Saturday, September 30, 2017

Rick and Morty 1.04

M. Night Shaym-Aliens!

Rick and Morty find themselves trapped in a simulation created Zygerians, aliens who want the secret to creating dark matter fuel. Jerry is also trapped in the simulation. Rick and Morty escape from the simulation only to discover that they are still in it. Jerry, meanwhile. has what he thinks is the best day of his life and then starts feeling guilty about it.

Not perfect but very fun.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Rick and Morty 1.03

Anatomy Park

Rick sends Morty into the body of Reuben, a dying man, to try and help save him. Morty finds out that Rick has ulterior motives. He has built an amusement park with Reuben's body, Anatomy Park. The problem is that Reuben is old and his body is starting to break down. Before long Reuben dies. Morty has to escape the body before he gets killed.

In the world outside Reuben's body it's Christmas. Jerry's parents come to visit. They have a surprise for him. They have invited another man into their relationship, Jacob. This completely ruins the season for Jerry but leads to some very funny moments.

On the whole, not as much fun for me as the first two episodes even though there are some good jokes in this one. Not bad, just not as good as the previous two.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Teen Titans 2.08

Titan Rising

Terra returns to the Titans just in time to help them battle Slade. Everyone greets her with open arms except Raven. She questions Terra's abilities and judgment. Eventually, Raven learns to trust Terra and accepts her as a new member of the team.

In the end Raven's mistrust of Terra seems like it might not be unfounded. She isn't shown secretly communicating with Slade but the final line of the show makes it clear that she's hiding something form the other Titans.

All in all an excellent episode. I like the consistency of the episode and the level of threat the Titans face. Robin gets to fight Slade one-on-one, once again, this time in an elevator. Raven goes through something similar to what she experienced with Starfire in the previous season. Sadly, her first instinct was the correct one and she has abandoned it.

This episode would be part two of the homage to the storyline from the 1980 New Teen Titans series that culminated in the Judas Contract. I believe that there are at least two more installments in this homage in the 5 episodes that remain in the season.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation 1.01

Encounter at Farpoint

On his first mission as captain of the Enterprise, Captain Jean-Luc Picard is ordered to investigate the base at Farpoint. Before the Enterprise can get there it is intercepted by a humanoid alien who identifies himself as Q. He accuses humanity of being barbaric and puts the Enterprise on trial as a proxy for the human race. Captain Picard emphatically challenges Q's charges but ultimately accepts and agrees that their conduct at Farpoint will determine their fate.

Colm Meaney makes his first appearance but he is only given a title and not a name. The Ferengi are mentioned (but not seen) for the first time. They sound a lot more vicious from the way they are described in this episode than they turn out to be when they finally appear on screen, later in season 1. The separation of the saucer portion of the ship was obviously done more for effect than anything else. At the time this episode first aired I think I was very impressed. By today's standards the separation of the saucer seems very gimmicky. The first time I watched (when it first aired) I was impressed at how fast the Enterprise was able to move, warp 9 point something or other. My recollection from TOS is that the top speed for the Enterprise was 4 or 5, under normal circumstances.

This is Q's first appearance. There were a number of godlike aliens who appeared on the original series: Trelane, Apollo, etc. I don't think any of them showed up more than once. Q stands out because he was a recurring character on this show and I think he might have also showed up on Deep Space 9.

Not a great episode but I can see why this is considered essential viewing if one wants to watch a large sample of episodes form this series. It is not just the first episode of the first season but also the first mission together for most of the characters. Picard meets Riker for the first time. Picard has a prior history with Dr. Crusher and her son Wesley. Not much in the way of interesting character moments. The episode is very focused on introducing the characters and the Enterprise, not so much on exploring their personalities.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Rick and Morty 1.02

Lawnmower Dog

Rick has a plan to make Morty's life a little easier so that he has more time to help his grandfather. It involves leaping into the dreams of Morty's math teacher, Mr. Goldenfold. The plan is to convince him to give Morty and A but he proves to be very resistant to suggestion. They end up leaping into the dreams of someone in Goldenfold's dream and then when things don't work out there they leap again into the dreams of someone in the dreams of someone in the dreams of Goldenfold.

There they meet Scary Terry who kind of looks like Freddy Krueger from Nightmare on Elm Street. After he gets tired and goes to sleep, they leap into his dreams. In the end they work their way back out of the various layers of dreams, having accomplished their original mission plus a few others.

Meanwhile in the real world the family dog has achieved sentience and caged Morty's parents and sister. This is all thanks to a device that made Snuffles, Morty's dog, super intelligent. The device was created by Rick just before he and Morty started their dream diving adventure.

Love this episode. It is crazy silly. I'm glad to see that it holds up to repeat viewings.

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Sopranos 1.04


Tony continues to stress over his relationship with his uncle, among other things. Seeing Jackie Aprile's worsening health doesn't help, nor does Christopher's desire to stir things up and settle things once and for all with Uncle Junior and Mikey Palmice.

Tony has another panic attack and a bad dream (which opens the episode) before he finally gets some advice from Dr. Melfi that he follows. Before that he is getting kind of sick of her. He wants to know something about her, not something in particular but something about who she is. He hires a police detective who owes him to look into her. The detective goes a little further than observing. He pulls over Dr. Melfi and a guy whom she recently started dating. When the guy objects the detective beats him up and then arrests him. Dr. Melfi winds up sharing the story with Tony but he doesn't own up to the fact that he was the one who put the police detective on her case.

Things look like they are getting ready to go nuclear between Tony and Uncle Junior. Tony takes a page out of a book that Dr. Mefi gave him and suggests that Junior should be the new boss. By stepping aside and letting his uncle take over he avoids a war. Instead of wondering where Uncle Junior stands now he knows exactly where he stands. He also gets his uncle to cough up some money for supporting him.

AJ gets into a fight at school with Jeremy Piocosta, a classmate who used to be a friend. AJ doesn't tell his father but Jeremy's father hears about it. Tony runs into George Piocosta at a gardening store. Tony is holding an ax in his hand at the time and inadvertently scares George. The next day AJ is supposed to fight Jeremy again but Jeremy backs off. He gives AJ money to cover the cost of the shirt he tore up when they fought the day before. AJ is confused. He tells Meadow about it and she clues him in to their father's real line of business.

Another excellent episode. I couldn't have told you what happened in this episode before watching it this time around but a lot of it felt very familiar as I watched it unfold.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Eastbound & Down 1.01

Chapter 1

Kenny Powers, former major league baseball pitcher, returns to his hometown where he takes a job teaching Physical Education at the local middle school. Kenny moves in with his brother Dustin and his family. He finds out his ex-girlfriend from high school is a teacher at the middle school and engaged to the principal.

For the most part Kenny comes off as very immature. Sometimes it is funny but sometimes it just made me roll my eyes. I think it may take me some time to get used to this show. The first season is 6 episodes. I think that's enough time. In other words the first episode didn't completely win me over but there was enough there for me to give the next episode (or five) a try.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Chewing Gum 1.06

Tolled Road

Tracey moves in with Candice and Aaron. She gets Aaron's help with her scheme to out Ronald. He hits on Ronald without success but then he spots Ronald making out with another guy and gets a video of it. He sends it to Tracey who tries to show it to Cynthia but Cynthia won't look at it. Meanwhile Aaron is feeling rejected because Ronald wasn't interested in him. That was about as funny as the episode got for me.

The wedding was a bit surreal. I didn't expect Ronald to come out of the closet. Then Tracey walking off into the sunset with Conner? Not totally unexpected but weird. On the whole this episode felt like a bit of a misfire to me; maybe a bit rushed. I didn't laugh very much and I wasn't sure what to make of the ending. I will probably watch the second season but I'll probably wait before I jump back in.

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Teen Titans 2.07


Starfire gets a zit which turns out to be more than just a zit. She's transforming into something else. She doesn't want the other Titans to see what's happened to her so she starts wearing more and more clothing. First it is just a hat, the zit is on her forehead, but then something starts growing out of her neck so she starts wearing a scarf. After her fingernails get monstrously large she starts wearing oven mitts and so on and so forth.

Things come to a head during a battle with Plasmus. Her extra clothing is destroyed and her teammates see her as she has become. She is mortified and leaves Earth. She tries to find another planet to live on but she winds up scaring the inhabitants of every planet she visits. Finally, she meets a woman who kinda of resembles the White Witch from the Legion of Super-Heroes but who is actually a monster in disguise, a monster that wants to eat Starfire.

Meanwhile, the other Titans take off in a spaceship which Cyborg has built from their submarine. They go looking for Starfire. They arrive just in time to help her fight the alien who wants to eat her. In the end Starfire's appearance returns to what it was plus she now has the ability to shoot beams from her eyes.

Clearly the theme here is the way that bodies change over time, sometimes in ways that are very visible to others. There never is a complete explanation of why Starfire started changing but maybe the eye beams explain it. I haven't watched any further in the series (yet) so I have no idea if the eye beams are temporary or will be part of her power set on the cartoon going forward.

This was a fun episode a definite thumbs up although it might not be everyone's cup of tea.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Glow (2012)

The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling

The first thing that struck me about this movie is how much the creators of the Netflix show pulled from the original incarnation of GLOW. There are a lot of parallels. The Netflix show isn't a documentary but clearly it is more than just a namesake of the original. A number of the real gorgeous lades of wrestling were without a doubt inspirations for characters on the Netflix show.

The documentary is an overview of the TV show of the 1980s. The first 50 minutes of the movie are focused on how the show came to be, who some of the stars of the show were, how populat it became, and why it folded suddenly in 1989. A number of the wrestlers, all women, were interviewed for the movie. The movie focuses on a few of them but there's probably about a dozen of them that make significant contributions to the documentary through interviews. There is also a lot of footage of the old TV show.

There are a few men who were interviewed for the movie. One was the wrestler who trained the women of GLOW, Mando Guerrero. Another, Steve Blance, was originally a writer and later became a referee. There are a couple of men who were very involved in the production of GLOW in the 1980s but who declined to be interviewed for the documentary.

The last 25 minutes of the movie were devoted to getting caught up with what happened to the women of GLOW after the company folded. One of the women, inspired by the production of the documentary, organized a reunion. It is unclear if every single GLOW wrestler made it to the reunion but quite a few of them did, including all the ones who were interviewed for the movie. This part of the movie was was very emotional as many of the women had not seen one another in 15-20 years.

On the whole I was very happy I watched this movie. Watching footage of the old TV show was a lot of fun. I was a teenager in the mid to late 1980s. I remember seeing the show in the TV guide but I don't recall ever watching it. I'm eager to see what else from the original incarnation of GLOW makes it into the next season of the show.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation 3.13

Deja Q

The Enterprise is tasked with saving Brial 4 from imminent destruction as its moon's orbit is decaying and will soon crash into the planet. Lt Commander La Forge works on how to use the Enterprise to pull the moon off of the collision course with the planet. Q shows up unexpectedly. He claims to have been stripped of his powers by the Q Continuum. He experiences what it is like to be human for a time.

Geordie's attempts to use the Enterprise to restore the orbit of the moon are interrupted by the Callimarane, an alien race. They are there to exact revenge on Q for some past transgression of his. Just as Q is about to give himself up to the Callimarane, in order to save the Enterprise and Brial 4, his powers are restored. Q fixes things before he leaves and briefly gives Lt Commander Data the ability to laugh.

This was a fun episode to watch. Most of the entertainment value is in Q discovering what it means to be human. He experiences back pain and hunger for the first time. He talks to Data, who isn't human but has studied humanity, about what it means to be human. In a way it is a comedy of manners as it is about how Q treats those around him now that he is a mere mortal with the memory of what it was like to be a god-like being.

Data laughing was a weird sight to see. It looked so strange. He looked and sounded almost human when he laughed. I didn't know what to make of it. All of a sudden he was laughing. Why he was laughing wasn't exactly clear. It brought a smile to my face and confused me at the same time.

Corbin Bernsen makes a brief appearance in this episode in the role of another member of the Q Continuum. I believe it is his one and only appearance in any production of Star Trek.

I have been a bit reluctant to go back and watch the Q episodes of Star Trek. They can be entertaining but they aren't my favorite type of Star Trek stories. I suspect that the the culture clash that occurs when Q shows up is part what makes these episodes, or at the very least this one, fun to watch. Based on my positive experience with this one I'm now thinking about giving the earlier Q episodes a try, some of which I have probably seen before.

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Halt and Catch Fire 3.06

And She Does

Things seem to come to a head between Cameron and Donna. Cameron uses what she learned from her phone conversation with Diane in the last episode and fires Doug and Ian. Diane senses trouble between Donna and Cameron and encourages them to leave for a weekend and go stay at her home up in the California wine country. They have a buyout offer on the table from CompuServe, an IPO to consider, and they need to be on better than just speaking terms in order to make a rational decision about how to proceed. Donna takes Diane's advice and goes to Diane's home.

Cam does not go. Instead she spends most of the weekend playing Super Mario Bros. with Gordon. They beat the game but Gordon collapses at one point, knocking over the TV and breaking it. He tells Cameron about his medical problems. They go out and buy a new TV in order to continue playing. They get a much bigger set, a projection television. They talk about Joe. Gordon is the one who brings up his name. He still can't get over the fact that Joe stole the code that he developed.

Donna spends the weekend at Diane's place. The only people she sees are Diane's daughter, who is a senior at Berkley, and a couple of her friends who stop by to hang out. Cameron never shows up except in a hallucination that Donna has after she smokes some weed.

Cameron has a secret. She got married to Tom while she was back in Texas. She communicates with him through Mutiny in this episode. She tells Gordon about it near the end of the episode. Joe, in the one scene he has with Cameron, sees the ring at is able to put two and two together fairly quickly. It isn't until after that scene that Cameron tells Gordon about it. The episode ends with Gordon and Donna discovering that Cameron has secretly moved out of their house.

Joe and Ray are making big plans. Everything is flying high. They are looking to the future of what will one day be the internet. Ken doesn't trust Joe. He tells him to slow down. Joe doesn't listen and agrees to a deal with another company. When Ken finds out about it he goes to the board and gets Joe stripped of his decision making powers. The night before, Joe got a visit from Cameron who asked him to own up to the fact that he stole the code from Gordon. At the next deposition for the case between himself and Gordon, fresh off of learning that he was just a figure head and couldn't make anymore decisions, Joe owns up to the fact that he stole the code.

For the most part Joe and Ray's part of the story is leaving me a bit cold. It doesn't feel like there is much at stake for them. They seem a bit too robotic and inhuman for me to care about them. Another thing that bothers me about this show is the attention that is put into making some scenes look good. I would rather they invest more in the development of the characters. On the whole I liked this episode better than the last one but I'm still thinking about letting go of this show at the end of this season.

Rick and Morty 1.01


Rick Sanchez, brilliant, alcoholic scientist has recently moved in with his daughter Beth and her family. He needs some help in obtaining some plant specimens (giant seeds) and pulls Morty, his grandson, out of high school for the day to help him. Things don't work out exactly as planned. They end up having to try to smuggle the plant specimens through inter-dimensional customs.

I've watched this show before but I've decided to watch it again, at least this season, while I wait for season 3 to drop on Hulu. I wasn't keeping this blog or taking any notes at the time when I first watched it. I love this show. It is like Rick, irreverently brilliant. The humor doesn't always make me laugh out loud but I chuckled a lot as I rewatched this episode.

Friday, September 1, 2017

The Sopranos 1.03

Denial, Anger, Acceptance

Tony continues to go to therapy. His problems aren't solved yet. He thinks he sees something in one of the pictures in Dr. Melfi's waiting room. He accuses her of trying to pull a fast one with the painting. He loses his cool when she casts doubt about Jackie Aprile's chances for beating the cancer he currently has.

Meadow and her friend are stressed out and try to score some drugs. When their friends can't seem to help them they turn to Christopher Moltisanti. He doesn't want to help but is concerned that they will get hurt trying to buy drugs elsewhere. In the end he helps them but so far no consequences. Maybe this will be a plot thread that will be picked up in a future episode.

Silvio and Paulie do their best to shakedown the son-in-law of a Hasidim. The father-in-law wants his son-in-law to divorce his daughter. The son-in-law won't do it unless his father-in-law gives him a piece (50%) of the motel where he works. It takes some work, more than one effort, but they finally the son-in-law to agree to the divorce after they threaten to castrate him.

Artie and Charmaine Bucco cater a fundraising event for Carmella. Artie is having trouble getting the insurance company to pay up after his restaurant blew up. He still doesn't know that Tony is the one behind the destruction of had the restaurant. Tony seems to experience some guilty feelings after Artie tells him that the insurance company suspects that it wasn't an accident that the restaurant blew up.

Charmaine shares a moment with Carmella after the fundraiser. She didn't like the way Carmella treated her and talked down to her. She gets back at her by telling her about how she slept with Tony before she and Tony got married. Later in the episode, right near the end, Tony experiences a bit of backlash from Carmella without knowing why she is acting cold towards him; clearly its the memory of what Charmaine told her.

Uncle Junior is fuming about what happened in the last episode. Christopher and Brendan returned the truck full of suits but they did nothing else to make up for what Brendan did. Uncle Junior wants to whack Christopher but Livia, Tony's mother, talks him out of it, says he just needs a good talking to. When Junior mentions Brendan's name, she just shrugs. He takes that as a sign that its okay to whack Brendan.

The episode else with Tony and Carmella watching Meadow sing with the school choir. Meanwhile Christopher gets the piss scared out of him by some Russian thugs, presumably hired by Uncle Junior; and Brendan gets whacked by Mickey Palmice.

Very impressive. I can't really point to any one thing other than possibly the ending but it was all very well put together and executed. It felt like watching a very good movie. That was the quality of the pacing and way in which the story unfolded. It did not feel formulaic in the least bit. From what I could see, in reference to the title of the episode, Tony experienced some denial and anger but left acceptance up to the others like the son-in-law he shook down.