The bad news is that the 1956 scifi horror thriller "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" being a prominent topic in film study and political science courses precludes giving the Olive Signature division of Olive Films October 16, 2018 Blu-ray release of this classic due regard. The first good news is that the copious in-depth and insightful bonus features do show "Body" proper regard and give current students a good shot at boosting their grade at least a notch.
Audio commentary by "Body" stars Kevin McCarthy and Dana Wynter (and by Gizmo's birth dad Joe Dante) further enhances the Signature release of the film.
The second good news is that the recently beefed-up Olive Films section of Unreal TV 2.0 includes reviews of other cult classics that Signature has shown tremendous love. The first releases are the 1952 classic Western "High Noon" and the more campy 1954 Joan Crawford Western "Johnny Guitar." This collection including the lesbiancentric 1996 neo-noir film "Bound" demonstrates the range of Signature,
"Body" is based on the novel The Body Snatchers by Jack Finney. The aforementioned special features shows how this tale of the fruit of seeds from outer space replacing ordinary townfolks in a '50s Everytown U.S.A. speaks to (hilariously named) producer Walter Wanger. We additionally get the perspective of director Don Siegel.
As the oft-mentioned extras remind us, one aspect of "Body" that makes it notable is being the first in a long series of "pod people" films that still entertain movie goers and provide sitcom writers who are desperate for a Halloween episode script fodder for a dream-sequence. However, this does not prevent Siegel and his team from borrowing from "Citizen Kane" and many other classics.
Just as "Kane" opens with the death of the titular William Randolph Hearst pod person and goes on to portray the key events in the life of the clone, the first scenes in "Body" show a crazed and disheveled Dr. Miles J. Bennell (McCarthy) restrained in a hospital and ranting about the titular offensive. This leads to a psychiatrist agreeing to hear his story in order to calm him down.
"Body" then depicts an equally standard opening scene; we see a train pull into the station at Santa Mira, California. The protagonist (Bennell) disembarks and meets his nurse. The audience learns on the ride to the office both that Bennell has good-natured arrogance and that he is returning from a two-week trip to a medical conference. Bennell learns that chaos in the form of people flooding his office with claims of replicas replacing locals has erupted in his absence,
The mystery deepens when Bennell finds his office empty and all seeming quiet on this western town front. Things get more interesting when Becky Driscoll (Wynter), with whom Bennell has an "its complicated" past, shows up after an extended absence, This reunion leads to a joke about divorce that is shocking for the '50s but very funny in 2018.
The initial investigation by those "meddling kids" Bennell and Driscoll bears little fruit until they experience a major breakthrough. This phase of the investigation ultimately leads to hot pursuit of Bennell and Driscoll that includes era-apt propaganda in the form of coaxing the couple by telling them that they will be much happier if they no longer think or feel.
The bonus regarding this is that falling asleep creates a significant risk of a fate different then death, Seeing Bennell being particularly clever in evading his former friends and neighbors is another aspect of "Body" that distinguishes it from other '50s scifi fare.
The quality continues to the end; the opening scenes establish that Bennell does not lose his humanity. However, suspense remains whether "Abner" believes "Gladys" that "witches" are among us. The outcome demonstrates why "Body" has endured so long.
The final mention of the numerous short documentaries and related material in the Signature release is that the filmmmakers never divulge their intents regarding "Body" being right or left-wing propaganda. That ambiguity adds to the fun of the film and reminds us of a kinder and gentler (although equally paranoid) era,
The Olive Signature division of art and cult film god Olive Films once again shows its love of the best of the best with the phenomenal must see to believe remaster of the 1996 Wachowskis Brothers ("The Matrix and "Cloud Atlas.") classic neonoir "Bound." The adoration begins with including both the theatrical and unrated versions of this steamy mob drama that centers around illicit lesbian lovers whom Gina Gershon and Jennifer Tilly portray.
The artful contrasts (such as bright-red blood on gleaming white tile and perfectly laundered white shirts) and the overall cinematography look incredible in Blu-ray; the audio that plays an equally key role sounds crystal clear, The A-list group that provides the audio commentary includes the three stars and the bros.
Gershon plays butch ex-con bull dyke lesbian Corky; Tilly is seductive femme fatale lipstick lesbian Violet. Fans of classic sitcoms will respectively think of Jo and Blair of "The Facts of Life."
It is love at first sight when a tank-top and jeans wearing Corky and dressed-up to the nines Violet exchange glances at the high-end condo. building where moll Violet and gangster Caesar (Joe Pantoliano) are shacking up in the unit next to where Corky is doing a major renovation for a client., The good humor begins Violet using one of the oldest ploys in the book to seduce Corky. This scene including Corky grabbing a pipe with her bare hands and ripping it loose is equally symbolic and humorous.
Our girls are enjoying unwedded bliss on the side when Caesar obtains temporary possession of $2M of mob money; the seduction is on the other Birkenstock when Corky convinces Violet to make that custody even more temporary than planned.
The ensuing mayhem follows the Leonard Snark (a.k.a. Captain Cold) four rules of planning such a caper; make a plan, execute the plan, expect the plan to go off the rails, throw away the plan.
Mob boss Gino Marzzone (Richard C. Sarafin) and his son Johnnie (Christoper Meloni) who proves the theory about a family business failing when the third generation takes over making a booty call plays a big role regarding the third rule. The already discussed bad blood between Johnnie and Caesar is one of many elements that makes this a notably intense and entertaining scene. This is not to mention Gino discovering the limits of his influence.
"Bound" next becomes especially Hitchcockian as the police arrive to investigate; the ode to that auteur includes a bath tub body dump and rinsing blood down the drain. The quick and efficient temporary cleanup suggests that this is is not the first trip to this type of rodeo.
It is equally inevitable that Caesar discovers the truth and obtains leverage; what ensues next is so unexpected and clever that it shows why The Wachowskis soon come to be in heavy demand. Part of the mastery is greatly honoring classic noir while keeping things fresh.
The final result stays very true to the spirit of the old and the new. A strong reflection of this film being in a neo-code era is that not every malfeasor ends up in a shallow grave, in the river, or behind bars.
The standard feature-quality bonuses that Signature includes are equally exceptional this time. Particularly notable ones are two film experts sharing their thoughts on neonoir, Meloni discussing his character, and Gershon and Tilly providing insights regarding femme fatales.
We also get a booklet with an essay by actress Guinevere Turner; her perspective is the positive role of "Bound" regarding portraying lesbians in films.
'Streets of Vengeance' Blu-ray: Awesome Homage to Trashy Fare of USA Up All Night & Debbie Rochon Films
Olive Films aptly takes us to camp with the July 24, 2018 Blu-ray release of "Streets of Vengeance." Olive captures the tone of of "Vengeance" in describing it as "a throwback to the gritty action-thrillers of the '80s." The bonus fun comes via this Slasher//video joint being presented in the format of a fictional basic cable show that is just as cheesy and tawdry as the real "USA Up All Night" that gave trashy films new life on weekend nights from 1989 to 1998. One difference is that the graphic sexual and violent content remains intact this time.
A more modern modern reference is to the oft-hilarious and always perverse films of 21st-century scream queen Debbie Rochon.
The brilliance of "Vengeance" is that ipurposefully making a twisted bad film elevates otherwise pure trash into an awesome guilty pleasure. An example of this is the phrase "choke on your own cock" not just being an expression this time. The only surprise is that the central vigilantes do not have a targeted misogynist suck a bag of dicks.
The larger reference thus time is to the mother of all bad movie showcases "Mystery Science Theater 3000." The best brains behind that '90s basic cable series spare intentional garbage by limiting their selections to movies that the filmmakers believe to be good.
"Vengeance" opens with porn star Mila on the verge of hanging up her G string at the same time that the San Francisco slasher is killing women who use their sex appeal to pay the bills,
A retirement party (sans gold garter belt) for Mila ends badly when a cult member grabs her outside the venue and brings her to his lair. This male chauvinist pig makes the common mistake of film villains by telling Mila of the cult objective of ridding the world of women who tease and otherwise abuse men with their slutty behavior. Suffice to say two damaged individuals enter, one porn actress leaves.
Mila subsequently initially teams up with muscle, who essentially acts as the pimp of the all party-girl army that Mila assembles to take back the street corner. In true revenge-film style, this battle of hos v. bros amps up in a manner that puts Mila on the radar of the cult leader, who is connected with a man for whom the battle is particularly personal.
This leads to the inevitable battle royale that leads to the inevitable mano-a-womano showdown between the cult leader and Mila. Suffice it to say this time, Mila shows that her stiletto-heel boots are made for more than walking.
Olive further enhances the "Vengeance" experience with a feature-length making-of film and a bushel of other Blu-ray extras. These include cast interviews, a blooper reel, a music video, and several trailers.
'Stay Hungry' Blu-ray: TFB Jeff Bridges & Body Builder Schwarzenegger Unlikely Friendship in '70s Era Gym
The Olive Films October 31, 2017 Blu-ray release of the 1976 dramedy "Stay Hungry" by Bob Rafelson of the counter-culture classics "Five Easy Pieces" and "Head" hits the trifecta of being a perfect example of the urban gritty comedies of the era, bringing this Golden Globe winning acting debut of Arnold Schwarzenegger back to life, and showing that some things never change in reel or real life. Having numerous future well-known members of the B List in supporting roles is a terrific bonus.
Jeff Bridges stars as 20-something trust fund baby Craig Blake, who experiences a severe existentialist crisis in the wake of the sudden death of his parents. He is fairly literally rattling around alone in the family mansion on the "hill" outside Birmingham, Alabama.
The effort of Blake to define himself and to meet the directive of his uncle that he perform a useful function in life prompts working for unscrupulous Birmingham real-estate developer Jabo (Joe Spinell of the "Godfather" trilogy). The assignment that Blake has no choice regarding accepting is to be a strawman in a transaction in which he buys a run-down gym and then sells it to the company of Jabo to facilitate a construction project.
Blake subsequently integrates himself in the life of the gym to the extent of befriending very odd aspiring Mr. Universe Joe Spano (Schwarzenegger) and pursuing a romance with gym receptionist/former Spano squeeze Mary Tate Farnsworth (Sally Field). These relations with working-class folks get Blake thinking about his own lifestyle and prompt second thoughts about facilitating the scheme to oust his new friends from their home away from home.
The adventures of Blake include getting in a bar fight and escorting Farnsworth to a country club event where a club friend (Ed Begley, Jr.) pursues her.
This mixing of classes in a manner that centers around blue blood dating blue collar is not the only similarity with the better-known (and more comedic) 1981 Dudley Moore/Liza Minnelli film "Arthur." Character actor Scatman Crothers plays long-time family servant William who reaches his considerable limits when Blake essentially makes Farnsworth the lady of the manor. Watching William literally take what he considers his due is hilarious.
Rafelson does a terrific job building up to the madcap climax; quirky middle-aged gym owner Thor gets very excited when Jabo brings him "masseuses" as an incentive to sell the gym, Farnsworth finds herself in related peril, and Blake becomes under attack as well. This leads to a hilarious version of the running of the bulls with just as much beefcake.
As mentioned above, the timeless themes of Wall Street driving out Main Street for fun and profits and the challenges related to the mixing of the classes make films such as "Hungry" timeless. The visual images are a little dated, but the messages remain just as powerful 40 years later.
These musings regarding the launch of the Olive Films Signature collection including the September 20, 2016 DVD and Blu-ray releases of the 1952 Stanley Kramer classic "adult Western" "High Noon" reinforce the thoughts in the Unreal TV review of the simultaneous Signature releases of the 1954 Nicholas Ray (of "Rebel Without a Cause" fame) Western with equally mature themes "Johnny Guitar" that Olive wisely pairs the two. One cannot imagine a better weekend afternoon double-feature.
Part of the fun of "Noon" relates to regular references to a tin star; that badge is the title of the magazine article on which the film is based.
The four Oscar wins for this Old West version of the Kiefer Sutherland drama series "24" include Best Actor for Gary Cooper in his role as perhaps the first lawman to have a horrible last day on the job Marshal Will Kane. The awesome Tex Ritter song "High Noon (Don Not Forsake Me Oh My Darlin')," which provides classic Western style (and '60scom "F Troop" spoofed) exposition is awarded Best Original Song for 1953. Other awards include several Golden Globes.
"Noon" is also notable for being a Stanley Kramer joint. Kramer goes on to produce scads o' '50s and '60s classics. A woefully incomplete list of these films includes "The Caine Mutiny," "Judgment at Nuremberg," and "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner."
Grace Kelly rounds out this top three as Grace Fowler Kane (rather than Amy Farrah Fowler) , who is a Quaker whose honeymoon period with Will lasts less than five minutes. This actress who goes on to be one of Hitchcock's favorite blondes shows equally quickly that she is far more than just another pretty face. Her quiet strong will (no pun intended) and limited willingness to stand by her man make her an early film feminist hero.
Just as "Guitar" dramatically opens with blasting rock as part of a railroad expansion that is integral to that film. "Noon" commences with a gathering of outlaws ahead of their recently paroled leader scheduled to arrive at the titular hour.
The action soon shifts to the closing moments of the Sunday morning wedding of recently resigned Marshal Will and Amy (Wamy?). The pronouncement of that union is barely out of the mouth of the presiding Quaker minister when a literally rude awakening comes in the form of Will leaning that Frank Miller, who is a particularly ornery outlaw that Will arrested five years earlier, is paroled and is arriving in just over an hour. None of the assembled group doubts that revenge against Will and the other locals responsible for that not-so-unfortunate incarceration is the motive for that visit.
The ensuing real-time period between Will receiving the dual bad news and the anticipated showdown is sure to have fans of the aforementioned Sutherland series imagine a digital clock on the screen and hear accompanying ominous music. "Noon" director Fred Zimmerman, who also is behind-the-camera for dramas that include "From Here to Eternity" and "A Man for All Seasons," provides the effective substitute of still shots of a wall clock.
The "24" vibe continues with the lone wolf aspect and related betrayals of that series. We further get plenty of the moral dilemmas that contribute to Sutherland's Jack Bauer literally sleepless nights.
The Kramer-caliber substance of "Noon" that separates it from stampedes and gunfights style Westerns also commences with the countdown to the titular time. Will must initially determine that staying to fight is the better course than running, try to convince the town folks to stand with him, and confront his past demons. The latter include incompetent interim Marshal (and former deputy) Harvey Pell, whom Lloyd Bridges perfectly portrays, and Will former flame/Harvey current love interest Helen Ramirez. The spot-on portrayal of Ramirez by Katy Jurado earns her a Best Supporting Actress Golden Globe.
It seems that tough and independent saloon owner Helen inspires the tough and independent saloon owner Vienna whom Crawford plays in "Guitar." They both have a "past" about which neither is ashamed. An awesome scene in "Noon" refers to the history of Helen by having a hotel owner comment that Will knows the way when the former asks if Helen is in her room.
Another parallel exists in the form of the earnest boy who is eager to prove that he is a man. Turkey in "Guitar" is a barely post-adolescent who wants to prove that he is as tough as any man. One of the best scenes in "Noon" has a teen trying to convince Will that the lad has what it takes to be the Robin to Will's Batman.
Kramer and Zimmerman also add their own artistic touches to the shootout that comprises most of the final 15 minutes of "Noon." Rather than merely being two foes facing each other on an otherwise deserted dusty street, the gun battle looks more like a modern police drama chase. A highly symbolic scene in this segment has an "in imminent peril" Will take the time to save a herd of horses.
The involvement of Kramer and "Noon" not being your typical kiddie matinee oater leaves the barn door open for the possibility of a finale that is not a typical Hollywood ending. Determining if Kramer adheres to the Hayes Code in having Frank Miller killed or jailed and Will riding off in the sunset with Amy requires watching the beautifully restored film; the semi-spoiler is that its complicated.
The booklet, which seems to be a Signature staple, that the (awesomely produced) Blu-ray set includes has an essay that offers more insight into "Noon" than one could hope for. This article expands beyond the themes discussed above to discuss the involvement of blacklisted screenwriter Carl Foreman and the relevancy of the film in this era of the Trump candidacy. We further learn of the parallels between "Noon" and the 1929 Cooper film "The Virginian," based on the classic 1902 novel of the same name.
The special features also include the theatrical trailer, documentaries on the editing of "Noon " and the awesomeness of Kramer productions, and a Must-See "making-off" feature narrated by recently deceased young actor Anton Yelchin.
The new Olive Films Olive Signature collection chooses perfectly in launching its DVD and Blu-ray releases with two '50s Westerns that are much more than shoot-em-up kiddie matinee fare. The 1954 Joan Crawford film "Johnny Guitar," which is our current topic, is an apt predecessor of the 1955 film "Rebel Without A Cause" by "Guitar" director Nicholas Ray. Our focus tomorrow shifts to the equally deep 1952 classic "High Noon" starring Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly.
As an aside, the spectacular (discussed at the end of this review) extras in both "Guitar" and "Noon" are a notable part of what distinguishes Signature releases from the lost treasures and other drool-worthy titles in the main Olive catalog.
The following YouTube clip of the SPOILER-LADEN theatrical trailer for "Guitar" emphasizes the good sizzle over the even better substance of the film.
The elements that make adult Western "Guitar" Signature worthy are the aforementioned attributes that earn it the titles of "adult" and "feminist" Western, associated heavy symbolism in color and narration, having Hollywood royalty Joan Crawford star with fellow box office legends Sterling Hayden as the titular crooner/gunslinger and Best Actress winner for "All The King's Men" Mercedes McCambridge as the sexually repressed (and possibly bisexual) proper lady Emma Small, and the restoration of "Guitar" looking and sounding so amazing on Blu-ray that it does justice to the red rock scenery of the Sedona, Arizona shooting location.
Crawford stars as tough-as-nails saloon owner Vienna, regarding whom it is suggested spent a great deal of time on her back to raise the money required to get her business on its feet. The reasoning of this 19th century entrepreneur is that the relatively imminent expansion of the railroad literally to her formerly remote front door will bring the business to her.
The "crimes" of Vienna including her being a strong and independent woman in a strongly male-dominated society, having a relationship with an ambiguous amount of closeness with the Dancing Kid and a related triangle with ambiguous aspect with Emma, and welcoming the Kid and his gang that claim to be silver miners but are suspected of being outlaws into her business. This long list of offenses provide the catalyst for Emma and wealthy landowner John McIvers to use every arguable excuse to literally or figuratively come gunning for Vienna and to fabricate a rationale if none exist.
As an aside, the web verifies the sense from the clear animosity that Crawford and McCambridge direct at each other that Bette Davis is the first choice for the role of Emma; The story goes that Davis wanted too much money and that second choice Barbara Stanwyck also passed on the chance to battle Crawford on (and almost certainly off) screen. The expertly written insightful booklet in the Signature release shares both that Crawford and McCambridge do battle off-screen and that Hayden and that cast and crew side with McCambridge.
The fictional drama that sets "Guitar" in motion is a stage coach robbery in which the brother of Emma is killed; this loss and the aforementioned resentments bring Emma, McIvers, and the Marshal to Vienna's in the wake of an even more dramatic entrance of our titular character. Although the stated purpose of the newcomer for being there is to entertain the customers, it soon becomes clear that Vienna summons him based on their shared history and on his skill as a gunfighter.
The Old West elements continue with Vienna facing an effective order to be out of town by sundown, a daring daytime bank robbery, a pursuing posse, a lynching, a few shootouts, etc. Anyone even remotely familiar either with Ray or "Guitar" know that all of this is merely the outer layer of the savory onion.
A coerced betrayal based on a false promise provides commentary by a blacklisted writer (who uses a front) who contributes to the "Guitar" script, the aforementioned history of Johnny and Vienna and a scene between the two is very reminiscent of Ilsa and Rick from "Casablanca," the unconventional reversals of the white hats and the black hats, a highly symbolic barrier, etc all show both why Americans who come expecting non-stop gun fights and little dialog are disappointed and Europeans embrace "Guitar" enough to have it inspire the New Wave directors.
A simpler way of understanding this is that the emphasis in this oater is much more on opera than horse. The stirring soundtrack (which makes great use of BD), the majestic scenery, and the flowing white dress and other costumes of the highly expressive Crawford evoke a stronger sense of the Met than the multiplex.
The plethora of Turner Classic Movie-quality extras in "Guitar" extend beyond the aforementioned booklet. Acclaimed director Martin Scorsese starts things with a Robert Osborne-worthy introduction to the film. Other features include a panel of film critics discussing the work, a short film on the McCarthy element, and the aforementioned SPOILER-LADEN theatrical trailer. Aside from being great retro fun, the non-enhanced trailer perfectly illustrates (no pun intended) the value of watching even '50s-era films that make great use of technicolor and related technologies in Blu-ray.
The Olive Films September 13, 2016 2-disc DVD and Blu-ray sets of all thrill-packed 12 episodes in "Commando Cody"from the '50s makes this Saturday review of that kiddie matinee feature very apt. One spoiler is that that the titular Sky Marshal of the Universe gets his name from his daring wartime exploits, not from a habit of opting out of wearing underwear.
Although much of the initial excitement surrounding these full 30-minutes of awesome low-budget '50s scifi goodness relates to the late '80s-early '90s basic cable show "Mystery Science Theater 3000" often featuring the show, watching the expertly crafted Blu-ray set shows that the episodes are even better when you get to watch the whole story in one sitting and (albeit hilarious) sarcastic comments do not drown out the dialog.
The overall theme and feel of the series is that of the "Flash Gordon" serials. The jet-pack that Cody straps to his back and the bullet-shaped helmet and leather jacket that he wears while doing so are well-represented in the 1991 Disney live-action film "The Rocketeer."
Great cost-cutting elements include the pilot seats in the rocket ship of Cody being undisguised desk chairs of the day with seat belts, an alien compound clearly being a model, and a robot looking like the Halloween costume of a 12 year-old.
"Cody" begins with a three-episode arc in which our hero and his team first learn of the existence of the alien villain The Ruler. The first nefarious attempt of this bad guy involves a fairly straightforward effort to conquer earth and enslave mankind. This also is the first time that The Ruler attempts to penetrate the cosmic dust barrier that is the creation of Cody designed to protect earth from alien threats. This Star Wars style defense and the attempts to penetrate it remain an element through the run of "Cody."
The modern-day elements of "Cody" extend well beyond having a defense shield that is intended to neutralize missiles and other harmful projectiles. The heavy eco elements include separate plots by The Ruler to create massive storms to cause catastrophic storms and to increase global warming to a degree (no pun intended) that the entire earth literally bakes.
Further, The Ruler with his Eastern European accent, spies on earth, and fondness for stealing secret plans and breaking the communication system of Cody add a wonderful Cold War feel to the episodes.
This all amounts to a chance to watch a vintage "one more" worthy Saturday afternoon matinee series without a theater full of screaming kids.
[EDITOR'S NOTE: The particularly special nature of the topic of this post results in the following being more "bloggy" than usual. Regularly scheduled programming will resume with the next post.]
Purveyor of wonderfully quirky and/or thought-provoking domestic and foreign classics Olive Films provides a great reminder of the joy of good satire regarding the recent Blu-ray release of the 1980 Martin Mull comedy "Serial." These films having a special place in the memories of those of us ancient enough to remember their releases is a bonus. The personal memory of "Serial" is a Colby College (a.k.a. ColbyCo) film society screening of it providing the first sense that college is cool.
The following YouTube clip of a "Serial" promo. nicely illustrates the aforementioned coolness.
On a very general level, the awesome (but truly unoffensive) un-pc nature of "Serial" is a great example of the theme of the Unreal TV reviewed modern documentary "That's Not Funny," which analyzes the loss of a sense of humor in America. As an aside, Robin Williams responding "because you killed all the funny people" when a German television interviewer asked why there was no comedy in Germany remains a personal favorite Williams joke.
Bill Persky of the '80s CBS Monday night comedy "Kate and Allie" centers "Serial" around middle-level bank executive Harvey Holroyd (played by Mull) and his spirituality/self-awareness obsessed wife Kate (played by '60s sex kitten Tuesday Weld.) A relatively unknown fact about Weld is that her first major role is as gleefully admitted gold digging high school student Thalia Menninger (opposite Warren Beatty) in the early '60s sitcom "The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis;" the oft-repeated rationale of Menninger is hilarious,
Sally Kellerman (who plays Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan in the film version of "M*A*SH") plays the oft-married Martha, who begins the film days away from a very non-traditional (and hysterical) commitment ceremony. Mull making jokes during the ceremony and the current life partner of Martha discovering an ex-husband while reviewing her marital history are some of the best scenes in "Serial."
Neither last nor least regarding either the quirky characters or the B-level stars who portray them is Bill Macy of the '70s Bea Arthur sitcom "Maude." The executive whom Macy portrays has a '70s California mid-life crisis that evokes thoughts of the leisure suits that still fill a closet of the (then recently divorced) father of your (occasionally) humble reviewer.
Another "funny because its true" element revolves around Harvey and his fellow commuters riding their bikes to the ferry. A '70s era story in a large metropolitan newspaper includes a photo of a rear view of the very portly uncle of your (at times) humble reviewer riding his bicycle to his law firm. The ginormous headphones-style radio (almost certainly tuned to NPR) with the long antennas makes the photo.
Secondary characters who steal scenes include a brutal gay biker gang that listens to Judy Garland songs while on the open road. A blink and you will miss it moment in which the group begins a raid from a YMCA is a great sight gag, gets the The Village People song of the same name stuck in your head, and makes you want to rewatch the "People" film "Can't Stop the Music."
The humor in "Serial" does not get nearly as edgy as that of Williams but includes a hilarious line in which a 10-year old boy tells his cocaine-snorting and pill factory operating psychiatrist (played by Peter Bonerz of "The Bob Newhart Show") that he does not spend time with the "Gay Bruce" doll that is designed to increase his cultural sensitivity because he killed him. The shocked shrink asking the boy the reason for the Kenocide prompts the response "because he's a fag" and an assurance that his motive is no deeper. Bruce coming in a box designed to look like a closet contributes to the humor regarding this topic.
The most awesome part of "Serial" is that those of us who remember the swinging '70s can relate to the humor and folks who still have all their hair will get a fun look at the goofiness of it all.
Unreal TV 2.0 evolves from http://classictvdvdreviews.blogspot.com/ (which still is up.) Both sites are labors of love dedicated to preserving the golden and silver ages of television and film and celebrating new content that values art over commerce. The same principle applies regarding boutique hotels.