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#1 Virgil Vox

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Posted 18 February 2019 - 01:22 PM

I have started a book review thread, a movie review thread, and what has turned into a mystery review thread so I figured what was one more. Basically, I found myself wanting to review TV shows or random episodes from TV shows but I knew a lot of the times it would get no response so why start multiple threads. This is a solution to that. Here I (and others hopefully) will post reviews for TV shows and random TV episodes that I figure won't get much traction elsewhere.

Dark Skies – The Awakening

I was a big fan of Dark Skies when it first aired back in 1996. There for a while it was part of my Saturday night TV viewing schedule, along with Baywatch Nights and Walker, Texas Ranger.

I haven’t seen the series since it originally aired and had largely forgotten about it. Watching Star Trek: Voyager reminded me of the show because Jeri Ryan was on Dark Skies before she joined the Star Trek universe.

Shout! Factory had released the show on DVD so I decided to buy it, hoping that it wasn’t nostalgia (and memories of the handsome Eric Close being shirtless several times) clouding my memories of how much I had originally enjoyed the show.

I have to say that after watching the pilot movie (the American version not the International one which is included on the DVD set and that I do intend to watch) has made me glad that I bought the DVD. It is an overall strong pilot and I am looking forward to watching the rest of the series.

The series centers around John Loengard and Kim Sayers, a young couple who move to Washington, D.C. so that they can work with the Kennedy government. John gets a job as a Congressional aide while Kimberly works with Jackie Kennedy’s protocol office.

John is tasked with reviewing government programs that can be slashed to help balance the budget. One of those projects is Blue Book, which investigates UFO sightings. His investigation leads him to the discovery of Majestic-12, a clandestine government agency that exists to combat aliens.

John is a believer that the American people should be warned about the threat, but Majestic-12 leader Frank Bach believes secrecy is paramount. He hasn’t even told Kennedy about the existence of the program.

There is a lot to like about the pilot. Eric Close and Megan Ward are believable as the wide eyed young couple who believes in Kennedy’s vision and wants to make a difference in government. J.T. Walsh brings nuance to Bach, a character that could have been a one note villain.

The aliens are creepy as well. We have the typical Greys, but they aren’t the real threat. Instead the main alien menace is the Hive, a group of insectoid like aliens who burrow into your brain and take you over. The aliens, also called ganglions, did this to the Greys and now use their bodies and technology to spread throughout the universe. They are now at Earth and planning to take over use like they did the Greys.

The show mainly uses practical effects for the aliens themselves which I think works in the show’s favor. The ganglion looks chilling and the fact that it is something tangible that is crawling in and out of people’s mouths gives it that extra oomph. Same for the Greys when they arrive to abduct Kim. The entire sequence is great and the Greys look menacing.

I appreciated the arc John took from bright eyed Congressional aide to agent for a secret government organization to more or less freedom fighter when he discovers that said organization has basically no oversight and answers to no one, not even the President.

There are some negatives. Kim is basically wasted as a character. She doesn’t do much for a good portion of the pilot besides gets angry with John when she realizes he is lying to her. She does get used more once she is abducted but she is still a side character in the John Loengard show.

The scene where John is using an experimental treatment to force the ganglion out of Kim without killing her wasn’t as tense as it should have been. The setting (an abandoned house at night) worked well but they didn’t milk the scene for as much drama as they could have.

The 1990s CGI also works against the pilot somewhat. The opening scene where an American jet chases a UFO and then encounters a mothership looks pretty bad and is hard to follow at times.

Those negatives aside, the pilot does a good job of setting up the basic premise of the show: history as we know it is a lie, and a lot of events that took place happened because of the secret war between the Hive and Majestic-12.

The biggest example of this comes at the end, when President Kennedy is assassinated right after John gives him evidence that aliens exist. It looks like Majestic-12 assassinated him to keep the existence of UFOs secret.

I am looking forward to watching the rest of the series, especially all the bonus material that Shout! Factory packed onto the last disc.
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#2 RJDiogenes

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Posted 18 February 2019 - 06:11 PM

View PostVirgil Vox, on 18 February 2019 - 01:22 PM, said:

I was a big fan of Dark Skies when it first aired back in 1996. There for a while it was part of my Saturday night TV viewing schedule, along with Baywatch Nights and Walker, Texas Ranger.  
I never watched it.  I remember thinking that it looked like a pretty generic alien infiltration series, like The Invaders or War of the Worlds or whatever. I'm not sure if I ever realized that it was set in the early 60s. That might have made it more interesting to me.

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I have to say that after watching the pilot movie (the American version not the International one which is included on the DVD set and that I do intend to watch) has made me glad that I bought the DVD.  
Do you know what the differences are between the two versions?

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The aliens, also called ganglions,
Cute. :D

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did this to the Greys and now use their bodies and technology to spread throughout the universe.  
That's a pretty good twist. Presumably this sets up the Greys as potential allies, assuming they have their own freedom fighters.
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#3 Virgil Vox

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Posted 20 February 2019 - 08:11 PM

Quote

I never watched it.  I remember thinking that it looked like a pretty generic alien infiltration series, like The Invaders or War of the Worlds or whatever. I'm not sure if I ever realized that it was set in the early 60s. That might have made it more interesting to me.

I guess the plot is a bit generic but the period setting and the focus on explaining away big moments in history as being part of the secret war against the aliens helps set it apart. Apparently the plan was to have a 5 season arc, with each season taking place in a different decade. The last season would be in the 2000s and see open warfare between humans and the Hive.

Quote

Do you know what the differences are between the two versions?

I don't know all the differences. I do know there was a scene where Majestic doctors try and remove a ganglion from a person that was cut from the U.S. version. There were also scenes where John is followed by men in black that were cut because the movie Men in Black was coming out soon or had just come out. The International version is supposed to be the better version between the two.

Quote

That's a pretty good twist. Presumably this sets up the Greys as potential allies, assuming they have their own freedom fighters.

I don't know if that happens or not. I don't remember. It is possible, or if it didn't happen maybe it was planned down the road.
"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."
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It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job: it's a depression when you lose yours.
-- Harry S. Truman

#4 FarscapeOne

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Posted 21 February 2019 - 01:00 AM

I liked DARK SKIES when it aired, and got the dvd as soon as it was out.  I loved the use of historical events in the show, and it would have done a decade each season had it gotten a renewal.  That is a show that went before its time.

#5 RJDiogenes

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Posted 21 February 2019 - 06:28 PM

I like the idea of moving each season into the next decade and tying the stories into contemporary events. They would have had to age the cast, eventually replacing them as they age and die.
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#6 Virgil Vox

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Posted 24 February 2019 - 10:06 PM

View PostFarscapeOne, on 21 February 2019 - 01:00 AM, said:

I liked DARK SKIES when it aired, and got the dvd as soon as it was out.  I loved the use of historical events in the show, and it would have done a decade each season had it gotten a renewal.  That is a show that went before its time.

It definitely went before its time. I think if this show was made today it would have found a more receptive audience, or at least a network that would have appreciated it more.

Dark Skies – Moving Targets

This episode might as well have been called The Awakening since it is an extension of the pilot and brings to a close several dangling threads left at the end of the pilot episode.

At the end of the pilot John and Kim were on the run from Majestic and had learned that Kennedy was killed. Here they are given a mission by Robert Kennedy to get the piece of alien technology that they had given JFK back before Majestic can get their hands on it.

A lot happens in this episode, maybe too much. It is revealed that the Hive, not Majestic, killed Kennedy. They made Oswald the patsy and now are using Jack Ruby, a Hive member, to kill Oswald to keep him from talking. It is a convoluted plot that moves at break neck speed.

Added to that is the plot by a Hive infected pilot who plans on crashing Air Force One into all the leaders gathered at JFK’s funeral. This plot is introduced late in the episode and is almost immediately resolved as we see Majestic agents kill the pilot.

It is also revealed that Majestic agent Steele, a bad guy I love to hate, is actually a Hive agent. Kim discovers this and John passes the information on to Bach. At the end of the episode Steele escapes and tries to use a military helicopter to kill the world leaders but is stopped by John.

The events that happened at Roswell in 1947 revealed are also revealed. The Hive arrived on Earth and demanded our immediate surrender. Bach was there, and convinced President Truman that if the Hive had the power to stage an all out war against humanity they would have done so already. Truman orders the Hive ship destroyed, causing it to crash land.

It is definitely information overload, with none of the plots really being allowed to breathe. I’m still not quite sure what role Oswald played in the assassination of Kennedy or why the Hive wanted him silenced.

Despite that, I did like the episode. John and Kim prove that they have the smarts, more or less, to stay on the run from Majestic.

Kim gets more to do here as she is the one who sneaks into the club to see what Steele and Ruby are up to. She also goes on her own mission to give the alien evidence to Robert Kennedy.

The back story of Majestic-12 and Roswell is convincing, and it explains why Bach is in charge. His character continues to fascinate, since he has clearly done horrible things in the name of protecting humanity yet it is hard to completely hate him.

Honestly, I do tend to agree with him that if humanity did find out that aliens are real and trying to invade us right now there would be mass panic and the collapse of order. His methods are wrong but I understand why he is doing what he is doing.

I had forgotten that Steele was a Hive agent so that was a nice reveal. I want to say he becomes a recurring enemy but I could be wrong.

I’m not sure where the show goes from here but I am along for the ride.

Worst Year of My Life, Again – Happy Birthdays

Worst Year of My Life, Again is an Australian show centered on Alex King, a 14 year old who, as the title suggests, has the worst year of his life. He goes to bed on the night before his 15th birthday but when he wakes up he discovers that he has somehow time traveled, and he is repeating his 14th year. Can he use his knowledge of the year to avoid all of the pain and humiliation he went through or will he only make things worse?

This is a pretty fun show that used to be on Netflix though it has been taken off. You can still find the episodes on YouTube though.

This pilot episode sets up the structure that all 13 episodes will follow. In the first half of the episode we see what happened in the original time line, with the second half devoted to seeing Alex in the new loop year using his knowledge to try and fix things.

Alex is a likeable protagonist to follow. He is your typical 14 year old (played by someone who is obviously late teens, early 20s) who wants this new year to be his best yet. What I like about Alex is that he isn’t perfect and he isn’t above using the loop year for very selfish reasons because I think most people would. However, he usually ends up making things worse when he tries to “cheat” the system, as it were.

Alex’s two best friends are Simon and Maddy. Simon is from England and has some dubious morals. He will usually have Alex’s back but will also run when things get too troublesome. Maddy is a quirky, intelligent girl who has a crush on Alex that he is oblivious to. She is the one who explains to Alex that he is stuck in a loop year.

There are several recurring characters: Mr. Norris, a teacher at the school who doesn’t like Alex and makes his life miserable. Nicola is the most popular girl at school who Alex has a huge crush on. Parker and Howe are the school bullies. Troy is the most popular boy at school and captain of the football team.

Overall this was a pretty good pilot episode. In 25 minutes it did an admirable job of introducing the characters and the show’s hook. Neither the original timeline half nor the loop year half seemed rushed.

This isn’t my favorite episode of the series, nor is it the funniest but it is by no means bad. I recommend checking it out if the premise interests you at all.
"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."
--Jor-El


It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job: it's a depression when you lose yours.
-- Harry S. Truman

#7 Virgil Vox

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Posted 20 March 2019 - 06:40 PM

Dark Skies – Mercury Rising

The fourth episode of the series picks up two months after the last one. John and Kim have been on the run this entire time and are making their way to Florida. Kim has been having dreams about her abduction and she has a sense that she can find answers at Cape Canaveral.

Once there the two find Ty, a secret astronaut who belongs to a group called the Midnight Wing. They perform missions that the public can’t know about. Ty and his co-pilot were sent up in space around the same time Kim was abducted. They were to destroy what they were told was a Russian satellite but is in reality a Hive ship. Both pilots blacked out for several hours.

I thought this was an enjoyable episode. It advanced the overall mythology while also giving Kim some much needed focus. With the help of a psychiatrist Kim regresses back to the night of her abduction and remembers what happened to her aboard the ship.

It is a pretty creepy scene, especially when Kim sees dark shadows crawling on the ceiling above her. It does lose its effect somewhat once the lights are turned on and the CGI Greys are revealed.

Kim remembers that Ty was there but that for some reason the aliens didn’t want him and sent him back without infecting him. They did infect Kim and the other astronaut.

That revelation does lead me to my only complaint about the episode. Once again John and Kim find out about an infected human central to the plot and have to give Bach that information. Last episode it was Steele who was trying to kill all the world leaders and this episode it is an astronaut about to fly another secret mission.

I felt that the episode did a good job of showing the paranoia that John and Kim are forced to live under. When they are pulled over by a cop they have no idea if he is a regular cop, a Hive agent, or a Majestic agent. It turns out that he is working for, in some capacity, Majestic.

Later on Steele rears his ugly head again and is trying to track them down. He thinks he has them and ends up killing two innocent people who rented the same hotel room John and Kim just left.

The CGI effects are better here when it comes to the Hive ship. Ty flashes back to when he first discovered it and it looks rather ominous. Later we see photographs of it parked on the moon.

This was really the first “stand-alone” episode of the series, since the previous episode felt like it should have been part of the pilot movie. I think it sets the tone of the series up quite well: John and Kim trying to do what they can to halt the Hive agenda while staying ahead of Majestic and trying to find proof that they can show to the public.

The fact that Kim was given the spotlight and shown to be a strong, determined woman was great. The last two episodes didn’t utilize here all that well.
"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."
--Jor-El


It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job: it's a depression when you lose yours.
-- Harry S. Truman

#8 Virgil Vox

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Posted 02 July 2019 - 08:50 PM

Superboy - The Jewel of Techacal

This is the first episode of the Superboy series, though it isn’t the pilot. That would air as the fifth episode. Not sure why that route was taken but there you go. As it is, this episode does an okay job of introducing the main characters.

The episode itself is rather average. There are much better season 1 episodes than this one. If I was going to try and recommend this series to a friend I would not show them this episode.

The plot is rather pedestrian. Lana’s archaeologist father has returned from a trip to South America, bringing with him lots of artifacts; the main one being the Jewel of Techacal. Lana hasn’t seen her father in two years which is normal. Her father has been on digs for most of her life.

Lex Luthor decides to steal all the artifacts from the exhibit Professor Lang is setting up to make some quick cash and to get back at Lana for rebuffing his advances. Superboy tries to intervene, but the magic of the Jewel renders him unconscious. Can he recover and save the day?

John Haymes Newton only had the role of Clark/Superboy for one season but I think he does a good job. He makes Clark his own character and makes him feel like a real person, not the bumbling disguise Christopher Reeve and second Superboy actor Gerard Christopher adopted. This Clark still has some nerd tendencies but it feels more like his own personality instead of an act.

He looks fine as Superboy. His costume is comics accurate and I always appreciate seeing the classic red trunks. We don’t see much Superboy action here. He flies up to lower the landing gear on a plane and then flies after Lex and Leo as they drive off with their stolen loot. He doesn’t use any of his other abilities. It is established that he can’t see through lead so that’s something.

Lana is really the star of the episode here as the plot revolves around her relationship with her father. Dr. Lang knows he has been a bad father and wants to make it up to Lana but she isn’t sure if she should trust him.

Stacy Haiduk does a good job as Lana though this isn’t her best showing. She gets better as the series goes along. She is also the only actor to appear in all four seasons.

The last main character is TJ White, Perry White’s son. He is Clark and Lana’s friend and a photographer, acting like a cooler Jimmy Olsen. This is the only season he appears in. I like TJ and wish he had stuck around.

Lex is not a good villain here. He has been re-imagined as a preppie frat guy with an airheaded hunk named Leo as his assistant. It is a pretty bad Lex Luthor, made worse by the fact that the actor just isn’t talented. One of the best things this series did is replace the actor playing Lex in season 2.

All in all, not the best start to the series.

X-Men: The Animated Series - The Dark Phoenix Parts 1-4

I probably haven’t seen these episodes since they aired back in the 90s. I decided to buy the DVD after watching the Dark Phoenix movie in the theater. I was actually surprised to see that the entire series was on DVD. I know that the Spider-Man animated series never got a full release.

I can still remember watching these as they aired. I was so excited for every new episode.

The episodes hold up rather well. I think the animation looks good even if it can’t compare to today’s standards. The theme song is infectious, and for years these voices were the ones I associated with the X-Men.

Honestly, my only big complaint is that four episodes weren’t enough to do this story justice. It feels pretty rushed, especially in the first two episodes, and it throws a ton of characters on the screen.

The episodes follow the comic plot basically beat for beat, and I think that is both a blessing and a hindrance. The comic storyline is a classic for a reason so it makes sense for the show to adopt it as closely as possible.

The problem is that the comics had more time to tell the story. The first two episodes just have way too much to do. Jean’s turn to the dark side is extremely rushed. The Hellfire Club members (called the Circle Club here) are shoved into the episodes rather quickly and given no time to be fleshed out. I couldn’t remember who was who.

Wyngarde’s seduction of Jean/Phoenix is really quick and not all that believable. She abandons Cyclops for some random man way too quickly.

I kind of wished the writers had just opted not to include the Hellfire Club. It would have been better to get rid of those characters and focus more on the Phoenix’s desire to experience new emotions and sensations, the darker the better.

The last two episodes fare much better because the characters are allowed a moment to breathe. They get to talk about what is happening and whether they should be defending Jean against the Shi’ar empire.

There is still a fair amount of rushed development here as Phoenix leaves the planet, destroys a sun, and returns within a few minutes.

The Dark Phoenix is something to behold. The animation, voice acting, and music are great. DP easily wipes the floor with the X-Men. I also love her costume and think it is a shame that we’ve had two film adaptations of this story and neither put Jean in her classic Phoenix costume.

The action is pretty intense. I loved watching the X-Men trounce the Inner Circle in Part 2. All of the Phoenix actions scenes were good. The final battle between the X-Men and the Imperial Guard was well done and tense. The personal stakes made it that much better.

It’s a random observation but a lot of the fights with the low level thugs just involve the X-Men throwing them around. Wolverine is basically rampaging through the Inner Circle’s men and he never throws a punch. He just throws the men themselves.

I like the new ending the series gave to the Phoenix storyline. They either didn’t want to or couldn’t kill off Jean so they found a work around. Jean still sacrifices herself (in a much better way than the comics, IMO) but this time the Phoenix says it can resurrect Jean by taking life energy from the X-Men. They gladly give it up and Jean is alive again.

The Cyclops/Dazzler/Jean jealousy triangle was really weird. It was there just so Jean could think Cyclops was cheating on her and would be susceptible to Wyngarde’s manipulation.

Having DP destroy a lifeless star system and just cripple the Shi’ar ship instead of destroying it changes the arguments right before the big battle at the end. While destructive, Dark Phoenix hasn’t killed anyone yet. Some excellent points are made that Jean is being sentenced to die because she might destroy inhabited star systems in the future.

I totally get why Lilandra does what she does here, but I always end up hating her a bit even though she is right.

Xavier’s attempt to play on Lilandra’s emotions backfired on him badly.

That was a pretty uneven match-up between the Imperial Guard and the X-Men. The good guys never stood a chance. I do wonder why Rogue never tried to absorb the powers of one of the Guards. It might have evened things up a bit.

I’ve always been interested to see what would have happened had Scott not been injured in the final battle. That was the moment Jean unleashed the Phoenix. She had it under control until then.

Some nice cameos from other Marvel heroes like Doctor Strange and Thor.

I had forgotten about Storm’s expressions before she uses her powers. Things like “Rise mighty winds and carry us aloft.” Not that exactly but you get my meaning.

Cyclops was my animated crush, and continued my streak of crushing on the more straight laced heroes. See Superman, Captain America, Jason the Red Ranger, etc.

I find it odd that the DVD that contains the first part of the Phoenix saga sells for $40-50 dollars while I got this one for about $10. You’d think this would be the more expensive DVD.

Despite the rushed nature of this four part saga it still holds up incredibly well today and is probably the best adaptation of the comic storyline.
"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."
--Jor-El


It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job: it's a depression when you lose yours.
-- Harry S. Truman

#9 RJDiogenes

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Posted 05 July 2019 - 04:59 PM

View PostVirgil Vox, on 02 July 2019 - 08:50 PM, said:

He looks fine as Superboy. His costume is comics accurate and I always appreciate seeing the classic red trunks. We don’t see much Superboy action here.  
This was always one of my problems with superhero adaptations.  They mainstream it too much. It's almost like they're embarrassed by the concept and try to minimize it.

Quote

The last main character is TJ White, Perry White’s son. He is Clark and Lana’s friend and a photographer, acting like a cooler Jimmy Olsen. This is the only season he appears in. I like TJ and wish he had stuck around.  
At first I wondered what the point of that was, then I realized that this is Superboy. Jimmy Olson was probably in third grade. Somebody was actually giving some thought to character continuity, which is rare in these things (another reason I never liked adaptations).

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Lex is not a good villain here. He has been re-imagined as a preppie frat guy with an airheaded hunk named Leo as his assistant.
Like that.  :lol:

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I do wonder why Rogue never tried to absorb the powers of one of the Guards.
Has it ever been established whether Rogue can absorb the powers of aliens, or if she is limited to humans?  It's been so long that I don't even remember if it ever came up in the comics.
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#10 Christopher

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Posted 05 July 2019 - 08:17 PM

View PostRJDiogenes, on 05 July 2019 - 04:59 PM, said:

Has it ever been established whether Rogue can absorb the powers of aliens, or if she is limited to humans?  It's been so long that I don't even remember if it ever came up in the comics.

Well, Rogue permanently absorbed Carol Danvers's Ms. Marvel powers, which Carol acquired when her genetic code was rewritten to be half-Kree. So I'd say that Rogue could absorb alien powers, yes. I do remember an episode of the animated series where she accidentally touched a reptilian alien and turned green and grew spikes or something. Now that I mention it, I recall having her absorb at least one alien's attributes in my X-Men novel Watchers on the Walls, which I did for Pocket back in 2006.
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#11 Virgil Vox

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Posted 31 August 2019 - 01:33 PM

Quote

This was always one of my problems with superhero adaptations.  They mainstream it too much. It's almost like they're embarrassed by the concept and try to minimize it.

It does feel that way with a lot of adaptations but they all seem to eventually embrace the more comic book-y aspects. Superboy does this starting with season 2. The same with Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Smallville, Arrow, etc.

Superboy - Back to Oblivion

This was a much better episode than the pilot. It had a good story and utilized all three main characters rather well.

The plot is pretty simple. TJ and Clark want to investigate a junkyard after reports that strange things are happening there. TJ goes there by himself and almost dies in a compactor but is saved by Superboy. Lana decides to go there to bring food to the owner, an older gentleman named Mr. Wagner who survived the Holocaust. He has had a break with reality and believes that Nazis are out to get him and has booby trapped the junkyard. Can Superboy save the day?

What works in this episode is the chemistry between the three leads. You buy them as friends. It was nice seeing Lana drag Clark along to the pool and then push him in. TJ and Clark get some nice bro moments as well.

John Haymes Newton is really good this episode and I like how he differentiates his Clark and Superboy, making it easier to believe they are two separate people. He is also in his Superboy persona a lot this episode, saving TJ twice and battling through Mr. Wagner’s traps.

Mr. Wagner, played by Abe Vigoda, is a tragic figure. He was a respected scientist who survived the Holocaust, came to America, and made a good life for himself. It was only after suffering an attack by some local kids that his mind snapped. He believes he is saving himself and Lana (who he believes is his granddaughter who didn’t survive the camps) from the Nazis.

The episode ends on a somewhat downbeat note when Clark realizes that even as Superboy he can’t fight every instance of hatred and intolerance.

This episode showed that the series would be more than just campy fun. It’s still kind of silly and campy but it isn’t afraid to tackle tough issues.

Superman: The Animated Series - The Last Son of Krypton Parts 1-3

I have a secret to admit. While I am a huge Superman fan, I haven’t seen all of his animated series despite owning all three seasons on DVD. I decided to rectify this and started watching the show.

The three part pilot is pretty good. It isn’t mind blowing and the animation isn’t great (though that could be in part because it doesn’t look like the DVDs were sourced from a good copy) but it is an enjoyable pilot that does a good job of portraying Superman’s origins and setting up future plot lines.

The entire first episode takes place on Krypton which is a bold move but it works. We come to care for Jor-El and Lara as they realize that their planet is doomed but they can still save their child.

I like the twist that Brainiac is a Kryptonian supercomputer that knows the planet is going to be destroyed but lies so that he has time to send himself to an orbiting satellite so he can escape.

I thought that they would spend more time with Clark as a teen gaining his powers but that part of his life was glossed over. That was fine with me. What was there was really good.

The scene where a young Clark learns to fly was done really well. You could see how happy Clark was and the freedom he felt. That was one of my favorite scenes in the pilot.

Ostensibly the villain here is Lex Luthor, though he is operating from the shadows. That leaves the main villain that Superman fights as some random terrorist guy. Sure, he has an experimental weapons suit but it’s not a match for Superman. I feel like Superman should have had a better foe to go up against his first time out.

The scene where Superman confronts Lex at his office was good. It sets up the animosity between the two characters rather nicely.

The show had a good voice cast and I thought they all did a good job in their roles. I don’t think any of them are quite as iconic as Kevin Conroy as Batman or Mark Hamill as Joker but they’re good.

The tease at the end with Brainiac being picked up by those aliens and promptly killing them all took me by surprise. I had forgotten about that.

All in all, this was a good way to start the series.
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-- Harry S. Truman

#12 RJDiogenes

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Posted 02 September 2019 - 05:39 PM

View PostVirgil Vox, on 31 August 2019 - 01:33 PM, said:

It was nice seeing Lana drag Clark along to the pool and then push him in. TJ and Clark get some nice bro moments as well.  
Doesn't he have super-balance?  :lol:

Quote

The episode ends on a somewhat downbeat note when Clark realizes that even as Superboy he can’t fight every instance of hatred and intolerance.  
One is more than most people manage.

Quote

The entire first episode takes place on Krypton which is a bold move but it works. We come to care for Jor-El and Lara as they realize that their planet is doomed but they can still save their child.  
Which version of Krypton do they use?  Classic sun-emblem-on-the-chest Krypton or gloomy frowny postmodern Krypton?
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#13 Virgil Vox

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Posted 09 September 2019 - 08:28 PM

Quote

Doesn't he have super-balance?  

I guess not.

Quote

Which version of Krypton do they use?  Classic sun-emblem-on-the-chest Krypton or gloomy frowny postmodern Krypton?

Kind of a mixture of both, honestly. I didn't feel like it was too dark or gloomy but it had dark undercurrents with Brainiac manipulating the council and doing everything in its power to preserve itself.
"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."
--Jor-El


It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job: it's a depression when you lose yours.
-- Harry S. Truman

#14 Doppleganger

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Posted 21 September 2019 - 05:28 PM

Dark Crystal Age of Resistance

End Begin All the same-

Not sure if anyone has seen this yet but quite enjoyable, the episode starts a little slow with some clunky exposition to introduce anyone who hasn't seen the original movie to the world and setting, but once the plot starts moving things improve a lot.

We have the Skeksis ruling the fantasy world of Thrall as benign dictators and no one seems to really mind or notice. That is until the crystal of truth which they are supposedly protecting but instead using to prolong there lives no longer sustains them in fact there over use of the crystal over the many centuries results in the darkening wherein the crystal has become corrupted and said corruption is spreading through the land and starting to infect its inhabitants.  In desperation the Skeksis  start looking for other ways to maintain there immortality, there experiments result in the discovery they can use crystal drain the Gelflings of there essence to restore there vitality and sustain them.

The production quality is out of this world and it is great to see Jim Henson productions doing what they do best. The visual effects are great with cgi used sparingly mainly to add to what you see (such as the movement of the Skeksis tongues when they speak) rather than as quick fix as you see in far to many productions nowadays.
The Gelfling characters were a little 'meh' for my taste but will hopefully develop more personality as the series progresses with the Skeksis carrying most of the episode managing to come off as comical and silly while also being ruthlessly pragmatic and sinister at the same time. Nice to see a fantasy which manages to be completely otherworldly and strange while feeling real and lived in.

Edited by Doppleganger, 21 September 2019 - 05:28 PM.

“Is that not blasphemy? Defying the will of the Covenant?’

‘No,’ said the captain. ‘It was a tactical retreat in the face of overwhelming boredom.”
The First Heretic

#15 RJDiogenes

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Posted 22 September 2019 - 03:40 PM

Wow, i knew this was coming, but I didn't know it was here. Too bad I don't have Netflix.
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#16 Virgil Vox

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Posted 04 October 2019 - 07:08 AM

Thanks for the review on the new Dark Crystal series Doppleganger. It is on my need to watch list but I haven't had time to actually watch it yet. Hopefully you will review more episodes for us.

The Simpsons – Treehouse of Horror

I know I reviewed this in my Halloween thread last year but thought I’d review it again just for fun.

The Treehouse of Horror episodes from The Simpsons have become Halloween staples. I look forward to watching them every October (or in the few instances November). Some of them genuinely creeped me out when I was a kid. This year I thought I would try and watch every installment throughout the month.

This first ToH contains a wrap-around segment which later installments would do away with. It also features a warning from Marge that the episode isn’t appropriate for younger viewers.

The wrap-around segment sees the Simpson kids telling scary stories in their treehouse, hence the title. Homer listens in unobtrusively.

Bad Dream House – The first segment is probably my favorite. The Simpsons move into a suspiciously cheap house and become aware that it is haunted.

There are some good gags in this segment and it is a nice parody of haunted house movies. I love the twist ending with the house deciding it would rather choose death than be forced to deal with the Simpsons.

Hungry are the Damned – The first appearance of Kang and Kodos who would become ToH staples. Based on a Twilight Zone episode here the Simpsons are chosen by the aliens to travel to their home world. The aliens cook a lot of food for the Simpsons, leaving Lisa to get suspicious of their true intentions. This also has a twist ending in that the aliens aren’t planning on eating the Simpsons and are so offended by the notion that they drop the family back on Earth.

The Raven – This is essentially Poe’s poem narrated by James Earl Jones with Homer as the protagonist and Bart as the Raven. It is basically a straight re-telling with some nice visual gags. They actually do a good job of it while acknowledging that it probably isn’t that scary or interesting to a contemporary audience.

I thought this was a pretty good start to the ToH series. It shows that the writers can do three short stories in one episode and keep them pretty entertaining. The Raven shows they are capable of taking risks as well. Like I wrote, I think the Bad Dream Hose segment is the best. I’d probably rank Hungry are the Damned as the weakest installment. It is good but I felt that it dragged a little too long.

The Simpsons – Treehouse of Horror II

The second installment shares a lot of similarity with the first. Marge once again appears at the start to warn viewers the show isn’t appropriate for kids. There is a wrap-around segment and another appearance by Kang and Kodos.

The wrap-around segment here sees Lisa, Bart, and Homer experiencing nightmares from eating too much candy.

Lisa’s Nightmare – Homer buys a monkey’s paw from a Moroccan street vendor though he is warned that the wishes are twisted by the paw. Maggie uses the first wish to get a new pacifier. Bart wishes for the Simpsons to have fame and fortune. This is actually a pretty good gag as it parodies the real life success of the show. The Simpsons merchandise is everywhere and all the townspeople are sick of the family.

Lisa wishes for world peace which actually seems to work as every country declares peace and all the weapons are destroyed. It backfires when Kang and Kodos arrive and conquer the Earth using sling shots. Homer makes a final wish for a turkey sandwich but is dismayed when it is a little dry.

This is my favorite segment. There are some good laughs here and the wishes are in character for each family member. I also love the ending since the wishes Flanders makes don’t seem to have any downside, angering Homer.

Bart’s Nightmare – A Twilight Zone parody sees Bart with god-like powers and the ability to read minds. The town is under his control and must do what he wants or suffer his wrath.

This is a darker tale as we see the everyday malice Bart gets up to, like forcing Krusty to be on the air 24/7 with no breaks and “improving” the cat.

It does have a heartwarming ending as Bart and Homer come to appreciate each other and enjoy spending time together. This creates a pretty funny moment as Bart wakes up screaming in terror at the notion of bonding with his dad.

Homer’s Nightmare – A Frankenstein parody that I just don’t like very much. It’s not bad by any stretch of the imagination and has some great lines in it (Burns going “Look at me. I’m Davey Crockett’) is hilarious.

I’m not sure why I’m not a fan of this segment. I’m just not. I do remember that the ending with Burns’ head attached to Homer’s body at the end creeped me out as a kid. I think part of the reason is that the ending treated it as the new status quo for the series.
"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."
--Jor-El


It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job: it's a depression when you lose yours.
-- Harry S. Truman

#17 Virgil Vox

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Posted 17 November 2019 - 07:19 PM

Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman - Pilot

In many ways L&C was my gateway into Superman. I had read Superman comics before this show, and seen parts of the movies and the George Reeves show but this series was where I really cut my teeth on the character. As such a lot of my views on the character come from this show. It holds a special place in my heart.

I absolutely love the cast. I think Dean Cain is phenomenal as Clark/Superman. He makes the role his own and makes Clark an actual character and not just a caricature that he is hiding behind. This was when Clark was the real person and Superman the disguise. Cain looks the part (and is absolutely gorgeous here) and makes for a likeable hero.

Teri Hatcher is still my definitive Lois Lane. There have been some great actresses that have taken on the role but Hatcher will always be my favorite. I feel like her Lois is the right mix of tough and vulnerable. She will do whatever it takes to get the story but she isn’t cold blooded. While she does get rescued by Superman here she isn’t a damsel in distress.

John Shea makes for a good Lex Luthor. He oozes charm and on the surface seems like the kind of guy who want to hang around. Scratch the surface and he is a cold blooded master manipulator who will do whatever it takes to get what he wants.

The rest of the cast is great. Lane Smith is my favorite Perry. I was sad to discover that his love of Elvis was not something that was in the comics. Michael Landes was a good Jimmy and I am sad they got rid of him at the end of the season. This was a more modern (for the 90s, anyway) Jimmy who wasn’t a geek. Tracy Scoggins did a good job as Cat Grant but she isn’t given much to do here other than sexually harass Clark. K Callan and Eddie Jones are extremely lovable as the Kents. I always prefer it when the Kents are alive and I hate that the New 52 killed them off.

I never thought about this before but why does Clark wear glasses when he first gets to Metropolis? His plan isn’t to become a superhero. That is something he only decides to do towards the end of the pilot. So why the glasses when he doesn’t need them?

That snake scene with Lex is just so random. Like, what is the point of it? To show that Lex can intimidate a snake?

It is odd watching this pilot now when we have a ton of superhero shows on the air now. The pilot moves at a much slower pace than modern day pilots do. It really isn’t until about the last 10 minutes that Clark gets the suit. He also doesn’t reveal his secret identity to his entire supporting cast either.

That said, it isn’t a boring pilot. Honestly, the banter between Lois and Clark keeps the episode engaging even when the plot drags. The two leads have good chemistry with each other and it is a joy to watch them work together.

I love the montage of Clark trying on different costumes while “I Need A Hero” is playing. It is a laugh out loud moment in the episode with some of the costumes being pretty ridiculous. Then he comes out in the iconic suit and a superhero is born.

For his first time out Superman acquits himself rather well. He swallows a bomb meant to destroy the space shuttle and then flies it into outer space so it can dock with the space station.

What I like about this pilot, and the series as a whole, is that it shows that Lois and Clark are great investigative reporters. I feel like this is an aspect of the character the comics drop the ball on a lot. It feels like every time Clark has a mystery to solve in the comics he immediately runs to Batman for help. I get that Batman is the world’s greatest detective but Clark isn’t a slouch in that department either.

More shirtless, wet Dean Cain please.

Just like the pilot for Superman: TAS, we get a scene where Superman confronts Lex in his office. I like this scene better because Superman actually talks to Lex. I also love Superman’s last line to Lex, when he tells him that to look up to find him. This is a nice callback to an earlier line where Lex says he loves being in the tallest building in the city because everyone has to look up to him.

I really like this pilot. Yes, it is rather slow moving and doesn’t feature a lot of superheroics but it does a great job of setting up the characters and making us like them. It has a good mystery for our two star reporters to uncover and does see Superman perform a pretty big feat.
"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."
--Jor-El


It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job: it's a depression when you lose yours.
-- Harry S. Truman

#18 RJDiogenes

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 08:53 PM

View PostVirgil Vox, on 17 November 2019 - 07:19 PM, said:

This was when Clark was the real person and Superman the disguise. Cain looks the part (and is absolutely gorgeous here) and makes for a likeable hero.  
Is that being played differently now?  To me, one of the major contrasts between Superman and Batman was that Superman was really Clark Kent pretending to be Superman and Batman was really Batman pretending to be Bruce Wayne.
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#19 Christopher

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Posted 19 November 2019 - 10:07 PM

View PostRJDiogenes, on 19 November 2019 - 08:53 PM, said:

To me, one of the major contrasts between Superman and Batman was that Superman was really Clark Kent pretending to be Superman and Batman was really Batman pretending to be Bruce Wayne.

Only post-Crisis. In the Silver and Bronze Ages, Clark Kent was just a facade Superman put on to hide his identity. He'd been super since infancy and had memories of Krypton, so he identified as Kryptonian first. The John Byrne reboot in the '80s changed it so that he grew up believing himself to be Clark Kent and only learned of his powers and origins in adolescence, so Clark became his true self. That's the version L&C followed, as have most versions since.
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#20 Virgil Vox

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Posted 22 March 2020 - 01:07 PM

Superboy – The Alien Solution

This episode, along with the two part follow-up, is considered one of the best episodes of Superboy season 1. It is easy to see why. For the first time Superboy goes up against an otherworldly menace. The previous episodes mainly saw him deal with human bad guys.

This does represent somewhat of a turning point for the season. While Superboy would still face a lot of human threats the show started introducing more comic book type scenarios. There is time travel, Mister Mxyzptlk, a evil robot, kryptonite, etc.

The threat here is an alien entity that exists in a purple gaseous form. The alien (it is never given a name) searches the cosmos for strong warriors that he can kill and then take over. He currently has four preserved bodies. He has come to Earth to acquire Superboy. He hops into his favorite body which looks like a samurai with a giant laser gun, and heads down to Earth. He attacks Lana because even this alien knows that Lana is the damsel in distress that Superboy will rescue.

The fight between Superboy and the alien is well done, especially for the budget the show had. Superboy gets blasted by the gun a few times before he destroys it and then the two engage in fisticuffs.

Superboy defeats the alien but he doesn’t realize that the alien is a gas and doesn’t know that it has migrated to Lana’s body. This adds a nice twist to the episode. The alien had seriously hurt Lana before the fight and she is now in the hospital in a coma basically.

Clark is keeping a vigil next to Lana’s bed side and reveals the conflicted feelings he has for her. As Clark he sees her as a little sister and the girl he grew up with in Smallville but as Superboy he loves her. It is a nice peek into the duality of his nature.

The alien, still inside Lana, hears this and threatens to kill Lana if Clark doesn’t do what the alien says. The alien wants another chance to acquire Superboy. The two head to the alien’s comet lair where the alien starts to divide his essence between his last three remaining bodies. Superboy destroys them all with his heat vision. The alien rushes back to Earth to inhabit Lana once again but Superboy uses his super breath to trap the alien inside an empty gas canister.

The episode starts with the alien watching Superboy save Lana from the episode “Countdown to Nowhere” which is fine. It shows that the alien has been watching Superboy for some time. However, the writers change the scene right after Superboy saves Lana from plunging to her death. He places her on a road instead of the beach next to TJ. Lana also kisses Superboy. It was just weird watching it play out differently than it did originally.

When the alien first grabs Lana she is screaming her head off and yelling for help. She is on campus and an alien samurai with a giant gun is carrying her off. Several people witness this and chalk it up to a frat stunt and express displeasure with Lana for taking part.

We see Clark casually using his powers in his dorm room to chill his bottled water and to change the TV channels when he can’t find a remote.
No TJ this episode aside from a brief phone call he has with Clark.

All in all, a really good episode that gives Superboy a worthy adversary to fight physically and mentally when the alien possesses Lana.

Lois & Clark – Honeymoon in Metropolis

This is a terrific episode and really embodies what the first season of Lois & Clark was about. It focuses on the characters, the reporting angle, with Superman brought in to deal with situations that reporter Clark Kent can’t solve. This will change next season when new show runners are brought in and the series focuses more on action and introducing comic book elements.

The plot revolves around Lois booking a relaxing weekend in the honeymoon suite at Lexor Hotel though none of her co-workers can believe she is actually going to relax and not work on a story. While she is there she happens to see a congressman in a building across the street giving top secret material to a man and getting a lot of money in return. Her relaxing weekend turns into surveillance with Clark as they try to determine what the congressman and his cronies are up to.

The writing and the actors really make this episode work. For a good part of the runtime it is just Lois and Clark in a hotel room. That could have made for a boring episode but instead it gives both characters a time to shine and gives us a peek into what makes them tick. In one scene the duo play a series of games and we see Lois’s competitive side come out full force whereas Clark just has fun playing. They also have a serious conversation about how neither of them has really lived with a lover long term before and the pros and cons that come with that.

There is also the cliché scene where the two kiss passionately to hide what they are really doing in the suite from a maid who has come to give them more towels.
The entire Daily Planet gang is used well here as they all get involved in the story. Cat Grant is usually just in the background and shows up to give a few snarky quips. She still does that here but her role is expanded which I appreciated. She is a good character and Tracy Scoggins is good in the role.

In a pretty comical scene Perry takes Lois and Clark to meet his secret informant, Sore Throat. True to his name, Sore Throat is suffering from a cold and spends the scene sneezing and sniffling.

The plot involving the congressman and his partner, Roarke, is engaging. There is a nice mystery element to it as the reporters slowly uncover just what it is these men are doing. It involves a new navy defense system designed by Lex that they are going to sabotage which will create a tsunami and devastate Metropolis.

Clark only turns into Superman twice, once to keep Lois from being discovered by the bad guys and then at the end to stop the tsunami. Some people might not like how little Superman factors into the episode but I didn’t mind. It works for the story they were trying to tell.
"You will give the people an ideal to strive towards. They will race behind you. They will stumble. They will fall. But in time, they will join you in the sun. In time, you will help them accomplish wonders."
--Jor-El


It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job: it's a depression when you lose yours.
-- Harry S. Truman


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