Add to My Yahoo! Add to Google Subscribe with Bloglines Subscribe in NewsGator Online


Curious thing about the opening words at Disney's Haunted Mansion...
Blog, TV, Parks
Posted on May 23 2013 by Greg
Through sight and sound and faceless terror
Through endless corridors by trial and error
Ahead a blazing light does burn
And one door leads to the point of return.

These are the opening words at the Haunted Mansion at Magic Kingdom and Disneyland, right?

No, these are the words the Ghost Host (Paul Frees) speaks:

When hinges creak in doorless chambers
And strange and frighening sounds echo through the halls
Whenever candlelights flicker and the air is deathly still
That is the time when ghosts are present
Practicing their terror in ghoulish delight.

What about the other words? They seem so similar.

Dark Shadows fans will immediately recognize the verse as part of the infamous Dream Curse, one of the story arcs in the popular ABC daytime horror/fantasy soap opera. It's not considered one of the best storylines in the series, as it's a pretty cheesy plot (and I really like the show). The dreams are kind of funny rather than terrifying and they begin on Volume 7 of the Dark Shadows Collection DVD series.

The first time viewers heard these words were on April 24, 1968. The Haunted Mansion opened on August 9, 1969. Could the Disney Imagineers been influenced by a hit TV show that a lot of people were watching over a year before the attraction opened?

I couldn't say, but it's pretty interesting, no?

Mcstuffed with a healthy dose of imagination
Blog, TV
Posted on May 08 2013 by Greg
The word "interactive" is tossed around in the entertainment world constantly, as established media faces off with online and other new markets, but Doc McStuffins delivers in a very special way.

McStuffins doesn't have the "pause and wait for answer" feature of such shows as Dora the Explorer, Blue's Clues and even Disney's Mickey Mouse Clubhouse. The interaction happens when -- hopefully at some time during the day -- the TV is turned off and kids begin to play on their own. Doc McStuffins is such an approachable concept, young girls and boys can let their imaginations take off, just as they see on this show.

The premise is that Doc solves problems, fixes toys and cures plush, as her toys come to life in her imagination. This is the kind of thing that is healthy and addresses the concerns about watching too much TV. Basic health and wellness issues are also woven into the stories.

This DVD, "Time for Your Checkup," contains these four two-segment episodes from the first season:

Episode 3
Tea Party Tantrum / Blast Off!
March 26, 2012

Episode 5
Gulpy, Gulpy Gators! / One Note Wonder
March 28, 2012

Episode 6
Arcade Escapade / Starry, Starry Night
March 29, 2012

Episode 26
Bronto Boo-Boos/Brontosaurus Breath
May 3, 2013

Episode 22 Doctoring the Doc / Hot Pursuit
August 17, 2012

This DVD is the second release, the first being entitled "Friendship is the Best Medicine," containing five two-segment episodes.

Uncovering the truth behind psychedelic color of the '60s
Blog, TV
Posted on May 04 2013 by Greg
Renowned writer Ken Levine and (on Facebook) Jeanine Kasun of recently shared this rare "I Love Lucy" footage. It's one of many bonus features on the I Love Lucy Seasons 7-9 DVD set (which is actually The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour, which was actually The Westinghouse Lucille Ball-Desi Arnaz Show.

Several comments arose about whether black and white TV shows were designed for black and white viewing -- even though the sets and costumes were in color when they were shot.

Watching the Lucy footage again, I don't think there's much of a question as to whether the set and costume colors were selected for their look in black and white.

Even though the film is faded, the colors clearly are not created for the studio audience -- just as color programs in the mid-60s are kaleidoscopic to make the most of it -- including tinting Lucille Ball's hair to a specific orange for the cameras and lighting.

How is this for a theory -- did the psycho-delic look of the late 60s evolve from the counterculture, or from the advent of color TV?

Walt Disney changed the name of his show to the Wonderful World of Color in 1961 and moved to NBC, so he would have a color show and NBC/RCA could sell color more TV's. And look at how everyone dresses in one of those musical "Honeymooners" episodes for example.

Were the 60's really about groovin' to Peter Max, or marketing Max Factor?

In a world we pass through every day yet seldom notice...
Blog, Movies
Posted on Apr 23 2013 by Greg
"Life depends on little things we take for granted." This opening title sets the stage for another of those jewels of natural filmmaking in the Disneynature series -- a series that deserves all the attention of tentpole blockbusters but are released quietly on Blu-ray/DVD and perhaps in a few theaters.

The latest is called Wings of Life, a title that barely encompasses the depth of what you experience in this brilliant film, shot in razor-sharp clarity, even when capturing microscopic miracles.

The title implies birds, but the story is about insects and flowers. Narrator Meryl Streep's words are those of the plants, trees and flowers, explaining in first person how they all interact with each other.

"One might imagine that the most important life forms are large or flashy or smart," narrates Streep, "But it is love among the little things that runs the vast machinery of life." How true this is. (read my review of Lincoln for this same concept on a human level, as applied to the muckety-mucks and the folks in the trenches).

From bees to bats, hummingbirds to beetles (Paul is the cute one), the creatures are part of a spectacular spectrum of survival, balance and innate skill.

To me, the stars of the film are butterflies. There is one sequence in which what appears to be milliions of butterflies burst from trees and settle in the grasses. It must be seen to be believed.

None of this is done with CG or special effects, yet it is every bit as astonishing as a megablockbuster movie -- albeit with a soothing, ethereal tone, due in no small part to Streep, whose superb narration comes as no surprise to those of us who love her recording of The Velveteen Rabbit with pianist/composer George Winston.

No extras to speak of, unfortunately, since seeing how this was filmed would be fascinating. No matter, the color and majesty makes Wings of Life like a naturalistic Fantasia.

One of The Most Unique Animated Features of Recent Years
Blog, Movies
Posted on Apr 16 2013 by Greg

I have to admit that I didn't know what to expect from A Monster in Paris, a French production that combines story elements from The Phantom of the Opera, Hugo, Frankenstein, King Kong, Moulin Rouge and La Vie En Rose. If that sounds like a mixed bag, it is, but somehow director Bergeron and screenwriter Stéphane Kazandjian make it work.

Even though the film recalls to mind some other works, it is one of the most unique animated features of recent years because it doesn't conform to the most common formulas, except perhaps after the leading lady (voiced by Johnny Depp's ex-partner, Vanessa Paradis) discovers the true nature of the monster -- and at one point, she says almost exactly the same thing Belle did to Gaston about who the real monster was.

What sets it apart is the delightfully odd character design, ranging from broad caricature to an almost Rankin/Bass look. More than that, this is not your garden variety musical film. There are very few songs, in fact, and most originate on a stage setting. But Sean Lennon, who voices the creature, sings some very unconventional songs (as does Ms. Paradis) that are hard to describe unless you hear them -- Danny Elfman but not as dark, The Beatles but softer, Edith Piaf without suicidal tendencies. The most conventional pop song comes at the end, perhaps the one designed for airplay as so many such songs are.

The music, like the dialogue, doesn't always stay true to the early 20th century French style so meticulously rendered in the visuals. Perhaps that was intentional too, as the story transcends its time and could have happened today as well as yesterday.

Before I get to the other characters, I have to mention Catherine, who is a rickety delivery truck so dilapidated it can't decide which way to fall. Catherine isn't anthropomorphic, yet she steals the scenes in which she rattles along. She is driven by insufferably narcissistic Raoul (actor/musician Adam Goldberg), with his shy assistant, the film-loving Emile (Jay Harrington of Hot in Cleveland).

The film does not rely on star voices. The most recognizable names in the cast are solid featured actors like Catherine O'Hara, Bob Balaban and John Huston's son Danny.

The Blu-ray looks marvelous, capturing both the color and the grime of urban Paris, and though released in 3-D it holds up well without it, as there aren't a lot of scenes dependent on it.

Sure would have been nice to have lots of bonus features, even if they had subtitles, as the Ghibli discs have. It is an artistically rich film and seeing a gallery might have been nice. There doesn't even seem to be a French language option. But budgets are an issue today, and it's nice to have the film anyway.

<< Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 Next >>















Home | About Us | Contact Us | Book Purchase | News & Events | Blog Tracks | Greg's Picks | Links

Mouse Tracks - The Story of Walt Disney Records