Criminal Minds: "Amplification"

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Last summer I got into Barney Miller for the first time in my life. I just started catching it on Antenna TV. I really like it. The more I learn about New York in the 70's, the more interesting it becomes.

I caught the two-part series finale of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, a show I've come to appreciate a lot more in reruns than I did when it was live. 

As we come to the end of the series run, the Banks household is in transition. Eldest son Carlton is about to transfer to Princeton University. Eldest daughter Hillary is about to move to New York, as her daytime talk show is going national. Kid sister Ashley is going to New York too; Hilary's move will allow Ashley to enroll in the Academy of the Performing Arts. 

When the first half of the two-part episode opens, butler Geoffrey announces he plans to retire and move to England to get acquainted with the son he never knew he had. 

All this leaves Will a bit bereft, as he has no grand plans beyond finishing college where he is. As he worked for Hillary's talk show, her move puts him out of a job. Then Uncle Phil and Aunt Viv decide that with the nest emptying out, they're going to sell the house and move back East. This really puts Will in a funk, since he now also has to find a place to live. He confides in Carlton, but insists that Carlton not bring this up to Uncle Phil; he wants to solve this problem himself. 

There are a couple of fun cameos of possible buyers for the house: Phillip Drummond and Arnold from Diff'rent Strokes, and George and Louise Jefferson from The Jeffersons, checking out the property with their maid Florence. There's a last moment of Uncle Phil tossing Will's buddy Jazz out the front door (a running gag using repurposed footage each time it occurred).There's a final moment with Carlton and Will doing "T"he Carlton Dance, "to the tune of Tom Jones's "It's Not Unusual," naturally.

There are goodbyes with each of the family members and, most of all, a final heart-to-heart between Will and Uncle Phil. Will is afraid of disappointing Uncle Phil, as everyone else is moving on and he has no goals, that he came to the Banks home six years ago as a relative, and became family.

Worse, he's afraid of Uncle Phil leaving with as poor an impression of him after six years as he did when they first met. Uncle Phil tells Will he is mistaken about what that first impression was. He says he saw Will then as a young man full of potential, and today as someone about to realize it. "You are my son," he says, and insists that Will take part in the weekly round of phone calls he will have with his other children.

It was nice. Not four-hanky nice, like the Barney Miller or The Mary Tyler Moore Show finales, but at least three hankys.

Some time before that, I watched the Alice series finale. It begins, as every episode does, at Mel's Diner. Mel opens for business and tells regular customers Henry and Earl hat he's sold the joint for a lot of money to a developer who plans to tear it down and build something else on the spot. Mel is happy, but a bit afraid of how the waitresses will take the news.

When they show up to work moments later, the waitresses take the news quite well. Alice has decided to go for it, move to Nashville and jump start her singing career. (Recall that the show began with her leaving New Jersey on a cross-country drive to California to do just that nine seasons ago. But Alice's car broke down in Arizona, she got a job a Mel's to pay for repairs and she and her son Tommy have been there ever since.) 

Fellow waitress Jolene isn't too upset, either; her grandmother died and left her some money, so she intends to open a beauty salon. Vera, however, faints dead away at the news Mel's is closing. They take her to the doctor, and she learns she's pregnant! (There is the clear although unstated assumption that recent newlywed Vera will no longer be interested in working with a child on the way, especially as hubby Elliott, a police officer, has just been promoted to detective.)

Things jump ahead to the last night Mel's Diner is open for business. The crew and the regular customers reminisce about times at the diner, punctuated with clips from past episodes. Mel surprises Alice, Vera and Jolene each with a check for $5,000. Mel and Alice's son Tommy exchange heartfelt goodbyes, Tommy calling Mel a second father and Mel grateful that Tommy is the kid he got to raise. 

Vera and Elliott pledge to name their kid "Melvin." Mel gives them his goofy sailor hat. "You save this for the kid," he says.

They give each other goodbye hugs, and then leave, and Mel turns out the lights and locks up one last time. 

As Alice was never that great of a show, this isn't that great of a finale. But it does rate two hankys.

I've never seen either finale. As you say, Alice wasn't that great of a show. As you probably know, it was inspired by the similar (but more serious) movie Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974), which had most of the same named characters and is worth watching. Vic Tayback actually played his same character in the movie, in the Alice series and had a one-episode appearance in the spin-off Flo.

I have always enjoyed every episode I've seen of Fresh Prince, a much better show. Comedy shows that can successfully blend comedy and real-life lessons/problems are always head-and-shoulders above others.  

Richard Willis said:

I've never seen either finale. As you say, Alice wasn't that great of a show. As you probably know, it was inspired by the similar (but more serious) movie Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore (1974), which had most of the same named characters and is worth watching. Vic Tayback actually played his same character in the movie, in the Alice series and had a one-episode appearance in the spin-off Flo

I've never seen Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore, although I am aware it is the basis for the TV show Alice. Not only did Vic Tayback reprise his role from the movie in the TV series, so did Alfred Lutter as Alice's son Tommy, at least in the pilot episode. Lutter was replaced after the pilot because he was taller than Linda Lavin, but it didn't take long for the kid who replaced him, Phillip McKeon, to grow taller than Lavin as well.

Richard Willis said:

I have always enjoyed every episode I've seen of Fresh Prince, a much better show. Comedy shows that can successfully blend comedy and real-life lessons/problems are always head-and-shoulders above others.  

The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990-1996) overlapped with The Cosby Show (1984-1992), which got a lot more acclaim, but I always thought Uncle Phil was a better and much cooler dad than Cliff Huxtable.

Uncle Phil had Will's back through any number of scrapes, and put up with Will, Carlton and Jazz even though they often were disrespectful of him. Uncle Phil, however, was very patient with them, because he had life experience that they didn't have. Will and Carlton often didn't know what they didn't know, but Uncle Phil did. 

Will also thought Uncle Phil was a fat cat who forgot where he came from, and didn't realize that Uncle Phil had street smarts. He revealed them in one glorious moment, when Will wound up losing his car to a pool shark:

Great scene!

...THE GREEN PASTURES - appropriately for Easter - on TCM. Has anyone here ever seen or read the play or it's book source?

I saw the Veep finale. I watched the show the first couple of seasons but fell away from watching it. Funny as it was, every episode of Veep, like Law & Order, seemed like every other episode. Selina Meyer would commit a gaffe or somebody on her staff would screw up in some kind of way, and that little kerfluffle would spin out of control all day into a full-blown crisis, thanks to various efforts at damage control, spin, and blame-shifting. Unlike Law & Order, where every episode is the same but different, every episode of Veep just felt the same.

So I missed that Selina had actually held the presidency for a while, finishing out the term of the incumbent, and had run for president in her own right and lost. In this season, she is again running for president, and one of her rivals is Jonah Ryan. I had also missed his rise to power; he had been a weaselly White House aide but somewhere along the way had become a member of the United States House of Representatives.

Veep always worked as a contrast between the aspirational gentility of the Obama administration, giving us a behind-the-scenes look at people who were petty, foul-mouthed, gloriously incompetent and mostly not self-aware of possessing those detriments. Unfortunately, things here on Earth-Prime got to be as zany as Veep's Bizarro World take on things. Fortunately -- once they got past Julia Louis Dreyfus' cancer scare, which kept the show off the air for a year -- the producers and writers fully leaned in to the crazy. 

In this season, Selina and Jonah display a raw, naked lust for power that's truly disturbing because, the way things have changed in the past two years, none of the outrageousness Veep writers came up with is beyond the realm of possibility. Jonah has gone from cluelessness to vicious bigotry, is married to his half-sister, panders to anti-vaxxers and argues that math is terroristic because it uses Arabic numbers -- and that doesn't slow him down at all.

And Selina? She will do anything to win, including committing treason and fraud, and making underhanded deals that alienate absolutely everyone. I am still picking my jaw up off the floor about one particularly foul deed she commits in the finale against her loyal toady, Gary, whose devotion is pure as the driven snow and as deep as the ocean.

It was a fine sendoff ... although I don't expect to watch those episodes that I missed. 

Watched Black Summer. Some say it's a prequel to Z Nation -- it's by many of the same people -- but I gave up on the silly Z Nation early, and watched this one straight through.

If you still like zombie TV but are tired of all the talking on The Walking Dead, this is for you. It's freaking terrifying. It's about a last-minute evacuation from an unnamed city (it's Calgary) and our story follows various people who fail to get on the trucks for various reasons. They're left in a preistine suburb that is eerily still and empty -- until someone turns or a zombie comes 'round a corner and then it's panic city.

These zombie are "fast" ones, who turn almost instantly so that one person in a crowd succumbing means the whole crowd will turn pretty fast. The zombies are insanely fast and strong (or maybe just insane) and utterly relentless -- they will not give up once they've spotted you. Also, unlike The Walking Dead, the few people with weapons don't make head shots every time they open fire. In fact, they nearly always miss because the zombies are moving so fast. The zombies shrug off non-head-shots. And hand-to-hand combat is suicide. The odds are not good.

In the early going they do that thing where you see various vignettes that overlap. (You'll be watching Vignette D and realize the people from Vignette C are running past in the background, just like they did earlier but from a different angle.)

The attempt to build up tension by following people around with a handheld camera is hit or miss. Sometimes you know something's nearby (you saw it on Vignette B!) and the tension is unbearable. But sometimes you realize you've been watching people walk slowly for far too long.

Don't get too attached to anyone -- people die a lot, and they die abruptly (and then chase the survivors for the whole episode). Characterization is pretty much what you can pick up on the fly. There's one character who speaks Korean for the whole season, with no subtitles. Because who cares what she's got to say? Probably not going to make it anyway.

As usual, the worst thing about the zombie apocalypse is other people. There's an episode in an empty (?) school that is genuinely appalling. (And scary.) Some other people especially loathsome: A redneck who keeps trying to turn people against each other, some people in a truck who really want your gas, some soldiers who aren't what they seem, some drug dealers with a safe house/factory (especially the first guard we meet). Our survivors aren't angels, especially Spears, but they're better than that.

The ending is open to interpretation. If anyone else watches it, we can talk about it under a SPOILER warning.



ClarkKent_DC said:

Before Good Times, as well as when it was on the air, almost every other family show with a Black family was about a single mother -- Julia, That's My Mama, What's Happening!!  -- which was a step up from all those shows with a Black woman who was a maid with no family at all -- Beulah, Gimme a Break, and the Florida Evans character on Maude.

That's why Esther Rolle and John Amos were so bent on having a father in Good Times.

...You brought up BEULAH, another early ackead TV series. A number of the examples you cite of sine-black-mother series did postdate GOOD TIMES. In partial defense/co 

next setting, I will point out that 60s/7£s sitcom producers in general were awfully fond of single parents! I do 't think I k we till I saw the movie in the Nineties that COOLEY HIGH was the basis - Pretty distant, I believe! - of WHAT'S HAPPENING?

  Did the live special of ALL IN TBE FAMILY me tion the show's roots in the British TIL' DEATH DO US PART?I'm not sure if that was the literal title.) In it, Alf Garnet was English Tory Protestant (I suppose) royalist his son-in-law Irish Labour Catholic guess) republican. I've never, alas, been able to see it

They didn't mention the British show. It's amazing how many British shows were remade into American ones.

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