REVIEW: DR. DOLITTLE 2

CAST

Eddie Murphy (Beverly Hills Cop)
Kyla Pratt (One on One)
Raven-Symoné (The View)
Kristen Wilson (walking Tall)
Norm MacDonld (Screwed)
Lil’ Zane (Good Streets)
James Avery (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)
Andy Richter (Quintuplets)
Jeffrey Jones (Howard The Duck)
Steve Zahn (Daddy Day Care)
Lisa Kudrow (Bad Neighbours)
Michael Rapaport (The 6th Day)
Isaac Hayes (South Park)
Andy Dick (2 Broke Girls)
Joey Lauren Adams (Chasing Amy)
David Cross (Scary Movie 2)
David Deluise (Stargate SG.1)
John DiMaggio (Futurama)
Jamie Kennedy (Son of The Mask)
Tom Kenny (Spongebob)
Michael McKean (This Is SPinal Tap)
Frankie Muniz (Agent Cody Banks)
Bob Odenkirk (How I Met Your Mother)
Mandy Moore (The Princess Diaries)
Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator)

Lucky the dog (Norm Macdonald) explains Dr. John Dolittle’s (Eddie Murphy) gift of talking to animals. John comes home from France and gives his wife a present from Paris. He also gives his daughter, Maya (Kyla Pratt), a chameleon, named Pepito. Also, Charisse’s (Raven-Symoné) sixteenth birthday is coming today. She is also not doing well in her classes. As a punishment, John takes her phone away. Later on, Charisse’s boyfriend, Eric (Lil Zane), comes over and decides to join the family at the birthday party. A possum (voice of Isaac Hayes) and a raccoon, Joey (voice of Michael Rapaport), tell the doctor that their boss, the Godbeaver, wants to see him. He meets the God beaver (voice of Richard C. Sarafian) who shows him that the forest is being cut down. John plans to save the forest to get an endangered female Pacific western bear together with a male to save their species.At a circus, John attempts to get Archie, the surviving male member in his species, to go out into the forest to teach him to become a real bear. Reluctantly, he agrees but John knows that Archie doesn’t know what kind of bear he is and never acts as a real animal. Then, after taking his family on a vacation to the forest for the rest of the month, John makes a deal with a female bear named Ava to not make any decisions for the month and promised to turn Archie into someone she will love. While he unsuccessfully trains Archie, John hires the local forest creatures to make an attempt to stop Charisse and Eric from making out. But during the training, he ignores Lisa for the next few days. Then, John tells Archie that he will find a way to win Ava’s heart. Every animal in the forest watches as John dances with Lisa, and as the two attempt to embrace, Lucky accidentally blows it. Archie attempts to get Ava’s attention by singing her a song while imitating John in a smooth voice and on a tree branch, but blows his attempt when he is too heavy for the branch to hold and he falls down.Archie refuses to come out of his new-found cave because of humiliating himself in front of Ava. Archie proclaims that it was hard but John knows how hard it is when his wife grows mad at him. Frustrated with John’s insults, Archie hits John, making him fall on a muddy hole, and he begins to listen to his “inner bear”. Later on, he spends the rest of the day with Ava, whose relationship with another male bear named Sonny isn’t very well. Lucky attempts to win the affection of an attractive female wolf (though throughout the film, Lucky attempts to get her attention two times but both are unsuccessful). This attempt was successful as Lucky urinates around her territory and she is about to go out with him but one of her packmates came and finds Lucky urinating part of the pack’s territory and they leave, much to Lucky’s dismay. On the other hand, Ava is forced to leave Archie by Sonny (voice of Mike Epps).Afterwards, Mr. Potter, the owner of two logging companies, attempts to make a deal with John, and when Archie arrives, he tells John he has his “big finish”, knowing that he will win Ava about John telling him to listen to his “inner bear”. Back at the cabin, Charisse is beginning to hate living in the forest and is annoyed with her family talking to the animals, though John doesn’t know what is bothering her. Meanwhile, Archie goes after a bee hive on a fallen tree at the edge of a tall hill, and despite commands from John and attacking bees, he manages to get the hive.In a game of hide and seek with Ava (who dumps Sonny), Archie is shot by a tranquilizer dart fired by Mr. Potter’s apprentice. John later learns that Archie had somewhat destroyed the back of a restaurant in the woods. After getting information from a weasel (voice of Andy Dick) of what happened, John visits Archie in a jail and tells the bear that he may be too dangerous to be set free and is going to be sold to a Mexican circus. Then, John realizes that Charisse has developed her father’s gift of talking to animals, though it has been in her for two weeks now. Later, John held a meeting for every animal in the forest to not give up without a fight no matter what kind of animal expression they have. Everyone agrees to do it in order to free Archie. The animals, led by Charisse, Eric, and Maya, rebel against the loggers and every animal around the world goes on strikes as an effort to free Archie. Mr. Potter and his apprentice are then attacked by some of the animals at the company, such as a swarm of rats, a fleet of pigeons, a pack of wolves, and Mr. Potter’s apprentice is then attacked by the swarm of bees outside the building, while Mr. Potter is cornered by Ava and Joey. Then, when the animals refuse to have twelve acres in their home, the strike keeps growing (even animal pros, such as racing horses and jumping whales are getting on the act). As a deal is made, the Dolittles and the animals have saved the entire forest outside of San Francisco. At the end, John and Charisse become closer while Archie and Ava mate and have two cubs (a boy and a girl).The movies have lots of funny moments and are great for all ages to enjoy, the digital enhanced animals are brillant and take the show to a higher level.If you enjoyed the first one i highly recommend this one.

 

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REVIEW: SPIDER-MAN (1994) – SEASON 1-5

 

 

CAST

Christopher Daniel Barnes (The Little Mermaid)
Edward Asner (Elf)
Linda Gary (He-Man)
Rodney Saulsberry (The Animatrix)
Jennifer Hale (Wreck-It Ralph)
Gary Imhoff (The Green Mile)
Sara Ballantine (Batman Year One)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Liz Georges (As Told By Ginger)
Hank Azaria (The Smurfs)
Joseph Campanella (Ben)
Patrick Labyorteaux (Yes Man)
Maxwell Caulfield (Alien Intruder)
Neil Ross (Rambo)
Roscoe Lee Brown (Babe)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Batman: TAS)
Dawnn Lewis (Futurama)
Martin Landau (Ed Wood)
Gregg Berger (Transformers)
Don Stark (That 70s Show)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
George Buza (Mutant X)
Cedric Smith (Earth: Final Conflict)
Norm Spencer (Rescue Heroes)
Catherine Disher (Forever Knight)
Alison Sealy-Smith (You Kill Me)
Alyson Court (Beetlejuice TV)
Chris Potter (Heartland)
Malcolm McDowell (Star Trek Generations)
J.D. Hall (Undercover Brother)
Peter Mark Richman (Friday the 13th – Part 8)
George Takei (Star Trek)
John Vernon (Batman: TAS)
Courtney Peldon (Frozen)
Edward Albert (Power Rangers Time Force)
Robert Hays (Airplane)
Barbara Goodson (Power Rangers)
James Avery (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 80s)
Tony Jay (Lois & Clark)
Dorian Harewood (Earth: Final Conflict)
Jack Angel (A.I.)
Jeff Corey (Conan The Destroyer)
Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
David Warner (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II)
Mira Furlan (Lost)
Earl Boen (The Terminator)
David Hayter (X-Men)
Roy Dotrice (Hercules: TLJ)
Paul Winfield (Star Trek II)
Majel Barrett (Star Trek)
Stan Lee (Avengers Assemble)

The set itself is well presented, although the artwork is a little cheap, and clearly done in a way as to mimic the style of the 90s series. Anyone who has the recent X-Men Season releases will be familiar with this. Unlike those, this one also has a slipcase. A booklet with episode synopses is also included.

Spider-Man has season-long arcs, which when viewed in succession make for great television. Christopher Barnes is brilliant as Spider-Man (especially in those fleeting moments of extreme rage), and the guests were memorable too, particularly Rob Paulsen’s oafish Hydro Man and Jennifer Hale as Felicia Hardy/ Black Cat.

The music was great too, but while Spider-Man relied on several repeated  cues,  Another thing about Spider-Man is that even after all these years I find myself being surprised by some of the plot twists, which were even more abundant upon first viewing. Thankfully, John Semper (creative head of the show) was bold enough to change much of the original stories to make them worth animating in the first place. What else? A minor triumph, but the colouring on this cartoon is the best of any I’ve ever seen. A simple praise. While the show lost its way during the muddled fourth year it had some great episodes in the last series, with one of the greatest resolution-with-cliffhanger endings in animation history. A rare treat in that its much, much better than you remember it.

Some of the best episodes were – the three-parter, “The Alien Costume”- a marvellous introduction for the ultimately underused Venom (a deliciously insane Hank Azaria)- and the two-part “Hobgoblin” are among the best in the show’s five-year run. “Night of the Lizard”, a pilot of sorts, is interesting in that there’s an awful lot more effort put into the animation than in later episodes, as is often the case.

Animation from the 1990s doesn’t come much better than this, and Marvel have yet to top it.

REVIEW: STAR TREK: ENTERPRISE – SEASON 1-4

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MAIN CAST

Scott Bakula (Chuck)
Jolene Blalock (Starship Troopers 3)
Connor Trinneer (Stargate: Atlantis)
Dominic Keating (Heroes)
Linda Park (Jurassic Park 3)
Anthony Montgomery (Leprechaun In The Hood)
John Billingsley (Cold Case)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Tommy Lister (The Dark Knight)
Vaughn Armstrong (Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue)
Jim Beaver (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Gary Graham (Alien Nation)
Thomas Kopache (Catch me If You Can)
Melinda Clarke (Spawn)
James Cromwell (Species II)
Henri Lubatti (Angel)
Erick Avari (Stargate)
Jeffrey Combs (The Frighteners)
Jane Carr (Treasure Planet)
Paula Malcomson (The Hunger Games)
Gregory Itzin (Firefly)
Jeff Kober (New Girl)
Eric Pierpoint (Alien Nation)
Keith Szarabjka (Angel)
Conor O’Farrell (Lie To Me)
Clint Howard (Apollo 13)
Ethan Phillips (Bad Santa)
Annie Wersching (The Vampire Diaries)
Rene Auberjonois (Boston Legal)
Dennis Christopher (Angel)
John Rubinstein (Legends of Tomorrow)
Fionnula Flanagan (Yes Man)
Clancy Brown (Highlander)
Rudolf Martin (buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Keone Young (Alias)
Brad Greenquist (Heroes)
Holmes Osborne (Donnie Darko)
Sean Whalen (Twister)
J.G. Herztler (Roswell)
Larissa Laskin (Earth: Final Conflict)
Bonita Friedericy (Chuck)
Brigid Brannagh (Angel)
Keith Carradine (The Big Bang Theory)
Robert O’Reilly (The Mask)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Rick Worthy (The Vampire Diaries)
Daniel Dae Kim (Lost)
Stephen Culp (Scream Queens)
Tucker Smallwood (Traffic)
Maury Sterling (The A-Team)
Sam Witwer (Smallville)
James Parks (Kill Bill)
Emily Bergl (Carrie 2)
Leland Orser (Seven)
Jeffrey Dean Morgan (The Walking Dead)
Erin Cummings (Spartacus)
Casey Biggs (Broken Arrow)
Seth MacFarlane (Family Guy)
Bruce Thomas (Army of Darkness)
Joanna Cassidy (Blade Runner)
Alec Newman (Dune)
Richard Riehle (Texas Chainsaw 3D)
Brent Spiner (Dude, Where’s My Car?)
Robert Foxworth (Beneath Loch Ness)
Todd Stashwick (The Originals)
Lee Arenberg (Once Upon A Time)
Brian Thompson (Hired To Hill)
James Avery (That 70s Show)
Harry Groener (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer)
Peter Mensah (Sleepy Hollow)
Marina Sirtis (The Grudge 3)
Jonathan Frakes (Roswell)

Out of all the Star Trek series and films, Enterprise is easily the most overlooked, and was the only one since the original to be canceled. This isn’t because it wasn’t as good as the rest, but simply the way it was marketed. The show is in fact a prequel to Kirk’s Enterprise, and does take place before the Federation, but what the show lacks in technology, is more than made up for with realism and some of the best character development in the Star Trek franchise.

100 years after Zefren Cochrane’s warp flight, the human race has had enough of Vulcans holding them back, and have created the first warp five star ship in human history. Over the Vulcan’s objections, Jonathan Archer (Scott Bakula), the son of the engines designer, has been selected to Captain the ship and explore a galaxy that humans know very little about.
This show is extremely important to the franchise and all Trekkies, as it not only shows humanities first trip out of our solar system and first contact with all the races we’ve come to know over the years, but the show fills in a lot of the gaps from all the other series and films! Enterprise explores the origins of Data’s creator, the Eugenic Wars (which created Khan), the development of many protocols and much of the tech we see on future ships, but most important of all the series shows how the foundation for the Federation and the creation of star fleet all came together.
Enterprise was also unique for it’s character development and realism, in that it takes place in the not to distant future. We get to know the crew intimately, from their fears to their families, and we see them doing and discussing things never before seen in Star Trek. The Enterprise crew has a classic movie night, watches sports on TV, has pets, and they even talk about sex. The cast is lead by Scott Bakula, which was another great move by producers. Casting a veteran science fiction actor, whose been in long running series, automatically gives him that air of experience and authority that Picard had. He’s also a younger man, so with no federation policies in place yet, Archer can be just as much of a risk taker as Kirk was, even more so.
Star Trek Enterprise was extremely enjoyable, and a series people could relate to more than any other in the Star Trek franchise. The show isn’t simply about the future and the Federation, it’s about what it means to be human and how that compares to other species. It shows what we need to do in order to get along with and understand other cultures, but most of all it fills in so many holes from previous films and episodes, that it truly was the missing link.

Unfortunately for Star Trek fans, the show barely made a hundred episodes, because it was on a dying network, that folded shortly after the show was canceled, screwing us Trekkie’s out of three more seasons. As with all the previous series, the story has been continued in books, but in this case, the books were written by the main writers of the series, and do encompass everything that would have happened in seasons five, six, and seven.

REVIEW: TWO GUYS, A GIRL AND A PIZZA PLACE – SEASON 1-4

 

MAIN CAST
Ryan Reynolds (The Voice)
Richard Ruccolo (Desperate Housewives)
Traylor Howard (Son of The Mask)
Julius Carry (The New Guy)
Jennifer Westfeldt (Kissing Jessica Stein)
David Ogden Stiers (Stargate: Atlantis)
Suzanne Cryer (Bones)
Jillian Bach (American Pie)
Nathan Fillion (Firefly)
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RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST
Sean O’Bryan (Yes Man)
Matt Landers (Commando)
Jean Speegle Howard (Apollo 13)
Rena Sofer (Traffic)
Jason Clarke (Rise of The Planet of The Apes)
Amy Van Horne (The Amityville Haunting)
Carmen Electra (Scary Movie)
Howard Hesseman (Flight of The Navigator)
Harve Presnell (Fargo)
Maury Ginsberg (Voodoo)
Sarah Thompson (Cruel Intentions 2)
Fred Willard (Anchorman)
Kenneth Kimmins (Lois & Clark)
Kathy Kinney (Scrooged)
Brigitta Dau (Retro Puppet Master)
Jane Carr (The Five Year Engagement)
Suzy Nakamura (Dodgeball)
Jon Cryer (Two and A Half Men)
Dick Martin (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Adam Carolla (Family Guy)
Bobbie Phillips (Showgirls)
Marguerite MacIntyre (The Vampire Diaries)
Michael Welch (All The Boys Love Mandy Lane)
Beth Grant (Wonderfalls)
Conchata Ferrell (Mr Deeds)
Anthony Head (Buffy)
John Ducey (Sabrina)
Suzanne Krull (Go)
Giuseppe Andrews (American History X)
Stephen Tobolowsky (Heroes)
Cheryl Ladd (Charlies Angels)
Terry Kiser (Lois & Clark)
James Denton (Desperate Housewives)
Tiffani Thiessen (Saved By The Bell)
Sam Anderson (Angel)
Christie Lynn Smith (Swamp Thing)
James Avery (That 70s Show)
Bo Derek (Tommy Boy)
Alanna Ubach (Meet The Fockers)
Lacey Kohl (Secretary)
Robin Riker (The Glades)
The series premiered on March 10, 1998, as Two Guys, a Girl and a Pizza Place. The episode entitled “The Pilot” was watched by almost 18 million viewers. The story of season 1 centers around the pizza place. Actors such as Jennifer Westfeldt (Melissa), and Julius Carry (Bill) were credited as secondary cast members to principals Ryan Reynolds, Richard Ruccolo and Traylor Howard. Mr. Bauer, played by David Ogden Stiers, frequently appeared around the pizza place, telling stories of life events which actually occurred in movies. Pete and Berg share an apartment, on which Peter pays the rent every month, with Berg testing experimental drugs to supplement their income. Pete structures his life around architecture and grad school, while Sharon, their friend upstairs, works for an evil corporation who exploit the Earth’s natural resources, much to her dislike.
The episodes contained storylines including: Pete preparing for a presentation which Berg ruins; Berg stealing the Celtics’ ’81 championship banner; Sharon joining the softball team; and the story of how they all met. Because the episodes aired out of order, the season seems very disjointed. This is demonstrated by the status of Pete’s relationship with Melissa: in episode 8 – “Party” Melissa and Pete are still together despite having previously broken up in episode 5 – “Apartment”.
Season 2 had a more structured basis for each episode. Two additional primary characters arrived, Ashley Walker (Suzanne Cryer) and Johnny Donnelly (Nathan Fillion), as well as the dismissal of characters Bill, Mr. Bauer and Pete’s long-time girlfriend Melissa.
The season starts with Berg’s realization that someone in his class, Walker, is cleverer than he is. This leads to an anticipated romance between Berg and Ashley as they both head down the path of becoming physicians. Jukebox repairman Johnny Donnelly begins a relationship with Sharon. Other secondary characters (Irene, Kamen, Shaun) are introduced throughout the season. Episodes of season 2 include: “Two Guys, a Girl and an Engagement”, “Two Guys, a Girl and a Valentine’s Day” and “Two Guys, a Girl and Ashley’s Return,” all of which mark turning points in the story of the show. Johnny and Sharon break up on Valentine’s Day due to Sharon’s jealousy of Shaun, Johnny’s best friend. Berg and Ashley finally get together in “…And Ashley’s Return,” Pete confesses his feelings towards Sharon, and Johnny proposes in “…And an Engagement”. The season ends with Sharon not giving Johnny an answer as well as her realizing she may have feelings for Pete.
The pizza place is completely abandoned in the third season so that the characters can pursue different dreams. The premiere resolves the season two cliffhanger, with Sharon answering Johnny’s proposal with ‘Yes, in theory’, although she is still holding out on her feelings for Pete. Evidently, Pete flew to Paris after the night’s events and returns completely over Sharon, with a new girlfriend who speaks only French and is revealed to be extremely racist. Berg and Ashley continue to build on their relationship and finally become doctors involved in Psych rotations. The season portrays their relationship as unsteady and completely built on hate of one another. This leads to Berg breaking up with Ashley during the middle of the season.
Ashley lives with Pete and Berg before moving into her own apartment, which was originally Sharon and Johnny’s, who move to the basement to become the new supers. She starts dating Boston Red Sox baseball star Nomar Garciaparra, who appears as himself. Pete finds his true calling by becoming a firefighter. He enjoys the experiences of being an honorary firefighter until the feisty Marti, played by Tiffani Thiessen, comes along to thwart him at every turn. The two continue to take shots at each other until she starts dating Berg, to Pete’s dislike. Pete and Berg get into a huge fight concerning Marti and consider not being roommates anymore.
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When Pete gets his acceptance letter to Fireman Boot Camp, he goes to Marti with open arms and they become an item. Pete continues to hate Berg throughout the final episodes of the season. Sharon and Johnny bicker at one another until Johnny calls off the wedding. When they get back together, they decide that a quickie wedding is the best idea. Irene, Pete’s alleged stalker, agrees to throw Sharon and Johnny a wedding on the roof of the building. This results in her inviting Robert Goulet, who conducts the ceremony and brings Pete and Berg back together as friends during the wedding. At the end of the two part season finale, Pete and Marti leave to go to Fireman Boot Camp, Sharon and Johnny go on their honeymoon, and Ashley leaves to sort out a joke that Pete told Nomar, causing him and Ashley to break up. Berg and Irene are left alone at the wedding and start to dance. The series ends with another cliffhanger as the audience is led to believe something will happen between Berg and Irene.
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 Season 4 continues the story arc from the end of Season 3. Johnny and Sharon are married, Pete and Marti are now firefighters and Berg and Irene are sleeping together. After Berg gets over being on academic probation, he continues to be Irene’s “sex buddy”. The two start sleeping together secretly, hoping that Pete won’t find out. Johnny continues to be the superintendent until Sharon makes him an honorary fireman for the day on his birthday. Johnny decides that he wants to be a fireman, much to Sharon’s dislike. Meanwhile, Berg and Irene become a couple and Pete and Marti break up. Marti leaves Pete for Ashley’s ex, Nomar. Sharon feels unfulfilled after leaving her evil corporate job and decides that she wants to be a lawyer.
When Berg tells Irene that he loves her and she has no reply, Berg goes out and meets someone else. Katie, the girl he meets, admits that she’s been following him for 8 years. However, the two of them kiss and Berg tells Irene. Berg apologizes and Irene breaks up with him for the mailman Roger. In the final episode, Berg assumes that Irene may be pregnant and decides that he must win her back.
Hilarious and just as fun to watch as it was when it was originally aired. Even though it ends as though it could have been carried to another series the questions were answered. Some episodes are not in the correct order so it can be a little frustrating, but this due to the airdate order and not production order, still it’s a great show which introduced us to Ryan Reynolds and Nathan Fillion.

REVIEW: IRON MAN (1994)

CAST (VOICES)

Robert Hays (Airplane)
James Avery (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)
Ed Gilbert (Transformers)
Robert Ito (Batman: TAS)
Dorian Harewood (Sparkle)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Sarah Douglas (Superman 1 & 2)
Matt Frewer (Taken)
Neal McDonough (Arrow)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. (Batman: TAS)
David Warner (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II)
Lisa Zane (Monkeybone)

Although only lasting two seasons, Iron Man was the subject of a major overhaul between seasons when its production studio was changed. The result was a massively changed premise, tone, and general approach, which left the disparate seasons scarcely recognizable as being two halves of the same series.

The first season of Iron Man featured little more than a Masters of the Universe-style battle of “good against evil”, as billionaire industrialist Tony Stark battled the evil forces of the world-conquering Mandarin as the armored superhero, Iron Man. In his evil endeavors to steal Stark’s technology and Iron Man’s armor, the Mandarin led a group of villains consisting of Dreadknight, Blizzard, Blacklash, Grey Gargoyle (when it comes to fighting Iron Man and his team, he has a tendency to accidentally turn his fellow villains to stone), Hypnotia (Dreadknight and Blacklash were rivals for the affections of Hypnotia), Whirlwind, Living Laser, MODOK, Fin Fang Foom and Justin Hammer. To combat these villains, Iron Man had the help of his own team (based on Force Works, a then-current comic book team which has since faded into obscurity), including Century, War Machine, Scarlet Witch, Hawkeye (replacing U.S. Agent from the comics) and Spider Woman.

The season consisted mostly of single-episode open-and-shut-case adventures, with two two-part stories late towards the end. Unlike many other Marvel animated series, despite featuring over-the-top titles that paid homage to the early Stan Lee written Marvel comics of the 1960s (for example, “The Grim Reaper Wears a Teflon Coat”, and “Rejoice, I am Ultimo, Thy Deliverer”), almost none of the episodes were adaptations of comic book stories, consisting instead of original stories penned by Ron Friedman, occasionally collaborated on by Stan Lee himself. The closest the season came to adapting a comic book tale was in the two-part “The Origin of Iron Man”, which recounted a (modified and modernized) version of the character’s comic book origin  just before the season concluded.

This late-run recounting of the title character’s origin is symptomatic of what is generally thought of as the season’s greatest weakness – despite (or perhaps because of) having such a large cast of characters, very few of the show’s heroes and villains were actually developed in any way, leaving viewers unaware of their personal stories and powers. The show is generally held to have been at its best when filling in these origin blanks (MODOK in “Enemy Without, Enemy Within,” Iron Man and the Mandarin in their self-titled “The Origin of…” episodes), but these were rare occasions, with virtually every other plot simply consisting of the Mandarin attempting to steal Stark’s newest invention and being bested, often through very strange and illogical means (with the nadir perhaps being Iron Man somehow using the energy of a small tape-player to restore his armor to full power in “Silence My Companion, Death My Destination”).

A small sub-plot in the first season revolves around Mandarin secretly spying on Force Works. It culminates in “The Wedding of Iron Man” when Stark realizes they have been spied on by reviewing events from previous episodes (and explaining how Mandarin’s forces always knew where they would be), realising that Mandarin has acquired enough information to potentially deduce the true identity of Iron Man. The entire episode’s plot is dedicated to resolving the problem, culminating in Iron Man and his team setting up an elaborate deception where Mandarin sees Iron Man and Tony Stark in the same place with the intention being to convince him that the two men are not the same person (The ‘Tony’ in the situation was an android).

In 1995, Marvel switched The Marvel Action Hour to a new animation studio (as previously mentioned, the animation in Season 1 was provided by the Rainbow Animation Group, while the animation in Season 2 was provided by Koko Enterprises), and with it came new writers (Ron Friedman was replaced by Tom Tataranowicz for Season 2) and new music for each sequence, coupled with a new direction for the series. The first season’s subtle keyboard theme music for Iron Man (composed by progressive rock artist Keith Emerson) was replaced by an intense electric guitar theme featuring the repeated refrain of “I am Iron Man!”, while showing Tony Stark beating red-hot iron plates into shape with a blacksmith’s hammer (possibly to mimic the Black Sabbath song “Iron Man”). Tony Stark’s longer hair style in the second season was based upon the artist Mark Bright’s depiction of Stark from the late 1980s, which is where most of the episodes from Season 2 were based upon.

The new story lines spanned multiple episodes and were no longer “open and shut” cases. They formed a linking narrative, featuring themes of duplicity, consequence, and phobias. Also, the stories were no longer centered on the Mandarin, whose rings had been scattered and whose power had been depleted. While the Mandarin did appear in these episodes, his appearances were reduced to cameos in the cliffhangers at the end of the story, as he tried to retrieve each ring.

Another change was that Force Works was mostly written out of the series, parting ways with Stark after he deceives them in order to work in secret with the Mandarin when Fin Fang Foom and his fellow Dragons were plotting to eliminate Earth. When Stark’s counter plan against Justin Hammer, which includes faking his death without the knowledge of his teammates, leads to a disbanding of Force Works, Julia Carpenter and James Rhodes are the only ones who continue to work with Stark. This split would be revisited with Stark’s ensuing conflicts with Hawkeye over the course of several episodes.

Also, War Machine develops a phobia of being trapped inside his armor (also based on a then-current comic storyline), but this is resolved before the final episode. While Rhodes was active as War Machine in Season 1, he remained out of armor for the majority of Season 2 due to reliving a tragic drowning experience while being trapped underwater in the War Machine armor in the Season 2 episode “Fire And Rain”. Rhodes eventually overcomes his fear and dons the War Machine armor once again in the episode “Distant Boundaries”.

Prior to finding his last two rings, the Mandarin claims his eighth ring from MODOK in the episode “Empowered”. “Empowered” was the clip show of the season, the purpose being that the Mandarin wanted to learn of Iron Man’s recent activities. In the finale,[9][10] the Mandarin, having regained all of his rings, unleashes a mist using the Heart of Darkness to render everything technological useless. Iron Man reunites with Force Works in order to stop him. The Mandarin unmasks Iron Man before their final showdown ends in his death. More specifically, Iron Man manages to reflect the power of Mandarin’s rings, destroying them, and ultimately leaving the Mandarin with amnesia and helpless before a band of desert bandits who likely killed him, or at least cut off his hand/fingers for the rings. After Mandarin was killed, MODOK and the rest of Mandarin’s henchmen were sent to jail. After disappointing ratings, the series was canceled.

After twenty six episodes, Iron Man the animated series remains a very mixed bag. Blame for this shows disappointing quality can be attributed to constrictions placed upon the writers to feature as many Iron Man suits as possible in each episode as free publicity for the toys. On the bright side, it got better, allowing the audience at least 13 episodes of decent animated entertainment.

REVIEW: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (1987) – SEASON 6-10

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MAIN CAST

Cam Clarke (He-Man 2002)
Barry Gordon (Fish)
Rob Paulsen (Animaniacs)
Townsend Coleman (The Tick)
Pat Fraley (Monsters, Inc.)
James Avery (That 70s Show)
Renae Jacobs (Rose petal Place)
Peter Renaday (General Hospital)
Greg Berg (Transformers)
Hal Rayle (Bionic 6)
Jennifer Darling (Aladdin)

Image result for teenage mutant ninja turtles DREGG

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Tress MacNeille (The Simpsons)
Susan Blu (Transformers)
Tony Jay (Lois & Clark)
Bumper Robinson (Sabrina: TTW)
Robbie Rist (iron Eagle)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)

Season Six  features just 16 episodes of comedy relief, slightly less action and plenty of fourth-wall breaking. Highlights include “Adventures in Turtle-Sitting” (in which a reverse-aging ray turns three of the four Turtles into tykes), “Krangenstein Lives” (the malfunctioning Krang’s body goes on a rampage) and “Nightmare in the Lair” (Michaelangelo messes with Donatello’s dream machine). A few clunkers don’t work quite as well: “Too Hot to Handle”, for example, revolves around a snot-nosed brat’s science experiment gone awry. TMNT usually works best when kids watch it…instead of star in it.

Season Seven  sounds big on paper at 27 total episodes, but roughly half of them were taken from the “Vacation in Europe” side-season that originally aired on USA Network’s Cartoon Express. This also marked the series’ final year in its most recognizable form, as a relatively big shift in tone was just around the corner. The original DVD release for this season was equally frustrating, as it was split into four “slices” (named after our four heroes) with a collectible action figure packed in each one.

Seasons Eight, Nine & Ten  might as well be grouped together; not only are they known as the “black sheep” years, but each one contains only eight episodes. The series underwent a number of changes after most of the original fanbase graduated to darker comic pastures like Batman: The Animated Series and Gargoyles, which included a new theme song (complete with live action clips), a red sky and a more serious tone. Minor human characters like Casey Jones, The Rat King and the Channel 6 crew were abandoned, though April stuck around and got a new wardrobe. A teenager named Carter (who acquires a seemingly incurable mutant power and studies martial arts under Splinter’s direction) also joined the team in Season Nine, while a major new villain arrives in the form of Lord Dregg. Overall, these are another step down from the repetitive years before them, but anyone who abandoned the show just before this point might enjoy seeing how things have changed. Proceed at your own risk, though.

REVIEW: TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (1987) PLANET OF THE TURTLELOIDS

CAST

Cam Clarke (He-Man 2002)
Barry Gordon (Fish)
Rob Paulsen (Animaniacs)
Townsend Coleman (The Tick)
Pat Fraley (Monsters, Inc.)
James Avery (That 70s Show)
Renae Jacobs (Rose petal Place)
Peter Renaday (General Hospital)

Image result for teenage mutant ninja turtles planet of the turtleoids

Our story opens with our heroes prowling the street in fedora’s and trenchcoats searching for an all-night pizzeria when they come across a sumo wrestler, named Tattoo, breaking into a pet shop and saying something about looking “for home.” But when the TMNT try to subdue the gigantic wrestler, he electrocutes himself and transforms into a hamster and quickly walks into a cage with other hamsters.

Donatello deducts that this could be the work of Shredder and Krang… that the deadly duo are once again messing around with the Mutagen. Donatello reflects on the incident at the pet shop and wonders if maybe they would all be better off if they were still just ordinary turtles. Meanwhile, Shredder and Krang are indeed fooling around with the Mutagen, as they prepare to create more Mutants so that they can break into a museum and steal a giant ruby. The villains hope that they can use the gem to refocus Krang’e new heat ray and finally free the Technodrome.

Back at the lair, the effects of being shunned by human society at large have gotten to Donatello, who wonders if there is a place where the Turtles can be accepted for who they are.Later, that same night, at the City Wild Animal Park, Shredder orders Bebop and Rocksteady to abduct one lion and one gorilla to prepare for mutation. Meanwhile, while drowning his sorrows in a root beer float and lamenting his status at Channel 6 News, vis a vis April O’Neil’s, Vernon encounters a humanoid Turtle named Kerma, wearing a trenchcoat and fedora, and runs screaming into the night.

Nonplused, Kerma arrives at the City Wild Animal Park and sets free Shredder’s lion and gorilla before they have been mutated and, thanks to Bebop and Rocksteady’s bumbling, a bull and a mole are mutated instead. Shredder decides that these two new mutants will have to do and gives them their outfits. Back at Channel 6, Vernon tells April about his encounter with what he believes to be one of the Turtles — only the Turtle he met was three feet tall. April is sure that Vernon did not meet one of the Turtles and contacts them. At the Zoo he new mutants name themselves Groundchuck and Dirtbag. Shredder orders them to steal the giant ruby from the museum but the two would rather just rip the zoo apart.

The Turtles meet April, Irma and Vernon at the news station where Michelangelo explains that whoever Vernon did see it was not one of them. But the Raphael is concerned that someone is “ripping off their style” and the Turtles set out to investigate. As soon as the Turtles leave the Channel 6 News Building, not only do they encounter Groundchuck and Dirtbag, who are itching for a fight, but Kerma as well, who captures all six of them and takes them back to his space ship — which is designed to look not unlike the Chrysler Building. April arrives down on the street with her mini-cam, but the Chrysler Building/Rocket Ship has blasted into space. On the flight to his home planet, Kerma explains that he and his fellow Turtleoids have a “problem” and he was seeking typical Earth people for advice. Unfortunately, he had no idea that Groundchuck and Dirtbag are not humans – as for the Turtles, he thought that they had honest faces.

Meanwhile, Bebop and Rocksteady kidnap April, along with her Turtlecom, and bring her back to Shredder and Krang at the City Wild Animal Park. Rocksteady informs Shredder that the Turtles have not responded to the TurtleCom signal and Bebop suggests that maybe the Turtles are indeed gone. Meanwhile, the Turtles, along with Groundchug and Dirtbag, arrive on the planet Shell-ri-la. Donatello is ecstatic! This is exactly what he was dreaming about in the first act — a world where Turtles can live free! Back at the Technodrome, Shredder, convinced that the Turtles are history and acknowledging defeat in the giant ruby caper, declares that he will build a super intelligent and utterly invincible robot to pull off his latest scheme. On Shell-ri-la the Turtles see one of the Turtleoid’s alchemy machines — you know the ones that turn lead into gold. And, as Kerma explains to the TMNT, the reflection of the gold light provides the Turtleoids with their energy just like food. But before the Turtles can enjoy anymore of their vacation, Groundchuck and Dirtbag escape. Meanwhile, April escapes and Shredder has completed work on his new robot, known as Chrome Dome who quickly captures April.As Kerma takes the Turtles to the high council chambers of Shell-Ri-La, they soon are approached by the Turtleoid’s “small problem” a large two headed dragon.

Herman the Horrible along with recruits Groundchuck and Dirtbag destroy the power source to the force dome shield leaving the city vulnerable. The Turtleoids accuse the TMNT of sabotage and throw them in prison. Despite all this, Donatello still appreciates Shellri-La for being a turtle planet, whereas Michaelangelo says Shellri-La has none of the things that the Turtles appreciate on Earth, such as rock & roll, video games or pizza, and Raphael chimes in that the Turtleoids have proven themselves just as biased towards the TMNT as have humans back on Earth. Leonardo protests that they must escape and confront the two-headed monster Herman the Horrible, which all agree on that. Kerma helps the TMNT escape by giving them standard Turtleoid attire. As Donatello dons a Turtleoid robe he remarks at the irony; he could understand sneaking around disguised on Earth; a human planet, but here they were on a planet of turtles and they must once again sneak around disguised!

The turtles decide to end Herman the Horrible’s reign of terror once and for all. After Leonardo discovers Herman is no more than a machine, Donatello blasts him with a Pulverizer Ray and Herman the Horrible is soon revealed to be no more than two corrupt Turtleoid leaders who are sick of just using gold for energy and want real gold things. They attempted to overthrow Shellri-La’s government. After capturing Shredder’s mutants as well the turtle teens decide to return home, but are at least thanked by Kerma for saving Shellri-La and says he may return to see them one day. Meanwhile Shredder’s newly created Chrome Dome leads an army of Foot Soldiers to build a smaller version of the Technodrome named the Mini Technodrome. Once the turtles have returned they destroy both the new Technodrome and Chrome Dome. Raphael is sorry Donatello had to leave Shellri-La, but Don remarks he is glad to be back on Earth, for Shellri-La had no video games, and worst of all, no pizza

This feature length adventure was excellent and it was nice to see a bunch of new characters introduced that would appear later in the series, even the turtleoids return for a follow-up .