DATELINE: Family-Based Eulogy!
Nimoy with Quinto.
A few years after the original and amazing Mr. Spock passed away, his daughter Julie has come up with a biographical documentary about Leonard Nimoy.
Such loving family portraits are often good for the soul and avoid messy scandals and unpleasant issues. There is no mention here of Nimoy’s period of hating Mr. Spock and trying to avoid the character. Instead, we see how he comes to embrace the icon and play him even in the Zachary Quinto remakes! Nimoy steals the movie.
In such a tale of life, we were surprised at what we had forgotten: Leonard was a Bostonian who grew up near old Scollay Square, though he calls it the West End and says he was a street kid in a tough neighborhood. Well, yeah, it was the red light district of Boston for years! He never reveals that!
He went to Pasadena Playhouse at 18 and stayed in California forever after that. He did return to Boston to do a few plays in later years (Fiddler on the Roof, etc.).
The early years of struggle with dozens of guest roles on TV and working as a cab driver (where he met fellow Bostonian JFK once as a passenger), are quite fascinating.
His daughter has a criticism of her father: his two-pack a day cigarette smoking that gave him COPD. It ultimately was a death knell, though he lived until 83 years with the condition.
Fans will be delighted with how this creative and versatile artist lived and worked: he was poet, director, actor, and above all else at the end, a highly emotional family man. He joked how his ancestors were aliens to America and came to this country, but he was born in America and went to Hollywood and became an alien.
Nice little film.
DATELINE: Hitchcock’s Breakdown
Trapped in his car!
“Breakdown” brought Joseph Cotten back together with his old friend Alfred Hitchcock for a half-hour television episode that would send chills down the spine of anyone thinking of driving down to Florida alone. It was supposed to be the first episode of the new TV series Alfred Hitchcock Presents…but was held back.
Once again, Hitchcock played with his words. His breakdown could be a fancy sports car in disrepair, or a man in mental exhaustion. In the case of the show, it could be a word for all seasons.
A ruthless business tycoon (Cotten) fires people over the telephone without remorse and is shocked when one accountant begins to cry piteously. Contempt is his best reaction, finding such weakness to be beneath his attention.
Yet, when a bulldozer working with a chain gang hits his car, he is left paralyzed behind the wheel, looking to the world like a dead man. The steering wheel has crushed his chest, or so concludes every witness.
Not one takes his pulse, so convinced are they of his demise. Thus begins his voice-over thoughts as he is robbed, stripped, has his identity taken, but is able to tap his finger to alert the world of his living carcass.
It is to no avail as the shroud is put over him, and he is left in a morgue. Hitchcock pulled out all the stops of fear on this one—from dying, from being buried alive, to fear of loneliness in its ultimate form.
Augurs and omens dominate the first few moments, perhaps giving a clue or two about the fate and character of Cotton’s heartless protagonist.
Cotten must act without benefit of any movement, tic, or facial acknowledgement. He is up to the task, a monumental endeavor for an actor to act dead for a half-hour TV show.
DATELINE: Out for a Walk.
So many of these so-called Nazi documentaries are secretly honoring the monsters of World War II. With reluctance, we tuned into the last episode of The Last Secrets of the Third Reich.
This mini-series is not apology for Nazis and it rightfully exposes the evil banality and shenanigans of Himmler, Rommel, and Speer, a nasty Nazi trio.
This hour-long insight into Hitler’s architect and “best friend’, surrogate son, took Albert Speer apart, piece by piece. He was the only high-ranking Nazi not to be condemned to death at Nuremburg trials. He spent 20 years in comfort in prison at Spandau, and then made millions with his apologetic autobiography.
He was a clever man who manipulated people his entire life, from Hitler to judges, down to history. He never admitted his guilt in the Holocaust though he went to Auschwitz and used slave labor on his projects to prolong the war.
He also had a secret collection of stolen art-work that he hid for decades and sold at auction in 1981. He must have known he’d escape into old age.
From being Hitler’s likely successor to being a patrician German version of the “good Nazi,” Speer spoke English like a Hollywood casting agent’s dream of a Nazi out of Stalag 17. He was reprehensible for being even more of a hypocrite and role model for Germans who didn’t know there were Nazis in their government.
Herr Professor Speer, as he was known among Nazis, owned about 30 fine artworks worth millions, and he also sold his personal sketches by Hitler. He made himself rich in retirement on the lies and dubious morality of being a contrite Nazi.
Speer spent the last free years of his life, doing a batch of interviews and rehabbing his reputation. Many bought his act, but this bio film does not let him off the hook. He was a revolting faker.
With clips of the stolen art collection, rare interviews and horrifying photos of Hitler and Speer cavorting as friends, this is one Nazi documentary that must be seen to be believed.
DATELINE: An Innocent Age
Back in 1953 for the first show of his second season, Jack Benny garnered the biggest name and biggest star of the year: Marilyn Monroe. It was called the Jack Benny Program.
As all the set-ups in the Benny program were at the expense of Jack’s delicate ego, he took the barrage of raps and insults with his usual aplomb.
You might be ready for some outdated racial profiling when Rochester showed up: Eddie Anderson always played Jack’s valet who goes with him everywhere and calls him “Boss.” Here they go to Hawaii, and we find Jack lugging all the luggage with no Rochester.
Jack sits on the dock, ready to leave, while flower leis are given to all the departing guests for their generosity, kindness, and friendship. Alas, even a dog gets a lei, but not Jack. Finally a delicatessen owner shows up and gives him a lei of chicken livers. He is warned to be careful of the seagulls.
We learn too that Jack is carrying Rochester’s luggage because he was late for the ship.
When Benny falls asleep on deck, he dreams about the star he saw that night in a ship’s nightly movie: Gentlemen Prefer Blondes megastar, Marilyn Monroe. And, in one of her designer gowns, she drops into the barcalounger recliner next to Jack in his dreams.
She professes her love for him despite their age difference. She points out she is 25 and he is 39, but in 25 years she will be 50, and he will still be 39. She is enchanted by his big blue eyes.
It was Monroe’s first TV appearance as a guest star (we don’t count her TV commercials, satirized in All About Eve). She is lovely and charming, and so is Jack.
You simply don’t have that kind of weekly series surprise, even with cable nowadays. It was a gentle treat of a bygone era, and a lovely little escape from today.
DATELINE: Tiny Speedster
The littlest birdie in the world is the hummingbird, and you have David Attenborough ready to spill the beans in the heartbeat in this documentary from 2012 called, Hummingbirds.
When in flight, their hearts beat around 1200 beats per minute. When they sleep at night, they go into a suspended animation that leaves their hearts beating 40 times per minute. It takes them half an hour in morning to wake up—and they are prime choice for predators in this condition.
They must eat every fifteen minutes to keep their prodigious lifestyle. Besides flower nectar, they go after little bugs. They avoid bees whose sting could kill them.
These remarkable mammals are the fastest, smallest, and most amazing of creatures: they came about ten million years after flowers and adapted to become the cold morning pollinator. Insects could not do the job.
The hummingbird also is the most acrobatic flier in the world: he can fly backwards and upside down, unlike any other bird. Though they seemed to be most closely tied to South America and Brazil, they moved into the Andes Mountains soon thereafter—and a micro-version went to North America.
They must eat every 15 minutes to keep up their energy, but there are so many mysteries about how they live, no scientist can say for sure.
They migrate thousands of miles to Texas each year—and then must fatten up to make a flight across the Gulf of Mexico where there is no rest, no food, and no information on how they do it.
But this film is stunning for the beauty of the birds that have iridescent feathers that explode in color when they are combative. Slow motion photography grants an opportunity to see what is too fast for the human eye normally.
DATELINE: Favorite Back After Hiatus
“Serpentine Creatures,” is the new special from the old classic series Monsterquest that concluded its four-year run a few seasons ago. You can’t keep a good monster down, unless he is hiding under water.
Since Loch Ness has been done to death and debunk, the show moves on to other copycat sea creatures that have become landlocked in lakes since the dawn of prehistory.
We always liked the old series that took a serious attempt to uncover the stories behind some outlandish reports. And, now it has returned for a limited time on History Channel. Catch it for a mesmerizing few shows.
To investigate newer phenomena, the show does a ping-pong between the two coasts of Canada, ignorning Nessie and Champie entirely. We are given relatively new information about Ogopogo in British Columbia and Cressie in Newfoundland.
The theory espoused by more reputable scientists, not those who call themselves crypto-scientists, is that these are giant eels about twenty or thirty feet in length—and still ferocious.
Ogopogo is highly active with a half-dozen sightings every year still—and the show’s producers think their best chance to catch something is here. At least one expert wants to extract a tissue sample for DNA. Good luck, there.
Perhaps the best expert is author Arlene Gaal who has written three books on the subject and sounds down-to-earth and reputable.
The Monsterquest teams seem highly inept. They know what they are supposed to do, but helicopters do not arrive when called—and divers mysteriously go silent in the deep. Perhaps it is part of fake suspense for the audience, but the real result is sheer contempt for the half-baked efforts.
Oh, nothing is found—but they promise to return because you know there is a creature hiding there in the underwater caves and sinkholes. And, yes, we will likely return to watch again.
DATELINE: (well, not so secret)
Be Still, My Earth.
Though it is billed as having new information, it really has only a new and amusing perspective. The film is irreverent in many ways, through use of movie clips and the laconic narration of its clever director.
We are happy to report that, unlike many cheapskate directors who save money by doing their own voice-overs, this director is actually a fairly good voice and speaks with intelligence and drama. David Cherniak directs with aplomb. He also led the film for the recent look at Bob Lazar in late middle age, revisited. Don’t hold it against him.
UFOs: The Secret History is indeed a history, but with few secrets. It does have a plethora of marvelous clips from classic sci-fi films as part of its narrative.
His hilarious insights that are new include the notorious “pelican” theory that Kenneth Arnold in 1947 actually saw pelicans flying in formation at 1700 mph and called them saucers.
Yes, a scientist tells us this with a straight face.
When it comes to more serious matters, director David Cherniak still chooses photos that are unusual, not ones you’d see on Ancient Aliens. He does give us a a fresh take on Orson Welles, Roswell, Project Grudge, and the usual litany of UFO incidents that brought us to a wholesale government coverup.
He also plays on the notion that seeing UFOs was psychological, part of the J. Allen Hynek approach, which was code for saying the viewer of such events had a psychological problem. Even Hynek was turned into a buffoon over “swamp gas.” Well, yes, being called a nutcase is distressing.
One turning point is hardly secret: abductions of Betty and Barney Hill of New Hampshire, the template for lost time and sexual abuse by space creatures. There is no secret about the Travis Walton case, but it grabbed worldwide attention, as did the appearance of elderly Jesse Marcel who was at the Roswell crash in 1947, blowing the whistle.
If there is a secret here, that may be the hybridization plan of aliens to take over the Earth in subtle fashion by genetics. Oh, that secret…
DATELINE: Biting Audience Hand
The series may smell its own doom and climbs out of the box in which it has placed itself for two seasons: instead of video footage of UFOs, the show switched to alien abduction stories.
Lou Elizondo calls abduction of Americans an “act of war,” and an attempt to regain audience support. Like John Casey on World War 2 Gold, Lou Elizondo may be pushing out his costars. He takes the reins completely in the final two shows of the season.
The victims of close encounters are all, of course, former military non-coms who have retired and now are willing to speak their stories. Nearly all are serving at nuclear facilities when they had their bad meetings and missing time.
At least one witness adds a new wrinkle: that the UFO was gaseous with no sharp edges and had changing colors. The witness was left with odd burns from the encounter, but military tests are never shared with him.
These vets often mention black-outs and sleep paralysis.
Host Elizondo talks to one expert, Dr. Susan Clancy, who completely shreds and debunks all these witness experiences as “false memory.” Elizondo readily accepts this.
She insists that the belief of these memories is important for validation for an individual whose life is devoid of meaning. She also takes a shot at Dr. John Mack of Harvard who came to accept abduction as real.
In a last-ditch effort to throw a sop to the fans who usually are faithful to these kind of shows, Elizondo claims there are real physical effects to these witnesses. It may be too little too late.
DATELINE: Mellon as Head of Ops
We’re not sure who’s covering up what and if you think you will have clarification on this series, Unidentified, which delineates military investigators and UFO cases, you will find yourself going down (or up) another rabbit hole.
Our intrepid hosts, insiders at the Pentagon, who are tied into the Navy release of actual pilot video of mystery craft in the sky, will not exactly give you the answer you want.
This series may have just realized it is poisoning its own audience with listening to UFO drivel (or alternative theories) it never believed to begin with: the experts cited continued to say that all UFO stuff is disinformation put out over their secret programs, including drones that now shoot out of submarines and return to their source under water. It explains submerged craft or USOs.
The military apologists also contend that the radar is now filled with technical ghosts, phantoms that appear on screen but are not real to hide the real aircraft.
And the AF is playing mind games with the US Navy, taking their information after eating them up with experimental encounters with mystery UFO-but really US top secret aircraft.
If the technology is far superior to anything belonging to the US government (as host Skip to My Lu Elizondo contends), we are in big trouble. The is now on the defensive or is that offensive, attacking the government who feeds it for hiding more videos. Information at the Pentagon is now routinely confiscated by Air Force honchos, riding roughshod over other military branches.
So the series is fighting back to retain its unhappy UFO audience who are fervent believers. The hosts now claim that is is impossible that Area 51 is a base of fake UFO operations and saucers that are of this Earth, not so galaxy far far away.
We’ll see if this response is too little too late to save the series from becoming a coverup in itself.
DATELINE: Under the Earth
Brain Waves/underground acoustics?
Put Jules Verne’s Journey aside, UnXplained is taking Shatner to the center of the Earth. In the series volatile up and down quality, this episode is a gem.
This show looked at the phenomenon of underground habitations, both natural—and man-made. The first stop in Turkey uncovers a labyrinth of rooms, a city actually, that could house 20,000 people. Conservative estimates suggest it is 1000 years old, but some say it is closer to 12,000 years. Who built this before the Pyramids, and why?
If you think we don’t have the technology today to accomplish this, you haven’t heard about the multi-layers of Area 51 or the cavernous living areas of Cheyenne Mountain, both military zones.
The experts (physicists from Ancient Aliens like Drs. Travis Taylor and Mike Dennin) will tell you about a secret high-speed rail-subway system running clear across the United States.
If there is a nuclear winter, or a new ice age, the elite will be saved. The rest of us may not fare so well.
The show also visited a necropolis, an acoustic marvel in Malta where voices are enhanced, or seeming come out of the crypts of the dead. It almost sounds like Gregorian chanting from the netherworld. Actual recordings are played on this episode.
Shatner does mention Jules Verne toward the end, and his mid-19thcentury novel that may not be as fictional as some claimed. He even had a crystal world under the Earth, which has recently been discovered as real.
These giant crystals are hundreds of feet long from centuries of growth, and weigh tons. Humans cannot spend more than 15 minutes in their habitat because of heat and high humidity. You will be cooked alive.
The crystals are containers for microbes from outer space, not earthly, and they have been in suspended animation for 50,000 years inside the crystals. Uh-oh.
Subterranean worlds may be part of the “hollow Earth” syndrome, which has been dismissed by experts both as a fact here on our planet—and even the Moon.
This UnXplained was truly worth the title.
DATELINE: Nuclear Clearance
Nowhere in particular.
Malmstrom AFB in Nowehresville.
The series that consults only military sources, retired witnesses to UFOs, has a remarkable credibility. As hosted by two former government officials, you have a rudimentary sign of “official” interest.
Trying to engage senators and other elected people still seems almost impossible. They go to Washington, D.C., and suggest that high ups are not interested (Trump dismisses UFOs in one short comment).
They also consult with former Sen. Harry Reid, now ill with cancer, but a spearhead of investigation with AATIP a decade ago.
What we have here is” UFOs and Nukes”. But, the show is alarmist by saying it is UFOs versus Nukes. Is there a spy operation? A monitoring by some unknown force? The notion of UFOs seems fairly certain: ridicule aside, they are unknown flying objects. That does not mean little green men.
However, as one military expert said: they don’t obey the laws of physics, so you cannot expect them to follow the laws of politics.
There seems to be more danger from their ability to observe secret missile bases like Malmstrom in Montana. There, UFOs apparently shut down missile silos. If they can shut down your nuclear missile system, there is a problem, Houston.
And, they are also seen often around nuclear power plants on the Canadian border near Maine.
The show worries about all this, fearing something ominous. And, they ask, rather frightfully, who will be held accountable for botching this?
With more and more former military men willing to go public, this series becomes more important in the quest to determine what is going on in the universe, or right here in the U.S.
DATELINE: Horrible Ending
Start of Eruption,White Island.
This one-hour news documentary from New Zealand is not a metaphor for anything social or political. It is a real examination of a horrid tragedy in December of 2019: on White Island, one of the rare active volcanoes in the New Zealand area, erupted suddenly with tourists on the rim of the crater.
It’s a once in a lifetime chance to see a volcano blow its top up close. It’s one-time because you will not survive the experience. The news film is called Trapped in a Volcano.
White Island supports a cottage industry of interested viewers. You can reach there by boat from nearby islands, or by helicopter service (several companies flew regularly a few people willing to pay a large fee), and the Royal Carribbean ocean liners went by and sent out dinghy-loads of passengers. Yes, thousands have gone there and lived to tell.
Not much warning or fear accompanied the visits by business tours even though the volcano is the entire island and erupted a mere three years ago. It has constant venting and ground is covered in yellow sulfur rocks, Steam is generally 200 or 300 degrees along the paths up the rocky terrain.
Famous news pictures showed a flow of dust and smoke billowing off the island and chasing a boat of tourists who departed ten minutes before the volcano blew. Another boatload was on the shore and was caught.
Going back, they saw a few struggling people covered in gray dust. Helicopters dispatched to do a rescue and found one copter smashed, all occupants who had landed were dead. Tour guides were dead. Nearly two dozen victims.
A lawyer representing families on the cruise ship were not told how bad it was by authorities on ship. Nor were they warned about the dangers of such a visit to White Island. Their lawyer said that was the cruise ship responsibility.
We would argue that before going there, we’d do our homework, and seeing live venting is not a good sign. Ballistic rocks fly out of the crater at 100 miles per SECOND. You cannot escape if the volcano decides to claim you.
Call it folly or vanity. Call it rich people’s privilege. We stand by the old-fashioned, unsympathetic term. It was plain stupid to go to White Island.
DATELINE: Unidentified: America’s UFOs
The use of triangle shaped craft by some entity seems to have gained traction on the series Unidentified: America’s UFO Investigations.
In the second episode of the second season, AATIP’s Luis Elizondo and Chris Mellen tackle the issue of mysterious black triangles now dominating the UFO scene.
For decades we have heard of saucers, then orbs, then tick-tacks. Now we find that the predominant military sightings are of silent, slow-moving craft of varying sizes, some as big as football fields. They are usually cloaked from radar. We can only note that most triangular shaped ships are designed by terrestrials here on earth.
Why would extra-terrestrials simply change their design in the past few decades? It’s illogical, if not unlikely. Of course, those saucers were crashing all over earth for decades. Perhaps the space creatures have smartened up and are designing safer space crafts.
Once again, notably, the witnesses are all highly reliable and credible military men who have retired and are now willing to come forward. It gives this show far more believability than so many others.
Mellen’s troubling conclusions are that, if unknown visitors are inspecting American territory, there is a big problem of national security and motives.
In the 1980s a massive sighting occurred over the Hudson Valley, not far from New York City. No one can fathom the legal and moral decision of the government to fly experimental craft over a populated area. It leads to a frightful conclusion: they are not US airships.
It is ultimately a distressing conclusion that these triangular ships could be like Cortes landing among the Aztecs. They had no idea how dangerous and deadly to their civilization this interloper would become.
DATELINE: Best Series on TV?
William Shatner is in wry form again as the series UnXplained actually tackles another unusual subject with some interesting insights. This time the show’s topic deals with how several individuals have made up for a lack of one sense (blindness, deaf, etc.,)with enhanced other senses.
This is more than someone learning to rely on what’s left when Nature has denied them the full range of sensory perception. The handful of interview subjects are not your usual subjects—and that gives the series yet another fresh approach.
A blind man who lost both eyes as a child to cancer make clicking noises, a form of sonar, to locate objects around him—and can makes a drawing or map accurately as to what is in his world when he walks around or ride a bicycle. It’s called echolocation, and some may disparage it as luck, he clearly has a new sensory approach that is nothing short of paranormal.
Another example, from the deaf world, is called synesthesia or synesthetes, people who may not hear noise or sound, but experience colors, and strange noise, to make up for their lacking. It is amazing to think that sound has color to define it.
Old-hand experts from our usual History Channel shows, Dr. Michael Dennin and Dr. Travis Taylor, are around again to discuss the physics of cross-connected senses. And, it is ground-breaking when it comes to these show topics.
Another victim of lack of senses, who feels no pain, explains the dangers of daily life when there is no pain sensitivity, which is called a genetic malfunction. He also explains he has so many injuries since childhood that it is now a blessing to be pain-free. To have it restored would mean he would not function at all.
Another premature infant named Eric Paravicini given oxygen in abundance to survive turns into a musical maven who at age 5 had memorized thousands of songs and now can play the piano like a virtuoso. The drawback and price for these “talents” is that forms of autism deny a full and satisfying existence.
Shatner is clearly in awe of this episode’s subjects—and we have to admit this was a startling and fresh approach, again putting UnXplained at the top of the heap of History series.