Boldly Golden

'Star Trek' 50th-anniversary logo: Usual logo, in gold letters, set against a starry space background with '50' inside Starfleet insignia between the 'Star' and 'Trek', and with the Enterprise trailing warp-speed lines through the word 'Trek' and off to its right

Star Trek premiered on NBC a half-century ago today.

I wasn’t around to see it then. Lucky for me, Trek and the other Sensational TV Show
of 1966* were in syndicated repeats throughout the ’70s — and my mother, viewer of both when they were new, made them a family affair. [*Batman. I’m talking about Batman, which had launched at midseason in January. The number of SF- and spy-oriented series on the prime-time schedule that season is impressive, though: Lost in Space, The Man from UNCLE, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Wild Wild West,
I Spy, and Britain’s The Avengers were all running when Batman and Star Trek came along. Within a month of Trek’s September 8th bow, The Girl from UNCLE, Tarzan, Mission: Impossible, The Time Tunnel, and The Green Hornet all debuted; likewise The Monkees, certainly a fantasy itself, whose title characters even became kooky costumed crimefighters on a few occasions. Anyway, I meant Batman.]

Star Trek wasn’t exactly an obsession of mine the way that comics and cartoon superheroes were. At the time, I’d probably have chosen the 30th century to which Superboy (Superman’s younger self) regularly traveled, home to a Legion of fellow teens with amazing powers from various worlds, over Capt. Kirk and crew’s 23rd century if for some reason I could only pick one fictional future to follow. There weren’t any Legion action figures, though, whereas Mego offered up Kirk, Spock, and various alien adversaries, plus a playset of the Enterprise bridge complete with nifty transporter.

The Birdy Bunch


When Larry Wilmore's abruptly canceled Nightly Show ended this past Thursday,
I stuck around to watch @Midnight. Since the Presidential campaign and the Summer Olympics provide no shortage of springboards for Twit-friendly topical humor, I’m assuming we have the program's two-week hiatus to thank for the evening’s mundane Hashtag Wars category: #BirdTV. Personally, I enjoy having an evergreen subject to riff on given that updates to the blog will remain infrequent for some months, so here, minus a few brainstorms that I’d seen others beat me to when I took a quick scroll through the feed on Twitter, are…

My Top Twenty-Five Avian Television Shows

25 America’s Got Talons

24. The Young and the Nestless

23. Feather Knows Best

22. Sesame Tweet

21. Harpy Days

20. Parrothood

19. The Eggs Files

18. Gilmore Gulls

17. Fowl Frontal

16. The Dove Boat

Auto Tunes


I’m sure that most of you are familiar by now with James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke, a — really, the — standout feature of his brief tenure as host of The Late
Late Show
on CBS. You’ve already seen its latest installment, in which Corden drives around Manhattan with Lin-Manuel Miranda, Audra MacDonald, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Jane Krakowski. So you don’t need me to link to it.

video screencap of a car interior with Corden at viewer's right in the driver's seat, Miranda in the passenger seat, and the other tree in the rear, all with mouths open while singing and gesturing

But I just did anyway.

Nor do you need me to tell you that Corden will host the 70th Annual Tony Awards telecast, in which Miranda’s smash-hit musical Hamilton is nominated for a record
16 awards, on that same network this coming Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.

But I just did that anyway, too.

So what can I tell you that you don’t know?

North Mythology


FX will air a marathon of Fargo Season 2 tomorrow starting at 10 a.m. ET/PT.

A red 1970s Dodge seen head-on, dusted by snow, with the stylized 'Fargo' logo outlined in snow and cracked glass on its windshield

I can’t recommend it enough. Pretty much everything that TV does well, Fargo does very, very, very well. The cast is phenomenal; the score and soundtrack are just A+; the cinematography is outstanding. Even if the plot and dialogue were nothing special this would probably be captivating television.

But they’re something special indeed. About half of the season’s scripts are credited to showrunner Noah Hawley, the novelist and former Bones story editor who wrote all of Season 1 — and who, given the copious love for the classic 1996 Coen Brothers film on which the series is based, was as bold in doing so as (it turns out) he was justified.

You don’t need to have seen the movie or Season 1 to watch Season 2. Really. I’ve seen and enjoyed the movie but, due to a low tolerance for Billy Bob Thornton, I opted out of Season 1 despite the raves. Hearing the raves for the second season and that it was set before the first, I caught up near the end of its 10-episode run last December, just in time for the finale.

Ready Player Four


Blanco surrounded by teammates in the Phillies dugout
Photo of No. 4 Andrés Blanco getting high-fived by No. 3 David Lough © 2016 MLB/Phillies.

The Philadelphia Inquirer ran a nice profile of Andrés Blanco on Thursday. I can definitely appreciate a hot power hitter, dominant pitcher, or shortstop who owns
his zone, but there's something that resonates with me about a reliable utility player shining when subbed in and given an occasional start. Blanco — signed out of Venezuela by the Kansas City Royals’ organization at 16 years old, yet only now playing in the majors full-time at twice that age — is such a guy on an underdog team that sure needs him. Seeing that he grinds out the practice, respects his success, and gives back to his community makes it all the better. The Phillies hope that rebuilding for the future doesn't mean entirely failing to contend today; me, I hope that whenever things do turn around again Blanco is here for it.

Get Carter Back


ABC finally canceled Marvel’s Agent Carter last week. The short-run winter series, which spelled the fall and spring halves of Agents of SHIELD these past two years, had been a ratings disappointment. Once star Hayley Atwell was cast by the network in a potential regular-season legal drama, now picked up to series, writing met wall.

Agent Carter, in silhouette and backlit, emerging from giant logo

You can’t entirely blame ABC, who clearly wants to be in business with Atwell.
SHIELD itself hasn't exactly been a ratings bonanza — due in part to ongoing identity crises, tensions between Marvel’s film and television enterprises that leave the big-screen blockbusters bereft of nearly any reference to (and, thus, what should be no-brainer promotion of) the show, and the general demands that “peak TV” has put on viewers’ time. I’ve enjoyed both SHIELD and Carter, however, even as what they do well makes my frustration over what they could be doing better all the greater.

Stella Saner 1916-2016


Stella Saner would have been 100 years old today, had she not passed early in
the morning of January 21st with her daughter, my mother, at her side.

Here’s a lightly edited version of what I wrote to read at her memorial service.


a pair of black-and-white photographs as described in caption
Top: Stella Saner in 1946 with her husband, Leon, and two
daughters, Ronda and Sherie. Bottom: Stella with Sherie in 2015.


I have a distinct memory of being in my grandparents’ bedroom in the pink house
in Wildwood — not sure I’m even in the double digits at this point — as Grandmom tells me that while the face in her mirror keeps getting older she doesn’t feel any older inside.

David Bowie 1947-2016


Grid of covers to 25 David Bowie albums in reverse chronological order from 2013's 'The Next Day' to 1970's 'The Man Who Sold the World'
David Bowie discography grabbed from www.davidbowie.com

This post is currently down for maintenance.

Of Was and When


I’m plodding through some kind of marshland canal in a Colonial Era village at dusk. Muddy and wet, I stop in a cabin to warm up, strip my clothes off, and grab some new ones that had been left there to dry by the fire. Then, after stealing into the night once more, I enter another house by the back door with hopes of making it out the front unseen — only to discover a youthful fortysomething David Bowie, in appropriate period dress and with his sandy blond hair rakishly tousled, cooking over a stove.

“Are you leaving us, then?” he asks.

“Yes,” I tell him, or maybe I just nod, and I exit. I pause with second thoughts, however, then head in again. Extending my hand, I say, “I’ve been a tremendous admirer since I was a kid. I just wanted to thank you.” He is gracious. I wake up.