TV Review – Best of Star Trek: The Next Generation Part 1

When Star Trek was canceled by NBC in the late 1960s, it seemed like its revival was an inevitability. As early as 1972, there were discussions about a film, and by 1977, it was decided to make a revival television series starring the original cast. Another change in mind led to the Star Trek film series that kicked off in 1980 and led to Wrath of Khan and the following pictures. The popularity of the Star Trek movies led Paramount pictures to plan for a new series with creator Gene Rodenberry coming on board after seeing some disappointing early ideas. By September 1987, Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered in syndication. The show would go for a longer run than its predecessor and gain a fanbase that rivaled the original series.

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TV Review – Joe Pera Talks With You

Joe Pera Talks With You Season 1 (Adult Swim)
Written by Joe Pera, Connor O’Malley, Jo Firestone, Amalia Levari, and Dan Licata
Directed by Marty Schousboe

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is a fascinating cultural anomaly, part of a state yet physically separate. The Yoopers have been shaped by a brutally cold winter landscape. There’s a strong sense of independence because of their geographic isolation. They take pleasure in the sports and activities of winter because it lasts nearly eight months for them in some years. This isn’t a barren wasteland though, Yoopers have a rich culture of arts, food, and even a quirky sense of humor. Joe Pera was born in Ithaca, New York, but is based out of Michigan now.

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TV Review – Best of All in the Family Finale

Cousin Liz (Original airdate: October 9, 1977)
Written by Barry Harman, Harve Brosten, Bob Weiskopf, and Bob Schiller
Directed by Paul Bogart

Yet another cousin is introduced, this one has passed away off-screen. She’s from Edith’s side of the family, so she and Archie schlep out of Queens to attend the funeral and reception afterward. Liz was never married and had no children. Her closest relationship was with her friend and roommate Veronica. Veronica is deeply distraught over her loss and eventually confides in Edith that she and Liz were not roommates but partners, living as a married couple. Edith is stunned at first but quickly accepts this idea, telling Veronica she will let her keep a tea set that was initially bequeathed to Edith. Mrs. Bunker has immediate empathy and doesn’t see Liz and Veronica’s love as any different than she and Archie’s.

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TV Review – Best of All in the Family Part 6

Archie the Hero (Original airdate: September 29th, 1975)
Written by Lou Derman & Bill Davenport
Directed by Paul Bogart

LGBTQ representation on television at the time of All in the Family was a mixed bag of either complete absence or as a villain and predatory. It was even worse when the idea of crossdressing or transvestitism came into the picture. At the time Archie the Hero aired there just wasn’t a language in the common parlance to talk about transgender people and terms got muddled with the two groups mentioned previously. Despite the confusion and lack of education, this is a part of a trilogy of episodes that handled the idea of non-conforming gender with a surprising amount of empathy.

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TV Review – Best of All in the Family Part 5

The Bunkers and Inflation Part 1 (Original airdate: September 14, 1974)
Written by Don Nicholl and Michael Ross & Bernie West
Directed by H. Wesley Kenney

The landscape of American life was changing drastically in the 1970s, a result of the tumultuous 1960s. There were many excellent and long-awaited changes such as desegregation & the Civil Rights Act, the women’s lib movement, and the growing acceptance of LGBT people. Economically things were getting murky, downright awful for working-class union people. This was an opening salvo by the corporate elite to weaken union power to increase their own. The speculation market was coming to power and with the 1980s looming, the salivating day traders and industry liquidators were on their mark, ready to go.

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TV Review – Best of All in the Family Part 4

Archie and the Computer (October 27th, 1973)
Written by Lloyd Turner & Gordon Mitchell and Don Nicholl
Directed by John Rich and Bob LaHendro

The story here may seem relatively familiar and, while I don’t know the exact chronology, I wouldn’t be surprised if the underlying structure had been done in other shows already at this time. It has undoubtedly been done since. Edith reveals that a computer error has been sending her a continuous rebate for a single grocery purchase and she’s been collecting the quarters in an old cigar box. Being such a good-hearted person, Edith feels guilty about this and refuses to spend the money. When Archie finds out, we see his miserly tendencies come out. The tables are flipped when a letter arrives at the Bunker home declaring Archie deceased, and he has to deal with the ensuing problems. 

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TV Review – Best of All in the Family Part 3

Archie and the Editorial (Original airdate: September 16th, 1972)
Written by Don Nicholl and George Bloom
Directed by Norman Campbell

Gun violence and mass shootings are a fairly regular part of the cable news cycle at this point. Just this week three men who planned shootings in three separate states were caught by the authorities before they were able to act. It’s only a matter of time before we see another report about people out enjoying their lives, going to school, or shopping being gunned down by someone wielding highly powerful weapons. At the time this episode of All in the Family aired the nation. New York City, in particular, was experiencing an increase in violent crime that continued until the 1990s.

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