Wednesday, March 12, 2008

American Life Television: Thursday and Friday

American Life's Thursday night lineup is composed of juvenile 60s sci-fi (Land of the Giants, Lost in Space, Time Tunnel, and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea) and it would be easy to knock their predictable plots, cheap sets and poor acting but they have a nice energy and I don't think anyone's expecting too much when they put these shows on. They are what they are and it couldn't of been easy putting together 39 hour-long shows every season on a tiny budget. At the end of a long day I'd be perfectly happy to crack open a brewski and veg out in front of any of them. But why the producers of Time Tunnel thought it was a good idea to put Lee Meriweather in a lab coat and stick her behind a desk I'll never know.

Why are these shows on Thursday night? Because if you combine the creepiness of Land of the Giants, the technology of Lost In Space, the time travelling of Time Tunnel (three shows about people who can't get home) and the ocean of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea you get Lost.

Friday night is 60s Icons Night meaning Batman, The Color Honeymooners and The Green Hornet. I don't believe any of these shows are 60s icons. Let's examine these shows one by one.

Batman: An eternal classic, one of the all-time great TV shows. It was always in reruns when I was a kid and I kept falling in and out of love with it as I got older. First I liked it for itself, then I didn't like the camp, then I did like the camp, then I didn't like it and now I like the whole thing. Batman isn't a 60s icon, he's an eternal icon. Here's a story from Mark Harris' excellent book Pictures at a Revolution: "Other directors assumed [Spencer] Tracy was simply no longer functional; at the time [Stanley] Kramer approached him, the only other call he had gotten for a job was from William Dozier, the producer of ABC's campy, popular Batman series. "[He] said, 'Didn't I have a grandchild who'd get a kick out of seeing grandpa as a cameo on Batman,' " grumbled the actor. "Wasn't even one of those villain things." Spencer Tracy knew there was a Batman show and knew there were guest star villains, that's awesome.

The Color Honeymooners: I can't get past two minutes of this show without wanting to pound my head into a wall and end the pain. Take a claustrophobic show about people yelling at each other and pad it out with songs. Great. The Honeymooners are 50s icons if that.

The Green Hornet: I coudn't wait to see The Green Hornet. I'd seen the crossover episode of Batman where the Green Hornet is introduced many times but I'd never seen the show until American Life started running it. This is a terrible show. Every scene seems to take place in muddy day-for-night lighting and there are endless fights and chase scenes which are endless themselves. I think there maybe was a 10-page script for every episode. But the show's biggest crime is undoubtedly the waste of Bruce Lee's talents. Bruce Lee playing Cato is like keeping Michael Jordan on the bench or building an atomic bomb and never testing it. I still get worked up just thinking about it. Bruce Lee, people, Bruce Lee.

Anyway, Green Hornet is a 30s icon, if that.

I hope you've enjoyed my look at American Life Television, they have a bizarre and entertaining website you should check out. If you love Susan Sarandon, Bobby Nystrom and lorem ipsum it's not to be missed.

Bruce Lee, people, Bruce Lee.

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