darthquincunx

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Reviews

Lost in Space: The Cave of the Wizards
(1967)
Episode 22, Season 2

The terrible streak finally ends.
At last a pretty decent episode which breaks the run of poor to terrible episodes. Dr Smith's silliness and comic villainy is toned down in this episode and Jonathan Harris does well as he is turned into an alien. Infact, I can't recall Jonathan Harris wearing so much make up as this in an episode previous up to now. He is almost unrecognisable. There is still a touch of corniness at the end but well done Jonathan Harris.

Lost in Space: Rocket to Earth
(1967)
Episode 21, Season 2

Al Lewis guest stars.
A better episode compared to its predecessors but it is far from brilliant. Al Lewis guest stars as a magician who also has a ventriloquist type dummy and his character adds to the episode. He almost plays it in the same way as he played Grandpa in the Munsters.

Lost in Space: The Space Vikings
(1967)
Episode 20, Season 2

Pure camp
One of Lost in Space campiest episodes and also one of its silliest. Wagner eat your heart out!

Lost in Space: The Toymaker
(1967)
Episode 18, Season 2

Better episode in the mediocre run of Season 2
The Toymaker is one of the better episodes of mid Season 2. Having said that it still far from a great episode. At least Guy Williams has more to do in this episode but you do feel that the credits should be Guest Star: Jonathan Harris, Bill Mumy and the Robot. Co starring Guy Williams etc by this stage.

Lost in Space: The Questing Beast
(1967)
Episode 17, Season 2

Stinker.
This was the one of the worst episodes of the series. Why Irwin Allen allowed the show to degenerate to this level I can only assume he wanted a kids show rather than a semi-serious Sci FI series. Avoid this episode like the plague.

Lost in Space: The Girl from the Green Dimension
(1967)
Episode 16, Season 2

The start of a run of awful episodes.
Mid season 2 of Lost in Space was dire with a run of ridiculous and at times campy episodes. This was the start if it. It was basically the Will, Dr Smith and Robot show at this stage with the other cast members reduced to mere cameos.

Lost in Space: Mutiny in Space
(1967)
Episode 19, Season 2

Hamming it up.
Lost in Space mid season 2 was really poor with a string of some absolutely mediocre episodes and this was one of the worst. Ronald Long hamming it up, an over the top Charles Laughton's "Captain Bligh" impersonation. Fantastically ridiculous.

Columbo: A Friend in Deed
(1974)
Episode 8, Season 3

Superb, different and with a dark edge.
This Columbo episode felt different, it felt a much darker episode. Two murderers, one of them being Columbo's boss, the directing, the music, even the ending felt different with other policemen present and it felt like Columbo was actually arresting them and walking away with his prisoner. Often, it ends with Columbo revealing the vital evidence that convicts them and that's it, end of episode. Also Columbo seems to be more brilliant than usual with clever observations and a brilliant trick at the end to nab his prey. Interaction between Kiley and Falk was superb, a very important aspect of any good episode. Kiley was very good. The humour is there still, Columbo's car constantly breaking down but to me this was a much darker episode and a standout in this series.

Columbo: Dagger of the Mind
(1972)
Episode 4, Season 2

Columbo goes to London
Columbo goes to London, a great concept but some aspects of this episode jar with me. The London scenes are great but why did they have to do some scenes which clearly weren't in the UK like the shots of Sir Roger Haversham's house? Why did they hire Richard Basehart when everyone else were British? I am big fan of Basehart and he was a Shakesperean actor but why not a British actor for that part? Also I don't think the cliche approach to portray Brits was a good idea. I am British myself. One of my favourite scenes was Columbo enjoying fish and chips and other London locations scenes were good but it could have been a lot better with a stronger story, all shots in London and a less cliched approach.

Columbo: The Most Crucial Game
(1972)
Episode 3, Season 2

Some big flaws but some good moments
No matter how many times I have seen this episode, I can not get what was the motive for the murder. It is not clear at all. Was Paul Hanlon after Eric's wife, total control of the sporting empire? The motive is unclear, not even Columbo gives a suggestion, all he says at one point it was definitely murder. They were some other things that left me scratching my head. One of them was how did Paul Hanlon just drive straight out of the stadium to commit the crime? Was there no security? No gate to pass through? Surely there some form of security to stop anyone just wandering in and out? Another is that Hanlon uses a block of ice to knock out Eric who then drowns in the pool. Hanlon throws the ice block in the pool, he realises he has left footprints on the coving, so he washes them away with the garden hose. Columbo notices the fresh water on the coving. Surely the water would have evaporated on the coving by the time Columbo had arrived as the block of ice had already melted away? That doesn't make any sense. The positives are the performance of Culp and Falk and their interactions. Some nice touches including Columbo listening to the football match on the radio, telling the detective he left in charge that he was going to the football match, asking people how much they paid for their shoes, his sore feet in his new shoes. Motive and ending were the weakest parts of this episode but Culp and Falk make it worthwhile.

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century: A Blast for Buck
(1980)
Episode 14, Season 1

A clip episode.....
A clip episode just pass midway through the first season means either the writers were struggling with ideas or the episode was made to save money...or maybe even both. Whatever the reason, it is a poor episode made even worse by the fact that the writer of this episode didn't even research properly! An example is Buck remembering himself posing as a criminal in the episode of "Plot to Kill a City". They dismiss the possibility that the leader of the criminal gang from this episode, Kellogg, is responsible. Well there is a very good reason why he couldn't be responsible.....he was killed when his spacecraft was blown up by one of the Earth Directive spacecraft! Corliss and Trent, the villains from the episode "Return of the Fighting 69th" are considered as candidates.....once again....they were killed! Even the persistent android Hugo from "Unchained Woman" is considered! Poor all round episode, most clip episodes are.....

Star Trek: The Galileo Seven
(1967)
Episode 16, Season 1

Good episode which I found creepy when I was young,
I watched this episode for the first time when I was about 7 and I remember finding it creepy and spooky. The swirling mists and fogs shrouding menacing creatures who turned out to be huge Neanderthal like primates added to the eeriness. Gaetano's death I found scary with the giant Neanderthal trapping him against a cliff with a slow menacing approach before killing him.

I felt sorry for Spock in this episode, I thought Lt Boma was way out of line and was lucky not to have been disciplined. It would have been nice to have seen Don Marshall in further episodes. It is interesting that Don Marshall who played Boma, starred in this episode of being trapped on a planet of giants and he later starred in Land of the Giants!

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea: Turn Back the Clock
(1964)
Episode 7, Season 1

OK episode
There is a huge flaw with this episode in that there is just no way a tropical paradise could exist In Antarctica. Geothermals was used to try an explain it but even with this how do you how the tropical region could survive the Antarctic winter? Plants need light and sunlight is non existent during the polar winter, plants would die, the whole ecosystem would collapse. So when the doctor scoffed at Nelson's idea of a tropical zone in the Antarctic, he was right to! Nelson should have known better. Quite a bit of stock footage is used from Allen's Lost World. Irwin Allen did like to cut costs down! David Hedison said he did not enjoy working on the Lost World, so I wonder if he enjoyed acting out this episode?

Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea: Terrible Leprechaun
(1968)
Episode 15, Season 4

Awful
This was the worst story in the entire series if not out of all Allen's shows. Leprechauns? Come on! I don't know what was going in the writer's head with this episode but how Basehart carried on acting for the rest of the series after this debacle is amazing. He remained the total professional throughout. Me, I would be wetting myself with laughter with this. Why Irwin Allen allowed this to be shot in the first place is beyond me, I assume he never looked at the script. It is either that or he encouraged it. Whatever it was, it was a great shame that it was allowed to degenerate to this level. It could have been such a memorable show but sadly it is largely forgotten these days.

Psycho
(1960)

A very cleverly made film
Hitchock was a magnificent film maker but also very clever and Psycho was a very cleverly made film even by Hitch's standards. It starts off as classic Hitchcock with Janet Leigh on the run, with the threat hanging over her: will she get caught? Her boss spots her, the looming policeman, the suspicious car salesman but all this just a sub-plot. The real plot starts when she arrives at the motel. For people who saw this film the first time must have got a real shock to see a star such as Janet Leigh killed off halfway into the film. No wonder Hitch when the film was released for the first time, told people at the end of the film not to reveal the plot. The classic film with twists.

When Time Ran Out...
(1980)

Very mediocre
Time should have ran out on the making of this movie as it is yet another waste of good talent by Irwin Allen. The plot is predictable and formulaic, it is basically the Poseidon Adventure on a volcanic island. You have the intrepid group fleeing from the volcano, warning the rest to come with them but scoffed at. Sound familiar? Well that is exactly what happened in the Poseidon Adventure. You have your token victims picked off one by one but unlike the Poseidon Adventure where the danger was every present and it was claustrophobic, fleeing from lava flows, the danger was just not there. A real Paul Newman turkey, this one, not sure why he did it because it certainly did not enhance his reputation.

The Time Tunnel
(1966)

A great shame!
This show had great potential but its greatest weakness was that the show was written around what stock footage they had to make a story, which I think is a mistake. You could tell when the ideas were drying up is when they started introducing the tired old formula of aliens trying to take over with Doug and Tony trying to stop them. Also little character development which I think was a great shame.

Another problem was as soon as you started thinking deeply into the concept of the show, you find not a lot of thinking went behind it such as the size of the complex, the number of personnel etc. I mean when the alarm bells rang in the complex and you see everyone running around, where were they going? Also Doug and Tony never changed clothes, they wore the same get-up right throughout practically, which is ridiculous! A little more thinking and better writing could have produced an even better and longer lasting series.

Superman III
(1983)

Goddamn awful!
Well I'm going to rip this film to pieces. 1)The Vulcan satellite: A satellite does not create weather! Also the satellite is sent out to outer space to look for kryptonite. There's no way a satellite can leave orbit just on the order of a computer instruction. 2) The analysis of the kryptonite showed plutonium, a man-made element and xenon which is a gas. The other elements in that list don't exist. Besides plutonium is radioactive and I can't see how some chemists could produce that crystal! They would instantly say it was dangerous! 3) The rocket defence system for the master computer. How on earth did they install that without the knowledge of the authorities? It would have taken months do install! 4) When the master computer draws power you see an overhead shot of North America largely in darkness as the lights go out. Yet where the master computer is it is still daylight and when Superman goes to the chemical plant to get a container of the corrosive acid it is still daylight 5) How can you turn a tornado from under the cloud to be above the cloud? Thats just a few of the goofs. It really is a very poor film, a sequel too far!

The Towering Inferno
(1974)

Not bad an effort
The Towering Inferno was the pinnacle of the disaster films. There seemed to be a lot of them around that time period with Earthquake and Airport 1975 but the Towering Inferno was the peak. There is a fantastic array of stars with Newman, McQueen, Holden, Dunnaway, Astaire, Jones, Chamberlain, Vaughn but sadly despite this, the script was not especially brilliant with some pretty poor lines. Despite the number of stars in the film, few of them escaped a grisly death. Probably the best death was Jennifer Jones as she fell out of the scenic elevator and hit the corner of the building. Ouch! Also Susan Flannery's death as an explosion forces her out of the window on fire from the 65th floor. It was great to see Chamberlain get his come uppance as he falls 135 floors to his death from the collapsed breecher's buoy. Steve McQueen made an effective hero and was well suited to the role. Great to see Fred Astaire in his role but sadly he never did win an Oscar despite being nominated

The Greatest Show on Earth
(1952)

Shocking winner of the Best Picture Oscar
I think this was one of the greatest injustices in Academy Award history that this film won Best Picture Oscar ahead of Singin' in the Rain, which wasn't even nominated, until the Raging Bull/ Ordinary People debacle came along. James Stewart probably had the best part, a clown with a mysterious past but I thought some of the other actors were slightly wooden especially Hutton. Some of the Heston lines were especially corny, in particular the ones spoken to Hutton. Some great footage of actual circus performers and a spectacular train wreck at the end. This film was a typical DeMille cornball:- overblown, over the top, corny, "I wanna be a blockbuster" stereotype.

It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad World
(1963)

I don't know what to make of it
Its a really, really, really...well... to be honest I don't know what to make of it! I wouldn't say it was dire but equally I wouldn't call it brilliant. I saw it again the other day and I still can't make up my mind. Hiring some of the best known US comics of the time, Kramer tried to pull out a masterpiece but length doesn't equate to quality, it is far too long. I'm surprised Spencer Tracy bought this venture but he did seem to be satisfied with Kramer as Kramer did with him. Terry-Thomas appearing in the film was a surprise, I think if this was produced a couple of years later, Peter Sellers would have won the English role. The other odd cast member is Mickey Rooney. Rooney is not really a comedian or even a comic actor so I can't quite understand why he was in it. It would have been great to have seen Harold Lloyd in it.

The Wolf Man
(1941)

Good film, odd to see Ralph Bellamy in the film
It is surprising how many well known actors are in this film, it is not one of those films with obscure actors, 3 of the cast have been Academy Award nominees by the time this film was made. One of those is Ralph Bellamy, very odd to see him in this film considering his roles in previous films of His Girl Friday and the Awful Truth. Lon Chaney Jr plays a great part and he was quite an adequate actor, just look at his Lennie in Of Mice and Men. Claude Rains plays the father of Larry Talbot with his usual style but I think the real star in this film was Maria Ouspenskaya who played the wizened Gypsy Maleva. Bela Lugosi was reduced to a cameo role.

Murder, She Wrote
(1984)

Amazed, it lasted so long
Murder She Wrote may have lasted 250+ episodes but basically you only have to watch one episode and then you don't have to watch the rest because every episode is the same. Jessica is present when the murder takes place, her friend/relative is wrongly arrested and Jessica solves the murder at the end. It is dangerous to be a friend of Jessica as there is a high probability that you are going to get arrested and Jessica is also a magnet for murder. For such a small town, Cabot Cove has a horrifying murder rate! Despite all this, Angela Lansbury was superb in the role and it was interesting to see some well known stars appearing on the show

Bewitched
(1964)

A great show that lost its way
Bewitched was a great show with some funny stories at the start but I felt it lost its way when Dick York had to leave because of ill health. Dick Sargent wasn't quite the same and I thought the stories suffered for it. What else didn't help was that the latter stories were often a rehash of earlier ones, it was obvious at the end that the scriptwriters were running out of ideas. Marion Lorne played Aunt Clara brilliantly and when she sadly passed away in 1968, the series suffered from this body blow as Alice Ghostley, who played Esmerelda was no Marion Lorne. I actually found her character irritating as well as Samantha's cousin, Serina. It's sad looking back at the show, to realize that hardly any of the stars of the show are still alive. Dick York, Dick Sargent and Elizabeth Montgomery all died within 3 years of each other and all in their 60s.

The Swarm
(1978)

What a waste of talent.
The Swarm was an awful film full of plot holes, terrible dialogue and some poor acting. It is really odd to see Michael Caine in the film as everyone else is American. It just didn't seem to gel. The talent that is wasted in this film is astonishing. You've got Henry Fonda, Olivia DeHavilland, Richard Widmark, Fred MacMurray, just to name a few and to see them wasted with a such poor script especially Widmark, I don't know how he kept a straight face. This production is fairly typical of Irwin Allen. His TV series's, Lost in Space etc started well in their first few episodes then it was reduced to drivel. It is the same with his disaster films, they started out well, like the Poseidon Adventure, but by the time of the Swarm and When Time Ran Out, they were poor efforts, with bad scripts and a waste of good talent.

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