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

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The Magnificent Seven: Complete Series (1998–2000)

It doesn't take place before or after the existing films. It's its own thing in terms of both tone and continuity. And the men are all new, with the exception being Chris Larabee (Michael Biehn), clearly a small screen version of Chris Adams, the leader of the Seven as first portrayed by Yul Brynner in the films; although the TV version of Chris is rightfully his own man, too, not just a carbon copy of the movie Chris.

With it being an ongoing series it made sense to localise the group, to give them a single town from which to operate, with the added benefit that it would provide a place that we as viewers can also form an attachment to. Although not always operating within the parameters of established law, the Seven nevertheless become the town's unofficial protectors. The unique skills that each man has is put to good use for its betterment; e.g. one is a healer, one an ex-preacher, etc.

Most of the time they get on well with each other, but because they have such different temperaments and goals in life there are occasional internal conflicts. It's a credit to the writers that the men all remain likeable even when they're clearly doing something morally wrong (mostly that means Ezra Standish). In truth, there wasn't a single one of them that earned permanent derision, perhaps because collectively they represent feelings or failings that most of us will have experienced or struggled with at some point in our life - they're relatable.

A number of recurring secondary characters play an important role, often as a voice of conscience or a lure of the heart, deepening and/or complicating the determination to defend and preserve the town. Yes, that sometimes means romance, but it's not always as straightforward as that statement might imply.

Season Two introduces Robert Vaughn as a Judge; Vaughn was one of the actors in the first Magnificent Seven (1960) film, but he played a different character.

Ironically, every once in a while the only reason the townspeople were placed in danger was because the bad guy(s) had gone there in order to confront or kill the Seven! But that's just life, right? Even good deeds have consequences.

22 episodes, approx 60 mins each (the Pilot is 90 mins).

4 holes in the clouds out of 5

Monday, November 7, 2016

THE KIDS IN THE HALL [1989-1995]

An optimist says, "The drink is half full." 
A pessimist says, "The drink is half full
...but I might have bowel cancer."

For five seasons, Canada's cult-classic comedy troupe The Kids in the Hall shocked, offended and most definitely humored with it's contemptuous crackpot self-titled sketch show.  Made up of Dave Foley, Bruce McCulloch, Kevin McDonald, Mark McKinney and Scott Thompson, the five-man act were notorious for doing a damn-fine job at dressing in drag, crushing heads, testing the censors and most of all making sure they were guaranteed to always come up in comedy sketch show conversations.

Unlike most sketch comedies that depend on pop culture and political issues, The Kids cynically tackled several touchy subjects such as sexuality, bigoted stereotyping, mental illnesses, religion and dysfunctional living styles.  Quite often frighteningly clever, they weren't afraid to embrace their nonsensical stupid side either with overly horny chicken ladies or cigar-chomping dirtbags with cabbages for heads.  Some of the many highlights included Thompson's gay bar owner Buddy Cole's lengthy monologues, Foley's silent French-Canadian under-dog Mr. Heavyfoot, McKinney's foolishly "sophisticated" hipster Darill, McDonald's adorably evil stage-entertainer Simon (& Hecubus) and McCulloch's David Lynch style short films that are complimented with the audience's nervous laughter.  

Throughout their five seasons of 102 episodes, The Kids managed to keep a consistent quality that only started to show a bit of downslope in a few of the final episodes when they just got plain weird for the sake of being weird.  However, when most sketch comedians know their material isn't top-notch they wear it on their sleeve with embarrassment but The Kids stuck it out and gave it their all making even the weakest of bits worth your time.  

5 nutty bunnies out of 5