News of the Week: The Rise of Skywalker, the Best TV Shows, and the Joys of Roasted Garlic Ice Cream

In the news for the week ending April 19, 2019, are a Star Wars movie trailer, a message from Alex Trebek, a garlicky dessert, and much more.

Rey from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker

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People Love to Argue about Movie Trailers Now

Here’s the trailer for the new Star Wars movie, Star Wars: A Lot of People Didn’t Like the Last One So We’re Gonna Fix Things (okay, it’s actually titled Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker), which will be released this Christmas and is directed by J.J. Abrams. Boy, do people have opinions about it!

People dissect trailers now. And they even dissect teaser trailers, which is pretty much what this is until the big, official trailer comes out later. With fandom and the web and the fact that a lot of people have a lot of time on their hands and love to give their opinions, everyone is talking about what the scenes in this trailer REALLY mean.

There used to be a time — if I can slip into old curmudgeon mode for a moment here — when we didn’t have this much pop culture to talk about. Oh, we had pop culture, but we didn’t have this many outlets to discuss it. When Darth Vader told Luke that he was his father at the end of The Empire Strikes Back, we all freaked out and wondered, what the hell? But we actually had to wait a few years for the next movie for all the answers. There were print fanzines and maybe even clubs that people belonged to, but you couldn’t get thousands of opinions and theories instantly.

When J.R. was shot on the third season finale of Dallas (a cliffhanger in a time when few TV shows ended a season that way), we didn’t have blogs and social media and forums to endlessly give our theories about who did it and why, what the gun sounded like when he was shot, if what he was wearing was any clue to who it was, and if his murder was part of some bigger conspiracy on the show (it wasn’t — there weren’t a lot of those on TV 40 years ago either). We had to wait — all summer! — until the show came back and we found out who the shooter was. Spoiler alert: It was Kristin.

Fans are dissecting the Star Wars trailer at a subatomic level, though there’s a reason fan comes from the word fanatic. What does the title mean? Is Luke alive? Is Rey a Skywalker after all? Is Skywalker now a general term, like Darth? Will Kylo Ren turn into a good guy? Will Lando avenge Han’s death? OMG, is that Palpatine’s laugh at the end?!?

I just hope this last Star Wars movie (until Disney decides to make more of them, I mean) answers the question I’ve had for years: What’s Jar Jar Binks up to?

Is Game of Thrones the Best TV Show of All Time?

My first instinct is to say “no” and just move on to the next topic, but let’s talk about it a little bit more.

There seems to be this tendency today — mostly among younger people, but seeping into the older demo too — to use superlatives and big, historical accolades way too often. A TV show/movie/song/book can’t just be “great” or “excellent” or something you really love; it has to be the “best of all time!” or something described as “the first” or “the most” of whatever it is. I was actually trying to figure out why this is when I came across this L.A. Times piece titled “Is Game of Thrones TV’s Greatest Show of All Time? Yes, It Is.”

It’s almost as if the writer is trolling us, taunting us to disagree with her, to start an argument (that’s another thing that pop culture writers do too much now). Look, if this writer (or anyone) really loves Game of Thrones and personally believes it’s their favorite, that’s great! I don’t watch the show and don’t know that much about it, but if it’s your thing, I’m not going to argue with you. But too often the word favorite is confused with best, a mix-up of the personal and the universal. They’re not the same thing, even if sometimes something can straddle both worlds.

I don’t know the age of the L.A. Times writer, but too often writers don’t have the history of pop culture and are unable to put something in the right context. This is why people declare that Brie Larson is the first woman to headline a solo superhero film for Marvel, somehow forgetting about Jennifer Garner in Elektra. This is why a writer can declare that something in a movie is “stupid” just because the movie is “old” (meaning “released before 2000”). It’s why people who should really know better declare 1999 as “the best year for movies ever!” Spoiler alert: It wasn’t.

It’s not that every single writer should remember every single piece of pop culture that has happened (though you’d think they’d use Google more), it’s that writers should take a deep breath and stop themselves before they type the words “the first ever… ,” “the most… ,” or “the only…”

It happens all the time now, and it’s one of the reasons I think the massive amount of pop culture writing available now, which you would think would be a good thing (hey, more stuff to read!), isn’t as great as people think. Everything is exhausting now. As if we need the 100th “10 Best Sitcoms of All Time” list.

If you were to ask me what my favorite TV shows of all time are, I would say The Dick Van Dyke Show and Mad Men. Notice I said “favorite,” not “best.” I would never title a column “Is The Dick Van Dyke Show TV’s Greatest Show of All Time? Yes, It Is.” (Even though it totally is.)

Update: Alex Trebek

The Jeopardy! host released a video this week again thanking viewers for all of their support and letters since his announcement a couple of months ago that he was being treated for stage IV pancreatic cancer. Trebek says in the video that he’s “feeling good” and he “looks forward to seeing all of you in September” when the 36th season of the show starts.

TCM at 25

This week marked the 25th anniversary of Turner Classic Movies. The channel has set up a website for the anniversary, with exclusive video, contests, remembrances from hosts and fans, and a schedule of all of the specials the channel will run for the rest of the month.

The first movie TCM showed (no surprise) was the uncut version of Gone with the Wind, released in 1939, a year one could argue is the actual greatest year for movies. I still miss Robert Osborne.

I may have said this before here, but if a household could have only one channel they could watch, I’d pick TCM. You can have all of the other networks and channels and streaming services. TCM is one of the things that keeps me sane today.

RIP Georgia Engel, Bibi Andersson, Susan Harrison, Gene Wolfe, and Earl Thomas Conley

Georgia Engel played Ted Baxter’s girlfriend (later wife) Georgette on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and later went on to play Amy’s mom on Everybody Loves Raymond. She also appeared on The Betty White Show, Coach, Jennifer Slept Here, and many other TV shows, movies, and plays. She died last week at the age of 70.

Bibi Andersson appeared in many Ingmar Bergman films, including Wild Strawberries, The Seventh Seal, Scenes from a Marriage, and Persona. She died recently at the age of 83.

Susan Harrison’s best-known role was as Burt Lancaster’s troubled sister in the classic film Sweet Smell of Success. She also appeared on The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, and Bonanza. She died last month at the age of 80.

Gene Wolfe was an acclaimed science fiction writer, known for such works as The Book of the New Sun and The Fifth Head of Cerberus. He was also the editor of Plant Engineering, a professional journal, and he helped invent the machine that makes Pringles potato crisps. He died last weekend at the age of 87.

Earl Thomas Conley had several country hits in the ’70s and ’80s, including “Holding Her and Loving You,” “Don’t Make It Easy for Me,” and “Somewhere Between Right and Wrong.” He died last week at the age of 77.

Quote of the Week

“When you internalize what you believe to be someone else’s opinion of you, it becomes your opinion of you.”

—Mary Laura Philpott, in her fantastic essay collection I Miss You When I Blink, which you should buy. I mean right now. Go buy it and then come back here.

This Week in History

Thomas Jefferson Born (April 13, 1743)

Since this was tax week, here’s Ben Railton’s piece on how Jefferson repealed the whiskey tax in 1801 after the very controversial 1800 election.

First McDonald’s Franchise Restaurant Opens (April 15, 1955)

Technically, the very first McDonald’s — called McDonald’s Bar-B-Que — opened in San Bernardino, California, in 1940, though the McDonald brothers did have other food stands before that, including one at the Monrovia Airport in Monrovia, California.

The oldest McDonald’s that’s still in operation is the restaurant on Lakewood and Florence in Downey, California. It was the third store in the chain and opened in 1953.

This Week in Saturday Evening Post History: Paperboy (April 14, 1951)

Paperboy

If you look closely, you can see that the kid threw one of the papers onto the roof and the guy has to reach out the window to get it. I’m more interested in the pattern on the sidewalk. I think that kid went flying off his bike a few seconds after this scene.

National Garlic Day

Today is National Garlic Day. Yes, a whole day to celebrate garlic. There are even garlic festivals! Here’s a recipe for Chicken with Garlic Sauce from Taste of Home, while The Seasoned Mom has a 20-Minute Garlic and Herb Tomato Sauce. Garlic desserts for the warmer weather that’s starting? Yup, those exist too, including this Roasted Garlic Ice Cream with Raspberry Preserve Ribbon.

As a bonus, eating garlic will keep those Game of Thrones vampires away. There are vampires on Games of Thrones, right?

Next Week’s Holidays and Events

Easter (April 21)

Here’s a great collection of past Easter covers from the Post, dating from 1905 to 1959.

Arbor Day (April 26)

“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the reply Bob. I have the black converter box so I don’t have a cable company or anything like that. I also don’t have a bill for my TV, and love that. I got a lot more channels in 2013 when I made the switch to it from having to pay Time-Warner and extra $35 per month for the TV.

    It’s bad enough I have to pay $65 for my internet and phone combo, but oh well. My desktop makes it possible (and easy) to write and send my comments to your site, and the Post’s, so that’s good! We’re all getting my money’s worth with my fairly frequent writings.

    Meanwhile I stand corrected on Barbara Colby’s death as far as the month: it was July ’75 not August, and was in the Venice area of West L.A.

  2. Hmmm…I don’t know what that could be, Bob. Either your local station is having a problem or maybe your cable/satellite system? I haven’t heard of any contract disputes or anything like that.

  3. I was saddened to learn of Georgia Engel passing away at only age 70. Her presence on the ‘Mary Tyler Moore Show’ was unique, and contributed a nice element and balance that was just right. Her chemistry with Ted Knight was wonderful, and brought out a different side of him that was fun.

    A favorite episode of the entire series aired on 2/8/75, best known as the ‘Ugly Green Dress’. It was actually a sequel to one from Sept. ’74 where Mary was in jail (briefly) for not revealing a source on a news story. There she befriended a lovable hooker named Sherry (Barbara Colby) who was trying to find a more respectable line of work. Mary promised to help.

    Sherry reappeared several months later now as a dress designer, at Mary’s door, with a well-meaning (but risque) dress she had made just for Mary. Mary put it on, and awkwardness ensued with Ted and Georgette showing up in one of their best performances, then later Mr. Grant! Mary tactfully told Sherry the truth the dress wasn’t her cup of tea, and encouraged (with love) to perhaps keep looking for another line of work.

    I feel terrible that Barbara Colby was murdered (shot) in August 1975, (Los Angeles) and that it still remains an unsolved mystery 44 years later.

    Mary’s show aired on CBS, which as of 2 weeks ago, I can no longer get on my TV. I can see whatever shows from the network on the network’s dot com or Hulu, fortunately. I get all the others, and did the scan ahead of time. I don’t understand what’s going on. Bob, have you heard of this happening? I’d finally like an answer. I’ll look for your reply right here.

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