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posted: 6/25/2014 5:30 AM

Robots, roller coasters and nostalgia

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  • You can get an $8 coupon toward the cost of a ticket to "Transformers: Age of Extinction" if you purchase a digital or physical copy of one of the previous installments in the franchise.

      You can get an $8 coupon toward the cost of a ticket to "Transformers: Age of Extinction" if you purchase a digital or physical copy of one of the previous installments in the franchise.
    Associated Press

  • The classic Cyclone roller coaster at Coney Island, N.Y., is among the old-time, pre-Disneyland entertainments featured in "Great Old Amusement Parks," a 1999 documentary returning to PBS at 9 p.m. Saturday on WTTW Prime.

      The classic Cyclone roller coaster at Coney Island, N.Y., is among the old-time, pre-Disneyland entertainments featured in "Great Old Amusement Parks," a 1999 documentary returning to PBS at 9 p.m. Saturday on WTTW Prime.
    Associated Press

 
 

Are you, like me, irresistibly drawn to a nearly three-hour movie featuring giant robots astride giant robot dinosaurs? Do you like other movies about giant robots? Then the evil Hollywood executives who brought you "Transformers" have quite the deal for you.

Specially marked Blu-ray and DVD copies of the first three entries in Michael Bay's lucrative, ludicrous "Transformers" franchise contain $8 coupons to use toward a ticket for Thursday's theatrical entry, "Transformers: Age of Extinction." The coupons are also virtually available to vudu customers, should you prefer digital to physical media.

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Of course, those eight bucks probably won't pay for your entire movie ticket, but the coupon will ease the pain of those premium 3-D IMAX prices.

OK, so I know what you're thinking: You actually like these stupid movies? Yes and no. I like the spectacle. I like Shia LaBeouf's plucky, funny performance in the first one. I like respected actors like Frances McDormand, John Turturro and John Malkovich slumming it for a nice paycheck. And I really like watching the Decepticons lay waste to Chicago in "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," for some sick reason.

But I certainly don't like the crude, rude "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen," or Megan Fox's disinterested performances, or those shots where you can't tell what the heck is happening. (There are lots of those.)

But what can I say? Giant robots. On giant robot dinosaurs.

All smiles

A summer tradition of mine lives again this weekend when "Great Old Amusement Parks,", a 1999 documentary produced by Pittsburgh's PBS station, airs at 9 p.m. Saturday on Channel 11's digital offshoot, WTTW Prime. (Find it at 11.2 over the air and at Channel 370 on Comcast.)

The hourlong documentary is already 15 years old, but its subjects are even older: the pre-Disneyland amusement parks that Americans loved in the early 20th century and still love today. The focus is largely on East Coast parks -- no fond looks back at Riverview for us here in Illinois -- and will inspire warm feelings of nostalgia for anyone who remembers grabbing a brass ring on a carousel or riding through a dark tunnel of love.

For a young(ish) whippersnapper like me, the show offers a glimpse of a world before high-tech thrill rides and Audio-Animatronics when a roller coaster with an average speed of 10 mph was "the big ride."

Rick Sebak, the producer and narrator of "Great Old Amusement Parks," gave us another summer TV staple called "A Hotdog Program," a quaint, pre-Food Network tour of the great wiener stands across America -- and you can bet those include Superdawg and his pals here in Chicago.

"A Hotdog Program" returns to TV at 9 p.m. Saturday, July 5, on WTTW Prime, and, like "Great Old Amusement Parks," is also available on DVD.

'I'm a cop, you idiot!'

Ah yes, the moment every true film fan has been waiting for is finally here: The release of "Kindergarten Cop" on Blu-ray!

"It's not a tumah!"

"I'm da party poopah!"

"Take your toy back to da carpet!"

Can you beat the verbal acrobatics of Arnold Schwarzenegger as an undercover cop teaching little kids about fitness? I think not. You can buy "Kindergarten Cop" on Blu-ray, with a digital HD copy included, on Tuesday.

Sean Stangland is a Daily Herald copy editor and a tireless consumer of pop culture. His favorite ride growing up at Great America was -- and still is -- The Whizzer. You can follow him on Twitter at @SeanStanglandDH.

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