NOT Creative Inspiration: The 2011 CBS Holiday Promo

The thoughtful and warm CBS holiday message long ago...

The thoughtful and warm CBS holiday message today...

High Concept Set Idea + Small Budget + Limited Time = Lots of Foamcore Board

I've been creating a Dickens' village Christmas themed set for work this week. To save time and money, I made the entire store front facade out of foamcore. I do love that stuff. Finishing the set this weekend. More about it later.

The Best Halloween Night Compliment Ever.

Witnessed by the fiancee. After getting a scare from the Monster and some candy from Dr. Frankenstein a little seven or eight year old Trick 'r Treater walked away, stopped at the driveway's edge, looked back and said...

"That's effed up!"

Necessity is the Mad Scientist of Laboratory Invention

This Halloween, I really wanted to transform the front porch into Frankenstein's laboratory more than any other year. It's always looked fairy empty compared to other parts of the yard. Foolishly I had hopes of making or acquiring more lab equipment, props and dressing for it, but like so many other ideas, just couldn't make it happen due to time and budget. I did what I could though... adding hanging chains, a few extra lanterns, my old caged spider and of course the (still not really finished) rocker switch tower from last year. Although not what I hoped it would be, it looked fuller and more in theme than any other year and that made me happy.

So Halloween day arrives and I forgot we needed something to place the candy bowl on (or in this case cauldron). I first grabbed an old metal stool from the garage and tried to dress it up somehow, but it looked lame. Then it hit me, there were great old wine crates in the stash. I stacked up and taped on fun body part inventory labels (easily made via computer, printed out and aged with coffee). I also happened to have a rubber foot and hand which added some creepy detail.

The crates not only worked great as a candy cauldron stand, but turned out to be a incredibly simple way to fill the empty spaces on the porch and help tell a story. They became a well liked detail too, pointed out with a smile by more than a few visitors that night.

I'm going to use these again next year and improve on with better labels or real stenciling. Be fun to have one labeled Assorted Severed Heads with several pairs of eyes looking at you from inside through a broken off panel.

Numerous Gravestones In Under An Hour

I had mentioned awhile back that this Halloween was full of last minute ideas and projects. Here's one of 'em.

I wanted to hide several lights on the lawn and thought making a few Fed Ex box tombstones posted about in the past would work. I didn't have too much time to spend creating nameplates or adding embellishments on them though. A random trip to Walgreens for the fiancee saved me. While there I found a 4-pack of small tombstones for only $4.99. Each was hot glued to a box and the box was hot glued to a piece of wood. Once painted, they had a pretty decent look and heavy feel. Several were made easily in under an hour.

A few were also used to create a more defined path leading Trick 'r Treaters up to the porch. As an extra detail I placed faux stone busts I had on top of them. They were an extra cheap scare as well being motion sensor triggered talking ones.

1985's Niece of Frankenstein

I'm not ashamed to say I'm a fan of the old 1985 TV series Niece of Frankenstein. Sure it was campy and stupid, but that's what made it great. How could you not enjoy the implausible premise of a trendy, lovable orphan from the big city being raised by her two old world uncles in Transylvania?

I was in a vintage book and poster shop the other day and discovered a bunch of old magazines and publicity stills featuring the show. I just had to buy them. Thought I'd scan and share for those who remember the series or just love 80's nostalgia.

TV Guide from Oct. 1985. The cover features the original cast: Neecy Devdell as Goofy D, Teddy Edwards III as Uncle Frank(enstein) and David Lowenthal as Uncle Monstro. In the final 1989 season Lowenthal was unceremoniously replaced by the network with a puppet to compete with ALF in a failed effort to improve ratings.

Show Star Neecy Devdell became a huge pop culture sensation, especially among kids and tweens. The shows success made Neecy indistinguishable from her character Goofy D. She faded into acting obscurity after Niece of Frankenstein was cancelled. According to a recent People magazine Where Are They Now article, Neecy is in her late thirties working as a bowling shoe cleaner and runs an injured squirrel sanctuary out of her kitchen somewhere in Toronto. 

A bit of trivia. Director Kenneth Branagh was also a huge fan of the show! The left ear of Robert DeNiro's prosthetic monster make up in the 1994 Frankenstein film was sculpted to resemble Goofy D's left ear in homage. 

A classic publicity shot. How many times did we see this shtick from Uncle Monstro exasperated by Goofy D's wacky shenanigans?

Here's a similar publicity photo from the '89 season with the new puppet Uncle Monstro. Lifeless. No wonder the show was cancelled that year.

Episode 407: Rum Tum Raven! Goofy D goes on a trip with Uncle Frank to the Fringe Science Con in New York. While there they see CATS on Broadway. Goofy is inspired to write, produce and direct her own musical... RAVENS, based on the Edgar Allan Poe story.

Show 107: What's Wrong With Cousin Jason? Typical of many sitcoms at the time, the Just Say No campaign was worked into the storyline in a not too subtle, heavy cleaver handed way.

Episode 201: Cross Walk Conundrum. The new overly strict crossing guard at school, Patrick O'Treaty, makes life difficult for Goofy D and her friends.

Episode 410: This Really Sucks! Goofy D befriends a vampire boy named Orlock, who is afraid that his undead-ism will get in the way of making friends. With a little patience and effort, Goofy helps the other kids at school learn to accept Orlock for who he is. 

 Episode 113: Grave Matters. To get out of a test she never studied for, Goofy D fakes an illness but the scheme backfires and escalates. Needing to cover the lie, she's forced to stage her own funeral. Goofy learns her lesson though having to pretend to be a zombie for the rest of the school year.

Episode 111: Auntie Elsa's World.  When Uncle Monstro's glamorous and globetrotting pop star ex-wife comes to visit, Goofy D soon finds her usual haunted castle life boring. Zaniness ensues as the Uncles go overboard trying to make themselves just as hip and cool in Goofy D's eyes.

Episode 109: Arm I want For Christmas. This heart warming holiday themed episode featuring cousin Mikey needing a new arm never aired. It was preempted by the Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton 'Ol Fashioned Country Christmas Live in Las Vegas Spectacular TV special.

Episode 302: Bow Wow What Tha?! Uncle Frank's experiments to create a winning breed at the Transylvania Dog Show are hilariously disastrous!

Here are a few rarely seen backstage pictures...

The original photo of the Uncles later made famous by urban artist Shepard Fairey.

Like the well known Andre the Giant OBEY and Obama HOPE posters, Fairey's stylized image of the Uncles can still be found papered on many city walls.

Rehearsing the RAVENS musical episode.

Legendary stuntman Yacky Kanutmous doubling for Cousin Mikey from the un-aired Holiday episode. The saddest thing about this show being preempted was that the public never saw Kanutmous perform his final gag falling two stories into a moat filled with piranha (Photo by James Goethals).

Teddy Edwards III and Neecy Devdell rehearsing on set. Many credit the shows success to Edwards' improvisation channeling his grandfather, famous vaudeville comedian Teddy "Jim Jam" Edwards Sr.

The rarest of all sights... Uncle Monstro unmasked! David Lowenthal, an actor with no ego, wanted the public to believe the character was real. He waived his own credit letting it read "Uncle Monstro as Himself" to help keep the illusion. Even on set Lowenthal only took the the mask off in extreme circumstances. There where veteran crew members who, for years, never knew what he really looked like.

After being replaced by the puppet Uncle Monstro, a brokenhearted Lowenthal returned to England and his acting roots. He performed in numerous Royal Shakespeare Company productions until his tragic death in 1997. Ironically, he was run over by a speeding delivery truck from a marionette and puppet supply company.

Halloween Display 2011 - Portfolio Two

On Halloween night family friends, Sara Pine and her boyfriend James Goethals, stopped by. Both are photographers. To my happy surprise James brought his camera along. These are not just photos. James took time later manipulating the colors, the light and the shadows on each later creating a distinct mood.

These terrific images are how he saw Halloween at my house. I'm happy he captured a few details and props in the display I didn't in the yard photos from Portfolio One.

What also makes these really special is they were taken when the evening was in full swing. Just beyond the picture's edges, Trick or Treaters were coming and going. The sounds of screams followed by laughter filled the air.

James allowed me to share these with everyone.


He even captured my brother Ted as Dr. Frankenstein in fun moments mugging and playing it up for the kids.

There will be more of James' photos posted here in the future. There were too many from the night to include in one post and too many great images not to share later.