mlbroberts

IMDb member since October 2008
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Reviews

The Big Valley: Last Train to the Fair
(1966)
Episode 30, Season 1

Not my favorite way to end Season 1
A long train ride to the fair in Sacremento finds the Barkley siblings without their mother for a day, and Audra gets appendicitis. Of course, the only doctor on board is on the run from a family out for revenge because he did not save the mother in that family, so Audra getting needed surgery right away is complicated.

Lots of angst for Audra, lots of anger against the doctor from the men chasing him, lots of insecurity by the doctor - in short, nothing that isn't the usual fare in this kind of story.

Good acting by all, but the plot is just kind of - eh. Very predictable, no surprises at all, just a lot of worrying for the little girl among them while the menfolk deal with each other's problems.

The Stunt Man
(1980)

Hadn't seen it in years
I just watched it again for the first time since it came out, and I still remembered a lot of it. O'Toole was terrific. Railsback was very convincing, and even though I've never been a Barbara Hershey fan, I thought she was darned good in this. Yes, I could believe O'Toole's director character was flat out crazy and not just crazy like a fox, and I could believe Railsback really didn't have any idea what was really going on most of the time. I believed what I was supposed to believe, which wasn't necessarily what really was. Great film.

Nanny and the Professor: The Haunted House
(1970)
Episode 2, Season 2

Delightful Jack Albertson appearance
The kids are frightened by an empty house where Prudence's kite lands on the roof. There is a raven inside, as well as a piano that plays by itself. The ever realistic and logical professor gets a professor who specializes in the paranormal to explain to them that every time he gets a report of the paranormal, it turns out there is a logical explanation, but the specialist wants to see the house.

Nanny takes the kids back to the house, and they meet a old man (Jack Albertson), a former actor, who is house sitting and rigged things so he is not disturbed. He is a very nice man, the kids love him, and they decide to leave him alone. They report to the professor and the paranormal specialist that there isn't a ghost anywhere in the house so the old man won't be disturbed. But.....maybe that isn't the end of the story.....

The Big Chill
(1983)

Reminds of a party I went to in 1970
And I was the only one who wasn't high. The weed went around but I passed it up (I wasn't into putting smoke of any kind in my lungs), and in an hour or so 15 people were in a circle with their arms around each other, rocking back and forth with 70s music in the background. They went on like that without saying a thing for so long I ended up leaving. When you're not high in a room full of people who are, you just get bored.

That's how I felt with this picture. They were high and I was bored.

The Big Valley: Target
(1966)
Episode 7, Season 2

What do you say about this episode now that it's 2022?
I used to think it was preposterous that anyone would believe Joshua Hawks. Now it doesn't surprise me at all. This is a difficult episode to watch without getting furious, even more furious now than I was in 1966.

Midsomer Murders: The Witches Of Angel's Rise
(2021)
Episode 6, Season 22

Sorry black characters upset you "woke" phobics
No, MM is not as good as it used to be but some reviewers here are deriding its multicultural turn to call it "woke." Funny how being awake is so upsetting to some people. The inclusion of people of color is a lot more understandable than keeping the lily white, blue-eyed cast of the early days. If you are going to criticize something, criticize the writing or the acting, not the color of the cast.

As for the cast, I'm not a Neil Dudgeon fan and don't like John Barnaby as a character. A lack of pep there, as if even Dudgeon (and maybe the writers) are getting tired of John B. If MM is to continue, it needs a revival, cast and stories.

77 Sunset Strip: The Corsican Caper
(1961)
Episode 21, Season 3

Finally Suzanne has something to handle
It's her own gullibility for believing a con man who ends up murdered. She's conned into believing she will receive a big inheritance for being a descendant of Napoleon, but she doesn't recognize the con and doesn't tell her employers about it even after she catches onto the con. Instead, so goes to confront the con man, finds him murdered, and ends up being accused of the deed herself. Rex to the rescue, as Jeff and Stu are out of town.

Jacqueline Beer finally has a decent part and does it well. Stunned and frightened not only that she was conned and faces prosecution for the murder, but also afraid that her bosses will desert her, she falls apart. Rex and Kookie get her back together and track down the real murderer.

Early appearance by Dawn Wells, later of Gilligan's Island (and whom we lost to COVID recently), another victim of the conman and momentarily a suspect.

77 Sunset Strip: The President's Daughter
(1960)
Episode 3, Season 3

Pretty boring
Jeff and Rex are sent to Central America to rescue the daughter of an exiled president. Lots of bad guys who have the government, "good guys" who want to oust it, with Jeff and Rex in the middle trying to save the girl and get out. But it's really dull going. When the most memorable part is a donkey who won't move unless Jeff (not Rex or anyone else, just Jeff) whistles "Yankee Doodle," it's not a great episode.

77 Sunset Strip: Old Card Sharps Never Die
(1961)
Episode 29, Season 3

Cute modern visit to the "old west" for Rex
Rex is hired by the big wig of a "frontier town" that is having its "Frontier Days." As soon as he arrives he is arrested for not having a beard, but it's a power play by the big wig who soon informs him his job is to go fetch and then baby sit Notch McConnell, an old gunman from the old west who is due to have a "shootout" with the big wig as the finale of the celebration. Notch is a hoot and a half, played by veteran character actor William Fawcett, an old boy whose main concern is that his dress boots and his stock certificates in an old played out mine don't get stolen. Notch has plans for that mine, those certificates and his boots. Notch also discovers the delights of room service and long distance phone calls, all of which the big wig is paying for. Rex is just trying to keep the old boy alive, especially when one of the big wig's boys who is part owner of the mine is murdered. It's up to Rex to track down the murderer and keep him from killing Notch during the finale shootout.

Juokse kuin varas
(1964)

Fun in Finland
An unusual film because except for Richard Long, the lead, everyone is Finnish. Actually, this is the only look I ever had a Finland, and I did find the accents sometimes hard to get through, but the gist of it came to me just fine. Long is V. Bartley Lanigan (the "V" is a long Finnish name, since his mother was Finnish), an American in Finland trying to find his way out of the charge for a murder he didn't commit, but the one who did is in Finland. Not to be taken too seriously, it's more a romantic comedy than a mystery or crime film. It's cute for a murder mystery, just right for the versatile Long and his affinity for the light-hearted character in trouble.

Bourbon Street Beat: Target of Hate
(1960)
Episode 22, Season 1

Very young Richard Chamberlain guest stars
Richard Chamberlain is a naive young man bent on avenging his father's suicide. He believes his father was wrongly accused of being a criminal, and he hires thugs to help him kill the writer turned politician he blames. James Coburn is the main thug and helps Chamberlain take over Rex's office (to kill the politician as he leaves the Absinthe House). Rex, his date, Cal and Kenny end up being caught in the trap, but they reveal the truth about his father to Chamberlain.

Not all that exciting, but tense all the way through.

Bourbon Street Beat: Woman in the River
(1959)
Episode 4, Season 1

Somebody doesn't like Tony's wife
Even if she is Mary Tyler Moore (in an early brief and uncredited role). Rex's "fourth or fifth cousin," a young man named Tony Picard, is frantic because his girl has disappeared. He finally admits she was really his wife but they couldn't tell anyone because his parents disapproved.

Excellent work by Jeanette Nolan in particular as Tony's mother and Denver Pyle as a pretty clueless lackey involved in MTM's disappearance. Lots of angst before Rex and Cal get to the bottom of things, and justice prevails in the end.

The Big Valley: Explosion!: Part 2
(1967)
Episode 11, Season 3

The first installment is the most interesting.
Three men taking nitro to fight a forest fire are killed when it blows up. Stockton is threatened by the fire, and the three Barkley men are the only ones who will try the nitro trip this time. So, they hide the fact from their mother (bad idea to hide anything from Victoria), roping Silas into lying for them (terrific scenes for Napoleon Whiting for a change, especially when Victoria catches him in the lie), and the brothers go off in a reconstructed hearse toward the fire.

The first installment is more interesting than the second. It involves each of the Barkley men getting involved with a woman - Nick because he reaalllly wants to (it doesn't work because it turns out she will do anything he wants to get him to take the nitro out to fight the fire); Jarrod because the girl who was to marry one of the men already killed desperately wants money to get out of working in a saloon (and she'll do anything he wants to get it); Heath because an evangelist girl in town thinks she is a coward and failure to her family, long dead, and he saves her from an attack by a couple low-lives (and she'll do anything to get over her guilt feelings about her family).

The second installment gets a bit hackneyed. The men fight problems on the way to the fire. They get to the fire to have the girl Heath's involved with show up there too to prove her bravery. A fallen tree pins Heath in the way of the flames. Nothing different from any other western forest fighting episode or particularly interesting either.

Thicker Than Water
(1973)

Brief summer replacement series, excellent actors
Fifty years ago the networks would try out a series for a brief run in the summer. Some were intended to end for good at the end of the run, some would be considered for inclusion as a midseason replacement later on. I don't know what was intended for this series, but I think it was too dark a comedy to be picked up anyway.

The subject is the death of the father Jonas Paine (Malcolm Atterbury), who owns and runs a pickle factory and is bedridden expected to die at any time. His daughter Nellie (Julie Harris) has been tending him alone for 8 years, since her brother Ernie (Richard Long) left the family.

Jonas is a sly devil with some plans in mind for his children ("wonderful" the lawyer calls his children - Jonas takes a swig of hidden liquor and says "They're not that wonderful."). Nellie is all angry and put upon martyr, not just out of love of her father or of pickles. Ernie is a loud, brassy, irresponsible but jovial jerk who thinks he is God's gift to women. Ernie and Nellie never have gotten along. Jonas has one of his employees send for Ernie, who comes home to see his "dying" father, and that's when Jonas starts his manipulations, to keep Ernie back home, to keep Nellie in the house, to keep both of them taking care of him and the pickle business when all they really want is for him to die and leave them something other than the gerkins that won a prize in 1911.

Nobody is very sympathetic here and the subject of waiting for Dad to die definitely shows the series' British origins (in a program called "Nearest and Dearest). That's probably what kept the series from going more than 9 episodes. But Harris, Long and Atterbury were very very good, as they each usually were, each playing somewhat against their usual "type." Sadly, the episodes are not available anywhere I've been able to find. I'd like to see it all one more time, just for the actors.

Playgirl
(1954)

An uncomfortable film
Naive girl Colleen Miller from Nebraska comes to New York City to make her mark as a model. Moves in with old friend Shelly Winters and starts meeting "the right people" very quickly. Too quickly.

Nobody in this film is really a "good guy," or girl. Everyone has their own self-interest at heart. Gregg Palmer as Tom Bradley, the upstairs neighbor of Shelly Winters, comes the closest to good guy status. Winters is a nightclub singer (and she sings great) in an affair with a married glamour magazine publisher, Barry Sullivan, who is leading her on about leaving his wife. Richard Long is a young "playboy" hanger on who owes too much money to the wrong people and ends up being the precipitator of a lot of the chaos that ensues.

Miller gets a fast "career" as a top model for the glamour magazine overnight, and Winters gets jealous fast. Borrowing Long's car and gun, she threatens Sullivan and accidentally kills him. Winters and Miller end up in the big scandal that ruins both their careers, while Long trying to get out of his money trouble gets them involved in a gangland hit on top of everything else.

There is sort of a happy ending but not before we lose Sullivan, and everybody else (except maybe Long) learns their lesson. New York "society" is a tough place in the 1950s and a naive girl from Nebraska better beware of a life that seems too good to be true, because it is.

The Big Valley: Tunnel of Gold
(1966)
Episode 29, Season 1

Not the best but not the worst
At least Jeanne Cooper got to play a sympathetic character for a change. She was usually stuck playing creepy women, but here she is an old friend of Victoria's (Ms. Cooper also got stuck playing women older than she was, too - she was not Stanwyck's contemporary - she was actually younger than Richard Long).

Here she's the unsuspecting victim of her own husband, who turns out to be a former outlaw not so reformed. The plot is an often used one - bad guys take over a store to tunnel into the bank next door.

Not all that exciting and pretty predictable.

The Big Valley: Joshua Watson
(1969)
Episode 14, Season 4

Nice try
Recent scholarship has determined that 20-25% of cowboys in the real west were Black Americans. Of course, the US in the 60s did not know and was not interested in knowing that and usually everyone in an episode was white, so any attempt to get a black cowboy into an episode is worth applauding. Lou Rawls was not a great actor but he wasn't all that bad in this episode either. All in all, the episode was a nice try to get some of the history straight.

How I Met Your Mother: Slapsgiving
(2007)
Episode 9, Season 3

Slaps episodes are the weakest
I suppose it's just me, but episodes built around slapping people in the face are 8-year-old boy stuff to me. Why are we laughing and celebrating hitting another person in the face? Marshall, as a lawyer, ought to know that's assault.

I love this show but hate these slap episodes.

Bourbon Street Beat: Melody in Diamonds
(1960)
Episode 20, Season 1

Who's got the diamonds?
Melody Lee is dressed for a Mardi Gras ball by an elegant Hungarian woman named Magda who owns a boutique and lends her a fabulous set of diamond jewelry, including a tiara, but when Kenny returns the diamonds to Magda, Magda yells, "Paste!" The "diamonds" are fake. A mysterious "magician" has managed to get them from Melody at the ball and replace them with the fakes.

That's when it gets complicated, because the magician has actually interrupted another theft that is going on, and his mousy wife, who works for Magda, is furious that the jewels the "magician" stole are also paste.

So where are the diamonds, who is the real crook, and is Melody Lee going to take the fall for everybody else?

Bourbon Street Beat: Invitation to a Murder
(1959)
Episode 8, Season 1

Political intrigue meets lost love
Rex receives a copy of an invitation a local politico says has been sent to several people, inviting them to his murder at a party at his home at a given time. The politico wants Rex to find out who sent them and theoretically thwart his murder. The party happens before Rex is able to track down the source of the invitation, and there is a murder, but not the politico's. Someone has taken advantage of the murder invitations to kill someone else at the party.

Cal Calhoun finally finds the printer who made the invitations and the surprising person who ordered them, leading Rex to the correct murderer in the end.

77 Sunset Strip: The Positive Negative
(1961)
Episode 39, Season 3

The stolen tiara
Tycoon hires Rex Randolph (in his last appearance) to guard the flamboyant tiara he supposedly bought for his ballerina fiancee, but it turns out to be a fake (echoes of a Rex Randolph episode in Bourbon Street Beat - Melody in Diamonds - and the tiara used is even the same one). The tycoon blames Rex for bumbling the job, but Rex solves the theft and gets the real tiara back, while also discovering the truth behind the tycoon's "purchase" and helping to catch an escaped Nazi.

We have to remember that this was made only 16 years after the defeat of Nazi Germany, so Nazis were still a terrifying recent memory for viewers. Escaped Nazis were still being hunted and caught. Yes, I'm old enough to remember too.

Young Dan'l Boone
(1977)

I'll add my husband as an extra in this series
My late husband also worked on this show. He often did wild lines in Cherokee (he had gone over to the Cherokee homeland in NC and learned with a teacher there). He didn't talk much about doing the show and I'm afraid I never got to watch it - it came and went too fast while I was in law school. It was good to read other "reviews" from those who knew locals involved in East Tennessee. Thanks.

Disneyland: The Tenderfoot: Part 3
(1964)
Episode 7, Season 11

Oddly put together 3-episode story
I am only commenting on the third part, which didn't seem to connect all that much with the other two. In this third part - played more for comedy - James Whitmore, Captain of the US cavalry somewhere in Apache territory, is owner of a prize Virginia saddle-bred horse and also saddled with recruits who are pretty hapless. The worst, Richard Long, is a concert pianist who couldn't make it in the concert world because of too much drink and women, so he enlisted and runs afoul of Whitmore right away because he can't even mount a saddle less horse. Worse, he talks back to his commanding officer, and Whitmore orders him to take the fastest horse and get out of the fort. Translation to Long: desert the army and take Whitmore's prize horse to do it.

Brandon deWilde and Brian Keith are army scouts sent into Mexico to get Long and the horse back, but when they find him they discover he's ingratiated himself in Mexican society with his piano playing and has also sold the horse to the local commandant (Carlos Romero).

They steal the horse back and get Long back to Whitmore, but the disaster is not over. It's all played for comedy. The actors pull it off well. Nothing profound here, just fluff, but fun.

77 Sunset Strip: Caper in E Flat
(1961)
Episode 36, Season 3

Fun for the outrageous characters
Rex is hired to protect "Billy Boy Baines," country singer for the pre-teen crowd, after someone takes a shot at him. The hoots in this episode are. John Dehner (usually a serious heavy, here a hysterical fraudulent agent for Billy Boy) and Cloris Leachman (over-sexed southern bell attached to Dehner). The music is intentionally godawful. Poor baffled Rex gets Kookie to help him deal with this mess.

Nanny and the Professor: The Astronomers
(1970)
Episode 5, Season 1

Wishing the other guy had won
The Professor gives Hal a telescope for his birthday and then is led to wonder how he can get more interested in the things Burch is interested in, when he's naturally drawn to scientific Hal. Then it's Butch who spots a new comet through Hal's telescope. Suddenly it's Butch who's the famous scientist, even if he would rather play baseball - and then a genuine astronomer who has been working out the comet's appearance also claims the discovery. The problem is he is a really nice man. He is a tenth of a second behind Butch, and Butch begins to regret that the real scientist, who worked for years and years to find the comet, is the one who loses out. A story about a boy's sense of fairness.

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