In one of HBO’s finest hours, Tom Hanks recalled the last time we went to the moon

On May 10, 1998—20 years ago next spring—HBO aired “La Voyage Dans La Lune,” the final episode of From The Earth To The Moon, a 12-part miniseries that would go on to win an Emmy for Outstanding Miniseries. Directed by Jonathan Mostow and written by executive producer Tom Hanks, “La Voyage Dans La Lune” stars Hanks…

A very special 1970s nightmare, starring Vincent Price, H.R. Pufnstuf, and the Brady Bunch

In the 1970s, just about anyone with a Q Score in the double digits landed their own variety series. Musicians, comedians, magicians… if you had any kind of name recognition at all, you were issued a spangled jumpsuit and consigned to a flashing stage in a Burbank television studio, where you were required to sing,…

A very special Breaking Bad pulled a train robbery, and proved the power of plot

Take Snowfall, FX’s buzzy drama about the connection between crack cocaine, the CIA, and gang violence in 1980s Los Angeles. I admired enough elements of the show to keep watching throughout this past summer. But when the first season reached the end of its excellent seventh episode, “Cracking” (where the protagonist…

A very special Justice League Unlimited salutes DC Comics’ forgotten characters

In the summer of 1977, when I was 6 years old and just a few months from turning 7, I got my first allowance: a dollar a week. Back then, that was enough to buy two comic books and a candy bar at our neighborhood supermarket, with a few pennies left over after tax. To get the most for my money, I gravitated to comics…

TV’s Hitchhiker’s Guide’s penultimate episode dined with freaky aliens, then blew up the universe

Douglas Adams often said that the germ of the idea for The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy came to him one day when he was backpacking through Europe, and was drunk in a field in Innsbruck. Whenever he’d tell that story, he’d usually add two details. He’d say that while he thought it was a funny idea, he didn’t…

Like SNL at its best, The Carol Burnett Show realized the comic potential of chaos

One of the funniest sketches in recent Saturday Night Live history would’ve driven the show’s creator Lorne Michaels to distraction 40 years ago. In December 2015, in a Ryan Gosliing-hosted SNL, Kate McKinnon, Cecily Strong, and Gosling played three rural yahoos who’d been abducted by aliens. During their debriefing…

In the second Party Down episode, the catering crew met some okay Republicans

The possessors of beauty are reticent about their privileges or act as though it was luck that the cop didn’t give them a ticket, that it was just a ‘nice man’ who let them through customs without having to wait in line. Beauty, unlike money, seems unable to focus on the source of the power.” -Eve Babitz, Eve’s

Elizabeth Montgomery ruled Chicago in one of The Untouchables’ best episodes

In the first half of the 20th century, before the the feminist movement and sexual revolution made it more acceptable for a woman to be in control of her own desires, American popular culture relied on codewords and insinuation to indicate when a lady was… well, let’s just say “available.” The female in question could…

The first episode of The Walking Dead may still be the show’s finest hour

How many TV dramas have had better first episodes than The Walking Dead’s? Most television series should come with a pre-affixed warning label: “The pilot’s a little rough, but stick with it, the show gets better.” (Or even: “You’ll have to grind through the first season, but it’s worth it.”) But The Walking Dead

Johnny Depp went “undercover” as a punk in a very special 21 Jump Street

What did we expect from Johnny Depp? When he first started appearing on our television screens regularly in 1987, looking impossibly pretty as undercover policeman Tom Hanson in 21 Jump Street, who imagined him as a future Oscar nominee, or as one of Hollywood’s preeminent weirdoes? Who saw him as anything other than…

Before she became Veep, Julia Louis-Dreyfus honed her comic persona as Old Christine

Between 1982 and 1985, Studio 8H at 30 Rock showcased the comedy of Eddie Murphy, Joe Piscopo, Martin Short, Billy Crystal, Christopher Guest, Jim Belushi, Mary Gross, Tim Kazurinsky, Harry Shearer, Robin Duke, and Rich Hall. Longtime Saturday Night Live viewers may disagree about how many of those comics were…

In the 1980s, G.I. Joe fought “Cobra” instead of communism (but also communism)

“If we’re going to have toys to teach our children about war, why not have them really true to life? Why not have a G.I. Joe who bleeds when his body is punctured by shrapnel, or screams when anyone of his 21 movable parts are blown off, or vomits at the smell of burning flesh after a napalm attack?” -a concerned…

A bickering couple relives their wedding day on a romantic (and typical) Fantasy Island

I couldn’t even begin to calculate how many hours of my life I’ve spent thinking about Fantasy Island. Back in elementary school, during those endless afternoons when I was supposed to be filling out some mimeographed worksheet, I’d often be staring out the window, past the monkey-bars, and picturing a seaplane flying…