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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Galactica 1980: Super Scouts - Review

Do you know what is cooler than a team of Galactica heroes arriving on Earth who then find themselves chasing a villain through the pages of Earth’s history? If your answer involves a bunch of space children running around throwing apples and jumping into trees you have a good chance of landing a job as a Network producer.

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The three part pilot Galactica Discovers Earth ended with the villainous Xavier (Richard Lynch) fleeing through time to pre-revolutionary America with Troy (Kent McCord), Dillon (Barry Van Dyke) and news reporter Jamie Hamilton (Robyn Douglass) hell bent on going after him. Sadly this was not to be. The Network decided they didn’t like the whole time travel aspect of the show, and so the producers were told to jettison the whole concept. Now ditching your show’s premise practically right out of the gate may seem like a bad idea, but when it is replaced by group of snot nosed kids who can jump really high…well that is a colossally bad idea.

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Who needs action packed adventures through time and space when we can have these guys?

Once again we begin with an info dump from Dr. Zee (now being played by James Patrick Stuart and not Cousin Oliver) where he informs Commander Adama (Lorne Greene) that with the increased threat of an even more advanced Cylon armada they must start to settle the Galactican children on Earth. This all must still be done in secret for if the people of the Galactica were seen to be favoring one country over another it could lead to a Third World War. Going by how things were in the 80s I think they should have just gone ahead and conquered the place, and then called it a day.

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Let’s not go to Earth, tis a silly place.

Meanwhile Dillon is over on the school ship Delphi giving the Galactican children lessons on Earth and how the planet’s different atmosphere and lesser gravity will give them increased abilities. (Yet none of these kids get a job with a great metropolitan newspaper or battle bald megalomaniacs. A missed opportunity to be sure.) I know much must have changed in the intervening years between the two shows but why is there a separate school ship just for teaching the kids? In the original series we saw Athena teaching a small class aboard the Battlestar Galactica, so one would assume that each ship would have its own set-up for teaching the young. That would certainly be safer than ferrying them back and forth every day via shuttles, not to mention putting all your "eggs" in one easily blown up basket is just asking for trouble.

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"Damn, we should have totally seen this coming."

So the Cylons attack the school ship and Troy and Dillon manage to get all the children safely to the escape shuttles, but the shuttle of children they decided to pilot gets damaged and is forced to land on Earth. Troy’s terrible flying has them almost collide with a jumbo jet, and thus alerts the United States Air force to their presence, which puts Colonel Jack Sydell (Allan Miller) hot on their trail as he investigates UFOs for the Special Directives office.

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Get me Lt. Philip Gerard and Jack McGee on the phone."

Note: They end several episodes containing the character of Colonel Jack Sydell with the disclaimer “The United States Air Force stopped investigating UFOs in 1969. After 22 years, they found no evidence of Extra-Terrestrial visits and no threat to National Security.” I’m sure this eased the minds of so many concerned viewers.

Troy and Dillon quickly realize they are going to need to blend these kids in so they head to town to get them some Earth clothing, but that they both go on this shopping expedition, leaving a bunch of unsupervised children alone on an alien planet, just goes to show us how terrible these two are at their jobs. Hell, they almost get thwarted by a revolving door crying out loud. Troy heads to a department store to find suitable supplies while Dillon heads over to the bank to change some of their gold cubits to local currency. This is where things go wrong almost immediately. Dillon discovers that handing unmarked gold pieces over the counter to a bank teller, without any kind of ID, will not get you the service you were hoping for, and he ends up accidentally robbing the bank.

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Bonnie and Clod.

Dillon hooks up with Troy at the department store and they manage to evade the police by using their handy-dandy invisibility shield devices, but they eventually have to escape via their flying bikes to avoid the California Highway Patrol.

Question: Where in the hell did they get those flying bikes from? Are those advance prototype devices already standard issue items aboard shuttles?

Our two heroes make it back to their unsupervised charges in time to greet Col. Sydell who, along with the local authorities and news outlets, is looking for the UFO that may have landed nearby. Sydell asks Troy and Dillon if they witnessed any strange light during the night, but when neither man, nor any of the kids who are now dressed up as Boy Scouts, say they saw anything strange he moves on. Lucky for our heroes that reporter on the scene turns out to be their old friend Jamie Hamilton who joins them all for smores.

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Question: What happened to Jamie between this episode and the last? She went from being part of the team to being back on Earth with her job as a reporter. Was this her idea or did Adama kick her off the Galactica?

It’s at this point the episode shifts into an educational stump speech about the environment. Three of the Super Scouts become deathly ill, and when neither Dillon or Troy can figure out the cause of it their only option is to take them to a nearby clinic. When they get to the hospital they discover that the doctor is "not in" so they are forced to stun the nurse so that they can work on the kids themselves. Using their wrist computrons they learn that the kids have been poisoned by some kind of toxin, and when they checkout where those three were playing they realize that the stupid kids drank from a polluted lake.

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 You’d think space kids would know better than to sample or eat any untested alien food or drink, let alone when it looks that skunky.

Troy and Dillon visit the nearby chemical factory and confront Stockton (Mike Kellin), the plant manager, with their knowledge of the polluted lake. Like any weasily corporate stooge he goes into complete denial, but really what was Troy and Dillon’s plan here? They are alien trespassers with no rights whatsoever, and certainly can't go to the authorities themselves, so their brilliant idea is to appeal to the guilty parties’ inherent goodness? If only they new somebody in the investigative reporting biz. *sigh*  These two bozos should be laying low with the kids instead of running off “investigating” shit, and once again leaving a bunch of kids alone. Three of who are dying because you left them alone to go fucking shopping!

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Child Services not the Air Force should be after these two.

What follows is Col. Sydell teaming up with local corrupt Sheriff Ellsworth (John Quade), who is concerned that these supposed “Boy Scouts” are part of a conspiracy that wishes the plant closed down, which would in turn destroy the town. Why he is worried about two idiots and a bunch of kids, and not the real danger of someone phoning the EPA, is beyond me. Apparently the local doctor (George DelHoyo), who is a good guy and wants to help, has been trying to have the pollution problem addressed for some time now, but somehow a lake, that is so toxic it can kill a child within hours of drinking from it, is not enough evidence to go on.

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“Yes I’m a doctor, it says so right on my parking space.”

The Super Scouts manage to evade capture by turning invisible, hiding up in the trees, throwing apples at their pursuers, and then stealing the police cars. When one of the sick kids actually dies things get a bit tense, but when they learn that the kid is only brain dead they make a quick call to the Galactica for a quick pick-up so they get some super science medical assistance. Lucky for all concerned Doctor Zee has just put the finishing touches on this new anti-gravity ship, and being he is the only one qualified to fly it he will pilot the rescue mission.

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So, going with the Flying Saucer motif are we?

The only vehicle big enough to transport the sick kids to the rendezvous site is Stockton’s van so everyone is loaded in and headed up to the mountains to meet up with their rescue ship, with Col. Sydell, Sheriff Ellsworth, and the National Guard in hot pursuit. A fallen tree and an EMP pulse manages to delay the authorities long enough to get the kids onboard, and for Stockton to get a visit from the Ghost of Christmas Future in the form of Dr. Zee. Using the ships advanced sensors and computers, which can accurately predict the future of its surroundings, Dr. Zee gives Stockton a glimpse ten years into the future where pollution has gone unchecked, and his son is dead because of it.

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With this kind of science displayed here I’m not sure the Cylons can be considered as much of threat anymore.

The medical team quickly resurrect the one “mostly dead” kid and heal the other two as well, and then Adama tells Troy and Dillon that the "Inevitability of a Cylon holocaust" grows stronger every hour, and that they must return to Earth and, “Find a place for all our young." With the Colonel and the Sheriff thwarted our gang of hapless travellers return to Earth for some well earned waffles. It’s while having breakfast at a local diner that Jamie finds out that Troy and Dillon must rush off on some “important” mission, and now she must look after all the kids while they’re gone, and they don’t even ask her! What complete assholes these two are.

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“Sure, it’s not like I don’t have a job…oh wait…I do have a job. Fuck you both!”

It couldn’t have been easy for the writers to whip up a complete new story arc when their time travel idea got the axe, but a two-parter about a bunch of idiot space kids was certainly a step down…way down. Add to that our poor girl reporter Jamie who gets abandoned one minute and then conscripted the next by these spacefaring asshats, with little to no explanation.  This does not help with continuity. Speaking of asshats, we have Troy and Dillon who should not be put in charge of goldfish let alone the future of their race. All said and done this was two cringe worthy hours of television, and one would think it couldn’t get any worse. Right?

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NOTE: In the previous three episodes neither Troy or Dillon showed increased abilities due to Earth's lesser gravity yet these little shits can jump around like the Six Million Dollar Man for some reason.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Supergirl (2015) – Pilot Review

With Arrow, The Flash and Gotham one can’t help but see that DC is having a much better time on the small screen then they’ve had on the big one. All three shows, with varying degrees of quality, have finally shown comic book fans that you don’t have to suck if you’re not Batman or Superman. Marvel has been kicking the crap out of them in theatres for quite some time, Nolanverse notwithstanding, but with the addition of Supergirl to the DC television lineup they're certainly striving for dominance in this medium at least. But just how good is this new kid on the block?

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The pilot opens with narration provided by Kara Zor-El (Melissa Benoist) who tells how as Krypton readied itself for destruction Jor-El had placed baby Kal-El into a spaceship bound for Earth, but while Kal-El took off on his historic journey Kara’s mother rolled her own ship into launching position, and placed Kara in it so that she could go off to Earth to be Kal-El’s super powered babysitter.

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You will get five dollars an hour, and anything you find in the fridge.

Things do not go according to plan. When Krypton explodes a shockwave sends her ship into the Phantom Zone where time doesn’t pass, and while there she slept for twenty-four years. So when her ship was mysteriously jogged loose from the Phantom Zone she arrived on Earth only to find that her little baby cousin was now the most powerful being on the planet, but she was still a thirteen year old girl.

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Space Jesus has come for you.

Wanting her to have the same wholesome normal life he did Superman drops her off with the Danvers family; Jeremiah Danvers (Dean Cain), Eliza Danvers (Helen Slater), and their daughter Alex Danvers (Chyler Leigh), to become their adopted daughter Kara Danvers. With Superman being Superman her mission to protect him is definitely off, but then what does a super powered Kyrptonian do with herself? The answer is the show's first huge misstep, Kara tells us that, “Even though I had all the same powers he did I decided the best I could do is fit in. After all Earth didn’t need another hero.” Yes, because all crime and strife have been eliminated by Superman…oh wait, no it hasn’t. So instead of following in the footsteps of her cousin she decides to get a job fetching coffee for media mogul Cat Grant (Calista Flockhart). Now as Clark Kent Superman used his access to the Daily Planet to keep in touch with world events, but Kara here gets a job at CatCo. to be Ally McBeal’s lackey. With no real plans beyond that.

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Question: What’s with the glasses? If she has decided that a normal life is the way to go why in the hell is she going with her cousin’s ridiculous disguise? Did her adoptive parents tell her to wear them just in case she changed her mind some time later in life? They messed up the same way back 1993 in Lois & Clark when it showed Dean Cain’s Clark Kent wearing glasses in Smallville prior to deciding to become Superman. Kyrptonians do not have bad eye sight, quite the opposite actually.

Much of the opening of this show is to set-up the Devil Wears Prada relationship Kara has with her boss, who is a callous and ruthless, and not someone you would put up with if you had the ability to lift a bus.  The comedy in this first episode is very hit and miss, with them trying to make Kara into the same kind of cute awkward woman that Emily Bett Rickards plays on Arrow. It doesn’t work nearly as well here.  We are treated to idiotic scenes like someone seeing her without her glasses on saying how pretty she is without them.  Yeah, she's a complete troglodyte when she has them on.  That's why she is reduced to finding men through online dating services, and is then almost immediately dumped by one for no Earthly reason.  Comedy gold folks, and something I certainly want in my superhero show.

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Thrill to the action of a super cute girl being ditched by an asshole online date.

It’s while the douchebag is skipping out on her that Kara notices a news report of a plane in danger, and that’s when the episode started to give me hope. For a television show they don’t skimp on the action here, and unlike Smallville they don't have a “No tights no flight” motto to adhere to. The sequence with Kara leaping into the sky to catch the crippled plane, and then guiding it down through the support structure of a bridge, is just damn impressive. Unfortunately after this awesome moment the show’s writers decided to kick us right in the junk with some of the most idiotic contrived conflict you will ever witness. After the rescue we find jubilant Kara back at her apartment, excited about her first foray into superherodom, but soon her sister Alex shows up to rain on her parade. Alex is pissed at Kara for revealing to the world that there is another being with powers like Superman’s, and practically reads her the riot act.  Alex doesn’t even acknowledge the fact that she’d be dead if not for Kara, because she was on that flight. Kara doesn’t even get so much as thank you for saving her life.

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Every superhero show needs a wet blanket.

Kara is shocked as I am at her sister’s reaction, but her defense only highlights the problem with the way her character has been written, she tells Alex that, “I didn’t travel two thousand light years just to be an assistant.” Um, wasn’t that you’re whole goddamn plan? It took seeing your sister’s plane in danger to realize that you could have spent the last ten years saving lives? *sheesh*  It looks like the writers were trying to work a "Women's Empowerment" angle in there, but you really can’t make a show about women’s empowerment when you central character can punch through a tank. She’s pretty much as powered as anybody, man or woman, can be. This just makes her come across as a colossal flake. Things get even stranger when the very next day she brings her co-worker Winslow "Winn" Schott (Jeremy Jordan) up to the roof of CatCo. and tells him that she is the girl who saved that doomed plane, and then jumps off the roof to prove it.

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He looks trustworthy, and don’t let the fact that he is the villain Toyman in the comics worry you.

Winslow becomes her fashion guru and together they work on what her costume should look like, and they go from skimpy and ridiculous to basically Superman’s costume with a skirt. Not sure what she needed his help for, unless he has just mad sewing skills. Now this relationship actually could be fun, and their chemistry is pretty decent, but to have her just reveal her “Big Secret” that fast seemed rather bizarre, and really rushed. But that is a tiny nitpick compared to the next moment of complete stupidity when we see Supergirl rush off to fight an apartment fire, but is taken down by kryptonite darts and wakes up chained to a steel table in a secret underground base.

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"Kryptonite darts and kryptonite shackles, this must be Lex Luthor’s lair."

Sadly, Lex Luthor is nowhere to be found and the actual culprits are in fact much worse. Kara has been apprehended by the Department of Extra-Normal Operations (DEO), a secret government task force set-up to take on alien threats, and apparently they consider the relative of Earth’s Greatest Hero a threat. Maybe they are just being cautious, she could be some evil alien just dressing up as Superman and saving lives as part of some nefarious scheme, but wait is that Alex Danvers walking into the room? Kara's sister is part of this agency that just shot her out of the sky? WTF? She let her co-workers shoot and chain up her sister? This is going to make for some awkward Thanksgiving dinners.  The head of DEO is Hank Henshaw (David Harewood) and he informs Supergirl that after her ship escaped the Phantom Zone it somehow pulled a super-max space prison full of alien supervillains with it, and that for ten years there has been this secret war between these evil extra-terrestrials and the United States Government. A war kept secret from Superman for god knows what reason, not to mention the problems you'd have trying to keep a secret like that from a super-powered investigative journalist.

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“We built this organization to fight alien scum, even heroic alien scum like you.”

They also blame Kara for this alien problem as if a thirteen year old girl, unconscious in a ship she was stuffed into by her mother, could somehow be responsible for any of this. Worse, she agrees with them, and so we get mopey Kara for a while. She is released from her shackles, thanks sis, and is told to go back to fetching coffee. This whole scene is unbelievable stupid, Alex Danvers is first shown to be a kind sister, then suddenly she’s a total jerk when rescued from certain death, and then we find out she is part of a clandestine organization that considers Kara a threat to national security. I’ve heard of extreme cases of sibling rivalry, but this takes the cake. Eventually Alex realizes that a super powered sister may be beneficial in this fight, and after Kara's one failed attempt at taking out an alien super villain, she convinces her boss to give her another shot.

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Yeah, who’d want that on your team?

Like I said the superhero elements in this show are really well done, but the structure of the show’s premise is just dreadful. The sister character does not make a lick of sense and is more unlikable than any of the villains we meet, but you can clearly tell that the show’s writers think this is come cool complex character they’ve created. They are sadly mistaken. On the other hand I really do like Melissa Benoist as Supergirl, and her scenes with former Daily Planet photographer James Olsen (Mehcad Brooks) were nicely constructed and could lead to a fun romantic angle.

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“Are you going to give me a Supergirl Signal-Watch?”

This show certainly has potential, and it’s nice to see another superhero show that embraces the genre, and stays out of the Nolanverse. The writers do have a tricky job of putting together stories that won’t have the viewers constantly wondering, “Why isn’t she calling her cousin for help?” and it’d be nice if the show was allowed to use Superman other than in backlit cameos, but that’s as likely as Batman showing up on Arrow or The Flash.

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Note: The producers of the show have stated there are no current plans for Supergirl to crossover into The Flash or Arrow, which is too bad.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Tarzan Triumphs (1943) – Review

Tarzan Triumphs could have been subtitled “Me Tarzan, Where Jane?” for with the series moving from MGM Studios to RKO Pictures they lost Maureen O’Sullivan as she was an MGM contract player.  Jane would be explained away as, “Visiting her sick mother in London” and wouldn't show up for a couple pictures.  Running things at the new studio would be producer Sol Lesser who had made Tarzan’s Revenge back in 1938 when MGM briefly lost the rights, but now back at RKO he would go on to produce more Tarzan films than anyone else, and also some of the best.

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The movie opens with Boy (Johnny Sheffield) having fine ole time wandering around the jungle with Cheetah and a baby elephant.  With Tarzan (Johnny Weissmuller) being off on a trip to the coast to retrieve a letter from the absent Jane this is a perfect time to get into trouble, so he decides to take a closer look at the lost city of Palandria, and soon finds himself hanging off a branch stuck precariously out of a high cliff face. Lucky for him Princess Zandra (Frances Gifford) of Palandria just happened to be close by, and is able to rescue him.  But soon the two find themselves both needing to be rescued by Tarzan, who had just so happened to be returning from getting the mail. Unfortunately falling off a cliff isn’t the real danger here, that would be the Nazis. When Boy reads Jane’s letter about a world torn by war, and the threat of the Nazis, Boy remarks that Tarzan could easily kill those pesky Nazis like he killed Bolgat the gorilla, but Tarzan responds, “No, Tarzan killed Bolgat to save Jane and Boy. Why Tarzan kill Nazis?

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“What have Nazis ever done to us?”

Tarzan’s attitude of isolationism was very much in keeping with how many Americans at the time felt, and the U.S. State Department informed Sol Lesser that Tarzan could be a great propaganda tool against fascism. Certainly fighting Germans was nothing new to Tarzan as he killed his fair share of them in such books as Tarzan the Untamed and Tarzan The Terrible.

Note: The Germans that Tarzan in the books by Edgar Rice Burroughs fought were the ones invading Africa during World War One or The War to End All Wars as it was called at the time.  The movie really jumps the timeline forward a tad so that Tarzan can fight the current German threat.

Throughout Tarzan Triumphs Tarzan has to practically be dragged kicking and screaming into the fight.  Which was pretty much the way America entered WWII. Only when Boy is threatened does the fierce Lord of the Jungle make a stand.

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“Now Tarzan make war.”

And just what are Nazis doing running around the Mutai Escarpment? Well apparently Captain Bausch (Philip Van Zandt), standard evil German officer, had at some point in the past been lost in the jungles of Africa, and was rescued by the people of Palandria. While being nursed back to health by Zandra he discovered that the land was rich with oil and other minerals that would be valuable to the Third Reich. He now returns with Colonel Von Reichart (Stanley Ridges), and a whole platoon of paratroopers, to conquer and enslave the peaceful people of Palandria.

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Maybe they shouldn’t leave their lost city out in the open like that.

The wrinkle in their operation is the loss of Lieutenant Schmidt (Rex Williams), their radio operator, whose parachute got fouled leaving the plane, resulting in him landing near Tarzan’s home. Tarzan rescues the injured man from drowning and hungry crocodiles, but is completely unaware that Schmidt is a Nazi, or that radio he carries is to inform the High Command about the location of Palandria. Lucky for us Cheetah steals the radio’s coil, preventing Schmidt from radioing the co-ordinates.

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Master Race, thwarted by a chimp.

Meanwhile back at Palandria the Nazis have forced the inhabitants to cut down the jungle for an airstrip, and when Zandra protests this invasion of her home to Colonel Von Reichart he just responds with sexual advances. This leads to Zandra’s brother leaping to her defence and getting shot for his troubles. Zandra flees with the Nazis in hot pursuit, and just when all seems lost she runs into Tarzan. He leads her away and thwarts the pursuing Nazis with the some cannibal fish. Zandra tries to enlist Tarzan’s aid in the freeing of her people from the Nazis, but he will have nothing to do with it, "Nazi leave me alone, Tarzan leave them alone." Boy informs Zandra that Jane was always able to change Tarzan’s mind, so he spends the next little while coaching her in seduction techniques. Wait, what? Boy has Zandra dress in one of Jane’s jungle outfits, has her take a swim with Tarzan, and makes Tarzan dinner.

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“Jane? Who Jane?”

But Tarzan brushes off all attempts to get him to fight the Nazis, even when Schmidt tries to kill Cheetah in an the attempt to get the radio part back.  Tarzan still won’t step up to fight the Nazis because Schmidt got pushed off the escarpment by an elephant, so he is no longer a threat. Tarzan is not a “Big Picture” kind of guy.” Eventually Zandra gets fed up with trying to win Tarzan over to her cause, and heads back alone. When Boy informs Tarzan of this the big lunkhead races off to stop her, with “Tarzan know best” being is his big argument, as he browbeats the poor girl into returning back to his treehouse, and abandoning her people.

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Tarzan is not only an isolationist he’s a cad and a bounder.

But while he was busy being super gallant in the jungle the Nazis had arrived back at the treehouse, and they proceed to slap Boy around in an attempt to find the location of the radio coil. Tarzan hears Boy in danger and gives out his trademark jungle yell, which is something you may want to skip if you are approaching a large group of heavily armed men, but no one has ever accused this Tarzan of being a tactical genius. Things go as one would expects in this series, Tarzan has the branch he is standing on shot out from under him, he plummets to ground, is knocked unconscious, and is only saved from being a bullet riddled corpse by a group of monkeys who hide his body under some leaves. Zandra finds him and revives the stupid sap with some good ole jungle medicine, and it’s here that Tarzan finally declares war on the Third Reich. He then proceeds to make his way into Palandria, stealthily this time, killing off German sentries left, right, and center.

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But then he gets captured. *sigh*

Zandra shows up in an attempt to help, but she is from the same school of fail as Tarzan, and is immediately captured. When she refuses Von Reichart’s advances, by pulling a knife on him, he sentences her to join her friends for a morning firing squad. This would be the time one would be expecting an elephant stamped, but nope, we actually have Cheetah sneaking in, returning the missing coil for some reason, and then cutting Tarzan loose. Tarzan sneaks around freeing the Palandrian people, arming them with weapons he takes off of numerous German guards he kills, and we then get a Lost City free-for-all as the once peace loving people start bringing the pain to the Nazi invaders. Even Cheetah and Boy take up arms and kill a couple of Germans.

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Seeing a little kid sniping a German soldier isn`t what I expected to see.

Von Reichart grabs the radio and flees into the jungle with Tarzan chasing after him. What follows is an amazing scene of Tarzan relentless tracking the German bastard, taunting him by calling out, “Here Nazi” causing Von Reichart to fire blindly at his pursuer, until the panicky German eventually runs out of bullets. Tarzan then tosses Von Reichart a knife as if challenging him to a fair fight, but instead he just leads the poor slob into a pit trap that holds a hungry lion.

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A moment very in keeping with the Tarzan from the books.

Structurally speaking this is one of the better of Weissmuller Tarzan movies. In previous films it was clearly established that Tarzan had no use for the outside world, for whenever strangers came into his lands it caused nothing but trouble. So making Tarzan the symbol of American isolationism actually works perfectly for this series, and certainly roused the hearts of many a theatregoer. Austrian director Wilheim Thiele was certainly an excellent choice for an Anti-German movie, and he wasn’t happy with just having the Nazis soundly beaten by Tarzan and friends, no he wanted to humiliate them. The last scene of the film is Cheetah turning on the radio and reaching the German High Command, and after a few shrieks and Oook Oooks, the German general shouts, “Idiots! It is not Von Reichart. It is der F├╝hrer.”

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God bless you, Cheetha.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Galactica 1980: Galactica Discovers Earth - Review

Glen A Larson’s series Battlestar Galactica only lasted one season, with poor ratings and even poorer writing being the main cause of its cancellation, but somehow a letter writing campaign resurrected the show.  This was long before the internet’s instant fan feedback existed, so studios weren’t use to this kind of thing. The original Star Trek got one more season due to a write-in campaign, before being cancelled the very next year, but the big difference here is that Star Trek was a very good show, while the original Battlestar Galactica was mediocre at the best of times. Despite the poor writing it did have an excellent cast, some nice sci-fi adventures, cool villains, and a plethora of fun characters going for it, but with the Spin-off Galactica 1980 there was a lot less of that in all categories.


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The series begins with a three-parter titled “Galactica Discovers Earth” and opens with the dulcet tones of Commander Adama (Lorne Greene) informing us that the thirty year exodus has finally come to a close, “The great ship Galactica, our home for these many years. We’ve endured the wilderness of space, and now we near the end of our journey. We have at last found Earth.” Unfortunately it’s not a time for jubilation just yet as there is a small wrinkle in their plans, turns out Earth is not technologically advanced enough to help them against the Cylons.

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"D'oH!"

We are introduced to Dr. Zee (Robbie Rist), resident boy genius aboard the Galactica, who Adama explains is a "cerebral mutation" and was given the job as scientific adviser to the Council. It's Dr. Zee who drops the bomb that Earth isn’t advanced enough to help defeat the Cylons.  Adama is shown stock footage of our movies and television shows as proof of this, and worse yet it appears that the Cylons have been sneakily following the fleet these last few years in the hopes that the Galactica would lead them to the last bastion of humanity.

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Dr. Zee also fronts a Paul Williams tribute band.

Adama and Dr. Zee call an emergency meeting to discuss the current crisis. Amongst the attendees are Commander Xaviar (Richard Lynch) a Colonial Warrior and member of the Council of Twelve, Captain Troy (Kent McCord) the now grown up grandson of Commander Adama, and Lieutenant Dillon (Barry Van Dyke). In the briefing Dr. Zee shows the assembled footage of the Cylons attacking downtown Los Angeles, this needless to say shocks the group, but they are quickly placated when Dr. Zee explains this is just a simulation of what would happen if the Galactica was to stop and make contact with Earth.

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Dr. Zee steals footage from the 1974 disaster film Earthquake to make his point.

Note: When the spin-off show was first proposed the script included most of the original cast, and was to take place only five years after the original show ended not thirty, but when the likes of Richard Hatch and Dirk Benedict were either not interested or too busy on other projects the show was revamped to take places decades later with only Lorne Greene and Herbert Jefferson Jr. reprising their roles. So instead we get Captain Troy as Apollo’s son, and Lieutenant Dillon as the Starbuck equivalent.

vlcsnap-2015-09-18-16h21m10s061 

“Call me Boxey and I’ll kill you.”

Dr. Zee's big plan is to have the fleet veer off away from Earth before the Cylons figure out that it was the original target, while several groups of Colonial Warriors would fly down to Earth, equipped with cloaking devices and flying motorbikes, to visit several different countries, and while there they will secretly make contact with scientific communities, and help them so that someday they will be ready to fight off the Cylons. Commander Xaviar is dubious of this plan, as slowly increasing the Earth’s technology will not keep the Cylon’s off their back, and I have to agree with him. Just how does veering away from the Earth keep everyone safe? Does the Galactica plan to circle the sun indefinitely or hide behind Venus? Throughout the series we're shown quite clearly that the Galactica is never more than mere minutes away from Earth at all times, so how exactly was that going to keep the Cylons from noticing the human population inhabiting the third planet from the sun?

vlcsnap-2015-09-18-16h49m30s745 

We will paint a large THEY WENT THATAWAY sign on the moon. That should fool them.”

Troy and Dillon are assigned North America and they almost immediately fail on the whole “Keep a low profile” thing by being picked up by a military radar installation. That the Galactica did not know Earth’s technology, as backward as they believe it to be, would still have the ability to detect aircraft is all kinds of bullshit. What the scene does give us is Troy and Dillon having to hit turbo boost to evade getting shot out of the sky by a couple of jet fighters. Not only is this scene not exciting but it just highlights how "not good at their jobs" these guys are. When they land, and turn on the cloaking device that will hide their Vipers, they proceed on their mission via Turbine Cycles (turbocyles/flying mortorbike), but when they are confronted by a biker gang they instantly resort to engaging the turbines flying ability to escape.

vlcsnap-2015-09-18-17h05m39s384 

Maybe “Keep a low profile” means something different in the Colonies.

Realizing that flying jet-bikes may be a tad conspicuous they park and cloak them, and then proceed on foot. The invisiblity generator only has enough power to last about 24 hours yet these yahoos constantly park their crafts in relative close proximity to where people live, which of course leads to some dumb kid stumbling on it and calling in the military. We are then treated to some “comedy” as Troy and Dillon try and figure out how a phone works. This is just sad when later we see Adama using a phone in his office aboard the Galactica. It’s while trying to “hack” the payphone that they encounter Jamie Hamilton (Robyn Douglass), who's on her way to L.A. for a job interview with the UBC television network. They smooth talk their way into getting ride to Pacific Institute of Technology where Dr. Mortinson (Robert Reed), who has developed a new form of nuclear technology, works and who could be key in advancing Earth's technological ability to defend itself against a Cylon invasion. Our two heroes stun a guard and barge into Mortinson’s lab only to find the doctor absent. They ignore the protests of his lab assistant and start screwing around with a complicated formula on one of the computers.

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Trust me, this worked great in The Day the Earth Stood Still.”

After ripping off a scene from a sci-fi classic Troy and Dillon are arrested on suspected terrorism. When Dr. Mortinson returns and discovers what has been done to his formula he instantly comes to the conclusion that those two men must be from outer space. Sure, if he couldn’t solve a mathematical problem, and then someone else does, they must be aliens from an advance civilization, and not just a couple of guys smarter than he is. Troy and Dillon escape a jail cell by using their personal cloaking device, which were not removed when they were booked because police officers are known for locking people up without checking their pockets for weapons and such.

vlcsnap-2015-09-18-17h28m51s803 

Maybe we should have used this device BEFORE getting arrested?

Meanwhile back on the Galactica Commander Xaviar is not happy with the current plan and tries to convince Adama that he himself should lead a team back in time to accelerate Earth’s technological advancement so that when the Cylons do arrive they would arrive to find Earth ready for them. Though time travel is possible, like everything else on this show it was invented by super whiz kid Dr. Zee, it has never been tested, and the dangers of meddling with the past is too much for Adama. He refuses to support the plan so Xaviar of course just goes ahead and steals a ship equipped with the time warp synthesizer.  Apparently just because a device is untested and dangerous doesn’t mean you shouldn’t equip all your ships with them.

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“Does your plan involve helping the Nazis take over the world? Of course it does.”

Eventually Troy and Dillon hook up again with Jamie Hamilton and Dr. Mortinson, but before they can get into any “How we can help Earth science” they get all call from Adama and are ordered back to the Galactica, but before they have a chance to do that they must evade the police because they are escaped fugitives, and now suspected kidnappers. We get some idiotic comedy when Dillon insist they let him drive because he’s watched Mortinson drive for a whole ten minutes, and of course this results in a zany car chase that ends with them crashing through a storefront. Jamie browbeats her way into a trip up to the Galactica by threatening to spill the beans to the world about the spacemen, and when she gets their claims her knowledge of Earth history will be crucial in their plans to stop Xaviar.

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“You need me for my knowledge of 1940s Germany, because Wikipedia hasn’t been invented yet.”

Troy, Dillon and Jamie quickly jump into a couple of Vipers and engage the time warp synthesizer. They are able to track Xaviar’s energy readings to Germany June 4th 1944, but strangely we later lean that Xaviar has been aiding the Nazis on their V2 rocket program for quite some time, so why did they miss Xaviar by months? Is the science of time travel a bit sporadic?

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Or is it another case of Troy and Dillon sucking at their job?

Both Troy and Dillon make it quite clear to Jamie that they are only here to stop Xaviar, and that they cannot interfere with Earth’s history without their being dire consequences. First she wants them to kill a bunch of Germans firing at an Allied plane, but is told they can’t because those Germans could have descendants in the present that would soon cease to exist. She ignores them and runs to aid of Major Stockwell (Christopher Stone), an American spy who parachuted into Germany to take out the rocket research compound. Later they encounter a boxcar of Jews being loaded for a trip to a concentration camp, and once again they refuse Jamie’s suggestion of rescuing the doomed people. Of course at the end of the episode that’s exactly what they end up doing, but we never learn what the consequences of a hundred people not dying at the end of WWII has on the present.

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I'm not sure this show earned the right to use the Holocaust as a plot point.

Xaviar is eventually tracked down and Dillon shoots the modified V2 rocket with his blaster. For his failure the Germans order Xaviar to be shot. Troy and Hamilton, who are still disguised as German soldiers, haul Xaviar away, but at the last minute Xaviar slips away with the aid of his personal cloaking device. When never do hear how all the other Colonial agents, those that visited scientists in other parts of the world, did on their mission, but I must wonder, “Did they screw up as much as these two guys?

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Troy, you’re his grandson. You explain to Adama how we let him get away.

The remainder of this three episode story arc is even more embarrassing. They return to 1980 and drop Jamie off, but while they were off doing that a kid discovered their de-cloaked Vipers sitting in a field, and who then ran to tell his dad about his discovery. This results in the military showing up and confiscating the ships. They track down the kid in the hopes that he can tell them where their Vipers were taken, and after helping him defeat a bully, good use of your time guys, they discover that the military actually have three Vipers. So for some reason Xaviar not only returned to the present, when he had the ability to go anywhere in time, but managed lose his ship as well. I’m starting to think the standards for being a Colonial Warrior have really slipped over the years.

vlcsnap-2015-09-18-20h58m26s865 

They let Richard “I’m as evil as can be” Lynch into their ranks and onto the Council.

Even stranger is that it seems Xaviar has returned here to enlist Dr. Mortinson in his quest for altering the world's timeline. Not sure why he thinks a nuclear physicist is an ideal partner for time travelling adventures, but sure why not. Like most plans adopted in this show it fails immediately. Troy and Dillon call and inform the good Doctor that the Xaviar is evil, and thus our villain must flee…again. Our heroes then head to the Airbase to retrieve their ships, but Xaviar is already there. There is a gun battle but Xaviar manages to power up his ship, and he escapes…again. Troy and Dillon have to stun all the approaching military personal before they too can make their escape, but not without Jamie stowing away in Dillon’s Viper.

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“I have to come along. I’m a series regular.”

They chase after Xaviar, firing at him just as he engages the time synthesizer, but he gets away…again. Or trio return to the Galactica where they learn from Adama that Xaviar has escaped to the 18th century where he will interfere in the history of pre-Revolutionary America. "Return with us each and every week as our stalwart hero tracks the villainous Xaviar through the pages of history…or not." Turns out the Network wasn’t too keen on the time travel aspect of the show, and so the producers were asked to jettison the whole idea. So the threat of Xavier altering time was abandoned, and left completely unresolved.

vlcsnap-2015-09-18-21h14m36s095 

“Time traveling is such a bore. Let’s go and hang out with a bunch of kids instead.”

Note: Donald Bellisario would later re-tool the original time travel concept, while also takings ideas he explored in the Battlestar Galactica episode Experiment in Terra and would go on to use them in Quantum Leap.

The reason for Galactica arriving at Earth during the present time is glaringly obvious to anyone, the original series was one of the most expensive shows on television, so if a spin-off was going to happen it would have to be cheaper.  Even the time travel aspect of it was planned to go on the cheap as they’d have a library of stock footage to use.  So after that was jettisoned it was all downhill from there.

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Beware the Super Scouts.