TV Review – Best of All in the Family Part 2

Edith’s Accident (Original airdate: November 6, 1971)
Written by Tom & Helen August, Michael Ross, and Bernie West
Directed by Tom Rich

On the surface, this doesn’t seem like a very significant episode and feels more like your typical sitcom fare. Edith is late getting home from the grocery store, and when she finally does arrive, she reveals her responsibility for causing damage to another customer’s car with her cart. It’s only when Archie learns that she left a slip of paper with an apology and their home address that he blows his lid. It continues the portrayal of Archie as an old skinflint. Archie explains his frustration and paranoia as an expectation that whoever the owner is will show up asking for an inflated estimate on repairs. Edith holds fast in her view that humanity is inherently good and that they will not be taken advantage of.

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TV Review – The Best of All in the Family Part 1

Meet the Bunkers (Original Airdate: January 12, 1971)
Written by Norman Lear
Directed by John Rich

It began as Til Death Do Us Part, a British sitcom. The premise is nearly identical with the main difference being moving the setting from the East End of London to the borough of Queens in New York City. Norman Lear came across an article on the British series, and he was reminded of the relationship between his own mother and father. The arrival of All in the Family on CBS marked a significant shift in the tone of programming. Previously the network was peppered with shows like Andy Griffith and The Beverly Hillbillies. All in the Family was not a show that made you feel cozy, and it intentionally challenged small-minded viewers confronting them with a different side of the argument than they were used to being exposed to. 

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Post-Stranger Things 3 Movie Marathon

Stranger Things is an unabashed recycler of 1980s movie tropes, so it is worth our time to explore the films that inspired the show. It’s easy to see the influences of Steven Spielberg, Dungeons & Dragons, Stephen King, and George Lucas in the show, but here are some inspirations that are not in the mainstream public sphere quite as much.

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Movie Review – Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (2011)
Written by Bridget O’Conner & Peter Straughan
Directed by Tomas Alfredson

In 1973, Control (John Hurt), the head of British intelligence sends Agent Jim Prideaux (Mark Strong) to Hungary to speak with a general claiming a desire to defect to the West. Prideaux is shot when things go bad, and Control is forced to step down. Retiring alongside him is George Smiley (Gary Oldman), his longtime right-hand man. Shortly after Control passes away and Smiley’s wife leaves him (again). The twilight years appear to be a dark road ahead. Ricki Tarr (Tom Hardy) is a spy for the agency who has now gone AWOL and communicated with the prime minister’s office that there is a mole for the Soviets within the Circus (the nickname for intelligence). Smiley is pulled out of retirement to run a black ops investigation into the very leadership of Britain’s intelligence service, sussing out if the new head (Toby Jones) or his lieutenants are using their position to funnel sensitive information to the enemy. The deep Smiley goes the more he realizes that he’s lost himself in a world of paranoia and mistrust.

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Movie Review – Real Life

Real Life (1979)
Written Albert Brooks, Monica Johnson, and Harry Shearer
Directed by Albert Brooks

Albert Brooks is making a movie! Inspired by the success of the PBS docu-series “An American Family,” Brooks wants to helm an epic documentary film that follows the most average American family possible throughout one year of their lives. After a series of convoluted tests, a family is chosen: The Yeagers of Phoenix, Arizona. Brooks constantly tells this nuclear family that he will be a fly on the wall, an invisible scribe of their lives and immediately upends that by employing some of the most intrusive cameras ever imagined. As the family doesn’t deliver the drama, Brooks has expected he begins to interfere and create conflict where there is none. All the while the psychologists assigned to monitor the production are growing upset with how Brooks is possibly harming this family as he seeks to create something that isn’t quite real life.

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Movie Review – All the President’s Men

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All the President’s Men (1976)
Written by William Goldman
Directed Alan J. Pakula

all presidents men

On June 17, 1972, a security guard at the Watergate Hotel in Washington D.C. reported a break-in. Police arrived and found five men who had burglarized the Democratic National Committee headquarters there with the intent to wiretap the phones and offices. Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward is covering the early morning arraignment of the burglars and learns they already had counsel on retainer with signs pointing to a more powerful organization behind them. Fellow reporter Carl Bernstein is put on the story with Woodward, and they unravel a conspiracy that seems to trace back to the Committee to Re-Elect President Nixon. Millions of dollars have traded hands, and employees of the campaign are afraid to talk, alluding to threats against them. What have Woodward & Bernstein uncovered and how will it affect the nation going forward?

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Movie Review – The Candidate

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The Candidate (1972)
Written by Jeremy Larner
Directed by Michael Ritchie

the candidate

Marvin Lucas is an election specialist looking for a viable Democratic candidate to oppose incumbent California Republican Crocker Jarman. Lucas finds his candidate in Bill McKay, a lawyer, and advocate for some liberal causes (labor, desegregation, environmentalism). McKay is promised that Jarman will inevitably win and the young man can speak his mind. Lucas just wants an opposing voice in the race. However, McKay begins to find himself being tweaked and shaped by a political machine that is interested in appealing to an open center. This results in the lawyer speaking platitudes he fundamentally disagrees with. As the countdown nears to election day, McKay finds himself increasingly at odds with Lucas and his poll numbers rising.

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