Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Kendra: The Complete First Season

Millions of years from now, when the aliens are sifting through the remnants of the doomed planet Earth, upon finding DVDs of Kendra, they will come not to the conclusion that we amused ourselves to death, but rather that we had it coming. Maybe they’ll at least get some huge chuckles out of the episode where Kendra visits Roswell, New Mexico. It’s not that I have any dislike for Kendra Wilkinson herself. I’m sure she’s a very nice person, even if her crayon box is missing some of the brighter colors. But reality shows are created in the editing room, and if this series had any engaging material, it must have been left on the cutting room floor. (Admittedly, that’s a phrase that’s becoming less and less appropriate in this day and age of digital.) Having had a hit series with The Girls Next Door, E! has seen fit to spin off Kendra into her own show, now that she’s living away from the Playboy Mansion and no longer has to service Hef’s member.

Read the rest of this DVD review by clicking here and visiting Bullz-Eye.

Dallas: The Complete Twelfth Season

It’s always a little sad when a long-running series begins to show its age, yet fights against it tooth and nail, and that’s more or less what’s happening with Dallas in its twelfth season. The core cast that remains is getting noticeably grayer, and so younger, prettier actors have been brought in to help spice things up – a move that seems to work only about half the time. The plots, too, seem to have been given a bit of an overhaul, probably in an attempt to compete with other primetime dramas of the day. This isn’t a show that has by any means “lost it,” but it’s most certainly one that has seen far better days.

After the Nicholas Pearce debacle of Season Eleven, which provided the season cliffhanger, J.R. (Larry Hagman) has once again been shot – this time by Sue Ellen (Linda Gray). His recovery is swift and he’s back on his feet by the second episode, and the entire incident is written off by the authorities as self-defense on everyone’s part, so no charges are filed against anyone. But Pearce is dead, and Sue Ellen wants revenge against J.R., and so begins her story arc for the entire season, which would turn out to be Gray’s last on the series proper. It cannot be calculated exactly how much class Gray brought to this series, and so it’s something of shame that she doesn’t get a stronger exit. As the season moves forward, she meets a screenwriter/director named Don Lockwood (Ian McShane), and hatches a plan that involves bringing the details of her sordid marriage to J.R. to the big screen. (She describes it as Citizen Kane in Texas.) The aim is to produce a work that will humble and humiliate J.R. for good. This entire idea probably seemed a great deal cleverer back when it first aired, but in this day and age it feels awfully quaint, and worst of all, what little we see of the resulting movie makes it looks like a disastrous picture that nobody would ever want to sit through. And to top it all off, J.R.’s viewing of the movie provides Season Twelve with its cliffhanger – surely one of the most anticlimactic this series ever produced.

Read the rest of this DVD review by clicking here and visiting Bullz-Eye.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Philanthropist: The Complete Series

The Philanthropist tells the stories of Teddy Rist (James Purefoy), a billionaire who, while on a trip to Nigeria, finds himself in the position of saving a young boy in the midst of a hurricane. Having recently divorced his wife (Krista Allen) after the couple dealt with the death of their son, his eyes are now open, and he realizes that a great deal of good needs to be done in the world, and he’s in a position to do some good deeds. Teddy fights sex trafficking in Paris, forced labor in Burma, and food shortages in Haiti. It doesn’t necessarily sound like a fun series, and yet it is, because Teddy enjoys the company of fine booze and sexy women, although not necessarily in that order. He never carries a gun, yet often finds himself on the other end of one. His “missions” always seem to involve him becoming personally involved in the situation due to the presence of one or two people who desperately need his help, and these smaller stories are set against the backdrop of the bigger, more important pictures. In many ways, the show feels a bit like a series of mini-James Bond adventures, only without the license to kill.

Read this entire DVD review by clicking here and visiting Bullz-Eye.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Doctor Who: The Twin Dilemma

A recent poll conducted by Doctor Who Magazine asked readers to rank every single story from 1963 all the way to “Planet of the Dead,” which apparently can be calculated to a nifty, even 200 stories. “The Twin Dilemma” came in dead last; in an odd twist, the story that immediately precedes it, “The Caves of Androzani,” took the #1 spot. It’s true, “The Twin Dilemma” is not a great story, but it is also not nearly as bad as reputation would suggest. There are plenty of other entries that are far worse than this one (for instance, “The Keys of Marinus”). It’s mildly noteworthy that this story should be released at this time, as it’s the first story of the Sixth Doctor (Colin Baker), and since we just saw David Tennant regenerate into Matt Smith a few days ago, there might be slightly more interest in the title than there would otherwise be. While the storyline is a bit duff and the creatures look rubbery and fake, the road the production team went down to unveil the new Doctor was probably the boldest experiment ever conducted under that banner. Whether or not you’ll find the experiment a success will largely depend on your feelings about Baker’s Doctor. If you didn’t like him before, nothing here is going to change that. If you enjoy his take on the character, however, he throws down a pretty dazzling, crazed performance for his freshman outing, and this is well worth checking out.

The story involves the kidnapping of two twin boy geniuses (what exactly is it with '80s Who and boy geniuses!?) by a benign rogue Time Lord going by the name of Professor Edgeworth (Maurice Denham). In reality, he’s an old friend of the Doctor’s named Azmael, and he’s using the boys’ skills to aid one Mestor the Magnificent, the leader of a race of giant slugs who has plans of galactic conquest (don’t they always?). If you saw the finale of Extras, which guest-starred David Tennant, the ridiculous creature Ricky Gervais played in that scene was likely based on Mestor. Azmael is only begrudgingly doing this as a last ditch effort to save the planet Jaconda, which appears to hold the same sentiment for him as Earth does for the Doctor.

Read the rest of this DVD review by clicking here and visiting Bullz-Eye.

Doctor Who: The Keys of Marinus

Here’s a vintage Who entry – from the series’ very first season, in fact – that proves the show was wholly capable of producing crap from the very beginning. Indeed, from now on, when I hear some old fogey complaining that the new series isn’t as good as the old, I’m going to point them in the direction of “Marinus” and tell them to keep walking. Apparently, “Marinus” was a last minute replacement for another story that fell through. It was scripted by Terry Nation, who’d written the far more successful “The Daleks” earlier in the season, but he seems to have spent little more than a couple days cobbling together this tale. Actually, I’m being a tad unfair, because one of the six episodes of this tale is actually very good, but we’re not quite there yet, so hang tight.

In the first episode, which is actually titled “The Sea of Death” (this is back when every single episode of Who had its own individual title), the TARDIS lands on the planet Marinus, where the beach is made of glass, and the sea is made of acid – and a tab of LSD would certainly have done wonders for my perception of this story.

Read the rest of this DVD review by clicking here and visiting Bullz-Eye.

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Doctor Who: The End of Time Part Two

Last week, when writing about the first part of the Tennant/Davies swansong, I talked about not making any predictions, as well as the possibility of expectations not being met. On the predictions front, I’m glad I didn’t bother (although one of the few that I did make may actually be true – more on that in a bit), because there’s really no way I could have predicted the bizarre manner in which this tale concluded. The narrative meat of this episode – the stuff involving the Time Lords, Gallifrey and the Master – was quite frankly difficult to wade through on the first viewing; a second viewing alleviated some of that, and yet I’m still not convinced it all makes perfect sense. Perhaps I’m looking at it too deeply, and wanting more than there is?

I’d also be lying if I said I went into this episode without any expectations – I mean, how can you not? Many, if not most of them weren’t met, although there were plenty of other treats on display that made up for that. Indeed, this episode was hell bent on subverting expectations. “The End of Time” as a whole, which is how it should be judged, is a landmark slice of Doctor Who, even though the writing isn’t as tight as the intricate standard set by “The Waters of Mars.” Oh well – based on previous finales, I didn’t really expect it to be, and on that level it can’t be called a letdown. It’s so steeped in the mythology of Davies’ vision of Who, that it’s difficult to imagine it could possibly work as a piece of standalone drama for anyone unfamiliar with the past five years of the series. But that also can’t be a criticism, since what it really is is a jagged love letter to everyone who’s been paying attention during that time. Davies really backed himself into a corner with this one, because “Journey’s End” very much felt like the end of the era, only it wasn’t. So this proper ending, which feels more like a coda or an afterward, had to be a horse of a different color, and it most certainly was.

The episode wastes no time addressing the final moments of “Part One” by diving straight into the Gallifrey situation. Before going further, let me just say how incredibly fucking cool it was to have James Bond playing the Time Lord President. If someone had told me 20 years ago that Timothy Dalton would someday be playing such a role on Doctor Who I’d have thought them bonkers. Sure, it’s not as if Sean Connery is gracing the screen, but anyone who really appreciates the Bond franchise knows Dalton got a bum deal, and that both of his outings were pretty damn good entries. Anyone who appreciates both Bond and Who will also acknowledge how the two concepts – which, aside from their inherent Britishness, really only have the changing of lead actors in common – have worked oddly parallel to one another over the past 40 some-odd years. Dalton is terrifying here, especially for anyone who doesn’t know the history of the classic series, and expects the Time Lords to be the good guys. Even as an old school fan, it was shocking to see the Time Lords as they’re presented here, but the more I thought about it, the more it was perfect and right. These guys – even from their very first outing, “The War Games” – were bad news. It’s just that they were so passive in their assholedom before; here they’re proactively destructive. Even though it’s never stated in the episode, the old Time Lord decree of “non-intervention” was obviously filed into 13 once their existence was threatened. And then there’s the Deus ex glove! Oh, how I loved and hated that stupid glove! (Maybe it’s a relative of the glove from Torchwood?) My teenager hilariously dubbed it “The Glove of Time.” He started making up dialogue for Dalton: “I am endowed with The Glove of Time!” and “The Glove of Time will smite you!” We got, and will continue to get, a lot of mileage out of that silly glove.

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