Expert Witness Comment for the Week

Suppose I’ll have to grab this “Bob’s Burgers” thing, as much of a longshot as it seemed. After all, it was 20 years ago this year I had similar surrender to “the Simpsons” on CD.

And I do have to note that it was “The New Adventures of Mighty Mouse,” two years before the Simpsons, that finally picked up that a main thing missing from latter-day cartoons was zippy, unforgettable music themes.

(Incidentally, I’m with Bob on the value of the cartoon itself — really has its moments, approve of overall intentions, but can’t remember a time I actively sought it out.)

R.I.P.: Glen Campbell (A Slight Dissent)

Best album (only one I have): Bobby Gentry and Glen Campbell

Only vocal performance I really treasure: “Wichita Lineman”

And, sorry, Johnny Cash had my country TV show in high school.

Also, N.B.: Number of Campbell listings in John Morthland’s The Best of Country Music: 0

Now, that said, I will let my memorial be a quote from the preternaturally fair-minded Bill C. Malone in his Country Music U.S.A.:

Campbell, from Delight, Arkansas [a plus in itself], finally moved from undeserved obscurity when he made his very popular recording in 1966 of John Hartford’s “Gentle on My Mind.” Campbell had spent much of his life as a session musician in Los Angeles, where he contributed to the fame of other people. In the summer of 1968 he became the summer replacement for the Smothers Brothers, and he charmed his viewers with an easy, relaxed personality, a supple tenor voice (sharply honed through a short stint with the Beach Boys), and his guitar virtuosity. Campbell’s singing was pop-oriented, and he gravitated toward structurally sophisticated songs such as those written by Jim Webb (“By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston”), but he maintainrf a down-home atmosphere with his high-pitched country laugh and patter, and through the occasional guest appearance of his charming parents, who were indeed rural and folksy. Campbell’s own show in 1969 was smooth, fast-paced and countrypolitan in mood. Whatever the misgivings some country fans might have had about the style of music heard on the Glen Campbell show, most were probably delighted at the success that one of their own had attained.


Dawn Breaks Over Marblehead: Doom Patrol and Teen Titans

I mentioned the Doom Patrol years ago, but ignorantly didn’t understand how Beast Boy ended up in the Teen Titans. Then this week I saw a Teen Titans episode where they were battling an updated version of The Brain, the leader of the Doom Patrol’s archenemies, the Brotherhood of Evil. Waaaait a minute! How could I have dipped into Teen Titans for years (and enjoyed what I saw for the most part) and not realized they were an obvious reboot of the Doom Patrol! D’OH!! I mean, the Robotman/Cyborg parallels should have hit hard as a smack from an iron fist. The only character that’s halfway a stretch (so to speak) is Elasti-Girl = Starfire … and I now see there’s even been comic-book crossovers that I missed entirely (along with virtually all mainstream comic books since the ’90s). So everything makes sense now and there is a “later” Doom Patrol that I like. Whuddaya no.

R.I.P.: Adam West

Never really escaped the Bat Prison. I sure went through a bunch of cycles about the TV show and the Batman character. I was amused by it until it became a hit. I didn’t like the “campy” comics at all — they took off as I was transitioning to Marvel for good. And though Batman and Robin were everywhere, I felt too much of the time it was merely a new way to say “comic books are junk.” West had a good sense of humor about it all because on some level he was aware he simply couldn’t come up with a second act.

And after time, I agreed there was something damned weird about Batman in general. The science and gadgets were window dressing — Frank Miller was on to something. Batman was, at bottom, a vigilante who had always had a vengeful and cruel streak. I suspected the police department he could work with also included Dick Tracey. So, valuable as they might be, I don’t have a lot of Batman in the back-room boxes. I’m more of a Plastic Man man.

R.I.P.: Joe Harris, Who Made Underdog an Over DAWG

Another animation super-pro who had a long career and life. I don’t even begrudge him a phrase that probably helped ruin the health of who knows how many. And hey,  — [revision alert] one of my favorite kids jokes is under investigation since the original version I heard had nothing to do with rabbis, which would have meant nothing to me. {EDIT EDIT: The person I contacted who was around with me when we giggled at the joke said my memory was simply faulty — we were told that a rabbi was “a Jewish priest” and that’s what mean next to nothing. It does flatten the joke of course, but just the kicks are for Trids part was haw-haw enough. WHEW Over-explanation over.}

But Underdog stands out as having the exact dash of MAD satire to it. And one of the very best show themes in the history of cartoon TV:

Beware, there’s an odd number of bogus versions out there … this is like all variants.

(Notice how many buildings prominently display TV antennas. I now keep track of the three or four rusting, hi-tech roof antiques I know in our neighborhood. The past isn’t gone until it’s gone, right?)

Cosmik Loop Closed By GET OUT

Hmmmmm. Writer/director/producer Jordan Peele got his breakout on MADtv. MAD magazine took off when the line of EC horror comics was effectively censored. Get Out is perfect as a no-holds-barred current combo of EC and MAD on screen. Something has come full circle. Whoo-hooo-haa-HAAAH!

The ghost of William Gains has opened one of the most expensive bottles in his otherworldly wine cellar.

Perfect Trilogy of TV Terror

(Seriously –watch these in sequence and you’ll be gibbering behind the couch more than once.)

“The Galaxy Being” — the initial episode of “The Outer Limits” TV series. So cool that it’s about a monstrous TV transmission — the special effects were beyond belief for the time. Little slow developing.

Videodrome — second generation cool master of horror turns up the rising static.

The Ring — in many ways the updated culmination of “The Galaxy Being” in that horror had made the great leaps forward rather than sci-fi. Anyway, by far the most purely frightening of these. Took me three tries to make myself watch all of all the scenes. Plus, do not miss the original Japanese movie Ringu — absolutely as good as the English remake and absolutely complimentary. Bound to inspire a few fascinating cultural-contrast discussions. (What I’ve read of the source novel reveals it’s a snoozer with the prime contribution being the central conceit of the cursed videotape.)

[Interesting that these three appeared almost exactly 20 years apart.]