Space: 1999 – The AB Chrysalis

breakawayNow this was an unusual episode.  It seems the last two were a bit more of what I’d hoped to find in season two and, while I don’t have much hope of that continuing, it was nice to experience another interesting, fast-paces episode.

Alpha is passing through an area of space where every 12 hours, a massive explosion is taking place.  As they get closer and closer to the source, the explosions are becoming more cataclysmic.  The latest one does massive amounts of damage and the next one is bound to destroy the base.  Koenig identifies a planet that seems to be the origin of these explosions so he, Alan and Maya take a trip down to see if they can find out the cause and stop it.
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Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl

Kashimashi kissKashimashi is a yuri anime with a difference. The main character is Hazumu, who is accidentally killed by aliens and restored to life. The problem is that they make a mistake and he returns to life as she. It’s a bit of a silly idea, but somehow manages to be a springboard for some excellent drama. Continue reading

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Columbo: The Bye-Bye Sky High IQ Murder Case

Columbo Peter FalkHow important is IQ? Could a hyper-intelligent person have a chance of outwitting Lieutenant Columbo? Who are we kidding…

The Motive

Oliver Brandt is an accountant and a member of the Sigma Society, a club that only the cleverest 2% of the population are eligible to join. His business partner and old friend Bertie has discovered that Brandt has been sifting funds from his clients’ accounts to fund his trophy-wife’s lifestyle. His response to that problem is straightforward:

“Are you aware that I intend to expose you?”
“Well in that case I intend to kill you.”

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Passion

Any review of Passion is obviously going to be dominated by one thing, but let’s at least look a the build-up to the shock moment in this episode first. Right from the start, Buffy’s world feels more dangerous than it ever has before, because nobody can get a break from the fear. Both Willow and Buffy have previously invited Angel into their homes, and he’s taking full advantage of the access to their lives that affords him. Interestingly, we see him in Buffy’s bedroom, stroking her hair. He could easily have killed her, there and then, but this is no simple battle of mortal enemies. Angel is obsessed. He might be undead, but he still has passion. Continue reading

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The Twilight Zone: The Howling Man

The Twilight Zone Original Logo 1959When David Ellington is introduced to us through a seeming fourth wall break, I remembered this was an episode I loved from my youth.  Written by Charles Beaumont, I welcomed the change from the last few episodes of loathsome characters Serling had given us.  And this is one that stands out.  It’s such a classic.  David Ellington finds a monastery and inside is a man trapped in a cell.  The keeper of the monastery says it’s the devil, but surely that’s crazy talk.  I mean, look at Brother Jerome!  It’s the early 1900s, somewhere after the Great War but before the Second and this man dresses up like Moses and walks around carrying a staff.  Forgetting for a moment that we are watching The Twilight Zone – a show where we know the strange happens regularly – this seems like a wild claim from a madman.   But watching this with the critical eye that comes from writing about shows, I realize how unfortunate the 25 minute format is for such a great story. Continue reading

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Sherlock Holmes: The Last Vampyre

A few weeks ago, we looked at the pastiche.  For those who do not know, those are the stories written by other writers that imagine Holmes in a different sort of story.  Many are incredibly enjoyable, and they often defy expectation.  Holmes as a comedy?  Yep, works well.  Holmes against Cthulhu?  I love it!  Holmes against Count Dracula?  You bet.  But the pastiche isn’t where we first see Holmes up against a vampire.  The Sussex Vampire, upon which this story is based, gave us the first speculation of how Holmes would really do against the nightmare world of Vampires.  Continue reading

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The Avengers: Man with Two Shadows

The Avengers DVD releaseThis episode has another memorable opening sequence: a man being murdered by his doppelgänger, who is hiding in the wardrobe. The illusion of the scene is immediately shattered by the lack of a visible wound. I realise that was a line that couldn’t easily be crossed on television at the time, but if the representation of a shooting extends no further than the firing of a gun and a man falling over, it’s probably better not to have the victim bare-chested, just to make it blatantly obvious that there is no actual wound. Continue reading

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Space: 1999 – Seed of Destruction

breakawayReaders of the Junkyard might recall that a few weeks ago, I mentioned that the Sci-fi channel (now Syfy) once aired 2 episodes of this show back to back.  One was that abysmal Brian the Brain. The other was Seed of Destruction.  I couldn’t recall this title, but I remembered it was good.  Watching many years later, which is to say now, I realize it’s still good but it’s another time Space: 1999 seems to rip off Star Trek.  If I’m being completely honest, this isn’t a bad idea offering a Mirror, Mirror counterpart for Koenig, but the logic isn’t as sound. Continue reading

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The Great Jahy Will Not Be Defeated!

The Great Jahy fanserviceOne of the most popular subgenres of anime is known as isekai, where somebody escapes their humdrum, human existence to live in a fantasy world. I can understand the popularity, because it’s pure escapism, but I’m not sure there’s a good reason for the reverse existing. There are plenty of anime shows where a fantasy character pops up in the human world, and they are often a huge amount of fun, but they are almost always told from the perspective of a human character, into whose life the fantasy character crashes. This is different, because the perspective character is Jahy, the second in command of a Dark Realm, who has to survive in the human world. It’s reverse isekai in its purest form, and that’s not a strong foundation for a series. Not all genres need to be flipped. Continue reading

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Columbo: Old Fashioned Murder

Columbo Peter FalkWhat’s this, no silly teaser at the start to spoil the episode? Things are looking up. Then again, maybe they couldn’t find anything exciting enough to put into a teaser, in this rather slow episode set in a museum. Maybe Columbo’s magically regrowing hair might have qualified…

The Motive

Ruth Lytton has dedicated her life to the family-owned museum, which is a loss-making proposition despite attempts to economise. Now her brother and sister want to sell up and live a comfortable life on the profits from the valuable collection, and Ruth is going to be outvoted. Continue reading

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered

It would have been all too easy in a series set in a school to have the main characters with no other recurring cast, just writing in new additional supporting characters as per the requirements of each story. Buffy isn’t like that, and a larger world has been built around Buffy and her friends, including several familiar faces that pop up occasionally such as Jonathan, Larry, Harmony, and now Amy is back for the first time since her first season appearance. Despite suffering at the hands of her mother’s witchcraft, she is now dabbling in the dark arts herself, which is a clever representation of a child patterning after the self-defeating behaviour of a parent. Unusually, it is Xander who needs Amy’s help and drives the episode forward, but this is very much Xander’s episode, and those are always fun. Continue reading

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The Twilight Zone: A Thing About Machines

The Twilight Zone Original Logo 1959I get the impression that for season 2, Rod Serling decided to introduce us to people who deserve what they get in The Twilight Zone.  It’s funny because last season I had said how odd it was that my memory of this series was that the people who found themselves here were often given a bum deal.  I liked a lot of the people in season 1 and felt bad for their respective plights.  But so far in season 2, we really are introduced to some weak characters.  How are we expected to care about what happens to these people?   Here we meet Mr. Bartlett Finchley who is 48 years of age and has more of a fear of machines than my own mom.  Listen, I love my mom, but the light switch is high tech for her.   As a result, she opts not to use much in the line of technology.  But she’d never be rude to someone who comes to her house to work on a broken bit of tech.  And for that matter, she would never kick something she owns.  I was brought up to take care of my stuff, resulting in me still having most of my childhood toys.  Good parenting, I tell you. Continue reading

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Sherlock Holmes: The Master Blackmailer

I think everyone knows who Professor Moriarty is.  Perhaps a handful remember Colonel Sebastian Moran.  But I wonder how many remember the other big villains.  Dr. Roylott of Stoke Moran, Baron Gruner… there are a lot of good villains in the Sherlock Holmes canon.  But perhaps the most despicable, most vile of all is the master blackmailer himself, Charles Augustus Milverton.  He is a horrible man who makes his living by putting people in a bad spot and forcing them to pay him terrible sums.  If they don’t, he makes an example of them and destroys their futures, all the while making a reputation for himself so others know not to defy him. Continue reading

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The Avengers: The Undertakers

The Avengers DVD releaseThe Avengers is becoming a series that prioritises unusual ideas over believability, and I have no problem with that at all. A prime example is the moment when a man climbs out of a coffin, grabs himself some supplies, and then climbs back inside, going down some steps into a hidden room below the coffin. It doesn’t pay to think too much about why he is doing that, but it’s an image that can’t fail to stick in the mind. Continue reading

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Space: 1999 – The Taybor

breakawayI’m not really sure how to feel about The Taybor.  It’s not a bad episode per se, but it doesn’t do anything exciting either.  A space traveler arrives with merchandise to sell, ogles Maya for a bit, and immediately gave the impression that he was going to offer a “too good to be true” solution in exchange for her.  No surprise, he can offer the Alphans a way home and will give it in exchange for Maya.  Oh, didn’t see that coming.

What I ponder is: how would people really react?  I sincerely hope that we’d do as the Alphans do and say “no way” but I was left thinking about it so in that way, The Taybor did get me thinking and that is what I love in my science fiction.  The Alphans may be growing closer to Maya through their journey but she’s not one of them.  Is it that she’s pretty?  And that’s exactly what the episode does explore.  The Taybor does abscond with Maya; he technically outplays the Alphans and has the power to keep her, so what goes wrong?
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Haibane Renmei

This series is 20 years old now, and watching it today is a reminder of how much anime has moved on in the last couple of decades. There is generally a lot less movement in the animation nowadays, but watching an older show like this isn’t necessarily a hugely impressive experience, as the picture quality on the DVD is hardly great to say the least, but this one was an impulse purchase at a cheap price in a second-hand shop, so I didn’t feel too cheated. The main thing is the story being told, and this is an unusual one. Continue reading

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Columbo: Fade in to Murder

Columbo Peter FalkWe’re back for Season Six, and an award-winning actor who has struck an incredibly lucrative deal to continue in his successful, long-running show is playing a much-loved detective, opposite an actor who is playing an award-winning actor who has struck an incredibly lucrative deal to continue in his successful, long-running show, playing a much-loved detective. Confused? Things are about to get very self-referential.                 Continue reading

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Phases

It’s hard to enjoy this episode in its original context any more. Everyone knows Oz is a werewolf, certainly on repeat viewing. I doubt many people ever approach this episode without that knowledge now. After several repeat viewings of Buffy, I’ve tried to think back very carefully to my first experience of watching Phases, and I’m pretty sure the big surprise at around the 20 minute mark worked very well, when Oz is revealed as the werewolf. Without that surprise any more, the episode lacks a certain something. Continue reading

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The Twilight Zone: Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room

The Twilight Zone Original Logo 1959Meet Jackie Rhoades, a 34 year old… let’s be honest: neurotic wimp with no personal hygiene and a whiney voice to boot.  What is it with Rod Serling?  I remember loving The Twilight Zone but lately I’ve watched a litany of episodes featuring characters who NO ONE could like.  I remember a quote I’d read once which made me laugh: “You make God sick!”  I mean, could there be a more brutal put-down??  But that’s Jackie Rhoades.  Hell, he can’t even spell his last name right.  And for a guy who spends the episode saying how hot he is in the room, he ends the episode by putting a coat on to go out.  This man is a wimp and the audience has 25 minutes to deal with him.  And by the way, I’m a germophobe so watching this guy shove his fingers in his mouth throughout the episode was sickening!  What it came down to is: I didn’t care about Jackie one little bit.  He’s not a sweet little fellow who gets bullied but rather a man who grew up making bad decisions.  I almost want to write it off as a product of the time, but what does that says about the era of my parents?  No, I don’t see it as a statement about anything other than a really lousy character. Continue reading

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Sherlock Holmes Crossovers and Pastiches

Last week I mentioned that The Creeping Man felt like a crossover between Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Jekyll.  As we come to the end of the Granada television series with season 4 approaching and only 6 episodes, we have time for a detour.  Holmes is no stranger to crossover fiction.  There are comedies that are absolutely hilarious.  There are horror stories and science fiction ones that will blow your mind.  But the really remarkable thing is that almost all of them work brilliantly. 

I’ve been a fan of many, having read various pastiches over the years but the strange tales of Holmes never cease to bring me enjoyment.  It’s like trying to figure out how the Great Detective can solve something so bizarre that he shouldn’t be able to cope.  Let’s take a look at some examples.  Rather than dive into all of the various ones that are out there, I’ll pull from my own collection. Continue reading

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