Samantha Brown's Asia

If you are like me and cannot get away to far away destinations but enjoy learning about them, you may enjoy watching travel shows. A few years ago I discovered Samantha Brown’s travel program on the Travel Channel and her show quickly became my favorite. She has a bubbly personality that wins people over no matter where she goes. This is proven every time she randomly approaches a stranger and makes a joke or asks them a question. She seems fearless, but she has the charm to make anyone feel at ease, including the viewer.

The library has recently added Samantha Brown’s Asia disc 1 and disc 2 to our collection. In these two DVDs Brown takes us on a tour of Thailand, Hong Kong, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, and Bali. Meeting up with natives who then show her around their home, Brown provides viewers with practical advice and insight into the individually unique cultures of these different locations.

If you breeze through these two discs and want more, AADL does own quite a few Anthony Bourdain DVDs that will keep you occupied for a while.

Jean Stapleton, a.k.a. Edith Bunker to a whole generation of adoring fans, has died

Jean Stapleton, who forever endeared herself to millions of TV viewers in her role of the ditzy-but-wise Edith Bunker, has died.

As Edith Bunker, sweet wife to the unapologetic, stuck-in-his-ways, working class Queens, NY conservative bigot Archie Bunker (played by the late Carroll O'Connor) in the popular 1970s sitcom All in the Family, Stapleton packed whole essays of timid disagreement into her nasally, softly screechy "Oh, Archie" or "Oh, my!". And when Archie would go too far and Edith stood up to him, Archie cowed and audiences cheered.

Ms. Stapleton played against character. She was a strong feminist playing the role of a meek, submissive, taunted housewife to Archie's often-derisive persona. As the women's movement gained traction on the national political stage, the shows' writers kept pace. One of the most memorable episodes centered on Edith's rare flare-up, pushing back against Archie's resistance to her volunteer work in a senior citizens' residence.

In addition to the four consecutive Emmys that the show won, Ms. Stapleton earned three (19721, 1972, and 1978) or her own.

For those who thought glass would shatter on a weekly basis with the opening song of All in the Family, sung by O'Connor and Ms. Stapleton, whose latter contribution was to hit impossibly loud off-key fingers-down-the-blackboard notes, it may come as a surprise to learn that Ms. Stapleton had a lovely voice, as evidenced by her extensive work on Broadway, the movies Bells Are Ringing (2005), and TV (she sang with The Muppets).

Ms. Stapleton, who was 90, died Friday in New York.

New TV shows on DVD @ AADL

The library is always acquiring additional TV shows, be they hot and new, or oldies but goodies. Here are some new series on their way to AADL:

Grimm
A drama series inspired by the classic Grimm's Fairy Tales. Portland homicide Detective Nick Burkhardt discovers he is descended from an elite line of criminal profilers known as 'Grimms', charged with keeping balance between humanity and the mythological creatures.

Henning Mankell's Wallander
Before anyone else played the part, Rolf Lassgard established the role of Kurt Wallander in the original Swedish film adaptations of Henning Mankell's bestselling crime novels. Kurt Wallander is a cop who gets the job done; decades of coming up against criminal minds has honed his instincts for investigations and he knows where to draw the line between the job and personal vendettas. Usually. (Swedish with English subtitles) If you’re a Wallander fan, be sure to also check out another TV version starring Kenneth Branagh.

Better off Ted
A satirical office comedy centered around a morally conscious man, Ted, who works for a research and development department at a morally lax corporation.

Eureka
The quirky town of Eureka, America's brightest scientists are working on some of the government's best-kept secrets-- some lead to brilliant inventions and some to total chaos. Making sense of the mysteries is Sheriff Jack Carter, a former U.S. marshal who is stranded in the surreal small town after a random car accident.

Rules of Engagement
One married couple, one engaged couple and one of their single friends, who are all at different places in their relationships, deal with dating, commitment, and marriage.

Fore more TV shows, be sure to check out AADL’s lists for HOT TV shows, as well as NEW TV shows.

Dr. Joyce Brothers, the "mother of mass media psychology", has died

Dr. Joyce Brothers, whose soft voice, clear explanations, and preference for pastels calmed generations of anxious, questioning Americans, has died.

In 1955, Dr. Brothers was a wife and new mother. Her doctor husband was paid $50 a month as a resident. Looking for a way to pay the bills, Dr. Brothers studied the popular game show The $64,000 Question and realized that the most popular contestants were the ones with the most improbable interests. At 5', with delicate features, Brothers, who had a PhD from Columbia and a near-photographic memory, became a self-taught expert on boxing before becoming a contestant. The result of her astute analysis and hard-charging studying was that, after riveting weeks on the show, she became the first woman to win the big prize.

That national attention led to a multi-pronged media presence as a straight-shooting advice expert. She had several TV shows that bore her name, a call-in radio show, a column in Good Housekeeping magazine, and she enjoyed frequent guest appearances on television. She also authored several books, including the 1981 What Every Woman Should Know about Men.

Dr. Brothers, who was 85, died in Fort Lee, NY of respiratory failure.

TV Time: Homeland

Are you looking for a new TV show to get sucked into? Look no further. In Showtime’s Homeland, US Marine Sergeant Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis) returns home after spending eight years in Iraq as a prisoner of war, where he was found and rescued on a compound belonging to terrorist Abu Nazir. During an unauthorized mission in Iraq, CIA officer Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes) was warned by an informant that an Amerian POW was “turned” by al-Qaeda, and Mathison now believes that Brody is the "turned" POW and that he's plotting an attack on the US. Thinking her superiors wouldn’t believe her and wanting immediate action, Mathison takes it upon herself to set up surveillance on Brody watching him 24/7.

The suspenseful and intense television show focuses on Brody’s reunion with his family after being MIA for so long and now being thought of as a war hero, as well as with Mathison’s obsession with finding intel on Brody. Mathison is dealing with her own mental health issues and this helps fuel her manic search for evidence.

The critically acclaimed Homeland has aired two seasons, winning a 2012 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series, as well as Outstanding Actor/Actress In A Drama Series awards for Lewis and Danes. As well as Golden Globe Awards for Best Television Series – Drama in both 2011 and 2012. A third season premieres this fall.

New TV shows on DVD @ AADL

The library is always acquiring additional TV shows, be they hot and new, or oldies but goodies. Here are some new DVDs on their way to AADL:

St. Elsewhere, Season 1
The medical drama features the doctors and nurses of the fictional St. Eligius hospital in South Boston. The show was known for it’s gritty, realistic style, and interweaving storylines.

The Big C, Season 1
The show follows suburban mom and teacher Cathy Jamison, who finds out she has melanoma. At first she keeps the news of her cancer from her family, but as the show progresses she lets them in and learns to live for the first time.

Shameless, Season 1
Meet the fabulously dysfunctional Gallagher family. William H. Macy portrays a single father of six, between the ages of two and twenty one. The father struggles with alcoholism while trying to keep his family from falling off the deep end, while also letting them fend for themselves.

Mr. Selfridge, Season 1
Jeremy Piven stars as American entrepreneur and colorful retail magnate Harry Gordon Selfridge. Pioneering and reckless, with an almost manic energy, Harry Selfridge created a theater of retail for early 1900s Londoners where any topic or trend that was new, exciting, entertaining-or sometimes just eccentric-was showcased. Based on the book “Shopping, Seduction and Mr. Selfridge” by author Lindy Woodhead.

Tiny Toon Adventures

“We’re tiny, we’re toony, we’re all a little loony…”

So begins the theme song for the quintessential 90’s cartoon classic Tiny Toon Adventures. Featuring youthful versions of the arguably more famous Loony Tunes characters, Tiny Toons follows the wacky antics of Babs and Buster Bunny (no relation), Plucky Duck, Hampton Pig, and a slew of other characters during their time studying at Acme Looniversity and on their various misadventures.

Full of wacky humor, celebrity impressions, and brilliant music videos, Tiny Toon Adventures is sure to please new child audiences and the nostalgic adults!

Frank Bank, aka Lumpy on Leave It to Beaver, has died

Frank Bank, who played Lumpy Rutherford in the popular 1950s sitcom, Leave It to Beaver, died yesterday.

In a role that today probably would not be played for laughs, Lumpy was a large overweight friend of Wally Cleaver (played by Tony Dow), Beaver's aka The Beav's (Jerry Mathers) older brother. Even then television made the connection between being bullied at home (Lumpy's father often berated him -- ("big oaf " and "big boob" were two favorite insults of Mr. R.'s)) and passing it on to the outside world (Lumpy often targeted The Beav).

In real life, Bank was a very successful California municipal bonds broker who was known for his generosity. He and another Beaver actor, Ken Osmond who forever immortalized the slimy suck-up to grown-ups, Eddie Haskell, raised lots of money for veterans' charities.

Mr. Banks died just one day after his 71st birthday.

Jonathan Winters, genius improv comedian, has died

Jonathan Winters, he of the malleable face and rapid fire ad lib wit, died Thursday, April 11, in Montecito, California.

Winters, a veteran of World War II (Marine Corps), first developed his unique comedic style as a teenager, talking to himself. Later, as a morning DJ for WING (Dayton, OH), Winters had trouble rounding up guests so he just invented his own, and became an instant hit. Winters honed a wide, and wild, range of characters. Among his more memorable creations was Maude Frickert, a sweet-natured, sharp-tongued granny with a healthy libido. Johnny Carson, who invited Winters back over and over again as a guest on the Tonight Show, ended up stealing Maude and morphing her into his Aunt Blabby.

Robin Williams, whose explosively funny style is often compared to Winters' spontaneously combustive hilarity, credits Winters with inspiring his own funny riffs -- "Jonathan taught me that the world is open for play, that everything and everybody is mockable, in a wonderful way." (interview with the late Ed Bradley on CBS's 60 Minutes). In fact, in Season 4 of Mork and Mindy (Williams plays an alien from outer space with a human roommate, Pam Dawber, whom he later marries ), Winters plays their son, Mearth.

Winters also gave particularly memorable performances in two of the movies in which he had roles -- It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) and The Russians Are Coming, the Russians Are Coming (1966). He also found time to pen Winters' Tales, Stories, and Observations for the Unusual in 1987.

Winters, who was quite candid about his struggles with, and hospitalization for manic depression, died of natural causes at age 87.

Former Mouseketeer, Annette Funicello, has died

Annette Funicello, who, as a child, turned to acting to help deal with her shyness, died this moning in California.

In 1955 at a dance recital in Burbank, CA, where she was the Swan Queen in Swan Lake, she was discovered by Walt Disney who immediately added her to his stable of child actors for his new TV show, The Mickey Mouse Club.

Her popularity with children sent her acting career in many directions. She had a role in the second and third seasons of The Spin and Marty Show and in the short-lived Walt Disney Presents: Annette, which lasted just long enough for her performance of the song How Will I Know My Love? to be released as a single.

When she got older, she appeared in several Disney movies, including The Shaggy Dog (1959) and Babes in Toyland (1961). From there, she and Frankie Avalon became the darlings of the Beach Party movie scene.

In 1992, Ms. Funicello went public with the fact that she had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, only after rumors persisted that her unsteady gait was due to a drinking problem. She was named a Disney Legend that same year. A few months later she opened her Annette Funicello Fund for Neurological Disorders.

Ms. Funicello was 70 years old.

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