Space: 1999 – New Adam, New Eve

breakawayWhen God seemed to appear to the Alphans, I rolled my eyes.  Here we go, I thought.  But to my surprise, this episode offered me a lot to think about.  As I say often enough, that’s what good science fiction should do.

Strangely this episode takes place 55 days before the last one: it’s day 1095.  I can’t help but wonder why they bothered constricting themselves like this, because it takes a lot of jeopardy away for the characters.  If, for instance, Maya is there on day 1150, chances are she survives through day 1095.  Call me strange…  Anyway, their sensors pick up some alarming readings before a Jesus-looking dude shows up and claims… “I am your creator!”  His powers seem to lend credence to this too.  But he makes a comment that was very thought provoking.  He refers to those “highly imaginative works of fiction that you call religion.”  And at that moment I thought: this is something special.
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Owarimonogatari I

As we travel through life we tend to collect emotional baggage. The older we get, the more we will be able to look back on past friendships and other associations and wonder what we could have done differently. There will always be plenty of unfinished business. Sometimes there will be a person in our past we would like to see again, but probably never will. Sometimes we will long for a chance to make amends, explain our actions, or simply say sorry. Sometimes we will desire one or more of those things from the other person. Or maybe there’s somebody we are hoping we will never see again, because it would just be too difficult. The central theme of the first season of Owarimonogatari is very much about these kinds of past regrets, and what happens when an association that didn’t end well crashes back into somebody’s life. Continue reading

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The Edgar Wallace Mysteries: Face of a Stranger

The Edgar Wallace MysteriesNorman Stanley Fletcher, you have pleaded guilty to the charges brought by this court, and it is now my duty to pass sentence… oh, sorry. Wrong series. This is far from being a comedy, but it does start off in a prison cell, with two prisoners who have become best friends taking about their future. Vince and John seem like decent chaps, and are looking forward to getting out and seeing their wives again, but when Vince gets out first, things don’t exactly go according to plan for him. Continue reading

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Ted

What an extraordinary episode this is. It’s like the first half was written to make the viewers really, really angry, and boy does it work. Ted is immediately a character we hate. We’re with Buffy every step of the way, there. For a very brief moment we might think she is behaving unreasonably towards him, due to the shock of seeing her mum with a new man:

“There’s a guy out there that would satisfy you?”.
“My dad.”

But those thoughts are immediately dispelled when he starts calling her “little lady”, which is horrendously patronising, and acting as if he is her father:

“I bet that means your grades will be picking up soon.”

At this point the writing is so clever that most viewers will probably be talking back angrily at their television set: Continue reading

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The Twilight Zone: The Mighty Casey

The Twilight Zone Original Logo 1959Oh good… a baseball episode.  I get more excited about going to work!  But within no time at all, Serling has me seeing this as a comedy and it’s down to the audio effects. One thing The Twilight Zone did very well was that they knew how to embrace limitations.  Granted, at the time, these were not limitations, but the expectations of the medium, but life was not in black and white and sometimes fiction could not be caught on camera, so The Twilight Zone used what it could.  Continue reading

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Sherlock Holmes: Shoscombe Old Place

Anyone who enjoys Sherlock Holmes has undoubtedly seen the recent Robert Downey Jr. movies costarring Jude Law as Watson.  He’s a good Watson but color me a surprised shade of that famously studied scarlet: I had no idea he was in Sherlock Holmes when he was just a lad.  I didn’t realize it either even looking at him throughout this episode.  It wasn’t until a (weird) slow motion scene that I thought the actor looked familiar.  So, like Marina Sirtis in The Six Napoleons, I opted to watch the credits, and nearly fell out of my seat.  There he was, plain as day.  Sherlock would have been disappointed at my observations skills alright. Continue reading

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Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

We come now to what I consider the finest of the Trek movies.  But to understand that, I need to rewind to 1991.  I’m 19 and at this point in our lives, my friends and I start every weekend with a movie, then dinner, then hanging out until ridiculous o’clock.  But for this movie, my best “frenemy” and I had had a falling out and I neither invited him to see the movie with the rest of us, nor did I tell him the time or place of the movie.  So it made complete sense in my warped world to find him holding the door open at the theater as we arrived.  I said nothing to him and we watched the movie… Continue reading

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Space: 1999 – Brian the Brain

breakawayI’d been dreading this one.  Some years back, maybe for a holiday weekend, one of the cable channels showed two back to back episodes of Space: 1999.  The first one was quite good, though I haven’t come across it yet to know which one it was, but the second was this travesty.  I found it laughable then, and I find it worse now.  It relies on the voice acting of one man to sell the story and while that man plays the part very well, it was nowhere near enough to carry the episode.  That man is Bernard Cribbins!  Continue reading

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Koyomimonogatari

Koyomimonogatari Yotsugi peace signAt first this season feels like an odd backwards step for the Monogatari franchise. We begin with a prequel to Bakemonogatari, with Koyomi and Tsubasa investigating a minor mystery concerning a shrine in their school’s gardens. It all seems oddly low key and irrelevant, and by the second episode, which concerns Hitagi and Koyomi investigating flowers, the season was already trying my patience. I shouldn’t have worried. Continue reading

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The Edgar Wallace Mysteries: Who Was Maddox?

The Edgar Wallace MysteriesThis is a rare treat: an Edgar Wallace Mystery that is actually a mystery. Writer Roger Marshall manages to pack a lot of story into 60 minutes, but I never found it difficult to follow, despite a complicated plot with a few people up to no good, for different reasons. Each time we learn some new information it gives us another piece of the puzzle and makes sense of what we have seen before, while preserving the central mystery until near the end.                  Continue reading

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: What’s My Line (Parts 1 and 2)

Buffy has been complaining about not being able to be a normal girl right from the start, and that is reinforced again here. There is a “career week” at school, but she doesn’t see much of a future for herself. She is profiled as a possible candidate for law enforcement, which she shrugs off as “polyester, doughnuts and brutality”. If media reports are anything to go by, that seems about right. But Buffy’s woe-is-me act has been wearing a bit thin for a while, particularly in comparison with Xander. He is not gifted academically or… well, in any way, so his future is looking particularly unpromising in comparison to his best friend Willow, whose world is her oyster, and yet Xander doesn’t spend his whole life complaining like Buffy does. Continue reading

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The Twilight Zone: The After Hours

The Twilight Zone Original Logo 1959Marsha White is in search of a gold thimble that she saw advertised in the local department store.  It’s a sign of the times as much as last week’s Mr. Bevis, who gets a raise to $10 a week!  Did people really go in for 24k gold thimbles back then?  When she finds it on the ninth floor of an eight floor department store, we know things have gone just a little askew!    Continue reading

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Sherlock Holmes: The Problem of Thor Bridge

I love it when an episode is unintentionally funny.  This episode opens up with a woman dressed in a pinkish-red dress standing ominously among flowers.  She looks like she’s playing a particularly daunting game of Where’s Waldo (Wally, to you Brits).  She then picks a flower, shows it to her beast of a husband through a window and, when he closes the curtain on her, she destroys it violently!  The whole opening is comical although for all the wrong reasons.  But the actual story is not funny; it’s actually tragic.  And I remember finding it immensely enjoyable even when I’d first read it.

It’s one of those weirdly titled ones too.  Most are adventures, but this season has had two back to back episodes with long and unusual titles.  That changes nothing about the story, but it is an observation… one I think Holmes himself would have speculated over.
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Star Trek V: The Final Frontier

The year is 1989; 10 years after Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  Rumor is, this is the final Star Trek movie.  I’m 17 and I have a brainwave.  I thought, for the tenth anniversary, I should see if my grandfather wanted to see the last Star Trek movie; a celebration since he had taken me a decade before.  Together we journeyed back into the Final Frontier one more time.  What’s funny in retrospect is that my grandfather and I would spend time together from 11:30pm until 1am many nights in my youth because he liked The Honeymooners and I liked Star Trek and they aired back to back every night.  So off we went for that magical trip.  How could I not love Star Trek V?  People complain about it, but it’s one of the deepest of the Trek movies.  They all had heart, but the bond between Kirk, Spock and McCoy has never been stronger.  There are a million great lines, often punctuated by a look from Jim.  But this movie is about us.  Not a look at humanity as a whole, but each of us individually.  Shatner didn’t give us an action packed movie, he gave us a thinking, feeling movie.  I don’t love everything about it; the Nimbus III stuff is all dreadful, but the bond between the characters steals the show and I can turn a blind eye to all that other stuff. Continue reading

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Space: 1999 – One Moment of Humanity

breakawayOh, the humanity!?!  Unlike the last episode, this isn’t so much “mind candy” as “mind stale bread”.  It’s an interesting mix of two classic Star Trek episodes: The Mark of Gideon and Day of the Dove.  Actually, let’s also add a hint of What are Little Girls Made Of  for good measure.  But it doesn’t really get the the best bits of any of them!

Getting ready for a party, Maya and Helena – bosom pals that they are – are trying on outfits together when there’s a power drain on the station.  Everyone then freezes mid-dance move – not that the party had started… they just happen to get into dance poses – and a woman, Zamara, appears on the base.  She says she wants two Alphans to go to the latest nearby planet with her.  All they have to do is think it and they can go.  If they don’t comply, there will be no power to the base and everyone will die.  Of course, they go.  Specifically Helena and Tony.  Once they arrive, faceless servitors bring drinks but one whispers to Helena that she should not show violent emotions.  It seems the beings want to learn how to kill!
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Dive!!

I stumbled across this anime series on Amazon Prime, looking for something that was safe to watch with the children around. There is a lot of anime that’s free to watch if you have Amazon Prime, but their age guidance system is far from perfect. A lot of the anime is simply listed as “NR” for “not rated”, which is not very helpful, because that could mean anything from U to 18, and the majority of anime is far from suitable for young children. Dive!! was listed as “ALL”, so it seemed like a safe bet, and I didn’t see anything that I thought would be potentially offensive. The series actually has its origins in a homoerotic manga, but you wouldn’t really know that from watching the anime. The male divers wear skimpy costumes, which I suppose could be classed as manservice, but on the odd occasions I’ve stumbled across any of the swimming events when the Olympics are on, the contestants weren’t exactly wearing Edwardian bathing suits, so this is probably reasonably true to life, although I’m not sure the real Olympic divers wear swimming trunks that are quite so low cut. I can’t say I was paying much attention whenever the Olympics was on, but I’m pretty sure that I don’t remember a parade of builders’ bums. Continue reading

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The Edgar Wallace Mysteries: We Shall See

The Edgar Wallace MysteriesIt’s strange that this series of B movies was promoted as mystery thrillers when they are almost always nothing of the sort. In We Shall See there isn’t even a crime committed until there are only four minutes of the film remaining, nobody is held accountable for their actions and we are not even told who the murderer is. Instead, this is a portrait of a psychopathic woman making everybody’s lives a misery, especially her husband. Continue reading

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Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The Dark Age

Last week Buffy learned a tough lesson in life, summed up by Giles’ ironic speech at the end of the episode: there isn’t always going to be a clear line between the heroes and the villains. Sometimes that line will be blurred. Somebody Buffy thought was a good person, an old friend of hers, turned out to have a dark side to his nature. It was an extreme example, probably fuelled by the ravages of cancer on the human brain. This week we continue to explore the shades of grey that make up a seemingly good person’s moral core, with Buffy finding out at least some of the truth of Giles’ dark past. Continue reading

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The Twilight Zone: Mr. Bevis

The Twilight Zone Original Logo 1959Mr. James B. W. Bevis is a likable man who is perhaps a little too genuine for the modern world.  He’s lost six jobs in a year and eleven in a year and a half.  He’s just lost his car, and been evicted.  Things are going wrong for Mr. Bevis and while taking the edge off at the local bar, he finds he has a guardian angel. Continue reading

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Sherlock Holmes: The Disappearance of Lady Frances Carfax

Good lord, is that not a long title?  And every time I read it, I want to add “abbey” at the end, having read Dracula long before I’d ever read Sherlock Holmes.  As titles go, this is one of my least favorite of Watson’s attempts.  

This is actually a sad story too.  While the plot focuses on a hard-headed woman who lives by her own rules who goes missing, the fortunate fact is, she is found by the end but alas, she never herself again, so the title serves a double purpose: it works for the chief mystery of the episode as well as they outcome.  

Having said that, I’m forced to conclude that Watson actually did succeed with the title.  It’s just a bit long for a blog dedicated to the Great Detective, but I suppose I can hardly fault Watson for that.  I mean, he didn’t know what the future held, did he?
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