REVIEW: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1987) – SEASON 1

MAIN CAST

Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Linda Hamilton (The Terminator)
Roy Dotrice (Game of Thrones)
Jay Acovone (Stargate SG.1)
Renn Woods (Church)

Ron Perlman and Roy Dotrice in Beauty and the Beast (1987)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

John McMartin (No Reservations)
Don Stark (That 70s Show)
Ray Wise (Robocop)
Michael Bacall (Gangster Squad)
Dorian Harewood (Earth: Final Conflict)
Delroy Lindo (Get Shorty)
Edward Albert (Elliot Burch)
Richard Biggs (Babylon 5)
Mayim Balik (The Big Bang Theory)
Jeffrey Combs (The Frighteners)
Nancy Lenehan (Catch Me If You Can)
Ellen Albertini Dow (Wedding Crashers)
Christian Clemenson (Apollo 13)
Paul Gleason (Die Hard)
Cliff De Young (The Craft)
Vito D’Ambrosio (The Flash)
Richard Herd (V)
Jason Bernard (Liar Liar)
John M. Jackson (Bones)
John Franklin (Children of The Corn)
Rutanya Alda (The Deer Hunter)
James Avery (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)
Rosalind Chao (Star Trek: DS9)
James Hong (Blade Runner)
Tony Jay (Lois & Clark)
Jeffrey Nordling (Flight 93)
Bruce Abbott (The Net)
Raymond Cruz (Breaking Bad)
Alan Blumenfeld (Heroes)
Armin Shimerman (Buffy: TVS)
David Greenlee (Fame)
Mimi Craven (Vampire Clan)
batman-ninja

Back during Beauty and the Beast’s brief three season run, there were numerous letter writing and phone call campaigns by rabid fans who tried desperately to keep the show from getting the axe. Never a top ratings winner, its fate on the network schedule was always at risk, and yet, the fans made it known how they felt, and they may have indeed saved the show on more than one occasion.batman-ninjaBeautiful corporate lawyer Catherine Chandler (Linda Hamilton) chafes at the restrictions imposed on her life. She works for her father Charles (John McMartin), a highly successful New York City lawyer, but doesn’t feel what she does is necessary or that she’s achieving anything independent of his influence. In a relationship with ambitious, self-centered Tom (Ray Wise), Catherine balks at the insensitive demands of her boyfriend during a dinner party, and leaves to go home. Outside, a couple of thugs kidnap her in a van, and horribly disfigure her face; we later learn that she was a victim of mistaken identity, and that the criminals thought she was someone else. Left for dead in Central Park, Cathy is rescued by a mysterious, hulking figure who carries her below the streets of New York City to a fabulously appointed underground lair. Her eyes and face bandaged, she can’t see the person who is caring for her, but — rather rapidly and with almost no set-up — she comes to love her care giver, Vincent (Ron Perlman).26aefdfe75e396171a91adf55d86b177Vincent resides below the city for what he believes is a very good reason: he apparently is half-lion  and doesn’t want to be the object of pity and terror because of the way he looks. Hiding a beautiful, tortured soul behind his mutation, Vincent strides among the many other residents of the “Tunnel World” as their unofficial leader and protector. Naturally, Cathy is taken aback when she sees Vincent for the first time, but she longs to stay his friend. Vincent, tortured by his impossible love for Cathy, tells her that he has developed a psychic bond with her: her pain is his pain. Taking her back to the “real” world, he tells her he will always be there for her, if she needs him.26aefdfe75e396171a91adf55d86b177After perfect plastic surgery, Catherine decides that she must do something worthwhile with her life, and takes a job as an assistant D.A. with the city. Tracking down the thugs who assaulted her, she finds outs they’re part of a bigger corruption scandal involving prostitution, and decides to go after them. Catherine, hearing Vincent outside on her terrace, goes to him and shares one momentof impossible love with him. Cornered in a house with her attackers ready to kill her, Cathy’s psychic pain reaches Vincent, who immediately hops on top of a speeding subway car, and, bursting through the house’s door like either the Incredible Hulk or the Kool-Aid pitcher, literally rips apart her assailants with his razor-sharp claws, and saves her life.BEAUTYBEAST-0004It was a new take on the old classic. Hamilton is a compelling heroine. She has enough femininity to be romantic but also enough power to fight. Ron Perlam as the Beast was on his most famouse roles before Hellboy and he showed even back then just how good an actor he was. The show is a must see for fans of the 2012 series and fans of  Ron Perlman.

 

REVIEW: V – THE FINAL BATTLE

Starring

Marc Singer (Beastmaster)
Faye Grant (Drive Me Crazy)
Jane Badler (One Life To Live)
Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
Michael Durrell (Sister Act)
Peter Nelson (Die Hard 2)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
David Packer (Robocop)
Neva Patterson (An Affair To Remember)
Blair Tefkin (Greenburg)
Michael Wright (The Interpreter)
Denise Galik (Two For The Money)
Jason Bernard (Liar Liar)
Frank Ashmore (Airplane!)
Andrew Prine (The Road West)
Viveka Davis (Timecode)
Jenny O’Hara (Mystic River)
Sarah Douglas (Superman 1 &2)
Mickey Jones (Sling Blade)
Dick Miller (Gremlins)
Diane Carey (Ugly Betty)

Jane Badler, Marc Singer, and Faye Grant in V (1984)Kenneth Johnson’s miniseries V was a huge May Sweeps success for NBC back in ’83. His story of alien invaders was a smartly veiled allegory for the unspeakable tyranny of the Nazi regime and the corrupting influence of power. But when the network clamoured for a longer sequel on a tighter budget and timetable, well, Johnson opted out and, sadly, it shows. V: The Final Battle (1984, 267 minutes) revels in constantly ripping off the lizards’ phony human faces and showing them tossing live critters down their gullets, while dramatically upping the gunplay, explosions and, in turn, the body count. Sure there’s some lip service paid to the not-so-niceness of fascism, the moral dilemma of abortion and especially relevant today, the sobering horrors of biological warfare.Jane Badler, Richard Herd, Peter Nelson, and Andrew Prine in V: The Final Battle (1984)When last we saw Julie and Donovan (Faye Grant and Marc Singer) they’d led their rag-tag resisters through a successful Visitor scale tanning, thus providing some measure of hope for an end to E.T. tyranny. Well, not so fast. There’s nearly five more hours to fill. This produces three cliffhanger’d together episodes of our plucky human heros cooking up and executing schemes to rain on the reptilian parade. First up, they decide to expose the alien conspiracy by yanking off Supreme Commander John’s doughy mug mid-press conference (Richard Herd). Later, they attack a pumping station that’s sucking the Earth’s oceans aboard the Visitor mothership. Then, as the title implies, there’s the final battle involving red talcum powder.Marc Singer and Frank Ashmore in V: The Final Battle (1984)New comer Michael Ironside stomps into the resistance group with the subtlety of a drunken Clydesdale and takes to telling everyone what clueless yahoos they are. And he’s RIGHT most of the time! As Ham Tyler, his checkered, mercenary past and gaggle of TNT-happy goons provide Julie’s neuvo-guerillas some much needed education in carnage creation.Jane Badler, Sarah Douglas, and Andrew Prine in V: The Final Battle (1984)There’s also the inevitable return of Robert Englund as Willie, everyone’s favorite cuddly value-sized iguana, who still can’t quite grasp the English language. Lizard Queen Diana (Jane Badler) now spends much of her time honing her bitchery by making humans wear unflattering white tights whilst subjecting them to her riotously absurd Brainwash-O-Tron. But the biggest jaw dropper of the miniseries is Robin (Blair Tefkin) offered herself up in the original as a one-woman welcoming party and got herself knocked up with a space-alien baby. When Ms. Horny Toad sprouts ghastly scales around her neck, it’s a pretty goldang strong indication the delivery ain’t gonna be anywhere near a Hallmark moment!

REVIEW: V – THE MINI SERIES

Starring

Marc Singer (Beastmaster)
Faye Grant (Drive Me Crazy)
Jane Badler (One Life To Live)
Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
Michael Durrell (Sister Act)
Peter Nelson (Die Hard 2)
David Packer (Robocop)
Neva Patterson (An Affair To Remember)
Tommy Petersen (An Officer and a Gentleman)
Blair Tefkin (Greenburg)
Michael Wright (The Interpreter)
Bonnie Bartlett (Twins)
Leonardo Cimino (Dune)
Richard Herd (The China Syndrome)
Evan C. Kim (The Dead Pool)
Richard Lawson (Poltergeist)
Andrew Prine (The Road West)
Frank Ashmore (Airplane!)
Jason Bernard (Liar Liar)
Viveka Davis (Timecode)
Diane Carey (Ugly Betty)

Jenny O'Hara in V (1983)Down from the clouds lumber a horde of value-sized flying saucers that creep eerily across the skies before parking over the population centers of the world. Earthlings cower below, their puny fighter jets utterly unable to approach even one of the craft, when finally, a message emanates from the invaders: “How y’all doin’?” Turns out they’re visitors from somewhere near Sirius, who just stopped by for a few billion cups of some mineral we’ve got that’d save their dieing planet. In exchange, they won’t kill us, er, they’ll give us technology. Weird thing is these rather ordinary looking folks don’t seem much like space aliens except that when they talk they sound like they’re on crummy cell phones and they insist on wearing cheesy Blue Blocker shades. Things are great until a nosey reporter by the name of Mike Donovan (Marc Singer) stows aboard the ship hovering over Los Angeles and comes face to scales with the truth.The visitors are Giant Lizards masquerading as Earthlings, and they are none too pleased when Mike tries to out them live on NBC. But it’s Fugitive City for TV boy when his transmission is blocked, and the Visitor propaganda machine somehow twists the incident around as part of their sinister scheme to brand the world’s scientific minds as conspirators and terrorists. Someone’s got to prove that resistance is no where near futile and whup some over-grown horny toad hiney, and that somebody might as well be Killer Blonde, M.D. (Faye Grant).V was an analogy of World War II, and it works really well. This mini series started it all and went on to spawn another Mini Series and two TV Shows.

 

 

REVIEW: LIAR LIAR

 

CAST

Jim Carrey (Yes Man)
Maura Tierney (The Affair)
Justin Cooper (Brother’s Keeper)
Cary Elwes (Saw)
Anne Haney (Psycho)
Jennifer Tilly (Bride of Chucky)
Amanda Donohue (Bad Girls)
Jason Bernard (V)
Swoosie Kurtz (Mike & Molly)
Mitchell Ryan (Lethal Weapon)
Eric Pierpoint (Alien Nation)
Randall Cobb (Raising Arizona)
Cheri Oteri (Scary Movie)
Krista Allen (The Final Destination)
Jim Jansen (A.I.)
Terry Rhoads (Two and a Half Men)
Vitamin C (Get Over It)

MV5BN2YxY2E1OTYtMWNmZi00YzczLTk3MmQtOWYwODc5MDQyOGQwXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTY3MDQzNTk@._V1_SX1777_CR0,0,1777,999_AL_Liar Liar is a cute little comedy starring Jim Carrey as defense attorney Fletcher Reede; a talented litigator on the fast track at a major law firm. He is divorced from Audrey (Maura Tierney) with whom he has a precious son by the name of Max (Justin Cooper) that he loves dearly. The reason for the divorce was summed up nicely by Audrey in that Fletcher was having a lot more sex than she was, not so subtlety suggesting he was sleeping around rather than finding the wonders of self love preferable to her own bedroom antics.MV5BYTIzMmQ5ZmUtYzVkYy00YWIwLThlZjAtZWRmN2MwMzRmZmUzXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyNTAyNDQ2NjI@._V1_A stereotypical lawyer, Fletcher gets by in life using his skillful manipulation of the truth; in short, he lies with a sense of abandon but does so in such an over the top manner that most people roll their eyes and just give him his way. In a deleted scene included on the disc, Fletcher is shown making his client, a bulking thug of a man, look like the innocent victim in a robbery case where it is clear the guy held up an old man at an ATM machine, stole his car, and then beat up the female police officer while resisting arrest. Yet the way Fletcher weaves the tale, his client was simply trying to assist the man after a case of mistaken identity, the lawyer thinking on his feet in the courtroom to incorporate anything he can to bolster his summation of the facts.Fletcher lives alone but spends a lot of time with the ladies, scoring like a juvenile delinquent with any cutie he sees fit to apply his lines on. His biggest goal in life is to make partner and he will do, and say, anything he can to achieve this goal, including neglecting his son on their visitation days, much to the chagrin of Audrey and Max. His son still loves him for all the goofy antics the man uses but has grown weary of the lies and on the eve of his fifth birthday Max makes a wish that his father tell the truth for once. By mystical means unknown, the wish is granted and Fletcher, having spent the night with one of the senior partners in the firm brushing up on his social skills , finds the harsh realities of his new condition when she asks him how good she was; the man answering that he has had better. This surprises him as much as her and sets the stage for Carrey to use his mugging comedy style in a series of dilemmas ranging from being pulled over by the police to a hilarious encounter with the storage lot personnel to his biggest career case of a tramp (perfectly played by Jennifer Tilly) trying to divorce her rich husband after Fletcher convinced her the day before how much of a victim she was for her seven indiscretions.Liar-LiarThe mulligan behind the reason Fletcher is forced to tell the truth is completely sidestepped here and truth be told, it was a wise decision on the part of Director Tom Shadyac (he mentions it in detail on the audio commentary) since that would force the story into a lot of details unimportant to the moral of the story. While an imperfect tale, Carrey pulls it off  Tilly gave a great performance, though limited in scope, and Cooper as the child was perfect for the role, but this was Carrey’s baby all the way.

REVIEW: THE FLASH (1990)

CAST

John Wesley Shipp (Dawsons Creek)
Amanda Pays (The Knife)
Alex Desert (Swingers)

Recuring / Notable Guest Cast

Paula Marshall (Gary Unmarried)
Michael Nader (All My Children)
Tim Thomerson (Trancers)
Priscilla Pointer (Carrie)
Lycia Naff (Lethal Weapon)
Richard Belzer (Scarface)
Robert Hooks (Star Trek III)
M. Emmet Walsh (Blade Runner)
Vito D’Ambrosio (Bones)
Wayne Pére (CLoak & Dagger)
Justin Burnette (Hearts Afire)
Biff Manard (The Wrong Guys)
Mike Genovese (ER)
Sven-Ole Thorsen (Mallrats)
Dick Miller (Gremlins)
Clarence Clemons (Blues brothers 2000)
Ian Buchanan (Panic Room)
Elizabeth Gracen (Highlander: The Raven)
Miguel Fernandes (Relic Hunter)
Clifton Collins Jr. (Westworld)
Chuck Hicks (Dick Tracy)
Wes Studi (Mystery Men)
Robert Shayne (Adventures of Superman)
Jonathan Brandis (IT)
Perrey Reeves (Child”s Play 3)
Kirk Baltz (Face/Off)
Mark Dacascos (Kamen Rider: Dragon Knight)
Adam West (Batman)
Patricia Tallman (Babylon 5)
Jason Bernard (Liar Liar)
Lois Nettleton (Centennial)
Ian Abercrombie (Birds of Prey)
Anthony Starke (Hand of God)
Sherrie Rose (Black Scorpion)
Gloria Reuben (Lincoln)
Deborah May (The Walking Dead)
Christopher Neame (The Prestige)
Ken Foree (The Lords of Salem)
Angela Bassett (Green Lantern)
Jay Arlen Jones (Eight Legged Freaks)
Joyce Hyser (The Wedding Pact)
Timothy Stack (My Name Is Earl)
Remy Ryan (Robocop 3)
Yvette Nipar (Robocop: The Series)
Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad)
Kimberly Neville (Noises Off…)
Robert Z’Dar (Maniac Cop)
Robert O’Reilly (Star Trek: DS9)
Richard Burgi (The Green Inferno)
Denise Crosby (Star Trek: TNG)
Jeri Ryan (Star Trek: Voyager)
Michael Champion (Total Recall)
Lisa Darr (Popular)
Jeffrey Combs (Re-Animator)
François Chau (The Tick)
Lenny von Dohlen (Electric Dreams)
David Cassidy (The Partridge Family)
Signy Coleman (The X-Files)
Carolyn Seymour (Congo)
Bill Mumy (Lost In Space)
Matt Landers (Die Hard)
Victor Rivers (Hulk)
Claire Stansfield (Xena: WP)
Corinne Bohrer (Veronica Mars)

 The series is a mash-up of the Barry Allen and Wally West eras of the comics. The show’s producers, Danny Bilson and Paul De Meo, wisely chose to use the Barry Allen version of the character (played by John Wesley Shipp). This was probably due to the greater story possibilities that Allen’s job as a police forensic scientist could offer. It didn’t matter that Barry had been killed off in the comics five years prior to the show. The character of Dr. Tina McGee (played by the savoury Amanda Pays) comes from the Wally West comics. She is a scientist who helps Barry understand and cope with his new powers of super speed.  The solid performances of the core cast make this show work despite its cartoony conventions. Barry Allen is an easy character to like because we can appreciate and empathize with his underdog-makes-good nature. Barry has always been inferior to his Dad and his overachieving older brother Jay. When he gains his extraordinary powers we can’t help but think that it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving guy.

Also noteworthy is the impish chemistry between Shipp and Pays. Their characters have an intimate, yet platonic relationship that is almost as charming as Pays’ accent. Alex Désert is underused as Barry’s friend and coworker, Julio Mendez. Désert’s easy-going, friendly presence provides a necessary counterpoint to Barry’s no-nonsense ‘get-the-job-done’ attitude. It’s too bad that he didn’t have more to do than set Barry up on blind dates and make wisecracks. The show was produced in the wake of the massive success of Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman film. The mood and tone of that movie is a huge influence on the first few episodes of The Flash, especially the Pilot episode, “The Origin of a Super Hero.” That episode begins with an establishing shot of Central City that is a blatant copy of the opening scene in Batman where we first see Gotham. We also see the same ‘evil steam’ shooting up from the sewers and citizens scurrying to get indoors, away from all the immoral activity that abounds on the mean streets of Gotham . . .er. . . Central City. Later on, the confrontation between Flash and the bad guy is also an obvious lift from Batman, complete with the “You made me!” line.As the series progresses, it stops trying to ape the manner and feel of Batman and takes on more of a 1940s film-noir motif – only a lot more colourful. The ‘Tim Burton Effect’ still lingers though. One such pastiche, which ironically is not in the Pilot episode, is the use of period props such as 1950s automobiles. Burton can get away with such an aesthetic because his films often take place in an ambiguous timeline where stylistically, anything goes. In The Flash, the out-of-time props are an unnecessary distraction. They’re especially irrelevant during the episode titled “Ghost in the Machine” where The Ghost, a villain from the 1950s, comes out of a deep freeze to again wreak havoc on Central City in 1990. It’s hard to buy into The Ghost’s future shock when people are still wearing trilbies and driving around in Ford Fairlanes.
The show didn’t have great villains but like most genre entertainment, thinking is the real enemy. The Trickster, played by Mark Hamill, is definitely the show’s greatest and most memorable antagonist, even if he is just a check-in-the-box inclusion of a Joker-like homicidal clown. Hamill is great, playing the character as an obsessed, erotomaniacal master-of-disguise while the script, unfortunately, wants him to be a poor man’s Joker. Ironically, he would later go on to recycle his Trickster performance as the voice of the Joker on Batman: The Animated Series. Even Captain Cold works reasonably well within the context of the series, reinvented here as an albino mercenary with an ice gun. Actor Michael Champion plays the role relatively straight and plausible, as if shooting people up with frost is an everyday occurrence. He even gets to deliver the line, ‘The Iceman Cometh,’ six years before Arnold Schwarzenegger would as Mr. Freeze in Batman and Robin.

Michael Nader’s stone-faced overacting as outlaw motorcycle gang leader, Nicholas Pike is way too over-the-top to be taken seriously. Casting soap opera or sitcom actors as villains is always a bad idea. The difference between Hamill and Nader’s performances is that Hamill is trying to be humourous, Nader isn’t. David Cassidy and his widow’s peak are unfortunately a non-presence as Mirror Master in “Done with Mirrors.” He comes off as more of a Bizarro-Keith Partridge than a threatening adversary. One of the highlights of the series is “Fast Forward” where Flash is accidentally propelled 10 years into a bleak future where his powers are unstable. He’s got to find a way to get back to his own time and set things right. Every super hero / sci-fi show has to have its ‘evil parallel universe’ or ‘undesirable future’ story and The Flash is no exception. This episode reminds me of the 1960s Spider-Man cartoon where Spidey would be sucked into some twisted alternate dimension that he would have to fight his way out of. The scene where Flash is “falling” into the psychedelic void is a direct homage to that show. It really is an entertaining story if you can plow through the painful first act of Nader’s scenery chewing and hamming it up.One episode that is way more endearing than it probably has any right to be is “Twin Streaks” where an obligatory mad scientist type tries to clone Flash and ends up creating a sort of Bizarro-Flash in a story that vaguely resembles Bride of Frankenstein. The laughs, intentional or not, are effortless. Bizarro-Flash or Pollux as he’s called, wears a blue Flash costume. It would have been a nice wink-nudge to the fans if they had given him a yellow suit as a reference to Professor Zoom, the Reverse-Flash. Zoom was mentioned in another episode, after all. One of the show’s major clunkers is “Be My Baby” where Barry has to care for an infant that was left on his doorstep. It’s nothing but recycled humour from 3 Men and a Baby and countless sitcoms. This episode reads like an attempt to inject some feel-good, warm fuzzy moments into the show. I actually felt sorry for the then-unknown Bryan Cranston, who had the thankless job of playing the bad guy on this one. If the show’s producers truly wanted to feature more heartwarming stories they could have done an episode or episodes that focused on the heroic endeavors that Flash has performed for the medical community. There was one story from Mike Baron’s run on the comic where Wally West was charged with transporting a human heart across the US to a transplant patient. Story lines such as these could have been an untapped goldmine of drama and suspense as long as they didn’t get too sappy with it. It also would have been a welcome break from the hit-or-miss villain of the week.

Shirley Walker’s score music is tailor made to suit the flavour of each individual episode. “Beat the Clock”, a story about a jazz musician falsely accused of killing his wife, appropriately has a lonely sounding Chicago jazz score while “Watching the Detectives” features music that evokes old private-eye films of the 1940s to compliment that episode’s subject matter. The Flash’s opening theme song is composed by Danny Elfman and sounds like a recycled version of his Batman theme. The Flash is a keen show that had the potential to be much greater than it was. Its adherence to the original source material and the earnest portrayal of the characters by the core cast give the series its irresistible allure. This is essential viewing for comic book and sci-fi fans and it definitely deserves a spot on your DVD shelf.