- Lost Hits of the New Wave
- The All Things Fun! New Comics Vidcast
- The Cape
- The Following
- Bionic Nostalgia
- True Blood
- Doctor Who
- The Flash
- Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
- Agent Carter
- Avengers Assemble
- Age of Ultron
- Legion of Super-Heroes
- Jessica Jones
- Young Justice
- Guardians of the Galaxy
- Legends of Tomorrow
- Civil War II
- Luke Cage
Friday, February 27, 2015
I was asked earlier today to contribute to a memorial of the man at Biff Bam Pop!, and I had nothing. I was so stunned and silenced by his passing.
By the time I was aware of Leonard Nimoy, Mr. Spock, and "Star Trek," the show had left the network airwaves and was then currently running in syndication where it was experiencing a renaissance. Out of production for years and more popular than ever, I first saw "Star Trek" on Philadelphia's channel 48, which butchered the show mercilessly to fit more commercials in. It would be more than a decade before I saw all the episodes in their entirety.
My big sister loved the show, and so I watched it too. While I dug William Shatner as the mainstream good guy hero of the piece, I was drawn more to Nimoy's Spock. I guess that the way that Spock is alien, had pseudo-super powers, and was an outsider, almost a superhero, I connected to him more. And I think still today, the character is the best, and central to the show.
The first real Trekkie, or more accurately Trekker, I ever met was the big brother of the girl who lived across the street when I was a kid. Denis knew everything about "Star Trek,' everything. His knowledge of the show and the mythos was extraordinary, the type of minutia I knew well as a comic book fanboy, but somehow "Trek" seemed more important. He had all the books, the models, the Star Fleet Technical Manual, he knew how many decks were on the Enterprise. Yeah, I really looked up to him. Sometimes he picked on me, but it was okay, because he was cool, because of "Star Trek."
There were missteps of course, like his recording career, perhaps done to compete with William Shatner's equally dismal musical forays, but sometimes we can forgive. And really, the stuff wasn't that bad in an ironic humorous way. Either way, none of us will ever forget "Ballad of Bilbo Baggins" once we’ve heard it. He did stage plays, voice work, movie serials, video games, audiobooks, almost every aspect of the business and left his mark in all. He was the man.
His portrayal of Spock bridged all versions of Star Trek, and influenced those who followed in his footsteps. Star Trek, the world, all of us… has lost a legend, an icon, a role model, a part of us all. Live long and prosper, my friend.
Thursday, February 26, 2015
TCM Classic Cruise on board the Disney Magic. The 1967 animated Disney version of The Jungle Book is probably one of my favorite Disney features, and it was probably one of my first as well. Quite honestly I can't remember if I did see it in theaters at the time or not (I have been assured that I did), but I do know that my big sister bought me the soundtrack record that came with a storybook. I knew all the songs, I knew all the corresponding scenes as well, and I loved it.
This is one of those movies that when it comes on, I just have to stop and watch it. As I said, the music was ingrained in me at an early age, and even today with the original tunes, or with covers like "Bear Necessities" by Harry Connick Jr. or "I Wanna Be Like You" by the Jonas Brothers, I still love it. The flick has a great soundtrack, probably the last full soundtrack to be so cool as a whole until the late eighties.
It is notable that The Jungle Book was the last film that Walt Disney had a hand in personally, and it was also the beginning of a new era of animation for the company. I call it the Don Bluth era myself, even though Bluth wasn't involved in every facet of that era, but his style was prevalent. Many of his tricks are evident here, such as the fake out death of Baloo, and the look of some of the characters. Some of the scenes here are even repeated in 1973's Robin Hood.
The Jungle Book stands out among other Disney animated features for a number of reasons, not the least of which is its stunning voice cast. In a
In many ways, despite my love for this film, I kinda dig the 1942 Sabu version more, but still this is one of my favorite Disney features, and an important piece of my childhood. Five stars all around.
Wednesday, February 25, 2015
Oliver had asked Malcolm to train him so he could beat R'as al Ghul, and apparently the island is his idea of training. As if we didn't already know Malcolm was a bit twisted, right? I loved the camera pan approach to Flashback Island, with the shipwrecked Amazo near the shore, nice touch.
In the past, Oliver and Maseo are still tracking China White and her bio-weapon. Being in Starling past gives us a chance to not only see cast members in a variety of bad "Undercover Boss" hairstyles but also see dead folks like Colin Donnell returning as Tommy Merlin. We also see the past addictions of Thea, Quentin, and Laurel in more revealing light.
I loved when Oliver, trying to say he was good at hiding from his family and friends, said he pulled his hoodie down to cover his face - and Maseo countered with "that disguise wouldn't work even if you smeared grease paint over your face." Beautiful. It is also a testament to Stephen Amell's acting skills that he can pull off both naive and spoiled, and then brave and resourceful - in the same character years apart and make it believable. He's damn good.
And then there's Deathstroke's line to Oliver about Thea, how she's been touched by darkness and that Merlyn must be an interesting man to do that to his own daughter. Although we've seen a character in the show called Ravager, in the comics Slade did do something very similar to his own daughter who then called herself Ravager. And let's not even discuss her brother, his son, who was the original Ravager.
Larry Lance, we know he's doomed sooner or later.
Colin Donnell isn't the only actor to return from the dead this time out. There's also Jamey Sheridan as Robert Queen as seen in a recording for Oliver, solving another minor mystery of the series. This is neat tie-up of a small but missing piece of Arrow's origins.
The final closer however is the appearance of General Matthew Shrieve as played by a rather worn and aged looking Marc Singer. This is a surprising addition to a TV series based on Green Arrow. In the comics, Shrieve is the human leader of Project M, better known as the Creature Commandos, sort of a war/horror hybrid comic. They are a squad of soldiers made up of classic monsters - a werewolf, a vampire, a gorgon, and Frankenstein monster-like creature. Who knows where this plot point will go...
Next: "Nanda Parbat!"
And if you'd like to discuss this episode and anything else in the Arrowverse, please join the Arrow discussion group on Facebook.
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Kevin DuBrow and drummer Frankie Banali.
Some of us purists don't like to believe it, because they had such a huge, if momentary, pop success, but Quiet Riot opened the floodgates for metal in the 1980s. Without "Cum On Feel the Noize" and "Metal Health (Bang Your Head)" one might go so far as to say it might have been longer before the mainstream public heard bands like Motley Crue, Whitesnake, and Guns N' Roses. They opened the doors, like it or not, by having the first American metal album on the pop charts.
Monday, February 23, 2015
Evel Knievel, Planet of the Apes, or SSP Racers.
Begun as three made for TV movies of the week, "The Six Million Dollar Man" was very loosely based on the book Cyborg by Martin Caidin. The book and its three sequels were much more serious, adult, and more science fiction-oriented. Much had been changed, but when I read the book sometime in the mid-seventies as a pre-teen I still enjoyed it. The telemovies were wildly successful leading almost immediately into the TV series, which ran for five years, with one spin-off, "The Bionic Woman," and at least three other attempted spin-offs. There were toys, lunchboxes, and all the other paraphernalia one might expect a phenomenon.
The premise was pretty simple. Lee Majors played Colonel Steve Austin, an astronaut and test pilot who was involved in a body crushing accident that left him without the use of an eye, an arm and both legs. Secret government organization OSI offered to rebuild him, "make him better than he was before," with bionics. Now, it's real and is something that happens (although sans super strength and telescopic vision), but then this kind of technology was pure science fiction. In exchange for saving his life, Steve agrees to go on missions for the ominous Office of Scientific Intelligence. It was average spy fare for the most part, and invariably you waited through the boring stuff to see Austin kick some butt at the end, just like "Kung Fu."
V," "Alien Nation") name on the series, but I had forgotten that Glen A. Larsen ("Battlestar Galactica") and Harve Bennett (responsible for the best of the "Star Trek" films Wrath of Khan) were involved as well. The show had a very small cast, usually only Majors, Richard Anderson as Oscar Goldman, sometimes Dr. Rudy Wells (played by various actors), and dozens of nameless bad guys who Austin would throw around during fight scenes. Yep, keep it simple.
The Robot (weirdly called Maskatron), Sasquatch, and the Venus Probe from above all got action figures in the playsets, it should be noted. Both the Six Million Dollar Man and the Bionic Woman had action figures from Kenner. There also had the Fembots, Oscar Goldman, vehicles, and lots of mission or fashion outfits. Like Evel Knievel, these were toys that kids of a certain age had to have. I never did though. Evel was my jam.
The episodes I've seen on Esquire are, as I said, only ordinary, but full of nostalgia. I remember "The Six Million Dollar Man" fondly though, despite the season Majors sported a bad mustache. It was the first thing I watched on my first TV, a tiny black and white set, and watching the show that Sunday night was just the best. Simple things are good. More to come.
Friday, February 20, 2015
I must say I was impressed with the brief opening on an internet-less future, where keyboards are used as doorstops and even phones are back to the drawing board. We flashback five years to Johnny Depp pioneering artificial intelligence. I don't need to tell you the predictable outcome - man to AI to god - and Depp goes all Lawnmower Man until he's stopped. Now I said it had to be different, and it is, Johnny Depp's indecipherable accent of unknown origin that changes constantly for almost two hours is certainly different.
Despite excellent performances by Cillian Murphy, future Avenger Vision Paul Bettany, and as always Morgan Freeman (pretty much everyone except Depp), I really disliked this flick, and I'm a cyberpunk fan. It had very little new take to offer, a good but old idea done badly - avoid this one.
Wednesday, February 18, 2015
The Way, Way Back ~ Terrific performances and writing highlight this little award-winning coming of age film that many folks didn't see until it got to cable. Written and directed by the Academy Award winning team of Nat Faxon and Jim Nash, who won praise for The Descendants, this movie is one of the best I've seen this year, a throwback to a simpler time when films about kids didn't have to be silly or stupid. Well worth seeing.
London By Night ~ Not to be confused with the lost Lon Chaney horror classic London After Midnight, this is a backlot mystery supposedly set in London. It wants to be a screwball comedy but never arrives. A
reporter, a wacky socialite, and his dog get wrapped up in the pursuit of a murderer called the Umbrella Man. The best actors in this are the dog and Virginia Field as the cockney barmaid. Even Leo G. Carroll disappoints. Still, it's not a bad seventy-odd minute distraction.
Chef ~ Fun comedy written and directed by Jon Favreau, with cameos by Avengers alumni Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson. Oliver Platt and especially John Leguizamo are excellent as well in this tale of an overburdened chef who finds happiness in his heart and with his family in a food truck. This is a really great film, uplifting and fun.
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
The Dumpsta Players Present "SUCKY 70S 2!"
The Date: Wednesday, FEBRUARY 19, 2015
The Time: Doors open at 10 PM, showtime is 11 PM sharp! 21+ $1.99 cover!
The Place: Bob and Barbara's, 1509 South Street, Philadelphia PA, For info: 215-545-4511
SHAUN CASSIDY VS. GARY GLITTER ASS, GAS OR GRASS-NOBODY RIDES FOR FREE SHOW US YOUR BONEY M.!
Featuring guest sets from DJs Cosmonaut & ChattyCathy **ALL 70S DISCO, FUNK, GLAM, COCK ROCK, BUBBLEGUM POP**
Sexual revolution. No ATMs. No smart phones and plentiful cheap pot. Just some of the lovely details of the decade known as The 70's. Sleaze to the 8-track soundtrack of ten years of UFO sightings, terrariums, Music For Your Plants, polyester, pet rocks, chia pets and progressive thinking. It's the worst of the worst-rock, country, pop & disco music with goofy stories, bad singing and no rap. See the Guitar Gods of Rock and get high in the Chevy Van!
Shake your booty, blow your funky horn, love the one you're with, but don't miss - "SUCKY 70’S 2"!
A portion of proceeds from this event benefit Philly AIDS Thrift, whose goal is to sell the lovely, useful, interesting, amusing, and sometimes mysterious stuff generous people donate to their thrift store and then distribute the proceeds to local organizations involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Check out The Dumpsta Players on Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, and on their own website.
Monday, February 16, 2015
once before. This is another one of those lost films that inexplicably hasn't made it to home video yet. Filmed just before the last year "The Dick Van Dyke Show" was in the air, the movie features three of its cast members - Morey Amsterdam, Rose Marie, and Richard Deacon - and was written and produced by Amsterdam. Morey Amsterdam is old school, old time comedy writer, from Vaudeville to New York to old Hollywood to radio to even the forgotten DuMont Network. He was the real deal when it came to the comedy writer. He was even known as 'The Human Joke Machine.'
The premise is that of a spy spoof, not that there weren't enough of them around at the time, and Amsterdam loads this one down with as many old jokes and gags as possible. It's almost as if he raided Henny Youngman's reject pile for some of these. There's lots of fourth wall breaking and a
This really had a lot of potential, but in the end, it's just hard to watch. I can't even recommend this for hardcore fans of "The Dick Van Dyke Show."
Sunday, February 15, 2015
Transparent," and "The Man in the High Castle," and most recently "Betas."
At first glance, less than ten minutes in, "Betas" appears to be a poor man's version of HBO's "Silicon Valley," just without the laughs. That just goes to show you how wrong first impressions can be. This show is great, and funny, and has as much in common with "Silicon Valley" as "Breaking Bad" has with "Weeds," yeah, two completely different shows.
Friday, February 13, 2015
here, and the entire series here.
Werner Zytle, Vertigo, or the second Vertigo (although neither is even close to the comics version of the character) has escaped prison, so the cat is out of the bag as to why Laurel believes she's fighting her dead sister. But that's not the big deal that happened early in the episode. Oliver came clean with Thea, showed her the Arrowcave, and told her that he's the Arrow. Surprise, she's happy, with Oliver. Malcolm, not so much.
I started this review talking about the status quo of Team Arrow. Now we are looking at a whole new dynamic - Laurel part of the team, Thea in on Team Arrow, and also Quentin finally aware of the doings of his daughters. I did however keep waiting for Thea to express surprise that everyone she knows is in on the secret but her.
The Flash" keeps referencing Firestorm, it seems "Arrow" just can't get enough Batman.
I'm glad the hipster deejay from the League of Assassins subplot is done with. It was getting old, but did move things forward to the next level. The training begins next time with Oliver and Thea on Flashback Island, and Flashback Oliver and Maseo in Starling City. That should be interesting.
Next: "The Return!"
And if you want to discuss this episode or anything about "Arrow," please join the discussion group on Facebook.
Thursday, February 12, 2015
I thought I'd see a nightmare mash-up of bad stereotypes but instead I got a rather smart sitcom about growing up ethnic in the 1990s, with a surprisingly fresh hip hop sensibility. In that period memoir of the same name by chef Eddie Huang.
The bad news is this is still a network sitcom and only occasionally funny, and it's difficult to get past the father's role as Kim Jung-Un in The Interview. Still, I dug it, and it's much better than it has any right to be. If the network would let it get just a bit more edgy, this could awesome.
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
In this world, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was assassinated in the 1930s before pulling the United States out of the Depression. Presidents that followed pursued an isolationist stance in world events, and the US was therefore unprepared for the crippling blow at Pearl Harbor. At the end of a prolonged war, the once powerful US is now divided into three puppet nations under the control of Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany. In this new timeline these two empires engage in a familiar yet more dangerous nuclear Cold War.
"The Man in the High Castle" is a streamlined version of a very complicated book, with a few subtle twists not present in the source material. It sets itself up as an enthralling political thriller albeit taking place in a sinister yet fascinating parallel world. I hope it does well in Amazon's pilot season because I'd like to see more.
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
The Flash," then we have the oh so rare use of the word 'superhero' in this series. The spandex set is catching on in the Arrowverse.
The baddies get the better of Arsenal and Laurel as the Black Canary/Canary comes to the rescue. She's fighting considerably better than she was in the last episode, and Ted Grant is even given props. It's nice to see Bex Taylor-Klaus as Sin again, but unbelievable that she mistakes Laurel for Sara. And Quentin knows Roy immediately but can't tell his daughters apart?? Seriously I know I ranted about this before, but this is getting ridiculous.
I know that John Barrowman has signed on as a cast regular but more and more it feels like the writers are having a hard time finding things for him to do. Having Brick be the murderer of his wife seems like a stretch to have him team up with Team Arrow in Oliver's absence. And when is Felicity going to beef up security so Merlyn can't keep walking into the Arrowcave? Maybe she could find his bug as well. Too much Atom and not enough Arrow in her life I suspect.
In line with giving Barrowman more of a spotlight, we get the secret origin of Merlyn the Magician, Flashback Island style. I'm sorry, I love Captain Jack as much as the next fanboy, but I'm not sympathizing. Keep the villains villains, and Merlyn works much better as a super-villain adversary than a sympathetic anti-hero. I love him, but it might be time for my favorite Time Agent to take a powder.
Things have been sloppy on this show for a while, and they don't seem to be getting better. The back and forth state of Ollicity is only a symptom of the real problem. The powers that be are being sloppy with the characters, the stories, and the details. I really hope it gets better before it gets worse.
Questions brought up by this episode - When is Thea going to just stop believing everyone at face value? Why don't both Roy and Thea question the knowledge that they know the other really shouldn't have? Wouldn't Felicity already have everything the police have on Brick, and more? And as much as I love Vinnie Jones, why wasn't an African-American actor chosen to play African-American super-villain Brick?
Next: Vertigo, and Canary vs. Canary.
And if you'd like to discuss this episode and anything else in the Arrowverse, please join the Arrow discussion group on Facebook.