Archive for February, 2012

Title script for Stingray TV show

Title Image

Image of DVD

Image of DVD

As a Valentine’s Day treat, Hil let me buy a DVD.  I chose “Stingray“, and picked it up online for a very reasonable $8 for 24 episodes (supposedly two seasons).  Actually, the show aired its pilot in 1985, ran eight episodes in 1986 and then the last fifteen in 1987.  The pilot is a two-hour episode (run time, with commercials), so the set is advertised as 25 episodes.
The series is about a man named Ray (played by Nick Mancuso), who hires out his services to those in need, in exchange for a favor to be claimed sometime in the future.  The show is supposed to be based in Los Angeles and the first season is shot there.  It looks to me though, as if the second season is shot mostly in Canada.  The creator / producer of the show, Steven J. Cannell, created his own production company and moved it to Canada to create some separation from the major LA studio system which he felt had too much influence on his work.  Cannell is more famous for some of his other series, including “The A-Team“, “Baretta“, “21 Jump Street“, “Hunter” and “The Rockford Files“.  Cannell recently (September 2010)  passed away from cancer.  (You can find his tribute site here.)  Cannell created over 40 TV pilots which became series.
Ray (short for Raymond, not Stingray) is a Vietnam veteran, former CIA operative, martial arts expert and computer/electronics expert.  He is also supposed to be an excellent actor, or more precisely, role player – as he slips in and out of characters needed to assist whomever his current client is for the episode.  Ray finds his clients by advertising in the newspaper offering his 1965 Stingray (one of the “stars” of the show in any age) for barter only, to the right person.  The car is ultra cool.  Still.  As mentioned above, the barter is for your future favor.
Anyway, I really enjoyed the show way back when and watching the whole 24 episodes reminded me why I loved it and (ultimately) why it was cancelled.  I would say about five of the episodes are excellent TV (action and story), five are above average (action or story), five are average (but enjoyable), and the remaining nine are almost painful to watch.  Several of them seem to be actual parodies of the series or so implausible as to be parodies.  There are even instances when you can see the microphone boom dip into camera view.  That’s how bad the show got at some points.  The other thing I found interesting about the show was the credits ran with photos of out-takes.  This was unique in its day and I’m not sure I’ve seen it in many other series either.  It definitely destroys the illusion of reality created by the “hero series”.  On the other hand, it makes the show feel intimate in a way that seems to have been a forerunner of the out-takes and extra features we now expect to find on purchased DVD’s.
Although I really liked Mancuso in this role, he more or less completely fell off of my radar after this series.  The only other thing I remember him in is as the weaselly CIA guy in “Under Seige“.
Finally, the show reeks of 80’s fashion / cool – clothes, hairdos, images of the cities, etc.  It’s on a par with “Miami Vice” on that level, although Miami Vice was MUCH better at using popular music to capture the spirit of the show.  Stingray’s music are pop-rock, but created for the show and not general hits from the airways.
I don’t know if the series is run on Hulu or Netflix, but if it is, it’s definitely worth checking out.  Alternatively, for $8 (plus shipping), you’ll not go far wrong  just buying the series.  In case you’re wondering what brought the show to mind.  There’s a guy down the street who owns a mid-60’s Corvette (but his is fire-engine red).  Pure serendipity…


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No cord or cable can draw so forcibly, or bind so fast, as love can do with only a single thread.

—  Robert Burton


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You must have a room, or a certain hour or so a day, when you don’t know what was in the newspapers that morning, you don’t know who your friends are, you don’t know what you owe anybody, you don’t know what anybody owes to you.  This is a place where you can simply experience and bring forth what you are and what you might be.  This is the place of creative incubation.  At first, you may find that nothing happens there.  But if you have a sacred place and use it, something eventually will happen.

—  Joseph Campbell

[Is anybody else flashing back to “In My Room“, by the Beach Boys?  —  KMAB]


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A lot of leadership is based on the ability to see how all humanity is related, how all parts of society are related, and how things move in the same direction.

—  Warren Bennis
from his book: “On Becoming A Leader


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This week I completed the last four books in the John Carter of Mars series written by Edgar Rice Burroughs.  The books are titled: “Swords Of Mars” (#8) (1934©);  “Synthetic Men Of Mars” (#9) (1939©);  “Llana Of Gathol” (#10) (1948©) – originally published in four novelettes in 1941; and, “John Carter Of Mars” (#11) (1964©) – published posthumously.

As mentioned in previous blogs, this was a series recommended to me by an Army roommate, way back in the mid-1970’s, which I’ve just gotten around to reading.  I read the first one back then, but never got around to the rest.  About two years ago, I looked at them and said to myself, “Enough already, just read them…”  I re-read the first and burrowed (pun intended) through the next four.  I then got bored and put the rest aside, until last year when I read number six.  It still didn’t catch my taste, so I again put the rest aside.  Now, with the movie coming out next month, I decided (again) to bite the bullet and complete the series.  I read number seven last week.  Now I’ve completed the rest. 

In a way, it’s a strange feeling to carry a series of books around for 30-plus years (over half your lifetime) and then finally to complete reading them.  Kind of a combination of accomplishment and loss at the same time. 

Here’s the full list from the series:
1)  “A Princess Of Mars” (1912©);  John Carter wakes up on Mars, meets his future spouse (Dejah Thoris) and a lifelong green Martian friend (Tars Tarkas).
2) “The Gods Of Mars” (1913©);  John Carter discovers the Gods of Mars are legends of evil men.
3) “Warlord Of Mars” (1913©);   John Carter (again) saves Dejah Thoris and ultimately becomes Warlord of Helium (and Mars).
4) “Thuvia, Maid Of Mars” (1963©);  Carthoris (John Carter’s son) must rescue his future spouse; originally published in 1916.
5) “The Chessmen Of Mars” (1922©);  The story of Tara of Helium (John Carter’s daughter) and her spouse (Gahan of Gathol).
6) “The Master Mind Of Mars” (1963©);  A second Earthling (Ulysses Paxton) comes to Mars, becomes Vad Varo and must rescue his future spouse.  Originally published in 1927.
7) “A Fighting Man Of Mars” (1930©);  Tan Hadron of Hastor meets and saves his spouse, a slave girl who is actually a princess.
8) “Swords Of Mars” (1935©);  John Carter must save Dejah Thors (yet again), but at least he’s back to being a main character…
9) “Synthetic Men Of Mars” (1939©);  Vor Daj (one of John Carter’s lieutenants) must save his future spouse.
10) “Llana Of Gathol” (1948©);  first published in 1941 as a serial format as four separate stories; Llana (John Carter’s grand-daugther) meets and must be saved by her future spouse.
11) “John Carter Of Mars” (1964©);  two novelettes consolidated into a single book and published posthumously;  John Carter fights another “super-intelligent” synthetic man who has (in turn) created a giant synthetic man of his own; and, the start of a new series which starts a war with the inhabitants of Jupiter.  The series is never completed due to the death of Edgar Rice Burroughs.  The two works were originally published separately in 1941 and 1943 respectively.

The first three volumes make up one complete story.  They are pretty good to very good.  The middle section, volumes four through seven are so-so.  The last four are pretty good again.  Are any of them “realistic”?  No more than the “StarWars” or “Indiana Jones” movies.  Are they entertaining anyway?  Yeah, they are.  I’m very much looking forward to the movie release on 9 March 2012 of the first book.  They are supposed to make the trilogy if the first movie is a big enough hit.  Here’s to smash hits…!!!

One interesting final note: there was approximately 30 years between the publishing of the first volume and the last one.  It is ironic that it took me a similar length of time to go from one to eleven.


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It’s okay to make mistakes, as long as you make them in good conscience and you’re doing the best you can at that moment. …I’m not afraid to make a mistake, and I’m not afraid to say afterward, ‘Boy, that was a mistake.  Let’s try something else.’  I think that wins people over.  Now, I don’t make mistakes purposely to win people over, but when I make one, I admit it.  I can also say, ‘You have a better idea than I have.  Let’s do your idea.’  I don’t second-guess people.  If I hire you to do something, I let you do it.

—  Barbara Corday
American television executive, writer and producer with CBS Television mainly known for co-creating the television series Cagney & Lacey
as quoted in “On Becoming A Leader” by Warren Bennis

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Are You Really Good?

A really good actor has got to be capable of making an enormous fool out of himself.  Otherwise, no original work gets done.

—  Sydney Pollack


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