Saturday, December 9, 2017

Remembering Lukewarm, the "Outlandishly Camp" Character from BBC's "Porridge"

I've been binge-watching "Porridge" on Britbox over the past few weeks. This is the sitcom from 1973-1977, not the more recent sequel series (which I may write about in coming weeks). "Porridge" tells the story of Fletcher, a career criminal serving a 5-year sentence and his never-ending efforts to pull one over on the prison officials.

I bring up "Porridge" tonight because I was searching online for information about one of the characters, a gay character named Lukewarm. He was played by an actor named Christopher Biggins.

I looked up the character and discovered this article from 2007 where some fan of the program complained about a "politically correct" decision by the BBC to edit out a joke involving Lukewarm:
Fans of the sitcom, which regularly pulled in more than 10 million viewers, have accused the BBC of "giving in to the politically correct brigade" after a phrase was removed from the programme on Saturday. They claim the comment "that sort do, don't they", referring to Lukewarm's ability to keep his cell clean, was taken out because it could be offensive to homosexuals. While the BBC denies the allegation, fans say the change is akin to removing a line from a Shakespeare play.
Unless things are done much differently in the UK than they are done here in the US, the joke was likely edited out to make allowances for longer commercial breaks compared to the 1970s. It's pretty common to notice missing portions of favorite American sitcoms. And that particular line in that particular episode is edit-free on Britbox. For what it's worth.

Anyways, that's not why I was writing tonight. I'm actually responding to this particular description of Lukewarm from that article:
Ronnie Barker's character Fletcher was always ribbing his fellow inmates, not least Lukewarm, the outlandishly camp chef played by Christopher Biggins.
Now maybe I'm too immersed in the LGBT communities. And maybe I've watched too many episodes of "Are You Being Served?" with Mr. Humphries, not to mention half of the British television programs that included any portrayals of gay or trans men from the 1970s to the present. But Lukewarm isn't any more "outlandishly camp" than any of the other characters in "Porridge." I mean, it's clear that he's gay. And he often knits. But he doesn't mince, and he doesn't lace his conversations with sexual inuendos, and he doesn't do anything with his clothing or appearance to stand too far out of the norm. So I don't get where they get off on calling him "outlandishly camp." I just don't see it.

Anyway, Lukewarm returned in a 2003 follow-up movie (which I've only see this portion of) called "Life Beyond the Box: Norman Stanley Fletcher." His full name is revealed for the first time (I believe) in this story: Timothy "Lukewarm" Underwood. It's revealed that he's living in Denmark with his husband Trevor, who's a motivational speaker. We met Trevor once before in the final episode of the first season of "Porridge."

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Archie Horror to Publish New VAMPIRONICA Title in March 2018!

Remember back in July 2015 when Archie Comics hinted at a new horror title starring a vampiric version of Veronica Lodge? Earlier today, Archie Comics announced that they will finally be publishing a new ongoing comic book title under its Archie Horror line of comics titled VAMPIRONICA.

VAMPIRONICA will feature writing by Greg & Megan Smallwood, artwork by Greg Smallwood, and lettering by Jack Morelli. The concept is about as simple as JUGHEAD: THE HUNGER, except that instead of Jughead being a murderous werewolf, Veronica will be a murderous vampire.

VAMPIRONICA will be published in March 2018.

Incidentally, this promo article really annoyed me with its initial paragraph:
Between Afterlife with Archie, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, and the recent addition of Jughead: The Hunger, Archie Comics’ horror imprint is flying higher than Sabrina’s broomstick ever thought possible. But there’s already another series coming to Archie Horror, and it’s got a bit of a bite to it.
Both AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE and CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA have suffered from chronic and extensive publishing delays. It really aggravates me when Archie Comics promotes these otherwise wonderful comics when they as a company cannot get it together enough to publish these titles on a regular basis.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Is Mary Hurting her Grandson on "Coronation Street" -- Or Does He Just Have an Allergy to Bananas?

(Originally written on 12/04/17): Early last month on "Coronation Street," Mary called the police and reported that her daughter-in-law was drunk driving with her grandson. Baby George was sick and Mary had seen Angie at the local pub with a glass of wine in front of her. Leading up to this interaction, Mary had found a brochure about alcoholism in Angie's jacket. And Angie's mood had just been off. It turns out that Angie had barely drank any wine and she was definitely not drunk. And she isn't an alcoholic, but has been suffering from post-partum depression. Needless to say, Mary got in a lot of trouble for this and her son Jude told her to stay away from the entire family.

Then earlier this week, Mary defended Angie was a busy-body and apologized for her earlier shameful behavior. Jude and Angie approached her later that day and told her that they would allow Mary access to Baby George again. She was allowed to babysit her grandson. Of course, Mary was given no notice so she took George with her to work, at the local florist shop. 

She spent the morning covering the baby with flowers and taking pictures of him. Despite Mary's best efforts, George was increasingly fussy at the store. In fact, he ended up getting sick again and his parents ended up rushing him to the hospital for the third time in a month or so. When asked about George's health, he told Mary to stay away. Which was upsetting. 

But as upset as she was and despite being a little strange, Mary had the common sense to recognize a possible sign of Baby George's illness. Could he be having some sort of allergic reaction to the flowers in the store? 

Jude wasn't taking Mary's calls, so she said that she would text the theory to her son. I can't help wondering if Jude had blocked her messages because I haven't heard anything from him or Angie or the doctors about allergies to plants or to flowers or to related scents.

But Mary learned that other people were being allowed to visit Baby George so she took it upon herself to visit her grandson in his room -- and he had another reaction shortly after her arrival!

This was enough for Angie to decide that Mary was purposely making Baby George sick. Somehow. So, the hospital hooked Angie and Jude up with the hospital social worker and they immediately filed a complaint against Mary!

And just to clarify a point, they made this decision to contact social services before Mary ever visited Baby George at the hospital. That medical setback was just the final slice of cake.

I understand that there are some people who purposely harm children in order to gain sympathy and attention. And I understand that hospitals sometimes report people to social services in those instances. But my experience is that they don't just into "report mode" this quickly unless they have some pretty convincing evidence. Which they really don't have here.

I mean, what exactly is Mary supposed to be doing to purposely make Baby George ill? How is she making him feverish? Or causing breathing spells? It really makes no sense to me.

Worse yet, social services took the report seriously and called in the police, who promptly visited Mary at her home. They asked her a bunch of vague questions and then told her to stay away from Baby George and his parents.

I always hear about Britain's stressed economy. And I understand that this is happening in a fictional world. But I can't help but wonder if social services is truly contacted regularly for this type of thing -- and wonder if this type of knee-jerk reporting process helps contribute to the UK's overwhelmed social services network

Anyway, George's parents and the hospital would probably be more effective with tracking down the source of his illness -- if they truly believe that Mary is the source of it -- by actually talking to her and working with her to track her movements than they have been by simply reporting her to social services!

Updated on 12/06/17: I was watching tonight's episode of "Coronation Street." Angie and Jude were on the way to South Africa when all of Mary's friends began interfering in an effort to stall their effort and to get them to speak with Mary.

Things came to a head when Baby George got sick again while Jude and talking with Mary and while George was far away from Mary and never touched by Mary. In other words, Mary is innocent.

It's looking like Baby George is allergic to bananas. And possibly other fruits. But definitely bananas.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

6-Year-Old Non-Verbal Muslim Boy with Down Syndrome Accused by Substitute Teacher of Being a Terrorist

A news story out of Texas is making the rounds today. A substitute teacher at CJ Harris Elementary School in Pearland, TX, called the police on one of her students last month. The student in question is a boy named Mohammad Suleiman.

Mohammad was accused to making terroristic threats in the classroom. According to his father, Mohammad reportedly said stuff like "Allah" and "boom."

Keep in mind that Mohammad is 6-years-old. He's also diagnosed with Down Syndrome and experiences pretty significant intellectual challenges. For example, he's non-verbal.

Of course, the school officials told both the police and the child's father that Mohammad speaks full sentences. Which he doesn't.

The police had to interview Mohammad and his family. They eventually realized that there was no need to continue investigating the child. Child protective services also got involved with the family. The CPS investigating is still ongoing as of last week.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Former Child Actor Alexander Polinsky Reaches Out to Scott Baio via Twitter // Alleges Chronic Abuse Towards Him & Other Child Actors on Set of "Charles in Charge"

I was a fan of "Charles in Charge" back in the mid/late 80s. It featured actors Scott Baio and Willie Aames. Baio was a live-in nanny for two different families over the course of the program. The program originally aired on CBS from 1984-85, but eventually switched to syndication from seasons 2-5 (1987-90) when Charles began working for Ellen Powell, her cranky father-in-law, and her three children. It was pretty good as sitcoms go.

I really hadn't thought of "Charles in Charge" in years. And then late last night, I found myself struggling to sleep so I decided to hop onto Twitter. For some reason, I was encouraged to check out Alexander Polinsky's Twitter feed (AKA Adam Powell AKA the young boy actor from seasons 2-5) and discovered this revelation.

Polinsky spent most of yesterday talking about years of physical, mental, verbal, and sexual abuse that he and other child actors experienced during his time on "Charles in Charge." And though he hasn't identified anyone in particular, he really wants to talk to Scott Baio about these abuse allegations. A lot.

He spent tweet after tweet reaching out to Baio about these abuse allegations. And there was a part of me that really wanted to discount Polinsky's tweets. And then I saw fellow co-star/former child actor Nicole Eggert (AKA Jamie Powell AKA later went on to star in "Baywatch") sign off on Polinsky's allegations by retweeting Polinsky's posts and encouraging fans to reach out to Baio.

Now I'm not saying that Polinsky is accusing Scott Baio of abusing him and other child actors. Maybe he sees Baio as a powerful ally against an equally powerful abuser. Maybe. But I'm really glad that Eggert stepped up alongside Polinsky. It certainly added credibility to his claims.

I look forward to learning more.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Latest "Riverdale": Who Is the Riverdale Reaper? Is He the Black Hood? And Can Chuck Clayton be Redeemed?

Because of a household guest, we weren't able to watch the latest episode of "Riverdale" until yesterday. And now doubt, Episode Seven (AKA "Tales from the Darkside") was a great episode. It told three separate short stories featuring various "Riverdale" characters -- Archie & Jughead; Josie & Cheryl; and Betty & Veronica (and to a lesser extend Kevin). All of the stories intertwined with each other and then eventually ended at the same place.

First up, we meet up again with Penny Peabody, the Southside Serpent "snake-charmer," again in this episode. She blackmails Jughead and Archie into becoming drug runners for the Serpents. Due to some bad luck, Jughead finds himself hitchhiking from Riverdale to Greendale with a character named Farmer McGinty -- played by actor Tony Todd from "Candyman."

Along the way, Farmer McGinty tells Jughead that he believes the the Black Hood is really the Riverdale Reaper. That's right... Apparently, somebody nicknamed the Riverdale Reaper killed a family in their home. Depending on who you talk to, the Reaper was either killed by a lynch mob, or he escaped for California to become a Satanist, or he's still hanging out in Riverdale. One things for certain, both the Riverdale Reaper and the Black Hood are out to punish sinners.

Meanwhile, remember the Sugar Man from Episode 6? He turned out to be a Southside High School teacher who made some money on the side dealing jingle jangle. He was shot to death in his jail cell at the end of last episode, which got Betty Cooper wondering: How does a masked vigilante shoot a drug dealer from inside the jail?

This leads Betty and Veronica into questioning if Kevin's father is really the Black Hood? Frankly, I've been wondering that myself for a while. The comic book Black Hood is a bad cop who kills criminals and steals their street drugs. Who's to say that the television Black Hood also isn't a dirty cop?

That said, we learned Sheriff Keller's dirty secret in this episode and it has nothing to do with the Black Hood. Of course, that doesn't mean that he's not the Black Hood. But that's not why he's been sneaking around at night these days! (Jon's Note: I won't reveal this particular secret here. You should be able to find out for yourself on The CW's streaming website!)

But I really enjoyed the Josie story line. And that's something that I don't get to write often. I don't think that "Riverdale" has done that much to make Josie and the Pussycats as integrated into the show as they could. They always seem like marginal characters. A couple of episodes ago, Veronica and the Pussycats stopped a creep from raping a roofied Cheryl. Cheryl has thrown her appreciation behind Josie and wants to become her new BFF.

Of course, Cheryl Blossom is nuts. She's secretly driven a wedge between Josie and the other Pussycats and she's begun sending death threats to Mayor McCoy. And then after Chuck Clayton asked Josie out on a date, Cheryl planted evidence that makes it appear that he was the source of the death threats. In other works, Josie is completely isolated and only has Cheryl to turn to for support.

Did I mention Chuck Clayton? His character was destroyed last season after it was revealed that he and the other football players were shame-booking many of the girls at Riverdale High -- including Veronica and Ethel. He was eventually revealed and expelled from the team. Now he's claiming that he's changing. He's going to church and trying to become a better man. At least, that's what he claims. But Pop Tate has vouched for Chuck, so maybe there's hope after all for Archie Comics' first black male character!

"Tales from the Darkside" ends on an ominous note. Pop Tate received a phone message from the Black Hood. He revealed that the people of Riverdale continue to fail his purity test. As a result, he plans to unleash a "reckoning" on the community. Which sounds scary!

Who will be the Black Hood's next target? Tune in on Wednesday to find out!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

The Parody That Needs to be Made: "What If Arthur Was an Edgy Teen Drama?"

There is this great parody trailer of a live action "Arthur" television series. It's titled "If Arthur Was an Edgy Teen Drama."

This exciting urban drama imagines a scenario where Arthur finds himself charged with tracking down Muffy's murderer! Among the suspects are Buster, Francine, Binky, the Brain, and DW -- not to mention clues placed by Muffy prior to her death via Snapchat and other social media platforms.

You owe it to yourself to watch this 1:33 minute parody trailer at this link.

Friday, December 1, 2017

"Sabrina" Television Series Jumps from The CW to Netflix

Remember back in September when Archie Comics and The CW announced that they were going to launch a new live-action "Sabrina" television series? Well, the show is still on. However, it's skipped from The CW to Netflix with an exclusive series commitment:
The streaming giant has handed out a sizable two-season, 20-episode straight-to-series order for an untitled Sabrina drama based on the Archie Comics graphic novel The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, picking up the intended Riverdale companion series from The CW.

Sabrina was put in development at younger-skewing broadcaster The CW in September. A casting search to play the reimagined teenage witch began almost immediately. Sources note that The CW and producers Warner Bros. Television had a list of actresses they eyed for the role. That is being revisited given the large commitment and move to Netflix.

Sabrina reimagines the origin and adventures of Sabrina the Teenage Witch as a dark coming-of-age tale that traffics in horror, the occult and witchcraft. It's described as in the vein of Rosemary's Baby and The Exorcist and finds Sabrina wrestling to reconcile her dual nature as a half-witch, half-mortal while fighting the evil forces that threaten her, her family and the daylight world humans inhabit.
Each season will be ten episodes long. Season One will film from February to June 2018 and Season Two will film from June to October 2018.

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Former "Coronation Street" Actor Blames Stress of Playing Gay Character for Sexually Molesting Four Different Women

One of my favorite "Coronation Street" actors since getting hooked on the show last month has been Bruno Langley. Langley plays bad boy attorney Todd Grimshaw, who's apparently the soap's first gay character (written about recently in this post). As I was first getting into the program, Langly was running into real life legal problems.

He was at a Manchester music venue last month and got really drunk. He then groped four different women, though he only got charged with sexually assaulting two of the women. He approached one woman (who was out with her husband) and grabbed her forcibly by the vagina. He then grabbed another woman by the breasts and buttocks. They pressed charges and he was arrested.

On Tuesday, 11/28/17, Langley pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual assault in order to avoid jail time. He has been sentenced to 12 months of community service, including 40 days of rehabilitative activity. She will be placed under an electronically-monitored curfew for 12 weeks and must register as a sex offer for five years. He also must pay 250 pounds in compensation to both of his victims.

Langley has also been fired from Coronation Street.

His attorney isn't doing Langley any favors right now following tabloid reports that stress of playing Coronation Street's first gay character contributed to his sexual assaults:
Ex-Coronation Street star Bruno Langley has blamed the stress of playing the soap's first gay character for the sex attacks he committed on a drunken night out. The actor molested four women at a Manchester music venue last month, but was only charged with sexually assaulting two of them. Langley - who played gay character Todd Grimshaw in the soap - wept in the dock yesterday as he avoided jail after admitting both offences.
His lawyer told the hearing: 'Something happened that night, most possibly in relation to the character he was playing.' It is understood his comments refer to the stress Langley felt being a straight man playing a gay character.
Of course, this story is beginning to circulate across gay media. Which means, that people who've never heard of Langley, Coronation Street, or his character are now learning of the actor -- and not for good reasons!

SECRET WARRIORS Sends the Team to Des Moines in the Latest Issue -- And Why It Doesn't Quite Work!

I really enjoy Marvel Comics' SECRET WARRIORS comic book title. It's my favorite of the Inhumans-themed titles. Heck, it's one of the only Inhumans-themed title that I purchase these days (besides MOON GIRL AND DEVIL DINOSAUR).

The Secret Warriors are a team of mismatched Inhumans who gathered together for support recently when Captain America went all Nazi and conquered the USA. The team consisted of former SHIELD agent Quake, Ms. Marvel, Moon Girl (with Devil Dinosaur, of course), Karnak, and Inferno. Recently, Magik from the X-Men began hanging with the team. I'm not sure if this is a permanent team-up, but she brings the added benefit of a long-range teleporter to the book so I'm okay with her addition!

Now that America is Nazi-free again, the Secret Warriors were in the process of breaking up when Mister Sinister and Dark Beast began capturing young latent children and experimenting on/torturing them in an effort to manifest their latent Inhuman abilities without needing to be exposed to Terrigan Mist.

We found out in this issue that Karnak had actually hired Mister Sinister to explore new options for terrigenesis and broke off their relationship when the torturing began. Frankly, Karnak should have known better from the beginning!

Anyway, the team found a bunch of the Inhuman kids imprisoned in one of Mister Sinister's secret lairs and spent most of SECRET WARRIORS #9 returning those kids to their homes all over America... which brings me to one of my biggest peeves.

I was interested when I learned that one of these "NuHuman" kids was from Des Moines, Iowa (not Idaho). I even rolled my eye at the joke, because it's actually pretty common that Iowa is mistaken by others for Idaho... or Ohio. I thought, at least writer Matthew Rosenberg gets it!

But then they took "Kid" (they never did name the kid) back home to Des Moines -- which is apparently an isolated house in the middle of nowhere. And that's where their ignorance shows. Des Moines is a sprawling city that is surrounded by deadlocked Interstate traffic and that melds with surrounding communities and suburbs. There's no way that Kid lives in Des Moines, IA, judging from the artwork.

They would have been better off creating a fake small-town community in Iowa and sending Kid there. Or dropping a pin random on the southwest corner of the state if they wanted to place him in the middle of some farm community. Just a tip for future writers and artist who decide to send their characters to the American Midwest.