Monday, December 25, 2017

Die Hard 2

Every year more and more people think they're being clever when they tell you that the original Die Hard is their favorite Christmas movie. Don't get me wrong, the first Die Hard is a fantastic movie and, yes, it is set at Christmas time but, for my money, Die Hard 2 is the better Christmas movie. I can watch Die Hard at any point of the year but when the Christmas season is upon us I tend to reach for Die Hard 2. I think it has the distinct advantage when it comes to the setting. Die Hard takes place in California while Die Hard 2 takes place in Virginia during bad weather. It has snow and snowmobiles and pointy icicles that you can jam into a terrorist's eye. I'm just saying John McClane never killed anyone with a palm tree. And sure, Reginald VelJohnson is criminally underused in Die Hard 2, but the movie almost makes up for it with the rest of the cast. You got Dennis Franz, William Sadler, Franco Nero, John Amos, Fred Thompson, Robert Patrick and Colm Meaney. That's a murderers' row of character actors. So next year when some smug douche or some snarky listicle tries to convince you to rewatch Die Hard for Christmas, consider Die Hard 2, you may be pleasantly surprised.

Rating: 75%

(Image from IMDB)

Sunday, December 24, 2017

A Wish for Wings That Work

Being that I'm a million years old, I can remember the mostly bygone era of the newspaper comic strip. Some of these strips were so popular that they managed to spin off into other avenues of entertainment, like Peanuts and Garfield and Ziggy. Some of these spin offs proved to be valuable extensions of their respective brands, while others did not. Case in point: Opus n' Bill in A Wish for Wings That Work, an animated Christmas Special based on characters from Bloom County and Outland. I never read Bloom County or Outland, they were among the group of comic strips, like Doonesbury, that had no immediate appeal to me. I would see them in the comics section and think, "These aren't for me. Let's see what Calvin and Hobbes are up to." This is all been a really long winded way to say that I didn't care for this special. I'm not sure if it was trying to appeal to kids or adults. Either way, it wasn't for me.

Rating: Uncredited Voice Work from Robin Williams%

(Image from amazon.com)

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Yogi Bear's All Star Comedy Christmas Caper

Huckleberry Hound and a gaggle of Hanna-Barbera's biggest names drive out to Jellystone Park to visit Yogi and Boo-Boo for Christmas but, wouldn't you know it, Yogi and Boo-Boo have stowed away on a bus headed for the Big City so that they can visit all of their friends. On the run from Ranger Smith, the police and some guys with nets, Yogi and Boo-Boo pose as a department store Santa and an elf. Soon enough, they meet Judy Jones. Little Judy is sad because all see wants for Christmas is a Father who'll spend some time with her (Daddy didn't give attention). Yogi, not realizing some people get a little uptight when you take an unaccompanied minor out of a department store, takes Judy to the park for a picnic. What follows is a city-wide manhunt for Yogi and Boo-Boo, who are believed to be kidnappers. Also, for some reason there's a cameo from Fred Flintstone and Barney Rubble where they beat up Snagglepuss in a sort-of charity scam.

Rating: A Picnic in the Park%

(Image from animatedviews.com)

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Twelve Lies of Christmas

I bought the Woody Woodpecker and Friends Holiday Favorites DVD thinking it would feature some classic Woody Woodpecker cartoons from a bygone era. Instead it's got a couple of episodes of The New Woody Woodpecker Show from the late 90s/early 2000s. Boo-urns. There's also a few old theatrical shorts on there, but a bunch of them don't even feature Woody Woodpecker or Chilly Willy or any of those other Walter Lantz characters that I can barely give two shits about. Being up against a self-imposed deadline, I opted to watch "The Twelve Lies of Christmas," an episode of the aforementioned New Woody Woodpecker Show. Bore-ring. Sure, it's got Billy West and Mark Hamill doing some of the voices, but that's about all it's got going for it. Plot-wise, it's basically a riff on Rashomon, with a bunch of characters arguing about which one of them was responsible for saving Santa from some kidnappers the previous year. Fuck you, Woody Woodpecker and Friends Holiday Favorites DVD, you piece of shit.

Rating: Too Harsh?%

(Image from tvshowsondvd.com)

Thursday, December 21, 2017

A Very Murray Christmas

Your enjoyment of A Very Murray Christmas will depend on how much you enjoy hearing Bill Murray sing. Because that's pretty much the whole special. It's a fairly quiet, but thankfully not maudlin, special. Bill Murray and Paul Shaffer are supposed to be doing a live Christmas Special at a classy hotel in front of an audience packed with celebrities, except a massive snowstorm has caused them all to cancel. Without a show to do, Bill and Paul retire to the bar where they knock out a few Christmas songs with the staff and other hotel guests. There's even a dream sequence, after Bill does a few too many shots, where we get to see George Clooney and Miley Cyrus belt out some tunes on a sound stage with a full band backing them up.

Rating: Chris Rock in a Festive Sweater%

(Image from Wikipedia)

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

A Very Merry Cricket

A Very Merry Cricket isn't the easiest thing to explain. For starters, it's a sequel to an animated adaptation of the children's book The Cricket in Times Square. Both specials were made by Chuck Jones, the Looney Tunes guy. You may also remember his work on another Christmas Special How the Grinch Stole Christmas. From what I can gather, in the first special a Connecticut cricket named Chester ends up in New York and eventually becomes famous for his ability to play music. In this follow-up, Chester's old pals Harry and Tucker go to Connecticut to bring Chester back to New York so that he can play for the city folk and remind them to be kind to one another, or something like that. There really isn't a whole lot that happens during the special. It's definitely worth a watch if you're animation fan though. A lot of the animation is of the Looney Tunes variety (including some voice work from Mel Blanc) but it's combined with some distorted city imagery and grotesquely painted backgrounds that reminded me a lot of the work of Ralph Bakshi.

Rating: A One Cat Open Sleigh%

(Image from firstanimationart.com)

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas

There were a lot of "Very Special Episodes" of Community, including quite a few "Very Special" Seasonal episodes, but for my money, "Abed's Uncontrollable Christmas" might be the best one. Abed, who already lived his life as though he were in a TV show, wakes up to find that he and his friends have become stop motion animated characters, not unlike those found in old-timey Christmas Specials. In the canon of the show, no one has actually been transformed into a silicon doll on a ball and socket armature. We, the audience, are merely being treated to a glimpse inside Abed's delusions. And what wonderful Christmassy delusions they are. Despite the best efforts of a Psychology Professor played by John Oliver, Abed takes everyone on a journey to find the "true meaning of Christmas." Will there be singing? Yes. Will everyone learn a valuable lesson? That's less clear. Will there be some jokes at the expense of Lost? You better believe it.

Rating: Christmas Pterodactyl%

(Image from Wikipedia)

Monday, December 18, 2017

Jack Frost

I love old Rankin/Bass Christmas Specials and I will never hold an absence of logic against them. And yet, having just said that, I don't think Jack Frost makes a whole lot of sense. In the Special, which essentially attempts to explain Groundhog Day by way of an origin story for the Groundhog's shadow, Jack Frost is temporarily turned into a human so that he might attempt to woo a woman and gain her hand in marriage. The problem is, he takes his eye off the prize halfway through the Special and transforms back into a winter sprite so that he can keep a Cossack and his army of robots cooped up in a castle for six weeks. In his absence, the young woman falls in love with a Knight in Golden Armor and Jack resigns himself to being a winter sprite forever. It's kinda like a more Christmassy version of Beetlejuice.

Rating: Ice Money%

(Image from pinterest.ca)

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire

Even though I stopped watching The Simpsons regularly many years ago, I'll always have some affection and nostalgia for the show's early years. I can still remember the show's early rise to popularity and ubiquity. It all began with "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire," the first full length episode to air after the characters were spun off of The Tracy Ullman Show. Watching the episode now, after so many years, I was reminded of how the show tapped into the working class themes of sitcoms like Roseanne. And how they were able to point out and subvert so many TV cliches. Despite being a little rough around the edges, The Simpsons first episode still has some charm.  

Rating: Rubber Pork Chop%

(Image from noiselesschatter.com)

Saturday, December 16, 2017

'Tis the Season to Be Smurfy

Despite having grown up in an era when the Smurfs had considerable cultural cachet, I'm far from a Smurfs aficionado (a Smurfionado?). Every time I revisit the Smurfs' canon I seem to encounter characters that I have absolutely no memory of. Wild Smurf? Sassette? Grandpa Smurf? Who are these Smurfs? Sure, like most Smurfs, their names pretty much tell you everything you need to know about them but I was still kinda holding out for some of the Smurfs that I remember to get some time in the spotlight. And while Brainy and Hefty get a few moments to shine, Papa Smurf is practically MIA for the bulk of this special's run time. And, once again, Gargamel is nowhere to be found. What the Smurf? 

Rating: Half a bushel of Smurfberries%

(Image from beyondrudolph.wordpress.com)

Friday, December 15, 2017

A Very Sunny Christmas

It's Christmas Eve and the gang down at Paddy's Bar are trying to recapture the old Christmas spirit. Dennis and Dee attempt to get revenge on Frank by concocting an elaborate scheme loosely based on A Christmas Carol. Meanwhile, Charlie and Mack uncover some painful childhood memories. There's even a claymation hallucination, wherein the gang dismembers Frank while a pantsless elf looks on. If you've ever felt like your Christmas celebrations were missing the sight of Danny DeVito naked and sweaty, then A Very Sunny Christmas is just the thing you've been looking for.

Rating: Throwing rocks at trains%

(Image from itsalwayssunny.wikia.com)

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2

Silent Night, Deadly Night Part 2 is barely a movie. The first third of the picture is dominated by "flashbacks" to sequences from the first film. The filmmakers probably could have gotten away with recycling that much footage from the first movie if they could have come up with a better framing device for justification. Instead, we got the brother of the first film's protagonist recounting events that he was barely present for and/or could not have known about. Then we're treated to some new flashbacks concerning his own violent misadventures. And sure, the "garbage day" meme was fun but it's something you're better off watching on youtube devoid of context.

Rating: 16%

(Image from sbccfilmreviews.org)

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

The Girl With All The Gifts

A young girl born a zombie helps lead a platoon of soldiers and mean scientists across Zombie England, one of those constant locations for horror flicks these days. Anyway, I don't like fast zombies but the kid angle of the whole thing is pretty well done.

RATING: 70%

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Halloween

Are you kidding me? It's fucking great. How have we not reviewed this movie before? If you haven't seen it in a while, do yourself a favor and watch it again. It totally holds up. And if you've never seen it before, what the fuck are you doing reading this? Go watch this movie. Go on, git!

Rating: 99.9%

(Image from moviepilot.com)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Raw

A vegetarian freshman gets majorly hazed at one of those super prestigious veterinary schools you're always hearing about, and after she is forced to eat a pickled rabbit kidney she basically goes hog wild for meat of the human variety.

RATING: 89%

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Scream 4

Most of the meta chatter in Scream 4 is about remakes. It makes sense, given that horror movies were in a serious remake rut at the time of Scream 4's release. And while the movie keeps telling us that it's a remake, it actually turns out to be a much better concluding chapter for the Scream series than Scream 3 ever was. Every surviving character returns except for Sidney's father, who never really made much of an impact in the series and only ever appeared briefly in parts 1 and 3. The story does a good job of showing us what's happened to these characters in the ten years since their last brush with death. It's a good send-off for the series and I sincerely hope that it's the final chapter.

Rating: 66%

(Image from collider.com)

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Darling

You ever see one of those movies that it's totally obvious that the people making it thought it was brilliant? This is one of those. A woman babysits a haunted house but it's very scary according to the loud violin score and literally nothing else that happens in the movie.

RATING: 8%

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Scream 3

One of the things that always bothered me about Scream 3 was that a lot of it was centered around the production of Stab 3. In Scream 2, they had only just released the first Stab film. So we're just supposed to accept that another Stab film has come and gone, depicting the events of the previous Scream film? Stab gave Scream 2 the opportunity for some meta commentary on slasher films and the success of the original Scream. Stab 3 and the hijinks in this movie mostly transform Scream 3 into a parody. Also, in light of recent events and allegations, it seems pretty gross to have plot elements pertaining to a young woman being sexually abused by a Hollywood producer being used as the backstory for the latest killer.

Rating: 59%

(Image from scream.wikia.com)

Saturday, October 21, 2017

It Follows

A unique horror movie about an STD (sexually transmitted demon) who stalks you at the speed of walk after you catch him and then eventually tries to kill you. It looks great and sounds great, but to me it just wasn't... scary? Points for being a Michigan movie though.

RATING: 77%

Friday, October 20, 2017

Scream 2

Scream 2 was released almost one year to the day after the original Scream and it shows. It seems to have been made to capitalize on all of the elements of the original that surprised audiences and critics, while failing to deliver on some of the aspects that made the original so good. The humor is amped up and the cast features even more hip, young television actors. It's also very meta, with the characters recognizing and pontificating on the fact that they're in a sequel. Moreover, it features commentary on the success of the original film with the introduction of the film-within-the-film, Stab, which dramatizes the events of the first film. It fails to deliver a story on par with the original, recycling the framework from the first film without injecting enough original content.

Rating: 65%

(Image from ca.movieposter.com)

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Scream

I've mentioned Scream many times on this site. It's a movie that was responsible for reviving the horror genre in the 1990s and launching a wave of imitators. It was the Pulp Fiction of horror movies, if you will. It holds up pretty well today but it has definitely begun to show it's age. The hairstyles and fashions in the film stand out now, what with it being almost twenty years old. And you have to remind yourself that almost no one owned a cellphone at the time, because that's literally a plot point in the movie. I particularly enjoyed watching the movie again recently because I forgot just how awesome Sidney Prescott was, she had plenty of 90s sass and humor along with the strength to kick a little ass when confronted with a jerk in a Halloween costume. It was also enjoyable to be reminded of all of the little plot details around the edges of the film. You remember the teens and the rules and the iconic costumes, but you forget that a lot of the movie was about the main character coming to terms with her mother's death and the reality of her mother's sordid past. Also, the motivation of the killers (spoiler alert?) reads like something you'd see on a Men's Rights Activism message board nowadays, so you're happy to see them get killed at the end.

Rating: 85%

(Image from scream.wikia.com)

Drácula

There was a brief period of time when it was cheaper to shoot a movie multiple times in multiple languages rather than to dub a single film into another language for a foreign territory. That's how we ended up with a version of Dracula shot on the same sets as the Bela Lugosi version only with a different cast speaking in Spanish. It's almost the exact same movie, except for a few different camera setups, some slinkier costumes for the ladies, and a couple of scenes that got mentioned but not shown in the English language version. Some hipsters might try to convince you that this version is better than the Bela Lugosi version but they're full of shit. The truth is, they're both good. The Spanish language version is actually a great companion piece to the English language version. It might even be fun to see the two versions spliced together.

Rating: Muy bien%

(Image from pinterest.ca)

Tusk

A podcast jerk travels to the depths of Manitoba for a story and winds up being turned into a walrus by a lonely old crazyman. This isn't as good as Smith's previous horror entry, Red State, but it's still weird and broken in the same good way. It coulda been about 15% better if Johnny Depp's part was cut down to a couple minutes.

RATING: 58%

Monday, October 16, 2017

Get Out

A black guy (well, I mean a guy who just so happens to be black) goes with his girlfriend to meet her white family (well, I mean her family that just so happens to be white) and things end up getting a little creepy. You know, body snatchers style not to get too spoilery.

RATING: 91%

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Under The Shadow

This is a great movie set in Tehran during the Iran-Iraq war. A woman whose husband gets deployed at the front line is left alone with her daughter, but after an unexploded missile hits their apartment building things start getting freaky. Actually, I guess the missile hitting the building is freaky too. There might be Djinn or there might be brain whatsits, but it's very very tense either way!

RATING: 85%

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Invitation

I've been to some awkward dinner parties in my life but this takes the cake!

RATING: 67%

Friday, October 13, 2017

mother!

In this movie, which seems pretty mundane at first, a couple adjusts to life in a real fixer-upper while the husband guy tries to write. He invites in some unexpected guests who smoke and throw parties without asking and also puke naked into toilets. It's a pretty straightforward flick for a long time, but of course Aronofsky gonna Aronofsky, so the last twenty minutes will probably fuck you up but good.

RATING: 77%

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Evil Bong

I really don't think I need to explain anything here.

RATING: 16%

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Final Destination 5

Who know a franchise's fifth entry could be its best? A bus full of business colleagues are taking a trip when one of them has a vision of a terrrrible bridge collapse. He convinces them all to run off the bridge and waddaya know, it collapses. The death scenes in this one are especially creative, featuring a gymnasticking, a Buddhaing, *and* a LASIKing.

RATING: 71%

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Dracula

It's the granddaddy of all vampire movies y'all. Bela Lugosi's portrayal of Count Dracula would go on to be the archetypal depiction of a vampire. The accent, the cape, the medal, the brooding sexuality. Yes, people in the '30s thought Bela Lugosi was sexy. Despite not being as popular as Frankenstein, released a few months later, Dracula was not only a success but a launching pad for the first wave of Universal's monster movies.

Rating: 77%

(Image from Wikipedia)

Monday, October 9, 2017

It

Some kids in the 80s fight a killer clown and his cadre of fear shapes. It leaves out a lot of the bizarre space/dimension/turtle mother stuff that the novel had but maybe they're saving it for the sequel?

RATING: 79%

Sunday, October 8, 2017

When Halloween Was Forever

Some goblins release Samhain, the pumpkin-headed spirit of Halloween, from his prison inside an ancient Irish relic. Now free in New York City, Samhain pledges to stop time and make Halloween night last forever. Can an army of ghosts and goblins fend off the Ghostbusters long enough for Samhain to spread eternal darkness across the entire world? Nope. They can, however, make a memorable episode of The Real Ghostbusters, the animated spin-off of the mega-hit movie Ghostbusters. Watching the episode now, you might find it hard to get past some of cheap animation and continuity errors, but as a child I couldn't get enough of characters like Samhain and the Boogieman.

Rating: Nostalgia%

(Image from Netflix)

Saturday, October 7, 2017

The Final Destination

Some friends (they don't seem like friends!) are enjoying a trip to the local stock car race (ok?) when one of them has a vision they'll all die in a terrrrrible bleacher collapse. He gets all his pals kicked out and whaddaya know, the bleachers collapse. Anyway this was a 3D movie so expect lots of impalings and other things flying right at your face but hey look if you didn't make the third entry in your horror franchise the 3D one then you missed out pal. All 13% here goes to the incredible death a racist gets.

RATING: 13%

Friday, October 6, 2017

Shocker

I know this movie has its defenders, but I couldn't help but think it was meant to be seen as a parody. Written and directed by the late, great Wes Craven, Shocker seems to cherry pick elements from other, better Wes Craven films. There are a lot of similarities between Freddy Krueger and Horace Pinker, Shocker's unstoppable villain, and yet I'm not surprised that Pinker failed to make much of a cultural impact. I'd tell you the plot, but it really doesn't matter. Don't waste your time on this one.

Rating: 52%

(Image from movieposter.com)

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Final Destination 3

Some rollercoaster buds are enjoying their senior trip to an amusement park when one of them has a vision they'll all die in a terrrrible rollercoaster accident. You can probably figure out where it goes from there, although this time they have the neat gimmick of a camera predicting how they'll each die.

RATING: 60%

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

The Mutilator

Here's a tip: if your father never forgives you for accidentally killing your mother when you were a child, then maybe it's not such a good idea to go to his cabin on a secluded island. There's a chance he might be hiding out in said cabin, looking to kill you and all of your little buddies. Just sayin'.

Rating: 66%

(Image from popculturebeast.com)

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Final Destination 2

A girl starting a road trip with her friends has a vision of a terrrrible car crash so she ditches her pals and whaddaya know, her friends all die in a terrible car crash. I get that these movies need to keep coming up with ways for the characters to "fight" death, but I'm really not sure why any of them take the creepy mortician's riddles seriously.

RATING: 38%

Monday, October 2, 2017

Dressed to Kill

A sexually frustrated housewife attempts to seduce her therapist. After he turns her down, she picks up a guy at an art galley. Unfortunately, she soon finds out that he has a serious case of VD. She doesn't have a lot of time to fret over it though, as she gets hacked to death with a straight razor in the elevator of the guy's apartment building. So then it's up to her son and a prostitute who witnessed the murder to find the killer. I guess there's a lot of people out there who hated this movie when it first came out, calling it overly violent and misogynistic. Nowadays, a lot of people would probably hate this movie because of its less than PC handling of sexuality and gender dynamics. Personally, I'm not one to let dated attitudes stand in the way of a good murder mystery.   

Rating: 71%

(Image from rogerebert.com)

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Final Destination

A kid has a terrrrible vision of his class trip's plane exploding so after he gets all his friends kicked off the flight whaddaya know, the plane explodes. Phew, close one! Nah, just kidding - death slowly comes for all these kids via wild Rube Goldberg devices and good old-fashioned blind bus drivers.

RATING: 61%

Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Dominators

After finding Zoe trying to stow away on the TARDIS, the Doctor used a device that could display his thought patterns on a monitor to show Zoe some of the dangers she might have to face if she chose to join them. Story-wise, this gave Zoe some agency in her choice to become a companion, something very few of the previous companions got to have. Production-wise, this allowed the producers to air a repeat of The Evil of the Daleks in the gap between The Wheel in Space, which closed out season five, and The Dominators, which opened season six. It had been almost a year since the Daleks had last been on the show and there seemed to be a lot of effort going on behind the scenes to find a replacement adversary that could capture the public's attention. The Quarks, the robot henchmen of the Dominators, were one such attempt to create the next Daleks. Needless to say, they did not catch on. And while that is evident to us now, apparently both the writers and the show's producers thought that they had hit pay dirt. Each side tried to claim ownership over the Quarks and attempted to launch product lines and advertising campaigns using their image. The battle for the Quarks, who would not go on to become popular characters whatsoever, got so heated that the episode order for The Dominators was cut from six episodes to five at the last minute and the writers were told that they would never work for the series again, and they didn't.

Rating: Oh dear, this is rather complicated%

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

The Wheel in Space

So far, all of the Cybermen stories have been consistent with the Second Doctor era's reliance on the base-under-siege storytelling formula. You could even argue that The Tenth Planet and The Moonbase were practically the same story. And yet, The Wheel in Space was the first Cybermen story that I didn't thoroughly enjoy. For me, it was just too much like The Ice Warriors, a serial that was a Cybermen story in all but name. There wasn't anything in The Wheel in Space that seemed particularly unique, as if all of its pieces could have been taken from other serials. The only real takeaway from this story was the introduction of the newest companion, Zoe, a brilliant young astrophysicist. Already, her relationship with the Doctor and Jamie is much different than the one they had with Victoria. Zoe appears to challenge and exasperate the Doctor and Jamie, where their relationship with Victoria had been much more paternal and doting.

Rating: Logic, my dear Zoe, merely enables one to be wrong with authority%

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Fury from the Deep

I wasn't looking forward to watching Fury from the Deep. Chronologically, it's the last serial from the Patrick Troughton era to be missing in its entirety, all his remaining serials contain at least one surviving episode. So it was with some hesitation that I plowed through the episode reconstructions, doing my best not to nod off. In the end, while I found the plot to be very formulaic and not entirely dissimilar from The Ice Warriors, I wish more than just a handful of clips from this serial had survived. All that remains now are a few outtakes and some of the more violent moments that were cut from the film prints by Australian censors. Lost are the helicopter stunts, the first appearance of the sonic screwdriver and the final moments of Victoria's tenure as one of the Doctor's companions. I liked Victoria, she never got much to do but I thought she had a great rapport with Jamie and the Doctor. Ironically, during the serial she complained of being terrified all the time but ultimately it was her screams that defeated the monsters.

Rating: ___% (Rating Missing)

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Web of Fear

Going in, I didn't have high hopes for The Web of Fear. I didn't really think that the Yeti deserved another shot at the Doctor, especially so soon after their debut. Thankfully though, with just a slight update to their appearance and a change of location, the Yeti have justified their existence. These new Yeti, dubbed Mark II, have flatter faces with big light-up eyes. Given that they spend the majority of the serial chasing people around in abandoned subway tunnels, they reminded me a lot of C.H.U.D.s, which is never a bad thing in my book. This serial also sees the return of actor Nicholas Courtney, in his first performance as Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart (though, he's only a Colonel here). We first saw Courtney playing a different character in the First Doctor adventure The Daleks' Master Plan. He'll return once more during the Second Doctor era before becoming a regular fixture during the Third Doctor era. Most of The Web of Fear was recovered in Nigeria at the same time as The Enemy of the World, though one episode of The Web of Fear remains missing.

Rating: We keep on landing on your Earth%

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

The Enemy of the World

Arriving in the middle of a season full of monsters is the unexpected gem, "The Enemy of the World." The serial finds the Doctor and his companions arriving in the far-off year of 2018. After some folks in a hovercraft attempt to assassinate him, the Doctor discovers that he bears a striking resemblance to a political figure known as Salamander. What follows is a twisty tale of murder, manipulation and madness. A complete version of the serial was discovered in Nigeria in 2013, prior to that only one episode was known to have survived. While it wasn't particularly well received at the time of it's original airing, the serial stands out now because of how different it is from the rest of its season and the Troughton era as a whole. This type of story was more typical of the First Doctor era, especially with the lead actor playing multiple parts (see also: "The Massacre of St Bartholomew's Eve"). And while I can understand that some people will be put off by his accent and the use of makeup to darken Troughton's skin while playing Salamander, this serial is also notable for being the first Doctor Who story to feature a character played by a woman of color. So I guess it all evens out?

Rating: See if there's any buckets and spades in the TARDIS%

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

The Ice Warriors

The Patrick Troughton era of Doctor Who gets a little flack for being formulaic. A lot of serials from this period were focused on "base under siege" plot lines and wave after wave of new monsters. And while you could definitely level some of those criticisms at The Ice Warriors, it's still a serial with a lot of charm. For the first time in a long time we get to see the TARDIS make an awkward landing, which makes for some funny business when the Doctor and his companions have to climb out the front doors. We get to see Jamie perv out a little bit over the body-hugging uniforms worn by the scientists at the ionizer base. And we get introduced to the Ice Warriors, a group of Martians who are revived after they're discovered in a glacier. (Side note: British people don't say glacier like those of us in North America would, they say "glassier." Kinda like if you were to cover a glass object with even more glass, you would have found a way to make it glassier.) The Ice Warriors are fairly well designed and they feature one of the key ingredients for enduring popularity as a Doctor Who baddie, they have voices that are very easy to imitate. And even though they only pop up a handful of times on the show, they're still highly regarded among the Doctor's rogues gallery.

Rating: We can't all be perfect%

(Image from pop-critica.com)

Monday, April 24, 2017

The Abominable Snowmen

What could be better than the Doctor going toe-to-toe with a Yeti? How about the Doctor having to face several robotic Yetis controlled by a mysterious disembodied entity? Because that's what we get in The Abominable Snowmen. The Yeti and their controller, the Great Intelligence, were the next attempt to find an enemy that the Doctor could face on a recurring basis. With the Daleks off the table, the show could not survive on Cybermen alone. And while the Yeti would make a couple more appearances on the show, they were hardly popular enough to become the next big thing.

Rating: This wasn't the welcome I expected%

Monday, April 3, 2017

The Tomb of the Cybermen

Finally, in his eighth adventure as the Doctor, we have a Patrick Troughton serial that has survived completely intact. The fact that it's also a fairly well-liked serial is just an added bonus. Typically, I only ever take notice of the direction and production value on these older serials when I notice the cardboard sets or when the camera literally bumps into something. But this time around I was fairly impressed with some of the directing and I loved the sets, especially the Cybermen's frozen tomb. This serial also features another all-time great speech from the Second Doctor, where he takes a moment to comfort his newest companion. Matt Smith, the Eleventh Doctor, has said that this serial was an influence on his portrayal of the character.

Rating: Well, now I know you're mad. I just wanted to make sure%

(Image from kotwg.blogspot.ca)

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Evil of the Daleks

I won't pretend that I understand the various ins and outs of copyright law, especially not the copyright laws of other countries. I will say that I'm amazed that Terry Nation, the man who created the Daleks, was somehow able to hold the copyright to the Daleks despite having created them specifically for Doctor Who. Jack Kirby is probably still spinning in his grave over that one. Since Nation was trying to get a Dalek show off the ground in America, The Evil of the Daleks was intended to be the last time our beloved Doctor faced his most famous foes, and it was the last time... for about four years. At least it made for a pretty good serial, with several twists and turns and the introduction of a new companion, Victoria. And as an added bonus, there's definitely a hint of I, Borg in there too.

Rating: The Daleks will take pleasure in killing everyone in sight%

(Image from tardis.wikia.com)

Sunday, March 12, 2017

The Faceless Ones

In the previous serial, we got our first glimpse of Doctor Who's new title sequence. Now, in The Faceless Ones, we get an updated theme song to accompany the new intro. Doctor Who is, after all, a show that is continually trying to update itself. Out with the old, in with the new. And so, in this serial, we say goodbye to Ben and Polly. As this particular adventure ends, we come to find out that the TARDIS has brought the Doctor and his companions to London on the exact day that Ben and Polly had initially left with the First Doctor. Leaving them free to pick up exactly where they had left off. It's an awfully lucky coincidence considering that all of the Doctor's previous companions were either left stranded, killed, or returned to their homes years after they first left. The Doctor doesn't exactly have a great track record when it comes to parting ways with his companions.

Rating: Some sort of official mumbo jumbo%

Monday, February 27, 2017

The Macra Terror

I guess there's really no getting around it, The Macra Terror is a story about giant crabs. Not giant crab people, just giant crabs who've found a way to enslave a human colony on some distant planet. Giant crabs who would have just kept on enslaving generation after generation of colonists if it weren't for the Doctor and his friends. You know, giant hypno-crabs from outer space. That old chestnut.

Rating: ___% (Rating Missing)