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May 10, 2012

Nostalgia Corner: Tabatha/Tabitha (1977)

Posted on May 10, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Tabitha

There were two big US fantasy sitcoms of the 1960s that took on board women's changing roles in society, not by showing them at work but by showing them as more than just 'mere' housewives and people with ideas of their own: I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched.

I Dream of Jeannie saw Barbara Eden appear at first to be 'every man's dream' - a sexy blonde genie with magic powers, willing to do whatever he commanded.

However, as a pre-JR Larry Hagman was about to discover, even slaves have minds of their own and Barbara Eden's Jeannie very definitely had a will of her own, throwing Hagman's life upside down - the star of the show was clearly Eden rather Hagman and Tony the astronaut spent most of his time keeping up with Jeannie, rather than the other way round.

Here's a little minisode version of the first episode to give you an idea. Surprisingly, it was written by Sidney Sheldon (yes, the fabulously successful author).

Meanwhile in Bewitched, Elizabeth Montgomery played Samantha, an apparently normal young American woman, who meets and falls in love with a very normal American man Darrin (Dick York at first, then Dick Sargent). Except it turns out that Samantha is a witch and with just a wiggle of her nose, she can make more or less anything happen.

Samantha wants to be a normal housewife but somehow, usually thanks to the efforts of her mother Endora, she always ends up having to use her powers for some reason or other. And as with I Dream of Jeannie, this was a show very much about the female lead rather than the male lead, what she wanted, what she was prepared to do to fit in with society and more.

Here's the pilot episode:

In both series, the set-ups evolved, with Jeannie eventually marrying Tony and having a family with him, and Samantha also having a daughter, Tabitha, and a son, Adam.

Five years after Bewitched ended in 1972, and we're in a post-Rhoda world, where the single young, sexually liberated working woman is now a valid subject for a comedy. And although it was just five years later, Tabitha has apparently grown up into a young woman working in the LA television industry. Cue an ABC sitcom called Tabitha starring Knots Landing's Lisa Hartman and Robert Urich from Vega$ and Spenser: For Hire. Here's the opening credits that explain everything.

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May 8, 2012

A great big, long, very slow hand-clap to Marvel: Black Widow Strikes

Posted on May 8, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

So, as we all know, not a lot of women read comics. Or at least superhero comics. There have been lots of theories as to why this should be, largely put out by men. However, at least one of these theories is that there aren't any good representations of women in comics – that the female characters that there are are secondary, aren't well characterised and are usually sexualised for the benefit of younger male readers, making female readers not seem very welcome.

Now DC hasn't been doing particularly well here, with only about 7% of its readers female. But at least it has a few titles with female leads: Wonder Woman, Supergirl, Voodoo, Batgirl, Batwoman, Birds of Prey, and Catwoman, for starters, although some treat their female characters better than others. Over at Marvel, the situation is far worse, with the last female-led title, X-23, following hot on the heels of Ms. Marvel and Black Widow in getting cancelled.

That's right – there's not a single superhero title with a female lead at Marvel.

Now you'd have thought that with the largest opening movie of all time, The Avengers/Avengers Assemble, at the box office right now, it would be a golden opportunity for Marvel to capitalise on the fact that there's a superheroine in the line up – Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow – who, thanks to the mighty word processing powers of Joss Whedon, gets to kick arse a lot, isn't second-fiddle to the men, and isn't there to be someone's girlfriend.

In fact, you'd be right. Look! It's Marvel's The Avengers: Black Widow Strikes, a prequel to the movie available in comic stores now.

Black Widow Strikes

Brilliant. All those women going into movies, seeing a decent superheroine character. They'll pick up Black Widow Strikes, see there's nothing to fear from the medium and hey presto, loads of new female comics readers, right?

Oh, wait.

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May 8, 2012

First cast pictures for some of NBC's new shows

Posted on May 8, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

And we're starting to emerge from the US pilot season at last. Finally, after comparing and contrasting all the pilots, network executives are ready to put some hard money down to commission the shows they think we, the viewing public, will want to watch.

Or in NBC's case, what they think a very small number of people will watch and which they'll promptly cancel, judging by the network's behaviour over the past few years. Nevertheless, NBC is the first to announce some of its commissions and they've already released cast photos for them: Go On with Matthew Perry, Save Me with Anne Heche, 1600 Penn with Bill Pulman and Jenna Elfman, Revolution from Eric Kripke and JJ Abrams, The New Normal from Glee's Ryan Murphy, and Animal Practice starring Justin Kirk and Tyler Labine.

So follow me after the jump to get a gander at the new shows and their cast. Do any of them look interesting to you?

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