Archive for January, 2015


This classic British Game Show Really Hits the Mark

January 23, 2015

In my ongoing search for neat things to watch, I stumbled upon a show called BULLSEYE. “Wait”, you’re saying,”Wasn’t that the show with Jim Lange, and the swirling screens? We already know about that. Why bring it up here?”. The answer is simple. This BULLSEYE, is a different beast, complete with its own beastly, but loveable mascot.

Let me explain, and for the sake of clarity, I will only be using the title to refer to the British show, not the American show. BULLSEYE combines two great traditional games….pub trivia and darts. The game starts with three pairs of players, and for the sake of balance and fair play, only one partner on each team can be an experienced, but not professional darts player. This partner stands in front of a giant dart board divided into categories, with increasing money amounts moving towards the center. The inexperienced players are seated, and, one at a time, select a category for the dart thrower to aim for for an initial bonus. Hit or not, the seated player is given a question from the subject for the money amount hit. Once answered, or not answered, as the other players can jump in and answer, the category is out of play for the rest of the round. That means if a remaining player hits a used category, it’s a lost turn. The team with the least MONEY leaves the game with their winnings and souvenirs from the show, most notably, a stuffed toy of the mascot, BULLY THE BULL. I hear tell some people preferred the toy over the money and the prizes.

Round two uses a standard dart board. The throwing partner throws three darts, as does the opposing thrower. High score gets the question where the money equals the points, or as host Jim Bowen puts it “Pounds for Points”. More about Jim in a bit. Just as before, low money leaves with the cash and the swag.

Now here’s one of the elements that I love about BULLSEYE. Before the bonus rounds begin, a guest star comes on to win money by throwing darts at the regular board. The money won is donated to the charity of the team’s choice. Nice touch. Okay onto the bonus rounds, no not a typo, I did say rounds. The first part involves another special board, known as BULLY’S BONUS BOARD. The board is divided into eight segments, partly in red, partly in black. Each numbered segment has a prize attached, and the bullseye has a larger prize. Both players are given darts totaling nine darts, with six going to the inexperienced player (I think). The players win a prize each time a dart lands in the red area of a numbered section. The black section means nothing won for that throw, and two darts in the same red section loses that prize. After all darts are thrown, the team has to decide if they want to risk what they won in one more game for the grand prize. In this second game, the team gets six darts, and must score more than 101points to win, with the inexperienced player starting. Get the points, and the team wins it all, lose and it’s swag time again, if I’m right. If the team doesn’t want to try, the second place team can try. Otherwise the chance goes to the last team. It only happens rarely that no team wants to try.

Now, this is great fun to watch, and I’ll tell you why. First, as I said, BULLY THE BULL is a great mascot, and every episode shows him in a cartoon to open the show, which is really cute. Next there’s Jim Bowen. Don’t let his older appearance and soft-spoken voice fool you. He’s a riot to listen to and watch. Not surprising, as he is a comedian by trade. Think Bill Cullen meets Pat Sajak, and you get the idea. The music package is infectiously catchy featuring a ragtime honky-tonk piece, that goes haywire with comedy effects when the grand prize is won. A survey conducted in England ranked the BULLSEYE theme as most popular in 2008. In fact, when BBC would feature BULLSEYE during its GAMESHOW MARATHON series, the audience clapped in time with the music.

All of these elements have combined to keep BULLSEYE on the air for many years. After watching my first episode last night, I can see why. It’s the perfect mix of knowledge, luck and skill. Check it out, we can all do with a bit of BULLY.


Return of NOW I Can Name That Tune

January 17, 2015

Here is a riddle for you: What does a well-known SESAME STREET film with Dennis Allen have in common with an opening scene of WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT,  the credit roll of AMAZON WOMEN ON THE MOON, and the very first Stretch Armstrong commercial from Kenner? They all feature a very familiar piece if Spike Jones influenced music.  U can see my faithful readers going right for the Dennis Allen clip for a reminder.

Well, thanks to a comment someone made on the credits roll clip of AMAZON, we can now lay to rest another musical mystery of yesteryear. That zany, wacked out piece of musical mayhem is called “Wild Clown”. The man behind it is Henrik Nielsen. Yes, the same Henrik Nielsen that gave us us the Joker Jackpot win cue which is called MARDI GRAS, and was also used on SESAME STREET’S 10 CLOWNS film. Now, when I first made inquiries about WILD CLOWN, the only lead I got was that Capitol Media Music originally owned it. My guess is Henrik’s compositions all went to Ole Georg Music, as I have seen his name associated with Ole Georg’s list of composers and credits. The mire I listen to WILD CLOWN, the more I can hear the connective tissue between it and MARDI GRAS. The instruments sound very similar, as do the comic sound effects that punctuate both pieces. I guess I always knew WILD CLOWN, was Henrik Nielsen, now I know for sure. I don’t think I’ll get much of an argument from you all when I say that Henrik managed to get a lot of mileage out of WILD CLOWN. Between Henrik Nielsen, David Lindup, and Joe Raposo I learned a lot about the far-reaching influence Spike Jones had on later generations of composers. Quite a fun-filled history lesson, if I SAY, I SAY, I SAY (wink)


Attend the tale of GALAVANT

January 5, 2015

Last night I caught the first two episodes of GALAVANT, ABC’s new musical situation comedy. Out of curiosity, I read reviews and comments from various online sources, from major publications to internet message boards. As expected, the critiques ranged from raves to negative comments that were tantamount to bigotry (no points for guessing where I read those). So, what is my take?

Glad you asked. GALAVANT is a totally bonkers, wonderfully tuneful fractured fairy tale, where oddball characters, pratfalls, and snappy dialogue are the order of the day. Consider, Galavant, the hero, is surrounded in the first episodes by a princess who bullies him into getting back into action to save her kingdom, Madalena, the woman he loved, who totally rejected him when he tried to rescue her from King Richard, the villain. Oh yes, King Richard, mean one second, and hysterically foppish and childish the next. He even needs his chef to feed him like a baby in one fall down funny scene. Speaking of fall down funny, we’re treated to one of the funniest jousts ever filmed. I won’t spoil the payoff, mainly because you just have to see for yourself. And there’s Gareth, who is quick to kick, punch and beat up anyone the king tells him to, but is NOT the sharpest sword in the armory.

Then there’s Alan Menken and Glen Slater’s music. Be warned, the theme song is going to be stuck in your head for days. Not that that’s a bad thing. The lyrics are just as cheeky as the dialogue. In a interview, Menken says that any style of music is fair game in GALAVANT’s universe. One second you’re hearing a soft-shoe number performed by King Richard and his court, in which we hear the nasty things Richard wants to do to Galavant, next we hear a left-handed romantic quartet, in which the four leads decide maybe the other person isn’t so bad. Make no mistake, even that quartet is filled with punchlines. I can’t wait for Weird Al Yankovic’s musical guest appearance coming in a future episode.

One thing that struck me about the negative comments. Some people beefed that it was silly, while others said there was too much music. Ummmmmm, news flash: ABC had been promoting GALAVANT as a musical comedy, and a knowingly silly one at that. Sorry you were expecting yet another dark, moody, grandiose epic with overly complicated stories, overdone battle scenes, and characters with more letters in their names than a WHEEL OF FORTUNE puzzle, and were disappointed that GALAVANT doesn’t fit your dystopian sensibilities. But I say it’s nice to end my weekend with a laugh and a song for a change. And hats off to ABC for giving us this series, even if it is only for a month. So three cheers for GALAVANT. Your name is already legendary.