Media · TV

Arthur – All Growed Up

I’ve been a fan of PBS’ ‘Arthur‘ since the beginning. To be honest, I’ve been a PBS Kids Junkie for decades. The programming may be aimed at kiddoes, but us older folks can find a lot to enjoy, too. I’ve been known to set my VCR and DVR to record many PBS Kids shows over the years. ‘Arthur‘ was a regular on that roster.

The show has been around for a long time, even though the kids seemed to never really leave third grade. What I enjoyed the most was the opportunity to not be blasted by loads of energy, noise, or the inevitable frantic silliness that some shows steeped themselves in. Arthur, Buster and friends told tales that reflected what was going on in the lives of third graders dealing with, among other things, allergies, questionable advertising, little sisters, pets, parents, and the scary realization that teachers were people, too.

The shows were tasteful, humorous, a touch ironic, and were often written with adults in mind. They would occasionally play with satire taking on Downton Abbey or Masterpiece with tongue in cheek humor. And they did it very well.

In addition to the regular shows, there were holiday specials, too. These brought something extra to the holidays that I look forward to each year.

Want to learn a bit more?

Arthur on Wikipedia

How Arthur Grew Up on The Los Angeles Times

Arthur Fans React on TV Insider

Are you a fan, too? Let me know!

Audiobooks · Books · Media · Movies · TV

To Binge Or Not To Binge

I admit I’m still trying to maneuver my way through the streaming process. I’ve been around for quite a while. When I began watching TV, there were three – yes 3 – networks, no cable, satellite, recording or streaming. Shocking to some, I know. LOL!

All that means is that I have a different POV than some. And, odd as it might sound, a different appreciation, too. You see, I’m one of those folks who love the extras that were on the DVDs. You know, the behind the scenes, deleted scenes, etc. I’ve spent time on film sets on back lots, and parking lots, too. As a result, I appreciate what it takes to produce what you see on the screen.

I often recall a time when I had two recorders set up to capture a week’s worth of programming that I would work to keep up with in addition to what I watched ‘live’. I haven’t done that in years – mostly because there really wasn’t enough that interested me to watch.

Cable and I have had a mediocre relationship since the beginning. Way back when it was interesting and exciting. Now, the majority is simply boring and repetitive. My opinion, true, but I am certain I’m not the only one who thinks that, too. As a result I haven’t had cable in 2 decades. I have tested it out on occasion just to see if I was missing anything and, much to my dismay, I wasn’t.

I find it interesting that so many cable outlets have discovered that (a) they needed to provide their own material and (b) the audience isn’t going to sit around until they figure it out.

One of the biggest complaints about cable was being stuck with channels you never watch but had to pay for. Streaming took that out of the equation and for the consumer (me) it was the beginning of an entirely new world.

Thanks to On Demand I can pull up things I want to watch when I want to watch and not have to set a machine to capture it all. This means that I can indulge in some amazing programming or ditch a show when it just doesn’t capture my attention.

Which brings me to binging. Some shows are meant to be binged. Some really do need a break in between episodes to allow the viewer (me) to contemplate what I’ve seen.

A few years back I discovered Agents of S*H*I*E*L*D on whatever streaming platform it was on at the time and was hooked. Good thing, too, because – if memory serves – season 4 was coming up. That discovery literally made my summer!

I recently checked my watchlist over on Hulu and found Only Murders In The Building. I sat down to watch the first episode to see if it might make the cut and 5 hours later I’d seen the entire first season. (And that soundtrack is simply delicious!)

Other shows like Murdoch Mysteries or Frankie Drake Mysteries I take a couple of episodes at a time. Both end up on my list after the first run of their season so I am obliged to either wait until the entire season has dropped or keep up with them weekly.

Normally I don’t mind reruns but there is one show I don’t watch as a rerun; NCIS. I love NCIS! For some unknown reason, however, I don’t look for reruns of the series. The entire catalog is on Paramount+, so it isn’t as if it isn’t available.

One thing I have to say is that I appreciate it when providers like Paramount+ or Disney+, to name only two of what is available, provide a wide variety of programming. I’m a PlutoTV fan, too. These providers allow me to pick and choose what I want to see, not what they think I want to see. And, the icing on that cupcake: The price is fair, too.

For an old codger like myself who remembers a time when you made the time to sit down to watch a show or you hoped the rerun would air so you didn’t miss anything, this new era of streaming is almost a wonderland.

To binge or not to binge… Depends upon the day, the inspiration, the show, and whether or not you are ready to move on without taking a break in between.

Right?

Classic TV · Media · TV

The Evening Routine

As I write this, it is roughly that time of the evening where I am and the hour before Midnight in London, England. I mention this because it is at this time of day, Monday through Friday, when I sit down to listen to Pumpkin FM. Pumpkin FM has several channels that cover a variety of nostalgic radio, some USA based, some U.K. based.

At this time of the weekday (night?) I sit back to enjoy the latest episodes of ‘Allo, ‘Allo and Are You Being Served?. Both of the very old BritComs are aired audio only allowing the listener to occupy hands otherwise while listening to some rather fun shows. It also allows your imagination to run a bit wild filling in the images.

If you have never seen, let alone listened to, these shows, please note they are vintage 1970 or 1980 shows that are more parody and farce. Please keep that in mind. 🙂

If you need to learn more, or have a refresher, check the following links:

‘Allo, ‘Allo

Are You Being Served?

Check out the schedules for the rest of Pumpkin FM channels. Among the variety of programming you will find comedies, serials, variety shows and a collection of crime dramas There is something for everyone.

Enjoy!

P.S.: If you are interested in actually watching these shows, check out imdb.com who will have the latest places to watch.

Media · TV

Memory Lane: The Big Bang Theory

Like millions of other folks, I tuned in every Thursday night to watch Sheldon, Leonard, Raj and the rest in the latest adventure on “The Big Bang Theory”. I even watched the reruns so much, I knew the script. 🙂

Even now, I enjoy a visit with the gang, but there are a few moments that stand out for me. Turns out Ms Mojo was thinking along the same lines:

Are some of these your favorites, too?

Now, I would add a few things. “Please pass the butter!” is a bit that is so beautifully rendered it is priceless. The scavenger hunt show is a particular favorite of mine.

Absolutely Brilliant!

These characters were drawn from people known to the creators of the show. I like to say (and still do) that I, too, know folks like those in the show. Their quirks, along with their passions, are what make them interesting. Not to mention, a lot of fun.

I’ve never been to a Comic Con, but I have been to more than a few fan conventions, so I get it. Maybe a bit more than I should, but I do get it.

Perhaps the best thing about The Big Bang Theory isn’t just the friendships but the window into a world of comic books, super heroes, fandom, along with that group of brilliant minds. When the writing was good, it was great fun.

What are your favorite episodes?

Cord Cutting · Media · TV

Streaming Options: How to Pick A Device

For many people streaming has become a way of life. I, for one, have had some version of a Roku device for years. Why? I wanted flexibility and options in my viewing and didn’t want to be locked into a contract with a cable/satellite provider that set a price (that usually kept increasing) included channels I never watched, and routinely had carrier arguments with major networks that kept me from getting access to local news and weather.

Where I live, it is Essential to have access to the latest weather. Having my access tied to a cable system that might, or might not, be working just isn’t feasible. And, to be clear, I live in the middle of a metro area where such access shouldn’t be an issue. Some would say, just use your cell phone. Well, if that service isn’t working, either, then what?

I still use an over the air antenna for a lot of my viewing. Why? For many years it was an easy way to get local feeds – not to mention those extra digital channels – that hadn’t yet made the upgrade to a streaming feed. That being said, I spent decades having access to local PBS feeds only to lose it years ago when, for some inexplicable reason, all the PBS signals evaporated. At least my local PBS affiliate had no clue. I found my best access was either via streaming the PBS apps or subscribing to channels through Amazon.

Speaking of Amazon, their channel offerings are astounding. And the prices are usually quite competitive, too. Keep in mind, some think they are providing super luxury high end programming when really all they are doing is increasing price to keep the illusion of luxury. It works only if the consumer wants to pay for it. I don’t.

For some folks, however, cord cutting (getting rid of cable) and diving into streaming can be confusing and a bit scary. I’ve got articles on the blog about this, so be sure to check them out for more information.

As for finding a new Streaming Device, check out this article from TV Insider: How To Pick a Streaming Device. Good information with a tip or two that us long time users can find handy.

Things To Think About

As you consider making the change, take a few minutes to think about the following:

  • What network (ABC, CBS, NBC, etc.) do you primarily watch?
  • What types of programming do you prefer? Sports, cooking shows, documentaries, etc.
  • What networks from cable do you want to continue to use? Do they have their own streaming channel? Do they require a cable subscription?
  • Are you a binge watcher? If so, you might consider subscribing to a channel/network only long enough to catch all the episodes of a series that are currently available and then resubscribing when the next batch is available.
  • Are you a major fan of a franchise? Check out their home bases. Disney+, for example, has tons of material including Marvel, Star Wars, Muppets, in addition to the regular Disney fare. That service alone will keep many people happy for months just catching up, revisiting or exploring.

I’d suggest browsing the channel stores at Roku, Amazon, Google, and Apple+ to see what they offer and what is required. You will be surprised.

Classic TV · TV

Reconnecting with The Muppets

When I heard that “The Muppet Show” from the 1970s would be added to the Disney+ lineup I was thrilled. Any opportunity to visit with Kermit and Company is never wasted. Way back before I actually owned a working television set, I owned a TV Radio that played the audio from television channels. I would listen to the syndicated show every night and imagine what was going on. You could say I’m a fan. 🙂

I still watch Sesame Street to see the other part of the Muppet Family. Also, time well spent. (Like I said, I’m a fan.)

There is something timeless and classic about all the Muppet characters. Each is its own individual personality and together they are unique.

Check out this great article in the Los Angeles Times: HERE.

One thing I continue to comment on is the breadth and depth of material available on Disney+. Pretty much any and everything you can imagine is there. And if it isn’t… it wasn’t for lack of trying.

Classic TV · TV

Visiting With Old Friends: “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”

I was lucky enough to be around when some wonderful classic television shows were on their first run. Watching them gave me a great sense of what quality could be. Shows like

  • Star Trek
  • Perry Mason
  • Bonanza
  • The Bob Newhart Show
  • The Carol Burnett Show
  • The Waltons
  • Marcus Welby, M.D.
  • Love, American Style
  • The Odd Couple
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show
  • The Doris Day Show
  • I Love Lucy
  • Hollywood Palace
  • The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour

And these are but a few!

Back then there were only three networks: ABC, NBC, and CBS. PBS was a fledgling that showed up on UHF (if you were lucky). The rotations were predictable; what was the highest-rated show and genre? Copy that! And then there were the breakout shows that many thought wouldn’t survive but somehow did. Like Mary. Saturday nights with Mary Tyler Moore were a staple in my home.

A Breath of Fresh Air

When Mary Richards arrived in Minneapolis she was not only the new kid on the block, she was the new idea in the country. A thirty-year-old single woman (never married) who had left behind a bad relationship and was embarking on a new life. For those who thought Marlo Thomas’s “That Girl” was the epitome of single womanhood – who eventually married – Mary Richards was a totally different reality. Different decades will do that, you know.

Mary was a single woman who wasn’t afraid of being single. Not really. She also wasn’t afraid to be alone or try new things or figure out what she wanted for herself and not depend upon someone else to tell her what she wanted or how to live, etc. She was intelligent, well-read, thoughtful and a person who enjoyed her life. Mostly. 🙂

Mary had co-workers and friends who were just as ordinary and she was and they all had their quirks. Lou was the alcoholic newsman with a heart of gold. Murray was the frustrated author who wrote the news copy and needled the anchorman. Speaking of which, Ted Baxter was the nightmare of most professional journalists…who probably knew their fair share of Teds. I have to wonder if Walter Cronkite ever forgave Lou for introducing him to Ted.

Rhoda, who lived upstairs, was the other side of the coin that was Mary, but both were, in their way, very much alike. Phyllis was, well, Phyllis. Sue Ann Nivens was the archetype of the predatory female. Yikes!

For several years we got to spend time with these people. Suffer through bad times. Celebrate good times. Enjoy the camaraderie that comes with being around good people who are also good friends. We also got a chance to see life in a different way from what was on television and it changed attitudes, provided ideas, planted seeds of possibility and provided a touch of reality that was closer to real than many thought.

The show not only boasted an excellent cast but the behind the scenes folks were high caliber, too. Check out the list of awards the show won HERE.

I often look to find episodes of the show when and where I can. Oddly, I haven’t yet acquired the DVD sets but it is on My List. You can find the entire series on Hulu or purchase them on Amazon Prime. If you need a quick fix, however, go over to YouTube and see what comes up. Like this little gem:

Are you a fan of classic TV? I’d love to learn your favorites.

And, as always, if you like this post, please let me know by clicking the Like button below.

Classic TV · Musings

Another Saturday Night

When I was growing up way back in the 1970s there was one particular tradition in our home that was rarely missed: watching “The Lawrence Welk Show”. The show began back in the 1950s and was a network staple for decades.

Every week, no matter what, we all sat down to enjoy an hour of great music, exquisite costumes and sets, familiar faces with beautiful voices and a rather eclectic collection of genres.

My mother, in particular, was adamant about the weekly visit. She worked nights and often caught a late evening nap around the time the show was on. Saturdays, however, came with the explicit reminder that we make sure she was awake to watch and listen from her recliner in the living room. We did. (She often fell into a nap, but Mom being Mom she was also listening closely.)

Now, I get that some folks find the entire idea silly and feel like the music was hokey and way out of date. Accordions? Polkas? Orchestra music? Dancing?

I look back and recognize that for a time, I too, wasn’t aware of the treasure the show was. I have a decidedly eclectic taste in music that I can trace back to those shows.

Thanks to Oklahoma Public Television, the shows are once again available in my area. I may not catch it every week, but I do go out of my way at times to be sure to sit back and enjoy the show. Don’t forget to explore Amazon. I just told Alexa to play “Lawrence Welk Music” and the results are amazing, beautiful, wonderful. Mom would be pleased.

If you are curious about the show itself, here are some things to explore:

One thing I’ve always admired about Mr. Welk was his ability to listen to his audience and give them the music they wanted to hear. His shows were well crafted and beautifully choreographed, too. They were Appointment Television before there was such a thing.

Every week we were thanked for joining the party and reminded of something that Mr. Welk always said:

“Keep a song in your heart.”

Lawrence Welk

I don’t know about you, but I think this is an excellent idea.

Media · Musings · Old Time Radio · TV

A Change of Pace

Or, a shift in media can make a huge difference.

I’m one of those people who grew up listening to the radio. Which, when you consider where I lived at the time, was a feat in itself. Way back in the mid to late 1970s living in Northwest Arkansas, getting signals for TV or radio was an iffy proposition. And that was before all the build-up that would impede them even more than before, not to mention waaaaaay before that thing called ‘cable’.
I was lucky to be able to get the CBS radio affiliate out of Chicago, which meant that I was able to listen to the “CBS Radio Mystery Theater” when it began. Awesome!
It also meant that we had 3 – yes, three – TV stations: CBS, ABC, and NBC. PBS was on the UHF band and not so easily acquired.
Radio was an interesting collection of a variety of music genres, some occasionally off the wall commentary (think ‘Bob and Ray’) and the occasional treasure of Old Time Radio shows. I have a vivid memory of sitting down to a Sunday lunch while listening to an episode of “Fibber McGee and Molly” coupled with an episode of “Jack Benny” that was broadcast from somewhere in Kansas.
I still listen to the radio. Today, however, my tastes seem to run more toward vintage radio shows or quieter easy listening stations. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed American OTR, but when I discovered Pumpkin FM from the UK, I found a huge variety of material that I’d never heard of before combined with a few things that had come to our shores via PBS and the Britcoms they carried.
For example, I’ve recently come across the British version of what we know of as “Three’s Company” and “Sanford and Son”. Both series were developed from the UK shows.
I’m also dipping my toe back into the world of Podcasts. A few years back I listened to a great one that focused on quilting. Another favorite was a limited series that focused on the history of food via the spice trade. Fascinating!

What are you listening to?