Love Live! is a hugely popular series, which has spawned multiple spin-offs. With its blend of happy music and cute girls, it’s not hard to see why this would easily develop a large fan base. The story concerns a group of girls who join together to form a school idol group, eventually going on to compete in a national tournament. The stakes are high, because their school has not been able to attract enough new pupils, and is going to close. The girls realise that if they can attract enough attention to themselves with their music, more kids will want to apply to go to their school, and they might just save it from closure. By the end of the first season that’s all wrapped up, and the second season focusses on the build up to the national competition. Continue reading
Ever heard of Magnus Carlsen? Viswanathan Anand? Vladamir Kramnik? Veselin Topalov? Probably not, and I certainly hadn’t until I went onto Wikipedia to check, but those are the most recent World Chess Champions at the time of writing. Now how about Bobby Fischer? Garry Kasparov? Unless you are too young, you will probably have heard of one or both of those. It’s funny to think that chess was once considered major international news and the top players were celebrities, but that is the world from which this episode of Columbo hails.
Emmett Clayton is about to play the game of his life. Tomlin Dudek has come out of retirement and Clayton is worried that he cannot win this one. The evening before the big match he follows Dudek to a restaurant where they play an impromptu game using condiments as the chess pieces on a chequered table cloth (convenient). Clayton loses, and Dudek is clearly in a different class to him. To add insult to injury, Clayton’s ex-squeeze Linda is now spending far too much time with Dudek. Another man has already taken Clayton’s girl, and is about to take his reputation from him as well. Continue reading
Labyrinth / Cooking
The view from Igirisu:
This is probably the most slice-of-life episode so far, but that doesn’t mean it’s devoid of jeopardy. Chi and Yuu are travelling through a maze of pipes, and in the opening sequence the camera pans back to reveal the huge drop below them and the extent of the confusing labyrinth they are attempting to cross. Chi’s fear of heights has been well established, right from the first episode, and that adds a layer of unease to the episode, but when they become lost and Chi has forgotten the lantern it really becomes an anxious viewing experience. One clever aspect of this anime is that the writer doesn’t do bad things to his characters, and yet they are clearly holding on to life by a thread, surviving in a dangerous world with nobody to help them if things go wrong, so there’s always an edge of worry to it. Continue reading
Patterns of the Soul poses a serious question in a post Covid world: is there any justification for suppressing information about the potential spread of a virus? The story has Gideon and the crew of the Excalibur sent on another mission that is more important than finding a cure for all of the people of Earth: they have to find 30 people who may have escaped from Earth while infected with the plague. Brian Thompson guest stars as the stone-jawed scientist who escaped Earth with his deep voiced friend to start a life elsewhere. Sure enough, we learn that they have been infected with the Drakh plague and Gideon is ordered to take them home. Unfortunately, they are not the only ones on the planet that are infected; a small tribe of Dureena’s nearly extinct people are on the planet and they have only a year to live now. Gideon’s orders are from an Earthforce General that seems to place all his calls from somewhere that clearly isn’t an Earthforce office, giving us our first clue that he’s not playing a fair game. Needless to say, Gideon has to come up with a clever way to save the day for Dureena’s people and the human’s who have been poisoned by someone in Earthforce. Continue reading
What’s black and white and red all over? A mauled penguin? A nun having fallen out a window? A newspaper? A Grendel graphic novel? Damn these puzzles are tricky. OH, what about Superhot Team’s Superhot? Yes, that is the name of the developer, publisher and game! And in 2016, when it came out for the PC, I thought it sounded gimmicky. The premise is that nothing moves unless you do. In other words, every level opens in perfect stillness. If you start to move, so do your enemies. You want to stop, just stop moving. When they shoot you, a bullet can be seen moving through the air as slowly as you want, if you just stop moving. And this gives you ample time to dodge it. You’d think.
Magnificent recovery! For a few episodes, I had been wondering why I loved this series as a kid. There were simply too many in a row that we predictable and dated. A Feasibility Study brings back the awe and mystery that the Control Voice is always promising! First of all, it captured my imagination when I was younger and held me captivated again now in my adulthood. My friends and I often refer to “mind candy”; this is what we mean! Production-wise, the use of music is superior to that increasing note we’ve had so much of lately. This episode offers us some very slow, deliberate and above all, eerie music to ramp up the tension. Fog, sounds on the telephone, shadowy figures, robed characters slowly walking in the mist… all these things are used to outstanding effect. Best of all, it exemplifies what was amazing about old television; it creates all of this without the need of blood, gore, vulgarity, nudity, violence. All the things we’ve come to rely so heavily on in horror and science fiction, this episode avoids completely and ends up with a far greater success than most modern stories of a similar vein. But that’s not all! There’s another thing used to great effect in this story: community. Continue reading
Jodie’s first season was not exactly what I’d call a resounding success. In fact, for the first time in my life, having watched the show for nearly 4 decades, I wasn’t particularly excited to see it return. Could it bring the spark of life back to our favorite Gallifreyan?
RP: 7 – An odd combination of elements that don’t fit together particularly well: a James Bond pastiche and a tour of notable women in history. All very entertaining and largely pointless, with a very slow moving second episode, but at the end of the first episode we have one of the best cliffhangers ever made, with a great twist ending to the episode. Continue reading
Yu-Sibu, also known as Yu-Shibu, or to give it its absurdly long full title I Couldn’t Become a Hero, So I Reluctantly Decided to Get a Job, is an anime series set in a fantasy world, with some entertaining similarities to our own. That full title describes the premise of the series pretty well. Raul Chaser has gone through all his training at hero school, and just when he gets to fight the monsters the Demon Lord dies and there’s nobody to fight any more, so he gets himself a job in a shop selling appliances.
It looks much like a store from our own world, selling washing machines, microwaves, televisions, all that sort of thing, but the store is called Magic Shop Reon. That’s because this is a world of magic, not science, so all those appliances might look familiar but they are powered by magic. It’s a really funny blend of magic and the mundane, and people have to power the appliances in their homes by sticking their hands in a socket connected to the house to feed their own magic power into the system. The animators have a lot of fun getting very close to the names of some familiar technology brands, but if you’ve seen a few anime series you’ll probably be used to that kind of thing. How many anime series have a WcDonalds, or something like that? Continue reading
One of the most effective tactics Columbo employs is to hound the person he thinks is the murderer until he or she gets flustered and makes a mistake. So what happens when the murderer is a man like Dr. Barry Mayfield, who is so emotionless that he’s almost… Vulcan? This is going to be a tricky one for Columbo.
Dr. Mayfield has been working on a new transplant rejection drug. His colleague Dr. Hidemann wants more tests before they take it any further, but Mayfield is worried another group will get there first and take the credit he deserves. Hidemann, bless him, is one of those people with a towering intellect but little in the way of common sense, because he’s about to have heart surgery and it’s probably not a good idea to annoy the man who is about to operate on you. Continue reading
Accident / Technology / Takeoff
The view from Igirisu:
A plane flying behind Chi signals the arrival of only the second human being the girls have met in six episodes. Ishii is similar to Kanazawa in many ways, with a single-minded focus on her work. Amusingly she is so focused that she doesn’t even notice the girls until they have been standing right in front of her for a couple of minutes. Continue reading
I think I figured out the bizarre placement of these episodes. The Path of Sorrows is listed as 109, meaning 1st season, 9th episode, but it aired at number 4. So I started thinking: was this to get all the character stuff out of the way and make sure the viewer know who the cast was? Maybe get their buy in early to see how it played out? I thought that because this is another episode that develops backstory for us with Matheson, Gideon and, yet again, Galen. Continue reading
There’s a game that kept popping up on Steam that I would look at and think: why?!? The game, Horizon: Zero Dawn, appears to be about prehistoric people fighting against robotic dinosaurs. Huh?! Every time I’d look at it, because it kept popping up on the store page, I thought it looked idiotic. Visually nice, but the idea just didn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy. Luckily I have friends who are gamers and one of those that I work with said it was actually very good. Since it was on sale, I grabbed it. What my friend should have told me was: this is Far Cry without the Far Cry title. Had I known that, I would have picked the game up ages earlier because Far Cry has a damned good format and readers of the Junkyard know how much I enjoy those. Continue reading
I nearly fell off the couch when I realized this episode didn’t have a preview of what’s to come. Just one episode ago, I skipped the spoiling effect without checking. Now I wonder if that was a mistake. (I checked; it was the right call!) But it means I’ll have to be careful with each subsequent episode! This offers a genuine prelude: Mr. Zeno has to move his operation across country because someone found out what he was up to. So he moves to the east coast and he has some nefarious plans in mind for young Kenny Benjamin! Continue reading
Capaldi’s last season ended on such a high note, I couldn’t have been happier. There was some trepidation about how the new showrunner, Chris Chibnall, was going to work out but, like a certain ant, I had high hopes. Was my faith misplaced? How about Roger’s? Let’s take a look.
The Woman Who Fell to Earth
RP: 5 – Jodie Whittaker makes a great first impression, and at last we have a post-regeneration story that doesn’t waste most of the running time on the Doctor behaving out of character. It all looks very slick and expensive but does feel like a drama series aimed mainly at adults now, with little to grab the attention of children, and a very boring enemy for the Doctor. Continue reading
It might not be fashionable to criticise scientists at the moment, but I’ve long held the view that eventually they will go one step too far with their messing around with things and do some real damage to the world we inhabit. It might have happened when the first atomic bomb was tested, despite one of the scientists involved warning of a risk of igniting the entire atmosphere of the planet. It might have happened with the creation of biological agents for warfare, or the high-speed collision of particles. Mercifully, the chance of this kind of tinkering with nature leading to an apocalypse is remote, but the threat posed by people trying to play god has captured the imagination of writers for a very long time. Patema Inverted shows us a fascinating vision of the future, where scientists have finally gone too far. Continue reading
Actress Nora Chandler is being blackmailed by a biographer who has discovered a serious fraud in her background. Complicating matters further, her long-term faithful secretary, Jean Davis, is involved with the biographer, Jerry Parks, and is going to marry him. Nora sends her off for an evening to run errands, while she lies in wait for Jerry at his home, lays down a trail of petrol and sets light to it when his car arrives. Crispy fried biographer! Except it turns out that Jean, not Jerry is driving the car. What a mistake to make!
I normally divide my Columbo articles off into sections: motive, murder, mistakes, etc. I cannot even begin to figure out how to do that for this one, and that’s an indication of what an unusual episode this is. Another indication is that my first paragraph sums up the opening sequence of the episode, and doesn’t actually mention the real motive or intentions of the murderer whatsoever. That’s because we don’t find out either of those things until very late in the game. Continue reading
House / Nap / The Sound of Rain
The view from Igirisu:
This episode has three very distinct chapters, two of which are magnificent in a very melancholy way, but let’s get the middle of the three out the way first of all. I wouldn’t exactly say it lets the episode down, but it certainly doesn’t have the impact of the first and final thirds of the episode. I’m not a fan of dream sequences, as they rarely move the story on at all. Chi’s dream is entertaining and surreal, with a giant fish version of Yuu trying to eat Chi. Other than the entertainment value, there’s not a lot of point to it, other than to explore Chi’s fears for the future, and perhaps her acceptance that one day the food will run out, and she will be willing to allow Yuu… no, let’s not go there. Continue reading
The Well of Forever gives us the second story in a row focusing on Galen and it’s a second story that I’m not impressed with. I can feel something bubbling beneath the surface: potential. It’s there, but it seems to struggle to rise to the top. Michael Beck returns to the series, this time as an anonymously named Psi-Corp representative Mr. Jones. We last saw Beck in A Spider in the Web during Season Two of the parent series and he’s so recognizable that he can’t quite hide as a different character. Unlike the world’s most recognizable Drazi, Kim Strauss, or Minbari warrior Neroon, played by John Vickery, Beck is still a human and it does stand out. I kept expecting him to look for Talia Winters! As if that’s not enough to put me off, there’s the carry-over from B5 that we call the A/B plot. The B plot is almost a non-plot centering around Matheson being investigated by Beck’s Mr. Jones but serves little point beyond illustrating Gideon’s leadership skills. More on that in a moment. Meanwhile the A plot seems chock full of mystery and questions and boils down to a visit to a graveyard and no answers whatsoever. Continue reading
Over the last few weeks, we’ve been discussing adventure games and one of the things I’ve noticed is the lack of violence in most of them. This thought popped into my head and was almost immediately disproved by the other side of my own personality. Pshaw! Of course there’s violence in Adventure games; just look at Sherlock Holmes games. Oh yeah, duh, that’s absolutely true, said that side of my brain. Yet, I argued back, you’re not actually the one committing the violent acts, are you? No, you’re investigating them. And so my internal monologue felt settled. But my brain wasn’t done and pointed out that in Sherlock Holmes Vs. Jack the Ripper you actually have to think through the crimes to such an extent that I was using a statue in my house to try to envision how certain acts were committed. After all, you are investigating some brutal real-life murders. I had to go through facts systematically which was both rewarding but also quite challenging. Continue reading
Visitors to the Junkyard may recall September of 2020 when we reviewed Star Trek’s Arena where I mentioned that it was based on an idea from The Outer Limits. “You will meet in the Arena!” Yep, this is that episode. Like any good artistic endeavor, it’s great to create, but it’s important to look over your creation and then tweak it, then test again, and improve again. Fun and Games is an early version of the idea that Trek tweaked and improved upon. It’s not that Trek was a vast improvement with it’s Metron fairy godparent appearing out of the blue and whisking Kirk back to safety but at least it’s a far more entertaining episode in terms of action. That’s not to say this is a bad episode though, it just needed some work! Continue reading