Monthly Archives: June 2005

Everything Old…

Since Hollywood is so keen on remaking old tv series and classic films, I figured it would be a good idea to give them some new ideas what to cover. After all, there are tons of old shows and movies that were so bad that a cinematic overhaul would only improve the source material. Want proof? The Island, due out later this year, is, more or less, a remake of Parts: The Clonus Horror. Never heard of it? Consider yourself lucky, because it is that bad. Not even Mystery Science Theater 3000 can make this piece of… ahem… celluloid watchable.

So, without wasting any further time, here are a number of old crappy ideas that Hollywood could recycle.

1) My Mother The Car – Reimagined so that Mother is reincarnated at a Ferrari, and constantly acts up whenever her son tries to use her to pick up women.

2) The Navy vs The Night Monsters – Take one Antarctic research mission, sprinkle in strange acid-squirting trees, and add in the modern touches of Navy SEALs and a CGI aerial battle between Navy Pilots and giant night dwelling monster trees (not in the original movie, but hey, what the Hell). Top it all off with some former Playboy playmate to reprise the role once played by Mamie Van Doren.

3) Misfits of Science – A series ripe for a serious cinematic interpretation. Wipe out the campy feel of the original, and somehow convince Courteney Cox to make a cameo to tie it to the original series, and there you go. The script writes itself… and if it doesn’t, reuse one of theirs.

4) Seven Brides For Seven Brothers – Not really a bad movie, but still ripe for “reinterpretation.” Instead of a cute story about a young bride trying to turn her husband’s six brothers from gruff mountain men to marrying material, we have the intense story of two planets… and lasers, yeah, must have lasers.

5) Destroy All Monsters– The 30 man battle royal of Godzilla movies, only this time, we use the monsters that Hollywood has given us of late. That’s right, it’s Freddy vs Jason vs Michael vs Leatherface vs Horace “The Shocker” Pinker vs Hannibal “The Cannibal” Lector vs Pinhead “the Hellraiser” vs an army of Romero zombies.

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Thank God for DVD (or, When’s That Set Coming Out?)

Having already covered the shows I hated, I thought it would be cool to talk about the shows I liked. That way, I don’t sound like a lonely bitter pathetic old man who hates everything (after all, I’m only 33, I’m not old).

1) Emergency
I loved this series as a kid. Sure, the storylines that tied the emergencies together were a bit mundane. But who cared? The real highlights of the shows were the emergencies themselves. From the harrowing to the downright silly (silly in the fun to watch sense). Sure it’s dated now, especially given how far technology has advanced since the series inception in the 1970s. But I still watch when I hear TV Land is bringing it into its rotation. Now, if only they released a DVD set…

2) John Doe
The concept of this show was simple: John Doe knew everything, except who he was. And each week, John would find himself in a peculiar situation that only his unique gift could resolve. Could John Doe have been Fox’s next X-Files? Possibly, if they hadn’t parked it in their Friday 9pm time slot. What’s so bad about Friday 9pm on Fox? Well, given that no series airing in this time slot since X-Files moved has succeeded shows how bad the time slot is. Just look at the carnage. Sliders moved to 9pm, and met with summer cancellation. Dark Angel, a show that had done well at Tuesdays was moved to Friday 9pm for its second, and last, season. And it isn’t just sci-fi that is hurt my the time slot . Boston Public enjoyed 2 successful seasons on Mondays. Third season it moved to Fridays. That season turned out to be its last. Fox could probably put football on Fridays and the 9pm time slot would crash and burn.

In John Doe’s case, the Friday time slot wasn’t helped by poor lead-ins (Firefly at first, which was hurt by out of sequence airing, then Fastlane, which never should have been at an 8pm time slot). So, when John Doe’s numbers didn’t do well, it was cancelled. And when I say cancelled, I mean they put a bullet in its head, then emptied the clip to make sure. John Doe wasn’t shopped around, where it could have been picked up by USA, TNT, or Sci-Fi. When it became less apparent that there were no takers to take up the torch (as Sci-Fi did with Sliders), Fox released a press release, explaining why John Doe was the way he was. It seems he had a near-death experience. Yeah, I thought it was a pitiful explanation for what was going on.

Like Emergency, John Doe has not surfaced on DVD… yet. Fans like me still hold out for hope.

3) Keen Eddie
Fox tried its hand at a quirky cop dramedy with this show. The premise was one we had seen before (American cop in England), but there was a certain charm to the series that, unfortunately, not many picked up on. A lot of its charm comes from the title character, Eddie Arlette (played by Mark Valley). Eddie comes across as a balanced character, with his “new York” ways hiding a very intelligent, albeit opinionated. It comes as no surprise some of the best scenes come when he’s playing off his “roommate,” Fiona, played by Sienna Miller, who happens to be as equally opinionated and intelligent (In one episode, Fiona uses Eddie’s dog in a dog treat ad campaign – keeping the money – since Eddie used her cat to meet an attractive veterinarian).

Thankfully, Keen Eddie is available on DVD. Particularly hilarious is the second episode, where Eddie goes after a horse thief.

4) Monk
Tony Shaloub has found the perfect role with this obsessive compulsive uber-detective. I particularly enjoyed the episode where Monk solves a hit and run and a murder in France just by reading the newspaper (neither of which was the reason why his paperboy was killed).

Like many of the new series, Monk has been seeing release on DVD, and is worth picking up.

5) CSI
Like Emergency did with firefighters and paramedics in the 1970s, CSI does for the criminalists in the 21st century. The setting of Las Vegas is perfect for the blend of cases that Grissom’s team sees over the course of a season, from the gruesome to the downright weird. With its likeable characters (some of which have as many mysteries as they solve), CSI has become “appointment TV” for me, with the VCR set to record the CBS first runs, and the Spike reruns usually on in the background while I work. Needless to say, I have all released boxed sets, and both computer games.

6) Doctor Who
Not every Doctor is a winner for me. I’m not particularly fond of William Hartnell (the First Doctor), or of Sylvester McCoy (the Seventh Doctor). But even this lack of fondness derives from lack of real exposure to their performances. Most of the Doctor Who episodes I had seen before the slow DVD releases were from the Fourth and Fifth Doctor seasons (Tom Baker and Peter Davison respectively), and these were through the hard to follow scheduling that PBS delivered. Thanks to DVD, I am getting more exposure to all of the Doctor’s incarnations (though I still think that Hartnell’s Doctor comes across as a bit too “grumpy old man”-ish), and look forward to the eventual (please please please) stateside release of the new Doctor Who series.

The Shows I Hated…

Granted, not every show on this list is one I hated when I watched it. Some of them I actually enjoyed when I was younger. Looking back now I see the folly of my ways.

1) G.I. Joe – Cartoon 1983-1987
G.I. Joe bugged me even as a kid. I grew up with G.I. Joe, and read the Marvel comic when Hasbro relaunched Joe in the 3 3/4 size. I loved the comic. I hated the cartoon.

The problem I had with the cartoon was that it was absurd, even for a cartoon. Not too much in the premises of the episodes (revolving around weather control machines and teleporters). What bugged me was how idiotic both Cobra and G.I. Joe seemed. Often I would see the Joes planning to sneak into a Cobra base, only to be yelling “Yo, Joe!” at the top of their lungs. I could be wrong, but I always thought that sneaking in would involve some degree of silence.

The other thing that really bugged me about the cartoon was Cobra. Here was a terrorist network that would operate secretly… out of a castle in the Himalayas! Furthermore, the recruitment standards for Cobra must be really low. They had the numbers, often times matching the Joes 500 to 1. And they had the firepower, too. Yet, when the Joes (usually only three, with one slingshot and a rock between them), called for a surrender, Cobra did. Let’s see… 1500 Cobras armed with jeeps, cannons, lasers, and the ultra secret weapon X (whatever the Hell that was), against 3 Joes, with a slingshot and a rock (just one, mind you). Yeah, I see why Cobra would surrender.

2) X-Men – cartoon 1992-1996
I loved the X-Men comic. I had been reading it since issue 166, only dropping it when they announced the Age of Apocalyse plan. I picked it up again when Morrison announced he was writing it. All that is neither here nor there when it comes to the cartoon series.

I’ll give them credit, they tried. And by try, I mean they tried not to ignore 30 plus years of continuity, and would make vague references to it… then do the storyline later in the series run. They contradicted themselves a lot, which bugged me to no end. In the first season, Cable appears as a freedom fighter in Genosha, with back story suitable for a freedom fighter in Genosha. But later, he shows up as a time-traveler from a future dominated by Apocalypse, with no reference to his days in Genosha, or the established back story. It was real irritating trying to keep track of what was what. At least the creators of X-Men Evolution got it right when they said, “okay, there’s the cartoon continuity, the movie continuity, and our continuity.”

3) Enterprise
I used to be a Star Trek fan, much like I used to be a Star Wars fan. Though when it comes to Star Trek, the magic was ruined by the fact that Enterprise was it, and it just wasn’t all that good. I could tell that when I watched the first episode and heard lyrics to the theme.

Enterprise faltered on the grounds that instead of going boldly forward where no one has gone before, it backtracks, trying to wedge itself into established (albeit fragmenting as we passed 1997 and no Khan) continuity. So, instead of moving ahead in time (like The Next Generation did), we get to see the Enterprise meet all the alien races that we already knew, and the Xindi, who waged a spectacular attack on Earth, yet are not remembered at all (gotta love trying to retrofit continuity).

4) Firefly
Now, Firefly’s a special case. I think that I could have liked Firefly better if Fox had handled the series better. this would have meant for Fox to actually air the episodes in aired IN ORDER! There was a pilot that explained quite a bit. Of course, we didn’t see it until after Fox decided to can the series. They went with the third episode in the series for the premiere. It was okay, but there was no set-up. Without the base, there was no explanation to why things were the way they were. The upside is that maybe Sci-Fi can do it justice this summer, and the movie (which actually looks pretty decent) will make it Whedon’s Buffy (so-so movie to good series) in reverse.

5) Superfriends
As a kid I loved the Superfriends. Watching it now, it’s so irritating. The early Wendy and Marvin episodes (I never liked them) are way too preachy, and the Challenge of the Superfriends episodes or too corny (the Legion of Doom had better escape plans then they did plans to take out the Superfriends).

6) Fastlane
If you don’t remember this Fox series by Charlie’s Angels director McG, consider yourself lucky. It was not well scripted, and relied on more T&A than late-night Cinemax. The joke about Fastlane was that when it was cancelled, the Playboy channel picked it up and toned down the T&A.

Ick!

“I’d rather watch Barney than Star Wars.” – Some kid who (obviously) saw Episode 2

I used to be a Star Wars fan. Used to be is the operative term since I now consider myself a Doctor Who/Stargate SG-1/Andromeda/Battlestar Galactica/CSI/anything other than Star Wars fan. It wasn’t even all at once either. It was worn away by Star Wars Episodes 1 and 2. I went to a Midnight showing of Episode 1. After sitting through that, I decided I wasn’t going to pay full price for another Star Wars movie. So I hit the matinée of Episode 2. Halfway through it, I thought to myself, “If I left now, I wouldn’t care less.” Never have I ever wanted to walk out of a movie before. And I sat through Tank Girl. Tank Girl! Not even Naomi Watts admits she saw that movie, and she was in it.

Anyhow, reading a posting on another site by the author of Field Guide to the Apocalypse (love the book, by the way) about what she thought about Star Wars made me think about what killed my love of Star Wars. Granted, if I had seen Episode 3, I probably would come up with a slew of new reasons. But for now, I have to work with what I’ve seen.

1) No one told me there would be a test
Prior to Episode 1, the force was an omnipresent metaphysical energy, surrounding and passing through everyone and everything. And only a special few could manipulate it. Some for good, some for bad, the path of the force could lead to either good or evil.

In Episode 1, we learn that a certain level of midi-chlorians enabled people to use the force… and there was a test for it. In one stroke, we see the force change from a faith allegory to a chemical balance that could probably be treated by Ritalin.

Which brings up a nice little point. If I were the Emperor and aware of the danger the Jedi could present, I would be hell-bent to make sure that the “force test” was applied to everyone in the galaxy. No exclusions, just flat-out testing, often. Use it to find the potential allies, and to kill off the potential enemies. But that’s just me.

2) “I would have gotten away with it if it weren’t for you meddling kids”
Is it just me, or did the end of Episode 1 seem like the end of a Scooby-Doo cartoon. The day wasn’t won because the just were better, or had faith in their victory, but because they were lucky. Not even the fun lucky that we enjoy, either. They won because Aniken bungled into destroying the main enemy ship. That’s right, bungled. He hit a wrong button to launch himself into space. He somehow managed to get himself trapped in the hanger of said enemy ship. And then escaped (and blew up the ship) only because he hit every button in his ship. Throw in a Great Dane (oops, forgot about Jar Jar), and you have the mystery all wrapped up.

3) Character development, we don’t need no stinkin’ character development!
Episode 1 revolved around a group of flat and uninteresting characters. All of them had the potential of becoming more, but didn’t. We had the maverick (at least according to Yoda… I never saw it in the movie) Qui-Gon, the young (and boring) Obi-Wan, the whiny Aniken, the (let’s face it) bratty Padme, and the rather disappointing poser bad-ass Darth Maul. The one character that could have redeemed himself failed to do that.

Yes, that’s right, Jar Jar could have redeemed his annoying, antic-based nature. How? I know, it does seem tough. But, think about the first movie (Episode 4). Han Solo starts off as a scoundrel, willing to do anything to save his butt, even kill in cold blood. By the end of the movie, we see Han actually grow. He starts to care about Luke and the others, even to the extent of forgoing his escape to save Luke when he needed the help. Granted, Lucas screwed that over when he made Solo shoot first, but we still see it in the special editions… sort of.

Now, Jar Jar (shudder) begins as an inept coward. An idiotic sidekick who goes from one antic to another. Yet, when given the chance, he because a leader in the Gungan army. Does he redeem himself? Does he straighten up, lose his cowardly ways and grow into a real leader? No, of course not. If he had, we wouldn’t curse the name Binks. We get “blessed” with what Lucas thought we wanted in a character, a schmuck who takes out his own troops, screws up the simplest of attacks, and somehow manages to get himself stuck to an enemy robot. Ugh!

4) Geez, I’d turn evil, too
The key to Aniken’s transformation into Darth Vader isn’t the perils he faces. It isn’t the horrific death of his mother. It’s Padme, the only character to show no form of growth between Episodes 1 and 2 (is you can call Obi-Wan’s beard growth). Well, that’s not exactly true, it seems her libido grows quite a bit, making her the biggest tease in the galaxy. When she sees Aniken for the first time in episode 2, she is practically drooling on him (remember, in spite of the seeming lack of aging for Padme, she is something like 10 years older than him… so, way to go girl, going after a younger guy!). “Why, Aniken, you’ve grown so big and strong.” The only thing was her grabbing Aniken’s ass. Almost immediately, she recoils, “but we can’t, you’re a Jedi and you’re not allowed.” (One statement that made many Star Wars fans become Mr. Spock fans… at least he gets it every 7 years). All fine and dandy, except that she does this at least three more times in the movie, almost jumping his bones, then pulling back, throwing the whole Jedi thing back in his face.

5) Umm, I said that?
Episodes 1 and 2 are loaded with contradictions, some of which have been mentioned in other rants. But, for some degree of completion, I’m repeating them here.

Obi-Wan says he was trained by Yoda in Empire Strike Back. But, in Episode 1, he is the padawan of Qui-Gon, who Yoda says is training him (which is the reason why Qui-Gon can’t train Aniken as well). Either padawan is another word for intern, or Obi-Wan was senile when he said Yoda trained him, totally forgetting Qui-Gon.

Obi-Wan also says that when he met Aniken, he was already an accomplished pilot. Funny, I wouldn’t equate that goofy sled thing as a pilotable ship. Furthermore, Aniken never won before. They make a big point about that. I suppose Obi-Wan was just trying to make Aniken look better for Luke. “When I met your father, luke, he was a lot like you, a snot-nosed kid who never won a race before.” Yeah, that’s probably it.

One point that was brought up was that Ben never remembered owning droids, Granted, I don’t know what happened in Episode 3, but Ben never did own R2 and C3PO. Technically, it was true. But, unless he was senile and addled by Tatooine’s suns, he should have remembered them, even if he didn’t own them.

6) And the Oscar goes to… the Muppet!
One of the atrocities of Episode 2 is watching great actors like Samuel L. Jackson, Natalie Portman (she was great in The Professional) and the great Christopher Lee be outacted by a computer generated muppet. But, sadly, Yoda is the best actor in episode 2, which isn’t saying much. There are still great inconsistencies in how he’s portrayed. I particularly love how Yoda can barely walk without a cane, yet is able to leap around like a frog on speed and fight Darth Tyrannus. A friend of mine compared it to an old samurai film where the old nearly crippled master bursts into a frenetic dance of fighting prowess, without a thought to the fact that half his leg is missing. If anyone’s seen this movie, let me know. It sounds pretty cool, a lot better than Episode 2.

7) The one good thing about Episode 1
Kiera Knightley. Yes, Elizabeth Swan from Pirates of the Caribbean. She played the queen’s decoy. If nothing else, Episode 1 brought her to Hollywood’s attention. Yay!

8) The one good thing about Episode 2
Umm… There the… no… how about…. no… oh, there’s… no, that sucked, too. Well, at least it wasn’t Batman and Robin(shudder).

Funny, I didn’t know there were only 18 songs in my top 50

iTunes Icon

Image via Wikipedia

I know it’s not possible to get everything, but is it possible for iTunes to at least get some of the music I listen to?

Don’t get me wrong, I love iTunes, and I love my iPod. Having a jeep with a radio that gets only three stations, and none of them are NPR pretty much demands that I get an iPod for the car (I think Congress passed the law earlier this year that I get one). Naturally, me being the relative cheap skate that I am I got the shuffle. That, and it was more than enough for me.

Then I started ripping my CDs so that I could build my playlists. Sure I was never going to listen to 6 plus hours of music while driving, but I didn’t care. I wouldn’t be forced to listen to the 2 radio stations that think the Black-Eyed Peas are the greatest band since the Beatles, or that one that doesn’t realize that Evanescence isn’t a pop band. I had my iPod and I could listen to anything. If I wanted to listen to all Evanescence, I could. If I wanted to laugh, I could load my shuffle up with George Carlin, Monty Python and Stephen Wright. If I wanted to listen to Finnish opera metal, then load it up.

Yes, that’s right, Finnish opera metal. Don’t knock it until you give it a listen. And frankly, it was the only really good thing about Alone In The Dark.

Anyhow, once I got comfortable with the shuffle, and comfortable with iTunes (even buying a whole bunch of stuff from the store), I decided it was time to share my musical interests. I mean, there had to be someone else out there who would listen to Debbie Gibson, Evanescence and bagpipes in the same sitting. Anyone???

So I shrink down one of my playlists from my 100 songs to a more manageable 50, the top fifty, of course. And I sent it off (It’s called Top 50 – May, is you’re curious). And watched as my top 50 became my top 18. And not even the top 18 either, I Can’t Hold Back by Survivor was #50 (and slipping 7 spots on my top 100).

So, out of 50 songs, 32 did not make the list because iTunes Music Store doesn’t sell those songs. Some I can understand. There really isn’t much of a market for the Doctor Who theme song, and Dante Hicks yelling I’m not even supposed to be here today! from the Clerks soundtrack may be a bit of a stretch. But what about Evanescence? They had a major hit with Bring Me To Life (#1 on my list… and still #1), yet there is no listing for Evanescence in iTunes. NONE! No Bring Me To Life, no My Immortal, not even the Daredevil and Elektra soundtracks, both of which feature songs by the band. Not even Chicago’s Along Comes A Woman is available, and that’s over 20 years old.

So, here it is, the complete top 50 for the month of May, as played by me on iTunes and my iPod.

Bring Me To Life/Evanescence
Batman Beyond Main Title/Kristopher Carter
Doctor Who – Theme
Dante’s Lament/Clerks soundtrack
Shame/Stabbing Westward
Randal & Dante On Sex/Clerks Soundtrack
No Time For Love, Dr. Jones/Clerks Soundtrack
Broken/Seether Feat. Amy Lee
Angel Opening Title Theme/Darling Violetta
Du Hast/Rammstein
Yu-Gi-Oh! Theme
Volcano Girls/Veruca Salt
Jay’s Chant/Clerks Soundtrack
The Tick (Animated Series) Theme
Somebody Help Me (Theme from “Tru Calling”)/Full Blown Rose
Push It/Garbage
Wish I Had an Angel/Nightwish (e.p.)
Bother/Stone Sour
Red Tape/Agent Provocateur (Underworld score)
The Deal (No Deal)/”Chess” soundtrack
Going Under/Evanescence
Stacy’s Mom/Fountains of Wayne
Losing Grip/Avril Lavigne
Cyber Savvy/Ben Affleck & Jason Mewes (Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back Soundtrack)
Along Comes A Woman/Chicago
James Bond Theme (Bond Vs. Oakenfold)/David Arnold Featuring Paul Oakenfold
My Immortal [Band Version]/Evanescence
Peaches/The Presidents Of The United States Of America
My Happy Ending/Avril Lavigne
Girl All The Bad Guys Want/Bowling For Soup
Social Event Of The Season/Clerks Soundtrack
Tourniquet/Evanescence
Absurd/Fluke (Sin City Soundtrack)
Affair of the Heart/Rick Springfield
Poison Arrow/ABC
1985/Bowling For Soup
James Bond Theme/David Arnold
Crime Story (Runaway)/Del Shannon
A Bunch Of Muppets/Clerks Soundtrack
I Like To Expand My Horizons/Clerks Soundtrack
Toccata & Fuge D-Moll BWV 565 (Arr. Mike Batt)/J. S. Bach/Vanessa Mae(Violin)
Extreme Ways/Moby (Bourne Supremacy Soundtrack)
Spanish Inquisition Revisited/Monty Python
Wish I Had An Angel/Nightwish
Romanticide/Nightwish
Heartbreaker/Pat Benatar
Flash’s Theme/Queen
Rock of Life/Rick Springfield
Burning Heart/Survivor
I Can’t Hold Back/Survivor

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