In 2018, before Roger and I decided to dive into The Outer Limits as a weekly review, I’d flagged one episode for special notice. Today, it still stands out as one of the very best the series had to offer. That was true of all of the Robert Culp episodes; they were all among the very best. Not that there aren’t a bunch of excellent ones to talk about, but it’s just that Culp features in three, and all three are outstanding. There are a number of little brush strokes that make this episode stand out too. Whether Consuelo is muttering a quick “God forgive me” before pulling a necklace off a Kyben or Trent’s distracted musings, “…the E on the door”, those moments add to an already-fantastic episode. Continue reading
I had mentioned during Downtime, that it felt like the programmers of the game that we call life had a reason for preventing me from watching season 2 of The Twilight Zone until after Eric Molinsky released his Imaginary Worlds podcast on the same subject. Well, lo and behold, there just might be another reason I was delayed. I’d just finished watching Zooey Deschanel’s series, New Girl, which was utterly delightful (and a show I would never have started on my own, but am very glad my wife decided to watch it!) I finished it about 2 hours before sitting down to A Small Town. It’s significant because of the star of this episode, Damon Wayans Jr. He plays Coach in New Girl and maintains the signature comedy style of his family. Mind you, that’s not criticism, the whole cast of New Girl is wonderful and you’d be hard pressed not to like everyone you meet, but it made me pretty convinced Wayans only has one style of acting: comedy. When I saw him at the start of a Twilight Zone episode, I had to do a double take; there was no hint of comedy and barring a lighthearted “dude” while looking at some really great artwork, he delivers a serious, dramatic performance, never once lapsing into a comedic character. He actually conveys a man with a heavy heart who finds a way to do some good in his community.
I knew it was coming and I wasn’t looking forward to it. Friday’s Child was an episode that I never liked as a kid and that memory stuck with me all my life. But watching Trek with a critical eye makes us look at these episodes a little differently than we did when we were younger. There’s so much more to these stories than monsters of the week and science fiction action. This strange little episode looks at other cultures in a way we don’t often see in sci-fi TV. What do we get out of it? Well, a LOT of laughs! Continue reading
This is one of the rare times that I have to say, shame on you Big Finish! Medicinal Purposes left a very bad taste in my ears about Big Finish as a producer of Doctor Who merchandise. Thankfully, their success rate is so high that one bad seed won’t spoil the overall enjoyment of their releases, but I was not a happy camper listening to this story. Robert Ross wrote a story that might actually not be a bad science fiction idea, but it’s not a Doctor Who story. Or if it is, it belongs in the Unbound universe; a universe of “what if” Doctors. Continue reading
It’s odd what gets a second series. So much excellent anime fails to reach a conclusion, ending with just one series and a story with huge potential left hanging forever. On the other hand, something like this, which has very little to justify a second run, returns for more of the same. The main group of characters basically arrive as fully formed tropes at the beginning of the first season, and little has changed about any of them by the end of the second. Haruna is still a tsundere, Seraphim is still being mean to Ayumu, and Eucliwood’s silent cuteness starts to wear thin. They are all still secretly in love with Ayumu, and he’s as clueless as he was at the start. Continue reading
You can’t keep a good crook down. Not content with escaping from prison once and disguising himself with a dodgy moustache as American Football manager Paul Hanlon, private investigator turned murderer Carl Brimmer has done it again. It’s no wonder Columbo is on to him right away, despite his second alter ego Dr Bart Keppel committing what appears to be the perfect crime. Yes, Robert Culp is back to play the murderer again, in his third Columbo appearance. Continue reading
We’ve gone international this week, with a story set in Marseilles. Well, it’s an airport in Marseilles and the inside of a plane. This being a British television show from 1962, France is represented by a couple of studio sets. There isn’t even any attempt at Allo Allo French accents, with the French characters just played by British actors speaking plain English, which seems like quite a clever move on the one hand, because there is nothing to detract from the story, but on the other hand there is little point to this taking place in France at all. You could substitute a British airport and other locations and it wouldn’t make any difference to the story. Continue reading
When The Outer Limits was being released on VHS back in the day, the last one I bought was Expanding Human. I’d been a fan of the concept of duality for a good portion of my childhood, having watched countless versions of Jekyll and Hyde (or Doctor Who’s Planet of Evil) and the description on the back of the VHS really sounded like a perfect episode to wrap up the series. (I know it wasn’t the last one, but they were not released in any logical order!) Sadly, I found it hugely disappointing at the time. Expanding Human should have been called Expanding 45 minutes… I didn’t think it would end. But time changes you and as you watch things with adult eyes, sometimes you pick up on things you missed as a kid. Alas, maybe not enough in some cases… Continue reading
Of all the episodes of Jordan Peele’s Twilight Zone, this is the one that had some of the most interesting discussion between me and my group of “penpals”. We’re a handful of friends that watch shows “together”, which is to say, separately, but we watch the same episode of a show each week so we can discuss it. When we discussed this one, a lot of thoughts went back and forth and it’s interesting because some of those shared with me were things I’d noticed, but I am so big a sucker for the human/alien friendship, that I ignored the obvious. This made me upset with myself because I realized I’m a prime victim for this sort of alien takeover! Now I’m going to be more on my guard than ever before!
Journey to Babel is an interesting episode of classic Trek that masquerades as a story of political intrigue, but ends up being much more of a medical drama and a view into other cultures. We’re sold the bill of goods early: the Enterprise has to transport visiting dignitaries to a conference to get a planet admitted into the Federation but some groups are not so keen on seeing that happen. Sarek, Vulcan ambassador and Spock’s father, is for admission while the pig-headed Tellerite is less keen to see it happen. But least keen of all is a hidden enemy on board the ship. But guess what? We never find out if the planet is admitted because about half way through the story, we realize that’s the method of giving the audience a “meet the parents” moment for Spock, and a chance to get a long festering dispute out of the way all in the neat form of a medical dilemma. Continue reading
When I saw the title of this adventure, I was a bit put off because I know that refers to Tibet and I wasn’t up for an historical story. Still, I’ve been going in order, so I’d have to deal with it. The positive side of it was that we had the Doctor with Peri and Erimem, both of whom are fantastic in the audio dramas. I wish Bryant got such good roles in the series. She was consistently beautiful to look at but about as witty as an air mattress when it came to good dialogue. Having her in these stories fleshes her out far more and I’m consistently impressed by her. Meanwhile Caroline Morris as Erimem is just proof positive that we need a companion in the modern era of Doctor Who who is not from the modern era. I don’t know why the creators of the series are not more aware of this. Continue reading
What will you do next, Yasuna Oribe? That’s the question asked at the end of each episode of Kill Me Baby, and the answer is generally get beaten up by her best friend. It’s cartoonish violence, the kind that has no consequences beyond a comedy giant lump on the head, and I don’t generally like that kind of thing, but I did find this a very funny series at times, and the moeblob characters take on the same kind of cosy familiarity as a slice-of-life series such as Lucky Star or K-On!, but with added knife crime. It’s a bizarre combination, that somehow works. Continue reading
A dishonest politician? Surely not. They are all upstanding, honest people with only good intentions, right?
Nelson Hayward (Jackie Cooper) is a candidate in an election, and looks likely to win, thanks to his genius of a campaign manager, Harry Stone (Ken Swofford). Harry is very much the power behind the throne, and now he is demanding that Nelson severs ties with his secret girlfriend Linda (Tisha Sterling) to be a “happily married senator”. Nelson isn’t too happy about this. Continue reading
This episode starts with a faux live television broadcast. The magnificently-named Colonel Vernon Wayne-Gilley is being interviewed about his globe-trotting adventures. When he is asked his first question he looks a bit confused. You might be too, at this point (please don’t collapse like Vernon, though), because this isn’t the first Season Two episode on the DVD set. So if you’ve got that, you might be wondering why I’m starting with Mr. Teddy Bear. This is one of those television series where the broadcast order of the episodes got messed around with. We’ve seen this happen before in the Junkyard with other series. So Mr. Teddy Bear was actually the seventh that went into production, but was broadcast first originally. Although there is obviously a way to watch these episodes that makes more sense than the broadcast order, I never deviate from broadcast order on first viewing of a series, because I’m keen to share in the first impressions of the series that the viewers experienced at the time, as much as is possible. Continue reading
The Outer Limits was a show that was usually way ahead of its time. It came up with some really fantastic ideas but often failed on the execution. Sometimes that’s the result of the time it was made: special effects were often questionable and things we’d do on tv today could not effectively be shown back then. Take Behold: Eck! for instance, which offers us a very interesting idea with some very uninteresting characters. Peter Lind Hayes plays Dr. James Stone-Face. He’s got as much charisma as the average hemorrhoid. He’s introduced to us as a “brilliant” but absent-minded professor. His assistant Mrs. Dunn Being Single seems to really admire Dr. Stone… so much so that at the end of the story, she lets the old lecherous creep wrap his arm around her and never let go. Meanwhile Parley Baer (who names their kid Parley?) plays Dr. Stone’s brother Bernard as if he’s overacting an episode of Leave It To Beaver. (Now I see why: he was a regular on The Andy Griffith Show.) The idea is that James Stone accidentally discovers a two dimensional monster by wearing glasses made of “meteoric quartz”. The monster then causes some destruction and everyone wants to destroy it and will stop at nothing, including the destruction of the world, to kill it. The whole idea seems ludicrous to me. Make contact with an intelligent creature from Flatland? I say, accept a bit of destruction! Continue reading
I’m embarrassed to say it took me until writing up this review to realize why the episode was titled 8. In fairness, it’s a testament to the writing, acting, and directing that the title just faded into the background. This episode had me starring at the screen without blinking for the better part of its 30 minutes. So engrossed was I, that when Jordan Peele started the end monologue, I was flabbergasted that the episode had ended. The 30 minute format definitely works better for this series, but I actually wanted more. Although, I imagine that’s a really good sign; for the audience to be left wanting more is what every storyteller wants. Speaking of the story, this happens pretty infrequently but, when I watch the shows we talk about on the website, I write notes. Within the first few minutes, I’d written 2 things down, then wrote a single two-word comment during the rest of the episode. When it finished, I wrote 2 more things, totally 7 words. I barely took my eyes off the screen even to make my notes. But what’s really interesting is that if you go to Wikipedia and view the Twilight Zone episode guide, this has the meatiest write up of all the episodes. My guess is, people really liked this one! (I don’t read those but usually use the page to get a cast list!)
The Harvest opens with preparations for a birthday party for a chap named Hex who will be celebrating at The White Rabbit, and I can’t help but wonder: did I miss an Alice in Wonderland reference in Arrangements for War?? There certainly were some in The Axis of Insanity! The writers of Doctor Who seem keen to let us know that Doctor Who is often best as a fairy tale. But when I think of fairy tales, I think of kid-friendly things. Oh, I know, Grimm was grim and not particularly kid friendly, but I mean modern fairy tales come to mind first. And yet The Harvest is far from kid-friendly; in fact it’s very mature in its story-telling. Where it really dawned on me was the end of part two when the threat is revealed. C-Program should have given it away, but I didn’t expect it until right before it happened… Cybermen! Continue reading
Is This a Zombie? Well, sort of. Ayuma Aikawa was murdered by a serial killer, and brought back from the dead by a very cute necromancer called Eucliwood Hellscythe. Most of the time, you wouldn’t really know he was a zombie, though, but anime often tends to get far away from most people’s idea of what a zombie actually is. Ayuma doesn’t eat human flesh, and he still possesses all his faculties. The only negative effect seems to be a tendency to dry up if he is in the sun for too long, whereas the positives are eternal life and incredibly fast healing (often taken to silly extremes), so it’s not a bad deal. This is not a million miles away from the appeal of the isekai genre; it’s just another way of showing an ordinary teenager starting a new life of super powers, surrounded by pretty girls. Continue reading
Well, isn’t this a cheeky little wine, but not presumptuous, with a farty bouquet and top notes of mahogany and beefburger. Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to the pompous world of wine appreciation, almost entirely debunked in blind taste tests as a skill that makes about as much sense as astrology. Anyone who is not massively snobbish and patronising need not apply.
Adrian Carsini inherited a vineyard and enormous wealth, and uses it to fund his collection of absurdly expensive wines. His brother Ric owns the land and isn’t too pleased with the way the family business is being run as a hobby by Adrian, so he has decided to sell the land to one of the big wine companies. Adrian isn’t too thrilled by that idea… Continue reading