25 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: SCROOGED

Starring

Bill Murray (Ghostbusters)
Karen Allen (Raiders of The Lost Ark)
John Forsythe (The Trouble With HArry)
John Glover (Smallville)
Alfre Woodard (Luke Cage)
Bobcat Goldthwait (Blow)
David Johansen (Let It Ride)
Carol Kane (Gotham)
Robert Mitchum (Cape Fear)
Michael J. Pollard (The Odyssey)
Mary Ellen Trainor (Roswell)
Mabel King (Black Vampire)
John Murray (Anna Pavlova)
Wendie Malick (American Housewife)
Brian Doyle-Murray (as Good As It Gets)
Lee Majors (Ash Vs Evil Dead)
Robert Goulet (The Naked Gun 2)
Anne Ramsey (The Goonies)
Jack McGee (The Fighter)
Kathy Kinney (Arachnophobia)
Joel Murray (Mike & Molly)

Bill Murray and Alfre Woodard in Scrooged (1988)IBC Television president Frank Cross is pushing his company to broadcast an extravagant live production of A Christmas Carol on Christmas Eve, making the staff work throughout the holiday. Frank fires executive Eliot Loudermilk for disagreeing with him, and sends cheap IBC-monogrammed towels to all on his Christmas list, including his personal assistant Grace, and his brother James. Frank’s boss Preston Rhinelander, seeing the stress Frank is under with the production, brings in Brice Cummings to provide assistance, though Brice secretly wants Frank’s job.Bill Murray and Anne Ramsey in Scrooged (1988)The night before the show, Frank is visited by the ghost of his mentor Lew Hayward, who died from a heart attack as an unloved miser. Lew warns him three more ghosts will appear to him over the next day to help Frank avoid the same fate. Before it vanishes, the ghost dials up Claire Phillips, Frank’s lost love from years ago. Claire comes to the network to talk to Frank, but Frank does not make time for her, and she returns to the homeless shelter where she works.Bill Murray and Karen Allen in Scrooged (1988)As rehearsals start, Frank is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past, appearing as a taxi driver. He takes Frank to see his past: how he found solace in television after his mother left his father, and how he had fallen in love with Claire but lost her favor when he prioritized his television career over her. When back in the present, Frank goes to see Claire, hoping to make amends. However, his attitude quickly sours when shows his contempt for a homeless man named Herman and the shelter workers. He returns to the studio.Bill Murray and Carol Kane in Scrooged (1988)The Ghost of Christmas Present arrives as a clumsy fairy. She takes him to Grace’s apartment, showing his assistant’s struggles to support her large family, including her youngest son Calvin who has remained mute since seeing his father murdered. The Ghost then shows him James, who still respects Frank as his brother despite declining invitations to his Christmas celebrations and cheap gifts. The Ghost leaves him in a utility space under a sidewalk with Herman, now frozen to death. Frank desperately tries to escape, breaking through a boarded up door to end back up on the set of the production. Preston directs Brice to take over rehearsals to give Frank some time off.Bill Murray in Scrooged (1988)Retiring to his office, Frank finds Eliot waiting for him with a shotgun, ready to kill Frank for the loss of his job and family. Frank escapes into the elevator where the Grim Reaper-like Ghost of Christmas Future awaits. The Ghost takes him to the future, where Calvin has become catatonic and been institutionalized, and Claire has heeded Frank’s words and shunned the homeless to become just like Frank. Finally, the Ghost shows Frank’s cremation ceremony, with only James and his wife in attendance. Frank, having come to a revelation about his life, is shocked when he finds himself in the coffin as is it about to be incinerated, and breaks his way out, ending up back out of the elevator facing Eliot. Frank’s completely changed demeanor surprises Eliot, particularly when Frank offers him a high-level executive position.scrooged_2With Eliot’s help, Frank returns to the production set, secures Brice in the control room, and breaks the show’s live broadcast to speak of his new appreciation for life. He apologizes on air to Grace, James, and the cast and crew, and makes a passionate plea to Claire to come back to him. Claire sees this at the shelter, and makes for the network with the help of the Ghost of Christmas Past. As Frank and Claire reunite, Calvin comes up to Frank and speaks for the first time, reminding him to say the closing words of the Carol, “God bless us, everyone”, much to Grace’s elation. Frank leads the crew in singing “Put a Little Love in Your Heart”, and sees Lew, the three Ghosts, and the ghost of Herman smile and wave back to him.ScroogedI liked “Scrooged,” as it is certainly a fantastic Christmas movie to watch, and is quite funny, especially just to see Murray get his comeuppance in a role that seems to suit him perfectly.

REVIEW: WONDER WOMAN – SEASON 2

Starring

Lynda Carter (Supergirl)
Lyle Waggoner (The Carol Burnett Show)
Norman Burton (Planet of The Apes)

Lynda Carter and Beatrice Straight in Wonder Woman (1975)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Beatrice Straight (Poltergeist)
Fritz Weaver (Creepshow)
Jessica Walter (Archer)
Barry Dennen (The Dark Crystal)
James Hong (Blade Runner)
J. Kenneth Campbell (The Abyss)
Martin Mull (Sabrina: TTW)
Denny Miller (Tarzan The Ape Man)
Eve Plumb (The Brady Bunch)
Bob Hastings (Batman: TAS)
Juliet Mills (Avanati)
John Colicos (Battlestar Galactica)
Roddy McDowall (Planet of The Apes)
Earl Boen (The Terminator)
Anne Ramsey (Scrooged)
John Rubinstein (Chilling Adventures of Sabrina)
Frank Gorshin (Batman 60s)
Bubba Smith (Police Academy)
Henry Gibson (Sabrina: TTW)
Rick Springfield (True Detective)
Vaughn Armstrong (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Dick Gautier (Transformers)
Ed Begley Jr.(Veronica Mars)
Jennifer Darling (The Six Million Dollar Man)
John Fujioka (American Ninja)
Chuck Hicks (Dick Tracy)

Lynda Carter in Wonder Woman (1975)I was not  born in 1977, so obviously I didn’t catch Wonder Woman when it was first on the air. I remember seeing parts of it on the weekend when my Dad would watch repeats on Saturdays between The Incredible Hulk and In Search Of.Lynda Carter in Wonder Woman (1975)Lynda Carter’s image as the character is the one that stuck with me the most. The character has endured over the years with fantastic artists doing her comic – folks like George Perez, Phil Jiminez, and Adam Hughes. But to me, Lynda Carter was and is always going to be the definitive look of Wonder Woman in my mind. Christopher Reeve as Superman is one of the only other times there has been such a perfect transition from comics to film. Carter’s Wonder Woman jumps off the comic book page – literally, if you check out the opening credits.Lynda Carter in Wonder Woman (1975)The first, and most impressive, thing I noticed about Lynda Carter’s portrayal of the character on this DVD set is that she really became the character, and believed in it. Not every actress could pull this off. Some might take it the way of feeling ridiculous in the skimpy costume, or laugh at the concept of this Amazonian princess from Paradise Island who goes to the Man’s world and helps rescue doofus Steve Trevor every week. The DVD bonus interviews, which include new material with Lynda Carter, talk about this approach and it made me all the more impressed. Season Two takes Wonder Woman to the 1970’s and makes things more modern. Diana Prince (WW’s alter ego) gets a better fashion sense and we are introduced to new technologies like IRA the computer. Sure, ghosts from the World War II past do spring up, but the episodes seem a bit less silly and more down to Earth this time.Eve Plumb and Lynda Carter in Wonder Woman (1975)Lyle Waggoner in Season Two plays Steve Trevor Jr., son of the original Steve Trevor, who he played during the show’s first season. This plot device is very soap opera-like, but it works, in this case. In addition to the second season’s 22 episodes which include a feature-length season premiere, the DVD includes a bonus feature that includes interviews with Ms. Carter and comic book professionals Phil Jiminez (who may be Wonder Woman’s biggest fan, though we know his heart belongs to Donna Troy), Andy Mangels, and Adam Hughes.

 

REVIEW: STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION – SEASON 1-7

Image result for star trek the next generation logo

MAIN CAST

Patrick Stewart (X-Men)
Jonathan Frakes (Roswell)
LeVar Burton (Roots: The Gift)
Denise Corsby (Dolly Dearest)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Gates McFadden (Franklin & Bash)
Marina Sirtis (The Grudge 3)
Brent Spiner (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
Wil Wheaton (Powers)
Diana Muldaur (Born Free)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

DeForest Kelley (Gunfight at the O.K. Corral)
John De Lancie (The Secret Circle)
Michael Bell (Tangled)
Colm Meaney (Intermission)
Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (Elektra)
Brooke Bundy (A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 & 4)
Armin Shimerman (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Tracey Walter (Batman)
Stanley Kamel (Domino)
Marc Alaimo (Total Recall)
Majel Barrett (Babylon 5)
Robert Knepper (Izombie)
Carel Struycken (The Addams Family)
Dick Miller (Gremlins)
Carolyn McCormick (Enemy Mine)
Katy Boyer (The Island)
Michael Pataki (Rocky IV)
Brenda Strong (Supergirl)
Vaughn Armstrong (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Vincent Schiavelli (Batman Returns)
Judson Scott (Blade)
Merritt Butrick (Fright Night: Part 2)
Leon Rippy (Stargate)
Peter Mark Richman (Friday The 13th – Part 8)
Seymour Cassel (Rushmore)
Ray Walston (The Sting)
Whoppi Godlberg (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Chris Latta (G.I.Joe)
Earl Boen (The Terminator)
Billy Campbell (The Rocketeer)
Teri Hatcher (Lois & Clark)
William Morgan Sheppard (Transformers)
Brian Thompson (The Terminator)
Clyde Kusatsu (Doctor Strange 70s)
Paddi Edwards (Halloween III)
Sam Anderson (Lost)
Robert Duncan McNeill (Masters of The Universe)
Mitchell Ryan (Lethal Weapon)
Nikki Cox (Las Vegas)
Lycia Naff (Total Recall)
Robert Costanzo (Batman: TAS)
Robert O’Reilly (The Mask)
Glenn Morshower (Supergirl)
Scott Grimes (American Dad)
Ray Wise (Agent Carter)
Andreas Katsulas (Babylon 5)
Simon Templeton (James Bond Jr.)
James Cromwell (Species II)
Corbin Bernsen (The Tomorrow Man)
Christopher McDonald (Fanboys)
Tricia O’ Neil (Titanic)
Hallie Todd (Sabrina: TTW)
Tony Todd (The Flash)
Harry Groener (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Dwight Schultz (The A-Team)
Saul Rubinek (Warehouse 13)
Mark Lenard (Planet of The Apes TV)
Ethan Phillips (Bad Santa)
Elizabeth Dennehy (Gattaca)
George Murodck (Battlestar Galactica)
Jeremy Kemp (Conan)
Sherman Howard (Superboy)
Beth Toussaint (Fortress 2)
April Grace (Lost)
Patti Yasutake (The Closer)
Alan Scarfe (Andromeda)
Bebe Neuwirth (Jumanji)
Rosalind Chao (Freaky Friday)
Jennifer Hetrick (L.A. Law)
Michelle Forbes (Powers)
Theodore Bikel (Babylon 5)
David Ogden Stiers (Two Guys and a Girl)
Gwyneth Walsh (Taken)
Paul Winfield (The Terminator)
Ashley Judd (Divergent)
Bob Gunton (Daredevil TV)
Leonard Nimoy (Transformers: The Movie)
Malachi Throne (Batman 60s)
Henry Darrow (The Hitcher)
Daniel Roebuck (Lost)
Kathryn Leigh Scott (Three Christs)
Pamela Adlon (Better Things)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Matt Frewer (Watchmen)
Ron Canada (Wedding Crashers)
Elizabeth Hoffman (Stargate SG.1)
Stephen Lee (Wargames)
Kevin Peter Hall (Predator)
Richard Cox (Alpha House)
Liz Vassey (Two and a Half Men)
Kelsey Grammer (Frasier)
Ed Lauter (The Number 23)
Tony Jay (Lois & Clark)
Famke Janssen (X-Men)
Shay Astar (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Thomas Kopache (Stigmata)
Susanna Thompson (Arrow)
Richard Riehle (Texas Chainsaw 3D)
Alexander Enberg (Junior)
Lance LeGault (Stripes)
Mark Margolis (Breaking Bad)
Richard Cansino (Mighty Morphin Power Rangers)
Anne Ramsay (Mad About You)
Diedrich Bader (American Housewife)
Suzie Plakson (How I Met Your Mother)
Michael Berryman (The Hills Have Eyes)
Max Grodénchik (The Rocketeer)
Lanei Chapman (Rat Race)
Barbara Tarbuck (S. Darko)
Mike Hagerty (Overboard)
Michele Scarabelli (Alien Nation)
George Coe (Kramer vs Kramer)
James Doohan (Some Things Never Die)
Olivia D’Abo (Conan The Destroyer)
Ronny Cox (Robocop)
Clive Revill (Batman: TAS)
Jean Simmons (Spartacus)
David Warner (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II)
Stephanie Beacham (The Colbys)
Reg E. Cathey (Fantastic Four)
Scott MacDonald (Jack Frost)
Alexander Siddig (Game of Thrones)
Cristine Rose (How I Met Your Mother)
Richard Herd (V)
Tim Russ (Samantha Who?)
Patricia Tallman (Babylon 5)
Salome Jens (Superboy)
Andrew Prine (V)
J.C. Brandy (Halloween 6)
Alan Oppenheimer (Transformers)
Eric Pierpoint (Alien Nation)
John Neville (The Fifth Element)
Ned Romero (The Lost Child)
Stephen Hawking (Futurama)
Mark Rolston (Aliens)
Joel Swetow (The Orville)
Bruce Gray (Starship Troopers)
Richard Lynch (Puppet Master 3)
Robin Curtis (General Hospital)
Julie Caitlin Brown (Babylon 5)
Kirsten Dunst (Bring it On)
Lee Arenberg (Pirates of The Caribbean)
Fionnula Flanagan (Lost)
Mark Bramhall (Alias)
Stephen Root (Dodgeball)
Terry O’Quinn (Lost)
Penny Johnson Jerald (Bones)
Jonathan Del Arco (The Closer)
Brian Markinson (Arrow)
Alexander Enberg (junior)
Ellen Albertini Dow (The Wedding Singer)
Brenda Bakke (Hot Shots 2)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Caprica)
Paul Sorvino (Goodfellas)
Erich Anderson (Friday The 13th 4)
Lawrence Tierney (Reservoir Dogs)
Robert Ito (Quincy M.E.)
Vyto Ruginis (Moneyball)
Richard McGonagle (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Time Winters (Thinner)

When the TNG series premiered in 1987, it wasn’t greeted well by many of the old-time Trek fans, including myself. It didn’t help matters that one of the earliest episodes, “The Naked Now” was a superficial retread of the classic “The Naked Time” from ’66. The new episode should have served as a way of spotlighting several of the new crew, but all it did was show them all in heat. I wasn’t too impressed. What did work was keeping the central theme of exploration (something lost in the offshoots, DS9 & Voyager). The new Enterprise was twice as large as the original, with about a thousand personnel aboard. Capt. Picard (Stewart) was a more cerebral, diplomatic version of the ultimate explorer we had known as Capt. Kirk. Again, Picard wasn’t too impressive in the first two awkward seasons, as some may mistake his caution for weakness. The Kirk-like first officer Riker (Frakes) was controlled by Picard, so the entire crew of Enterprise-D came across as a bit too civilized, too complacent for their own good. It’s interesting that this complacency was fractured by the most memorable episode of the first two years, “Q Who?” which introduced The Borg. All of a sudden, exploration was not a routine venture.

Other memorable episodes of the first 2 years: the double-length pilot, introducing Q; “Conspiracy”-an early invasion thriller; “Where No One Has Gone Before”-an ultimate attempt to define the exploring theme; “The Big Goodbye”-the first lengthy exploration of the new holodeck concept; “Datalore”-intro of Data’s evil twin; “Skin of Evil”-death of Tasha Yar; “11001001”-perhaps the best holodeck story; and “The Measure of a Man”-placing an android on trial. Except for “Q Who” the 2nd year was even more of a letdown from the first. Space started to percolate in the 3rd season. I liked “The Survivors”-introducing an entity resembling Q in a depressed mood, and “Deja Q” with both Q & Guinan squaring off, as well as other alien beings. A remaining drawback was the ‘techno-babble’ hindering many scripts, an aspect which made them less exciting than the stories of the original series. As Roddenberry himself believed, when characters spoke this way, it did not come across as naturalistic, except maybe when it was Data (Spiner), the android. The engineer La Forge (Burton), for example, was usually saddled with long, dull explanatory dialog for the audience.

In the 3rd year, truly innovative concepts such as the far-out parallel-universe adventure “Yesterday’s Enterprise” began to take hold, topped by the season-ender “The Best of Both Worlds,part 1” in which The Borg returned in their first try at assimilating Earth. After this and the 2nd part, the TNG show was off and running, at full warp speed. There are too many great episodes from the next 4 seasons to list here, but I tended to appreciate the wild, cosmic concept stories best: “Parallels”(s7); “Cause and Effect”(s5); “Timescape”(s6); “Tapestry”(s6); and the scary “Frame of Mind”, “Schisms” and “Genesis.” There’s also the mind-blowing “Inner Light”(s5), “Conundrum” and “Ship in a Bottle”(s6), “Second Chances.” The intense 2-parter “Chain of Command” was almost like a film, and the great return of Scotty in “Relics” was very entertaining, though it showed you can’t go home again. The show also continued to tackle uneasy social issues, as in “The Host”, “The Outcast”, “First Contact” and “The Drumhead” as well as political:”Darmok”, “Rightful Heir”, “Face of the Enemy” and “The Pegasus.” The series ended on a strong note, “All Good Things…” a double-length spectacular with nearly the budget of a feature film. But it wasn’t really the end. A few months later, an actual feature film was released “Star Trek Generations”(94). It’s rather ironic that the TNG films couldn’t match the innovation and creativity of the last 4 seasons of the series. “Star Trek Insurrection”(98) for example, is a lesser effort than any of the episodes mentioned above.