Friday, November 17, 2006

Star Trek Marathon on TV Land

Starting tonight TV Land officially airs Star Trek the original series. I came in abit late tonight as at least one episode had already aired. With the episode I started with tonight it is more like the beginning of a Ricardo Montalban double feature. The episode was titled Space Seed that introduced the character of Kahn. Airing right after it is Star TrekII: The Wrath of Kahn. Mr. Montalban's preformance is the standout in both showings. First as the young idealist and a gentic bred superman from the late 20th century. He and his band of men had been exiled into space for trying to take over the world. Once the crew of the Enterprise found them they were kind to Kahn but he still tried to take over the ship and even kill Captain Kirk in the process. Once again Kirk had to banish them to a planet and to live in a place called city Alpha 5. While this episode of the series is about 15 to 20 years apart from Star Trek II, it is ironic that Spock ends the episode saying it would be interesting to come back to see what happens on city Alpha 5.
Star Trek I was a dissappointment storywise. It did give you a feel of how huge the Enterprise was and not just that small dot that flew by on the TV screen. We are reminded again of how huge it is when we see the individual lights come on to prepare the ship for flight. With the back to back airings of the Space Seed and Wrath of Kahn there is one blooper that sticks out like a sore thumb when we are reintroduced to Kahn in the movie. Chekov is the first from the cast to meet Kahn and they both remember meeting before. However, Chekov was not in the Space Seed episode. You could say they met off screen but since we are only dealing with on screen meetings it is safe to say that Chekov and Kahn never met. Perhaps they should have had Sulu be the first to meet Kahn. Star Trek II is without a doubt the best of all the Star Trek films. While Mr. Montalban's preformance is a stand out each main character gets a chance to show their acting chops. They even work in Deforest Kelly's background of him being a preacher's kid when he warns how mankind is playing God with project Genesis. The Bible says the world was created in 6 days but look out here comes Genesis, we'll do it in 6 mintues. Montalban's preformance can't help but be the standout as his character has the best lines. When his son ask if they should answer the Enterprise he says. "Let them eat static." When he is about to strike he says "Revenge is a dish best served cold. It is very cold in space."
This movie is best known for the death of Mr. Spock. The scene where Kirk says goodbye to his good friend who sacrificed himself for the ship is touching. It is the seeming end of a lifelong friendship. However a minute earlier Spock and McCoy had a scene that set up the sequal but it was not evident at that moment.
TV Land had also promised they would have behind the scenes info from the early days. So far they have just been jokes. Examples; Nimoy was the 2nd choice to play Spock. First choice was for Geroge "Goober" Lindsey from the Andy Griffith Show. Yeah Right!
One intersting bit of real trivia that I remember reading about is that the character of the Engineer Trainee who dies is not just another trainee. The reason Mr. Scott takes it so hard is that it is a relative of his. It was either his son or grandson I forget which right now.
Anyway it is fun and interesting watching this Ricardo Montalban double feature.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

This Day In Music History: John Lennon and Whatever Gets You Thru the Night

Today is the 32nd anniversary of John Lennon’s first #1 hit in America. Whatever Gets You Thru the Night by Mr. Lennon was #1 for one week starting on November 16, 1974. John Lennon was the first of the Beatles to release a single when he released Give Peace a Chance in 1969 while he was still a member of the group. That is the same year the Beatles released The Ballad of John and Yoko. A few months later John released his next solo effort with Cold Turkey. The Beatles, mostly Paul, refused to do Cold Turkey so Lennon did it alone. Both songs where hits on the Billboard charts and entered the top 40 but neither were #1. Later he released his more commercial sounding single Instant Karma (We All Shine On) but it peaked at #3. His next single, Imagine, had more impact but it too peaked at #3.
When I researched this I was surprised to see Imagine only peaked at #3. It is probably John Lennon’s most popular song after he left the Beatles. I always thought it was #1.
While John had many previous attempts to top the charts and was the first Beatle to go out on his own, he was the last Beatle to top the Billboard charts with a solo effort. Yes, even Ringo beat John to the top. George Harrison was the first Beatle to reach #1 with My Sweet Lord/Isn’t It a Pity. Considering the legal battle over the song George may have wished it wasn’t a hit at all. The second Beatle to reach #1 was Paul McCartney with Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey. Some people might say that Paul was the last Beatle to have a #1 hit on the Billboard charts as he was usually billed with either his wife Linda or with his group Wings. If that is the case then Paul would be the last Beatle with a solo effort with the song Coming Up (Live at Glasgow). Perhaps we should say Mr. Lennon was the last to get a post-Beatles #1 hit. Ringo beat John to the #1 spot with Photograph in 1973.
Whatever Gets You Thru the Night was recorded for the Walls and Bridges album. At that time he was going through emotional stress from his separation from Yoko and battling the United States Immigration Service who was trying to have him deported. On the song he was joined by his friend Elton John. Elton was to play the piano, the organ and sing background. Elton’s voice comes through loud and strong, nearly over powering John on his own song. You could really call this a duet instead of a solo effort. Lennon said when they were done Elton was convinced it was a #1 hit record. John is quoted in the biography titled Lennon as saying “It would be nice but it’s not a number one.” Elton made a bet with John that if the song went to the top that Lennon would have to appear at Elton’s next concert to perform the song. John was so convinced that the song would not be that he agreed. The song entered the charts the last week of September of 1974. Seven weeks later it was #1.
John made good on his promise and appeared in concert with Elton on Thanksgiving night at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Elton also asked John to perform Imagine but he turned him down. He said “I don’t want to come on like Dean Martin, doing my classic hits.” John was quoted as saying “I wanted to have some fun and play some rock ‘n’ roll. And I didn’t want to do more then three because it was Elton’s show.” The other two songs they did together were Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds and I Saw Her Standing There.
All of those songs with Elton were eventually released on record. They had taken on a historical significance. It was the last time John Lennon appeared to preform on stage.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

God Will Never Stop Working In Our Lives

God's Guidance
"I will bless the Lord who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me.
I know the Lord is always with me, I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me. Psalm 16:7-8 NLT
The steps of the godly are directed by the Lord. He delights in every detail of their lives. Though they stumble, they will not fall, for the Lord holds them by the hand. Psalm 37:23-24"

Giving thanks that God is near

"Sometimes we try to "ride out the storms" in our lives—doing this the best we can. We think, If I can just hang on and be strong, I can get through this. David knew he couldn't make it on his own. In the past, he had found help in the Lord God. And in this prayer, David again sought the Lord's protection: "Keep me safe, O God, for I have come to you for refuge" (v. 1). He rejoiced in the guidance and assistance the Lord had given him. Though his enemies were trying to shake and topple him, David stood firm because God was "right beside" him.

In prayer today, acknowledge that God is right beside you—upholding and guiding you. Thank him that he helps you and does not leave you to struggle on your own.

A prayer for today…

Dear Lord, I will not be shaken, for you are right beside me…

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Rest In Peace Jack Palance

Today I have heard about the passing of an actor whose work I have always admired…Jack Palance. Mr. Palance had a long career in film from detective dramas to war movies to westerns. He always played the heavy. He tried his hand at horror when he played Dracula and in my opinion he played the part as well as Christopher Lee and Bela Lugosi did. Like most actors his popularity dipped for a time but he recharged his film career when he co-starred with Billy Crystal in the City Slickers film series. He finally won an Oscar in the process as well as made the Oscar telecast memorable with his one handed push ups. It gave his friend/co-star Billy Crystal, who hosted the Oscar telecast, a chance to adlib a lot of jokes for the rest of the telecast at Mr. Palance’s expense. With his Oscar he got offered more roles in major films and he could add comedic actor to his resume. He had a small but important role in the Tim Burton directed film of Batman. He was also in the comedy Cops and Robbersons with Chevy Chase. While that movie will never be considered cinematic genius, the chemistry between him and Chase makes it worth watching. It is almost as good as his chemistry with Mr. Crystal.

When his film career dipped he tried his hand at television. His best attempt to me came when he was the star of the detective drama Bronk. It aired from September 21, 1975 to July 19, 1976 on CBS on Sunday nights. He played Lt. Alex Bronkov He worked on special assignments from the Mayor. The two of them were working on ridding the city of corruption. He would get help from his retired police friends like Harry Mark who now owned an auto junkyard and also got help from his daughter Ellen who was crippled in an accident that killed Bronk’s wife. The show was made during a time when detective dramas like Cannon, Barnaby Jones and Streets of San Francisco were hot. For some reason Bronk didn’t catch on in the ratings. It had a great and compatible lead in with Kojak but what may have lead to its early demise was that it was up against the last half of the NBC Sunday Mystery Movie and the ABC Sunday Night Movie. Until Trapper John M.D. came along CBS always had a little trouble with Sunday at 10pm.

Perhaps the best success that Mr. Palance had on television was when he hosted the ABC show Ripley’s Believe It Or Not. It aired from September of 1982 to September 4, 1986. He was the main host for those years. He co-hosted with Catherine Shirriff from 1982-1983. His own daughter Holly Palance joined him from 1983-1985. During its last year the show was hosted by the odd paring of Mr. Palance and Marie Osmond. The show had the full cooperation of the Robert Ripley estate. Mr. Ripley made his name by writing a newspaper column about the oddities of the world and later opened a museum that was dedicated to them. Now film crews spanned the globe to bring the museum into your home in video form. The show continues today in syndication with Dean Cain as the host.

Out of all the years and forms of entertainment that Jack Palance brought to his fans the one I will remember fondly is Bronk. I don’t really know why. Perhaps it is because I have a fondness for television back then. Maybe it is because I remember my Dad watched the show a few times or maybe it is both. Anyway Jack Palance brought a sense of fun and happiness to see him at work. Isn’t that something that every actor would like an audience to feel when they think about them? Rest In Peace Jack Palance.