Remembering Leonard Nimoy’s Other Great TV Series

isonimoy1by Legendary Lew

When you bring to life one of the most indelible characters in the history of television, it’s tough to come up with an encore.  Leonard Nimoy, who will forever be known for his portrayal of Mr. Spock in the original “Star Trek” series and franchise, had a decent follow-up for two years on “Mission: Impossible” after the sci-fi series was cancelled. He even had a fine memorable role in a very good remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers in 1978.

But the befitting subsequent TV series for the man with the great authoritative baritone was “In Search of,” the syndicated hit TV series which had its primary run from 1976-1982.  As the narrator, Nimoy presented examinations into strange occurrences and phenomena, such as The Bermuda Triangle disappearances or the discovery of Atlantis. It was a conspiracy theorist’s wet dream.

What I loved about “In Search of” was that all the topics were given equal weight, regardless of perceived veracity, whether it was climate change (mentioned in those terms back in 1978!) or Bigfoot. One of my favorites was the search into The Amityville Horror, the story of which was discovered to be completely bogus.

That particular episode began (as all of them did) with the famed intro:

“This series presents information based in part on theory and conjecture. The producer’s purpose is to suggest some possible explanations, but not necessarily the only ones, to the mysteries we will examine.”

With scenes of the recent hit horror film, The Amityville Horror, playing as background, Nimoy states seriously:

Most people think The Amityville Horror is a good, scary ghost story…what is not commonly known is that the film is actually based on fact. It is a true story.

I love me some good hucksterism and this particular episode, as some others, were hearty entertaining laughs. I just about lost it when the great Nimoy, describing the weirdness of the house, delivers the following solemn line:

“then they puzzled over a toilet that, when flushed…”

The sentence is unfinished. Instead, on the screen we see an opaque liquid make a flooded mess of the bathroom floor.

This series was a sort of continuation of the conspiracy exploitation genre, which pumped out popular 1970s movies like Beyond and Back and The Lincoln Conspiracy.  “In Search Of” was like a mini-version of those movies made better by editing out the fat that the feature films would leave in.

Leonard Nimoy’s performance as Spock was so transformative for him as a performer that he could record several albums of badly sung music and narrate an exploitative TV series without ever doing damage to his career. In fact, they simply added to his legend.

Watch the unintentionally hilarious “In Search of” episode, “The Amityville Horror”:

Mediatrocities #15: The Yearly Post-Razzie Award Show with Guest Dominick Suzanne-Mayer

Dominick Suzanne-Mayer of Consequence of Sound and The Kelly Affair

Dominick Suzanne-Mayer of Consequence of Sound and The Kelly Affair

by Legendary Lew

This week’s episode of Mediatrocities marks our 4th (and perhaps our last?) look at the Razzie Award winners! TyPi is on hand for commentaries, as is our very special guest, film analyst & writer Dominick Suzanne-Mayer, contributor to Consequence of Sound and The Kelly Affair.

Among the topics: What’s the deal with Saving Christmas, its unnecessary continued exposure for Kirk Cameron and the general inept storytelling of modern Christian-themed movies? Can Michael Bay get anything cinematic right? What was Lew’s choice of worst 2014 film. What’s the lasting effect of the Sony Hacks and is it affecting Hollywood and even Razzie voting?

Give a listen and share, but mind you, it’s NSFW:

TUGM Hosts Chicago’s First Ever Razzies Themed Party and NEW AWARD!

RazzieLogo180by Legendary Lew

Tonight is the special night dedicated to bad movie buffs like me. TUGM will host a private Razzie-themed party. On hand will be themed food such as raspberry wings (Left Behind–it centers mostly on a plane); Transformers 4 Age of deviled egg-stinction; The Legend of Hummuscules; Teenage Mutant Ninja Chocolate Turtles and nothing representing Saving Christmas, because Kirk Cameron gets way too much attention already.

We will also present for the first time TUGM’s Movie Rumble, pitting two movies against each other for the coveted first-ever Golden Undie Award, given to the feature that wins the party audience vote for Best Future Cult Movie.  The contenders are “The Legend of Hercules” defended by Jack the Gripper and “Left Behind” defended by Gorgeous Gaffer Gorrillawitz.

I hope to have pictures of the evening’s events for you later after the event.

Mediatrocities #14: The “Gravity” Screenplay Legal Case, J-Lo’s New Thriller and the Literature FAIL, and JCVD’s Valentine Gift to Media Makers

Teacher/Student Tutoring Sesh

Teacher/Student Tutoring Sesh

by Legendary Lew

We’re giving you fair warning. Mediatrocities #14 had just launched and we’ve got a fun one for you! First up, author Tess Gerritsen responds to a court throwing out her breach of contract case regarding the screenplay for the Oscar-winning movie Gravity. Next, Jennifer Lopez tries to revitalize her movie career with a movie that’s caused a lot of howling laughter via social media. We’ll tell you why. Finally, Jean Claude Van Damme lets everyone know why he’s one of the coolest actors using social media. Mountain Drew, TyPi and Legendary Lew give their insights.

The episode is NSFW but plenty safe for your sanity. Give a listen!

Gary Owens’ Connection to a Cult Music Icon

garyowensby Legendary Lew

Tributes went out after legendary announcer/voice actor Gary Owens died on Thursday at age 80.  Many have remembered his most famous gig as the announcer for the monumental TV comedy “Laugh-In.” Some younger viewers will also note his voice work as Space Ghost and Powdered Toast Man on “Ren and Stimpy.”

What may go unnoticed, however, is that if it weren’t for him, a cult music legend may have gone forever in obscurity.

As a disc jockey in the early 1960s, Owens recorded a very rare disc based on his radio show with goofy characters possessing funny names. The album was called “Song Festoons” and featured a track by a character named “Phoebe Phestoon.

Religious music director Fred Bock introduced the woman singing “Slumber Boat” on that album and Gary Owens went to work.  As Kliph Nesteroff of the great blog Classic Television Showbiz learned in an interview with the announcing great, Gary Owens created the persona of Mrs. Miller:

…a man named Fred Bock who was a musician; wonderful song writer; dealt mainly in religious music. He and Dick Friesen were friends of mine. The very first album I did was one calledSong-Festoons. I had a character named Earl C. Festoon who was kind of a dottering guy. “Earl C. Festoon here. Hello, Gary. Which way am I facing?” “You’re facing the microphone today, Earl.” “Oh. Hello.” Those kinds of things. Anyway, I did my first album and it was produced by Dick Friesen and Fred Bock. That’s how this all came about.

The album “Mrs. Miller’s Greatest Hits” on Capitol Records was born and Mrs.

Mrs. Miller doing her thing thanks to Gary Owens

Mrs. Miller doing her thing thanks to Gary Owens

Miller became a sensation of sorts in the mid-1960’s, appearing on American Bandstand, The Ed Sullivan Show, Hollywood Palace and repeatedly on The Merv Griffin Show as well as having a prominent role in the hip 60’s musical The Cool Ones.  Her name became synonymous with the “worst” in music (even though she eventually went in on the joke, making lots of money in the process) and her albums became the go-to starting point for anyone interested in creating a cult record collection.

So many thanks to Gary Owens for redirecting my record collection!

You can hear an episode of Mediatrocities featuring TyPi and myself recalling Mrs. Miller here.

A Valentine’s Day Video Card from Chicago’s Own Dirt Cheap Date and Media Creator Anthony Christopher

DirtCheapDate

Dirt Cheap Date and random serial killer chillaxing

by Legendary Lew

If you want to know the true meaning of Valentine’s Day, you’ll want to watch and listen to this lovely holiday kissie huggie 3 minutes of snuggles from the guys. I have the pleasure of knowing all of these hard-working fellas: Dirt Cheap Date (Frank Haynes and Tom Riegel) and artist Anthony Christopher, whose time-lapse videos are great little sardonic works of comedy. DCD’s tunes are getting better also, sounding more polished but still having a punchy rawness to them.

Dirt Cheap Date’s tunes: http://dirtcheapdate.bandcamp.com/
Anthony Christopher’s Art: https://www.facebook.com/AnthonyChristopherArt

Mediatrocities #13: TyPi’s Top Films of 2014; Netflix as a Video Store; and the Lost Superstardom of TV’s Dagmar

Dig those crazy bumpers

Dig those crazy bumpers

by Legendary Lew

Here we are, at it again! TyPi, Mountain Drew and Legendary Lew get to yappin’ in the latest installment of Mediatrocities, the podcast of The Underground Multiplex.

TyPi comes forward with his list of what he felt were the best films of 2014. With the Razzies and Oscars winners about to be announced, it’s a good reminder of the movies we should find time for, especially with releases on DVD.

All three get into the next topic–what if Netflix was a brick-and-mortar video store. It doesn’t look good for the international internet giant from our eyes. Is Netflix exacerbating a movie drought for cinephiles already hit from the closing of Blockbuster Video and indie video stores?

Finally, Legendary Lew introduces viewers to TV’s first self-created female superstar, Dagmar. In the early 1950s, her popularity was greater than even Frank Sinatra’s, whose career was hampered by declining record sales, a tumultuous marriage to Ava Gardner, and a failed TV series. Listen in and find out all about this important, groundbreaking celebrity.

As always, this podcast is NSFW.