Saturday, May 27, 2017

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: Lidsville: "A Little Hoodoo Goes A Long Way."


In “A Little Hoo-Doo Goes a Long Way,” Weenie (Billie Hayes) falls ill with the dreaded Ali-Baba virus.

Meanwhile, the Bad Hats mutiny against Hoo-Doo (Charles Nelson Reilly) when he demands they clean his house for him. 

The Bad Hats steal Hoo-Doo’s hat vehicle, the Hataram, and head for the real world. But the Hataram ends up in Mark’s (Butch Patrick) hands, ultimately.

He can’t leave for home, however, because he is worried about the sick Weenie. He and the other Good Hats come up with a plan to heal Weenie, and it involves a shrink ray that will get Nursie into Weenie’s ring.

                                               
Lidsville (1971-1973) sticks rigorously to format this week, featuring a story in which Mark could – again -- get home, using Hoo-Doo’s hat vehicle, but must stay in Lidsville because of his friendship with the “goodie-goodies” (as Hoo-Doo calls them), namely Weenie.

What this means, essentially is that the hat-a-ram (motorized flying hat) is the key to escaping Lidsville. It seems like Mark would set his sights, each week, on getting it again.  But, of course, he doesn’t do that.  Because that would end the series real quick.

It is surprising, however, that the Bad Hats rebel against Hoo-Doo here. However, I suppose that being asked to clean house is a mutiny-worthy offense, especially to a child watching this program on a Saturday morning. It’s one thing to lord it over the Good Hats, or collect back taxes. But having to clean up? That’s the worst.



In terms of series mythology, we see in “A Little Hoo-Doo Goes a Long Way” that the genie ring is actually permeable. By that, I mean you can just step through the gem into Weenie’s world inside. Nursie is able to, after being shrunk, walk right inside it. Inside, the sick Weenie is there, shrunken, but bed-ridden in her own little universe.

The gimmick of the week is a shrinking potion, used first by Nursie, and then used against Hoo-Doo to limit his threatening nature. The shrinking scenes are accomplished using the chroma-key, which was a frequently-used tool for the Kroffts in the 1970’s.

Next week: “Oh Brother.”

Saturday Morning Cult-TV Blogging: The Ghost Busters: "The Abominable Snowman" (December 13, 1975)


In the final episode of the Saturday morning series The Ghost Busters, the evil Dr. Centigrade (Ronny Graham) materializes with his sidekick, the Abominable Snowman, in the local graveyard. 

Everything the Abominable Snowman touches turns to ice, so he needs the heart of a warm-blooded human to replace his own.  

Dr. Centigrade determines the perfect candidate: Spenser!

Zero (Lou Scheimer) assigns the Ghost Busters to take down the ghostly duo, but Spenser bumbles his way onto Dr. Centigrade’s operating table.



The Abominable Snowman certainly made the rounds on Saturday morning television. He appeared in the third and final season of Land of the Lost (1975-1977), and in Bigfoot and Wild Boy (1977-1978) too.  Here, in The Ghost Busters, he is a shaggy, innocent (ghost) creature with no menace whatsoever. 

All the evil in the episode is provided by the scenery-chewing Ronny Graham who, as Dr. Centigrade, delivers his dialogue to the camera, consistently breaking the fourth-wall.

The actual plot here is a hold-over from “Jekyll and Hyde: Together for the First Time.” That episode saw Dr. Jekyll plotting to use the personality-less Spenser for a supernatural grafting of the Mr. Hyde personality.  In this episode, Spenser’s heart is needed to give the abominable snowman new life.



As we come to the end of The Ghost Busters journey, I will confess that I have developed a grudging respect for the slapstick, immensely silly series from 40-plus years ago.  

The same jokes get repeated every single week, the plots are ludicrous, and the sets and acting are cardboard.  And yet the show breaks you down with its inanity and good-heart. 

The Ghost Busters breaks through your resistance, and you just have to laugh at its weird flights of fancy.  I don't know that Saturday mornings have ever produced a weirder program than this one. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Tribute 2017: Jared Martin (1941-2017)


The press is today reporting the death of Jared Martin (1941-2017), an actor who is likely best-known to TV fans as a regular on the prime-time soap opera Dallas (1978-1991).

That description only tells part of the story, however. Jared Martin was also -- for more than twenty-five years -- a beloved presence on science fiction and horror television programming.

Jared Martin was best known in the genre for playing the lead role in The Fantastic Journey (1977). In that series, Mr. Martin portrayed a pacifist from the future named Varian. Varian was trapped in the Bermuda Triangle with characters from Atlantis, and elsewhere.

More than a decade later, Jared Martin played the lead role of Dr. Harrison Blackwood on the syndicated hit War of the Worlds (1988-1990).


Mr. Martin also had memorable guest roles on many genre hits through the years. He appeared in "Tell David," a memorable segment of Rod Serling's Night Gallery (1969-1973), and in "Fear Factor," an episode of Logan's Run (1977).



Mr. Martin also appeared in TV series such as The Incredible Hulk, Fantasy Island, Tales of the Gold Monkey, Knight Rider, and Airwolf.  He truly was a ubiquitous presence throughout two-decades of programming.

I will always remember Mr. Martin, in particular, for his thoughtful performances as Varian, on The Fantastic Journey. He brought a great dignity and inner strength to that role that is not easily forgotten. Jared Martin played Varian as a man who led not by violence or threats or intimidation, but through his intelligence and curiosity.

My condolences to Mr. Martin's friends and family at this difficult time. Rest in peace, Jared Martin.

Planet of the Apes TV Series Blogging: "The Legacy" (October 11, 1974)


In “The Legacy,” refugees Virdon (Ron Harper), Burke (James Naughton) and Galen (Roddy McDowall) travel to the ruins of a 20th century city and discover a government think-tank there.  

The hologram of a long-dead scientist informs the visitors that in buildings around the world are seeded discs containing crucial scientific information that can save the human race. 

One such vault is in this very city.

Unfortunately, the ancient computer needs to be recharged, a task that becomes of primary importance to Virdon in his quest to return home to his family and the 20th century.  He and the others separate, in hopes of procuring supplies which can help them build a re-charger.

But Virdon is promptly captured by General Urko (Mark Lenard) and Dr. Zaius (Booth Colman) and held in a 20th century building that resembles a castle.

There, Zaius hopes to use a captured human female, Arn (Zina Bethune) and child, Kraik (Jackie Earle Haley) to gain Virdon’s confidence, believing that humans are “extremely vulnerable in family situations.”



Could man have ever known so much and done so little with it?” Galen asks his human friends in “The Legacy,” and that’s a good question.  

It’s an interrogative that gets right at the undercurrent of social commentary that runs through the 1974 series, and reminds viewers that man, after a fashion, is responsible  -- in this universe at least -- for his own destruction.

Unfortunately, the idea is not presented as clearly or as cleanly as it might be on Planet of the Apes because of some of the staging/background information/costuming choices we get here. 


For example, the hologram of the human scientist (Jon Lormer) appears at one point, and we see a wise old human in a futuristic kind of lab-coat or outfit.  How are we to square this gent’s futuristic appearance with the fact that the human race killed itself, essentially, in a nuclear war? 

How did humanity become advanced and destroy itself, in other words?  I don't believe that Virdon and Burke wore clothes like this in their everyday lives, so the implication is that this human existed long after they disappeared.  

So why does the city look so...mid-20th century?  

The Planet of the Apes TV series never quite explains these contradictions. The apes must rise because humanity falls. And humanity falls because of the species’ own, flawed, warring nature.  But this guy looks pretty peaceful and serene.

Overlooking this problem in internal historical consistency, “The Legacy” is still likely one of the stronger episodes of the short-lived series in part because it at least attempts to move forward the overall story-arc about the fall of man, and the mechanism by which Virdon hopes to return home and warn the species.

The episode’s title “The Legacy” also works dramatically in a number of intriguing ways. One of mankind’s legacies is the destroyed city itself, a place that was once a paradise but is now in ruins. 

To put a fine point on the matter: Destruction is humanity's legacy.

The vaults filled with scientific knowledge also represent man’s legacy.  They symbolize his ability to look to the future even when all seems lost in the present. Virdon is understandably giddy about excavating this particular legacy.  He waxes poetic about the idea of a “lot of long-forgotten ideas that would make this a nicer world.”  

In part, this is because Virdon is an optimist.  Even after everything, he would rather see the good in mankind than the evil.

Similarly, we might think of the a legacy in terms of Zaius’s dialogue about humanity being vulnerable in family situations.  

Virdon is a family man through and through, and that legacy of family leads him to accept Kraik and Arn as family members, at least after a fashion.  But the idea of family proves not to be the deadly weakness that Zaius hopes, but rather the strength by which the humans survive and endure.  

Eventually, this human family comes together, and escapes the trap Zaius has set.  Perhaps our legacy is that in bad times, we stick together, and accept others into our "tribe."


Finally, Virdon makes specific mention of a legacy in regards to the human custom of the hand-shake.  He notes that people don’t really know why they do it….they just do it.  The original purpose for the hand shake (involving the drawing of a sword...) is long since inoperative by the 20th century, and by Virdon's time. Yet the tradition endures.

This raises another significant question about mankind.  Is he simply a mindless being who does things by rote, because they are familiar to him?  Does this account for his propensity to make war?

Or does man lean on tradition and convention because they honor who he hopes to be as a species?  It is true that he makes war, but he also clings to family.

The idea of legacy, threaded throughout the episode, makes this installment a fairly-layered and compelling one.

Unfortunately, the story arc about the knowledge vaults introduced in “The Legacy” is never continued in the short-lived series.  It would have been great to see the astronauts go in search of and perhaps find another vault, one possessing different secrets.  This is a series with such a rich backdrop, and such rich potential.  And yet most of the stories fail to mine the possibilities.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Happy 40th Anniversary, Star Wars (May 25, 1977)


 

I will always remember the summer of 1977 and the coming of Star Wars.  It is difficult for me to reckon that it happened forty long years ago.

Where has the time gone?

I was in second grade in 1977, and a friend who lived up the block from me in Glen Ridge, N.J. came to school one morning clutching a Star Wars movie booklet; one that featured imagery of Dewbacks, Banthas, Tusken Raiders, Jawas, C3PO, Chewbacca, Darth Vader and other characters of seemingly impossible and unbelievable imagination. 

I had never seen so many strange creatures assembled between two covers, and I so listened in awe as Stephen, my friend, described the film to me in some detail. I still didn't quite understand why robots were co-existing with monsters and other creatures. 



It seemed...weird.

At this point, I should add, I was still high on King Kong (1976), and could not quite believe that any movie might possibly surpass that particular viewing experience.  

So sue me.  I was seven.

Soon after my introduction via Stephen to Star Wars, my parents took me and my sister to see the film at a movie theater in Paramus N.J., and I couldn’t wait to see what I would make of the movie.


Only -- in actuality -- I could wait. 

In line. 

For close to three hours. 

The line at the theater stretched around the large rectangular building -- around three corners -- and then led out into the huge parking lot. And the line moved at a snail’s pace.

Finally, of course, we got into the auditorium, and it was absolutely packed. Everyone in my family had to squeeze past other patrons to find four seats together. For awhile, it looked like that might not even be a possibility.

And then the movie started, and my life changed.  The movie swept me away into another world; nay another reality. My father remembers to this day, that he actually felt breathless during the final Death Star attack scene, it was so exciting.

That's how I felt too.

That night -- before I went to bed -- my mother asked me if I had liked the movie. My mind was still reeling, and I said that I did.  But I suppose I was a little reserved in my answer. 

She then absolved me of my guilt: “It’s okay, John if you liked it better than King Kong,” she said, apparently sensing my loyalty and allegiance to the big ape.  

My façade cracked quickly at that point and I was glad and relieved to admit the truth.

I had liked Star Wars a whole lot better than King Kong.  It truly was…amazing, like nothing I had ever imagined.  

But at that point, I could not imagine what Star Wars would one day become, or how it would change our world.

I did not imagine, at age seven, that the film would open up the floodgates for other space movies that I would come to love and cherish, like Alien (1979), The Black Hole (1979), and Moonraker (1979).

I did not imagine that George Lucas's vision would change the shape of television, a medium which would soon bring us Battlestar Galactica (1978-1981), and Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979-1982).

I did not understand that Star Wars' success would be the impetus to finally bring back the long-on-hiatus Star Trek franchise.

Nor did I understand that the film would shape science fiction and fantasy cinema for decades to come.

And finally, I could not imagine that one day I would be taking my very own nine year old son out of school early to catch an afternoon show of a Star Wars sequel (The Force Awakens) or prequel (Rogue One).  

Star Wars has, finally, become something that I share with a different family; with my wife and son.

At seven -- way back in 1977 -- I suppose, I was just thinking about my favorite character, Han Solo, and how cool it would be to play Star Wars (1977) on the playground at school with my friends.

Forty years have now passed, and I am, a middle-aged man. That school playground is back, quite a distance, in my rear-view mirror. There is more white than red in my beard now. 

But Star Wars endures, evergreen, -- a veritable cinematic fountain of youth.  

It is a story, and represents a kind of storytelling that -- across the generations -- possesses the power to make each one of us feel young again. It is a call to adventure of an innocent and joyful type.  It evokes childhood, and yet is not childish.

Where were you, and how old were you, when you first saw Star Wars?  

Let me know in the comments section below.  And happy fortieth birthday to Star Wars.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Tribute: Sir Roger Moore (1927-2017)


I am reeling from the news, just reported, that Sir Roger Moore (1927-2017), has passed away following a short struggle with cancer.  

It was just a few short weeks ago here on the blog that I answered a question from a reader about why Roger Moore was, in some ways, the critical factor in the survival of the 007 film series in its second decade.

I  have appreciated his film performances as 007 since I was ten years old.


Indeed, I grew up with Roger Moore as James Bond, and the first Bond film I saw in theaters was 1979's Moonraker.  Right from the start, I loved Moore's humor and grace in the role of 007, and I have always felt that his contributions to the franchise were wildly (and grossly) underestimated.

Moore truly made the character his own, instead of attempting to ape Sean Connery's performances, and that choice by Moore, I believe, contributed immeasurably to the longevity of the character. That choice also paved the way for the interpretations of Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan, and Daniel Craig.

Sir Roger Moore played the role of Bond in a total seven films, from 1973-1985.

These films are: Live and Let Die (1973), The Man with the Golden Gun (1974), The Spy Who Loved Me (1977), Moonraker (1979), For Your Eyes Only (1981), Octopussy (1983) and A View to a Kill (1985).

For Your Eyes Only is, for me, a high point for Moore's era as 007. I actually liked his interpretation of Bond even more as the actor aged. As he grew older, Moore brought in a kind of world-weariness to go along with the arched eyebrows and white dinner jacket. I found this approach enormously appealing, as it added gravitas to the charm and humor.


Sir Roger Moore's long career encompassed more than 007, of course. He starred in TV series such as Ivanhoe (1958-1959), The Alaskan (1959-1960), Maverick (1960-1961), The Saint (1962-1967), and The Persuaders (1971-1972).  

Outside of acting, Sir Roger Moore is well-known as a humanitarian, and for many years served as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF.

He was a secret agent at the movies, but a superhero of sorts, in real life. He will be greatly missed.

Farewell, Mr. Bond.

Star Trek 50th Anniversary Blogging: "For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky" (November 8, 1968)


Stardate 5476.3

The Enterprise unexpectedly comes under attack from primitive missiles.  Curious about the origin of these weapons, Captain Kirk (William Shatner) orders the starship to backtrack the missiles to their point of origin: a large asteroid.

During the investigation, Kirk learns that Dr. McCoy (De Forest Kelley) is suffering from a terminal illness, xenopolycythemia. In one year’s time, the disease will take his life. Kirk undertakes the sad duty of requesting a replacement chief medical officer, even though Bones prefers that no one know what is going on with him, or his medical condition.

Kirk, Spock (Leonard Nimoy) and Bones beam down to the surface of the asteroid, and learn that it is actually hollow. It is a spaceship with a technologically-advanced interior. The world is known as Yonada, and the high priestess, Natira (Kate Woodville) is the people’s link to the planet’s custodian: the Oracle.

The men from the Enterprise learn that Yonada is on a collision course with Daran V, a planet inhabited by billions. They attempt to interfere with the Oracle's stewardship, in hopes of re-directing the asteroid from its dangerous course.

When they fail to do so, McCoy asks to remain and marry Natira. In the tradition of the people, he is outfitted with an “Instrument of Obedience” so that the Oracle can punish him when he breaks the law..

Soon, however, McCoy must risk the wrath of the Oracle to contact the Enterprise. He believes a special “Book of the People” may hold the key to re-orienting the asteroid from its collision course.


Despite its poetic title, “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky” is not exactly lyrical. 

On the contrary, the story-line is trite for two reasons.  

First, the "society-controlled-by-a-computer" narrative has already been vetted on Star Trek. It has actually been done to death on the series, and done better (“Return of the Archons,” “A “Taste of Armageddon,” "The Apple.") 


Secondly, the romance involving McCoy and Natira feels as forced as does McCoy’s subplot about acquiring, mysteriously, a terminal disease.  Natira hardly seems strong-willed enough for McCoy. She is not a bad person, but she has accepted the Oracle's dominion over her life, which seems like McCoy would -- or should -- have a problem with.

“For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky,” however, is not a bad episode in the same vein of “Spock’s Brain” or “And the Children Shall Lead,” and it does possess some beautiful, if small moments. Two immediately jump to mind.  One is visual.  

I appreciate the shot for example, from between the rungs of a spiral staircase as the Enterprise landing party first descends into the hollow world of Yonada; its people gathering with curiosity.  This simple composition manages to capture the idea of a high-tech and claustrophobic subterranean world at the same time. The images suggests more than the low budget could possibly allow.  The viewer gets a sense of "being" there, in the subterranean world.

Secondly, I appreciate some of the episode's performances in the quieter moments, particularly in the sequence after Kirk has notified Spock about McCoy’s condition. McCoy awakens, weakened, after a battle with Yonada’s guards, and Spock is at his side, quiet and supportive, instantly. So much so that McCoy immediately and automatically senses that something is wrong; that Spock knows about his illness. Nimoy brings such quiet dignity to this moment. Spock loves McCoy, albeit in his Vulcan way, and that is plain from the performance.

Beyond such moments, I would state, without prejudice, that the episode never truly rises above its narrative contrivances.  


The first narrative contrivance is that McCoy would contract a terminal illness and fall in love, all in a relatively short span. 

And then, of course, the adventure of the week just happens to be one that can lead to a (heretofore unknown) cure for his disease. 

So does a (once-again healthy) Bones get his wedding to Natira annulled? Gene Roddenberry’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) novelization suggests that McCoy leaves Starfleet to live with the people of Yonada (descendants of the Fabrini). But there is no indication of that action here.

Also, I don't much care for the “falling instantly in love stories” that appear semi-regularly during Season Three.  Spock falls in love in “All Our Yesterdays,” Kirk does so in “The Paradise Syndrome” and “Requiem for Methuselah."  And even Scotty falls in love in “Lights of Zetar.”  Two of those love stories -- “The Paradise Syndrome” and “All Our Yesterdays” -- are outstanding episodes, but the others merely raise questions.

I would have much preferred to meet McCoy’s grown daughter, Joanna, for an episode, rather than witness this not-very-believable romance for the character. I guess the series wanted to do a McCoy episode, so he gets a romance tale and a dying-of-a-fatal-disease story wrapped up in one. 

But think about how McCoy, as a real person, might think back about these events from a later perspective.  O

h yeah, that was the week I came down with a fatal disease, fell in love, got married, and then had my fatal diseased cured.

What a difference a day makes, right?

Beyond the awkward love story (and contrived disease narrative), “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky” doesn’t do enough world-building for my taste.  



For instance, why must the people of Yonada be kept in the dark about the true nature of their planet?  

This act of suppressing the truth transforms the Oracle from guardian or custodian, to repressive autocrat.  I suppose it is a comment on the perils of technology, a point we often return to in Star Trek, yet there is not much focus on this aspect of the story.  The Oracle is just another computer to have its plug pulled, because it is bad.  But there is no reason for it to be bad in this episode. Landru thought he was saving the people in "Return of the Archons," and the citizens of Eminiar VII obeyed their computers because they thought they were avoiding the terrors of war.  What good does the Oracle do, or what problem does he manage, by giving pain to his people when they learn the truth about their situation.

The Yonadans live in a repressive, overbearing culture, and yet there is no underlying reason for that repression to exist.  It would be manifestly better, given their destination, for the citizens of Yonada to be well-informed about the galaxy. The Oracle should understand that.

Also, I have trouble believing -- given the oppressive nature of the Oracle -- that Bones would just willingly let himself be implanted with the instrument of obedience. I know it is a requirement for marriage to Natira, but McCoy hails from a free, democratic society. Why would he -- an enlightened individual -- accept the dominion of the Oracle?  I know that people convert to their spouse's religion all the time, but said people don't usually have evidence that a deity is a liar, and oppressing the people.

I would simply restate here that I don’t feel that “For the World is Hollow and I Have Touched the Sky” is a terrible episode, merely a woefully average one.  The execution and performances are all fine, and yet the story is not very scintillating, or memorable.  And the tale raises too many questions of motivations, both on the part of McCoy and the Oracle.

Next week, another mini-masterpiece of Season Three: "The Tholian Web."

Monday, May 22, 2017

Ask JKM a Question: LGBT Characters in Star Wars?


A reader, Matt, writes

“John, what do you think about J.J. Abrams’ promises for inclusion of a gay character in the Star Wars franchise? I see it is a good sign and hope you do too."





I did see that article you linked me, when it came out way back in 2016. But I would beware of reading too much into that statement. 

Abrams actually said, merely, that it was counter-intuitive to suggest homosexuality doesn't exist in a galaxy far, far away. 

He didn't say he was actually creating a gay character to be featured in the films. We didn't see one in The Force Awakens (2015), or in Rogue One (2017), after all.

I think it would certainly be appropriate to feature a gay character in Star Wars -- and not just in the books, but on screen -- yet I think it is going to be tougher to do it in this particular franchise than it has been to add a gay character to Star Trek (both in Beyond [2016] and the upcoming Discovery [2017]).

Why? Well Star Wars is this big, generic, monolithic entity that already struggles to develop characters adequately while moving the overall plot forward.  

Who was really satisfied, for example, with the information we got about Han and Leia’s marriage in The Force Awakens?  The relationship was managed satisfactorily, but I wouldn’t say it was handled with any sort of complexity or depth.

So how is the franchise going to find time to include a gay protagonist or antagonist, and explore his or her character?

That could happen, sure, but given the time constraints and the franchise ownership by Disney, I suspect it’s a no go.  Economic interest, in this case, is going to trump the desire for diversity.

I guess it could happen that we to get in Star Wars an update of the Lt. Hawk paradigm from Star Trek: First Contact (1996). 

As you may recall, we kept getting reports that the character was going to be gay, but when the movie was released there was no discussion at all of his sexual orientation. We were simply supposed to speculate and wonder, I guess.  

I could see Star Wars featuring an enigmatic, stoic new character, and the press getting “leaked” reports that he or she is gay or lesbian, but with no acknowledgment of this fact in the film itself.

Again, I’d be quite happy to be proven wrong. I hope I am proven wrong.

Here’s another pertinent question: does J.J Abrams strike anybody as particularly brave or forward-leaning in terms of his creative choices in major tent-pole franchises? 

I like and enjoy his work a great deal but his primary mode, it seems to me, is sort of generically paying respect to pre-existing, classic properties such as Mission: Impossible, Star Trek, and Star Wars.  All his films are enjoyable and entertaining, but they aren’t exactly the tip of the spear in terms of societal innovation or progress.  Instead, they rely a great deal on feelings of nostalgia.

Past is good prologue in this case. How many openly gay characters have appeared in major roles in J.J.’s blockbuster films so far? 

I may be forgetting somebody, but I think the answer is…one (Sulu in Beyond, which Abrams did NOT direct).

Which means that Abrams' desire to be inclusive in Star Wars, going forward, deserves serious and continued scrutiny. 

Don’t forget to ask me your questions at Muirbusiness@yahoo.com

Cult-TV Theme Watch: Waitresses



A waitress is a woman who serves customers at tables, at an eatery.

In cult-TV history, waitresses have often been regular characters, or played important guest roles in the narrative.


David Lynch's Twin Peaks (1990-1991), for example, gave the world Shelly Johnson (Madchen Amick), a character whom TV guide described as one of the "most memorable" waitresses in TV history. Shelly works at the Double R. Diner, and is a high-school drop-out married to an abusive husband. The character will return -- but will she be a waitress? -- in the 2017 revival.

True Blood's (2008 - 2014) Sookie Stackhouse (Anna Paquin) is also a waitress, at Merlotte's Bar and Grill.  Sookie is part-fairie and part-human, and can hear the (negative) thoughts of those around her, including her customers.  Arlene Fowler (Carrie Preston) is a supporting character on the series, and also a waitress.

Of course, outside the genre, three waitresses headlined the sitcom Alice (1976-1985). Alice Hyatt (Linda Lavin), Flo (Polly Holliday) and Vera (Beth Howland) worked in Mel's Diner, a greasy spoon outside of Phoenix, Arizona. Flo's catchphrase, "kiss my grits!," was often directed at the difficult Mel (Vic Tayback), short order cook and proprietor.


The short-lived series, Nightmare Cafe (1992), from creator Wes Craven, also featured a waitress as a main character: Lindsay Frost's Fay Peronivic.  Seeking redemption, Fay became the waitress at the mysterious and supernatural diner, helping lost souls find their destiny; for good or bad.


Finally, the third season opener of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003), saw Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) leave behind her life in Sunnydale.  In distant, cold L.A. she began her new life as a waitress named "Anne."

The Cult-TV Faces of: Waitresses

Identified by Hugh: The Flintstones

Identified by Hugh: Alice.

Not Identified: Space Stars.

Identified by Hugh: Twin Peaks

Identified by Hugh: Nightmare Cafe

Not Identified: The X-Files: "Oubliette."

Identified by Hugh: Buffy the Vampire Slayer: "Anne."

Identified by Hugh: DS9

Identified by Hugh: Smallville.

Identified by Hugh: Supernatural.

Identified by Hugh: True Blood

Identified by Lonestarr357: Once Upon a Time.

Identified by Hugh: Lost Girl.

Identified by Chris G: Mad Men.

Identified by Hugh: Doctor Who.