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Great memories of this show
I remember watching this on Ch. 19 out of Toronto. They used it as a filler during Magic Shadows, where they would show 2 episodes of an old-time movie serial such as Flash Gordon, or Zorro, and then fill out the remainder of the half-hour with an episode of Eureka! and maybe a quick NFB short. I've been trying to get copies of these for years, but as far as I know, the only way is to rent the series from TVO's educational resource library. Unfortunately, I believe you have to be a professional educator in order to use this resource. If anyone knows of copies available from a retailer, or on eBay, I'd very much appreciate knowing about it.

The Pig and Whistle

Canada's longest running prime-time musical variety show
Filmed on a set built to resemble a traditional English pub, this series featured traditional British music-hall style entertainment, and attracted a veritable Who's Who of famous guest performers, including Vera Lynn, Max Bygraves and Barbara Windsor, plus local ex-pats and regular guests such as Scottish comedian Billy Meek, and Pearly Queen Anita Scott.

The show was rounded off by the Roland & Romaine dance troupe, and a house band featuring The Carlton Showband, and headed by Musical Director Ken Stanley (who later became the co-host of Ray Sonin's infamous Calling All Britons radio show, along with Ray's widow, June Sonin).


Here's a partial list of additional guest artists, although I have no dates:

Ann Shelton, Billy Dainty, Mike and Bernie, Chic Murray, Joy Shelton, Andy Stewart, Reg Dixon, Diana Dors, Cardew Robinson, Richard Hearne (Mr. Pastry), Dickie Valentine, Tommy Trinder, Hattie Hacques, Tessie O'Shea, Lonnie Donegan

The Postman

Horrible adaptation of a must-read book.
I saw this movie on a free preview pass, and still felt ripped off. My cousin saw the film with me and genuinely enjoyed it. The difference - I had read the book by David Brin before the movie was released.

As for Kevin Costner, I have tried to watch some of his films in the past, and usually came away feeling cheated. Watching him attempt to portray Robin Hodd with an American accent was embarrassing, although his work in Dances With Wolves was quite enjoyable. Don't even bring up Waterworld with me. The only other believable performance I have seen him give was as the corpse in The Big Chill, one of my faves. The problem with Mr. Costner is that the across-the-board success of Dances With Wolves convinced him that he can direct himself successfully. I think he needs to decide with each film which side of the camera he wants to be on - but never both at once.

But the problem with this film is not Costner's alone. The screenwriters who adapted what is a very enjoyable book cut so many important elements of David Brin's vision out of the final film that the plot seems more like a patchwork quilt with many pieces gone astray. Perhaps for the sake of screen time, this was necessary, but I would have happily traded away some of those beautiful vista shots for a more complete and satisfying plotline.

I won't take up your valuable reading time explaining what was left out of the mix - get thee to thy local bookstore or library and read The Postman by David Brin and you will thank me for it later...

The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit

A wonderfully uplifting sentimental fantasy from the pen of Ray Bradbury
This gem of a movie only came to my attention because of a back-problem I had suffered a couple of years ago. My Blockbuster store only had 2 copies in, and they were way down on the bottom-most shelf. Since my back had seized in more-or-less a bending stance, it was in the perfect position to catch my eye, and is now one of my favourite films.

It's always great to see Gregory Sierra (Barney Miler, Soap) act, and his portrayal of urban-poet Villanazul illustrates the breadth of his stage and screen presence, most notable during the masterful recitation of his character's work.

Edward James Olmos is barely recognizable in the early parts of the film, hidden beneath the accumulated grime and stink of the vagrant Vamanos. But after the transformation of a bath, shave, haircut and the magic of the white suit, Vamanos shines as bright as any of the others on their best day.

The sequences focusing on Esai Morales, Joe Mantegna and Clifton Gonzales Gonzales round out the fun with music, comedy and a little bit of drama as Mantegna's Gomez struggles with his greed and the thought of betraying his friends. In the end, the suit works it's charm on his conscience and sentimentality.

This is one of the best films released in 98 in my opinion. Don't miss it...

Watching Ellie

Innovative, bold approach to half-hour comedy!
This show has a number of great things going for it. The 22-minute realtime episodes follow the trend of shows (like 24 and Andy Richter Controls the Universe) that reach to new or rarely utilized filming and editing techniques that add a new dimension to television viewing. In fact, in each of the 3 episodes I have seen, one of the cast members refers to the time left to the end of the episode [e.g.: "Would you two shut up and help me out of here? We've only got 11 minutes left to wrap this up!" or words to that effect...].

The lack of laughtrack harkens to one of the finest seriocomedies ever produced - M*A*S*H, in which the laughtrack was banned from all surgery scenes. This decision allows the writing to speak for itself, without the need to tell you when to laugh.

Hopefully, this show will not fall prey to the Seinfeld curse. If the network can keep it on the air long enough for viewers to give it a fair chance, this could be a real hit. Don't forget, Seinfeld started out as a lone pilot episode called The Seinfeld Chronicles in July of 1989, came back in May of 1990 for a 4-episode run befor starting a regular series schedule in January of 1991. By this time, we finally see the characters and their inter-relationships start to develop and gel into a show that really worked. In my opinion, Watching Ellie deserves the same consideration and should continue through it's regular season before it is judged at all.

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