When Quentin Tarantino Directed an Episode of ER

Screengrab via Amazon Video
Screengrab via Amazon Video

Quentin Tarantino has long maintained that his success as a writer and director stems in large part from his encyclopedic knowledge of film and an adolescence spent absorbing as many frames of it as he possibly could.  

But Tarantino was also an avid consumer of television. While he was editing 1994’s Pulp Fiction, he would come home, collapse on his sofa, and watch The X-Files and Home Improvement. When he was hoping to cast John Travolta in 1996’s vampire drama From Dusk Till Dawn, he invited the actor over to his house and played the Welcome Back, Kotter board game with him.

Travolta ultimately ended up in Pulp Fiction; George Clooney, who had broken his losing streak of canceled TV shows in the fall of 1994 with NBC’s hospital drama ER, wound up taking a role alongside Tarantino in From Dusk Till Dawn (which Tarantino wrote and Robert Rodriguez directed). That’s when the actor proposed that Tarantino consider directing an episode of the hit series.

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“Motherhood,” the penultimate episode of ER’s first season, aired on May 11, 1995. Written by Lydia Woodward, the show’s intertwined plots were all related to the title’s theme and given a copious amount of screen blood to mesh with Tarantino’s reputation for unsettling imagery. A boy is wheeled in after a playground mishap with a rod poking through his chest (it’s removed, slowly, with help from a bone saw); a gang member’s ear is lopped off; a drug overdose leads to foaming at the mouth. Woodward says she didn’t really write the episode with Tarantino in mind, though she did try to “gross out” the medical procedures.

Screengrab via Amazon Video

Accustomed to having the final word on film sets, Tarantino told an interviewer he initially found it off-putting that ER executive producer John Wells told him he needed to shoot more footage for a scene he thought he had completed. “Then I realized, this is their show, this isn’t my show,” he said. “In TV, the producer is the man, the auteur.”

Tarantino received $30,000 for the assignment, which probably seemed like a bargain to NBC. Just two months earlier, he was awarded the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay alongside Pulp Fiction co-writer Roger Avary. Woodward later told a reporter that Tarantino was interested in directing more episodes and possibly even appearing as a recurring character. That didn’t come to pass, though Tarantino did direct "Grave Danger," a two-part episode of CSI, for CBS in 2005.

Headed into another awards season with The Hateful Eight, Tarantino hasn’t ruled out returning to the small screen. At last summer's San Diego Comic-Con, he told the crowd that he might have a few miniseries ideas that could come to fruition before he retires.

10 Rad Gifts for Hikers

Greg Rosenke/Unsplash
Greg Rosenke/Unsplash

The popularity of bird-watching, camping, and hiking has skyrocketed this year. Whether your gift recipients are weekend warriors or seasoned dirtbags, they'll appreciate these tools and gear for getting most out of their hiking experience.

1. Stanley Nesting Two-Cup Cookset; $14

Amazon

Stanley’s compact and lightweight cookset includes a 20-ounce stainless steel pot with a locking handle, a vented lid, and two insulated 10-ounce tumblers. It’s the perfect size for brewing hot coffee, rehydrating soup, or boiling water while out on the trail with a buddy. And as some hardcore backpackers note in their Amazon reviews, your favorite hiker can take the tumblers out and stuff the pot with a camp stove, matches, and other necessities to make good use of space in their pack.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Osprey Sirrus and Stratos 24-Liter Hiking Packs; $140

Amazon

Osprey’s packs are designed with trail-tested details to maximize comfort and ease of use. The Sirrus pack (pictured) is sized for women, while the Stratos fits men’s proportions. Both include an internal sleeve for a hydration reservoir, exterior mesh and hipbelt pockets, an attachment for carrying trekking poles, and a built-in rain cover.

Buy them: Amazon, Amazon

3. Yeti Rambler 18-Ounce Bottle; $48

Amazon

Nothing beats ice-cold water after a summer hike or a sip of hot tea during a winter walk. The Yeti Rambler can serve up both: Beverages can stay hot or cold for hours thanks to its insulated construction, and its steel body (in a variety of colors) is basically indestructible. It will add weight to your hiker's pack, though—for a lighter-weight, non-insulated option, the tried-and-true Camelbak Chute water bottle is incredibly sturdy and leakproof.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Mappinners Greatest 100 Hikes of the National Parks Scratch-Off Poster; $30

Amazon

The perfect gift for park baggers in your life (or yourself), this 16-inch-by-20-inch poster features epic hikes like Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park and Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Once the hike is complete, you can scratch off the gold foil to reveal an illustration of the park.

Buy it: Amazon

5. National Geographic Adventure Edition Road Atlas; $19

Amazon

Hikers can use this brand-new, updated road atlas to plan their next adventure. In addition to comprehensive maps of all 50 states, Puerto Rico, Canada, and Mexico, they'll get National Geographic’s top 100 outdoor destinations, useful details about the most popular national parks, and points on the maps noting off-the-beaten-path places to explore.  

Buy it: Amazon

6. Adventure Medical Kits Hiker First-Aid Kit; $25

Amazon

This handy 67-piece kit is stuffed with all the things you hope your hiker will never need in the wilderness. Not only does it contain supplies for pain, cuts and scrapes, burns, and blisters (every hiker’s nemesis!), the items are organized clearly in the bag to make it easy to find tweezers or an alcohol wipe in an emergency.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Hiker Hunger Ultralight Trekking Poles; $70

Amazon

Trekking poles will help increase your hiker's balance and stability and reduce strain on their lower body by distributing it to their arms and shoulders. This pair is made of carbon fiber, a super-strong and lightweight material. From the sweat-absorbing cork handles to the selection of pole tips for different terrain, these poles answer every need on the trail. 

Buy it: Amazon

8. Leatherman Signal Camping Multitool; $120

Amazon

What can’t this multitool do? This gadget contains 19 hiking-friendly tools in a 4.5-inch package, including pliers, screwdrivers, bottle opener, saw, knife, hammer, wire cutter, and even an emergency whistle.

Buy it: Amazon

9. RAVPower Power Bank; $24

Amazon

Don’t let your hiker get caught off the grid with a dead phone. They can charge RAVPower’s compact power bank before they head out on the trail, and then use it to quickly juice up a phone or tablet when the batteries get low. Its 3-inch-by-5-inch profile won’t take up much room in a pack or purse.

Buy it: Amazon

10. Pack of Four Indestructible Field Books; $14

Amazon

Neither rain, nor snow, nor hail will be a match for these waterproof, tearproof 3.5-inch-by-5.5-inch notebooks. Your hiker can stick one in their pocket along with a regular pen or pencil to record details of their hike or brainstorm their next viral Tweet.

Buy it: Amazon

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Netflix To Test Free Streaming Festival After Canceling Free Trials

Freestocks, Unsplash
Freestocks, Unsplash

Netflix recently ended its 30-day free trial, but prospective users in some markets will soon get another chance to test out the streaming service. As Engadget reports, Netflix is opening its content to non-subscribers for 48 hours.

The event, dubbed StreamFest, was leaked through the code of the Netflix Android app. In the company's Q3 2020 earnings call, Netflix executives revealed that the streaming festival will first be tested in India. If that trial is successful, similar promotions may be held in markets around the world.

Early details surrounding the event suggest it will be even easier to access than the original free trial. Anyone who can visit Netflix's website on their device will be free to explore the service's catalog—no credit card information required. But like a real movie festival, the number of real-time viewers may be limited. The Netflix app code revealed a line in the program that reads: “Netflix StreamFest is at capacity.”

The first two-day StreamFest is expected to launch in select markets on December 4, 2020. Here are some of the most exciting titles to look for when the promotion comes to your part of the world.

[h/t Engadget]