Archive for the ‘Television’ Category

Match Game ’75

October 16, 2017

Thanks to Buzzr, Amazon Prime Video added some classic game shows. One of my all-time favorites, Match Game has a number of episodes streaming from 1975 and 1976. So much fun! Brett Somers, Richard Dawson, Fannie Flagg, Betty White, Greg Morris, and many, many more. Were they drunk? Were they stoned? Only host Gene Rayburn knows for sure. Whatever, they were giggly and silly. Great nostalgia. 4 out of 5.

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That Time ‘Will & Grace’ Forgot HIV Exists. Again (My Fabulous Disease)

October 14, 2017

My buddy, AIDS activist Mark S. King (My Fabulous Disease) calls out Will & Grace for not mentioning HIV in the series revival. I haven’t posted about the revival because I’m not a fan. I never was. I was living in NYC when the show premiered originally. It felt like I was already living a NYC story. Will and Jack would have not been part of my inner circle. They were way too uptown for me. I was if nothing else, a Lower East Side snob.

Mark breaks it down as to why it’s important for Will and Jack to discuss the changing landscape of HIV in gay men’s lives during 2017. From My Fabulous Disease,

Only once, in a 2001 episode in which Grace and her boyfriend mention getting an HIV test, was the topic ever addressed. They produced 194 episodes during the original run of the series.

The revival of Will & Grace exists in a far different world. The privileged white gay men who inhabit Will & Grace have access to healthcare and the resources to either take PrEP, the pill that prevents HIV infection or, should they be HIV positive, get on medications that could render them undetectable and therefore unable to transmit HIV to someone else.

Neither of these strategies were available or understood when Will & Grace left the airwaves ten years ago. They exist now, and they have transformed the sexual and cultural landscape for gay men in this country.

Read Mark S. King’s full post at My Fabulous Disease.

The Merv Griffin Show

October 12, 2017

Amazon Prime Video has quietly added a number of classic television shows this year. Reel Charlie’s already discussed My Favorite Martian. A unique addition to Amazon is The Merv Griffin Show. Merv’s talk show spanned 1962-1985. What’s available to stream are some best-of episodes spanning the 20+ years. You can see Merv in his infancy interviewing Andy Warhol and Salvadore Dali. Merv’s show in the beginning resembled a more serious format. Think David Susskind or Charlie Rose. Later on in the 1970’s the show morphed into a more popular Hollywood celebrity format featuring people like Farrah Fawcett-Majors and Marie Osmond. The 80’s brought a celebration of the 10th anniversary of Ms. Magazine with Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda, Carole King (in a rare television performance), and Loretta Swit. The capsule ends with Merv interviewing the cast of The Golden Girls during their first year of production. Merv certainly supported women in Hollywood. Though it all, Merv awkwardly flirts with some women, but in a most respectful way – just enough so his audience won’t realize he’s gay. That part of it is sad – the closet always is. But he certainly had a style and created a blueprint for talk shows through today. Merv on Amazon is a fun trip down memory lane or a history lesson for younger viewers. 3 out of 5.

For an in-depth examination of the damage Griffin’s closeted life did to himself and the gay community, read Michaelangelo Signorile’s piece from 2007.

TV Shows to Watch: A Reel Charlie List

October 9, 2017

Friends often ask how I keep track of television I’m interested in. I have a simple analog way of doing it. Perhaps someone out there will come up with a better alert system in the form of an app. Meanwhile, this how Reel Charlie rolls.

  1. I keep a permanent list of all the TV currently in production I love. It’s an alpha list with the next season up included. It’s in a sticky note program on my laptop’s desktop.
  2. Once I hear a show’s next season has an air date, I add it to my Google calendar.

Yup, that’s it.
What’s your system?

Transparent: Season 4

October 1, 2017

“Sleep and I shall soothe you, calm you and anoint you…”

Who knew the Pfeffermans were as obsessed with Jesus Christ Superstar as I was when I was a little boy. And they remember the words to the songs after all these years. Even Maura’s sister! Such a magnificent and glorious television series Transparent continues to be. Is this the most loving, dysfunctional family you’ve ever met? Does yours rival them? Mine sure doesn’t. Which is probably why I love watching them tick. This season the family connects with their spiritual and social roots on a trip to Israel. Every one comes together and then proceeds to find their own corner and take some time out to contemplate life: Josh at meetings, Sarah with Len, Ali at the farm, and Maura and Shelly meditating in the midst of the chaos. The only logical family member of Maura’s who gets any back story time this season is the luminous Davina, my favorite non-Pfefferman. We dig deeper into Davina’s past to find her vulnerabilities. I love Davina even more after this season. She is the heart, soul, and calm of the show. Alexandra Billings brings nuance and wisdom to the role. Can’t say enough how much I adore Transparent. 5 out of 5 for this family ensemble.

The Five

September 30, 2017

Honestly enjoyed the U.K. mystery series, The Five created by Harlan Coben. The 10-episode story features solid performances from O-T Fagbenle (Looking), Tom Cullen (Weekend, Downton Abbey), Sarah Solemani, and Lee Ingleby. The four play childhood friends facing the resurrection of a sibling gone missing case from 20 years ago. Although the middle of the story veers into several non-realistic plot turns, I hung in there and was rewarded with an exciting story filled with extremely satisfying characters. Normally I’d give something like this a 3.5 out of 5. But the addition of a librarian character with the major discovery scene taking place in a public library, the beautiful use of pop music, and the way each episode ends on a nail-biting question left me no excuse but to give The Five a 4 out of 5.

Amazon’s Canceled TV Shows (Indiewire)

September 26, 2017

Indiewire posted an article recently about all of Amazon’s cancelled shows. Here’s my take on it:

The Last Tycoon – Agree. Pilot promising, season weak.
Z – Agree. See above.
Good Girls Revolt – Strongly disagree. Should have given it another season or two to find its audience.
Alpha House – Agree. Silly and not in a good way.

Click on the titles above to read Reel Charlie’s reviews.
Read the full article at Indiewire.

My Favorite Martian: Season 1, Ep. 1 & 2

September 24, 2017

Told you Amazon Prime has been adding a whole lot of classic television. Watched two episodes of the crazy My Favorite Martian which landed in television sets during the mid-1960’s. Ray Walston plays Uncle Martin the Martian. Walston’s role felt familiar alongside other fussy, bachelor-type characters of the day including Jonathan Harris’ Dr. Smith from Lost in Space, Sebastian Cabot’s Mr. French of Family Affair, and Paul Lynde’s Uncle Arthur in Bewitched. These characters were a combination of comic relief, throwing some spice in an otherwise ordinary household and acting as a surrogate parent – particularly in place of an absent mother for a heterosexual household. In 2017, these characters read old school asexual gay to me: don’t ask, don’t tell. Walston’s character acts more as an intrusion into main character Bill Bixby’s life as the marooned Martian in the series. He also plays cupid for Bixby as he struggles with finding the girl of his dreams. What struck me most about this stroll through nostalgia was the size of Bixby’s waist. A lean young man indeed, he was 29 during the first season. Full of sexist remarks – most surprisingly from the female characters, as well as the mandatory and annoying laugh track, My Favorite Martian remains best as a memory instead of a binge. 2 out of 5. Next.

One Mississippi: Season 2

September 21, 2017

Spoiler alerts: What I found missing since discovering Tig Notaro’s projects which definitely weave real life with fiction is the idea of naming her sexuality. She certainly doesn’t hide being a lesbian. She just never says the word. It’s a very post-gay, urban stance – to imagine the culture has progressed to the point where it’s unnecessary for labels. We simply show up with a partner and if they are of the same gender, then that is who you are with. It’s a lovely thought for a Star Trek episode. But for the current world we live in, I disagree. For years I have said the world outside of urban gay ghettos doesn’t embrace everyone equally. That idea felt quaint and outdated to many. With the advent of the election last year, everyone’s eyes have been opened to the need to stand up and be counted – as a person of color, as a woman, as an immigrant, as a person of science, and as LGBTQ. So I was thrilled to see Tig name her sexuality. Tig uses the words gay and lesbian strongly during the first two episodes of her sophomore season of One Mississippi. It feels right especially in our post-election reality. However in the middle of all this, the audience is thrown a huge curve when fictional Tig explains to her yet requited love interest Kate (straight Kate as Tig’s brother dubs her) played by Tig’s real life wife, Stephanie Allynne that she’s dated men. No not before she came out, but after. She tells Kate that gender is something that’s specific from a distance, but up close its blurred. Uh what? Why isn’t her character bisexual? I can’t help but think in order for openly gay women and men to be considered reasonable and accepting, we are now expected to embrace having relationships with people of the opposite gender. Just in case anyone might want to label us closed-minded. Tig’s fictional character doesn’t talk about being bisexual. Or being mostly lesbian. She doesn’t talk about being attracted to trans or gender fluid people. She simply drops that bombshell and moves on. It makes absolutely no sense and colored my enjoyment of the series for the rest of the season. I don’t need every queer character to be a gold star gay like me. I know there are all kinds of people in the world. But this kind of posturing rings so politically correct and inauthentic, I’m not buying it. Especially not for Tig’s character.

I realize this argument is my personal argument. I own that. The rest of the season waffles between extremely artful expressions of golden age television and awkward trying too hard moments. I hung in there and will check out Season 3 if it gets renewed. I’m giving One Mississippi: Season 2 a 3 out of 5.

How to be a Slut in America – Part 1

September 19, 2017

Filmmaker Brian Jordan Alvarez is creating some of the most interesting episodic media from a gay man’s perspective. First there was The Gay and Wondrous Life of Caleb Gallo, a preposterous and effervescent look at 20-something life in L.A. Alvarez followed that up creating Stupid Idiots with writing partner Stephanie Koenig. Now he showcases a more serious side with Part 1 of How to be a Slut in America. This is less silly, more honest portrayal of a young man figuring out how he wants to live out his romantic and sexual life. Brian Jordan Alvarez continues to put himself out there and rewards us with outstanding content. 4 out of 5.

Watch How to be a Slut in America, Part 1 on YouTube. (NSFW)


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