Shipoopi Is For Real?

One of this past weekend’s Family Guy episodes was “Patriot Games” which features a crazy musical number called “Shipoopi.” I didn’t think too much of it when it first aired but for some reason I decided to find out the origin of Shipoopi after seeing it again. Not only is Shipoopi a real song (which I guess shouldn’t surprise me since pretty much everything in Family Guy is lifted from something else) but the Family Guy version is more entertaining than the classic Music Man movie version.

Seth MacFarlane’s singing sounds better and richer to me than Buddy Hackett’s rendition. (And we know how awful Peter Griffin sounds.) Still he comes across with more feeling. The direction and cinematography in the Music Man is too distant and feels too much like watching the theater production. I know what they were going for back then, showing the complete choreography and letting audiences know that the performers could really perform, letting them feel like they saw the Broadway original. Unfortunately what it has in energy and synchronization it lacks in emotional connection to that song. Maybe it worked better on the big screen in Cinemascope? In any case, I think really great musical numbers should be able to survive out of context from the rest of their shows which the Music Man’s Shipoopi doesn’t do very well. As much as I sometimes dislike Family Guy’s single track mind of harpooning and reeling in of past works to be put on display for a new generation, the show is unmatched in making that approach work.

Compare for yourself. Which do you like better?
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Fear of a Dead Format

The advent of analog and digital recording media brought with it a new kind of problem: dead media formats. Scrolls, tapestries, paintings and books never had the problems that media from the last 150 years have had: lack of reproduction devices, lack of playback devices and life spans measured in decades, not centuries.

Last week’s announcement that Paramount and Dreamworks were going to be moving from an HD media neutral stance to only support HD-DVD called to mind all sorts of past format and media battles that have ended in wasted money and discarded collections and devices. Of course there is the legendary tale of VHS vs. Betamax but at least Betamax lived on in professional circles for a couple of decades after losing to VHS in the consumer space. In the early days of video, my family made what turned out to be the right choice and went with VHS. We stayed clear of dead ends like RCA’s SpectraVision, even when it looked pretty high tech in comparison to VHS and had a smattering of Star Trek titles available at launch. We stumbled a couple of years later when we picked up a Disc film Kodak camera, which I cursed at a young age not only for grainy photos but because I would often take pictures including part of my index finger when holding the camera with two hands. Today, Disc film has been dead for more than a decade and I’d have to mail in the negatives to one of a handful of processing facilities if I ever craved reprints. Even scanning Disc film is an issue due to the center plastic ring that makes it impossible to lie the negatives flat.

With these and countless other tales of short lived media, I’ve yet to truly commit to a new HD format. While I have Blu-ray playback with my PS3 and thoroughly enjoy watching highdef BD movies, I’ve been a poor supporter of the BD as a format by not actually investing in any discs. Shame on me. I’ve pretty much just rented through Netflix. Given both the number of DVDs in my current collection that often don’t get watched very often and that for those that do get watched it’s usually in the bedroom where only a DVD player resides, I’m hesitant to spend money on a format whose future isn’t wholly certain.

Of course, the upcoming Spider-Man High Definition Trilogy looks to be changing my mind on not purchasing any Blu-ray discs.

Live Action Saturday Morning

So, I recently became a father. Among the myriad of things on my mind these days, one of them is oddly what kind of TV or online shows will my daughter be watching while growing up? As a kid, there wasn’t much selection. There were the three major networks and a few syndicated channels in the UHF bands. Of course there were no dedicated Disney channels, cartoon channels or general kids channels. The best variety was available in those brief hours Saturday morning of back-to-back cartoons and super hero live action shows was a weekly treasure. I remember going to Hawaii with my family one Summer and through the whole trip I was wondering if we’d make it back in time for the Fall Saturday morning cartoon premiers. There were prime time Fall lineup preview shows that almost made me salivate at the thought of new adventures for old favorites and new characters to come to know. These days, with so many choices, I wonder if children develop a real bond and fondness for what they’re watching or is it simply something to pass the time between toy commercials?

Filmation Panel at Comic-Con 2007

At Comic-Con this year, a lot of the Saturday morning joy came flooding back when I attended the Filmation panel. Filmation was the alternative to Disney and WB cartoons through the 70s and early 80s. The animation was relatively cheap and employed frequent stock footage but the action was good and there was a clear moral message in many of the shows and episodes. They had a wide variety of original and licensed IP including Batman, Tarzan, Star Trek, He-Man and She-Ra. What felt really unique for the time was Filmation’s venture beyond animation to create original live-action shows. The Comic-Con Filmation panel gathered together some original cast members from two of the shows, Jason of Star Command and The Secret of Isis, including character actor and recently revitalized horror movie star Sig Haig. Former Filmation head Lou Scheimer was also present.
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Do people still visit this site?

Surprisingly, some still do. Or at least they link to some of my pages. I supposed it pays to be one of the longest surviving sites with some Forbidden Planet content and a catchy domain name. There have been bigger and better individually run sites with the FP topic but they’ve come and gone over the years while mine lumbers on.

Anyways, after years of letting my site get decrepit and increasingly out of date, I decided to get with the 21st century and put up a blog. Of course I’m bringing some of the old content to the new and improved version. Hopefully not dealing with individual HTML files and archaic formats and templates will be allow for a real life to this site.

It’s been 13 years since I put up my original web page at college. In those days I played around with a FileMaker backed webserver on my original PowerMac and thought I’d have time to maintain the “official” anime FTP site list. My enthusiasm paid off for a while back in 1995 and 1996 when there wasn’t much competition for eyes on the web and my sites landed in some printed guides of the day. (Imagine, printed directories of web sites!) Still, here I am once again putting my feet in the water of the online universe.