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Honor Thy Mother

Not really about Dungeons and Dragons
With all respect to Dungeons and Dragons player, this movie was not really about the effects of the game. Instead, this finely acted drama dealt much more with a mother's love for the son who attempted her murder. Of the 2 "made for TV" movies produced on this true story at the same time (the other was "Cruel Doubt"), I liked this one the best. Sharon Gless, was excellent as the mother who slowly comes to the realization that the attack on herself and her husband, which left him dead, was planned by her son, a student who had been living at college. As the evidence against him becomes stronger, the boy falls apart. But rather than disowning him, Bonnie Van Stein apprehends her own fault in allowing his stepfather to prematurely push Chris into manhood. In spite of the opinions of all around her, she sticks to her support of her son, assuring him of her forgiveness and encouraging him to forgive himself. One judges a production by how it lingers with you afterwards. It has been over 10 years since I first saw this movie, and I still cannot forget it.

Car 54, Where Are You?

Riotous TV comedy series
"There's a holdup in the Bronx. Brooklyn's broken out in fights. There's a traffic jam in Harlem that's backed up to Jackson Heights. There's a scout troop short a child. Kruschev's due at Idlewild. Car 54, Where Are You?"

In the mixed Jewish and Italian 53rd precinct of the Bronx, two mismatched police officers, Gunther Toody and his partner, Francis Muldoon, patrol their section in Car 54. Gunther, a married man, is short, heavyset, and, a dummy. Francis, a bachelor living with his mother, is tall, skinny, and cultured. Practicing an early form of community policing, these two kind-hearted, childish men are beloved in the neighborhood. But their efforts to circumvent stern law usually backfire and embarrass their precinct commander, Captain Block.

This program, a gem of Jewish humor, packed a half-hour of riotous laughter into every show. Each character in it was well-formed and extreme. The guest stars were just as hilarious. Although "I Love Lucy" is remembered as the premier TV comedy series of the 1950's, "Car 54, Where Are You?" extracted more humor out of normal situations. One cannot watch it without getting a belly-ache. It was the funniest show on television.


An all-time favorite of children's television
It is 1820 and a ship approaches the coast of Spanish California with young Don Diego de la Vega returning to his father's hacienda in the pueblo of Los Angeles. Recalled home after 3 years at University in Spain, Diego learns from the Capitan that the trouble his father hinted at in his letters is due to the political oppression of the new Commandante, Capitan Monastario. Realizing that he cannot hope to fight the soldiers as himself, Diego decides that "if one cannot wear the skin of the lion, put on that of the fox." By day he will appear to be a lazy, bookish, pacifist dandy. By night he will don the black clothes, a cape, and a mask and become the "Friend of the People", El Zorro, the Fox.

Although "Zorro" aired in the early days of television in B&W, it retains a fresh, modern quality, especially in the colorized version. In one half-hour show we get plot, action, comedy, drama, music, and even Spanish dancing. Everything was done under the guidance of Walt Disney and director Norman Foster with attention to detail, high production values, and Spanish flavor. The cast was wonderful, especially Henry Calvin as Sgt. Garcia, Gene Sheldon as the "deaf"-mute servant, Bernardo, George L. Lewis as Don Alejandro, Don Diamond as Cpl. Reyes, and co-star Britt Lomond as the evil Capitan Monastario. The author and inventor of Zorro, Johnston McCulley felt that the pages of his books had come to life in this show. Guy Williams, in the dual role of Diego/Zorro will never be surpassed as either. He remains for a generation of Babyboomers the real Zorro.

"Zorro" airs nightly on the Disney Channel. The 78 episodes are shown alternately all in B&W and then again in the colorized version. Even today it remains my favorite program on television.

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