Wednesday, November 18, 2020

TV: Looking back

In B POSITIVE, Drew (Thomas Middleditch) needs a favor from someone he knew in high school -- actually, he needs a kidney from Gina (Annaleigh Ashford).  She volunteers but, for it to work, she's going to need three months where she's drug free -- booze, pot, pills, everything.  This leads to conflict when, the day after promising she's done with all drugs, he finds her after a bender.

Drew: I knew I couldn't count on you.  You were a train wreck back in high school and you are a train wreck now.

Gina:  That is not fair! I was not this bad in high school.


Memory is a funny thing.  



Sometimes we get things wrong.  Not always intentionally, we get it wrong.  For example, when playwright and critic Bonnie Greer decided to participate in the British series THE DIRECTORS, she probably just thought she'd be weighing in each episode about a particular director and offering opinions which were solid or questionable.  She probably never thought that, as she summarized a film, she'd have viewers wondering, "Did she even watch?"  They have to wonder that if they've watched her film because her synopsis was flat out wrong.

Betrayed in front of the world by her own memory.  

It happens.  Probably, it happens more often than we know.  But at least Bonnie made a mistake.  As some attempt to chronicle the past, we're left scratching our heads over how they repeatedly get it s wrong and the obvious conclusion is that they're just too sloppy or too stupid to get it right. 

We're thinking of THE GREAT ROCK BIBLE -- have you heard of it?  

It's a piece of crap, it's garbage and nothing more.  'Critic' Martin C. Strong tries to pretend that (a) he's doing something of value and (b) something novel.  It's nothing new.  In fact, he's copying what Lillian Roxon did with LILLIAN ROXON'S ROCK ENCYCLOPEDIA   The book, published when Strong was nine-years-old, set a standard that many have copied -- and copied long before Strong got around to copying it.  It's a standard, a classic, to this day.  

Working to erase the accomplishments of Lillian -- and aided by sexist liars like Robert Christgau, Strong pretends he's doing something of value and something worthwhile.  

Reality?  He's erasing women's accomplishments, that's what he's doing.  And it's not just Lillian he's erasing.  The project pops up online with the 'chapters' then popping up in bad book form.

Pick any chapter, at random, and you'll marvel over how women's accomplishments get erased and ignored.  

Take the entry on the Mamas and the Papas.  Michelle Phillips co-wrote "California Dreamin'," but you'd never know that from Strong's bad writing which credits only John Phillips for writing the song.  In the entry, he does manage to note that Denny Doherty co-wrote "I Saw Her Again Last Night" with John but he never notes Michelle's co-writing of songs -- even when the songs are mentioned: "California Dreamin'," "Hey Girl" and "Creeque Alley."  For the record, something Strong is not concerned with, Michelle also co-wrote "String Man," "Free Advice," "I Wanna Be A Star" and "Trip, Stumble and Fall."  When not erasing the accomplishments of Michelle, Strong just invents lies.  See if you can find the lies in this passage he writes about the group after Cass Elliot has died:


In 1982, the three remaining members re-grouped with a new singer, Spanky McFarlane (ex-SPANKY & OUR GANG); but there were no releases. Michelle had already begun an acting career (she starred in 1973’s Dillinger movie and Ken Russell’s 1977 bio-pic, Valentino); she subsequently took a top role in TV-soap drama, Knots Landing, among other parts.


Uh, no.  


Strong shouldn't be allowed near a keyboard. After 1971's PEOPLE LIKE US, Michelle was done with the group.  John Phillips had no future after his conviction for drug trafficking so, when he was released from prison in the early 80s, he started The New Mamas and the Papas -- that's the group Strong's writing about.  Michelle didn't disgrace herself by joining that group.  Denny was in and out of it.  Michelle's role was filled by John's daughter and some-time sexual partner Mackenzie Phillips.  Repeating, despite Strong's lie, Michelle Phillips never was part of The New Mamas and the Papas and ceased recording with the group in 1971.

Cass?  This is how he covers Cass' solo career "MAMA CASS having her fair share of success through working with DAVE MASON (ex-TRAFFIC)."  She doesn't even rate a sentence -- we pulled that from a sentence about Cass, Michelle and John.  Cass had hits but you won't know that from Strong.  He only emphasizes an album that Cass did with a man.  Strange, isn't it?  In 1971, two singles were released from Cass and Dave Mason.  They didn't chart -- not in the US, not in the UK, not in Canada, not in Australia . . .  "Success" with Dave Mason?  No.

Cass did have a successful solo career.  "Dream A Little Dream Of Me" was released as a single credited to Mama Cass with the Mamas and the Papas.  It is from the album THE PAPAS AND THE MAMAS.  It was the start of Cass' solo career.  Despite lies and claims to the contrary, her hit single is not the one on her first solo album entitled DREAM  A LITTLE DREAM OF ME.  The version that appears on that album was re-recorded after it was already a hit single.  If that's too much for the deeply stupid, if hearing the song and the thunderclaps and other noise on the track doesn't break down reality to you, then check out the album credits and you'll note that Michelle, Denny and John are not listed.  That's because they're not singing on Cass' album.  The version on her debut album is not the version that climbed the charts.  

Cass would go on to chart as a solo artist with songs such as "California Earthquake," "It's Getting Better," "Make Your Own Kind Of Music," "Move In A Little Closer Baby," "New World Coming," "A Song That Never Comes," "The Good Times Are Coming" and "Don't Let The Good Life Pass You By."  Those are Cass' hits and they have nothing to do with Dave Mason.

Strong also wants to tell you "while movie score-bound JOHN PHILLIPS issued a rare LP" -- huh?  John scored THE MAN WHO FELL TO EARTH.  That's one movie.  Cass sang several film tracks.  "The Good Times Are Coming" is for the film MONTE WALSH, "The Costume Ball" is for the film THE DOCTORS and she sang "Different" for the film PUFNSTUF -- a film she also acted in.  Cass also hosted two primetime variety specials, she also hosted THE MIDNIGHT SPECIAL, she hosted GET IT TOGETHER, she hosted MUSIC SCENE, she acted in the TV movie SAGA OF SONORA and an episode of YOUNG DOCTOR KILDARE, she guested on THE CAROL BURNETT SHOW (six episodes), THE JULIE ANDREWS SHOW (four episodes), THE KEN BERRY 'WOW' SHOW, THE ANDY WILLIAMS SHOW (six episodes), THE DON KNOTTS SHOW, IT'S LULU (two episodes), THE ROSEY GRIER SHOW, THE JOHNNY CASH SHOW (three episodes), THE RAY STEVENS SHOW (five episodes), THE SMOTHERS BROTHERS COMEDY HOUR (two episodes), THIS IS TOM JONES (two episodes), she appeared on numerous talk shows including DINAH'S PLACE, THE MERV GRIFFIN SHOW, THE MIKE DOUGLAS SHOW (which she also co-hosted), 24 episodes of THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JOHNNY CARSON (as guest and also as a host), she voiced herself in an episode of THE NEW SCOOBY-DOO MOVIES . . .

 She did all of that -- and guesting on games shows like HOLLYWOOD SQUARES and MATCH GAME and performing live -- after leaving the group and before dying six years later.  but Strong -- while crediting John Phillips with a career in film scoring -- reduces Cass' entire solo output to one album she recorded with a man.


The errors abound in all the entries -- especially when they're women.  Diana Ross served two days in jail not, as he claims, "a 2-day sentence in prison" -- interesting enough, while we can and do note John Phillips went to prison (for drug trafficking), Strong can't be bothered.  John Phillips was sentenced for drug trafficking.  He went to prison.  How is that -- or his incestuous relationship with his daughter Mackenzie -- not news but Diana's two-day jail stint is turned into time in prison?  We've dealt with facts in our critique but it's also true that Strong's opinions are misogynistic and favor men over women repeatedly (he's especially prurient when it comes to women sleeping with men but not, please note, when the emphasis is on men sleeping with women).  Grasp also that these bad web entries are then put into book form and get praised by (male) critics.  

Strong's creating false memories and shame on him as well as on anyone foolish to praise his nonsense.

Nonsense is B POSITIVE and we mean that in a good way.  The CBS sitcom has aired two episodes and already has the building blocks for a solid half-hour series.  We weren't thrilled with THE BIG BANG THEORY when it debuted.  The show that satisfied would come along after characters like Bernadette were added to the mix.  But B POSITIVE already has a very strong cast which includes Sara Rue as Drew's ex-wife, Linda Lavin, Darryl Stephens, Bernie Koppell and Kether Donohue.  It especially includes Middleditch and Ashford who already have a strong chemistry and play off one another like an experienced comedic team. 

Given time to develop, B POSITIVE could turn out to be something we all look back on as a wonderful moment in TV history.  Then again, maybe not.  That's the thing about memory, it's tricky.




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