mlbroberts

IMDb member since October 2008
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    IMDb Member
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Reviews

The Twilight Zone: To Serve Man
(1962)
Episode 24, Season 3

Gullible people will follow promises anywhere
Even into space with aliens, even onto the menu. Lloyd Bochner seldom got to play a good guy, much less the victim but he gets his chance here and is very effective. A marvelous episode with a heckuva punch line even if it's not a very funny one.

Nanny and the Professor: Good-bye, Arabella, Hello
(1971)
Episode 14, Season 3

Arabella, plus an inside joke
Nanny's old Model A Ford appears to be beyond fixing now and the kids clamor for a replacement - until the replacement is made and they realize Arabella is gone for good. A mad dash to try to get Arabella back finds she's been sold to an artist, but he's either lost her to creditors or thieves. But like a lost pet, or a bad penny, can Arabella find her way home? Jack Burns makes a great fast-talking used car salesman (fast talk was his specialty). The inside joke? Burns slips his sales pitches into long descriptions of old movies and the actors in them, many of whom Richard Long (the Professor) worked with 20+ years earlier in his career.

The Big Valley: The Midas Man
(1966)
Episode 28, Season 1

About as adult as a 60s western would get
The theme in this episode - a "successful" businessman lending money to farmers in trouble due to a drought and how Audra falls in love with him - could have gone a lot more innocent than it did, but it turns out Scott Breckenridge wants something other than the marriage that Audra is hoping for. She is upset, shocked, ashamed - but then things get worse for the farmers and Breckenridge plans to foreclose on them.

A very moving episode for Linda Evans as Audra, as she offers a gigantic sacrifice to save her neighbors. Very nicely done, and very adult.

The Goes Wrong Show
(2019)

Funniest thing I ever saw.
I had the good fortune to see this on Broadway. I laughed so hard I had to go back and see it again, and I laughed just as hard the second time. Non-stop. I have to say that seeing it in person is even way more funny that the TV production, because there is a lot of audience participation in the play, and the scenery is such an integral part of the the "going wrong" that "feeling" it makes it even funnier than just "seeing" it. Nevertheless, the premise is hysterical on stage or on TV. A British mystery play where everything about the presentation goes wildly wrong. Scenic gimmicks like locked doors don't work right, stage crew keeps turning up visibly when they are not supposed to. In the stage production the entire set - predictably - falls completely apart at the end. The only production that actually literally made my sides hurt from laughing.

Nanny and the Professor: Aunt Henrietta and the Poltergeist
(1971)
Episode 10, Season 3

Who's rearranging the furniture?
Someone is rearranging the furniture in the middle of the night, and Nanny's crazy Aunt Henrietta decides it's a poltergeist and decides the Everetts need an exorcism. Cue the seance, with Aunt Henrietta calling forth her contact on the other side with a horn and everyone singing "When I'm calling you.....", only to find the furniture still rearranged the next morning. Elsa Lancaster is a lot of fun as Aunt Henrietta even if her exorcism doesn't work, Hal's trip-wire alarm set up catches only the Professor, but ultimately the culprit is revealed and it's not so magical and mysterious as sometimes things with Nanny seem to be.

Nanny and the Professor: Separate Rooms
(1971)
Episode 15, Season 2

Van Johnson as Brother Bob
Hal and Butch are getting to the age when they irritate each other and start lobbying for separate rooms. The Professor declines - they don't have another room to put one of them into, and besides he and his brother Bob roomed together until they went off to college and loved it. Then Bob comes for a visit and the now older brothers room together for one night - and can't handle each other's quirks now that they are men and not boys. So Butch gets the bedroom and Hal has the basement fixed up to suit him - but does it? Or does absence make the heart grow fonder?

Nanny and the Professor: The Man Who Came to Pasta
(1971)
Episode 17, Season 2

Cesar Romero comes to dinner and stays
Romero plays an eccentric Italian movie director the Professor worked for 15 years earlier in Rome, and who stays when an attack of the gout cripples him at the Everett house. He turns the place upside down with his demands and with fans and the press trying to get in, with long-distance phone calls to Rome, and with generally taking over until the whole family is disrupted at 1 a.m. and the Professor finally pitches a large fit of his own. Nanny happily reminds him of Granny Figalilly's reminder that "every problem carries its own solution," and that rather keep bending to the director's way of life, they need to make him bend to theirs.

Nanny and the Professor: Cholmondeley Featherstonehaugh
(1971)
Episode 6, Season 3

Nanny's fiancé arrives and is more befuddling than she is
Brian Bedford is marvelous as the man who shows up at the Everett's living room window and announces cheerfully that he has come to marry Nanny. Alone at home with "Chumley Fenshaw," the Professor is consistently frustrated when Chumley finishes his sentences, when Nanny announces she is engaged to him but wasn't expecting him to turn up "this year," and when Chumley gifts each of the children with even more pets for the household. Chumley's happy and confident ways leave the Professor unsure of how he feels about the whole thing, especially when Chumley asks him to give the bride away and the family is forced to deal with the prospect of Nanny leaving them. A lot of fun in Bedford's depiction of Chumley, in Richard Long's string of facial reactions to his frustrations and facing his feelings, and in Juliet Mills's managing to deal with both of them happily in the end.

Man with a Plan
(2016)

Bothersome
Is this really the new American working class family? Somewhere over the last few decades, family comedies became a lot of snarky one-liners and parents and children acting like they really don't like each other. I'm old now and while family life when I was growing up wasn't always a bed of roses, it was a lot better than this. There was sweetness there. There's no sweetness in this show. Lot's of griping, finagling and arguing. And on Christmas after a blizzard Dad steals the neighbors' Christmas presents and tree and somehow that's a great idea. Please tell me families aren't patterning their real lives after stuff like this.

77 Sunset Strip: The Laurel Canyon Caper
(1960)
Episode 7, Season 3

Richard Long makes history
As his Rex Randolph character is the first in TV to move from one series (Bourbon Street Beat) to an already established series (77SS). I am sure they moved him over to finish out his contract with Warner Bros (which finish got done early when he had a heart attack at age 33 in April 1961) but I wish they hadn't changed Rex as much as they did. In 77SS Rex lost a lot of who he was in BSB - instead of the hip, relaxed, often mischievous PI in a struggling firm in New Orleans, a man who loves the ladies and is a gourmet chef, he moves to 77SS and is a clone of Bailey and Spencer. Still hip, but stiffer with a lot of one-liners but with all of his background character gone. Long was a good actor and could make the transition but it's too bad they had him do that. The BSB Rex would have brought some needed color that was otherwise left to Edd Byrnes (and that was limited, too).

In this episode, with Bailey and Spencer out of town, Rex takes on the case of a singer at Dino's who is moving into movies but is the target of blackmail and hatred of a scandal sheet writer who lost his wife to him. Someone murders the scandal sheet writer, and he blames the singer with his dying breath. Rex doesn't believe it and works to exonerate the singer while having to deal with both the police and the mob to do it. It's an ok episode but would have been better if they let Rex be more Rex and less Bailey/Spencer.

House on Haunted Hill
(1959)

Just plain fun horror
The kind of film you really loved to go see on a Saturday afternoon when you were a kid, or even an adult. Fun horror, and it still holds up. Who can't love Vincent Price? Who can't get into a group of strangers having to share a haunted house overnight for the sake of $$$? Who can't get into a skeleton getting an acting credit as himself? Good cast, good fun. Now, for my own Vincent Price story. I was in law school in Baltimore, and just outside the window was a churchyard and Edgar Allen Poe's grave. One day the contracts professor went nuts - "Vincent Price is in the graveyard!" And he WAS!

Nanny and the Professor: The Wiblet Will Get You If You Don't Watch Out
(1970)
Episode 2, Season 1

Nanny's first real problem
Nanny gets her first real problem to confront with the children when she learns that Prudence has been having nightmares about a monster called the wiblet. Trying to convince her it isn't real hasn't worked, and Nanny reminds her father that to Prudence it is real - as real as the monster Nanny confronted when she was a child (the globbamore). As real as the monster the Professor's date (Joanna Moore) dealt with when she was a child (the dinklebilly). The way to defeat the wiblet is to confront it and see how funny it is - which Hal and Butch manage to pull off although not exactly as they planned. Trent Lehman, as Butch, gets a nice round of slapstick comedy in this episode, and Hal invents "the clapper" fifteen years before it was invented and marketed in the real world. As usual, a sweet episode built around real life and a real world family situation.

Nanny and the Professor: The Art of Relationships
(1971)
Episode 18, Season 2

A swinging new professor
When a new professor known as "Swinging Sam" (Bert Convy) starts teaching "The Art of Relationships" at the college, he starts dating Nanny (Juliet Mills). Part of the fun of this episode is the near-frantic jealousy that appears in the Professor's (Richard Long) eyes. Of course, Swinging Sam is more complicated than he seems, and it takes Nanny to figure him out and straighten him out, calmly, as usual.

Nanny and the Professor: Back to Nature
(1970)
Episode 5, Season 2

The family really wants a campout but the Professor doesn't
The Professor is assigned the job of working with a legislative committee on the best use of a wilderness area. It's a great opportunity to have a family campout - which they have never had - but the Professor reallllly doesn't want to do it. His idea of the great outdoors is the golf course. Nanny manages to finagle things so that his excuses keep washing away, and they go, and of course, even the Professor comes around to having a good time.

One very big minus for me in this episode, and I'd love to know who was responsible for this but I know it wasn't the director - who insisted that Nanny go hiking and camping in a miniskirt and three-inch heels? I was in college in 1970 near a national park, and you would never catch a woman dressed like that on a trail. Really bad costuming idea.

Nanny and the Professor: Sunday's Hero
(1971)
Episode 3, Season 3

Not quite football but kind of fun to watch anyway
The Professor (Richard Long) is the only one of his pick-up football team who thinks his own talent and that of his buddies is being way overrated by the team of middle-aged believes of alternate facts. When one of them (Howard Cosell, no less) arranges a game with his son's team - giant athletes all - and the Professor's buddies start thinking they can actually beat these guys, Nanny quietly and mysteriously arranges for the big boys to miss the planned game and Hal and his younger friends (include a female - Eileen Barral) to step in - and start cleaning up the field. Particularly funny are Barral's continuous blocks and tackles of one of the middle aged players (Roger Perry) and Cosell's being penalized 15 yards for arguing with the referee. Impressive, though, is that except for one exceptional catch and run where there is clearly a double for Richard Long, all these actors actually play the game. It's fun to watch, and I don't even like football that much.

Nanny and the Professor: Nanny on Wheels
(1970)
Episode 7, Season 1

How to transform an old junked car
It was probably a good thing they had Nanny and not just Hal's mechanical ability because the Professor is strapped for money, as academicians usually are. Nanny gets an old Model A for the cost of towing to the Everett house plus her grandmother's recipe for shepherd's pie. She and the kids manage to get the thing cleaned up and in running order, and Nanny takes her driving test (after some interesting driving lessons from the Professor) that turns more than interesting. Trivia - the first Model A hit the market on December 2, 1927; Richard Long (Professor Everett) was born two weeks later.

Bourbon Street Beat: Knock on Any Tombstone
(1960)
Episode 17, Season 1

Nice touches in an interesting episode
A famous dance teacher is poisoned, supposedly by voodoo poison. Rex investigates at the request of the man's daughter and gets caught up in voodoo, and a hypnotist who casts a spell on the dancer's granddaughter.

The voodoo angle is appealing, especially the voodoo ceremony and definitely the dancers at the ceremony - a man and a woman who can really dance and who sadly go uncredited. They were terrific. Another nice touch - at the end, when Rex uses voodoo ingredients to invent another Rex Randolph gourmet dish and his friends desert him rather than eat it, Rex breaks the fourth wall as he digs in, and winks at the camera. Richard Long got a lot of milage out of that wink, in a lot of series and appearances.

Dickinson
(2019)

Very creative and imaginative
And new. All right, I don't get the low ratings at all unless the raters were expecting something they had already made up their minds they were going to see. I went into this not expecting anything, but what I got was something different and frankly, the only thing worth watching on Apple TV. Anachronistic? Yes, so what? Anything like the real Emily Dickinson? Except that we can be sure she didn't talk 2020 hip, who knows what the real Emily Dickinson was like? For the record, I'm well over 65 and I loved the imagination that went into this series. I love TV from the 60s and 70s, for what it was. I love this for what it is - different, imaginative, fresh.

The Big Valley: The Odyssey of Jubal Tanner
(1965)
Episode 5, Season 1

One of my least favorite episodes of the series
Where to start? How about the title - the exact same title as an episode of Gunsmoke which, oddly, starred Peter Breck (Nick Barkley). Next, the timeline silliness - Tom Barkley killed in 1870, and now it's 6 years later but Victoria (Barbara Stanwyck) says Jubal Tanner's wife (the always excellent Arthur O'Connell) was killed before her children were born. Her grave marker, however, says she was killed in 1854, meaning in 1876 Jarrod (Richard Long), apparently a respected lawyer for quite a while in the community, could only be 22 at the oldest - nope, it doesn't fly.

Then the premise of the episode - Tanner arrives to claim land the Barkleys promised to him years earlier, but Jarrod has been spearheading the drive to build a dam that would flood that land. The dam would help dozens of people, all old friends of the Barkleys, but Victoria insists Tanner should have the land - she chooses him over dozens of other friends, because his wife is buried there. Turn your back on dozens of old friends for one old friend over the promise of a piece of land? Then the awful conclusion. Tanner is killed when hooligans try to drive him off the land, so the land is taken for the dam, and all is going to be fine because they will name the dam after Tanner. Please. Foolishness throughout the episode, as well as inconsistency and an insulting ending that everyone thinks is dandy.

Not a good episode at all.

Nanny and the Professor: Spring, Sweet Spring
(1970)
Episode 6, Season 1

Nanny works hard to get some family relaxation
It's a beautiful Saturday and Nanny wants to get the family together for an outing, but first she will have to find a way to keep Butch and Prudence from going to the movies, keep Hal out of his basement "experiments," and the Professor out of a meeting with another professor at the university. The Professor in particular needs constant discouragement from every attempt he makes to get to his meeting - lose the car keys, then block the car in the driveway with a delivery truck, then keep the car from starting, then reroute the bus across town.......the picnic they finally have isn't the one that was planned either.

The Last of Mrs. Lincoln
(1976)

All I had to know what Julie Harris did this
And I had to see it. She was such a marvelous actor, and the role of Mary Todd Lincoln seemed tailor-made for her. There isn't much out there in history on what happened with Mrs. Lincoln after the assassination and this is a good "maybe" story. The supporting cast, especially Robbie Benson, are very good too. Well worth the watch if you can find it.

Nanny and the Professor: A Diller, a Dollar
(1971)
Episode 14, Season 2

Prudence is excited about going to school
Until she gets there. Then she freezes up, as do all the other kids, until Nanny arrives with the cookies and explains it's the new teacher's first day too and don't the kids want to help her out? They do, but the new teacher has a lot to learn too, like don't tell a 6-year-old that her nanny is only making up stories about being able to hear what the family dog is saying. Prudence runs to Nanny's arms, and Nanny proposes to the Professor that the new teacher should be invited to dinner, to try to smooth things over with Prudence.

The new teacher comes to meet the family, and the Everett menagerie of dog, hamsters, rooster and goats - and she learns that her own cat is a blabbermouth. As usual with this series, it's a sweet story about a family working out a problem with a little mysterious help from their nanny. Funny, but in this crazy and uncertain December 2020, watching this 50-year-old show just makes me feel better, which is what it was supposed to do, wasn't it?

The Big Valley: Palms of Glory
(1965)
Episode 1, Season 1

My favorite BV episode
Beautifully done introduction to the characters of the series. Definite personalities set out one by one, and they pretty much carried through the whole four years. Stanwyck doesn't have a lot of screen time in this episode but boy does she use it, establishing her place as the matriarch. Richard Long is the statesman business/legal mind of the family who will pick up the gun if all else fails. Peter Breck is the hothead who is quick to doubt and fight back to protect what he works for but will reconsider. Lee Majors as the angry illegitimate intruder who will work for what he thinks he is owed by blood. Linda Evans as the untamed spoiled only girl who has a lot to learn. Charles Briles as the youngest son who has a lot of thinking and learning to do (but Briles got drafted and only appeared in the first few episodes). A lot goes on in one 53 minutes of screen time. Very nice pilot episode.

The Big Valley: Showdown in Limbo
(1967)
Episode 27, Season 2

Caught in a string of "Heath" episodes
This was one in a string of "Heath" episodes that were just flat out dull. Heath helps a sheriff and his son, who is not sheriff material, keep a prisoner from being sprung by his accomplices. At least L Q Jones was here to liven this one up but for the third straight time, it was all "Heath" and Lee Majors just didn't have the chops so early in his career to make something interesting out of a dull script.

The Big Valley: Turn of a Card
(1967)
Episode 26, Season 2

Another really dull Heath episode
There was a string of these, several Heath stories right in a row that was just flat out dull. Not necessarily due to lack of action, but to lack of character development. All "Heath fights and saves the girl." And I'll flat out say it - Lee Majors was very nice eye candy, but as an actor he had one approach, and it was bland. One of the reasons this string of episodes was so dull was because Majors was dull, didn't even change his expression (which seemed to be his way of "acting" as the series went on). I had heard Stanwyck tried talking to him about how to get his ego under control and deliver the goods but he just seemed to get stuck, and dull scripts like this one just did not help him. Majors should have been watching Stanwyck, Long and Breck more closely. They had the chops, which they all took time and effort to learn coming up. Majors could have learned a lot more from them just by watching what they did.

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