Self-destructing in 60 seconds.

Kate is playing in the school jazz ensemble this year, and one of the numbers they’re working on is the “Mission: Impossible” theme. (You weren’t expecting “Sketches of Spain” from eighth-graders, I hope.) This necessitated explanations: Yes, it was a movie, but it was a TV show first. It played into the ’60s vogue for all things spy-related, but as one-hour dramas go, it wasn’t bad at all. It was about a special force of secret agents who went around the world doing… oh, hang on. Let’s just look on YouTube.

I thought that if YouTube had anything, it should have at least one example of the opening set piece, where Peter Graves gets the mission, and all of those great pop-culture catch phrases: As always, if you or any of your IM force are caught or killed, the secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This recording will self-destruct in 60 seconds. Good luck, Jim.

And YouTube had something, but it wasn’t the MI I remembered. It was the pilot episode. Not Peter Graves, but the old DA from “Law & Order.” Not a little tape recorder, but an LP in a featureless office where cryptic glances are exchanged. A different voice giving the mission. What the hell?

Well, the internet got me into this mess, and the internet can get me out. The usual Wikipedia caveats apply, but this sounds likely:

The leader of the IMF is initially Dan Briggs, played by Steven Hill. However, Hill, as an Orthodox Jew, had to leave on Fridays at 4 p.m. to be home before sundown and was not available until sundown the next day. Although his contract allowed for filming interruptions due to religious observances, the clause proved difficult to work around due to the production schedule, and as the season progressed, an increasing number of episodes featured little of Dan Briggs. Hill had other problems as well. After cooperatively crawling through dirt tunnels and repeatedly climbing a rope ladder in the episode “Snowball in Hell,” the following week (“Action!”) he balked at climbing a stairway with railings and locked himself in his dressing room. Unable to come to terms with Hill, the producers reshot the episode without him (another character, Cinnamon Carter, listened to the taped message, the selected operatives’ photos were displayed in “limbo”, and the team meeting was held in Rollin Hand’s apartment), and reduced Briggs’ presence in the five segments left to be filmed to the minimum. As far as Hill’s religious requirements were concerned, line producer Joseph Gantman simply had not understood what had been agreed to. He told Patrick J. White, “‘If someone understands your problems and says he understands them, you feel better about it. But if he doesn’t care about your problems, then you begin to really resent him.'” White pointed out, “Steven Hill may have felt exactly the same way.” Hill was replaced (without explanation to the audience) after the first season by Peter Graves as Jim Phelps, who remained the leader for the remainder of the original series and in the 1988–1990 revival.

For the record, I have never locked myself in my dressing room in my life. For the record, I’ve never had a dressing room. If I ever get one, maybe I’ll lock myself in, just for the hell of it. See what it feels like.

Something else I never would have known about here it not for YouTube: Tarp surfing.

And with that, it seems we have skipped to the bloggage. A few weeks ago we discussed a case here in which the local Fox affiliate played a significant role. Here’s another, far more tragic. At what point does seeking TV exposure cross the line into mental illness?

Dumb story, still funny — Joe Biden, comic icon. (You can see the Onion’s Midwestern roots here — only a Wisconsin-centric publication would give the vice president a Trans Am.)

And now I’m off to the shower, and to catch a rabbit. Thank a veteran today, or just turn everything up to 11.

Posted at 8:54 am in Popculch, Television |

78 responses to “Self-destructing in 60 seconds.”

  1. coozledad said on November 11, 2010 at 9:00 am

    We’ve got a couple of stacks like this at the neighboring power plant. Visible from our property, even. I always wondered why they haven’t gone ahead and taken them down, but now I know.
    EDIT: I hope our current Impossible Missions Force doesn’t get marching instructions from a Close n’ Play at the public library.
    Wally Cox?

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  2. Dorothy said on November 11, 2010 at 9:13 am

    I hereby declare myself the unofficial “go-to” expert for the original Mission:Impossible series. It was and always be my number 1 favorite show. I turned my son onto it back in the mid-90’s when the F/X channel ran them all and we watched all of them, taped and saved a few of my favorites (Jim goes back to his hometown but finds out a mysterious man is attacking and killing women in the town!! Features none other than Loretta Swit! – or Jim and Rollin are heading to the mountains to do some fishing, but Jim gets caught up in a small town that had been overtaken by Russian spies, featuring Will Geer! – or Cinnamon gets captured by the enemy mid-mission and they have to negotiate to get her released). When I was a little girl I didn’t realize how few lines the wooden Willy (played by Peter Lupus) ever got. That’s because he was a crappy actor but had the necessary muscle to lift up safes with men squirreled away inside them.

    Anywho, you made my day bringing up the original Mission:Impossible! And I already knew that stuff about Steven Hill. Martin Landau was the best actor on the show and after he and his then-wife Barbara Bain left it wasn’t as much fun to watch. Leonard Nimoy as Paris was no match for the smooth Rollin Hand.

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  3. Joan said on November 11, 2010 at 9:39 am

    If you want to see a classic Mission:Impossible cold open with Peter Graves, going into the theme song, go to

    Loved Rollin Hand–also my fave.

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  4. Peter said on November 11, 2010 at 9:41 am

    Our son’s grade school band played the Mission Impossible theme during one of their recitals – afterwards my brother in law said it was so bad it sounded more like the theme to The Man from UNCLE.

    Speaking of spy theme songs, those two in my book are still below The Avengers and Secret Agent.

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  5. Rana said on November 11, 2010 at 10:08 am

    Mission: Impossible was one of our family’s favorite shows when I was a kid, and still is, even the pre-Peter Graves version. However, we cannot approve of the “twist” they put in it in the Tom Cruise movies – those became ridiculous, and [spoiler] making Jim Phelps a bad guy was insulting. Also, the movies were less about the team and more about Cruise’s character, which I suppose is inevitable in any movie he stars in.

    Which version of the theme are they learning, do you know? The original had a rather funky time signature, if I recall correctly, that they had to re-arrange for the movie (because they wanted a punchier, simpler one).

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  6. nancy said on November 11, 2010 at 10:15 am

    Joan, EXCELLENT. Thanks so much.

    “Camp Tuckahoe.” I’m howling.

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  7. Deborah said on November 11, 2010 at 10:17 am

    Mission: Impossible was one of my favorites too, but I also preferred Secret Agent and The Avengers, Peter.

    At first I thought tarp surfing had something to do with toxic assets until I clicked on the link.

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  8. ROgirl said on November 11, 2010 at 10:46 am

    I knew that someone else was on Mission Impossible before Peter Graves, but I could never remember who it was. I had no idea it was Steven Hill.

    This has to be the best thing Peter Graves ever did.

    I wanted to be Emma Peel.

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  9. Mark P. said on November 11, 2010 at 10:48 am

    Oooh, The Avengers. Diana Rigg. When I was in middle school she was the one the boys dreamed of. I still love the character she played. Not to mention the Lotus.

    About the TV report on the 14-year-old girl. Oh, it was a Fox affiliate. That explains it. Never mind. (Or course virtually any local station might have done the same.)

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  10. Dorothy said on November 11, 2010 at 11:01 am

    ROgirl – the other day while home at lunch time I found “Airplane” just beginning. It’s been years since I saw it. I could hardly eat my sandwich from laughing so damn hard. We still do lines from that movie, my favorite being “Surely you can’t be serious! – I am serious – and don’t call me Shirley!”

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  11. del said on November 11, 2010 at 11:03 am

    Loved the Mission Impossible clip and backstory. But reading Brian Dickerson’s column about Fox News’ involvement in that girl’s tragic death leaves me seething mad. Bastards.

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  12. Peter said on November 11, 2010 at 11:06 am

    Speaking of the Avengers, I read that Emma Peel got that name because the producers kept telling the writers to notch it up for the men; to give it masculine appeal. They brought it up so often that it got boiled down to “Add more M appeal”…

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  13. prospero said on November 11, 2010 at 11:07 am

    The art of great TV theme music is dying. Currently, the ostensibly happy little, seemingly Beach Boys inflected ditty on Terriers is the hands down champ. And it’s not so carefree, and it’s called “Gunfight Epiphany” and introduces the best show available at the moment, and it is every bit as messed up as Hank Dolworth.

    The nasty, sludgy blues tune at the beginning of Sons of Anarchy is way good, as was that specially-written Everlast tune about angels on Saving Grace. The CSI franchise has screwed over The Who, and using recognizable songs from my record collection is annoying anyway. Why don’t these lameass TV people get musicians, like Flatt and Scruggs, to write two brilliant minutes like “next thing you know, ol’ Jed’s a millionaire. Said Californy is the place you oughtta be so they loaded up the truck and they moved to Beverly. Hills, that is.”. Whatever happened to original tunes written especially for particular shows, like this one for the brilliant Imogene Coca vehicle? Or the HillBillies. Crap, those execs hired freaking Flatt & Scruggs.

    Legendary wierdo PF Sloan wrote Secret Agent Man, and I always thought Ian Anderson was plagiarizing the Mission Impossible music at the beginning of Living in the Past. I suppose he did it on purpose and it’s meant to be ironic with the superb lyrics.

    My brothers and I were language and grammar pedants about the Bat Masterson song. He wore a cane and derby hat, they called him Bat, Bat Masterson. He did not wear a cane.

    Inspector Gadget was enhanced by an inspired, very strange, theme. My kid, who is 29, pregnant and very successful these days, will still break into this when we meet. We used to skulk around Back Bay humming this. Go Gadget Go.

    And, there’s Suicide is Painless, written by Johnny Mandel. Of course, Mash had Hamilton Camp in a recurring role, and he may have sung the theme for all I know. In an episode in which all of the nurses were moved away from the unit, he sang a song about it and it was brilliant.

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  14. Sue said on November 11, 2010 at 11:10 am

    For all you Dame Diana Rigg fans; turn the volume low if you’re watching at work.

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  15. brian stouder said on November 11, 2010 at 11:13 am

    Wow – that TV news story knocked me off my pins. Reading the story nance linked, and knowing nothing else about the case (and entirely missing the Big Clue in the headline!), the reporter knocked me off my pins with the abrupt, terrible turn that the increasingly bad story took. Wow. Presumeably, this story is destined to live on in J-school courses of study, just like those plasticized Chinese people that were touring the country’s museums a summer (or two) ago.

    Dorothy – the Airplane line that comes to mind most often for me, especially when it’s a challenging day, is Lloyd Bridges saying “I picked a bad week to________”

    stop smoking; quit barbiturates; drinking; etc

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  16. nancy said on November 11, 2010 at 11:17 am

    I found mom to be the villain of that column, frankly. It goes against every protective instinct you’d think even a half-attentive mother would have toward her daughter. Aided and abetted by the Fox folks, for sure, but ultimately the buck stops with her. You can’t blame a hog for wallowing, but you don’t have to provide the mud.

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  17. coozledad said on November 11, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    Pete Townshend’s wife is the daughter of Edwin Astley, who wrote the theme from “The Saint”. His daughter Virginia is a pretty good musician herself, but I understand she’s working at the British equivalent of an “Everything’s A Dollar” store in Luton.
    Sue: Loved that Diana Rigg clip.

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  18. brian stouder said on November 11, 2010 at 12:30 pm

    Definitely agreed about mom; in fact it appears that she’s STILL wallowing (I know – I know- that metaphor was for the press and not for mom, but I liked it too much to leave it laying there in the mom-mud), even after reaping the whirlwind she sowed on the airwaves. Still, as long as we have TV, we will have nuts who would sieze any opportunity (if that’s the word) to be on it. One would like to think that the swine in any particular news-gathering operation would always have so many mud pits to pick from on any given day, that they would look at a mire like this woman offered, and maybe stick a hoof in before going onto a nicer bit of muck. But, maybe not.

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  19. David in Chicago said on November 11, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Rana, I was in a concert band once upon a time that played an arrangement of the MI theme. You’re right, if I recall correctly, the original is in 5/4 time. Hard enough to play while you’re sitting down, but I had a friend in college who swore to me that her high school marching band also played it, and actually marched in 5/4 time.

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  20. Sue said on November 11, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Well then Cooz here’s another one from that bizarre, hilarious show:
    edit: oh, forgot, same warning applies as the Diana Rigg clip. Actually, don’t watch at work at all unless no one can see your screen.

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  21. MichaelG said on November 11, 2010 at 12:59 pm

    Thank you, Dexter, for your gracious comment, although I doubt I spent anywhere near twice as much time as you in the other country. And you’re correct about the toll on those left behind.

    When I got out of the army I used to hang out at a bar in Berkeley just off Telegraph, about a block from campus. Kip’s, if anybody is familiar with Berkeley. Anyway, there was a gathering every week to watch the Avengers. Everybody reckoned Ms. Rigg a goddess. She once starred in some TV version of a Shakespeare play. The bar passed on a sporting event to watch the play. Kind of unprecedented but this was Berkeley and it was Diana Rigg.

    Ken Levine had a piece about the death of TV themes and intros a while back. He pretty much said the same thing Prospero did. I think dropping them is a mistake. The theme gives a show an identity that persists well beyond the half hour or so that it takes on air. You still hear the theme from Peter Gunn even though it’s been fifty years since the show was aired.

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  22. mark said on November 11, 2010 at 1:13 pm

    Dexter, Michael G, and others to whom this might apply- Thank you sincerely for your service. My highest regard to you and those that served with you.

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  23. Julie Robinson said on November 11, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Mom is presumably going to regret her actions for the rest of her life, so I’m going to cut her a break. Not so for the TV station.

    Mission Impossible and Hawaii Five-O were always crowd favorites when our pep band played them, way back when. It’s amazing that it’s still in the rotation. Googling the sheet music you will find it in 5/4, 4/4, and even 3/4, but I’m pretty sure 5/4 was the original. I hope Kate feels half as cool as we did when we played it, it was cutting edge for our band to use music composed within the last decade. Or maybe that’s why they are using it, perhaps their music budget was cut.

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  24. Rana said on November 11, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    prospero, you may appreciate this comment, about show theme songs:

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  25. coozledad said on November 11, 2010 at 1:36 pm

    Morticia’s theme, by Vic Mizzy.

    I read that they originally wanted to have an infant on the show, and they asked Charles Addams what they should name it. He suggested “Pubert”.

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  26. jcburns said on November 11, 2010 at 2:05 pm

    Whose mom names a kid (or more accurately, whose writer names a character) Rollin Hand? Cinnamon Carter I can almost believe. Who were the Hand family? Did they ever lend a Hand? And what was it like growing up with the inevitable ‘Hand’ puns?

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  27. coozledad said on November 11, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    Why would the Hand family name their kid “Learned”? Was there another member of the family named “Ignorant”?

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  28. moe99 said on November 11, 2010 at 2:16 pm

    Michael G, I saw that same Shakespeare play on TV:

    A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The cast, these days, sounds fantastic. I wonder if it can be purchased.

    Answering my own question:

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  29. Julie Robinson said on November 11, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    It’s also available on Netflix, even on instant watch. I think I may have seen it years ago but it sounds like a good one to revisit.

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  30. Rana said on November 11, 2010 at 2:43 pm

    “Cotton Mather” is another puzzler.

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  31. ROgirl said on November 11, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    You can’t leave out Ima Hogg.

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  32. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 11, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    Momma Mather’s family name was Cotton; that makes more sense than dad’s moniker, Increase.

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  33. Dorothy said on November 11, 2010 at 3:07 pm

    Does anyone remember Dianna Rigg on a British/PBS production called “Mother Love”? I wish I could get a copy of it; Dianna was quite dastardly in it. Her ex-husband in the mini-series was David McCallum, a.k.a. Illya Kuryakin. (WOW – I spelled that how I thought it should be spelled and then double checked myself at I nailed it the first time!)

    Forgot to mention that thanks to M:I, to this day, my family and I do not say the word “gas” correctly. We say it like an old Mission episode or two when they were in a pretend foreign country where the word was spelled “GAZ”.

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  34. Julie Robinson said on November 11, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    Dorothy, when I went back to Netflix and put it on my queue it says the release date is unknown. Your patience will be rewarded someday.

    Has anyone been watching the new Sherlock Holmes on PBS? Purists may be upset about setting the stories today, but for me it works quite well. And I was never a Sherlock fan. The writers were also involved with Doctor Who.

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  35. Dorothy said on November 11, 2010 at 4:01 pm

    We’re recording the Sherlock Holmes shows on PBS but haven’t gotten around to watching them yet, Julie. We just finished getting through all the episodes of Rubicon and really enjoyed them. We (Mike and I, and our son Josh) are holding our collective breaths to hear if it gets renewed for a second season.

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  36. moe99 said on November 11, 2010 at 4:16 pm

    Watched all three of the Sherlock episodes, Julie and loved ’em. Now have to wait almost a year for the next installments, assuming we get them at the same time as Britain does. I think Benedict Cumberbatch is quite fetching.

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  37. Bruce Fields said on November 11, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    ONE and two AND three and FOUR and FIVE and ONE …

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  38. MichaelG said on November 11, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Rana, my point exactly @21.

    Thanks, Moe. What an incredible cast!

    How about Oral Roberts and his brother?

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  39. Sue said on November 11, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Oh that bad, bad Google, going all crescent on Veteran’s Day. Shame on them, shame, shame.

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  40. Jeff Borden said on November 11, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Emma Peel was the most alluring woman on television when I was a high school kid. Smart, athletic, tough and oh-so-sexy in a leather bodysuit. She ousted the blonde in a black leotard who was the “Dodge rebellion” girl in magazine and TV advertisements as the object of my hormone-driven lusts. I liked John Steed, too. A guy in a bowler who drove a vintage Bentley convertible with leather straps holding the bonnet in place just seemed very, very cool.

    Diana Rigg was one of the best of the “Bond girls,” too. Her character in “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” was more vulnerable than Emma Peel, but no less headstrong, smart or sexy. It’s the one Bond film that ends on a downer note, as Tracy is killed in a drive-by machine gun attack by Blofeld as she and Bond drive toward their honeymoon. Louis Armstrong’s “We Have All the Time in the World” plays as the scene fades to credits. . .a very atypical 007 ending.

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  41. brian stouder said on November 11, 2010 at 5:01 pm

    Favorite PBS mini-series: any or all of the following: Playing the King, House of Cards, and one other – the name of which escapes me. The Grey Poupon mustard actor was in there, playing a whip-smart British politician with lots of secrets, named Francis Urquhart (may have mis-spelled that) – and known to his friends and enemies as “FU”. It was just a marvelous, marvelous series; in fact I got the VHS collection one Christmas, and I’ve a great mind to go find it and watch them again.

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  42. Catherine said on November 11, 2010 at 5:08 pm

    Bleak House from the Beeb — best and highest use of the television medium ever.

    So, is the rabbit caught?

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  43. Julie Robinson said on November 11, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    House of Cards featured the character of Francis Urquhart and it’s going on my Netflix list too. I love those BBC dramas!

    Edit: Bleak House was wonderful, as was The Way We Live Now, about financial empires collapsing. Very pertinent today.

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  44. Bob (not Greene) said on November 11, 2010 at 5:10 pm

    OK, Sue, if people are actually making that Muslim/Google argument, then I have no other choice than to go all prospero on them and state for the record, “Those inbred crackers should have their fucking voting rights taken away from them. This is what happens when your musical diet consists of Lee Greenwood instead of MC5.”

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  45. Sue said on November 11, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    BobNG, plus the flag’s burning.

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  46. MaryRC said on November 11, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    I remember reading about Steven Hill’s history on Mission Impossible when he was playing DA Adam Schiff on Law and Order (still the best DA on L&O) and coming across a comment that Wardrobe supplied him with kosher shoes. I didn’t realise there was such a thing.

    Big Bang Theory has a catchy theme by the Barenaked Ladies including a cute couplet that you don’t hear on the intro to the show: “The oceans and Pangaea, see ya, wouldn’t wanna be ya!”.

    Dorothy, I so remember “Mother Love”! Diana was great and really terrifying in a very genteel way – like Hyacinth Bucket on a murder rampage. But oddly although I can remember practically the entire thing scene by scene, for the life of me I can’t remember the ending. I know the children were saved but I don’t remember whether she met her comeuppance or if that poor little man, that tubby friend of hers, ever got out of jail after she set him up as the fall guy. What did happen?

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  47. MaryRC said on November 11, 2010 at 5:20 pm

    Have you seen this review of “Sarah Palin’s Alaska”?

    The first line is great but it’s the line “Cheese-n-crackers, it’s like trying to keep a tomcat off the porch” that really cracked me up.

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  48. Jeff Borden said on November 11, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    Thanks, Mary RC, for sharing an extraordinarily amusing review. I will give this show a wide pass. . .lest my foot inadvertently connect with the screen of our television set. A few syllables of that gawdawful, nasally, nails on the blackboard voice and my leg involuntarily twitches outward in a violent spasm.

    BTW, I’ve read somewhere that Joe McGinniss’ lawyers had contacted TLC about the first episode, complaining that he had not signed off on the use of him sitting on the porch, which I guess is included in the episode.

    I’d enjoy the show more if she dragged along some of her fan boys. Watching a pudgy, out-of-shape Glenn Beck follow her up the trail, his face red and his breath wheezing. . .now that would be entertaining. Or if the sperm whale himself, El Rushbo, could be lured onto a snow machine hurtling over thin ice. . .baby, count me as a viewer.

    It will be interesting to see the ratings for this silly show. They could be huge for TLC. I would wager her fans are setting their clocks to catch it, just as her fans have kept the revirginized Bristol on “Dancing With the Stars” despite her ineptness on the dance floor. Nobody puts Baby in the corner? Ha. Nobody puts Bristol in the corner.

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  49. LAMary said on November 11, 2010 at 5:47 pm

    Steven Hill sure changed a lot. He has one scene in Running on Empty, a movie I like quite a lot, and he’s really good.

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  50. MaryRC said on November 11, 2010 at 6:07 pm

    Steven Hill was in another movie, Eyewitness, where he had only a few scenes but he really made an impact. He played a cop who at one point is staking out a possible perp who is behaving in a very suspicious manner and Steven comments that when the guy was a kid, he must have dreamed of being a suspect when he grew up. Morgan Freeman was the other cop, as I recall.

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  51. MarkH said on November 11, 2010 at 6:18 pm

    Huge MI fan here, too. I always like the first season the best, as Steven Hill lent a darker edge to his IMF chief character. I like Peter Graves ok, but when he showed up, it seemed to become more, well, homogonized for lack of a better term. I kept waiting for the episode where Fury showed up as a co-star. Dorothy, I remember both those episodes well. Especially the captured Cinnamon story. In that episode, bad guys knew she was an agent and during interrogation, had her hooked to a lie detector type machine to register emotions. One bad guy statement about putting her in a small cell triggered a response that told them she was claustrophobic. So the rest of that episode was her dealing with being put into a REALLY small cell with all her resultant panic until she would talk. She didn’t, of course, and as the bad guys realize they’ve been tricked into letting her go, they open fire on her. But of course, Rollin and Jim already had a bullet-proof coat over her back.

    All that rubber mask make-up stuff with Rollin was so far-fetched, but does anyone remember the episode where they really did disguise Landau with a rubber mask and make-up, instead of using the actor he was to replace? Not sure why they did this, but the producers realized it might not work and you only see him in this get-up for about a minute. He was to impersonate a post war Nazi general or something like that.

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  52. Mlberry said on November 11, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    Here’s a great medley of TV show theme songs performed by a Swedish kid known as Fredde Gredde. It includes Mission Impossible, The Simpsons, Friends and even Charles in Charge.

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  53. Dexter said on November 11, 2010 at 6:34 pm

    prospero and I agree about “Terriers”. What a great show. The New Yorker review was lukewarm a couple months ago, but that’s a good sign; it wasn’t killed outright from New York.
    “Terriers” has many interconnected themes and all of them are gripping. This show is sexy, troubling, and angst-ridden every week. I can’t get enough of it.
    It’s filmed in and around San Diego, I suppose where another of my fave shows was filmed, the ill-fated “John from Cincinnati.” Now there was theme music! Joe Strummer. Beat that. Can’t.

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  54. coozledad said on November 11, 2010 at 6:41 pm

    Dick Van Dyke saved by porpoises:

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  55. Dorothy said on November 11, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    MaryRC I shamefully admit I cannot recall the ending either. I’m terrible at stuff like that. My husband on the other hand can recall plots, scenes, etc. from virtually everything he has ever seen. It makes me nuts.

    I just asked him and he thinks she accidentally ended up poisoning herself.

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  56. casey confoy said on November 11, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    A warning – The tarp surfing link unleashed a torrent of virus and malware onto my computer.

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  57. MaryRC said on November 11, 2010 at 7:05 pm

    Thanks, Dorothy — that ending rings a bell. I don’t think she ever had to take the perp walk, anyway. I’d love to see PBS bring “Mother Love” back some Sunday night. I remember how she called her son “Kitten” and how sweetly poisonous she was to her daughter-in-law (as well as being literally poisonous to everyone else!).

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  58. LAMary said on November 11, 2010 at 7:28 pm

    Damn porpoises. They’ve never heard Dick’s cockney accent in Mary Poppins or they would have had second thoughts.

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  59. LAMary said on November 11, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    Rubicon fans, read it and weep.

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  60. nancy said on November 11, 2010 at 7:52 pm

    Thanks for the heads-up, Casey. Don’t know what the problem was, as I visited this morning with no ill effects. Replaced the link with a YT video of tarp surfing.

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  61. prospero said on November 11, 2010 at 7:58 pm

    Justin Biebber? Lady Gaga? Hanson ruled. Anybody that doesn’t think this is a great song probably also thought the Beatles were a fad that would pass.

    LAMary, the world is way too stupid for Rubicon. They’d rather hear Don Draper say ?”What?? when he lies again. Single most over-rated TV show since, well, whenever. Every character is loathsome. Doan mean shit. Donal Logue is ensconced on Terriers, and that show is so much better than anything else, it’s ridiculous.

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  62. paddyo' said on November 11, 2010 at 8:31 pm

    Another vote here for Emma Peel . . .

    I know we are a largely word-absorbed crowd here. I’m a word guy from childhood. At the same time, when I was in HS, I did a term paper/project about political cartooning, and faithfully clipped jillions of Herblocks and Feiffers and Conrads and the like to go with the history and essay stuff.
    Anyway, I thought about it again today when I ran across this on Romenesko:

    It’s another reason why, sadly, I’m glad I’m no longer in the ink-stained-wretch game. My former employers aren’t just shooting themselves in the foot when they lay off Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonists. They’re shooting themselves in the head. Just LOOK at that “WikiLeaks” cartoon . . .
    The frigging beancounters not only have won, they’ve also gotten into the engine room and are tearing apart the machinery.

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  63. prospero said on November 11, 2010 at 8:55 pm

    Rana, the show was “Life”. Positively brilliant, and that insane chef from Northern Expoaure. Needed more room for Dancing With the Stars apparently. God, that is sad. Apparently, more minutes were required for the absolutely brain dead, like, you know, those fatasses on Biggest Loser.

    Amerian TV regularly puts out things that are intelligent and captivating. Then the suits walk all over it and force-feed Dancing With the Stars. Who is actually even remotely a “star” on that sad excuse? Bristol Palin? Her mom is a Twitter idiot, she can’t dance, and she’s famous for hooking up with a retarded guy under the Palin family roof, and that rode hard and put up wet nitwit twat is supposed to be attractive?

    Know what? She is not attractive. You’d have to have spent yearand her sidekicks of midnight suns. Seriously, I’d need all sorts of beer goggles. And her sidekick, Christine O’Donnell? Hefty gal is sort of undermisestimating, but after several hundred O’Douls to jack the alcohol rate, WQ might find her more fetching to piss on his pointy little head than Michelle Bachmann, and that is one loony tune.

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  64. LAMary said on November 11, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    We watch Dancing with the Stars as a family activity. It’s never too early to teach snark skills to one’s children. The sons and I think Bristol looks like Mrs. Potato Head.

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  65. Deborah said on November 11, 2010 at 9:20 pm

    paddy’o great link. What I found most interesting is how the award winning cartoonists view their predicament as a blessing in disguise. I know I’ve said that myself. On the one hand I’m terrified of being laid off, mainly because of health care coverage. And on the other hand it would be such a blessing to not be working for the man. Corporate life is the pits. And I work for a very small company, but very large for a design company. I’m so sick of the grind.

    Sue those links with Lady Diana and Kate Winslett were hysterical.

    Coozledad, how do you find this stuff? The toppling tower and Dick Van Dyke saved by porpoises.

    I’m mixed about Rubicon, I watched it mainly because it came on before Mad Men, but it was pretty good. I would have watched another season.

    Prospero, you are so wrong about Mad Men. It’s deep. Look below the surface.

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  66. prospero said on November 11, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    It’s not just Emma Peel. It’s beautiful and ridiculously competent and intelligent women. The bride wiped out Bill and everybody else. . Some of them are really smart, some of them aren’t fazed by dastards. Some of them will kick your ass, and they are all, each and every one, beautiful. That is the message from Mrs. Peel. From the standpoint of a clueless male, vive la difference and the other side of the gender divide.

    There is little doubt. Diana Rigg and Sigourney Weaver rule. Smart, tall, gorgeous, and they can kick your ass. do what we do best.

    Rubicon required intelligence and comittment. It’s not surprising if these things are in short supply. There are morons buying Shrub’s appologia, and these morons, W included, think to this day that killing all of those Iraqis was acceptable, because, shit, you know, there might have been WMDs.

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  67. brian stouder said on November 11, 2010 at 10:09 pm

    Know what? She is not attrac­tive. You’d have to have spent yearand her side­kicks of mid­night suns. Seri­ously, I’d need all sorts of beer gog­gles. And her side­kick, Chris­tine O’Donnell? Hefty gal is sort of under­mis­es­ti­mat­ing

    Prospero – from the bottom of my heart, and despite that I have great respect for what you have to say, even if I sometimes struggle to understand your meaning – I must absolutely and completely disagree with you.

    I am new to Dancing With the Stars; Pam only just pulled me into the show this year. I think the fun is guessing how the judges will rate them, before they do (I tend to be a point closer than Pam, most often). I love love love Brandy*, and I cannot stand the tiresome Queen of Pain plot-line that they have Jennifer Grey on.

    And, I sincerely and genuinely admire Bristol Palin, and I’m very impressed with her courage, aplomb, hard work, and grace. She is the “every person” on the show, surrounded by actresses and singers and professional athletes; people who know a lot more about performing under pressure, in the arena, under the bright lights, and before millions of people.

    I see a brave young woman out there; a young woman who mounted a national stage after lots of hard work and preparation. Unlike her mom (for example), Bristol puts the work in before going under the bright lights.

    I’ve never cast “votes” on that show, and I suppose if I DID, I’d have to cast them for Brandy; but I couldn’t fault anyone who “votes” whole-heartedly for Bristol.

    A non-sequitur: I was gabbing with a colleague at work today; a very nice fellow, who is a combat veteran of the Vietnam War, who is about 4 months from retirement. He told me a funny little factoid: He flew out of Oakland, California when they shipped him off to the war. It was something like 2 in the afternoon on a Friday the 13th, in 1966. He finally arrived in-country 20-odd hours later, and it was something like 11 in the morning, still Friday the 13th! (If he wrote a book, the title of the thing could surely be derived from that anecdote; instead of Born on the Fourth of July, maybe something like The Longest Friday the 13th)

    Mary – you reminded me of the funniest Len line of the year. I forget who he aimed it at (possibly the quarter back?) – but right after the dance, he said something like “It’s never too early to panic!” He broke up the host for a good sixty seconds!

    *Carey Ann Inaba made me mad when she deducted a point from Brandy last week, when even Len gave a 10 to her. Anyway – I think Kyle Massey (the Disney kid) will be next to go, and THEN Ms Palin will hit the end of the road….although it wouldn’t break my heart if she places higher than Jennifer Grey

    edit: and speaking of names I wouldn’t want – Joan’s MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE video features one that immediately sounded familiar, and made me laugh out loud: Peter Lupus.

    (I bet he has a cousin named Dick Shingles, or Peter Eczema)

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  68. prospero said on November 11, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    I’m not new, never watched, there must be something more interseting on AnimalPlanet. She isn’t brave, she isn’t cute. She’s attempting separation from her harridan mom. This isn’t pretty and it is sure as shit not cute. Her mother is a freaking Ego Monster. She does in fact look scary, she’s getting beauscoup bucks because her mom is famous for being an irrational hate momger. Ain’t that America. Lord have mercy on those poor media whore Palins.

    Every single Alaskan gets $1.84 for every &1.00 they pay in taxes. That is not the Frontier, nor is it some sort of self-aggrandizing Cowboy State. It’s the fucking Welfare State. Where does that leave Sarah and Joe Miller? You’d look long and hard to find more grotesque and Mpre blatant hypocrisy.

    So, you know Sarah, shut the fuck up until you give back all of that federal SOCIALIST largesse, These people would be hilarious if so many idiots didn’t take them serious,L

    Tyhe Palins are wannabes that want to get in on the gtound floor while richer rets ricner. IT was 30:1 in 1950. It is 300:1 and counting. Rwsiatribution of wealth? Got that right, you fucking idiots.

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  69. prospero said on November 12, 2010 at 12:14 am

    Sorry, brian. I’m somehow sexist after all of these Republican assholes tell me I can’t be manly if I don’t find Sarah Palin alluring. She isn’t. I find her strident and so stupid actually remembering to breathe seems ike a stretch. Brain-deadness, that is not attractive. . If you vote for people like that, Wow, it should be all like three strikes. You are clearly too stupid to be allowed to vote again.I apologize for thinking Republican Women look like they’re corn-bred in Dallas feedlots. I mean, they do/ but it was impolotic to point that out.

    In the long run. it’s about get it good and hard. It is absolutely guaranteed that Republicans will make it feel more horrendous in retrospect. Think about the deficit you idiot wankers. Nobody accounted for the costs of the invasions until grown-ups took the wheel. And this piece of human excrement is still trying to claim WMD.

    Highest upper end tax rates in US history? That wpuld be Ron Raygun, you fucking greedy assholes.

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  70. Jolene said on November 12, 2010 at 12:29 am

    Really sorry to hear that Rubicon is being canceled. Although I admit that the show was, at least initially, somewhat confusing, I still really liked it and hoped it would become a continuing series like some of the other cable shows we’ve talked about here. Guess I’ll have to check out the past episodes of Terriers.

    Btw, Mary, did you see Dick Van Dyke on Craig Ferguson’s show this past week? He got a considerable amount of ragging about his bad accent.

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  71. prospero said on November 12, 2010 at 2:22 am

    Jolene, Did you see the Craig Ferguson Desmond Tutu interview a year or so ago? Two intelligent adults that care about mankind. Then again, Hownlen Beck sells gold. There are actually people this stupid?

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  72. Linda said on November 12, 2010 at 6:24 am

    Re: who believes Glenn Beck? I wondered that last one myself, but last night I had dinner with a dear friend who was nervous about inflation because she heard about it on Glenn Beck…until I pointed out that he was in the financial panic/gold peddling racket.

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  73. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 12, 2010 at 7:19 am

    So, if I enjoyed “Bleak House,” I should get “The Way We Live Now”? It looked like it was 27 hours on DVD, so I wasn’t in a hurry to relive Mr. Melmotte’s miseries (and it wasn’t my favorite Trollope). But it’s been a long, long time since I read that, and perhaps I should give it a viewer’s chance?

    Happy to hear anyone else’s thoughts about TWWLN before I take the plunge, but it does get dark early now . . .

    Edit: I went to check if I spelled Melmotte correctly (didn’t want to confuse him with the Cerebus character), and I see it’s 5 hours. Still long.

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  74. Julie Robinson said on November 12, 2010 at 8:10 am

    Whoa, Jeff–maybe you are looking at a different version. The one I’m referring to is from 2001 and is four episodes, maybe six hours in total. The story is about a confidence trickster who worms his way into top British society usisng smoke and mirrors, and how fragile (and empty) that society is. It could have been titled House of Cards if that wasn’t already taken. The incomparable David Suchet stars among an amazing cast that includes Matthew MacFayden and Shirley Henderson, AKA Moaning Myrtle. It’s also on Netflix instant watch, which is our version of cable.

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  75. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on November 12, 2010 at 9:04 am

    Yep, that’s the one. IMDB says 5 hours, 4 episodes, MacFayden & Suchet (no Gillian Anderson, darn it). OK, it looks like a must-see!

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  76. Peter said on November 12, 2010 at 9:07 am

    Mary RC, did you see the NYTimes review of the Wasilla Snowbillies? They said it was the Sound of Music without the Nazis, and I thought – what do you mean no Nazi’s – it’s Sarah Palin!

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  77. MaryRC said on November 12, 2010 at 3:39 pm

    Peter, no, I hadn’t seen the NYTimes review, so thanks for the tip. I found it enjoyably snarky but nothing could beat the Washington Post’s “fruitbat” opening!

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