CYLONS, DAGGITS, AND THE SEARCH FOR EARTH: REMEMBERING “BATTLESTAR GALACTICA” ON ITS 40TH ANNIVERSARY

Whoa, this one almost got away from us. Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the original version of BattleStar Galactica, and The Digital Bits website presented a very thorough analysis and discussion of the series and its place in TV history.

The reason we know about this is that our illustrious Contributing Editor Emeritus, Herbie J Pilato, was a big part of the article…which is also one of the reasons we want to share it with you.

And with that in mind, heeere we go:

by Michael Coate

Battlestar Galactica remains in the history of pop-culture as one of the most star-studded, lavishly-produced, special-effects-laden television shows of all time.” – Classic TV historian Herbie J Pilato

The Digital Bits and History, Legacy & Showmanship are pleased to present this retrospective commemorating the 40th anniversary of the premiere of Battlestar Galactica, Glen A. Larson’s science-fiction television series about the crew of the Galactica and their ongoing battles with the Cylons and quest to locate Earth. Starring Richard Hatch as Apollo, Dirk Benedict as Starbuck, and Lorne Greene as Adama, the series is remembered for its massive production budget and state-of-the-art visual effects.

The supporting cast included Herbert Jefferson, Jr. (Boomer), John Colicos (Baltar), Maren Jensen (Athena), Noah Hathaway (Boxey), Laurette Spang (Cassiopeia), Tony Swartz (Flight Sergeant Jolly), Terry Carter (Colonel Tigh), Anne Lockhart (Lieutenant Sheba), Jane Seymour (Serina), Patrick Macnee (narrator, Count Iblis, and voice of Imperious Leader), and Jonathan Harris (voice of Lucifer). [Read on here…]

Running only a single season (but ultimately inspiring a franchise), the series premiered on television 40 years ago this month, and for the occasion The Bits features a Q&A with a trio of sci-fi authorities and television historians who discuss the virtues, shortcomings and legacy of the series (and franchise).

The participants are (in alphabetical order)…

Read it all at TheDigitalBits.Com

And, because it’s a fun thing for us to do, here’s what the site has to say about Herbie J:

Herbie J Pilato is the founder of the Classic TV Preservation Society nonprofit and the host of the upcoming classic TV talk show Then Again with Herbie J Pilato. He is the author of several acclaimed books on pop culture, including Twitch Upon a Star: The Bewitched Life and Career of Elizabeth Montgomery (Taylor Trade Publishing, 2012), Dashing, Daring, and Debonair: TV’s Top Male Icons from the 50s, 60s, and 70s(Taylor Trade Publishing, 2016), Glamour, Gidgets, and the Girl Next Door: Television’s Iconic Women from the 50s, 60s, and 70s (Taylor Trade Publishing, 2014), The Bionic Book: The Six Million Dollar Man & the Bionic Woman Reconstructed (Bear Manor Media, 2007), and Mary, a soon-to-be-published new biography of Mary Tyler Moore. He presides over his own production company, Television, Ink, which produces family-oriented TV shows and was a consulting producer on the DVD season sets of BewitchedCHiPsKung Fu and The Six Million Dollar Man. His website is: www.herbiejpilatio.com.

Yay, Herbie j!

Everything You Need to Know About the Best Show on TV this Season

This article from New Yorker perfectly encapsulates the wonder that is The Good Fight. You’re gonna love ’em both!

The Incendiary Verve of “The Good Fight”
by Emily Nussbaum

A few weeks ago, on “The Good Fight,” some Chicago litigators found the pee tape. Initially, they suspected that it was a hoax—entrapment by Project Veritas, perhaps, designed to embarrass the D.N.C. Their firm investigated, and in the process they discovered an entire genre of pee-tape fakes. The F.B.I. weighed in. There was a granular comparison of bathrobe screen grabs. (“Enhance!”) Finally, they had confirmation: it was the real thing.

And then they buried it—all of them, conspiring together, with varying motives. Releasing a video of Russian prostitutes peeing on a bed that the Obamas slept in, the group understood, would lead to nothing but another shockeroo news cycle. There would be outrage, then distraction, and on to the next round. To survive in an era of numb unreality, they needed a better strategy.

“The Good Fight,” like “The Good Wife,” its predecessor, is a cockeyed love letter to just this kind of strategic life, as lived by a set of educated, hypercompetent professionals: a liberal élite, if you will. It’s a dark comedy about the limits of savvy, about whether it’s possible to maintain detachment and pragmatism, not to mention respect for the law, in the face of chaos—including internal chaos. Both shows were co-created by Robert and Michelle King, married showrunners who have learned, during their years of making network television, to camouflage their freak flag as a pocket square. (Their brand might be summarized as “Looks like ‘L.A. Law,’ tastes like ‘The Wire.’ ”) But the sequel, whose opening scenes take place on Inauguration Day, is an angrier product than the original. It features an unforgettable credits sequence, in which fancy purses blow up like Molotov cocktails, punctuated by shots of Putin fishing and of neo-Nazis in Charlottesville. Sometimes I watch those credits twice.

With their French Revolutionary air, they’re a nifty metaphor for the show’s incendiary mind-set, as exemplified by its heroine, the litigator Diane Lockhart, an emily’s List Democrat whose plans to retire with her hot Republican gun-expert husband dissolved when, in a triple whammy, her man cheated on her, she lost her money to a Madoff-like grifter, and Wisconsin swung red. Lockhart joined a new firm, though she held on to her statement necklaces and her air of hauteur. But, alone in her spacious office, she’s losing her cool, watching cable news, gawking at clips that feel maybe ten per cent removed from the real thing: “When asked about the tweet, White House officials insisted that the President was joking, saying, ‘Mermaids do not exist, therefore Trump’s reference to talking with one—’ ” Lockhart now owns a gun; she has a fling with an Antifa activist. When, in the second season, she starts to microdose hallucinogens, it seems less like a breakdown than like an attempt to match her insides to her outsides….

Read it all at newyorker.com

Forking hell! Is The Good Place the ultimate TV show for our times?

Thoughtful commentary from The Guardian. No, for reals…we forking mean it!

by Ellen E Jones

f there’s one thing that hit Netflix show The Good Place is absolutely, definitely not about, it’s The State of the World Today. Intentionally, anyway. For one thing, this feelgood sitcom isn’t even set in our world, but in a non-denominational afterlife you might call “Heaven”. This is the Good Place of the title, where Eleanor Shellstrop (Kristen Bell) finds herself in the show’s opening episode and soon concludes she’s been sent in error.

The Good Place is for the likes of beautiful philanthropist Tahani (Jameela Jamil), silent Buddhist monk Jianyu (Manny Jacinto) and earnest ethics professor Chidi (William Jackson Harper). Eleanor, on the other hand, is the kind of garbage person who reads Celebrity Baby Plastic Surgery Disasters magazine and sells fake medicine to the elderly for a living. Still, understandably, she wants to stay, so spends most of season one trying to keep her secret from Michael (Ted Danson), the angel-architect overseeing the Good Place neighbourhood.

The other point is that The Good Place was midway through its first season on NBC when the 2016 US presidential election took place. Even after the world entered into its Trumpian twilight zone, The Good Place’s showrunner, Michael Schur, was keen to ensure his writing team did not get sidetracked: “We talked a lot in the room about, this is not a show about Donald Trump,” he told New York magazine before the season two premiere last year. “These characters are dead. These characters don’t even know that Donald Trump is president.”

Most importantly, though, The Good Place couldn’t be about Trump, Brexit, Windrush#MeToo or any other contemporary talking point, because that’s exactly the sort of thing that fans watched the show to escape. While for some, The Handmaid’s Tale was a perfectly timed misery-watch, this show offered the opposite sort of distraction. By 2017, political drama and comedy were on the wane in TV generally, with once-popular shows such as Veep, Scandal and House of Cards all either cancelled or embarking on final seasons. Schur, meanwhile, was known and loved as the creator of optimistic, easy-watching sitcoms that found silliness and fundamental decency in the lives of local government officials (Parks and Recreation) and police officers (Brooklyn Nine-Nine). The Good Place, with its pastel hues and twee, euphemistic cursing was his most whimsically escapist yet.

Or so it seemed, right up until the season one finale, which first aired on 19 January 2017, the night before Trump’s inauguration. This was the episode in which – plot twist! – Eleanor discovered that Michael (Danson) wasn’t an angel-architect, but a demon-bureaucrat who’d been messing with them all along. It wasn’t just Eleanor who belonged in the Bad Place (AKA Hell), but Tahani, Chidi and Jianyu (actually another imposter called Jason) too. And, what’s more, they were already there. They had been obligingly torturing each other as part of Michael’s reality TV-meets-Sartre experiment since episode one. As Eleanor’s catchphrase-coining moment of realisation had it: “This is the Bad Place!”…

Read it all at theguardian.com

Diana Vacc sees “Cobra Kai: Season One”

by Diana Vaccarelli

—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—

May 2, 2018, YouTube Red released the first season of Cobra Kai, a TV sequel (well, YouTube is sort of TV) to the classic Karate Kid films.  I’ve binge-watch Season One and was surprised and delighted by what I viewed.

The series begins thirty years after the last Karate Kid film that ended with the very satisfying All Valley Tournament between Cobra Kai dojo leader, Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) and Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio). Daniel (Macchio) was the victor, defeating the bully, Johnny.

As this series opens, Johnny is a drunk and at rock bottom when he witnesses Miguel Diaz (Xolo Mariduena) being bullied and decides to take him under his wing and reopen the Cobra Kai dojo.  This reignites his feud with Daniel and brings changes into both their lives.

THE GOOD:

  • The team of writers led by co-creators and showrunners John Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg and Josh Heald nailed the characters and came up with an unexpectedly sharp storyline.  Johnny’s drive  to change the image of Cobra Kai dojo into something positive and his mentoring of those he once would have called nerds is believable and exciting.
  • The change in Daniel  to the successful arrogant businessman was a big surprise, as was how hard he tries to stop keep Johnny’s new Cobra Kai dojo out of the Ally Valley Tournament. I really wanted to know,  “Why, Daniel, Why!” (And shouted it out a few times, I admit.)
  • What a relief when Daniel redeems himself when by mentoring loner Robby Keene (Tanner Buchanan) in karate.  It turns out Robby is none other then the son of Johnny (Zabka) and wants to get back at him at all costs.  Daniel decides to coach him the way Mr. Miyagi did for him.
  • I appreciated the twist in the story arc in which the nerds turn into the bullies of the school at the end of the season, much to dismay of Johnny.
  • All this conflict makes this show one to watch and keeps you clued to the screen.

THE BAD:

  • I wasn’t disappointed at all in this series and am glad to learn at the writing of the review that is has been renewed for another season.

THE REST:

If you’re a fan of the Karate Kid films and/or a lover of martial arts and insightful TV writing, you won’t want to miss out on Cobra Kai.


Diana Vaccarelli is TVWriter™’s Critic-at-Large and a TVWriter™ University grad. Find out more about her HERE

Diana Vacc finally sees “Pitch Perfect 3”

by Diana Vaccarelli

—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—SPOILER ALERT—

The final film in the Pitch Perfect Series, Pitch Perfect 3 is out on DVD and on on-demand.  On a rainy Saturday night I snuggled up in my blanket and decided to watch this film.  It follows the choral group the Bellas after their win at the accapella world championships.

The Bellas have moved on and living separate lives.  But they all decide to reunite for one last performance at an overseas singing competition on the USO Tour.

THE GOOD:

  • I was a fan of the first two movies and could not wait to watch and enjoy.  However, in spite of not only my expectations but my great desire to enjoy this one, I have to tell you right here and now: I didn’t like Pitch Perfect 3 in the slightest.

THE BAD:

  • The script was absolutely terrible. I’m not a “formula writing” lover by any means, but that formula worked in the first two films in the series, and without it this one had absolutely none of the magic of its predecessors. All three movies are credited to Kay Cannon, so why I don’t absolutely know why they switched up the story structure I suspect it had something to do with the change in director from Elizabeth Banks to Trish Sie. Poor Ms. Cannon had a whole new boss to please!
  • The film starts off as an acapella group competition and quickly veers into a hostage situation. If that doesn’t sound bad enough, how about this: Fat Amy (Rebel Wilson) becomes a virtrual action hero, using gadgets and tools Tom Cruise would use in Mission Impossible to save her fellow Bellas. In other words, WTF?
  • Compounding things further is the fact that the chemistry between the actors, which more often than not is the reason a film is a hit, is totally lacking this time. Especially damaging was the loss of Skylar Astin as Jesse. Previously, he and Anna Kendrick as Beca had fantastic chemistry, creating a relationship that was the very essence of lifelong soul mates.

THE REST:

As unhappy as I was in my last review – of The Alienist – my heart is even heavier now because I have to once again recommend that readers not go anywhere near Pitch Perfect 3. Sorry, but every single note it hits is wrong, wrong, wrong.


Diana Vaccarelli is TVWriter™’s Critic-at-Large and TVWriter™ University grad. Find out more about her HERE