February 6th, 2023

M3GAN: If you are watching social media news, you realize that M3GAN has become a thing these days. People dressing up en masse as the new toy from the movie and parading around public places.

M3GAN is a thriller with unexpected twists and turns, but it isn’t a slasher film like CHUCKY in Child’s Play. CHUCKY was a possesed doll, who then went on a killing spree. M3GAN has more social commentary about the current state of society with a single, female toy executive with no children who ends up with her sister’s child. The toy executive, played by Alison Williams from Get Out, is developing a realistic doll with a thinking microchip that pairs with, and interacts with the child. In this case, her niece. Parents back in the 1970s plopped their kids in front of the TV to allow them some daily freedom, whereas now kids have their phones and gaming to keep them occupied. The niece gets attached to M3GAN, who is a prototype that the Williams character wants to roll out nationally as a campaign.

Although the plot is pretty typical, the social commentary reflects that parents are relying way too much on technology to keep their children occupied. They are spending less time with them. There can be negative consequences to that. And like a Terminator from T2 onwards, M3GAN is there to protect the pair daughter. So this movie, which I thought would be predictable and not engaging, was better than expected. The toy executive needs to re-evaluate her priorities and we as a society need to realize that occupying a child’s mind is more than just handing them a device. It sounds like there is a sequel in the works as this movie had a budget of $12M and has so far grossed $158M.

Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street: Speaking of engaging with young children, back in the late 1960s there was a study that spoke about the number of hours that pre-school children were watching TV. Other than sleeping, it was the number one activity for them. The number of hours were even higher for inner city children. Some very astute TV people came up with the idea that if young children are going to watch all this TV, then perhaps they could learn something while doing it. They set about the engage with teachers, psychologists, health professionals to form what they called the Children’s Television Workshop. They would have a variety show with learning as part of the agenda. The masterstroke through all of this was engaging with puppeteer Jim Henson with his muppets. Muppets were not initially for kids, but rather they were on the slapstick comedy circuit.

This fascinating documentary, that is found on Crave for me, outlines the early days and into the more well known show that we know today. It is interesting to hear that the PBS (publicly funded) show was very popular in the north of the US, but that publicly funded stations in the South like Mississippi refused to put it on; there was too much of a mixed cast for their taste. Eventually demand for it overcame the political issues surrounding it. We see Frank Oz and Jim Henson interact as various characters like Bert and Ernie and Grover and Kermit the Frog. We learned about the music and how that was developed brilliantly. This was one of the first truly diverse shows and by simply having a varied cast (and all different colours and furs on monsters too) that a child was learning about acceptance, listening to the quality of a persons perspective and everyone wanting joy and being happy. I was a Sesame Street kid. Still love many of the skits and characters to this day. This show was the first of its kind and many followed thereafter. I hadn’t realized a number of things but a fun fact was that Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch are both voiced and acted by the same man! Talk about a split personality. This is worth your time to check out.

Devotion: If you have seen Tog Gun Maverick, you have seen Glen Powell. He was the cocky, arrogant pilot with the new recruits who they called Hangman, because he would leave his fellow pilots hung out to dry. He is spending more time in the cockpit in this movie, set in the Korean War trading F-18 Super Hornets for a Corsair. Playing Tom Hudner, he is friends with the first black carrier aircraft pilot in the Navy, Jesse Brown played by Jonathan Majors.

Majors portrays Brown as a complex and talented man. He was a great, skilled pilot who also had to deal with prejudice in all phases of his training and ongoing status of being a Naval aviators. It makes you wonder how you can trust those who have your life in their hands, like a flagmen on the carrier you are looking to land on, when you know that they resent you and don’t feel that you belong in that aircraft or on that ship. Brown is shown as a loving a devoted husband, who is also a father to a little girl. He wanted very badly to be more fully involved in the Korean War conflict. He was just never given the chance. There are some quality flying sequences filmed, mostly CGI, but effectively done. The story is good and based upon the truth. There are aspects of it that I find rather hard to believe in certain combat situations but one takes those as they come. You care for the characters. You feel for the situation. One wonders how Brown could have been able to get to this position with all the barriers placed before him. He was just that good it seems, and he felt that he was born to fly. Friendship comes in all forms, and you never know who you will meet, and who will enter your life that will have a profound effect on you. I think that this story tells that very well. Worth checking out.

Cunk on Britain: Philomena Cunk is a made up British TV personality played by the brilliant actress Diane Morgan. My first introduction to Morgan was in the Ricky Gervais series After Life. Morgan played one of Ricky’s single co-workers. She is much more engaging in this role which of course is required as she is the host, rather than a supporting player.

Philomena is there to (badly) explain her version of history and historical events to various experts. Netflix has picked up the series On Earth, available now, and you can watch the episodes on Britain and on Christmas, Shakespeare and other things on YouTube. Each episode for me is one laugh after another as she puts her own spin on events with her sensibilities and will periodically throw in randon irrelevant music videos or past TV shows within a particular episode. Maybe you need to have that British dry wit to fully appreciate this, but for me it is just spot on. The looks on the faces of experts to her questions and comments can be priceless. Here below she is commenting on Romeo and Juliet.

I stumbled upon this series rather by mistake, but I am so very happy that I did. Everyone can use a laugh every once in a while. Stand up comedy is a great place for it. Shows like this too which poke fun at more traditional and staid versions of these informational programs are simply a joy to watch.


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