The September 17, 2019 DVD release of the 2019 documentary "The Kids' Table" provides a good chance to watch an amusing old-school style film. This chronicle of four 20-somethings competing in the national bridge championship does for that dying card game what the 2002 documentary "Spellbound" does for the national spelling bee.
A fun aspect of the below trailer for this film about an activity that is tedious to watch and to play except for those who thoroughly enjoy it is that this promo hits most of the best moments in this film that achieves the documentary ideal of being equally entertaining and educational. Director/team captain (and player) Edd Benda makes a great poster boy for this past-its-prime pastime.
"Borrowing" the well-written and concise summary of "Table" from the press materials for the film is in the spirit of one theme of "Table" that younger people do not want to take the time to learn how to play bridge. This seems akin to the adage that chess takes a moment to learn and a lifetime to master. That aspect takes the fun out of playing with the "horsie" and the "castle."
The 25-words-or-more take of the official synopsis is "four millennial friends - filmmaker Benda, comedian Monique Thomas, Twitch host Stefanie Woodburn and actor Paul Stanko - bridge novices all, train and compete for a year on the National Bridge Circuit, going behind-the-scenes to better understand the game and its waning popularity. And as the millennials explore the world of competitive Bridge -- where the average age of their opponents is 73 - they discover the highs and lows of card-play, competition, and community while, hopefully, helping to build a strong foundation for the future of the game."
Benda shares his story of learning to play bridge as a child; the others largely seem to be along for the ride. Stanko is the scene-stealer in that he is the weakest link and has limited youthful exuberance for the game. All this makes him the one who seemingly needs the most coaching.
This quartet further entertains as we get caught up in the thrill of their victories and the agonies of their defeats. A high point for the players and the at-home spectators is the nicest kids in town scoring a highly coveted endorsement deal.
Another highlight is a figurative and literal tutorial on the rules of the game; this includes a frustrating electoral-college aspect that relates to the possibility that the team that wins the majority of the 13 rounds in a game still are branded the losers.
Benda additionally introduces us to two young teen boys, who literally are playing with the big boys. These lads charmingly admit their love of the game does not make them BMOCs.
Benda makes going along for the ride great fun and leaves us wanting more for our stars; it also prompts a desire to break out the bridge mix and help revive the game.
Breaking Glass Pictures provides horror fans a missing link regarding the recent DVD release of the 2016 film "Obsidian Curse." A fairly clever concept regarding an evil hex, adequate acting, and decent production values put this one many steps above the student-film quality of many lower-budget blood-and-gore movies.
"Curse" begins with a bit of a non-sequitur. Party girls are living it up while a demon who looks like something out of the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" television series is feasting on a sacrificial lamb.
The action quickly shifts "One Year Later." Ex-con Blair Jensen is freshly sprung from the big house after serving a sentence on a drug charge. Baby daddy Roberto picks her up. His bad news for her is that new wife Yvonne is taking care of their daughter.
Blair having to go beyond being clean-and-sober extends to requiring that she obtain gainful employment. Desperation regarding a need for a job leads to trying to join the underground economy. That results in her obtaining the titular stigmatism, which makes her a babe-eater magnet.
The scene in which Blair meets the first member of her new fan club does a good job with many tried-and-true horror film cliches. A creature reaching out from under the bed and a comforter and sheet being pulled off a sleeping woman provides some sense of this portion of "Curse."
Blair going on the run sets the stage for other creatures of the night trying to get a piece of her; this results in her becoming the captive of an unexpected monster. Good dark and gory humor enters the picture in the form of "for tat" revenge for a betrayal.
All of this comes back somewhat full circle in that assistance comes from an unexpected source; this creates a sense of the lesser of two evils.
The middle-ground approach throughout "Curse" makes it fun for the whole family; you are spared chessy effects and deplorable performances.
The most important point to consider regarding the Film Movement DVD release of the 2018 documentary (which plays like a docudrama) "Over the Limit" is that the appeal of this telling of the tale of Olympic Gold medalist Margarita Mamun extends well beyond sports fans. Pointing out that Variety aptly compares "Limit" to "Black Swan" does not help this case much but illustrates that this is another overcoming adversity story in the same style as "Rocky."
"Limit" being a New York Times Critic's Pick and figuratively earning the Gold at the 2018 Krakow Film Festival further documents the quality of this film for the masses.
The following Movement clip of the official US trailer for "Limit" highlights the intensity of the film and of the central relationship between Magmun and coach Irina Viner. There is NO doubt that a docudrama of this story would NEED to be titled "The Devil Wore Talbots."
Much of "Limit" centers around Magmun either training for competitions leading up to the main event or actually competing. Viner literally is there every step of the way mercilessly berating the gymnast and almost as diligently ensuring that this athlete always stays on her toes. This aspect of "Limit" should make it mandatory reviewing for any parent or "participant" who thinks that a recreation league or school coach is too hard on the kids.
One interesting dynamic is watching the mother of Magmum be good cop to bad cop Viner. This plays out in one of the most notable scenes in "Limit." The two parental figures argue about the allowable level of support that actual Mom can show her little girl.
We also see a friendly rivalry between Magmun and a fellow gymnast; the conflict here is that only one can be the best. This kinder and gentler version of the Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan dynamic warrants kneecapping jokes.
Although folks who already are familiar with the tale of Magmun know the end of "Limit" before it begins, seeing how she gets there truly is all the fun. Everyone will cheer for her and feel her agony and her ecstasy.
Movement supplements "Limit" with the bonus 11-minute short "Iron Hands." This "Rocky" story tells the tale of a plucky 12 year-old girl bonding with a groundskeeper with a "history" while the girl does her final training for her tryout for the prestigious traditionally all-boys Chinese youth Olympic weightlifting team. The twice-told moral here is to not judge a book by its cover.
The final commentary regarding this sports-oriented double-feature is that they make particularly good viewing for a quiet weekend afternoon.
Godsend to cult-film fans and pop-culture enthusiasts Virgil Films awesomely provides a glimpse into the world of "anonymous" Internet pranksters by releasing the 2017 documentary "Troll Inc." on DVD. This film looks at the community that does everything from telling the general population most things that the feds try to keep secret, to creating and exposing data breaches, to pulling online pranks simply because they can and because they are hilarious.
The following YouTube clip of a "Troll" trailer provides a glimpse of the equally amusing and (mostly) societally important escapades of central anti-hero Andrew "weev" Auernheimer. We also get a brief sense of his raison d'etre.
Auerheimer being the primary talking head allows obtaining much of the "Troll" information directly from the mouth of the equine. An early gleefully shared tale is of this prankster using a low-tech method to distort the story behind the scandal involving International Monetary Fund executive Dominique Strauss-Khan and a hotel housekeeper.
Even more hilarity relates to the involvement of Auerheimer in the subversive site goatse.cx. This "shock site" delights in containing content that is so sick and perverse that even John Waters likely cringes. A cited (but not shown) example is a man pleasuring himself while seated on a pile of feces,
Much of the focus is on the 2010 data-security issue related to iPad users having 3G service through then-sole provider AT&T. Auerheimer hacking into the Apple system and obtaining the e-mail addresses of the rich and powerful with those devices and that service is behind the feds saying enough regarding this man who already has person-of-interest status. The tale of his prosecution and unfortunate incarceration is the thing of which Hollywood blockbusters are made. One can imagine Zach Galifianakis playing the lead.
We also learn the tale of an exploit that thematically is between the Strauss-Khan incident and the Apple matter. Auerheimer being told of Amazon discriminating against gay-themed material prompts amusing action that ultimately shines light on this policy. The presumed connection between this and a fluctuation in the price of Apple stock demonstrates the potential impact of trolling.
We also extensively hear about a member of The IT Crowd who becomes a good friend of Auerheimer after learning about his activities. Self-described gay-Jewish man Mike Behr shows great loyalty toward his buddy and proves that some people still have a sense of humor in the 2010s. Our boys have an especially funny WTF moment when Auerheimer semi-jokingly accuses his friend of a serious betrayal.
The larger context is that "Troll" conveys the blessing and the curse of the Internet; the convenience of easily getting stuff that we want and being able to largely manage our lives from the couch comes at the price of our private information being vulnerable to folks whose intents are less than pure. Apple god Steve Jobs states it best in saying that there is nothing wrong with providing our information so long as it is done with informed consent.
Mill Creek Entertainment begins an epic journey with the October 15, 2019 separate Blu-ray, and Blu-ray steelbook releases of the (reviewed) mid-60s Japanese sci-fi classic "Ultra Q" and the follow-up series "Ultraman." These two more-than-ready-for-primetime series are the first of roughly 40 "Ultra" shows,
A related note is that the surprisingly strong production values and delight associated with these scifi classics is worthy of marathons that justify sleep deprivation, However, rationing them to savor over an extended period is advised. They truly do not make 'em like that anymore.
MCE is honoring the unprecedented track record of this 50 year-old phenomenon by releasing other sets of "Ultra" programs over the next several months. One can only hope that the entire franchise ultimately sees the light of day.
Our discussion of "Man" begins with an hearty endorsement of the steelbook editions of "Q" and "Man." Both series look and sound crystal-clear in BD. Further, the well-designed sturdy steelbooks are stylish and have spines that add to "the big picture" as future "Ultra" series hit real and virtual store shelves.
Both BD versions of the "Ultra" series include a "must-own" collectible booklet that commences with an informative essay on how each show makes it on the air. This includes both the collaboration and the "circle of life" elements of the productions.
The booklets go on to provide detailed episode recaps; truly last but not least is an index (complete with photos) of every monster from that series.
The following description of "Man" that is "borrowed" from the MCE website is a comprehensive overview of the lore and the themes of this fanboy fave.
"ULTRAMAN, a giant alien from the Land of Light in Nebula M78, enters Earth's atmosphere in pursuit of an escaped space monster. In the skies above Japan he accidentally crashes into a Jet VTOL piloted by Hayata, a member of the Science Special Search Party (SSSP), an international research and defense agency that protects the world from monsters and aliens of all shapes and sizes.
To save Hayata, Ultraman merges his life force with the dying human and vows to stay and fight for peace on Earth. Now, whenever the Patrol faces a threat too great for them to handle, Hayata transforms into Ultraman to save the day!
ULTRAMAN was Tsuburaya Productions' first color series, a sci-fi action adventure drama that dominated the ratings during its initial 1966-67 broadcast run in Japan. The show was quickly licensed for release in America, airing in syndication for nearly two decades. Colorful, fast-paced, and packed with memorable heroes, creatures and incredible special effects, ULTRAMAN was the foundation for a phenomena that continues to this day."
Part of the rest of the story is that the Energizer bunny has something that the arguable father of the red power ranger lacks; the latter runs on a battery that only gives him three minutes worth of power.
The pilot of "Man" establishes the aforementioned lore AND reflects the cartoonish influence of "Batman" '66. A group of Japanese campers has the first of two close encounters of the second kind when they see a glowing blue object plunge into the nearby lake.
The incident prompts Hayata to pilot the aforementioned aircraft that looks like it is straight out '60s animation scifi series "The Thunderbirds." This leads to the game-changer mid-air collision,
Ala "Superman" and virtually every other superhero franchise, Ultraman comes on the scene at the eleventh hour and puts right what once went wrong.
The aptly titled second outing "Shoot the Invader" is even more comical; the ET with 'tude this time this a lobster on 'roids who seems to have a common ancestry with '60s superhero Multiman in that he can project several images of himself.
First contact gets off to a hilariously bad start, and things go downhill from there. The gist is that Earth gets a taste of being the planet chosen for the site of a civilization do-over.
"Science Patrol, Move Out" awesomely pays homage to "Q" (and "Godzilla") by having the intrusion of the "civilized" world on the natural one literally awaken a sleeping giant. The literal big bad this time enhances the threat by having very effective camouflage and by feeding on electricity.
Particular relevance this time is MCE releasing "Man" a week after a California electric company purposefully leaves a big chunk of that state in the dark for an extended period in order to achieve a greater good.
All of this lead to the epic 39th episode with a title that is a blatant spoiler. This one hits the trifecta of explaining a broad category of real-life unusual occurrences, having the heroes scramble to protect Earth from a seemingly undefeatable force, and providing sensational in both senses of the word conclusion to the series.
The most cool thing about "Man" is that is shows the beginning stages of the evolution of the "Ultra" franchise. The most cool thing about MCE is that it is making at least the next several stages of that progression coming out in the not-too-distant future.
A spectacular recent stay at the Gramercy Park Hotel (GPH) in Manhattan inspired writing about that terrific treat in the same manner that a visit to the aptly named Edgewater Inn in Maine roughly one year ago inspired a "very special" diversion from writing about DVD releases.
This Gotham adventure began with my highly significant other booking a room at the GPH to make "a sort of a homecoming" with college friends special for me. Picking this boutique hotel in a surprisingly quiet corner of New York near Union Square and a couple of stones' throws from Soho reflected my love of B & Bs and not so strong affection for the smelly, noisy, and crowded elements that detract from the 1,000s of wonderful things in New York City.
Both being a boutique hotel and not being part of an even upscale hotel chain results in the GPH providing special hospitality and extra touches that make B & Bs so desirable and that corporate-owned properties seem incapable of providing.
As alluded to above, this makes GPH a very welcoming spot for folks who have a bit more sophistication than the initially naive New York newcomer Gaylord Esterbrook that Jimmy Stewart portrays in the 1940 classic film "No time for comedy" but prefer fresher air and fewer crowds than exist in most parts of New York.
These qualities make the GPH the hotel-of-choice for A-to-Z List celebrities, who also enjoy haunting the Rose Bar in the lobby. Learning of Lindsay Lohan and Selena Gomez separately visiting there inspired joking about whether Hillary Duff has ever been a guest. (Alas, thoughts of visiting Waverly Place came too late to include that destination on the trip.)
The GPH experience commences with one of the "nice young men" who are stationed out front warmly greeting you and bringing your luggage to the very welcoming lobby.
The limited outside noises and smells of the upscale neighborhood completely disappear in this space with enough dark wood, stones (including a large fireplace), and dark velvet upholstered furniture to evoke thoughts of a perfectly preserved castle. There is also quiet background music and a nice spa-quality scent.
The greeting that Joe provided at the well-staffed front desk was so warm that learning that our room was not ready was not at all annoying. Immediately being asked for a cell number to call when the room was ready and having a bellman standing by to store our luggage in the interim further validated this choice of hotel.
The awesome hospitality continued with a "double upgrade" from the reserved Gramercy Queen Room to the indescribably wonderful 750 square-foot Park View Premier Suite, which is twice the size of many New York City apartments. This upgrade definitely is worth the additional cost.
The nearly sound-proof quality of the suite competed with the elegant furnishings, art from the famous Warhol-centric collection of the GPH, and oodles of extras for status of favorite feature. A very comfy spa robe/slipper set, an extraordinary secondary shower head that came to be known as the "bidet nozzle," and fabled Aesop brand amenities contributed a nice spa-like sensibility to the lodgings.
The heavy velvet curtains and French doors with thick glass that separated the bedroom and living room areas of the suite allowed watching DVD episodes of the "Doctor Who" spin-off "K9" without disturbing the nap of said significant other. (On a related note, three seems to be the tolerance level regarding responding to inquiries with the "K9" catchphrase "affirmative" in a robotic dog voice.)
This suite offered the additional benefit of a perfect view of the very serene Gramercy Park itself, use of which is limited to residents of the neighborhood and guests of GPH.
An unexpected "wacky sitcom" style treat regarding the park came early in the visit. On going to the front desk to ask a question, I overheard a woman and Joe discussing the availability of a higher-level room in the "four" tier of the hotel.
On hearing Joe state that all those rooms were occupied, I joined the conversation by stating that I was staying in 1104 and would help if I could. Joe then introduced the woman as "the mayor of Gramercy Park."
The name of the woman was Arlene Harrison, and she was the president of the amazingly active and effective Gramercy Park Block Association. She told me that her objective was getting good photos of the park in bloom.
Harrison was gracious and appreciative when I offered to let her in the room to take the photos. (Attempted humor in stating "yeah, right" when Harrison commented that I must be a New Yorker because I was so friendly fell flat.)
The aforementioned "wacky" events prevented Harrison from coming up for the photos. I subsequently learned that weather conditions turned out to be less than optimal for the photos anyway.
Returning to the room on Saturday night to find turn-down service that included refreshed supplies of the aforementioned uber-awesome Aesop amenities and a softly burning candle added to the enjoyment of the stay.
This terrific weekend further included a tasty Italian dinner at Maialino in the hotel lobby. The decor was quite nice, but background music and more subtle lighting would have been nice touches.
Our respective entrees of cod and pasta with pesto were well-prepared and flavorful. Further, we appreciated that our server advised us when ordering that the pasta required a little extra time.
The chocolate croissant bread pudding with hazelnut gelato was slightly disappointing. The bread pudding was less rich than the traditional form of that treat, and the gelato had the almost certainly related flaws of being more creamy and lacking as strong a flavor as true gelato. The fact that the flavor became a little sharper after several minutes suggested as well that the gelato was not being stored at an ideal temperature.
The GPH passed a couple of checkout-related tests on Monday morning. The clerk politely resolved a billing dispute in our favor, and we learned on contacting the hotel regarding a forgotten personal item that the hotel already mailed it to us.
All of this boils down to the GPH being the perfect choice for NYC visitors who want a conveniently located ideal oasis after enduring the smells, noise, and crowds of that metropolis to enjoy the scads o' well-known and lesser-known treats that more than offset those unpleasant experiences.
Mill Creek Entertainment begins an epic journey with the October 15, 2019 separate Blu-ray, and Blu-ray steelbook releases of the mid-60s Japanese sci-fi classic "Ultra Q" and the (reviewed) follow-up series "Ultraman." These two more-than-ready-for-primetime series are the first of roughly 40 "Ultra" shows,
A related note is that the surprisingly strong production values and delight associated with these series is worthy of marathons that justify sleep deprivation, However, rationing them out to savor over an extended period is advised. They truly do not make 'em like that anymore.
MCE is honoring the unprecedented track record of this 50 year-old phenomenon by releasing other sets of programs over the next several months. One can only hope that the entire franchise ultimately sees the light of day.
Our discussion of "Q" begins with an hearty endorsement of the steelbook editions of "Q" and "Man." Both series look and sound crystal-clear in BD. Further, the well-designed sturdy steelbooks are stylish and have spines that add to "the big picture" as future "Ultra" series hit real and virtual store shelves.
Both BD versions of the "Ultra" series include a "must-own" collectible booklet that commences with an informative essay on how each show makes it on the air. This includes both the collaboration and the "circle of life" elements of the productions.
The booklets go on to provide detailed episode recaps; truly last but not least is an index (complete with photos) of every monster from that series.
The following description of "Q" that is "borrowed" from the MCE website is a comprehensive overview of the lore and the themes of this fanboy fave.
"After co-creating the iconic movie monsters Godzilla, Rodan and Mothra for Toho Studios, special effects director Eiji Tsuburaya launched his own company, Tsuburaya Productions. The first production under his new label was ULTRA Q, a 28-episode series that brought the theatrical spectacle Tsuburaya had become known for to television.
The black & white sci-fi drama focused on Mainichi Shimpo photojournalist Yuriko Edogawa (Hiroko Sakurai, Ultraman), Hoshikawa Airlines pilot/SF writer Jun Manjome (Kenji Sahara) and his co-pilot Ippei Togawa (Yasuhiko Saijo), who partnered to investigate mysterious events occurring in and around Japan. These phenomena often involved aliens and giant monsters, many of whom would return in future Ultraman shows and movies.
One of the most expensive TV programs produced in Japan up to that time, ULTRA Q was a ratings smash that paved the way for Tsuburaya Productions' first color series... ULTRAMAN!"
A "True Tokyo Story" aspect of "Q" from the aforementioned booklet is sure to delight at least one teen Swedish girl. We learn that the original title of this series is "Unbalance" and that it is intended to show how Mother Nature fights back when man disrupts the balance between the natural and the industrialized worlds.
On a more relatable note to mainstream North American audiences, "Q" evokes strong thoughts of the original "Twilight Zone" and the (black-and-white) first season of "Lost In Space" before the influence of "Batman" '66 makes the latter far brighter and more campy. This element of east meets west extends beyond all three series including exposition (and context) providing narration.
The look and tone of "Q" is very similar to that of "Zone" and "Space." The production techniques show that Irwin Allen of "Space" fame and his brother from another continent Tsuburaya are of one mind.
The aptly titled "Defeat Gomess" starts "Q" on a terrific note that reflects a timely "television killed the movie star" vibe by having a well-executed "Godzilla" theme. This story begins with construction of a train tunnel giving the titular beast both a rude awakening and an exit strategy.
This adventure includes a "little child" shall lead them element that is prominent in "Q" and "Man." A young boy takes an "it takes a Klingon to defeat a Klingon" attitude by being instrumental in inviting the arch-foe of Gomess to the party. The rest is pure scifi history.
Speaking of "Trek," "Q" (no relation) regularly having a boy hero seems to inspire a prominent feature in "Star Trek: The Next Generation." One of countless expressions of intense disdain for prodigy Wesley Crusher prompted a friend to agree but note that Wesley allows tween boys to fantasize about being respected members of the Enterprise crew.
"Q" next takes a wonderfully goofy turn in "Goro and Goro." This one has a monkey whisperer do his thing when a science experiment gone awry causes a simian to become a (non-grape) great ape, The humanitarian outcome is a nice alternative to having the "monster" plummet from a skyscraper.
The ironically titled "Gift From Space" has our not-so-favorite Martians respond to rocket scientists boldly going where no man has gone before. There never has been a more clear example of Yankee, go home.
The fun continues with variations of "The Thing" and "The Little Shop of Horrors" (complete with a vampire plant that literally can be thought of a a big prick). This leads to an imminent explosion of Mt. Fuji involving a bear boy and another slumbering monster whom the misdeeds of man has awoken.
"Q" wraps this up several episodes later with a "Dr. Who" style adventure involving a train that can travel through time and space. The "Zone" style destination in a land that is free from the consequences of incidents that shows what fools these mortal be.
The kicker to all this there is much more to discover and adore about "Q" and the entire franchise. MCE deserves high praise for doing such an exceptional job making this possible.
Former "The Young and the Restless" hunk/rocker/notable sitcom guest star Michael "Flyman" Damian once more puts his diverse background to good use in producing/writing/directing "High Strung Free Dance." This sequel to the (reviewed) 2016 Damian joint "High Strung" opens theatrically on October 11, 2019. The ONLY "complaints" about this sequel are that it lacks the term "Electric Boogaloo" and does not recreate the awesome violin bow duel from the original.
On a serious note, Damian also takes advantage of his decades of show business experience by following the general rule of making a sequel more grand than the original, He does buck the trend of a first sequel being horrible only to have the franchise rebound with the third entry. This creates great expectations as to a third "High Strung" movie.
Damian (perhaps inadvertently) also reflects the wisdom of the mid-70s Saturday-morning series "The New Scooby-Doo Movies" that a fan base can handle a more mature offering than the series that brings them to the table. The post on "High Strung" notes that it seems to be geared to a tween girl audience but appeals to a broad age group,
The final aside before fully discussing "Free Dance" is that the "cast of 1,000s" listed as producers of this crowdfunded movie shows that it would be cool to see your name on the silver screen. These contributions to indie films that value art over commerce also help talented folks such as Damian continue to "rock on."
The following trailer for "Free Dance" highlights how it is brighter, grander, and more adult than its excellent predecessor.
"Free Dance" takes its name from the epic Broadway show around which the film revolves. The link with "High Strung" is that both films feature Jane Seymour as highly demanding dance instructor (ala Lydia Grant of "Fame" fame) Oksana in both films. One difference this time is that Oksana has a highly personal interest (and rocky relationship) as to central dancer Barlow (Juliet Doherty).
The asides this time are that we know that Seymour is not an ex-wife of Henry VIII but do not know whether Oksana considers Anna Karenina her favorite author.
Damian pays a wonderful homage to the past by bringing the epic '30s musicals back in a much bolder and brighter fashion in the 21st century. The choreography and cinematography require a Blu-ray when "Free Dance" is released on physical media.
This ode to yesteryear includes Barlow initially not making the cut as a background dancer for the titular extravaganza of fabled choreographer Zander Raines (Thomas "Harry Hook" Doherty of the "Descendants" franchise). Barlow not taking "no" for an answer puts right what once went wrong.
Our classic tale continues with deli delivery boy/aspiring pianist Charlie (Harry "Vampire Boy" Jarvis) getting his first lucky break in terms of one chance encounter connecting him with a reclusive retired famous pianist. A subsequent series of fortunate (and one seemingly not-so-fortunate) circumstances leads to Charlie getting the gig as the on-stage pianist for the show, Barlow being his muse helps the production while contributing to backstage drama.
Related asides this time are that casting Thomas and Harry reinforce that Michael (who casts "handsome devil "Nicholas Galitizine in the first film) has a good eye for talented British pretty boys and that Jarvis shares in an interview for another outlet that "Free Dance" prompts him to resume his piano studies after a long absence. His exceptional playing proves that he is an apt pupil.
Much of "Free Dane" centers around the trauma and drama of rehearsing for the show, The vintage-style shifting fortunes of Barlow drive much of the action.
All of this leads to the epic opening night; a twist during this frantic period will cause many viewers of this compelling film to yell out a word that rhymes with "witch" when it seems that nice guys once again finish last.
Damian fully delivers as to the final performances that include an truly grand finale. This fully leading to a classic Hollywood ending removes any doubt that Damian honors the past.
The epilogue to all this is that the post on "High Strung" encourages folks to disregard embarrassment related to seeing a very good film that is geared to tween girls; there is ABSOLUTELY no cause for such concern as to "Free Dance."
CBS Home Entertainment fully honors a primary purpose of physical media in releasing the complete '80scom "Life With Lucy" on October 8, 2019. DVDs are an ideal way to enjoy rarely syndicated shows; getting to discover that a program that you watched back in the day is better than remembered and deserves to be weighted due to its role in television is a bonus.. All this can be equally said about the CBSHE DVD release of the "Happy Days" spinoff "Joanie Loves Chachi." "Joanie" is on the list of posts due to be copied from Unreal TV 1.0 to this current site.
The "Life" (as well as is recalled as to "Joanie") includes unaired episodes. In this case, it is five.
The "Life" release also is notable for coming on the heels of the (reviewed) must-see CBSHE August 2019 DVD release of 16 colorized episodes of "I Love Lucy." The labor-of-love extras in both "Lucy" sets are just as much see as the main event.
IMDb perfectly provides much of the premise of "Life" by describing it as "Lucy Barker is a grandmother living with her daughter's family while constantly getting into comedic predicaments." CBSHE brings us most of the way home by stating that widowed Ma Barker "has inherited half of her husband's hardware store with his business partner Curtis McGibbon (Gale Gordon). Things take a turn for the hilarious as Barker insists on helping out in the store despite knowing nothing about the business."
The rest of the story is that Curtis is the father of the husband of daughter of Lucy. Curtis and Lucy both move in with that nuclear family (complete with two central-casting sitcom kids) in the pilot. One spoiler is that Uncle Jesse keeps his bachelor pad.
The first of copious armchair quarterbacking while writing this post on a Monday morning is that acclaimed TV veterans Gary "Mr. Ball" Morton and Aaron Spelling apparently do not follow their usually good instincts by airing the pilot before the second episode instead of running an edited version of E1 later in the season.
Seeing Ball burst onto the set a decade after wrapping up "Here's Lucy" is a treat for sofa spuds everywhere. Further, we see her and Curtis separately move into their new full house. Further, Lucy reorganizing everything in the hardware store alphabetically is classic "Lucy." This is not to mention anyone who has seen a single episode of a "Lucy" series knowing what is coming as to a comically large fire extinguisher (and a leaf blower on a counter in a later episode).
The issue is that the second episode is even stronger than the first and more fully honors the spirit of the three prior series of Ball. It is almost certain that airing that one first would have helped "Life" last more than 13 episodes.
This second outing has John Ritter follow in the steps of comedians before him who do Ball a solid by appearing on her series. In this case (as often is as to the pioneers of television), Ritter also is paying back it back as to Ball having hosted a retrospective of "Three's Company" during the run of that series.
Staying true to form, Ritter plays himself coming to the hardware store looking for a hard-to-find item. His trademark physical humor and the decades-long track record of Ball as to injuring and humiliating her special guests stars makes Ritter a goner from the start. A mention of his then young son (now TV star) Jason Ritter is a sweet moment. Another aside is that Jason is the little boy who appears with Joyce DeWitt in "Company" opening credits at the San Diego Zoo.
Lucy double downs by bringing Ritter home with her after temporarily disabling him; this leads to her accompanying him to a play rehearsal. Another series of comedic unfortunate circumstances leads to Lucy being a last-minute replacement for the actress appearing with Ritter in the live-stage production. Of course, that pair plays this to the max.
An even more special treat comes midway in the season. Audrey "Alice Kramden" Meadows of the '50s classic sitcom "The Honeymooners" guests as the sister of Lucy. Her character is much more like her critical mother-in-law on the Ted Knight "Three's Comp[any" clone "Too Close for Comfort" than she is like Alice. That is not to say that there are not many times that Lucy does not want to send Audrey to the moon during their "Life" episode.
The "sit" that drives much of the "com" in the Meadows episodes relates to the arrival of Audrey stirring up sibling rivalry. These hurt feelings relate to Audrey showing that anything that Lucy can do, she can do better as to her niece planning a renewal of her wedding vows. Of course, a frosting fight/heart-to-heart between Lucy and Audrey makes everything better; "Life" doubles down this time by doing the same by trapping Lucy and Curtis in a tree house.
Along the way, we get a couple of occasions on which accidentally overhearing a conversation leading to hurt feelings. This is not too mention a variation on a chestnut by having a guard goose corner Lucy and Curtis in the store. "Life" deserves credits for solid unexpected twists in that one.
Probably as known by many even before reading his post, "Life" is not the strongest "Lucy:" series. Seventy-five year-old Ball already had had health issues that were apparent to varying degrees in the show. Further, as one critic noted, Ball was too old and had accomplished too much to be put through what this series demanded. This relates to personal disdain in watching the "TV Land" awards opening ceremony that had stars such as Jerry Mathers, Bob Denver, and Bernie Koppell fly around Peter Pan style despite all of them at least being around 70 years old.
The final commentary is that the premise of "Life" is not absurd for Ball. However, a more apt concept would have been the one of the early '90s Britcom "Waiting for God."
"God" has a strong-willed independent woman and her more laid-back male neighbor at an assisted-living facility strive to prove that they were more vital while scheming against their Colonel Klink in the form of "that idiot Baines" who administers the facility with a penny-pinching attitude that showsa complete lack of regard for the residents.
Morton and Spelling could have gotten there first and doubled down on this by having Ball and Gordon play the leads at a facility for aging actors. Meadows and other contemporaries could have played fictionalized versions of themselves.
The aforementioned extras are a three-part "Hour Magazine" profile and "Entertainment Tonight" segments that showed that Ball was the real McGillicuddy as to television comedians.
CBS Home Entertainment aptly shows that it has absolutely no intention to get out of Dodge by separately releasing "Gunsmoke" S15 V1 and V2 on October 1, 2019. This leaves only five more seasons to go as to being able to own this series that spans the period from the '50s to the '70s.
Comparable to the love that CBSHE shows a plethora of other "TV Land" shows, such as the (reviewed) "The Beverly Hillbillies" and the (reviewed) "The Love Boat" DVD sets, this studio expertly remasters ORIGINAL BROADCAST versions of "Gunsmoke" and includes episode promos.
Of course, the (reviewed) recent CBS massive epic "Brady Bunch" 50th anniversary set deserves a very special mention. This one includes EVERY "Brady" series and films sans the variety show and the reality series.
"Gunsmoke" is a prime example of the exceptional shows on which many of us miss out due to an unwarranted prejudice against westerns, The ignorant aspect of ignoramous fully applies to folks, which includes your previously unenlightened reviewer, who write off these dramas as not much more than excuses for saloon fights and high noon showdowns.
Much of the entertainment relates to comic relief part-time deputy Festus Haggen, who clearly is the Bany Fife to Marshal Matt Dillion. Dillion amusingly getting out of Dodge for several episodes allows his right-hand man to take the lead as to maintaining law and order.
The "Andy Griffith Show" vibe extends to a coming-of-age S15 episode in which Ron "Opie" Howard plays a teen boy coming to grips with his relationship with the indian woman who is the second wife of his father. The catalyst for this drama truly is a case of my boyfriend's back, and there's gonna be trouble.
Howard also is connected to "Gunsmoke" in that setting the series in the Old West reflects the wisdom of "Happy Days" creator Garry Marshall. Marshall recognizes that setting a '70scom in the '50s and the '60s prevents it from ever looking dated.
Of the 14 episodes watched for this post, there was only one showdown. That one was an element of an old west mashup of the Hatfields and the McCoys. This time, the offspring of two feuding families in Dodge City planning to get hitched coincides with the arrival of a man who has gun, will travel.
The rest of this story is that an assumption as to who is going to be the newest resident of Boot Hill leads to twist that takes the episode in a new direction. All of us can relate to someone faster and overall better threatening our way of life.
We also get a still relevant life lesson in an episode in which three prisoners come to Dodge to work as as an alternative to remaining a guest of the territorial governor. Two end on the farm of a couple that seem to be Quakers. and the third gets his last-minute second-chance at the Long Branch saloon run by Miss. Kitty. The ensuing rehabilitation efforts show that some men can be saved and that others are irreparably born bad.
We further get social commentary in an episode in which an indian scout in both senses of that word makes a valiant effort at a mother and child reunion while on a mission from Grant. This surprisingly
candid adventure relates to the brutality that the woman experienced while being held captive by the tribe of her offspring.
One of the more intriguing episodes is a "what if" outing, Dillon is summoned to intervene in a kangaroo court murder trial occurring in a town that is a bizarro version of Dodge. The buildings and many of the townfoks are virtually the same. The primary difference is that the absence of a dedicated lawman such as Dillon allows a rich widow to run the community with an iron fist. Her comeuppance awesomely is a mix of frontier and poetic justice,
A more universal theme is that an actual or assumed stranger comes to Dodge City with a chip (but not a Chippewa) on his shoulder. This new kid in town may be gunning for Dillion based on their personal history, seeking vengeance against a former partner-in-crime who shows that there is no honor among thieves, or merely is there to deal with a family issue, One of the latter involves a scheme to compensate for a lack of alimony before heading for the border.
The only fitting way to conclude this tribute that easily could be of epic length to this timeless classic is to state "I told you so." The value of "Gunsmoke" clearly extends well beyond the stereotypes of its genre.
The Breaking Glass Pictures DVD release of the EXCLUSIVE unrated director's cut of the 2017 gay-themed romcomdram "Everything is Free" has so many relatabele themes to folks other than those at the far hetero end of the Kinsey Scale that knowing where to begin is tough. Further, giving everything its full due as to this film about an out-and-proud gay 20-something developing a friendship with benefits with the younger brother of his best friend is beyond the scope of this post.
A full-frontal (and full arousal) shower scene in which writer-director-star Brian Jordan Alvarez of "Will and Grace" illustrates why Speedos are called banana hammocks illustrates a segment that apparently is exclusive to this unrated director's cut. This also dispels both clauses in the expression that there is no such thing as a small part, only small actors.
Speaking of Alvarez, his wonderfully flaky and clearly ad libbed introduction to the film that Breaking includes as a DVD bonus is must see.
The following trailer for "Free" perfectly captures the themes and the tone of the film. We get plenty of scenes of our trio of 20-something AF model looking guys loving, laughing, and emoting.
One of the nicest surprises as to "Free" is that it is an anomaly as the mostly universal truth that an inverse relationship exists between the amount of erotic content and the quality of the film. This one has plenty of adult themes but still has a talented successful cast tell an interesting story that stimulates the organ that is best equipped to guide men in their decision making.
An overall issue is the dynamic of a close platonic friendship between a gay man and a straight man. One aspect of this is the degree to which one or both of these guys want to be physically intimate. This can involve a mixture of love, lust, and curiosity. A related element is the extent to which the straight guy can accept his desire to expand his range of sexual activity.
The same genre of gay-themed films that heavily suggests that a hetero buddy is eager to see how the other half lives just as frequently suggest that the younger brother of that dude is just as available. The reality is that the friend/brother may have trouble accepting that his male sibling is gay or bi or may feel jealous that this relative is willing to act on feelings that run in the family or merely gets to bond with his friend in a way that is too scary to explore.
The bigger (and more realistic) picture is that EVERY straight guy has a line that a gay guy often does not know about until he crosses it. The possibilities are too numerous to explore. A real-world example is an extremely liberal guy who is an active member of the Green Party getting upset on his gay friend clearly joking when saying at a wedding venue that the two of them are engaged.
In true gayromcomdram style, American Ivan (Alvarez) is living the good life in Colombia before subsequent events fairly literally bring his world crashing down. He makes enough as an artist to have a nice home in Colombia and keep a second place in Los Angeles. He also seems to be a poster boy for the concept of happy-go-lucky.
The beginning of the end is when straight college buddy Christian (Peter Vack) visits and makes the arguably ill-fated decision to bring (presumably) straight little brother Cole (Morgan Krantz) along for the ride.
Glances and an arguable "teasing" in the form of late-night bed hopping only to retreat when things heat up lead to a friendship with somewhat covert benefits between Ivan and Cole. Meanwhile, Ivan has met a man who may be Mr. Right despite the presence of Cole affecting what is occurring right now.
The next major development starts out as the fulfillment of what may be a fantasy for a combination of Ivan, Christian, and some audience members. Christian makes Ivan a well-received offer to take their close long-term friendship to the next level; this takes an unexpected term that also may be a fantasy to guys with issues. This intercourse ends with Christian angrily warning Ivan to stay away from Cole.
The heart (and other body parts) wanting what the heart (and other body parts) wants leads to Christian catching Ivan and Cole with their pants down. The ensuing trauma and drama leads to Christian and Ivan cutting their trip short.
A heart-broken Ivan bonds with two new buddies; discovering that they also know "quirky" and androgynous Eli (Jason Greene) validates the theory that the gay world is a small one; it does not necessarily support the related belief that most of these guys have also had sex in various combinations.
Ivan further follows the textbook for young idealistic guys all along the Kinsey scale and visiting LA with his new entourage. His optimistic belief is that Christian will accept his relationship with Cole and that Cole will realize that Ivan is his soulmate at least until someone younger and cuter comes along.
It is predicted that the course of true love is not that easy; suffice it to say that things do not end with Ivan and Cole tying the knot and Christian being the best man.
The resolution of all this remains true to "Free" and the "queer as folk" reality that it depicts,
The pristinely remastered Warner Archive September 24, 2019 Blu-ray release of the 1940 Bette Davis drama "The Letter" educates as well as entertains in that it provides a very basic primer on Criminal Law 101. This is in addition to a pedigree that extends beyond Davis to having this seven-Oscar nominated William Wyler joint being based on a W. Somerset Maugham play.
The peek inside a law school classroom begins within a few minutes of the opening scenes. The workers at the Chinese rubber plantation that Robert Crosbie (Herbert Marshall) operates are awakened by gun shots coming from the big house.
These men next witness visitor Geoffrey Hammond scurrying out the front door as Robert spouse Leslie (Davis) is emptying her revolver into him. This is quickly followed by the clouds clearing and Davis looking up at the moon with her signature crazed look that makes wonderful use of her fabled eyes that literally are the thing of song.
This is a prime example of an early lesson in the criminal law class that every new student must take. The professor tells the class that there is a dead body on the floor and asks the scholars what are the legal consequences. The correct answer, as is the case regarding every question about legal interpretation, is "it depends."
The plot thickens on Robert, attorney/close friend Howard Joyce, and the equally friendly local law-enforcement official gathering to hear the story.
Davis shows why she is an actress, rather than a movie star, in telling about how Geoffrey shows up unannounced and forces himself on her in a manner that requires fending him off with extreme prejudice,
Public and police sympathy being on the side of Leslie does not prevent her from being a guest of the state. The surprising thing is that she does not mind her temporary surroundings.
The titular correspondence comes to the attention of Howard before the aforementioned proceeding; this evidence that directly contradicts much of the story of Leslie in a manner that increases the chances of her taking a seat in Old Sparky.
The circumstances of the appearance of this "smoking gun" represents poetic justice in that scorned woman Leslie meets her match. Their showdown is a film highlight that perfectly portrays cultural conflicts that continue today.
Even including Geoffrey, Robert is whom comes out the worst for wear. He gets a rude awakening that also ruins his dreams. This is in the form of learning that the woman whom he thinks is his soulmate is a femme fatale,
This being a Golden Age film, no crime goes unpunished. However, full restitution is not made.
Archive further delivers by including an alternative ending to "Letter" as a Blu-ray bonus.
Filmmakers/husband wife/dancer and former rocker/soap star respectively Janeen and Michael Damian know of what they speak in "High Strung," which hits theaters on April 8, 2016. This variation of their early performing lives focuses on Ruby, who is a Midwestern girl on her own who comes out to New York on a dance scholarship because she thinks that the change will do her good. He (a.k.a. Johnnie Blackwell) is an ordinary bloke who is in the United States illegally and pays his bills by playing his violin in subway (a.k.a Underground or Tube) stations. Their Manhattan nights adventures make for good storytelling.
The New York worlds of classical music and dance and their street counterparts collectively comprise the main supporting character in the film. The Damians casting both well-known performers and choreographers from those worlds results in dynamic performances that range from dance battles, to ballroom scenes, to classical ballet.
The following YouTube clip of the "Strung" trailer achieves its purpose of drawing the audience into the film while showcasing Jane Seymour, whose favorite author allegedly is Anna Karenina, in her cameo role as a stereotypical demanding dance instructor.
The bonus YouTube clip below showcase (still hunky) Michael Damian doing a great job with his cover of the classic song "Rock On."
The film opens with Ruby meeting many performing arts school stereotypes during her first days in the big city. Her roommate/fellow scholarship student is a young woman whose interest in partying is jeopardizing her future at the school, the power couple of the institute for higher jete are a male violinist with arrogance that is comparable to his talent and a top ballerina who would be right at home in "Black Swan."
For his part, "downtown man" Johnnie develops friendships with the dance crew "The SwitchSteps" that use the apartment below his as a studio/crib.
All of these worlds collide when Ruby is present at a subway station during a dance crew battle that results in an already down-on-his-luck Johnnie facing a major obstacle to his abilities to keep a roof over his head and avoid being shipped back across the pond . The role of Ruby regarding this additional reversal of fortune sets the stage for a typical meeting poorly but falling in love story. You will want it to work for these crazy kids.
The film then proceeds through adequately plausible ups and downs that create the conflict that make every film interesting, All this leads to a film-ending climax in which the only suspense is whether Ruby and Johnnie will succeed the easy way, will initially fail but quickly find an "angel" who facilities them following their dreams, or they simply will keep pursuing their dreams on their own either as solo acts or a couple.
As mentioned above, the Damians make all this work because they know of which they speak. They also put their extensive show biz experience to good work in casting the film.
Real-life ballerina Keenan Kampa does a good job portraying wholesome farm girl next door Ruby. Nicholas Galitizine adds wonderful leather to the lace of Kampa regarding his performance as Johnnie. Little Nicky/Beelzebloke) also stars in the aptly titled 2016 drama "Handsome Devil," which chronicles the bonding of odd-couple roommates at a British boarding school.
If all of this seems like "Strung" is a movie for 13-year-old girls, it is because it is, Not that there is anything wrong with that.
Everyone who is man (or woman) enough to not care about what the other people at the theater (whom they will never see again anyway) think is in for a well-paced and entertaining film with likable leads and some great musical numbers and what the press materials accurately describe as a fantasy New York in which it is always sunny, students and other folks near the poverty line live in large clean apartments, and pawn shop owners have a heart.
The recent Warner Archive DVD release of the 1960 light-hearted James Garner and Natalie Wood drama "Cash McCall" proves that Rock Hudson and Doris Day do not have a monopoly on films of that era that revolve around "it's complicated" romantic relationships. Speaking of monopolies, "Cash" centers on the titular mid-20th century swinging version of Mitt Romney who makes (and loses) fortunes flipping companies,
The "complication" stems from Cash being the Maine man that Lorey Austen (Wood) wants to do over her summer vacation. The audience (but not the parents of Lorey) knows what she does last summer. (What happens in Kennebunkport stays in Kennebunbkport).
Absence does make the heart grow fonder as to this master of the universe and the girl that he leaves behind. They mix business and pleasure when Cash unexpectedly shows up to buy the manufacturing business that Lorey 'rent Grant Austen (Dean Jagger) owns,
The primary disruptive force throughout is hard-nosed businessman General Andrew Danvers, who operates the company that provides Grant an almost super-majority of his business. Danvers is not asked but does repeatedly tell about a past deal in which Cash ethically and legally bests him. This adds a complication in the form of Cash learning that he can use his most recent acquisition as leverage (no pun intended) against Danvers.
All predictably hits the fan roughly halfway through "McCall" as Danvers and Cash go to war, and Avery obtains two pieces of insider information that provide good reason to believe that Cash dun him wrong despite giving Grant exactly what he requested for his company. Meanwhile, the romance with Lorey is on the right track until the arrival of a rival ironically with her flower intact.
Anyone familiar with the persona of Garner knows that he gives his best performance when he is being wrongfully accused and the odds are forever not in his favor. Being the maverick that he is, Garner exhibits a perfect degree of controlled outrages and determines the chance that he has to take.
In this case, the final climatic scene has Cash being a very unwelcome gentleman(?) caller. He tells all concerned like it is and reminds Grant that his hand are not spotless. Further, Lorey learns the truth of the saying as to assuming things.
This leads to an especially Hollywood fantasy in that resentment related to a sale of a business and as to a romance that concludes with an epic walk of shame is resolved in a manner that does not result in any tears or recriminations,
The rest of this story is that an exceptionally well-crafted film with a plethora of A-List stars makes "Cash" a very sound acquisition.
Archive supplements this with the 1960 Chuck Jones "High Note." This amusing and clever short that is equally musical and surreal tells the tale of a literal score to settle,
Warner Archive once more proves that B-movies can have "a"ppeal with the recent DVD release of the 1934 musical-comedy "Harold Teen," which is based on the comic strip of the same name. This delightful romp also illustrates the cross-pollination that is prevalent in the first half of the 20th century and is still alive today.
Early 20th-century comic strips, as is the case regarding "Harold," have a proud history of getting films. radio shows, (sometimes hit Broadway musicals), and television series. "Harold" does fairly well as to getting two of these. In addition to two film adaptations, "Harold" gets a radio show.
A VERY cool thing about the silver screen Harolds is that a 1928 silent version stars Arthur Lake of "Blondie" fame. That strip gets a a radio show, a one-season wonder television series in which Pamela Britten of "My Favorite Martian," plays the lady of the lake, AND a plethora of films. One can only hope that Archive releases the earlier "Harold" film someday.
The following Archive trailer, which the DVD includes, of "Harold" perfectly conveys the entertainingly wholesome (with a pinch of innuendo) all singing and all dancing fun of this nostalgic treat for all ages,
The general vibe of "Harold" aptly is like fellow comic strip "Archie," which still is going strong in comic and television form today. Our titular approaching post-adolescent is an Olsen twin in that, like Jimmy Olsen of "Superman" fame, he is a goofy and clumsy recent high school graduate working at a newspaper.
In this case, Harold primarily writes witty snippets for the local rag of his hometown of Covina.
Returning to the Archie parallels, Harold rides around in a jalopy and follows the pattern of guys who peak in high school by still spending much of his free time at the local teen hangout. In this case, it is the Sugar Bowl ice cream shop that, like "Archie," is owned and operated by a man known as "Pops."
The "Betty" of Harold "Teenzy" Teens is graduating senior Lillian "Lillums" Lovewell; his "Reggie" is romantic rival "Lilacs."
This clearly Depression-era tale has the father of Lillums being unable to afford to send his daughter to college; he also is very concerned about a mortgage foreclosure.
Further, the real villain of the piece is aptly named new banker in town H.H, Snatcher. His relatively benign evil is in the form of duping cub (in two senses of that term) reporter Harold., This older man first takes advantage of that rube by handing him a statement asserting the "good" intentions of this newcomer. This executive further pretends to befriend the lad to ensure that the local press is positive.
A very creepy "Child Bride" element enters the picture when H.H. starts courting Lillums to the extent of buying her a wedding dress. Meanwhile, his partner-in-cradle robbing comes to town and is charged with getting Harold out of the way.
An interesting casting note is that Eddie Tamblyn, father of "West Side Story" star Russ Tamblyn, plays aptly named four-years and counting high-school freshman Shadow, Russ stars in the excellent (reviewed) "Son of a Gunfighter," which is in the Archive catalog.
Also in true Depression-era style, all this leads to the nicest kids in town planning (and performing as a grand finale) an elaborate "collegiate" musical, An amusing aspect of this is that none of these teens are enrolled in college.
Of course, the boy gets the girl and everyone who deserves a happy ending gets one. This Hollywood ending is desperately needed in a period in which our chief executive likely will find himself ousted without a golden parachute and that those who bring about his demise likely will learn the wisdom of the Chinese proverb about being careful about for which you wish, These days, it is likely that the new boss will be same as the old boss. BILL GATES IN 2020!!!
The CBS Home Entertainment September 4, 2019 DVD release of the 2018-19 S5 of the CBS drama series "Madam Secretary" lets current and new fans alike catch up on this ripped-from-the-headlines series ahead of the October, 6, 2019 premiere of the sixth and final season. That one is set in the not-too-distant future of two years from where S5 ends. A big change is that titular Secretary of State Elizabeth McCord (Tea Leoni of the tabloid-based sitcom "The Naked Truth") has left her corner office for one that lacks any right angles.
Watching these episodes of this femalecentric series just ahead of diving into the CBSHE DVDs of "Gunsmoke" S15 for a post next week is a good reminder of the cost of judging a series by its cover. Only getting into Westerns in the past five years has prompted regret as to missing out on the compelling storylines that classics like "Gunsmoke" provide for so long. "Secretary" and the (reviewed) "Good Fight" show that soccer moms and cat ladies have good taste in television dramas.
Both "Fight" and "Secretary" present entertaining cerebral tales on topics that should greatly concern all of us. In the case of "Fight," we witness the grimy underbelly of out legal system in the context of "this filthy world" in which dirty politics rule the day. in "Secretary," we see fictional Hillary Clinton (who makes a cameo with two of her real-life predecessors) Elizabeth McCord try to avoid strong-arm diplomacy at the same time that she often must do the right thing for the wrong reason or the wrong thing for the right reason.
The support system of Elizabeth includes spouse/former Marine/former CIA operative/former religious scholar/current presidential advisor Henry McCord (Tim Daly of "Wings"). She also has a diverse quirky staff of wonks who all bring things of value to the table in their own neurotic or otherwise odd ways.
The constant ripped-from-the-headlines vibe begins with a twofer in the season premiere. Elizabeth is trying to get India and Pakistan to enter a treaty at the same time that domestic terrorists that want to make America great again pull off a major attack that creates significant physical and national psyche damage. The international element of this both is not surprising and pops up in other ways throughout the season.
We also see Elizabeth doing her best to be diplomatic regarding overseas sweatshop labor, a magnificent gift that will require hardship-inducing upkeep, a regime change that seems sure to erupt into war, etc. The issue of legalization of marijuana both provides some of the best humor of the season and shows how it can aid good international relations.
A two-episode story that hits almost as close to home as the aforementioned attack is the issue of indefinitely detaining the children of illegal immigrants separate from their parents. This one sees Elizabeth taking an especially strong stand. The bonus is an interesting debate on the issue of states' rights.
"Secretary" creator/writer Barbara Hall skillfully pulls this off by keeping an even keel. No one really gets worked up in even the most tense moments, and we are spared piercing looks and overly dramatic moments.
We merely see people in a world that is otherwise closed off to most of us doing the job for which their natural intelligence, formal education, and extensive on-the-job learning has prepared them. The sad part is that their current real-life counterparts do not follow their example.
The bonus features consist of several deleted scenes.
Mill Creek Entertainment fully shows its range as to the recent DVD release of the 2019 horredy "Dead Don't Die in Dallas." This film is the latest project of auteur Israel Luna of "Ticked Off Trannies With Knives."
Luna assembles his "Knives" principals to espouse principles comparable to those in that film. William Belli stars as Beth-Anne Fetterman, a white-trash trannie who has fairly recently lost her husband.
The stock characters in this purposefully retro bargain-basement demon love-child of John Waters and Charles Busch include the stout in body and anorexic in mind southern preacher, his mousy wife, and his closet-case son. We also get a tough-as-nail pre-op woman who identifies as male, a cute blonde gay boy who essentially is homeless after his father kicks him out, and the car full of trannies who prove that boys just want to have fun. We also get the gay couple, who are quietly minding their own business until the outside world essentially crashes in on them.
We see tempers on both sides violently flare up ahead of a literally Sunday, bloody Sunday in which our man of God and his wife wonder where the flock their congregation has gone. The answer is that the faithful (as well as the not-so-faithful) are feeling the side effects of a miracle pill that literally cures every ailment known to man. These unintended consequences include becoming a maneater that is the lean and hungry type but does not only come out at night.
The usual equal parts guts and glory as our foes whose desperate times call for the desperate measure of uneasy bedfellows fight both internal and external demons. Clever use of a "broken" and "missing" reels greatly contribute to the retro vibe of the film.
Luna already makes it clear that he does not pull punches when we witness the most shocking scene in the entire film; the son of a preacher man has good cause to feel like our savior.
Of course, all this culminates with the zombies being (at least temporarily) being subdued with or without extreme prejudice, It is equally standard that the journey provides all the fun this time.
The proper destinations for this movie that puts a queer spin on walking dead films include any gathering in which all are welcome.
[Editor's Note: Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this blog post. The opinions I share are my own.]
The Warner Bros. Home Entertainment October 1, 2019 separate Blu-ray and DVD releases of S1 of DC Universe streaming service series "Doom Patrol" nicely reminds us that the range (and legacy) of the DCU extends beyond the broadcast network friendly exploits of the Arrowverse shows, Common executive producer Greg Berlanti clearly lets his inner excitable inner boy out to play in "Patrol."
As an aside, the Warner Brothers section of this site has posts on the recently released WBHE BD sets of the 2018-19 seasons of every Arrowverse series except for "Legends of Tomorrow."
The following DCU trailer for "Patrol" offers a good primer on the lore of the series and nicely conveys its awesomely quirky vibe. It additionally reinforces that spending a few extra dollars to opt for Blu-ray over DVD is well worth it.
The mandatory starting point is that "Patrol" is tailor-made for a streaming platform, which presumably can push the FCC decency standards even further than premium networks such as Showtime and HBO. One of numerous examples is that the f-bomb seems to be weapon of choice of the misfits of science that comprise the titular team.
The central premise is a wonderful mash-up between the Sci-Fi Channel series "Sanctuary," which stars Amanda Tapping of the "Stargate" universe as a woman who looks very good for her age and uses her enormous mansion to shelter and aid all sorts of disfigured and/or meta entities, and "X-Men." The wheelchair-bound men-of-letters scientist/protector is Niles Coulder/Chief (Dalton, Timothy Dalton).
The central motley crew that struggles with their meta and their human elements evokes thoughts of the castaways on "Gilligan's Island" to the extent that both have a movie star in their midst. The members of both Team Gilligan and Team Coulder all have significant flaws but remain highly loyal to their "family" with whom a series of unfortunate circumstances have thrown them.
Former NASCAR star Cliff Steele/Robotman (Brendan Fraser) can be considered the brains of the organization in that this man whose War of the Roses with his equally toxic wife ultimately leads to his vital organ being implanted into a metallic body. His related angst includes not having been a good father to his young daughter and his effort to re-establish a relationship with her.
Next up is dashing closeted gay test pilot Larry Trainor/Negative Man (Matt Boomer). His "something extra" is a space being who inhabits him but goes solo when his services are needed. Larry still struggles with his love for a male member of his flight crew (insert your own cockpit joke here) and more generally with being restrained from being true to himself.
The aforementioned B-movie actress is Rita Farr/Elasti-Woman (April Bowlby); varying percentages of her body become a disgusting blob.
Last but not least is woman of 64 meta-personalities Crazy Jane (Diane Guerrero). Jane often lacks any control when a resident of the "underground" portion of her mind exerts herself. Each of these temporarily dominant personalities comes with a special power that she does not necessarily use for good, rather than for evil.
The new kid on the block who fills the role of DCU star "slumming" with the B team is Vic Stone/Cyborg (Joivan Wade). Cyborg and his Dad/mechanic have a history with Coulder that leds to Cyborg playing the role of nerd who tries to assume leadership of the class when the teacher leaves for an extended period.
As arch-villain Mr. Nobody/Eric Morden (Alan Tudyk) states in his frequent (and witty) narration, he plays the necessary role of bad guy. The exceptional talent of Mr., Nobody to simultaneously gleefully play mind games and wage psychological warfare makes him a formidable foe and a source of intense entertainment for those of us who do regularly relive our worst moments.
This extended discussion of the intriguing lore of "Patrol" leads little time to share the wonderfully surreal S1 events .
The band being assembled leads to an ill-advised field trip to the nearby town; Mr., Nobody subsequently captures old foe Coulder and imprisons him in a form of phantom zone. The search of the gang for their leader includes a (non-sexual) disgusting encounter with a donkey, a visit to an incredibly accepting (but shifting) talking street, the evil research facility known as The Ant Farm. and a visit to what can be considered the Justice League predecessors The Justice Society of America,
Our folks who simply want to avoid their own demises also come up against a wonderfully warped cult that is going to use a (presumably) virgin sacrifice (who presumably reeks of Axe body spray) to bring about end times. They further must go "Magic School Bus" to enter the mind of Jane to return her to a relative state of normalcy.
This is not to mention The Brotherhood of Evil and the Bureau of Normalcy (nee the Bureau of Oddities) creating trauma and drama.
Things really get weird in the final S1 episodes. Our thoughts of suicide squad learn that Chief is the source of much of their discontent and has an "Alice in Wonderland" style ulterior motive for his outward peace, love, and understanding. This leads to a showdown with a true survivor and a sidekick with a "Princess Bride" style vendetta.
Much of the group being in "Wonderland" state at the end of S1 sets the stage for a spectacular S2.
WBHE supplements all this with unaired scenes, a gag reel,m and an entertaining "Come Visit Georgia" PSA that shows how the versatility of the Atlanta area makes it a good place for location filming.
One of the biggest surprises regarding the CBS Home Entertainment September 24, 2019 DVD release of S4 of the Showtime series "Billions" is that creator/producer/writer Adam Ross Sorkin ("Too Big to Fail") is not related to clever, edgy thought-provoking TV drama legend Aaron Sorkin. "Billions" easily could have been a series by the latter.
The following S4 trailer of this series that continues the proud (and not so-proud) legacy of classic (and not-so-classic) ready for primetime dramas that include "Dallas," "The Sopranos," "The West Wing," and "The Newsroom" accurately conveys the themes and the epic scope of this compelling program.
As Andy Sipowicz of fellow Gotham-based drama "NYPD Blue" would phrase it, the underlying theme of "Billions" is that US Attorney Chuck Rhoades (Paul Giamatti) has a hard on (not in a good way) for hedge fund manager Bobby "Axe" Axelrod (Damian Lewis of "Homeland") . A small part of the rest of this fascinating story is that Axe has learned that Hell hath no fury like a non-binary gender person scorned. This individual is vengeful former Axe protege Taylor Mason (Asia Kate Dillon of "Orange is the New Black"), who has set up a highly competing shop.
S4 begins with Chuck in private practice after being fired from his federal job. This plays a role in his forming an unlikely friendship with benefits with Axe. The underlying quid pro quo includes Axe using his skill at dirty deeds done not so cheap to help Chuck win an election for New York Attorney General in exchange for favors that include sending a Russian who done Axe wrong back home and for hitting Taylor where it hurts most.
Another common element of the Chuck and Axe relationship is Chuck wife psychiatrist Dr. Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Siff) having the dual roles of coach and head of human resources for the company of Axe. Two of the many times that she gets caught up in the drama of her legal and her work husbands are violating the patient confidentiality of Taylor to help Axe and separately having Chuck make his political aspirations a higher priority than domestic bliss by providing explicit details about who wears the pants (and the leather) in the family.
Suffice it to say that Wendy pays high prices for standing by her men.
The season premiere does the Sorkin legacy proud. Chuck may be as happy as a pig in mud as to his domineering father putting heavy pressure on him to pull off a near-miracle for a client. However, not every aspect of the agony of defeat if he does not come through will provide Chuck joy. His mission, which he must accept, leads to a sitcom-style sting of Herculean efforts to obtain a highly coveted item in exchange for something of equal value to bring him closer to getting the client what he wants.
Chuck finding later in the season that no good deed goes unpunished is pure Sorkin.
Meanwhile, Axe constantly is at war either with Taylor or another enemy or the financial market in general. One of his most amusing episodes involves trying to make a killing (pun intended) in the chicken market. This one showing the extent to which underling "Dollar" Bill Stearn, who subsequently literally enters the ring for his boss, will go to maintain a good relationship with his boss provides excellent dark humor.
A portion of the rest of this epic story is that Chuck remains at mutual war with both his successor and his former boss also drives much of the action. The manner in which this plays out during the season reinforces the Shakespearean sentiment about killing all the lawyers.
As is the case regarding the cited series that precede "Billions," the cathartic glee associated with this program relates to watching masters of the universe being likely to hug it our only to get in position to stab the other guy in the back. Chuck states it best in a scene in the season finale in which a (at least temporarily) vanquished foe comments that that enemy of the state of Rhoades is getting what he deserves and Chuck responds that it happens to all of them at some time.
CBS supplements this several (but less than billions) of special features. These include the self-explanatory "Script to Screen" and a separate extra that discusses the copious pop-culture nods and other references that contribute to the intelligent entertainment that makes the show great.
Although this may incur the wrath of Judy the Time-Life operator, this post on the Time-Life October 1, 2019 release of the five-disc condensed version of "Robin Williams" Comic Genius" has an excellent reason for advises forging this set of all five Williams HBO specials (plus a plethora of rare performance footage and other truly special features).
This rationale is that vast personal experience shows the wisdom of not making the mistake of buying a bargain version of something only to end up purchasing the more deluxe choice in the end. In this case, the mother lode is the (reviewed) deluxe collector's edition of "Genius."
The 25-words-or-less reason for this recommendation is that the five specials in the set that is the topic du jour will stir up such strong fond memories of Williams for current fans. New fans will get equally hooked and want the complete set as well,
The following channeling of Williams is a blessing to those of us who still mourn his August 11, 2014 death and is a curse to folks too young to remember when people put edgy comedy in context. Perhaps the problem is that no one currently around can present this "offensive" material as well as Williams.
The first response on seeing this 5-disc set is imagining Williams riffing on it being the Asian cousin of the massive 22-disc Negro collection. He then would likely do a bit about a DVD player asking if the smaller set was in yet and telling the larger set that it is too big too handle. Of course, Williams would incorporate the appropriate ethnic voices in this performance.
All of this shows the unparalleled appeal of Williams; he is a real-life (and equally frenetic) Bugs Bunny who is so zany and lovable that you cannot help but laugh as he engages in antics and makes outrageous statements that would earn virtually anyone else a punch in the nose.
The Film Movement Classics August 6, 2019 Blu-ray release of the 1990 Ibsnesque dark familycentric drama "The Reflecting Skin" once again provides an exceptional chance to see a high-quality film. that may of us miss the first time around. The opening scenes of the characteristic vibrant wheat fields and grotesque bullfrog of 1950s Idaho are the first of copious examples of this release being much closer to 4K than to Blu-ray,
The festival accolades includes several awards at the 1990 Locarno International Film Festival and a win at the 1990 Stockholm Film Festival.
The following Classics trailer for "Skin" release validate the universal sense that this is a haunting Gothic film; adding captivating to this list is mandatory.
Fully appreciating how this directorial debut of Philip Ridley is spot on in absolutely every regard from the script, to the direction, to the casting, to the cinematography requires watching it. It truly is not like much that you have seen before, and you never will forget it,
Our central character is 8 year-old everykid Seth Dove (Jeremy Cooper). His woes include his domineering "witch" of a mother Ruth Dove (Sheila Moore) and his beaten-down submissive father Luke Dove (Duncan Fraser), who operates the dilapidated gas station next to to the isolated farmhouse that this unhappy trio calls home.
Lindsay Duncan steals the show as British widow/next-door neighbor Dolphin Blue. This creepy lady who is the regular subject of pranks/curiosity by Seth and his pals relishes in validating the belief of Seth that she is a vampire who stays young by stealing the youth of boys and objects of her affection. This Midwestern Morticia Addams has more credibility as to her claim of finding the husband who brought her to Idaho hanging from the rafters in the barn.
The appearance of a group of young guys who have stranger danger written all over them and subsequent disappearance of a peer of Seth fully sets our story in motion.
An incident in the distant past of Luke that Ruth and the local sheriff will not let him forget makes him the prime suspect even before the boy is found in a condition that further points to Luke as the culprit. This leads to a highly symbolic act by Luke that has just as large of an impact on Seth.
This leads to much older brother Cameron (Viggo Mortensen in an early role) cutting his military service short to return home to become the man of the house. His experience with the victims of A bomb testing gives the film its most direct symbolic value. The inability of vampires to see their literal mirror images is a close second.
Worlds fully collide in this universe with similarities to that of "Twin Peaks" when Cameron begins a romance with Dolphin Blue, a.k.a. Mrs. Robinson. This triggers great concern for his brother by Seth.
All of this lead to even more intense trauma and drama that leads to a conclusion that is far from a happy ending.
A 43-minute DVD bonus feature that discusses Ridley and the film adds wonderful context to the film. A written essay provides further insights. The joys of both are too special to spoil by saying more.
We further get audio commentary by the auteur himself.
The bottom line regarding all this is that it is difficult to imagine anyone not valuing the artistry, depth, and humor of "Skin."
The CBS Home Entertainment Sept. 24, 2019 2-disc Blu-ray release of the epic 1978 NBC mini-series "Holocaust" reminds us of the worst of times at the best of times for that message. Related principles of those who are dedicated to any society not descending so low as Nazi Germany are to preserve materials that document that era and to educate the general population to "never forget" so that we do not have to endure the lesson that those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it.
The numerous accolades of the saga of two families for which the persecution of the Jews is a form of a civil war include the Emmy for Best Limited Series and the one for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Limited Series. Michael Moriarty earns the latter for portraying Nazi officer Erik Dorf, who joins the party without fully having the fortitude for his role.
Our story begins at the mildly strained 1935 mixed-marriage wedding of commercial artist Jewish man Karl Weiss (James Woods) to Christian woman Inga Helms (Meryl Streep). Father Dr. Josef Weiss (Fritz Weaver) is a general practitioner, whose patient roster includes the wife of then-unemployed attorney Dorf.
Younger brother Rudi Weiss (Joseph Bottoms) is a typical apolitical young guy; 16 year-old sister Anna (Blanche Baker) is a sweet girl who enjoys playing the piano,
Increasingly restrictive laws reflect heightening tensions between the Hitler government and Jewish Germans during the next several years. The lesson for the Weiss family during this period is that they should have gotten out while the getting was good. For his part, Dorf learns that party membership is critical to gainful employment and that any advancement depends on being a good soldier.
Dorf proves that he is an apt pupil by playing a leading role in Kristallnacht, which is one of a few dates that will live in infamy. This semi-organized rioting against Jewish people, their homes, and their businesses is the wake-up call for members of that group who are not already woke.
This is the period in which Josef is sent to live in the Warsaw ghetto, Carl is arrested and sent to a concentration camp for having married a Jewish woman, and Dorf becomes a fair-haired boy in the eyes of his "superiors." Meanwhile, Rudi is making a run for the border and a horrific experience for Anna leads to an even worse fate that is sadly common in that country during that period,
The importance of having to go along to get along incredibly escalates during the war years. Weiss father and son (not to mention daughter-in-law) pay higher and higher prices for sticking to (and acting on) their beliefs. Meanwhile, Jewish people and others who actively collaborate are rewarded.
The immediate period after the war finds the surviving Weisses (and Dorf) where they should be, The most unrealistic aspect of this is that they are able to move on after enduring what arguably can be considered the closest that we can get to literally Hell on earth.
Of course, this topic requires closing thoughts. The need to recognize that even propaganda that supports your side still is propaganda relates to it being critical to fully think about the bill of good that political leaders on both sides are selling you. Further, PLEASE remember that enough voters writing in "None of the Above" if you do not like either candidate makes more of a statement that not voting at all or writing in a joke candidate.
The first brief example of this is the ample and common sense evidence that "the wall" will not be effective as to stopping Mexican people from illegally entering the US. It is equally obvious that American consumers ultimately will bear the burden of Chinese tariffs.
On the other side of the aisle, a Great Society in which all get free healthcare and have incomes that allow living at least a little large sounds very good. The harsh reality is that the "have-nots" that this facially will benefit the most ultimately will foot the bill; higher taxes inevitably lead to lower employment and/or higher prices.
The Olive Films May 29, 2018 DVD release of the 1959 film "A Bucket of Blood" that Olive describes as a "black-comedy-beatnik-culture-horror film" by a man that Olive shares is known as "The Pop of Pop Culture" is a wonderfully perverse cult classic with great significance.
This film enhances the Corman films in the Olive catalog by joining "Gas-s-s-s," "The Wild Angels," and the recent Olive release of "The Trip" starring Peter Fonda. The bigger picture is that "Bucket" is a precursor to the better known 1969 Corman black comedy "The Little Shop of Horrors."
Both "Bucket" and "Shop" feature a total nerd giving into an awesomely dark bloodlust in a bid to win the hot chick at work. "Shop" florist employee Seymour Krelborn provides carnivorous plant Audrey II the desired sustenance in a bid to win the heart of the babe for whom he names the plant.
Walter Paisley is a used and abused busboy at The Yellow Door coffeehouse, which is a beatnik hangout, at the beginning of "Blood." The object of his affection is cool cat Carla.
The same type of accident that is happy for the born loser and unhappy from the perspective of society that sets Seymour on the path to success in "Shop" involves a sacrificial cat in "Bucket." The poor kitty who uses up his ninth life is the beloved pet of the landlady of Walter.
Walter stupidly but accidentally killing the pussy leads him to conclude that making art is the best course of action when life gives you a dead mouser. The very avant-garde sculpture "Dead Cat" brings Walter instant fame (and an unfair portion of fortune) at the coffee shop.
Undercover narc Lou Raby (Bert Convy) making the rookie mistake of bringing a gun to a skillet fight inspires the second (and more grotesque) work "Murdered Man." The neighborhood whore subsequent learns not to tease any repressed psycho even if he is not one in Mom's clothing. We further get a local resident paying for what he saw.
The overall beatnik culture contributes much of the fun in "Bucket." The king of the scene embracing Walter to the extent of literally placing him on a throne provides further good period-piece entertainment. This is not to mention seeing the extent to which greed and an equal lust for celebrity outweighs morality.
Corman does even better presenting the truth literally beginning to reveal itself and the surface-thin cool composure of Walter melting away until the mob wants him in an undesirable manner. This leads to enacting the Corman form of justice.
The bigger Corman picture is that this genius fully embraces every element of the B-movies of which he is a master. This includes (such as in "Shop" and "Blood") shooting in black-and-white when not opting for lurid vivid color, using low-budget effects, and figuratively sticking to the script each time. He further is set apart from the makers of other guilty pleasures in that he sets out to create trashlicious garbage each time and greatly succeeds. This (along with the obvious drug influences) makes him the one-man Sid and Marty Krofft of the silver screen.
The quantum of solace as to the CBS Home Entertainment September 17, 2019 DVD release of the seventh and final season of The Tiffany Network procedural "Elementary" is that it seems that incarnations of dynamic duo Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson are even more immortal than the fictional Victorian Era pioneering consulting detective and his colleague, It is logical to deduce that another film or television series featuring the exploits of those 19th-century gumshoes will be released in the not-to-distant future.
The highly entertaining and clever "Elementary" can be considered an even more neo-modern version of the Arthur Conan Doyle creations than the excellent BBC series "Sherlock."
The "Elementary" updates include transforming Dr. John Watson into Dr. Joan Watson (Lucy Liu). In addition, this sidekick who traditionally is a roomie turned partner-in-crime solving is now a sober companion turned apprentice turned full-fledged crime-solving partner to recovering addict Holmes (Jonny Lee Miller). For his part, Holmes is outwardly more dark and damaged than his previous versions. Moving the action from London to New York City is another major change in the Holmesian style,
"Elementary" creator Robert Doherty takes similar awesome liberties with other elements of Holmesian lore while staying true to the spirit of the source material.
In typical procedural style, S7 picks up in the wake of the S6 cliffhanger. A "send him back" sentiment results in Watson now being the stranger in a strange land when she and Holmes become neighbors at 221A and 221B Baker Street in London. They also get a sense of new-boss-same-as-the-old-boss on offering Scotland Yard the same consulting detective services that they had been providing the NYPD.
The shooting of NYPD Captain Thomas Gregson (Aidan Quinn) sets the underlying S7 action in motion. This begins with Holmes sneaking back in to the US to solve that crime. Stating that the agreement that Holmes subsequently enters to regain his legal status here is a deal with the devil is not far from the truth.
Discovering whodunit is only the beginning of the story; learning why he dunit ties into the aforementioned larger picture. Holmesphiles easily recognize the significance of Mark Zuckerberg fictional counterpart Odin Reichenbach (James Franin) the arch-nemesis of the final season. Yes, Reichenbach does cause Holmes to take a fall.
This unifying element is that literally evil genius Reichenbach is using his access to the online activity of virtually the entire population of the "civilized" world to (ala the Tom Cruise film "Minority Report") target what Reichenbach considers highly probable imminent killers of innocents. This includes a young guy who is planning to McVeigh a ferry.
The rest of this prologue to our story is that Reichenbach keeps his hands relatively clean by radicalizing traumatized "innocents" to do his dirty work. An example is a teacher who has survived a school shooting.
Holmes soon figuring out the scheme does him limited good; like all foes who have presented our hero with a real challenge for roughly 150 years, Reichenbach is just as much of a chess master as his foe.
This plays a hand in several cases, such as an early one in which the stabbing of a runner leads to uncovering a well-planned plot to take out someone on the blacklist of Reichenbach.
The inevitable showdown (with the predictable outcome) between Reichenbach and Holmes comes in the penultimate episode of the series; those who know the lore best are not ready to declare game over.
The series finale nicely delivers on several levels. We see Little Joan happy at last with a state-of-the-art existence that includes both professional and personal contentment. A blast-from-the-past in the form of Watson getting a gift for Holmes from foe Jamie Moriarity followed by the messenger essentially getting shot sets the stage for the final intrigue and the last chance for those who are left standing whom we have come to know and love over seven years to live happily ever after.
This discussion of the finale sets the stage for one more logical deduction in the form of the showrunners knowing that Hell has no fury like a fan scorned as to an unsatisfactory series conclusion.
The theme of learning from history so as not to repeat it being very prominent in the 1989-93 NBC cult-classic sci-fi action-adventure series "Quantum Leap" makes it aptly significant as to the Mill Creek Entertainment Blu-ray CS set of this series.
This begins with the MCE release aptly putting right what once went wrong as to the individual DVD sets of "Quantum." As hologram assistant/best friend Al Calavicci (Dean Stockwell) to brilliant physicist/hero Dr. Sam Beckett (Scott Bakula "Star Trek: Enterprise") would say, the earlier sets are caca. The images of this major-studio release of this modern series is painfully grainy to watch. The images and sound in the Blu-ray set conversely are "mahvelous, simply mahvelous."
The comparable shelf space required of the DVD and the BD sets also favor the latter. MCE, which separately packages each season of "Quantum" in this set, makes it compact while still leaving ample room to take each individual season out of the stylish cardboard box in which they are contained.
The final comment regarding physical media relates to a major annoyance regarding streaming services. The real possibility that any service will pull the plug on any series before you can "catch them all" favors being able to pull a marathon (rather than binge) worthy show off the shelf.
One of many notable elements of "Quantum" is that it learns from history by paying homage to '60s TV scifi god Irwin Allen of "Lost in Space" fame. Allen follows up "Space" with the 1966-67 ABC series "Time Tunnel." That one centers around a secret government time-travel project in the desert going horribly awry in a manner that (mostly) throws the two heroes around in history as their guys (and girls) in the chair try to pull them back home. Their adventures include being on the Titanic and having an unforgettable adventure at the Alamo.
The variation in "Quantum" is that Beckett heads up the titular research project in the desert in the not-to-distant future; an amusing aspect of this is that the "Quantum" team visualizes a '90s that is even more bright, neon-infused, and futuristic than the '80s.
As the voice-over narration that opens every "Quantum" episode explains, Beckett (who is an Indiana farm boy with an August 8, 1953 birth date) theorizes that one can time travel within his or her own lifetime. The glitch this time is an unknown entity (perhaps God) or force hijacks Sam on his inaugural leap.
This abduction establishes the pattern of Sam "leaping" into the body of an innocent or not-so- innocent in order to put right what once went wrong. This may involve preventing a murder, stopping someone from making a decision that greatly negatively impacts his or her life, etc.
A handful of these episodes center around real-life incidents, such as the death of Marilyn Munroe and the assassination of JFK. Related good fun comes ala Sam inadvertently putting ideas in the heads of younger versions of future real-life celebrities. A prime (pun) intended example leads to a classic "Rocky" scene.
The rest of this lore is that the future tech. allows Al to use a research-center imaging chamber in his present to appear as a hologram that "only Dr. Beckett can see or hear." This state also prevents this resource regarding emergencies, medical or otherwise, from physically making contact with anyone or anything.
The typical episode pattern is that a disoriented Sam "leaps" into the body of the current person of interest sometime in the period of the aforementioned lifetime. Al then fairly literally pops in with at least at little information about the owner of the meatsuit that Sam currently occupies. Regarding this, it can be someone of any age or gender and once is a chimp. This exposition includes at least some speculation regarding why the powers-that-be have thrust Sam into that situation.
Much of the relatable fun comes from Al sharing changeable statistics regarding the outcomes in response to action and non-action by Sam. A purely hypothetical example is an 75.8 percent chance that an actor will be cast in the role of a lifetime increasing to 88.1 percent after middle-aged Sam in the guise of a 20-year old studio page sneaks the headshot of the actor into the file of the producer of the film.
Watching most of the fan-favorite episodes of "Quantum" for this post has made this "mission" especially fun. These include the JFK one, which is a two-parter that has Sam "leaping" into the body of Lee Harvey Oswald at several significant times in the life of that historic figure. A bonus this time is the psyche of Oswald repeatedly taking dominance over that of Sam, who almost always remains in the driver's seat while "possessing" someone.
The S3 season premiere is a two-parter that has Sam first "leaping" into his teen-age self just before Thanksgiving. Although his mission is to correct his own mistake and win the big game so that his high-school coach goes onto bigger and better things, Sam is the hijacker this time. The wrongs that he tries to put right include three tragedies that will befall his family in the next few years. This adventure continues when Sam "leaps" in the body of a man who is a member of the band of brothers of the older brother of Sam.
An especially fun one aptly has Brooke Shields play a literal debutante heiress in an episode that is a mash-up of "Blue Lagoon" and "Swept Away." The Shields character is about to enter an essentially arranged marriage when the ship on which she is travelling sinks. This "princess" finds herself being one of two stranded castaways with a Greek greasy dirty sailor who worked in the engine room of the ship and currently has a physicist controlling his life. The rest of this story is that Sam must put the life of the pretty baby in his charge back on track.
The series finale hits the trifecta of including big reveals, bringing back old friends, and providing closure while leaving the door open for more adventures. The conclusion this time does scream for five seasons and a movie. The irony here is that the wrong of "Quantum" missing the milestone of 100 episodes by three never gets righted,