REVIEW: PHOENIX 2 (AKA CYBERZONE AKA DROID GUNNER)

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CAST

Marc Singer (V)
Matthias Hues (Star Trek VI)
Rochelle Swanson (Secret Games 3)
Robin Clarke (The Formula)
Kin Shriner (Manhunter)
Brinke Stevens (Teenage Exorcist)

maxresdefault2077, twenty years after an earthquake has sent all the states along the western American seaboard into the ocean. The populace is divided between monied classes living inside domed cities and the poor and mutated in the wastelands outside. In Phoenix City, bounty hunter Jack Ford receives an assignment from a corporation to track down four female pleasure androids that have been stolen from a colony on Jupiter. Jack is reluctantly paired with cybernetic specialist Beth Enright who has never been outside the city before. The two follow a trail that leads through the seedy wasteland underworld to an operation smuggling vice into the morally pure underwater city of New Angeles.
1Fred Olen Ray is a director who has carved out a unique niche for himself. He makes B movies – a great many of them, nearly 200 at current count. All of his s films steal their ideas from better, bigger-budgeted mainstream films – Phoenix 2 is his take on Blade Runner.

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Phoenix 2  is one of Fred Olen Ray’s better efforts. The film is cheaply made – the underwater city, for example, never consists of anything more than scenes shot in the basement corridors of some industrial plant. There are some capable cut-price model effects from the New World studios in-house effects group. There is the usual collection of Olen Ray bimbos – including Scream Queen Brinke Stevens and softcore actress Lorissa McComas. What makes Phoenix 2 enjoyable is Fred Olen Ray’s clear sense of humour. The sparring relationship between Marc Singer’s worldwise bounty hunter and Rochelle Swanson’s city slicker is well drawn out. Not to mention the pleasure droids who are always stripping their clothes off and trying to pleasure their men at the most inappropriate of times – in one amusing scene, they are dressed as nuns trying to tempt Matthias Hues while he is trying to fly a ship. There is also a drolly amusing scene where Marc Singer bursts into a brothel, interrupting a couple during sex to scan her to see if she is an android and before departing pulls out a photo of the woman he was searching for earlier, “By the way your husband’s looking for you.”. It’s a cheap Sci-Fi film that has nothing to do with the previous Phioenix film, but still a silly enjoyable saturday night film for when nothings on TV.

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REVIEW: HIGHLANDER: THE SERIES – SEASON 1-6

Image result for highlander the series logo

MAIN CAST

Adrian Paul (Eyeborgs)
Alexander Vandernoot (Pret-A-Porter)
Stan Kirsch (Shallow Ground)
Amanda Wyss (A Nightmare On Elm Street)
Elizabeth Gracen (Death of The Incredible Hulk)
Jim Byrnes (Sanctuary)
Philip Akin (Robocop 2014)
Michel Modo (My Father’s Glory)
Lisa Howard (Earth: Final Conflict)
Peter Wingfield (Caprica)

RECURRRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Christopher Lambert (Fortress)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Wendell Wright (Power Rangers Wild Force)
Peter Deluise (21 Jump Street)
Matthew Walker (Andromeda)
Soon-Tek Oh (Mulan)
Vincent Schiavelli (Buffy)
John Novak (Wishmaster 3 & 4)
Garry Chalk (Dark Angel)
Joan Jett (The Sweet Life)
Gary Jones (Stargate SG.1)
Wes Studi (Mystery Men)
Marc Singer (V)
Brent Stait (Andromeda)
Joe Pantoliano (The Matrix)
Stephen Macht (Galaxina)
Scott McNeil (Beast Wars)
Vanity (52 Pick-Up)
J.G. Hertzler (Star Trek: DS9)
Tom Butler (Freddy vs Jason)
Werner Stocker (The White Rose)
Peter Howitt (Defying Gravity)
Roland Gift (Brakes)
Dee Dee Bridgewater (Another Life)
Jason Isaacs (Peter Pan)
Nigel Terry (Troy)
Anthoyn Head (Buffy)
Marion Cotillard (Contagion)
Peter Guinness (Alien 3)
Roger Daltrey (Tommy)
Peter Hudson (Hitman)
Michael Shanks (Stargate SG.1)
Cameron Bancroft (Legends of Tomorrow)
Douglas Arthurs (Stargate SG.1)
J.H. Wyman (Sirens)
Geraint Wyn Davies (Cube 2)
Traci Lords (Zack & Miri Make a Porno)
Andrew Jackson (Earth: Final Conflict)
Kendall Cross (Caprica)
Sheena Easton (Young Blades)
Don S. Davis (Stargate SG.1)
Robert Wisden (Watchmen)
Mitchell Kosterman (Smallville)
Dan Castellaneta (The Simpsons)
Robert Ito (Quincy M.E.)
Dustin Nguyen (21 Jump Street)
Bruce A. Young (Jurassic PArk III)
Andrea Roth (Ringer)
Roddy Piper (They Live)
Bill Dow (Stargate Atlantis)
Gabrielle Miller (Down River)
Bruce Weitz (Hill Street Blues)
Nicholas Lea (V)
Lochlyn Munro (Little Man)
Jonathan Banks (The Lizzie Borden Chronicles)
Ed Lauter (The Number 23)
Roark Critchlow (V)
Jeremy Brudenell (Wish Me Luck)
Peter Firth (Victoria)
Angeline Ball (My Girl 2)
Nia Peeples (Pretty Little Liars)
James Faulkner (X-Men: First Class)
Nadia Cameron-Blakey (Batman Begins)
Emile Abossolo M’bo (Hitman)
Martin Cummins (Bates Motel)
Stephen McHattie (300)
Tamlyn Tomita (Heroes)
Hiro Kanagawa (Heroes Reborn)
Randall Cobb (Liar Liar)
Chandra West (White Noise)
Brion James (Blade Runner)
Jason Gray-Stanford (Bones)
Alan Scarfe (Andromeda)
John Pyper-Ferguson (Caprica)
Myles Ferguson (Little Criminals)
Jesse Moss (Ginger Snaps)
Sherry Miller (Bitten)
Laura Harris (Dead Like me)
Garwin Sanford (Stargate SG.1)
Anthony De Longis (Masters of The Universe)
Vincent Gale (Van Helsing)
Tamara Gorski (Hercules: TLJ)
Stella Stevens (General Hospital)
Barry Pepper (The Green Mile)
Vivan Wu (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III)
Richard Lynch (Puppet Master III)
Eugene Lipinski (Arrow)
David Robb (Downtown Abbey)
Lynda Boyd (Sanctuary)
Kim Johnston Ulrich (3rd Rock From The Sun)
Ben Pullen (Elizabeth I)
Paudge Behan (Veronica Guerin)
Carsten Norgaard (Alien vs Predator)
Anna Hagen (The Messengers)
Laurie Holden (the Walking Dead)
Gerard Plunkett (Sucker Punch)
Kristin Minter (Home Alone)
Wolfgang Bodison (A Few Good Men)
Pruitt Taylor Vince (Heroes Reborn)
Callum Keith Rennie (Flashforward)
Louis Ferreira (Stargate Universe)
Travis MacDonald (Warcraft)
Venus Terzo (Arrow)
Rachel Hayward (Jingle All The Way 2)
Nicholas Campbell (Da Vinci’s Inquest)
Peter Outerbridge (Beauty and the Beast)
Jill Teed (Battlestar Galactica)
Molly Parker (Deadwood)
Emmanuelle Vaugier (Two and a Half men )
Ann Turkel (The Fear)
Ron Halder (Stargate Sg.1)
Ocean Hellman (Voyage of The Unicorn)
Rae Dawn Chong (Commando)
Carl Chase (Batman)
Michael J. Jackson (Coronation Street)
Ricco Ross (Wishmaster)
Peta Wilson (La Femme Nikita)
Jamie Harris (Agents of Shield)
Crispin Bonham-Carter (Basil)
Stephen Tremblay (Unnatural Pursuits)
Jesse Joe Walsh (JCVD)
Tracy Scoggins (Lois & Clark)
Real Andrews (Born on The 4th of July)
Eric McCormack (Will & Grace)
Ian Tracey (Bates Motel)
Michael Kopsa (Dark Angel)
Alastair Duncan (The Batman)
Sandra Bernhard (2 Broke Girls)
April Telek (Walking Tall)
Andrew Divoff (Wishmaster)
Steve Bacic (Andromeda)
Kira Clavell (Ninja Turtles: Next Mutation)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Peter Hanlon (Scary Movie)
Musetta Vander (Stargate SG.1)
Valetnine Pelka (8mm 2)
Sonja Codhant (Navarro)
Jonathan Firth (Withering Heights)
Danny Dyer (Severance)
Rachel Shelley (The L Word)
Alexis Denisof (Angel)
Anita Dobson (Eastenders)
Jasper Britton (The New World)
Alice Evans (The Originals)
Andrew Bricknell (Victoria)
Justina Vail (Seven Days)
Sandra Hess (Encino Man)
Claudia Christian (Babylon 5)
Jack Ellis (Bad Girls)
Paris Jefferson (Xena)_
Martin McDougall (Batman Begins)

Few television series’ that are based on movies live up to the original version, either because they simply don’t have right qualities that made the movie great or they the people making the show just don’t give a damn. “Highlander: The Series”, however, is one of those rare exceptions.

Image result for highlander the seriesBased off of the original 1986 fan favorite and produced by same the executive producers William Panzer and Peter Davis, it continued the saga of the immortals, a race of beings destined to fight one another in sword fights in a centuries long event called the game and who can only be killed by decapitation, with the opponent taking their head and their power. In particular, the show centers around one such immortal named Duncan Macleod (Adrian Paul in his best role) of the Clan Macleod, a descendant of Connor Macleod (Christopher Lambert who reprises his role for the pilot) from the first film.Image result for highlander the seriesBorn in the highlands of Scotland in 1592, Duncan has roamed the world for 400 years, seen many different events, and has fought in many different wars and many battles with other immortals. And that last part is one of the things that made the show great. You could count on almost every episode to feature a spectacular sword fight with the villain of the week, a battle of life and death, with Duncan Macleod emerging victorious from yet another trying ordeal and even more spectacular quickening.

Image result for highlander the seriesBased on that, you might expect a show centering on such a plot to become boring or same old, same old, and the show might very well have become so. But, the truth is the show managed to constantly entertain and thrill for most of its run in large part because of the talent the show had. Adrian Paul was more than capable of carrying a show, bringing not only charm and charisma to the role of Duncan but also a strong sense of honor and chivalry, thus making Duncan Macleod one of the great television heroes.Image result for highlander the seriesBut it wasn’t just Adrian’s acting that made the show great; it was also due to the well blending of strong supporting actors, guest stars and villains, writers, and set designers and directors. You had Richie Ryan (Stan Kirsch), a young man who becomes a part of Duncan’s world in a way he never imagined. Joe Dawson (Jim Byrnes) a member of a secret society of mortals called the Watchers who dedicate themselves to watching and recording the deeds and actions of the immortals; the always enjoyable Methos (the wonderfully charismatic Peter Wingfield), a 5,000 year old immortal and the oldest living of his kind; Amanda (Elizabeth Grace), an immortal who’s had an on again, off again relationship with Duncan throughout the ages and who’s not put off by an occasional high-value heist or two to make a living, and a slew of guest stars, villains and other supporting actors that added to the show every week.Image result for highlander the seriesPlus, one must also give credit to behind the scenes people, who not only managed to make things interesting in the present, but the past as well. Every episode featured dazzling historical flashbacks, flashbacks that were so good there isn’t one where you didn’t believe the characters weren’t where the show said they were, be it World War I France or British Colonial India (these flashbacks are even more remarkable when you consider the fact that the show, because it was syndicated, had a much smaller budget than shows tied directly to a network). It was also a show that, like the original film, caused the viewer to wonder what would it be like to live indefinitely and witness the changing of the times? What kind of person would you become if you witnessed your time, your religion, possibly even your entire culture disappear into the mists of time?Image result for highlander the seriesAll this must be credited to the writers, led by creative consultant David Abramowitz, who had a lot to do with the magic of the show. Not to say, of course, that weren’t imperfections; some episodes dragged, and one or two of them were pretty bad (the episode “The Zone” is a good example of this), not to mention the fact that the show badly lost steam in the last season, a thing that tends to happen to most shows in the end. However, that being said, the show did far more for the Highlander franchise than any of the sequels ever did. For that reason, it’s a show that all fans of action and fantasy should check out.

12 DAYS OF CHRISTMAS REVIEW: V (1984) – REFLECTIONS IN TERROR

REFLECTIONS IN TERROR
MAIN CAST
Marc Singer (Arrow)
Faye Grant (Drive Me Crazy)
Jane Badler (One Life to Live)
June Chadwick (This Is Spinal Tap)
Jennifer Cooke (Friday The 13Th – Part VI)
Robert Englund (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Lane Smith (Lois & Clark)
Blair Tefkin (Greenberg)
Michael Wright (The Interpreter)
Jeff Yagher (Alias)
GUEST CAST
Mickey Jones (Sling Blade)
James Daughton (Blind Date)

It’s a very special Lizardy Christmas Episode! I really liked the simplicity of this episode. There was no super weapon or dastardly plot to overthrow. It was all little parts of the war and it let characters develop. Basically the episode had three storylines, two of which interweave by episode’s end. The first is Donovan and Ham struggles with smuggling the children. The second is the Elizabeth Clone saga. The third is Nathan Bates vs. Julie Parrish and the Resistance Ham really is the star of this episode as we delve into his mysterious past. Is it a stretch that he does the whole Grinch arc? Yeah, a little, but you expect a little maudlin in holiday themed episodes of any TV show. But his interaction with Jennifer is some of the best that the series had to offer as her childish innocence is able to draw the man out of the stone cold killer. The return of Chris Faber is a mixed bag of sorts. I love the character and think he and Ham are a great team. Their introduction in The Final Battle is one of the more memorable sequences. However, one of the few things the weekly series had going for it was the great camaraderie between Donovan and Ham. Singer and Ironside had worked well together.

So basically it took the team of Donovan and Ham and made it Ham and Chris again. The Elizabeth Clone portion of the story leaves a lot to be desired. Of course it reminds me that the superior alien race has yet to produce an anti-toxin. Now maybe this is the non scientist in me, but I would think that Diana should be able to work up something from Elizabeth’s blood sample as I think that was all Robert Maxwell and Julie were working off of. In addition the yo-yo of Elizabeth is in full effect. Not 5 episodes ago, Julie wouldn’t let her out of the Club Creole because it was too dangerous for her to be out by herself. Now she can walk around by herself and Christmas shop, no problem. This episode she also seems like she is the more mature Elizabeth…basically, there is little consistency to her character at all. I enjoyed Nathan Bates’ storyline in this episode. Rarely do we see Nathan this angry and determined. It gave Lane Smith a couple of scenery chewing moments which were welcome.

The destruction of the Club Creole was not as good, as it really served as a good cover operation. The one question that wasn’t answered at episodes end really is how the resistance knew of Bates’ sting. It’s not quite clear if Chiang’s men set the explosives and Chris re-worked them or if Chiang’s men who attacked WAS the only planned attack and Chris set up the explosives as a way to pretend it was destroyed. Either way, it still leaves the question open, how did they know? Overall, it was a feel good episode.

REVIEW: BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES – VOLUME 1-4

Image result for batman the animated series logoMAIN CAST (VOICES)

Kevin Conroy (Batman: The Killing Joke)
Loren Lester (Flashforward)
Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. (Hot Shots)
Bob Hastings (General Hospital)
Robert Costanzo (Dick Tracy)
Melissa Gilbert (Zoya)
Tara Strong (Sabrina Goes To Rome)
Mathew Valencia (Lawnmower Man 2)Image result for batman the animatedRECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST CAST

Adrienne Barbeau (Swamp Thing)
Kate Mulgrew (Star Trek: Voyager)
Neil Ross (Centurions)
Frank Welker (The Simpsons)
Richard Moll (Scary Movie 2)
Lloyd Bochner (Point Blank)
Marc Singer (V)
Rene Auberjonois (Star Trek:DS9)
Meredith MacRae (Petticoat Junction)
Michael Ansara (The Message)
Mark Hamill (Star Wars)
Mari Devon (Howl’s Moving Castle)
Brock Peters (To Kill A Mockingbird)
Ed Begley Jr. (Veronica Mars)
Ron Perlman (Hellboy)
Edward Asner (Up)
Josh Keaton (Green Lantern: TAS)
Arleen Sorkin (Days of Our Lives)
Diane Pershing (Centourions)
Ingrid Oliu (Real Women Have Curves)
Henry Polic II (Webster)
Tim Curry (IT)
Diana Muldaur (Star Trek: TNG)
Alan Rachins (LA Law)
Linda Gary (He-Man)
John Vernon (Dirty Harry)
Lindsay Crouse (Buffy)
Paul Williams (Adventure Time)
Aron Kincaid (Freakazoid!)
Heather Locklear (Return of Swamp Thing)
Roddy McDowall (Planet of The Apes)
John Rhys-Davies (Lord of The Rings)
Adam West (Batman 60s)
Treat Williams (The Phantom)
Seth Green (Family Guy)
Brian George (The Big Bang Theory)
Harry Hamlin Clash of The Titans)
Peter Scolari (Gotham)
William Sanderson (Blade Runner)
Leslie Easterbrook (The Devil’s Rejects)
John Glover (Smallville)
Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters)
David Warner (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
Helen Slater (Supergirl)
Michael York (Logans Run)
George Dzunda (Crimson Tide)
John De Lancie (Star Trek: TNG)
Matt Frewer (Watchmen)
Robert Picardo (Stargate: Atlantis)
Maurice LaMarche (Futurama)
Julie Brown (Earth Girls Are Easy)
Vincent Schiavelli (Batman Returns)
Michael Gross (Familt Ties)
Elisabeth Moss (Mad men)
Jean Smart (Designing Women)
Earl Boen (The Terminator)
Vernee Watson (The Big Bang Theory)
Marica Wallace (The Simpsons)
Marilu henner (Two and A Half Men)
LeVar Burton (Star Trek: TNG)
Nichelle Nichols (Star Trek)
Stephanie Zimbalist (The Story Lady)
Dick Miller (Gremlins)
Henry Silva (Ocean’s Eleven)
Jason Marsden (Full House)
Tress MacNeille (Futurama)
Andrea Martin (Anastasia)
Grant Shaud (Murphy Brown)
Bruce Weitz (Hill Street Blues)
Hector Elizondo (The Princess Diaries)
Jeffrey Jones (Howard The Duck)
Roy Dotrice (Beauty and The Beast)
Corey Burton (Critters)
Cree Summer (Batman Beyond)
Lauren Tom (Futurama)
Jeffrey Combs (Gotham)
Billy Barty (Masters of The Universe)
Tippi Hedren (The Birds)
Bumper Robinson (Sabrina: TTW)
Billy Zane (Zoolander)
Mark Rolstan (Alias)
Michael Ironside (Total Recall)
Michael McKean (Smallville)
Nicholle Tom (Gotham)
Lori Petty (Tank Girl)
Linda Hamilton (Chuck)
Billy West (Futurama)

Debuting on Fox in 1992, Batman: The Animated Series was immensely successful, garnering immense critical praise, taking home an Emmy for Outstanding Animated Program, and continuing in various forms for several years and well over a hundred episodes.First, the series is written and produced by people with a fundamental understanding of what makes the comics work, particularly during its peak in the ’70s under Dennis O’Neal and Neal Adams. As a long-time comics fanatic, it’s always welcome to see names like Gerry Conway and Marv Wolfman flash across the screen, and in the intervening years, Paul Dini and Bruce Timm have made their own impact on the four-color world. The tone is dark but not hopelessly grim, and the scripts don’t inundate viewers with patently obvious exposition or villainous cackling. It’s intelligently written and, while appropriate for a wide range of ages, doesn’t pander to a younger audience. I started watching Batman when it first debuted on Fox in 1992, and I appreciate it every bit as much now as a 34-year-old adult. The writers don’t shackle themselves to comic continuity, and their revisions are frequently more compelling than any other form in which we’ve seen Batman’s rogue’s gallery. Third-stringers like the Clock King and Clayface are given heavily revised origins and almost unrecognizable characterizations that are far more interesting than any other take on them.Batman boasts visuals that are as strong as the writing behind them. It’s incredibly dark; despite its Saturday morning/weekday afternoon origins, this is a series that greatly benefits from being watched at night with the lights off. The character designs are angular and exaggerated, in contrast to the rounded, ’40s-inspired props and backgrounds that further establish the distinctive, timeless look of the show. The detail and fluidity of the animation vary from episode to episode, but the better installments are almost jaw-dropping.

Following the visuals of the series, the next obvious subject to tackle is how it sounds. For me, Batman’s tone is one of the elements that really sets it apart from most every other animated series, and contributing greatly to that is the orchestral score in each episode. The series also has a phenomenal roster of talent contributing its voices. The main group — Kevin Conroy as the definitive Batman, Efrem Zimbalist Jr. as Alfred, Bob Hastings as Commissioner Gordon — just nail their parts with complete perfection. Very recognizable names also contribute to villains and assorted supporting characters. A complete list would be prohibitively long, but some of the more notable actors and actresses from these episodes are Michael Ansara, Ed Asner, Adrienne Barbeau, Ed Begley Jr., Mark Hamill, David L. Lander, Heather Locklear, Kevin McCarthy, Roddy McDowall, Richard Moll, Kate Mulgrew, Ron Perlman, Alan Rachins, Marc Singer, Jeffrey Tambor, John Vernon, Adam West, and Paul Williams. The campy live action series from the ’60s also drew heavily from established Hollywood talent, but the difference here is that the actors don’t draw attention to themselves as stars.

This set has the show at the absolute top of its form. There isn’t a lame show in the bunch, and many of the episodes in this set are destine to become classics. Prechance to Dream, the second show in the set, is a wonderful look at what might have happened if Bruce Wayne’s parents hadn’t been killed. After being knock out while chasing some crooks, Bruce wakes up at home, uncertain as to how he got there. He’s surprised to find that the entrance to the Batcave is blocked, but even more astonished to discover that his mother and father are still alive. Bruce must figure out what going on, but in doing so, he knows he’ll ruin the happiness that he’s discovered.AlmostGot ‘im, probably my favorite show of the series. This story takes place during a “villain’s night out” where Batman’s main enemies aren’t committing crimes. They are all sitting around a table in a bar playing poker, relaxing. While talking, the conversation turns to Batman of corse. Like a group of fisherman swapping stories, each crook takes a turn telling the time that they were closest to killing Batman. The little vignettes were all full of action, and the framing story was very funny. A great combination, with an excellent ending line.
The Batman’s background story takes is fleshed out in a couple of episodes too. His early training plays an important part in Night of the Ninja, and I Am the Night introduces Dr. Leslie Thompkins who is an important person from when Bruce was young. Viewers get to find out just where the Batmoblie came from in The Mechanic, a great show that explains some aspects of Batman’s world that usually gets glossed over. Robin’s origin is recounted in Robin’s Reckoning, a two part story which won an Emmy. This story examines the bond between Batman and Robin, and why the Dark Knight agreed to raise a young boy.
The writing on the show is top notch. The show doesn’t dumb itself down to appeal to a young audience, the creators thought that if you have well written intelligent stories, kids would be attracted. They were right but the show also appeals to adults for the same reason.

One of the things Batman: The Animated Series does particularly well is infuse its villains with personality. They’re not a rotation of thugs with a different gimmick and costume each week — the writers go to great lengths to humanize these characters, and although they’re still unambiguously the bad guys, they still manage to be sympathetic at times. “His Silicon Soul”, following up on the two-part “Heart of Steel” from the previous collection, features a robotic duplicate of Batman unable to come to grips with the realization that he’s a machine.

The title character of “Baby-Doll” was created especially for the series. Think Webster with the race and gender reversed; Mary Louise Dahl was in her twenties but looked like a three-year-old, and she cashed in on that rare disability with a successful and hopelessly bland sitcom. An ill-advised career move derailed her as an actress, and a decade later, she’s systematically kidnapped all of her former co-stars in an attempt to reclaim those happy years. Again, as outlandish as the premise might sound, it really does work. You might smirk at reading about a teary-eyed Baby Doll attempting to fire an already-emptied doll-shaped pistol into a funhouse mirror, but the immeasurably talented writers are gifted enough to eke more pathos than I ever would have thought possible out of that.

Redemption, whether seized or tossed aside, is also frequently touched upon. “Sideshow” opens with a grueling chase between Batman and an escaped Killer Croc, who manages to stumble upon a remote farm that’s home to a group of former sideshow acts. They offer Croc a chance at an honest life, but old habits die hard. Another example is “House and Garden”. When a poisonous plant-creature starts a reign of terror in Gotham, Batman naturally turns his sights towards the recently-released Poison Ivy. She insists that she’s rehabilitated, and by all accounts, Ivy is happily married and living the mundane suburban life. The investigation continues to point back to her, and the final revelation involves some of the creepiest imagery ever seen in the series.

Harley Quinn is also featured in a couple of episodes centered around her attempts to stick with the straight ‘n narrow. She’s a fan favorite for a reason, and these appearances are some of the most memorable episodes in this collection. “Harlequinade” is a chaotic team-up with Batman in an attempt to track down The Joker, who’s managed to get his hands on a bomb that’ll turn Gotham into a smoldering mushroom cloud. “Harley’s Holiday” documents her release from Arkham Asylum, and even though she’s determined to leave that life of crime behind her, an attempt to legitimately buy a pretty pink dress at a store spirals into a bad day…a really, really bad day, culminating in being chased by Batman.

It’s particularly great to see the villains interact with one another. That’s part of the fun of “Trial”, which has a reluctant prosecutor attempting to defend Batman in an insane trial when the inmates take over the asylum. The flipside of that coin is seen in “Lock-Up”, when a cruel jailer’s overzealousness gets him fired from Arkham and compels him to hunt down the left-leaning scum he blames for the state of the world. Another stand-out is “A Bullet for Bullock”, an episode in which the slovenly detective is rattled by death threats and reluctantly teams with Batman, and the ending is just one example of how clever the show’s writers can be. “Clever” is also the first word that instantly springs to mind for “Make ‘Em Laugh”, an episode where The Joker co-opts a fellow criminal’s technology to create a small army of fumbling costumed criminals with inane gimmicks.

These episodes introduce a couple of recurring villains ripped from the pages of the comics. Most notable among them is Ra’s al Ghul, who makes his first appearance in a two-parter penned by Len Wein and Denny O’Neil, familiar names to longtime readers of Batman’s four-color incarnation. The centuries-old Ra’s has virtually unlimited resources at his disposal, equally intrigued by Batman’s boundless skills as a detective as he is frustrated by his foe’s determination to disrupt his machinations. Ra’s often lends a Saturday morning serial flavor to the show, from the globe-trotting in his first few appearances to the flared pants of “Avatar”. The charismatic character has such a presence that he’s able to carry “Showdown” largely by himself in an episode that barely features Batman or Robin in any capacity. “Showdown” is set during the westward expansion of the mid-1800’s as Ra’s’ opposition to the sprawling railroads is pitted against scarred bounty hunter Jonah Hex (one of the few DC characters not connected with the Batman mythos to appear on the show). The other noteworthy recurring villain is The Ventriloquist, a fairly timid-looking middle-aged man who seems more likely to be a CPA than a ruthless crimelord. Taken by himself, that seems to be the right impression, but when he has his puppet Scarface on the end of his arm… The Ventriloquist’s first appearance, “Read My Lips”, is one of my favorites of the season, and he returns twice after that.
Several other characters from the comics briefly appear, including Maxie Zeus, the back-breaking, Venom-fueled Bane, and the fairly obscure masked criminals of The Terrible Trio. The majority of Batman’s rogue’s gallery is present and accounted for, with The Penguin, Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, The Mad Hatter, The Joker, Harley Quinn, The Clock King, Catwoman, The Riddler, The Scarecrow, Two-Face, and Mr. Freeze all wreaking havoc throughout Gotham City at some point or another. Even with the opening titles shifting on disc three from Batman: The Animated Series to The Adventures of Batman and Robin, there’s no discernable drop in quality.

After Batman: The Animated Series wrapped up its long, successful run on Fox, a revised version of the series — with most of the same talent in tow — popped up as part of the animation block on Kids’ WB. This half of The New Batman/Superman Adventures, Although the general look of Batman: The Animated Series is still in place, many of the character designs have been revamped, making them sharper, more angular, and somewhat stripped down. Sometimes the changes worked; The Scarecrow is a much more ominous, disturbing figure now, and I like the exaggerated, deranged look of The Mad Hatter. Others didn’t fare so well, especially the much blander looking Riddler, and I have mixed feelings about the older, frailer Jim Gordon and the beady-eyed look of the Joker. One of the more distinctive changes is that the yellow moon on Batman’s chest is gone, an alteration that makes it easy to distinguish one of these episodes from the previous animated incarnation.

One aspect of Batman: The Animated Series that has always impressed me is that even though it was a weekday afternoon cartoon based on a popular comic book character, it didn’t pander to a younger audience. Rewatching the box sets Warner has issued over the past year and a half, I find myself as engaged by them now in my mid-thirties as I was when I first saw them half a lifetime ago.

The New Batman Adventures is a odd mix because even though many of the stories seem geared towards a younger audience, the censors have lightened up, so the villains can use words like ‘murder’ and ‘kill’ more freely, its female characters (especially Harley Quinn) are less subtle with the sexual innuendo, and there’s even a little blood. Over the Edge, one of my favorite episodes of any of Batman’s animated incarnations, with batman hunted by  by Commissioner Gordon as his men spray gunfire throughout the Batcave in a frantic chase against Batman and Robin. It’s a dark, unflinchingly brutal story about loss and betrayal, showing the Dark Knight at his lowest point with his identity exposed and facing greater adversity than he ever has before.

It’s not all dark and dour, though. Another favorite is “Joker’s Millions”, which opens with the Joker struggling with his finances. Robots, hyena chow, Joker venom, and overly elaborate death traps aren’t cheap, but he gets an unexpected windfall when a dead mobster leaves the flat-broke Joker a quarter-billion dollars in his will. The Joker goes on a spastic spending spree, bribing everyone in sight into wiping his criminal record clean, but…whoops. There’s a catch, of course, and the Joker’s not the one who gets the last laugh.

the Joker also take center-stage in “Mad Love”, an episode penned by Paul Dini that was later spun off by DC into a graphic novel. “Mad Love” takes a look at how ambitious, straightlaced psychiatrist Harlene Quinzel could become infatuated with a psychotic madman like the Joker. The Joker’s far more interested in cobbling together some sort of complicated trap to knock off Batsy than fooling around with his eager-to-please henchwoman, so she tries to get her puddin’s attention by rehashing one of his unused schemes and getting rid of Batman once and for all. This is the sort of character-centric episode that I thought really defined Batman: The Animated Series, and “Mad Love” ranks with the best of the series.
“Legends of the Dark Knight” is another personal favorite, paying homage to some of Batman’s different incarnations over the decades. Dick Sprang gets the first nod in a segment with Batman duking it out with the Joker in a music museum with all of the puns, oversized props, and four-color action you’d expect from a Golden Age comic, followed up by a deeply impressive segment with Frank Miller’s hulking, fifty-something Batman squaring off against an army of mutants in the future. The side story with a few kids getting tangled up in an arson-for-hire gig with Firefly doesn’t stack up to the rest of the episode, but who cares?
There are a few other episodes worth pointing out. “Girls’ Night Out” is set with both Batman and Superman out of town, leaving Batgirl and Supergirl to square off against Harley, Poison Ivy, and electrifying Supes-villain Livewire.Dick Grayson, the original Robin, has struck out on his own as Nightwing, and he’s highlighted several times — first in “You Scratch My Back”, which teams him with Catwoman, much to Batman’s chagrin, and again in “Old Wounds”, where Grayson tells Batgirl why he could no longer fight alongside the Dark Knight. The episodes on this box set also introduce The Creeper, the demon Etrigan, and Firefly to the animated series,  Villains like Two Face, The Mad Hatter, Catwoman, Clayface, Mr. Freeze, The Scarecrow, The Ventriloquist, Bane, Killer Croc, Baby Doll, and, briefly, The Riddler also return to torment Gotham again.

PLANET OF THE APES (1974): THE COMPLETE SERIES

MAIN CAST

Roddy McDowall (Fright Night)
Ron Harper (Land of The Lost)
James Naughton (The Paper Chase)
Mark Lenard (Star Trek)

RECURRING / NOTABLE GUEST STARS

Booth Colman (My Gun Is Quick)
John Hoyt (Brute Force)
Jacqueline Scott (Dante)
Woodrow Parfrey (Dirty Harry)
William Smith (Conan The Barbarian)
Marc Singer (V)
Jackie Earle Haley (Human Target)
Roscoe Lee Browne (Babe)
Norman Burton (Wonder Woman)

Image result for planet of the apes tvThis series sort of disregards the continuity of the films in a way and goes it alone and it’s all the better for it, by having the series do it’s own thing but anchored into what has gone before without overly referring to the films it provides enough new material to appeal to non fans of the movies, while at the same time there is enough to keep the fans of the big screen versions happy, it’s the best of both worlds.

The major selling point of this boxset is the inclusion of an episode that was never transmittered on both sides of the Atlantic. The episode is called The Liberator and the reason for it’s non show it’s unknown, I have attempted to uncover this but have had no luck, I can only speculate that it is probably because it is the only episode that shows a group of humans that are actually worse than the Apes in their treatment of other humans. This could have been considered a bit strong for the audiences of that time.

The Planet of the Apes series just sort of fizzled out after 14 episodes, well 13 actually without The Liberator and was due to run for 26 weeks.  The American ratings were quite acceptable and no problems at all, the real reason the show was cancelled was that a new executive producer took over the studio and cancelled it with immediate effect because he hated it, this small-minded person spoiled the viewing pleasure of millions.

All in all Planet of the Apes is a wonderful delve into childhood nostalgia and will bring back happy memories.

 

REVIEW: IN THE COLD OF NIGHT


CAST

David Soul (Starsky & Hutch)
Shannon Tweed (Dead Sexy)
Tippi Hedren (The Birds)
Marc Singer (V)
John Beck (Rollerball)
Brian Thompson (Hired To Kill)

The plot revolves around a photographer who has a recurring nightmare about strangling a beautiful woman in the shower of an elegant house. Eventually after obsessing about this nightmare he visits a beach artist to try and find the woman . The woman in the nightmare , Kimberly (played by the alluring Adrianne Sachs), turns up at his door not long after the dialogue they exchange is quite memorable ! She eventually invites him to the house which is the one in the nightmares and things start to get interesting …..I really enjoyed the dinner scene as the dialogue was interesting,funny, and their actions were seductive.

The movie goes into high gear when Kimberly leaves the house and the plot nicely gets back to the cause of the nightmares, the ending of the movie is not your usual cliche ending. This is a great movie if you like straight to video type thrillers, provided you don`t take the plot too seriously.

REVIEW: EAGLE EYE

CAST

Shia LaBeouf (Transformers)
Michelle Monaghan (Mission Impossible 2)
Rosario Dawson (Sin City)
Michael Chiklis (Gotham)
Anthony Mackie (Ant-Man)
Ethan Eembry (Vacancy)
Billy Bob Thornton (Bad Santa)
Anthony Azizi (Priest)
Bill Smitrovich (Ted)
William Sadler (Iron Man 3)
Eric Christian Olsen (Tru Calling)
Marc Singer (V)

Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf) is a Stanford University dropout who learns his identical twin brother Ethan, a first lieutenant in the US Air Force, has been killed. Following the funeral, Jerry is surprised to find $750,000 in his bank account. Later he finds his Chicago apartment filled with weapons, ammonium nitrate, classified DOD documents, and forged passports. He receives a phone call from a woman (Julianne Moore) who warns that the FBI is about to arrest him and he needs to run.

Disbelieving, Jerry is caught by the FBI and interrogated by Supervising Agent Tom Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton). While Morgan confers with Air Force OSI Special Agent Zoe Pérez (Rosario Dawson), the woman on the phone arranges for Jerry’s escape and directs him to Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan), a single mother. The woman on the phone is coercing Rachel by threatening her son Sam (Cameron Boyce), who is en route to the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. with his school band. The woman on the phone helps the two avoid the Chicago police and FBI, using an ability to control networked devices, including traffic lights, mobile phones, automated cranes, and even power lines.

Meanwhile, the woman on the phone redirects a crystal of powerful DOD explosive—hexamethylene—to a gemcutter, who cuts it and fixes it into a necklace. Another man (Anthony Azizi) steals Sam’s trumpet in Chicago and fits the crystal’s sonic trigger into the tubing, before forwarding it to Sam in Washington, D.C.

Agent Perez is summoned by Secretary of Defense George Callister (Michael Chiklis) to be read into Ethan’s job at the Pentagon. Ethan monitored the DOD’s top secret intelligence-gathering supercomputer, the Autonomous Reconnaissance Intelligence Integration Analyst (ARIIA). Callister leaves Perez with Major William Bowman (Anthony Mackie) and ARIIA to investigate Ethan Shaw’s death. Simultaneously, Rachel and Jerry learn that the woman on the phone is actually ARIIA, and that she has “activated” them according to the Constitution’s authorization to recruit civilians for the national defense.

Perez and Bowman find evidence which Ethan Shaw had hidden in ARIIA’s chamber the night he died, and leave to brief Callister. Afterwards, ARIIA smuggles Jerry and Rachel into her observation theater under the Pentagon. Both groups learn that after ARIIA’s recommendation was ignored and a botched operation in Balochistan resulted in the deaths of American citizens, ARIIA concluded that “to prevent more bloodshed, the executive branch must be removed.” Acting on behalf of “We the People”, and citing the Declaration of Independence (“whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it”), ARIIA is acting in compliance with Section 216 of the Patriot Act which “allows us to circumvent probable cause in the face of a national security threat, in this case, the chain of command itself.”

Belatedly, Jerry learns he has been brought to circumvent biometric locks placed by his twin that prevent ARIIA from bringing into effect Operation Guillotine, a military simulation of maintaining government after the loss of all presidential successors. Because Secretary Callister agreed with ARIIA’s abort recommendation regarding Balochistan, he is to be the designated survivor after the hexamethylene detonates at the State of the Union address (SOTU).

One of ARIIA’s agents (Nick Searcy) extracts Rachel from the Pentagon and gives her a dress and the explosive necklace to wear to the SOTU. Sam’s school band has also been redirected to the United States Capitol to play for the president, bringing the trigger in Sam’s trumpet and the explosive together. Jerry is recaptured by Agent Morgan, who has become convinced of Jerry’s innocence. Elsewhere, Morgan sacrifices himself to stop an armed MQ-9 Reaper sent by ARIIA, but first gives Jerry his weapon and ID with which to gain entrance to the Capitol. Arriving in the House Chamber, Jerry fires the handgun in the air to disrupt the concert before being shot and wounded by the Secret Service, while ARIIA is destroyed by Perez.

Sometime later, Callister reports that ARIIA has been decommissioned and recommends against building another; the Shaw twins and Agents Perez and Morgan receive awards for their actions. Jerry attends Sam’s birthday party, earning Rachel’s gratitude and a kiss.

Eagle Eye is very “Enemy of the State”, a real techno-thriller updated for the popcorn generation but I do not say that in a derogatory way. Sit back and enjoy it as I did, it’s an action packed, CGI roller coaster of a ride with a provocative, if far-fetched plot. Good performances all round.