Monday, January 30, 2023

Just a Little Bit of Sunshine

Started off my day with a very late breakfast and Scooby Doo & Scrappy Doo on Tubi. "The Scarab Lives!" is the first episode of the series, and the one that introduces Scooby's pugnacious puppy nephew Scrappy. Shaggy is horrified when his favorite comic book hero The Blue Scarab appears, threatening his creator to stop making stories about him. He robs local businesses, following the pattern set in the Scarab's newest adventure. Shaggy's despairing of his hero turning bad, but Scrappy doesn't believe it, and the others think that someone else wants to destroy the character.

Headed out to run errands after the cartoon ended. Stopped at the Haddon Township Library first. My books were due today. Found an interesting Russian fairy tale-based trilogy by Katherine Arden; grabbed the first one, The Bear and the Nightingale. Also picked up the most recent Laura Childs Tea Shop Mystery A Dark and Stormy Tea and A Step So Grave, a recent book from an Irish series about an older female detective named Dandy Giver and her family. Finally figured out where the rest of the job hunting books were. Took out one on job hunting for people with disabilities, another on changing careers for people over 40, and another on women thinking bigger and gaining confidence.

At least the weather's considerably improved. There were still a few clouds lingering when I awoke; by 3:30, the sun was out, the sky was icy blue, and those few clouds were down to fleecy bits scuttling across the sky. I dodged traffic on Cuthbert and took the long way across Collingswood to PNC Bank. I mainly wanted to take out money for the rent, but I also made an appointment to see the guy who was supposed to be helping me with John Hancock on Thursday.

By that point, it was past 4:30, way too late for a big lunch. I stopped at WaWa for a pretzel and Matcha Mint Chocolate Chip Smoothie instead. I wasn't really all that hungry anyway, or in the mood for a big sit-down lunch.

Went straight home after that. Had an orange while watching Charlie & Lola. Lola wails "I Can't Stop Hiccuping!" when she starts up hours before she's to sing in a spring concert for school with Lotta. Charlie, Lotta, and her friends think of everything possible for her to get rid of them.

Worked on writing for a while after that. Allen's not sure he trusts Richard, whom he knows has larger ambitions than just being a co-host. Richard wants to be a host on his own, but Allen thinks he needs more experience first.

Broke for dinner at 6:30. Watched Match Game '74 while eating. Allen Ludden made his first appearance on the show, mainly to promote the then-new Password All-Stars. Richard and Gene admire Fannie Flag's Match Game '74 shirt...and Fannie gets Brett back when she makes a crack about Richard being the only one on the lower desks who doesn't have dark roots.

Things get even wilder on the syndicated episodes. In the first episode, Gene puts Bill Daily to sleep yammering about California...and everyone else but the contestants walks out, including the crew and camerapeople! (Which gives us an extremely rare view of behind the turntables and cameras.) Patty Duke kicks off the second saying "hi" in sign language. (Which she remained fluent in for the rest of her life after doing The Miracle Worker twice.) Bill's more interested in stripping off his beige plaid jacket for Charles to try on. 

Finished off the night with Condorman on Amazon Prime. Woody Wilkins (Michael Crawford) is the creator of the popular Condorman comic books. He won't write anything that isn't "realistic"...which is why he's visiting Paris and testing out his own version of his character's wings. His friend Harry (James Hampton), a desk clerk at the CIA, knows how much he wants something new for his comics and suggests he make a simple paper exchange with a CIA field agent. Despite Harry's claims that the CIA isn't glamorous, Woody encounters a KGB agent named Natalia Rambova (Barbara Carrera) when she tries to get the papers. He's so smitten with her, he writes her into his comics as "Laser Lady."

When she defects, he's the only one she'll meet with. Woody insists on the CIA creating the actual gadgets from his comics, including a cool car and boat and disguises for all of them. Natalia's ex-boyfriend, her boss Krokov (Oliver Reed), manages to grab her back anyway. Now Woody and Harry have to use all the gadgets and all of what little cunning they have, before either the KGB or the CIA or both reminds them that this is no Marvel movie!

This ran frequently on The Disney Channel and elsewhere on cable in the early-mid 1980's. My sisters and I loved it. Despite the superhero pedigree, it's really more of a James Bond/spy spoof, with Crawford trying for suave and coming off as adorably silly. Carrera makes an excellent Russian temptress, and Hampton has a good time reminding another would-be superhero about the responsibilities of his role. 

Too bad Disney's first try at the superhero genre wasn't a hit in 1981, and they don't really have much love for it today. The copy at Amazon Prime is badly grainy and washed out. The special effects haven't dated well at all - you can see all the wires when Condorman flies. Despite it being a comedy, it's still a little too violent and mildly dark to be on Disney Plus. I still recommend digging around for it if you love Crawford, have fond memories of catching it on cable or video like we do, or are looking for a superhero comedy for older elementary school kids who won't mind the obvious effects. 

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