Mini reviews of Television seasons old and new. No fuss. No spoilers. Occasional bunnies.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Kamen Rider W: Hidari Shoutarou's Hardboiled Delusion Diary (2009-10)

These shorts were included as extras on W's myriad DVD releases. They work off of a very simple concept: Akiko comes up with a wacky idea, or stumbles into a silly situation, and Shoutarou proceeds to daydream, "What if..."

The natural chemistry between Kiriyama Renn, Suda Masaki, Yamamoto Hikaru, and Kinomoto Minehiro is unbelievable and it shines here, just as always. The comedy starts subtle and careens into outlandish almost in slow-motion before your eyes. Kiriyama Renn isn't a national treasure; he's a wonder of the world.

Because the plot points that are mentioned in each delusion don't always line up with the Dopant suits that appear, I honestly recommend viewing these post-series for the sake of ease. If you absolutely insist on risking it, just don't watch number 11. It contains a catastrophic spoiler for the endgame. You've been warned. Returning to the Dopants, it's worth mentioning that since these are entirely nonsensical, it's perfectly fine that most of what they do doesn't line up with reality, as presented in the series.

If you can find these, absolutely watch them, even if they are mostly fluff. There is one nice thing conveyed that's worth throwing out there:

We can all be Hidari Shoutarou, if we truly want to.

12 shorts, ranging from 3-5 minutes, apiece.

4 Chances to Reuse Kegareshia's Hammer (Before Giving It to Luckyuro) out of 5

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Hammer House of Horror: Volume 3 of 4 (1980)

Rude Awakening
Denholm Elliott stars as an estate agent named Norman Shenley who gets stuck between a nightmare and a fantasy. On one side is Emily (Pat Heywood), his wife of many years, while on the other is Lolly (Lucy Gutteridge), the young, sexy secretary that he has eyes for. Norman's life is thrown into chaos when he's asked to survey a neglected manor house filled with fake cobwebs and accusing voices.
Directed by Peter Sasdy, whose Hammer credits include Countess Dracula (1971) and Hands of the Ripper (1971), the story plays around with what's real and what's imagined, hiding truths in the line between the two. — 3 bed roles out of 5 —

Charlie Boy
A timely windfall helps middle class Graham (Leigh Lawson) out of a financial pickle, but it comes with supernatural baggage; i.e. a hideous fetish statue - that's the totemic/juju kind, not the 'ooh, baby, spank me!' kind. Thereafter, we're treated to tragic events with ominous build ups that may just be coincidence but most likely aren't, because that would be boring. — 2½ travelling violations out of 5 —

Children of the Full Moon
A rather shocking opening scene (in any era, not just 1980) sets the tone for an entry that is by turns standard drama, creepy, gothic-esque, feral, and disquieting. The differing styles each serve a purpose and don't clash too much, thanks in part to the director (Tom Clegg) and the actors, including great work by Diana Dors.
It's an altogether classier piece than the previous episode, despite having a threat that's equally as overused in the horror genre. — 3 mutton broths out of 5 —

3 episodes, approx 51 minutes each.

Monday, July 31, 2017

My Own Worst Enemy (2008)

A short-lived series starring Christian Slater as a man who's living a double life. The hook is that his two lives are very separate, and only one of them is even aware that the other exists. Well, until something goes wrong! Ho ho... hum.

Thereafter Mr Slater's life becomes a painfully contrived juggling act of dedicated family man with trite wife and two kids on one comfortable side, while super-spy for a shady covert US government agency sits dangerously on the other - a role that sees him jet-setting unrealistically all over the damn world for clandestine assassination and retrieval missions, etc.

To be fair, it's not the worst scenario that TV has asked us to swallow in the past decade (I'm thankful that it at least had no superheroes or zombies), but nor is it a particularity appealing one. I only bought it because it qualified me for free P+P on an item that I did want, making my purchase cheaper than P+P would've been.

The writers seem to know that it lacks spark, so spend the first four or five episodes trying to outdo the previous one by applying ever more twists and turns atop a framework that's falling apart quicker than I can face-palm myself, thereby burying anything remotely relatable for the common man to get a hold of.

There's nothing wrong with wild escapism, I enjoy it myself, but just as a rose by any other name would smell as sweet, so too would a shitty mess smell as pungent regardless of the genre in which it finds itself. My Own Worst Enemy is not the aromatic rose in that scenario.

I'd lost interest by episode three. I didn't care about anyone. I was tired of his wife (M├Ądchen Amick) adding nothing interesting to the plot; bored with the spy antics; annoyed by the awful camerawork and editing; dismayed that I'd picked up yet another US show that didn't understand the concept of less is more. I gave it the full benefit of the doubt by going to the show's end, but it did nothing to change the feeling that I'd not spent my time productively.

9 Episodes, approx 40 minutes each.

2 living adjustments out of 5

Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Killers: Live From the Royal Albert Hall (2009)

I wasn’t particularly taken with Day & Age, as presented on disc. Here, however, there’s a sincere shimmering vibrancy to the songs. Trust me, I went back to make sure my mind wasn’t playing tricks on me. It wasn’t. There’s something dampened and sterile to their mixes on the album itself. Oh, and the one song that was too strong to be held back by the production there? It bleeds out of the screen, here. Further, none of these gentlemen are particularly ostentatious on stage, and none of the theatrics are overtly showy, meaning it really is all about the strength and veritas of the songs themselves.

That isn’t to say that you should put this on and clean the house, or go on an adventure across every other tab you have open. No, there’s plenty of worthwhile visuals and behaviors on display. Ronnie joyously works his ass off and it melts my heart to see Brandon doing something as touching and humble as wiping the sweat off of Dave’s face for him. /swoon

While the vast majority of Day & Age is performed, the singles from Hot Fuss and some of the real…killers from Sam’s Town also appear, to my sheer delight. The back-stage special demonstrates the camaraderie that exists amongst the entirety of their production crew. It’s similar to how Conan O'Brien interacts with his, if the snarky-ness was turned down about five notches. There’s a handful of additional performances from other venues, as well, and I’d say they’re worth checking out. The half-acoustic rendition of Smile Like You Mean It, at the very least.

Hey, Billie Joe, take fucking notes. THIS is how you do 'hey-ho's. In one instance, briefly, and with narrative significance. I expect to see an immediate improvement.

This is available on bluray, but it doesn’t come with the CD of most of the tracks that accompanies the DVD. If you’re a fan of the band, there's no real debate. If you were disappointed with Day & Age, give this a shot and see if you’re similarly won over.

Approx. 2 hours, not counting the extras.

(More) Performances of Note: A Dustland Fairytale; Sam's Town

4½ Long-Since Abandoned Geo Metros out of 5

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Hammer House of Horror: Volume 2 of 4 (1980)

The Mark of Satan
Working in a hospital mortuary would be a difficult enough job ordinarily, but for new guy Edwyn Rord (Peter McEnry) having to deal with a philosophical pathologist and the hidden but encroaching forces of evil that are conspiring to destroy him makes it even more problematic. It's not just at work. Edwyn's home life isn't as secure as he'd like it to be. Dir. Don Leaver manages to accentuate the unease that the infatuated worker feels, transferring it to the viewer at the correct times and in the correct doses.  — 3 counts of evil out of 5 —

Witching Time
An overworked and stressed out film score composer (Jon Finch) has problems with women. Not only does he suspect his wife (Prunella Gee) of sleeping with another guy, but a fiery-haired mystery woman who claims to be from the 17th Century unexpectedly shows up and makes his life even more eventful.
Things turn more sinister in the second half, but overall it's not as good as the previous episode. The highlight is undoubtedly the scornful redhead, Lucinda (Patricia Quinn), who you'll maybe know better as Magenta from The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975). — 2½ cackles out of 5 —

Visitor from the Grave
A woman with a history of mental illness experiences a traumatic event when an uninvited visitor calls at her pleasant English cottage home.
It's another psychological story, mostly, with the 'horror' this time manifested as a morbid fear of slipping back into an unstable mindset and an equally debilitating fear of one's wrongful deeds being found out. It was my least favourite of the three, and is somewhat predictable, but the acting, particularly from Kathryn Leigh Scott, is enough to keep it from being boring. — 2½ chill pills out of 5 —

3 episodes, approx 51 minutes each.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Shinkenger VS Kamen Rider Decade:
Kenzan Samurai Sentai & Gedou Rider, Mairu! (2009)

In a crossover, ground-floor exposition has to be present even if the events therein take place significantly far into one, both, or all of the participants' timelines. Characterization should still be present and consistent with each individual as they currently exist, however, and Kobayashi does a magnificent job of this, here, via actions, when there is not time for explicit dialogue. This is in contrast to the Gavan episodes in Go-Busters, where Kuroki's actions are entirely too convenient, and consequently, out of character.

Tsukasa (Decade) is an ass. But, Kobayashi manages to make it seem like he actually has something going on below the surface. I feel that she deliberately put the emphasis on Natsumi and Eijiro, as opposed to some of the Shinkengers, because that was where she perceived the deficit to be. I wholeheartedly agree and wonder what Decade would have been like if she had been able to write all of it, as opposed to simply four episodes. Accordingly, Den-O suits appear in the first part of this endeavor. She was clearly proud of her past work, as well she should be. Those other two episodes? They were the ones set in the world of Den-O, so Toei at least showed a modicum of good judgement in regards to Decade.

Verily, Decade has to exist in my world, even if I am opposed to how Toei's anniversary efforts tend to disregard the canons of their original works. Without Decade, I would not have:
If you're watching Decade, you have to watch these, as they are episodes of Decade. If you're watching Shinkenger, DO NOT skip these. The order of viewing is:

Act 20 --> Decade 24 --> Act 21 --> Decade 25

4 Only Because Onodera is Not REMOTELY Odagiri Joe out of 5

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season 7 (1993-94)

Longtime fans of TNG will get the most from what the seventh and last season has to offer. There's a lot of looking back, while also moving forward. A number of significant events from previous years are referenced or recalled, right back even to the Farpoint mission, the very first episode of Season 1 (1987-88).

Family plays an important role; mothers and sons mostly, but also fathers, brothers and the extended family you create for yourself from the people who become closer than just friends, the people who earn respect a thousand times over just by being who they are at heart, free from any kind of ingratiating agenda.

And while strange new worlds are indeed explored, new life and new civilisations thoroughly sought out, there's also a dangerous limitation to be considered, one that has consequences for more than just the crew of the Federation's flagship. It's something that doesn't get forgotten by the next episode, which does sometimes happen in episodic shows, and I'll be looking out for it as I progress through TNG's successor, the Deep Space Nine series, which takes place in the same time period.

Lieutenant commander Data's desire to be more human continues to underpin the psychology of the character, and it's something that's used as a basis for some of the best episodes in what I consider to be a very strong season.

Of course, the VERY best episode is the two-part finale, All Good Things... It's a powerful and bittersweet farewell that's both a testament to how affecting the show was to millions of people the world over and a kind of thank you to those same people. Afterwards our time with the ship's crew comes to an end, but we know deep down that our own journey of discovery never really does.

The Enterprise D and its crew will hold a special place in my heart forever; it's a feeling that all the gold-pressed latinum in the universe couldn't buy back

26 episodes, approx 44 minutes each.

5 unknown possibilities of existence out of 5