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Great TV and Movie Reunions

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We’re all suckers for reunions, aren’t we? They speak to our collective sense of the passage of time, our feelings of mortality and our deep desire for human connection. Hollywood reunions exploit this to great effect – which is a wordy way of saying I can’t wait for the upcoming “Arrested Development” update now being produced for Netflix. In the meantime, here are nine terrific TV and movie reunions.

THE WEST WING POLITICAL AD

This one is pretty recent. The “West Wing” gang got together to help the campaign of cast member Mary McCormack’s sister out in Michigan by producing a short video. It’s actually a nonpartisan ad, and it shows that C.J., Toby, Josh and President Bartlett haven’t lost their touch. And of course there’s a great walk-and-talk scene!

THE MARX BROTHERS ON G.E. TRUE THEATER

Obscure, but poignant in its way. On March 8, 1959, Harpo and Chico Marx starred in an episode of “G.E. True Theater” called “The Incredible Jewel Robbery.” Now, any time you get two of the Marx Brothers together, it’s an occasion for celebration. What took it to the next level was the appearance of brother Groucho at the end of the episode. I happen to think that old men acting silly for a laugh is a noble thing; it’s especially true when they clearly enjoy each other’s company this much.

SONNY AND CHER ON LETTERMAN SHOW

The emotions were much more complicated in 1987 when Sonny and Cher went on “Late Night with David Letterman.” It was years after their divorce, and Letterman somehow persuaded them to sing “I Got You Babe” during the broadcast. I remember that Sonny, in particular, seemed emotional. It was an awkward, but riveting, reunion.

MARY TYLER MOORE AND DICK VAN DYKE REVISIT LAURA AND ROB PETRIE

Mary Tyler Moore and Dick Van Dyke shared an incredible chemistry on the old “Dick Van Dyke Show,” and it remains obvious every time they’re on stage together. My favorite example of this was from 1979, when Mary briefly had a variety show and Dick appeared as a guest star. They did an extended “Rob and Laura” sketch, in which Mary is in psychotherapy and Dick has to write the eulogy for Alan Brady’s funeral. It was like comedy comfort food.

THE SEINFELD GANG ON CURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM

Here’s a case in which a TV reunion settled some unfinished business. More than a decade after the final episode of “Seinfeld” fell flat, Jerry & Co. did a multi-episode story on “Curb Your Enthusiasm” in which they returned to their characters. It was absolutely brilliant. The writing was sharp, insightful and – most important – funny.

DEAN AND JERRY REUNITE ON LIVE TELEVISION

In terms of reunion shock value, nothing beats the moment at the 1976 Muscular Dystrophy Association telethon when Dean Martin walked out to greet his old partner, Jerry Lewis. They hadn’t seen each other in 20 years, and both were sheepish and stunned. Frank Sinatra had orchestrated the whole thing, which went on for several minutes and had all the Hollywood schmaltz of a Rat Pack movie. First, Jerry says to Frank, under his breath, “You son of a b—-.” Then he looks at Dean and asks, “So, how you been?”

STAR TREK GOES WHERE NO FILM HAS GONE BEFORE

Aside from those ghastly uniforms, the return of “Star Trek” a decade after its cancellation has to be the most successful Hollywood reunion ever. Sure, “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” was ponderous, but it led to a movie series that continues to this day, plus several well-received TV series.

LEAVE IT TO BEAVER REBOOT

The beloved sitcom, “Leave It to Beaver,” had an unlikely second act, thanks to a reunion. Most of the cast came back in 1983 for a TV movie called, “Still the Beaver.” In it, the Beaver was a divorced dad with two kids, and the public was intrigued. That led to a second regular series, which ran for several years.

THE NEWHART FINALE

With one scene, Bob Newhart brilliantly cut to the hard truth about his sitcom, “Newhart.” It was this: as funny as “Newhart” was, it never could erase the audience’s memory of Bob’s previous series, “The Bob Newhart Show.” How do we know this? Because in the “Newhart” series finale, Bob suddenly wakes up in bed with Suzanne Pleshette, his wife from the old show! To this day, it’s the best finale in TV history.

Brings a smile to your face, doesn’t it?

Best Fireworks on Film & TV

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Hollywood fireworks can’t match the spectacle of a live show in the night sky – but that doesn’t stop movie and TV folks from trying. They use fireworks to illustrate everything from patriotism and protest to love and longing. See for yourself.

LOVE AMERICAN STYLE

I have fond memories of watching this anthology TV series from 1969-74, which was perfect for its era and featured everyone from Flip Wilson to Julie Newmar. Particularly memorable was its intro, which had some groovy fireworks.

MANHATTAN

Woody Allen’s use of fireworks – black and white fireworks, no less – and the music of George Gershwin is nothing short of brilliant. In the opening of his 1979 ode to the Big Apple, Woody shows us a wide shot of fireworks over the city skyline to suggest the excitement and majesty of New York.

LORD OF THE RINGS: THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING

Old Gandalf (Ian McKellen) was sort of the Grucci Brothers of Middle Earth. Here, in the 2001 movie adaptation of the book, Gandalf’s pyrotechnics are peerless.

TO CATCH A THIEF

Ba-Boom! Film fireworks have never been sexier than in Alfred Hitchcock’s 1955 thriller, starring Grace Kelly and Cary Grant.

V FOR VENDETTA

Fireworks stand for liberty in “V For Vendetta,” a 2005 movie about freedom fighters trying to overturn a fictitious, totalitarian regime. The explosions might not be everyone’s idea of a good time, but the fireworks are amazing.

RETURN OF THE JEDI

There’s only one thing to do after you’ve defeated Darth Vader and the Emperor, and you find yourself on a planet full of teddy bears: set off some kickass fireworks. This is how George Lucas did it back in 1983.

MARY POPPINS

In one of the most magical sequences in 1964′s “Mary Poppins,” a fusillade of fireworks chase a group of dancing chimney sweeps off the rooftops of London. Despite one of the goofier British accents in film history, Dick Van Dyke is still too cool for words.

THE GATHERING

What are fireworks doing in this 1977 TV Christmas movie? Well, they’re a sign that you have to live for today. Ed Asner plays a cold, distant father who brings his family together for one last holiday before he meets his maker.

THE BOY WHO COULD FLY

“The Boy Who Could Fly,” from 1986, is not a terribly well-known movie. Among other things, it is the story of a new kid in town who befriends an autistic boy. One of film’s most beautiful scenes is a dreamlike flight with fireworks.

AVALON

Best fireworks scene ever. 1990′s “Avalon” has a lot to say about families and about America, but here it’s simply about one immigrant’s first Fourth of July in Baltimore.

 

 

 

To all those seeing fireworks in the next week, enjoy!