Down the Ballot

Monday, December 17, 2012

Adventures in Trek: Red Data Action Figure

Growing up in the late 80s and early 90s was an awesome time to be a Trekkie. We Trekkie kids had everything and anything available to us if Paramount was willing to slap 'Star Trek' on it. There were shampoos, Slurpee cups, band-aids, shirts, hats, trading cards, models, and of course action figures. Where every Trekkie kid could indulge their imaginations for an afternoon. Paramount licensed Star Trek to action figure maker Playmates Toys in the early 90s. This would give young Trekkies and collectors a dramatic difference in selection and quality over the previous license holder; Galoob Toys which had held it for most of the late 80s. Here is some quick info about the first wave of action figures.

The action figures produced by Playmates were not new or revolutionary by any means. Playmates had been making Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles toys, and put the same effort into making the Star Trek toys. The heart of the Trek line was Star Trek The Next Generation. By 1992, TNG was a hit and consumers wanted toys for their kids. The first run of  ten 4.5 inch TNG action figures was an assortment of the main crew (minus Beverly Crusher and Wesley Crusher), Gowron, a generic Romulan, a generic Ferengi, and a generic Borg. They all came with an assortment of cookie cutter accessories and some that were unique to the character. All had movable joints and the hands could hold their accessories. They came with a display base and the box featured a info card. This remained the formula with either additions or modifications for well on into the early 2000s.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Episodic Christmas Classic: X-Mas Story, Newsradio

Here is another great Christmas classic from the television show Newsradio. This is from the second season of the show and written by Lewis Morton. The A story deals with the common problem of gift giving in the office. The WNYX crew gets their boss, Mr. James, a great gift that they put thought into. Mr. James gets them all gifts that had no thought whatsoever put into and the ensuing insanity that goes about resolving the gift fiasco. The B story revolves around Phil Hartman's character being stalked by a Santa Claus, that claims he is going to kill Bill. 

Sunday, December 9, 2012

A Blue Christmas: Smurfs Christmas Special

Never thought I would be profiling anything Smurfs related here, but even they had a Christmas Special. This is from 1982 and deals with two stories. One is the regular Smurfs living peacefully and Gargamel trying to ruin their existence. The other story deals with a family heading somewhere for Christmas and getting stopped by an evil stranger. A surprising note on the voice casting is that the evil stranger is voiced by
Rene Auberjonois!

Yes, Mr. Odo himself plays a villain who is even meaner than Gargamel. He is a greater sorcerer than Gargamel too. Rene, believe it or not, is a very accomplished voice actor and has worked for the last several decades on numerous animated productions. Everything from Smurfs and Snorks to DuckTales, Scooby-Doo, Batman, Darkwing Duck, Extreme Ghostbusters and much, much more.

 Sit back and shut the Smurf Up and watch this Christmas Special.

War Production Board

From Wikipedia
I bought a book a few months ago that I am just now getting a good chance to look at and found an interesting note under the copyright. "About the Appearance of Books in Wartime" It outlines how this publisher was helping the war effort by cooperating with the War Production Board on using lighter weight paper and having smaller margins. The book is called: Prefaces to Peace and features what appears to be a book by Wendell Willkie, another by Herbert Hoover, part of one by Henry Wallace and Summer Welles. Really made me pause and think about the nature of society and war of my grandfather and the nature of society and war of the one my high school friends went off to fight.

We live in an amazing age. We don't even need paper to publish books in the 21st century. If we were in a war comparable to WWII, I wonder what a War Production Board of 2012 would ask of us to ration? Bandwidth?  Data? It is interesting to think about.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Fry & Laurie: Christmas Night with the Stars 1994

For several decades one of the staples of Christmas time traditions in the UK was Christmas Time with the Stars, a Christmas themed variety show made from popular BBC sitcoms from the previous year. It ran from 1958 to 1972 with only about three instances when it wasn't aired.

1994 saw a return of the special, with Hugh Laurie and Stephen Fry as hosts. A fine youtuber has edited the show to bring you the Fry and Laurie clips. They provide humorous commentary and Christmas trivia to compliment the program.

Ring in the holiday Season with our colleagues Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie. Part three includes Hugh and Stephen tackling some Christmas songs.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Christmas Turkey ala Red Green

Red Green does his best to make you feel like a pampered chef in this excerpt from one of the Red Green Christmas Special's. We all know the holidays can be stressful. Red decides to let us in on a secret to cooking your Christmas dinner.

Turkey, Frozen Peas, Pumpkin Pie, Corn, and so much more can be cooked on your way to dinner. Enjoy this clip of Red, doing what he does best. I've written about The Red Green Show before. Great Canadian television.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Episodic Christmas Classic: The Race, Seinfeld

Seinfeld is one of my favorite shows. This was the first series I ever tried to get all seasons on dvd.  Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld's zany half hour sitcom that was always about nothing; yet, left you with something to laugh about the next day.

It is also where this great Christmas moment comes from. Season 6 saw the continued rise of the show up the ratings ladder. Episode 10 was called The Race.

 Quick Synopsis

The A story was about Jerry confronting an old school nemesis about a race that took place 20 years ago when they were in high school. The B story is the focus of this post. Micky (Kramer's acting friend) lands Kramer and him a job as a mall Santa and elf in time for a little Christmas money. During his tenure as a mall Santa, he is exposed to the Daily Worker, and other communist publications by Elanie's new boyfriend of the week. He is convinced that this is the way to live and begins telling kids at the mall about how the owners of capital are preventing them from getting more toys. He is exposed by the children and he and Mickey get fired.

This episode does raise some interesting labor questions. Is there a labor union that represents mall Santa's? Do their working conditions merit better pay and other amenities?

Here are some clips from The Race

Couldn't get this clip to show:

Monday, December 3, 2012

Christmas Time with Master Thespian

One of my favorite Jon Lovitz characters from his SNL days was Master Thespian. How did he do it you ask? ACTING!!

Since this is the holiday season I decided I would share with you some of my favorite SNL holiday skits. This was aired during the Dcember 19th, 1987 episode hosted by Paul Simon the singer; not the U.S. Senator. Master Thespian appeared 13 times on SNL between 1985 and 1989. Lovitz brought the character to life each time.

I like this skit for the idea that the Master Thespian doesn't understand the mall Santa role. Yet he is suppose to be a Master Thespian! Phil Hartman does a great uppity mall manager. They have added this skit to hulu so here it is, enjoy!