Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Bewitched: "The Leprechaun"

Premiered March 17, 1966

Darrin Stephens (Dick York) is dismayed to learn that yet another of Samatha's (Elizabeth Montgomery) relatives has come to visit.  The visitor is a bona fide leprechaun named Brian O'Brian (Henry James).  

Brian turns out NOT to be one of Samatha's kinfolk, but is from Darrin's side of the family.  The leprechaun is seeking his last remaining pot of gold, which he'd hidden away in a fireplace in Ireland.

Unfortunately for Brian, that fireplace was transported from the Auld Sod to the US by a wealthy businessman named James Dennis Robinson (Parley Baer) where it holds pride of place in Robinson's mansion! 

Since Brian isn't in possession of the pot of gold, he cannot use his leprechaun magic.  Moreover, Samantha cannot use her witchcraft to obtain the pot of gold as its leprechaun bewitchment prevents this.  So Brian will have to find a way to retrieve the pot himself.  

Matters are complicated by Darrin's skepticism of the whole issue and the fact that Darrin's advertising firm would very much like to obtain Robinson's business.   Darrin goes to Robinson's home to verify Brian's claims and attempt to drum up some ad firm revenue, but is not very successful. 

The leprechaun decides to take matters into his own hands and runs into serious trouble in the form of guard dogs. Robinson himself calls the police and has Brian sent to jail.  Brian uses his one phone call to ask Samantha for help.   She obliges and springs him using witchcraft. Darrin is angry that she interfered and forbids her from helping further. 

Ignoring Darrin, Samantha witches herself and Brian back to Robinson's mansion to search for the pot of gold.  However, it seems that someone else has already discovered its hiding place! 

Will Darrin win another advertising deal for his firm?  Will Brian O'Brian regain his pot of gold or will he be reduced to a mere mortal?   Will Samantha think of a clever way to save the day?  

RigbyMel says: 

This is a slight and silly episode of Bewitched.  It's amusing to see how the sitcom's writers work some leprechaun mythos into the suburban setting -- but also a bit annoying to see how heavily they lean into the "drunken Irishman" stereotype.   

Brian seems particularly dopey for a leprechaun -- they have a reputation for being reasonably clever if not tricky, after all.  Maybe the loss of his pot of gold is dulling his faculties?   That being said,  Henry James is fun to watch as Brian the leprechaun and definitely knows how to work the blarney

I liked that they played with the sitcom's formula a bit in this episode as it's one of Darrin's nutty relations (not Samantha's) causing the difficulty.   However, Darrin is a bit less likeable than usual in this episode as well.   He's rather mean and unsympathetic to Brian and to Samantha throughout -- and they come through for him in the end anyway! 

Interestingly, Parley Baer who plays the episode's antagonist Mr. Robinson, appeared on nine episodes of Bewitched between 1966 and 1972.  He played different characters each time! 

"The Leprechaun" is an enjoyable episode of Bewitched with lots of St. Patrick's Day flair but it's not really a classic.

RigbyMel's rating: 

2.5 shamrocks 

J.A. Morris says: 
We should mention that even though St. Patrick's Day is never mentioned in "The Leprechaun," this episode premiered on St. Paddy's of 1966.  So I believe it qualifies as a "holiday" episode.

This is an OK episode of Bewitched.  I agree with most of what my co-blogger says.  If I have any problem with "The Leprechaun," it's that I felt it gets off to a slow start.  It's a "low energy" episode until Brian tries to get his gold back from Robinson.  

There isn't a lot of St. Patrick's Day programming out there, that makes "The Leprechaun" worth watching at least once, but that's about it.

J.A. Morris' rating:

2 shamrocks.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Night Court: "Billie's Valentine"

Premiered February 14, 1985.

It's Valentine's Day in New York City.  Judge Harold T. Stone (Harry Anderson) has feelings that he hasn't yet expressed for his court colleague, Public Defender Billie Young (Ellen Foley).  He plans to ask her out for a Valentine date, but she already has plans.  

She's head over heels for David Towers (Geoffrey Scott), a very wealthy Public Relations executive with an impressive list of accomplishments.  David has a romantic dinner planned for them.

Cupid's arrow has also struck the heart of Bernie (Martin Garner), who runs a newsstand in the courts building.  He asks the court's bailiff Selma (Selma Diamond) if she'll go out with him, but she's not interested.  Bernie tells if she's still not interested by midnight, he'll leave her alone.

When night court begins, Billie is surprised to see David enter the court as a defendant!  She thinks its some sort of Valentine prank. 

However, David has been arrested for grand larceny and pickpocketing.  It turns out that David lied about his wealth, he's actually a habitual criminal.  Billie is shocked and distraught and storms out of court. 

In spite of his criminal record, Billie still loves David.  She later visits him in jail and says she'll wait for him while he serves his sentence.  Her Valentine's Day gets even worse when David breaks up with Billie.  

While Harry has feelings for Billie, he also doesn't want to be hurt.  So the judge visits David to confront him.  Can this Valentine's day be saved?  

J.A. Morris says:

"Billie's Valentine" is a solid holiday episode.  Lots of Valentine episodes involve someone getting their heart broken and that's what happens here.  Harry likes Billie, so he could try to catch her on the rebound.  Since he's a good person who genuinely cares for her, he tries to be a bigger person and talk David into reconsidering.  

This episode gives us plenty of Valentine's Day atmosphere.  In one of the best moments of "Billie's Valentine," David hires a man (Larry Gelman) to dress up like a Valentine heart and sing to Billie.  

We get some presents with hearts on them, Bernie hitting on Selma and Dan Fielding (John Larroquette) trying in vain to get a Valentine date.  

I wouldn't call "Billie's Valentine" a "classic" episode, but it's fun and like all holiday episodes, it's a nice way for Night Court fans to get reacquainted with the series' great ensemble cast.  

J.A. Morris' rating:

3 Valentine hearts.

RigbyMel says:

"Billie's Valentine" is an amusing episode from the second season of Night Court.    As J.A. Morris points out above, the holiday tropes abound -- we've got hearts and flowers and candy and romantic rivalry/disappointments galore.  

The regular courtroom zaniness of the series frequently featured cases on the docket that tied in thematically with the general theme of the episode and this installment features a comic elderly couple who have gotten arrested for starting a fight in a restaurant during their 65th anniversary party.   Their interaction in the courtroom indicates they might be better off going their separate ways, but they refuse on account of their (retirement age) children!  

Billie's personal and professional troubles regarding larcenous David, Bernie's fruitless pursuit of Selma and Harry's sacrifice on Billie's behalf are all both funny and touching.  

This Valentine's episode is a lot of fun even if it's not in the upper echelons of  television.  It reminds us to be careful of others' feelings on Valentine's day since hearts can be fragile and easily bruised. 

Billie confronts a broken heart in a more than metaphorical sense! 

"Billie's Valentine" is worth a look if you're a fan of Night Court or of holiday themed sitcom episodes in general. 

RigbyMel's rating: 

3 Valentine hearts.

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

The Addams Family: "Christmas With The Addams Family"

Premiered December 24, 1965.

It's Christmas time and the Addams family is preparing for the holiday season.  The Addams' daughter Wednesday (Lisa Loring) hopes Santa Claus will bring her a Marie Antionette doll to use on her guillotine, while her brother Pugsley (Ken Weatherwax) wants a bow and arrow so he can shoot apples off the head of his Uncle Fester (Jackie Coogan).  However, their Christmas spirit is diminished when their neighbor tells them there is no Santa.

Pugsley and Wednesday's parents Gomez (John Astin) and Morticia (Carolyn Jones) reassure them that Santa is real and they decide to take action.  They ask Fester to put on a Santa suit and climb down the chimney on Christmas Eve and deliver gifts. Unfortunately, Fester gets stuck and doesn't show up, so the family is forced to improvise.  

Gomez puts on a Santa suit and and visits Pugsley and Wednesday.  He brings them the doll and bow and arrow presents they asked for.

Grandmama Addams (Blossom Rock) also shows up dressed as Santa.  She gives them the same gifts Gomez brought.   

She's followed by the Addams' butler Lurch (Ted Cassidy)...

...Cousin It (Felix Silla)...

...and Morticia!

Each "Santa" gives the kids a doll and bow and arrow.  Which means they end up with five of each!

Will the Addams Family's attempts to play Kris Kringle convince Pugsley and Wednesday that Santa is real?

J.A. Morris says:
The belief in Santa Claus (or lack thereof) is an common trope of Christmas programming.  The topic is dealt with very nicely in "Christmas With The Addams Family."  

This is a very sweet episode that features the "creepy" and "spooky" Addams Family going the extra mile to make sure their children believe in Santa Claus.  It's a reminder that Morticia and Gomez had one of the best and healthiest marriages in the history of sitcoms and "Christmas With The Addams Family" shows they were also very good parents.  It's also nice to see their extended family of Uncle Fester, Grandmama, Lurch and Cousin It helping out too.

The plot of this episode isn't very complicated.  It's basically just a series of scenes that feature the cast in Santa suits and they eventually bump into each other!

The episode closes with the cast breaking the forth wall and singing "We Wish You A Merry Christmas" to the viewers, which makes me smile every time I watch it.  

"Christmas With The Addams Family" is a touching episode that serves as a reminder that families often go to great lengths to make Christmas a magical experience for children.

J.A. Morris' rating:

4 candy canes!

Monday, January 3, 2022

Snoopy Presents: For Auld Lang Syne

 Premiered December 10, 2021.

"Christmas was a letdown.  But New Year's is going to be perfect!"
-Lucy Van Pelt

Christmas is approaching and the holiday season is in full-swing in the Van Pelt household.  Lucy (Isabella Leo) and her brother Linus (Wyatt White) are excited because their grandmother is going to spend Christmas with them.  Linus is a bit nervous, since Grandma always tries to make him get rid of his security blanket.

Even though the year is almost over, Charlie Brown (Etienne Kellici) hasn't fulfilled most of his New Year's Resolutions.  When he visits Lucy's psychiatrist booth, she tells him his resolutions are too ambitious.  Lucy recommends that he should just try to complete "one realistic resolution" and then he'll be "covered for the year."  

Snoopy (Terry McGurrin) is happy to see his five siblings, who have come to visit for the holidays.  They spend time reminiscing over an old photo album and playing music.  His brother Spike (Rob Tinkler) has brought his camera along so that he can take a group photo of him and his siblings.  He has only one photo of the whole family, which was taken when they were puppies.  However, accidents keep preventing the photo from happening and Spike begins to feel unappreciated.  

When Christmas Eve arrives, Lucy is heartbroken when Grandma calls and says she won't be coming for Christmas.  Lucy believes that her grandmother didn't come because she didn't want to see her.  Lucy wonders if Grandma doesn't love her and worries that she isn't "lovable."  

The next morning, Lucy decides that in order to prove she's lovable, she will organize a huge New Year's Eve party.  The event will be called "Lucy's Gala: A New Year's Eve Celebration of Elegant Perfection!"

Lucy "volunteers" Linus into helping her plan the party.  She says "everyone" will attend the party, because she IS lovable.  Snoopy and his siblings are booked to be the house band.  She even rents an old ballroom for the party and writes new lyrics for "Auld Lang Syne" that celebrate her!

Since Charlie Brown is still working on his resolutions, Lucy assigns him to be in charge of decorating the ballroom.  She asks Peppermint Patty and Marcie to build an ice sculpture of her face!  Everyone is excited about attending the New Year's gala, but Lucy's desire to throw a "perfect" party gets in the way of having a good time and her demands start to get on everybody's nerves.

Will the party be a smashing success?  Will it prove that Lucy is lovable?  Can Charlie Brown complete his resolutions?  Will Spike be able to take a new family photo?  

J.A. Morris says:

I'll cut to the chase and say that Snoopy Presents: For Auld Lang Syne is a very good special.  For starters, we don't have many movies, specials or episodes that are built around New Year's Eve, so it's nice to add another to that short list.  This special begins in mid-December and shows Lucy decorating for Christmas, so I think it can also be considered a Christmas special.  

What jumped out at me was that the creative team behind For Auld Lang Syne really "gets" the Peanuts characters.  They're all very similar to the kids we've seen in dozens of specials over the past five decades.  The voice actors are also all good fits for their characters.  Isabella Leo, who portrays Lucy, does a great job as the special's lead.  Longtime fans of Peanuts specials will be glad to know this special includes a scene where Charlie Brown visits Lucy's psychiatry booth and we also get to see Lucy leaning on Schroeder's piano.

Jeff Morrow's music won't make you forget Vince Guaraldi's immortal tunes, but it's fun and appropriate for a Charlie Brown special.  

Lucy is the focus here and it's nice to see her doing something other than calling Charlie Brown a "blockhead."  For Auld Lang Syne shows that she's a complicated character who gets upset when she believes she's not lovable.  

Since this is a new special, I don't want to go into too much more detail about its plot, but I'll add that it features a nice mix of sentiment and humor.  

Snoopy Presents: For Auld Lang Syne is a lot of fun and is highly recommended.  Is it as good as A Charlie Brown Christmas?  No, but few things are.  This special is a worthy addition to the holiday specials canon and I expect to watch in during future holiday seasons.

J.A. Morris' rating:

4 candy canes!

RigbyMel says:

Snoopy Presents: For Auld Lang Syne is a sweet addition to the Peanuts holiday special family.   

The story which features the normally confident Lucy feeling vulnerable because of her grandmother's decision not to visit for the holidays, which provides an interesting twist and gives depth to our dear fussbudget.  Lucy is still Lucy, but it's endearing to see a slightly different side of her.  

In re. Lucy being Lucy, I really like that she was able to rent a party venue for her New Year's Eve gala by using nickels collected from Charlie Brown via her psychiatry booth.  Her attempt to force Linus to wear an Elton John inspired stage getup is also pretty amusing (although perhaps not as amusing for Linus). 

The subplot involving Spike wanting to take a family photo with Snoopy and the other siblings was also quite cute and touching.   It's nice to see the Snoopy siblings again and I feel that lots of people can relate to Spike's frustration about taking a good group photo.   

As J.A. Morris says above, I feel the writers of this special really do have a good handle on what makes a Peanuts holiday special tick.  They have a good feel for all of the characters and their interactions.  There are sweet moments that are interspersed with melancholy and also some very funny bits and it is a winning combination that I suspect would make Charles Schulz very happy.  

For Auld Lang Syne takes a gentle and touching look at what can happen when our holiday expectations don't match up with reality and a fun way to spend time with these beloved characters. 

RigbyMel's rating: 

4 candy canes!