REVIEW: THE DARK CRYSTAL: AGE OF RESISTANCE

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)

Starring

Taron Egerton (Legend)
Anya Taylor-Joy (Glass)
Nathalie Emmanuel (Game of Thrones)
Donna Kimball (The Happytime Murders)

Recurring / Notable Guest Cast

Eddie Izzard (Hannibal)
Helena Bonham Carter (Fight Club)
Caitriona Balfe (Crush)
Lena Headey (Game of Thrones)
Harris Dickinson (The Darkest Minds)
Shazad Latif (Star Trek: Discovery)
Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Belle)
Alicia Vikander (Tomb Raider)
Hannah John-Kamen (Ant-Man and The Wasp)
Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones)
Mark Strong (Shazam)
Theo James (Divergent)
Louise Gold (Muppets Most Wanted)
Jason Isaacs (Fury)
Simon Pegg (The Boys)
Awkwafina (Ocean’s 8)
Bendedict Wong (Doctor Strange)
Harvey Fierstein (The Simpsons)
Andy Samberg (Brooklyn Nine-Nine)
Ralph Ineson (Ready Player One)
Alice Dinnean (The Happytime Murders)
Keegan-Michael Key (Tomorrowland)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars_
Sigourney Weaver (Alien)
Bill Hader (Power Rangers)

Donna Kimball in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)The Dark Crystal is a tremendous filmmaking achievement that’s only a pretty good movie. A technical marvel, undoubtedly; definitive proof that film is a collaborative medium, and a formative experience for the devoted cult that saw it when they were young and have now passed it onto their children. But also a B-, B if you’re feeling generous. Like many other big-budget genre blockbusters flying in Star Wars’ contrails during the early 1980s—David Lynch’s Dune comes to mind—it puts a fully realized, authentically unearthly realm on the screen, and then fails to give that place much in the way of a narrative.The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)Another world, another time, in the age of Westeros: Netflix funds a return trip to Thra, winding the clock back to before the emergence of the heroic Jen and Kira, to an era when the elfin Gelfling and the monstrous Skeksis lived in tenuous (and, it turns out, entirely bogus) harmony. And a moment when the grand ambitions of Jim Henson, Frank Oz, Brian and Wendy Froud, David Odell, and countless others are realized in The Dark Crystal: Age Of Resistance.Victor Yerrid in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)That original film is first and foremost a visual experience, and the imagery still takes precedence here: Age Of Resistance recreates Thra through further acts of practical-effects wizardry, a fantasia of forest glens, desert cliffs, underground caves, and castles both majestic and austere. The premiere episode leans into this (while also giving a good indication of the series’ pace) when it breaks from character introductions in order to send the camera corkscrewing through a glamour shot of the royal library favored by Gelfling princess Brea (Anya Taylor-Joy and Alice Dinnean—with a handful of exceptions, the principal performances are a collaboration between the puppeteers on screen and actors in the recording booth). With the elbow room of a potentially ongoing series, the writers—led by Will Matthews and Jeffrey Addiss (the duo who developed the series) and seasoned genre TV vet Javier Grillo-Marxuach—get deliberate with their opening chapters, luxuriating in palace intrigue amongst the Skeksis and the establishment of the seven fractious clans of Gelfling.The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)It’s dense going, until the outlines of the heroes’ journey snaps into focus, showing the intersecting quests of the curious noble Brea, disgraced guard Rian (Taron Egerton and Neil Sterenberg), and the compassionate subterranean-dwelling Deet (Nathalie Emmanuel and Beccy Henderson). It is not coincidental that Age Of Resistance hits its hot streak once these elements are in place—and after Deet acquires a sidekick: Hup (Victor Yerrid), one of The Dark Crystal’s diminutive and gibbering creatures known as Podlings. Hup has outsize chivalric aspirations, carries a spoon he calls a sword, and generally rules.Anya Taylor-Joy in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)Age Of Resistance improves on its big-screen source material by giving viewers protagonists who are worth a damn; even Egerton—whose most interesting star turns to date have been primarily interesting because they’re bolstered by the Elton John-Bernie Taupin songbook—is an improvement over The Dark Crystal’s ineffectual, underwritten Baggins stand-in, Jen. But there’s a taller hurdle to clear in the Gelfling’s humanoid appearances, which even four decades of technological advances can’t pull from the depths of the uncanny valley. (It comes down to the eyes: Deet, with saucer-sized pupils suited to underground living, looks far enough from human for this to ever be a problem.) The effectiveness of the Age Of Resistance illusion can vary depending on the number of Gelfling on screen and the varying degrees to which their faces are articulated—large group scenes and Gelfling-to-Gelfling conversations occasionally have a ring of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson to them.Nathalie Emmanuel in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)Thank heavens, then, for the Skeksis. A monument to the Frouds’ gnarly aesthetics and Henson’s lack of qualms about frightening the youngest members of his audience, the villains loom large over The Dark Crystal. In Age Of Resistance, they occupy a role akin to that of the Lannisters in Game Of Thrones: deeply out-of-touch aristocrats who believe power is their birthright, and whose extravagances and squabbles account for the series’ most amusing set-pieces. (In a playful casting choice, Cersei Lannister herself, Lena Headey, voices a Gelfling leader on the show.) They chance upon a fountain of youth when Thra’s all-powerful Crystal Of Truth sucks the life out of a Gelfling, leaving behind only her essence—which is discovered to have a rejuvenating effect. This corruption of the planet’s most precious resource coincides with the experiments the Skeksis Emperor (Jason Isaacs and Dave Chapman) conducts on a glowing, purple hole in the ground—a “darkening” that is both key to the series’ political subtexts and a regally hued thread in Age Of Resistance tapestry of mythological nonsense.Hannah John-Kamen and Taron Egerton in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)Here, as in later in The Dark Crystal’s chronology, the ugliness of the Skeksis’ deeds manifests physically: the craggy sculpting of the puppets’ faces, their combination of avian and reptilian features, as if situated on the evolutionary scale from velociraptor to plain old raptor. They’re treated to new textures and terrors in Age Of Resistance. Sequences depicting their indulgences in the seven deadly sins don’t stray too far from their cinematic predecessors, but the staging and satirical edge remain sharp. A spa treatment brusquely interrupted by the similarly lumpy crone Aughra (Donna Kimball and Kevin Clash) is one of the first season’s comedic highlights.Victor Yerrid, Nathalie Emmanuel, and Taron Egerton in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)The Skeksis’ role in Age Of Resistance is more encore than elaboration, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not like there’s been all that much change in the ruling class skewered by the Skeksis’ chomping, preening, condescending grotesquery. They’re perfect adversaries and an essential energy, which director Louis Letterier amps up in extreme close-ups and off-kilter camera angles. They’re creepy and campy, and the production lines up a murderers’ row of hams to handle their shrieks and whimpers: Simon Pegg, making a meal of the Chamberlain’s scheming murmurs; Mark Hamill, twisting his strangled Joker vocalizations into those of a mad Scientist; Harvey Fierstein, a choice so deliciously on the nose, it’s practically a part of the puppet’s face. Imperious turns from Isaacs and Benedict Wong make sure that the characters’ true, evil nature is never too far from mind.The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)The Skeksis play the hits, but they bring some newly goopy accessories and freshly terrifying rituals, too. Bubbling, oozing pustules dot the face of The Collector (Awkwafina and Helena Smee), and the second episodes culminates in a royal-chamber sequence primed to send a new generation ducking behind the couch. A fantastical ingenuity prevails throughout Age Of Resistance: With an eye toward portraying Thra as a fully natural world, Matthews, Addiss, Grillo-Marxuach and team devised Skeksis carriages that roll across the landscape on giant pillbug wheels and a secret message etched into the geological equivalent of an Edison cylinder. Frames burst with creatures familiar and unfamiliar—each of them charmingly, refreshingly tactile.Jason Isaacs in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance (2019)And this time around it’s in service of a satisfyingly told tale with resonant themes of truth and rebellion. Age Of Resistance is the best type of YA fantasy fiction, engrossing and escapist and full of hidden depths, ideal for viewers weaned on Harry Potter and The Legend Of Zelda but not quite ready for George R.R. Martin. There is a complexity at play, particularly in the arc of Seladon (Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Helena Smee), Brea’s sister whose loyalties and worldview are tested as word of the Skeksis’ treachery spreads. There are mystical MacGuffins and blind storytelling alleys littered about, but they’re far outweighed by the intrepid thrust of the Gelfling uprising and every thought of “How did they pull that off?” For decades, bands of true believers have sung the song of Thra; now, thanks to Age Of Resistance, that melody carries with the strength, distance, and richness the Dark Crystal concept has always deserved.

REVIEW: HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER – SEASON 5

Starring

Josh Radnor (The Hunt)
Jason Segel (Sex Tape)
Cobie Smulders (Avengers: Endgame)
Neil Patrick Harris (Gone Girl)
Alyson Hannigan (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Bob Saget (Full House)

Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Segel in How I Met Your Mother (2005)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Joe Manganiello (Justice League)
Rizwan Manji (The Dictator)
Lindsay Sloane (Sabrina: TTW)
Lyndsy Fonseca (Kick-Ass)
David Henrie (Paul Blart Mall Cop 2)
Olga Fonda (The Vampire Diaries)
Marshall Manesh (Will & Grace)
Julianna Guill (Captain America: Civil War)
Alan Thicke (Growing Pains)
April Bowlby (Doom Patrol)
Matt Jones (Mom)
Eva Amurri Martino (Saved!)
Sarah Wright (American Made)
Chris Elliott (The Abyss)
Christina Pickles (Masters of The Universe)
Bill Fagerbakke (Spongebob Squarepants)
Suzie Plakson (Disclosure)
JoAnna Garcia Swisher (The Internship)
Charlene Amoia (American Pie: Reunion)
Matthew Moy (2 Broke Girls)
Benjamin Koldyke (The Finest Hours)
Bob Odenkirk (Better Call Saul)
Harvey Fierstein (Mrs. Doubtfire)
Rachel Bilson (Jumper)
Stacy Keibler (The Comebacks)
Joe Nieves (Stuck In The Middle)
Amanda Peet (Identity)
Larry Poindexter (17 Again)
Taran Killam (12 Years a Slave)
Bar Paly (Pain & Gain)
David Burtka (Neil’s Puppet Dreams)
Carrie Underwood (Soul Surfer)
Jennifer Lopez (The Cell)
Laura Prepon (That 70s Show)
Brooke Nevin (Scorpion)
Anne Dudek (Mad Men)
Cristine Rose (Heroes)
Harry Groener (Buffy: TVS)
Arianna Huffington (The Cleveland Show)
Michael York (Logan’s Run)
Malin Akerman (Watchmen)
Judy Greer (Ant-Man)
Chris Kattan (Undercover Brother)

Alyson Hannigan and Jason Segel in How I Met Your Mother (2005)Ted begins his job as a professor of architecture, standing in the middle of a classroom – although the mother was present, it turns out to be an economics class as he’s in the wrong lecture hall. Barney and Robin have had a sexual relationship throughout the summer and Lily locks them in a room, forcing them to come to terms with their relationship. After a rough patch they decide to break up. Robin describes it instead as “two friends getting back together.” Barney immediately goes back to his old ways, using the playbook to score with women. Throughout the season Barney and Robin show feelings of regret over their break-up.Neil Patrick Harris and Josh Radnor in How I Met Your Mother (2005)Ted dates a graduate student named Cindy (Rachel Bilson) and it is revealed her roommate is his future wife. Robin meets Don Frank (Benjamin Koldyke), her new co-anchor on her 4 AM TV show. Though she initially dislikes him, the two start dating and eventually she moves in with him. At the end of the season they break up when Don takes a job in Chicago — a job which Robin had previously turned down to stay in New York with Don. Marshall uses his fourth slap on Barney, once again at Thanksgiving. Ted buys a house, which needs to be fixed up badly, but is later revealed to be the future home for Ted and his children.Neil Patrick Harris and Cobie Smulders in How I Met Your Mother (2005)Lily and Marshall are still unsure about having children. After watching four doppelgangers of their group (Lesbian Robin, Moustache Marshall, Stripper Lily and Mexican Wrestler Ted) they decide to leave the big decision to the universe’s “infinite wisdom” and start trying when they have seen Barney’s Doppelganger. In the season finale, Barney disguises himself to have sex with a girl from every country in the world, and Lily and Marshall mistake him for the final doppelganger. When Marshall finds out, he decides not to tell Lily, fearing she will want to wait even longer to have children. Lily eventually finds out and decides to wait. In the season finale, Lily thinks she sees Barney’s doppelganger as a hot dog vendor, which causes the group to realize she is seeing what she wants to see, and play along. Eventually Barney agrees having babies is not a stupid idea and Lily and Marshall should go forth. The season ends with Lily asking Marshall to “put a baby in my belly”.Neil Patrick Harris, Alyson Hannigan, Jason Segel, Josh Radnor, and Cobie Smulders in How I Met Your Mother (2005)Another great season which leaves you wanting to find out what happens next in season 6.

 

 

REVIEW: INDEPENDENCE DAY

CAST

Will Smith (Suicide Squad)
Bill Pullman (The Grudge)
Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park)
Mary McDonnell (Battlestar Galactica)
Judd Hirsch (Tower Heist)
Robert Loggia (Psycho II)
Randy Quaid (Kingpin)
Margaret Colin (Gotham)
James Rebhorn (Meet The Parents)
Vivica A. Fox (Idle Hands)
Harvey Fierstein (Kull The Conqueror)
Adam Baldwin (Firefly)
Brent Spiner (Star Trek: TNG)
James Duval (Gone In 60 Seconds)
Lisa Jakub (Mrs. Doubtfire)
Giuseppe Andrews (Cabin Fever)
Mae Whitman (Boogeyman 2)
Bill Smitrovich (Iron Man)
Kiersten Warren (13 Going on 30)
Harry Connick Jr. (The Iron Giant)
Frank Welker (Transformers)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Leland Orser (Daredevil)
Devon Gummersall (Roswell)
Raphael Sbarge (Risky Business)
Bobby Hosea (Xena)
Jay Acovone (Stargate SG.1)
Thom Barry (Cold Case)
Robert Pine (Red Eye)
Derek Webster (Stargate)
Rance Howard (Nebraska)
Kevin Cooney (Legally Blonde)
Jim Piddock (Mascots)
Tracey Walter (Batman)

On July 2, 1996, an enormous alien mothership that has one fourth the mass of the Moon enters orbit around Earth, deploying 36 smaller spacecraft, each 15 miles (24 km) wide, that take positions over some of Earth’s major cities and military bases. David Levinson, an MIT-trained satellite technician, decodes a signal embedded in the global satellite transmissions that he determines is a timer counting down to a coordinated attack. With the help of his former wife, White House Communications Director Constance Spano, Levinson, and his father Julius, gain access to the Oval Office and warn President Thomas J. Whitmore that the aliens are hostile. Whitmore orders large-scale evacuations of New York City, Los Angeles, and Washington D.C., but it is too late; the timer reaches zero and the ships activate devastating directed-energy weapons, killing millions. Whitmore, the Levinsons, and a few others, narrowly escape aboard Air Force One as the capital is destroyed, along with other locations over which the ships are positioned.On July 3, international military leaders begin ordering individual counterattacks. Their aviation forces attack destroyer ships positioned above the ruins of the cities, but they are protected by force fields. Each destroyer launches a swarm of attack fighters, which wipe out the human fighter squadrons. Captain Steven Hiller, a pilot with the Marine Corps squadron VMFA-314 based out of Marine Corps Air Station El Toro, survives by luring his attacker to the enclosed spaces of the Grand Canyon and sacrificing his plane, forcing the alien to crash-land. He subdues the injured alien pilot and flags down a convoy of refugees, hitching a ride with former combat pilot Russell Casse. They transport the unconscious alien to nearby Area 51 where Whitmore’s group has landed. Through Secretary of Defense Albert Nimzicki, they learn that a faction of the government has been involved in a UFO conspiracy since 1947, when one of the invaders’ attack fighters crashed in Roswell. Area 51 houses the refurbished alien fighter and three alien corpses recovered from the crash.When eccentric scientist Brackish Okun examines the alien captured by Hiller, it regains consciousness and attacks. It telepathically invades Okun’s mind and uses his vocal cords to communicate with Whitmore before launching a psychic attack against him. Whitmore sees visions of the alien’s plans: their entire civilization travels from planet to planet, exterminating all indigenous life and harvesting the planet of all natural resources. After Secret Service agents and military personnel kill the alien, Whitmore reluctantly authorizes a nuclear attack; a B-2 Spirit fires a nuclear cruise missile at an alien destroyer positioned above Houston, but the ship remains intact.On July 4, Levinson demonstrates that the key to defeating the aliens lies in deactivating their force fields, and devises a way to do so by uploading a computer virus into the mothership. He proposes using the refurbished alien fighter to implement the plan, which Hiller volunteers to pilot. The two are able to implant the virus and deploy a nuclear weapon on board the mothership. With military pilots in short supply, Whitmore enlists the help of volunteers with flight experience, including Casse, and leads an attack on a destroyer ship bearing down on Area 51. With the alien’s shields deactivated, the fighters are able to inflict damage but their supply of missiles is quickly exhausted. As the destroyer prepares to fire on the base, the last missile, equipped on Casse’s plane, jams, and Casse decides to sacrifice his own life. He flies his plane kamikaze-style into the directed-energy weapon port, which results in an explosion that destroys the ship. Human resistance forces around the world successfully destroy the other craft using this vulnerability. As humankind is rejoicing in victory, Hiller and Levinson return to Area 51 unharmed and reunite with their families. They and military officers nearby accompany Whitmore and his daughter in watching the wreckage from the mothership burn up, resembling a fireworks display as it enters Earth’s atmosphere.Independence Day is arguably one of the greatest SF disaster movies of all time. With REM’s ‘It’s the end of the world’ sampled near the beginning of the movie, you definitely know that Roland Emmerich’s view about alien encounters is more akin to War of the Worlds than E.T. Filled with stunning special effects, stirring music, unpretentious sentimentality and laced with good natured humour there is no need to bemoan the lack of character development or obvious narrative coincidences. There is no pretence at being a great cinematic masterpiece examining deep philosophical themes. This is a two hour long, ludicrously enjoyable, preposterously pompous, unbelievably incredible ‘backs against the wall’ slice of SF fantasy which still entertains after numerous viewings.

REVIEW: FAMILY GUY – DVD SEASONS 11-15

Image result for family guy logo

MAIN CAST (VOICES)

Seth MacFarlane (Flashforward)
Alex Borstein (Power Rangers Zeo)
Seth Green (IT)
Mila Kunis (Black Swan)
Mike Henry (Ted)
Jennifer Tilly (Curse of Chucky)
Patrick Warburton (Scream 3)
Adam West (60s Batman)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST (VOICES)

Christina Milian (Bring it On 5)
Patrick Stewart (American Dad)
Nana Visitor (Star Trek: DS9)
Carrie Fisher (Star wars)
Dana Gould (Mob City)
Arianna Huffington (The Cleveland Show)
Christine Lakin (Valetnine’s Day)
Bill Maher (A Million Ways To Die In The West)
Ashley Tisdale (Scary Movie 5)
David Boreanaz (Bones)
Gary Cole (Chuck)
Rachael MacFarlane (American Dad)
Adam Carolla (Two Guys and a Girl)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Jessica Stroup (Ted)
Alan Tudyk (Firefly)
Alexandra Breckenridge (The Walking Dead)
Dee Bradley Baker (American Dad)
Nina Dobrev (The Vampire Diaries)
Laura Vandervoort (Bitten)
Cheryl Tiegs (The Brown Bunny)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Drew Barrymore (Poison Ivy)
Meredith Baxter (Family Ties)
Julie Hagerty (Airplane)
Michael Gross (Tremors)
Wallace Shawn (The Princess Bride)
Judy Greer (Jurassic World)
Chris O’ Dowd (St. Vincent)
Tara Strong (Batman: TAS)
Ioan Grufford (Ringer)
Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)
Lacey Chabert (Mean Girls)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk vs)
Kevin Durand (Dark Angel)
Scott Grimes (American Dad)
Ari Graynor (Bad Teacher TV)
Missi Pyle (Dodgeball)
Sanaa Lathan (Blade)
R. Lee Ermey (Full Metal Jacket)
Joel David Moore (Bones)
Jessica Barth (Ted)
Marlee Matlin (My Name Is Earl)
Sara Fletcher (Icrime)
David Herman (Futurama)
Ellen Page (Super)
Ricky Gevais (Ghost Town)
Lucy Davis (Shaun of The Dead)
Scott Bakula (Chuck)
Eddie Kaye Thomas (American Pie)
Cate Blanchett (The Hobbit)
Anna Kendrick (The Voices)
Martin Spanjers (8 Simple Rules)
Dan Castellaneta (Fantastic Four)
Billy Gardell (Mike & Molly)
Jon Hamm (Mad Men)
Sandra Bernhard (2 Broke Girls)
John De Lancie (Star Trek: TNG)
Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)
Will Sasso (Anger Management)
Emily Osment (Mom)
Megan Hilty (The Good Wife)
Jessica Biel (New Girl)
Christine Baranski (The Big Bang Theory)
Giovanni Ribisi (Ted)
Emma Roberts (Scream Queens)
Chad L. Coleman (Arrow)
Tony Sirico (Goodfellas)
Ashley Benson (Spring Breakers)
Liam Neeson (Batman Begins)
Lauran Bacall (The Big Sleep)
Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride)
Freddy Rodriguez (Planet Terror)
Keke Palmer (Scream Queens)
Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Kick-Ass)
David Thewlis (Harry Potter)
Hank Azaria (The SMurfs)
Nancy Cartwright (The Simpsons)
Julie Kavner (Rhoda)
Yeardley Smith (As Good As It Gets)
Julie Bowen (Modern Family)
Maya Rudlph (Bridesmaids)
Carl Lumbly (Alias)
Ana Ortiz (Ugly Betty)
Lucas Grabeel (Smallville)
Ana Gasteyer (What A Woman Wants)
Glenn Howerton (That 80s Show)
Allison Janney (Mom)
Nat Faxon (The Descendants)
Harvey Fierstein (Mulan)
Cristin Milioti (How I Met Your Mother)
T.J. Miller (Deadpool)

Season 11 is really the reamaing of episodes of season 9 but by now you get use to the dvd season. great epsiodes and more greats jokes and anyones fair game, be it the spiritual, who get assaulted in “Brian Writes a Bestseller,” as the dog writes a quickie self-help guide, but can’t defend it against Bill Maher’s questions, pretty much any minority and Meg, the family’s socially-awkward daughter, who not only tries to weasel her way into wheelchair-bound Joe’s life, but hooks up with her brother. Nazis, a standard part of the show after so many years, get their moment to shine as well, as the neighborhood pedophile Herbert recognizes Chris’ new friend as a war criminal, setting up an epic old-man fight, and perhaps one of the few times in history where you might find yourself rooting for a kid-toucher.
One of strangest jokes is where Peter is reminiscing about 1985, and notes that it gave us the gayest music video ever, before showing nearly half of David Bowie and Mick Jagger’s “Dancing in the Streets.” As it plays, you start wondering when we’ll get back to the show, before beginning to question if we’re ever going back. And then you start questioning how the video ever came into existence. Then you ask, how did they get the rights to use it in the show this way? Then you kind of forget you’re watching Family Guy. Then you kind of wish you were watching the video again, but that was the point of the episode doing it to mind screw you.

 This season is a pretty strong one. It has the mean-spirited episode is Screams Of Silence: The Story Of Brenda Q and it’s not only the strangest episode on the season but one of the strangest of the entire series. Basically Glenn’s sister gets into an abusive relationship and he, Peter and Joe decide to take care of the problem. The episode gets increasingly darker as it plays out and the ending, which is presented straight and without any obvious irony or attempt at humor, is pretty grim. The crew should get credit for tackling a serious social issue with at least some semblance of seriousness but is this really the right format to raise an issue like this? Opinions will vary, obviously, but this episode is twisted.

Aside from that, it’s more or less business as usual. There are some fun celebrity cameos here, the most obvious one being Ricky Gervais who provides the voice of a dolphin who helps Peter out and then demands a ridiculous amount of favors in return. The Lottery Fever series opener is a fun one which shows not only how Peter behaves after winning the lottery but how those around him will leach off of him when he does. We get to see Brian take mushrooms before a hurricane hits the town and then watch him trip out and see some seriously bizarre hallucinations. The Back To The Pilot episode also stands out as we see Stewie travel back with Brian in tow to January 31, 1999 (which was the broadcast date of the series’ first episode). This shows how the series has changed over the years and also how in just as many ways it has stayed the same.

Quahog news anchor Tom Tucker gets the spotlight in Tom Tucker: The Man And His Dream in which we learn about his acting career. It seems he played Michael Myers in Halloween IV and once Peter learns that, he and James Woods get involved in resurrecting his thesping profession. In Killer Queen Peter and Chris wind up at fat camp where a serial killer is at work, while back in Quahog, Stewie is terrified by the artwork of Queen’s New Of The World album cover. H. Jon Benjamin from Bob’s Burgers and a bunch of other great credits does a guest voice here. Stewie falls for a girl named Penelope, voiced by Kate Blanchett, in Mr. And Mrs. Stewie but of course that can’t end well even if she shares his love of weapons and math. Tea Party is another stand out. When Peter tries to open his own business and gets shut down, he becomes an advocate for small government and takes hardcore conservative Tea Party ideas to ridiculous extremes with predictably funny results.

All in all, this is a pretty great season. It’s also fairly daring, not that the show has ever really shied away from controversy but they definitely push things on a visual level here. That’s not a bad thing, so long as you’re accepting of the fact that as offensive as the series can be, it’s an equal opportunity offender and it provides a great opportunity to laugh at the absurdity that is all around us on a daily basis.

So how does this season hold up? In a lot of ways, it’s more of the same, but at the same time, by being more of the same there’s a certain expectation of unpredictability that this collection consistently meets and occasionally exceeds. You get to a point in the show where you expect the unexpected, and there’s a whole lot of unexpected to appreciate this time around. The season starts off strong with Into Fat Air where Lois runs into an ex-boyfriend who boasts about his family’s accomplishments. This gets Lois feeling competitive and before you know it, the Griffins are climbing Mount Everest. Shades of Alive run deep in this particularly perverse episode. The show takes on the Nielson Ratings in Ratings Guy. When the Griffins are selected to a Nielson family, Peter goes for a blatant abuse of his power to shape TV to his liking but is then tasked with trying to set things right. It’s actually a pretty amusing take at the fickle viewing habits of the general public. The health care industry and its corporate ties are taken on in The Big C when Peter finds out that his father in law has been keeping the cure for cancer his corporation has discovered secret in the name of making more profits off of treatment. As irreverent as this series gets, this episode will at least get you thinking.Family Guy (1998)The seemingly obligatory time travel episode in this season is Yug Ylimaf and once again Stewie and Brian cruise back in time and goof off. It’s old hat at this point but there’s comfort in familiarity. We get to learn more about Joe’s disability when the man who shot him and confined him to a live in a wheelchair goes on the lam and Peter, Joe and Quaigmire hunt him down to get revenge. The Jesus, Mary and Joseph! episode lets Peter tell us his own version of the Nativity Story in what is essentially a Christmas episode gone awry. Nothing is sacred, fans know that by now. Quagmire is the focus of The Giggity Wife, an episode that shows what happens when Glenn marries a skaggy old hooker on a trip with Peter and Joe. He realizes quickly that this was a horrible idea but she won’t grant him a divorce. Glenn tries to convince her that he’s actually gay, with Peter’s help. In Chris Cross the elder Griffin son swipes some money from his parents to go out and buy some cool new sneakers. When Meg finds out, she blackmails him but Chris quickly has his fill and decides to go live down the street with everyone’s favorite pedophile, his old friend Herbert. Meanwhile, Stewie convinces Brian to help him track down Canadian songstress Anne Murray. In Call Girl Lois uses her voice to make some extra money as a phone sex operator and in Turban Cowboy Peter befriends a Muslim and then converts to Islam. Phone sex might not be so topical these days, but the Islam episodes pushes some buttons in some clever ways.

As the season comes to a close, in the Bigfat episode we find out what happens when Peter, Joe and Quagmire go on a trip to Canada. Peter goes missing for months and when they finally find him, he’s lost the ability to communicate like a ‘normal person.’ Total Recall is another ‘Rupert’ inspired episode where Stewie and Brian try to get the teddy bear back after a recall is done. Peter and friends try to save their favorite bar in Save The Clam while Peter takes up farming in Farmer Guy, but soon gives that up in favor of dealing meth. Road To Vegas sees Brian and Stewie clone themselves and head to Vegas where they have completely opposite experiences from one another and last but not least, No Country Club For Old Men gets the Griffin’s into a posh country club when Christ strikes up a romance with a girl who comes from the wealthiest family around. This doesn’t sit well with Carter, who winds up getting the boot.

It’s all pretty much non-stop insanity but hey, it wouldn’t be Family Guy if there weren’t a lot of guest voices, right? Right! Popping up throughout this collection are such luminaries as Elizabeth Banks, Ryan Reynolds, Sofía Vergara, Giovanni Ribisi, Jessica Biel, Drew Barrymore, Will Sasso, Emma Roberts, J.J. Abrams, Sandra Bernhard, Cheryl Tiegs, Anne Murray, Bill Maher, Sharon Osbourne and quite a few others. And we’d be remiss not to mention the mighty Robert Loggia shows up here too. There’s a lot of fun to be had in this set so long as you go in with an open mind and remember that pretty much every one from every walk of life is fair game.  This marks the second time a full season of the show has been released in one set (season 13 12 had the full season 11 on it). In prior years Fox, in its infinite wisdom, would release sets that had half of one season and half of another on it. It has really been a minor point because in terms of following the show, it is not like it ever has season long story arcs that need to be followed. You just have to have seen a prior episode to get a reference if they call back to something. But for those of us who do get the DVDs it has often meant paying the same price for a set with a partial season on it. So it is nice that they have come around to doing what they should have in the first place. It also makes for a pretty funny joke this season in one of the episodes.

As far as the show itself goes, it is pretty standard with what it has been doing the past few years. It can get repetitive with some of the gags (they do like vomit), but I do think they are still entertaining on a consistent enough basis to keep fans of the show entertained. This season has the controversial story line in the middle involving Brian (chances are everyone knows what it is and the cover of the DVD set basically gives it away) that definitely shook the show (and the fans) up. It also sees the return of Cleveland after the Cleveland Show’s cancellation. Like the show always has, it makes fun of pretty much any topic, and because the DVD is uncensored it replaces some of the tamer jokes from the broadcast version with harder edged versions. It is also worth noting that nothing gets bleeped out on the DVDs, so expect all the swearing to be in every episode.

 


For those who get the DVD set, as far as extras go, there are deleted scenes from every episode, a couple episodes showing the full animatics with the dialogue, and a short feature on the Brian storyline with show runners and Seth Green talking about the fan reaction. Pretty standard for what has been included before

This is really season 13, its the season featuring the Simpson/ Family Guy Crossover. The hour in Springfield started off in poignant, self-referential fashion, with Seth MacFarlane and co. recognizing that this was probably a “one time shot.” Cue the slew of Easter eggs and references for fans of The Simpsons, and the fan-service is appreciated for the most part. There are guest appearances from Apu (once in his natural habitat, and once as Stewie’s prisoner), and hilarious scenes with the likes of Cleveland and Quagmire meeting their Simpson counterparts.

The entire premise of this episode (an attempt to put the rumors of any Family Guy vs The Simpsons feud to rest) hinges on each show taking some low blows and wearing it’s respective heart on it’s sleeve. Whether it’s The Simpsons (or Duff Brewery’s) longevity, which invites criticism about it’s consistency, or Family Guy’s (and Pawtucket Brewery’s) questionable originality and knack for what may seem like “pale imitation,” this episode takes stabs at both parties involved. The argument begins in a bar at the start of the third act, and spirals out of control into an absurd, and probably overlong, classic chicken fight.Comic-Con-Family-Guy-The-SImpsons-Crossover-SG-21

Other highlights in the set include,

The 2000 Year Old Virgin where Jesus shocks peter by saying that he has never had sex. Determined to change this, Peter enlists the help of Cleveland, Joe and Quagmire so Jesus can lose his virginity for his 2000th birthday.

Stewie, Chris, & Brian’s Excellent Adventure where Stewie and Brian invite Chris on a journey through time to help him pass a test that is his only hope of finishing ninth grade, and the three end up stuck in 1912 aboard the Titanic.

and of course the Fight Irish episode where Peter claims that he could beat Liam Neeson in a fight, but his skills are put to the test when Neeson himself actually shows up. Meanwhile, Stewie is annoyed with Lois when she becomes a class mom and starts paying more attention to other children.

Another classic season with great jokes and great guest stars, The Simpson Guy being the biggest highlight now we can own it on dvd

REVIEW: FAMILY GUY – DVD SEASONS 6-10

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MAIN CAST (VOICES)

Seth MacFarlane (Flashforward)
Alex Borstein (Power Rangers Zeo)
Seth Green (IT)
Mila Kunis (Black Swan)
Mike Henry (Ted)
Jennifer Tilly (Curse of Chucky)
Patrick Warburton (Scream 3)
Adam West (60s Batman)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST (VOICES)

Lori Alan (Wall-E)
Ellen Albertini Dow (The Wedding Singer)
Alexandra Breckenridge (She’s The Man)
Phil LaMarr (Free Enterprise)
Kevin Michael Richardson (The Cleveland Show)
Phyllis Diller (A Bug’s Life)
Carrie Fisher (Star Wars)
Indigo (Weeds)
Rachael MacFarlane (American Dad)
Louis Gossett Jr. (Stargate SG.1)
Samm Levine (Veronica Mars)
Drew Barrymore (Poison Ivy)
Robert Constanzo (Batman:TAS)
Gary Cole (One Hour Photo)
Taylor Cole (Heroes)
Lauren Conrad (The Hills)
David Cross (Scary Movie 2)
Stacey Scowley (The Brotherhood 2)
Garrett Morris (2 Broke Girls)
Rob Lowe (Code Black)
Ted McGinley (Highlander 2)
Connor Trinneer (Star Trek: Enterprise)
Charles Durning (The Sting)
Michael Clarke Duncan (The Finder)
Hugh Hefner (Citizen Toxie)
Roy Schneider (Jaws)
Gilbert Gottfried (Anger Management)
Neil Patrick Harris (The Smurfs)
Josh Radnor (How I Met Your Mother)
Tara Strong (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Adam Carolla (Road Hard)
Will Sasso (The Three Stooges)
Paula Abdul (Bruno)
Randy Jackson (American Idol)
Simon Cowell (The X Factor)
Patrick Stewart (X-Men)
Ricardo Montalban (Star Trek II)
James Woods (Another Day In Paradise)
Jessica Barth (Ted)
Chace Crawford (Gossip Girl)
Harvey Fierstein (Independence Day)
Bryan Cranston (Drive)
Brian Blessed (Flash Gordon)
Elisha Cuthbert (24)
Andy Dick (2 Broke Girls)
Debbie Reynolds (Singin’ In The Rain)
Frank Sinatra Jr. (Cool World)
Mae Whitman (Boogeyman 2)
Meredith Baxter (Family Ties)
Seth Rogen (Bad Neighbours)
Ed Helms (The Hangover)
Fred Savage (The Wonder Years)
LeVar Burton (Star Trek: TNG)
Denise Crosby (Trekkies)
Michael Dorn (Ted 2)
Jonathan Frakes (Lois & Clark)
Gates McFadden (Star Trek: TNG)
Marina Sirtis (The Grudge 3)
Brent Spiner (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
Wil Wheaton (Powers)
Wentworth Miller (Legends of Tomorrow)
Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World)
Jay Leno (The Simpsons)
Richard Dreyfuss (Tin Man)
John Ross Bowie (The Big Bang Theory)
Keri Lynn Pratt (Veronica Mars)
Chevy Chase (Chuck)
Dan Aykroyd (Ghostbusters)
Hart Bochner (urban Legends 2)
Christine Lakin (Valentine’s Day)
Brittany Snow (Prom Night)
Nana Visitor (Star Trek: DS9)
Fred Tatasciore (Hulk Vs)
Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory)
Hugh Laurie (House)
Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory)
Dwayne Johnson (Faster)
Adrianne Palicki (Agents of SHIELD)
Allison Janney (Mom)
Lucas Grabeel (Smallville)
Anne Hathaway (The Dark Knight Rises)
Charlie Sheen (Two and a Half Men)
Danielle Panabaker (The Flash)
Ioan Grufford (Ringer)
David Lynch (The Cleveland Show)
Sanaa Lathan (Blade)
Shelley Long (Cheers)

At this point in the series, the beginning of the fifth season, the show has settled into being a showcase for Peter’s stupidity, throwing a bone to Brian and Stewie once in a while, and occasionally Lois and family. Only four of the 13 episodes aren’t focused on the head of the family, and unsurprisingly, the two of those four that aren’t Brian and Stewie stories are two of the best in the volume, “Prick Up Your Ears” and “Barely Legal.”
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While it’s easy to see where an episode can go, one of the show’s biggest strengths is its willingness to do anything to get there, even if it won’t make it to TV, because they know that there will be a DVD release. Thus, you have jokes that would never get past standards and practices, and a reason for the show’s fans to check out the DVDs, as the episodes are expanded and uncensored. It has to be incredibly freeing to have almost no boundaries, and the writers take full advantage of it. It’s in this relatively free medium that a character like Quagmire, who has no filter and is obsessed with sex, can really shine. His behavior in “Bill and Peter’s Bogus Journey” is actually very funny simply because of how utterly obscene he can be on DVD.
As noted before, “Prick Up Your Ears” and “Barely Legal” are two of the best episodes in this collection, both of which feature the Griffins’ daughter Meg, voiced by Mila Kunis (“That ’70s Show”.) Meg’s character has grown up a bit, though she remains an awkward teen, and these two episodes focus on her explorations into love and lust. “Prick Up Your Ears” is a smart jab at the conservative Christian approach to sex education, and the effect it has on Meg, as well as Peter, is great, while “Barely Legal” show’s Meg’s crazier side, as she falls in love with Brian after they make out at her prom. A joke that’s born out of Meg’s insanity and efforts to woo Brian is among the series’ funniest, and again, one you only get on DVD. Also worth checking out is the B-story of “Mother Tucker,” in which Brian and Stewie host a morning zoo radio show. It’s a perfect parody of everything that’s wrong in radio.
The show’s guest-star list continues to be surprising in both its depth and quality, including Phyllis Diller (as Peter’s mom), Gore Vidal, Samm Levine, Carrie Fisher, Drew Barrymore (playing Jillian, Brian’s hot, but dumb girlfriend in several episodes), David Cross, Rob Lowe, Hugh Hefner and Roy Scheider. That the series can get a Gore Vidal to play himself getting shot in the mouth with a hot dog (it’s actually a funny scene, but not for that reason) is impressive.

This latest offering from the ‘Family Guy’ team finds the writers and producers doing their best to be more outrageous than ever before. No celebrity is too big to ridicule and absolutely no topic is considered too taboo.


But the acid test is this: when being profane and attacking and offending every minority group in existence, is it actually funny? The short answer is `yes’. This is not merely funny, it is very funny indeed. Rosie O’Donnell features in one particularly insulting sequence, and when Joe has a leg transplant and becomes his old active self, the guys decide the only way to fix things is to `re-cripple him again’. This is quite literally the most non-PC programme ever put on your TV screen, but it contains more invention and (frequently hilarious) jokes per minute than practically any sitcom. Highlights are two numerous to mention, but I particularly enjoyed the sofa at Quagmire’s shack and Peter’s stripper-cop routine at his daughter Meg’s hen night. Shocking stuff!

Only downside is the first two episodes were put out separately as the `Star Wars’ spoof `Blue Harvest’, so this pack is a little light at only 13 episodes.

another great Family Guy set Some of the best episodes include the one where Stewie helps Frank Sinatra Jr turn his fortune around with a club; the one where Peter meets Jesus; the one where Quagmire, Joe and Peter do Jackass style stunts, and the one where Mort ends up transporting himself to 1940’s Poland.


Even though everyone hates the episode, the one with Surfing Bird is a great episode, especially the parody with Stewie and Brian doing a scene from Office Space. Some people say it’s not Seth’s best moment, but it’s memorable like the chicken fight in series 6 and Brian being ribbed about his book by Stewie (“has it got a beginning, and end and a narrative?”

Highlights of this latest season to name a few include Brian committing murder, Quagmire becoming a Father, the truth behind Hannah Montana, Major West being ‘activated’ and the genius “Road to The Multiverse” which in my opinion is one of the greatest episodes within the last few seasons if not the entire collection.

Many of the episodes are extended when compared to their TV counterparts (blame the censors) along with dozens of deleted scenes which will keep even the most devoted or demanding Family Guy fan happy. Other special features worth noting are the Multi-verse featurette which was pretty interesting along with commentaries from cast and crew alike.

Despite being cancelled twice the show is still going strong and still offers brilliant humor, dialogue and cutback scenes after all this time. The characters continue to amuse and develop as the seasons progress (Stewie on Steroids stroke of brilliance) and there is plenty of scope for the future. The vast majority of the episodes are gold. I’ve already mentioned Multi-verse but also up there is “Dog Gone”.

If further proof is needed as to the series’ ability to succeed without its usual crutches, it can be found in “And Then There Were Fewer…” a mystery in Family Guy clothing. Series semi-regular James Woods gathers the town people for dinner, hoping to atone for his past wrongs, but someone starts bumping them off, leaving the group to figure out who the killer is and escape with their lives. Though the cutaways are present, they are worked into a genuine storyline, that’s both well-crafted and funny, feeling like a quality parody of the Agatha Christie school of mysteries. It may be close to blasphemy to say so, but there’s definitely a touch of Clue to the proceedings. The quality story is matched step-by-step by the animation (in the series’ first widescreen episode) and music, both of which may be the best the show’s ever produced (which is no feint praise.) The series may find itself in a rut at times, going to the same comedy well again and again, but when inspiration strikes, they take the show to another level.
As is often the case with this series, there’s always an attempt to push the envelope, including episodes focusing on suicide and sex changes, but “Extra Large Medium” is one of the show’s most controversial to reach airwaves, and it’s mainly due to a throwaway joke. Following a life-changing event, Chris (Seth Green) decides to finally ask out a girl he likes, and it so happens that she has Down’s syndrome. This leads to one of the finest songs the show’s produced to date in “Down’s Syndrome Girl,” as well as a line where the girl notes that he mom was the former governor of Alaska. It’s hard to figure out what the joke really is (it’s not really making fun of anyone, be it Palin or people with Down’s) but it pissed off a lot of people. Fortunately, the rest of the episode, especially that song, makes the headaches worth it, as Chris struggles with his feelings for his special gal and Brian’s attempts to break Lois of her belief in psychics accidentally convinces Peter he actually is psychic.
Though the series proudly sees the world from a liberal point-of-view, savaging republicans and conservatives at every chance, “Excellence in Broadcasting” stands as an unusual team-up, with Rush Limbaugh giving voice to himself, as he visits Quahog and gets what could be considered a friendly reception (at least by Family Guy standards.) Yes, there are jokes about the Republicans and Limbaugh himself, but he doesn’t get it too rough, and if anyone comes off badly, it’s Brian, who is easily swayed by Limbaugh into selling out his own convictions. It’s rather odd to see, and makes one wonder what went on behind the scenes to make it happen, as MacFarlane doesn’t seem the type to play nice, and the idea of Limbaugh working in tandem with an atheist pot advocate is mind-bending.

REVIEW: KULL THE CONQUEROR

CAST

Kevin Sorbo (Julia X)
Tia Carrere (Relic Hunter)
Thomas Ian Griffith (XXX)
Lifefoot (Adaptation)
Roy Brocksmith (Total Recall)
Harvey Fierstein (Independence Day)
Karina Lombard (The 4400)
Sven-Ole Thorsen (Mallrats)
Pat Roach (Raiders of The Lost Ark)

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Demons once ruled mankind under Akivasha, Sorceress Queen of Acheron, until overthrown by the god Valka. The kingdom of Valusia was built on the ruins of Acheron, and Valka left a single flame of Acheron there to burn for eternity as reminder of “godless times”.
What appears at first to be a great battle soon resolves itself into Kull’s entrance exam for admission into the king of Valusia’s elite Dragon Legion. Kull fails to gain entry, however, after telling General Taligaro that he is from Atlantis, i.e., not of ‘noble blood’. While they speak, a messenger from the palace reports that the king has gone mad and is slaughtering his heirs.
Taligaro and the Legion ride for Velusia, Kull following behind. They enter the throne room to find the king covered in blood and the floor littered with bodies. The king turns on Taligaro, but Kull stops him, trying to calm his blind rage. The king then turns on Kull instead. Mortally wounded when his own sneak attack fails, the king summons enough energy to make Kull his heir out of spite. He knows that many will try to kill Kull, especially Taligaro and his cousin, who are both of royal blood and who would have otherwise been in line for the throne.
Taligaro and the king’s cousin conspire to bring Akivasha back to life, to destroy Kull and take the crown themselves. Akivasha seduces Kull with ease and marries him. Once married, she becomes Queen and promptly poisons Kull, who is believed by the royal court to be dead; however, Kull reawakens to find out the truth of Akivasha. He frees himself from confinement and plots to regain his throne and vanquish the evil witch. He is joined in his quest by Ascalante, a priest of an old abandoned god whom Kull had freed earlier, and Zareta, Ascalante’s sister and fortune-teller, who was a member of Kull’s harem wrongfully accused of his murder by the queen.
What results is a series of tests and adventures which ultimately results in the death of the witch, the reinstatement of Kull as King, the abolishment of the slavery of Velusia, the reformation of the laws of the lands, and the inclusion of a new Queen.
It is a very physical film. The fight scenes are well choreographed.If you are a fan of Andromeda and Hercules you will enjoy watching Kevin Sorbo as Kull.