Originally airing on December 14, 1952 for the Colgate Comedy Hour, Abbott and Costello get to celebrate Christmas with the viewing audience and have a raucous time doing so. As with all Abbott and Costello comedy, the show moves at a rapid fire pace with consummate professionals Bud Abbott and Lou Costello having an impossible time staying still and taking a breather. Despite some segues here and there which were very typical of variety shows in the height of their popularity (there’s a wonderful dance routine by the Nicholas Brothers). Lou Costello is brilliant at reaction shots and double takes, and Bud Abbot is a wonderful straight man and foil. Also like skilled comedians, they make the best out of flubs.
Nickelodeon’s “Hey Arnold!” was one of the banner animated series from the heyday of the 1990’s. It was a subtle, sweet, and often funny coming of age show with a lot of heart and some brilliantly memorable moments that evoked pure emotion from its audience. Despite ending in 2004, Nickelodeon gave the series a final send off in 2002 with a flimsy and absolutely wretched big screen film that did nothing to close the world we’d come to love. Most of all, it did nothing for the story arc of main character Arnold, who spent a majority of the series under the care of his elderly eccentric grandparents.
Mid-way through the series, we learned that Arnold’s parents were explorers who spent their days traveling, and the last they ever saw of him was before they left for one last adventure to help a village suffering from a mysterious illness.
2017 will go down as a truly banner year for the horror community. We had great highs and massive lows. It was also the year of Stephen King where we celebrated genuinely brilliant adaptations like “It,” but bowed our heads in shame at the TV adaptations of “The Mist.” Good god that was terrible. I digress. We lost a ton of horror greats, and a good portion of horror hit makers spent a lot of time trying to convince the public that their films were not horror.
And who can forget the infamous “Post-Horror” crap? One of the bigger news headlines in the horror world that sent 2017 out with a bang has been the news that effective January 1st 2018, Chiller TV is shutting down.
It’s Halloween and Daffy Duck’s Nephew encounters Witch Hazel while trick or treating. Terrified he runs away screaming and insisting to Daffy that he saw a witch. Determined to prove him wrong he takes him to her house. Meanwhile Bugs turns up in the same costume Daffy’s nephew is wearing and has his own adventure with Witch Hazel. As always with these Looney Tunes “movies,” they’re really just bare boned one page premises serving as frames for craftily edited montages that count as big movies. If you hadn’t seen these Looney Tunes shorts a million times like yours truly, you’d never really be able to tell much a difference.
Although I absolutely love “Thriller,” I’ve never been one to associate Michael Jackson with Halloween, but apparently someone does. “Michael Jackson’s Halloween” isn’t just an animated special for the whole family, but it’s classic Michael Jackson. It has his music, it inspires individuality, and it further emphasizes Michael Jackson as something of a mythical figure that centered his life on defending children against sinister forces lurking in the shadows. Suffice to say “Michael Jackson’s Halloween” is a weird animated special, but it’s an oddly entertaining one that will work if you’re a Jackson buff.
I’m not a subscriber to Hulu but my mom is, and she’s often on the hunt for horror series’, as someone whose own love for horror dwarfs my own. For the last year, she’s been insisting that I check out a show called “Freakish,” a show that she describes as a “great zombie show” and one I’d particularly love, since I tend to have a real weak spot for shows about zombies and the apocalypse. Hell, I am a regular viewer of “Fear the Walking Dead,” “The Walking Dead,” and even love “Dead Set,” so “Freakish” is kind of up my alley.
This year, Nickelodeon decided to add some spice to their celebration of Halloween by providing a half hour stop motion special. The folks at Bikini Bottom are celebrating Halloween this time, and rather than the iconic wacky two dimensional style, we’re given a brand new spin, with some hilarious results. The stop motion by Screen Novelties is quite excellent, lending the series a sense of whimsy that you would find in something like “A Nightmare Before Christmas.” There is even a great homage to “The Haunted Mansion” Disney Ride, which is both dazzling and screams Halloween.
In 1993, Monstervision on Turner Network Television in America was mostly a program that aired old horror movies and science fiction with the occasional hosting from magicians Penn and Teller. During the early nineties, many cable channels hadn’t yet solidified their formats, so a lot of the time slots were used on syndicated programs and adult programming, with the occasional time slot devoted to a rare original program here and there. Mainly though, the original appeal of cable television was watching old movies and television shows you couldn’t find on network television. To break up the monotony of airing the same movies over and over, they enlisted hosts to riff during commercial breaks.