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

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Tensou Sentai Goseiger (2010-11)

The Goseigers are five trainee angels. Yes, angels. They're prematurely thrusted into protecting the planet and doling out punishment to a handful of enemy factions. This may smack of a disjointed narrative, but I assure you the writers’ hands are always firmly on the reigns. Their dedication carries through into the characters themselves:

Alata (Gosei Red) can be entirely nonexistent when the focus is on other characters and is sometimes overshadowed even when he is at the forefront. His relationships with Nozomu (an exquisitely-acted child character) and Gosei Knight (the team’s Sixth) are some of the most touching I’ve seen realized in media. He is mere STEPS behind Sosuke (Go-On Red). My penultimate Red, with a bullet.

Hyde (Gosei Blue) is patient, analytical, and the only Seaick Tribe member currently on Earth. His solitude is assuaged by a number of characters that support him both in battle and at home. Indeed, the depth of his loneness is matched only by the resolve he develops and (eventually) explosively unleashes.

Agri (Gosei Black) is a slender muscle man (fitting for someone whose totem is a snake) with a heart of gold who often pushes his sister to greatness when ostensibly attempting to show her up. MounĂ© (Gosei Yellow), for her part is…infectiously cuckoo for cocoa puffs.

Like Shinkenger, Goseiger is a series that’s not afraid to consistently spotlight its ladies. Fitting then that we’re ending with Eri (Gosei Pink). While most Sentai teams will speak to the fact that they will always rise again, the Goseigers do it incessantly. This resilience finds its origins, like many things, in Eri’s childhood with Alata. From even before any of them were Gosei tenshi, she was the well-spring of inspiration and resoluteness. Truly, there is no more fitting visage for her than that of a phoenix.

While there are many early highlights, Goseiger starts pleasingly well and increases in quality as it goes. There are moments of flatness and there is additional emphasis placed upon and greater privilege granted to Alata and Eri. The team’s overall fighting style is also very fixed and while it’s done in the service of a worthy concept that doesn’t mean it won’t lead to fatigue on the part of some viewers. Similarly, if you aren’t sold on the concept and significance of their final mecha, you’re going to get real tired of it, real fast. Once on the field, it is the most omnipresent I’ve personally witnessed.

While I am fully admitting these potential flaws, Goseiger is still gloriously unique among the Sentai series I’ve seen. I consider that one of its biggest strengths. It isn’t perfect, but what does work radiates off the screen. Contrary to overwhelming opinion, it is a journey worth taking, especially if you’re willing to see it through to the end.

50 episodes, approx. 25 minutes each.
Their supplemental materials are discussed below the cut.

4 Endless Fights in the Dark of the Sun out of 5
Rest in Peace, good sir <3

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Into the Labyrinth (1981-82)

Three youths, Phil, Helen and Terry (as pictured), shelter in a nearby cave when a freak storm breaks out. It's there that they find Rothgo, a formidable but weakened soul with the kind of powers we'd normally associate with sorcerers of bygone eras. He enlists the children's help to retrieve an ancient and powerful artefact.

To attain the Nidas, as it's known, the kids must venture into the Labyrinth, a gateway to other times. It's a perilous journey and like all good children's TV shows it has an antagonist that's truly memorable, but I'll get to her eventually.

It sounds like a standard set-up so far, but it has elements that raise it above the norm. Firstly, Rothgo, played by Ron Moody (who you may know better as Fagan in Oliver! (1968), Carol Reed's version of Oliver Twist) brings a Shakespearean sensibility to his scenes. Perhaps being limited to a stage-like setting was the reason or perhaps not - whatever the case, he helps turn what could've been an archetypal mentor character into an emotional one, desperate to save himself but likewise prepared to sacrifice his goal should the need arise.

While the search is ongoing from week to week, the structure is episodic. Both the Nidus and the children are bounced around notable historical periods, creating something akin to a merger of fantasy, sci-fi and period drama. Following them through time is a power-hungry witch named Belor who's hell-bent on attaining the artefact's power for herself, and if she can't have it then no one will.

The beautiful but evil Belor, a toxic yet alluring combination, was played by Pamela Salem. Wow - what an absolute star she was! Salem hammed it up in an immensely dramatic fashion when necessary but in such a way that she owned every scene. She embodied a collection of detestable traits but I was completely smitten by her enthusiasm and grace. Full marks for her.

Some folks will criticize the fact that the same cave interior is repeatedly used, over and over, rearranged or revamped a little each time with the application of new set dressings. It's a legitimate complaint but not one that I was at all bothered about. Like I said before, it was a stage-like environment, and that's how it works on stage. I even began to look forward to the changed trappings, evaluating their placement and usefulness. I was never disappointed.

21 episodes (07 Eps x 03 Series), approx 26 mins each.

4½ shining reflections out of 5