Star Trek turns 55

Fifty-five years ago today, Star Trek – these days referred to as Star Trek: The Original Series – premiered on the NBC television network. I first started watching it in syndication, soon after it was cancelled. It usually aired around five o’clock in the afternoon, just before the local news. I did my best to never miss an episode, even if it was one I’d seen before. I don’t know how many times I’ve seen each episode. Fifty? A hundred? Maybe more. And I’m still (re)watching them. Star Trek airs on the MeTV network every Saturday night at ten, right after Svengoolie.

The first episode to air – although not the first on filmed – was “The Man Trap.” Not one of my favorite episodes, but still pretty good. Here’s a scene from that ep. Spoiler alert for those of you who have managed to avoid seeing that one for the last five and a half decades.

Happy Anniversary, Star Trek. It’s been quite the (fifty-)five year mission.

MTV turns 40

I was surfing social media today when it came to my attention that today is MTV’s 40th anniversary.

Aggie has a point. It’s been quite some time since music has been the main mission of MTV. These days, it’s mostly “reality” shows. Ever-increasing music licensing fees bear a lot of the blame. Here’s a more humorous – and not entirely inaccurate – explanation for MTV’s fall from rock-and-roll grace.

If you’re nostalgic for the old days, this article contains a link to a Youtube playlist of the first 100 videos that aired on MTV.

The Many Saints of Newark

I’ve finally seen the trailer for the long-awaited prequel to The Sopranos titled The Many Saints of Newark. If you haven’t seen the trailer yet, you can check it out here:

This movie looks amazing! James Gandolfini’s son Michael plays a young Tony Soprano. Vera Farmiga plays Tony’s mother Livia. Jon Bernthal plays his dad, Johnny Boy Soprano. Ray Liotta is in the cast as well, but I don’t know who he’s playing.

The movie takes place during the “Long Hot Summer” of 1967. Tony looks to be in his late teens here. James Gandolfini was born in 1961, which would make him about six years old when this movie takes place. So either Tony was a decade older than the actor who played him, or they’re retconning his age. I’m not sure which it is, but it won’t bother me too much. I’m stoked to see this flick and I can suspend some disbelief for a couple hours.

The Many Saints of Newark has a release date of October 1, 2021.

The Return of CSI

It looks like CBS is bringing back its hit series CSI. From PopCulture.com:

A new iteration of CSI is officially happening at CBS, TV Line reports. The limited-series is equal parts reboot and revival, will be titled CSI: Vegas, picking up two years after the original show’s conclusion.

William Petersen, Jorja Fox and Wallace Langham will return as series regulars, reprising their roles from the original series. Petersen starred as Gil Grissom, Fox played Sara Sidle and Langham was lab tech David Hodges. New cast members will include Matt Lauria, Paula Newsome, Mel Rodriguez and Mandeep Dhillon. The new series, which has potential to be an ongoing show rather than a limited series, was originally scheduled to premiere in October 2020 to celebrate the original show’s 20th anniversary, but was delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

CSI: Vegas comes from writer Jason Tracey, CBS Studios and Jerry Bruckheimer TV. Tracey will serve as showrunner and executive producer. The new show will open “a new chapter in Las Vegas, the city where it all began. Facing an existential threat that could bring down the Crime Lab, a brilliant team of forensic investigators must welcome back old friends and deploy new techniques to preserve and serve justice in Sin City.”

The original ran for 15 seasons and 337 episodes. It was the most-watched drama of the 21st Century. I can’t blame the network for milking this cash cow again. The three shows in the CSI franchise – I don’t count the extraordinarily mediocre CSI: Cyber – are in constant rerun on the Pluto TV app. Since Pluto is owned by ViacomCBS Streaming, I have no doubt the network knows exactly how popular they are. That being the case, the viewer numbers must be high enough that there’s still some milk left in the old cow.

In spite of the show’s realism issues – they take serious liberties with police procedure and science – I always found CSI to be entertaining. If the writing and performances are up to snuff this time around, I may find myself doing something I haven’t done much of lately: watching broadcast TV. Time will tell, I guess.

Police Squad!

I was thinking about this show earlier today. Police Squad! ran for six episodes on the ABC network in 1982. It was created by the same folks that gave us Airplane. The Naked Gun movies were essentially sequels to this series. I just searched it on Amazon and apparently it’s available on disk, so I’m going to have to buy myself one.

The video above contains the opening sequence for all six episodes. Each one has a different special guest star, so it’s worth it to watch them all.

Cobra Kai

I started binge-watching Cobra Kai on Labor Day. The show is essentially a continuation of the 80s Karate Kid movies. It tells much of the story from the perspective of Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), the antagonist from the first movie.

Long story short, this show rocks. Johnny’s not all bad. And Daniel can be kind of a dick sometimes. The characters are fully fleshed out and three-dimensional, and the plot takes some interesting twists, without feeling forced. And best of all, the nostalgia level isn’t too high and isn’t too low, it’s just right; just enough to make the show fun.

I watched season 1, and I’ll be starting season 2 this week. Cobra Kai got it’s start on Youtube Premium, but has moved over to Netflix. Rumor has it there’s a season 3 on the way.

Here’s the trailer for season 1:

riffing the pandemic

Rifftrax Live Stranger Things

I’m sure I’ve mentioned that I’m a big fan of Rifftrax Live. Well, this whole lockdown/antisocial distancing thing has thrown a monkey wrench into this year’s scheduled shows. Hopefully we’ll get to see those later in the year. They had two lined up: Hobgoblins (a cheesy Gremlins ripoff) and Amityville: The Evil Escapes. Looking forward to those.

In the meantime, the Rifftrax guys have set up a virtual live show that’s scheduled for tonight. They’ll be riffing the first episode of the Netflix series Stranger Things. To watch, you’ll need a Netflix account, a chrome browser and an extension for an app called Scener. You can get all the details here.

New entertainment is hard to come by right now, so I’m not going to miss this opportunity for a few laughs.

The Case for Physical Media

DVD

The recent controversy over Gone with the Wind got me to thinking. And it’s always dangerous when I get to thinking. The source code for my operating system is littered with wrongthink. Fortunately, my current train of thought probably won’t get me cancelled. And it might prove useful to fellow film buffs.

If you haven’t been paying attention to the news this week, you may have missed that HBO Max pulled GWTW from its lineup. It seems that its antiquated racial attitudes offend modern sensibilities. Fair enough, I guess. It will apparently be returning sometime in the future with a disclaimer. [Full disclosure: I’ve never seen GWTW. Yes, I know, I need to remedy that. *hangs head in shame*]

It occurred to me — and not for the first time — that maybe we’re becoming too dependent on streaming services. The day will come when more movies come under fire. And fans of these movies will have to depend on gutless media companies to hold up under pressure to bowdlerize said movies, or maybe remove them from circulation altogether.

Prior to the current controversy, my fear was that streaming movies and TV shows would be hidden behind ever higher pay walls. That’s still a consideration, but now I have a new reason to buy movies and TV shows on physical media. I don’t want my entertainment choices to be left to the Weak, the Bad and the Greedy.

So I guess I’ll be stopping by the DVD bargain bin every time I’m in Walmart. Like I always have.

Speaking of cancelled movies, here’s a great video by Youtuber The Critical Drinker about the importance of preserving our art.

gangs of london

I recently saw the trailer for a show called Gangs of London. The show was co-created by Gareth Evans, director of the excellent action movie The Raid: Redemption. GoL is produced by the UK’s Sky TV. Here’s the trailer:

Sadly, it’s airing in the US on Cinemax. My cable provider – that would be Spectrum, if you’re curious – decided to cut Cinemax from my cable package last year. Bastards. I guess I’ll have to wait for this show to come out on DVD/Blu-ray.