Saturday, February 28, 2009

Do You Compute Here Often?

Attack of the 50 Foot Bad Cartoon From Outer Space

Me, Watch'em! You, Read'em! Ugh!

Continuing my quest to watch every weird-ass movie in the Los Angeles Library catalog.

One Million Years B.C. (1966)

Cavemen run around clubbing and spearing each other when they’re not clubbing and spearing dinosaurs, or ogling bikini-clad cavechicks, including a pneumatic Raquel Welch.

This is one of those films you read about in science fiction film books that are labeled a “classic.” Well, I’m calling bullshit here and now. This is a very bad movie. And a dull one. (We’re only looking at its merits as a sci-fi-action-adventure movie, not its scientific credibility.)

There’s a voice over narrator at the beginning, but he leaves after a few mostly unnecessary words, of the “life is harsh here” variety (gee, we'd never have known that just by watching the movie), and never crops up again. We’re dealing with cavepeople, so that means a limited vocabulary and some gesturing, but usually a lot of staring. (Gesturing and staring - shit, it's a bunch of mimes!) Quest for Fire this is not. At times it seemed like I was watching the prehistoric man scenes in Mel Brooks’ History of the World, Part 1 or Ringo Starr’s Caveman (remember that movie, boys and girls?).

The story involves Tumak, the son of leader Ahkoba, getting kicked out of the Hill People tribe after fighting with his padre over a leg bone or some-such. Tumak is played by John Richardson, who makes a respectable caveman, but his father (Robert Brown, later M in the 70s and 80s Bond movies) looks like a cross between Sean Connery and Avery Schreiber. Mostly Avery Schreiber. In his exhile Tumak runs into, or rather tumbles down a hill into, the Shell People, all blond and tanned, fishing and swimming, selling tie-dyed tee shirts and waxing their surfboards (yes, Tumak stumbles onto Venice Beach).

There’s a lot of Tumak "walking the land scenes," which are breathtaking at first – they shot in the Canary Islands, located off the northwest coast of Africa – but after about the fourth trek or so across the wasteland it becomes extremely tedious (and the whole movie is only 90 minutes long). Still, nice of the production to pony up some bucks and shoot somewhere cool, rather than, say, VASQUEZ ROCKS, but then this isn't Korg: 70,000 BC now, is it?.

The visual effects are interesting. On the one hand, you get great Ray Harryhausen stop-motion animated dinosaurs including an allosaurus, a tyrannosaurus, a triceratops and a pteranadon. But on the other hand you also have a real live iguana, blown up optically to the size of a 747, traipsing about. Usually in dino-flicks it’s one or the other.

The music also annoyed me, being mostly a creepy religious-sounding chorus of voices that would have been more appropriate for a movie involving exorcism than a dinosaur romp.

Let’s be honest, the only real reason to watch this movie, aside from Harryhausen’s effects, is for Raquel Welch and her fur bikini. And boy, she still holds up, if you know what I’m saying, and I think you do. Her Loana is the hottest cave/beach chick around, with the biggest hair, the biggest smile and the biggest boo—well, you get the idea. She runs, swims, and fights in those little scraps of rabbit fur or whatever they were – how they stayed on through all that is a real special effects miracle.

Friday, February 27, 2009


It! The Bad Cartoon From Outer Space

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Do NOT Want

Here is my impression of EVERY tech repair guy facing a computer problem. Ready?

Sits at computer, all confident. Types in a few things. (a beat) "That's weird."

That's what happened this afternoon with my internet access problemo of the last couple of days. Tech guy used some sci-fi gadget and got a high speed reading at one end, but DIAL UP speed was reading at the other (my) end. After replacing my high speed modem with a brand-fangled new model, and taking some more Ghostbuster gizmo readings he come to the conclusion that the problem was "out on the pole." (That and I had a "full spectrum vapor apparition," but I'm not overly concerned with Slimer right now.)

The other thing was "it could take a day or two to fix."

Of course.

This was at 3pm Thursday afternoon. Meaning tomorrow is Friday and this crap could go on through the weekend until Monday or Tuesday. So I'm posting today at dial up speed. Meaning I hit Enter, then take out the garbage, clean the bathroom, or wash a sink-load of dishes, then come back to the computer to see if it's done.

It's 1996 all over again, and it's effing annoying. Isn't that weird?

Gorn With The Wind

Because no one asked for it - more LOL GORNS! That's how BNFOS rolls.

Disclaimer: Star Trek is Copyright 2009 and a Registered Trademark of CBS Studios, Inc. No infringement of those rights is implied. Thanks to for the Star Trek screencaps.

Star Trek's Answer to Wile E. Coyote

Monday, February 23, 2009

Hopping Galaxies

Star Trek. I haven’t watched it since the late 80s. It’s been Remastered. Now it’s being Re-viewed.

“By Any Other Name”

Kirk and company answer a distress call, resulting in the Enterprise being hijacked by aliens for a trip to the Andromeda galaxy. (Kids, never pick up hitchhikers! )

This is a goofy episode, with a lot of comedy. When the landing party beams down in the opener it looks like they materialize in the middle of a miniature golf course – the planet set looks that phony. Remember, it’s par 3 at the windmill. (Though CBS Digital tries to expand and enliven things by using a new digital matte for the first few seconds of them rematerializing on the surface, but it’s lost when they cut to the astroturf set.)

Warren Stevens, the classic film Forbidden Planet’s Doc Ostrow, plays Rojan, leader of the alien Kelvans. His sexy, but extremely wooden number two is Kelinda, played by Barbara Bouchet.

This is a classic Gene Roddenberry story (written by Jerome Bixby and D.C. Fontana) where the aliens don’t understand human emotions and feelings, so the Enterprise crew helps them OD on them: Scotty gets one guy sloppy drunk, McCoy pumps another dude with stimulants, and Kirk bangs the hot blond Kelinda, making Rojan jealous, essentially killing two Kelvan birds with one stone.

The Kelvans are somehow able to reduce the Enterprise crew into foam dodecahedrons, saving on food and laundry bills. Why? Why not? Careful not to rub or scrap the dodecahedrons – Ensign Ricky or Yeoman Bubbles might lose an eyebrow, or worse.

Scotty gets a priceless line, as he’s trying to drink the Kelvan under the table by producing an unlabeled bottle of booze. In response to the Kelvan’s question as to what it is they’re about to drink, Scotty looks at it a moment and simply states, “It’s green!”

CBS Digital does a good job of revamping the scenes of the Enterprise breaking through the energy barrier at our galaxy’s edge (established in the second pilot “Where No Man Has Gone Before”) on the way to Andromeda. Lots of light and color, flash and movement. Good stuff.

Disclaimer: Star Trek is Copyright 2009 and a Registered Trademark of CBS Studios, Inc. No infringement of those rights is implied.

Thanks to for the Star Trek screencaps.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Not So Sweet Revieeeeew

Continuing my quest to watch every movie in the Los Angeles Library catalog.

Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song (1971)

So last night I sat down to watch the legendary Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song. If you are a movie fan, a fan of 1970s films, or a genre/exploitation movie aficionado you have heard of this movie. Before Robert Rodriguez used his one-man-band approach to moviemaking, Melvin Van Peebles produced, wrote, directed, played the lead character, and composed the music for SSBS.

Seeing as there were no movies made by black filmmakers and crews for black audiences showing the black experience Van Peebles set out to make one. It has the thinnest of plots: a black man, who kills two cops who are brutalizing another black man, runs for the safety of the Mexican border while eluding the LAPD. That’s it. And it’s a piece of shit. Yes, that’s right, a pos. The majority of the movie is Sweetback running – through the streets, the desert, the woods – and having sex. And for an “x-rated” movie, extremely laughable sex: Sweetback gets on top of a woman and doesn’t move at all or make a sound, while the woman is writhing in ecstasy. Sweetback looks extremely bored, like he’s thinking of doing his taxes (“Which form is best for “sex worker” and how do I itemize my sex toys as deductions?”).

What little story there is is so poorly told by the amateur crew with little to no resources. There is no notion of decent composition, night scenes appear to have been lit by flashlight (you could only see about three feet of any one thing), the acting by the amateur cast is laughable (Van Peebles’ Sweetback only says about a half dozen words in the whole movie), the “jump cuts” seem to indicate a lack of film rather than any true storytelling technique, the montage scenes with the crazy colors and psychedelic effects are a lame attempt to make the film “artsy.”

There is of course the infamous scene where Van Peebles used his own son, a scrawny then-13 year old Mario, to portray the young (pre-teen?) Sweetback losing his virginity to a 20-something prostitute. Why the authorities didn’t make a big stink, or even a little stink, out of this, while going bananas a few years later over Roman Polanski’s having sex with a 13 year old white girl shows the ethics double standard between blacks and whites (yes, Mario wasn’t raped, but he WAS exploited by his own father, who when asked by Tavis Smiley about the scene supposedly answered, “Well, it obviously didn’t hurt the boy.” Father of the Year right there).

The hype and hoopla in and surrounding this movie pushed it into the history books: in the movie, title cards read “This film is dedicated to all the Brothers and Sisters who had enough of The Man” and at the end “Watch out, a baad asssss nigger is coming back to collect some dues.” “Rated X By An All White Jury” screamed the posters

Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song was important because Melvin Van Peebles used blacks and minorities as his crew and actors, when the majority of films from major studios used whites in front of and behind the camera. It was important because it was made for a black audience when no major studio was making films for anyone but the white majority. But truth be told, the making of the film is much more interesting than the final product, which is so wacky that it ushered in the blaxploitation craze of the 1970s. A few years ago, Mario Van Peebles made Baadasssss!, a great film about the making of Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song, with Mario coming full circle and playing his father. The legend of SSBS is better than the real thing.

Watch Baadasssss! And leave Sweet Sweetback’s Baadasssss Song on the video shelf for film historians.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Goodbye Eliza's Tanktops

Okay, Dollhouse, I quit.

Rich people buy yachts and jets. They build hotels and casinos. Rich people eat in the most famous and luxurious restaurants in the world. They buy outrageously expensive bottles of wine. If they are male, they usually date a string of gorgeous women before marrying some other gorgeous woman. Rich people even spend $20 million for a ride into space. Rich people don’t rent “actives” with computer implanted personalities and abilities so they can go on fancy dates with them for a few days. The A-Team, with Mr. T's mohawk and jewelry and 407,692 bullets whizzing around every episode and not hitting anyone, is more believable and realistic.

I don’t even think Joss Whedon created this show, rather it’s some guy with a similar name, like Jeff Whedon, and the network suits got their wires crossed.

In tonight’s episode a client’s credentials are faked. The Dollhouse people are astonished. The Dollhouse people, who run a secret organization where they routinely erase people’s minds and implant new memories and abilities using a computer, are shocked at faked paperwork!

This gorram show is so stupid, it makes me want to watch NUMB3RS instead. I see it being cancelled after six more episodes.

I’m gonna go watch my Firefly DVDs.

Chop, Chop

Continuing my quest to watch every movie in the Los Angeles Library catalog.

Have you heard of the Lone Wolf and Cub movies? There are a series of Japanese samurai exploitation (samurai-splotion?) movies, based on a wildly popular manga of the same name, made in the early 1970s. If you like good exploitation movies, watch this six film series.

The plot is simple: the Shogun’s chief executioner is framed and his family murdered by a rival clan that wants to hold that prestigious office. To say this ticks off the executioner, Itto Ogami, is an understatement. His 1 year old son, Daigoro, managed to escape the massacre and is given a choice by Ogami: pick the brightly colored ball and you will join your mother in heaven, or pick the shiny sword and join daddy on a long and very bloody journey of revenge. Daigoro picks door number two and gets a bamboo and wood baby cart festooned with hidden weapons and tricks that would make James Bond’s Q jealous.

Itto Ogami is played by chubby actor Tomisaburo Wakayama (somewhere between John Belushi and Jack Black). You’d think they’d get a lean, rangy Japanese version of Clint Eastwood, but the slightly tubby Wakayama is very convincing. He has the stare of a haunted man, and he is dynamite in the many, and I do mean many, sword fight scenes in this series.

It is those fight scenes which classify this series as exploitation. To quote the great drive-in movie critic Joe Bob Briggs (one of my heroes), “heads roll, hands roll, feet roll and torsos roll.” Practically every body part gets its due, if you know what I mean. And the orange colored blood spurts, flows and squirts. Sometimes I wondered if they used a fire hose. The fight choreography is fast and furious, with very little if any "wire fu" (that's more a Hong Kong thing anyway) although there is obvious trampoline work. You can actually follow the action, unlike today's herky-jerky, shoot too close in, then edit-in-a-blender action scene aesthetic.

The first film, Lone Wolf and Cub: Sword of Vengence, which of course sets up the plot, is the dullest of the lot. But with that out of the way the remaining five get down to business. They all have a similar framework, and blend together when watched one after the other, with Ogami and Daigoro tooling around Japan and getting attacked several times each film. They make it out alive and are hitting the road at the end, always pressing on.

The last film, Lone Wolf and Cub: White Heaven in Hell, goes totally bananas and has Ogami on a snowy mountainside fighting off what appear to be hundreds of SKIING ninjas and assassins. Yes, ninjas on skis! It’s like Mel Brooks took a pass at the script.

That is how you do exploitation right.

ps: Perhaps you remember trailers, around 1980, for something called Shogun Assassin, whose highlight was a baby cart racing down a hillside, sprouting blades from its wheels just before plowing through a gang of bad guys. An American producer took a few minutes of LWAC #1 and combined it with the majority of LWAC #2, dubbed it and threw it up on U.S. movie screens. This was our first taste of Lone Wolf and Cub.

Bottles and papers and cans, oh my!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I Got The Power!

Continuing my quest to watch every movie in the Los Angeles Library catalog.

Masters of the Universe (1987)

Master schlockmeister Menahem Golan – producer of the infamous Chuck Norris Missing in Action I thru LXVI films and Superman IV: Sorry For The Last One With Richard Pryor – attempted to snatch up the Star Wars audience and toy action figure crowds with this live-action version of the He-Man toy universe. What resulted was a cross between a Sid and Marty Krofft show and Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.

Standard action fantasy plot: Bad guy Skeletor (Frank Langella, having loads of fun under make up) wants the power of Castle Grayskull, which will make him ruler of all Eternia and/or the universe. The only thing in his way is a shitload of muscles with a mullet named He-Man (Dolph “I must break you” Lundgren). Both sides of the issue have lots of colorful characters with equally colorful names: Man-at-Arms, Evil-Lyn, Beast Man, Teela, Saurod, Karg, Douchebag and Dick Head (probably kidding with those last two). Rounding out the crapitude is my favorite performer Billy Barty, he of little person fame, playing Gwildor the diminutive keymaster. The make up designed for Barty reminds me of nothing so much as a Bruce Vilanch troll doll. (see for yourself)
This is the kind of film where it looks like the actors were cast to be themselves rather than actually create characters (hey, it worked on American Graffiti). There was no Steven Spielberg-like direction given to them. According to IMDb, this 1987 film is the first movie by director Gary Goddard, and pretty much the last one, not counting a pair of 3D shows in the early 2000s. Frank Langella really struts his stuff and gives life to Skeletor (maybe he should have directed). Too bad the same can’t be said for Dolph Lundgren’s heavy browed He-Man. His mullet (business with Skeletor up front, party at Grayskull in the rear) is a better actor. A pre-Friends Courteney Cox dances in the dark with a pre-Star Trek Voyager Robert Duncan McNeil playing her van-driving (is this the 1970s?) musician boyfriend.

The action and fight scenes are very Saturday morning kid safe, which is to say totally boring and completely uninspired. It's so safe it makes the battle scenes in the original Star Wars look like Saving Private Ryan. The special effects are extremely dated, which is good when you look at it through nostalgia-tinted glasses, but bad when you realize MOTU’s special effects were supervised by Richard Edlund, who worked on the original Star Wars which still holds up on that end today. The make up effects on Gwildor and the other monsters looks very stiff and more than a bit silly. This is the kind of movie where way too much time was spent on deciding what various optical effects were going to look like (Cosmic Key light shows, dimensional doorway effects, energy bolts, assorted cosmic crackle) rather than writing a strong story with memorable characters and finding an appropriate action director to bring it to life. And your movie is called Masters of the Universe, that's UNIVERSE, so do we get fantastic otherworldly vistas? Nope. We get Vasquez Freakin' Rocks and Whittier, CA. I think I saw some Gorn tracks in the Vasquez Rocks scenes. And Whittier? What could be more out of this world than Whittier, CA? Thanks, Menahem!

There’s been talk for a few years now of bringing He-Man and the Masters of the Universe back to the big screen. Maybe they can cast the real Bruce Vilanch to play a giant troll.


What the crap?

97.1 FM Talk is changing their format from “All Talk” to “All Crap Top 40 Crap” starting tomorrow at 5pm. Another Top 40 station. How original.

No more “Adam Carolla Show.” Carolla has really grown on me over the years. He’s not just The Man Show guy - only about boobs and beer - but a very smart and funny individual. No more “Frosty, Heidi and Frank” - three very engaging and entertaining personalities. No more “Tom Leykis Show” – a controversial figure, but one who often gives you something to think about. I was never a big fan of Danny Bonaduce’s show but as with most train wrecks it was hard not to take a look, or in this case a listen.

The reason seems to be their listeners were skewing a little older than what advertisers like and it was getting tougher to sell advertisers on talk radio.

When is this goddamn economic shitstorm gonna f---ing end?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Clowning Around


Job Stomping


Timely Invention


Sunday, February 15, 2009


Continuing my quest to watch every movie in the Los Angeles Library catalog.

Santo en la Frontera del Terror (Santo at the Border of Terror) - date of release?*

* IMDb lists 1969 as the date of release, but the cars in this movie are from the mid to late '70s. I'm guessing the stuff in the wrestling arenas was shot in '69 and combined with new material shot years later.

If you are a fan of movies strange and weird, you have heard of the Mexican films starring Santo (meaning Saint) the Masked Wrestler. Have you ever seen a Mexican wrestling film (and, no, the recent Nacho Libre does not count)? Judging by this one movie they are very, very bizarre.

Here’s your plot: Fernando wants to marry his girlfriend, the local torch singer Azucena, and get her daughter, Florecita, who is roughly the size and build of a ventriloquist’s dummy, the surgery she needs to cure her blindness. To do this he illegally crosses the border to work for Mr. Richards at his U.S. farm. Unbeknownst to him, Mr. Richard’s evil physician, a George Kennedy double named Dr. Sombra plans to sell his organs on the black market and/or turn him into a mindless slave!

So where does Santo, who never takes off his mask to show his face, fit into this story? Well, he really doesn’t. They just show him wrestling a lot then cut to their story. Want to know how Santo makes his first big entrance to save the day when our Stuart Whitman look-alike lead and his two best girls get jumped by some local hoods? The dudes are beating up Fernando (this is being generous as the fight stunt work was atrocious) when a car pulls up at the very top left corner of the frame. I thought it was some more hoods joining the fracas, but it was Santo! You think they would have filmed him in a close up or something, seeing as how his name is in the movie’s title. And you would also have thought they’d give a big time wrestler and country-wide icon a really cool black car to tool around in, but no he drives a piece of shit. Maybe Santo just needs to find a place that takes trade ins. Can you get financed wearing a mask?

I thought Santo, being a national icon and all, would be this towering Hulk-like (either comic book Hulk or Hulk Hogan) man, but he's really not. In one early scene Santo goes to the home of the singer and her daughter and he’s very small and unassuming, wearing a brownish striped sweater, slacks and brown shoes with his trademark white/silver mask. He really reminded me of Jerry Stiller from the sitcom King of Queens, with even his hand and arm gestures bringing Stiller to mind. And what a strange cast this movie has, for example a go between is used to get people across the border to America and the go between’s sidekick looks exactly like a cross between KFC’s Colonel Sanders and Yosemite Sam. I shit you not. Mr. Richard’s ramrod looks like the Hispanic Ted Cassidy. And Fernando’s best pal’s head is 15% larger than it should be, so he looks like he’s been messed with in Photoshop.

Jesus Christ but this movie has a lot of lousy singing in it. Five minutes into it Fernando's best bud sings along to a juke box tune, then we’re treated to two very blurry* sets of Azucena warbling. Later there’s a big sing-along for even less apparent reason than the singing already mentioned. And it all sounds the same!

* (I say blurry because it looked like they smeared an inch thick layer of Vasoline on the camera lens to imitate the soft focus look that big Hollywood films once used when shooting close ups of their lovely leading ladies.)

The filmmaking style is bare bones, basically just pointing and shooting at things, with the camera just sitting back for the wide shots of the fighting. The two bad guys getting ridiculously huge close ups near the end is a stylistic highlight (move over Sergio Leone). All the fight scenes, and there are many of them both large and small, are just excuses to show old Santo throwing out his famous wrestling moves like the well oiled machine he is. Not one of them was even remotely interesting or thrilling in any way. But the worst thing is the dubbing. The Spanish dubbing of the Spanish-speaking actors is all way off – it’s like watching a Godzilla movie.

The best part of the movie comes toward the end, when the evil Dr. Sombra is escaping by helicopter. "Giant Photoshopped Head Dude" grabs a machine gun and shoots at a badly scaled miniature version of the getaway chopper. It blows up, but the chopper's landing skids apparently got caught on the wires holding up the miniature as they HANG IN THE AIR after the explosion just before they cut away. Now THAT's quality special effects!

I also watched the trailer that showcased many of the other films in the Santo series, and boy, there are a lot of them. I just wish I had gotten the one with the wolf man, or the caped aliens, or the zombies, or the Flash Gordony one, and not this one.

The only way I’d watch another Santo movie is stone drunk. Tequila shots, anyone?


Star Trek. I haven’t watched it since the late 80s. It’s been Remastered. Now it’s being Re-viewed.

“The Savage Curtain”

Because it’s President’s Day on Monday, KTLA gives us this episode which features Abraham Lincoln (this one and “Catspaw” are perhaps Star Trek’s only “themed” episodes).

You all remember this as the one where Kirk, Spock and their respective past heroes Lincoln and the Vulcan Surak team up to fight a gang of infamous bad guys to determine which side is better good or evil. All this goes down under the watchful eye of a giant sentient fudge brownie, called an Excalbian.

There’s not a whole lot for the CBS Digital team to recreate in the computer as most of the action takes place on a paper mache rock planet. The new planet looks appropriately molteny and inhospitable, with a couple of nice flybys of the Enterprise in the mix.

This is a very by the numbers Star Trek episode. The only thing that redeems its “let’s have good and evil fight to see which is better” is the reactions of Kirk and Spock to the deaths of their heroes. Without those beats, this episode would be a total waste. This is a pretty odd story in that we all know that only Kirk and Spock are real. So to follow the unreal Surak’s story as he goes alone to rescue the unreal Lincoln from the camp of the unreal bad guys doesn’t make much dramatic sense. It would be a different, and much better, story if Spock or Kirk had accompanied him and we watched what unfolded through their eyes. Lincoln and Surak were respectively played by Lee Bergere (later of Dynasty fame) and Barry Atwater (of Night Stalker fame as an uber-creepy vampire). Both actors give nice, well-rounded performances here.

The bad guys assembled by the Excalbian rock/brownie being (played by veteran creature guy Janos Prohaska) include two humans, Col. “Shecky” Green and Genghis Khan, Kahless the First Klingon (whose over-swarthy makeup gives him the appearance of a fudge brownie), and some fur-clad chick named Zora who looks like a Phyllis Diller character.

I don’t know why they didn’t shoot this one at Vasquez Rocks. Even though they overshot the crap out of that location, it would have been better than the chicken wire and paper mache rocks set (though, as a kid, I desperately wanted to run and play on that set).

Disclaimer: Star Trek is Copyright 2009 and a Registered Trademark of CBS Studios, Inc. No infringement of those rights is implied.

Thanks to for the Star Trek screencaps.

The House That Joss Whedon Built

Dear Joss Whedon:

I’ll get right to the point: Why was Dollhouse so frakking dull? You’re THE Joss Whedon, right? Creator of the ground-breaking Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Co-creator of the angst-ridden Angel. Creator of Firefly, one of the greatest television series of all time. You’re THAT Joss Whedon, correct?

I just didn’t buy the Dollhouse premise: that hot young things will have their own memories replaced by whatever memories and skills are necessary for their weekly missions, then at the conclusion they’re zapped back to a near-childlike state. Instead of calling the A-Team, someone – usually a rich person I’d gather – just hires The D-Team.

Eliza Dushku as “Echo” looks great – that short white dress she wore in the teaser is illegal in 31 states (I checked) – but she was terrible here. Especially as “Miss Penn: Veteran Spanish-speaking Hostage Negotiator.” Eliza has never struck me as an actress with much range, even on Buffy. Hot party girl? Yes, she’s great. Sharp-eyed intellectual? Not so much. Jennifer Garner might have been a better choice for Echo - on Alias she had to assume many different identities in the course of her various missions, complete with various accents from around the globe.

The story wasn’t the most thrilling or involving either. A wealthy man's daughter is kidnapped. Instead of going to the authorities he hires an "active" from the Dollhouse to negotiate her release. SPOILER AHEAD. After Echo assumes the persona of the hostage negotiator*, she recognizes one of the hench-thugs as someone who kidnapped the real Miss Penn as a child. That’s just a little too convenient, and silly, even for TV sci-fi. And Eliza running around wearing a gray skirt and eyeglasses, with hair in a bun looked even sillier than it sounds.

* This echoes (!) Blade Runner where a real person’s memories are implanted in a replicant, as robot creator Terrell’s niece’s memories were implanted in the replicant Rachel.

I really wasn't caught up in any of the goings on. I just didn't care. A major bummer was there was NO trace of the trademark Joss Whedon humor. That is unforgivable – no one brings the character-based funny like Whedon. It’s unforgivable, but perhaps understandable, when your main character and others DON'T HAVE PERSONALITIES. They’re ciphers or blanks – their memories and true identities have been wiped clean so they can be imprinted with new personas and skills.

I think Joss might still be reeling from the cancellation of Firefly and the failure of the movie Serenity to find a feature audience. Why do I think that? Because Dollhouse ends with a gratuitous shower scene. A shower scene.

This is not Joss Whedon at his best. And that makes me sad.

Saturday, February 14, 2009



Friday, February 13, 2009

Little Green Men


Disclaimer: Star Trek is Copyright 2009 and a Registered Trademark of CBS Studios, Inc. No infringement of those rights is implied.

Thanks to for the Star Trek screencaps.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Blah, Blah, Bang, Bang

Continuing my quest to watch every movie in the Los Angeles Library catalog.

Moses: Fallen. In the City of Angels (2005)

They say Ed Wood is the worst director in the history of filmmaking. Well, he’s apparently been reincarnated in the form of a muscular Israeli named Benjamin Maccabee, who produced, wrote, directed and starred in this movie. Not only that, but according to the credits he also was casting director, martial art choreographer, a stunt man, wrote several songs, provided the production with the use of his car and residence. This guy loves seeing his name so much I’m surprised he didn’t thank himself for being in his own movie.

Here is the DVD back cover synopsis word for word (grammar and punctuation is verbatim):

“A tale of a fallen angel who was sentenced to a human life sentence…Moses (Benjamin Maccabee) the angel of life is haunted by the visions of a dead child works as an assassin for Mrs. Mier whose true identity is Gabriel the Arc Angel…the assassination of Lucky Palermo (Hank Garrett) was a mistake. Julius Palermo (Tony Digerlando) Lucky’s brother whose true identity is the dark angel…Makes a vow to destroy Moses. Sending his daughter Angel Eyes (Penny Ray) a top underworld assassin to kill him…Touched by the Arc Angel Gabriel, Angel eyes falls for Moses instead. Moses finds out from Mrs. Mier that he is a fallen angel and his mission is to bring the Dark Angel back home to heaven…Together along with Jesus (Amos Cawson) a homeless Vietnam Vet, the trio hit the desert highway. Jesus leads Moses and Angel eyes to his old time Vietnam Buddy John J (Alfred Taylor) whose life he saved in Nam. Together they will fight what ensues a show down between the forces of good and evil. Who will prevail?”

Say what you will about Ed Wood movies, but at least they were shot on film and at least they were always interesting. Yes, this turd was shot with a camcorder and little else. They threw in some black bars to give it a 2:35 to 1 widescreen appearance, but they’re not fooling anyone. They also did some image squeezing, which slightly distorts the people on screen (I won’t call them actors), so that's not doing them any favors.

This is without a doubt the worst thing I have seen in quite some time. A total vanity piece for a guy wanting to be the next Jean Claude Van Damme (way to aim high, Ben). I hate to say it, but Van Damme has charisma and a real screen presence, compared to Maccabee. We would expect Angel Eyes (Penny Ray) to be a sultry femme fatale, beautiful and deadly, instead we get a chubby chick (think Kirstie Alley after she goes off Jenny Craig) who can’t seem to get all the buttons done on the front of her blouse (and she should button them up). The rest of the cast consists of friends and whomever they could get to stand in front of the camera.

And that plot? Moses? Archangel (or here, arc angel) Gabriel (hey Ben, the movie Constantine already did the Gabriel is a woman schtick)? Italian mobsters? Master assassins? What, you couldn't rustle up some Ninja costumes?

I’ll leave you with this tidbit - I watched the trailer before I watched the movie. Not only was the trailer a rambling over 2 ½ minute mess, but they included a scene where Maccabee’s Mustang muscle car backs up a few feet, then drives forward. It wasn’t an action or chase scene, just the car backing up a bit then driving on. By all means, have a shot of your muscle car racing by in your trailer, but showing it back up? Ed Wood never showed a car backing up in one of his trailers.

Being Transparent


Monday, February 9, 2009

Bad Cartoons From Outer Space, Part Dos

Forecast: Mostly Cloudy

Star Trek. I haven’t watched it since the late 80s. It’s been Remastered. Now it’s being Re-viewed.

“Obsession” aka “Kirk vs. The Smog Monster”

This is the most soap opera-like episode of the entire series. With Kirk going all Capt. Ahab on everyone with his obsession to destroy the cloud-like entity that destroyed his shipmates long ago and is doing the same thing now.

The gang at CBS Digital gives us some majestic new shots of the Enterprise, offering us angles that would have been impossible in the 1960s. They also change the cloud creature in the space scenes, although those shots really read as CGI and are not necessarily a vast improvement over the original opticals. One cool thing they did was to show a huge crater on the planet surface, the result of the anti-matter bomb, as the Enterprise leaves orbit. They always made statements about how powerful their weapons were, and it’s nice to finally see some proof.

This is an episode that I didn’t care for as a kid, but really appreciate as an adult, with its themes of guilt, responsibility, and yes, obsession. The scenes with Kirk, Spock and McCoy discussing and arguing over the events of the episode are great, showing their intelligence, professionalism and concern and respect for one another.

This must have been the episode that cemented the “Legend of the Red Shirts” as being the expendable crewmen who always die on landing party missions. I almost didn’t have enough fingers to count the red shirts as they were knocked off!

Ensign Garrovick’s introduction on the bridge is unintentionally funny as he appears to be SO much taller than Kirk (like a foot taller). They might have chosen a shorter actor for the role.

They must have gotten a big burly cameraman (I picture a circus strongman, complete with waxed mustache) for the shaky handheld shots of the cloud’s red shirt victims on the planet - cameras back then were HEAVY.

This is the episode with one of the dumbest moments in the series when Spock tries to stop the cloud creature from coming through the ship’s air vent by putting his hands over it. He tried to capture smoke With His Hands.

Disclaimer: Star Trek is Copyright 2009 and a Registered Trademark of CBS Studios, Inc. No infringement of those rights is implied.

Thanks to for the Star Trek screencaps.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Get The Picture?

Blindness (2008)


All the citizens of an unnamed city go blind, except for a woman who feigns blindness to stay with her husband.

I didn’t see the point of this movie.

This is another example of how getting top flight actors, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo and Alice Braga, among others, and an acclaimed director in Fernando Meirelles, will not give you a better movie if your story is not well thought out. That story comes from a 1995 novel by Portugese author Jose Saramago. The movie follows the novel’s tact of not giving names to the characters, so they are The Doctor’s Wife and the Thief, etc. Why do this? It seems gimmicky to never call out a person’s name, especially if everyone is blind.

The premise is simple: an unexplainable epidemic of blindness breaks out and the harried government and health officials decide to immediately quarantine the afflicted in what looks like an old army barracks. They imprison these blind people without any guidance or supervision whatsoever, no routine check ups, nothing, which is frankly hard to believe. There are armed soldiers outside who shoot to kill anyone who wanders too close or simply asks for assistance, which was also extremely hard to swallow. The mere handful of people dumped in these wards soon becomes a mass of people, leading to severe overcrowding. The source novel’s author, the screenplay writer, and the director all apparently hate the government and the military, which is why both are portrayed in such a poor light*. They view them as stupid and inept, which is the only reason I can see why when the soldiers kill a blind infected person, the health officials don’t even do an autopsy to try and discover the case of the blindness, just letting the sightless bury their dead.

*They should get together with the filmmakers of 28 Weeks Later, who shared the same attitude. It’s interesting that 28 Weeks Later, with a Spanish writer/director and Blindness, with a Canadian screenwriter, a Portugese author and a Brazilian director should have such a jaundiced view of American leadership.

With the severe overcrowding in two wards and no outside help, conditions soon become deplorable, with garbage and even human waste filling the floors and every corner of the place. With deplorable conditions soon comes deplorable human behavior, when a third ward is opened and manned by what seems to be nothing but ex-cons and junkies, who are soon led by the self-proclaimed “King of Ward Three,” played by Gael Garcia Bernal. The residents of Ward Three soon come to hoard all the meager food supplies, first demanding payment from the other wards in the form of watches and jewelry, and when those are quickly exhausted, sex from the women. Ward One complies and we are witness to the savage rapes of the women, which culminates in one of them being beaten to death. A few days later Ward Two is extorted this same way.

Now remember through all this Julianne Moore’s character can still SEE. She alone is not afflicted by blindness. At first she tended to her husband, but quickly she became the leader/organizer of Ward One, which is natural as she can see. When things go to hell with the take over by the Ward Three residents, who managed to smuggle in a handgun, her character just lets the heinous extortion happen – she lets the women, including herself, get raped. I was totally incredulous at her inaction. Yes, she is not a superwoman or a trained soldier, but in a world of blind people, she alone can see, and that gives her power. It’s only when she hears the cries of the Ward Two women being raped that she decides to kill their “king.”

At the beginning, I flippantly said I didn’t see the point of the film. Well, that’s because it didn’t have one. Aside from the obvious, and much worn, Lord of the Flies angle where civilization quickly reverts to barbarism. It didn’t add anything to that – I mean why have an eye doctor (Mark Ruffalo) as one of the blind? What does that irony say about what blindness does to us, to our civility and humanity? Rod Serling did these types of stories all time – and better than this film - in The Twilight Zone: mysterious and unexplained things would happen to people, which would turn out to be metaphors for the human condition. Roger Ebert's review calls this film "despairing, sickening...and ugly." He was being nice.

I really wish Rod Serling would have written this movie.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Sting, Stunk, Stank

The Scorpion King 2: Rise of a Warrior

I. Fucking. Hated. This. Movie. Scorpie Deux is a sequel to a spin-off of a sequel of a remake. It’s the sequel to The Scorpion King which was a spin-off from The Mummy Returns (2001) which was a sequel to The Mummy (1999) which was a remake of 1932’s The Mummy. (Makes your head spin, don’t it. Sit down, have some water if you need it.)

It’s your standard boilerplate plot: a guy out for revenge against the a-hole who killed his father and brother. There’s really not a lot more going on than that. Our hero, Mathayus the Akkadian (played by The Rock in the previous films, now played by Michael Copon) must steal the Sword of Damocles from the Underworld in order to kill the traitorous Douchebag King Sargon (Randy Couture). To do this, Mathayus collects a rag tag group along the way; they include Layla (Karen David) his childhood friend, Aristophanes the poet (Simon Quartermain), Fong (Tom Wu) a Chinese guy, and four other dudes.

The young leads all looked, acted and sounded like castoffs from The CW. They could have called this movie Egyptian Hills 90210. Michael Copon, who looks NOTHING like The Rock by the way, has two expressions, a smile and a frown - so much for trying to capture The Rock’s lively and engaging personality. Randy Couture, he of mixed martial arts fame, is particularly terrible as Sargon. His line readings are largely flat. He’s a big dude, but if you close your eyes his voice doesn’t sound threatening, just monotonous. Couture’d be great as a thug or mobster in a contemporary flick, but he just doesn’t fit here (Randy, call Jason Statham, ASAP.). Couture smells of the worst kind of product placement – his name alone will get the 15 to 24 year old male to rent this sucker. Simon Quartermain seems to have watched the film A Knight’s Tale a lot. That’s the only reason I can conceive as to why his Aristophanes comes across as a watered-down version of Paul Bettany’s Chaucer from that film. Karen David’s Layla has no appeal. She’s certainly not ugly, but there are far more pretty girls that could have been cast in the role. She’s not terribly athletic, although she did okay in that area, but she has such a generic personality about her. She’s altogether nothing special, which really sums up this movie.

The simple time worn revenge plot was PADDED out endlessly. It’s a quest movie, so to get to where they need to be, everyone has to slowly, and I mean s-l-o-w-l-y, walk down several corridors, passageways, and swampy foot paths. When they enter the Labyrinth of the Minotaur in Knossos, Mathayus and Layla literally inch along the pathways. This being a low budg movie, I’m betting they only built about 12 feet of corridor for any given scene. That’s why they all take baby steps. This movie has a good 25 minutes of nothing but people leisurely walking somewhere, which does not bode well for an action film!

Let’s look at a couple examples of how this movie is so inept. Mathayus and his three remaining friends end up in the lair of Astarte, Queen of the Dead/Postmaster General. Mathayus, Ari and Fong split up to, yes, walk around a lot, and find the Sword of Damocles. Layla gets into a catfight with Astarte, which escalates into a sword fight. So what’s our hero doing while this is happening? Is he wrestling a giant snake? Is he struggling to find his way out of a death trap of poisonous spikes? Is he fighting off a gang of mummies? No, Mathayus is simply walking around doing nothing. He might as well be texting his buds.

In another example of how this movie has its head firmly up its ass, eight of them enter the Underworld swamp, but in one cut we suddenly see only six characters. Two of the guys just DISAPPEAR and we never see what happened to them and they are never referenced again! (In the deleted scenes, we see the fate of only one of the two missing dudes - he is pulled underwater by a ghostly apparition. The other guy, who knows?) This production wrote these two characters into their story, hired two actors, involved them in expensive and time consuming visual effects, then decided they really weren’t needed after all and just snipped them out of their movie.

How do I know this movie was made by idiots? Because when we get to the big confrontation between Mathayus and Sargon, Sargon turns into a big, invisible scorpion. Yes, friends, the big monster is INVISIBLE! This is perhaps the biggest cop out I have ever seen in a movie. If they knew what they were doing going in they could easily have cut back on the earlier CGI work (see the whole transporting them to the Underworld and the swamp scenes) to save up for a rousing finale. Hell, even building something like the giant ants in THEM, that classic 1950s bug movie, would have been preferable to wimping out as they obviously did here. And to make matters worse there’s a blooper in the scene: Mathayus is on his back when he stabs the scorpion off screen at top of picture. In a wide shot see the scorpion fall back off of Mathayus’s sword. When they cut back to the same angle of Mathayus on the floor, blood is still dripping from the top of the screen where the scorpion used to be. Oops.

This movie was an absolute CHORE to sit through. The fight scenes were poorly conceived, shot and edited - here’s how they went down: leap/kick off a wall or column, cut to new angle in slow motion, cut back to different angle at regular speed; lather, rinse and repeat OFTEN. I’ve seen playground fights by 4th graders that were more exciting than any in this movie. The CGI mattes to extend buildings and cities were fine, but anything requiring life and movement looked really bad and like something done on a Commodore 64.

Whatever this movie cost to make should have been donated to charity instead.


What happened to the Sword & Sorcery genre? I’m not talking about the Lord of the Rings-type fantasy genre, but Sword & Sorcery. Back in the day, we’d get Beastmaster (in the 80s it was shown so much on HBO that people said it stood for Hey, Beastmaster’s On!), The Sword and the Sorcerer, and of course Conan the Barbarian. Now there is a somewhat lurid quality to the S&S genre, which is part of its appeal. You have bare-chested warriors/barbarians roaming the land, sword in hand, brain in neutral. They’d encounter lusty women, and chaste virgins who wanted to be lusty women. They’d encounter good wizards and sorcerers and other practitioners of black magic. They’d fight rubber dragons, giant snakes, beasts and demons, and they’d face them with nothing but a sword and a loincloth. Both the first Conan film and The Sword and the Sorcerer were R-Rated affairs, with rolling heads and assorted bloody body parts and nudity on the part of the lusty women, but they could also be like the PG Beastmaster, which toned down the hacking of the body parts, but kept the nudity on the chaste women (see the difference there?). There was always a sense of fun. You wanted to go on adventures with these barbarians. So what happened?

Well, in the early 1990s Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and its superior spin-off Xena: Warrior Princess changed all that when they brought Sword & Sorcery to weekly television. The bare-chested barbarians looked and acted more like ex-NFL quarterbacks. The lusty women were replaced with generic Baywatch beach bunny extras. Way to much early and cheap Computer Generated Imagery, which always looked like bad video game animation, did away with the cool looking giant rubber snakes and monsters. Crude hacking away of body parts was replaced by Hong Kong inspired Wire Fu. Out went the lurid quality, and out went a certain kind of fun.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


Planet of the Apes (1974)


As a kid I was a huge Planet of the Apes fan – loved the film series (the 1968 original is top dog or simian), had some of the toys, and even watched the terrible 1975 cartoon adaptation. And I watched the 1974 live action TV series, starring Roddy McDowell, Ron Harper, and James Naughton, aka the Dr. Pepper guy’s brother (look it up kids). There were 14 episodes produced before the series was canned for low ratings (curse you Sanford and Son!), but only 13 of those episodes were ever shown on broadcast television. The DVD box set includes the never aired 14th show.

Now this series was never a great one. Like The Fugitive, The Incredible Hulk and Battlestar Galactica, to name a few, it was about a person/persons running from an oppressive force (a U.S. Marshal, the law and a nosy reporter, killer robots) while questing for something (the one armed man who murdered his wife/exoneration, a cure for his Hulkamania, a new front porch) and stopping along the way to help folks who need it. So this Apes series had stranded human astronauts Virdon and Burke partnered with their outcast chimp friend Galen running from General Urko and his gorilla army while searching for a way to get back home, all the while helping villagers and others they meet along the way. This show could have been titled The Incredible Battlestar Fugitives from the Planet of the Galactica Apes. But that’s a lot to put on a lunch box.

So I watched this never before seen episode, and, you know what, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. It opens with a pair of gorilla soldiers riding into a human village. The villagers, per an arrangement with the apes, hand over several humans to work as slaves in the gorillas mines. One man, Clim, flees, and quickly runs into our trio of fugitive-heroes. Clim promises them a warm welcome back at the village, but Virdon and Burke are immediately taken prisoner.

The thing that makes this more than just a run of the mill Fugitive rip off is that Brun the village chief is also the village high priest. In order to impress upon the villagers how important meeting their quota is, those that try to run, like Clim, are brought to the temple where a masked Brun makes a lot of noise about duty and the gods wrath and the person dies. No sword thrust, no hanging, they simply die, clearly by the hand of the gods, so the villagers think.

The villagers plan to hand over Virdon and Burke to the apes, so their pleas to fight back against their simian oppressors are met with deaf ears. They come to learn village leader Brun made a deal with the apes that instead of constantly fighting them, as they have in years past, causing huge numbers of casualties on both the ape and human sides, they would willingly hand over a set number of men and women for mine duty, from which they never return. To make matters worse, since the apes don’t care where the village gets its human quota from, the villagers have taken to hunting and kidnapping other humans from neighboring towns to make their quota, and keep their lives rosy.

The villagers are heavily into praying – when Brun’s son Miro gets a nasty gash on his arm from a struggling human prisoner, they do nothing to stop the bleeding or tend to the wound, they have become so programmed to NOT fight for their lives, against the apes or even simple injuries. Virdon convinces them that he can tend to Miro’s wound with far better results than merely praying to their gods. His tourniquet treatment works and Miro starts to think about what they’ve been doing all these years. The clincher for Miro’s turnaround is when his beloved Talia is chosen to meet their next quota after their latest hunt comes up one short.

We later learn that the temple is built over a pool of toxic gas and the mask Brun wears conceals an ancient gas mask which prevents him from being overcome by the deadly fumes. He thinks the gas mask and the deadly gas were sent by the gods so the villagers can finally fight back. Brun, ever the busy beaver, has been bottling the gas into crude gas bombs, with the intention of attacking the apes and wipe them out in his own holy war. Virdon and Burke point out that he could end up killing not only the apes, but his village and many other humans. Galen chimes in that the genocide of his entire race doesn’t sit too well with him either. But Brun is on a holy crusade now and won’t be deterred. This being 1970s action adventure TV, Galen clobbers Brun and they destroy the temple and its gas bombs; unfortunately Brun runs back into the temple just as the whole thing goes poof.

Of course in the end, the villagers learn the error of their ways and new leader Miro pledges to ask the neighboring villages – who they used to hunt and kidnap - for help against the apes. Good luck with that one, Miro!

This would have been a run of the mill story if they hadn’t added the religious angle. The new Battlestar Galactica has made religion and contemplating god(s) a major running theme in their show, but to see something like that in a mid-1970s sci-fi action show is perhaps unprecedented. So props to writer Howard Dimsdale and the producers for going out on a limb.

Ben Andrews played Miro, and he looked like a slightly roided out Luke Skywalker, albeit with a better Super Cuts trim. John Ireland played priest/leader Brun with all his usual gravitas. But the girl playing Miro’s love interest, Jennifer Ashley, was hilariously bad, with the flattest line readings I’ve heard in some time. Also she never seemed to look Miro in the eyes, her gaze was always just left of center. Put her next to a 2x4 and I’d bet she’d act more wooden. A quick IMDb check shows this was her second acting gig, and she went on to star in the classic Italian Jaws rip off, Tintorera: Tiger Shark. But the highlight is she was also named Miss Restaurant, Miss Truck Show and Miss Textile.

Mudd Wresting!

Star Trek. I haven’t watched it since the late 80s. It’s been Remastered. Now it’s being Re-viewed.

“Mudd's Women”

Space scoundrel Harry Mudd is introduced here pedaling a trio of space brides in space!

On the CGI front, instead of the original weird light-blip-thing, they gave Harry Mudd an actual twin-nacelled spaceship in the beginning to get smashed by the asteroids. They also had a new matte painting to augment the miners' settlement, which looked pretty cool.

I really liked the photography in this one, specifically the scenes on the bridge. Harvey Hart was the director and I wished he'd done more episodes. They used a lot of low angles in shots, and even some handheld stuff like when Kirk comes out of the elevator and walks over to Spock and Scotty. That must have been a strong cameraman as they didn't have very lightweight equipment back then.

This is one of three episodes bug-eyed Mr. Farrell was in. Sorry, but I never liked this guy. I don't think I've ever seen Roger C. Carmel in anything but Star Trek - maybe an episode of Adam West's Batman. I really liked Carmel in "serious mode" at the end with this exchange of dialogue:

Kirk: Quite a woman, eh, Childress?
Childress: A fake...pumped up by a drug.
Kirk: By herself. She took no drug.
Eve: I swallowed it.
Kirk: Colored gelatin.
Mudd: Yes, they took away my drug and substituted that.
Eve: But that can't be.
Kirk: There's only one kind of woman.
Mudd: Or man, for that matter.
Kirk: You either believe in yourself or you don't.

Carmel's tone of voice with those two lines was really mesmerizing, without the usual histrionics of the character. I wished I'd seen him in more serious roles.

I must say I very much enjoyed Nimoy's "naughty" Spock character in these early episodes. He was never more so than in this one - often smiling, sometimes luridly so, and his posture was also looser, giving him a much lighter air about him. I love it when he takes Mudd and the women to Kirk's quarters for their first meeting. Spock is loving the "problem" that he's dumping on Kirk! I guess Dax on DS9 was in a similar mold, but to see someone like Leonard Nimoy who often played such tightly controlled people (like his Paris on Mission: Impossible) break out and just have fun with it would have been something to see.

Scotty in this episode was The Man! He kept his cool even though the LITHIUM crystals were popping like kettle corn. Kirk even blows up at him at one point and he just takes it in, says nothing, then a moment later Kirk apologizes and Scotty just nods his head and smiles a slight smile. Scotty was The ICE Man. Too bad Harry Mudd rubbed off on him because later in the series Scotty looses his head over the least little thing, "My alarm clock is flashing 12:00! THE SHIP CAN'T. HANDLE. THE. STRAIN!" (The Ice Man melted.)

When Harry is explaining to Childress what the Venus Drug does - it gives you more of what you already are - it reminded me of the Bill Cosby bit about people getting drunk and they excuse it because it just makes them more of what they are, and Cosby says, "Yeah, but what if you're an asshole?"

Disclaimer: Star Trek is Copyright 2009 and a Registered Trademark of CBS Studios, Inc. No infringement of those rights is implied.

Thanks to for the Star Trek screencaps.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Bad Cartoons From Outer Space

Table for Seven?

Star Trek. I haven’t watched it since the late 80s. It’s been Remastered. Now it’s being Re-viewed.

“The Galileo Seven”

This has always been a fun episode, with Federation High Commissioner Jackass trying to put the screws to Kirk who is searching for his missing crewmembers, while Spock has a near-mutiny to deal with on the planet surface (only Scotty seemed to be in Spock's corner).

The remastered effects were pretty highminded but came off screaming of CGI. CBS-Digital made a new planet, of course, and they tried to have it reflect the look of the live set where the shuttle was filmed. But when combined with the neon green Murasaki quasar effect the planet looked like something from the kiddie show Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future. They had several new shots of the shuttle hanger bay and the shuttle taking off which were neat. One quibble though: every time the shuttle flies by the camera they had the pilot and co-pilot (Spock and Scotty on Galileo, and whomever on the shuttle Columbus) visible through the windows, but on the shuttle interior set it's so obvious that the windows are ABOVE THEIR HEADS. Now unless the chairs raised up really high, like when Bugs Bunny played a barber, there's no way you'd see them through the windows. CGI overlord Mike Okuda should have known better.

I hope Mr. Spock put everyone from that shuttle mission on report when he got back to the Enterprise. No matter what Spock said or did everyone - except Scotty and the uber-cute Yeoman Mears - jumped on his ass. Latimer (a yellow shirt!) is the first to die and not only does Boma insist they bring the body back to the shuttle for burial, but as Spock is in command Boma DEMANDS that he say something at the FUNERAL SERVICE! How did Boma become an officer with this kind of thinking? When Spock tells Boma and Gaetano that they will use their phaser fire in an attempt to frighten and not kill the creatures, they, along with Dr. McCoy, make a big stink that killing them is a better plan, but eventually they do as he orders. When the creatures kill Gaetano (another yellow shirt!) and attack the shuttle, McCoy jumps on Spock's back about his decision! Wow, the ship's chief doctor would rather have some hairy alien Bigfoots killed to save his own skin. What a healer!

The last scene though is precious. On the bridge everyone is staring at Spock with silly smiles on their faces, and after Kirk pokes fun at Spock because of his stubbornness to admit to having a human moment just before they were rescued from the shuttlecraft, everybody busts out laughing. Scotty even staggers over to the bulkhead by the elevator to steady himself.

I think they just wanted to save Spock to have someone to make fun of over the next five years.

Disclaimer: Star Trek is Copyright 2009 and a Registered Trademark of CBS Studios, Inc. No infringement of those rights is implied.

Thanks to for the Star Trek screencaps.