Tales from the Cultural Wilderness Journal

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

A Mixed Bag

[Previous entry: "Forty Days Of Looney Tunes"]

First finishing up the Looney Tunes disc, and we have sheepdog guarding sheep from Wile E. Coyote in "Don't Give Up The Sheep." The idea of sheepdogs clocking in and out is a fun one. Wow, an education too, what with reading the book about greek myths and having the Greek god Pan lulling the shepherds to sleep with his pipes.

"Bugs Bunny Gets The Boid" sees Bugs dealing with a slightly slow vulture who has settled for bringing home a rabbit while all his brothers bring home cows and moose and suchlike...

And finally, "Tortoise Wins By a Hare" sees the tortoise get one over on Bugs yet again.

Then a film - "Touching The Void" about a couple of climbers in Peru, whose day out on the mountain face that had never been climbed before turns in to a bit of a disaster. Okay, that's something of an understatement when on the way down one of them breaks his leg, ends up hanging from a rope over a crevasse and ending up with his partner being forced to cut the rope if he's to have any chance at survival.

And then we have to watch the harrowing journey back of the guy who got cut loose. This is a pretty graphic account of the disaster and the extras give a pretty comprehensive view of the fallout from the event. Definitely a film to recommend.

After watching mountaineering and needing to go to bed at some point, we'll stick with television, which means I have to put up with Gary Coleman in Buck Rogers - "The Cosmic Whiz-Kid" - which sees him playing president of some planet (oh, and he's supposedly 500 years old, and a genius to boot).

Gary gets kidnapped by a random bad guy, and Buck gets kidnapped by Gary's bodyguard to go and rescue him. Wilma meanwhile goes undercover to attempt a rescue of her own (not knowing Buck is involved).

[Previous entry: "Forty Days Of Looney Tunes"]

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Forty Days Of Looney Tunes

[Previous entry: "Pretending I've Finished"]

Starting out tonight with "40 Days And 40 Nights" with Josh Hartnett and Shannyn Sossamon... okay, this film is really simple and predictable, but is perfectly watchable nonetheless. And are there a lot of really beautiful women in this or what? From the previously mentioned Ms. Sossamon, to the briefly seen Emmanuelle Vaugier (last seen in Smallville), to Josh' work colleague Keegan Connor Tracy (Jake 2.0, Final Destination 2); even his ex-love played by Vinessa Shaw is fairly attractive in places.

The film's also got a few good laughs in it, although there's a little bit of toilet humour that you've probably got to be in the right frame of mind for.

After that mindless exercise, a few Looney Tunes... yes, still pretty mindless, but I can stop at any time as they're only five or so minutes a piece... so we start with Pepe Le Pew in "Scent-imental Reasons" which is the first time I remember the cat turning the tables on the skunk. And then, Bugs Bunny in "Frigid Hare" which sees Bugs at the south pole, because, obviously he should have turned left at Alberquerque if he wanted to get to Miami as desired. And he's dealing with a precocious penguin and a spear wielding eskimo.

"The Hypo-Chondri-Cat" sees two mouse dealing with a hypochondriac cat, while "Baton Bunny" sees Bugs the conductor, torturing his orchestra, and being tortured by a fly in return. I keep hearing bits of music that I'm sure are used in Bugs Bunny cartoons at some point... but then he seems to forever be dealing with orchestras or opera singers, or starring in operas or something, so it's possible I'm right...

"Feed The Kitty" sees ferocious dog dealing with cute kitty... the dog's called Mark Anthony, so presumably the cat is going to be called Cleopatra?

And now I really have to get some sleep... tomorrow may be a reeeeeaaaaally long day (we're in error fixing crunch even though we haven't got any errors!).

[Previous entry: "Pretending I've Finished"]

Monday, March 28, 2005

Pretending I've Finished

[Previous entry: "Mucho Pretender-o"]

A little more Pretender today - only four episodes before I'm done - and we kick off with "Jarod's Honor" which sees a mysterious message lure Jarod to New Orleans to investigate a man in a photograph. When he gets there, the guy in the room dies the moment he arrives, and then he takes his place as a hit-man.

Sydney and Parker get a message from Jarod sending them to a Twins Convention in Minneapolis. Apparently Jacob, Sydney's brother, was involved in twins research.

"Baby Love" sees Jarod get a baby dropped on his head when he's hiding in a dumpster from Miss Parker and the sweeper team. He sets out to find the parents (and the dirty cop who dumped the baby). Meanwhile, Parker, Sydney and Broots investigate the mysterious Sub Level 27, and Angelo tries to cover for them long enough for them to get out before Raines discovers them. They find records that Jarod was brought to the Center against his parents wishes and that they may still be alive.

"Dragon House" sees the return of Jarod's friend Kyle. He was kept on Sub Level 27, and turned over to Raines for experiments. Raines continued to feed him negative emotions, turning him in to a sociopath. It also leads Jarod to evidence of his mother, and evidence that Kyle was taught to hate Katherine Parker.

Over the course of the two episodes we learn that Jarod and Kyle are brothers, that they have a sister out there somewhere, that Raines is willing to go to any length (with Miss Parker's father) to keep Kyle quiet about Katherine Parker's death, that Kyle is apparently now dead (although, with no body found, there's a possibility he'll be back), that Raines will be spending mucho time in doctors care for the burns he suffers, that no-one knows who shot his oxygen tank, and that Parker's father reports to a mysterious Mr Lyle.

Now they just need to release the second season, so I can find out what happens next...

Then on to Buck Rogers (or perhaps, back to Buck Rogers, considering I watched the first disc a couple of months ago), with "Unchained Woman" which would be relatively unmemorable (Buck helps woman escape from prison so they can find out how her boyfriend keeps managing to raid shipping lines) except for the guest appearance of Jamie Lee Curtis.

"Planet Of The Amazon Women" sees Buck lured down to the planet of Zantia, where they're capturing passing men and auctioning them off. Due to a recent war, all their men are either dead or captured, and their female populace don't have enough warriors to fend off a future attack. Of course, Buck saves the day, getting the men back and resolving Earth's negotiations with the other party in the war for energy sources.

You know what struck me while watching Buck Rogers here? How Farscape is pretty much a modern remake of this show - John Crichton takes the role of Buck and keeps getting thrust into infeasible situations with beautiful women. He always has some anachronistic phrase that no-one understands. The show is cheesy as hell, but makes up for it by being a lot of fun.

Then a few Looney Tunes, disc 3 up to and including Haredevil Hare, which sees Marvin the Martian back, on the moon, attempting to blow up the Earth and Bugs stopping him. The six watched also included a road runner cartoon... of course, most of these are on volume 2, so I've got a ways to go yet...

Then, Darklight, on the Sci-Fi channel. The only redeeming feature of this film is Shiri Appleby, and it feels like a pilot for a show that never got picked up.

I would then have carried on with the comic-book-hero films that Sci-Fi seems to have lined up tonight to plug Sin City with, but after half an hour of The Shadow, I gave up in favour of Fritz Lang's M (which I'd been lent). I wasn't really in the mood for it, but it was pretty good all the same.

[Previous entry: "Mucho Pretender-o"]

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Mucho Pretender-o

[Previous entry: "Two Days Catchup"]

I should probably interleave it with something else, but I make most progress with I focus on a single show, so lets continue with The Pretender for a bit longer.

And we kick off this morning with "A Virus Among Us" which sees Jarod as a virologist, helpfully giving Miss Parker the flu to keep her off his trail. Sidney receives a box containing clippings of all the things that Jarod's research has done - and he sets out looking for forgiveness.

"Not Even A Mouse" is the Christmas episode... Jarod takes a job as a medical examiner to get to the bottom of the death of a homeless man. Sydney has a brother in a hospital who's been unconscious for 30 years and he goes to see him every year. Miss Parker is going to spend the holiday with her father, but obviously he cancels at the last minute.

"Mirage" sees Jarod wandering around the desert... or is he a skydiver? We have guest star Kate Hodge (last seen in Level 9) as the owner of the skydiving school. And we have him sending one of his little books to Miss Parker - all about her own life. I obviously got distracted during this episode, as I have no idea what was going on in the Miss Parker B storyline... something about her mother and a boarding house in Maine...

"Better Part Of Valor" sees Jarod as a firefighter. It also sees the first appearance of the savant, Angelo, on loan from Mr Raines to track Jarod via his choice of newspaper stories. Miss Parker hooks up with some salesman guy. Of course, the guy turns out to be working for the Center in opposition to Miss Parker.

"Bomb Squad" sees Jarod join the titular group. Meanwhile, Mr. Raines is looking for the leak in the Center, subjecting Parker, Sydney and Broots through lie detector tests with Angelo checking their veracity. Broots turns out to be in a custody battle over his daughter... which he hasn't told the Center about; and Angelo is the leak, although no-one knows that currently.

"A Prison Story" sees Jarod as prison guard, to help an innocent man on death row. His games lead Miss Parker to a Monopoly themed hotel, where they discover that her feelings about Jarod have given her an ulcer.

"Bazooka Jarod" sees Jarod as a Naval Commander, attempting to get to the bottom of the death of a seaman. Miss Parker is dooing some digging through missing children records for details on her and her mother. Unfortunately, Jarod got there first, and is keeping the secret for later bargaining power.

"Ranger Jarod" sees him get involved in the search for a missing student, lost on a mountain for five days. The episode is really an excuse for him to get a girlfriend and agonise over his feelings about women. We find out that Miss Parker told Jarod her first name when they were children, and that she was clearly attracted to him at one time...

"Jaroldo" sees Jarod as a news cameraman, looking for the truth about a man who lost use of his arm. Did the reporter set up the gang conflict so he could get a story? Miss Parker and Sydney get mugged by a couple of gang members and Sydney is accidentally shot in the leg. They're then trapped in a building that is set for demolition. This episode has a recognizable guest cast - Lisa Howard (previously seen in Highlander The Series), Gregory Itzin (who's been in lots of things but hasn't had a starring role), and Michael B Silver (who's had a few guest appearances in ER and CSI: Miami).

For a moment I thought the disc was seriously defective there - the picture started freezing up - but swapping DVD players, it appears to play fine on the other one.

"Under The Reds" sees Jarod in the role of paramedic, looking to help a student wrestler who's in a coma. He's done some research that might help Sydney's brother out of his own coma, but the cure proves temporary... it does lead to a hint at SL-27, whatever that is... And Mr Raines gives Parker the order to kill the brother.

"Keys" sees Miss Parker down in Florida looking in to a sighting of Jarod learning gator-wrestling. She gets some pictures of her mother, who appears to have been beaten at some point. The hurricane here is pretty much just set dressing for Miss Parker to get her memory back of the beating... at the hands of Mr Raines.

"Unhappy Landing" sees Jarod as a Federal Marshall, while Miss Parker is enlisting Broots to track down the children that her mother rescued from the Center. Of course, we still don't know who the other six she failed to rescue are. Jarod apparently had a friend while in the Center - Kyle - who he insisted he be introduced to. Parker's investigation leads to a dead end (but with another hint at SL-27).

Of course, I then had to stop to watch the slightly silly "Alien Apocalypse" on Sci-Fi... it was nice to see Bruce Campbell and Renee O'Connor back together again, but otherwise this was a bit thin.

[Previous entry: "Two Days Catchup"]

Saturday, March 26, 2005

Two Days Catchup

[Previous entry: "Gargoyles, Season 1"]

Wow, two nights of no comment... of course, Wednesday I was too tired to comment, and Thursday I was out drinking, so there's very little to comment on...

Wednesday saw The Incredibles - great film (and the first over at DVDSpot I've decided to rate a 5), probably Pixar's best, and I'm intrigued what they're planning to do with "Cars" for which the trailer lurks on the disc.

Then I decided to watch The Pretender. The Pilot episode sees Jarod, escaped from The Center, posing as a doctor to get to the bottom of the paralysis of a young boy. This does an admirable job of setting up the characters, although it'd be nice to get some hints of how he escaped from the Center with all those data discs...

Episode two, seen after the bar on Thursday, "Every Picture Tells A Story" sees Jarod the Coast Guard which has two familiar guest stars... William Sanderson (last seen in Deadwood) and Marjorie Monaghan (last sees as Number One on Babylon 5).

And then, on to tonight, with "Flyer" where Jarod becomes a pilot and makes friends with a crazy conspiracy nut who he gives information about the Center to... we also get our first glimpses of the sinister Mr. Raines who Jarod finds on one of the discs and then learns to lipread to find out what he's saying.

Disc one, side one concludes with "Curious Jarod" which sees him trying to get to the bottom of who the man in the yellow hat in the Curious George book is... okay, he's really trying to help a former showgirl at a Las Vegas casino who's in a coma after being attacked at work.

Then we get "The Paper Clock" and Jarod wants to make a deal with the Center - the discs for information on his mother, so we get the first appearance of the Director of the Center (played by Janet Hubert... and according to IMDb, her only appearance - do they get new management or something?!).

Is the Center the same building used for the GSA in Mutant X?

"To Protect And Serve" sees Jarod as a police motorcyclist. He's searching for his mother and enlists some aid, but he makes sure to get Miss Parker thrown in gaol first. He gets close this time, with someone in Blue Cove (where the Center is) trying to contact him with information about her... which of course Jarod loses when Miss Parker turns up.

I finished up the evening with "Carry On Doctor" after finding out that my Sweet Valley High shipment had a really scratched up disc one, which is quite impressive considering the disc hadn't come off the spindle; between the scratches and the smeary fingerprints, someone's had a hand in it, which is slightly bizarre... but I guess I'll have to make a pilgrimage to the post office to ship it back...

[Previous entry: "Gargoyles, Season 1"]

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Gargoyles, Season 1

[Previous entry: "Movies And Star Trek"]

After last night's foolish watching of the initial five Gargoyles episodes (they're really one big long pilot), I'm continuing that show tonight - the next episode is "Thrill of the Hunt" where a TV group called The Pack are set up to hunt Goliath and Lexington, further souring the Gargoyles relationships with humanity. Of course, Xanatos is behind it...

How come Xanatos is the bad guy here? In all the fanfic, he's, if not a friend of the Gargoyles, at least not their enemy. So when does that change?

Of course, the next episode "Temptation" sees the return of Demona, who wants the spell-book currently locked up in the tower, and is willing to deceive Brooklyn to get it. She wants it so she can brainwash Goliath into following her plans.

On to the next disc and "Deadly Force" sees Broadway accidentally shoot Eliza with her own gun. This amidst a shipment of laser weapons that get stolen from Xanatos. It's a fairly obvious episode - Gargoyles shouldn't play with guns - but it's played out quite well, and we get a few scenes of the slightly slow Broadway (after a Lexington and a Brooklyn episode). We're just waiting for a Hudson episode, and an episode with the dog... whatever his name is...

"Enter MacBeth" sees the titular character agreeing to clean the Castle of gargoyles for Xanatos... he's apparently the guy who named Demona, and he does a pretty good job of capturing some of them. There's a few good scenes with Bronx the dog here. The Gargoyles do get a new home though, moving to a clock tower above the police headquarters.

"The Edge" sees the return of the robotic gargoyle substitutes, or the Steel Clan as they seem to have been dubbed... of course, they've had an upgrade, and with Eliza's new partner sniffing around, the gargoyles' secret is nearly exposed. The head of the robotic unit is really Xanatos in a suit.

"Long Way To Morning" sees a Hudson flashback episode, with the King being poisoned by an archmage and his daughter blaming Hudson for it. In the present, Demona tries to poison Eliza so she can lure Goliath in and kill him. Unfortunately for her, Hudson accompanies Goliath to the meeting.

"Her Brother's Keeper" sees Eliza's brother, a helicopter pilot with the police, maneuvred into taking a job with Xanatos. Goliath is determined that her brother should be told the truth about the gargoyles if it would persuade him not to take the job. Lexington gets a helicopter. And I twigged something - the leader of The Pack, Fox, is the woman Xanatos ends up marrying (assuming my fanfic readings are anything to go by).

"Reawakenings" ends the series, with Xanatos and Demona piecing together a previously destroyed Gargoyle, Coldstone (who, conveniently completing the love triangle of Deanna, Riker and Worf, is voiced by Michael Dorn) via magic and technology, and then setting him against the other gargoyles. Obviously, he's not going to be a series regular, but he's a good foil for setting up the season end and the start of the next - with Goliath declaring that Manhattan is their new castle, and they'll protect everyone within it...

[Previous entry: "Movies And Star Trek"]

Movies And Star Trek

[Previous entry: "Mostly Star Trek (Two Days)"]

"A Taste Of Armageddon" sees the ship visiting Eminiar 7, who send out a code 17-R signal, meaning "don't, under any circumstances, visit this planet!" Unfortunately, the diplomat on the ship overrides Kirk's orders and sends them in. Seems the planet is at war with its neighbour, but they've taken the actual war out of it and left everything to the computers - the computer reports casualties, and then each side disintegrate their own people!

Of course, Kirk takes his usual blunt-fisted approach to it - destroy the disintegration chambers and the computers, and persuade the people that they don't really want to go to war through traditional means.

"This Side Of Paradise" sees them visiting an agricultural planet where all the inhabitants are supposed to be dead due to technobabble radiation. But there's still people there - how did they survive?

Cue Spock love interest... apparently he knew the settlement botanist previously. Oh, it's the mysterious plant episode... who's going to get sprayed by the flowers first? And they give Spock emotions again...

Then, because I feel the need to watch a few films and it's been on the shelf for ages, "Fahrenheit 9/11" which is mostly good but doesn't really show anything I didn't already know. Of course, it wasn't really for me, but for the ignorant masses who believe the Son King is the second coming or something.

That's being followed by "Chariots Of Fire" which I may have seen before but it's been so long ago that I don't remember it... I do, obviously, remember the opening theme though as it's possibly more famous than the film (or even the events the film portrays).

Back to Star Trek, and although "Devil In The Dark" is a big goofy episode with a dumb looking monster, I really like this one. Silicon based lifeform, stupid miners, what are really obviously eggs, crazy overacting by Spock in a mind meld, and McCoy's "I'm a doctor not a bricklayer" comment.

"Errand Of Mercy" sees the Enterprise sent to Organia to protect it from a Klingon fleet that intends to use it as a base. Unfortunately, the natives don't seem to want to fight. The Organians, have immense power, although they appear as normal humans most of the time and their natural form is some sort of energy being. What is it with immensely powerful races in Star Trek that never have repercussions? The Organians? Whatever the Squire of Gothos was? The Greek Gods (when they show up... and thankyou Peter David for picking them up for subsequent use)? Even the Q just want to turn up now and again to play pranks. At least this time they're forcing peace between the Klingons and Federation to prevent an interstellar war, so they're not a complete loss!

"The Alternative Factor" sees them orbiting a planet when they get attacked by a starfield overlay... oh, okay, they got attacked by non-existence, which makes far more sense than the graphics they showed! Fortunately, in the wake of the attack, a humanoid being appears on the planet below who they can go and ask questions from... or end up in a fist-fight with I guess... oh, okay, it's the white guy and black guy cancelling each other out episode. Alright, so it wasn't the white guy and black guy - they're obviously in a later episode with the same theme, but there's two Lazaruses here, one positive, one negative.

"City On The Edge Of Forever" is the classic time travel episode where McCoy gets injected with some chemical that makes him go crazy, before he flees through the time portal. Unfortunately, this causes the Enterprise to disappear, so Kirk and Spock have to go back and fix whatever he changed.

And then, finally, "Operation -- Annihilate!" which sees mass insanity come to Deneva. Is this the strange flying creature episode? At least they give us the solution in the first couple of minutes, so now we just have to find out what it's the solution to...

[Previous entry: "Mostly Star Trek (Two Days)"]

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Mostly Star Trek (Two Days)

[Previous entry: "Star Trek and Anime"]

Yesterday saw finishing the Star Trek disc, with two excellent episodes, "Shore Leave" which sees the crew on an idyllic planet where anything they imagine comes true, including the White Rabbit and Alice, and "The Galileo Seven" which sees Spock's first command being a less than promising one. This was great, seeing Spock keep making the logical decisions, and for things to get progressively worse because of it, both with his crew and with the giants on the planet.

Then, Doctor Who, with "The Green Death" which everyone remembers as the one with the giant maggots. But ignoring the not-very-realistic ending between Jo and the scientist whose name I can't remember, this has got a lot going for it. It is a fraction long, but they use the cast well, and there's plenty of tension (yes, even with killer maggots!). The BOSS is a little silly, but this is Doctor Who.

Of course, I had to take a break in the middle to watch the extremely dull Formula 1 qualifying for the Malaysia Grand Prix. The only highlights were the lacklustre performance of the Ferraris, and the continual good performance of the Renault team. Of course, the Ferrari is still last year's car, so we're liable to see some improvements when this year's turns up...

And then today, a pathetic drubbing of Norwich City... the team managed to rouse themselves so they actually played some football during the last two minutes, but what happened to the other 88?

Then, more Star Trek, starting with "The Squire Of Gothos" and Sulu and Kirk disappear from the bridge after encountering a strange metal planet that isn't supposed to be there. Turns out the squire wants to play with them - but his ideas of Earth come from 900 years ago. He's some sort of alien, who can transform or create anything he wants... but he's not infallible... and he has parents... which is lucky for Kirk!

In "Arena" some powerful aliens intervene in a conflict between the Enterprise and another ship, and decide the best solution is for the captains to beat each other up on a neary planet... Kirk fights the Gorn.

"Tomorrow Is Yesterday" causes the Enterprise to get thrown back in time to 1960's Earth. Unfortunately, they get detected as a UFO and a fighter pilot is sent to investigate. This is a fun little episode, and the first instance of the time-warp slingshot around the sun.

Then "Court Martial" sees Kirk up on charges over the death of a crewmember. He insists that he acted responsibly and correctly, but the computer record shows he jettisoned the crewmember before declaring the red alert. Of course, there's the old flame of Kirk's who's just conveniently the prosecutor in his case...

"Karate Kid 2" sees a whole honour thing going on in Japan when Miyagi goes back there to see to his dying father. Of course, there was a whole falling out between his best friend over some girl, and now the best friend wants revenge. Daniel also manages to get a new girlfriend (Tamlyn Tomita with really big hair) and get mixed up with the son of the best friend, who's a little thug in his own right!

Back to Star Trek with "The Return Of The Archons" which has the first of many computer-controlled societies in Star Trek that can be beaten by simple contradictory logic statements... they really need to design these things better. Note to self when designing AI - don't let them get stuck in logic loops, program them to assume humans are being deliberately obtuse and stop trying to make sense of the unsolvable... of course, I'll probably feel a bit stupid when it goes crazy and tries to take over the world and I can't stop it with a bit of contradictory logic!

"Space Seed" and the appearance of Khan Noonian Singh, genetically engineered superman and all-round megalomaniac. Of course, instead of dealing with him, we let him get away in a spaceship and stay in cryogenic storage until Kirk can come along and thaw him out... although I haven't noticed us building any ships like this, and it was apparently constructed in the 1990s...

Of course, Khan has to try to take over the ship, and Kirk has to strand him on Ceti Alpha something-or-other so he can turn up in the second movie... see, this is why Peter David writes the best Star Trek novels - he can take a throwaway episode that appears to have no consequences and write a whole character or plotline around it. Whoever wrote Star Trek 2: The Wrath Of Khan had the same idea - throwaway storyline that turned into possibly the best movie of the lot (closely followed by the one with the whales, the undiscovered country, and Insurrection).

And then I had to go and watch what turned out to be a fairly exciting F1 race. The Renaults seem to be the cars to beat this season, although we have yet to see this years Ferrari, which may come to dominate.

[Previous entry: "Star Trek and Anime"]

Friday, March 18, 2005

Star Trek and Anime

[Previous entry: "Skipping "Heroine""]

After two nights out and having watched nothing at all, there was a little bit of pressure to get through something tonight. Well, I pretty much failed...

I kicked off with another episode of Star Trek, "Balance Of Terror" - the Romulan episode. This was great - nice tension between the regulars and the guest Romulans, good acting on the part of the Romulan commander (doesn't that guy play Spock's father at some point?), a slight weakness in the predictability of starting with a wedding (and thereby knowing things aren't going to turn out rosy), but otherwise a good well rounded episode.

And then I got distracted... twenty minutes of wandering around trying to decide what to watch next - I probably should have just carried on with the Star Trek, especially as I'm stopping mid-disc, but I felt like a change.

So I put on "Perfect Blue" which pretty much defies summing up. It's anime, and it's about a pop idol, Mimi, who decides to become an actor (or may be pressured into it by her manager). Of course, the fans aren't all that happy about this, and there's a creepy stalker guy, and a website, and an acting job about a girl with multiple personalities who commits murder, and Mimi having delusions or visions or something. Even at the end I'm not sure I understand what exactly happened!

Some moron decided to give it a non-anamorphic transfer to DVD though... and of course, if I zoom the picture I end up cutting off the bottom of the subtitles, so I'm watching a postage stamp on my big screen... perhaps the film makes more sense when seen larger?! Or maybe I'm just being dense this evening!

And I'm going to be extravagant and go to bed and read a book! Lets just hope I decide I don't have to finish the book tonight... which seems to be the pattern...

[Previous entry: "Skipping "Heroine""]

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Skipping "Heroine"

[Previous entry: "Greatest American... Anime?"]

Last two Greatest American Hero episodes (excluding the spin-off pilot, which I should probably save until the end...) starting with "Fire Man" and we're dealing with an arsonist with a big silver flameproof suit (and a flamethrower).

Unfortunately for Ralph's class-member Tony, he's got a job as a repo-man, and repossesses the car which the arsonist owned - so when the police pull him over and find gasoline and the silver suit in the boot, they think he did it. Fortunately he manages to get away and hide out at Ralph's.

Bill and Ralph get followed around by pretty much every agency in existence in the hope that they know where Tony is - and there's a lot of jokes at Ralph's expense about him in the suit. Fortunately, they work out that the government agency that was torched initially was responsible for the rest of the arsons and catch the guy responsible, getting Tony out of gaol.

"The Best Desk Scenario" sees Bill and Ralph testing the suit out in the desert - Bill thinks pyrokinesis is a power that Ralph can exhibit... so Ralph accidentally sets fire to Bill's car! Pam gets a promotion to junior law partner, and Ralph gets promoted to vice principal.

Unfortunately, Pam's promotion isn't a good thing, what with her being held at gunpoint, kidnapped by her boss, and generally inconvenienced. Fortunately for Bill (who's worried he's getting too old for his job, his boss is waaaaay younger than him, and a lot of friends are dying around him) solving the case gets him an offer of a position in Washington...

I'll skip the Heroine spin off until after seasons 2 and 3 where it's supposed to be... and instead watch more Star Trek. In this case, "The Conscience Of A King" which sees a visiting troupe of theatre players on the ship, doing Shakespeare (mainly Hamlet, but the crazy woman quotes from half a dozen plays). However, the lead actor sounds suspiciously like Kodos the Executioner, a guy who killed hundreds of people at a colony many years ago - see, they had to ration food so he killed a bunch to save thousands, but the food shipments arrived earlier than expected, so he wasn't seen in a particularly good light!

Anyway, Kirk isn't sure it's him; his friend (who dies early on) is sure, as is Riley (who makes a comeback after taking over engineering in the Naked Time)... and I don't remember Uhura singing quite as often as she actually does... she's at it again here, although it's her playing the lyre rather than Spock this time.

[Previous entry: "Greatest American... Anime?"]

Monday, March 14, 2005

Greatest American... Anime?

[Previous entry: "Wonderfalls"]

Finishing off the first Greatest American Hero disc, we get "The Hit Car" where Bill and Ralph have to drive a witness from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Ralph's clearly having problems with the suit - his flying is still horribly out of control - but at least he's bullet-proof and can run really fast.

Then in "Here's Looking At You, Kid" some targetting thing from an aircraft gets stolen and Bill and Ralph have to get it back. After much flying (and crashing) around the desert, they find the plane, but the macguffin is gone. At this point they find that Ralph can turn invisible, although he doesn't have a great deal of control over it - he has a tendency to disappear even when he doesn't want to, and he can't reappear at will either.

Having managed to put off one of the Miyazaki films until now, "Porco Rosso" is the next viewing - the classic tale of a World War I flying ace transformed to look like a pig. Well, okay, I don't know how classic it is!

This was probably the best of the three Miyazaki films released in this wave, although The Cat Returns was a little more upbeat... and did they re-use the princess from Nausicaa for Fio in this?

Then I stuck with the anime through "I Me My, Strawberry Eggs" volume 2 and "Chobits" volume 5. At least Chobits finally decided to pull some of the story out, as it was getting a bit weak with the same repetitive humour. But volume 5 was fantastic... I might have to go out and track down volume 6 now...

Then back to Greatest American Hero with "Saturday Night On Sunset Boulevard" which has the dynamic duo (plus school class) looking for a Russian chauffeur and a female of some other nationality who are in love, but on the run from their own people.

That was followed by "Reseda Rose" which sees the kidnap of one of Ralph's class's mother. They're still getting most of their jokes from Ralph's inability to fly. But there's some nice interplay between all the tensions in his life here - his ex-wife and child, his current girlfriend, his class, and of course, Bill and the suit.

And then "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys" finishes up the disc. And Ralph wants to give up the suit as his flying keep endangering others. But his hero (the Lone Ranger) persuades him that he needs to keep trying to do good. Meanwhile, Bill's hero appears to have turned bad and wants to steal a whole boatload of diamonds.

I followed this up with "Bringing Up Baby" which started really well, but which I lost interest in somehow about halfway through. I don't know if this was the film's fault or mine, so I'll have to watch it again some time to check...

[Previous entry: "Wonderfalls"]

Sunday, March 13, 2005


[Previous entry: "Catching Up After An Evening Working"]

Taking a break from Star Trek, and watching Wonderfalls instead - the short lived show about a girl who has animal figurines talking to her! Starting with "Wax Lion" and Jaye (the girl in question) is a clerk in the gift shop by Niagara Falls, and her and Alec are clearly not model employees.

A disagreeable customer tries to get a wax lion out of a vending machine in the store, but it comes out deformed, and she wants a discount which Jaye won't give her. When Alec insists, the lion tells her not to. The customer gets her discount, and gets her bag stolen when she leaves the store. Jaye passes out, and back at her home (a trailer in a trailer park) her family try to intervene... She even gets sent to a shrink to get to the bottom of her emotional issues. But the brass monkey bookend on the shrink's desk starts talking to her!

As she tells her friend at The Barrel (the local bar) that evening, it told her to steal it! But she does meet a new bartender who appears to want to date her.

The next day, the lion tells her to ask the store delivery guy about his wedding ring, making him cry. The guy then throws a coin in the fountain, that the lion tells her to pick up - which she does, and then the eagle on the coin frightens her and she drops it... which leads to her discovering the woman's purse that was stolen earlier.

She ends up having a fight with the woman, and having to call her sister to get her out of police custody.

Okay, the lion tells her to set the delivery guy and her sister up on a date - her sister finally declares that she's a lesbian, and the delivery guy turns out to be allergic to peanuts and has to be rushed to the hospital. When there his ex-wife turns up and also turns out to be a lesbian... fortunately, the delivery guy and his nurse appear to make a connection while Jaye's sister and the ex-wife leave together.

"Pink Flamingos" sees the nasty garden ornaments of the title (currently in her parents' garden) moving around - of course, Jaye's not initially paying attention as she's trying to deal with her father wanting her to go to her 10 year high school reunion. The flamingos want her to help her father clean up the dustbins someone has knocked over, but she ends up running him over!

Jaye has to help Gretchen organise the reunion - the girl who terrorised her during high school - and she's starting to actually feel sorry for her when the chicken hair pin tells her to destroy Gretchen!

Meanwhile, Jaye's sister is trying to have a date with the ex-wife from the previous episode, but she's got to care for her father who's in bed with his leg in plaster. When she realises she can drug him so he sleeps through the date, things pick up... but the ex-wife admits she isn't a lesbian, which might cause future friction!

Jaye, before giving in and destroying Gretchen, tries to get Gretchen's husband there, but ends up causing him to have a car accident and meet a cute jewish police woman. But that's okay, because Gretchen's experience at the reunion cause her to return to her bitchy ways and decide to break up with him anyway.

Turns out running over her father's leg at least allowed the hospital to find a blood clot that they wouldn't have found otherwise, potentially saving his life.

"Karma Chameleon" sees Jaye's mother releasing a book, and Jaye is disappointed she only gets five words in the blurb when her brother and sister get many more. A girl, Bianca, steals her wallet and on returning it manages to shoe horn a job at Wonderfalls, even with her stutter (but then, there's a chameleon puppet telling her to "get her words out").

Bianca, or Binky, starts immitating Jaye - her hair, her phraseology, no stutter, her clothes, and possibly her boyfriend... or at least the potential boyfriend/bartender that Jaye likes.

Meanwhile, Jaye's brother and sister agree to give up five words each for the reprinting of the book so Jaye can have a longer bio... but she's given the task of writing it!

Binky turns out to be an investigative reporter writing the definitive article on generation Y's disaffected youth... and she's chosen Jaye as her subject... so Jaye invites her in and gives her the lowdown on her life...

But Binky decides she doesn't want to write an article anymore, and would rather take over Jaye's life... leaving Jaye without a job. So Jaye decides to follow the Chameleon's advice, and write the article for her... submitting it and getting it accepted.

"Wound-Up Penguin" sees the menagerie in Jaye's apartment singing bottles of beer on the wall until she gets up and goes to the bar, getting there just as they close. But the bartender lets her in and they talk. Jaye finds out he sleeps in the back room, and that the bar has rats - including a girl who's sleeping in the barrel in the bar!

The girl runs, but she had a clockwork penguin amongst her things, that tells Jaye to bring her back. They also find a ticket stub, that gets them to the train station... and from there to a mysterious guy in black who's been looking for her.

But he's a priest, and she's a runaway nun who's lost her faith in God. Fortunately for her, she has Jaye and her talking animals to convince her that God exists... which leads to Jaye needing to be exorcised (at knife point) to get rid of the demonic talking animals!

On to disc 2, and we get "Crime Dog" to start it off. Jaye is in gaol... or at least she's been arrested for keeping someone in the boot of her car. And her sister is dealing with the police as her lawyer. Of course, the cut-out bulldog picture in police uniform in the interrogation room decides to talk to her. Oh, okay, it was her parents' housekeeper who was in the trunk...

Flashback to 18 hours before the arrest. And Jaye is bringing laundry to her parents' to be cleaned. Unfortunately, the cow creamer on the table tells her to stay and have a pancake. This ends up with the housekeeper being there long enough for the INS to turn up with a warrant to deport her.

Jaye's brother brings the cow to Wonderfalls convinced Jaye is responding to it for some reason. The cow keeps saying "bring her home" and when they chase the housekeeper to Canada to get her back, her brother brings the cow.

The cow persuades Jaye to take a right turn on to a one way street, and they end up crashing into the garden of their housekeeper's parents... it turns out she isn't french-canadian, she's faking the french accent; and her name isn't Yvette, it's Cindy. But her parents basically ignored her as she was growing up (and she was raised by her own housekeeper, who is called Yvette).

Smuggling her back over the border in the boot of the car is what leads to the arrest - Cindy's parents have called the police, although it looks like Jaye's sister is responsible initially. But with a big cheque from Jaye's father, they get her and their housekeeper back.

"Muffin Buffalo" sees Jaye stalking one of the inhabitants of the trailer park - an extremely fat guy who no-one's seen leave his trailer recently. Meanwhile, another neighbour has lost her disability cheques and thinks Jaye has them - although her apron (with a picture of a buffalo) tells Jaye to keep them.

Jaye is getting fed up with the talking animals making her actions seem like she's a hero.

The fat guy (Pat) turns out not to be fat at all - he's lost a lot of weight and intends to lose more, because he still thinks he's fat. So Jaye takes him to game night at her parents' house, where his competitive streak comes out. Meanwhile, Jaye's brother is obsessed with the fact that inanimate objects are talking to her... although the shrink seems to think it's his problem rather than Jaye's.

Pat gets the wrong idea, thinking Jaye is interested in him, which is okay until he turns up naked in her bed. Once he's rejected, he falls back in to eating, even getting the muffin lady to bake for him so he can stuff himself... unfortunately, her muffins are low fat and he ends up in the hospital...

"Barrel Bear" sees one of the shop bears telling Jaye to "give it back to her" - and she initially think it means the quarter that a woman outside throws in to the fountain. Jaye manages to get a fine from plucking the coin out of the water.

Turns out the woman is the first American to have gone over the falls in a barrel and lived. But she's living in Paris and has no celebrity status any more (as evidenced by the photo signing in Wonderfalls which drives the customers away). They do however decide to hold an event in the bar for her... at which the real woman who went over the falls and survived turns up - Kai Winn - and explains that she was sold out by her manager after surviving, where they swapped woman for all the photo shots.

After much back and forth, the imposter decides she has to go over the falls in a barrel for real, so she can claim the title... and then chickens out. She goes to the authentic woman's house, with the plan to propose a nationwide tour where she tells the truth!

"Lovesick Ass" sees the arrival of a Russian mail order bride. Jaye and her bartender want to help the woman find the guy who paid for her... and instead they find a 12 year old boy whose mother died and whose father seems to be paying little attention to him.

The love triangles in this episode are completely crazy - boy and Russian, bartender and Russian, Jaye and bartender, boy and Jaye, boy's father and Russian. At least Jaye and Eric (the bartender) agree to go on a date and finally kiss at the end of this.

"Safety Canary" sees the date being prepared for... but it's at the zoo, and there's a pair of macaws who need their love rekindled. But then the canary on the sign starts telling Jaye to take a picture, even though the sign says "NO Flash Photography" and then the macaws go berserk and attack Jaye.

Because of this, the woman working the aviary gets reassigned to the elephants, and her co-worker wants Jaye to come and and get her back with the birds. And then an ass tells her to "save the lovebirds." Unfortunately, Jaye's attempts to help cause the woman to get fired.

Jaye's sister and her her girlfriend are having strife...

Jaye's visions get worse when she sees Eric's heart burst out of his chest and land in her hands.

Jaye, Eric, and Penelope (the zoo employee) go to the zoo at night to steal the birds so they can get them to mate... Rufus, from the janatorial staff (and interested in Penelope) helps them get away from security.

Back at her parents' place, Jaye finds the perfect place for the birds to mate... but then gets nervous and lets the birds out to prevent having to deal with Eric.

So they're out searching for the birds, and love is blooming all around - Jaye's brother is showing an interest in Majandra, Jaye keeps trying to break up with Eric because she doesn't want to hurt him, the delivery man goes back to see his ex-wife (Jaye's sister's girlfriend), Rufus turns up with zoo security (but everything was caught on surveillance cameras, and Rufus had nothing to do with selling them out), and the macaws turn up, mating, in the back of Jaye's sister's car.

So Rufus and Penelope end up together, Majandra and the brother, and Eric and his ex-wife... oh, yeah, Heidi turns up at the end and gets together with Eric... Heidi - played by Jewel Staite, who Tim Minear obviously decided to borrow between the end of Firefly and the filming of Serenity...

"Lying Pig" picks up where Safety Canary ended - with Heidi trying to get Eric back, and the fish telling Jaye to "mend what is broken" which she's obviously against.

Jaye comes clean to her brother about the talking animals. He clears out her trailer so she can't hear things any more - but Jaye finds the TV is yet another source, the TV, and an advert for bacon with a pig on it. Jaye throws the TV out of the window and hits Heidi in the head with it!

Heidi, it turns out, has a mild concussion, but she's also forgotten anything about the breakup with Eric... she still thinks she's on her honeymoon.

Of course, once Jaye gets her out of the hospital and back to the honeymoon suite, she finds that Heidi is faking the amnesia. After a knock down, drag out fight, Jaye manages to get away. But when she gets to the bar, the fish tells her not to tell Eric... and Eric ends up remarrying Heidi.

In "Coctail Bunny" Jaye's brother is trying to get the animals to talk to him. Jaye is talking to Ron the shrink. The parents are trying to find out what is going on. And Eric has handed in his notice at the bar. Then the bunny on the box of coctail cherries tells Jaye to "save him from her" but getting to the bottom of that leads to reclaiming all the animals from her brother, and then the lion tells her to ask the monkey if she wants to know more. Then the monkey tells her "she's going to kill him" and Jaye's convinced it's Heidi, but it's probably Dr Ron.

The police get involved, thinking Jaye is going to kill Dr Ron, especially after Jaye bursts in on Eric and Heidi in bed (well, Eric is taking viagra-substitute, but Jaye think she's being poisoned). But Dr Ron is being stalked by a crazy former patient, and Jaye is trying to get a straight answer out of the monkey.

Why do they keep talking to Jaye? "Because she listens" according to the monkey. She does save Dr Ron (and make him a believer) though.

"Totem Mole" sees Majandra visiting the Satsuma indians, and a totem pole tells her to enter a teepee to get some cryptic message. The female indian inside tells her that she came to silence the voices. Except the indian is dead... so who was she talking to?

Turns out the tribe need a new spiritual leader and the previous leader's son is an accountant with no spiritual aptitude whatsoever... until Jaye intervenes in the testing and gets him qualified.

Then he holds a sit-in in Wonderfalls until they get rid of all the merchandise that claims the indians performed human sacrifice (the whole princess over the falls in a canoe thing).

Meanwhile, Jaye's sister is in a rivalry with the tribe's lawyer, who was head of the class when they were in law school together. But the rivalry leads to the lawyer getting trapped in the sauna and having a spiritual experience that made her see that the tribe needs a casino - so the accountant has a place with them.

And finally, "Caged Bird" sees Jaye looking for shoplifters, but a small ornamental bird in a cage tells her to let him go. But it might be referring to Eric and Heidi leaving rather than the young shoplifter with the slinky in his pants.

Jaye's sister persuades her to meet Eric before he leaves, but she's unable to go because a bank robber with a gun takes them all hostage. The security guard has a heart attack. Eric comes by to say goodbye but gets the cold shoulder from Jaye, tipping him off that something was wrong and he calls the police.

The robber escapes out the back with Jaye as a hostage. The get in a van to drive away, and collide with Heidi's car, when she was coming to Wonderfalls after seeing Eric on the news to tell him they're through. The robber points a gun at Heidi and is about to shoot her when an ambulance takes him out.

Eric leaves with Heidi... but after getting her settled in a spa to recover, returns to Niagara to live... cue season two... oh yeah, stupid Fox cancelled it!

Stepping away from the cancelled shows temporarily, to one that lasted three seasons: The Greatest American Hero. Although I'll probably only get to watch the pilot. We open in the desert - well, we assume it's the desert from the sand and the tarantula. And then the dune buggies appear. The guy in the lead buggy appears to be trying to escape the bunch chasing him (all crewed by severe looking bald men with guns). His escape ends when his buggy dies in a big puddle. Then he makes a run for it on foot. Cue titles.

Ralph Hinkley is a special education teacher with the class from hell - a bunch of thugs, hoodlums, and general troublemakers, who he's decided to take on a field trip out to the desert. Stopping at a diner, one of the class picks a fight with a smartly dressed guy (Bill Maxwell), who pulls a gun on him.

Continuing into the desert, their school bus has an electrical problem and dies. Ralph decides to walk back to the garage a mile back up the road, leaving the kids to stay with the bus. When he reaches the road, an out of control car tries to run him down - turns out to be Bill again, who pulls an FBI badge on him. And then the UFO shows up!

The black guy from earlier, apparently a colleague of Bill's, comes down from the ship with the suit, saying it'll only work for Ralph and that he and Bill can save the planet with it. Of course, he's got to go back in the spaceship as he's been dead for six hours (the ship picked him up after he was shot).

I'd forgotten what a fun little show this is... I'd also forgotten the pilot was feature length... they could have put that on the box... anyway, more tomorrow...

[Previous entry: "Catching Up After An Evening Working"]

Saturday, March 12, 2005

Catching Up After An Evening Working

[Previous entry: "The End Of A Millennium (Season Two)"]

I ended up working for large chunks of yesterday evening, so didn't get to comment on what I watched, or even just put up a list... tonight should be better though, as all I've got to do is get drunk... yay Friday!

Anyway last night started with four Dungeons And Dragons episodes to go, and I kicked off with "Odyssey Of The Twelth Talisman" and Eric makes a friend. A boy their own age with a magical talisman that attracts evil and creates uncontrollable energy beams whenever he is threatened. Unfortunately it puts the gang in harms way, what with someone with eleven of them searching for the twelth... oh, and Venger has to turn up at the end just to get killed...

"Citadel Of Shadow" sees Sheila feeling worthless, considering she keeps screwing up and preventing them from getting home. Hearing a voice, she rescues a young girl from behind a mystical barrier. Then she gets her ring back for her. But unfortunately, the girl is Venger's sister, so things aren't going to go all that smoothly!

"The Winds Of Darkness" sees a guy called the Darkling with a killer fog that zaps Hank, making him disappear. Bobby recruits the aid of a woman who can glow in the dark and is able to defeat the Darkling, but she's reluctant to do so.

"Cave Of The Fairie Dragons" sees a whole lot of running around to save a bunch of fairie dragons and get them to their new homeland in the forest at the edge of the world. Of course, they also have to lose a possible route home.

And that's it - no conclusion, no final episode, just ending like all the others... of course, there's a featurette on the unfilmed episode that the writer planned to wrap things up with in case the show wasn't picked up for another season... but they didn't get to film it because they were cancelled.

And then on to Star Trek, the Original Series, starting with "Dagger Of The Mind" which has the most skimpily dressed psychiatry expert in the history of the field. A prisoner escapes a penal colony, and when the crew capture him, he claims to be a Doctor at the facility. On beaming down, Kirk and the skimpily dressed woman from his crew find that they're modifying memories with some laser beam to remove the criminal element from their prisoners.

"The Corbomite Maneuver" sees the Enterprise having to deal with a mysterious spinning cube that blocks their way. Eventually they resort to blowing it up, but they have to deal with a much larger ship that threatens to destroy them (and could have the power to back it up).

Kirk plays a fun bluff here with a mysterious Corbomite device that destroys any ship attempting to destroy an Earth ship. And there's a creepy kid... that's three now!

On to tonight, and we open where we left off, Star Trek, with "The Menagerie" which has the return of Captain Christopher Pike (now in a wheelchair and without a speaking part) and Spock committing mutiny by running off with the Enterprise. Of course, it's spread over two episodes because they've taken footage from the original pilot and spliced it in to another story, set later.

Then I watched Leon - a good film, Gary Oldman manages not to overact too badly, and Jean Reno and Natalie Portman are good in it, but there's something a little disturbing about the relationship between the two of them.

And finally, I put on volume 3 of uncut Yu-Gi-Oh... at three episodes every two months, they're going to take forever to release this show! And I should really be watching these in the original language, but I'm so used to watching this show dubbed on TV that the characters only sound right in the dub...

[Previous entry: "The End Of A Millennium (Season Two)"]

Thursday, March 10, 2005

The End Of A Millennium (Season Two)

[Previous entry: "More Millennium (A Lot To Live Up To)"]

There's actually seven Millennium episodes to go... I obviously can't count! But four should be taken care of tonight, starting with "Siren" - and we open with a ship full of Chinese immigrants docked in the US. They think they've made a payoff, but the INS turn up to arrest everyone. The captain orders two of the crew into hold 38 to kill some monster... but there's a woman chained up in there.

Jordan encounters the woman in the hospital, and she won't let her mother leave without agreeing to help her, because the strange woman is going to save Frank's life! Frank's enquiries go nowhere, although he gets a flash of drowning when he talks to one of the crew in INS custody. When Catherine goes to question the woman at the hospital with an interpreter, they can't find a dialect she speaks, and when she does say something, she's got a strangely distorted voice.

Okay, I'm coming back to this entry after 24 hours and watching the end of the show... but for Tuesday night, we watched the end of Siren... and the woman who allegedly can save Frank gets his attention because he initially believes that the woman can give him the answer to whether his involvement with the Group is bringing evil into his family, or protecting them from it.

It's not a bad episode, but it's followed by "In Arcadia Ego" which has the distinction of having Missy Crider in it, but nothing else to say about it... it's basically a virgin birth story about a couple of prisoners in an womens prison. It's got some good moment, but the ending is a little weak.

Then the bizarre mythology-esque show "Anamnesis" with Catherine investigating a schoolgirl who allegedly saw the Virgin Mary appear to her and a small group of her friends. Of course, to provide counterpoint, Lara Means is in there for the Group, and they throw in an extra group, The Family, who were an offshoot of the Group who had a difference of opinion many years ago... they're descendents of the protectors of the holy grail and they're invested in the fulfillment of some prophecy that involves a sacrifice.

It's pretty good, but a little too Millenium-Group-history heavy and the actual tale loses something because of it. They also throw more stuff at Catherine... they were definitely building something here with her...

"A Room With No View" was a great episode - it sees the return of Lucy Butler, who's abducting teenagers and imprisoning them in her house where she plays elevator music and loves them as long as they're trying to be ordinary. She's picking people voted most likely to succeed by their peers, even though their grades aren't very good - the sort of people who would aspire to greatness if put in a position where they could excel, or if they were needed. After a whole bunch of not very good episodes, this was great... unfortunately, this was it for the series...

As we continue with the other comedy episode (after the Jose Chung episode) "Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me" which has four devils in a donut shot discussing their recent activities and how they've all been seen in their true form by Frank Black... this was completely rubbish!

And then we reach the finale (on Wednesday night), "The Fourth Horsemen" and "The Time Is Now" where they basically try to end the world. They also manage to kill off Catherine, dropping any possible storyline for her that they'd been building. And they leave Lara in a mental institute drugged to the nines and lost in her visions. What happens to Watts is unknown...

Okay, this season really didn't live up to the hype... it had some really good episodes (A Room With No View, The Pest House, Midnight Of The Century, 19:19, and Monster), a bunch of pretty good episodes (Beware Of Dog, The Curse Of Frank Black, Goodbye Charlie, Luminary, The Mikado) and a whole bunch of rubbish. Started quite well, ended poorly... is this a Morgan and Wong trait, or do they just need to be given the opportunity to stay on the air more than one season so they don't decide to destroy everything at the end?

To change things up a little, I've only got 1 disc, 6 episodes of Dungeons And Dragons left, and the box is a huge great thing taking up a lot of shelf space, so lets get it done, starting with "The Dungeon At The Heart Of Dawn."

Eric and Bobby manage to find the Box of Balefire, but they open the box before they give it to Dungeon Master and it releases a signal that draws the ultimate evil. It appears to be Venger's master, and even Dungeon Master cannot stop him. He does manage to save the kids lives, but their weapons are drained of power. Of course, the Heart of Dawn can replenish their power... as it can replenish Venger's... who's following them.

Their journey has a whole bunch of obstacles, and they have to keep leaving one of the kids behind after dealing with it - Presto stuck on a ledge they can't reach, Diana fighting Salamanders, Eric dealing with a purple worm, Hank dealing with Venger, Bobby and Uni dealing with his henchmen, and then Shiela caught at the last minute... then Dungeon Master manages to find the strength to crawl the last few feet and get his powers back. Which means he can save the kids and replenish their weapons... fortunately, the evil guy got distracted and went off to terrorise other worlds!

"The Time Lost" sees Venger playing around with a time crystal thingy, that allows him to open portals to Earth at any random time. Of course, he's got a nefarious scheme planned with giving a World War Two German fighter ace a modern aircraft, sending him back and changing history so that the kids aren't ever born, but he miscalculates and gets a German who doesn't particularly like Hitler or the war.

[Previous entry: "More Millennium (A Lot To Live Up To)"]

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

More Millennium (A Lot To Live Up To)

[Previous entry: "The Dog Ate My Homework"]

More Millennium, and disc 4 opens with "The Mikado." This was supposed to be a horror episode, and had a couple of creepy moments - basically they stumble on an internet killer, staging his kills live on webcams. Frank has real trouble piecing this one together because the computer distances him from the event and his power proves useless.

"The Pest House" was a better episode - bunch of people dying like urban legends... and there's a connection to a mental hospital. This was cool, considering half the cast are psychopathic killers and we don't know who's actually managing to get out of the hospital to commit the crime. And then there's the supernatural explanation for what happened...

"Owls" and "Roosters" starts well, with a conflict in the Millennium Group between one faction who believe in a religious Armageddon in 6 hundred odd days, while the other bunch believe in a secular Armageddon in 60 odd years. They're purportedly fighting over the cross of Christ, and there's a whole bunch of back and forth with Lara and Frank being ostracised as the two factions try to find out who's to blame for each incident.

Meanwhile, a new company hire Frank's wife in a blatant attempt to get to Frank... seems there's a third group out there that are setting up the Millennium Group to destroy itself in a civil war... but this is about where the episode goes completely off the rails into Nazi mythology and crazy Germans hiding in Paraguay. This gets really weak in places, and doesn't really help the overall Millennium mythology.

So, one good, one excellent, and a mediocre two parter... for something billed as one of the best seasons of television ever made, it's going to have to go great guns in the last six episodes to earn that mantle (or to really come close to it...).

[Previous entry: "The Dog Ate My Homework"]

Monday, March 7, 2005

The Dog Ate My Homework

[Previous entry: "Well That Was Mixed"]

Gah! Windows crashed and ate todays report. Where are we now? Somewhere in the middle of Millennium disc 3, with "Goodbye Charlie."

We've got a guy assisting people with suicides... except the latest one appears to be murder. Ah... the guy assisting works for a helpline.

They give us Lara's (the woman who sees angels) passphrase to the Millennium network on her computer - Open the pod-bay doors please Hal - which shows just how geeky the guy who installs the system is... when Frank's is Soylent Green Is People.

So far we've had "A Single Blade Of Grass" with native american sacrifice and prophecy of buffalos in New York, "The Curse Of Frank Black" with the Devil trying to get Frank to sit back and stop interfering in return for a cushy afterlife, "19:19" with a guy abducting a school bus full of children hoping that a sign will show the return of Jesus - and the mysterious little girl who knows more than she should. Then "The Hand Of Saint Sebastian" sees Frank and Watts off to Germany in a case unsanctioned by the Group - it touches on the origins of Millennium, and puts them at serious risk (exploding cars, people chasing them with guns, getting sucked in to peat bogs).

Then a disc of Star Trek, with the lacklustre "The Enemy Within" (Kirk gets split between good and evil halves by the transporter), and then the improving run of "Mudd's Women" (Mudd uses Venus drug to make women more beautiful than they are, so he can run a scam on some miners), "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" (Nurse Chapel's fiance turns up and there's a whole thing with androids, including one of Kirk) and "Miri" (children on a planet are the only survivors after plague kills all the adults... but it's still around and killing them as they reach puberty).

Then finishing the third Dungeons And Dragons disc that started a few days ago with "Day Of The Dungeon Master" seeing Eric take on Dungeon Master's garb and powers when the little guy takes a day off; "The Last Illusion" sees Presto get a love interest in a girl who can make illusions who's being held captive by Venger; "The Dragon's Graveyard" that sees Hank finally decide to get rid of Venger, and make a deal with Tiamat to try to kill him; and "Child Of The Stargazer" which sees Diana get a love interest who's the focal point of a prophecy about the child of a stargazer from another world who defeats a demon queen... except Diana is also the child of an astronomer from another world.

Two previous Millennium episodes on this disc, the silly "Jose Chung's Doomsday Defence" which at least sees the last appearance of the eponymous author (and the completely ludicrous cult of Selfosophy), and "Midnight Of The Century" which sees Frank digging in to his daughter's gift and angels showing up to persuade him to go and see his father - it's a touching Christmas episode...

But back to Goodbye Charlie, and he's killing people with walnuts in their mouth and he's standing there singing karaoke... bizarre doesn't really cover it! The end is good though... the guy just disappears, and Lara and Frank are left with the difficult philosophical question of whether the guy was from heaven or hell!

Then "Luminary" sees Frank's wife getting an astrological reading, which apparently shows the conflict of the Millennium involves her as well as Frank, and that she's got a strong sixth sense. Frank gets a meeting with the Group that doesn't go well, and then goes off to Alaska on a freelance job (missing person) while the Group cut off his network access.

The discovery of the kid in the woods during the aurora in this is great, but his subsequent disappearance raises even more questions than the one at the end of the last episode... is Frank's role in life to chase after people who disappear in to thin air?

[Previous entry: "Well That Was Mixed"]

Sunday, March 6, 2005

Well That Was Mixed

[Previous entry: "Catching Up (Mrs Bradley and Miyazaki)"]

Okay, well, we finished The Karate Kid - as I'd seen the end of this on TV a few weeks ago, there was nothing surprising here. It's a fun little tale, and I was surprised to see on the packaging that Pat Morita was Oscar nominated for his performance here.

After much dithering over what to watch next (and a check on the grand prix time - 17:30), I eventually settled on disc 1 of Star Trek The Original Series, Season 1... thinking that I'm not going to be able to sit through large chunks of it in one sitting so I might as well plan to instersperse the discs with something else.

But we open with "The Man Trap" - and we're stupidly going to listen to these with the remixed 5.1 audio rather than the original.

People killing, shape-changing salt eater is the order of the day here. This has held up quite well and is a thoroughly entertaining episode dealing with McCoy's previous love life. And I don't remember the Uhuru / Spock interactions at all...

"Charlie X" sees a teenage boy come on board who has mysterious powers - he can make people disappear, transform anything he wants, or create stuff that wasn't there before. Like any teenager, he's a bit of a handful...

"Where No Man Has Gone Before" is the very silly "Edge of the Galaxy" episode, where they try to breach the barrier at its edge. But they're out there looking for a ship that disappeared many years ago that's now sending a distress signal.

What the hell happened to their uniforms? Did they decide to go with the Winter look this time? They're all in the same dull brown, and they've got big polo-neck type collars. Very strange, but then wasn't this the second pilot episode?

Okay, they've got a recorder from the SS Valient from two hundred years ago. Sulu appears to be head of the Astro-Sciences division at the moment, and we've got Roger Mitchell at the helm. No sign of Uhura, no short skirts and Go-Go boots, but Scotty is head of Engineering, so there's at least a little continuity.

The recorder seems to indicate that after trying to leave the galaxy and getting back the crew started doing frantic searches for information on ESP. And then the Captain giving the self destruct order.

Mitchell and some woman get affected by the barrier, and Mitchell ends up with silver eyes... he's also able to read at phenomenal speeds and manipulate the medical instruments with his mind.

"The Naked Time" sees Spock and a random crewmember investigating a science station where everyone has frozen to death. It's nice to see this again after having seen the Next Generation remake - Sulu chasing people down the halls with a sword is always fun to watch, and this is the first of many "lets find a way to give Spock emotions" episodes.

So disc finished and I should switch to something else... I've really got to get done with Dungeons And Dragons, so we'll stick in disc 3 for a bit... see how far we get.

Opening with "The Treasure Of Tardos" and Dungeon Master sends them to Tardos Keep to retrieve something to stop Demodragon who's going to destroy the realm. And they have to help someone who stands against them... whatever that means. At least they've got a map this time!

The keep is surrounded by Orc soldiers, and Shadow Demon is there as well... one of those orcs sounds like Megatron... and then Venger turns up. But they escape in to the keep and get a frosty reception from the Princess.

Ooh! Cryptic end message - there was once good in Venger, everyone makes mistakes, Venger was Dungeon Master's mistake... whatever that was supposed to mean.

On to "City At The Edge Of Midnight" and they've got to save a bunch of children from both this world and their own. After a fight with a bunch of monsters, helped by a caravan merchant, the background music turns into The Champions incidental music.

They have to go to a mystical dream world after Bobby is kidnapped, and then restart this big clock...

In "The Traitor" the friends are caught in a conflict between the cloud bears and the orcs... Hank is helping the orcs and Venger, while the others are in the tops of the trees with the bears.

Oh, I see - Venger has Bobby, and Hank's pretty much given in and agreed to work for Venger in return for no harm to come to the barbarian.

Wow, they've killed Venger again... I wonder how long it'll be until he comes back... one episode?

And then a break for an almost entertaining grand prix race. The rules might make the next one very interesting, considering they have to use the same engine as for this one...

Because I'm really bouncing around here, and because I'm drowing in unwatched TV shows, I've stuck on Millennium season 2, and we left it with Frank's wife missing. Now I've read a few reviews of the second season and they all say that Chris Carter took his hands off the season and it went in a direction he wasn't happy with, but that it's one of the best seasons of television ever... that's a pretty tall order to live up to - we'll see...

We open with "The Beginning And The End" and we see the abduction that took place at the end of the last season from Frank's wife's point of view. The killer's a creepy looking guy... oh it's Victor Tooms, or at least, it is once he takes off the fake moustache and sideburns...

There's something suspicious about the Millennium Group here - the killer seems to know about them, and that Frank should be digging deeper into what they do, but he's dead before he can tell them anything.

"Beware Of The Dog" sees the Group send Frank to a town that's seen a mysterious animal attack. The townsfolk think he's the new sheriff, but they all lock their doors when night falls and don't let anyone in. And then the dogs appear... cue Frank getting savaged, then meeting the mysterious guy in the woods and finding out the Group is involved.

Something about the new guy's house has thrown the town off balance and the dogs have moved in - and killing one doesn't help, there's always five dogs!

"Sense And Antisense" sees a crazy man who seems to be patient zero of a possible contagious epidemic. Except it's all a set-up and the Department Of Energy are using Frank in an experiment on the human genome gone wrong.

"Monster" sees accusations of child abuse on an old woman running a daycare center. Frank, and the other psychologist the Group has sent both think it's one of the girls in the class - him because of his visions, her because she sees angels! And this is one evil, creepy little girl... what is it about creepy children? I need less creepy children in my viewage! After Sea of Souls, now this! And thinking about it, Revelation of the Daleks had a creepy child in it as well... enough already!

And on that note, indeed, enough already... to sleep, perchance to dream...

[Previous entry: "Catching Up (Mrs Bradley and Miyazaki)"]

Saturday, March 5, 2005

Catching Up (Mrs Bradley and Miyazaki)

[Previous entry: "End Of Charmed (Season One)"]

Wow, I've managed to get a long way behind... okay, Tuesday saw me finish the disc of The Mrs Bradley Mysteries with "Rising Of The Moon" which sees the death of a knife thrower's assistant amongst a bunch of travellers in a small country village. Cue Mrs Bradley, George, and Inspector Christmas digging in to the secrets of the varied performers.

Then, I got carried away, and the reason I didn't write anything, was the films were in Japanese and I had to watch the subtitles. Starting with "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Winds" and managing to squeeze in "The Cat Returns" before deciding some sleep might be a good idea!

Nausicaa covers many of the same themes as Princess Mononoke, but is slightly more comprehensible. Basically the Earth has been ravaged by giant red statues, that burnt most of mankind's construction to the ground. In the places they'd been, the Sea Of Decay has grown up, full of toxic fungi and killer insects. Nausicaa is the Princess of a small kingdom that survive due to the winds of their valley that keep them free of the fungus.

Cue war, conflict, discovered secrets, moronic other kingdoms, and a whole lot of killer insects. This was a good film, but other than wanting to see the English dub (Patrick Stewart in the cast) I'm not desperate to see it again all that soon.

The Cat Returns sees a young, unconfident girl save a cat from getting hit by a truck, and then finds him talking to her. When the Cat King turns up at her house wanting to do her a favour for saving his son, things go pear shaped. After they try to give her gifts, they eventually decide she should marry the Prince, which she obviously finds a strange idea... humans marrying cats?

Anyway, she's given enough information to go and seek help from the Cat Bureau - the food obsessed Muto, the mysterious Baron, and their friend the crow (whose name escapes me) - who attempt to extract her from her predicament.

This is an incredibly light and fluffy film, but is just such fun that you barely notice the 78 minutes of its run time.

Wednesday saw an evening out, so nothing watched, but Thursday saw me finish The Mrs Bradley Mysteries. That would be "Laurels Are Poison" which gave us some history of George Moody and his (and his family's) part in the war; and "The Worsted Viper" which sees Inspector Christmas get an award and George's daughter getting married... oh, and someone recreating the events from Mrs Bradley's first case.

On the whole not a bad show, and you can never go wrong with Diana Rigg - I doubt you'd be able to predict the storyline for any of these (except maybe the last one, which is a fraction obvious).

Tonight opens with no DVD watching whatsoever - it's Formula One opening weekend, so I've got to watch qualifying... and this time it actually counts against them as they take an aggregate of this time and tomorrow's.

Okay, that was one of the more eventful qualifying rounds - and because it counts towards final positions, we could be in for some interesting race positions tomorrow...

I started in on "The Karate Kid" but am too tired to finish it, so we'll have to leave Daniel at sanding the floor...

[Previous entry: "End Of Charmed (Season One)"]

Tuesday, March 1, 2005

End Of Charmed (Season One)

[Previous entry: "De-Cypher-ing Charmed"]

"The Power Of Two" sees Phoebe practicing getting premonitions, Piper off to Honolulu for a conference, and Prue stressed about work - having taken mucho time off for demon hunting, she's a bit behind. Of course, Phoebe gets given lots of chores to do, and she blows them off to go to Alcatraz instead. But there's a ghost there - an executed prisoner - and there's a woman ferrying souls to hell who wants a witch's soul.

When the tour guide steps into the cell, the woman kills him, and the ghost uses his body to get off the island... of course, Phoebe witnesses this.

Of course, the dead prisoner's prints on the murder weapon definitely rouse the police's suspicions... and Andy takes his enquiries to the Halliwells door. The prisoner is going around killing people connected to his incarceration.

Andy falls deeper down the rabbit hole, but internal affairs are investigating him. Phoebe makes a Buffy joke, which I guess pretty much dates this.

"Love Hurts" sees the return of Leo. He's protecting a woman who's being stalked by a darklighter, and he's shot with a crossbow bolt. Prue and Phoebe are off on holiday, but Leo turns up first... of course, he turns up in the attic, seriously hurt, which clearly freaks out the two sisters who don't know his secret.

And the opening tune (post titles) is the Cupid theme tune - Human, by The Pretenders.

Okay, they're hunting the missing girl, but they've got to avoid the darklighter, as he can kill with a touch. Morris is giving Andy a tough time about not sharing why Internal Affairs is hassling them.

Piper swaps her and Leo's powers in an attempt to save him, but it also swaps Phoebe and Prue's. Andy turns in his gun and badge to prevent Internal Affairs from getting to Prue. Piper fails to heal Leo, because she can't get a grip on Leo's powers.

They kill the darklighter by switching his powers with Prue's current premonitions and then Prue zaps him with his own death hand.

Leo gets saved when Piper learns that love triggers his powers, and they have a heart to heart about Leo's first death (World War 2 medic) and whether he should give up his powers and live a mortal life with Piper. He leaves his dogtags for her when they decide that he should keep doing good in his current position.

Andy tells Daryl that it's Prue they're covering for. And the Internal Affairs guy is a demon.

"Deja Vu All Over Again" sees the demon Internal Affairs person meeting with the demon Tempus, in an attempt to kill the Charmed Ones. And he's going to use Andy to get them together. And Phoebe's premonition before the titles? Andy's death.

Rodriguez the demon declares he knows Prue is a witch to Andy, thereby revealing that he's the demon. He then confronts the sisters, killing Phoebe but getting killed by his own energy ball... and then Tempus rewinds time back to that morning.

And Phoebe is suffering major deja vu... second time around, and both Phoebe and Piper die before Prue vanquishes Mr Demon. Third time round, Prue is knocked unconscious and Andy is killed, and they capture the demon... they want to get to Tempus.

Prue meets with Andy on the Astral Plane, but he tells her he was supposed to die, and when Prue wakes up she knows how to solve things - accelerate time, which vanquishes Tempus and allows the day to rollover. But it leaves Andy dead. And for some unknown reason, Prue decides to let the demon go, but he decides he has to kill them, so obviously he meets a sticky end...

Cue funeral... when is Daryl going to find out about them? Piper decides to quit her job as it's not what she wants to be doing. And Prue closes the door... by magic.

So, finished with Charmed, and searching around for something to watch, I decided to finish The Mrs. Bradley Mysteries, starting with "Death At The Opera." Why is this in non-anamorphic widescreen? And why do I have no comments? Diana Rigg is still great in this, and we get Peter Davison's appearance as Inspector Christmas.

[Previous entry: "De-Cypher-ing Charmed"]


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