Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Podcast Tuesday: "Please Sponsor Us, Brylcreem!"

Scott Baio and Erin Moran on Happy Days.

As I explained a couple of weeks ago, each installment of These Days Are Ours requires an extensive postproduction phase. Recording the show takes only 30 to 40 minutes. Editing, however, takes several hours, usually spread out over a few days. During that time, I think a great deal about the Happy Days episode we're reviewing. Occasionally, a thought will occur to me that I should have said when we were actually recording.

This week's podcast is a perfect example. We're reviewing Season 8's "Broadway It's Not" in which Joanie (Erin Moran) and Chachi (Scott Baio) appear in the high school musical, a cornball Western called Home on La Grange. Chachi becomes fiercely jealous when Joanie swoons over the show's handsome but arrogant leading man, Granville Clark (guest star Larry Anderson). Granville and Chachi exchange insults before resorting to physical violence. Ultimately, the young Mr. Arcola emerges triumphant, usurps Granville's leading role in the play, and sings a mushy romantic duet with Joanie.

Only during the editing stage did I realize that "Broadway It's Not" is structured exactly like a Popeye cartoon, specifically like the cartoons Popeye was making during the 1950s at Paramount. Most of those 'toons center around the eternal Popeye/Olive/Bluto love triangle. The way Granville roughs up Chachi during rehearsals, throwing him through a fake window and into a real trough of water, is highly Bluto-esque. Meanwhile, the way Joanie's loyalties waver between Granville and Chachi is classic Olive Oyl behavior. And Chachi is written just like Popeye, taking a lot of abuse before he finally snaps. All that's missing is a can of spinach.
By the way, my cohost and I differed on the merits of a song called "My Home Sweet Home La Grange." I loved it. My cohost did not. Again, during the editing phase, I realized why I liked the song so well: it's arranged like the musical numbers from many of Mel Brooks' movies. Compare it to "Prisoners of Love" from The Producers, "I'm Tired" from Blazing Saddles, or the title song from Robin Hood: Men in Tights.

What did we think of "Broadway It's Not"? Was it a hit or a miss? Find out by listening to These Days Are Ours: A Happy Days Podcast.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Podcast Tuesday: "The Curse of Fonzenstein"

Henry Winkler and Henry Winkler (???) on Happy Days.

I've loved classic horror movies for as long as I can remember. I've since come to appreciate all kinds of horror films, including the gory modern ones, but as a kid, I was all about mad scientists, shambling monsters, and creepy castles. One of the formative experiences of my youth was watching the classic Universal Frankenstein on television. I remember just being blown away by the entire look of that movie; it was like being able to watch one of my own dreams right there on the screen.

Back then, before the dawn of streaming services, the internet, or even video rental stores, it was not always easy to find the B&W Universal classics. You just had to wait for some local TV station to air them. In the meantime, I got my monster fix wherever I could, including cartoons like Hanna Barbera's Drak Pack and Scooby Doo. I also faithfully collected the Remco Mini Monsters action figures. (Boy, I wish I'd held onto them!) We didn't have a weekly horror host, but there were occasional specials featuring Detroit's own Count Scary. One way or another, I got by.

Nowadays, I can (and do) get my horror fix whenever I desire. This week, for instance, I have the special privilege of reviewing the 1981 Happy Days episode "Welcome to My Nightmare," featuring comedian Dick Gautier as the villainous Dr. Ludlow, a kind of Dracula/Frankenstein hybrid who wants to clone Fonzie (Henry Winkler). What is such a character doing on Happy Days in the first place? Well, it's all part of a fever dream Fonzie is having while laid up with the flu. I'm sure this episode was intended for Halloween, but the late start of the 1980-81 TV season made that impossible. So it aired in February instead.

Does "Welcome to My Nightmare" live up to the legacy of the great Universal horror films? You can find out by listening to the latest installment of These Days Are Ours: A Happy Days Podcast

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Wood Promo Odyssey, Part 7 by Greg Dziawer

This week's article takes us to jolly old England.

Ed Wood's sex film work of the 1960s and '70s was often featured in the adult magazines of that period. Publications like Unreleased Dynamic Films, Torrid Films, and Fiery Films—among dozens of others—filled their pages with stills from low-budget sex films, accompanied by texts that ranged from reviews to plot summaries to outright ballyhoo. It was a win-win for all involved: inexpensive content for the publishers and promotion for the filmmakers.

Though common in America, such magazines were published around the world. A colleague recently shared with me an issue of Cinema X, published in London. Cinema X, vol. 4, no. 4, from 1971 includes a photo feature about Ed's Take It Out In Trade, meaning that this film must have played across the pond!

Unlike its US counterparts, which typically focused exclusively on low-budget sex films, this issue of Cinema X sandwiches Ed in with articles on the expected sex films but also includes pieces about Alfred Hitchcock, Clint Eastwood, and an interview with Mario Van Peebles. I'm happy to share it with you!

Special thanks to Spicy Goldman, Esq. for supplying it to me. If you are a fan of vintage sex films, be sure to check out his fantastic site, Capri Show World Center (caprishowworld.com).

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Podcast Tuesday: "The Completely Dental Misadventures of Arthur Fonzarelli"

Warren Berlinger and Henry Winkler on Happy Days.

I hate and fear going to the dentist. There, I said it. I'm a rabid anti-dentite. It's definitely one of my phobias. But maybe I shouldn't even call it a phobia. Google says that phobias are "exaggerated or unrealistic." My fear of the dentist is completely based on reality and experience. I've had, let's say, my fair share of work done to my teeth over the years, and it has always been painful, uncomfortable, scary, and nauseating. Dentists -- and their evil minions, hygienists -- are among the few professionals in this world who are allowed to lecture their customers and treat them with total contempt. Apparently, it's not enough for them to merely torture us physically. They have to do it emotionally and psychologically as well.

The dentist office my parents used to take me to as a child was located at 3218 S. Dort Hwy. in Flint, Michigan. It's a Liberty Income Tax location now, but it looks exactly the same from the outside as it did when I was young. I think it even has the same front door. God, just looking at this awful place gives me the heebie jeebies. I can still remember that nauseating, quasi-sweet smell and the corny Norman Rockwell prints hanging on the wall of the waiting room. 

My personal house of horrors from childhood.

Given all this, you might imagine that I would not be eager to review a Happy Days episode about Fonzie (Henry Winkler) going to the dentist. And you'd be right! But we're watching every episode of the sitcom for our podcast, and Season 8's "It Only Hurts When I Smile" is no exception. Despite my discomfort with the subject matter, I was still looking forward to this episode because it features character actor Warren Berlinger in the fifth and last of his memorable Happy Days appearances.

You can find out what my cohost and I thought of "It Only Hurts When I Smile" by listening to the latest installment of These Days Are Ours: A Happy Days Podcast. Was I able to overcome my prejudice and enjoy this episode on some level? There's only one way to find out!

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Ed Wood Wednesdays: The Ed Wood Summit Podcast #25 by Greg Dziawer

As always, Greg keeps us in the loop regarding Ed Wood.

A few months back, some wonderful anonymous poster digitized and uploaded a copy of an 8mm porn loop from 1973 in a private adult forum. The film in question hailed from The Reel Thing, a short series containing only eight loops, a few among them still unidentified. I immediately recognized that title, The Reel Thing, since it was also used by publisher Bernie Bloom for one of his Calga magazines in 1972.

Could the loops be related to the magazine? We know Ed wrote for the latter. He even reviewed one of his own books there anonymously! But could he have also been involved in the film series of the same name?

Join me for this podcast as I ponder that question.

BONUS MATERIAL: Here are the front and back covers of a Reel Thing loop. Take special note of the disclaimer on the back.

I had to censor the cover picture a little, but you get the idea.

And here's that book review that Ed Wood wrote for the Reel Thing magazine. It's of his two-volume set, A Study in the Motivation of Censorship, Sex & The Movies.

No, really, read this review. It's a goldmine of Wood trivia.

Tuesday, June 7, 2022

Podcast Tuesday: "Fonzie IS the Law!"

Scott Baio and Henry Winkler on Happy Days.

As Happy Days progressed over its 11 seasons, the nostalgic sitcom's focus shifted more and more to Arthur "Fonzie" Fonzarelli (Henry Winkler), the ace mechanic and ladies' man who lived with the very square Cunningham family. After the ABC series' nominal lead actor, Ron Howard, left the show in 1980, Fonzie completely took over, even being top-billed for the last four seasons. Fonzie's popularity largely rested with young children who looked up to him as an ultra-cool, almost supernatural role model who could do just about anything. As a result, Fonzie's vices were either toned down or eliminated. He drank his milk, ate his vegetables, and obeyed the law. The former bad boy became a goody two shoes.

But Fonzie still had his flaws! Case in point: the season 8 episode "The Sixth Sense," in which the leather-jacketed mechanic wrongly judges Frankie (Steven Ford), a new fry cook at Arnold's, to be untrustworthy after only meeting him once. When Fonzie's money is apparently stolen, he naturally accuses Frankie of the crime and tells the fry cook to leave town. Which Frankie does. Only later does Fonzie learn that the cook was innocent and that Joanie (Erin Moran) and Chachi (Scott Baio) had actually taken Fonzie's money... for wholesome, understandable reasons. Naturally, Fonzie feels terribly about this. Did his vaunted "sixth sense" let him down this time?

What surprises and galls me about the episode is that Fonzie's original suspicions are ultimately proven correct. Frankie didn't steal Fonzie's money, true, but he did swipe some other money from Arnold's, so Fonzie was right to threaten him and chase him out of Milwaukee. And the show treats this as a happy ending! To me, this is a terrible moral. Judging people on first impressions with no evidence is the very soul of prejudice, and it's horribly irresponsible to have Fonzie -- a hero to kids, let's not forget -- modeling such reckless behavior. Fonzie is only "saved" at the end through sheer coincidence and luck.

But does this mean that "The Sixth Sense" is a bad episode? You can find out by listening to the latest installment of These Days Are Ours: A Happy Days Podcast.