October 7, 2008 by Ryan Livingston · Comments Off
Aw Mel… what the hell?!
I’d heard rumors that G4 would be airing an animated version of Spaceballs. Then one day while flipping the channels I came across it. Rather, blindsided by it.
August 26, 2005 by Ryan Livingston · Comments Off
For years, when kid themed stations sporadically showed The Muppets, it wasn’t all there. Any episodes from season 1 began with later season’s opening montages (which is a shame, because Fozzy warmed up the audience before the show), and not all episodes were shown either (any star who faded from pop culture by the time of the re-airing got the boot). Rowlfâ€™s solos often got the axe as well. The list goes on.
Finally and at long last, the Muppet Show is being released to DVD – in order, uncut and sprinkled with Muppet flavored extras.
First, the shows: As I said, all there as Master Henson dreamed it. Thereâ€™s not much more I can say really. I mean, if you donâ€™t know what a Muppet is or how brilliant theyâ€™ve been the past 50 years, well allow me to pry that rock off of you.
But just think for a moment if you donâ€™t have a clueâ€¦ the worldâ€™s greatest entertainers were the guests on a puppet show.
Now on to the extras: The 4th disk contains the original bumpers and promos (labeled gag reel) and the pitch reel Henson used to butter up the egos of the network executives. Itâ€™s a real testament to how much of a sicko he was. A good sicko.
But the real benefit of the extras is the often unseen Muppet Show pilotâ€¦ â€œSex and Violence.â€ Had the show gone down that alley, Nigel the band leader would have been the host, Sam the moralistic eagle his sidekick/foil and the show played out like a mixed up TV station rather than a variety show. What would it be like had that time stream took and Nigel was a famous as Kermit? The world may never know, but the pilot is just as good as the real thing.
Also on each disk, pop up facts about the Muppets and their guest stars.
All in all, a must have for any Muppet fan, bad pun fan, craziness fan or DVD collectors who like green felt covered boxes (a nice touch).
February 11, 2005 by Ryan Livingston · Comments Off
A few months ago I watched the Discovery Channel’s documentary on the Bermuda Triangle and wan not impressed. I hoped it was a one shot blah but after watching Pompeii: The Last Day, I can see it’s a trend.
The “documentary” focuses on the day that Vesuvius blew its top in 79AD… obviously. However it was shot primarily in a “cinematic” style as select victims’ last hours were sappily dramatized. These vignettes were obviously theoretically based upon the now famous death casts molds formed from the hot ash incinerating the Pompeians.
This lasted for an hour and half doing little more than making us feel bad that these people were smushed by tons pumice – except for that one dude, he was a real cad. I’m glad he ate it in the end. But anyway…
Yes an hour and half devoted to everything we learned in 5 minutes of history class and 3 of geology 101.
The last half hour was devoted to what would happen if Vesuvius did it again… or rather when. We’re apparently due for another cataclysmic eruption. If it were to happen again it seems that, based upon the Italians they interviews, they’d just stare at it and die like the original Pompeians.
The what if segment should have been left to it’s own special because it A) clashed with the feel of the first part and B) reiterated every detail of the first segment as it they never met each other.
The people of Pompeii were a unique subculture and I guess I was kind of hoping this thing would have covered more of the daily life leading up to the eruption. The closest The Last Day came was revealing that they washed their clothes in piss.
Wait for the History Channel to do a documentary on Pompeii, it’ll be a thousand times better. They’re devoted to this type of thing where as Discovery is slowly descending into the all-gear-head-network and obviously has lost touch with the past.
January 26, 2005 by Ryan Livingston · Comments Off
What do you get when you cross Josie and the Pussycats (the cartoon), the Banana Splits and a bucket of sugarcoated sushi? Why Hi Hi Puffy Ami Yumi of course….
The Cartoon Network show follows the mythical exploits of the all too real J-Pop stars Puffy (known here as Puffy Ami Yumi because they’re being sued by Sean Combs). They may be best known for their other work on CN, notably the Teen Titans and Powerpuff Girls theme songs.
Hi Hi Puffy Ami Yumi works in a way just because it’s nothing new. It is your classic Laverne and Shirley / Odd Couple buddy show – Ami is a sickly sweet ninny and Yumi is a hard rocking punk ass; and for good measure they throw in Kaz, their third wheel of a manager.
The plots are culled from the rich history of the sitcom world – from duplicate robots to working in a taffy factory. Though they do throw in a few Japanese exclamations and phrases just to keep it fresh.
Hi Hi always starts of with a live action sequence starring the actual Ami and the actual Yumi, who do random things on a messy sound stage – like knock over a the camera or have a staring contest… fun fun.
The animation isn’t all that bad despite it being FLASH [ON TV!!!]. Ahem… sorry. It’s actually very stylized and charming in a way – a little bit anime, a little bit children’s storybook.
Despite it’s everything we’ve seen before, it does manage to get a chuckle. So I’m going to give it a 4 leaning more towards 3.5 – not bad, but not great. If there’s nothing else on Hi Hi Puffy Ami Yumi will keep you amused, however it’s not something you’d schedule your week around.
If nothing else it introduces the concept of J-Pop and J-Rock to the mainstream of the United States.
December 22, 2004 by Ryan Livingston · Comments Off
There are many burning questions out there that fall into the realm of legend. Will pop rocks and soda blow you up? Was JFK killed with a bullet made of chopped meat? Can you raise a sunken ship with ping-pong ball? Did the ancient Chinese send a man to the moon using fireworks? Etc Etc Etc…
Where there are questions, people search for answers.
Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage, two special effects whizzes and evil geniuses, take it upon themselves each week to re-enact all sorts of urban legends to see if in fact they are confirmable, plausible, or pure fantasy… aka â€œBUSTED!â€
From a scientific standpoint, these guys know whatâ€™s up. They follow through the scientific method (though it may not seem like it at times) and concoct brilliant scale and true size experiments to test the myriad of cockamamie urban legends and myths out there, often putting themselves in harms way to do it (eyebrows have been lost). Thatâ€™s dedication to the truth there.
From an entertainment standpoint it gets better. If for example a myth is busted, they then go to great measures to see what would indeed replicate the myth in real life… often calling a great deal of explosives into the picture – much to the chagrin of Mythbuster #3, Buster the crash test dummy.
If you like explosions, if you like idiotic stunts, if you like engineering and physics youâ€™re going to want to watch Mythbusters. Itâ€™s a solid 6 out of 6 charred mannequins for Mythbusters, which can be seen frequenty on the Discovery Channel.
December 22, 2004 by Ryan Livingston · Comments Off
Where would I be without this network? Itâ€™s basically old school MTV, you know when it played music… good music.
- Shows a wide array of music videos classic artists from the worlds Pop to metal to alternative and Hip Hop… often rare, complete and (mostly) uncensored.
- Shows classic concerts from all eras. I once saw a Triumph concert. I mean, anything that shows classic Canadian Prog Rock has got to be dedicated to the music!
- Thereâ€™s a request show, which means you can ask to see even rarer stuff!
- Minimal VJ (video jockey) interference. Each of the programs is about the videos and arenâ€™t interrupted by idiots introducing the songs (thatâ€™s what the title in the corner is for right?). Though this is slowly changing a bit as there are more cuts to interviews and artist facts. Not to worry though as itâ€™s people who know music like Eddy Trunkâ€¦ and not some over moussed airheads like other music networks.
Conâ€™s (but not really):
- Most of the videos are from the 80â€™s, but this is understandable since that was when music videos came into dominance as an art form.
- The video play gets repetitive. If you keep the station on all day (which I did in college), you are bound to repeat the same videos over an over again since they replay their play lists about 3 times a day. This can be good though if you want to tape some long sought after stuff, just wait till it comes around again at midnight.
VH1 Classic can be found on most digital cable packages these days. If you donâ€™t have digital cable then thereâ€™s something wrong with you! Go now and whine to whoever makes those decisions. If you provider doesnâ€™t carry VH1 Classic, then thereâ€™s something wrong with them! Go now and whine to them and tell them â€œyou wanna rock!â€
October 6, 2004 by Ryan Livingston · Comments Off
Um, well… it’s, uh… Well, very simply put, FLCL (pronounced “Fooly Cooly”) is a six episode anime miniseries about a grade school boy named Takun – whose life is turned upside down by a alien chick. Sounds like your standard anime, but it really isn’t.
Words to describe FLCL are hard to come by at first, but after a few months of thinking I can confidently wipe the drool from my lip and say: Absurdist Madness!
FLCL has successfully taken all the anime stereotypes and genres and mashed them into about 130 minutes of the most insane, yet breathtaking animation one could ever hope to see. Comedy, drama, sex crazed mania, giant robots, teen angst, aliens on mopeds and more… it’s all here.
It begins when young Takun is smashed in the head with a pull-start electric guitar by the resident rogue space agent Haruko, who’s looking for something. This blow to the head causes Takun’s brain to become an interdimentional gateway by which all sorts of robotic nightmares come through in order to destroy the earth.
How you may ask? Why, buy trying to activate the Medica Mechanico building – which in reality is a giant clothes iron poised to dewrinkle the earth like so many planets prior. And as always, levity ensues as Takun comes to cope with the revolving door his brain has become, the lust he has for both Haruko and Mamini – the clingy, arsonist high schooler who used to date Takun’s brother (thankfully not appearing in the series), and the fact that his father is an idiot who watches too much Lupin III.
Confused yet? Good. I sat and watched the series 8 times and I’m still not all too sure what the heck is going onâ€¦ so don’t think I gave too much of the plot away.
Aside from the main story, each episode is back with it’s own little, but equally off the wall, sub story – the theme of which always ties into the episodes end battle.
FLCL, though it may cause headaches, is a joy to watch. All the elements and characters mesh together well throughout the 6 episode run, eventually giving up more secrets to the show’s purpose.
The dubbing is excellent. Though I’ve not seen FLCL in Japanese (not that I could translate) or subtitled to know what the original dialog was, I could tell this was a good dub. The dialogue wasn’t clunky and unnatural like most English translations. Furthermore, the script kept its Japanese identity; many anime dubs these days try to pass off downtown Nagasaki as L.A.
The direction ranges from the cinematic, with meticulously drawn backgrounds and lighting – to crudely constructed, overblown slapstick shots. There are even some self-aware/self-mocking comic book form scenes.
The soundtrack is excellent and will stick in your head making you wish you had something heroic to do, just so you don’t waste the moment. Here’s an example:
The Pillows, “Ride On Shooting Star” – stream (16kbps)
The people at Gainax productions out did themselves and I’m praying that they have a follow up in mind.
I have to give FLCL a full 6 out of 6 possible somewhat radioactive but very lethal Gibson guitars. If you are a fan of the strange, the weird, or just do a serious amount of drugs… this is the show for you. The bumpers at Adult Swim say that this show will change your life, and it very well might.
FLCL can be seen from time to time during Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block. Check your local listings.
July 14, 2004 by Ryan Livingston · Comments Off
There are 2 sure bets in life, and they often walk hand in hand:
1) Concepts for television programming and movies always come in pairs.
2) The FOX Network sucks!!!
Original Image “dontated” by fox.com
Yes, it appears that the FOX network has laid another rotten egg upon the world in the form of "Banzai," a British import which lampoon’s Japanese game shows.
Short of the too long of it:
The premise of the show is simple: they do silly (dumb) things (i.e. tie balloons to chickens) and have the audience bet online on the outcomes; while at the same time get yelled at by a very loud and very bald monk-type guy and a wienerish Japanese business man. Both of who grow old after the intro sequence (in which they do not appear).
Having been watching Japanese television for some time now, I can tell you one thing – Banzai indeed resembles (only slightly though) a legit Japanese game show. They are always full of bright colors, loud people, and above all else… stunts and games once thought inhumanly doable (if not physically, then for the sole reason of why-the-hell-should-I?).
THIS show, however, is unlike the real deals because it is obviously forced. The typical real Japanese game shows have contestants willing to do just about anything to win (often with nothing at stake), and are unscripted for the most part. This is their charm; this is reality. Some aspects are staged, of course; but the bulk of it is raw human nature against unique challenges.
Everything in Banzai is phony and antiseptic; is done on closed sets, sans-audience, and with actors. Granted, these stunts are performed for the "betting" crowds, but even the stunts got a bit on the hackneyed side.
Yes, floating poultry was a giggle; as was Lou Ferigno in a race against a rabbi and priest for the soul of a baby. The rest however, like shopping cart jousts and grannies in wheelchairs playing chicken, have been done to death in various forms and shows.
This is just a lame attempt to compete with Most Extreme Elimination Challenge on Spike TV (the new TNN). It’s them people-seemed-to-like-that-so-why-not-copy-it-and-make-it-crap syndrome, which is circulating around media boardrooms across the country.
The makers of this show should be tarred, feathered and made to eat really old sushi…
Had this been a review with the scale from 1-6, it would have surely been in negative numbers, if for no other reason than being another patented FOX rip-off.
So instead, it deserves 8 1/2; katana swipes… bleed FOX, bleed!
February 16, 2004 by Ryan Livingston · Comments Off
It’s late on a Saturday Night. You’re channel surfing, trying to find something interesting to watch. Then you hit upon Staten Island Community Access and find a couple of guys in lounge chairs heckling their television set. You have found Industrial Television.
For over 7 years now, iTv has been a showcase for the bizarre, the sickening and the obscure. They have scoured miles of video tape to find the most eclectic mix of clips imaginable: from “Faces of Death” to early Fleischer cartoons to 1950′s film reels about “special people” – and everything in between. Corny commercials, blood soaked drive-in trailers, good old Swedish porn – you name it, it gets aired.
First they show a few trailers and commercials, then the short subject, and finally the feature. It’s much like ye olde day at the cinema; however, with more beer and less popcorn.
Every once in a while there’d be interjections from the aptly named droogies – named after Alex’s gang in A Clockwork Orange – the “hosts” and producers of iTv. A quick quip, a zany sketch, a puff of smoke or naked chick later the show resumes.
The show at times can be graphic. Well ok, most of the time it’s graphic. There’s a lot of material the FCC would have a field day with. Thank god for Public Access!
I myself have been known turn away, but that’s just me…. I gasp for air if I look too long at the little diver in fish tanks, so you really can’t go by me. However, it’s nothing levelheaded folks ready for some fun can’t handle.
And despite the droogies crass appearance, they treat their constituency well. Every year, iTv hosts a party for fans. Way to keep it real!
This is the perfect medicine for people who take life too seriously. It can possibly cure them, but most likely cause a deadly overdose… either way, problem solved.
iTv is a breath of fresh air. The droogies obviously are not afraid to go against the grain, and we need that. We need a show that’ll challenge society and push the limits – iTv does just that. It’s not for everyone, but you should at least watch it a few times before you make that call.
Obviously if you don’t live neat Staten Island, NY, you’re going to have a hard time finding iTv. However, there is a website – Industrial Television.com – where you can get a hold of tapes.
And I feel, in time, iTv will make its way around the country… if not in the original form, then in copycat offshoots.
Oh… right… the numbers: For being innovative, provocative and all that jazz like that it gets a 6 out of 6. And because it’s shown during “grown-up time,” I’ll not take off points for corrupting the youth of America… it’s too late for that anyway.
September 29, 2003 by Ryan Livingston · Comments Off
I must admit, I was a bit skeptic about the show when it began its advertising campaign. Whenever the WB tries to capitalize on the old Looney Tunes, the venture usually ends in disaster and seems to be 100% pure recycled gags (e.g. shorts like 1990′s short subject “Invasion of the Bunny Snatchers,” and crap like “Space Jam”). Still I kept hope that it would turn out OK… and, my surprised joy, it did.
The idea is simple: Make a show based upon the Merrie Melodies’ 1953 short subject – “Duck Dodgers in the 24th 1/2 Century” and WB’s 1980 “Duck Dodgers and the Return of 24th 1/2 Century.”
Our “hero,” Dodgers, comes out of stasis in the 24th 1/2 century in the midst of a Martian blitz of the universe. Dr. I.Q. Hi (the dude with the light bulb on his noggin) assigns the egomaniac a sidekick – The Eager Young Space Cadet, who is, of course, more capable then his captain. Add a ship, some robots, stir and pour and you’ve got a decent cartoon.
There is a lot to like about this cartoon.
Let’s start with the intro. The theme song is performed by none other then Welsh superstar Tom Jones (“What’s New Pussycat,” “It’s Not Unusual”), giving the lead in that needed campy 70′s feel. And, in a move that can only be deemed as cute, the characters are billed as their Looney Tunes counter parts and not voice actors – i.e. Daffy Duck as Duck Dodgers, Porky Pig as Eager Young Space Cadet, and Marvin Martian as The Martian Commander. A nice touch.
By the way, voices include: As Dodgers – Joe Alaskey, who also gave life to Plucky Duck, Sylvester and Tweety, Grandpa from Rugrats, and Thomas Timberwolf (Chuck Jones’ last project that was playing on the Warner Brother’s website until recently)… to name a few. And new to the Loony Tunes mythos are the Martian Queen and Centurion Robots, voiced by Tia Carrere and Michael Dorn respectively.
The show itself breaks the bounds of the theatrical shorts it’s based on. The plots have a little more depth, and the action isn’t limited to the 1-3 “backdrops” most short subjects were used to; thus allowing more room for humor. The jokes are more in depth too, be it a one-time gag or running one. The humor has also grown up a bit – letting adults in on the fun with Animaniacs/Pinky and the Brain brand subtlety, while keeping the kids amused with falling meteors. Indeed, suitable for the entire family.
The characters have evolved too:
Porky is more active and developed; he is now allowed a snide comment here and there, and is more prone to reactions then his 1950′s counterpart… who merely chimed in from time to time merely to re-integrate Daffy.
Daffy, err.. Duck Dodgers is still a pompous twit, but with a twist – he’s even a bigger jerk now… and I don’t think we’d have it any other way. Still, he too has grown allowing a sympathetic side to show (all be it rarely).
Marvin is still the dinky little Martian with a penchant for blowing up the earth… except now he’s got an armada to help (which doesn’t seem to help). They instilled more personality on the runt, allowing him to be the perfect foil to the dysfunctional duo of Cadet and Dodgers.
As much as I like it, I can’t say it is the most brilliant thing I’ve ever seen; but it certainly is inspired (especially the episode where the heroes grow old real fast), and I’d it say tops most of the junk produced today.
Again, I also appreciate that Duck Dodgers doesn’t go to the well of tired old gags from classic cartoons. I mean those old gags will forever be funny and continue to make us laugh as long as they’re in the original toon, but not in a pathetic remake.
Based on this, I give Duck Dodgers a 5 out of 6 on the arbitrary scale of things.
So go watch it – As of this writing its on Cartoon Network at 11:30am Saturdays, and replays Sundays at 8:00pm… but as always, check your local listings.