Yes, even Friends needed that time. In fact, look at many of the greatest shows in television history and you will find the same story. So, please, give shows times. Let them stay on the same night at the same time long enough to find an audience. And for the love of Pete Brady, give them advertisement!! I am really tired of losing the Freaks & Geeks of the t.v. world.
Anyway, back to the reason for this post: It all comes back to Friends. Now that we know what a fantastic show Friends was, let's look at the reason why. The greatest reason has to be because it was so relatable, right? I mean, there were all sorts of groundbreaking things I could point to that led to the success of the show, but one big aspect is that the writers obviously knew what it was to be in a group of friends.
To this day, I very rarely complete a hang out session with friends without someone saying at least one time, in relation to some story in our lives, it's like that time on Friends...Just today I was speaking to a friend about our rental home. My husband and I are becoming landlords and are beginning the search for renters. This friend says, "Like Joey, when he was looking for a roommate: "Non-smoker, non-ugly." She doesn't even have to say the show name; you just know who she is talking about.
Look over your life. In all seriousness, try to go about your day and not be able to somehow remember an episode of Friends that doesn't in some way relate to some part of your day. It could be the most mundane thing, which is part of what made Friends special. It was similar to Seinfeld, in being a show about nothing. In many ways, Friends was a success because it was simply about basic things in life.
But it can also be about big things in your life. Pardon me if you think this is too much information, but I was laying on a table in a doctor's office a few weeks ago, having just moments earlier had an infertility procedure performed on me. No joke, a friend texts to me, "Think Thick." That was all; she didn't have to remind me of the episode when Phoebe decides to be a surrogate for her brother and sister-in-law. I just knew.
Here's hoping that I have opened your eyes to all the ways Friends relates to your life. And here's hoping you think of me and smile when a Friends reference comes to your mind or pops up in conversation.
By the way, the aforementioned episode features one of my favorite actors of this generation: Giovanni Ribisi. Huge talent. Best line of the entire episode: "My sister's going to have my baby!!!"
February 03, 2012
Wow, I've been gone for a while, haven't I? Please forgive, all two of my readers...the acting career combined with a two year old has really taken up a lot of time lately. Since that's my gig, I ain't complainin'. So, let's get to it, shall we?
Referring to an earlier post, I told ya so. First off, let's talk about casting Ashton Kutcher on Two and a Half Men. In a super quick google check, we read that Two and a Half men's ratings are falling. However, we also read that it is still drawing in huge numbers. That tells us that the curiousity only viewers are satisfied and the weekly fans are hanging in there. So, score one for Jessi in the prediction category.
By the way, I did tune in for season premiere, the only full episode I have ever seen of the show--loved it. Not the show itself, rather the way it was all handled. Brilliant.
And for point number two, this just in: Anna Kuornikova is leaving The Biggest Loser after only one season. Ho hum, whatever, moving on...okay, so we don't know anything for sure other than "it wasn't a good fit." Really? We knew this was a stupid decision. Thank you, TBL, for letting her go.
And that's about all I have to say about that. Short post this time; I promise to not be away as long next time. I have a lot more television to talk about. In the meantime, check out Once Upon a Time on Sundays, 8 p.m., ABC---super adorable.
November 16, 2011
I love t.v. I do; I can't deny it and won't even try. I love t.v. Every person that has ever lived with me has started out claiming to very rarely watch t.v. and has left me as an addict: Three college roommates, the adult years roommate, and my husband. Okay, so my husband hasn't left me, but he does watch an awful lot more television than he used to---the t.v. in the bedroom was HIS idea.
That being said, I have seen a ton of t.v. shows. And I would say there are many that have gone unappreciated by the general public and sadly so. But in today's post, I only want to focus on one show: Freaks & Geeks.
Much has been written by the critics and fans of Freaks & Geeks. It was an NBC show that never got a chance; hardly no advertising and very difficult to find. It aired in 1999. I say this not as a fan of the show, but as a fan of t.v. in general: Freaks & Geeks had some of the best writing, directing and acting of any show in the entire history of telelvision. I know this is a bold claim, but it's one I'm willing to stand behind.
It focused on two sets of high school kids. The older ones were more of the too cool for school crowd while the younger ones, led by the younger brother of one of the older kids, were absolute geeks. It was set in the 1980s, which you might assume would help it, but it did not focus on the bright colors and fads of the 80s; it was much more realistic than that.
The cast could not have been more amazing: Linda Cardellini (though I will never forgive her for kissing Cory Matthews and coming between him and Topanga), James Franco, Seth Rogen, Busy Phillips, Jason Segel, Samm Levine, Martin Starr, Joe Flaherty, Thomas Wilson (Biff). I know it looks like I just listed the main cast and I pretty much did, as that is how amazing this cast was.
The episodes had incredible humor and heart to them. In one episode, the big sis wants to throw a kegger while the parents are out of town, but scared of what may happen, her younger brother and his friends replace the beer with nonalcoholic beer. However, everyone gets drunk anyway on the assumed belief that just being told you're drinking alcohol will make you drunk. In another episode, one of the friends discovers his dad is cheating on his mom; Samm Levine does some incredible acting in his scenes here; it's quite tough to go through this pain with him.
The side characters are written with great heart and realism as well. Cindy, the popular cheerleader, isn't some high fashion, gorgeous model type that we see on high school shows these days. She is a cute girl in a cheerleading uniform, AND she is, get this: sweet! Not snotty like cheerleaders are supposed to be on t.v. Sweet!
Linda Cardellini's ex-best friend, Millie (who is trying to hang onto their friendship) is treated at first as the immature dork holding Linda's character back. But we soon find out just how mature she really is, and how great of a friend she is as well. Additionally, Millie is a Christian and rather than the typical Christian bashing we would normally be subjected to by making Millie either annoying or hypocritical, we get a Millie that is simply caring, kind, sweet and out to be a good person.
I could go on and on, but I would rather you discover this one for yourself. More than 10 years later and I still mourn the loss of what could have been. With only 18 episodes, I hope you'll check it out someday.
August 04, 2011
I don't even know where to begin or end with this post. Mr. Schwartz has passed away. What do you say that hasn't been said already, right? Okay, um, The Brady Bunch was by far and away my favorite show growing up. Every day after school, 4:05 and 4:35 p.m. on TBS at my aunt's house. I have seen every episode so many times that I can tell which episode within the first 15 seconds or so--it's my own little game.
When I was last in L.A., we found THE house. I was so excited by it I hardly knew how to act once I got there. All I could do was take a picture and then drive away.
My favorite Brady was usually Jan. I know she was the forgotten child--not as cute as Cindy, not as perfect as Marcia. But I always thought Jan was the prettiest and the coolest. I looooved her hair and the way it swung even better than did Marcia's. I never understood why she wanted to get rid of her freckles, but I have used the lemon juice trick on the dark spots on my face--I don't think it worked.
I have read every book and have on tape and/or DVD most of the reinventions: The Brady Girls Get Married, followed by all six episodes of The Brady Brides. The one where Mike gets trapped in a mine and the one where Bobby is paralyzed in a racing accident. All three modern tellings (yes, there were THREE!). The t.v. movie starring Kaley Cuoco. Maureen's book. Barry's book. Waiting on Carol's to come out. Does anyone out there have the cartoon or the variety show? I was too young for that and have only seen snippets in t.v. specials. Okay, okay, you get the point. But I digress, as they say.
So, that time I was in L.A. and found the house---we were driving down the road and I saw some small advertisement for, get this, The Brady Bunch Musical!!! Get out of Dodge, Thurston Howell III (a gazillion Brady bucks if you get this reference). Combining The Brady Bunch and the musical genre?!?! Brilliant! So I forced my friend to go with me.
While there, I knew it would be absolutely perfect for the Atlanta stage and when we went to our private acting class the next day, I told our teacher exactly that. She casually mentions that one of her great friends had produced the play and his name is Lloyd. Casually mentions that one of her great friends is Lloyd Schwartz! THE Lloyd Schwartz.
Here is the problem with being an old soul. All of the people you dream of meeting your entire life are either already dead or pass away while you're dreaming of meeting them. The other problem is that you're rather a dork, by virtue of being the only person your age who knows who Lloyd Schwartz is, much less being gaga over having only one degree of separation from him.
This particular teacher thought he would love to hear from me and subsequently got permission to give me his phone number. So within days I am standing in the hallway of our hotel, with my phone in my hand, scared to pieces at calling Lloyd Schwartz. He was a wonderful man; very kind.
I knew then that his father had been able to create such wonderful family shows because they came from his heart. Out of the overflow of your heart is what you show to the world. The goodness of The Brady Bunch and Gilligan's Island could not have come from someone who did not have that same goodness within him, and it was certainly passed on to his children.
So, in keeping with what I wrote personally to Mr. Schwartz tonight: Mr. Sherwood Schwartz, I thank you for being such an integral part of my childhood. I thank you for giving generations of families shows they can enjoy all together. I thank you for having such a good humor about it that you were not bothered by the parodies and jokes over the years, rather embracing them. And I thank your family for being so sacrificial with their time with you so the world could love you. I pray for them now, the sadness they feel and pray for God's peace to envelop them going forward.