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In the world of television, everything old is new again


Remember when we only received three channels and we all watched the same television?

It seems inconceivable that with more than a thousand television channels we still can’t find something we like to watch. The inroads made by Netflix, specialized cable and streaming sources have expanded our options beyond our wildest imagination but there still seems to be a gap, something missing. Remember growing up in the fifties and sixties when we could only get three black and white channels and reception on two of them was so snowy we could barely watch them? So, the media experts are doing what soap company marketers have been doing successfully for more than a century—re-release a “new and improved” incarnation of the same old thing, the proven formula, but now with extra strength, power boosted or special additives.

Just as good second time around.

It started with the revival of Will & Grace which was soon followed by Roseanne. And now I hear there’s a remake in the works of Mad About You with Paul Reiser and Helen Hunt, and Murphy Brown with Candice Bergen. What to make of these remakes? Personally, I love the new Will & Grace for the same reasons I loved the original series. The writing, although a bit formulaic, is brilliant. The Jack and Karen characters played by Sean Hayes and Megan Mullaley are as sharp and outrageous as ever and could probably even carry their own show. Will is deftly played by Canadian Eric McCormack. Debra Messing’s Grace is still zany, albeit rather less appealing than first time around. But all in all, it works and I look forward to watching these characters every week.

The new Roseanne is slightly more political than the original.

What do you make of Roseanne? The new show is not under the complete control of Roseanne Barr as it was two decades ago, which in my opinion is a plus. More stable minds prevail. The show retains its original edge and attacks sensitive and timely issues faced by us ninety-nine percenters. The first couple of episodes packed a lot of material into the scripts to bring us up to speed and introduce us to the Connor’s new millenium challenges, which seemed a bit strained. Darlene is broke and with her sexually ambiguous son and defiant daughter has moved back home. D.J. (who’s had practically no lines this time around) has a bi-racial daughter and Becky is spinning her wheels going nowhere. Jackie fancies herself a life coach and is as irritatingly full of angst as ever. Dan and Roseanne represent the stable status quo. Imagine that! I’m keeping my fingers crossed that Roseanne’s character soon sees the light concerning her support of Donald Trump. We’re hoping those saner minds referenced above kick in.

Rehashing old stories is not new. Movie remakes rarely have the same magic as the original but Hollywood keeps pumping them out in the absence of new material. Overboard, originally released more than thirty years ago with Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell has been remade, although I haven’t seen the redo and not sure I want to. Unless you’re a fan of sci-fi, extra-terrestrial beings or blood and guts, you’re SOL when it comes to finding a good movie. I’ve been trying unsuccessfully to find Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland’s The Leisure Seekers on Netflix, On-Demand or Amazon Prime. No luck.

I just wish I could figure out how to slash my monthly telecom bill enough to make watching what I want more affordable. An old boomer is screwed without a live-in grandchild to manage our on-line and computer issues. I diligently note upcoming movies or TV shows that might appeal to our demographic and then can never find them. The same thing happens with my car keys and my cell phone (which I rarely to never use).

Movies relevant to baby boomers are rare and impossible to find in local theatres. The excellent British releases are considered ‘foreign films’ and relegated to obscure subterranean theatres in inaccessible corners of downtown areas that boomers find inconvenient to find and get to. Or they never turn up on the streaming and other options. I have a whole list of movies and television shows that I can’t find anywhere.

Spare me. Please.

Cineplex shares have registered a six-year low thanks to poor box office sales. Imagine how that could be improved if movie makers recognized there’s an entire generation of baby boomers who love to go to the movies and aren’t fans of blood, violence and special effects. What if television and movie producers rediscovered baby boomers and once again recognized us as a viable demographic? Now that’s what I would call a legitimate revival and something I would definitely line up to buy into.

Back to the future

The Globe and Mail’s Barry Hertz recently described these 10 movies as “summer blockbusters everyone will see”.

Solo: A Star Wars Story: No explanation required.Image result for emoticons

Jurrasic World: Fallen Kingdom: No explanation required.Image result for emoticons

Incredibles 2: Disney film for children.Image result for emoticonsImage result for emoticons

Deadpool 2: R-rated superhero sequel.Image result for emoticons

Mission Impossible: Fallout: No explanation required.Image result for emoticons

Manhunt: Action flick with lots of bad guys.Image result for emoticons

Disobedience: Drama about same-sex relationship in ultra-orthodox Jewish community in London. “Foreign film”Image result for emoticons

Hereditary: Horror filmImage result for emoticons

Under The Silver Lake: Mystery about missing neighbourImage result for emoticons

The Wife: Another “foreign film” starring Glenn Close as betrayed woman.Image result for emoticons

Do any of these appeal to you? I might catch the Glenn Close one. I’ve been waiting all winter for The Book Club with Dianne Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenbergen. It’s been eight months since I’ve been to the movies because I can’t find one I like. And the movie theatres wonder why they’re going broke!! Just ask a baby boomer.


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Boomer feel-good movie felt limp


There aren’t a lot of movies out there that appeal to the Boomer set, so when one finally appears, we organize a girls’ outing, line up for our cheap seniors’ tickets, then line up again for our gallon pail of Diet Coke and bucket of chemically questionable popcorn. That’s what happened this week when my gal pals and I settled in to see Paris Can Wait starring Diane Lane and Arnaud Viard with a cameo by Alec Baldwin. The reviews weren’t great but we figured it would be worth the price of admission to see wide shots of French scenery.

Diane Lane plays the neglected wife of a movie producer (Alec Baldwin) who can’t fly to Paris from the French Riviera because of an inner ear ailment. When Jacques, a French associate producer played by Arnaud Viard offers to drive her, since he’s ‘going that way’, she reluctantly agrees. What should be a direct drive becomes several days exploring the historical, esthetic and culinary delights of Provence and the Rhône Valley under the tutelage of the charming Frenchman. Eventually, they do get to Paris. Sounds like a wonderful trip.

In our opinion, the only people who really enjoyed Paris Can Wait would be those who starred in and were involved in making the movie. They got to spend a few weeks in France during the summer on an expense account while getting paid a nice salary. I don’t always agree with the critics, but this time, they were right.  One of my gal pals even fell asleep toward the end. The plot was trite and Harlequin-novel-like. Every cloud has a silver lining though. The Rick Steeves-like descriptions of local tourist attractions and beautiful cinematography were wonderful. That and the popcorn, followed by the four of us going for tea at Timmies after the movie made the afternoon worthwhile. Save your money. Wait for it to come on television and watch it for free. My advice? Pass Paris and proceed directly to Timmies.

Click here for the review by Rotten Tomatoes

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