Archive for the ‘Review Storms’ Category

Review Storm #2: Lost Girl, The Fades, Face Off

February 9, 2012

Review Storm #2: Lost Girl, The Fades, Face Off

What’s a “Review Storm”? It’s like piloting your pop culture spaceship through an asteroid storm…a whole bunch of little things hitting you at once. :)

In this second one in the series, I’m going to give you my short takes on three recent TV shows.

First, there’s Lost Girl, a new regular series on Syfy, Mondays at 10. This is what I call a “Discovered Destiny” story…the protagonist finds out that they aren’t what they always thought they were, and they have extraordinary abilities and responsibilities. In this case, Bo (Anna Silk) learns that she is a Fae, and specifically, a succubus. She is empowered by sexual energy, and until she learns to control it, can kill people when she draws it out of them. Of course, she gets a quirky hipster sidekick accidentally. That reminded me of the Highlander series…if, you know, McLeod had wielded a tongue instead of a sword. There are good Fae and bad Fae, and they don’t get along, and there’s a sexy Fae who is a police officer…and look! Hair-obscured breasts and a butt crack! 😉  This Canadian series is reasonably fun: the leads are good…Kristen Holden-Reid is charming as the wolf-cop, and Ksenia Solo is electric as the sidekick. The effects work (and there are quite a few of them). The dialogue is far from deathless, but the gimmicky set up is okay…they bring in a number of types of Fae, including a will-o’-the-wisp Overall, worth watching.

The Fades, now having its first American run on BBC America on Saturdays at 9, is another discovered destiny series…but I really do like the writing on this one. Paul finds out he’s an Angelic, and can see dead people. There’s a very solid mythology going on here, and the Styles to his Teen Wolf, Mac, seems like a very believable teenage geek to me. If you are an American not used to watching BBC America, be prepared…not only are the accents thick, it’s probably a lot racier than you are used to seeing. I wouldn’t want you to be watching this on your tablet at work and have your boss notice it during a scene of…um…self-involvement. If you are comfortable with Brit TV, though, I think you’ll find this may be one of your favorite current shows.

The second season of Syfy’s reality competition special effects makeup show, Face Off, is better than the first. The shows seems more secure and confident…the challenges have been on a bigger scale. I still am geekily thrilled that one of the Westmore family is the host, and the judges are truly leaders in the field. Ve Neill is the stand out, with seven Oscar nominations and three wins, and seems to genuinely care about both the art and the contestants…not a combination we always see in judges. Speaking of the contestants, they also seem more interesting…more outsize characters than the first season, but the quality of the makeups has also been good. Yes, there have been some failed designs, but they are really pushing them in a short amount of time to deliver high concepts…that need to be practical in special ways as well (the idea of having your makeup work underwater would have thrown me). This is a show I recommend…you don’t have to get makeup to enjoy it.

Want to comment about these shows or recommend others? Feel free. 🙂

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

Review Storm #1

November 22, 2011

Review Storm #1

What’s a “Review Storm”? It’s like piloting your pop culture spaceship through an asteroid storm…a whole bunch of little things hitting you at once. 🙂

I consume a great deal of data, partially because I work better when something else is happening in the room. That may be something on TV, or music, or a conversation. I write faster and get more done that way. That’s a problem for me when I go into work (as opposed to doing work stuff on, say, the weekend). If I’m in a room with other people, I don’t want to put on headphones, but many of them like things quiet. I’m much less productive in that situation.

As an educator, I know that’s not true for everybody…my experience tells me that it’s about fifteen percent of people who actually get more done in a noisy environment…and a higher percentage of people think they do. 😉

So, here are some quick reviews. This first bunch mostly covers things I’ve seen on Pub-D-Hub on my Roku, but as public domain titles, you can find them other places, notably I’ve also provided links to them, so you can watch them free online.


The Amazing Transparent Man

It’s a simple sci fi noir. about a safecracker broken out of the joint by an ex-military man who is forcing a scientist to develop a process to create an army of invisible soldiers. Not surprisingly, the major’s plans don’t quite work out.

The Ape

Boris Karloff never phoned in a role in his life. This is one of those where you feel he is trapped by the material. He plays a sweet-hearted doctor trying to cure a plucky young woman’s polio. As is often the case in these movies, the materials for the cure can’t be gotten over the counter…that, and an escaped circus gorilla, complicate the non-clinical trial.

The Ape Man

Another Universal horror superstar, Bela Lugosi, needs another unorthodox cure. In this case, Lugosi follows the advice of “physician, heal thyself”…it’s a good thing, because there aren’t that many specialists out there in reversing your partial transformation into an ape. A gorilla features in this one, too…you could watch this one and the one above as a “mad scientist needs spinal fluid as a cure with a gorilla on the side” double feature.

Assignment: Outer Space

A reporter assigned to a space flight is seen as a “parasite” by the crew…no, no, not in an Alien way…they just don’t respect him. When a crisis arises, they have to work together.

The Astral Factor

This is a weird little movie from 1976. You get a couple of TV stars, Stefanie Powers and Robert Foxworth, and a killer who has studied in his cell to develop psychic abilities. The script seems to confuse astral projection with being invisible, and the killer goes on a rampage. Foxworth (The Questor Tapes, Falcon Crest) is the world weary cop trying to stop him. Powers (Hart to Hart, The Girl from U.N.C.L.E.) has fun as his flirty girlfriend. We also get some very brief nudity from both of them.

The Atomic Brain

This one deserves its place in the pantheon of bad and strange movies. “Bad” here would be a societal judgement…I like a movie with imagination…and no money to carry it out. This one has an older woman who wants to have her brain transplanted into a younger woman…not a willing one, of course. A selection of girls think they are working for her…and the experimentation includes using a cat’s brain. Some of you will be reminded of The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra.

Atomic Rulers

If you’ve never seen a movie with the Japanese superhero Starman, you’ve been missing out. He’s sent from the Emerald Planet to prevent space criminals from causing an atomic war on Earth. The right word for Starman might be stalwart…he’s never particularly concerned. It doesn’t hurt that bullets bounce off him, but in a fight, he just sort of tosses people around and laughs. I’d seen it decades ago, and it was worth revisiting. For more Starman, see Attack from Space. With the origin story over in the first movie, we see a lot more action…and more shots of Starman posing in his tights and laughing during fights. He also gets kid sidekicks and the action moves off our planet.

Atomic Submarine

It starts out as a fairly serious Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (the movie, not the series) type movie. There’s interpersonal drama, of the tough guys arguing variety. Then they encounter the solution to what’s been sinking ships…and figure out how to defeat it in one of those “why didn’t evolution solve this problem first?” moments that happens in movies.

Attack of the Crab Monsters

This is a really strange movie from Roger Corman and screenwriter Charles B. Griffith (Death Race 2000, Little Shop of Horrors). Russell Johnson, the Professor on Gilligan’s Island, has a key role. The title may make it sound simple, but was often the case with Corman, there is a key idea here that ricochets it off into something different.

his post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle.

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