Hilton Garden Inn Hanover Lebanon Strikes Perfect Balance Between Boutique Hotel and Corporate Retreat
A strong positive impression from a (too short) two-night stay at the Hilton Garden Inn (HGI) Hanover Lebanon near Dartmouth College in rural New Hampshire perfectly reflects (pun intended) a mirror-image of a horrific experience with far-less congenial owners of a far-less nice property. That nightmare stay is the genesis of the phrase "shabby broom closet" that provides context in some Inn Credible New England posts on this site.
The HGI, which opened in May 2018 and still is pristine, successfully provides vacation travelers an upscale place to rest and recreate while allowing folks who are there on the company dime use of some or all of the well-designed 7,600 SF of meeting space that accommodates up to 315 people. The HGI getting EVERY aspect of hospitality right and equally embracing EVERY demographic sharply contrasts with the purveyors of the broom closet turning psychotic in response to my referring to their establishment as a corporate hotel. In other words, the good ones like HGI owner Cowen Hotels realize that sheep ranchers (i.e., leisure travelers) and cattlemen (i.e., business travelers) can happily co-exist and that calling a property a corporate hotel is not fighting words.
Inn Credible Welcome
The developers of the HGI property deserve a gold star; placing the building in the middle of a huge lot and having abundant green space surround it and the more-than-ample parking lots provides the tranquil sense associated with the area.
The large and mid-sized carts in the vestibule are convenient for getting the abundant luggage for which car trips allow; the mid-sized cart was great for the perpetually packed duffel that I always bring on these trips. The power strip, extra toiletries, charging cables, snacks, etc. get put to good use every time.
The hotel has van service to the bus station next door, the municipal airport 5 miles away, and other area hot spots for folks who do not bring a car. This van additionally is available for chauffeuring gusts during their stay. Leaving my car in the lot my entire visit and getting a ride into downtown Hanover (a.k.a. Hangover) was a nice bonus; parking in that small city was limited during this move-in period for Dartmouth.
it also is highly likely that one of the strapping young men who work at the HGI can help with physical baggage. These guys (and their female co-workers) additionally offer great hospitality.
A bartender showed INCREDIBLE restraint with a (seemingly sober) orifice who repeatedly asked for "special ice" that did not absorb bourbon. This idiot additionally made several requests for free bourbon to compensate for the absorbed amount. A highlight of the exchange was the bartender subtly and politely inviting that guy to take his drink to his room.
Front Desk Supervisor Sarah Tillotson and her team literally will greet you a smile and be on top of your reservation; they additionally provide Hilton Honors members with a gift that is welcome at any hotel.
Right Said Fred
A chance to speak with Director of Sales & Catering Director Fred Dole provided good insight. He validated the emphasis of the HGI on equally catering to vacation and business travelers. His response to my expression of pleasant surprise regarding a Garden Inn being so upscale was that "Hilton is stepping up its game" as to that category of property. It is HIGHLY likely that the HGI not having every amenity of a full-fledged Hilton is the ONLY reason for the Garden Inn designation.
My attending grad. school in the area was a primary impetus for the trip, and I noted that many new hotels had been built in the area since I left. Dole responded that "supply has caught up with demand." He added that Dartmouth and the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center, which was near the HGI, required this growth.
No Room for Improvement
The guidelines in the "Avoiding Getting Inn Trouble" article on this site state that spending a little more to upgrade a room often is worth the additional expense. This definitely is so regarding the HGI. Either way, you can count on a very clean room, a comfy bed, and perfect WiFi. The latter even supports a great deal of streaming that may include watching kitten cams on YouTube,
Every room category of room has a refrigerator (but no freezer ) and a microwave. Although the fare at the 24-hour pantry in the lobby includes frozen pizza that tastes just like the delivered variety, shut-ins are encouraged to bring in food from any of the numerous local options. The Hanover Co-op five miles away has a wide variety of reasonably priced prepared foods AND does not lapse memberships even after many years of inactivity. A large cookie from the famous Lou's Bakery in Hanover nicely warms up in the microwave.
More social folks can enjoy the fare that the HGI serves in the lobby in the evening.
The below photos show the bedroom area of every king room and the sitting area in a premium room. The sitting area is a particularly good perk for wallflowers such as your not-so-humble reviewer who opt to lounge in the room in the evening after a full day enjoying the local attractions. Easily connecting a personal DVD or Blu-ray player (do not forget an HDMI cable) allows for an evening watching a movie or television program while resting up for another active day. You can do this in the bedroom area, but having the couch is nice,
This upgrade also can avoid tension when travelling as a couple. One person being in bed while the other does his or her thing in the living area both provides a little alone time and prevents annoying each other. This is from the perspective of a guy who typically watches the Disney Channel on trips. The logic is that the tween sitcoms are amusing, and the only ads are promos for Disney fare.
On a larger level, the soundproofing is amazing. I did not hear hallway noise. It is more incredible that you can see the relatively busy secondary highway roughly 1/4 mile away but will not hear ANY traffic noise. Folks concerned about this can request a room on the other side of the building,
Towns For All Seasons
Although the current foliage season is a peak tourism period for the area, you can enjoy yourself year-round. The numerous quaint villages offer folk-art galleries, tasteful gift shops, restaurants featuring farm-to-table fare, etc. Further, the Miracle Mile shopping area of West Lebanon, NH has most of the big box stores and a Gap outlet with good bargains.
One hint is that the local markets sell the same maple treats and syrup as the gift stores but charge roughly 50-percent less. The same is true regarding the Cabot-brand cheese. A related note is that a low-income grad. student can get at least 20 meals from a five-pound block of the very tasty sharp cheddar.
Woodstock, Vermont arguably is the primary town with all of the above. A centerpiece is FH Gillingham and Sons, which maintains an old-timey feel while seemingly going on forever. You can all of the aforementioned Vermont items (as well as tacky souvenirs).
The Yankee Bookshop in Woodstock has a solid variety of tomes; going on a day that the Bernese Mountain dogs are working allows for a fun and raucous play date.
Hanover is a bit larger and offers more variety. Further, the students provide ample people-watching opportunities. You will see everything from the nicest kids in town to herds of arrogant WASPy frat boys who literally plow their way down the street. The latter reminds me of a joke from my college era that states "fraternities, only $20 a friend."
The Dartmouth Bookstore has evolved into a Barnes and Noble that sells textbooks; the two stores that sell Dartmouth clothing and gifts remain locally owned.
The aptly named International DVD and Poster has a wonderful selection of new and used DVDs; the latter can be purchased for 5 for $20 and come with a full guarantee. The variety ranges from art-house rarities to blockbuster hits.
One of the nicer Hanover stores exclusively sells the wide variety of hand-blown glass products, pottery, and other wares of Simon Pearce in nearby Quechee, Vermont. Your not-so-humble reviewer owns (and loves) many of these items.
This recent trip to the Hanover store resulted in purchasing a Christmas present that comes ready to give in a stylish gift box tied with a tasteful white ribbon. Seeing such a box under the tree is not quite as exciting as finding a robin-egg blue one but comes close.
Vermont virgins are encouraged to visit the mill from which Simon Pearce operates; the store there is large and beautiful, and the casual chic restaurant offers very tasty fare. You additionally can watch the artisans at work.
Hanover offers several dining options; a local secret is eating at the cafeteria that Dartmouth operates at the Hopkins Center for the Arts, which allows anyone to attend the numerous art-house films and live performances there. The food is as good as any lunch place in town and is less expensive; further, you have the option of an adequately comfortable table for four. The cool kids have lunch or dinner at this eatery before attending a performance.
There also is the Nugget Theater, which offers an alternative to cineplexes in fare and style. However, some blockbusters find their way onto the screens of this art house,
Beyond this, you have the standard kitchen and gift shops of any small and/or college town.
Having It All
This discussion of the HGI and the surrounding area nicely shows that you can have a trip that meets every need and reasonable desire. You will be comfortable and have most luxuries of a chain hotel while still feeling as if you are staying in at a boutique property.
Further, the area provides every opportunity from literally getting lost in the woods to hunting for rollback bargains at WalMart and buying a $230 hand-blown glass pumpkin; sorry, Simon Pearce does not sell glass slippers.
The bigger picture this time is that the locals who can help make or break a trip of this nature so awesomely reflect living in a beautiful and uncrowded area that preaches (and practices) peace, love, and understanding that they greatly enhance coming here.
The best of times element regarding the Warner Archive September 18, 2018 Blu-ray release of the 1981 Michael Crichton scifi thriller "Looker" is that this chance to see this prime example of late '70s and early '80s lurid noir is a real treat. The worst of times element is Archive making rare gaffes in the presentation of the film.
The first odd choice of Archive is not at least offering the option of watching the network broadcast version of "Looker" that includes an eight-minute deleted segment that is a Blu-ray extra. Archive typically provides an alternative version option in these cases, Additionally, this segment includes the always entertaining villain monologue that ill-advisedly reveals the evil scheme to the hero, who invariably escapees in the next scene.
The other arguably bad choice is not providing the option of watching the modern introduction by Crichton. This spoiler-free statement puts "Looker" in good context.
The most cool thing about "Looker" is that it is a film that both perfectly reflects its time in style and content and is ahead of its time in portraying what evolves from the tech. and the marketing of the dawn of the computer era. This is not to mention the element of weaponizing television.
The underlying concept of seeking absolute perfection for fun and profit is as solid as much of the science that pursues it in the film. Additionally, the collateral damage in the form of the deaths that trigger the central events fall within the range of possibility regarding this type of film. The flawed execution in the form of framing plastic surgeon Larry Roberts (Albert Finney) enhances the entertainment at the expense of credibility.
The underlying '70s wealthy husband-and-wife procedural "Hart to Hart" style premise is that three of four gorgeous television commercial models whom Roberts put under the knife die via a car accident or apparent suicide, The other common element is that these "It" girls consult Roberts at the recommendation of the tech. marketing firm Digital Matrix. The similarities continue with the procedures calling for very minor alterations. Having Roberts explain that he agrees to do the surgeries to avoid the girls resorting to quacks establishes him as a good guy.
The third death literally brings police detective Lieutenant Masters to the door of Roberts, This prompts Roberts to simultaneously begin investigating the crimes and to take former patient Cindy (real-life model Susan Dey) under his wing to help her avoid getting her killed in this year's model from Detroit,
The first not necessarily nefarious plot that Roberts discovers is that legitimate businessman John Reston (James Coburn) and Digital Matrix executive Jennifer Long (Leigh Taylor-Young) are teaming up to create the perfect spokesmodel to appear in commercials. The realized futuristic element is this including CGI.
The really goofy part enters the picture (pun intended) as Roberts learns of the progress of Reston and Long regarding using television to get the EXACT desired response from viewers. The social commentary includes reaching a point of essentially turning sofa spuds into zombies.
Roberts approaching the truth prompts arming muscle with thoroughly goofy tech, and sending that hired gun after our hero. Of course, Cindy literally is in tow until she almost as inevitably handcuffed to a railing. One spoiler is that she does not break a heel during a chase,
The final battle awesomely incorporates every element of "Looker" and includes plenty of dark-humor laced social commentary. The numerous rude awakenings are one of the best aspects of this film.
The additional prophetic element is making television a critical element of presidential elections. This shows that Crichton gets it right regarding how far we come even after the flop sweat of Nixon is a large factor in the 1960 presidential election and Bill Clinton profits from playing the saxophone on "Arsenio Hall" in 1992.
The bigger picture is that this good blending of elements achieves the scifi ideal of good creativity and a morality tale,
Over analyzing the Warner Archive separate September 4, 2018 DVD and Blu-ray releases of the first season of the CBS sitcom "Young Sheldon" is consistent with the premise of this amusing program. The titular boy genius is the nine-year-old incarnation of pop culture god DR. Sheldon Cooper ("Young" producer Jim Parsons) of the companion CBS sitcom "The Big Bang Theory." "Theory" is commencing its 12th and final season as "Young" enters what one hopes is not a sophomore slump that sophomoric humor characterizes.
Like his 40-year-old version, "baby" Sheldon (Iain Armitage) is a brilliant outcast who is much more project than people oriented. Unlike "Theory" in which adult Sheldon has the support of a group of like-minded (and somewhat similarly attuned) friends, "Young" focuses on the related themes of odd boy out Sheldon and his overall average family often struggling with achieving mutual peace, love, and understanding. His mother trying to get this younger son to work and play well with others provides additional fodder for "sits" that create "com." A second-season episode of "Theory" that reflects a common element of both series (and sets the stage for the S10 season-finale cliffhanger) has adult Sheldon compare the intellect of graduate students to that of labradoodles.
In this regard, the dynamic of "Theory" and "Young" is somewhat akin to the relationship between the companion CBS '60scoms "The Beverly Hillbillies" and "Green Acres." The analogy continues with the evolution of the modern series,
Just as the redneck Clampetts slowly adjust to life in Beverly Hills and transplanted (pun intended) white-shoes attorney Oliver Wendell Douglas comes to better understand and accept his hick neighbors in "Acres," young Sheldon starts learning how to better interact with his older high school classmates and adult Sheldon increasingly understands the value of illogical social conventions that include giving a friend a birthday gift in exchange for receiving an item of equal value from that person.
The following YouTube clip of the CBS extended promo. for "Young" offers a good primer on the characters and the themes of the program. It also demonstrates that the range of series creator Chuck Lorre extends beyond the crude shock-value humor of "Two and a Half Men" and "Mom" that is kinder and gentler in "Theory."
The bigger picture begins with "Young" reflecting the wisdom of a real-life boy genius. Alan Spencer is a teen when he creates the HILARIOUS ABC '80s com "Sledgehammer," which is a parody of the "Dirty Harry" films about a violent rogue cop. "Sledeghammer" helps pave the way for "Young" to have neither a live (as opposed to dead) studio audience nor a laugh track. The reasoning of Spencer regarding not using canned laughter is that viewers are smarter than labradoodles in that humans have the necessary intellect to know when something is funny without the producers making it obvious.
The broader perspective is that "Young" more closely represents the nuclear (pun intended) families around which many traditional '50scom revolve than "The Simpsons," which satirizes that dynamic. This is nice in an era in which broadcast and cable networks largely reject "TV Land" style shows. Placing the Cooper clan in the not-so-enlightened region of East Texas in the Bible Belt contributes additional humor that traditional sitcoms literally or figurative set in the everytown of Springfield lack. On a related note, "Young" explains why adult (and boy) Sheldon lacks a Texas accent.
"Young" dad George Sr. (Lance Barber) is a brighter Homer but still no theoretical physicist. This high school football coach can relate to elder son "Georgie," who is a smarter and more athletic Bart but far from a Rhodes scholar.
Like many reel and real father, George loves the son regarding whom he struggles to relate. In this case, it is because Sheldon is much smarter and does not share any of the interests of his father. The broader perspective encompasses a father who is prejudiced against gay men struggling with his thoughts on learning that his boy likes other boys.
Sheldon twin sister Missy reflects the young girl side of Lisa while Sheldon represents the advanced intellect of that bright girl. The sassy nature of Missy contributes to the traditional sitcom vibe of "Young." She also is an element of an odd (and arguably creepy) aspect of the series, Although the pilot explicitly states that the testicles of Sheldon are undescended, it seems more apt to have Sheldon and Georgie share a room than have the former and his sister bunk together.
Mother Mary aptly is the Marge of "Young." The analogy extends beyond Mary being religious up to a point and getting married after George knocks her up in high school. Her labors of love include being the glue that tries to keep her actual kids and childish husband happy and compatible.
A cool casting note is that Mary portrayor Zoe Perry is the real-life daughter of "Roseanne" and "The Conners" actress Laurie Metcalf, who plays older (and seemingly more religious) Mary on "Theory." The history of this mother-daughter dynamic continues with Perry playing a younger version of the Metcalf character Jackie on flashbacks during the original broadcast run of "Roseanne."
Like this fan favorite from the '70s, Cooper family grandmother Meemaw (a.k.a. Connie Tucker) clearly is the Fonzie of the series. This analogy continues with the dating life of this senior citizen being age-adjusted equivalent to that of that mechanic/diner owner/high school teacher/fixer. This character being the zany oddball neighbor makes perfect use of the quirky talents of Annie Potts, who is best known for the original "Ghostbusters" film franchise and the CBS '80scom "Designing Women." The final note in this regard is that Meemaw being oft mentioned in "Theory" but only appearing once makes her a sitcom staple, ala Jenny Piccolo in early seasons of "Happy Days."
This aforementioned lengthy discussion of the concept of "Young" and how it reflects television history precludes discussing the dimwitted "Nelson" and the nerdy "Millhouse" who provide the stereotype of weird sidekick as proudly as Skippy Handleman of the classic '80scom "Family Ties," We also have very limited room to discuss the episodes themselves.
"Young" being a consistently amusing series that typically has at least one hilarious moment per episode puts it ahead of most modern broadcast and cable sitcoms. Further, the stories and the action seem credible.
This is not to mention Lorre et al. deserving credit for including elements of the 1989 time frame without either being satirical or unduly bashing the viewer over the head regarding this element. The bigger picture this time is that setting the series in the past reflects the wisdom of "Days" creator Garry Marshall that setting a '70scom in the '50s and the '60s precludes having that show ever look dated.
The arguably best "Young" episode has Meemaw gleefully tormenting George regarding not sharing her recipe for what apparently is the best ever brisket. Watching her mercilessly dangle this secret in front of him and making him literally and figuratively go to great lengths pursuing this knowledge provides numerous hilarious moments. This resulting in serious family conflict brings in a disturbingly dark note, but the clever comeuppance in the resolution is very true to the series and awesomely satisfying.
Meemaw further is featured in INARGUABLY the MOST hilarious S1 moment. Sheldon and Missy being left home alone aptly leads to setting up booby traps, Meemaw getting caught in one is priceless for reasons that include seeing the reaction of Potts. The extra analysis this time begins with the classic rule that watching someone get seriously hurt in a comical situation delights the viewer. The bonus observation is that this reflects the philosophy of comedy legend Carol Burnett.
Burnett repeatedly notes in discussions of her CBS variety series that the humor of the show holds up because it reflects concepts that are funny in any era As aspect of this in "Young" is not having episodes that revolve around plots such as Georgie emulating MC Hammer or Sheldon commenting that he is much more qualified than Dan Quayle to be vice-president.
The biggest picture of all is that "Young" is one of the few modern sitcoms that the entire family can watch and enjoy together. Kids may consider it cool that Mom and Dad (or Mom and Mom or Dad and Dad) remember "Theory" premiering. Additionally, the minimal adult content is as family friendly as the numerous references to the "dating" life of Fonzie, not to mention the expression "sit on it" having the EXACT same meaning as go fuck yourself.
The delightful bonus feature "Young Sheldon: An Origin Story" has Lorre and Parsons discuss how a real-life science fair inspires the series. We also hear from the cast regarding their relationship with the characters. This shows that that seemingly illogically named Texan Montana Jordan IS Georgie.
Speaking of Jordan, this teen largely sits and rolls his eyes in the "Sibling Revelry" bonus. It has Jordan, Armitage and Missy portrayor Raegan Revord discuss their roles and their relationships with each other. The biggest treat is seeing Armitage drop his rigid facade and act like a typical kid; Jordan making Armitage seem like a labradoodle is a highlight.
'Scarlet Diva' Blu-ray: 2000 Autobiopic of Bourdain Girlfriend Asia Argento Includes Attempted Rape by Harvey Weinstein
The Film Movement Classics division of global cinema god Film Movement releasing the 2000 Italian autobiopic "Scarlet Diva" on Blu-ray on September 25, 2018 proves that movies with a strong message never get stale. This film by writer/director/producer/daughter of famed horror director Dario Argento/girlfriend of late celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain Asia Argento aptly is right on the money regarding both the experience of women in the film industry and victims of Harvey Weinstein. The Blu-ray by Movement awesomely captures the bright lights, big city, and surreal aspects of this at times gritty masterwork.
This very meta movie has Argento playing highly sexed rising young actress Anna Battista. Anna both wants to expand her work to behind the camera and dislikes the exploitation of women in film that she considers to especially prevalent in her native land.
The opening scenes perfectly set the tone of "Diva;" Anna literally is getting royally fucked in her trailer on a movie set when a prod. ass. comes a knockin' despite that van a rockin'. The shock value of the film continues as the interruptus of the coitus prompts a frustrated Anna to try to hastily take things in her own hands.
This effort to finish herself off prompts the first of a few flashbacks to the childhood of Anna. In this case, it revolves around her mother essentially catching Anna with her hand in the cookie jar. We get additionally scenes of the disturbingly close relationship between Anna and her older brother. Freud literally enters the picture in the form of the real-life mother of Argento portraying her screen mama as a version of Asia.
The aforementioned Weinstein scene is upsetting independent of the well-publicized despicable acts of that lowlife. The two converge in the form of the depicted interaction in 2000 being very close to the reported tactics of Weinstein. It is equally fascinating that producer Barry Paar portrayor Joe Coleman (who videotapes an interview for the Classics release) looks and acts very much like Weinstein. Although this scene alone fully illustrates the spirit of the #MeToo Movement, Paar aggressively and shamefully trying for a second round on seeing Anna a few months after their first encounter truly drives home the point.
We also get "absolutely fabulous" interaction between Anna and her hard-partying good friend. Our introduction to this Patsy aptly comes when Anna discovers her hogtied naked and deserted for two days by her drug-dealer boyfriend. One spoiler is that it does not seem that any man is positively portrayed in the film; this includes the rock star boyfriend of Anna who leaves her in a bad state.
Even considering the Weinstein element, the brutal honesty is the most striking aspect of "Diva." Few of us who would get the chance to tell our life story on the silver screen would include the time that we did Special K during a photo shoot or our disastrous audition for a film that is destined for the bargain DVD bin at WalMart.
The copious extras extend beyond the twist-ending interview with Coleman. We get a candid 2000 interview with Argento and her 2000 and 2008 audio commentaries, We further get a "Making-of" feature. An insightful in-depth written essay on Argento and "Diva" rounds out this bounty. There is not doubt that all this will prompt declaring "show me the argento."
The Lionsgate September 25, 2018 S11 V1 DVD release of the History Channel docuseries "Ancient Aliens" amazingly adds more credible evidence to the mountains of proof that "Aliens" uncovers regarding humans (and household pets) not being the only highly sentient beings in our universe and that visitors from other planets (and perhaps Pluto) are among us. The Unreal TV review on the recent MASSIVE S1-10 DVD set discusses the prior seasons of this popular program.
The overall theme of "Aliens" is that there is ample direct and indirect evidence of aliens coming here and helping us at least since King Tut was born in Arizona and moved to Babylonia. This extends well beyond sonogram-quality images of fuzzy glowing objects in the sky. The "Aliens" teams present their findings in a manner that makes anyone whose mind is at least ajar wonder about the existence of brothers from other planets. The bigger picture is the validity of the theory that it is unlikely that earth is the only planet on which a perfect storm makes a developed civilization possible.
The first of six episodes in the S11 V1 set is titled "UFO Conspiracy;" it opens with dramatic POV footage from a fighter jet. The small blurry object is relatively clear, and we hear the excited utterances of the pilot regarding this odd sight. The focus shifts to the history of the federal government funding investigations into UFOs; one can see the humor of the honesty related to using tax dollars to probe Uranus.
We soon getting a smoking gun in the form of a report on a 2017 New York Times article on the federal Advanced Aviation Threat Identification (AATI) program. Clinton Chief of Staff John Podesta, military brass, and MANY other talking heads discuss AATI,predecessors that go back decades before that program.
The analysis expands in a manner that evokes thoughts of the "Stargate" scifi franchise. That 'verse centers around the titular U.S. Air Force team that explores strange new worlds and that seeks out new life and new civilizations. That group often finds itself allied with or battling a private aerospace firm that helps create space-worthy tech. or utilizes or abuses the tech. of proverbial little green men.
An "Aliens" segment discusses the UFO-oriented work of Bigelow Aerospace. The scope of this coverage includes head honcho Robert Bigelow fully going on the record to assert that UFOS exist.
The second episode speculates about aliens influencing the work of Leonardo Da Vinci. The scope extends beyond the oft-discussed topic of Da Vinci being ahead of his time regarding modern inventions that include the helicopter. We get looks at his paintings from the perspective of an alien influence. This includes one work that speculates about the origin of Christ,
We additionally get a study of the "Last Supper" painting by Da Vinci. Tying this masterpiece into a Spielberg film is great fun.
The self-explanatory title of the third S11 V1 episode is "The Alien Protocols" This one studies the preparedness of the U.S. and the rest of the world for formal first contact. The spoiler is that we are not very prepared.
The other central focus is on close encounters that range from the region of the moon to the side of a rural highway, One of the more compelling tales is that of an Apollo astronaut reporting an odd craft accompanying him on solo lunar orbits.
The titles of the remaining three episodes in this set are almost as self-explanatory as the third. We get "Earth's Black Hole," The Desert Codes," and "Area 52." "Area" most likely expands on the segment on Area 51 in "Protocols."
As mentioned at the beginning of our program, "Aliens" makes a good case for "visitors" interacting with humans. Assuming that the films and other evidence is accurate, the rest of the story is that we simply do not know the truth about aliens and likely will not until a thoroughly independently verified "E.T." goes public.
A not-so-absurd alternate explanation for at least modern encounters is that hush-hush military or private projects literally or figuratively come on the radar or that scientists crack the pesky time-travel problem in the future and come back to check us out. The good news either way is that the tech, and/or help from the stars is a good thing until otherwise proven.
'The Carol Burnett Show 50th Anniversary Special' DVD: Comedy Stars Come Out to Honor Mother of Television Sketch Comedy
One of the most awesome things about the Time Life September 25, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 CBS prime time special (from the original "Burnett" set) "The Carol Burnett Show: 50th Anniversary Special" is that this Stephen Colbert hosted event fare exceeds fairly high expectations. Sofa spuds who are old enough to fully appreciate Burnett by watching the show during its 1967 - 78 run are old enough to recall the cheesy tribute and reunion specials of the era that are little more than clip shows and vanity appearances by has-beens. The Burnett special is notable for learning from history, rather than repeating it.
The following YouTube clip of the Colbert introduction on the special speaks for the aforementioned Baby Boomers and Gen Xers. It also helps Millennnials and Gen Yers a sense of the experience that this DVD and other "Burnett" sets convey.
The Unreal TV review of a Time Life 50th Anniversary compilation of "Burnett" episodes and a post on a Time Life release of lost "Burnett" Christmas episodes provides an additional sense of the literally timeless appeal of Burnettt and her co-stars. This gang consists of the uber-talented Vicki Lawrence, Tim Conway, Harvey Korman, and incredibly good sport Lyle Waggoner. (Lawrence and Waggoner participate in the special.)
A special note regarding Lawrence is that the segment in which she and Burnett discuss the girl power of the show with female comedians such as Amy Poehler and Tracee Ellis Ross includes discussing how a teen Lawrence comes to join the cast. This topic touches on Lawrence going from playing the younger sister of Burnett to portraying her mother. The reviewed Time Life CS DVD of the hilarious '80scom "Mama's Family" shows how that redneck matriarch endures in pop culture.
The lovefest that Carol has with the boys includes arguably the two most endearing moments in the special. Jim Carrey discussing being a 10 year-old applying to join the "Burnett" cast in 1972 virtually literally sets the stage for re-enacting his receipt of a response from Burnett. This leads to a couple of wonderful close encounters.
The interaction between Burnett and Martin Short in this segment arguably best showcases the current sharpness of the former. Short immediately launches into the celebrity insulting persona of his talk show host Jiminy Glick character. Although momentarily phased, Burnett plays along and lets Short run amok.
The poise and sharpness of Burnett evokes loving thoughts of a still gorgeous 80-something Barbara Feldon at a Paley Center panel for her '60scom "Get Smart" several years ago. The boys look their ages and have minor age-related cognitive issues, but Feldon is fully alert and makes a hilarious quip.
Another highlight has the woman of the hour and former "Burnett" show guest Steve Martin sitting in a set that looks like a darkened movie theater. The chemistry between them is so strong that one yearns for a film co-starring them. Additionally, Martin puts the wry version of his humor on full display.
We do get clips, but they do not dominate the special; they do demonstrate the graciousness of Burnett by focusing as much (if not more) on her cast as on her. The finale to the special is equally apt for the series.
The best way to wrap up this discussion of the special is to note Burnett channeling fellow '70s-era CBS star Polly Holliday of the sitcom "Alice." Holliday was know for responding to fan requests to state her catchphrase "kiss mah grits" by saying that the admirer has heard her utter that phrase many times and that Holliday wants to hear the other person do it. The Burnett twist is having her guests imitate her Tarzan yell.
The truly special features includes a booklet with a gracious note by Burnett and a printed selection of the adorations by modern-day comedians. The best filmed extra shows Burnett engaging the studio audience during commercial breaks in the special. We also get unaired video love letters from the aforementioned admirers.
'Exorcist II: The Heretic' star Linda Blair panning this 1977 sequel to the enduring 1973 horror classic "The Exorcist" in a new interview for this fabulous remastered Collector's Edition Blu-ray of "Heretic" from the Scream Factory division of cult film god Shout! Factory justifies following suit. HOWEVER, it is apt that the devil is in the details.. Blair simply neglects to put the John Boorman ("Deliverance") film "Heretic" in proper context.
The Shout! goodness includes separate Blu-ray discs of the original 117-minute film and the 102-minute hone-video version. Watching the longer one is recommended.
Before delving further into giving the devil his due, it is important to alert readers to a limited-time offer. Folks who directly order "Heretic" from Shout! will get a free 18X24 poster that features the Scream artwork for the film. The caveat is that Shout! has a limited number of this posters and cannot guarantee that you will get one.
Returning to our main topic, wisdom of Jon Stewart during his "Daily Show" era includes that film versions of television programs generally fail because the premise of the program is initially deemed to not merit a movie. Similarly, sequels would be the first entry in a franchise if they were as good as the original. Imposing a younger-sibling expectation that the second film will be as outstanding as the older brother or sister further strongly disadvantages a "II" film, "Heretic" is not great but does not warrant the scorn that Blair expresses.
The other bit of context that Blair glosses over is that co-star Richard Burton does his usual spectacular job to an extent that Blair states that she is star-struck in her scenes with him. Having Burton star is "Heretic" is a far cry from Jamie Kennedy taking over for Jim Carrey in "The Son of the Mask" or having William "Herman" Ragsdale step in for Andrew McCarthy in the under-rated "Mannequin" franchise.
The premise of "Heretic" is that Father Philip Lamont (Burton) is on a mission from God to preserve the reputation of Father Merrin (Max von Sydow) regarding the classic epic death of Merrin in "Exorcist." This includes determining the circumstances of that demise and proving that Merrin is not one of the titular blasphemers.
Meanwhile apparently dispossessed teen Regan MacNeil (Blair) is living at a center for troubled children that Dr. Gene Tuskin (Louise Fletcher) operates. The primary objective of that therapy is to free Regan of the demons that still plague her.
Blair rightfully criticizes Boorman for adding a tap-dancing Regan into the film mid-production, but she fails to put another silly aspect of "Heretic" in context. Much of the action stems from tech. of Tuskin that combines hypnosis with a mind meld in that a second person can share the experience of the hypnotized person.
This scene (and subsequent use of the device) reflects the emphasis on "sci" in sci-fi during the dawn of the computer era of the mid-70s. The brave new world equally fascinates and scares the American public during this period,
In this case, Lamont (who is not a big dummy) witnesses the titular rite that is a central element of the first film. He further gets images of Africa that include the POV of a alocust. That sends that soldier of Christ to The Dark Continent in search of Kokumo (James Earl Jones), whom Lamont thinks can help.
Meanwhile. Regan regresses to a point that she is a threat to herself but not others; she simply is experiencing hellish PTSD.
The real fun begins when Regan and Lamont reunite in New York; an irresistible force compels a not-so immovable object in the form of Lamont. The power of Satan compels him to return to the scene of the crime with Regan in tow.
The entertaining ensuing scene seems more like something out of the Leslie Nielsen "Exorcist" spoof "Dispossessed" than a horror film. We get a "Patty Duke Show" moment as demon Pazuzu uses a carrot (rather than a stick) to try to lure Lamont over to the dark side, Part of this mission involves making Regan disheartened. The result is good campy fun.
The not-so-fatal flaw throughout "Heretic" is that it tries too hard to distinguish itself from its older brother; the possession element is less strong, and the music is not nearly as haunting as the timeless soundtrack the first time around. Even a scene at the iconic stairs from "Exorcist" lacks the same impact.
At the risk of seeming like a titular non-believer, "Heretic" provides a good second chapter in the "Exorcist" trilogy but would have succeeded even better (and been better received) if it had been produced as an independent homage.
In addition to the Blair interview, Scream gives us audio commentary by Boorman and project consultant Scott Bosco. We also get an interview with editor Tom Priestly.
The Warner Archive Blu-ray release of the 1969 scifi film "The Illustrated Man" aptly is a time capsule of that film genre from that era. It has the distinctive wonderful earth tones and surreal quality that makes classics such as "The Omega Man" so timeless.
"Man" is the film version of the book of the same name by peerless scifi author Ray Bradbury. This film about body illustrations (do NOT call them tattoos) with minds of their own is based on the novel of the same name by peerless scifi author Ray Bradbury.
"Man" simultaneously sets the scene by having young Depression-era drifter Willie arrive at a pond to bathe and swim while voice-over narration makes a prophetic statement regarding the nature of knowledge. Titular inked-up middle-aged drifter Carl (Rod Steiger) soon shows up with a bloodlust for the femme fatale who put him in this condition.
The aforementioned tale is one of boy gets horny; boy goes on what he hopes is a booty call; boy meets girl; girl grotesquely inks up boy; girl puts out to persuade boy to let her finish the job; boy endures walk-of-shame marked torso to feet with tramp stamps.
The rest of the story follows the format of the anthology horror series "Night Gallery" in that Carl calling the attention of Willie to a particular living illustration on his body leads to a story that it represents. The theme of these tales either is the encounter of Carl with the woman who done him wrong or a futuristic story.
One of the best tales of the future is the Bradbury story "The Long Rain." This has Steiger playing the leader of a space expedition that gets stranded on a distant planet, Rather than fire, the quest is for the sun domes that promise shelter from the storm and longed-for pleasures.
We also get two "Jetsons" style tales of a nuclear family with a husband (Steiger), a wife, and two children. The first installment has the kids in trouble both for using the tech, in a playroom to transport themselves to the African jungle and then lie about it. The lesson for 21st century teen boys is to ALWAYS clear your browser history and delete any incriminating texts and e-mails right before logging off.
The second installment of the "Jetsons" is a bit darker. It is the end of the world as the clan knows it and Dad does not feel fine.
"Man" has an epic ending on a couple of levels. A gap is filled, and the aforementioned prophecy comes true in a wonderfully graphic manner. One moral of this is heeding the wisdom of pop star Rick Springfield and not talk to strangers.
The extra special bonus feature is the short documentary "Tattooed Steiger" that discusses the making of the film in general and the massive inking of the star in particular,
The Warner Archive August 28, 2018 separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of "Lucifer" S3 is part of the recent embarrassment of riches regarding such releases of the most recent seasons of procedurals ahead of the upcoming new seasons. Lukewarm off the presses examples include a review of the Archive BD release of "Riverdale" S2 and a post on this week's Warner Prime BD release of "Supergirl" S3.
In the case of the Jerry Bruckheimer series "Lucifer," Netflix is resurrecting this Fox cancelled show. A downside of this bonanza is that it requires basing this review on 23 of the 26 S3 episodes. Things really heating up toward the season (and anticipated series) finale is prompting watching the final three during the next several weeks. All signs point to complete reveals and a satisfying climax that is worthy of The Prince of Darkness.
The underlying "Lucifer" premise of the titular literal handsome devil/night club owner (Tom Ellis) teaming with L.A. detective/former T & A actress Chloe Decker (Lauren German) to solve the murder of the week makes the S3 episode "The Angel of San Bernardino" especially awesome. This one is notable for the somewhat similar long-running Fox procedural series "Bones" playing an integral part in solving this "Lucifer" case involving a TFB who is found DOA.
Having a civilian with a unique expertise and a law-enforcement officer of the opposite sex and temperament join forces (and ultimately naughty bits) is an increasingly common basis for shows such as "Bones." Lucifer seeing the similarities between that fiction and his reality leads to an "Angel" solution that demonstares that there are not any coincidences.
The review of the S1 "Lucifer" BD release provides a good primer on this show that has the King of Hell come to Los Angeles for a vacation five years ago and decide to stick around. The series starts with a combination of our hero wanting to punish the guilty and having some form of Hell hound in the race. The post on the S2 BD shows how the lore expands.
S3 opens in the immediate aftermath of the S2 cliffhanger that finds Lucifer half-naked, alone, and as afraid as the devil can get. The means by which he execrates himself from his immediate predicament sets the stage for the S3 theme of old foes, friends, and characters with elements of both reappearing in the lives of our main ensemble. Another throwback element is an episode that shows the early days of Lucifer on earth and proves that when he met Decker it was murder.
The element of unwanted seeming divine intervention adds fuel to the hellfire in the form of the daddy issues that Lucifer has with God.
S3E1 also marks (hilarious pun for those familiar with these episodes) the addition of "Smallville" Clark Kent Tom Welling to the cast. He plays tough new police lieutenant Marcus Pierce, Although Welling portrays Pierce well, a mid-season reveal regarding Pierce suggests that "Lois and Clark" Clark Kent Dean Cain may have been a better choice.
The first few S3 episodes revolve around the hunt for the Sinnerman, who is a person of interest regarding a mission from God. This introduces a villain who gives truly bedevils our hero.
Lucifer being an especially tortured soul during S3 provides entertaining irony. He struggles with showing his father essentially that he is not Little Nicky and will not eat his vegetables if he does not want to do so. He also has special and undisclosed reasons for objecting to Pierce and Decker dating.
The efforts of Lucifer to impose his version of what is right on what he considers wrong drives his involvement in several S3 cases. A prime example of this is his frustrating inability to find an effective solution for a problem has him investigating the murder of the author of a successful YA book series so that he can learn the approach of the deceased to writer's block. Another case has him unsuccessfully presenting a facade of focusing on the needs of Decker for an allegedly altruistic purpose.
A very clever standout S3 episode has a star newspaper reporter/ex-husband of group confidante therapist Linda Martin pursue a vendetta against Lucifer. The narrative technique and awesomely unexpected surprise ending earn this one its 9.4 rating on IMDb.
The prime time broadcast network version of edge (and the related elan of Ellis regarding his devilish role) is what makes "Lucifer" must-see TV. A hilarious sequence begins with Lucifer misinterpreting the purpose of the swear jar of the young daughter of Decker and ends with his showing the girl a loophole. Another episode has a demonic influence responsible for the elderly teacher of the daughter unwittingly eating pot brownies. This is on top of roughly one-half of the cast gleefully running with the Satanic concept of the series.
"Lucifer" does equally well skewering the absurd L.A. lifestyle. Plot points include a company that kidnaps a "victim" for fun and profit, another business that allows hiring failed actors to play the real-life role of a friend or a family member, and a dating app. that only allows beautiful people to join. On a related note, the bright lights and the big city look fabulous in Blu-ray.
The special features include the Comic-Con panel that Archive faithfully provides in every set of a show that participates in such events. There also is a "Tom and Tom" extra with Ellis and Welling, a Gag Reel, and deleted scenes.
Owning "Lucifer" S3 on Blu-ray may not be your deepest desire but does merit a place on the Top 100 list of such wants.
The Warner Archive August 28, 2018 Blu-ray release of the star-studded 1958 Technicolor drama "The Naked and the Dead" proves that war pictures are far more than stories about groups of men shooting each other in the same manner that quality film and television westerns demonstrate that that genre extends beyond stereotypical action that includes saloon fights and cattle stampedes. "Naked" is based on a Norman Mailer novel that examines how an armed conflict can prompt a war of wills with intense collateral damage.
The first note is that seeing a scene that highlights the beauty of Hawaii and another moment in which a grenade creates a large fireball eliminates any doubt regarding whether buying "Naked" in Blu-ray makes sense and as to the skill of Archive regarding restoring films.
The second note is that this cast that includes Aldo Rey, Cliff Robertson, and Raymond Massey also has the lesser-known Jerry Paris, Paris is best known as the director of the classic sitcoms "The Dick Van Dyke Show" and "Happy Days;" he also plays neighbor Jerry Helper on "Van Dyke." All of this is a far cry from Helper playing Jewish WWII foor-soldier Goldstein in "Naked."
"Naked" opens with the dogfaces enjoying risque entertainment at a Hawaiian den of ill repute. Hillbilly enlisted man/moonshine distiller Woodrow "Woody" Wilson is the life of the party due to his enthusiastic (and requited) love for star "exotic dancer" Lily. The hilariously rude, crude, and socially unacceptable behavior of Sgt. Sam Croft (Rey) clearly establishes that he not only is not one of the boys but does not work or play well with others. We do later learn why he is so bitter and believes that dames ain't nothin' but trouble,
The party winds down as our excitable boys board a ship for a Japanese-occupied island. Their journey provides the exposition that establishes the characters. This essentially is the cross-section of young American men of that era.
The real drama begins on the group capturing a Japanese soldier on the island. The horrific manner in which Croft treats that POW and his brothers-in-arms justifies giving him the same treatment. However, his men remain loyal.
Much further up the food chain, commanding officer General Cummings (Massey) is practicing his related philosophies of flaunting his power/privilege and making the enlisted men fear him more than they fear the enemy. His reasoning is that this will cause the soldiers to fight harder.
Lt. Robert Hearn (Robertson) first gets caught up in all this on getting the outwardly desirable assignment of being the aide to Cummings. The perks include some prestige and luxuries. The costs include an expectation that he will be completely loyal to Cummings and not challenge any of his decisions or way of thinking.
An aside is that messing with guys such as Cummings whom the military perfectly brainwashes can be great fun. A highlight of conducting computer training for Air National Guard soldiers was responding to a joking threat by recent OTC graduate that I might have been scared if he was a Marine. He immediately jumped up, and the guys on either side of him almost as quickly stood up ready to grab him. We all were laughing a second later,
The inevitable absurd showdown between Hearn and Cummings PERFECTLY illustrates the military mindset and literally put Hearn on the front line with Team Croft. An exchange in which one soldier comments that the Army should have promoted Croft if it wanted his platoon to have a lieutenant is just as insightful. A comment in the film that the winning side in a war is the one that kills the most people echoes an oft-stated perspective of your not-so-humble reviewer.
Hearn leads the group on a scouting mission that is intended to end a Japanese standoff; as predicted, the threat level escalates both regarding the mission and the differing styles of Croft and Hearn. One gist regarding this conflict is that Croft agrees with Cummings that a certain number of deaths are acceptable and that some risks are worth the probability of some of his men getting killed.
The truly bittersweet outcome of that mission also reflects the flaws of military thinking. Achieving what arguably can be considered a success reinforces what most people deem to be a reckless risk. Hearn essentially gets the last word and is the true voice of reason; of course, no one listens to him.
The outward value of "Naked" is the seemingly overall realistic depiction of an experience that is foreign to most of us. At the very least, this is not a John Wayne War Hero film.
Digging a little deeper., many of us have worked for someone like Cummings. This is the manager who has an employee get him or her coffee just to show that person who's the boss. On a literally and figuratively higher level, the man or woman in the corner offices generously doles out lavish executive perks while not issuing even COLA raises. Another aspect of this is laying off people to improve profitability and then being lauded as a corporate savior.
The bottom line is that "Naked" provides an insightful that remains relevant 60 years after its release. An added thought is that it will evoke thoughts of the classic film and television series "M.A.S.H."
'An American Murder Mystery' DVD: Documentary Series on Cases Ranging From Natalie Wood to Casey Anthony
National Enquirer executive editor Dylan Howard being both a producer and a host regarding the current Investigation Discovery series "An American Murder Mystery" is very apt for this equally entertaining and educational guilty pleasure. The September 18, 2018 3-disc DVD release "An American Murder Mystery Collection" provides a good chance to relish seven especially intriguing cases that that tabloid television series analyzes. These one-time national obsessions include the Natalie Wood, Scoot Peterson, and Chandra Levy cases.
These offerings combine archival footage, talking heads that include investigators and prosecutors from the cases, interviews with ordinary folks with a relevant tale, and reenactments of key events. In at least one case, we also get a sit-down one-on-one with a prime suspect.
"Collection" begins with a three-episode study of the Casey Anthony case; the synopsis of this one is that Floridian Casey is the early 20-something mother of illegitimate daughter Caylee. The drama begins with Casey telling parents George and Cindy with whom Casey and Caylee live that she has not seen her daughter for a month. In a variation of stating that the butler did it, Casey asserts that a nanny is the culprit.
The resulting wild goose chase gets the goat of the po po and puts them on the right track in ways such as poking a sieve worth of holes in virtually every aspect of the story of Casey. The concurrent search leads both to discovering the body of Caylee and to literally putrid evidence regarding the storage of the corpse in the interim between the killing and finding Caylee.
The soap opera continues with Casey being arrested for the murder and with her trial for the offense, The clear theme is that there is a difference between the law and justice. Under the law, the weakness of direct evidence hinders prosecuting Casey. A related issue is the fact that the legal system does not require that Casey prove that she is innocent; the prosecutor must prove that she is guilty,
The tabloid aspect includes outrageous claims by Casey; one of the most memorable ones is her attorney graphically describing a teen-age Casey attending school as if nothing is amiss after being molested the night before. We also hear an absurd theory regarding the circumstances of the death of Caylee. More guilty pleasure relates to reports regarding the manner in which Anthony compensates her attorney. A clue is that he does not get "gas" or "grass" for his services.
Refraining from stating the outcome of the trial and the public response to that verdict is for the benefit of folks who are unfamiliar with the case.
The similar JonBenet Ramsey case from a decade before the Anthony murder gets a comparable three-episode arc. The elements that make this mid-90s spectacle noteworthy include it occurring relatively early in our current era of 24-hour cable news networks that must find enough material to keep people watching for hours. It further shines a spotlight on the creepy world of beauty pageants for young girls.
The tabloid-worthy elements begin with former Miss West Virginia/current trophy wife Patsy Ramsey coming downstairs in her luxurious home the day after Christmas to find an oddly lengthy three-page ransom note. The ensuing investigation leads to Jon Benet father/Patsy husband John Ramsey finding the body of the little girl in the basement of the house.
This one is a tabloid production dream; we get a mother vicariously living through her young daughter having credible circumstantial evidence against her. We also have a pedophile Santa and other creepy men with despicable thoughts toward young girls, and a complete freak who claims to be an eye witness to the death. This odd-looking man who currently does not have any balls is the person-of-interest who grants "Murder" an interview.
Just as a major theme in the "Murder" coverage of Casey Anthony is the lack of direct evidence, a primary aspect of the episodes on JonBenet is literally sloppy police work. The first cops to respond to the report of the kidnapping neglect to preserve the crime scene. Another surprising early bungle is to meet the demand of Patsy and John Ramsey that they be interviewed together. Sadly, that is not the extent of that part of the story.
The concept of the national obsession cases and the manner in which the Anthony and Ramsey cases are presented strongly suggest that the other five stories in "Collection" receive similar treatment. The "ingredients" are well-known facts, new revelations, professional insights, and speculation. All of these are particularly suitable for the included story of missing intern Chandra Levy who ultimately is found dead in a D.C. park.
Including ALL FOUR episodes of the EPIC "Crisis on Earth-X" crossover of the CW Arrowverse series is the most notable of countless highlights regarding the Warner Brothers Home Entertainment (WBHE) September 18, 2018 separate DVD and Blu-ray releases of "Supergirl" S3. A former castaway on a tropic island nest tells us that the next crossover will center around Batwoman and Gotham City ahead of Greg Berlanti and his soccer stud spouse Robbie Rogers giving her a series.
Watching ALL 26 episodes this past weekend to prepare for this review proves that "Supergirl" is marathon (rather than binge) worthy. These well produced tales looking vibrant and crystal clear and sounding just as good in Blu-ray (and comparing them with DVD versions of S1 episodes) proves that shelling out the extra $5 to get it in that format is well worth it.
The bigger picture is that buying an S3 set provides a chance to get caught up before the October 14, 2018 S4 premiere of this series starring 2017 Teen Choice TV Actress: Action winner Melissa Benoist ("Glee").
The following statement by a WB suit nicely conveys the "Supergirl" spirit. WBHE Senior Vice-President of Television Marketing Rosemary Markson notes that "the series incorporates diversity, fairness and empowerment, and our fearless female Super Hero is a perfect role model in today's time. Primetime examples of some of these elements in S3 are a kick-ass engaged lesbian couple. an openly gay superhero (and his "reformed" supervillain boyfriend), a black James "Jimmy" Olsen, a black man/brother from another planet director of the Department of Extranormal Operations (DEO), and two high-powered female executives who clearly show the boys that this is not their first rodeo and that they had better not fuck with them, etc.
Bringing "Carrie" star and '70s TV mom/CONCURRENT 2010s star of stage, screen, and television Betty Buckley on as a tough but loving mother (whose best scene ends up on the cutting room floor) further reflects the strong spirit of empowerment in "Supergirl."
Doing the S3 release justice (pun intended) is beyond the scope of a single online review. The combination of independent lore, connections with the DCU in general and Superman specifically, and the action-packed events is of a grand scale. This article will touch on each point and highly recommends folks whom this overviews entice to learn more by buying the Blu-rays.
S1E1 establishes the girl power aspect of "Supergirl" right from the start. 20-something Kara Danvers (nee Kara Zor-El) explains that her parents spend the final moments before their home world of Krypton goes boom blasting tween Kara off in an earth-bound pod. Her mission is to protect and guide her baby cousin Clark Kent (nee Kal-El) on this planet far from Krypton. Things quickly going awry for Kara literally changes everything and helps set the stage for the primary S1 action.
The beginning of S3 finds Kara nursing a broken heart of her own making. Adopted sister/DEO colleague Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh of "Grey's Anatomy") is doing a little better in the romance department in that she is planning her wedding with fiancee Maggie. The boys also are doing well, Former Catco tech. guy/current Kara close friend/boy with a dark past Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan of "Smash") is a full-fledged DEO agent/lab nerd. Former sidekick/current corporate ladder climber Olsen (Mehcad Brooks of "Desperate Housewives") is a full-fledged superhero in his own right and only starts sleeping with boss Lena Luthor after scoring a corner office.
The S3 season premiere awesomely hearkens back to the pilot. The current threat to National City where Team Kara resides requires that the girl with something extra wrangle a submarine ala her bringing a plummeting jet under control in her first outing as Supergirl. (A later episode reveals potential global annihilation stemming from that first heroic act.) This S3 salvo also prompts a literal awakening that is a blessing and a curse for our heroine.
The "Midvale" episode is a fanboy dream that provides a break from the season-long worldkillers story arc that is central to the aforementioned pending apocalypse at the hands of Pestilence, Purity, and Reign. The title of this offering refers to a heartbreak prompting the Danvers sisters to visit mom Eliza Danvers (Helen Slater of the '84 "Supergirl" film). A alcohol-influenced spar prompts Alex and Kara to go to bed angry, which sets the stage for a tale set in the high school days of those then rival siblings. One spoiler is that this flashback is directly relevant in a future episode,
The fanboy element enters the picture in the form of the CW Superman coming-of-age series "Smallville." The most direct homage is having "Smallville" Lois Lane actress Erica Durance (who also takes over the role of birth mother Alura Zo-El on "Supergirl") makes a cameo appearance. Further, the same building from exterior shots of Smallville High provides the facade for the high school of our girls. Additional goodness comes in the form of Cousin Clark friend Chloe of "The Wall of Weird" fame helping the sisters The true valentine is in the form of following the "no flights, no tights" policy of the earlier series.
Kara also is the at the true heart of the aforementioned epic crossover. The stated premise of this television event is that the wedding of Barry "The Flash" Allen and Iris West is bringing Kara and her "plus one," Team Queen from "The Arrow," and some of "The Legends of Tomorrow" to Central City for a joyous event turned Moldavian Massacre. Team Berlanti staging numerous battles in which many of the best DCU residents face off against super-powered alien Nazi doppelgangers gives the fanboys what they want, The interaction among this seeming cast of 1,000s is equally special. A request to the good folks at WBHE is to please offer the aforementioned "Batwoman" crossover as a seamless movie format in the next round of Arrowverse releases.
All of the above provides a sense of the futility of giving "Supergirl" its due. An effort to keep this post to manageable length requires skipping ahead to discussing the S3 season finale. This one successfully juggles a multi-front battle against the worldkillers and wrapping up the season-long story involving The Legion of Super Heroes who travel from the past and the future to help team Kara. It also sets up the premise for the planned "Legion" CW series, makes changes that set the stage for "Supergirl" S4, and provides a cliffhanger that may require outfitting Benoist with a goatee. This is not to mention an awesome nod to the Christopher Reeve '78 "Superman" film.
The special features extend WELL beyond copious deleted scenes that will make fanboys weep regarding their exclusions. We also get a gag reel and a features on the crossover and on the wonderfully conflicted worldkiller Reign.
The bonus highlight is a full hour of clips from 2017 Comic-Con panels for the Arrowverse series. The elan and love of cast and crew alike both validates that all love his or her role and shows how they can make plots such as the aforementioned Super Nazis and a rampaging super landshark seem plausible. PLEASE keep it up Gregbie and company; we need this "unreal" entertainment in these highly toxic times.
The Lionsgate September 18 2018 DVD release of the second season of the CBS 2016 reboot of the classic ABC '80s action-adventure series "MacGyver" allows catching up with the adventures of the titular resourceful do-gooder covert operative ahead of the September 28 2018 S3 season premiere. The Unreal TV review of the Lionsgate DVD release of S1 of this series provides s good sense of the lore.
The literal opening gambit finds late-20s blond stud/quick-thinking brainiac Angus MacGyver (Lucas Till of the "X-Men" film franchise) and older brother figure/muscle/bodyguard Jack Dalton (George Eads of "CSI") in bright sunny Cuba. A hot pursuit requires "Mac" to literally think on his feet even more quickly and frequently than usual in this fast-paced series. A fun bonus feature about this segment points out the the Cuban people are MacGyver in that limited and outdated resources require that ingenuity regarding enjoying modern conveniences that include functional vehicles.
Things quickly move to the primary mission of the episode, which is rescuing a Navy Seal being held captive in the Mid-East. This outing also introduces sexy interrogation expert Samantha Cage. He mad skills include both creative (and not always pleasant) ways of getting you to talk. She further can tell when you are lying ala Dr. Cal Lightman of the 2009-11 procedural "Lie to Me."
Fan favorite from the original and the reboot madman Murdoc shows up a couple of times and does not disappoint; the first one finds him getting the drop on "Mac" and providing a good twist at the end. His return is a fanboy dream in the form of having real-life rocker/original Murdoc portrayor Michael Des Barres appear in a key role. Another episode has Eads coming face-to-face with original Jack Dalton portrayor Bruce McGill. One can only hope that Mrs. Superman/"Supergirl" villain/Desperate Housewife/original Penny Parker on "MacGyver" Teri Hatcher shows up in S3.
The modern incarnation of the Colton family of bounty hunters come in the form of their quest for "commerce" competing with the desire of Team MacGyver for "art" in the form of preventing a tech. expert from unleashing an especially lethal computer virus. The hilariously incompetent dirtbag is a nice bonus.
The two holiday episodes provide great "MacGyver" fun. The gang spends the Halloween season tracking both a modern Ninja and her captives on a deserted island in the Bermuda Triangle. A "very special" Christmas episode revolves around trying to spring "Mac" from jail after his arrest for alleged fallout from one of his desperate measures. Although not a holiday outing, an episode involving Area 51 and possible alien tech. is another occasion on which the writers give the fans a valentine.
A season-long story arc has "Mac" searching for his father; related bases for intrigue are the clever clues that MacGyver senior leaves for his son and the figurative smoking gun that Phoenix Foundation director/Macyver handler Matty Webber (Meredith Eaton of "Boston Legal") knows the score but ain't talkin'. All this comes to a head in the cliffhnaging S2 season finale.
Best buddy/roomie/disguise expert/rookie operative/comic relief Wilt Bozer literally gets sent to school in S2. He spends several weeks in a training program that massively tests his endurance. The fun regarding this arc is a spy who loved me element.
These episodes fully embrace the "Miami Vice," "The Rockford Files, "Knight Rider," etc vibe of "unreal" escapist Friday night fare that dates back at least to the '70s. Watching attractive guys who only do the wrong thing for the right reason is tailor-made for the end of a grueling work week. "MacGyver" keeping that spirit alive AND providing new adventures of a hero who proves that one man's trash is another man's world-saving device is a true public service.
The DVD extras extend well beyond the segment on Cuba. We get two seasons worth of demonstrates on how to MacGyver devices; this one comes with a "don't try this at home" warning. We also get a look at the speciel effects, a gag reel, and deleted scenes.
The indie thriller "Diane," which premiered at the Arena Cinelounge in Los Angeles on September 7 and hits cable and VOD on September 17 puts several new twists on psychological dramas. The overall theme is that new angst in the life of one with a traumatic past can be the straw that breaks the back of the camel.
Central character Steve, who is the subject of the study in the film, is an Afghanistan veteran with physical and psychological scars from that war, The daily existence of this literal and figurative walking wounded man quirky involves performing engine repairs in his garage and regularly visiting local merchants. Beyond that, he mostly keeps to himself in his inherited house.
Steve seeing the corpse of a woman on looking out his bedroom window one morning changes everything. The po po arriving leads to Steve learning that his trespasser is the titular local singer. Hard-nosed Detective Bernard quickly determining that Steve is a person-of-interest, and the local media giving the story prominent coverage begins the Kafka-lite journey for this former soldier.
The concurrent trials of Steve consist of becoming obsessed with his uninvited guest and having Bernard dog him. An aspect of the latter is denying the request of Steve for an attorney at the police station during an intense grilling. The asserted basis for the denial is that the session only is a questioning of a witness. The correct answer is that any interrogation in which someone feels that he or she does not have the option of walking away triggers the right to legal counsel.
Steve also must deal with unstable neighbors and "tourists" both trespassing and creating mayhem. This is not to mention the recent widower of Diane coming knocking with his own agenda. These intrusions lead to fairly obsessive home surveillance.
Meanwhile, Diane increasingly haunts Steve to the point of becoming a full-on tormentor. The awesomely unexpected payoff that writer/director Michael Mongillo provides is a highlight. Diane has a valid gripe with our boy; there merely is more to the story than the surface role of Steve regarding this chanteuse becoming compost.
The overall understated tone of "Diane" is a primary reason that the film succeeds; having our main character being among the 1,000s who return from modern combat heavily damaged adds another good layer. The "it could happen to you" aspect is a further bonus.
The ultimate conclusion regarding an analysis of "Diane" is that it is worth seeing in the theater if only to support indie film. For everyone else, this flick more than stands up against competing fare.
'The Toybox' Theatrical/Blu-ray/DVD: Mischa Barton Haunted Winnebago Screams 'Welcome to the RV, Bitch'
The joint Skyline Entertainment and Steel House Productions supernatural thriller "The Toybox" jointly proves that there is life left in old-school style horror films and that dilapidated Winnebagos never die, they just lure in new victims. Fans of this genre and/ or Mischa Barton of the Fox teensoap "The OC" and/or former Mrs. Charlie Sheen/current real housewife Denise Richards can check out the film in theaters starting September 14, 2018 and home-video retailers the following Tuesday.
This aptly campy story about an RV with an evil mind of its own opens with it luring in its first victim the night before the road trip around which the movie is centered. Suffice it to say both that one boy was absent on the day of the "stranger danger" assembly and that his story will be an enduring urban legend.
The fun begins the next morning when widowed dad Charles shows that he is in charge by having elder "good" son Steve and younger "bad" son Jay accompany him on a family vacation in the titular "vintage" vehicle. Richards plays Steve's spouse Jennifer, who is along for the ride,
"ToyBox" follows the rules by having the suspense slowly build. The weirdness begins with the windows acting oddly and things going pure old-school by having the radio dial move on its own. Young daughter Olivia learning the importance of keeping her hands in the vehicle at all times is the first escalation.
Charles stopping to play good Samaritan on discovering a disabled vehicle brings Mark and his sister Sam (Barton) into the mix. This leads to Charles fairly literally proving that the road to Hell is paved with good intentions when he offers Mar and Sam a ride to the next town.
The driving force behind the movie takes our travelers down the aforementioned path by jacking their ride and stranding them in the desert. This leads to the real fun.
Anyone who has ever seen a horror movie aptly can see much of what ensues from a mile away. One can understand a moderate amount of carelessness regarding sticking a hand in the engine of the central carnivore despite it not running at that time. Others putting themselves in the path of danger after that event is less believable (but makes for bloody good fun).
Director Tom Nagel and writer Jeff Denton do a little better regarding both the fleeting shadowy figures seen in the corner of an eye and the glimpses of relevant torment. They further nicely tie this together by revealing the equally relevant history of the literal deathtrap.
The concepts of a haunted RV and that vehicle facilitating stranding the whack-a-moles are clever enough to warrant watching "Toybox." The valid interpretation that decades of family drama that both travelling together and being confined in such a small and shabby space fuels the supernatural rage is a terrific bonus. The only thing that would improve on this would be the Partridge Family bus being the evil entity and the stress of that group touring for 40 years igniting the inferno.
Best friend of edgy indie filmmakers Breaking Glass Pictures continues demonstrating compassionate good instincts regarding sensitive coming-of-age Euro films. The August 7, 2018 DVD release of the 2014 Danish drama "Speed Walking" roughly coincides with the reviewed MUST-SEE Breaking release of the 2017 French dramedy "My Life With James Dean." "Dean" tells the overlapping stories of an independent filmmaker having a comically horrific experience screening his first feature and a gayby experiencing his first true love.
The international and timeless appeal of "Walking" stems from modern audiences from all over the world being able to relate to at least portions of the experiences of 14 year-old Martin in 1976 small-town Denmark. This credibility also reflects director Niels Arden Oplev stating in an interview on the DVD that the film is based on the real-life of the author of the memoir on which "Walking" is based. The strong acting by the main cast further helps sell the story.
An alternative context is that the coming-of-age, the large number of quirky characters, the role of death, and the moderate element of assorted forms of sexuality make "Walking" seem like a John Irving novel.
The following YouTube video of the SPOILER-LADEN Breaking trailer for "Walking" provides a storng sense of the above elements.
We aptly first meet Martin engaged in the titular sport with best friend (with benefits?) Kim. Raucous horseplay in the locker room subsequently ensues, and the boys then go on to have a typical school day. This all occurs in the period in which Martin is in the final stages of preparing for his confirmation.
Everything changes on a completely unprepared Martin arriving home; Family friend Lizzi tearfully tells the boy that his mother is dead. This leads to Martin facing his bereaved father and his 16 year-old brother Jens, who is almost completely out of his mind.
The rites of passage in the form of losing a parent and formally declaring himself to God while also having a range of sexual urges combine to prompt Marin in transitioning from a boy to a man. Anyone of either sex who fully shares a life with an adult male knows that the truth is that the inner boy always asserts himself.
The female object of the affection of Martin is classmate Kristine. Our grieving horn dog uses his recent loss to his advantage regarding his pursuit of this girl. Further, Kim is following a bros before hos attitude in giving Martin first crack at Kristine.
The numerous memorable moments in"Walking " further make it notable. We get Martin showing his lack of game (but not necessarily lack of success) in trying to get some on multiple fronts, losing it in an unexpected (but very symbolic) manner at the funeral of his mother, and having a cute and loving intimate encounter with a terrific humorous element. Another highlight involves Martin and his crew trying to catch his father in the act.
Oplev provides an especially good payoff in having the mayhem lead to the Confirmation;; young blonde Martin wearing an ascot and an open shirt makes one think that he has a mystery to solve.
More fun, tears, and recriminations come in the wake of the Confirmation. A jealousy-fueled heartbreaking betrayal equally affects Martin and viewers, we get a moment in which we see Jens living one fantasy of teen boys, and Martin finds that he has one last rite of passage to endure.
The central theme regarding this eventful 108 minutes is that every male of every age needs a mother. This role often falls to someone other than the person who gives birth to you. She is who listens to your problems, supports you regardless of whom you love, and cleans you up without judgment when drinking too much results in covering yourself in a soup of every possible bodily fluid except blood.
Purveyor of the best work from "independent producers worldwide" Icarus Films literally and figuratively brings things home with the September 11, 2018 DVD release of the 2016 French documentary "Cholesterol: The Great Bluff." The general spoiler is that the American and European doctors whom filmmaker Anne Georget gets to participate in "Bluff" reinforce every conclusion of skeptics regarding using cholesterol levels to predict the probability of heart disease.
The following YouTube video of a trailer for "Bluff" provides a good overview of the issue of cholesterol and of the common-sense debunking themes of the film.
"Bluff" quickly identifies '50s-era medical researcher Ancel Keys as Medical Professional Zero regarding the decades-long cholesterol scare that seems particularly prevalent in the United States. The genesis of this is the skyrocketing rate of middle-aged men having heart attacks in the post-war era. The film also cites sitting president Eisenhower having a heart attack as increasing the concern regarding this health problem.
All right-thinking individuals with moderate savvy regarding statistics in general and medical establishment positions regarding issues of broad public concern IMMEDIATELY know where Georget is headed. The missing link is how she will get there, The overall theme of the film is not far off from the old joke that tiger repellent works because there are not any tigers around.
A talking head who shares a Winston Churchill joke perfectly conveys the reliability of statistics such as those that allege to support a connection between high cholesterol and heart disease. The wisdom of Winnie is that the only statistics that he he trusts are those that he only personally doctors. Learning the extent to which Keys manipulates his data shows that he closely follows the philosophy of Churchill.
A related aspect of this is pure laziness and greed on the part of doctors and everyone else who profits from providing healthcare. A diversion into Blogland is that medical tests consistently showing levels that indicate a health problem prompted undergoing a procedure. The results being that that condition did not exist but that the doctor had no alternative diagnosis prompted that "professional" to suggest retesting in six months and your not-so-humble reviewer just stopping short of suggesting where that oaf can put his stethoscope.
A related aspect of the common sense approach of Georget discusses the role of cholesterol, the actual culprits regarding heart disease, and the concept that the house always wins. A bothersome segment focuses on a doctor essentially paying a "you'll never work in this town again" penalty for blowing the whistle on the cholesterol scam.
The lengthy analyses of cholesterol drugs takes things further. The aforementioned rationale beings already know that big pharma teams ups with doctors who run pill mills from their office to literally profit at our expense regarding unnecessary prescriptions for cholesterol drugs. Georget educates many of us regarding the extent to which such drugs do far more harm than good. A case study of a woman who is scared into seeing a doctor for no good reason puts an additional perspective on this.
One important element that Georget does not address is the duty of care that one reasonably should expect from a medical provider but sadly does not receive. A bimbo at a department store cologne counter who tells a wannabe playah that a $100 bottle of a designer fragrance will get him action is far different than a doctor who knows better essentially telling a patient to come with him if the patient wants to live.
Icarus provides more common sense medical advice regarding the DVD extra. It is the Georget 52-minute film "Branding Illnesses,." The "well duh" theme this time is the practice (pun intended) of big pharma creating diseases and then selling the drugs that cure them. This is an event more blatant case of putting commerce of art regarding the cholesterol scam.
All you Moondoggies (or dudes who like duck diving during the day) and Gidgets (or regular-size wahines) should be totally stoked regarding the Film Movement September 11, 2018 release of the 2016 documentary "Between Land and Sea." Righteous dude Ross Whitaker, who is not a Barney or a Jake, shows us the year in the life of Irish surf town Lahinch.
Although the tubular vernacular above suggests otherwise, "Sea" entertains without depicting a California style surf scene; this film is much more "Waking Ned Devine" than '60s beach movies that include the totally awesome "Wet Side Story" about a romance between a biker chick and a surfer dude, A prime example of this is mood-apt instrumental music filling in for more rousing Beach Boys tunes regarding the copious footage of the surf.
The following YouTube video of the Movement trailer for "Sea" perfectly captures the charming and mellow vibe of this equal parts documentary, travelogue, and character study.
The concept that Ireland has a thriving surf culture alone is adequately surprising and compelling to warrant a film; the characters who are the subjects of the aforementioned studies not being airhead slackers contributes additional depth.
The stereotype of the California surfer is of a guy who fully embraces a dude lifestyle to the extent of only working hard enough to keep a minimal roof over his head and tacos in his stomach. He also usually does not have a steady Betty and even more rarely has rugrats.
The first man to whom Whitaker introduces us is a married mining engineer, who admits to practicing that profession just enough to provide his family a good life; he devotes much of the rest of his time to his passion for surfing. His English-transplant wife makes soap to contribute to the family fisc.
We also meet a farmer/surfer with a good sense of humor; his comment regarding the relative status between him and a English farm worker provides the only political commentary in the film.
We additionally get a look at a surf camp that allows a quimby to try to learn to shoot curls. Related fun comes via watching our subjects prepare their kids to hit the waves. A shoot of the face of a young girl when her 'rent tells her how her life jacket will activate if she goes under the water is priceless.
The bigger picture is the aspect of a tourist town that at least partially relies on a weather-dependent activity to bolster the local economy. Another aspect of this is working like a surf dog during the high season (no pun intended) and living a slower pace of life the rest of the year.
Whitaker encompasses all of the above by beginning "Sea" at the start of the calendar year as our Kens and Barbies prepare for (and otherwise anticipate) the upcoming summer; he concludes things with a wonderful community-oriented Christmas celebration.
The aloha regarding all this is that "Sea" indicates that surfers generally are the same the world over. Riding waves seems to keep their temperaments at an even keel regardless of what life throws at them. Further, these guys seem equally open minded and accepting of all.
A telephone chat with '70s child star/current working actor/successful director Moosie Drier confirmed that puberty is not fatal to every classic sitcom kid. Our talk as Drier drove from a voice-over session for the Fox series "The Gifted" to pick up 12 year-old son Clayton from school was a genuine pleasure. The downside for folks seeking dirt is that there is very little to begin with, and the kind and sweet nature of Drier required not pursuing ANYTHING potentially embarrassing about his personal life.
The proverbial "how it all began" was the (reviewed) recent Time Life DVD release of the sixth and final season of the truly pioneering edgy mid-60s to early '70s fast-paced sketch-comedy show "Rowan & Marti's Laugh In." This series that carefully straddled the line between vaudeville and burlesque personified the philosophy that sacred cows make the tastiest hamburgers.
Drier moving up from regular appearances to being a featured member of the "Laugh-In" ensemble the final season prompted my dubbing him the "Cousin Oliver" of the series. The kismet began with a tweet to that effect along with an interview request coinciding with a rare occasion on which Drier checked his Twitter account. The next part of the story was that Drier had been friends with the real Cousin Oliver Robbie Rist and still playfully teased him about that role. The ONLY regret regarding the interview was forgetting an intent to comment that Rist was a jinx.
Drier agreed to an interview despite not granting many journalists that privilege. An initial nice surprise was learning that a surprisingly large overlap existed between his friends since childhood/celebrities of all ages and my childhood idols who have been just as terrific as Drier regarding speaking with me.
Spirit of Tab Hunter Lives On
The most striking impression of Drier is that a warranted comparison with '50s matinee idol Tab Hunter extends beyond the enduring all-American boy good looks of both men. These actors who grew up without a father have positive outlooks and loving natures that put 99-percent of us to shame. The simple fact is that Drier not getting one red cent from sales of "Laugh-In" DVDs and not promoting any project makes speaking with me a purely selfless act.
An interview in which Hunter thanked this operator of a "boutique" website for taking the time to talk with him cemented the sense that I would personally mourn his passing when it occurred. His death this July showed that that prediction came true. That loss still is felt. The better news is that 50-something Drier likely will be with us a few more decades.
A Child Star By Any Other Name
A desire to avoid asking Drier questions that he has answered a million times before prompted an online search for his real name; the failure to find anything reinforced that he is selective regarding interviews.
Drier shared that Moosie was not his God-given name but said that he has never been called anything else. He added that he had his legal name changed to Moosie and that it was on his driver's license.
The origin story of the name is that former New York Yankee Bill "Moose" Skowron was a friend of the father of Drier.
Bewitched, Newhart, and Jeannie
Drier, who mostly does voice-over work and directs plays and television (including an episode of the sitcom "Reba"), stated that he stopped acting roughly 20 years ago. He then noted that his girlfriend of five years Erin was a child actor.
Clues that included Drier sharing that the early acting career of his highly significant other was more high profile then his led to correctly guessing that her last name was Murphy. The subsequent gushing about Murphy by Drier included calling her "one of the coolest" and "one of the sweetest" people alive awesomely reflected the spirit of the '60sfantasycom "Bewitched" in which Murphy played young witch Tabitha. The kismet this time was watching a "Bewitched" episode on DVD right before speaking with Drier and without any knowledge of his relationship with Murphy.
Drier stating that "Erin and I kind of laugh about it" in reference to growing up as child stars males one happy that these kids have someone who can relate to their relatively unique growing pains. He also shared that he "wasn't seeing many child actors in my adult life until he started dating other child actors."
The discussion about Murphy led to my expressing sympathy related to a moderately high social-media profile making her and Drier easy targets for assertive fans of hers. He laughed and said that he was surprised how many times that someone asked her to twitch her nose. He pointed out that an amusing aspect of that was the twitch was the magic trigger of series lead Samantha, and that Tabitha would rub her fingers together to perform her spells.
Drier expressed the practice of fans associating child stars with their roles by stating that "people really identify the actor with the character if they played it long enough." He added that "for better or worse that actor will always be identified with that one role."
A personal association regarding Drier is his role as the young son of divorced wacky neighbor/best friend Howard Borden (Bill Daily) on "The Bob Newhart Show." The below photo shows Drier playing his part in that classic sitcom.
The first bit of kismet this time is that good Midwestern boy Daily is another star who has granted your not-so-humble reviewer an interview. His kindness extended to giving me a signed genie bottle from his '60sfantasycom "I Dream of Jeannie." This experience was consistent with Drier identifying Daily as one of his favorite people.
The inability of fanatics (rather than fans) to distinguish between the actor and the role led to discussing Daily "Jeannie" co-star and fellow awesome Unreal TV interview subject Barbara Eden. Drier started this conversation by stating that he knew the son of Eden and still occasionally visited her,
Drier then stumped the chump in sharing that he played the son of Eden in a May 1973 TV Movie that was the failed pilot for the sitcom "The Barbara Eden Show." This show played homage to "The Dick Van Dyke Show" by having Eden divide her time between dealing with egos and other problems as the head writer of a soap opera and family-oriented problems on the home front.
Drier stated that he did not recall his role on "Laugh-In" expanding in the final season; he did remember the producers bringing in child actress Mona Tera to perform with him. A related memory was appearing with Tera on the cover of the L..A. Times television listing supplement. The following photos are "Laugh-In" ones of Drier and Tera.
Drier did have many fun behind-the-scenes stories. The sweetest was the habit of Lily Tomlin using down times to invite him to join her in the over-sized chair used in the skits in which Tomlin played precious five year-old Edith Ann. Tomlin sometimes speaking to Drier in her Edith Ann persona and sometimes in her own voice made this story even better.
The most scandalous tale was that Drier constantly smelled marijuana smoke around the dressing-room door of star Alan Sues. Murphy being special to Drier and the campy and flamboyant style of Sues required mentioning "Bewitched" star Paul Lynde. Drier spoke for every child of the '60s and the '70s in saying that "Paul Lynde was my hero as a kid; how frickin' funny was that human being." Learning that Murphy shared those sentiments was an interview highlight.
Richard Nixon was the first name that Drier cited as someone who was exciting to meet on "Laugh-In." He rattled off several more of the seemingly infinite roster of A-Listers who made appearances. That series landing Drier an appearance on a Sammy Davis, Jr. television special was the provided example of "Laugh-In" stars recruiting Drier to appear on other programs.
Drier lacked any memories regarding the seemingly abrupt cancellation of "Laugh-In." He did comment that "it [sudden cancellation] is common in the industry. There is so much red tape."
Drier had more insight regarding "Bewitched" packing it in after eight years. He shared that the series was set for a ninth season but that a reason that he provided off the record prompted abandoning that plan. One clue is that any speculation regarding the story behind ending things most likely will be inaccurate.
Oh God Cousin Oliver
Our discussion about Cousin Oliver portrayor Robbie Rist began with Drier expressing his childhood love for "The Brady Bunch," which added Oliver in response to the Brady kids getting older. Drier added that he was not up for that role and that "Robbie and i have been friends forever and still are."
The bromance between Drier and Rist really came through in discussing Drier guest-starring on the "Bully For You" episode on the mid-70s Saturday morning sitcom "Big John Little John" in which Rist played the 12 year-old version of an adult who alternated between being a kid and a grown-ass man. Memories of playing the bully tormenting Little John until that target became Big John clearly delighted Drier.
An awesome modern note regarding all this was the story of Drier hosting a Hollywood Hills mini-reunion for child stars of the '70s five years ago. A highlight for Drier was meeting Murphy at that event; a highlight for "Brady" fans was the group surprising Rist with a "Jump the Shark" award for playing Cousin Oliver. (I believe that Drier stated that some Brady kids were present.) The neglected opportunity this time was whether the presence of Rist jinxed the gathering in any manner.
I also learned that Drier and Rist were up for some of the same roles but did not compete for the Rist role as the adopted son of Ted Baxter on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show."
The Big Join Little John theme also applied regarding Rist and Drier competing to play the son of the character whom actor/country singer John Denver portrayed in the 1977 Carl Reiner comedy film "Oh, God!." Drier rightfully thought that the straight blonde hair and glasses that made Rist look like "a little John Denver" made that kid a sure bet to play his kid.
Drier getting cast was only the beginning of the story. His mother calling the mother of Rist to share the news prompted that woman to cry over her son not getting the role. The rest of the story was that mother then speaking to Drier and telling her that she was glad that he was the one who got the role if Rist could not have it.
The following photo of Rist as Cousin Oliver shows that the comparison to Denver is highly warranted.
Discussion of Drier playing soda-fountain worker Riley on the pre-"Saved by the Bell" "Bell" style '80s live-action Saturday morning kidcom "Kids Incorporated" prompted the most surprising reveal in our hour-long conversation. He volunteered that he did that series to pay off a tax debt about which he learned when he was emancipated at the age of 16. The rest of the story was that Drier learned at the time that his mother had not filed or paid taxes regarding his earnings.
The exceptional nature of Drier particularly came through in this portion of the conversation. The aspect of "Kids" that had a singing group comprised of kids that seemed to range in age from 10-to-15 treat 18-to-20 year-old Riley like a doofus and their house boy prompted jokingly asking Drier if he ever felt like slapping (early 21st century singer) Fergie of The Blacked Eye Peas. He took this is stride and stated both that Fergie is Stacy Ferguson to him and that he has the honor of being one of the few people allowed to call her by her birth name.
The praise continued with Drier describing Ferguson as "an angel" who was "not like a Hollywood child brat in any way." He added that she is "super talented."
An especially fun moment came in telling Drier about watching part of a "Kids" episode to prepare for our conversation. The plot revolved around Riley pretending to own the club where he worked in order to impress a visiting high-school rival. That guy showed up in an expensive car and wearing haute couture. My telling Drier that I did not watch the entire episode because I predicted that Riley got caught in his lie and 'fessed up and that his buddy then admitted to being as big of fake prompted Drier to laugh and reply "You're probably right."
Say Good Night Moosie
"Bob Newhart" being the only known exception to Drier being directly or indirectly closely associated with a series in which it is easy to imagine the characters continuing to go about their daily (no pun intended) business after the sets go dark for the last time seems very apt for this righteous dude. He simply continues the habit that has persisted for 40 years of showing up when called to act or direct and does not stress when the calls stop coming regarding a particular project.
On a larger level, it is nice to think that 100s of people have probably benefited from small kindnesses (such as his likely putting a quarter in soon-to-expire parking meters) by Drier without having a clue that he is the kid from the HILARIOUS ice-cream shop scene from "Bob Newhart."
'Once Upon a Time' S7 DVD & Blu-ray: New Realms in Final Season for Fairy Tale Heroes, Villains, and Those In-Between
The ABC Studios separate August 28, 2018 DVD and Blu-ray releases of the 2017-18 seventh and final season of the ABC prime time serial fantasydram "Once Upon a Time" provides a good chance to escape into multiple fantasy worlds before fully facing the cruel cruel end of summer.
The first good news for folks (such as your not-so- humble reviewer) who have not watched "Time" for a few years is that the new directions for the final season of this series about Disneyfied fairy tale folks living in our reality and a few others make it easy to follow even if you have never watched the show. Other good news is that a Pacific Northwest retailer that shall remain shameless is selling an S1-S6 Blu-ray set for a tempting price.
Speaking of Blu-ray, spending a few extra dollars to get sets in that enhanced format is well worth it, The elaborate fantasy worlds and copious effects are only part of the story. Like any Disney-oriented project, the behind-the-scene folks are Disneyiacs (if not collectors) with moderate to high obsession levels regarding accurately depicting these versions of favorite childhood characters. Further, seeing the cast make us believe that Snow White lives down the street and that Jiminy Cricket is a psychologist is great fun that deserves the full Monty.
The other big picture is that perceived similarities between "Time" and the equally lore-laden, reality and time-shifting 2004-10 ABC drama "Lost" is not your imagination. Both series are from the same production company, and the credits of "Time" showrunners Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis include writing for "Lost." Further many "Lost" stars go on to do "Time." The only disappointing absence is not having Josh Holloway being a "Time" character with a habit of assigning nicknames ala calling a clad-in-green Peter Pan Kermit.
This shared epic aspect of "Lost" and "Time" results in more creativity and payoff regarding the well-crafted lore of each series in in one episode than in a handful of most 60-minute dramas. "Time" does especially well making delightfully surprising connections.
The basic lore of "Time" is that the evil queen of "Snow White" fame imposes a curse that transports virtually every character from well-known Disneyfied fairy tales from the old country to the small town of Storybrooke, Maine. Part of the curse is that these princesses, princes, dwarves, etc. lack any knowledge of their true selves and live the same as the rest of us.
Ten year-old everykid/non-fairy-tale character Henry Mills is virtually the only one who knows the truth; the efforts of this boy who cries Big Bad Wolf to get the adults to take him seriously is a common theme of literature that is very relatable to current and past children.
Ala "Lost," the "Time" story greatly expands beyond the series of "operations" that Henry undertakes to put things right in manners that include getting the real-life versions of fairy-tale characters to wake up and smell the porridge. It ultimately seems that any fur or face that one can see at a Disney Park (or on the stage in "Wicked") shows up.
S7 starts with exposition that sets the stage for the aforementioned retooling. Recent Storybrooke High graduate Henry is setting out to literally and figuratively find his own story after writing the one of those of his fabled family, friends, and "others." His stating that every fairy tale has numerous variations sets the stage for things to come. Our boy then rides into the sunset via a portal to another realm.
A series of events that clearly establish both that we are not in Storybrooke anymore and that the events in the lives of the fairy-tale characters are not your daddy's bedtime stories. This is not to mention that some old friends who join Henry in his new reality have evil twins with various origins.
A particularly Upside Down aspect of S7 is that we get a late-20s author/Seattle resident Henry, who is a one-book wonder and a young widower, being under a curse that prevents remembering any aspect of his past. The annoyingly persistent child this time is Lucy, who claims that she is the daughter of Cinderella and that Henry is her baby daddy.
The numerous notable aspects of adult Henry are his separately bringing a pen to a knife fight and showing that he really does not know Jack.
Wonderfully dark themes that run through the S7 realms include sacrificing a "virgin" to save a loved one, the use of a curse to get revenge, an evil stepmother, revenge-driven blood lust, etc,
Horowitz and company go full-on "Lost" for roughly the final 3/4th of this 22-episode season, We get a big surprise regarding the central curse, learn that being woke is not desirable for evryone, and see prime examples of someone being his or her worst enemy. All this leads to a build up to a climax and an epilogue that is worthy of such an epic series.
The highlight of the numerous special features is "And They Lived Happily Ever After." This 22-minute Valentine has cast and crew reliving memories accompanied by clips from every season and express their appreciation to the fans. We also get bloopers, deleted scenes, and a look at cast member directing an episode.
Breaking Glass Pictures fully displays its edgy independent spirit both in releasing the 2016 drama "Guilty Men" (nee "Pariente") and in aptly labeling it a thriller western. However, Breaking slightly drops the ball in not including the descriptor "revenge" to this recent release.
The following YouTube clip of a trailer for "Guilty" highlights the gun play and the general tension in this film set during the particular form of national upheaval in 2005 Colombia..
The Coen brothers vibe is clear from the opening scenes in which middle-aged Alfonso, younger cousins Rene and Willington, and essentially fourth-wheel Heriberto combine a planned middle-of-the-night exchange with an obsessive discussion about a cassette tape collection that holds great significance. A WTF moment during the transaction triggers much of the rest of the action as the quartet both debates about how to fully seal the deal and wait for the other shoe to drop regarding the rash action by a group member,
All of this occurs in the period leading up to Alfonso granddaughter Mariana keeping it in the family by preparing to marry Rene despite a past relationship with Willington. One lesson here is that a little bastard easily can ruin a good thing. One spoiler is that Mariana does not get a Colombian necklace.
The other related local event is that an unidentified thief is emulating a Depression-era hobo. Although there are reported thefts of livestock and cultivated crops, it does not seem that cooling pies have been taken from windowsills.
The bigger picture is the mystery surrounding the current status of the local paramilitary group.
Tensions and bloodletting increase in the days following the covert meeting and the ones leading up to Rene and Mariana going to the chapel where they're gonna get married, Of course, these events and related one fuel the (probably justified) paranoia of Willington.,
All of this leads to a movable feast of a showdown in which most truths are revealed and our cousins face ending up as coffee fertilizer. Writer-director Ivan D. Gaona does a good job choreographing these scenes and keeping up guessing until the final scene that is the modern equivalent of riding off into the sunset.
Breaking further outshines itself in providing even more spectacular bonus features than usual. The "Behind-the-Camera" extra is only the beginning. We also get deleted scenes and a documentary on Guespa where "Men" is filmed. The fun continues with a music video that doubles as a deleted opening scene, and separate film festival footage.
The Icarus Films September 4, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 French political drama "This Is Our Land" is a perfect way to celebrate the 40th anniversary of this company that literally prides itself on distributing movies from "independent producers worldwide." This fictional account of a visiting nurse/single mere of two being recruited to run for mayor of her native town in Northern France is an ideal blend of the "provocative" documentaries that are the focus of earlier years in the life of Icarus and the non-fiction fare that that company increasingly distributes.
"Land" follow the (reviewed ) July 2018 Icarus release of the French film "The Great Game." That one has a political veteran ensnaring an unwitting former radical into a coup attempt,
The election of Emmanuel Macron in a campaign centered around the flood of immigrants into France provides the general context for "Land." The "liner notes" on the back cover of the DVD state that this film about the local conservative party recruiting football (my people call it soccer) mom Pauline Duhez to run for mayor is the follow-up of filmmaker Lucas Belvaux to his political thriller "Rapt" about the kidnapping of a French politician.
"Land" exceeds the standard for a good foreign film. It not only can be made word-for-word and shot-for-shot in the U.S. and still make sense, this one is particularly relevant to our state of affairs. We have the same political divide that involves equivalently strong views about immigrants.
We meet Pauline conducting her visits to her elderly clients; an unexpected situation at one home greatly throws off her schedule. Many American single moms can relate to the largely absent ex-husband of Pauline refusing to help with their offspring.
The day continues with Pauline dealing with difficult patients and equally challenging spouses. This typical day ends with this angel of mercy going to the home of her father to pick up her children Tom and Lili. The tension there relates to the father of Pauline refusing to eat the healthy foods that his medical problems require.
The aforementioned aspects of the life of Pauline put her on the political radar of former fascist/long-term family friend/professional mentor Dr. Philipe Berthier (prolific French actor Andre Dussollier). A side note regarding this relationship is that the father of Pauline being a communist seems to have little impact on the relationship between his family and Berthier.
The pitch of Berthier to Pauline includes good humor related (pun intended) to the importance of not letting the politics of the "fathers" being "sins" that tarnish the "sons." He assures her both that her lack of political experience makes her a strong candidate and that her moderate views are in line with the folks who are promoting her campaign.
Other good humor comes via the pros quickly trying to physically and otherwise mold Pauline into their image; this extends well beyond the extreme makeover.
The other piece of the puzzle is Pauline renewing her relationship with former high school boyfriend/current soccer coach of Tom Stephane "Stanko" Stankowiak. The violent past/string political views/current militia activity making this beau an increasingly strong political liability ultimately prompt Berthier to step up his political game regarding getting this man out of the picture. This aspect of the film reinforces the concept that no politic animals have clean paws.
Things fully come to a head when all the worlds collide while Pauline is campaigning, The proportional fallout causes her to push back in a manner that jeopardizes everything. The large theme this time goes back centuries; an "innocent" is thrust from his or her world (a.k.a. comfort zone) into a brave new world that initially seems better than the one that is left behind. This ultimately leads to circumstances that typically require either fully getting with the program to returning to the old life. The associated concept that you cannot fight city hall is particularly ironic in this case,
The conclusion is the icing on the cake; we think that it is a case of little Pauline happy at last when Belvaux throws one last curve that is not so far-fetched in concept and is very believable in execution.
Along the lines of a final twist, Americans truly will see their own political system in this film. One need only watch a scene in which an offhand remark at a neighborhood barbecue leads to tears and recriminations to see that modern politics make ex bedfellows.
The Warner Archive September 28, 2018 DVD of the director's cut of the 2004 TV movie "Helter Skelter" does not quite put the viewer inside the head of cult leader/serial killer by proxy Charles Manson; it does provide good insight into the life of Manson and the members of his "family" at the time that his "children" kill pregnant actress Sharon Tate (a.k.a. Mrs. Roman Polanski), her house guests, and a couple of guys who stop by on the worst possible night.
The cred. of this equally entertaining and educational docudrama includes attorney/screenwriter Vincent Bugliosi basing the film on his insight as the real-life prosecutor in the case. Another notable aspect of "Helter" is that is offers the flip side perspective of the equally good film "Wolves at the Door." "Wolves", which is another (reviewed) member of the Archives catalog, largely is from the perspectives of the Manson Family victims.
Director John Gray ("The Ghost Whisperer") and Bugliosi start off strong with family members putting the fear of Charlie into someone whom the group concludes done them wrong, Manson (Jeremy Davies of "Lost") then shows up in a manner that suggests that Davies is basing his performance on Jack Nicholson in "The Shining." It is equally plausible that close Roman Polanski friend Nicholson bases his "Shining" performance on the rel-life Manson.
This opening confrontation in "Helter" establishes three key elements of the Manson story; Manson is violently psychotic, his "children" are fanatically devoted to him, and "Dad" is smart enough to leave the real dirty work to the kids.
The fun continues with seeing newly single mom/lost soul Linda Kasabian (Clea DuVall) get adopted and move to the western-style film lot that serves as the family home. Linda meeting future wannabe presidential assassin Squeaky Fromme (Mary Lynn Rajskub of "24) is one highlight. The minimal worldly goods of Kasabian quickly being absorbed into the Manson Family treasury reminds viewers of the modus operandi of communes/cults.
Exposition during this period includes depicting the mysterious charisma of Manson and his outlook on life. One can understand how young folks who feel unloved respond to the affection that Manson shows his offspring; it is equally predictable that the turmoil of the late '60s get them to buy into his belief that the titular race war will lead to black people dominating white people. Accepting his exit strategy of escaping into essentially a magical Sid and Marty Krofft land when the race war fully commences reflects that these disciples are enjoying the '60s too much.
The story take a more familiar turn when the friendship/collaboration between Manson and Beach Boys member Dennis Wilson goes south. Advanced-beginner Manson scholars know about this relationship and that Manson is a house guest of that teen idol until the drug use and other weirdness get to be too much even for Wilson. The events of "Helter" fill in the picture in manners that include showing the connection between that falling out and turning Chez Polanski into a murder house.
A particularly interesting aspect of the Beach Boys element is that we learn that music producer Terry Melcher plays a key role in the mayhem. A fun aside is that Melcher is the real-life son of Doris Day and the producer of her eponymous '60scom. A related bit of Hollywood history is that mismanagement by the then-husband of Day forces her to do the program. The final note is that all this reflects the que sera sera philosophy for which Day is well known.
The Tate killings and other felony-murders by family members in the same period receive surprisingly little screen time in "Helter."
The subsequent focus on the investigation of the aforementioned crimes (including the LaBianca murders) reflects "Helter" being the work of a prosecutor. Another strong reference point is that the military-style raids on Manson Family homesteads evoke thoughts of the more recent confrontation at the Branch Davidian compound in Waco.
This all begins when common elements of the crimes cause light bulbs to belatedly go off in the heads of law-enforcement folks. This leads to the national obsession trials of Manson and his family. Manson insisting on defending himself will trigger memories for folks old enough to recall these proceedings.
Seeing how Bugliosi builds his cases is fascinating to both true-crime and television procedural fans. This includes get cooperation from Charles "Tex" Watson and other inner circle members. These sessions also provide a good narrative technique to provide a more detailed look at the commissions of the crimes. Learning more about the killing of Tate highlights her caring nature and the degree to which the Manson controls his followers.
Gray ending "Helter" with the standard "where are they now" inter-titles is predictable. The depth in terms of the included family members and level of detail regarding their fates goes well above and beyond the typical made-for-TV (or even theatrical) film.
Warner Archive does what it does best regarding the Blu-ray release of the 1947 noir film "Dark Passage" starring the Humphrey Bogarts. This film is among the cult classics from the Golden and Silver Ages of Hollywood that comprise a significant portion of the Archive catalog. We further get the good remastering for which Archive is known, The final piece is the bonus features that Archive typically provides and that always are excellent when they do.
"Passage" writer/director Delmar Daves of "such films" as "Destination Tokyo" and "A Summer Place" does well by Bogart and Bacall by providing them a good story and literally expert direction. The latter commences with most of the first roughly 30-minutes of the film being POV shots from the perspective of Bogart character Vincent Parry. A particularly memorable example of this is an early shot in which Parry is rolling down a hill in a barrel.
"Passage" opens minutes after Parry makes a prison break that is a not-so-great escape from San Quentin. Exposition in the form of a news bulletin heard on the car radio of good Samaritan Baker (former Little Rascal Clifton Young) tells the audience that Parry until recently being a guest of the state is because of a conviction for killing his wife.
Baker and Parry soon parting ways leads to a fateful encounter between Parry and sympathetic heiress Irene Jansen (Bacall). An essentially "come with me if you want to live" moment leads to the pair enduring challenging gauntlets before Parry obtains asylum in the luxurious San Francisco apartment of Jansen.
The intrusion of acerbic, cruel, and ruthless Madge (Agnes Moorehead of "Bewitched" playing to type) and unlucky-in-love Bob (character actor Bruce Bennett) further stir the potboiler. Madge coincidentally is the one whom Parry threw away, and Bob is the ex of Madge and currentish of Irene. On a basic level, the pair separately and collectively calling on Jansen while Parry is her house guest complicates things far beyond being potential witnesses to his presence.
The next noirish bit that comes out is that Jansen is a long=term member of Team Parry. We learn that she feels that the conviction of her father for a crime that is completely unrelated to the murder of the late Mrs. Parry is the source of Jansen attending the trial of Parry and a significant factor regarding her conclusion that his conviction is wrongful. Her being near San Quentin at the time of the break, learning of that unauthorized early parole, and making the deduction that leads to her finding the fugitive all are the type of coincidences that make noir entertaining.
The perspective changes when another chance encounter leads to Parry undergoing mob-style plastic surgery that the (reviewed) biodrama "Young Dillinger" indicates is a real thing. Not previously showing the face of Parry in "Passage" solves the problem of Bogart not looking like himself in the period before the procedure that results in his having the face that only a cinephile (and Bacall) can love.
A subsequent encounter with a former acquaintance ultimately changes everything for Parry and leads to a dramatic confrontation that also has both good and bad results for this wanted man. The manner in which Daves stages this shows why he earns the big bucks.
The final five minutes or so of "Passage" particularly aptly highlight the exceptional chemistry that shows why Bogie and Bacall warrant having it all.
The highlight of the aforementioned special features is mini-documentary "Hold Your Breath and Cross Your Fingers." This short discusses "Passage" in general with an emphasis on the location shooting; as aspect of this is stating how the beginning of the end of the studio system affects taking film crews and casts on field trips. We also hear a little about the career of Bacall and her relationship with Bogart. The highlights include having the late great Robert Osborne and film critic extraordinaire Leonard Maltin being the primary talking heads.
An even more entertaining bonus is the 1947 Bugs Bunny cartoon "Slick Hare." This one parodies both the real-life Mocambo nightclub in Los Angeles and the equally actual celebrity patrons of that establishment. A cartoon Bogart fully employing his tough-guy persona to get waiter Elmer Fudd to improvise when the club runs out of rabbit, The typical mayhem ensues and ends with Bugs expressing love that hold true in 2018.
The best thing about the Cinedigm September 4, 2018 DVD release of the 2017 horror film "Truth or Dare" is that it exceeds expectations. The quality cinematography and opting for film over videotape are the first good signs, Having a cast with decent talent and skills is another bonus. The behind-the-camera pedigrees include "Dare" being from the producers of "I Spit on Your Grave" and the credits of director Nick Simon including "Cold Comes the Night."
Not having seen "Blumhouse's Truth or Dare" precludes properly comparing our current subject with that film. The promos for the Blumhouse production indicate that the two are similar in story and quality.
"Dare" immediately grabs attention with a dark-and-stormy night in which a teen girl is trying to talk a teen boy down off a roof; suffice it to say that the DPW will have major road kill to clean the next morning. The girl then frantically completes a dare that a dark force commands.
The action soon moves forward 30 years as frat boy Carter hosts handsome blonde med. student Tyler, chubby oddball Holt, and equally central casting type coeds at a pre-Halloween party at the aforementioned house of horrors. Although Carter gets the place through the "Haunted Rental" service and knows that it has a dark past, his ignorance regarding the specifics turns out to be far from blissful.
The mayhem begins Carter coerces the gang into playing the titular game; the first sign of trouble comes when the written challenges differ from those that the group devises. Concern is minimal when the only potential harm is chapped lips and related embarrassment.
Things get more creepy when the invisible hand that is directing the post-adolescents asserts itself more forcibly. Things quickly escalate to requiring that Tyler literally feel the burn. The next bit of terror comes via establishing a deadline of no more than a few minutes and the group learning that noncompliance results in the dare doing them.
One theme that runs throughout "Dare" is the challenge of completing the required task and living to tell the tale; a related aspect is the evil entity that is calling the shots doling out what it considers apt punishment for the individual sins of the players. Hypothetical examples are requiring a date rapist to impale himself on a heated curling iron or someone who is unduly afraid of bees to stick a hand in a hive,
This gets "Dare" off to a strong start that several silly moments do not ruin. Examples of goofiness include a baseball menacingly bounce down stairs and a kitchen appliance go on the attack.
Temporarily taking the game into the real world before the survivors return to the scene of the crime to finish things off also has highlights. The best moments involve an eliminated player returning for another round.
The final lesson is to never bet against the house.
As mentioned above, "Dare" deserves credit for exceeding expectations. On top of that, expanding the scope of inadvertently awakening a dark force beyond using a Ouija board or reciting incantations from a magic book puts a fresh spin on an old concept; one can only hope for a film in which a cursed Scrabble board begins spelling out horrific ways to die,
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