ZOMBPOCALYPSE NOW: FEAR THE WALKING DEAD Is Actually Good. Huh.

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Is this the best episode yet of Fear the Walking Dead? Rubén Blades returns and Team Zombie has thoughts. It’s Zombpocalypse Now!

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Season 3, Episode 4 “100”
Written by Alan Page
Directed by Alex Garcia Lopez

Ruben Blades as Daniel Salazar (Richard Foreman, Jr/AMC)

Timothy: So here’s what concerns me…

Dustin: That Fear the Walking Dead has actually become a well-written show that we’re enjoying, and it’s going to get our hopes up and then crush them beneath a return to the awfulness that we have endured lo these previous two seasons?

Curtis: “Lo”? Really?

Dustin: I am waxing poetic.

Mindy: This is a legitimate concern, at least based on what you two have been saying. Of course, I have just started watching this show, so I haven’t had to suffer the way you two have. Or at least the way you two say you have. Repeatedly.

Dustin: It’s been a terrible burden to bear. 

Mindy: Mmm hmmm.

Dustin: IT IS A TERRIBLE BURDEN, MINDY.

Curtis: So what’s this concern, Tim?

Timothy: Well, I’ve been looking at the viewing numbers. When the show debuted, it had about 10 million viewers, which fell to a little less than 7 million by the end of the first season.

Dustin: This does not surprise me. At all.

Timothy: The second season started with about 6.5 million viewers, and ended with about 3 million.

Curtis: Ouch. 

Dustin: At all surprised, I am not.

Mindy: And this season?

Timothy: This season kicked off with just over 5 million, which became 4.8 million by the second episode. We don’t have the +3 and +7 numbers for the 3rd and 4th episode yet, but their live numbers have fallen every episode. 

Dustin: Wait, we’ve only had three Fear the Walking Dead nights… oh. 

Curtis: They were losing viewers on the first night the show came back, between the first and second episodes. That aired back to back.

Timothy: Yeah. Fear the Walking Dead has had four well-written, well-acted, actually good episodes this season…

Mindy: And fewer and fewer viewers.

Timothy: Exactly.

Dustin: I’m not sure how I feel about being in the position of defending this show, but we are, and we do, and here is the podcast thing we do. Listen while we say nice things about a show we’ve hated while it’s good and we’re hoping it stays that way. LISTEN!

 

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MST3K Recap: 1110, WIZARDS OF THE LOST KINGDOM

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Experiment 1110

Written by Joel Hodgson et al
Directed by Joel Hodgson and Robert Cohen
Copyright 2017

1985 was a watershed year for genre movies. It saw the introduction of the Back to the Future trilogy, and The Goonies, Terry Gilliam’s amazing Brazil, Weird Science, Real Genius, and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. Almost all were new properties, and fondly remembered to this day. With such an imposing lineup, it’s no surprise that this week’s experiment got lost in the shuffle. But then, that really would have happened anyway.

Cold open in Moon 13. Max is crushing hard on Kinga, and discovers a giant key. Also, a giant keyhole. Inserting part A into part B reveals a giant, armature-like robot who emerges from the ceiling. Unfortunately, it’s show time, so he sends it back whence it came. We’ll have to see where that goes.

Invention exchange: Jonah has invented “Verbal Smoke Bombs”: flash cards with guaranteed conversation-killers like “Got to go. Can’t feel my arm.” and “Oh look, a hurricane!” I need this. The Mads have sold the naming rights to every hour on the clock, which I’m kind of amazed nobody has actually done yet.

Movie sign, and we follow a boy prince who is also a magician who is teleported out of the castle when his father the king is overthrown by the queen and their “trusted” advisor. He tromps through the woods with his…pet? walking shag rug Gulfax until they come up on washed-up drunk and ex-hero Kor the Conqueror, who basically Rowsdowers (episode #910, The Final Sacrifice if you don’t get the reference) the kid around the movie until it’s time to go back, defeat the bad guys, and gain the throne. Shot on the cheap with poor monster costumes and sets that scream “off-season ren faire”, you would think something like this would sink without trace. Surprisingly, it did enough to warrant a sequel, about which more later.

The first host segment has Jonah & the ‘bots pondering just how Kor the Conqueror got his title. He’s…well, he’s not the most conquer-y of persons, to put it mildly. The general consensus is he got it on some sort of technicality (incidentally, Kor is played by Bo Svenson, a very highly thought of actor, director & latterly author with over a hundred credits. He’s one of the few bright spots in this silly mess).

The second host segment features Tom as Magic Prince Boy recreating a scene in the movie where the boy raises warriors from the dead for…well, for teh lulz, as far as anyone can tell. Jonah/Kor steps in, and explains what a terrible idea that is in the form of a 50’s doo-wop coming-of-age-song.  Also, we get a quartet of undead warrior Crows, which is the coolest sentence I’ve ever typed. Bonus: the phrase “Pump your brakes there, Verruca Salt,” which is my new go-to phrase any time someone’s being impatient.

In the third segment, we get (finally!) back to the fan mail! Hooray! I’ve missed the mail, particularly the pictures from kids. Couple of cute ones this time around. I guess that’s kind of a less-good side effect of doing an entire season in batch like they’re doing now, that you don’t have the same kind of feedback loop throughout the season like in the old days. Well, things changed: maybe they’ll set up some kind of internet site where fan mail can be submitted and worked into the next season, assuming there is one.

After the movie, they recreate the seriously underwhelming Suicide Cave scene from later on in the movie, while the Mads gloat over bringing forth the sequel. Which we will bring to you next week.

Well. This is a pretty rough film, to be sure. You can easily spot the places where it is trying desperately to harness the charms of better-made movies that came before it, and likewise spot where it fell short in doing so. It puts longtime MiSTies in mind of such “classics” as Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell, Quest of the Delta Knights, and Cave Dwellers. There is something inherently charming about low-budget fantasy: some combination of rubber monsters, cheap video FX “magic” and Medieval Miscellaneous Chic outfits transcends the awfulness and becomes genuinely entertaining, through still terribly bad. And just think, we get to do it again next week.

What do you think, sirs?

Kelly Luck would have thought the queen dressing as a Freaking Lizard would have been a bit of a giveaway. Her other SciFi4Me work can be read here.

 




ZOMBPOCALYPSE NOW: FEAR THE WALKING DEAD Still Isn’t Entirely Awful

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Mr. Smith and the Intern From the Future join Mssrs. Adair and Harvey for more Fear the Walking Dead on Zombpocalypse Now!

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Season 3, Episode 3 “TEOTWAWKI”
Written by Ryan Scott
Directed by Deborah Chow

Kim Dickens as Madison Clark, Daniel Sharman as Troy Otto – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 3, Episode 3 – Photo Credit: Michael Desmond/AMC

Dustin: Curtis is back!

Curtis: Hi guys.

Dustin: Mindy is back!

Mindy: Hi guys.

Dustin: Tim is… still here!

Timothy: Wow. That was enthusiastic.

Dustin: I see you every week. We don’t see Curtis as much as we used to, so it’s special when he’s here. And Mindy still laughs at my jokes.

Curtis: Thanks, Dustin. It’s good to be here. Although I came here more to hang out with my friends than watch whatever this show is.

Mindy: I’ve never watched Fear the Walking Dead before, and to be honest, watching you two watch the show is as entertaining as the show is, if not more. You make the most interesting faces.

Timothy: This show does inspire reactions. Although, we aren’t hating it as much as we thought we would, based on the previous seasons.

Dustin: All twelve thousand seasons of this show. 

Timothy: Two seasons. This is season three.

Dustin: TWELVE THOUSAND SEASONS, TIM.

Mindy: You can kind of see Dustin aging in real-time as he watches it.

Dustin: And that’s with me not hating everything that happens.

Timothy: Heh. Yeah, it says something that not hating the show is the baseline we’re going with here. Anyway, sit back and listen as we talk about all the things happening on the third episode of Fear the Walking Dead’s third season…

Curtis: Sit back and listen to us laugh a lot.

Mindy: Sit back and listen to Tim bleep out all the swearing a lot.

Dustin: AND check out our other podcasts, and our new Twitch channel, and do that YouTube thing that gets us more cool YouTube things.

Timothy: Follow us on YouTube! We’re aiming to get over 1000 followers on YouTube. It would be cool if you could help us do that.

 

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MST3K Recap: 1109, YONGARY

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Experiment 1107

Written by Joel Hodgson et al
Directed by Joel Hodgson and Robert Cohen
Copyright 2017

Korea has never really been a big kaiju kind of place. About the only even remotely recent effort has been a remake of this week’s experiment from 1999, and 1985’s notorious Pulgasari, which is chiefly remembered for being a North Korean effort to impress the world with their cultural prowess. Since this chiefly consisted of kidnapping the director and his wife for eight years and forcing them to make movies, this went about as well as you’d expect (2016’s documentary The Lovers and the Despot gives the lowdown, but how has this not been made into a movie already?). Anyway, point is, Yongary is pretty much Korea’s “official” kaiju by default. This week’s experiment brings us the original from 1967, and it is very much in the classic mold for giant monster movies of that era.

We open on the SOL, where Jonah & the ‘bots are discussing their dreams. Are there electric sheep? You bet there are. Jonah has created a miniature desk designed specifically for flipping in moments of anger. The Mads have decided to go into advertising for a new brand of coffee. It’s good coffee, but…let’s say the name could use some work.

Movie sign: a newlywed couple’s honeymoon goes down the drain when the groom has to blast off in a rocket to do recon on a sudden earthquake. Why this requires a rocket is left as an exercise to the viewer. Anyway, it turns out the “earthquake” is moving in a beeline straight for Seoul. No fair guessing what’s causing it. Anyway, there’s the usual stomping around in a cardboard city, then our heroes discover that it doesn’t like ammonia. The day is saved, and the honeymoon is back on.

In the first host segment, the gang discuss famous astronauts and their playlists. Apparently Sally Ride was into Spandau Ballet. That, I did not see coming. Also, Crow seems to be developing a sycophantic streak. They didn’t mention Chris Hadfield, which is a bit of a pity. Turns out he’s something of a Barenaked Ladies fan (seriously, give it a listen).

In the second segment, Tom pitches his new theme club: “Yongary Nights”. Based on a scene from the movie, it gives the youth of today somewhere to cavort and have one last hurrah before being trampled by a giant horned Godzilla ripoff. A perfect night out, for some people.

In the third segment, the issue of children and giant monsters is brought up–seriously, what is that? You get a giant monster, you get a little kid. It’s like it’s a law or something. Anyway, the gang speculate about who their dream monsters would be. Crow has poor taste in role models.

After the movie, the ‘bots are upset over the monster’s prolonged death scene. Seems the only way to cope is with a song. It’s not a bad one, a tad brief. Enough to get the Mads to reconsider their evil ways…for about five seconds.

Yongary is somewhat unusual as these movies go, as the English dub (by our old friends at American International) is the only version known to be in existence. It seems when they sold the movie to AIP, the production company sent everything they had, including the original negatives(!). Thus, the original Korean version joins 1933’s Wasei Kingu Kongu (a sort-of parody), 1938’s King Kong Appears in Edo, and 1962’s Bulgasari (the original of which the North Korean film mentioned above was a remake) on the honor roll of  monster movies that are considered lost. Much as we laugh at them, it’s sad when a film disappears forever. Even the not-so-good ones deserve better.

What do you think, sirs?

Kelly Luck will light a candle tonight in memory of all the heroic cardboard buildings and toy tanks that have perished in the service of cheesy movies. Her other SciFi4Me work can be read here.




ZOMBPOCALYPSE NOW: FEAR THE WALKING DEAD Returns And Team Zombie Actually Enjoyed It

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Fear the Walking Dead is back on Sunday night, and #TeamZombie find themselves in the odd position of actually enjoying it. It’s Zombpocalypse Now!

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Season 3, Episode 1 “Eye of the Beholder”
Written by Dave Erickson
Directed by Adam Bernstein

Season 3, Episode 2 “The New Frontier”
Written by Mark Richard
Directed by Stefan Schwartz

The decision to change the format to all singing/all dancing was, oddly enough, surprisingly successful.

Dustin: Ross McCall is the actor who played Steven.

Timothy: Aaaaaand who is Steven?

Dustin: The soldier guy you thought was the crazy soldier guy from the Fear the Walking Dead webisodes. I told you it wasn’t him.

Timothy: So you did. You do have to admit though, he did kinda look like the crazy guy.

Dustin: The crazy guy was Colton, played by Michael Mosley. They only kind of look alike, but considering both of them are buried under dirt and scruff, I suppose if you squint real hard.

Timothy: I just figured it was the the crossover bit for the two. Like the 30 seconds between the second season and the kids from the airplane webisodes.

Dustin: That was pretty stupid. Surprisingly, these episodes weren’t. They were actually good. I was engaged. I WAS ENGAGED.

Timothy: I know, it’s… confusing. We’ve been so used to hating this show, that having two episodes back to back that we liked was pretty unexpected. There’s still the chance they could screw it up, but I’m not actually complaining that we enjoyed the premiere.

Dustin: There were a few moments of the stupid, but overall, we did.

Timothy: Weird.

Dustin: Weird and scary.

Timothy: But we do weird and scary here, so that’s OK too. And for more weird and scary, and also fun and informative, check out all our other podcasts on SciFi4MeRadio…

Dustin: AND our YouTube videos! We have lots of YouTube videos!

Timothy: We do. And you, gentle listeners, can help us get to YouTube 1000 subscribers, which helps us do more on the video side of things, which would be cool.

Dustin: SUBSCRIBE TO EVERYTHING WE DO!

 

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MST3K Recap: 1108, THE LOVES OF HERCULES

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Experiment 1108

Written by Joel Hodgson et al
Directed by Joel Hodgson and Robert Cohen
Copyright 2017

Ah, Hercules. If there’s a MST3K pantheon, he is surely right up there at the top, right along with Gamera and Prince of Space. He has been portrayed alternately by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Lou “The Incredible Hulk” Ferrigno, Kevin Sorbo, Alan Steel, and of course the granddaddy of them all, Steve Reeves. This week, we get what may be the only Hercules to get the job because of his wife.

Cold open this week, and the crew are binging on the 90’s sitcom Wings and ramchips (binary flavored, natch). One opening later, and the ‘bots present the Fried Turkey Dunk Tank, allowing you to drop a turkey into a pot of hot frying medium while being plenty far away from the splash zone. The Mads counter with a Mexican Jumping Bean Bag Chair, which is…not up to its usual bouncy self, unfortunately, due to Max’s germophobia. Hijinks ensue.

Now, about that Hercules. Miklós “Mickey” Hargitay is a former Mister Universe who originally came to America from Hungary to avoid the draft. He did a little stage work with Mae West, where he eventually met Jayne Mansfield, and in time became her second husband. Italy was going through its big sword-and-sandal phase then, and Jayne was asked to star in one of their movies. She agreed, on the condition that Mickey be given the role of Hercules. This was to be his only time essaying the role.

It’s very much a true-to-form tale in the classic mold of Herc running around beating up monsters and wooing women. In this case, Queen Dianira (Mansfield), who has inherited the throne from her father, is the object of his affections. It seems her father had Herc’s village slaughtered while he was away, including his wife. The old king’s assistant, Licos, immediately turns around and slaughters him as well, part of a scheme to cut his way to the throne. Hercules comes back, gets framed for murder, fights a bad animatronic hydra, gets ensnared by the Amazons (with Mansfield doing double-duty as Hippolyta and Wonder Woman nowhere to be found), goes charging back into town and leads the rebellion to put everything right. As these movies go, it’s a pretty typical example of the genre, and remarkable only for its casting. One suspects said casting was also the primary expense of the budget, judging by how the rest of it looks.

In the first host segment, the ‘bots reproduce a scene from the movie in which a character is put through a trial by ordeal. This consists of tying Jonah to a wall and throwing things at him. It’s very high concept.

In the second one, the ‘bots argue over the ethics of monster slaying. Jonah, munching his Grown Man Bowl Cuts Cereal(tm), goads them on. Between them, they manage to touch on so many tropes of your standard internet argument discussion that it’s like having your own little comment section in your TV.

The third one has the crew all dolled up as Amazons, lounging around and gossiping when suddenly, they get a visitor! Readers of earlier recaps will remember that I have speculated when new ‘bot M. Waverly (operated & presumably voiced by Grant Bacaiocco) was going to show up. Well, finally he got his big chance. Is it too much of a surprise to say the bots gave him an immediate and severe pummeling? I somehow don’t think so. Not sure if he’ll be coming back, but I guess we’ll find out with time.

Post movie, the SOL crew and Deep 14 have what could only be described as a sort of musical groan-off, everyone vocalizing at the top of their lungs in honor of the movie’s soundtrack. No sign of M. Waverly, though.

Well. This was very much a one-off in the Hercules movie saga. Various Italian & American companies have put out literally dozens of the demigod’s adventures, taking just about every possible take on the subject matter it’s possible to have. The movies are (more often than not) cheesy as all get-out, but they retain their popularity nonetheless. In this viewer’s opinion. that might be Herc’s mightiest labor of all.

What do you think, sirs?

Kelly Luck would just like to say this episode is also the one where her name appears in the closing credits. Cool. Her other SciFi4Me work can be read here.




MST3K Recap: 1107, THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Experiment 1107

Written by Joel Hodgson et al
Directed by Joel Hodgson and Robert Cohen
Copyright 2017

There seems to be a thing about Edgar Rice Burroughs stories where on paper they look like they would be the ideal movie material, yet they somehow rarely come off. It may be his flights of fancy: lost worlds of dinosaurs and giant six-limbed Martian warriors can be a bit of a challenge to bring to the big screen. Really, it seems his Tarzan series made it easily to the silver screen precisely because the premise was so simple. Otherwise, we get things like 2012’s not-that-bad-honestly-but-still-flopped John Carter of Mars and…well, this.

We start off this episode with a celebration: it’s Gypsy’s birthday! In fact, it’s all the ‘bots’s birthdays! Why not. Sadly, the good times can’t last, and it’s time for the invention exchange. The SOL crew present M. Night Shyalaman’s Living, a lifestyle magazine where every article has a twist (just so long as it isn’t the one from The Village, that’s all I’m saying). The Mads present the Elder Pump, which…uh…well, it pumps…elders? That sounds about right. This leads to–wait for it–a shocking twist they’ve been building up to all season. OK, hands up who didn’t see that coming?

To the movie. As mentioned, this is based on the Burroughs book of the same name. Our heroes are civilians sunk by a German U-boat who then turn around and capture same, but due to sabotage by the German crew and allied ships continually firing on them for some reason they wind up at the lost island of Caprona, which is chock full of dinosaurs, jungles, neanderthal tribes, all the usual stuff a well-seasoned traveler has come to expect from these kinds of places. In the end, the Germans try to double-cross them and escape in the sub, but it gets blown to smithereens, leaving two survivors to wander the land, hoping for eventual rescue.

In the first host segment, the SOL crew parody the characters on the submarine, with Gypsy roped into playing the periscope. Unfortunately, their little game attacks a giant robotic squid. Luckily, he’s a good sport about it once the mistake is cleared up.

In the second segment, the SOL gang mull over what a dinosaur would taste like, prompting Deep 14 to launch “Mesozoic Ranch”, a Dinosaur BBQ joint with its own catchy jingle and a suspiciously familiar logo. Unfortunately, the allosauruses escape, as they do, and everybody runs off in a panic. Easter egg: check out the reference to the Dino Hotel of Lakewood, Colorado, aka the Best Western Denver Southwest. This place is actually real, and were a major sponsor of the Kickstarter.

The third host segment has Crow trying to find out when he’s supposed to turn into a human. Jonah can’t quite bring himself to explain the reality of the situation, but is saved when Crow explains that he really doesn’t want to anyway and would Jonah please turn that option off? Jonah, needless to say, is willing to go ahead and do that thing.

After the movie, Jonah hurtles a bottle into space explaining his predicament in the hopes of being rescued. Naturally, it winds up going straight to Moon 14, where Max is (briefly) delighted at the prospect of a pen pal.

The movie is primarily of interest due to its featuring Doug McClure, an actor who appeared in over a hundred movies and TV shows over his career. There was also a sequel, The People that Time Forgot (1977), also based on the original Burroughs follow-up novel. There is in fact a third novel in the series, Out of Time’s Abyss, but this does not appear to have been turned into a movie yet. All three books are now in the public domain, incidentally, so if you want to read them, you can pick them up (along with quite a bit of Burroughs’ oeuvre) at Project Gutenberg here.

What do you think, sirs?

Kelly Luck is waiting for them to make a movie version of The Efficiency Expert. Her other SciFi4Me work can be read here.




MST3K Recap: 1106, STARCRASH

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Experiment 1106

Written by Joel Hodgson et al
Directed by Joel Hodgson and Robert Cohen
Copyright 2017

Our older readers who were around in ’77 will remember the way Star Wars washed over the culture of the day. You think it’s popular now, folks? Back then, it was everywhere. Toys, clothes, disco music (it was the seventies, after all), everything was Star Wars. And if it wasn’t, it was as close an imitation as they could get (this reviewer has in her collection a promo recording from a radio jingle company for a package called “The Music Force”, complete with R2-like bloops & whistles). And sure as sunrise follows sunset, there came the imitations. Slavish, cargo-cult space operas that panted after the original while simultaneously learning nothing from it. Starcrash is just one such movie.

This week’s cold open has the SOL crew making like college kids and playing spin-the-bottle. A rare appearance of Crow in drag here, as it’s usually Tom that does the honors in that direction. After the show open, the Mads introduce the “band-eat-o”, a food & condiment-covered bandolier based on the salsa-filled sombrero, which is apparently a thing somewhere. Not Mexico, I’m guessing. The SOL crew with BB-Servo, namely Tom’s head on top of you-know-who’s body. Alas, Lucasfilm’s legal team work very quickly, and Tom’s dreams of licensed merchandise are dashed in a matter of seconds.

The movie is, as noted, one of the flock of me-too movies that came after Star Wars, an Italian quickie turned out by someone who hadn’t seen Star Wars but had a copy of the book (true). It involves galactic smuggler Stella Star (yes, really) and her friend Akton who get hired by the Emperor of the Galaxy (Christopher Plummer!) to find out what’s happening with a secret weapon developed by the evil Count Zarth Arn. Also, David Hasselhoff shows up as the emperor’s son.

RELATED ~ BOMB SHELTER Drill #3: Jay and Kevin Get Caught in a STARCRASH

This is cargo-cult film making at its finest: kit-bashed spaceships, corny robots, all the accouterments with nothing to back them up. It’s actually amazing how much this movie resembles an updated version of a standard ’50’s space saga in the Flash Gordon/Rocky Jones mold. The “lived-in” universe of Lucas & McQuarrie is nowhere to be seen. The robots look like they were assembled with erector sets. There is no grounding realism, no universe building to speak of. It faded as quickly as it came, forgotten with a host of others.

A word about the guy who plays Akton, aka the-guy-who-isn’t-William-Kat: you might not be familiar with Marjoe Gortner, but he’s got a fascinating history quite apart from this film. Raised on the faith healing & revival circuit, he became famous as “The world’s youngest preacher” as his family trucked him around all over the place, using him as the principal draw for their “ministry”. He continued in this world until adulthood, when he left in the most spectacular way possible: filming a “stealth” documentary showing him at work and behind the scenes, exposing the faith healing circus for what it was (and, alas, still is). The movie is called Marjoe, and definitely worth a look. He had a bit of a movie career afterwards, but has settled into the background since.

Anyhow. First host segment. Crow has whipped up yet another screenplay to capitalize on ersatz sci-fi quickies, World War Space. It combines equal parts Candyland, space bureaucracy, merchandising, and gibberish. As these things go, it’s no Earth vs Soup, but could probably get legs in modern Hollywood, more’s the pity.

The second host segment has Jonah dressed up as Akton and generally acting like a typical self-absorbed celebrity until it turns out he has no control over his vaunted so-called powers. He immediately falls to pieces and runs off, sobbing, leaving the disappointed ‘bots in his wake.

In the third segment, genius investor Freak Masterstroke (Jerry Seinfeld) comes by Moon 13 to hear the Mads’ pitch for a fly-in drive-in, a lunar theme park, and various other items that get shot down hard. He tells them to turn Jonah & the ‘bots into Apps but flies off before they can secure funding. Hey, maybe they should try Kickstarter. I hear that sometimes works.

After the movie, Jonah gads about as the Count while Crow & Tom relentlessly attack with torpedoes and cheesy catchphrases, leaving the Mads to wonder if they have finally been driven mad. Quoth Kinga: “I don’t even know anymore.”

In  her Planet ComicCon appearance, Felicia Day stated that she considered either Avalanche or The Beast of Hollow Mountain as the worst show of the season, but for my money this one lays over both of them easily. The cheap sets, the Hayden Christensen-level acting, the excruciating writing all combine to form an absolute mess that only serves to remind you of other, better movies you could be watching. No lie folks, this is a toughie to get through. We’re talking Castle of Fu-Manchu tough. But the gang pull us through, bless them. The host segments are a bit uneven this time around, but the riffs keep us going through what could have been an unbearable slog.

What do you think, sirs?

Kelly Luck never realized how important perms & leather bikinis were to saving the universe. Her other SciFi4Me work can be read here.




AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Hits Us Over and Over with Emotion Hammers — LEVEL ELEVENTY-SEVEN #118

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Episode 422 “World’s End”
Written by Jeffrey Bell
Directed by Billy Gierhart

It’s the season finale of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — and we have got confirmation that the show will be back next season, only on Friday nights (more on that later).

Aida/Ophelia takes crazy to the extreme with her Scorched Earth policy, and it looks very much that Jemma… wait, what just happened? Fitz is still broken a bit, and we have to wait to learn the fate of Philinda. While Coulson and May do get to have a few moments about the bottle and what led to drinking it, we don’t get everything we’d like to see between the two of them.

Plus: the return of the Ghost Rider! Chasing the Darkhold, and all the terrible that comes with it, including the organic body Aida inhabits. Because it comes from a very bad place.

What happens next? Where are our heroes being held? Will this be the introduction of S.W.O.R.D.?

 

Next season, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. makes way for Inhumans, which will have an 8-episode running following Once Upon a Time on Friday nights.

The panel: Mindy Inlow, Sam Sentman, Dan Handley, Timothy Harvey

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ROGUES GALLERY #54: Barry is Still Dumb, Supergirl Needs Focus

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This week: it seems that Barry Allen is still not through making dumb decisions. And even though we now know the identity of Savitar, there really doesn’t seem to be any kind of a plan from the writers room. And Supergirl has yet to get out of being about all the lovebird characters and get back to being about … well… Supergirl.

Arrow continues to slide into irrelevancy. Powerless is cancelled, but we have Black Lightning waiting in the wings.

Plus: we’ve decided to weaponize Mr. Townley’s recaps and unleash him on Gotham

Watch a special LIVE edition of episode 53 here on SciFi4Me TV

The panel: Ann Laabs, Jennifer Wise, Jeff Hackworth, Will Tramp, Jason Hunt

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All Hell has Broken Loose on SUPERNATURAL


Season 12, Episode 21 ”There’s Something About Mary”
Written by Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming
Directed by P.J.Pesce

Aww…Ketch (David Haydn-Jones) got a pet.

Okay, that’s probably the least important thing to happen in this episode. But it’s a very appropriate pet for him. Maybe Crowley (Mark Sheppard) sent it so it would kill him and eat him.

Well, we knew Eileen (Shoshannah Stern) was doomed. She had a bad case of Samlikesme and an “accidentally killed a BMoL” curse at the same time. Still, it was hard to see her go. I love that character and sending a hell-hound after her is particularly cruel. How did she even know to run? She can’t see it. She can’t hear it. Did she see it breaking things around her or footprints on the ground? Did she smell its foul breath or did it actually nip her before she knew it was there? I thought that Mick was going to be the sacrificial lamb of the season but then there was Eileen. I have a feeling they aren’t finished yet.

The British Men of Letters brainwashed Mary (Samantha Smith), and she killed a hunter for them. Since she had vague memories of it she was devastated and made a very reputable attempt to kill herself after grabbing Ketch’s gun. She then begged him to kill her and he didn’t. He told her it would all be over soon. What does he mean by that?

( Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW)

Ketch either engaged in sniping with his ex or flirting. I can’t tell which. She calls him a bastard American when he’s not looking. Maybe she’s being literal. Schoolmarm Hess (Gillian Barber) pits them against each other, telling both of them that the other one can have the American territory when the hunters are killed.

Dean calls Ketch to find out about their mom. The conversation they have would be hilarious if the subject weren’t so serious. Dean who?

The boys are looking for their mom when they get the call about Eileen. They check out the morgue and everything, so they can tell it’s a hellhound, but they also have to see Eileen’s body. Sam is pretty broken up. They call Crowley because it takes a demon to handle a hellhound and he lies and says he knows nothing about it. We know that he gave Ketch the hellhound and is buttering up Dr. Hess.

Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino) is still working on getting free. He has a demon working on it, trying to break the bonds that give Crowley control over him. Unfortunately for Crowley, the demon succeeds too well. It turns out that they have reversed the polarities and Crowley is now Lucifer’s sock puppet. Lucifer tests out the theory and that scene IS hilarious. Then he kills Crowley with an angel blade. Not to worry, there’s a rat nearby and no fireworks. The rat trundles after the body so I’m sure Mark Sheppard will return as Crowley.

After receiving a letter from Eileen, saying that she thought she was being spied on and her computer and phone were compromised, Sam and Dean find the honking big microphone that Ketch placed under the table right next to the holster. They should have found it long ago. They use it to lay a trap, pretending that they have a meeting with another hunter.

Lady Bevel (Elizabeth Blackmore) shows up for the meeting, and they kidnap her. Dean’s going to be speaking a little higher now, but they get her. She is insufferable and tells them Mick is dead, and claims Jody is dead too. I don’t believe her about Jody. We haven’t seen it. She tells them Mary slept with Ketch and joined their side.

I don’t know how I let you talk me into driving for Uber, Sam. (Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW)

They get to the bunker to find that Ketch is already there, with armed men. Ketch definitely has the drop on them. Sam and Dean do what I think should be done in that sort of situation, they try to shoot their way out. (It’s not like they are going to be able to reason with them). And they succeed. Sam starts it off, and keeps hold of Lady Bevel the entire time. They clear the room and Dean disarms Ketch. To the relief of Dean and Sam, Mary shows up. They are happy to see her until she gets the drop on them. They aren’t about to shoot her, so she disarms them.

Ketch leaves them there with the doors locked and he’s going to reverse the exhaust fans and turn off the water. Oh, and he leaves Lady Bevel there with them. (I knew they should have changed those locks)

Mary and Ketch drive away. She still looks brainwashed, but I’m not sure.

Lucifer is out, and lord of all he surveys. Got himself some new duds, too.

Sam and Dean are in bad shape and the nephilim and Lucifer aren’t even involved yet. What gets me about what Ketch did is that it is an abominably STUPID way to kill someone. Unless you’re H.H. Holmes and find a sadistic pleasure in watching someone die of suffocation or dehydration it’s far easier to just shoot them. He won’t get to see them die slowly. There’s no reason to make it look like an accident since it would never get investigated. Instead, he gives them two or three days to find a way out.

If Ketch were someone who cared about people, and I’m not saying he is, he has just secured all the people that he might care about-Mary by his side, his ex and Mary’s sons in the bunker which is also a fortress that protects them. If he were planning a coup, he could be back in a couple of days to release them. Just a thought.

Of course, the other reason this is stupid is because the BMoL are going around killing hunters instead of using them to fight the nephilim. They might be missing the Winchesters when they find out Lucifer is on the loose.

Shame on Crowley for lying to Sam and Dean. He deserves to get kicked around a bit.

I’m sure Lady Bevel will cooperate to get out of the bunker. She’s got a kid at home.

I would have a poll on who you think will die, but it might break my heart. The previews show Mary knocking on Jody’s door. (Told you Lady Bevel lied).

Next week, May 18th, there will be two episodes for the season finale, starting at 8pm/7c. Set your recording devices accordingly.

 

Supernatural airs on the CW at 8pm/7c on Thursdays.

 




AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Marks a Return With Whedon Banter — LEVEL ELEVENTY-SEVEN #117

AgentsOfSHIELD_logoSM
Episode 421 “The Return”
Written by Maurisa Tancharoen & Jed Whedon
Directed by Kevin Tancharoen

Our intrepid Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are back in the real world, and it’s not without its hangups. What with Mack still being in the Framework and May trying to shoot Ophelia and Fitz getting in the way and the two of them whisking out BAMF-style and Coulson not wanting to admit he cracked open the bottle and oh, how many robot copies of the Russian are there now?…

But at least it appears that Fitz won’t be the villain of next season (is there a next season?), at least not yet. He again demonstrates just how good a heart he has, even in the face of utter sociopathic murderous rage from his wanna-be girlfriend who suddenly finds that she’s… not? uh-oh. What was that about a woman scorned?…

Next week: the Ghost Rider returns!

The panel: Mindy Inlow, Sam Sentman, Timothy Harvey, Jason Hunt

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Arts and Crafts on SUPERNATURAL


Season 12, Episode 20 “Twigs and Twine and Tasha Banes”
Written by Steve Yockey
Directed by Richard Speight, Jr.

This may be their Mother’s Day episode because it was certainly about hunter children and their mothers.

Tasha Banes (Alvina August), mother of Max (Kendrick Sampson) and Alicia (Kara Royster), drives up to the Mountain Slumber Boarding House in Wyoming. She has an odd encounter with a grumpy woman (Linda Barlow) and a normal encounter with a harried clerk or innkeeper (Tim Carlson). Tasha does a reveal spell which leads her to the basement where she get stabbed by someone off screen. Looks pretty fatal.

All signs say-Don’t go in the basement! (Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW)

Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) are not happy about what happened with Cas (Misha Collins), to say the least. Dean points out that it takes some major mojo to take over Cas before you’re even born. When they get the call from the twins, which was meant for Mary (Samantha Smith), Dean is not thrilled about helping them. Sam talks him into it by saying ‘Their mom’s on a hunting trip, and she hasn’t been home in a week.” This is almost identical to the words Dean used in the very first episode when he asked his brother for help in finding their father.

Ketch (David Haydn-Jones) is beating the crap out of Mary, who is shackled to a chair. Then we see that Mary is there watching, and Ketch says if the shifter thinks this will affect him, he’s wrong. So it’s not Mary! They faked us out! It’s a shapeshifter. Mary gets the call from Dean telling her they are going to go help the twins but she doesn’t answer because it’s killing Ketch’s mood.

The boys meet up with the twins in Rock River, Wyoming. Dean and Max bond over the car (and the grenade launcher) and Sam and Alicia bond over being left out. Mom Banes and Max are both natural witches. Alicia didn’t get the magic. Sam tells her about Dean and their dad bonding over hunting, but has trouble explaining their mom. (She was dead for three decades. Just tell her.)

When they get to the inn, Tasha Banes is there and just fine. Max is smug because he didn’t think anything was wrong and thought Alicia was overreacting. I immediately suspect a shapeshifter or rakshasa. They have a lovely evening. Tasha breaks a finger while opening the wine and snaps it back into place without anyone noticing.

Ketch is revved up over the torture and tries to talk Mary into going off into a dark corner. She reminds him that their fling was supposed to be a one time thing. Yes, torturing someone who looks like Mary turns him on. This is not a good thing in anyone. Mary’s not happy about the torture. She was sure that the shapeshifter wouldn’t betray its family. Ketch says that anyone who doesn’t think torture works has never been under the knife. I’m not at all surprised that he’s been tortured by the BMoL. He ends with a jab about her calling Dean back lest he think mommy doesn’t love him. Jealousy over children is also a very unattractive trait.

Dean and Sam find Tasha’s body in the basement with her heart cut out, along with the innkeeper and the weird guy (Paul Rogic) from the basement. Unfortunately Max, who was on his way out for a date with the waiter from the vegan place, comes upon them with his mother’s body. He runs back into his house and confronts his false mother. He uses a reveal spell and she tells him that it’s the lady upstairs.

Are you my mummy? (Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW)

Meanwhile, Mary has overheard a conversation that leads her to Mick’s body. She snoops around more and finds that they have surveillance on Garth, Eileen, Claire, Dean and Sam. Ketch catches her and they have a knock down drag out fight. “You’re a psychopath,” she says. Well, duh. It took her long enough. This fight is really interesting. Mary breaks or dislocates his right arm right away. He says he can protect her if she plays nice. It only makes her more angry.

I particularly love when she pulls out brass knuckles and he says that they are enochian brass knuckles and only work on angels. She says brass knuckles are brass knuckles, and hits him with them. It reminds me of Dean saying that decapitation kills most things. The fight should not have ended the way that it did. If both fighters are equally well trained, the larger, stronger fighter will win. Of course, you have to take temperament into account too. He is thoroughly beaten when he zaps her with the tazer.

I said it was a one time thing. (Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW)

Max runs upstairs and Dean follows him, while Sam and Alicia fight the innkeeper and the guy on the missing poster. They confront the old lady, who is a witch, and Dean tells her that craft time is over. She shows them that she made a doll of the twin’s mom out of tree twigs and Tasha’s own heart. She also wants someone to take her power, which is in a ring. She sold her soul to the devil a long time ago and knows she’s out of time and doesn’t want to go to Hell. She also tells him that her dolls will die with her but if he takes the ring they can keep their mom forever. Max is still trying to decide when Dean shoots the witch-but not soon enough to keep Alicia’s mom from stabbing her downstairs. The look of shock and betrayal on Alicia’s face is horrifying.

Max has lost his whole family. The boys give him a few platitudes and leave. He then does just what I expected him to do, and what they should have expected him to do. He uses the ring and makes a doll out of Alicia. He then torches the room, magically, giving his mom and Alicia a hunter’s funeral.

It could be, of course, that they knew what Max will do but allowed him to make his own decisions.

The last scene is Mary in irons, in the same chair that the shapeshifter who looked like Mary was in. Lady Toni is there. Ketch looks uninjured but the Men of Letters are not above using magic in their own self interest. Their fakeout becomes real by the end of the episode.

There’s a lot to talk about in this episode. The setting was beautiful. That house was wonderful. The sitting room that they were in was gorgeous, and supposed to be part of Tasha’s room? Not the main room, but part of her suite. The house was also a great metaphor. It had the lovely, homey interior with a few creepy antique dolls sprinkled throughout, the basement of horror where the secrets were kept, and the old witch upstairs like a spider in the attic.

I liked the twins and their mom a lot, so it was sad to see the family torn apart. One of the things I like about them is that they are good witches. If werewolves and vampires can have groups that are striving not to harm humans, there should also be good witches. Most witches in Supernatural are powerful, evil and downright unsanitary. Rowena has sometimes been helpful, but can’t really be considered good. There are three types of witches. There are borrowers, who get their power from a demon in exchange for their soul. The witch in this episode is of that type, and the twins tell Sam and Dean that their mom was looking for a borrower that was killing people all over Wyoming. Max and Tasha are naturals, who were born with power. There are also witches that learn by studying, whether on their own or taught by someone in the Grand Coven. The Winchesters and the BMoL use magic that they’ve learned, although they would never call themselves witches. Max may or may not have acquired the penalties of the witch’s bargain. He certainly is sliding down the ramp towards evil, though.

Evil or not, the Men of Letters, London Chapter, would want Max and Alicia did, because they are American hunters and because Max is a natural born witch. Alicia, of course, is no longer human.

The boys are envious of how close knit the Banes family is. They both have unrealistic views of their mother; Dean because he remembers the mom of young kids and idolizes her, and Sam because he must hold an idealized picture in his head of the mother he wished he’d had. In this episode, Mary does not compare very well to Tasha in their eyes.. But remember, Tasha’s already dead at that point. So the show is saying that a poppet made out of branches and string and given life by an evil witch is a better mom than Mary. That’s pretty harsh.

The shapeshifter bears some explanation, too. In the past, we’ve seen that shapeshifters change in very messy ways. However, we have seen incidences where the Winchesters have encountered shapeshifters that can change instantly and without drama. It could be that this one is a pureblood, or one that is close to the alpha shapeshifter in lineage. The alpha shapeshifter is dead, however, so it’s not him. Shifters can read minds of those that they shift into, so the shapeshifter may know something about Ketch. It said it did when it changed into him. It will be interesting to see if that comes up again. Of course, I don’t even know if the critter is still alive.

Do I look like I need protection? ( Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW)

I think I know what Mary’s fatal flaw is. All heroes have them. It’s not love or compassion. It’s being too brave. There were a couple of points in this episode where duplicity would have been a better choice than fighting. Ketch was practically begging her to lie to him. A little subterfuge would have been more effective. Mary walks around like nothing can hurt her. I don’t know if she was always that way. It does remind me of Dean. But it could be a result of having knowledge of death and having no reason to be afraid of it.

It was good to see who they had surveillance on, because now we know Garth and Eileen are still alive. We haven’t seen Garth in a long time, probably because the actor’s been busy on Z-Nation. It’s bad because the BMoL has decided that American hunters have got to go.

 

Supernatural airs on the CW at 8pm/7c on Thursday nights.




MST3K Recap: 1104, Avalanche

Mystery Science Theater 3000: Experiment 1104

Written by Joel Hodgson et al
Directed by Joel Hodgson and Robert Cohen
Copyright 2017

There’s just something about some movies that just screams “Made For TV”. Maybe it’s the roll-call of special guest–er, featured players. Or the way an expensive production still manages to look cheap as hell. Remarkably, this week’s experiment Avalanche was actually made for theatrical release: were it not for some gratuitious-bordering-on-desperate-nudity one would never guess.

We open as usual on The SOL, where the bots are busy workshopping their version of Mad Men. Quisp gets name checked; someone check and see if Tarantino has been ghostwriting for the series. Afterwards, we find out a bit more about Kingachrome, Forrester’s liquid video format. Jonah demonstrates the Mouth Vacuum, which works exactly how you think it does. Unfortunately, there seems to be a problem with the filters… The Mads, meanwhile, have created a computer that takes any phrase and turns it into a movie title with appropriate font and everything. Turns out “A Lighthearted Neil Simon Project” is the perfect title for a balls-to-the-wall action movie. Who knew?

Avalanche (1978) was written & directed by Corey Allen (no relation to Irwen, surprisingly), and spends two thirds of the movie introducing this week’s gues–sorry, there I go again. Introducing the characters and banging them against each other in various overly dramatic ways. David Shelby (a very tired Rock Hudson) is building a fabulous ski resort in…I don’t know, the Rockies somewhere. Among the guests are his ex-wife Caroline (Mia Farrow) and Nick (Robert Forster), the requisite doomsayer who wants them to close the beach–er, shut down the resort. Also in attendance are Shelby’s mother (Jeanette Nolan doing her Berthe-from-Pippin bit), various reporters, alleged celebrity athletes and so on and so on. When the avalanche does finally get around to happening, things do noticeably pick up, even if a majority of characters seem to suffer from Spontaneous Common Sense Failure. In the end, the place is a wreck, and Mia takes the big yellow taxi out of Rock’s life for good, off to hook up with Woody Allen and star in some decent films for a change.

In the first host segment, the ‘bots have got Rock Hudson Fever, Jonah patiently explains to them why 70’s style, what-kind-of-man-reads-Playboy types are not romantic role models. Especially when they’re wearing yellow plaids. “He [Hudson] doesn’t know what women want, and he doesn’t care,” proclaims Tom. Ah, dear, sweet, innocent Tom. Righter than you know.

In the second one, the SOL crew is playing Marco Polo while Kinga frets over her imminent visit from Neville LaRoy (Neil Patrick Harris), a “celebrity space magician” with whom she’s been having a long distance relationship for some time. His spaceship arrives, and they sing a funny-sad paean to online-only relationships. The song’s pretty good, very 80’s ballad, and even Max gets a look in for a verse. It’s interesting to note that this is the second time a Kinga-focused segment has dipped into pathos. It seems to be developing into a thing, if it’s not too early to say so. Also, turns out Felicia Day can sing. So that’s cool.

In the third segment, Jonah & the bots have a Very Serious Talk with us about the dangers of bad-on-purpose “hybrid” B-movies (Sharktopus, Piranhaconda, Sharknado and so on). They’re on it, though: they’ve decided to come up with as many bad B-movie titles as they can and lay claim to them, ensuring they never fall into the wrong hands (looking at you, The Asylum). So if you were wanting to create a monster opus named Lemonado, Pugslide, or Three-Toed Blitzsloth, you might as well forget it.

After the movie, Gypsy comes out and entertains the SOL crew with a lounge act, and also a slightly disturbing body hanging down from her neck hose. Still, she’s got a pretty good act. Personally, I think she’s ready for the Admiral Lounge at the Akron Holiday Inn. And the Mads agree.

Overall a good one. More time seems to be getting invested in giving the Moon 13 folks character depth and backstories. It’s a bit different than what we’re used to, but not in a bad way. This viewer is looking forward to seeing where they take us, actually. Another good song, even if it is a bit of a downer towards the end. One funny note: when watching the weekly batch of thank-you credits scroll by, this viewer noted not one but two Drforester’s in the list. Also a goodly number of real, actual doctors. Not a surprise, really: this has always been a show that appealed to smart folks.

Avalanche is an opus of high-budget corn from Roger Corman, who as always manages to make the most expensive production look cheap. In an earlier review yours truly read while gathering material, someone lamented the fact that it had never got the MST3K treatment. Well, all I can say is, they sure called that one.

What do you think, sirs?

Kelly Luck went skiing once; it wasn’t nearly this interesting. Her other SciFi4Me work can be read here.

 

 




AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D. Is Back in the Real World, and Yikes! — LEVEL ELEVENTY-SEVEN #116

AgentsOfSHIELD_logoSM
Episode 420 “Farewell, Cruel World”
Written by Brent Fletcher
Directed by Vincent Misiano

Back to our regular programming as the gang gathers in the post-convention bunker to discuss the latest really tough to watch episode of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — and not because it was badly written, but because there was plenty of emotionally-charged scenes that really worked. It’s a really solid episode with a lot of moments that build to a few gut-wrenching final minutes. As we predicted, Fitz looks like he’s going to have some … issues. And our intrepid heroes inside the Framework will have to live with the knowledge that they’re not “real” in the traditional sense, but then what are they?

And now that most of the team is out of the Framework, what does it mean for everyone? How does Fitz cope with the monster he became inside? How does everyone process Mack’s decision? What will happen to PhilLinda?

The panel: Maia Ades, Mindy Inlow, Sam Sentman, Timothy Harvey, Jason Hunt

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