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Cracked Nuts

The movie I was looking for
Back in the 80's I was flipping through channels and I found this movie. I didn't know what it was but I knew it was funny. I caught it in the middle and they never said the name of the movie. I've been looking for it since and nobody knew what I was talking about. So if there's someone else out there in my shoes, I'm going to make a review that will be searchable. Because right now there's NOTHING on the internet like what I'm about to write.

(minor spoilers) Twin cities of Amos and Bamos. We'll call Amos "B" and Bamos "A". That's so you don't get confused.

Then they ended up drinking 100 year old hooch. Zup said you need to respect old age.

At another point, Wendell said something wrong and Zup said, "Don't you know the King's English?" And Wendell said, "No. Is he English?" And of course Zup wants to be executed by something modern like an airplane. They accommodate him and he sits in a royal airplane bombing target chair.

Weird stuff, but good.

Now that I've provided something for a search engine to find, hopefully anyone else out there frantically looking for this movie will be able to find it. I just watched the whole thing on TCM, uninterrupted. Nice.

Overall I found it to be really good. Like a cross between a Marx Bros and an Abbot and Costello movie. I was never in on the whole "Wheeler and Woolsey" thing but now I might just give them a chance.

A lot of their banter when looking at the miniature battlefield was textbook Abbot and Costello. But the overall absurd situation was pure Marx.

Also of note, the mean aunt is introduced very early in the movie. About 10 words in and you'd swear she was Endora from Bewitched. She sounds like Endora but she looks like Carol Burnette. She is neither of these.

Boris Karloff has a bit part in this movie as an opportunistic scam artist. The one guy calls him Boris. It looked like it might have been a mistake but they missed it in editing so they just went with it. He was already an established actor by then and he made a kagillion movies in 1931. I'm guessing it was easier just to leave it in than to try to get ahold of Karloff and get him to re-shoot that one scene. It didn't take anything away from the story, so if it was me I'd have just left it in as well.

Korny gags, silly puns, unbelievable situations. If you like this sort of light-hearted romp, then you might just enjoy Cracked Nuts. Plus it's just a little over an hour long. They crammed a lot of funny into a short space.

Oh, I also FFed over most of the song and dance scene at the bottom of the staircase. I've never been one for that sort of thing. But at one point it looked like the guy stumbled back, lunged forward again, and began singing way too close to the girl's ear. If you look at the mechanics of that one move it looks pretty goofy. And she began laughing at him, leading me to think it wasn't planned.

Battlestar Galactica

Much, much, much better than the original
I'm going to use lots of spoilers here. This review is geared more toward people who have actually seen the show. If you haven't seen it, you read at your own risk.

I remember watching the original Battlestar Galactica when I was in high school. Short of a new Star Wars movie, it wasn't too bad. For the time. Since then I've seen reruns and it was a pretty cheesy show. Time has not been kind.

The new show was the only Battlestar Galactica in town and I forced myself to watch it. Somewhere in the first half hour I fell in love with it. This was by no means a politically correct rainbow-filled example of diversity. Far from it. It was gritty (overused term, but the only one I can think of). It was different. It was real.

All the characters are still there from the old series, but their motivations are all twisted around. The darker side of humanity shows its ugly face in ways that we haven't seen since Twilight Zone and The Practice. These are not the pretty people we saw in the original series. These are realistic people, with realistic problems, who face an impossible task. I especially love how there are no cute fuzzy bunnies, no robot dogs to smile at, no comic relief of any kind. The only comedy is dark comedy, gallows humor. I don't want the comic relief. I want to stay in the moment. BSG keeps you in the moment.

Two really nice touches were when Roslin gave the order to leave behind the ships with no FTL (and the reaction to this order), and when they started writing down the number of survivors on that whiteboard. That whiteboard number really made for a "moment of dread" each time.

Since the pilot movie, Battlestar Galactica has dared to go beyond the lines so many times. What I love about this show is they aren't afraid to "go there". In any other show, if they had found a map to earth, there would be a last-minute quake and the temple would be conveniently destroyed, making it easy for the writers to give you the same old crap next week. Not BSG. They found a temple that would have a map to Earth and it needed an arrow to activate. Starbuck went back to Caprica, got the arrow, and returned. They activated the map, and were briefly teleported to Earth to see the star constellations. Bravo! I was on the edge of my seat the whole time.

There were many more examples of this show pushing the envelope. Boomer shooting Adama, Roslin and Adama plotting against Admiral Cain, Tigh killing his wife, The Cylon invasion of New Caprica, The terrorist resistance against the Cylons, the mind games they played on Starbuck there, class warfare and struggle, prejudice among the different colonies (Capricans are the aristocracy), and that amazing season finale with the strange song coming from the ship and Starbuck promising to lead them to Earth.


Let's not forget my favorite character in the show. Doctor Gaius Baltar. He might be the single most complex character in television history. He's capable of anything. Will he help us? Will he sell us out? One day he's a traitor who deserves to be chucked out the air lock, and the next day he's a hero who becomes President of the Colonies. Anything can happen with him around, and usually does. Nobody likes him, but everybody needs him somehow. He's always one step away from being killed, but always manages to escape somehow. He has a singular talent for survival no matter what.

One of my favorite moments with Baltar was when he had to investigate that Cylon base star that had been stricken with the unidentified Cylon disease. He was by himself in an unprecedented situation. Again, ANYTHING could happen. And then he wasted that #6 when she accused him of causing it. Delicious! The relationship between Baltar and Caprica 6 never disappoints either. And it was interesting that she also has him inside of her head. The imaginary 6 is a creature of lust. Lust for power, lust for the flesh, lust for everything. The imaginary Baltar is a creature of cold logic. He sometimes shows concern, but no real emotion. No passion. No lust at all. What an amazing contrast.

Then of course there is the religion and mysticism of the show. It's one thing to face an army of evil robots. It's another thing to face an army of evil robots who are convinced they are doing God's will. All the strange religious stuff leads to prophecies, curses, people doing strange things based on faith, and what could only be called magic. Having a handful of people teleport momentarily to Earth was magic. And this magic goes unexplained, as it should. Some things are just inexplicable.

One final note: When Galactica showed back up to rescue the people on New Caprica, Adama jumped into low orbit to launch the vipers. Then it began a free-fall toward the planet and would have crashed hard, except for the fact that it jumped out at the very last second. Typically, I would argue that you're not allowed to jump into hyperspace that near to a planet, but it was so cool I have to bite my tongue on that. It was maybe the single most awesome special effect I had ever seen. And to attempt something that dangerous proved beyond all doubt what kind of man Adama was. It was a bold move, but it needed to be done.

Monty Python's Flying Circus

When you go back 30 years, most comedy loses a lot due to what I call "comedic inflation". It was OK or even good for the time, but it loses everything over the years. Viewers of such shows today can only go by the laugh track to know when they are supposed to laugh.

Not so with Monty Python. This group broke so many rules, and invented so many new ones. The dry, fast-paced comedy is so good and so expertly delivered that you often miss the next joke because you're still laughing at the last joke. Not a problem, since much of the comedy comes in the form of sight gags.

I can still remember seeing this show for the first time as a teenager many years ago. I was so brutally attacked by the non-stop silliness that I often couldn't breathe. And I remember asking, "Why aren't there more shows like this?" One thing that struck me particularly funny was the show's awkward transitions. They never just ended a sketch like a regular show would. They went out of their way (like a comedic Rube Goldberg machine) to move from one sketch to the next. Sometimes the set would just change, like the two Vikings being lowered into view at the beginning of the Spam sketch. Sometimes there would be that wonderfully odd animation that sort of almost explains the transition. And other times they just plain gave up and announced those famous words, "And now... for something completely different." That's not good transition! It's wrong, all wrong! Don't they know anything?!?!? And to me, this was just part of the charm of Monty Python. They so blatantly disregarded the rules of transition, among other rules. Transition was just a small part of it, but very very noticeable once you actually look for it.

Monty Python was pure comedic genius. It was absurd. It was irreverent. It was audacious. But most of all it was humor at its best. I will go on record as saying this is the funniest television show of all time.

The Flying Nun

Not sure if it's a 1 or a 2 so I'll be generous
This was supposed to be one of those "magical" 1960's shows, like Bewitched, I Dream of Jeannie, The Munsters, The Twilight Zone, or My Favorite Martian. But it never really had the draw of any of those. It was a 2nd or 3rd tier fantasy show at best, somewhere below Nanny and the Professor.

It wasn't as weird as the Munsters, or as sophisticated as My Favorite Martian. It never came close to the Twilight Zone in dealing with man's darker nature. It never seemed as "complete" as Nanny and the Professor, and it wasn't as magical as Bewitched. I guess what bothered me the most is that she didn't even try to keep her identity a secret as well as Jeannie. Did she keep her identity a secret at all? Really, she looked like a nun flying around. Any criminal mastermind could easily follow her back to the convent. Or for that matter, any reporter for a tabloid could do the same.

Why was she even a nun? Flashy flying doesn't mix well with the nun lifestyle of simplicity and hard work. I remember the other nuns trying to get her to stop flying around all day, but she did it anyway. I kept wondering why they didn't fire her. Just de-frock her or whatever they do to nuns and send her packing.

Another problem with the show was the actual flying. It never looked real. Superman flying around in the 1950's looked more realistic. The only flying I can think of that looked less realistic was on the Saturday morning Shazam! show, where Captain Marvel always flew about 10 feet off the ground and only over paved roads. It was so stupid because he would even bounce around when the truck he was strapped to hit a bump. Sometimes you could even see the shadow of that truck on the road beneath him as he "flew". OK, the Flying Nun wasn't quite that bad but then that's nothing to brag about.

To top it all off, I never understood the romantic interest of the show. She was supposed to be a nun. So why did she spend so much time hanging out on a yacht with a millionaire playboy? I couldn't sit through a single episode of this show today.

The Blair Witch Project

Not a bad job considering the budget
Spoilers First off, I applaud them for making lots of money with no real investment. A hoax like this can only be done once. There were a couple of nice touches in the movie, like them trying to follow a stream and winding up in the same spot. That's freaky. Also, good acting. But the effects were extremely cheesy, like the four guys beating the sides of tent. Was I really supposed to think it was anything else? Maybe it's because this movie never really "took me there". At least with the Ninth Gate, I could suspend disbelief long enough to accept the idea that the three books really are evil and the hero's life might have been in danger a few times, but not here. Also you never actually see the Blair Witch. It's kind of like making a song about a Teenage Wasteland and calling it Baba O'Reilly. Where is Baba O'Reilly? You might say the Witch is invisible to explain her pronounced absence. Ah, but then how did they have an old drawing of the Witch in that book? Hmn? Also the editing was impossible. If you're recording the same thing with two separate cameras, you will get the same action twice from two separate perspectives, not a smoothly-edited single thread of continuity. I especially chuckled when the one guy was talking into one camera and his voice carried over flawlessly into the footage of the other camera, all supposedly unedited. That was really obvious. By editing it professionally, it lost any credibility it might have had in my mind. And why did they go in that house anyway? How stupid was that? To make matters worse, they made a companion video for this movie (before Blair Witch 2) that you could rent, supposedly of "newly-discovered" video. At least they threw it in free when I rented Blair Witch. It was the one guy and the girl sitting in the tent saying things like, "Wow, that was a lot of weird stuff that happened today, huh?" "Did you ever figure out what those twig figures were?" "No. I never saw nuthin' like that. Crazy, huh?" This companion movie was obviously shot with a different camera than either of the ones used in making Blair Witch, making it an even more obvious fake, and it was twice as boring.

While we're at it, didn't they film the inside of the Witch's house? If real, the cameras should still be in there. Who discovered the film without getting killed by the Witch? There was absolutely no way for me to get into the illusion of this movie with so many flaws continually shouting at me that it was a hoax. They might as well have put that kid from The Last Action Hero in here saying over and over, "It's just a movie. It's not real." It astounds me to think that some people actually thought it was a true documentary. On the scary scale, 1 to 10, I give this a 2, only for the few freaky (but not really scary) scenes. This was tied with Batman as most over-hyped movie of the 90's.


Visually great but then what happened?
Spoilers The visual effects were amazing, and I liked LL Cool J. But there was no plot. It dragged on way too long. I fell asleep during and woke up to more movie. I didn't do anything to deserve this. There were plenty of good places to just pop up the words The End and save the cost of making whatever inexcusable silliness came after that. The only funny part was when Robin Williams was flattered that he was considered as big a fool as his father. There, I just saved you 3 bucks. It wasn't cute. It wasn't "magical" like Willy Wonka. It wasn't even close to being realistic, even given the eccentric people involved. There was no drama. There was no romance. There was just no point. They should recycle the visual effects into something with a plot, like Police Academy 12.

White Man's Burden

A burden to watch
Minor Spoilers On the plus side, it was believable. It had good acting. I especially liked Harry Belafonte getting irate at the inept white cashier for not helping him get robbed by John Travolta. That was a nice touch to add some twisted realism to the movie. I laughed at that one part. But the rest was just so depressing, and that story line (apart from the racial switch) has been done to death. Take Boys in the Hood and switch the white and black people around. There was no real point other than the fact that racism exists in our world and that it's a darned shame people get discriminated against. Really? Wow! Who knew? So if you want to be miserable and your favorite Blues radio station has been taken over by the Dance Mix Syndicate, go rent White Man's Burden. Otherwise, don't.


Needs major technical rewrite
Spoilers This was a good premise turned into a bad movie. There is a very real and important point to be made here about the repercussions of genetic tampering, and the perseverance of the human spirit. And they don't tell you this, but Gattaca is a possible gene sequence of A, C, G, and T proteins found in DNA. Gattaca does a great job of describing the inequality of a world where your child's genes could be computer selected so that he or she is super smart, strong, fast, etc. But then it does a completely horrible job of describing the world wherein lies this inequality. Most of the story drags you through the drudgery of the continual checks to ensure that your genetic coding is up to snuff, something that would never happen if you actually work with that person every day. Then there are the space explorers wearing business suits to a new planet at the end. I guess they aren't so smart after all. On top of all this is the fact that there's a rocket leaving every day, but the launch window only comes once in 75 years. Huh? Will these people ever return from space? I'm assuming they will be there for at least 75 years, probably 150. This would have been much better as a 30 minute Twilight Zone episode with a budget of $5000. Hollywood, if you don't know anything at all about the laws of physics, astronomy, common sense, or the nature of technology, don't make a futuristic space movie.

Three Kings

Seriously lame remake of Kelley's Heroes

This was a sorry, misguided remake of the much more enjoyable Kelley's Heroes, one of my favorite war movies ever. At least the slow-motion bullet penetration scenes were interesting. I'll spare you the dramatic shortcomings covered by other people and go straight to the glaring technical flaws. These alone put it up there on my "worst of" list. I'm one of those people who simply can't enjoy a movie if the technical flaws make it technically impossible, like astronauts traveling to the Sun by night so they don't burn up. There has to be a grain of probability or at least possibility to it before I can suspend disbelief. I'm a cynic. Sue me. Here are some of the technical flaws. 1. The soldiers drank absolutely no beer at all in Desert Storm, except on ships in international waters. But the Arabs didn't allow it EVER on their land, not even in a US Army barracks filled with soldiers protecting their country. Scratch drinking from the celebration scene. 2. There were no shouts of joy when Iraq lost the war. The soldiers were still there to clean up long after the war ended. Nobody celebrated. Everyone was just confused at not striking Baghdad, and angry because they still couldn't come home yet. Scratch the remainder of the celebration scene. 3. Nobody EVER wandered out of the camps without a Humvee. It's the desert. You would die. You don't just walk around outside the camp. Scratch the Lone Iraqi Screaming in the Desert scene. 4. If you somehow did wander out, and there was an armed Iraqi soldier screaming and waving, you wouldn't ask around to see if you should shoot him. You would just shoot. He is the enemy. Scratch the disillusionment. 5. An Iraqi soldier at the time would NEVER tell an American soldier where he was allowed to go, under any circumstances. They were a broken enemy. We owned them. There were only three things an Iraqi would say to an American soldier: a. Yes, sir. b. No, sir. c. Three bags full, sir. If the Americans wanted to go to village X, any surviving Iraqi soldier would just shut up and humbly get out of the way. In the real world, an Iraqi tank crew would surrender to one American soldier in a jeep with a flat tire. They simply had no fight left in them after the war. Scratch the defiant Iraqi soldier scene at the village. 6. The Iraqis had precious little left to fight with after the war (especially near the front lines). Anything they did have was well hidden to avoid getting bombed. They would not have used any weapons until after the bulk of the Coalition forces left the area. Scratch the fight/chase scene. 7. All American soldiers had their belongings inspected thoroughly before leaving Iraq. You could not get out of Iraq with a duffel bag full of gold. It wasn't even worth trying. An intelligent commander would have never tried this. Scratch the original plan for getting the gold back to America. 8. Did Saddam Hussein even have any gold? Most countries keep their gold in the Federal Reserve vault in New York. And the terrorists who don't use gold just counterfeit up a few million in American $100 bills. At least they used to before we redesigned them. This was the case in 1991. Saddam Hussein was after oil, not gold. Scratch the whole movie.

If you get the DVD, you will see the making of Three Kings in the special features menu. They hired some Lieutenant Colonel as a technical expert to make sure the movie was 100% accurate. It's a good thing they hired that guy.

The Thin Red Line

It was WW2, not Vietnam stupid!

First, there was an hour of pointless new-age soul searching before the battle. Then they take the hill – that was pretty cool. The End? No. There's STILL another hour of soul searching. Right now I can think of two hours that should have graced the floor in the editing room. At one point near the end, that guy from Angel Eyes (and the Passion of the Christ) is looking up in the trees with a weird far-away look on his face. Are there Japanese soldiers hiding up in the trees? Are enemy planes about to attack? No. He's just looking at TREES! And then they made him look so "enlightened" when he's contemplating his goofy Zen crap. Is this that Scientology stuff that Germany outlawed? "The Human race is really one big soul looking out of many eyes." I don't think a single American soldier ever thought that during the war. The movie had lots of big stars in it, thinking weird stuff like that all day. It couldn't have been cheap to make either. If you LIKED Saving Private Ryan, you are sure to LOVE some movie other than this one. Oh yeah, it felt much more like Vietnam than WWII. Overall, it blew pretty badly.


Tests your reaction to noise, but not fear

First off, nothing really happened in this movie, other than a woman bleeding inexplicably. Second, it wasn't scary. Third, it had the worst soundtrack of any movie ever. Let me elaborate. The sound was edited by either Beavis or Butthead – I'm not sure which, so let's just go with Beavis. The movie gradually gets more and more quiet and the people mumble and mutter, forcing you to turn up the volume (I watched this at home). Then Beavis blasts some really loud sounds with supposedly scary/shocking images, forcing you to quickly lower the volume again. This occurs many times until, mercifully, the movie ends. I can picture Beavis laughing vulgarly from behind the two-way mirror while watching the test group franticly reaching for the remote each time. If you have children and prefer to watch scary movies after they fall asleep, this one is a big mistake. But then it's a big mistake anyway. Here's a thought – if you're going to make a horror movie, at least add a gratuitous beheading, a 19-year-old blond girl who screams at the top of her lungs just before she can take off her sweater, the shadow on the wall of someone being eaten alive just out of the camera range, a cat being thrown at the camera to scare the audience, some drifty weirdo with a maniacal laugh, or a monster who looks like a stage hand covered in aluminum foil (a la TV's Lost in Space). These people didn't even try to scare me. They just wanted to hurt my ears.

Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace

The Phantom Plot
Spoilers (too late - spoiled movie) I would have killed the kid – too annoying. And why wager the queen's spaceship to buy the part you need to fix it? Everything else still works on that gorgeous new star-cruiser, so just trade it even-up for an ugly ship with a working hyper-drive. Oh that's right – there's no hurry. Your planet's just being overrun by evil aliens. Did they take a submarine through the center of the planet? I won't even allow for that possibility with futuristic alien technology. That was just a ridiculous pretext for showing an underwater sea monster. So why not just land next to the city and save the sea odyssey? Same goes for the invaders. Why did it take so long for spaceships ALREADY IN ORBIT from the beginning of the movie to attack the city? There was just no logical sense of timing or urgency. Also, they should have let Darth Maul live. I liked him. But Jar-Jar Binks could have been eliminated completely. Not only was he a ridiculous, pathetic, annoying racial stereotype, and looked too much like Ally McBeal with a green suntan, but he was hard to understand. Not that he said anything worth listening to. Am I the only person in the world who looks at computer animation and sees a cheap cartoon? Most of the movie looked more like a video game than a feature film. Oh, and if you're fighting a monster that will be added in later using computer magic and you want it to look convincing, your eyes should focus about 2 or 3 feet in front of you, not on the cue card guy 30 feet away. It makes it seem like you're talking to a ghost. They should make another Star Wars 1 – The Adjustment. In this movie, we pretend that the Phantom Menace never happened and are treated to a real Star Wars movie, exploding Death Star and all! Hey, I can wish, can't I? It would make plenty of money and still leave room for two more prequels that need to be remade. This was utterly worthless. Third worst movie of the 1990's for hype.

The Siege

Boring lawyer movie
Minor spoilers

I thought it was The Negotiator (which I later saw and enjoyed) when I accidentally rented it.

I saw the cover art and mistook it. They made it look like the other movie. Anyway, I watched it. The villain is way too obvious. Why didn't someone just shoot him in the first 5 minutes? There was very little real action. It's a boring lawyer movie where the lawyers spend all day worrying about legal loopholes and seem completely uninterested in the fact that terrorists are running around killing people. It may be even worse of a movie now, in light of the events on Sept 11, 2001.

The Ninth Gate

The seventh worst movie of the 1990's
Heavy spoiler action here.

Great premise for a really good movie. Maybe someone should actually make it next time. This movie was not scary at all. Not even creepy. Every time the "hero" gets close to the truth, he gets beaned in the back of the head and almost killed as the building burns down while he regains consciousness. He's not smart enough to buy a helmet. And what the heck happened at the end? Couldn't they make something scary happen somewhere in this movie? Of course not. Take The Haunting, delete all the freaky special effects, the old lady talking about how there will be nobody from town to come and help in the middle of the night, and replace the sexy Catherine Zeta Jones with a toothless hobo. You would still have 10 times the horror movie the Ninth Gate was. At the end of the movie, the bad guy puts all the 9 pictures together to form the "spell" that will grant him ultimate power. The jerk had one of the wrong pictures and the spell kills him. Then the "hero" finds the right picture, does the spell, and presumably gets the power. But I didn't see how the spell was any different using the right pictures. I suppose what I would really like is for someone to pick up the ball here and try running for the other goal line this time. It's truly a sad thing. This one had a lot of potential, but only at the conceptual level. It's like hearing a 5-year-old mess up a joke and laughing at the joke your mind rearranges from the idea he gave you. To make this movie good, you would have to start over with a blank piece of paper, and maybe keep the bad guy and those weird devil drawings. An actual appearance by the devil (or at least see the clawed foot of an underling demon) would have at least added some fear of the consequences of this foolish undertaking they attempted to portray in the Ninth Gate.

What Dreams May Come

One of Robin Williams' worst movies
minor spoilers here At least it was better than Toys, which isn't saying much. That's about all I have good to say. Does any religion actually think this insult is what the afterlife looks like, or was I unwittingly dragged through someone's bad acid trip? Here's a movie about Heaven where God is only mentioned dismissively in one scene for about ten seconds. I think Daffy Duck floating up to the ceiling with a halo and a harp is more realistic. This is wishful thinking of what Heaven should look like for the "Me" Generation. Everything was relative to how you feel about it. Even Hell was just a manifestation of a big pity party. Here's how they came up with the idea for this movie. They took bits and pieces from every religion they could think of, secured a special effects budget of $50 million, added a medium-sized bag of crap, and ran it all through the high-speed blender. Goku's journey through the death realm in the Dragonball Z cartoon made much more logical sense than What Dreams May Come. Did I mention this movie was bad?

Married with Children

Pretty funny at first
Married... With Children started out as one of the funniest and freshest shows on TV, and it was FOX's first real hit. Just about everything from the first few seasons was gold. My picks for best episodes:

1. The 1987 Christmas special where Santa Claus died

2. The game show where Al and Peg pretended to be newlyweds

3. The one where Al was actually trying to get Peg pregnant and it was killing him. The last 5 minutes of that one were particularly funny.

Around the second season, they started the show with a picture of Al smiling back at the audience as if he was spaced out watching TV. They soon replaced this with him in a more familiar grumbling pose. But I thought the "happy and distant" was more appropriate and funnier. I can't find that picture anywhere.

Towards the end the humor got stale. I suppose they had different writers. They lost track of the original formula of making it a war between the men and the women. Al and Steve would team up against Peg and Marcie. There were never really any winners. If one of them is unhappy, they made sure everyone was miserable.

Also, they really lost count of how many years they were on. In the episode where Al entered the Olympics for old people, the announcer said, "Bet you thought Al was going to let the old guy win. Well, then you haven't been paying attention for the last seven years." However when this aired, Married… With Children had been on for a little over 5 years. Toward the end, I think they said it was on for 14 years, when in reality it was on from 1987 to 1997. I don't know why they were off so much.

But even the last season wasn't all that bad. I watched every single episode.

The Simpsons

The Simpsons is without a doubt one of the best shows of all time. I watched them from the very beginning, and by that I mean beck when they were shorts played at commercial time on the Tracy Ullman Show. I said then if that cartoon were ever made into a TV show it would be the funniest thing ever. They did, and it was.

If you were to count all the laughs over the last 20 years, you would find that The Simpsons are funnier than Seinfeld. The first stand-alone episode was funny and the last one they made was funny. The laughs just never end. I can watch reruns all day long too. It just never gets old.

The Simpsons has such a very rich history too. The characters are well established and the city of Springfield seems to have everything you could want.

Of course, my favorite would have to be Homer. He's just so funny and wrong all the time. He's a loud and obnoxious oaf. Don't you just love the word "oaf"? Well, that's Homer. He'll go to any length to be an idiot.

I hope the laughs never end. In a world where comedies last 7 years and "retire", The Simpsons is still going strong. Alas, eventually, someone will decide it's time to pull the plug and a great iconic show will be gone.

The Fantastic Journey

Pretty good, especially for its time
I have seen this in reruns in the 1980's and it wasn't too bad. Let me fill you in with more of what I remember.

Spoilers. Valerian (I don't remember him being "Varian") had a super crystal tuning fork that could do just about anything. But he wasn't an alien. He was from Atlantis. He was healthy, wise, handsome, took his vitamins, had a clean aura, probably a vegetarian, and he never abused that aardvark in the back yard. Your basic all-around 1970's hero guy. And the tuning fork was really an amplifier that tapped into his spiritual essence to effect change.

In the Bermuda triangle, people would get sucked in from various times throughout history. I believe it was the pilot when they ran into pirates. One of them asked if Elizabeth was still Queen of England. Clearly, they meant a previous Elizabeth. They answered yes, which only prolonged their delay in realizing they were in a time vortex.

Roddy McDowall was a late-comer, probably to boost sagging ratings. He was from the future but I don't remember from when exactly. I think it was the 2100's.

It turned out there were some bad guys running the island from a shiny silver cylindrical tower that looks remarkably like one of the buildings in downtown Los Angeles. They were agents working either for or with "The Source". Valerian defeated The Source, leaving the show with no direction at all. They quickly slapped together a new threat – "The Power". It some kind of artifact gun. The reruns didn't get that far in the 80's so my memory gets hit and miss at that point. I remember them beating The Power also. I think they knew the clock was running out so they were kind enough not to leave the audience hanging.

It was a bit simplistic at times, and some of the plots were a bit too obvious, but it was good clean escapist fun. There was a family on the island with Valerian so it was easy enough to identify with someone and pretend you were there also on a wild adventure. I would watch it again if it was on at a convenient hour.

After MASH

Bland left-overs
To be fair, I didn't see a lot of this show. Probably because it wasn't as good as the original M*A*S*H, but I seem to recall them moving it around on the weekly schedule. Some shows just aren't worth the trouble of following around every week. But I really did try at first, so it wasn't all bad. Maybe I just kept expecting it to improve, but I can't give this show a 1. In all honesty, I can't give it any more than a 2 either.

It wasn't MASH (I'm not going to type those stupid *'s every time). And it was trying to be MASH without putting forth any effort, like it would just magically happen. Well guess what? No magic. The best I can do here is to compare it to other shows.

Trapper John, M.D. was a much better show by far. However, they should have called it B.J. Hunnicut, M.D. because Pernell Roberts looked exactly like an older BJ, but nothing at all like Trapper John. Keep everything else the same, just change his name and the name of the show. Presto! After MASH wasn't the only sequel to completely bomb and dishonor the original. Archie Bunker's Place was a lame follow-up to All In The Family. It had no heart, no conflict, no depth – all of the things that made All In the Family so memorable. Likewise, MASH was funny because the doctors were reacting to the impossible absurdity of war. Remove the war and you remove the drive for 99% of the humor. Potter can't yell at Klinger for wearing a dress, because Klinger isn't wearing a dress, because he's not trying to get kicked out of the Army, because he's already out of the Army, because the war is over. (breathe) All of the jokes became forced because there was no motivation for anything. The least motivated was the viewer, to stay around and watch the show.

And from what I remember, the whole show seemed to be Potter, Klinger, and Mulcahy just standing there unnaturally, facing the audience like a trio of Vaudeville performers. It was reminiscent of Good Times, where they spent 90% of the show standing behind that couch and talking to the audience, trying to make it look like they were having natural conversation. They weren't. And it felt even less natural on After MASH.

Another random tidbit I recall is that the people who made MASH never got any royalties from the spin-off. The studio used the absurd excuse that After MASH was really a spin-off of the movie MASH (which they owned) and not the TV series. Nice try, but Mulcahy was the only one of the three in the movie, and he was never deaf. I guess studio execs will do anything for a buck. Anything other than make a worthwhile sequel, that is.

It's Like, You Know...

L.A. Seinfeld
Let's face it. Seinfeld was over and it left a pretty large gaping hole in the comedy lineup. But then this quirky new show comes out of nowhere on another network. Let's give that a try. It looks different. But it wasn't. It was more Seinfeld. There was a different cast, but it was definitely Seinfeld. There were two Jerry's, two Elaine's, and one guy who was a cross between George and Kramer (Shrug). No, I wasn't shrugging my shoulders. His name was Shrug. No other explanation given.

In the first season, they made a point out of someone somewhere saying, "It's like you know." It just always came up somehow in conversation. It reminded me of the second season of Get A Life (another funny show cut short) where Chris died at the end of every episode. Yet somehow it all worked.

As nearly every reviewer has mentioned, this show was very much like Seinfeld. Obviously the people who made the show knew of the similarities, because in one of the episodes, Arthur (the guy from New York who was like Seinfeld #1 in the show) went back to his old apartment in New York. You guessed it. It was Seinfeld's apartment. It even had the bicycle hanging up and everything. It was the same set! This was one of the best situational sight gags ever, because it would make no sense at all if you never watched Seinfeld. Hey, some people didn't.

Now as far as I know, Jennifer Grey (Elaine #1) is only the second person ever to play themselves as a regular in a TV role. Jerry Seinfeld did it and later Tori Spelling did it in So Notorious. And before you say Drew Carey, he really didn't. He played Drew Carey the cubicle worker, not Drew Carey the stand-up comic. Jerry Seinfeld played himself – a stand-up comic who previously hosted the Tonight Show some times in the past. And Jennifer Grey played herself, the actress from Dirty Dancing. Joel Grey came on for an episode and played her father, which he really is. But he wasn't a regular, so he doesn't count.

OK, enough comparisons to Seinfeld. This show was good on its own. Given a longer run, it would have been great. Seinfeld also had poor ratings at the start and look where it ended up. Dang it!

It's Like You Know never stopped being funny. The car chase episode was funny. The one with Joel Grey was funny. Even the last few episodes were funny. One in particular was where Robbie and Shrug took off to go see America. So they left Los Angeles and drove to America. The humor didn't stop there. They started thinking weird thoughts. And then they started hearing each other's thoughts and talking via mental telepathy. "Hey, we can read each other's minds. Do you believe this?" "How can I? It's not believable."

Sadly, this series died with less than a whimper. They never came out and said it was canceled. It just wasn't there anymore. If you recall, they were just starting up the new "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?" game show, which was the hottest thing to hit ABC since… ever. It seems It's Like You Know was canceled to make room for yet another run of Millionaire 30 times a week. This eventually proved to be a major mistake for ABC as they took a massive ratings plunge once viewers lost interest in Millionaire. But the damage was already done. Would ILYK return now? The answer would not come from ABC. It came from the other networks as those actors started popping up on other shows.

Regis Philbin killed It's Like You Know.

Big Fish

Meh - No big deal
I've been putting off watching this movie for a couple years now. I was supposed to be an extra in Big Fish. One of my co-workers was an extra. He and his two children were supposed to be in the circus scene but I couldn't see them at all. He gave me plenty of pictures of him and the kids on the back set. He had a pic of the mechanical lion head and the giant guy hanging out at the food pavilion.

Like I said, I was supposed to be in the movie. It was filmed right up the road from my house. They turned a local school into a Big Fish headquarters. When I dropped off my application, I remember seeing a mini model of one of the houses in a swampy bayou. It was in a room I wasn't supposed to be in but everyone was at lunch. In the movie it was that cat lady's house that he fixed up for her.

And speaking of that quitclaim form she signed, why was it even laying on the table? They made it look like she suddenly decided to sign it, but it was already laying right on top of the table. I didn't buy it.

I might as well claim spoilers now. The end wasn't the same as the book. In the book he actually turned into a big fish. And all the tall tales he told were completely true. I don't know where they were going with this more "realistic" ending, but I wasn't impressed. The book wasn't all that good to begin with, and the movie was worse.

Big Fish was a far cry from being a modern Wizard of Oz. I liked his red Charger and it was cool seeing local landmarks in a movie. Other than that, I wasn't impressed. I'm glad I borrowed the DVD and didn't buy or rent it. And I'm very glad I didn't see it in the theater.

American Gothic

There's someone at the door
They had me from the first show.

Welcome to Trinity County. A sleepy little Mayberry-like place with one slight difference. The sheriff is really Satan. There's the spoiler. Not like you wouldn't figure it out in 10 minutes anyway.

Oh, but that's not all. It turns out that Satan has a son named Caleb. Some people are trying to keep him good, but it's an uphill battle. Sheriff Buck (Satan) knows who Caleb is and likes to spend time with him teaching him the ways of darkness. Subtle. Sneaky. He doesn't always come off as evil. Most of the time he's a hero. Everyone owes him a big favor, because he often sets up a calamity and saves them from it. So every time you think someone will finally take him down, one of his friends comes out of nowhere to sabotage it.

In one of my favorite episodes, Lucas and Caleb were out in the woods in a cabin and some guys with guns decided to rob them. Lucas used it as an excuse to teach Caleb a lesson about evil.

The robber (Ted) was hesitant to shoot them. Lucas told Caleb that Ted had half a conscience. If he had no conscience, he would have shot them by now. If he had a real conscience, he never would have become a criminal. So he started calling him Half-Ted. It was pretty funny. He was taunting the criminals. And of course he stayed 10 steps ahead of Half-Ted at all times. And of course he was in complete control at all times. They actually had you favoring Satan.

Very very excellent show. it was one of my favorite horror shows of all time. Twilight Zone Night Stalker Circle of Fear American Gothic Supernatural

That's good company.

Shasta McNasty

Good but weird
I really used to enjoy this show. It was fast-paced and quirky. Just about anything could happen at any time. One episode in particular stands out. They had a coupon book and they had to use every coupon in order.

It was one of the weirder episodes.

I was sad when they canceled it. My wife and I liked it as one of the freaky weekend shows. You know, like X-files and American Gothic. I barely remember the girl in the show. She was no Jessica Alba, but I think she was hot. To me, Jake Busey made the show because he was so freaky and yet confident about it.

Vern was the bartender.

I think they had a band but I'm really not sure. I remember them wearing zoot suits for some reason.

ABC Afterschool Specials: The Magical Mystery Trip Through Little Red's Head
Episode 6, Season 2

Very good, from what I remember
This was an educational made-for-TV movie. It was actually the SECOND appearance of Timer. He was in another made-for-TV movie called "I Am Joe's Heart" made about a year earlier and it does not appear on Lennie Weinrib's (Timer's) filmography. It was a similar show, but Joe was about to have a heart attack because he wasn't taking care of himself and Timer was running around panicking.

By contrast, Little Red was in very good shape. She exercised regularly and ate healthy foods. I remember this movie being called "Journey Through Little Red's Head". They may have had an alternate title.

The real star of the show was Timer of course. His job was to keep everything working properly in Little Red's body. At one point she was attacked and she fought back. Adrenaline kicked in, her physical conditioning became of immediate use, and Timer was running everything from within.

I'd like to see this cartoon again. Why can't they just play it on a Sunday afternoon or something?

Noah's Ark

Not a complete waste - I think...
I'll dispense with the obvious review of factual inaccuracies. They are too numerous to name. A much shorter list would be what they got right. 1. Dude named Noah. 2. Ark with animals on it.

If you want a much more accurate portrayal of Noah's Ark and the destruction of Sodom, go rent "The Bible" (1966). It depicts the story of creation through Abraham attempting to sacrifice his son Isaac. It's a much better movie, and it may be that the abomination called "Noah's Ark" (1999) drove you to seek just such a film.

I really couldn't stomach watching the whole movie. From reading other comments, I can see that even the atheists found it grossly inaccurate. As a Christian, it was intolerable to me. Possibly the worst movie ever made. No real point to this movie either, except maybe to showcase their sub-par computer animation.

Was it a complete waste? Maybe not. God can use evil to work good.

Romans 8:28 says, [28] And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

Genesis 50 says, [20] But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.

In the second example, Joseph's brothers meant to kill him, but God turned their evil into a very great good. He may have done the same thing with this movie.

People were so astonished by its lack of Biblical foundation, that they probably broke out the dusty old Bible and read the story for themselves. To find out about Lot and Sodom, they would have to go the whole way up to Genesis 19 before God destroys Sodom and Gomorrah. By then, they have read almost half of Genesis, so they might want to finish. The next book is Exodus, which the movie "The Ten Commandments" was based on (and much more accurately). If they have seen that movie, then Exodus becomes an easy read. So now they have read at least two whole books of the Bible, just because they watched a pathetic movie about Noah's Ark. I'm sure this actually happened to someone out there.

God works in mysterious ways.

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