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  • Nicole Hill 9:30 pm on 2017/01/10 Permalink
    Tags: , fangirling, golden girls,   

    Why Golden Girls Forever Was the Greatest Holiday Gift I Got 

    Now that all the entries have been collected, including the packages brought too late to the post office before Christmas to make it under the tree, I am happy to announce the greatest gift I received this holiday—or possibly any holiday of my lifetime.

    Golden Girls Forever bills itself as an “unauthorized look behind the lanai” of the seminal sitcom of our time. As someone who can track back the outfits of Blanche Devereaux, Rose Nylund, Sophia Petrillo, and Dorothy Zbornak to the episode, I approach anything purporting to be a comprehensive guide to The Golden Girls with skepticism. I have a spreadsheet of background actors that appear in multiple episodes, playing different parts; I am serious about The Golden Girls, or my name isn’t Water Lily.

    Even given those high standards, Golden Girls Forever surpassed each and every one of my expectations. Starting from the first spark of an idea for a sitcom about ladies of a “certain age”—Picture it: Los Angeles, 1984—Jim Colucci paints the full landscape portrait of a TV show that was radical for its time and even, to an extent, our own.

    Clocking in at 365 glorious pages, and with end sheets patterned like the finest 1980s Miami wallpaper, Golden Girls Forever is the ultimate prize for uber-fans and casual viewers alike.

    Backstories from St. Olaf (and Beyond)

    With 68 Emmy nominations, 11 Emmy wins, and four Golden Globes, The Golden Girls has a rather simple premise. Four women, later in their lives, live, laugh, and love in a shared Miami home, stocked with more wicker than the world should allow. It’s a solid idea, and one nearly unprecedented in the mid-’80s. Grandmothers yelling “condoms” in a crowded supermarket? Who would watch that kind of smut?

    Everyone, it turns out. Still, without the right people, in the right places, and wearing the right bathrobes, it could’ve been just a good premise, nothing more. The first portion of Colucci’s compendium focuses on the apostolic coming together of the perfect writing and producing team, directorial talent, and, of course, the critical actresses who would fill the shoes of the show’s central quartet.

    Though all but one of that foursome have passed on, Colucci still manages to insert insights from Bea Arthur and Rue McClanahan (both deceased), alongside those of Betty White, when discussing the search to fill those famous sensible shoes. A coterie of producers, writers, directors, and key decision-makers (and a spurned Elaine Stritch, who auditioned for the role of Dorothy) also weigh in on the inception and success of the series, making Golden Girls Forever an ur-text for nostalgia biographies.

    Inside Details, Episode by Episode

    Once Colucci establishes how The Golden Girls came to be, he moves on to dissecting what it was, recapping important episodes through the show’s seven seasons and soliciting inside stories from actors, writers, and producers. No recast part, plot inconsistency, or George Clooney cameo goes unnoticed here, though the book doesn’t spotlight every episode; with 180 to cover, it could dwarf Infinite Jest if it were too thorough. I missed the opportunity to hear about gems like “The Break-In” and “The Case of the Libertine Belle,” but I guess I’ll just have to console myself with the newfound knowledge that the most letters the show received were about Bea Arthur’s various hairstyles.

    This section of the book is where I finally got answers to longstanding questions that had plagued me more than a healthy person would admit to:

    • Why is Sophia’s late husband Sal suddenly Don the Fool, a waiter at a Medieval Times–style restaurant in “What a Difference a Date Makes”? Well, because everyone really liked the actor, Sid Melton.
    • Whatever happened to all those metric tons of cheesecake in every episode? Some of the women ate it, some threw it on the floor, some will never reveal their secrets.
    • Did anyone like Dorothy’s wedding dress in the series finale? No.

    Blueprints, Sketches, and Other Supporting Evidence

    To close out the tour, Golden Girls Forever examines the series’ intangibles, from production and set design to the handcrafted ’80s wardrobes. It’s an appropriate coda, as the kitchen and Blanche’s negligees are often considered, respectively, to be the fifth and sixth main characters of the show.

    It should come as no surprise, at this point, that the revelations come quickly, even in this last chapter. You’ll learn why the layout of the Girls’ home makes no sense to anyone paying attention, and just how many ways set designers reused the same room. You’ll also hear from costume designer Judy Evans on her custom fashions and how signature pieces like Sophia’s purse came to be.

    These final details set up an epilogue that examines the show’s lasting legacy, from modern homages, podcasts, and artwork to a failed Lego campaign. The result is a loving tribute to a TV series that was far more than just a TV series, which makes this book so much more than just a book. Join me here at Shady Pines, won’t you?

    The post Why Golden Girls Forever Was the Greatest Holiday Gift I Got appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Melissa Albert 6:30 pm on 2014/08/18 Permalink
    Tags: fangirling, , , ,   

    The Latest from J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World, and 4 Supporting Potter Characters Who Deserve Their Own Stories 

    Hogwarts Library collectionHear ye, hear ye! Today on Pottermore, J.K. Rowling gives us yet another piece of Potter paraphernalia, shining a spotlight on singing witch Celestina Warbeck, a former Gryffindor with pipes so powerful they could drown out a banshee. (She also has the gift of “fancy baking,” which is frankly even more intriguing.) The profile is the first we’ve heard from the Potter world since the release last month of Rowling’s short story about a 30something Harry and friends hitting the Quidditch World Cup, written in the form of a dishy missive from the pen of yellow journalist Rita Skeeter.

    Rowling’s apparent interest in revisiting Potter should be encouraged by all, loudly and frequently, until we’re presented with several more septets of novels set in the wizarding world, but for now we’ll settle with getting to know the fabulously named Celestina, who was mentioned but never seen in the original novels. In addition to her ability to scream an aria and whip up a marzipan Yule log, we’ve also learned that the highly successful singer (Molly Weasley’s favorite) has, like many Muggle performers, had a tempestuous romantic life, and became famous singing such torch-song hits as “A Cauldron Full of Hot, Strong Love.”

    But as Rowling must know by now, feeding her fanbase only makes us hungrier. So in case she’s taking requests, here are a few more supporting Potter characters we feel got short shrift in the series. We want to get the full scoop on:

    Helena Ravenclaw (The Grey Lady)

    We know Rowena Ravenclaw’s daughter stole her mother’s diadem and disappeared, later paying a terrible price for her desertion. But what fed her dangerous ambition? What happened to her in her years of exile in Albania? What was her dark history with the lovelorn Bloody Baron? We see the sad story of the Grey Lady unfolding like a dark fairy tale, or a murder ballad.

    Pandora Lovegood

    Luna Lovegood’s mother lost her life to her eccentric craft, killing herself with an experimental spell gone awry. We want to learn more about the woman who met and married eccentric tabloid journalist Xenophilius—and contributed half the genes of the wonderfully loopy Luna.

    Dolores Umbridge

    What kind of upbringing produced one of the most despicable characters in the Potter universe? We know little about Umbridge outside of her terrible reign at Hogwarts and her work at the Ministry of Magic, but something must have spurred her hatred for werewolves and other “half-breeds.” We want a psychological study of the mind behind the creepy kitten-plate collection.

    Every Hogwarts Headmaster Ever

    Though we wouldn’t take Rita Skeeter’s word on the weather, much less anything really important, we still want to read her book The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore, doing our best to discern between his life and Skeeter’s lies. Then we want detailed biographies on every headmaster in Hogwarts history. Actually, you know what? Just give us a fully updated edition of Hogwarts: A History, and we’ll go quietly.

    Until we crawl back begging for an illustrated history of the Sorting Hat.

    Which Potter characters deserve their own series?

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