That South Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

That South Doesn’t Live Here Anymore

At some point, certain television shows become signifiers of your age. It just kind of happens. Today’s “Breaking Bad” becomes tomorrow’s “Murder She Wrote” or “Lawrence Welk Show”: a thing to be enjoyed ironically, if at all, and most probably relegated to the realm of laughably uncool by mere virtue of its remaining viewer demographic. Case in point: “In the Heat of the Night”. No, not the classic, brilliant movie of that name. I mean the television show which maybe you didn’t know about beyond it being the last thing of note which Carroll O’Connor (of Archie Bunker fame) did before his death. Go on. Search for it in Twitter. “Matlock”. “In the Heat of the Night”. Lots of mentions of grandparents. You might catch me mentioning it on Twitter, too, possibly in reference to the disappointment the handful of new followers I’ve gotten when I’ve written something online feel when they find out I mostly just retweet people talking about the show. But ITHOTN (I’m using shorthand from now) is in my head* and has been since it was still new and fresh. I dearly, unironically love the show in all its low-budget, actor recycling, shot on location in Covington, Georgia, splendor. It’s like a cultural security blanket for me, coming on, still, at 11am and noon, seven days a week, on WGN America. I’ve seen every episode more times than I can count (though I’ve still only seen the David Koresh inspired TV movie starring Peter Fonda once) and I keep tuning in any time I’m able. In the weeks since WGN has started airing ITHOTN on Sundays, I’ve...
Taking My Viewing to South Beach: Miami Vice With New Eyes

Taking My Viewing to South Beach: Miami Vice With New Eyes

There has been a massive Miami Vice shaped hole in my cultural knowledge. This was not and is not a conscious decision on my part. My father, I recall, watched the show during its run. He wasn’t a devoted follower of the series, but I can distinctly recall snippets of episodes and that iconic opening from my childhood wanderings down the hall to our living room. One in particular, an episode with Sheena Easton, is in my mind’s eye. It’s nothing seared in my memory or anything like that, but the memory of watching that one episode is there.  Maybe it’s because I always confused (and still confuse) Sheena Easton with Sheila E, even though they’re nothing alike. Sheila E, as it turns out, is way cooler than Sheena Easton, but she was never on Miami Vice. But I never revisited the show to see what the big deal was as I have with so many others. It’s not that I dislike cop shows or crime dramas; I’m not particularly drawn to them, mind you, but I enjoy enough of them that Miami Vice doesn’t repel me or anything. The show just never did it for me. As a kid, it was like watching people my dad’s age try to be cool. My dad is cool, but he wasn’t so cool in 1985 to eight year old Ian; the thought of watching guys my dad’s age wearing suit jackets with t-shirts while living on boats in Miami to New Wave soundtracks just didn’t appeal to me much at the time. Grody to the max. As an adult, the whole thing...
A Brief History of the Power Rangers Part Four

A Brief History of the Power Rangers Part Four

  <!– P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } –> Power Rangers: Operation Overdrive (2007) Operation Overdrive was the15th anniversary series. It was originally supposed to be called Relic Hunters but luckily they changed the title, or viewers might have gotten it all mixed up with Tia Carrere’s show Relic Hunter, which I actually watched a few times. It was pretty terrible but not as bad as Cleopatra 2525, which was on right after. Back to Power Rangers. These five teenagers with attitude are searching for magic jewels taken from this crown that the gods supposedly made. This guy called the Sentinel Knight took the magic jewels and scattered them all over the damn place to keep them out of the hands…paws…whatever of these two evil foam-rubber brothers, Moltar and Flurious (fire and ice, get it?). So this billionaire explorer dude finds the crown and recalls the evil brothers from their exile, and all hell breaks loose. The billionaire is not actually an evil billionaire (for once) and he finds the teenagers and modified their DNA to give them superhuman strength, speed etc. Meanwhile, Moltar and Flurious discover that they really hate each other and so start fighting each other as well as the good guys. These other people/aliens show up also looking for all the jewels because when they are put back in the crown, the crown gives you ultimate power, although the exact nature of ‘ultimate power’ is never explained (not in this series or any other story where some artifact can give you ultimate power, now that I think about it). There’s a hot chick with a bad...
A Brief History of the Power Rangers, Part Three

A Brief History of the Power Rangers, Part Three

Welcome back to our journey through the two-decade long history of the Power Rangers. Diving right in… <!– P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } –> Power Rangers: Ninja Storm (2003) So there’s all these ninja schools hidden deep in the jungles of California. I have no clue how one applies to get in, or their acceptance standards, but apparently this one school has pretty low expectations because the main characters of Ninja Storm are students there, but they’re kind of underachievers. They also have names that sound like a Disney Channel band: Tori, Dustin and Shane. <!– P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } –> One fine day Lothor, a ninja master who turned evil and was banished, decides to destroy all the ninja school with his army of foam rubber bad guys. All the other ninja schools disappear, leaving only- you guessed it- Tori, Dustin, and Shane still around to fight him. There is also their strict sensei, who for some reason has been turned into a guinea pig (I’m not even kidding) and his studious son Cam. They all go into this massive underground complex beneath the ruins of their school, and guinea pig sensei gives them Wind Morphers so they can protect the town of Blue Bay Harbor, which is apparently near the jungles of California, from Lothor’s naughty schemes. Not only can Lothor make his evil army grow into giants, he also has his own evil Power Rangers to fight the Wind Rangers. Blake and Hunter (good Lord, seriously?) are the Thunder Rangers. You can tell they’re different from regular Power Rangers because they aren’t primary-colored; they’re navy...
A Brief History of the Power Rangers, Part Two

A Brief History of the Power Rangers, Part Two

<!– P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } –> Power Rangers Lost Galaxy (1999) This one is set some time in the ‘not too distant future’, so I’m assuming it’s like…2007? Four teenagers leave Earth for a new space colony called Terra Ventura. Unsurprisingly, they run into some of the millions of aliens that populate our galaxy. One of them is this jungle queen girl (played by Cerina Vincent, who grew up to be quite pretty) who gives them some swords called Quasar Sabers that are stuck into rocks on her home planet. The kids have to pull them out and then a wizard declares them all joint kings of England. Not really. The swords…wait for it…turn them into Power Rangers! Then one of the kids falls down a crevasse and dies. I am not even kidding. Luckily he had a premonition or something and gave the Quasar Saber to his little brother so there wouldn’t be a Power Ranger gap. The Galaxy Rangers get not one but two sets of evil aliens from different parts of the universe. These include some scorpion/insect bad guys, a robot who for some reason wears an Elizabethan ruffle around his neck, and a space pirate whose body is- I kid you not- shaped like a pirate ship. They also run into this guy called the Magna Defender, who turns out to be an ally, and is some kind of nice space entity who, in DC comics fashion, has taken the dead Power Ranger who fell down the crevasse ‘s body and is using it for a host. He dies eventually. Again. Then the Elizabethan...
A Brief History of the Power Rangers, Part One

A Brief History of the Power Rangers, Part One

<!– P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } –> A year ago, if you’d told me I would become a Power Rangers expert, I would have laughed in your face. Then one day, while I was trawling Netflix for something to show my kid, he pointed and said, “I want to see that!” It was the original Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers series. Having been born in 1979, I was too old to be the target demographic for the series when it ran in America in the mid ’90’s.. I remembered how popular it had been though, especially with little boys, so I figured, “What the hell?” Little did I know the madness this snap decision would cause. Since December I have seen at least part of almost every single Power Rangers series currently on Netflix (and don’t even ask how many times I have played bad guy to my son’s Blue or Pink or Red Ranger). There are 16 Power Rangers series so far (plus one miniseries and two movies). The 17th series, Power Rangers Megaforce, will be out later this year. I figured I should put my newly-acquired knowledge to use and create for G&G a sort of abbreviated history of the Power Rangers in the U.S. Read, my children, and learn. <!– P { margin-bottom: 0.08in; } –> Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (1993-1995) Super sentai shows had been popular in Japan for some time (I won’t explain super sentai because really, if you’re reading G&G you should already know what they are) when American TV people suddenly noticed and were like, “Hey, these things are pretty popular in Japan,...