Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
So-So Reunion Film
A decade after it left the air, Robert Young returned to the role of Marcus Welby in this reunion film of sorts. Elena Verdugo was back (but without much to do) but James Brolin's commitment to "Hotel" kept him from appearing (though Dr. Kiley is referenced in a key scene at the climax). The real purpose of this reunion though was to act as a backdoor pilot for a proposed new series with Darren McGavin and Morgan Stevens as a father-son doctor team in which Welby would act as the occasional guide in a supporting role. The proposed pilot didn't sell and just as well since while McGavin still shows he can be a commanding presence in his own right, Morgan Stevens as his son comes off as very annoying. The telemovie is devoted to their estranged relationship and how the events bring them together, and along the way we get Welby having to fight from being put out to pasture (Jessica Walter is totally wasted in a brief and thankless role as the head of the heartless conglomerate that wants Welby and other old doctors fired to save costs). In the end it's only a so-so follow-up to the series. Not bad but not memorable either and just as well the proposed follow-up series didn't happen.
Welcome to Japan, Mr. Bond (1967)
A Valuable "Lost" Performance Of Lois Maxwell and Desmond Llewelyan
I couldn't disagree more with the previous reviewer. For one thing, he needs to remember that back then, a clip show like this was pretty much your only way to see the great moments of previous Bond films in that long ago age when you couldn't own your own copy of the film. So the special has to be seen for what it was in an era we can't comprehend today. But the real joy of this program is seeing the new wraparound material of Lois Maxwell as Miss Moneypenny and Desmond Llewelyan as Q as they set up the clips. As these two people appeared in more Bond films than anyone else and whose continuity from one era to the next always acted as a comfortable anchor for the series as Connery gave way to Moore (with Llewelyan enduring all the way to the Brosnan era), it's precious to see new material of them in these beloved roles. Lois gets more to do here than she did in the series collectively and Llewelyan gets a chance to rail about the damage done to his precious gadgets in the previous films, and they both manage to make it natural extensions of how they played the characters in the film. The one thing we could have done without was the silly bit about the unknown actress who wants to become Mrs. Bond. This was a leftover gimmick from when "On Her Majesty's Secret Service" was going to be the next film until it was decided to reverse the sequence.
Give this a look in the Blu-Ray supplements and skip through the clips if you must but enjoy the new material with two old and familiar friends who are dearly missed by all Bond fans.
Star Trek: Metamorphosis (1967)
Trek At Its Worst
This episode is one of many poor Season 2 shows that prove once and for all that Fred Freiberger was not the man who ruined Star Trek. I had gone more than 30 years without seeing this episode but its details were burned in my memory because I used to have the old Trek "Fotonovel" of this episode. Finally revisiting it, it is so bad and distasteful that I think those who are so quick to praise it should stop and think for a minute.
Let's start with how this episode gives us for the THIRD time, Gene Roddenberry's caveman philosophy about women in which they can't be seasoned professionals and also have a love life. Nope, first we had Marla McGivers (Space Seed), Carolyn Palamas (Who Mourns For Adonias) and now Nancy Hedord, professional women all who are lonely and unfulfilled. Funny how James T. Kirk can be a man who is devoted to his profession who will never settle down but we can accept that. Not with women though.
Well if that isn't bad enough, let's consider this episode's ultimate resolution. Nancy Hedford is dying of disease because this self-centered gas cloud "Companion" has forced the shuttle down to provide companionship for stranded Zefrem Cochran, and then later Hedford basically dies and the Companion takes over her body so the Companion can know what it means to love. For all this "We are here" junk, the fact remains that Nancy Hedford has been taken over by an alien for the alien's pleasure and only because she died thanks to being denied medical treatment that was needed. And oh BTW, isn't it interesting how James T. Kirk's revulsion for war in "A Taste Of Armageddon" goes out the window here? Because after all, the Commissioner, a professional the Federation thinks is the right woman for the job to stop a war taking place on another planet (how many people are dying in all that death, disease, destruction and horror that's taking place?) is gone now and Kirk just shrugs (in what reeks of an "oops, we forgot about that point!" moment put in the script the last minute), "Oh, I guess the Federation will find SOME woman who can stop that war." No big deal that people are dying somewhere else, so long as that Companion is happy. And just how is Kirk going to explain things to Scotty and company who he's been so chipper with on the communicator up to now? How is Kirk going to explain this to Starfleet? If he's not going to tell them about Cochran it's going to be his head for negligence! Please don't tell me I'm nitpicking and missing the "big picture". The fact is, if you want me to think about the "deep" issue of the story then don't screw up the details of the story that undermines your "deep" point. Make Hedford an ordinary bureaucrat in a dead-end desk-pushing job and you solve one problem at least. Failure to solve these problems is to put it bluntly, rotten writing.
Two-Minute Warning (1976)
Flawed But Interesting
This is truly amazing. A review I wrote for this movie back in 1999 as a response to the ravings of "Nick Potter" who headlined his "Putrid Propaganda" and loaded it with uncalled for invective aimed at Charlton Heston because of that reviewers left-wing perspective, was deleted because someone filed an abuse report. And yet the one I replied to is still there all these years later, which should tell you something about the peculiar standards of this place. I am submitting it again since I think people should see for themselves that what I wrote back then as a normal response to a left-wing extremist's injection of his personal hatred of Charlton Heston into his review, was not the one that merited an abuse report.
ORIGINAL 1999 Review.
The previous reviewer completely misses the point. The reason why the sniper in "Two Minute Warning" isn't given any lines or isn't shown to have humanity is because what this man is doing is a crazy, psychotic act with no rational purpose to it, and that is what makes him a more terrifying threat (I can't begin to imagine how watered down the threat would seem if I ever saw the alternate version that made him part of a rational plot) and makes the story suspenseful. Only those with a visceral hatred of Charlton Heston because of his off-camera politics would try to read anything else into that (it is amusing that Heston has to suffer this from so many liberal reviewers while Hollywood liberals like Paul Newman never have to worry about conservatives reading between the lines of every film they're in).
That said, "Two Minute Warning" ultimately is flawed because it does have a less than stellar script when it comes to the supporting characters, not very interesting performances from a largely TV cast (Jack Klugman, David Janssen) and also the sense of realism is hurt by the fact that the NFL didn't give permission to use the names of real football teams thus creating too much of a sense of artificialness with people just rooting for a generic "Baltimore" and "Los Angeles". "Black Sunday" works a lot better in that regard because it made sure to get permission from the NFL and do actual filming during the Super Bowl.
Kojak: The Belarus File (1985)
Not A Good Follow-Up To The Series
Those who were fans of the original "Kojak" series or who have been discovering it anew on DVD thanks to the recent (and long overdue) release of S2 should be forewarned that if they ever come across this TV-movie, the first of the post-series Kojak movies, they will see almost none of what made the series fun. Basically, what has happened is the character of Kojak has been shoehorned into a thin story that has almost nothing in the way of police process but is just an excuse to dramatize the highly suspect arguments of author John Loftus (who I might add has also written some dubious and thoroughly discredited junk trying to link the Bush family to the Nazi regime) about the Americans smuggling in Nazi criminals from Russia after the war. And to bring about this, Telly Savalas has basically been told to forget about playing Kojak the way we always enjoyed watching him (we don't even so much as get one scene of him with a lollipop!). Instead, Kojak is the mouthpiece for some pretentious speech making about America disgracing itself and covering up etc. etc. that frankly comes off as irritating in the extreme. Even though brother George Savalas is back as Detective Stavros (he died not long after this was made), and Detectives Rizzo and Saperstein are still around there's none of the old sense of great camaraderie that existed in the original inside the station that made watching Kojak fun. Dan Frazer as Captain McNeil shows up only in one scene and it's not clear what his position is in the department now since he's no longer Captain at Manhattan South. He's only there for Kojak to vent at.
As for the plot....there were more inconsistencies than I could count. It's predictable from the beginning who the killer is yet for some reason they try to manufacture "suspense" out of this. Then we get an implausible climactic confrontation between the killer and his final target that makes no logical sense whatsoever except to give us the contrivance of a final scene in an interesting locale with Kojak and his new partner Lustig (a stand-in for Crocker, since Kevin Dobson was by now busy with "Knots Landing") situated far back. The pretentiousness to promote dubious scholarship was bad enough, but they couldn't even give us a decent Kojak story in the process (toss in an awful 80s synth score that gets annoying after awhile and it only makes the viewing experience more painful). I love ya Kojak, baby, but not in this silly mess.
For the People (1965)
A Pretentious Misfire
I'm afraid the previous reviewer leaves something of a wrong impression when he says "For The People" is a precursor of sorts to "Law And Order." Yes, that's true to the extent that "For The People" was a show that had central characters in the D.A.'s office, and yes, it was filmed on location in New York, but if you ever come across any of the episodes of "For The People" that circulate among collectors (you can forget about ever seeing it repeated on cable or released commercially on DVD) and expect to see an interesting procedural look at how the criminals get prosecuted.....I'm afraid you're going to be in for a giant letdown. The six episodes of this show I had a chance to see recently were mostly shows that didn't so much focus on letting us see how the central characters get their job done, but rather spent more time serving up some giant failures on the part of DA Dave Koster's pursuit of justice, and rather than focus on the procedural points that could allow a story to develop, each episode I saw was mostly a giant exercise in characters making soapbox speeches that were designed to cater to a politically liberal view of criminal law. In one episode, DA Koster incredibly tanks his own case regarding a Puerto Rican's brutal murder of an old woman, because he's become convinced that a racist cop coerced the confession and has decided that rather than do the business of the people to prosecute and let a judge and jury decide after making his best case (If defense attorneys are supposed to give the best possible defense for clients they know are guilty, isn't it also supposed to be the obligation of a prosecutor to do the same even if he has only *personal* doubts, *especially* since the episode also makes it clear that Koster believes the Puerto Rican is guilty despite the possibly coerced confession?), he should instead shirk his own duty to be "for the people" in the name of a dubious constitutional concept (dubious at least to many legal scholars who wouldn't subscribe to the points the noble characters make speeches about, but who find that in the literary realm of leftist writers, their views only get expressed by obvious racists and bigots to cast an air of illegitimacy over their basic arguments. This to gloss over the fact that Koster is prepared to turn loose a brutal killer that he KNOWS is a brutal killer who could kill again just to humiliate a cop who may or may not have crossed a line).
I found it sad in a way that I couldn't come away liking this show because the acting is solid (it may in fact be some of the best acting of Shatner's career), the theme music has a nice stately air, and the New York location photography carries on the tradition of "Naked City." But "Naked City" was a show that was entertaining by making its dramatic points through fascinating human interest stories, and not by having characters stop the action cold every five minutes to make another editorializing sermonette. This is the reason why it wasn't just being slotted opposite "Bonanza" that doomed "For The People", it was also the weight of its own lofty pretentiousness that caused it to sink, and forced Shatner to find another role that would give him TV immortality.
Police Woman: Target Black (1975)
This episode of "Police Woman" should get the award for one of the most repulsive hours of television ever produced, in which we are given a romanticized portrait of a female black activist targeted for assassination, who also happens to be an unapologetic Communist, and who even gets several minutes of screen-time to gush adoringly about her love of Marx (she also lives in Moscow. I would note this would have been during the era of repression under Brezhnev). Does Pepper Anderson ever grill her about how she can be a follower of an ideology that was fundamentally no different from that of Nazism or the hate ideology of a white supremacist who may or may not be targeting her? Nope, they instead have one of those love-fest moments of 70s detente designed to whitewash just how repulsive the ideology this Angela Davis clone was a devoted follower of. Watching this episode today is about as nauseating an experience as watching a lovefest with someone who thinks Hitler was a great man. For shame that this episode ever got written, let alone aired.
A Strange Curiosity
I am one of the few people on this Earth who actually saw "Inchon" during its brief theatrical run in 1982, and did not see it again until a cable recording came my way very recently. It was fascinating to revisit this train wreck of a movie that took what should have been a fascinating event in history, and instead with a bloated budget of $40 million and the interference of the Moonies, turned it into something that ultimately isn't the worst thing ever produced for the screen, but at the same time is something that could have been made cheaply for TV at a fraction of the cost.
The thing "Inchon" most resembles is the godawful 1979 ABC miniseries "Pearl" which took the events of another famous event in history, and gave us a soapy, silly melodrama about a bunch of boring fictional characters. In "Inchon", the goings on of Ben Gazzara, Jacqueline Bisset (who looks stunning), Richard Roundtree and the wasted David Janssen could just as easily have been at home in some made for TV potboiler that utilized stock footage for the big moments. It's because "Inchon" had an A-level budget, and an inordinance of expensive set design and extras etc. that in the end made its flaws magnified in ways that a cheap TV miniseries like "Pearl" could keep obscured.
The acting...sheesh, Olivier does get the look of MacArthur right but Terence Young was clearly asleep when giving him instruction on how to deliver his lines, and the script he was given didn't help matters either. As for the rest, they're okay in a TV movie kind of way, but that's largely damning with faint praise. Jerry Goldsmith's score is great, as is the cinemtaography.
I will say one thing though to a couple reviewers though who think the greatest sin of this movie is its anti-communism. That is really about the ONLY thing you can give this movie a plus for, because the North Koreans of Kim Il Sung were a brutal thug regime and their invasion of the South was not a case of as one reviewer falsely implied one where atrocities were equally committed by both sides. The prologue to the movie that summarizes how Kim Il Sung flew to Moscow to receive permission from Stalin to go ahead with the invasion is dead accurate in its description of the real history and it sadly offers the initial hope that we're going to get a movie more in the mold of "The Longest Day" or "Tora! Tora! Tora!". Instead we got a movie that was as noted in the mold of "Pearl" and almost exclusively utilizing the bad fictional subplots that nearly wrecked "Midway." So yes, "Inchon" is bad, but not necessarily for the reasons that some people would like to have us think. It was ultimately more the fault of the scriptwriters, the actors and the director that "Inchon" turned out to be as bad as it was, than the heavy-hand of the Moonie cult (though their PR for the movie certainly dragged it down further).
Naked City (1958)
Identity Of Narrator
I've just been introduced to this series through the DVD releases and have found myself highly impressed by the location photography in New York and the atmosphere of the stories. The show serves the dual purpose of being entertaining, and also a fascinating visual time capsule of a lost period in New York history.
Although its unfortunate the DVDs are not released as Season sets, it's still impressive that the original bumpers and commercials have been left intact! A rare chance to see TV as it was experienced at the time.
On the matter of the narrator though, I'm afraid IMDb has it wrong. It is most assuredly NOT Paul Frees, at least not on the 1960-61 episodes I've seen on DVD. That voice is clearly Lawrence Dobkin, a noted radio actor of the 50s with a number of acting and directing credits all the way up to the 1980s.
Fair To Weak Adaptation Of A Superior Novel
I have been a fan of the novel "Mayday" since it first came out in 1978 which was when pilot Thomas Block had sole author's credit. It was a very effective, chilling take on the familiar "airplane disaster" type story that had become popular in the wake of the Airport movies. I also enjoyed the 1997 update which gave us a more dramatically effective ending. Because of that intimate familiarity with both versions of the novel, I really had low expectations for a two hour TV production, because (1) I knew that would not give us enough time to do the story justice and (2) we would be spared depiction of what is the novel's really most chilling aspect, the fact that the surviving passengers are turned into brain-dead zombies for all intents and purposes, and are as much an obstacle to the plane's ability to get back as the conspiracies of Commander Sloan and the Airline executive/Insurance company respectively.
So, coming in with low expectations, I came away for the most part not too bothered by the changes that were made. I was in fact grateful that the Navy comes off better in this telling of the tale than they do in the novel with Lieutenant Matos ultimately defying Commander Sloan, and Admiral Hennings deciding to blow the whistle on Sloan's actions (in the novel, Sloan manages to trick Matos into crashing his plane so he can be killed as a witness, and the guilt-ridden Admiral Hennings commits suicide. Sloan ultimately gets arrested when its revealed his office was tapped). Also, I was glad they cut out the implausibly stupid romance of John Berry and flight attendant Sharon Crandall that developed along the way.
On the down side, the film was stuck with the dated source material by having a cockpit crew of three which was normal back in the 70s but is no longer so today. Also, the ending was soft-pedaled completely, leaving out the brain damage effects consequences to the passengers, and implying that many of them will ultimately recover, and leaving out the improved ending of the 97 novel where airline exec Johnson boards the plane to try and remove the incriminating printout documents and has his confrontation with Berry. The subplot added of other passengers trapped in the Conference Room proved pointless, and the matter of Harold Stein still being alive at the end, rather than committing suicide earlier was a weak point too.
All in all, if you're a fan of the novel, you'll consider this a tepid "by-the-numbers" adaptation that failed to take advantage of how more chillingly effective the story could have been on the big screen. If you're not familiar with the novel at all, I won't blame you for finding the whole thing wildly implausible and silly and would recommend getting the novel, whether the 78 original or the 97 rewrite.