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Gimme a Break!

Holds up surprisingly well 30+ years later
I was 9 years old in 1981 when this show debuted. Though I watched Gimme a Break from the start, it goes without saying that I lacked the maturity at that age to fully understand the adult humor and social issues being explored.

As Gimme a Break only enjoyed average ratings at the time, it was not a big candidate for syndication. As a result, it has been decades since I last saw the show.

I caught it again recently on YouTube, and I was pleasantly surprised. It was better than I remembered as a kid, perhaps because I could fully understand everything now. It's funny, charming, well-written, and even manages to tackle some serious issues. Most notably, it holds up surprisingly well today, which can't be said for many of the more popular sitcoms at the time.

The show was also fairly unusual in that its strongest episodes were in the first two years. Most successful shows take some time to find themselves, but Gimme a Break hit its stride early. Sadly, the show started to slip starting from season 3. Nell Harper's increased creative control was part of the problem. She was a very talented actress and singer, but not so much on the creative side. The series really took a nosedive in its final season when the girls left and the setting moved to New York.

Even so, this was a good show, and in fact deserved better ratings when it was on the air. Try watching it again, and I bet you'll enjoy it more the second time around.

The Rockford Files

Among the best the '70s had to offer
"Rockford" showed up on the small screen nearly 35 years ago. That's a long time, and the world has changed a lot since then. This makes it even more satisfying to see how well the show has held up over the years. While the cars, hairstyles, and clothing are noticeably dated, the endearing characters, intelligent writing, and clever story lines aren't.

Jim Rockford is an atypical TV hero, especially for the 1970s. He is often cranky and impatient, and he usually wants nothing to do with a case unless it's going to put his usual $200/day plus expenses in his pocket. However, after being talked into reluctant participation into many of his capers, Rockford displays an unusual sense of morality. Once he finds someone getting the short end of the stick, he can't turn his back on them until he puts things right -- even at his own life's peril.

The supporting cast really makes this show. All have a complex, sometimes unexplained relationship with Rockford that is often unconventional. Angel Martin is an extremely shady ex-con who constantly lies to Rockford and gets him into trouble, yet the viewer comes to eventually understand their strange friendship, as Jim begrudgingly takes the good with the bad. Beth Davenport's relationship with Rockford is never clarified. It's implied they had or have some sort of romantic involvement, but the relationship seems open, and at times, just a friendship. However, the viewer gets the sense that the two care about one another very much, and the strong, educated Ms. Davenport is a refreshing departure from damsel-in-distress characters of the time. Sgt. Dennis Becker is Jim's friend, but he isn't shy to share his suspicions that Rockford is often using him for information and police protection, nor is he reluctant to complain that Jim's ever-presence is preventing his advancement within the LAPD. Even Rockford's own father has an unconventional relationship with him, as Jim refers to him as "Rocky" and treats him as more of a best friend than a father. Rocky is more trusting and happy-go-lucky than his cranky, cynical son, but the two of them have an excellent chemistry that is even touching at times. It helped that Noah Beery and James Garner had a physical resemblance, as well.

The show had a few mainstays that were present in nearly every episode. It always had its share of humor, though often subtle. There were always a few exciting car chase scenes, however improbable that they could take place on L.A. streets without ever running into traffic. Someone always seemed to find a way to break into Rockford's trailer and either tear the place up, attack him, or both. Apparently he never learned his lesson about investing in some better locks. Regardless of these patterns, however, the show remained fresh and interesting throughout its entire run, especially with the creative writers they were fortunate enough to employ.

The Rockford Files was one of the most expensive shows to produce at the time, given its extensive use of on-location shooting throughout Los Angeles and its surrounding cities. While I'm sure this made things tougher on the staff, it especially enhances the show now, as one now has an excellent look at 1970s Los Angeles. It's especially invigorating for me to see this, as memories of my childhood there come rushing back with every scene change.

I did not start watching this series until 2007. It has been a pleasant surprise, and I recommend it to anyone who is looking for some great TV from 3 decades ago.

Head of the Class

Charming for 3 seasons, mediocre for 2
"Head of the Class" is very dated to the late 1980s. From the big hair to the clunky IBM terminals in the classroom, there's no doubt you're watching a show produced nearly 20 years ago. However, that actually adds to the program's charm -- especially for those of us who were in high school ourselves during that time period.

For 3 seasons, Head of the Class had a lot going for it. While lighthearted and often requiring a suspension of disbelief, the show was funny, entertaining, and charming. There was an excellent chemistry among cast members, and Howard Hesseman was perfect for the part of wise teacher Charlie Moore. Even the New York setting of the sitcom was well done, from the fascinating city imagery in the opening song to many different exterior shots shown between scenes. I saw the show at a taping in Burbank, California in 1986. Despite having actually been on the California set, I had to constantly remind myself that it wasn't actually shot in New York. That's unusual for a sitcom.

Unfortunately, things started to unravel in season 4. Too many of the original student cast members were lost, and the new ones replacing them were uninteresting and flat. How much do you really remember about Viki, Aristotle, Alex, T.J., and Jasper? You probably remember their faces, but they were simply cardboard replacements for the vibrant and quirky Janice, Jawaharalal, and Maria. This was already a sign that the show was slipping.

In Hesseman's final year, there were also a surprising number of "musicals" performed on the show. The first one was an interesting change, but this repeated theme made it clear that the writers were running of out ideas.

Finally, Hesseman left (probably sensing the end being near), and Billy Connolly replaced him. That was the truly the beginning of the end. Like the replacement students of the previous year, Connolly's character lacked the substance and depth that made Hesseman's so great. Between the boring new teacher and the tired-looking, modified class of students, this show ceased to hold many people's interest. It was mercifully put down at the end of the '90-91 season.

I would like to see Head of the Class back somewhere on television. Nick at Nite ran it for awhile in a horrible time slot (something like 4:30am), but eventually it vanished. It can't be found anywhere, which I think is a shame. This fun show deserves better than to rot in some syndication company's archive room.


Alice doesn't show here anymore....
What happened to "Alice"? You can't find it on DVD, can't find it on cable, and can't even locate it late at night in local syndicated reruns. It's hard to guess why the powers-that-be at TV Land or Nick at Nite haven't realized that this show would be popular as part of their lineup.

Anyway, this show set itself apart from many of its era by its semi-unpredictability. Every plot didn't have a happy ending, and there wasn't necessarily a "good" lesson taught to the viewer by the end. For example, in one episode when Flo enrolls in night school to finally earn her high school diploma, she has trouble concentrating on her homework, and is "forced" by Alice to stay home and study. Rather than provide the viewer with the happy and P.C. ending where Flo realizes the value of an education, the episode concludes with her sneaking out the window to go on a date. Presumably, Flo never gets that diploma.

The show did a good job presenting a blue-collar "diner" setting. None of the waitresses were beautiful, and outside of the endless parade of famous guest stars, the clientele shown in Mel's fit well with that of a '70s greasy spoon in a city like Phoenix. Supporting characters such as Henry and Earl -- everymen in all senses of the term -- fit in well with this motif.

Each character brought something to the show. Alice was the sensible single mom with big hopes and dreams. Vera was the childlike ditz. Flo was the outspoken, aging, oversexed country woman. Mel was gruff and selfish, but was kind-hearted beneath the surface. "Kiss my grits" became a household phrase.

Unfortunately, with Flo's departure, the show took a steady turn downhill. Diane Ladd's Belle and Celia Weston's Jolene were nowhere near as colorful as Flo, and as a result, the plots started to slip, as well. A lot of the later episodes were stupid and downright embarrassing. Many of the early elements that made this show great were simply missing in the later years.

Overall, this was a very entertaining show, and it's a shame that it can no longer be found. Hopefully this will change in future years.

You Can't Do That on Television

Before Kids TV became P.C.
You take a look at kids' television today, and it's amazing that this show saw the light of day. Consider the following aspects of "You Can't Do That On Television"....

  • Kids are chained up and put in front of a firing squad in a third world country. They usually trick their captor into getting shot himself, but occasionally the kids themselves end up being fired upon. Today, the show would be criticized for depicting violence against children, as well as perpetuating negative stereotypes against foreigners.

  • "Ross", the supposed director of the show, tortures the kids and treats them as slave labor. Today, the show would be attacked for glorifying exploitation of children.

  • Blip, the owner of the local arcade, finds whatever ways he can to cheat the video-game obsessed youth that frequent his business. Today, the show would be protested for making light of adults cheating children out of money.

  • The "family" scenes depict parents as lazy, poor role models, or just plain cruel. Today, the show would be boycotted for making a joke of dysfunctional families.

  • The two most frequently featured female characters (Moose and Lisa) are constantly taunted about their weight. This is despite the fact that, while not thin, neither girl is really all that fat. Today, parents would fear the show could cause eating disorders.

  • Even the theme show of the song depicts children being ground up into hamburger meat (or is it hot dog meat -- I forget). I won't even touch this one! While outrageous shows depicting children exist today (i.e. "South Park"), these are aimed at ADULTS, and are given TV-MA ratings. You Can't Do That On Television was aimed at (and watched almost exclusively by) kids. That's the amazing part. You'll never see another kids show like it again.

This wasn't a show with educational or cultural value. It had value in other ways, though, which are harder to quantify.

It was funny and entertaining. It was outrageous enough to be interesting, but never so over-the-top to where it could be considered a true danger to anyone. I don't know anyone who had nightmares about being in front of a South American firing squad. Somehow we all got the sick humor in that, and didn't really see it as real violence.

The kids seemed real. They weren't beautiful, didn't seem precocious, and in fact all used their real names on the show. Alasdair, Kevin, Lisa, Moose, and the bunch seemed like the rest of us. This made the characters easy to like and relate to.

The show tapped into the minds of kids in the '80s. We were all obsessed with arcades, yet all knew the pain of losing quarters in malfunctioning games with "no refunds". We all dealt with controlling and irrational teachers, difficult parents, and incompetent/obnoxious bus drivers.

The show wasn't brilliantly written or produced, but it was fun, and it grew on you over time. Too often growing up I found that kids' shows were talking down to me, and I didn't like it. This was one show that wasn't guilty of that, and set out to entertain me, rather than preach to me or teach me a lesson. I didn't realize it back then, but that was perhaps the aspect of it that I appreciated the most.

Sadly, children's fare of today is over-scrutinized, and any program that can be deemed a bad influence is deepsixed. Just the weight jokes alone would put this show in the 2005 trash can. The fact that we have gotten to this point is indeed a tragedy.

Les Lye did a fine job with all of the different characters he played. I remember being amazed as a kid when I realized that he played every single adult character on the show. He's 80 years old now -- can you believe it?

Seems Like Old Times

Excellent, excellent, EXCELLENT comedy!
While "Airplane!" is widely regarded as the best comedy of 1980, this gem is often overlooked.

This movie has too many hilarious scenes to count, and contains many clever one-liners that will leave you rolling. The humor here isn't always obvious and in-your-face, but it's lurking within nearly every line in every scene.

The wacky set of characters add flair to the well-written storyline. This is one comedy which never gets old or boring, from beginning to end.

Stars Chevy Chase, Goldie Hawn, and Charles Grodin are at their best, while the supporting cast also does an excellent job. This is a well made comedy in all aspects. It is perplexing how this one fell below the radar.

Keep in mind that this movie is not really aimed at the stupid. If you need to be hit over the head with jokes in order to recognize them, this isn't the movie for you. At the same time, the movie is not pretentious, and the humor is not hidden. If you can appreciate its deadpan tone, you will find it to be hilarious.

Hawaii Five-O

Straightforward cop show that worked
Hawaii Five-O's successful 12-year run proved one thing: A drama doesn't have to be perfect or overly complex to succeed.

Hawaii Five-O's plots were straightforward and self-contained. They rarely had big surprises or twists, and the plot of one episode rarely carried over into future episodes. However, the stories were (for the most part) well written, intelligent, and often unique. For example, in the sixth season's "Draw Me a Killer", a young man "in love" with a female comic book character murders people who resemble her fictional adversaries. This sort of creativity resulted in interesting plots that didn't have to depend upon shocks or gimmicks to be watchable.

Hawaii Five-O was authentic. It was shot entirely on location in Hawaii. Most took place in Honolulu, but the show saw some time on the other islands, as well. Local actors were used to fill nearly every minor part in almost all episodes. While many of these actors were clearly amateurs, you didn't care. This actually added to the show's charm and authenticity. Some of these locals had recurring parts, being seen in different roles in as many as 14 episodes. That also wasn't a big deal, provided you didn't take the show too seriously.

Hawaii Five-O was nice to look at. The show went out of its way to create scenes with beautiful backdrops, allowing the viewer to feel he's on a Hawaiian vacation while in his own living room.

Hawaii Five-O featured one of the best opening theme songs and title sequences. It still holds up well 37 years later. Even the end title sequence, showcasing about 20 native Hawaiians paddling a boat through the ocean off Hawaii, fit in with the show's Hawaiian authenticity. A bit of trivia regarding the opening sequence: The famous wave at the beginning was NOT filmed for Hawaii Five-O, and was instead taken from some 1962 stock footage. This footage was so unimportant at the time that it is now unknown exactly where that wave video originated. Also, the 10-year-old boy shown on the beach was randomly selected and given $5 for allowing himself to be filmed. He didn't know he was in the opening titles until kids at school teased him about it! The first 7 seasons of the show were by far superior to the final 5. The show especially deteriorated by season 11. This was simply a case of a show that had run its course, and it honestly should have been canceled two years earlier.

Jack Lord did a superb job as Five-O head Steve McGarrett. We never got to learn too much about the lives of the other characters, but it was always clear that they were there to support McGarrett. The unity and dedication amongst the characters of the show was comforting to watch. While many cop shows (such as NYPD Blue) introduce conflict between the main characters, this had no place in Hawaii Five-O. This was a show about Five-O versus the criminal element of Hawaii.

Despite the repeated showcasing of Honolulu's crime, Hawaii Five-O actually did a lot to boost Hawaii tourism. You would think that episodes showing tourists as murder victims would put people off. Perhaps everyone felt protected by McGarrett and Five-O, even if both were just a work of fiction.

Dora the Explorer

Condescending, even for kids
It's hard to judge a kid's show as an adult. To do so requires getting in touch with your wants and desires as a kid, and trying to transplant them into reviews of modern shows.

With that in mind, I have to say that I find it unlikely that I would have enjoyed Dora if it were on during my time growing up. The biggest problem with this show is its condescending nature and the way it hits kids over the head with forcing them to imagine. As a young child, I enjoyed imagining that I was part of the shows I watched, but only after the shows were over! I knew (even at a young age) that I couldn't really interact with a television program. Dora insults its young audience by asking it for "help" identifying objects, and even worse, physical activities like catching a ball bouncing "through" the screen.

I grew up watching a lot of "Sesame Street". While this was also an educational show, it was much more straightforward in its goals. I knew I was learning about letters and numbers, and they did it in a fun way. I never was led to believe that I was helping Big Bird learn the alphabet. I knew that he was the one helping me.

Sadly, many adults today believe that all kids are extremely simple-minded, and are incapable of any critical thought. While "Dora" may appeal to some children, I believe that its degrading manner will serve to insult others. In fact, it may even confuse children, as Dora congratulates kids for "choosing" the right answer to questions, even if the kid watching got the question wrong (or didn't answer at all). Think that all children are too stupid to notice this? Think again.

Home Movies

Improved as the years went on...
When I first saw Home Movies in 1989, I thought it was just okay. I found it entertaining at times, but not something that I would go out of my way to watch.

It vanished after one season, and I assumed that was the end of it.

I saw it a few years later on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim, and suddenly I found it a lot more entertaining. What had changed? Had I grown as a person? Had other TV gone downhill so much that a mediocre 1999 cartoon was more appealing? I put myself through a tough introspection process, and came to a startling conclusion:

They made new episodes for cable!

Gone was the annoying "squiggly" look!

The characters were more well-defined and the dialogue less awkward!

The writers seemed more comfortable with what they were doing!

This is not uncommon with TV shows. Many really hit their stride in the third season or so. Go back and watch the pilot of any TV show, and you'll find that, in most cases, the show isn't nearly as flowing or well-done as later episodes.

I would LOVE to see some more Home Movies, but apparently it's been cancelled (for new episodes, anyway). That's too bad, because I really like it, and I totally get the humor. I really like how they mix the simplicity of kids with the wisdom/knowledge of adults into these 8-year-olds.


The thinking man's action miniseries
"V" is one of those rare TV miniseries that manages to contain action, decent special effects (especially for 1983), and a storyline that actually makes you think. It's not without flaws, but if you overlook its faults, this miniseries can be both entertaining and thought-provoking.

Yes, yes, Kenneth Johnson went over the top with the Visitors' similarities to the Nazis, right down to their "symbol". Yes, there were a few continuity errors and plot points that didn't quite make sense. Yes, you had to suspend your sense of believability in various aspects of the film. However...

The miniseries did a good job portraying a lot of interesting character stories and traits that you don't otherwise find in most action films. Consider the following:

1) Mike Donovan's relationship with his mother was complex and interesting in itself. Donovan's mother, who had apparently been through a tough life, desired power and the ability to live "the good life" so much that she literally closed her eyes to everything that was happening around her. Even the Visitors' kidnapping of her only grandchild didn't faze her. Eventually she completely turned on Mike, and finally turned on her Visitor friend at the end when it appeared the Visitors were losing the war. This sort of character is very real, and I'm sure all of us know people who will switch allegiances at the drop of a hat.

2) The depiction of both earth people who assist the Visitors and the Visitor "5th Column", who are secretly sabotaging their people's own mission, provides us with good examples of people turning on their own kind for reasons of greed or morality.

3) The Daniel Berstein character, obviously looking for direction in life, never quite fitting in with the 1980s earth world, was fascinating. It was totally believable how he fell in with the Visitors and became an officer in their army, just to feel like he belonged. Even the torture of his parents and murder of his grandfather only lightly affected him.

4) The internal squabbling between the Visitor high command was also interesting, especially given that they all generally had the same goal. Diana wanted the mission to proceed as more of a giant scientific experiment, while other Visitor higher-ups wanted it to be strictly a military mission.

Sadly, Kenneth Johnson was not involved with V:The Final Battle, and it showed. The Final Battle was more of a pure action film, while the original V was a lot deeper. Remember the "message" that the humans sent to the Visitor's "enemy", asking for help? Notice that was never referenced again in the Final Battle. Twenty years later, Johnson is picking up where he left off! "V" is going to have a sequel, but it will essentially ignore The Final Battle and pretend it didn't exist. Instead, the humans will be assisted by the Visitors' enemy, who I presume got the message. I hope this miniseries actually gets off the ground and appears on TV. I'd love to see what Johnson can do with it. Supposedly Jane Badler, Marc Singer, and Faye Grant will reprise their roles. I don't understand how they can do such a thing, all being 20 years older. We'll see...

Runaway Jury

Entertaining and thought-provoking -- but too preachy
"Runaway Jury" did a surprisingly fine job in its depiction of today's jurors. Perhaps without intentionally trying to do so, it makes you really think about the ordinary and often easily-influenced people behind the decisions in high profile court cases. We all remember the O.J. Simpson debacle, and the prospect of one "self-planted" juror being able to influence all of the others is fascinating -- and not beyond belief.

It's too bad the movie didn't stick to that premise, instead of having to insert obviously one-sided caricatures of fat-cat gun manufacturers and trying to vilify the entire gun industry. The court case itself should have been secondary, as opposed to the main focus which eventually makes the jury itself irrelevant by the end of the movie.

Too often, Hollywood types are eager to work their political agenda into a film where it obviously does not belong. Rather than assault the gun industry and creating stereotypical rich, corporate-type "villains", the film would have worked better if Cusack and Weisz's characters really WERE in it solely for the money -- even if these characters weren't really bad on the whole.

The jury selection scenes -- and the view we get of the lives of the jurors -- were the best part of the movie. You start to think about what "random" jury selection really means, and how the system could be manipulated. You think about the fact that, in many cases, "ordinary" citizens are favored to sit on juries, rather than intelligent ones who couldn't easily be swayed by propaganda. While Hackman's group's info-gathering was a bit over-the-top (how would they know who was holding a woman's hand while she got an abortion last year?), it demonstrated how today's informational databases provide a paper trail of lives that allow info-savvy operators to instigate blackmail. Had the movie stuck to these concepts, it would have been first rate.

Instead, I was left with an entertaining and thought-provoking film which, unfortunately, had a poor ending and got swallowed up by an obnoxious political message.

Orange County

Comedy that can't decide what it is
"Orange County" could have come out a lot better if it didn't take itself so seriously. It attempts to actually teach a moral lesson and make you believe in the dilemma of its main character, but its weird obsessions with certain odd themes (hispanic maids?!) and nonsensical plot points leave you wishing it would just stick to pure comedy.

While I don't like picking apart "hard to believe" aspects of plots in comedies, some portions of this movie just left me scratching my head:

1) The curious overuse of Crazytown's "Butterfly" as background music. I understand it was a trendy song in 2001, but it appeared prominently in not one, not two, but THREE separate scenes of the movie -- including one where a Stanford airhead announces, "It's our song!!" This song's record label must have paid someone off well.

2) I'm supposed to take this "aspiring writer wants to get into Stanford so badly that he goes there himself" theme seriously. However, once he gets there, he obnoxiously shows up uninvited (late at night, no less) at the doorstep of the Dean of Admissions. They never explained why this couldn't wait until the next morning. Why would someone serious about getting into that school almost surely kill his chances of getting in by portraying himself as some sort of freaky stalker?

3) I don't get this whole thing with the hispanic maids. It wasn't funny, and I guess we were supposed to learn that rich people in Orange County can't take care of their own families and basic needs, so they pay their hispanic maids to take care of their kids and hold their lives together. It wasn't funny, and it really did nothing for the plot.

4) The sex scene with Jack Black was disturbing. To me, he came off as a slovenly pervert, and no woman in her right mind would jump his bones when he climbed in the window and dropped his pants. To think that Jack Black naked makes a woman drool in uncontrollable lust stretches ANY for of imagination.

These are just some examples of scenes that either made no sense, or just didn't fit.

The thing that bothered me the most is that the whole plot itself didn't make sense. If the high school sent the wrong transcript, it would be the school's responsibility to clear up the error with the colleges it sent the erroneous transcripts to. An admissions mistake is not uncorrectable, and could obviously be fixed if it was simply due to a transcript error. This whole "trip" wouldn't have been necessary, nor the right way to go about things.

Yes, yes, I'm analyzing this a bit more than it deserves. I've seen many comedies which, while admitting to not being entirely serious, don't leave you scratching your head asking, "Why'd they do that?"

Bakersfield P.D.

Excellent show! A crime that it was canceled!
Bakersfield, P.D. really was one of the funniest, well-made comedies to ever hit the tube. Unfortunately, between lacking promotion, a then-struggling FOX network, stiff timeslot competition, and a script that was a bit too clever for the general public, the show dragged badly out the gate. It lasted for only one season, with the final episodes shown in June, 5 months after the cancellation was already decided.

While definitely a comedy, the show had no laugh track. It didn't play as a typical sitcom. It was a side-splitting comedy, placed in the environment of a "serious" cop show.

The characters were all quirky, yet strangely believable. From the wishy-washy captain on down, each character presented in Bakersfield, P.D. was unique and interesting. Even the guest characters exhibited a small-town charm that, while sometimes bordering on the ridiculous, always entertained.

Surprisingly, I found the show again on the TRIO network, which occasionally runs it. Check your local listings.

Hot Moves

Surprisingly entertaining
Forged within the sea of endless '80s teen sex comedies, Hot Moves somehow manages to be much greater than the sum of it parts.

This movie saw almost no time in the theaters, showing up only in a few New York locations in December '85, hoping to lure in cold easterners yearning to do some California dreaming.

Hot Moves certainly has its share of faults. The acting ranges from mediocre to horrible, a lot of the dialog is poorly written, and the movie is peppered with long, "second-unit" scenes on Venice Beach which don't feature any of the cast, and have absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the movie. These parts were obviously "filler", as the running time for the entire movie is 85 minutes. Without these boring sequences, the movie would be well under 80, which wouldn't qualify it as "feature length".

However, despite its aforementioned problems. "Hot Moves" manages to be charming, entertaining, and at times, very funny. Despite the movie's obvious low budget, it still features a completely original 12-song-deep soundtrack, and a lot of the music also has its own campy charm.

Hot Moves is perhaps best known for its "nude beach" scene, where the viewer is treated to the full frontal nudity of dozens of beautiful women, inexplicably running across the sand. Such a display would surely earn an NC-17 rating nowadays, but somehow this movie kept its "R" rating back in 1985.

While I can't complain about the nude women, "Hot Moves" actually stands out in my mind for its frivolous fun and surprisingly creative plot. I have a strong feeling that the writers of "American Pie" must have seen Hot Moves, since the plots are incredibly similar. While American Pie was more "advanced" than Hot Moves, it could be argued that the raw material for Hot Moves was actually better. Oddly enough, when the E! channel toured Seann "Stifler" William Scott's house, he proudly displayed Hot Moves as one of his favorite movie of all times.

Look for Virgil Frye (Soleil Moon Frye's dad) playing a sex shop owner, in an odd cameo.

Rent Hot Moves. It's 85 minutes of fun.

Just the Ten of Us

Much better than Growing Pains
I was never a Growing Pains fan. I found that show to be pandering, simplistic, and downright stupid. I would never have given even a second though to a Growing Pains spin off, had Brooke Thies not been in it. Brooke attended the same school that I did, and a big deal was made about her appearance in this new weekly series.

I was surprised to find that the show became an instant favorite of mine. Unlike Growing Pains, the show didn't take itself seriously, didn't obsess over providing a "moral lesson" in each episode, and was actually willing to insult its own characters. Now THIS is the type of comedy which can actually be funny!

Sadly, Just the Ten of Us never achieved the popularity that Growing Pains did, and it only survived for two seasons. The final episodes, where the girls were turned into the "Lubbock Babes" signing group, were embarrassing to watch, and were a clear indication that all was not well with the show's future.

I really liked the "Connie" character, played by JoAnn Willette. Even though this actress was far too old for the role, I found her character -- the smart, down-to-earth daughter who is "forgotten" amidst her attention grabbing sisters -- to be interesting.

Hopefully we'll see it on cable sometime soon.

The Outer Limits

Excellent series - for the most part
I discovered The Outer Limits in mid-2001 while it was in syndication. Sadly, I didn't realize that they had just wrapped their final season. I've been trying to catch all of the episodes on Sci-Fi, which has an erratic schedule for this show, to say the least!

I must say that I disagree with most of the negative comments that I've read so far, regarding this program. The series did indeed have some dud episodes -- especially the episodes which pieced together parts of other episodes to somehow make a "new" story. However, for the most part, the show ran 7 seasons with some very original, creative, and fresh concepts that in most cases held my attention until the very end. In fact, I felt sorry at the end of certain episodes that I wouldn't get to see more of the story, as each episode is a self-contained. Unlike many shows than ran for 7 seasons, I did not find a degradation in quality as the show wore on. In fact, my second-favorite episode ("A New Life") was from the final season.

While many writers were involved with the stories shown in The Outer Limits, a few were responsible for the majority of the episodes. It's interesting to take a look at some of the "themes" behind the show in general. The main (and stated) theme of The Outer Limits was to explore human nature and the consequence of human mistakes. However, a viewing of all episodes also reveals a disdain that the writers seem to hold for both the American military and Christianity. There were several episodes in which the military was either the villain, or the protagonist whose mistakes lead to the destruction of mankind. Christianity was frequently shown as the vehicle used to brainwash unsuspecting earthlings into helping aliens accomplish their evil goals. I am neither Christian nor involved with the military, but I found this apparent bias by the writers to be annoying, and sometimes ruined otherwise good episodes.

I liked how The Outer Limits mixed its endings between happy and catastrophic. That made things a bit less predictable, unlike many movies of today where you know in advance that the hero will survive and triumph.

If you're looking for a great episode, try "The Refuge". I won't detail any of the plot for you, since it's best watched without knowing anything in advance. It's from season 2, so I believe you can find it on the Season 2 DVD.

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