My Top Five: Superheroes

Superheroes are big business these days, what with movies and TV shows and, of course, the comic book adventures that have delighted fanboys for decades. But public broadcasting also has a history of superhero characters in various forms. So here are my TOP FIVE PUBLIC BROADCASTING SUPERHEROES.

5) SUPER GROVER – Super Grover (now Super Grover 2.0) is Sesame Street’s well-meaning but inept hero who is “faster than lightning, stronger than steel, smarter than a speeding bullet” (and cute too). Certainly Grover was one of my favorite Muppets as a kid so it’s only natural his superhero persona would be as well. And anyone who can rock a visored helmet and cape like he does gets a thumbs up in my book. Continue reading

Monday Montage

What’s happening, what’s on and what’s interesting this week …

After five years of war in Syria, the remaining citizens of Aleppo are readying themselves for a siege. Through the volunteers known as the White Helmets, experience firsthand the daily struggle for sanity in a country at war. Join POV for Last Men In Aleppo – tonight at 10 on UNC-TV.

Spider-Man: Homecoming is the number one movie in the country. Why is that important? Well, I could say it’s nice to see an Electric Company regular make it big besides Morgan Freeman. But the real reason is to celebrate Tom Holland’s success. The actor (who stars as Peter Parker and Spider-Man) may be recognizable to UNC-TV viewers as Gregory Cromwell in Wolf Hall.

Traverse the Arctic wilderness and African bush as scientific teams utilize new technology to track caribou, zebras and elephants as they overcome obstacles and face fearless predators on their epic journeys. catch the premiere of Nature’s Great Race – Wednesday at 9pm on UNC-TV.

Speaking of Marvel movies, Benedict Cumberbatch took a day off from filming the next two Avengers movies to spend some time in Atlanta with a fine feathered friend.

Monty Python fans, take heed! Michael Palin returns to television in a dramatic turn as an elderly man who becomes the sole witness to a violent death. Tune in for the gripping new mini-series Remember Me – beginning Sunday night at 10 on UNC-TV. [Check out this New York Times article about Palin’s role.] Continue reading

My Top Five: Kids Show Theme Songs

Since the beginning, kids shows have been a staple of PBS programming. If you grew up watching them, you know full well how catchy the theme songs to most kids shows are. And these are theme songs that still resonate decades after you watched them as a kid. That’s why I put together MY TOP FIVE in the following category: Kids Show Theme Songs.

5. The Electric Company – “HEY, YOU GUYS!!!!” I’m talking about the 1970s version here (nothing against the newer one). It’s groovy and poppy and so energetic (befitting, of course, its source).

4. Wishbone – He’s the little dog with the big imagination and he’s got a great theme. What’s the story? The story is I’ll find myself singing this cute, catchy ditty without prompting.

3. Bill Nye The Science Guy – If you know that science rules, you’ve probably caught the Science Guy in action back in the 90s. That electropop theme almost seems like a dance remix of another theme, which is pretty cool. And though it hasn’t been necessary yet, I am ever ready to chant “Bill! Bill! Bill! Bill!” at the drop of a hat. Continue reading

RIP Gene Wilder (1933-2016)

Late yesterday, I discovered the sad news that Gene Wilder had died. The beloved actor passed away Sunday in his Stamford, Connecticut home from complications from Alzheimer’s disease.

Like most, I remember Wilder as the titular eccentric chocolatier in the 1971 film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and from his exceptional roles in multiple Mel Brooks movies (The Producers, Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles). As a film buff, I even take note of his appearances in feature films like Bonnie and Clyde and The Little Prince. Plus, he was a perfect comedic partner for the late Richard Pryor in movies like Silver Streak and Stir Crazy, among others.

However – and the reason I’m mentioning him in a blog about public broadcasting – I will always fondly recall Gene Wilder as the voice of the heroic Letterman on the 1970s kids show The Electric Company. You remember: “Faster than a rolling O – Stronger than silent E – Able to leap capital T in a single bound! It’s a word, it’s a plan…it’s Letterman!” Yes, that Letterman! The wonderful animated “Adventures Of Letterman” wasn’t even an initial part of the show but debuted in season two. Moreover, Gene Wilder wasn’t even the sole voice of the character (apparently early installments used different voice actors) yet became singularly associated with Letterman by bestowing an affable, easy-going everyman demeanor on the hero.

Personally, I’m thankful for this oft-forgotten PBS connection. Gene Wilder was a fantastic talent and he will be sorely missed. But he leaves behind a tremendous legacy of film, television and more.