Friday, December 08, 2006

Camera Obscura - Classic TV on DVD, Christmas Movie Advent

The complete first seasons of two classic TV series arrive finally, and both are must haves.

One is fascinating for capturing the high points and the low for a show that started out as a kind of underground oddity and has become an international giant of entertainment. I do recall very well that first night when NBC aired a show they called only "NBC's Saturday Night" with the Not Ready For Prime Time Players. Putting together the entire 1st season of SNL (and other season sets will follow) was too long in arriving. The show has forever changed television.

The first few seasons all looked as if it had been made in small nooks and around the edges of the NBC building and it isn't all sheer genius and brilliance. There are clunky skits and odd scenes, but the show was almost a nearly instant hit, a collection of loose cannons wildly taking shots at television and fame, with eclectic music and much self-parody. They were mavericks and outsiders, lumping together college style comedy and outrageously bizarre short films with performers singing musical standards and unknown musicians getting their first national exposure.

It was an evolving show too, from the credits design to the structure of opening monologues and the Weekend Update news satire. Hosts, like Richard Pryor, frightened the NBC suits. If you've read any of the so-called histories of the show, you know too that backstage chaos was constant (as was the drug and alcohol).


Also new to DVD is the complete first season of "Mission:Impossible" and within that first season are the reasons why the show has remained so popular that almost 40 years later audiences flock to the movies with that title today.

Intense action, serious writing and storytelling made with style and rapid-fire editing. The show made a template still being followed by other shows, like "24" and even "Lost."

Fans and newcomers alike can see that first season headed by actor Steven Hill as Dan Briggs, as the character of Mr. Phelps played by Peter Graves did not arrive until season two.

It was those other actors and characters that made the show most watchable - Martin Landau, Barbara Bain, Greg Morris and Peter Lupus. The scam everyone, including the audience, in spy games and disguises with ultra-cool attitude and backed by a music theme which is still a part of the movie franchise today.


Thanks to the intrepid Cinemonkey, I can point you to a web site which has an Advent Calendar where you can open the li'l doors on the calendar for each day of December and read about a movie to encourage a Christmasy mood.

Check it out here.

Some movies on this list I truly do NOT like however - such as "Home Alone". I thought the whole movie was vapid and dull and, let's be honest, it is also rather sadistic as the Boy Left Alone (not saying his name, sorry) beats and brutalizes some would-be thieves. Just not my idea of 'holiday fun'.

Also - they leave off some movies which I think are great films to bring out that holiday cheer. The 2003 comedy "Elf" is infectious fun with Will Ferrell as the overgrown elf with an addiction to syrup and sugar. Another movie worth the time to watch is "A Christmas Story' -- overplayed to death on TV, I can still enjoy it for many reasons -- Scott Farkus fears and the fishnet hose clad female leg lamp, which the Dad calls "a major award" and the Mom secretly destroys. And where are movie versions of "A Christmas Carol"??

The photo here is via the Tennessee Christmas Tree Growers Association, a site to tell you where you can get the finest in locally grown trees for the holidays.


Do you have a holiday movie favorite?


Mention must be made of the dangers of the Wii Game Console, which will be under many a Christmas Tree this year. Be careful with the dang thing, people!

Actually, the danger is in the controller for the game - seems some people using this wireless controller have gotten so intense during gameplay that they have snapped the wrist-loop on the controller and smashed in their TVs and other household items.

A website devoted to such events is here, where they have gotten the attention of Nintendo's executives, who promise a better wrist-loop is on the way.


On the way for 2008 -- the long-awaited movie version of the Stephen Kind/Peter Straub fantasy novel "The Talisman." The TNT network and producer Steven Spielberg will create the mini-series!


  1. james1:34 PM

    Note to Joe: my e-mail is I've sent stuff to you before but you must not be getting it. James

  2. Best holiday movie ever: It's a Wonderful Life.

    Runnner Up: Bad Santa.