Sunday, March 31, 2013

Where Are They Now: Minor Made-for-TV-Movie Actors Edition

When I think of all the made-for-TV movies I enjoyed as a kid, it saddens me that so many of the actors have slipped into the depths of obscurity. 

Or have they?

Maybe they've gone on to do great things, just... not in front of the camera. 

Perhaps they've earned university degrees... become directors... raised happy families... or have worked toward solving social problems.

Or maybe they're all dead.


Here are ten actors from TV-movies from my childhood or youth who I'm curious about.

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1. Schuyler Grant

Known For: Playing Diana Barry in Anne Of Green Gables (1985), Anne Of Green Gables The Sequel (1987), and... that other one. She was originally up for the role of Anne, but was demoted to Diana when the producers decided that the actress playing Anne ought to be Canadian.

Schuyler Then:

Schuyler More Recently:

Yep, she's blonde. And a yoga instructor! It looks as though Schuyler hasn't done much acting besides Anne, save for an episode of Law & Order, a movie I've never heard of, and a brief stint on All My Children. She married in 1995 and has two children. 

- - - - - - - - - - -

2. Barret Oliver

Known For: Among other things, playing Dickon in The Secret Garden (1987). You also may remember him from D.A.R.Y.L. and The Neverending Story. His last film came out in 1989.

Barret Then:

Barret More Recently:

Uh, nope, sorry, not going to show you the photo I found on Google where -- if that IS indeed him -- he's rocking a hobo beard, and is crushing my childhood... crush. NOPE. WILL NOT ALLOW IT. 

Oh but wait, there's more....

According to Wikipedia: In his teens Oliver left acting to join the Church of Scientology's Sea Org and was stationed at its Gold Base compound.[4] As is common practice among teenagers in the Sea Org, he married a fellow Scientologist at age 19.[5][6] He has since divorced.[7] Later Oliver became a printer and photographer specializing in nineteenth century processes such as collodion and Woodburytype. His work has been displayed in museum and gallery exhibitions and used in films. In 2007 he published A History of the Woodburytype.[8]

Tears. Cold, brutal tears. MOVING ON....

- - - - - - - - - - -

3. Sophie Wilcox

Known For: Playing Lucy in the old-school Narnia series (1988-1989)

Sophie Then:

Sophie More Recently:

After Narnia, Sophie seemed to take a break from acting, returning for a brief stint in several 90's projects... then another hiatus... and finally a role in a 2011 film called Gangster Kittens.

Sorry, not those kind of kittens.

- - - - - - - - - - -

4. Whip Hubley

Known For: His role as Lancelot in the Keshia Knight-Pulliam version of A Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Court (1989). He also appeared in Top Gun and St. Elmo's Fire.

Whip Then:

Whip More Recently:

Now in his 50's, Whip is still acting. Over the years he's guest-starred on shows like Profiler, The Division, Charmed, The District, and he has a movie coming out this year called Drones. He is married and has three children.

- - - - - - - - - - -

 6. Lisa Jakub

Known For: Playing the daughter in the 1996 TV-movie Bermuda Triangle. She also played Robin Williams's daughter in Mrs. Doubtfire and appeared in Independence Day.

Lisa Then:

Lisa Now:

Well, check out her website (there's a photo of her there!) According to the site, she is now married, a writer, and enjoys traveling and yoga -- and acting, for her, is a thing of the distant past.

- - - - - - - - - - -

7. Ciarán McMenamin

Known For: Playing the adult David Copperfield in the 1999 BBC production of, um, David Copperfield.

Ciarán Then:

Ciarán Now:

In 2011, he got the lead role in the fifth season/series of the British TV show Primeval. He has also made a few feature films in recent years, but does not seem to have forgotten his TV-movie respect -- having made half a dozen since Copperfield. Nice, nice....

- - - - - - - - - - -

8. Jodelle Ferland

Known For: Her portrayal of a young girl who's lost her father in Mermaid (2000). She also played Hollis in Pictures Of Hollis Woods (2007).

Jodelle Then:

Jodelle More Recently:

From a role in the Twilight saga to the voice of Aggie in Paranorman to somewhere around a dozen movies in the last two years alone, yes -- this girl's still acting. She turned 18 in October.

- - - - - - - - - - -

9. Tasha Scott

Known For: Playing Jennifer, Candace Cameron's cabinmate in the crazypalooza Camp Cucamonga (1990). She also appeared in the legendary Troop Beverly Hills and guest-starred on Full House and Quantum Leap (which lended her some actual cred.)

Tasha Then:

Tasha Now:

A singer (who once competed on Star Search), Tasha has recorded several R&B songs in recent years.

- - - - - - - - - - -

10. Ryan Merriman

Known For: Being a TV-movie-starring fiend in movies like Everything That Rises (1998), Smart House (1999), The Luck of The Irish (2001), and A Ring Of Endless Light (2002) (and yes, I've seen them all). He also played "Young Jarod" on the TV series The Pretender and I had a huge crush on him, but felt awkward about it because he was -- gasp -- 3 years younger than me!

Ryan Then:

Ryan Now:


Still acting, Ryan has seven (7!) movies coming out in 2013. He married at age 21, but is now divorced. He remains attractive.

- - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - -

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My Top 14: TV Show Title Sequences/Theme Songs (Instrumental)

The TV theme song: many such tunes have become pop culture staples. They might be songs you reminisce about with your friends. Or catchy numbers that can be sung at the top of your lungs while speeding down the highway. And there's no shame in that. (Okay, maybe there's some shame.) But most of us have loved a particular show (or two) and a particular theme song (or... three) in our lives. And oftentimes, the songs that are remembered best are the ones that have lyrics.

But today I'm going to give some love to the theme song without lyrics... those fun, pretty, or just plain epic instrumental pieces. However, I'm not just picking my Top 14 based on the music alone. I'm taking into account the entire opening theme -- title, credits, clips, images, or whatever else is used to get me hooked into watching the show. Does the opening help to capture my interest in the show? Is it amusing, creative, hauntingly beautiful, or just plain awesome? Is it one that I often sit through and enjoy when I watch an episode, or would I rather fast-forward through it?

Well, it wasn't easy, but I was able to whittle my list down to just 14. (TV Title sequences with lyrics will appear on a future list.)

* * * * * * * *
My Top 14: TV Show Title Sequences/Theme Songs (Instrumental)
* * * * * * * *

The Cosby Show 

The Cosby Show's opening sequence changed nearly every year, and each version is fun in its own way. They did a cool thing for the series finale, where they combined all the different ones into one, showing how everyone had aged over the past eight years -- it was pretty neat. Unfortunately, I can't find it on YouTube, so you'll just have to trust me -- and try to catch the episode yourself sometime.

* * * * *
Beverly Hills, 90210 

I barely ever watched this show as a preteen/teen, yet seeing and listening to the theme song brings me back to those days -- the days when every girl who'd graduated from the awkward New Kids On The Block phase was now mooning over Luke Perry and Jason Priestley. And I can certainly see why. Meanwhile, the music is lively, and the teens (plus... you know, the ones that were in their 20's) look super cool. I want to be their friiiiennnddd!

* * * * *
The Simpsons 

We've seen it a thousand times, and yet we stick with it because of that one part at the end when something new happens to the family on or around their couch. Okay, the rest of it's pretty fun, too.

* * * * *
Call The Midwife 

First, I like the music. Second, I like the vintage photographs and how they're presented almost as if they're three-dimensional. Or... as if they're not photographs at all. I'm not sure that it really gives the viewer any idea of what the show is about, but... I still think it's neat.

* * * * *
The Office 

I appreciate this one because it's short and to the point, but it still captures the essence of the show. But I always wondered why it only showed five or six cast members, and why one of those was B.J. Novak, who often never even appears or has a plot. Where are Stanley or Kevin or Phyllis or the others? There were a ton of people on the show! 

* * * * *
Road To Avonlea 

Road To Avonlea's opening credits changed several times over the years. In the early seasons, it had a sweet, melodic tune put to idyllic PEI scenes. Season 3-4 saw a more upbeat number, but the scenes they chose were kind of silly and didn't really show Road's best sides. By season 5, things had improved, and I think season 6 had my favorite opening of them all -- the perfect combination of the more upbeat tune paired with some really great scenes.

* * * * *

Good music, good imagery, good times.

* * * * *
Robin Hood 

I love the music, and I like the opening sequence, especially the one for series two. Unfortunately, BBC Worldwide seems to have blocked every instance of it on Youtube. So you'll just have to trust me -- it's great. 

* * * * *

Buffy The Vampire Slayer 

The BTVS opening used a fast rock song, with hundreds of clips of everything the show was about: Buffy, her friends, the occasional vampire, random demon, or other creature, and, of course, the slaying thereof. Each season, the opening seemed to get a little more intense and cool. And is it just me, or did Sarah Michelle Gellar not age?

* * * * *

Cartwheels in the rain. Happiness, sadness, standing on one's head. Childhood in a nutshell.

* * * * *
My So-Called Life 

I love this one because it shows so many different sides to Angela. You've got her happy, sad, insecure, over the moon, thoughtful, introspective. You've got snapshots of her friends and family. And somehow, even though I think most of the clips were taken from the first, or maybe the first and second episode, they really do capture what the show was all about. A teenage girl. Her life. That period in adolescence when anything's possible and nothing makes sense. And one look at the clothes people are wearing and you know this was circa 1994, which for me is significant because that's when I started high school myself. I did watch the show back then -- from time to time -- but it is now that I appreciate it. And this theme song totally puts a smile on my face.

* * * * *

Pride & Prejudice 

This one's fairly simple; the quick piano music plays over the credits, which appear over different shots of old-fashioned fabric. I think it's beautifully done. The only thing that could make it better is more Firth. But then... that can be said for juuust about anything.

* * * * *
The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. 

This one is great for several reasons: one, it quickly presents Brisco's backstory. Two, it has a bunch of kickass scenes from the show. Three, the music is epic! Everything you could ask for in an opening theme (aside from baby pandas).

* * * * *
The Kids In The Hall 

While the tune pretty much stayed the same each season (at least, I never noticed a major difference  -- though to be fair, I still haven't seen the later seasons) the clips would change from year to year. It looked like someone went out on the street with an old film camera and just tried to capture anything that seemed quirky, odd, or just so completely ordinary as to be like, "this is life."  I've always thought the opening theme complemented the show itself, because while the show did have some really wacky sketches, it also had ones that portrayed just... ordinariness. But ordinary or not, they were still brilliant.

* * * * *

Honorable Mentions: Lois & Clark, The Pretender, Quantum Leap, Dallas, MacGyver, Brooklyn South, 3rd Rock From The Sun, The Tudors, John Adams, Little House On The Prairie, M*A*S*H, Early Edition

All About Everything - Week Of March 26, 2013

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Emergency Broadcast System (EBS) was an emergency warning system in the United States that replaced CONELRAD, used from 1963 to 1997, when the EBS was replaced by the Emergency Alert System.
Until the system was superseded, radio and television stations were required to perform a Weekly Transmission Test Of The Attention Signal and Test Script on random days and times between 8:30 A.M and local sunset. Stations were required to perform the test at least once a week, and were only exempt from doing so if they had activated the EBS for a state or local emergency, or participated in a coordinated state or local EBS test during the past week. Additionally, stations were required to log tests they received from each station they monitored for EBS messages. This served as an additional check, as they could expect to hear a weekly test from each source. Failure to receive a signal at least once a week meant that either the monitored station was having a problem transmitting the alert signal, or the monitoring station was having a problem receiving it.


It's Saturday morning. You're still in your footy pajamas, you've got a bowl of Froot Loops in front of you, and you are watching The Muppet Babies. Man, you love the Muppet Babies. It's not as good as The Muppet Show was, and you're really not sure why you never see Nanny's face, only her stockings. Is her face severely disfigured? How? And more importantly, why? As you ponder that, here come the commercials. Pop Tarts -- they're so cool they're hot. My Little Po-ny, My Little Po-ny. 

And then...

And so it was that TV came to have three distinct elements... shows, commercials, and the EBS tests with the loud... uh, what would you even call that? A steady beep? The sound of a broken Taboo buzzer? Whatever it was, it -- and tests -- fascinated me. Why was it always "just a test"? When would we get to have a REAL emergency? And if we did, would I be the one who had to tell my parents?  My mom and dad didn't watch Saturday morning cartoons with me. I'd have to alert them! And what kind of emergency would it be? Honestly, I couldn't even begin to fathom something that would affect America on a national level.

The system has now been replaced by the similar "Emergency Alert System", which has an even MORE ANNOYING buzzery sound.


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

All About Everything - Week Of March 19, 2013

Today's Topic: Up Series

The Up Series is a series of documentary films produced by Granada Television that have followed the lives of fourteen British children since 1964, when they were seven years old. The documentary has had eight episodes spanning 49 years (one episode every seven years) and the documentary has been broadcast on both ITV and BBC. In a 2005 Channel 4 programme, the series topped the list of The 50 Greatest Documentaries.

The children were selected to represent the range of socio-economic backgrounds in Britain at that time, with the explicit assumption that each child's social class predetermines their future. Every seven years, the director, Michael Apted, films material from those of the fourteen who choose to participate. The aim of the series is stated at the beginning of 7 Up as: "Why do we bring these children together? Because we want to get a glimpse of England in the year 2000. The shop steward and the executive of the year 2000 are now seven years old."


If you've never seen this series, get it from Netflix, Amazon, wherever. Start with "7 Up" and go from there. 

Each time I watch one of the installments in this series I am excited to see how the participants have changed, what they've done with themselves, and how they are getting on. Sometimes what I see makes me sad -- like when one guy was going through a rough patch of homelessness and depression, or when one of the ladies was getting a divorce. Other times, I find myself enthralled with the life choices these folks have made. Sure, watching them at age 7 acting all precocious is pretty amusing, but then getting to see those same little souls hit many of life's milestones (college, jobs, marriage, kids) -- it's just so cool and interesting. And yet, it's just... people's lives. And most of them are pretty ordinary, really.

Of course I have favorites. I'm a big fan of Neil. I've always liked Jackie. Bruce is adorable. Nick is incredible. And Tony; well, I like his spirit! All of the folks are interesting in their own way.

Unfortunately, I missed 56 Up playing in theaters here, recently, but here's where you might be able to see it. And in a few months, I suspect the DVD will be out and I will get to find out how many of those people have re-married, changed jobs, or become grandparents. Because YES -- I CARE!

Saturday, March 16, 2013

All About Everything - Week Of March 12, 2013

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Radar Rat Race was a 1981 game for the Commodore VIC-20, later converted to the Commodore 64. It was among thirty game titles marketed by Commodore on cartridges. It was a clone of the Namco arcade game Rally-X.

The player guides a mouse through a large maze. The camera follows the mouse and shows only a small portion of the maze at any given time. The player is pursued by at least three rats. The goal is to eat all of the pieces of cheese, shown for the entire maze on a radar screen, without getting caught by a rat or bumping into a stationary cat. By pressing the joystick button the mouse can disperse a limited amount of magical dust which confuses the rats for about five seconds.

Once the round is complete, the game starts again, with more rats and faster play.

The gameplay is accompanied by a frenetic, rhythmically altered version of a phrase from Three Blind Mice, which cycles endlessly.
So I used to own this game as a wee lass, and I remember that I enjoyed it. Which I find odd, now, because it sounds absolutely horrible.


Dang, they weren't kidding about that endless cycle of Three Blind Mice, were they? I think the only reason I "liked" this game as a kid was because I only owned three games at the time... and one of them involved dentistry.

And you know, we can laugh/cringe at how primitive those games were (the 80s, amirite?), but I have a cell phone (not a smart phone) and I bought a game for it where there's this dog. And that's all it is, this dog. You can feed it. Then you can take it to the park and have it jump over obstacles. Then you can feed it. Then you can take it to the park and have it jump again. And that's it. And it costs me $4 and I'm kind of annoyed about that.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Brick Critique: Springtime Scene

Springtime Scene

Hey, northern hemispherians -- it's that time of the year again! Oh yes, that wily hog o' the ground saw his fuzzy little shadow, and THAT means springtime is nigh. We're talking two weeks from now nigh. But just in case you can't wait two weeks to dive into the glories of the season (read: mowing the lawn and popping allergy pills), there's Lego's all-new SPRINGTIME SCENE to please you. This bag has eighty-eight blissful pieces of plastic just waiting for assemblage. 

But what, according to Lego, is Springtime all about? Judging by this set, I'd guess it to be about two things: romance... and cherry trees. And I do dig that cherry tree, even if I think it's a little early in the season for the fruit to be ready. Hey, maybe things work differently in Legoland. CHERRIES FOR ALL!!!

 Then there's our happy couple. Those minifigs' outfits have appeared in quite a few other Lego sets over the past several years, meaning these two aren't fashion conscious, perhaps... but we'll forgive them. They appear to be holding hands... at least, as well as two minifigs CAN hold hands (which isn't well.) And they've got flowers around them. Definitely springish. And hey, a frog. 

But you know... when I think of Spring, I think of baby animals. This set has NO baby animals! That frog's not a baby, and unless there's a missus hiding behind the fountain, I don't have much hope for Frog: Generation 2, here. A few years ago I wouldn't expect to see any animals in the set, but nowadays Lego makes birds, rabbits, and all manner of cats, so why are there none of those here, and more importantly, why aren't they mating, and even MORE importantly, why aren't there any bears coming out of hibernation, ready for a meal? That'd show em! Sitting in the park all calmly and serenely... just you wait, Lego people!

Wow this just sort of took a dark turn...

Springtime Scene currently retails for $7.99.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

All About Everything - Week Of March 5, 2013

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Steeplechase Park was an amusement park in the Coney Island area of Brooklyn, New York from 1897 to 1964. It was one of the leading attractions of its day and one of the most influential amusement parks of all time.

It was created by George C. Tilyou (1862–1914), who grew up in a family that ran a Coney Island restaurant. While visiting the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, he saw the Ferris wheel and decided to build his own on Coney Island; it immediately became the resort's biggest attraction. He added other rides and attractions, including a mechanical horse race course from which the park derived its name.

Steeplechase burned during the 1907 season, destroying most of the park.

The park was rebuilt for the 1908 season, although the new park was not fully open until 1909. It now included a "Pavilion of Fun" in an indoor enclosure covered by steel and glass that covered 5 acres (20,000 m2).[1] Steeplechase burned again in less-destructive incidents in 1936 and 1939.


I love old Coney Island stuff. I could spend half my day reading about all the quirky, dangerous rides, sideshows and games that used to dwell there.

This site has a hilarious (sound-free) film clip of some of "rides" at Steeplechase Park from way back when, including what I like to call the merry-go-round of doom. You think those spinny metal things in city parks are a safety hazard? HA! You aint seen nothin'.

If I could travel back in time to any era and place, I'd travel to 1893 and check out the World's Fair in Chicago. Then I'd take a world tour and travel around the globe for four years or so. After that I would go play on Coney Island the second Steeplechase opened. And then I would probably die, because that place sounds like a deathtrap.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Portland Comic Con!!

The weekend before last, I decided to check out the first-ever Portland Comic (Wizard) Con. For years Portland has had comic book shows, but those are humble little affairs where they may get a handful of comic book artists, and maybe a D-List actor if it's a good year. Wizard Con was something entirely else. It was a gathering of all good things related to... well, pretty much everything remotely geek. Video games, sci-fi, fantasy, anime, television, movies, superheroes, retro cartoons, action figures, I don't even know. And it was HUGE. Thousands upon thousands of Portlanders crammed into the Convention Center. I don't know how.

But if we're being completely honest, my friend Jenn and I had but one purpose for showing up. And that was this:

Dean Cain, who we may or may not have (read: may have) been crushing on since our early teens.

Now, I wouldn't have minded meeting Drusilla, er, Juliet Landau, but she had to cancel a few weeks beforehand. And Bruce Campbell is awesome, buuut I've met him before -- and his line was insane. James Marsters -- sure, he's cool. But Wizard Con is very much a for-profit enterprise. If you want to get up close to any of the celebs, you have to pay for an autograph ($40 and up per celeb), a Polaroid photo (about the same), or a professional photo ($50 and up). That's even to just go up and talk to them!

Thanks to Jenn, who wanted both an autograph and a photo, we got to talk to Dean Cain!

 AND we got to get a photo with him in which he put his arms around us! ::SIGH::

 And then he did a Q&A panel, in which I asked a question, and he answered it, and he totally looked right at me like omg.


Suffice it to say, we had an EXCELLENT time, and were so happy and excited. The following weekend, we had a Lois & Clark marathon and squee-ed some more. So, you know, good times.

Of course, since the Portland Wizard Con was exactly one week before the Emerald City Comic Con, and there was no way I could do two cons in a row like that, I missed out on my chance to meet Prince Humperdinck, Miss Havisham, Christopher Lloyd and Patrick StewarON THE OTHER HAND MAYBE I SHOULD HAVE GONE.... okay, now I'm depressed. 

Okay, all better now. :-D