Sunday, June 1, 2014

Essentials Jr. returns

Now that we're past Memorial Day, it's time for another season of Essentials Jr. on TCM. It's the eighth or ninth season -- I've lost count, and besides, the first season was called Funday Night at the Movies of movies that are designed to be good viewing for the whole family, and especially for the children. Bill Hader is returning for his fourth season as host. The season kicks off tonight at 8:00 PM with Bringing Up Baby, the screwball classic in which paleontologist Cary Grant finds his wife turned upside down by Katharine Hepburn and her jaguar (or is it a leopard?) Baby.

I'm sure Bringing Up Baby has been used before as part of Essentials Jr., but this is the one series where I don't mind repeats. After all, the series is designed mostly to reach the younger viewers, albeit with movies that their parents or grandparents would recognize. That last time Bringing Up Baby was run in Essentials Jr., some or even many of today's kids would still have been too young to watch it and get the bulk of the humor. This, I think, is a big part of the reason why there's been a fairly limited lineup of movies in Essentials Jr.

The other reason, and I think I've mentioned it before, is that the TCM programmers have to hook the parents as well. Children probably aren't going to stop the remote at TCM of their own accord, and the sort of parents they're trying to reach out to probably don't have nearly as much passion for old movies -- and especially the lesser-known titles -- that a lot of us do. So we get some well-known movies, as well as some titles that are taken from works of juvenile literature. Mix in a few famous names like Shirley Temple and you've got yourself a season's worth of Essentials Jr.

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